Over the last several days, in other forums, there has been talk about something like a tradition of infrapolitical thought. This is important on several counts, and we are only just beginning to discuss it. But it is also important not to push too hard, not to invent a gallery of characters forced into the dubious position of predecessors or founding fathers. We are not into developing a doctrine here, only into tracing a style.
Part of the discussion had to do with the issue of logics, and whether binary logics can ever hold as infrapolitical. And perhaps the obvious thing to say here, the point to be made, is that infrapolitics is neither an attempt to institute a new polarity (infrapolitics vs. heliopoliitcs) nor an attempt to claim some tertiary logical space beyond binarisms. In Erin Graff Zivin’s formulation: “what if marranismo, illiteracy, posthegemony, infrapolitics were to be thought *not* as concepts that oppose or critique Inquisitional logic, literacy, hegemony, politics, but rather as principles of anarchy always already at work *within* these concepts, and as such inseparable from them?”
I might want to use an expression alternative to “principles of anarchy,” to elude the ambiguity there, and talk about “an-archic displacements,” for instance, but otherwise I think Zivin’s formulation holds.
Another way to think about it, perhaps the same way after a number of historical mediations, is to say that, once Hegelian dialectics announce the advent of Absolute Knowledge, there is no longer a way of opposing masters and slaves, natural life and historical life, self-relation and spirit. Mauro Senatore said: “there is no concept left [no archic principle] to transit into,” so that the slave is not looking to become a master, and the naked life no longer aspires to historical existence.
So, is there a way to claim infrapolitical reflection prior to post-Hegelianism, or to the end-of-history radicalization of Hegelianism in French thought from the 1930’s through 1950’s? Or is infrapolitics directly a type of reflection that finds its primal scene in that context?
I think the answer is: yes and no to both. It all depends on the focus. On the one hand, infrapolitics is free thought, that is, thought that connects to life as self-relation as opposed to calculative-representational thought that follows a program or seeks the development and implementation of a truth, and that has gone on forever, since thought is thought. On the other hand, infrapolitics has specific contexts of appearance.
French existentialism is one of the latter, which doesn’t mean every aspect of French existentialism is infrapolitical. Melville’s filmography is infrapolitical, and Raúl Ruiz’s filmography is infrapolitical–and those are two filmmakers directly influenced by French existentialism at an early moment of their trajectories. There are others.
But there is, for instance, an infrapolitical Benjamin, not the messianic-teleological Benjamin committed to redeemed humanity, but the Benjamin of the destructive character, whose formalization is an early depiction of infrapolitical life.
As in the previous entry, I would like to call for conversation on these issues here, as the blog can hardly be sustained without explicit interaction.