Unreal Nature

August 29, 2013

Kairos

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:52 am

… Will I have time to realize it in the form I envisaged before I change myself?

Continuing through The Preparation of the Novel by Roland Barthes (2003). These are from Barthes’s lectures given between 1978 and 1980 at the Collège de France:

… To go from the Projected Work to its Fabrication: where’s the difficulty? — in the Planning, which means, specifically, this is the Project I’ve selected; I’m going to set to work → What shall I work on tomorrow? Which operation? Sit at my desk, remain there, with my arms folded, thinking? It’s a truth test: sometimes a project is exciting, appealing, but when your back’s against the wall you have no idea how to divide it up into the multiple operations that will gradually advance its realization: it’s a question of coming up with a daily procedure, an agenda of things to do, which cashes in, converts the Project.

I don’t  have the recipe because the possibility of conversion is the seal of a project’s validity; which means that the actual planning of it is of the nature of kairos,* of the Good Project → I shall pick out, perhaps, two types of project which give rise to two types of planning, of working practice.

Alternative that Valéry puts very clearly; two possibilities for the creator of a work: “in the first, the work is answerable to a predetermined plan, in the second, the artist fills in an imaginary rectangle.” → So there are two different kinds of plan: (1) the plan that proceeds by logic, unraveling, deduction; (2) the plan that proceeds by filling in a grand fantasized (“imaginary”) form: an activity that has more to do with aesthetics than with logic (cf. the Oriental painter or writer).

… One of Flaubert’s most singular remarks is his calm announcement that the book he must write will take him six years. Now, how can anyone know where they’ll be in themselves, in their relationship to the world, in six years? The book, a fixed object, since it’s finished, structured, premeditated, is produced by a subject who can never guarantee his own immutability. Once the Planning Stage has come to an end, and the slow work of Writing begins, there’s therefore a concern. Proust: Will I have time to finish it before I die? = Will I have time to realize it in the form I envisaged before I change myself? Sort of Einsteinian problem: the non-identity of the self has to produce an object that’s defined by its identity → Non-identity formulated by Pascal in the following way: “I feel in myself a malice that prevents me from agreeing with what Montaigne says, that vivacity and firmness weaken in us with age. I would not wish that to be so. I am envious of myself. This self at twenty years old is no longer me.” Whence the impatience to finish the work as soon as it has begun: precaution against yourself. Frequent feelings of revulsion, of disarray, because I no longer fit the work and yet I have to see it through, in the way it was planned → Unless, of course, the variability of the subject and the parameterical variations of the Work is factored into the Plan of the Work; …

… I want to point out in passing that “changing” is an act that presents the Doxa with a great deal of problems; fickleness is never well regarded — I’ll say: even when it can be called a “conversion”; what the Doxa admires is immutability, the persistence of an opinion (Why? Perhaps left over from feudal morality) → Possibility of a typology of intellectual “changes”: (1) Never change = Militant; (2) Change but dogmatize each change = Clovis’s complex: worship what you have hitherto burned, and vice versa; (3) Change, vary, but in a nondogmatic way, like the shimmering of mottled silk (that is to say, without fanfare) on the curtain of life (Maya): cf. the “versatility” that Nietzsche speaks of in Ecce Homo.

… These brakings → often and in a more contingent manner; writing stalls , breaks down, → for Flaubert, this would translate, bodily into “marinades”: abandoning his desk (whose “sacred,” fetishistic nature I’ve discussed), he would throw himself onto his couch and lie there limply (this is why you should always — or never — have a couch in your study).

… When it’s a matter of a breakdown caused by the Other’s (the Great Other’s) Imaginary Gaze being fixed upon what you’re writing, the sense that your writing is being monitored (anxiety of being watched while doing something difficult), the Imaginary provides a solution: you artificially divide writing up into Pleasure and Fear (of the Other); you write (pleasure) but tell yourself (pure imaginary) that you’re not going to publish it: this frees writing up (so you tell yourself).

[ * kairos – “the right or opportune moment” … “a time between, a moment of indeterminate time in which something special happens.” — from Wikipedia ]

My most recent previous post from Barthes’s book is here.

-Julie

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