From lundi matin #400, (24/10/2023) …
It could be a question of characterising the collapses that we are experiencing; the collapse of living environments, of the social world and its prisons: its institutions; the collapse of the idea of a social subject at the foundation of the political; finally, the collapse of canonised revolutionary legacies.
But what’s the point if we refuse to live them so that other worlds resurface? Because the proposition is another: it is the experience from which we must start.
Josep Rafanell i Orra, whom we regularly welcome in our pages, has just published a luminous Short Treatise on Cosmo-anarchism, published by Divergences. We publish here a short presentation of the work, followed by the book’s epilogue.
Representations of disasters proliferate. We are buried by the abundance of its imagery: politicians parading around spouting their poison claiming to speak on our behalf, billions of selfies exposing lonely souls, scenes of war, so far away and so close, distributing the good and the bad who are murdered in different camps, crowds of new beggars wandering in eco-friendly smart cities, outbreaks of climatic cataclysms, all transported by global crisscrossing networks that are asphyxiating us.
To escape from catastrophism, we must embark on a cataphoric movement. Disasters can carry us, dragging us from the sky of ideas to the ground of experiences that make the world habitable. We must create a new place for the community to emerge against the space of administered disaster. But there is no community without communisation: relationships which situate the interdependence between beings. And there is no communisation without passages between worlds. For every here, there will always be places elsewhere. It is the transitive experience that we must then cultivate. We only exist by bringing into existence what in turn makes us exist. At our own risk and peril, we must wage a fierce struggle against mortal abstractions, their universe populated with representations and identities. It is an unhealthy reverie from which we must escape: s/he who only wants but to be is only what s/he is in order to ground her/himself as a subject, at the cost of the depopulation of worlds where other beings find a place to exist.
“How can a being take another being into its world, but while preserving or respecting the other’s own relations and world?”, Deleuze asks in his commentary on the ethology which emerges from Spinozism (Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, “Spinoza and us”).
The world returns in the re-actualisation of old crushed stories, in the resumption of aborted bifurcations, if we desert the circularity of the present enclosed in itself.
Anarchism has always found itself in the cracks of history. It proclaims that something more than the Whole can exist, the all beyond the Whole that remains: sharing, mutual aid and their milieu of associated life; our social maladjustment; again, fragments and their compositions. From one world to another, anarchism opens the ways of a community’s modes of existence, towards something other than social prisons with their subjects. To be more than what we are so as not to remain locked in the chimera of the enclosure of our own totality.
It is then a question of pleading for anachronism: the return of the commons against political dramaturgy, against the demented demiurges who want to represent us.
The resurgences in the breaks of the time of destruction, the emergence of modes of existence which desert the terminal stage of Progress and whose announced debacle throws up at us the face of liberal-fascism with its masses of atomised people.
Insurgences where the anarchic groundlessness of life manifests itself. No more first principles or origins. The refusal of the arche, of the Law against the right to exist in this or that way through encounters with other ways of existing.
In new beginnings, something more than the Whole can exist which speaks to us of fragments of the world and their potential for association, of encounters between heterogeneous beings, of the insurgent web of our interdependencies which make habitable places exist. Anarchism will no longer be social. It will be cosmological or it will no longer be.
Against the enactments of politics, against the asphyxiation of representation and its identities, there are once again partisans of a multiplicity of worlds; attention to their vulnerability; the experience of our interdependencies: of our own autonomy.
“But where on earth can that little voice have come from that said ‘Oh! oh!’?… Here there is certainly not a living soul. Is it possible that this piece of wood can have learnt to cry and to lament like a child? I cannot believe it. This piece of wood, here it is; a log for fuel like all the others, and thrown on the fire it would about suffice to boil a saucepan of beans…. How then? Can anyone be hidden inside it? If anyone is hidden inside, so much the worse for him. I will settle him at once.”
Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio
“When I am abroad in the morning I go to meet the sun, and in the evening, when I am abroad, I follow it, till I am down among the dead. I don’t know why I told this story. I could just as well have told another. Perhaps some other time I’ll be able to tell another. Living souls, you will see how alike they are.” Thus speaks the inconsolable, the dispossessed, the expelled, the exhausted in Beckett (“Only the exhausted is sufficiently disinterested, sufficiently scrupulous.”: Deleuze).
To conclude here, I can only pile up the words of the ancestors and honour them. What is the point of creating new sentences?
I tried to write this book like a spiral; from inside to the outside, and inversely. Themes come back insistently. They are repeated like so many refrains. The success or failure of this attempt, of its formation, is up to the reader to judge. I would certainly prefer that he be judge and party to…
To leave the debris of modernity before the world fades away, but this, to rediscover the plurality of times; to flee modernity’s projection in the single timeline which leads to the revelation of its apocalyptic end. It is in a multiplicity of insurgent times, by weaving the outside, in the open sea, in the labyrinths of the past, like half-erased palimpsests of the official text of History, that what has not yet been written appears.
During the three years that accompanied the writing of this book, I tried with others to contribute to the establishment of landscapes where forms of mutual concern combine. I carried out investigations into the ways of creating reciprocity in places of elsewhere which address themselves to my here. But I learned that this “here” must be made. Its name is friendship.
Sometimes words no longer mean anything to us; they are exhausted. Not that they no longer make sense. Oh, they are in fact full of meaning! They are frozen with it. But let them stop crushing us with their meaning so as to become something else, the vector of a rediscovered intimacy; that which makes us capable of feeling the intimacy of others: humans, butterflies, a mother-in-law, even the stones and the trees and their shadows that sprinkle paths. (“it is always an Other who speaks, since words have not expected/waited for me [ne m’ont pas attendu] and there is no language other than the foreign; it is always an Other, the “owner” of objects that he possesses by speaking. It is still a matter of the possible, but in a new fashion: the Others are possible worlds, to which voices confer a reality that is always variable, following the force that the voices have, and revocable, following the silences that they make.”). The fierce struggle that we can wage today is here: to rediscover the intimacy of our soul in welcoming other souls to hear their silences and their voices. To participate then in the animation of the world is to perceive the outside and gently find the inside from the outside, there from where a form of thought arises which is accordingly an experience of thought; limits of experience which are the experience of limits when the outside slips away; feeling and thinking with the world and sometimes accepting being excluded from it.
To no longer engage in intrusion; it is in renunciation that the melancholy of our time lies; cosmological confrontation with what we must not inhabit under penalty of devastation. This has nothing to do with avoidance, with tiring psychological tests which protect the “me” from what it is not.
Beckett again, of whom Deleuze reminds us that the exhausted tells us of the exhaustion of the possible which chains us to the language of the present; because it happens that the omnipotence of language, its interpretative mania, its definitions, overpowers us. Give it up so that the manifestation of the imperceptible can come to be.
Not the imagination, but the vital engagement in the imagination which makes us see what is not yet there; not the relationship of the self to the real just to verify its impossibility and to be able to return to the self, but the chaining to others chained to their others through which other places manifest themselves. Everything keeps coming, nothing ends in itself. The only impossibility that imposes itself is that of a ghostly plenitude. As soon as we imagine reality in the making, it multiplies into fragments. “Imagination Dead Imagine.”
To think, to say, but above all to perceive, in order to be able to feel. I no longer remember who said: “They call it thought but they are visions”; and to know that one does not know. From this, I know its origin: from an unsteady history that I must honour, the history of those like me, the sub-proletarians of a long and interminable civil war populated by ignored deaths and ghosts that must be made to live, because there was indeed a revolution and a civil war. These are inseparable. How could it be otherwise? They are the cracks of a story that carried me out of myself as when time comes off of its hinges.
“It is to be hoped the time will come […] when language is best used where it is most efficiently abused. Since we cannot dismiss it all at once, at least we do not want to leave anything undone that may contribute to its disrepute.”
To find forms that accommodate disorder until the outside emerges and, in its assaults, that it makes places; to rediscover the habitable, its expressiveness. And then the festivity will begin again: no longer the bad one of a self wanting to forget itself while it remains glued to it in its grandiloquent intoxication, but the one where disparate beings hold hands, possessed, animated by the power of a gathering that we know, and that we want, to be provisional: finally the community; then its dissolution; to start anew; again.
Aposiopesis: what a strange and beautiful word: to leave to silence the care of bringing forth the new.
And “that age to become another age in which I became what I was. Ah, I won’t give a damn about your time, you bastards of your time.” Bastards are those who live in their time and who dream of themselves in the truth of an eternal and clairvoyant present. We should be able to write a treatise on darkness which claims the refusal of clarity, which flees the mania of definitions, which no longer seeks truth from falsehood and where time lines intertwine in our belonging to the groundlessness of anarchic life.
It is not a question of proclaiming the “common”, like a slogan. It is no longer even a question of community, but of communisation: uses which sediment the reciprocities which make us exist. Communisation is the name of any therapy worthy of the name.
(I had welcomed Samuel, as I did every week for three months, in the sinister office of a Social Action Center [Centre d’action sociale] in some town in Seine-Saint-Denis, with the typical industrial furniture of one of the big suppliers of all French public services. Samuel had been undoubtedly diagnosed with schizophrenia. There is no doubt that his apragmatism, the absence of displays of emotion in his relationship with others, had made it easier. He was 38 years old at the time. He lived alone with his mother in public housing in one of the large city towers that populate the ravaged landscapes of suburban towns. Most of the time he remained locked in his apartment. But regularly he indulged in a ritual: he chose a bus line by means of which he managed a geographical crossing, from terminus to terminus. He thus crossed Paris from north to south, from east to west. Sometimes, he would get off the bus, look at a remarkable monument and then get back on. And so on, without end..
He was referred to me by a colleague, an “integration advisor”. Samuel benefited from the RSA [Revenu de solidarité active] but showed himself incapable of being “cooperative” in the construction of his “integration project”. So, here he is at the department’s psychologist. It must be said that actually establishing a dialogue with him was a titanic ordeal. I also had to decide to accept his brief answers to my questions followed by endless silences, or to have a monologue with myself, to the side. And so one day an idea came to me. I asked him about my accent: have you noticed my foreign accent, I said to him. Yes, he replied. Have you wondered where I come from? No, he replied. And here I am, talking to him about my origins, about leaving my country, about the strangeness of remaining a foreigner. It was from that day on that our discussions became lively. He in turn began to tell stories about his mother, about his deceased father of whom he no longer had any memories. He began to speak of the landscapes of his childhood, when he lived in a village in the English Channel area, then of his departure towards the Paris region like an exile, the towers of the city where he lived today, the riots which took place there a few years previously…
It was then that I was able to suggest that he attend workshops offering activities in the city. Our meetings became less frequent. From now on he told me about his experiences without me having to subject him to a painful interrogation, without him having to subject me to his silences. Then one day, I stopped seeing him).
Society is the place without places where one can live buried by relationships but without making relationships. It is a machination that takes us away from ways of relating to each other. This is what makes impossible the appropriation that gives properties to our relationships: in the emergence and multiplication of places. It is then enough to cultivate the disposition to experience the joy of interdependencies: I only exist by bringing into existence what in turn makes me exist; to accept that we are more than ourselves; that the variations in relationships between worlds are inexhaustible in the collapse of the foundation.
What remains of our former political adventures? There remains, for the distraught and the shattered, to embark on the infinite variations of the ties by which souls repopulate reality, including with the solemn stones that tell us of the ridiculous age of humans. The sabotage of the One world then becomes obvious. Once again the supporters of a multiplicity of worlds emerge. The matter has become clear: the acceleration of the destruction of the habitability of the earth requires the disarmament of the enterprise of devastation. The ruinous ruins must be ruined; not a charming castle with its moss-covered stones in the morning mist, nor an old steelworks rusting with its memory of proletarian struggles, but the cold ruin of Reason. We will learn how. In-evi-ta-bly, said the child Ernesto who only wanted to learn what he already knew.
“Anarchy is not a matter of the future; it is a matter of the present. It is not a matter of making demands; it is a matter of how one lives. Anarchy is not about the nationalization of the achievements of the past but about a new people arising from humble beginnings in small communities that form in the midst of the old: an inward colonization. Anarchy is not about a struggle between classes – the dispossessed against the possessors – but about free, strong, and sovereign individuals breaking free from mass culture and uniting in new forms.”
Since then, other cataclysms have happened. It has once again become impossible for a being to come to terms with what s/he is. We will never again be “neither strong nor master of ourselves”. We are only strong from the attention we can bear to the vulnerability of what connects beings and which leads to transfigurations. Because our strength lies in the fierce struggle against powers that neglect ways of existing, which destroy the passages which make encounters possible.
All it takes is the sinking of an old boat with seven hundred migrants swallowed up by the sea under the eyes of the Frontex police for us to be able to forget them. This is the people who are missing. The age of the emancipation of the people is over if we do not envisage the passages towards its fragmentation. I will keep Landauer’s words, with their aim of secession, and his desperate passion for community through withdrawal. And I will no longer forget that revolution can only be the dissolution of society where lonely subjects come together. What was there before the Subject? The strength of the ties between beings. What will we find after it? Magic again; forces and powers that bind.
It is in truth the definitive end of Man that we are witness to. Michel Foucault in The Order of Things said: “As the archaeology of our thought easily shows, man is an invention of recent date. And one perhaps nearing its end.”
Perhaps in the end it was not God who died but the Man who had made the terrible name of the Absolute. “God exists,” said Fritz Zorn. “I even consider this sentence as the possibility of a fact. But even if this sentence were to be correct, it is only correct if we specify it in the following way: God only exists in part, for the rest he is liquidated”. Maybe God is not dead because he was never anything other than a pure transition. From one world to another, Gods come and then become. We in turn can become faithful passengers in the regions of the anarchy of the cosmos. If we want a good life, we still have to create a good death for Man. To finally emerge from modernity and its disasters can perhaps be summarised in this: to put an end to the autonomy of the subject as a foundation. But for that we must heed the calls of the world.
Bonjour. Peut-être pourra-t-il apaiser
Le vent obscur, et que plus lentes,
Viennent les heures nouvelles
A word to the wise, greetings/farewell.
 Samuel Beckett, “L’expulsé” [“The Expelled”], in Nouvelles et textes pour rien. Editions de Minuit, 1958.
 Gilles Deleuze, L’épuisé, p. 67.
 Samuel Beckett, Lettres I, 1929-1940 [Lettre to Axel Kaun, 9th of July 1937], Gallimard, 2014, p. 562-564.
 Fanny Lopez, À bout de flux, éditions Divergences, 2022.
 Muriel Combes, Qui sait ? Revue Alice, n° 2, 1999.
 Gustav Landauer, “Anarchic Thoughts on Anarchism”, in Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader. PM Press, 2010, p. 87.
 Frit Zorn, Mars. Gallimard/Folio, 1977, p.311.
 Salvador Espriu. Mrs. Death. Editions 62, Els llibres de l’Escorpí, 1985.
From Lundimatin #405 (27/11/2023) …
(Cosmo) Anarchist Commentaries
We invited Josep Rafanell i Orra, who has just published an excellent ShortTreatise on Cosmoanarchism (Divergences). Rather than chat, we asked him to clarify some of the key points of the book: why do we have to destitute everything, starting with this strange idea that is the subject? How is a new idea of communism radically opposed to this other strange idea: society? How could the end of the world also conceal the resurgence of worlds? What can a flight from politics be that in no way renounces partisan struggle?
In the times to come, we will need to destroy a great deal so that transitions of experience, passages, can trace their paths across an archipelago of worlds.
Gustav Landauer proclaimed in 1901, a few years before the hammer blow to modernity caused by its own global adventure of mechanized death:
Anarchy is not a matter of the future; it is a matter of the present. It is not a matter of making demands; it is a matter of how one lives. Anarchy is not about the nationalization of the achievements of the past but about a new people arising from humble beginnings in small communities that form in the midst of the old: an inward colonization. Anarchy is not about a struggle between classes – the dispossessed against the possessors – but about free, strong, and sovereign individuals breaking free from mass culture and uniting in new forms. The old opposition between destruction and construction begins to lose its meaning: what is at stake are new forms that have never been. (Gustav Landauer, “Anarchic Thoughts on Anarchism”))
Since then, other cataclysms have occurred. It has once again become impossible for being to come to terms with what it is. We will never again be “neither strong nor master of ourselves”. We are strong only if we attend to the vulnerability of what connects beings, precisely what leads to transfigurations. Because our strength lies in the fierce struggle against the powers which neglect the ways of existing, which destroy the passages which make encounters possible.
All it takes is the sinking of a boat with seven hundred migrants swallowed up by the sea under the eyes of the Frontex police for us to forget them. This is the people who are missing. The age of the emancipation of the people is over if we do not envisage the passages towards its fragmentation. I will keep, from Landauer’s words, their aim towards secession, his desperate passion for community through withdrawal. And I no longer forgot that revolution can only be the dissolution of society where lonely subjects come together. What was there before the Subject? The strength of the bonds between beings. What will we find after it? Magic again; forces and powers that connect.
It is in truth the definitive end of Man that we are witnessing. Michel Foucault in The Order of Things said: “man is only a recent invention, a figure not yet two centuries old, a new wrinkle in our knowledge, and that he will disappear again as soon as that knowledge has discovered a new form.” Perhaps in the end it was not God who died but the Man who coined the terrible name of the Absolute. “God exists”, said Fritz Zorn. “I even consider this sentence as the possibility of a fact. But even if this sentence were to be correct, it is only correct if we specify it in the following way: God only exists in part, for the rest he is liquidated.” Maybe God is not dead because he was never anything other than a pure transition. From one world to another, Gods come and then become. We in turn can become faithful passengers in the anarchic regions of the cosmos. If we want a good life, we still have to create a good death for Man. To finally emerge from modernity and its disasters perhaps boils down to this: putting an end to the autonomy of the subject as a foundation. But for that we must hear the calls of the world.