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La vie de l’esprit entre amis, la pensée qui se forme dans l’échange de parole par écrit et de vive voix, sont nécessaires à ceux qui cherchent. Hors cela, nous sommes pour nous-mêmes sans pensée. Penser appartient à la figure sacrée qu’ensemble nous figurons.

Comité, No. 1, October 1968, p. 31. A facsimile of the entire issue is available via the archives of Georges Sebbag website: “Comité numéro 1 – Octobre 1968”

Facsimile of a quotation by Hölderlin as it appears in Comité No. 1 October 1968. The quotation reads: “La vie de l’esprit entre amis, la pensée qui se forme dans l’échange de parole par écrit et de vive voix, sont nécessaires à ceux qui cherchent. Hors cela, nous sommes pour nous-mêmes sans pensée. Penser appartient à la figure sacrée qu’ensemble nous figurons.”
Reproduction of the bottom section of page 31, in Comité No. 1, October 1968.

The objective of this bibliographic note is not to discuss the very rich context (historical, cultural, social) in which the first issue of the short live journal (or “bulletin”) Comité came to be (following the events of May 1968, in France), but rather to document this single quotation, attributed to Friedrich Hölderlin. In the issue of Comité from October 1968, it is presented as shown above, only with the name “Hölderlin.” It belongs to a group of quotations –over a dozen– appearing throughout the issue alongside the main essays (a form of paratext, perhaps, as defined by Gérard Genette).

The motivation for this note is two-fold. First, the quotation played a significant role in Dionys Mascolo’s intellectual trajectory (see here: Dionys Mascolo: An annotated Bibliography), and will turn out to be influential for others as well (for Maurice Blanchot, but also for Gilles Deleuze). Second, although this importance is recognized, the quotation itself –aside from two recent exceptions– is never properly referenced. While it is usually attributed to Hölderlin –as it was already the case in Comité No. 1, in 1968– the source itself is not mentioned, or the quotation is presented as being without explicit reference, or again, as in Gregg Lambert’s book Philosophy After Friendship. Deleuze’s Conceptual Personae, its origin is presented as a mystery:

The full quotation is as follows: “Without the spirit of friendship, [the thoughts that form in the exchange of words, by writing or in person. Without that,] we are, by our own hands, outside thought.” However, the source of this quote remains a mystery, since I cannot find it in Hölderlin’s hymns. Mascolo himself acknowledges that it comes from a translation of one of Hölderlin’s poems, most likely “As When on a Holiday,” that reportedly Blanchot had translated and then published anonymously in the journal Comité in October 1968, perhaps in commemoration of the events of May ’68. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017, p. 167, note 10)

The comment is problematic on two fronts. First, because the source of the quote was documented at least since 2011, in an essay by Leslie Hill (see below). Second, because in the aforementioned essay, Hill informs his readers that Mascolo was fully aware of the origin of the quote (again, see below). However, we indeed know –at least since 1998– that Mascolo had confirmed the quotation used in Comité had been translated by Maurice Blanchot. He had mentionned it in a letter he wrote to Gilles Deleuze on September 28, 1988:

I have called this communism of thought in the past. And I placed it under the auspices of Hölderlin, who may have only fled thought because he was unable to live it: “The life of the spirit between friends, the thoughts that form in the exchange of words, by writing or in person, are necessary to those who seek. Without that, we are by our own hands outside thought.” (I would like to add that Mr. [sic] Blanchot did this translation and it was published anonymously in Comité, in October 1968). (Letter by Dionys Mascolo to Gilles Deleuze, September 28, 1988; in Two Regimes of Madness. Texts and Interviews 1975-1995, trans. Ames Hodges and Mike Taormina, New York: Semiotext(e), 2007, p. 331)

Below is the original version published in French, in 1998, in an issue of Lignes, where this correspondence between Mascolo and Deleuze was first made public:

Il m’est arrivé d’appeler cela communisme de pensée. Et de le placer sous le signe de Hölderlin, qui n’a peut-être fui hors pensée que pour n’être pas parvenu à la vivre: «La vie de l’esprit entre amis, la pensée qui se forme dans l’échange de parole, par écrit ou de vive-voix, sont nécessaires à ceux qui cherchent. Hors cela, nous sommes par nous-mêmes hors pensée.» (cette traduction, je tiens à vous le dire, est due à M. Blanchot, et a été publiée anonymement dans Comité, en octobre 68). (Lignes, Issue No. 33, 1998, p. 225; available online)

Also worth noting is how the content of this first issue of Comité was largely determined by Dionys Mascolo and Maurice Blanchot. Furthermore, in his essay “The Joy of Uprising and the Fear of the State: On Blanchot’s Insurrectional Writings (1968-1969),” Jean-François Hamel notes:

Blanchot’s archives at the Houghton Library of Harvard University contain an important file dedicated to the preparation of the bulletin, which reveals that it was Blanchot himself who chose most of citations reproduced in Comité (Hölderlin, Baudelaire, Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, etc.). (SubStance, Vol. 50, No. 2, 2021, Issue 155, p. 58, note 7)

Supporting this argument is the document reproduced below, which can be found in Écrits politiques: 1953–1993 (ed. Éric Hoppenot, Paris: Gallimard, 2008, p. 256). It is a facsimile of the table of content for the first issue of Comité, with handwritten additions by Blanchot. The word “Hölderlin” written by Blanchot at the bottom of the page indicates the position where the quote was inserted (below the short text “Lire Marx”). This facsimile is not reproduced in Political Writings, 1953-1993 (Fordham University Press, 2010).

Image of a facsimile of the table of content of Comité No. 1 (October 1968) annotated by Maurice Blanchot
Facsimile of the table of content for the first issue of Comité, October 1968. Reproduced in Écrits politiques: 1953–1993, ed. Éric Hoppenot, Paris: Gallimard, 2008, p. 256

As it will soon appear, the translation Blanchot offers is unique and takes some liberty with the original German text. This alone could partly explain how tracking back its source was made more difficult. Blanchot knew German very well, allowing him to read texts in their original form, and to translate them (see L’Herne Blanchot, Paris: Édition de l’Herne, pp. 34 ff.). An anecdote documented by Georges Bataille further suggests that Martin Heidegger was not only aware of Blanchot’s work on Hölderlin, but impressed by it1.

This is where a special mention should be made of Leslie Hill’s 2011 essay “‘A Fine Madness’: Translation, Quotation, the Fragmentary” (in Blanchot Romantique. A Collection of Essays eds. John McKeane and Hannes Opelz, New York: Peter Land, 2011, pp. 211-231). This is one of the exception mentioned earlier2, and it offers the most extensive discussion to date of the quotation by Hölderlin translated by Blanchot, which Hill’s describes as a “remarkable instance of rewriting” (Ibid.: 222). Along with a detailed comparative breakdown of Blanchot’s translation with the original German text (see specifically p. 224), Hill also provides his reader with an excerpt from a correspondence he had with Mascolo. In a letter addressed to Hill, dated from April 18, 1994, Mascolo shows he knows very well where the quotation originated:

Il peut vous intéresser de savoir que la traduction de l’admirable poésie de Hölderlin, à l’avant-dernière page du bulletin – pensée extraite de la lettre de H. à Böhlendorff (automne 1802) – cette traduction, donc, est de Blanchot (Ibid.: 222 n13)

Thus, the mysterious quotation is actually the concluding paragraph of a well-known letter written by Hölderlin to his friend, the German writer, poet and historian Casimir Ulrich Boehlendorff (alternate spelling: Böhlendorff), in late fall of 1802, while in Nürtingen (sometimes dated from December 2, 1802, sometimes from November: see below). This is the second of two letters Hölderlin sent to Boehlendorff, the first one being dated from December 1801. In the Große Stuttgarter Ausgabe (GSA) edition of Hölderlin’s complete work (Sämtliche Werke), it is reproduced in Volume 6.1 “Briefe: Text,” under the section “Stuttgart Hauptwil Nürtingen Bordeaux 1800 – 1804,” as Item No. 240 (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 1954, pp. 432-433, where the letter is not dated; available online). The specific part translated and quoted by Blanchot in Comité No. 1 appears on page 433, lines 53-57:

Image of the last paragraph of Hölderlin’s second letter (in German) to Boehlendorff (also spelled Böhlendorff), as it appears in the <em>Große Stuttgarter Ausgabe</em>, Volume 6.1 (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 1954, p. 433)
Last paragraph of Hölderlin’s second letter to Boehlendorff, as it appears in the Große Stuttgarter Ausgabe, Volume 6.1 (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 1954, p. 433)

Schreibe doch nur mir bald. Ich brauche Deine reinen Töne. Die Psyche unter Freunden, das Entstehen des Gedankens im Gespräch und Brief ist Künstlern nöthig. Sonst haben wir keinen für uns selbst; sondern er gehöret dem heiligen Bilde, das wir bilden.

English translations of the letter can be found in various editions. In Essays and Letters on Theory from 1988:

If you would just write to me soon. I need your pure tone. The psyche among friends, the origination of thoughts in conversation and correspondence is necessary for artists. Otherwise we have nobody for ourselves, but he belongs to the sacred image which we produce. (trans. Thomas Pfau, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988, pp. 152-153, not dated)

In Essays and Letters from 2009 (publisher website):

Make sure you write to me soon. I need your pure tones. Psyche among friends, the formation of thoughts in conversations and letters, is vital for artists. Otherwise we have none for ourselves; but they belong to the holy image we are shaping. (trans. Jeremy Adler and Charlie Louth, New York: Penguin Books, 2009, Item No. 110, pp. 213-215, also dated from November 1802; along with a contextual commentary)

In Selected Poems and Letters from 2019:

But write soon. I need your clear tones. Psyche among friends, and growth of thought in conversation and letter is needed by artists. Otherwise we have no thought for ourselves; but it belongs to the holy image which we are shaping. (trans. Christopher Middleton, Amsterdam: The Last Books, 2019, pp. 182-184, where it is dated from November 1802; along with a short contextual commentary)

In French, the letter can aso be found in a number of editions, including Correspondance complète (trans. Denise Naville, Paris: Gallimard, 1948, pp. 311-312: PDF; this translation is referenced by Leslie Hill in the essay mentioned above), Remarques sur Oedipe. Remarques sur Antigone (trans. François Fédier, Paris: Union générale d’édition, coll. “10/18,” 1965, pp. 104-109: PDF), as well as in Fragments de poétique et autres textes (bilingual edition, trans. Jean-François Courtine, Paris: Imprimerie nationale Éditions, 2006, pp. 365-372). In Oeuvres, from 1967, the translation by Denise Naville (slightly different than her 1948 translation) also contrasts with the one proposed by Blanchot:

La Psyché entre amis, la naissance de la pensée dans la conversation et la correspondance est nécessaire aux artistes. Autrement, nous n’avons aucune pensée pour nous-mêmes ; elle appartient à l’image sacrée que nous formons. (trans. Denise Naville, Paris: Gallimard, coll. Pléiade, 1967, pp. 1009-1011: PDF).

Hölderlin’s second letter to Boehlendorff was also included in Walter Benjamin’s collection Deutsche Menschen. Eine Folge von Briefen (Lucerne: Vita Nova, 1936; digital copy hosted by Internet Archive, see specifically p. 45; this time the letter is dated from December 2, 1802). This collection, published under the pseudonyme “Detlef Holz” while Benjamin was still alive, includes 27 letters written by German writers between 1783 and 1883, along with comments by Benjamin. This collection was later included in the Walter Benjamin Gesammelte Schriften, Vol. IV, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1991 (where the letter appears on pp. 171-173; see Wikisource for details). In the Selected Writings volumes, the letter to Boehlendorff (dated from December 2, 1802), along with Benjamin’s commentary (and the critical apparatus of this edition), appears in Volume 3 (1935-1938), on pages 180-182 (trans. Edmund Jephcott, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002). Here’s how part of Benjamin’s commentary accompanying the letter reads:

Among Hölderlin’s letters from the early nineteenth century, there is hardly one which does not contain phrases fully comparable to the lasting formulations in his poems. Yet their anthology value is not their greatest merit. This lies, rather, in their unique transparency, thanks to which these plain, devoted letters give us a view of the interior of Hölderlin’s workshop. The “poet’s workshop” —seldom more than a cliche— is here restored to its true meaning: in those years there was no linguistic act, not even daily correspondence, that Hölderlin did not perform with the masterly precision of his late poetry. The tension which this gives to his occasional writings makes even some of his most unremarkable business letters, not to speak of the letters to those close to him, documents as extraordinary as the following to Böhlendorf. (Ibid.: 180)

More important yet is how Hölderlin’s 1802 letter to Boehlendorff is included in full, and extensively discussed by Martin Heidegger in a conference titled “Hölderlins Earth and Heaven” (“Hölderlings Erde und Himmel”), a commentary on a draft of the poem entitled “Griechenland,” first delivered at the meetings of the Hölderlin Society in Munich on June 6, 1959, and later included in the Gesamtausgabe (GA) Volume 4. The volume titled Erläuterungen zu Hölderlins Dichtung gathers materials written between 1936 and 1968 (ed. by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann, Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1981, see specifically pp. 157 ff.; for reference).

In the English edition Elucidations of Hölderlin’s Poetry, the letter can be found on pages 182-184. In Keith Hoeller’s translation, the quotation under discussion reads as follow:

Please write to me soon. I need your pure tones. The Psyche among friends, the genesis of thought through conversation and letters is necessary to artists. Otherwise we have none for ourselves; but it belongs to the holy image we are forming. (New York: Humanity Books, 2000, p. 184)

Regarding the letter itself, Heidegger notes “We would need many days and favorable hours to reflect on this letter in an appropriate manner.” (Ibid.). Heidegger provides the letter with a substantial note, which similarly to Benjamin’s comment, also highlights its importance. The beginning of the note reads as follow:

Many of you are informed about how this letter, and especially the one written a year earlier to the same friend immediately before his journey to southern France, are cited in connection with the discussion of what has been named Hölderlin’s “occidental turn,” and what Hölderlin himself, although with a different meaning, considers under the title “the patriotic reversal.” We must, of course, hear Hölderlin’s discourse on the “patriotic” and the “national” according to the meaning of his thought, which means that we must free it from our current narrow representations. (Ibid.: p. 206)

In the French edition titled Approches de Hölderlin, the conference “Terre et ciel de Hölderlin” is translated by François Fédier. Here is again the relevant quotation:

Écris-moi donc bien vite. Il me faut tes pures intonations. La psychè entre amis, comment la pensée vient à être dans le dialogue et la lettre, est nécessaire aux artistes. Autrement, nous n’en ayons aucune pour nous-mêmes; au contraire, elle appartient à la constellation sacrée que nous formons. (Paris: Gallimard, 1973, p. 205)

To complement this bibliographic note, listed below are known references where Mascolo explicitly mentions, or alludes to Hölderlin’s quotation (see the annotated bibliography to track reeditions):

  • 1985. In “Aux heures d’un communisme de pensée” (L’Autre journal, Issue No. 9, November)
  • 1988. In a letter to Gilles Deleuze, dated from September 28, 1988. First published in Lignes, Issue No. 33, 1998, p. 225; available online
  • 1990. In “Sur les effets d’une approches rétrospective” (preface for the reedition of the three issues of Le 14 Juillet)
  • 1993. The quotation is used as the epigraph for the collection À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements (Paris: Fourbis, p. 17).
  • 1993. In Haine de la philosophie : Heidegger pour modèle, Paris: Jean-Michel Place, p. 154
  • 1994. In “Autour de la rue Saint-Benoît: An Interview with Dionys Mascolo,” interview by Jane Bradley Winston, Contemporary French Civilization, Vol. 18, Issue No. 2, p. 199.

• • •

1. In December 1946, in Issue No. 7 of the French journal Critique (cover; table of content), Blanchot published an essay titled “La parole «sacrée» de Hölderlin” (pp. 579-596), later included in La part du feu (Paris: Gallimard, 1949, pp. 118-136). This essay was written in reaction to the translation into French of an address by Heidegger entirely dedicated to Hölderlin’s fragmentary “As When on a Holiday…” (“Wie wenn am Feiertage” see Große Stuttgarter Ausgabe, 2.1, p. 118), first delivered in 1939, and later included in Erläuterungen zu Hölderlins Dichtung (GA 4, see above for details). For the anecdote —where Heidegger wanted to praise Blanchot but got him confused with Bataille—, see again L’Herne Blanchot, pp. 109 ff., as well as Leslie Hill’s Maurice Blanchot and Fragmentary Writing: A Change of Epoch (New York: Bloomsbury, 2012, p. 104).↩︎︎

2. The other exception is a thesis by Luis Felipe Alarcón: La leçon du silence : littérature et relation sociale chez Maurice Blanchot. Philosophie. Université Paris sciences et lettres, 2019. See specifically pages 289-290, where the quotation is properly referenced, and Blanchot’s “rather extravagant” translation is discussed (without reference to Leslie Hill’s analysis of the same quotation).↩︎︎

• • •

Black and white image of a portrait of German poet Friedrich Hölderlin
Portrait of Friedrich Hölderlin by Franz Karl Hiemer, c. 1792. Collection Marbach am Neckar, Schiller National Museum. Permalink.

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Dionys Mascolo: An Annotated Bibliography https://aphelis.net/dionys-mascolo-annotated-bibliography/ Thu, 10 Mar 2022 21:52:56 +0000 https://aphelis.net/?p=17632 To go along the recent release of La révolution par l’amitié, a collection of essays by Dionys Mascolo assembled by French publisher La Fabrique (see below), this entry offers an annotated bibliography of books and collections of essays by Dionys Mascolo. One of the main function of this annotated bibliography is to ease the identification […]

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Dionys Mascolo: Annotated Bibliography

To go along the recent release of La révolution par l’amitié, a collection of essays by Dionys Mascolo assembled by French publisher La Fabrique (see below), this entry offers an annotated bibliography of books and collections of essays by Dionys Mascolo. One of the main function of this annotated bibliography is to ease the identification of various reeditions, and to track essays published in different journals and later republished in a number of collections.

This is a work in progress. The entry will be updated as information is being gathered. For ease of navigation, here are the main parts currently available:

Updated: 2022.03.30

• • •

Main Bibliography

  • 1946. “Si la lecture de Saint-Just est possible” in Oeuvres de Saint-Just, by Louis-Antoine-Léon Saint-Just, Paris: Editions de la Cité universelle, pp. 9-54. This text signed “Jean Gratien” (a pseudonyme of Dionys Mascolo) serves as the introduction for this collection of essays by Saint-Just. It will be republished on a number of occasions.

    • A digital facsimilar of the entire book is available via the Bibliothèque nationale de France: Gallica. The introduction runs from page 9 to page 54.
    • – – – 1968. Republished as Oeuvres choisies (Paris: Gallimard, series Idées No. 159, 383 pp.) This version was revised and shorten by Dionys Mascolo, and comes with a new foreword by him. Cover: JPEG-1, JPEG-2.
    • – – – 1993. The 1968 version (along with the new foreword) was republished as part of À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 19-59 (see below)
    • – – – 2022. The 1968 version (along with the new foreword) was republished as part of La révolution par l’amitié, Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 114-160.
  • 1947. “Une interview d’Elio Vittorini,” by Jean Gratien (pseudonyme of Dionys Mascolo) and Edgar Morin Les Lettres françaises Issue No. 162, Friday June 27, pp. 1, 7.

    • A digital facsimilar of the entire issue is available via the Bibliothèque nationale de France: Gallica.
  • 1953. Le Communisme. Révolution et communication ou la dialectique des valeurs et des besoins, Paris: Gallimard.

    • A preview of the first 86 pages is available via the Bibliothèque nationale de France: Gallica.
    • – – – 2018. Republished by Nouvelles éditions Lignes (Paris), with a postface by Michel Surya
    • – – – 2020. Republished as a digital facsimile by FeniXX
  • 1957. Lettre polonaise : sur la misère intellectuelle en France, Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit.

    • A preview of the first 16 pages is available via the Bibliothèque nationale de France: Gallica.
    • – – – 1993. Republished as part of À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 65-122 (see below)
    • – – – 2018. Republished as a digital facsimile by FeniXX
  • 1971. Du rôle de l’intellectuel dans le mouvement révolutionnaire by Jean-Paul Sartre, Bernard Pingaud and Dionys Mascolo, Paris: Éric Losfeld.

    • Mascolo’s essay titled “Contre les idéologie de la mauvais conscience” was republished on a number of occasions: see below for more information
  • 1987. Autour d’un effort de mémoire : sur une lettre de Robert Antelme, Paris: Maurice Nadeau.

    • – – – 2005. Translated into Spanish as En torno a un esfuerzo de memoria. Sobre una carta de Robert Antelme, trans. Isidro Herrera, Madrid: Arena Libros.
  • 1990. “Un itinéraire politique,” interview with Aliette Armel, Magazine littéraire, Issue No. 278, June 1990, pp. 36-40. PDF.

  • 1990. “Dossier de la « Revue internationale »: correspondances” (letters dated between 1961 and 1965 sent to and received from Richard Seaver, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Iris Murdoch, Uwe Johnson, Maurice Blanchot, Michel Butor, M. Leszek Kolakowski, Francesco Leonetti, Elia Vittorini), Lignes Issue No. 11, Vol. 3, Paris, pp. 217-301. Available online.

  • 1993. De l’amour, Paris: URDLA, 65 pp., with a preface by Edgar Morin.

    • – – – 1999. Republished by publisher Benoît Jacob, Paris, 76 pp., publisher website.
    • – – – 2012. Translated into Turkish as Aşk Üstüne, Monokl publisher.
  • 1993. Haine de la philosophie : Heidegger pour modèle, Paris: Jean-Michel Place

    • – – – About two third of the book were previously published in 1992, in issues No. 15 & 16 of Lignes: “Bassesse et profondeur,” Lignes, Issue No. 15, pp. 141-174 (available online); “Bassesse et profondeur, II” Lignes, Issue No. 16, pp. 117-158 (available online)
  • 1993. À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements (hereafter ARCP), Paris: Fourbis. See below for the full table of content.

    • A preview of the first 74 pages is available via the Bibliothèque nationale de France: Gallica.
    • – – – 2016. Republished as a digital facsimile by FeniXX
  • 1994. “Autour de la rue Saint-Benoît: An Interview with Dionys Mascolo,” interview by Jane Bradley Winston, Contemporary French Civilization, Vol. 18, Issue No. 2, pp. 188–207, DOI.

  • 1996. Textes inédit sur L’espèce humaine. Essais et témoignages by Robert Antelme (Daniel Dobbels ed.), Paris: Gallimard. See specifically pp. 252-272 for Mascolo’s contribution (interview).

    • – – – 1994. The book above was born out of a special issue of Lignes, Issue No. 21, Vol. 1, Paris: Édition Hazan. The same interview with Mascolo can be found on pp. 175-202.
    • – – – 2003. On Robert Antelme’s The Human Race. Essays and Commentary, trans. by Jeffrey Haight, Nortwestern University, 2003 (publisher website)
  • 1998. “Avec Dionys Mascolo”, Lignes Issue No. 33, Vol. 1, Paris: Édition Hazan. Available online. See below for the full table of content.

  • 2004. Entêtements, Paris: Benoît Jacob, 252 pp. (publisher website). See below for the full table of content.

  • 2011. “Lettre de Dionys Mascolo à Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe du 27 juillet 1984,” in Maurice Blanchot. Passion politique, Jean-Luc Nancy, Paris, Galilée, 2011, pp. 63-71.

    • – – – 2015. Translated into German as Maurice Blanchot – Politische Passion, trans. Jonas Hock, Berlin: Turia + Kant.
  • 2011. Sur le sens et l’usage du mot «gauche», Paris: Nouvelles éditions Lignes (publisher website).

    • This short book contains two essays: “Sur le sens et l’usage du mot ‘gauche’” and “Contre les idéologies de mauvaise conscience”. The former was first published in a double issue of Les Temps modernes (Gallimard, Issues No. 112-113, May 1st, 1955). For the latter, see the annotated table of content for ARCP, below.
    • – – – 1998. “Sur le sens et l’usage du mot ‘gauche’” was republished in Lignes, Issue No. 33, pp. 47-62 (with slight modifications by Mascolo).
    • – – – 2022. Republished by Nouvelles éditions Lignes (Paris), with a postface by Alphonse Clarou (publisher website).
  • 2016. Le coup de tête [novel], with accompanying art by Gilgian Gelzer and a postface by Jérôme Duwa, Rigny: Éditions du Chemin de Fer (publisher website).

  • 2022. La révolution par l’amitié, Paris: La Fabrique. See below for the full table of content.

    • A preview of the first 4 pages (the table of content along with a presentation note) is available via the publisher website.

• • •

À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements (1993)

Cover for the book À la recherche d'un communisme de pensée: entêtements by Dionys Mascolo (1993)
Cover for À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements , Paris: Fourbis, 1993.

Table of Content: PDF – This collection from 1993 is currently the most important one in existence. Running 454 pages, it offers some 44 essays, along with a short “pre-text” (or introduction) signed by Maurice Blanchot. Many of these essays had been previously published, and were subsequently republished, after 1993. For instance, the new collection La révolution par l’amitié (see below) offers many of the essays previously collected in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements (hereafter ARCP).

What follows is the full table of content, annotated. The context of origin for each item is provided, largely based on the presentation notes available in the collection, although sometimes complemented with additional information I could find. When possible, I also indicates when a given item was subsequently republished, although this is by no means an exhaustive recension.

  • Pré-texte Pour l’amitié par Maurice Blanchot (pp. 5-16)

    • This is a short essay written by Maurice Blanchot to serve as a “pre-text” or introduction to Mascolo’s collection of essays.
      • – – – 2000. Republished as a separate book by French publisher Farrago (Tours). 40 pp.
  • Si la lecture de Saint-Just est possible (pp. 19-59)

    • This text was written as an introduction to a collection of texts by French revolutionary Louis Antoine Léon de Saint-Just titled Oeuvres choisie and published by Éditions de la Cité in April of 1946. The introduction was published under the pseudonyme Jean Gratien (pp. 9-54: see Gallica for a digital reproduction). This text was later republished on a number of occasions:

      • – – – 1968. Reedited as Oeuvres choisie (Paris: Gallimard, series Idées No. 159, 383 pp., publisher website, cover: JPEG-1, JPEG-2). This version was revised and shorten by Dionys Mascolo, and comes with a new foreword by him. It is this modified version that appears in ARCP.
      • – – – 2022. The 1968 version was republished (along with the new foreword) as part of the collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 114-160)
  • Intellectuel et gouverneur (pp. 60-65)

    • A note signals this was first published in Les Lettres Nouvelles, issue of January-February 1956. That would be issue No. 34. Eslewhere, a page range is provided: pp. 147-150. An examination of the cover [JPEG] of issue No. 34 from 1956 suggests that either another essay was published in this specific issue, or that the same essay was published with a different title («Le monde, comme il va»).

  • Lettre polonaise sur la misère intellectuelle en France (pp. 65-122)

    • I. En Pologne pp. 65-76
    • II. Ce que la Pologne donne envie de dire de la France aux Polonais pp. 77-89
    • III. Ce que la Pologne donne envie de dire de la France aux Français pp. 89-120
    • VI. Conclusion pp. 120-122
    • These were first published as single book in 1957 (Paris: Minuits, 96 pp.) A preview of the first 11 pages is available via the Bibliothèque nationale de France: Gallica (alternate link). The essays were written following a travel Mascolo did in Poland, in January 1957, along with three close friends: Robert Antelme, Claude Lefort and Edgar Morin. The travel took place in the aftermath of both the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and the “Polish October” of the same year.

      Aside for their reproduction in ARCP, these essays were also republished:

      • – – – 2004. As part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 7-78)
  • Du jeu, de l’Érotisme (pp. 123-131)

    • The accompanying note indicates this essay was first published in L’Observateur (France Observateur), April 1958. However, a number of different sources all indicate it was published in issue 406, February 20, 1958, pp. 16-17. Used copies can still be found for purchase online. The motivation for the essay was the recent publication of two important book: L’Érotisme by Georges Bataille (Minuit, 1957) and Les Jeux et les Hommes by Roger Caillois (Gallimard, 1958).
  • La pensée anticipatrice (pp. 133-138)

    • First published in the journal Arguments No. 9, September 1958 [cover – JPEG]. The text was Mascolo’s answer to a survey on the topic of “anticipation”: the future of human kind and the world. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, this essay was also republished:

  • Zazie ou la philosophie dans le métro (pp. 139-146)

    • First published in France Observateur,Paris, Vol. 10, No. 458, February 12 1959, p. 24 (for reference). This essay is about Raymond Quenneau’s novel Zazie dans le Métro, published in 1959 (Paris: Gallimard).

  • Trois texte publiés dans Le 14 Juillet (pp. 147-176)

    • I. Refus inconditionnel (pp. 147-149)
    • II. La part irréductible (pp. 150-165)
    • III. Sur le pouvoir temporel de l’intelligence (pp. 165-176)
    • These essays were published in the anti-Gaullist journal Le 14 Juillet, founded by Dionys Mascolo and Jean Schuster. It would run for three issues between July 14, 1958 (issue No. 1) and June 18, 1959 (issue No. 3). Additional information (including a list of the content) can be found at revue-litteraires.com. Cover of issue No. 3: JPEG.

      Aside for their reproduction in ARCP, these essays were also republished:

      • – – – 1990. As a facsimile of the originals (Paris: Lignes/Séguier; for reference; archive). The reedition was presented by Daniel Dobbels, Francis Marmande, and Michel Surya, while Diony Mascolo and Jean Schuster wrote a new preface (see below: “Sur les effets d’une approches rétrospective”).
      • – – – 2004. As part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 79-116)
      • – – – 2022. As part of the collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 27-61)
  • Sur deux amis morts (pp. 177-186)

    • First published in a special issue of La Nouvelle Revue Française published in hommage to Albert Camus (Issue No. 87, March 1st, 1960, pp. 451-460; digital reproductions are available online; cover, excerpt: PDF). Camus had died in a car accident just a few weeks earlier, on January 4th, 1960. Michel Gallimard, who was driving the car, died a few days later on January 9, 1960. They are the “two friends” in the title of the essay. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, this essay was also republished:

      • – – – 1967. Gallimard republished the special issue from 1960 as a book, where Mascolo’s essay can be found on pp. 57-66.
  • Quatre textes destinés à la Revue Internationale (pp. 188-200)

    • I. Être moderne (pp. 187-190)
    • II. Fragment d’utopie (pp. 190-196). Written in 1962, first published in French in October of 1967, in issue No. 2 of the surrealist journal L’Archibras (Paris: Le Terrain Vague; also contains an interview with Margueritte Duras; cover: JPEG)
    • III. Interdit à la loi (pp. 196-198)
    • VI. Rapprochement franco-allemand? (pp. 199-200)
    • These essays were all written between 1960 and 1963 for the Revue International project, which failed to concretize. They were never published in French –with the exception of “Fragment d’Utopie,” as indicated above– and appeared in the 1993 collection for the first time. All three were supposed to be part of a rubric titled “Le cours des choses.” More information about the Revue Internationale project can be found Lignes, Vol. 3, Issue 11 (1990), entirely dedicated to the topic.

  • Effrayante liberté (pp. 201-204)

    • First published in Nouvel Observateur (March 16, 1966, p. 38; facsimile: PDF). The text was Mascolo’s reaction to a complaint a reader shared with the editors that Sade was being cited too often.

  • Hommage à Maurice Blanchot (pp. 205-210)

    • First published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue No. 12, September 15-30, 1966, p. 27 (cover). The essay is a comment on a recently published issue of Critique entirely dedicated to Maurice Blanchot (Issue 229, June 1966; this issue was republished in 1997).

      At the time of writing, Librairie Faustroll is selling a 3-page manuscript letter addressed to Maurice Nadeau and dated from October 2, 1966. Among other things, the letter discusses the essay Mascolo had written for La Quinzaine Littéraire. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, this essay was also republished:

      • – – – 2004. As part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 225-233)
  • Le Surréalisme, demain (pp. 211-216)

    • First published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 14, October 15-31, 1966, p. 17 (PDF). The entire issue is available online.

      • – – – 1967. A note (specifically footnote 23) in the “Introduction” to issue 31 of the journal COnTEXTES. Revue de sociologie de la littérature published in 2021 suggests that a selection from the essay was republished in the surrealist journal L’Archibras (Issue No. 1, April 1967, p. 25).
      • – – – 2004. Republished as part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 203-201)
  • Pour saluer André Breton (pp. 217-220)

    • Text written for a 94-minute radio episode titled “Pour saluer André Breton” originally broadcasted by France Culture on October 19, 1966. The episode was created under the supervision of Jean Schuster and Maurice Nadeau. Only the first part was read by Mascolo at the time. The second part was published for the first time in this collection. The episode can be found on Radio France.

  • Nietzsche, l’esprit moderne et l’Antéchrist (pp. 221-264)

    • Written as a preface for a French edition of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Der Antichrist, translated by Robert Rovini and published by French publisher J.J. Pauvert in May 1967 (in the series Liberté, curated by Jean-François Revel). Cover: JPEG; more images. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, this essay was also republished:

      • – – – 2000. The same preface was published as a standalone book Nietzsche, l’esprit moderne et l’Antéchrist (Tours: Farrago, 64pp.; cover: JPEG; Google Books).
      • – – – 2002. As a preface to another French reedition of Nietzsche’s L’Antéchrist (Paris: Benoît Jacob; publisher website, cover: JPEG)
      • – – – 2022. As part of the collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 62-113)
  • Cuba premier territoire libre du socialisme (pp. 265-297)

    • First published in Lettres Nouvelles, in a special issue directed by Maurice Nadeau and dedicated to Cuban writers (“Écrivains de Cuba”), Dec. 1967 – Jan. 1968. Cover: JPEG.

      • – – – 1967. The essay published in Lettres Nouvelles includes a speech Mascolo made while in Cuba for the Salón de Mayo, on July 26-28, 1967, titled “Révolution, ombre ou lumière” (in ARCP, pp. 267-269). This speech was translated into Spanich and published as “La revolución: sombra o luz,” in Catalogue Salón de Mayo, Pabellón Cuba, La Habana, Talleres de Granma, July 1967. Facsimile: PDF.
  • Sept textes publiés dans le No. 1 de Comité (pp. 299-318)

    • I. Le pouvoir de la rue (pp. 299-300)
    • II. Une illusion très générale (pp. 301-303)
    • III. Les « deux mille mots » (pp. 304-305)
    • IV. Juillet-Mai (pp. 306-308)
    • V. Les communistes de salut (pp. 309-312)
    • VI. La Pharisienne (pp. 312-314)
    • VII. La théorie, force matérielle (pp. 314-318)
    • These seven essays were published anonymously in issue No. 1 of Comité (October 1968, 32pp.), the “bulletin” of the Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains, to which Mascolo participated. A facsimile of the entire issue is available on Georges Sebbag website. The texts reproduced here were written by Mascolo. For more contextual information see Lignes, below (pp. 133-174), where the same seven essays are also reproduced.

      • – – – 1998. “Avec Dionys Mascolo,” Lignes, Issue No. 33, Vol. 1, Paris: Édition Hazan, pp. 133-174. Available online.
  • Un mouvement révolutionnaire exemplaire (pp. 319-322)

    • First published in Le Magazine Littéraire, fall 1968. Although no more information is provided, it was likely published in issue No. 21 (September 1968, 58pp.) which has a section on Czechoslovakia (Tchécoslovaquie, in French), the topic of this essay (for reference, see revues-litteraires.com; cover: JPEG)

  • Un an après, le comité d’action écrivains-étudiants (pp. 323-364)

    • Preceeded by “Naissance d’un comité,” a short text by Marguerite Duras, submitted for the first issue of Comité but eventually rejected. It would be first published in Lettres Nouvelles, June-July 1969 (cover: JPEG). This text created a polemic within the committee and played an significant role in the recomposition it underwent in February 1969: see Georges Sebbag’s archives: “Marguerite Duras : Extraits ou Naissance d’un comité.” See also Jean-François Hamel, Nous sommes tous la pègre. Les années 68 de Blanchot, Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 2018, p. 105.
    • I. Le comité d’action, exigence révolutionnaire illimitée
    • II. Le mouvement, par-delà optimisme et pessimisme
    • III. Sur les comités d’action
    • These three texts were first published anonymously in Les Lettres Nouvelles June-July 1969 (Paris: Mercure de France, 190 pp.), along with four other texts, under the general title “Un an après, le Comité d’action écrivains-étudiants” (in the June-July issue from 1969: pp. 143-188). Aside for their reproduction in ARCP, one of these texts was republished:

      • – – – 2022. “Le mouvement, par-delà optimisme et pessimisme,” as part of the collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 171-191)
  • Contre les idéologies de la mauvais conscience (pp. 365-372)

    • This essay was first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire Issue No. 107, Dec. 1-15, 1970, pp. 14-15 (cover: JPEG; facsimile: PDF). The essay is a reaction to an interview with Jean-Paul Sartre published in L’Idiot International in September 1970 under the title “L’Ami du peuple” (with Jean-Edern Hallier and Thomas Savignat, Issue No. 10, p. 35; republished in 1972 as part of the collection Situations VIII, Paris: Gallimard, pp. 456-476), as well as to an essay by Bernard Pingaud published in La Quinzaine Littéraire Issue No. 104, Oct. 16-31, 1970, pp. 8-9, under the title “Faut-il rééduquer les intellectuels?” (cover). The essay “Contre les idéologies de la mauvaise conscience” was republished on a number of occasions:

      • – – – 1971. Along with the essays by Sartre and Pingaud, as a book titled Du rôle de l’intellectuel dans le mouvement révolutionnaire (Eric Losfeld publisher, series Le Désordre, 50 pp.; cover: JPEG). Mascolo’s essay appears on pp. 41-50.
      • – – – 2004. As part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 165-174)
      • – – – 2011. As part of the small book Sur le sens et l’usage du mot gauche (Paris: Lignes, pp. 41-54);
      • – – – 2022. As part of the collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 192-200)
  • Surréalisme, morale, musique (pp. 373-381)

    • First published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 114, March 16-31, 1971, pp. 22-24 (cover; full issue).

  • Naissance de la tragédie (pp. 383-397)

    • Essay on Marguerrite Duras’s film India Song (1975) first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 202, January 1975. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, the essay was republished:

      • – – – 1975. As part of the collection Marguerite Duras, by Marguerite Duras et al., Paris: Albatros (a revised, second edition was published in 1979);
      • – – – 1987. Translated as “Birth of Tragedy,” as part of an English translation of the collection mentioned above: Marguerite Duras by Marguerite Duras, trans. Edith Cohen and Peter Connor, with an introduction by Joël Farges and François Barat, San Francisco: City Lights Book, 1987, pp. 134-146 (table of content: PDF).
  • Le cinéma des surréaliste (pp. 399-405)

    • Mascolo’s answer to a survey or questionnaire first published in Les Cahiers de la cinémathèque (Perpignan), Issue No. 30-31, summer-fall 1980 (216 pp.). Mascolo’s answer was published along a collection of essays on the same topic, all gathered under the title “Table ronde sur le cinéma des surréaliste” (pp. 95-114)

  • Parler de Blanchot (pp. 407-412)

    • The 1993 Fourbis edition suggests this essay was first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, 1980. Instead, according to publisher Maurice Nadeau, the essay was first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 341, February 1st, 1981. The essay is part of a discussion with Maurice Nadeau and Robert Antelme, about Maurice Blanchot’s L’écriture du désastre, published in the fall of 1980. The essay by Mascolo and Antelme is preceded by an introduction written by Nadeau, only a portion of which is reproduced in ARCP. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, the essay by Mascolo was also republished:

      • – – – 2004. As part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 235-242)
      • – – – 2014. As part of an edition of Cahiers de l’Herne dedicated to Maurice Blanchot (Paris: Édition de l’Herne, pp. 286-287).
  • Encore un effort si nous voulons pouvoir nous dire socialistes (pp. 413-417)

    • Libération, December 24-25, 1981. This intervention was triggered by the introduction of martial law in Poland, on December 13, 1981, which is brought in relation with the “Union of the Left” (Union de la gauche) ongoing in France at the time.

  • De la persistance intellectuelle (pp. 419-437)

    • First published in two parts in La Quinzaine Littéraire (Issue No. 423, September 1st, 1984, and Issue No. 424, September 16, 1984). It is a contribution to a special issue of the state of the left (La Gauche en question), itself part of a wider debate on the “silence of intellectuals” following the May 1981 elections in France.

  • Aux heures d’un communisme de pensée (pp. 439-446)

    • First published in L’Autre journal, Issue No. 9 November 1985, as an answer to questions about the Déclaration sur le droit à l’insoumission dans la guerre d’Algérie. It provides a short presentation of the context in which the Déclaration –also known as Manifeste des 121– was produced and released, in September 1960, 25 years earlier. A copy of the Déclaration was also included in the same issue. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, the essay by Mascolo was also republished:

      • – – – 2004. As part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 129-139)
      • – – – 2022. As part of the collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 11-19)
  • Sur les effets d’une approches rétrospective (pp. 447-454)

    • Preface originally written for the reedition of the three issues of the journal Le 14 Juillet, published for a special issue of the intellectual revue Lignes, in July of 1990. Aside for its reproduction in ARCP, the essay was republished on a number of occasions:

      • – – – 2004. As part of the collection Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 117-128)
      • – – – 2011. A short excerpt was published under «L’amitié du non» in the French journal Vacarmes (Vol. 3, No. 56, p. 95)
  • • • •

Avec Dionys Mascolo (1998)

Cover “Avec Dionys Mascolo,” Lignes, Issue No. 33, March 1998
Cover for “Avec Dionys Mascolo”, Lignes, Issue 33, Vol. 1, March 1998, Paris: Édition Hazan.

Table of content: online, PDF – Aside from À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements (1993), this 260-page issue of Lignes first published in March 1998 (8 months after Mascolo’s death, in August 1997) currently offers the largest number of written pieces by Dionys Mascolo. The various essays, pamphlets, manifestos, tracts, etc. cover four main historical periods: 1) On communism (1946-1955); 2) On decolonization (1955-1959); 3) On Vietnam and Cuba (1967-1968); 4) On May 1968 (1968-1971). Additionally, the issue presents for the first time a correspondance between Dionys Mascolo and Gilles Deleuze (later included in Two Regimes of Madness), which was prompted by Deleuze’s reaction to Mascolo’s book Autour d’un effort de mémoire (published in 1987), as well as a precious correspondance between Mascolo and Blanchot pertaining to the preparation of that book. The issue concludes with an annex providing reports written by Mascolo and Antelme for the Parti communiste français (PCF), in reply to criticism addressed by the Party, which will led to their exclusion in 1950. The two reports are preceded by a presentation written by Edgar Morin for this issue of Lignes. Also worth noting, the inclusion of excerpts from Mascolo’s unpublished notebooks (not reproduced anywhere else).

The issue also comes accompanied by two useful introductory essays: one by Daniel Dobbels (which explains the genealogy of the issue, which had been in preparation since the early 1990s) and one by Michel Surya (where an explanation for the title “Avec Dionys Mascolo” is offered, having to do with the collective nature of his writing practice and, more generally, with what Mascolo’s names a “communism of thought”: one does not think alone). An acknowledgments section (PDF), at the very beginning of the issue, names those without whom the issue could not have been made: Solange Mascolo (his partner from 1977 to his death, in 1997), Monique Antelme, Maurice Blanchot, Fanny Deleuze, Jean-Pierre Boyer (founder of Éditions Fourbis, and later Éditions Farrago), and the Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC) (where, at the time, Mascolo’s archives were being transferred, and where they are now preserved). Aside from the editorial notes presented with each items, the entire issue also comes with a critical apparatus in the form of footnotes.

What follows is the full table of content, annotated. The context of origin for each item is briefly provided, largely based on the presentation notes available in the issue, along with additional contextual information, and occasional corrections. When possible, I also indicate if a given item was subsequently republished. In 2014, the whole Issue No. 33 was made available online at Cairn.info: a direct link to this digital reproduction is provided for each item. If an author is not mentioned following a title, it is officially attributed to Mascolo.

  • Dionys Mascolo : Esquisse pour un portrait, by Daniel Dobbels (pp. 5-12)

  • Avec Dionys Mascolo : présentation, by Michel Surya (pp. 13-18)

    • An editorial indicates that when texts already published were subsequently modified by Mascolo, the modifications were included in this issue. Titles correspond to the original titles. If a text presented in the issue did not have a title, the editors provided one, marked by brackets. Similarly, the editors sometimes attributed an anonymous text to an author, in which case the names also appears within brackets. Some shorter “tracts” where titled using the first words of the text. Finally, we learn that the editors choose to place the entire issue under a dedication Mascolo had considered for À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements: “À Maurice Nadeau, qui aura su comme nul autre donner parole à autrui.”

— Le parti, le communisme —

  • [Carnets, extraits (1946)] (pp. 21-24)

    • Dionys Mascolo kept notebooks throughout his life, although none were ever published. This specific excerpt dated from October 27, 1946, offers a window of Mascolo’s activism as the young communist he was during that period. Hence the choice made by the editors to present it first, while other excerpts are presented towards the end of the issue.
  • [Rapport au Cercle des critiques sur les questions de la littérature et de l’esthétique (1948)] by Robert Antelme and Dionys Mascolo (pp. 25-39)

    • The Cercle des critiques was a committee within the French communist party tasked with discussing if the Party had the right to intervene on problems of aesthetics (i.e. arts, but more specifically literature). In June 1948, Antelme and Mascolo were invited to debate their position, since both of them denied the Party such a right. What was presented as a free and voluntary discussion would later be used against them to propose their exclusion from the party, in 1950 (see the final annexes).
  • Appel aux travailleurs de France [Dionys Mascolo] (pp. 40-44)

    • This call (“appel” in French) was written by Mascolo following the speech given by Nikita Khrouchtchev at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union held in February 1956, which denounced Staline’s crimes. The text was modified by other authors. The editors of Lignes couldn’t established if this call was ever published, but it was made available publicly via mimeographed copies (“ronéotype”). The call came with a list a early signatories including Michel Leiris, Edgar Morin, Dionys Mascolo, Maurice Nadeau, and others.
  • [Je n’avais, en quittant le parti communiste…] (pp. 45-46)

    • First published in Le Nouvel observateur, November 1967 (Issue No. 155, November 1-7, 1967), under the title “Un témoignage de Dionys Mascolo.” Mascolo goes back to when he left the French communist party, and highlights the importance to distinguish between what he calls “l’exigence communiste” from the organisation which is tasked to channel such a demand or requirement, namely the party.
  • Sur le sens et l’usage du mot « gauche » [1995] (pp. 47-62)

    • First published in May 1955, in a double issue of Les Temps modernes titled “La Gauche” (Gallimard, Issues No. 112-113, May 1st, 1955). With contributions by S. de Beauvoir, C. Lanzmann, J. Pouillon, J. Desanti, M. Péju, C. Bourdet, P. Naville, G. Martinet, and others. This represents Mascolo’s unique contribution to Les Temps modernes. Minor modifications were made by Mascolo on the 1955 versions, included in this issue. The text was later republished:
      • – – – 2011. Sur le sens et l’usage du mot «gauche», Paris: Nouvelles éditions Lignes (publisher website).
      • – – – 2022. The above was republished by Nouvelles éditions Lignes (Paris), with a postface by Alphonse Clarou (publisher website).

— La décolonisation —

  • Appel du Comité d’action contre la poursuite de la guerre en Afrique du Nord [1955] [Dionys Mascolo] (pp. 63-67)

    • On November 5, 1955 Mascolo and a couple of friends (Antelme, Duras, and others) are invited (or invited themselves) to a meeting of the Société des horticulteurs. The official goal of this meeting is to form a committee, in order to oppose the continuation of the war in North Africa. A joint commitment is decided, which takes the form of this call (“appel”). Mascolo was the main authors. More contextual information is provided in the issue.
  • Pour l’abolition du colonialisme [1956] (pp. 68-72)

    • Speech delivered by Mascolo on January 27, 1956, during a meeting of Comité des intellectuels contre la poursuite de la guerre en Afrique du Nord (created on Nov. 5, 1955, during the meeting identified in the previous item: see the notice in BnF catalog). The meeting took place at Salle Wagram a historic  auditorium in the 17th arrondissement of Paris (Wikipedia). Other intellectuals also delivered speeches, among them Jean Amrouche, Robert Barrat, Aimé Césaire, Daniel Guérin, Michel Leiris, André Mandouze, Jean-Jacques Mayoux, and Jean-Paul Sartre. The speeches delivered at this meeting were subsequently published in a collection:
      • – – – 1956. Guerre d’Algérie et colonialisme, Paris : Comité d’action des intellectuels contre la poursuite de la guerre en Afrique du Nord, 1956, 91 pp. (BnF notice; cover: JPEG)
  • Lettre (19 novembre 1956) (pp. 72-73)

    • The Comité des intellectuels contre la poursuite de la guerre en Afrique du Nord will dissolve (or implode) one year after its creation, in November 1956, when the USSR invaded Hungary to repress the Hungarian Revolution. This is the letter Mascolo wrote on November 19, 1956, to explain why he won’t join future meetings.
  • Appel en faveur d’un Cercle international des intellectuels révolutionnaires [Dionys Mascolo] (pp. 74-78)

    • First published without signatories in Lettres Nouvelles, Issue No. 49, May 1957 (edited by Maurice Nadeau; cover: JPEG). A subsequent note indicated that three working groups were created to support the call. The call for the creation of this group (or “Cercle”) was also supposed to be accompanied by a monthly publication. The publication never came to be, but the idea paved the way to the creation of the short-lived but important anti-Gaullist journal Le 14 Juillet. Notes by Mascolo toward this project are also included.
  • Projet pour un jugement populaire et premières mesures exécutoires, by Dionys Mascolo and Jean Schuster (pp. 79-83)

    • As documented elsewhere in the present annotated bibliography, Dionys Mascolo and Jean Schuster launched the journal (“revue” in French) Le 14 Juillet in 1958, with the explicit goal of publicly opposing and denouncing the way de Gaulle took power the same year, in a military coup also known as the “Algiers putsch” or “the coup of 13 May” (Wikipedia). Three issues will be published between July 14, 1958 and June 18, 1959 (see ARCP pp. 147-176, above, for more details). In September 1958, between the first and second issue, Mascolo and Schuster will sent out a “declaration” titled “Projet pour un jugement populaire” (according to another source, the text was titled “Envoi spécial / avant le no. 2” and published on September 21, 1958: see Livres rares). The editors note how this declaration can be read as a first –if radically different– version of the upcoming Déclaration sur le droit à l’insoumission. Whereas the latter would put emphasis on “insoumission”, the declaration from September 1958 focuses on the necessity of “incivism” to fight de Gaulle’s government.
      • – – – 1990. As a facsimile of the originals (Paris: Lignes/Séguier). The reedition was presented by Daniel Dobbels, Francis Marmande, and Michel Surya, while Diony Mascolo and Jean Schuster wrote a new preface (see here: “Sur les effets d’une approches rétrospective”).
  • Déclaration sur le droit à l’insoumission dans la guerre d’Algérie. Manifeste dit des « 121 »
    (pp. 84-87)

    • As the editors note, in early 1960, the “Jeanson trial” (named after Francis Jeanson, the leader of an underground network who supported the Algerian FNL or Front national de libération), Mascolo felt another intervention was needed. It takes the form of a new declaration initially titled “Adresse à l’opinion nationale” and again co-written with Jean Schuster. There would be at least 15 versions produced, before the final version, to which Blanchot collaborated and to which he also gave its final title. This declaration has since been republished on numerous occasions, too numerous to be listed here. Worth listing however is the important “dossier spécial” put together by François Maspero in January 1961 (see just below). The Déclaration is also available in various English translations (see for instance marxist.org, which notably does not identify Mascolo as the main proponent of this initiative). Robert Barrat, one of the signatories who was also arrested merely for having signed the Déclaration, provides additional context in a short account translated from French and published in Africa South in Exile Vol. 5, No. 2. January-March 1961, pp. 92-94 (PDF).
      • – – – 1961. “Le droit à l’insoumission (le dossier des “121”)”, Cahiers libres, Issue No. 14 Paris: François Maspero, 264 pp.
      • – – – 2018. Republished as a digital facsimile by FeniXX
  • (Documents annexes) Mise au point, by Maurice Blanchot (pp. 87-89)

    • There is no presentation note for this item. It is a short reaction penned by Maurice Blanchot following criticism addressed to the Déclaration by Michel Cournot, a French writer, journalist and filmmaker (1922-2007).
      • – – – 2003. Republished as part of Écrits politiques. 1958-1993, Paris: Éditions Léo Scheer, pp. 32-35.
      • – – – 2008. Republished as part of Maurice Blanchot. Écrits politiques 1953-1993, Paris: Gallimard, pp. 55-58 (also reproduced without presentation notes).
  • [Lettre au Juge d’instruction] (pp. 89-90)

    • This letter is dated from November 19, 1956. The only note from the editors lists the signatories associated with the archival copy reproduced: D. Mascolo, M. Duras, M. Nadeau, G. Serreau, M. Lange, R. Antelme, J. Schuster, C. Lanzmann, O. de Magny, J. Lindon. The judge in question is most certainly “Juge Perez” also mentioned by Mascolo, years later, in his essay “Aux heures d’un communisme de pensée” (see ARCP pp. 439-446, above, for details). When the Déclaration was made public, the government’s reaction was swift and many of the signatories were charged (“inculpés”). But only one was arrested: Robert Barrat. Reacting to what they were perceiving as an arbitrary decision, the signatories of this letter reminded the Judge they too had signed, and asked for the Judge to show consistency and apply the same measures to all of them (that is, to arrest them all as well).
  • Saint-Just (pp. 91-95)

    • This text was published here for the first time. It was written and read during a radio broadcast in 1959, at the invitation of Alain Trutat. Mascolo had already published an introduction to a volume of Oeuvres choisies by Saint-Just, published in 1946 by Édition la Cité universelle (created by Robert Antelme and Marguerite Duras in 1946). See ARCP pp. 19-59 for more details about this introduction.
      • – – – 2022. As part of the collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 20-26)

— Viêt Nam, Cuba—

  • En vue de la défaite américaine. Appel international pour une rupture [Robert Antelme] (pp. 97-101)

    • First published in Lettres nouvelles, July 1967 (likely the issue for July-September of 1967). At the time of writing, Librairie Faustroll sells an original print of the 2-page tract (facsimile of the first page: JPEG). In May 1967, Robert Antelme took the initiative of a new call for the defeat of the war in Vietnam. Many of the first signatories are the same who first signed the Déclaration sur le droit à l’insoumission dans la guerre d’Algérie. The topic is also familiar, building on the important thematic of refusal, here specifically the “honour of defeatism”. Also worth noting is how this call against the war condone violence (i.e. “violence comprise,” p. 101).
  • Les soussignés, invités… (pp. 102-104)

    • For the anniversy of Fidel Castro’s attack on the Mocada Barracks, a group of authors including (but not limited to) D. Mascolo, M. Duras, M. Leiris, G. Limbour, M. Nadeau, A. Carpentier, and J. Schuster accepted an invitation to travel to Havana, where they will stay between July 15 and August 7, 1967. Some will once again visit Cuba in January 1968, in order to attend the Cultural Congress of Havana (Congreso Cultural de La Habana: Wikipedia), held between January 4th and January 11th. In a special issue of Les Nouvelles Lettres from Dec. 1967-Jan. 1968, Mascolo will publish his essay “Cuba, premier territoire libre du socialisme” (see ARCP, pp. 265-297). In March 1968, many of the intellectuals who travelled to Cuba will participate in the creation of the International association of the friends of the Cuban revolution (Association internationale des amis de la Révolution cubaine). For Mascolo and for others, this public support will cease abruptly when Castro offered official diplomatic support to the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, in August 1968 (see next item).
  • Lettre ouverte au Parti communiste de Cuba (pp. 104-107)

    • As suggested just above, Castro’s official approval of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by four countries of the Warsaw Pact, On August 20-21, 1968, triggered this reaction, largely written by Mascolo. The letter will first appeared in the surrealist journal L’Archibras (Issue No. 5, special edition, Paris: Le Terrain Vague, September 30, 1968, p. 9; Jean Schuster was the editor of the journal; cover: JPEG), signed by Antelme, Blanchot, Duras, and Mascolo (signatures are dated from September 7, 1968). The editors of Lignes suggest the letter will appear again in an issue of Le Nouvel Observateur, this time with the additional support of C. Courtot, G. Goldfayn, G. Legrand and J. Schuster. No addtional detail is provided, but this would likely be an issue from October 1968 (No. 151, 152, 153 or 154).

— May 1968—

  • Mai-juin 1968 : Tracts du Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains (Sorbonne-Censier) (pp. 109-128)

    • This section gathers 20 items, all tracts (very short texts) produced by the Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains (Sorbonne-Censier). This committee was created on the third day of the takeover of the Sorbonne. Some of the most active members are identified as Monique and Robert Antelme, M. Blanchot, V. Bounoure, M. Duras, J. Duvignaud, L.-R. des Forêts, M. Leiris, D. Mascolo, M. Nadeau, C. Rochefort, and others, as they would meet on a daily basis at the occupied Sorbonne. There, they would discuss and debate, write tracts, calls, and collective declarations. These activities are briefly featured in William Klein’s 98-minute documentary film Grands soir, petits matins, released in 1978 (see film-documentaire.fr for more information). Marguerite Duras describes the birth of the committee in a short text titled “Naissance d’un comité” (this text will go on to play a substantial role in the dissolution of the committee: see ARCP pp. 324-330). For more information (in French) about the genesis of the Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains, see Jean-François Hamel: “Le demain joueur du Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains : genèse d’un collectif littéraire d’agitation et de propagande” (Fabula/Les colloques, La littérature contemporaine au collectif, 2020)

      The editors of Lignes included all the tracts they could find (for more information, see Jean-François Hamel, Nous sommes tous la pègre. Les années 68 de Blanchot, Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 2018, p. 13, note 7: PDF). Some have a title, for the others a title was given marked by brackets. When a specific author was identified, it is also indicated with brackets. All 20 items are listed below, with corresponding page numbers, as well as occasional contextual information. These tracts have been republished in various venues, which could not be all listed here. The texts signed or attributed to Maurice Blanchot have been reproduced in two collections of his “political writings,” and can be found in English translations in Political Writings, 1953-1993 (Fordham University Press, 2010)1.

      1. [Seul, après toutes les tentatives…] (pp. 111-112)
      2. [La solidarité que nous affirmons ici…] [Maurice Blanchot], dated May 8, 1968 (pp. 112-113)
        • Published in Le Monde, May 9, 1968, with the title “Il est capital que le mouvement des étudiants oppose et maintienne une puissance de refus, déclarent MM. Jean-Paul Sartre, Henri Lefebvre et un groupe d’écrivains et de philosophes
      3. Appel aux intellectuels en vue d’un boycott de L’O.R.T.F. 1, dated May 20, 1968 (p. 113)
      4. Appel aux intellectuels en vue d’un boycott de L’O.R.T.F. 2, dated May 20, 1968 (p. 114)
      5. Le Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains réplique au Parti communiste français, dated May 27, 1968 (pp. 114-115)
      6. [Un gouvernement ne gouverne…] [Maurice Blanchot] (p. 115)
        • For more information about the reference to “les négotiations du Châtelet” (“Châtelet negotiations”) which lead to the Grenelle agreements, see Wikipedia.
      7. La poursuite de la grève générale, dated May 30, 1968 (pp. 115-116)
      8. [L’interdiction de séjour…] (p. 116)
      9. [Plutôt que de renoncer au pouvoir…], dated June 4, 1968 (pp. 116-117)
      10. Adresse du Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains au Parti communiste français, à la Fédération de la gauche démocratique et socialiste et au Parti socialiste unifié , dated June 8, 1968 (p. 117)
      11. Déclaration du Comité d’action écrivains-étudiants, dated June 12, 1968
        • Worth noting how the name of the committee varies: sometimes “étudiants-écrivains” or, as it is the case here, “écrivains-étudiants.”
      12. [La démocratie se fait à la base] dated June 13, 1968 (pp. 119-120)
      13. Qui a choisi le fils a choisi la vie éternelle (pp. 120-121)
        • – – – 2022. Republished as part of collection La révolution par l’amitié (Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 161-163, see below)
      14. [Par le pouvoir de refus] [Maurice Blanchot] (p. 122)
        • Published (among other venues) in Le Monde, June 18, 1968
      15. [Le refus combatif qui…], dated June 28, 1968 (pp. 122-123)
      16. Lettre adressée à tous les écrivains du Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains, dated July 11, 1968 (pp. 124-125)
      17. Le crime [Maurice Blanchot], dated June 25, 1968 (pp. 125-126)
        • Published in a slightly different version (signed “Comité d’action écrivains-étudiants”) in Le Nouvel Observateur, Issue No. 194, July 29-August 4, 1968
      18. À quoi de Gaulle sert-il? (pp. 126-128)
      19. [Lettre à un représentant de la radiotélévision yougoslave] [Maurice Blanchot] (pp. 129-131)
        • The editors explain the letter was found in the archive of Dionys Mascolo, who helped identifying its author. The recipient could not be identified.
      20. [Les caractères possibles…] [Maurice Blanchot] (pp. 131-132)
        • These notes elaborate on an upcoming publishing venture, which will materialize as the first issue of Comité (next item, below). The editors highlight how these notes also closely point to Blanchot’s project of a Revue internationale on which he would work from 1960 to 1965, alongside D. Mascolo, R. Antelme, and others (for more information on the project of a Revue internationale, see Lignes, Issue No. 11, September 1990).
  • Comité. Numéro 1. Bulletin publié par le Comité d’Action étudiants-écrivains au service du Mouvement (octobre 1968) (pp. 133-174)

    • The publication project discussed by Blanchot in the previous item (pp. 131-132) will materialize in October of 1968 as the first issue of a journal or “bulletin” simply titled Comité. The editors incorrectly suggest only one issue was published. A second issue was published in 1969, although under significantly different conditions (see Jean-François Hamel again, Nous sommes tous la pègre. Les années 68 de Blanchot, Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 2018, p. 13, note 7 [PDF], pp. 106-108; see also for a reproduction of the second issue Pierre Bouvier, Mai 68. Traces et griffages, Paris: Galilée, 2018; the correspondance between Maurice Blanchot and Jacques Bellefroid also sheds light on the events that divided the committee in February 1969: “Correspondance Maurice Blanchot / Catherine Podgorny / Jacques Bellefroid”). The editors note that contrary to the collective nature of the tracts (items above), the first issue of Comité was not a collective endeavour. When Mascolo assembled À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée, he reappropriated the texts he wrote. Blanchot did the same for this issue of Lignes, allowing his name to be associated with the specific texts he composed. The texts marked [XXX] were not assigned to a specific author (either because they remain unknown, or because they refused to be identified). It is worth noting that not all texts from Comité were reproduced in this issue of Lignes: “À vos marqueurs,” “Un vaste complot international (quelques repères),” “Conseils aux gens de la rue,” and “Chers camarades” are missing. Also of importance is the absence of the many quotes –some quite lengthy– printed between the texts, or in the margins: quotes from Trotsky, Guevara, Lenin, Orwell, Flaubert, Marx, Baudelaire, Luxembourg, and Hölderlin are missing. Emphasis using bold typeface in the original also have been lost in the reproduction in Lignes. As noted above (ARCP pp. 299-318), a facsimile of the entire issue is available via the archives of Georges Sebbag website (Comité numéro 1 – Octobre 1968”, where pencils notes identify some of the anonymous texts), along with preparation materials (idea for the title, graphic layout for the cover, printing receipt, etc.: “Autour du bulletin Comité). Below I provide both the page numbers for this issue of Lignes (L), and the corresponding page in the original 32-page edition of Comité Numéro 1 (C).
      1. À Censier [XXX] L133-134/C3
      2. En état de guerre [Maurice Blanchot] L134-136/C3-4
      3. Affirmer la rupture [Maurice Blanchot] L136-137/C4-5
      4. Le pouvoir de la rue [Dionys Mascolo] L137-138/C5
        • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 299-300
      5. Aujourd’hui [Maurice Blanchot] L138-139/C7
      6. La mort politique [Maurice Blanchot] L139-140/C8
      7. Le bitume [XXX] L140-141/C8-9
      8. Une illusion très générale [Dionys Mascolo] L141-143/C9-10
        • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 301-303
        • – – – 2022. Republished in La révolution par l’amitié, Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 167-171
      9. La rue [Maurice Blanchot] dated July 17, 1968, L143-144/C11
      10. Prague: La lettre des 2.000 mots [XXX] L144-146/C12
        • The editors note how this text along with “Les deux mille mots (1)” and “Les deux mille mots (2)” were written prior to the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, in August 1968. They comment on “The Two Thousand Words” manifesto written by Czech writer Ludvík Vaculík and puplished on June 17, 1968 (Wikipedia).
      11. Les deux mille mots (2) [XXX] dated July 1968, L146-147/C12-13
      12. Le communisme sans héritage [Maurice Blanchot] L147-148/C13
      13. Depuis longtemps, la brutalité [Maurice Blanchot] L149/C14
      14. Les «deux mille mots» (3) [Dionys Mascolo] dated July 1968, L149-151/C14
        • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 304-305
      15. Juillet-mai [Dionys Mascolo] L151-153/C15-16
        • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 306-308
        • – – – 2022. Republished in La révolution par l’amitié, Paris: La Fabrique, pp. 164-167
      16. Tracts, affiches, bulletin [Maurice Blanchot] L153-155/C16
      17. Commentaires [XXX] L155/C16
      18. Que l’immense contrainte [Maurice Blanchot] L155-156/C17
      19. Les actions exemplaires [Maurice Blanchot] L156-157/C17-18
      20. Commentaire [XXX] L157C17
      21. Deux innovations caractéristiques [Maurice Blanchot] L157-158/C18
      22. Rupture du temps: révolution [Maurice Blanchot] L158/C18
      23. Pour le camarade Castro [Maurice Blanchot] L158-160/C22-23
      24. La reddition idéologique [Maurice Blanchot] L160-161/C23
      25. La clandestinité à ciel ouvert [Maurice Blanchot] L161-162/C23
      26. Les ambiguités de la «libéralisation» [XXX] L162/C24
      27. Réserves sur certaines remontrances à Fidel Castro [XXX] L162-163/C24
      28. À propos des réserves qui précèdent [XXX] L163/C24
      29. Les communistes de salut [Dionys Mascolo] L163-166/C25-26
        • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 309-312
      30. Commentaire [XXX] L166/C26
      31. La Pharisienne [Dionys Mascolo] L166-168/C28
        • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 312-314
      32. La théorie, force matérielle [Dionys Mascolo] L168-172/C29-30
        • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 314-318
      33. Lire Marx [Maurice Blanchot] L172-174/C31
        • – – – 1971. Republished as “Les trois paroles de Marx” in L’Amitié by Maurice Blanchot, Paris: Gallimard, pp. 115-117
  • — Comité : autres documents —

  • [Je tiens à t’informer moi-même…] dated February 13, 1969 (pp. 175-185)

    • The editors provide contextual information for the letter, which has to do with Mascolo’s decision to leave the Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains. Mascolo at the time had moved a motion calling for the complete dissolution of the committee, which failed to receive the support of a majority of members (see Georges Sebbag: “Correspondance Maurice Blanchot / Catherine Podgorny / Jacques Bellefroid”). Having failed to put an end to the committee, Mascolo decided to leave it.
  • Sur le mouvement [Maurice Blanchot] dated December 1968 (pp. 177-180)

    • In the summer of 1969, Maurice Nadeau and Les Lettres Nouvelles published five anonymous essays under the general title “Un an après, le Comité d’action écrivains-étudiants” (Issue of June-July 1969). An essay by M. Duras titled “Naissance d’un comité” as well as three essays by Mascolo were repulished in ARCP (pp. 324-363). The fifth text is the one reproduced here.
  • La paranoia au pouvoir. La dialectique de la répression: petite contribution à une recherche [XXX] (pp. 181-185)

    • A note by the editors suggests this text was gathered with others with the aim of publishing a second issue of Comité. As previously indicated, this second issue was published (contrary to what is indicated in Lignes), but this specific text is not reproduced in Mai 68. Traces et griffages, where most of the materials of the second issue can be found (Paris: Galilée, 2018). The author could not be identified.
  • L’Orient désert de Raymond Aron, 1968 (pp. 185-186)

    • An editorial note explains how this short text by Mascolo was also meant for a second issue of Comité. It is a reaction to the publication of Raymond Aron’s book La révolution introuvable. Réflexion sur les événements de Mai (Paris: Éditions Fayard, coll. “En toute liberté” curated by Alain Duhamel, September 1968; cover: JPEG). The please-insert (“prière d’insérer” in French) reads: “Pendant ces semaines de mai où la crise atteignait son paroxysme, Raymond Aron a été le seul à garder la tête froide.”
  • Le piège de l’abstention, 1969 (pp. 186-187)

    • Originating with the Comité d’action étudiants-écrivainns, this call (“appel”) to vote at the presidential election of 1969 was published (in part or in its entirety) by various press agencies. It is a reaction for a call to abstention made by Jean-Paul Sartre. Among the signatories are M. Clavel, M. Duras, G. Goldfayn, D. Guérin, P. Halbwachs, M. Leiris, E. Losfeld, D. Mascolo, P. Vidal-Naquet.
  • Projet d’adresse aux masses intellectuelles, 1970 (pp. 187-191)

    • Dated from May 1970, the editors suggest it was never made public before its reproduction in Lignes.
  • Sur la responsabilité du militant, 1972 (pp. 191-192)

    • Dated from March 8, 1972, this is a joint declaration initiated by Dionys Mascolo and Marguerite Duras about the way communist media reacted to the death of Pierre Overney. Among the first signatories were S. de Beauvoir, A. du Bouchet, F. Châtelet, L.-R. des Forêts, G. Goldfayn, D. Guérin, R. Lapoujade, H. Lefebvre, M. Leiris, M. Nadeau, J.-P. Sartre, and J. Schuster. Overney was a worker in a Renault car factory and a political activist. After being fired from his job, he went back to the factory to distribute pamphlets. During an altercation, a guard shot and killed him. 200,000 people attended his funeral on March 4, 1972. He is buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery (see Wikipedia). For more contextual information (in French) see the 2013 documentary film Mort pour la cause du peuple by Anne Argouse and Hugues Peyret, 53 minutes (trailer & viewing options).
  • Communication au sujet d’Antonin Artaud, Georges Bataille et André Breton. Précédée d’une lettre de D. Mascolo à M. Nadeau (pp. 193-194, link)

    • This come with no contextual information whatsoever. Mascolo’s letter explains the short “communication” which is a denouncitation of the “exploitation” of the names and ideas of Antonin Artaud, Georges Bataille and André Breton. The “communication” is signed by Marguerite Bonnet, Robert Antelme, Michel Leiris, and Dionys Mascolo. It was published in La Quinzaine littéraire, Issue No. 114, March 16-31 1971, p. 24 (cover). Both texts are also listed in Bibliographie des écrits de Michel Leiris 1924-1995 by Louis Yvert (Paris: Jean Michel Place, 1996; a copy used to be available online).

— Carnets —

  • Carnets. Extraits (pp. 194-206)

    • For contextual information, see in this same issue of Lignes, above, pp. 21-24.

— Correspondance. Au sujet de Autour d’un effort de mémoire (1986-1988) —

  • Correspondance D. Mascolo-M. Blanchot (pp. 207-221, link)

    • The editorial note offers useful contextual information, some of which is reproduced here, along with additional information. In 1947, Robert Antelme published a novel (also a testimony) about his experience as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps (he was rescued from Dachau in April 1945 by François Mitterrand and Dionys Mascolo). L’espèce humaine was first published in 1947 by the publishing house la Cité Universelle created in 1946 by Antelme and M. Duras, without much success. Once this publishing house went backrupt, the book was acquired and republished by Robert Marin, but again without much success. The book was finaly acquired and republished by Gallimard, ten years later, in 1957. The book was translated into English as The Human Race by Jeffrey Haight and Annie Mahler in 1992 (Vermont: The Marlboro Press, 298 pp.). The same translation was republished by Northwestern University Press in 1998. Other unpublished writings by Antelme were later collected alongside interviews (including with Mascolo) and testimonies in Textes inédits. Sur L’espèce humaine. Essais et témoignages (Paris: Gallimard, 1996; trans. by Jeffrey Haight as On Robert Antelme’s The Human Race. Essays and Commentary, Nortwestern University, 2003).

      In 1986, Mascolo found a letter Antelme wrote to him in June 1945, just after his recue from Dachau, hence prior to writing L’espèce humaine. Mascolo had completely forgot about it. He will publish the letter alongside a long and poignant commentary under the title Autour d’un effort de mémoire. Sur une lettre de Robert Antelme (Paris: Maurice Nadeau, 1987). The exchange with Blanchot is a testimony to the difficulties Mascolo faced with this project. These difficulties were exacerbated by the fact that while Antelme was still alive at the time, he had been paralyzed by a stroke since 1983, and was suffering from ongoing, short-term memory loss, which made normal communication impossible. For more information in English, see Christopher Fynsk’s presentation “Surviving Friendship: Antelme, Mascolo, Blanchot,” given at The European Graduate School, on October 11, 2008. Below are the letters, with dates when available, and the page range in Lignes.

      • Dionys Mascolo à Maurice Blanchot, Friday March 28, 1986 (pp. 208-210)
      • Maurice Blanchot à Dionys Mascolo, [no date] (pp. 210-211)
      • Dionys Mascolo à Maurice Blanchot, May 1987 (pp. 212-213)
      • Maurice Blanchot à Dionys Mascolo, May 25, 1987 (pp. 214-215)
      • Maurice Blanchot à Dionys Mascolo, June 4, 1987 (pp. 215-216)
      • Dionys Mascolo à Maurice Blanchot, June 5, 1987 (pp. 216-218)
      • Maurice Blanchot à Dionys Mascolo, June 10, 1987 (pp. 218)
      • Dionys Mascolo à Maurice Blanchot, July 28, 1987 (pp. 219-220)
      • Maurice Blanchot à Dionys Mascolo, [not dated] 1987 (pp. 221)
  • Correspondance D. Mascolo-G. Deleuze (pp. 222-226)

    • This brief exchange exchange between Dionys Mascolo and Gilles Deleuze was prompted by Deleuze’s reading (and re-reading, according to his letter) of Autour d’un effort de mémoire (which came out in October 1987). Mascolo had apparently offered Deleuze a copy of the book (see the first letter by Deleuze). Below are the letters, with dates when available, and the page range in Lignes.
      • Gilles Deleuze à Dionys Mascolo, April 23, 1988 (p. 222)
      • Dionys Mascolo à Gilles Deleuze, April 30, 1988 (pp. 222-223)
      • Gilles Deleuze à Dionys Mascolo, August 6, 1988 (pp. 223-224)
      • Dionys Mascolo à Gilles Deleuze, September 28, 1988 (pp. 225-226)
      • Gilles Deleuze à Dionys Mascolo, October 6, 1988 (p. 226)

      The correspondance between Mascolo and Deleuze was republished and translated:

      • – – – 2003. As part of the collection Deux régimes de fous et autres textes (1975-1995) by Gilles Deleuze (ed. David Lapoujade), Paris: Édition de Minuit, pp. 305-310
      • – – – 2007. As part of the translation of the above Two Regimes of Madness. Texts and Interviews 1975–1995, trans. Ames Hodges and Mike Taormina, MIT/Semiotext(e), pp. 327-332
      • – – – 2022. Translated into Spanish as “Correspondencia entre Dionys Mascolo y Gilles Deleuze (1988),” trans. Artillería inmanente

— Annexes —

  • Mémoire justificatif au Parti communiste français au sujet de son exclusion, by Robert Antelme (pp. 227-249)

    • These two reports –the first by Antelme, the second by Mascolo– comes accompanied by a an editorial note providing historical context, as well as a “Présentation” written by Edgar Morin specifically for the issue of Lignes (pp. 229-230). The reports shed light on how both Antelme and Mascolo were “excluded” (or forced to self-exclusion, as it was common practice at the time) from the Parti communiste français (PCF). It’s a testimony to both the “stalinization” of the Party, and the continuous struggle of Antelme and Mascolo (along with Morin and others) to safeguard art (and specifically literature) from the political oversight of the Party. For a detailed account of these events (i.e. how Mascolo, Antelme, but also M. Duras were excluded from the PCF), see Gérard Streiff’s Procès stalinien à Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Paris: Éditions Syllepse, 1999, 144 pp.; publisher website).
  • Mémoire justificatif au Parti communiste français au sujet de son exclusion, by Dionys Mascolo (pp. 250-259)

  • • • •

Entêtements (2004)

Cover for Dionys Mascolo’s collection 'Entêtements,' Paris: Benoît Jacob, 252 pp.
Cover for Dionys Mascolo’s collection Entêtements, Paris: Benoît Jacob, 252 pp.

Table of content: JPG; publisher website – This collection is entirely made of essays previously published in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements (Paris: Fourbis, 1993; see above for details). Published in 2004 by Benoît Jacob publisher (the publishing house founded by Jean Mascolo, the son of Marguerite Duras and Dionys Mascolo: read more), the volume also reproduces the same presentation notes that accompanies each text in ARCP. In addition to the essays, it offers a short, annotated biographical and bibliographical timeline (pp. 245-248), as well as a portrait of Dionys Mascolo from his archive (reproduced at the top of the present entry). The cover is illustrated by an artwork by Michèle Laverdac titled “La transformation du même.”

Since every essays published in this collection was previously published in ARCP, the annotated table of content below refers to the annotated table of content of ARCP (above), where more details about original publications, reeditions, and subsequent republications can be found.

  • Lettre polonaise : sur la misère intellectuelle en France (pp. 7-78)

    • First published as a book in 1957 by Les éditions de Minuit (preview available on Gallica). See the entry under ARCP (pp. 65-122), above, for more details.

  • Trois textes publiés dans Le 14 Juillet (pp. 79-116)

    • I. Refus inconditionnel (pp. 81-83)
    • II. La part irréductible (pp. 84-102)
    • III. Sur le pouvoir temporel de l’intelligence (pp. 103-116)
    • These essays were published in the anti-Gaullist journal Le 14 Juillet, founded by Dionys Mascolo and Jean Schuster. It would run for three issues between July 14, 1958 (issue No. 1) and June 18, 1959 (issue No. 3). See the entry under ARCP (pp. 147-176), above, for more details.

  • Sur les effets d’une approches rétrospective (pp. 117-128)

    • Preface originally written for the reedition of the three issues of the journal Le 14 Juillet, published for a special issue of the intellectual revue Lignes, in July of 1990. See the entry under ARCP (pp. 447-454), above, for more details.

  • Aux heures d’un communisme de pensée (pp. 129-139)

    • First published in L’Autre journal, Issue No. 9, November 1985, as an answer to questions about the Déclaration sur le droit à l’insoumission dans la guerre d’Algérie. See the entry under ARCP (pp. 439-446), above, for more details.

  • Le mouvement, par-delà optimisme et pessimisme (Décembre 1968) (pp. 141-163)

    • One of three texts first published anonymously in Les Lettres Nouvelles June-July 1969 (Paris: Mercure de France, 190 pp.), along with four other texts, under the general title “Un an après, le Comité d’action écrivains-étudiants” (in the June-July issue from 1969: pp. 143-188). See the entry under ARCP (pp. 323-364), above, for more details.

  • Contre les idéologies de la mauvais conscience (pp. 165-175)

    • This essay was first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire Issue No. 107, Dec. 1-15, 1970, pp. 14-15. See the entry under ARCP (pp. 366-372), above, for more details.

  • De la persistance intellectuelle (pp. 177-201)

    • First published in two parts in La Quinzaine Littéraire (Issue No. 423, September 1st, 1984, and Issue No. 424, September 16, 1984). See the entry under ARCP (pp. 419-437), above, for more details.

  • Le surréalisme demain (pp. 203-210)

    • First published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 14, October 15-31, 1966, p. 17. The entire issue is available online. See the entry under ARCP (pp. 211-216), above, for more details.

  • Le surréalisme, demain (pp. 203-210)

    • First published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 14, October 15-31, 1966, p. 17. The entire issue is available online. See the entry under ARCP (pp. 211-216), above, for more details.

  • Surréalisme, morale, musique (pp. 211-223)

    • First published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 114, March 16-31, 1971, pp. 22-24 (coverfull issue). See the entry under ARCP (pp. 373-381), above.

  • Hommage à Maurice Blanchot (pp. 225-233)

    • First published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue No. 12, September 15-30, 1966, p. 27 (cover). See the entry under ARCP (pp. 205-210), above, for more details.

  • Parler de Blanchot (pp. 235-242)

    • Both the 1993 Fourbis edition (ARCP) and Entêtements suggest this essay was first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, 1980. According to publisher Maurice Nadeau, the essay was first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Issue 341, February 1st, 1981 (cover is missing; search in the archives for the information). See the entry under ARCP (pp. 407-412), above, for more details.

    • • •

La révolution par l’amitié (2022)

Cover for La révolution par l’amitié, Paris: La Fabrique, 2022
Cover for Dionys Mascolo’s collection La révolution par l’amitié, Paris: La Fabrique, 2022

Table of Content: PDF; publisher website – After À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements (1993), Issue No. 33 of Lignes in 1998, and Entêtements (2004, which is itself a selection of essays previously published in ARCP), La révolution par l’amitié is the largest collection of essays by Dionys Mascolo. Like Entêtements, it borrows most of its essays (all but four) from ARCP. Given the fact that hard copies of ARCP are not easy to come by, it makes available again a number of important essays by Dionys Mascolo. It comes with a short presentation by the publisher (up until 2019, the collection was advertised with a presentation by Julien Coupat, but that presentation does not appear in the edition that was released in early 2022).

  • Aux heures d’un communisme de pensée (pp. 11-19)

    • First published in L’Autre journal, Issue No. 9 November 1985. See the entry under ARCP, above, for more details.

      • – – – 2014. Republished in Entêtements (Paris: Benoît Jacob, pp. 129-139)
  • Saint-Just (pp. 20-26)

    • This text was never published while Mascolo was alive. It was first published in 1998, in Issue No. 33 of Lignes entirely dedicated to Mascolo (see above). The presentation note in La Fabrique 2022 edition reproduces the one available in this 1998 issue. The text was meant for radio broadcasting, and written at the invitation of Alain Trutat. Mascolo has already written –under the pseudonyme Jean Gratien– an introduction to a selection of works by Saint-Just, Oeuvres choisies (reedited by Gallimard in 1968). This introduction, titled “Si la lecture de Saint-Just est possible,” was included in ARCP: see above for more details.

      • – – – 1998. Republished in Lignes, Issue No. 33, Vol. 1, Paris: Édition Hazan, pp. 91-95
  • Trois textes publiés dans Le 14 Juillet (pp. 27-61)

    • These three essays were first published in Le 14 Juillet, which ran 3 issues between 1958 and 1958. See ARCP above for more details.

      • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 147-176
  • Nietzsche, l’esprit moderne et l’Antéchrist (pp. 62-113)

    • Written as a preface for a French edition of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Der Antichrist, translated by Robert Rovini and published by French publisher J.J. Pauvert in May 1967. See ARCP above for more details.

      • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 221-264.
      • – – – 2000. Republished as a standalone book Nietzsche, l’esprit moderne et l’Antéchrist, Tours: Farrago, 64pp.
  • Si la lecture de Saint-Just est possible (pp. 114-160)

    • This text was written under the pseudonyme Jean Gratien as an introduction to a collection of texts by French revolutionary Louis Antoine Léon de Saint-Just titled Oeuvres choisie and published by Éditions de la Cité in April 1946.

      • – – – 1968. Reedition published by Gallimard, this time with new foreword by Mascolo (dated from 1967), also reproduced in the present collection.
      • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 19-59 (also includes the 1967 foreword).
  • Qui a choisi le Fils a choisi la vie éternelle (pp. 161-163)

    • This text was never published while Mascolo was alive. It has no signature (aside from the mention “Rédaction collective” at the end) and is not dated. It was found as a typewritten document, in the archive of Dionys Mascolo, and includes handwritten additions. It was first published in 1998, in Issue No. 33 of Lignes. The presentation note in La Fabrique 2022 edition reproduces the one available in this 1998 issue.

      • – – – 1998. Republished in Lignes, Issue No. 33, Vol. 1, Paris: Édition Hazan, pp. 120-121. Available online.
  • Textes sur Mai 68 dans Comité (pp. 164-191)

    • These three essays were published anonymously in issue no. 1 of Comité (October 1968, 32pp.), the “bulletin” of the Comité d’action étudiants-écrivains, to which Mascolo participated. See ARCP for more details.

      • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, “Juillet-Mai,” pp. 306-308; “Une illusion très générale…,” pp. 301-303; “Le mouvement, par-delà optimisme et pessmisme,” pp. 343-358.
      • – – – 1998. Two of these texts were republished in Lignes, Issue No. 33, Vol. 1, Paris: Édition Hazan, “Une illusion très générale,” pp. 141-143; “Juillet-Mai,” pp. 151-153. Available online.
  • Contre les idéologies de mauvaises conscience (pp. 192-200)

    • This essay was first published in La Quinzaine Littéraire Issue No. 107, Dec. 1-15, 1970, pp. 14-15. It was a reaction to two essays, one by Jean-Paul Sartre and one by Bernard Pingaud: see ARCP, above, for further details.

      • – – – 1971. Along with the essays by Sartre and Pingaud, as a book titled Du rôle de l’intellectuel dans le mouvement révolutionnaire (Eric Losfeld publisher, series Le Désordre, 50 pp.). Mascolo’s essay appears on pp. 14-50.
      • – – – 1993. Republished in À la recherche d’un communisme de pensée: entêtements, Paris: Fourbis, pp. 366-372.
      • – – – 2011. As part of the small book Sur le sens et l’usage du mot gauche (Paris: Ligne, pp. 41-54; reedited in 2022)
  • Sur ma propre bêtise et celle de quelques autres (pp. 201-221)

    • This is the only essay of the La Fabrique collection presented without any information about its origin. It was first published as an article in Les Lettres Nouvelles, Issue No. 2, April 1953 (cover: JPEG).

      • – – – 1953. Included in Le Communisme. Révolution et communication ou la dialectique des valeurs et des besoins, Paris: Gallimard, pp. 130-144.
  • • • •

Dionys Mascolo: undated portrait
Dionys Mascolo, undated portrait reproduced in Entêtements, Paris: Benoît Jacob, 2004, p. 243. The portrait is also part of the large Dionys Mascolo archive preserved at the Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC).

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Martin Heidegger, Media Studies, and Ethics https://aphelis.net/martin-heidegger-media-ethics/ Tue, 03 Aug 2021 20:34:32 +0000 https://aphelis.net/?p=17391 ☛ Photo: Martin Heidegger during lunch, in the garden of the Hotel du Chasselas. Summer 1966. In François Fédier, Soizante-deux photographies de Martin Heidegger, Paris: Gallimard, 1999, no. 57. The following book chapter was written during the summer of 2017 and published in 2018: Theophanidis, Philippe. “A Decisive Mediation: Heidegger, Media Studies, and Ethics.” In […]

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Martin Heidegger during lunch, in the garden of the Hotel du Chasselas. Summer 1966

☛ Photo: Martin Heidegger during lunch, in the garden of the Hotel du Chasselas. Summer 1966. In François Fédier, Soizante-deux photographies de Martin Heidegger, Paris: Gallimard, 1999, no. 57.

The following book chapter was written during the summer of 2017 and published in 2018:

Theophanidis, Philippe. “A Decisive Mediation: Heidegger, Media Studies, and Ethics.” In We Need to Talk about Heidegger: Essays Situating Martin Heidegger in Contemporary Media Studies, edited by Justin Michael Battin and German A Duarte, Berlin: Peter Lang, 2018, pp. 233–277. PDF scanned / PDF from e-book (fully searchable).

The chapter examines the intersection of the epistemological problem we find under the generic label “media studies” and the political problem presented by Martin Heidegger’s involvement with Nazism and anti-Semitism. At this juncture, it opens a path for a reconsideration of the idea of “mediation” from the perspective of ethics. The two first paragraphs are reproduced below:

When it comes to the ways in which media studies intersects with Heidegger’s philosophical work, two crucial problems cannot be overlooked: the definition of media and Heidegger himself. The former is a notoriously fuzzy concept, while the latter was infamously involved with Nazism and anti-Semitism. This chapter opens a path to addressing those problems. This path exposes not a solution, but instead highlights the issue of how we are for one another, and the care that is consequently required from and for us.

In the first part of this chapter, I expand on the two problems initially identified—media and Heidegger—and provide them with contextual background. I cast the problem of defining “media” and “media studies” as an epistemological one. In doing so, I show how one common way to borrow from Heidegger in media studies is to reference modern communication technologies. Since this is a relatively recent and rather specialized extension of the idea of medium, I argue Heidegger’s influence in the nascent field of media studies is neither straightforward nor clearly established. Turning more specifically to Heidegger’s own prejudices, I outline the well-documented and more complicated problem of his involvement with Nazism and anti-Semitism. I cast this problem as a political one. While some have argued that Heidegger’s distorted political views contaminated all his work, I suggest that this is no reason for media studies to steer away from it. Going back to the emergence of the fields of communication and media studies, I show how the epistemological always was and still remains entangled with the political. While banning Heidegger is ultimately an ineffective way to deal with the nature of the problematic views he presented (and getting rid of him does not spare us from the issues of prejudice anyway), merely sidestepping his involvement in the Nazi party is clearly not responsible either. I suggest instead that both the epistemological and political require ethical engagement. I outline how such an ethical engagement is of special concern for media studies, since it can be cast as a process of mediation. This approach offers alternative routes through the epistemological and political issues identified in Heidegger’s works. (233-234).

• • •

Related entries pertaining to Martin Heidegger:

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On lemmings: a short story by Primo Levi https://aphelis.net/primo-levi-lemmings/ Thu, 29 Jul 2021 21:52:14 +0000 https://aphelis.net/?p=17373 “I’ll think about that later. Right now I still wanted to tell you that between those who have a love of life and those who have lost it no common language exists. The same event is described by the two in two totally different ways: one derives joy and the other torment, each extracting from […]

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“I’ll think about that later. Right now I still wanted to tell you that between those who have a love of life and those who have lost it no common language exists. The same event is described by the two in two totally different ways: one derives joy and the other torment, each extracting from it confirmation of its own worldview.”

“Both of them can’t be right.”

“No. Generally speaking, as you know, and one must have the courage to say so, the others are right.”

“The lemmings?”

“Sure, let’s call them the lemmings.”

“And us?”

“We’re wrong, and we know it, but we find it more palatable to keep our eyes shut. Life does not have a purpose; pain always prevails over joy; we are all condemned to death, and the day of execution is not revealed; we are condemned to witness the death of those closest to us. There are compensations, but few. We know all this, and yet something protects us and sustains us and keeps us from devastation. What is this protection? Perhaps it is only habit: the habit of living, which we contract at birth.”

☛ Primo Levi, “Heading West,” trans. Jenny McPhee, collected in The Complete Works of Primo Levi, New York: Liveright Publishing, 2015, pp. 586-595, PDF.

The short story “Heading West” was first published in Italian under the titled “Verso occidente,” as part of the collection Vizio di forma (Giulio Einaudi, 1971, PDF; the same short story was later republished in the 1987 second edition of Vizio di forma, as well as in two subsequent different collections: see the entry at the Catalogo Vegetti della Letteratura Fantastica). Prior to its inclusion in The Complete Works of Primo Levi, it first appeared in English under the title “Westward” in a translation by Raymond Rosenthal, as part of the collection The Sixth Day and Other Tales (New York: Summit Books, 1990, pp. 126-135, PDF).

The short story, merely half a dozen pages long, was written between 1967 and 1970, alongside 19 others short stories, all gathered in Vizio di forma (which translates into Flaw of Form, in English). It tells the story of two (presumed) scientists, Anna and Walter, as they observe and try to understand the behaviour of an “army of lemmings.” The small rodents make their way toward a beach and enter the water, only to drown or to be devoured by birds circling above. While the idea of lemmings inexplicably committing mass suicide is now considered a myth by the scientific community, it informes Levi’s short story through and through. Anna and Walter work hard to eliminate possible explanations for the phenomena. It is neither hunger nor overpopulation that drives the lemmings, they contend, but something more fundamental. The lemmings, Walter suggests, “actually want to die.” The pair decides to further investigate the situation in order to pinpoint the source of this dreadful behaviour. They wish to understand why these lemmings have lost the desire to live. The ultimate goal would be to synthetise a “hormone that inhibits existential emptiness.” Anna, for one, is uncertain about the value of such a “solution.”

While tests are being conducted, Walter and Anna make a trip to the Amazon river to visit an indigenous tribe known as the Arunde. The reason for their visit quickly becomes clear: the Arunde population has been experiencing a steady decline due to nothing else than “an inordinate number of suicides.” The village elder calmly explains that the Arunde “never held metaphysical convictions.” Furthermore, the Arunde “attributed little value to the survival of the individual, and none to the national survival.” Walter and Anna are told that suicide is an integral part of the Arunde’s way of life.

Upon returning to the ground where they are conducting their experiments with the lemmings, the two scientists learned that an hormone was indeed succesfully synthesized. Named “Factor L,” the hormone restores “the will to live.” It was subsequently detected in normal, healthy blood. However, it is discovered that the substance is absent from the blood of lemmings. Furthermore, Walter establishes that the substance is also absent from the blood of the Arunde. Walter first send a package of the substance to the Arunde, hoping to help them overcome their suicidal inclination. Not wanting to wait for their reply, he then proceeds to try to inoculate the lemmings by converting the substance into a gas. However, while standing in their path, he is quickly engulfed by the sheer size of the swarm. In the end, he can neither alter the course of the lemmings, nor escape death himself, which Anna witnesses from afar.

The short story ends with Anna receiving the package Walter had sent to the Arunde. It had been sent back with the following note:

“The Arunde people, soon no longer a people, send their regards and thank you. We do not wish to offend, but we are returning your medicine, so that those among you who might want to can profit from it. We prefer freedom to drugs and death to illusion.”

The Complete Works of Primo Levi provides some useful indications about the publication of the collection Vizio di forma. In an accompanying note, Domenico Scarpa offers a quick overview of the political situation in Italy, at the end of the sixties and the beginning of the seventies:

For Italy these were years of upheaval in society, in the economy, in politics, in public morality. “Sessantotto”—a date, 1968, written in letters—was the year of the student protests, while 1969 was marked by the union struggles of the so-called hot autumn and, just a little later, on December 12, in Milan, by a neo-Fascist act of terrorism: a bomb went off in a bank, leaving seventeen dead and eighty-eight wounded. Fears of a reactionary coup were widespread, and a period of extreme political tension began: what came to be called the “years of lead.”

Scarpa also offers an English translation of the text appearing on the jacket copy of the first edition from 1971. Scarpa hypothesises that while the text on the jacket is not signed, it was likely written by Primo Levi. It is worth noting how the text refuses to frame the collection as being solely pessimistic:

Will there be historians in the future—even, let’s say, in the next century? It’s not at all certain: mankind may have lost any interest in the past, preoccupied as it will surely be in sorting out the tangle of the future; or it may have lost the taste for works of the spirit in general, being focused uniquely on survival; or it may have ceased to exist. But, if there are historians, they will not devote much time to the Punic Wars, or the Crusades, or Waterloo, but will instead concentrate on this twentieth century, and, more specifically, the decade that has just begun.

It will be a unique decade. In the space of a few years, almost overnight, we’ve realized that something conclusive has happened, or is about to happen: like someone who, navigating on a calm river, suddenly observes that the banks are retreating backward, the water teeming with whirlpools, and hears the thunder of waterfalls close by. There is no indicator that is not soaring upward: the world population, DDT in the fat of penguins, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, lead in our veins. While half the world is still waiting for the benefits of technology, the other half has touched lunar soil and is poisoned by the garbage that has accumulated in a decade: but there is no choice, we cannot return to Arcadia; by technology, and by that alone, can the planetary order be restored, the “flaw of form” repaired. Before the urgency of these problems, the political questions pale. This is the climate in which, literally or in spirit, the twenty stories by Primo Levi presented here take place. Beyond the veil of irony, it is close to that of his preceding books: we breathe an air of sadness but not hopelessness, of distrust in the present and, at the same time, considerable confidence in the future: man the maker of himself, inventor and unique possessor of reason, will be able to stop in time on his path “heading west.”

This commitment to acknowledge the dire historical situation while refusing to settle into a pessimistic and moribond mood is even further emphasized. While Scarpa indicates that the collection was initially to be titled Anti-Humanism, he also notes how Levi refused to succumb to sheer despair:

Levi declared that he was opposed to despair, which “is surely irrational: it resolves no problems, creates new ones, and is by its nature painful.” He continued, rather, to claim a “faith that I would call biological, that saturates every living fiber,” but at the same time he said of the language of his new stories that it is “a language that I feel is ironic, and that I perceive as strident, awry, spiteful, deliberately anti-poetic.”

Sixteen years later, in January 1987, Primo Levi wrote a letter to the editor Giulio Einaudi to accompany the second edition of the collection Vizio di forma. Simply titled “Lettera 1987” the letter once more comments on and provides nuance for the pessimistic visions expressed in the collection. The first part of the letter is reproduced below:

Dear Editor,

Your proposal to reprint Flaw of Form more than fifteen years after it was first published both saddens and cheers me. How can two such contradictory states of being exist together? I shall try to explain it both to you and to myself.

It saddens me because these are stories related to a time that was much sadder than the present, for Italy, for the world, and also for me. They are linked to an apocalyptic, pessimistic, and defeatist vision, the same one that inspired Roberto Vacca’s The Coming Dark Age. But the new Dark Age has not come: things haven’t fallen apart, and instead there are tentative signs of a world order based, if not on mutual respect, at least on mutual fear. Despite the terrorizing, if slumbering, arsenals, the fear of the “Dissipatio Humani Generis” (Guido Morselli), whether rightly or wrongly, has been subjectively attenuated. How things actually are, no one knows.

It’s worth noting that Primo Levi wrote this letter merely four month before his death, on April 11, 1987. While the death was originally ruled as a suicide (and considered as such by some of his biographers), more recent accounts lean toward an accidental death. See for instance the accounts by Diego Gambetta (“Primo Levi’s Last Moments” June 1, 1999) and Carlin Romano (“Primo Levi’s Work Outshines His Murky Death” Nov.-Dec. 2019).

On July 28, 2021, Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben borrows from Primo Levi’s short story in one of his interventions regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (see previously here). Titled Uomini e lemmings,” the short comment suggests that human beings themselves might soon lost the will to live and, consequently, might be heading toward extension (or, in Levi’s own words, might be “heading west”)1. Agamben –leaning into the myth of lemmings committing mass suicide– makes no mention of the fact that similar (although not identical) diagnostics have been made throughout the 20th century by a number of authors (in no insignificant part driven by the explosion of two atomic bombs over Japan in 1945). Recall the last observations shared by Sigmund Freud in Civilization and its Discontent, first published in 1930:

The fateful question for the human species seems to me to be whether and to what extent their cultural development will succeed in mastering the disturbance of their communal life by the human instinct of aggression and self-destruction. It may be that in this respect precisely the present time deserves a special interest. Men have gained control over the forces of nature to such an extent that with their help they would have no difficulty in exterminating one another to the last man. They know this, and hence comes a large part of their current unrest, their unhappiness and their mood of anxiety. (tr. by James Strachey, New York: W.W. Norton&Company Inc., [1930] 1962, p. 92)

Prior to Civilization and its Discontent, Freud had borrowed from Sabina Spielrein’s theory about the intimate relation between destruction and life to develop his concept of Todestrieb or “death drive,” which was first laid out in 1920, in his book Jenseits des Lustprinzips (Beyond the Pleasure Principle). On the topic of madness and suicide, see previously here “On Madness” or “On Insanity” by Leo Tolstoy, 1910.

In 1958, science-fiction author Richard Matheson published a very short story titled “Lemmings”. It appears in the January issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (pp. 117-118, PDF; the entire issue is available here; the short story “Lemmings” was also collected in Steel and Other Stories, Tor, 2011, pp. 233-236). Richard Matheson is best known for his 1954 novel I Am Legend and for his 1956 novel The Shrinking Man. In his short story, Matheson also borrows from the myth of lemmings committing mass suicide in order to comment on the capacity for humans to self-annihiliate. In her essay “Who Killed All the Humans,” Amy S. Jorgensen offers the following interpretation:

Instead of nuclear bombs annihilating the world’s population as one might expect, the end of the human race comes from mass suicides affecting the entire population over the course of a week. In a real sense, the story’s human population is the source of its own destruction. In the real world, humans had created hydrogen bombs capable of killing millions and possessed the power to launch the bombs’ destructive capabilities. The mass suicide of the humans in “Lemmings,” therefore, serves as a metaphor for the massive destruction brought about by human hands.” (in Reading Richard Matheson: A Critical Survey, ed. by Cheyenne Mathews and Janet V. Haedicke, New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014, pp. 75-76).

Also interesting to explore are the possible parallels between Primo Levi’s short story and a short story published by Agamben in 1964: Decadenza. Both “Decadenza” and “Verso occidente” were written by Italian authors during a period of great political upheaval in Italy. Both titles evoke the idea of “decline” (“occidente” being from occidere, meaning “fall down, go down”: indeed, the place where the sun goes to set and to disappear). Finally –although this is not by any mean an exhaustive account of their points of contact, nor of their differences– both are science fiction fables centred on animal populations facing inexplicable extinction.

Drawing of Norway lemmings
“Norway Lemming, Lemmus lemmus L. 1/2 natural size.” Brehms Tierleben, Small Edition 1927. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.

• • •

1.There is one other mention of lemmings in Agamben’s opus, although indirect. In Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive, Agamben uses the following quote from Gitta Sereny’s book Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience (New York: Random House, [1974]1983):

“They were so weak; they let themselves do anything. They were people with whom there was no common ground, no possibility of communication — this is where the contempt came from. I just couldn’t imagine how they could give in like that. Recently I read a book on winter rabbits, who every five or six years throw themselves into the sea to die; it made me think of Treblinka”

In the 1983 edition of Sereny’s book quoted by Agamben, this excerpt appears on page 313. In the English edition of Remnants of Auschwitz the quote can be found on pages 78-79. Worth noting how Daniel Heller-Roazen uses “winter rabbits” instead of “lemmings”. He is likely following the Italian edition Quel che resta Auschwitz (1998) where “conigli delle nevi” is used, most likely because Agamben is referring to the Italian translation of Sereny’s book In Tuelle tenebre (Milano: Adelphi 1994). If one were to examine the English edition from 1983, the quote reads as follow. It is also very important to note that the quote does not come from Sereny herself, but is rather attributed to Franz Stangl, a Kommandant of the Nazi extermination camps Sobibor and Treblinka, whom Sereny was interviewing:

“It has nothing to do with hate. They were so weak; they allowed everything to happen – to be done to them. They were people with whom there was no common ground, no possibility of communication – that is how contempt is born. I could never understand how they could just give in as they did. Quite recently I read a book about lemmings, who every five or six years just wander into the sea and die; that made me think of Treblinka.” (New York: Random House, [1974]1983, pp. 233) ↩︎︎

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A prophecy about ghosts by Lichtenberg and Jacobi https://aphelis.net/prophecy-lichtenberg-jacobi/ Thu, 25 Feb 2021 17:58:17 +0000 https://aphelis.net/?p=15072 Our world will grow so refined, that it will be as ludicrous to believe in God, as it is today in ghosts. Unsere Welt wird noch so fein werden, daß es so lächerlich sein wird einen Gott zu glauben als heutzutage Gespenster. ☛ Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Vermischte Schriften, Volume 1, ed. Ludwig Christian Lichtenberg and […]

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Our world will grow so refined, that it will be as ludicrous to believe in God, as it is today in ghosts.

Unsere Welt wird noch so fein werden, daß es so lächerlich sein wird einen Gott zu glauben als heutzutage Gespenster.

☛ Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Vermischte Schriften, Volume 1, ed. Ludwig Christian Lichtenberg and Friedrich Kries, Göttingen: Dieterich, 1800, p. 166. English translation by Bas Geerts.

• • •

This entry documents a “prophecy” attributed to Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799), as it was recently quoted (without comments nor references) by Giorgio Agamben on the website of Italian publisher Quodlibet (see “Una profezia di Lichtenberg” from January 20, 2021). Agamben has commented more than once on the art of citation, which he borrows to a significant extent from Benjamin’s own “art of citing without quotation marks”1. Since the whole substance of the “prophecy” being documented below is about faith (Glaube, in German) and its disappearance, it is worth remembering how Agamben also loves to invoke Warburg’s motto, to the effect that “God is in the detail.”2

I am grateful to Bas Geerts for some of the key translations provided in this research, as well as for useful insights and comments. Bas Geerts runs ‘Una voce di Giorgio Agamben’ in het Nederlands, where he provides Dutch translations of Agamben’s interventions on the pandemic.

• • •

In January 20, 2021, Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben published a short entry on the website Una voce di Giorgio Agamben (hosted by the editor Quodlibet), which he has been using since 2017, but most notably since the start of the COVID pandemic. The entry, titled “Una profezia di Lichtenberg” (“A Prophecy by Lichtenberg”) is atypical as it is not a comment by Agamben himself, but a single quote provided without context, aside from the title. The entry reads as follow (quotation marks in the original):

«Il nostro mondo diventerà così civile che sarà allora ridicolo credere in Dio, come è oggi credere nei fantasmi. Poi, dopo un certo tempo, il mondo diventerà ancora più civile. E continuerà sempre più in fretta il processo che lo porterà al vertice supremo della civiltà. Toccando il culmine, il giudizio degli esperti ancora una volta si capovolgerà e la conoscenza raggiungerà la sua estrema trasformazione. Allora – e questa sarà davvero la fine – crederemo soltanto nei fantasmi»

“Our world will grow so refined, that it will be as ludicrous to believe in God, as it is today in ghosts. And then, after a while, the world will grow even more refined. And this will continue with haste until the highest height of refinement is reached. At the summit, the judgment of the wise will tilt once more, and insight will finally turn. Then – and this will be the end – then we will only believe in ghosts.” (trans. Bas Geerts)

This quote is actually a hybrid quote: it is made of two different quotes, from two different sources. Only the first sentence is from Lichtenberg. The rest of the quote and the idea to call it a “prophecy” are from German philosopher Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743-1819). The idea to bring the two quotes together does not originate in Agamben either, as one can already find instances of such juxtaposition in the 19th century.

In what follows, I first locate and identify Lichtenberg’s aphorism in the various editions of his work, including the original, handwritten manuscripts. Second, I locate and identify the remaining of the quote, as well as the reason why the two different quotes are –and have been for a while– juxtaposed (and possibly confused) together.

Title image for this entry
The background of this title image is a “Lichtenberg figure,” the image of an electrical charge as it discharges through insulated material, a phenomena first documented by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg.

The first sentence of the quote used by Agamben is an aphorism by Lichtenberg, first published posthumously in 1800, as part of the first edition of his Vermischte Schriften (Miscellaneous Writings), collected and edited by his brother Ludwig Christian Lichtenberg and Friedrich Kries. It was subsequently republished in later editions of the same Vermischte Schriften, in 1844 (bottom of p. 58) and 1853 (p. 58 again). The screenshot below is how the aphorism appears in the first edition (1800), on page 166:

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Vermischte Schriften, Volume 01, page 166.

The aphorism originates from Lichtenberg famous Sudelbücher (“Scrap Books” or “Waste Books”), a series of notebooks in which he recorded reflections, quotes, and various observations, from to the time he was a student to his death (see previously here). At the end of the 19th century, the Sudelbücher were rediscovered by Albert Leitzmann (1867-1950), who published them separately, thus bringing additional fame and attention to Lichtenberg’s work3.

Specifically, the aphorism discussed here comes from Notebook ‘D’ (written between 1773-1775). In Leitzmann’s edition of the Aphorismen, it appears in the second volume, on page 148 (Zweites Heft: 1772-1775, Berlin: B. Behr, 1904)4. Leitzmann is most likely the first editor who introduced the numbering system (which is not used in the Vermischte Schriften, nor in Lichtenberg’s manuscripts, where he instead used a red marker to distinguish between entries). In Leitzmann’s edition, the aphorism is identified as “D 326”:

Lichtenberg’s aphorism D 326, as it appears in the second volume of Albert Leitzmann’s edition ‘Aphorismen,’ (Zweites Heft: 1772-1775), Berlin: B. Behr, 1904, page 148.

In 1967, Wolfgang Promies (1935-2002) started working on a complete edition of Lichtenberg’s work, Schriften und Briefe, which was completed in 1992. Wolfgang Promies later co-founded the Lichtenberg Society (Lichtenberg-Gesellschaft), which he chaired for two decades5. In the Schriften und Briefe, Notebook ‘D’ appears in Volume 1. The aphorism can be found on page 282, with the number 329 (so with a slight difference from Leitzmann’s numbering system):

Lichtenberg’s aphorism D 329, as it appears in the first volume of Wolfgang Promies’s edition ‘Schriften und Briefe [1968] 1994, page 282.
The same aphorism is also reproduced in a more recent edition of the Sudelbücher released by the publisher Marix (Marix Verlag) under the title Sudelbücher. Ausgesucht feine Texte mit Biss. In this edition from 2011, the aphorism is identified “D 326” (hence, using Leitzmann’s numbering system).

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Sudelbücher Ausgesucht feine Texte mit Biss, Marix Verlag, 2011, aphorism D 326, p. 75. Image courtesy of Bas Geerts.

Although the same aphorism is not reproduced in the short selection translated into English by R.J. Hollingdale (The Waste Books, New York: New York Review Books, 1990), it can be found in a French edition published by Jean-Jacques Pauvert in 1966 (translation by Marthe Robert, with a preface by André Breton), where it appears without numerotation:

Lichtenberg’s aphorism as it appears in Jean-Jacques Pauvert’s 1966 French edtion of Aphorismes, translated by Marthe Robert, page 69.

The aphorism can also be found in Zibaldone segreto, an Italian edition of a selection from the Sudelbücher edited and translated by Francesco Franco Farina (Milan: Edizioni Virgilio, 2014) where it is identified “D 329” (Promies’s numbering system). It is worth noting this Italian translation differs from the one used by Agamben:

Lichtenberg’s aphorism “D 329”, in the Italian edition ‘Zibaldone segreto’ (edited and translated by Francesco Franco Farina, Milan: Edizioni Virgilio, 2014, p. 76)

Consulting these different editions is useful to eliminate the possibility that Agamben somehow had access to a longer version of the quote. This can be further (and definitely) confirmed by examining Lichtenberg’s handwritten manuscripts of the Sudelbücher, all of which have been digitized, and made available online at the Göttinger Digitalisierungszentrum (except for Notebook ‘G’ and ‘H’, destroyed sometime during the 19th century). The title page for Notebook ‘D’ can been seen here. Lichtenberg’s handwriting is not easy to decipher, but the aphorism can nonetheless be identified on page 152 of the physical notebook (page 38 of the actual Notebook ‘D,’ following Lichtenberg’s own pagination: see a scan of the whole page). Lichtenberg arranged his notes on each page in two columns. The aphorism was inscribed in the second column of the left page, and runs on three lines, highlighted below:

Scan of Lichtenberg’s handwritten aphorism in Sudelbücher ‘D’ page 152 (physical) 38 (logical), 1773-1775. Highlights added.

Examining the manuscript shows how Lichtenberg’s used a red marker to distinguish between the various entries. Also worth noting, the pencil note that reads “I 166” in the right margin, most certainly added by an editor after Lichtenberg’s death. It is a reference to page 166 of the first volume of Lichtenberg’s Vermischte Schriften, first published in 1800, where the same aphorism can be found (as shown earlier).

The next step consists in identifying the source for the last part of the quote used by Agamben. An important indication is provided in the massive, 1,500-page volume of annotations produced by Wolfgang Promies for his edition of Lichtenberg’s Schriften und Briefe: Kommentar zu Band I und Band II (Carl Hanser Publisher, 1992). On page 251, for the aphorism D 329, Promies notes: “This remark prompted Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi to write his essay “Ueber eine Weissagung Lichtenbergs” (“About a Prophecy by Lichtenberg”).” Promies also provides a reference to the first publication of Jacobi’s essay (in 1802) and to his location in Jacobi’s complete Werke published in 1816. Below is a screenshot of Promies’s remark:

Wolfgang Promies, Kommentar zu Band I und Band II, Carl Hanser Publisher, 1992, p. 251.

Jacobi’s essay “Uber eine Weissagung Lichtenbergs” first appeared in Taschenbuch für das Jahr 18026. Various digital copies (scans) of the publication are available online, including one, in colour, hosted at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Jacobi’s essay starts on page 33 of the physical document (or page 3, according to the document own pagination). The first page is reproduced below:

First page of Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi’s essay “Uber eine Weissagung Lichtenbergs” as it appears in Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1802, published in 1802, page 33 (physical) / page 3 (logical).

A couple of things are worthy of attention. First, after the opening title “Ueber eine Weissagung Lichtenbergs,” the essay begins immediately with Lichtenberg’s aphorism. Second, the aphorism is clearly identified with quotations marks on the left side of each line where it is printed, a practice introduced in the early 16th century7. Third, the publisher added extra spacing between the letters to further emphasize the quote: a practice known in German as sperrsatz, sperrschrift, or sperren, with which Agamben is familiar8. Fourth, Jacobi actually provides the precise reference for the origin of the quote: Lichtenberg’s Vermischte Schriften, volume 1, page 166 (which corresponds to the reference at the top of the present entry). Fifth, after the aphorism, the quotation marks disappear and normal spacing between the letters resume, indicating that the quote is over and the author (Jacobi) resumes his argument. Moving on the second page of Jacobi’s essay (p. 4), one can see that Jacobi seems to be opening a second quote.

First page of Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi’s essay “Uber eine Weissagung Lichtenbergs” as it appears in Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1802, published in 1802, page 34 (physical) / page 4 (logical).

This time however, while the sperren method is used to mark emphasis, quotations marks alongside each line are missing (only an opening and a closing marks are present). No reference are provided either. This is not a quote Jacobi is borrowing from another source: it is his take on how Lichtenberg’s aphorism could be continued. This is confirmed by the text immediately following Lichtenberg’s aphorism (from the beginning of page 3 of the publication to the end of page 4)9:

“Our world will grow so refined, that it will be as ludicrous to believe in God, as it is today in ghosts.”

This is the prophecy of the departed. From the graves this voice rang out in all our ears.

Did you say only this? Didn’t you say the next thing too? – Didn’t you say, or didn’t you want to announce that what comes next, the completion?

So this is the next part of the prophecy.

“And then, after a while, the world will grow even more refined. And this will continue with haste until the highest height of refinement is reached. At the summit, the judgment of the wise will tilt once more, and insight will finally turn. Then – and this will be the end – then we will only believe in ghosts; we ourselves will be like God; we shall understand that when his being and essence is everywhere, he can only be a ghost. About that time, the sour sweat of seriousness will be wiped from every brow, alike the tears of longing from every eye; there will be loud laughter among men, for then reason has completed its work; humanity has achieved its goal; the same crown adorns every glorified head.” (trans. Bas Geerts)

The same essay by Jacobi was later included in his Von den göttlichen Dingen und Ihrer Offenbarung, first published in 1811, where the same typographic settings discussed above were used (see p. 3). It is also the case with the version reproduced in Volume 3 of Jacobi’s Werke published in 1816 (p. 199).

This ultimately, is what Agamben quoted under the title “Una profezia di Lichtenberg”: Lichtenberg’s aphorism (D 326 or D 329, depending on the editions) augmented by a selection from the “next part of the prophecy” created by Jacobi for the purpose of his argument. It is a selection because Agamben did not use all of Jacobi’s new part, but cut short at “… then we will only believe in ghosts,” while leaving aside ”we ourselves will be like God…,” and the rest of the Jacobi’s “extension” of the prophecy.

I was able to locate at least one instance where Lichtenberg’s aphorism and Jacobi’s reply to it were compounded together, stiched as if it was a single quote (i.e., without Jacobi’s comment separating the two, where his announces the “next part” of the prophecy). It appears in a lecture by Swiss theologian Karl Rudolf Hagenbach about the history of Protestantism, collected in the second volume of his History of the Church in the 18th & 19th centuries (Die Kirchengeschichte des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Standpunkte des evangelischen Protestantismus betrachtet), published in 1848. While commenting on the relationship between Christianity and modern culture (how it has become common to assert that the latter outlived the former), Hagenbach evokes “Lichtenberg’s old prophecy” and produce what is actually a compounded quote, made of Lichtenberg’s short aphorism and Jacobi’s reply to it:

Karl Rudolf Hagenbach, Die Kirchengeschichte des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts, Volume 02, 1948, page 541 (physical) / page 6 (logical).

Hagenbach’s History of the Church has been translated into English by Rev. John F. Hurst. The second volume was published in 1870 (London: Hodder & Stoughton). There, in the first lecture of this volume, on page 6, the compounded quote can also be located. Below is a transcription (quotation marks in the original):

“Our time are destined to come to such a state of advancement that it will be as ridiculous to believe in God as it now is to believe in ghosts; and then the age will progress to the highest point of refinement. Having reached the pinacle, the opinion of the wise will once more undergo a change, and knowledge will pass through its last transformation. Then will come the end, when we will believe in ghosts alone; we shall become as God, knowing that all material being not only is, but can be, nothing else than a ghost. Then, for the first time, will the sweat of seriousness be dried upon every forehead, and the tears of earnest anticipation will be washed away for all time. Then there will be loud laughing among men; for reason will have perfected its work, humanity will have reached its goal, and a crown will adorn every brow.”

In yet another instance, part of Jacobi’s reply (specifically “Wir selbst werden sein wie Gott”) was simply appended to Lichtenberg’s aphorism in order to create yet another hybrid quote. This hybrid quote was used as a motto for the religious newspaper Allgemeine Kirchen-Zeitung. Below is a screenshot from the edition of Thursday, May 13, 1847 (collected in Volume 26 of Allgemeine Kirchen-Zeitung. Ein Archiv, on pages 625-626):

Front page of the May 13, 1847 issue of the newspaper Allgemeine Kirchen Zeitung, as it appears in Volume 26 of its complete Archiv, pp. 625-626.

None of all of the above provides an indication of the source where Agamben found his version of the compounded quote. Since his Italian translation of Lichtenberg’s part differs from the translation provided in the Zibaldone segreto (the Italian edition of a selection of Lichtenberg’s Sudelbücher) it is possible he worked from a German source and produced his own translation. Among many things, Jacobi is often credited to have reinstated Spinoza’s thoughts in philosophical circles, at the turn of the 19th century. In 2009 Quodlibet (which was founded by a group of Agamben’s students, in 1983) published L’abisso dell’unica sostanza. L’immagine di Spinoza nella prima metà dell’Ottocento tedesco, a collection of essays mapping the Spinozist renaissance in Germany in the first half of the 19th century.

• • •

1. Here are some useful references on the topic of citation in Agamben and Benjamin:

2. See notably Agamben’s Potentialities. Collected Essays in Philosophy (trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 199, pp. 32, 90, 97-98). For more about Warburg’s motto, including a drawing of the motto made by Warburg’s son Max Adolph Warburg, see Davide Stimilli’s essay “Aby Warburg’s Impresa” (2013). In his “Afterword” to Agamben’s The Church and the Kingdom, Leland De La Durantaye suggests that Aby Warburg himself never used the motto in writing, but that it was rather made popular by Warburg’s friend and colleage E. R. Curtius (New York: Seagull Books, 2012, p. 60). A much more thorough examination of the motto –in all its variations– is provided Giovanni Mastroianni in his essay “Il Buon Dio di Aby Warburg” (2000). ↩︎︎

3. For a contextual history of the Sudelbücher, see R.J. Hollingdale introduction to The Waste Books, which offers a limited selection in English translation (available online at the time of writing). See also Werner J. Milch. “Georg Christoph Lichtenberg: On the Occasion of the Two Hundredth Anniversary of His Birth, 9 July 1942.”, The Modern Language Review, vol. 37, no. 3, 1942, pp. 335–355. The German entry on Wikipedia for the Sudelbücher also offers useful information and additional references. ↩︎︎

4. Leitzmann’s edition appeared in the massive collection Deutsche Literaturdenkmale des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts (German Literary Monuments of the 18th and 19th Centuries). The collection, printed between 1881-1924 (first by Gebr. Henninger and subsequently by B. Behr) counts 151 issues and 85 volumes. Lichtenberg’s aphorism discussed here appears in Volume 131 of the collection. See Wikisource (German) for more information. ↩︎︎

5. For more about Wolfgang Promies, see the obituaries available at the Lichtenberg Society (in German), as well this short Wikipedia entry (also in German)↩︎︎

6. For more contextual information of this publication, see F.H. Jacobi’s “On divine things and their revelation.” A study and translation, by Paolo Livieri, thesis, McGill Univesity, 2019, pp. 15-16.↩︎︎

7. See previously on this blog for more details and additional examples: “The origin and development of the quotation mark” ↩︎︎

8. Agamben discuss the typographical method of sperren in The Time That Remains, specifically in relation to the way Benjamin used it in the Handexamplar of his Theses on the Philosophy of History. Agamben even provides a visual example, reproduced below (trans. Patricia Dailey, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005, pp. 138-145). Benjamin himself mentions the method in his essay “What is Epic Theatre?” (Selected Writings, Volume 4, 1938–1940, ed. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003, p. 305). For more about the sperren method, see this Wikipedia entry (in German) and this entry in English on various emphasis methods in typography. ↩︎︎

Walter Benjamin’s Handexemplar of the Theses on the Philosophy of History, second thesis. As reproduced in Agamben’s The Time that Remains, 2005, p. 140. Highlights added.

9.See also George di Giovanni’s comment in his introduction to Jacobi’s Main Philosophical Writings and the Novel Allwill (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1994, p. 153, note 4):

The other was Jacobi’s reaction to an essay by Lichtenberg (published in Part I of his Vermischte Schriften [Göttingen: 1800]), in which it is said, according to Jacobi, that some day “our world will become so fine, that it will be just as laughable to believe in God as it is now to believe in ghosts” (Concerning a Prophecy, p. 3 of the 1811 ed.). Jacobi replied with a prophecy of his own–namely, that “after a little while yet the world will become finer still. And the supreme height in refinement will then swiftly come about. At its peak, the sages’ judgment will reverse itself; fr one final time knowledge will undergo change. Then–and that will be the end–then shall we believe in nothing but ghosts. We shall ourselves be like God. We shall know that being and substance everywhere are, and can only be, ghosts.” The piece was reproduced in the first forty pages of Of Divine Things and Their Revelation (1811), obviously as a pardoy of Schelling, whom Jacobi was accusing of deriving reality from “Nothing.”” ↩︎︎

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