Cabinet Features - Pierre Klossowski
Films, texts and images
translated by Catherine Petit & Paul Buck
This book, his last, broke more than twenty years of silence from Pierre Klossowski the writer. Its origin: a commission in 1992 for a play by a Viennese theatre. Fascinated since childhood by this mode of expression, Klossowski immediately saw the character Ogier from The Baphomet on stage and set to work once again at his writing desk.
However, time had enriched his imagination, and aided by the excitement of a dramaturgical finality, he reworked his novel intently.
The commission running aground, he transformed the scenario into a récit. From the succession of metamorphoses The Immortal Adolescent was born. Today it presents itself as undauntedly identical to its first model as totally different from it. Such is the game of the cycle of time.
The Immortal Adolescent
translated by Paul Buck and Catherine Petit
Published by Vauxhall&Company, 2014
68pp. 245 x 310 mm
Edition of 150
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Drawings by Pierre Klossowski, photographs by Pierre Zucca
Texts by Pierre Zucca, Pierre Klossowski, Michel Camus, Vincent Vergne, Jean-Marie Monnoyer, Jean –Noel Vuarnet.
Obliques Numero Special
Edited by Roger Borderie
Published by Editions Borderie 1978
27 cm x 21 cm 112 pp.
134 B&W & 8 Colour images
Frédéric Tonnerre Lucrèce et Tarquin from Pierre Klossowski Roberte Au Cinema
Frédéric Tonnerre La Belle Versaillaise from Pierre Klossowski Roberte Au Cinema
From Pierre Klossowski The Baphomet
Klossowski revives a long lost experience. Of this experience, hardly any vestiges remain that might call our attention to it; and those that do survive would no doubt remain enigmatic if they had not been given new vividness and prominence in Klossowski's language. And if, since then, they had not resumed speaking— saying that the Demon is not the Other, the opposite pole of God, the Antithesis without recourse (or almost), evil matter, but rather something strange and unsettling that leaves one baffled and motionless: the Same, the perfect Likeness.
Dualism and Gnosticism, despite all the denials and persecutions, have indeed borne heavily on the Christian conception of Evil: their binary mode of thought (God and Satan, Light and Darkness, Good and Heaviness, the great battle, and a certain radical, obstinate spitefulness) has organized, for our thought, the order of disorders. Western Christianity condemned Gnosticism, but from it retained a light, appealing form of reconciliation; for a long time, in its fantasies, it carried on the simplified duels of the Temptation: through the cracks in the world, a whole people of strange animals rises up before the half-open eyes of the kneeling anchorite—ageless figures of matter.
But what if, on the contrary, the Other were the Same? And the Temptation were not one episode of the great antagonism, but the meager insinuation of the Double? What if the duel took place inside a mirror's space? What if eternal History (of which our own is but the visible form, soon to be effaced) were not simply always the same, but the identity of this Same—at once the imperceptible displacement and the grip of the nondissociable? There is a vast range of Christian experience well familiar with this danger: the temptation to experience the temptation in the mode of the indiscernable. The quarrels of demonology are devoted to this profound danger; and consumed, or rather animated and multiplied by it, they are forever resuming an endless discussion: to go to the Sabbath is to surrender to the Devil, or perhaps also to devote oneself to the Devil's simulacrum which God has sent to tempt men of little faith—or men of too much faith, the credulous who imagine that there is another god than God. And the judges who burn the possessed are themselves victims of this temptation, this trap in which their justice becomes entangled: for those possessed are but a vain image of the false power of demons, an image by means of which the Demon takes possession not of the bodies of the sorcerers but of the souls of their executioners. Unless of course God himself has donned the face of Satan in order to becloud the spirits of those who do not believe in the uniqueness of his omnipotence; in which case God, in simulating the Devil, would bring about the odd espousal of the two condemned figures, the witch and her persecutor—both thereby consigned to Hell, to the reality of the Devil, to the true simulacrum of God's simulation of the Devil. In all these twists and turns the perilous games of extreme similitude multiply: God so closely resembling Satan who imitates God so well. . . .
It took no less than Descartes's Evil Genius to put an end to this great peril of Identities, over which 17th century thought had "subtilized" to no end. The Evil Genius of the Third Meditation is not a lightly seasoned compendium of the powers of deception residing within man, but he who most resembles God, who can imitate every one of His powers, can pronounce eternal verities like Him, and can, if he wishes, make two plus two equal five. He is His marvellous twin, except for a malignance that expels him immediately from all possible existence. Ever since then, the concern over simulacra has fallen into silence. We have even forgotten that until the beginning of the Neoclassical age (observe the literature and especially the theatre of the Baroque era) such simulacra constituted one of the great causes of vertigo for Western thought. We continued to worry about evil, about the reality of images and representation, and about the synthesis of the different. We no longer thought that the Same could still get the better of one's reason.
Incipit Klossowski, like Zarathustra. In this somewhat obscure and secret side of the Christian experience, he suddenly discovers (as if it were the latter's double, perhaps its simulacrum) the resplendent theo-phany of the Greek gods. Between the ignoble Goat who presents himself at the Sabbath and the virgin goddess who steals away into the water's coolness, the game is reversed: during Diana's bath, the simulacrum occurs in the flight from extreme proximity and not in the insistent intrusion of the other world. But the doubt is the same, as well as the risk of splitting in two: "Diana makes a pact with an intermediary demon between the gods and humanity to appear to Actaeon. By means of his airy form, the Demon simulates Diana in her theophany and inspires in Actaeon the desire and mad hope of possessing the goddess. He becomes the imagination and mirror of Diana." And Actaeon's final metamorphosis transforms him not into a hounded stag but into an impure, frantic and delightfully desecrating goat. As if, in the complicity of the divine in sacrilege, something of the light of Greece streaked with lightning the dark background of the Christian night. Klossowski finds himself situated at the intersection of two very divergent and yet very similar paths, both originating in the Same, and both perhaps leading there as well: that of the theologians and that of the Greek gods, whose glorious return Nietzsche proclaimed to be imminent. The return of the gods, which is also, without any possible dissociation, the insinuation of the Demon into the unsavory, tepid night: "What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will return to you, all in the same succession and sequence—even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!' Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you could reply to him: 'You are a god, and never have I heard anything more divine.'”
* * *
Klossowski's experience lies here, more or less: in a world where reigns an evil genius who has not found his god, or who might just as well pass himself off as God, or who might even be God himself. Such a world is neither Heaven nor Hell, nor limbo; it is, quite simply, our own world. That is, a world that would be the same as ours except for the fact that, indeed, it is the same. In this imperceptible divergence of the Same, an endless movement finds it place of birth. This movement is utterly foreign to dialectics; for it concerns not the test of contradiction, nor the game of identity at first affirmed then denied. The equation A = A is animated by an internal, unending movement which separates each of the two terms from its own identity and refers the one to the other by the game (the force and treachery) of this very separation. With the result that no truth can be engendered by this affirmation; however, a space of danger here begins to open up, in which the arguments, fables and booby-trapped, alluring ruses of Klossowski will find their language. A language which for us is as essential as that of Blanchot and Bataille, since in its turn it teaches us how the gravest of thought must find its enlightened lightness outside of dialectics.
In reality, neither God nor Satan ever appear in this space—a strict absence which is also their interweaving. But neither of the two is ever named, perhaps because it is they who invoke, rather than being invoked. This is a narrow, numinous region where all figures are the sign of something. Here one passes through the paradoxical space of real presence—a presence which is only real in so much as God has absented himself from the world, leaving behind only a trace and a void, so that the reality of this presence is the absence in which it resides, and in which it unrealizes itself through transubstanfiation. Numen quod habitat simulacro.
This is why Klossowski hardly approves of Claudel's and Du Bos's summoning Gide to convert; he well knows that those who put God at one end and the Devil at the other (a god of bone against a devil of flesh) were mistaken, and that Gide was closer to being right when by turns he would come near and steal away, playing the devil's simulacrum at the behest of others, but not knowing, in so doing, whether he was serving as the devil's toy, object and tool, or whether he was not as well the chosen man of an attentive, crafty god. It is perhaps of salvation's essence that it is not announced by signs but takes place in the profound depths of simulacra.
And since all the figures that Klossowski sketches and sets in motion inside his language are simulacra, it is necessary that we understand this word in terms of the resonance that we may now confer upon it: vain image (as opposed to reality); the representation of something (in which this thing delegates itself and is manifested, but also withdraws and in a sense is hidden); a lie which leads one to take one sign for another;a sign of the presence of a deity (and the reciprocal possibility of taking this sign as its opposite); the simultaneous irruption of the Same and the Other ("to simulate" originally meant "to come together"). Thus is formed the wondrously rich constellation so characteristic of Klossowski: simulacrum, similitude, simultaneity, simulation and dissimulation.
* * *
For linguists, a sign possesses its meaning only by virtue of the play and sovereignty of all other signs. It has no autonomous, natural and immediate relationship with what it signifies. It is valid not only through its context, but also by means of a virtual reach which extends like a dotted line on the same plane as it: by virtue of this ensemble of all the signifiers which define a language at a given moment, it is forced to mean what it says. In the religious domain one often finds a sign entirely different in structure; what it says, it says by virtue of a profound belonging to an origin, by virtue of a consecration. There is not a single tree in the Scriptures, not a single living or dissicated plant which does not refer back to the tree of the Cross—or to the wood cut from the First Tree at the foot of which Adam succumbed. Such a figure breaks down into stages through moving forms, which gives it that strange, twofold property of designating no meaning in particular but of referring back to a model (to a simple of which it is supposed to be the double, but which takes it back within itself as its own diffraction and transitory duplication) and being bound to the history of a manifestation that is never completed; within this history the sign may always be deferred to some new episode where a simpler simple, an earlier model (though later in Revelations) will appear, giving it an entirely opposite meaning; thus the tree of the Fall one day becomes what it has always been, the tree of the Reconciliation. A sign of this sort is at once prophetic and ironic: hanging entirely from a future that it repeats in advance, and which will repeat it in turn, in broad daylight. It says this, then that, or rather it already said, without our knowing, both this and that. In its essence it is a simulacrum, saying everything simultaneously and ceaselessly simulating something other than that which it says. It presents an image that depends on a forever receding truth—Fabula; and it binds in its form, as in an enigma, the avatars of the light that will come to it—Fatum. Fabula and Fatum, both sending us back to the first utterance from which they spring, that root which the Latins understood as word, and in which the Greeks saw the greatest essence of luminous visibility.
Clearly it is necessary to make a rigorous distinction between signs and simulacra. They do not at all involve the same experience, even though they may happen at times to overlap. For the simulacrum does not determine a meaning; it belongs to the realm of appearance, in the explosion of time: Noontide illumination and eternal recurrence. Perhaps the Greek religion knew nothing but simulacra. First the Sophists, then the Stoics and the Epicureans wanted to read these simulacra as signs—a rather belated reading, in which the Greek gods were effaced. Christian exegesis, which is of Alexandrian birth, has inherited this mode of interpretation.
In the great detour that is our own current experience, whereby we attempt to sidestep all the Alex-andrianism of our culture, Klossowski is the one who, from the bottom of the Christian experience, has rediscovered the marvels and depths of the simulacrum, beyond the games of yesterday: those of sense and non-sense, of signifier and signified, of symbol and sign. It is this, no doubt, which gives his work its religious, solar aspect once one grasps in it the Nietz-schean interplay of Dionysius and Christ (since they are each, as Nietzsche saw, a simulacrum of the other).
The realm of simulacra, in Klossowski's oeuvre, conforms to a precise set of rules. The reversal of situations takes place in the moment, the inversion of for and against being effected in an almost detective-genre fashion (the good become bad, the dead come back to life, rivals turn out to be accomplices, executioners are subtle saviors, encounters are prepared long beforehand, the most banal statements are endowed with double-meanings). Each reversal seems to be on the road to an epiphany; but in fact each discovery only makes the enigma more profound, increases the uncertainty, and never reveals an element except to conceal the relationship existing among all the other elements. But what is most unusual and difficult in all this, is that the simulacra are neither things nor clues, nor those beautiful motionless forms that were the Greek statues. Here the simulacra are human beings.
Klossowski's world is sparing of objects; moreover, they form only meager connections between the men whose doubles and as it were precarious intervals they constitute: portraits, photographs, stereoscopic views, signatures on checks, open corsets that are like the empty but still rigid shells of a figure. On the other hand, the Simulacra-Men abound: still few in number in Roberte, they multiply in La Revocation and especially in Le Souffleur, so much so, in fact, that this latter text, nearly stripped of all setting and materiality that might bring fixed signs to bear on interpretation, no longer consists of much more than a sequential joining of dialogues. The point is that humans are simulacra much more vertiginous than the painted faces of deities. They are perfectly ambiguous beings because they speak, make gestures, communicate by winks of the eyes, move their fingers and appear suddenly in windows like semaphores (is it to send signs or to give the impression of doing so while in fact they are only making simulacra of signs?).
With such characters as these, one is dealing not with the profound, continuous beings of reminiscence, but with beings consigned, like those of Nietzsche, to a profound forgetfulness, to that oblivion which makes possible, in "re-collection," the sudden appearance of the Same. Everything in them is breaking apart, bursting, presenting itself and then withdrawing in the same instant; they might well be living or dead, it matters little; oblivion in them oversees the Identical. They signify nothing; they simulate themselves: Vittorio and von A., uncle Florence and the monstrous husband, Theodore who is K., and especially Roberte who simulates Roberte in the minute, insuperable distance through which Roberte is such as she is, this evening (cf. Roberte cesoir).
All these simulacra-figures pivot in place: rakes become inquisitors, seminarians become Nazi officers, the confused persecutors of Theodore Lacase find themselves in a friendly semicircle around the bed of K. These sudden twists only come about by means of the play of "alternators" of experience. These alternators are, in Klossowski's novels, the sole peripeties— but in the literal sense of the word: that which ensures the detour and return. Thus: the test-provocation (the stone of truth which is at the same time the temptation of the worst: the fresco of the Vocation, or the sacrilegious task assigned by von A.); the specious inquisition (censors who present themselves as former rakes, like Malagrida or the psychiatrist with dubious intentions); the two-sided conspiracy (the "resistance" network which executes Dr. Rodin). But most of all the two great configurations which cause appearance to alternated are hospitality and the theatre: two structures which stand face to face with each other in reverse symmetry.
The host (a word which in French—hole—already whirls about its interior axis, meaning both the thing and its complement, host and guest), the host offers what he possesses, for he can only possess what he proposes—which is there before his eyes and is for everyone. He is, to use the wonderfully ambiguous word, regardant.Surreptitiously and with avarice, this giving regard sets aside its own portion of pleasure and confiscates by sovereign authority one aspect of things which regards only it. But this regard has the power to absent itself, to leave the place it occupies empty and to offer instead what it envelops with its avidity. Thus its gift is the simulacrum of an offering, as soon as it only preserves the feeble, distant silhouette, the visible simulacrum of what it gives. In Le Souffleur the theatre takes the place of this giving "regard," such as it reigned in Roberte and La Revocation. The theatre imposes on Roberte the role of Roberte; that is, it tends to reduce the interior distance which opened up in the simulacrum (under the effect of the giving regard), and to make the double of Roberte, separated from Roberte by Theodore (perhaps K.), be inhabited by Roberte herself. But if Roberte plays her role with natural ease (which comes to her at least as if on cue), it is no longer but a simulacrum of theatre; and if Roberte on the other hand stumbles through her text, it is Roberte-Roberte who slips away beneath a pseudo-actress (and who is a poor actress in as much as she is not an actress but Roberte). That is why this role can only be played by a simulacrum of Roberte who resembles her so much that Roberte herself might well be this simulacrum herself. It is thus necessary that Roberte have two existences, or that there be two Robertes with one existence; she must be a pure simulacrum of herself. In the regard, it is the Regardant who is made double (and until death); on the stage of the false theatre, it is the la Regardee (the woman seen) who undergoes an irreparable ontological split.
Yet behind this whole game of alternating experiences in which the simulacra flicker, is there some absolute Operator who is thereby sending out enigmatic signs? In La Vocation Suspendue it seems that all the simulacra and their alternations are organized around a greater invocation which makes itself heard within them or which, perhaps, just as well remains mute. In the subsequent texts, this imperceptible but "invoking" God has been replaced by two visible figures, or rather two series of figures who are, in their relation to the simulacra, at once with both feet on the ground and in perfect disequilibrium—both dividing, and divided, in two. At one end, the dynasty of monstrous characters, at the borderline of life and death: the professor Octave, or that "old master" that one finds at the beginning of Le Souffleur controlling the shuntings at a suburban train station, in a vast, glazed hall before or after life. But does this "operator" really intervene? How does he tie the plot together? Who is he, really? Is he the Master, Roberte's uncle (the one with two faces), Dr. Rodin (the one who dies and is resuscitated), the lover of stereoscopic spectacles, the chiropractor (who massages and works on bodies), K. (who steals the works and perhaps the wives of others when he's not giving away his own wife), or Theodore Lacase (who makes Roberte act) ? Or is he Roberte's husband? A vast genealogy runs from the Almighty to the one crucified in the simulacrum that he is (since he, who is K., says "I" when Theodore speaks). But at the other end, Roberte herself is the great operatrix of the simulacra. Tirelessly, with her hands, her long, beautiful hands, she caresses shoulders and heads of hair, arouses desires, recalls former lovers, gives herself to soldiers or seeks out hidden miseries. It is without question she who diffracts her husband in all the monstrous or lamentable characters in which he scatters himself. She is legion. Not the one who always says no, but, inversely, the one who forever says yes. A forked yes which gives rise to that interspace where everyone stands beside himself. Let us not say Roberte-the-Devil and Theodore-God; let us say, rather, that the one is the simulacrum of God (the same as God, hence the Devil), and that the other is the simulacrum of Satan (the same as the Evil One, hence God). But the one is the Insulted-Inquisitor (laughable seeker of signs, obstinate and always disappointed interpreter—for there are no signs, only simulacra), while the other is the Holy-Sorceress (forever on her way to a Sabbath where her desire invokes human beings in vain, for there are never any humans, only simulacra). It is in the nature of simulacra not to tolerate either that exegesis which believes in signs or that virtue which loves humanity.
Catholics scrutinize signs. Calvinists have no trust at all in them, because they only believe in the election of souls. But what if we were neither signs nor souls, but merely the same as ourselves (neither visible sons of our works, nor predestined), and thereby torn apart in the discrete distance of the simulacrum? Well, the point is that the signs and destiny of man supposedly no longer have a common ground; the point is that the Edict of Nantes supposedly was revoked; that we are henceforth in the void left behind by the division of Christian theology;and that on this deserted earth (which might indeed be rich from this abandonment) we can turn our ears to the words of Holderlin: "Zeichen sind wir, bedeutungslos," and perhaps still beyond, to all those great and fleeting simulacra that made the gods sparkle in the rising sun or shine like great silver arches in the heart of the night.
This is why Le Bain de Diane is probably, of all of Klossowski's texts, the one closest to this dazzling—but to us gloomy—light, from which the simulacra come to us. In this exegesis of a legend we find a configuration similar to the one that gives order to his other narratives, as though they all had their great mythical model therein: a proclamatory fresco as in La Vocation; Actaeon is Artemis's nephew, as is Antoine to Roberte; Dionysius is Actaeon's uncle and the old master of drunkenness, of anarchy, of death forever revived, of perpetual theophany; Diana is divided in two by her own desire, Actaeon metamorphosed at once by his desire and by that of Artemis. And yet, in this text devoted to an interpretation of a remote legend and a myth of distance (man chastised for having attempted to approach the naked goddess) the offering is as close as can be. There the bodies are young, beautiful, whole; they flee toward one another with all certainty.
The simulacrum still presents itself in its sparkling freshness, without resorting to the enigma of signs. There, phantasms are the welcome of appearance in the light of origin. But this origin is one that by its own movement recedes into an inaccessible remoteness. Diana at her bath, the goddess stealing away into the water at the moment in which she offers herself to the gaze, is not only the turning away of the Greek gods; it is the moment in which the intact unity of the divine "reflects its divinity in a virgin body," and thereby doubles into a demon who makes her, at a distance from herself, appear chaste and at the same time offers her to the violence of the Goat. And when divinity ceases to shine in the clearings only to split in two in the appearance where it succumbs while vindicating itself, it leaves the space of myth and enters the time of theologians. The desirable trace of the gods withdraws (and perhaps is lost) in the tabernacle and the ambiguous play of signs.
At this point the pure word of myth ceases to be possible. How can one henceforth transcribe into a language such as ours the lost but insistent order of simulacra? The word perforce must be impure, which draws such shades toward the light and wants to give back to all simulacra, beyond the river, something like a visible body, a sign or a being. Tarn dira cupido. It is this desire which the goddess placed in Actaeon's heart at the moment of metamorphosis and death: if you can describe the nudity of Diana, you are welcome to do so.
Klossowski's language is the prose of Actaeon: the transgressive word. Is not every word so, when it must deal with silence? Gide and many others with him wanted to transcribe an impure silence into a pure language, no doubt not seeing that such a word only possesses its silence from a much deeper silence that it does not name and which speaks in it and in spite of it—thus rendering it confused and impure.We now know, thanks to Bataille and Blanchot, that language owes its power of transgression to an inverse relationship, that existing between an impure word and a pure silence, and that it is in the indefinitely travelled space of this impurity that the word may address such a silence. For Bataille, writing is a consecration undone: a transubstantiation ritualized in reverse where real presence becomes again a recumbent body and finds itself led back to silence in an act of vomiting. Blanchot's language addresses death: not in order to triumph over it in words of glory, but so as to remain in that orphic dimension where song, made possible and necessary by death, can never look at death face to face nor render it visible: thus he speaks to it and of it in an impossibility that relegates him to an infinity of murmurs.
Klossowski knows these forms of transgression well. But he recaptures them in a movement that is entirely his own: he treats his own language like a simulacrum. La Vocation Suspendue is a simulated commentary on a story that is itself a simulacrum, since it does not exist or rather it lies entirely within the commentary made on it. As a result, in a single layer of language there opens up that inner distance of identity that enables the commentary on an inaccessible work to exist in the very presence of the work and enables the work to slip away inside this commentary, which is nevertheless its only form of existence: the mystery of real presence and the enigma of the Same. The Roberte trilogy is treated differently, at least in appearance—-journal fragments, scenes with dialogues, long exchanges that seem to tilt the word toward the currency of an immediate language without overview. But among these three texts a complex relationship is established. Roberte ce Soir already exists inside the text itself, since the text recounts Roberte's decision of reproof against one of the novel's episodes. But this first narrative also exists in the second, which contests it from within through Roberte's journal, and later in the third, where one sees its theatrical representation being prepared, a representation which escapes into the very text of the Souffleur, where Roberte, called upon to give life to Roberte through her identical presence, splits apart into an irreducible gap. At the same time, the narrator of the first story, Antoine, breaks up, in the second, between Roberte and Octave, then is scattered in the multiplicity of the Souffleur, where the one speaking is, without one's being able to determine for certain, either Theodore Lacase or K., his double— who passes himself off as him, wants to take credit for his books and finally finds himself in his place—or even the Old Man, who presides over the shuntings and remains the invisible "breather" (Souffleur) of all this language. A breather already dead, breather and breathed—perhaps Octave speaking yet again beyond death?
It's neither the ones nor the others, probably, but rather this overlapping of voices that "breathe" one another, insinuating their words into the other's speech and animating him with a movement, a "pneuma" that is not his own—but also breathing in the sense of a breath, an expiration that extinguishes the light of a candle; and lastly breathing (soufflant) in the specifically French sense of cheating or trickery, where one seizes upon something destined for another (taking his place, his role, his situation, his wife). Thus, as Klossowski's language recuperates itself, looming over what it has just said in the swirl of a new narration (and there are three, just as there are three turns in the spiral staircase adorning the cover of Le Souffleur), the speaking subject is dispersed into various voices that "breathe" and "trick" one another, suggest, extinguish and replace one another—scattering the act of writing and the writer himself into the distance of the simulacrum in which he loses himself, breathes and lives.
As a rule, when an author speaks of himself as an author, it is in the vein of the "diaristic" confession that tells of everyday truths—an impure truth in a spare, pure language. In this recovery of his own language, this retreat that inclines toward no intimacy, Klossowski invents a space of the simulacrum that is without doubt the contemporary, but still hidden, place of literature. Klossowski writes a work, one of those rare works which discover: in it, one sees that the existence of literature concerns neither humans nor signs, but this space of the double, this hollow of the simulacrum where Christianity has fallen under the spell of Demon, and where the Greeks once feared the gleaming presence of the gods with their arrows. It is the distance and proximity of the Same where the rest of us, now, encounter our only language.
Originally published in the NRF No. 135
Copyright Editions Gallimard 1964, Paris
Italics are mine (demon, I myself and god). The text is from Nietzsche's Gay Science (trans. W. Kaufmann), as quoted in Un si Funeste Desir, an important collection which contains some very profound pages on Nietzsche and makes possible an entire rereading of Klossowski's work.
Marmontel said admirably: "Simulating would express the lies of feeling and thought" (Oeuvres, vol. X, p. 431).
The French regardant, as discussed here by the author, means "particular, careful, punctilious" as well as "stingy, close-fisted"; it also, as a noun, means "onlooker," and since Foucault is playing on all these meanings, I have left it in the original French. (Translator's note.)
Here one encounters again—though as a pure form, in the stripped-down game of the simulacrum—the problem of real presence and of transubstantiation.
When Roberte the Calvinist, in order to save a man, violates a tabernacle in which real presence is not hidden, she is suddenly seized, through that miniscule temple, by two hands, which are her own: in the void of the sign and of the artwork, the simulacrum of the doubled Roberte triumphs.
On the word and purity, cf. Un si Funeste Desir, pp. 123-125.