File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0103, message 48


Date: Sat, 10 Mar 2001 21:13:18 +0000
Subject: confessions of augsutine



What can I say about Lyotard’s “The confession of Augustine” for some
reason I’ve found it the most difficult text of all to understand, to
gain some clarity on, I thought originally that it was because of the
fragmentary nature of the text but now after deciding to write a
paragraph or two on the text I am not so sure, (in answer to Eric’s
suggestion – the book had sat on the shelf of Lyotard’s texts in my
office/library for a five or six weeks before I read it during the last
few days…)  I think it may be because of the strangely florid discursive
strategy that Lyotard adopts. For instance…”open-mouthed he gapes at
your beatitude, you took him as a woman, cut him through, opened him,
turn him inside out…” (P3) A description of masculine rape? God taking
his pleasure on Augustine?  The inversion of  gender, the body is
reminiscent of  “libidinal economy” or even perhaps the Irigary texts of
the 1970s.  The return to the body which I don’t remember being so
strongly present in the other later works –  how much of the language is
related to Augustine, how much to Lyotard – (guess I’ll drive off to
Hampstead and check out the Confessions of A tomorrow)  - “it is the
other of the there…”  As if returning to a discourse addressing the
other and the subject with elements of a discourse on the body… But the
mixing of the discourse on the body with the subject/other discourse is
a strange and difficult marriage.

Anyway – I’m not clear what to make of this text – some things seem
plain however Lyotard is placing Augustine and his(its) confessions as a
post-modern text – certainly not in my reading
a text of modernity – more related to the post-modern glories of Buffy
the vampire slayer than Brecht or Beckett. The de-historicizing of  the
concept(s) of post-modernity is implicit in the text – but I have no
idea if it is acceptable, modernity is not (in my view) separable from
western-European history so why should the post-modern be? (Eric?
Anyone?).  “You the Other, pure verbs in act, life without remainder,
you are silent…”P36 -  I am reminded of Kristeva’s unpacking of these
phrases – the defining of the relationship between the subject, the
community and the other – is there a relationship, a similarity between
these approaches here. Is this, the social change drifting over western
Europe from the east in part the differend referred to here? Or is it
simply the subject, the body “the mad joy, proceeds from the sexual….”

On the cover it declares ‘the confessions as a major source of the
Western – and decidedly modern – determination of the self and of its
normativity…’ no no no – Lyotard is defining, redefining the confessions
as a post-modern text. Claiming perhaps that the source of
post-modernity lies in the return to the pre-modern… In one sense it
reminds me of the core problem with structuralism – namely the
pre-dominance of the synchronic over the diachronic. The study of the
moment and its removal from its historical context.

But then remember Deleuze “I saw myself as taking an author from behind
and giving  him a child that would be his own offspring, yet
monstrous….”  It seems to me that this logic, which is the kind of
radical misreading which I so enjoy,  both reading and doing, is
precisely what Lyotard is engaged in here…

check it out...more thoughts later perhaps..

best

sdv



   

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