LATOUR/BLANCHOT: the dispersion of Orpheus and the plurality of the modes of existence

Alex Reid poses the question of the relation between Latour’s notion of instauration and Blanchot’s notion of the absent author. In both cases what is constructed or composed is irreducible to the subject-object paradigm and takes on an instituted, and thus autonomous, consistence. Reid compares this to the gesture of Orpheus, in Blanchot’s account, of « turning away ». But when Orpheus looks back on Eurydice he is turning away from the daylight world of « double-click », as Latour calls the mode of transportation of information without transformation. Double-click has become the hegemonic model for the moderns to the point of obstructing our perceiving and understanding of other modes of existence such as the religious. But Orpheus is turning towards the nocturnal world.

Blanchot argues that Orpheus was right to turn back and look, and so « lose » Eurydice, because he did not really want to bring her back into the day, but rather to know her in her « nocturnal » being. This nocturnal Eurydice is present in the song by being absent, Blanchot tells us: it is a matter of another mode of being. I think this is also a Latourian point. Bringing Eurydice into the day would be translating her mode of existence into the double-click mode. To love someone or to create a song you must lose them as diurnal double-click objects, and lose yourself as a double-click object too. Only then can you apprehend lovingly or poetically or religiously or politically, etc. and speak accordingly.

That is why Blanchot declares that Orpheus was already « dispersed » (as he was later to be torn in pieces by the maenads) when he left the day to go down into Hades. Similarly, leaving behind the single vision of double-click ontology we are dispersed over multiple modes of existence.

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