On Sunday, July 12th, on the fringes of the International Summit of Critical Metaphysicians at Arcachon (SIMCA), the motion to “politicize the beach” was adopted. A banner to such effect was thus painted, reading “You’re going to die – and your mediocre vacations can’t do anything about it.” And so, in the afternoon of that same day, at the time of the biggest crowds, the critical metaphysicians marched many hundreds of meters down the whole length of the beach called “Pereire” carrying said banner. If the sun can now be stared directly into, thanks to advances in the optics industry, it appears that such is not always the case with death, as the reactions of the beachgoers proved. The operation was a complete success. It revealed all the unimaginable disquiet hidden beneath the whole seaside meat rack. One sunbather thus came and asked us “why” he was going to die, and another inquired of us “what” he was going to die of. A third, certainly more familiar with the art of clairvoyance than the first little Heidegger, even tried to get us to tell him “when” he was going to die. A last one, clearly under the illusion that we were his peers, pushed the envelope of perceptiveness by observing, “Oh yeah, you guys; you sure are positive about life!” All the same, the eight year old kid that replied to his little brother, who was traumatized by this singular manifestation, “ah forget it, those guys are nuts!” and the old bearded fisherman who asked in a loud voice with a knowingly exaggerated Gascony accent, “what, you think they’re from around here?” showed at the very least a slight degree of dereliction of duty.
“Cases of poisoning proliferating in Japan. TOKYO. A fifty-eight year old Japanese man was found dead Monday August 31st after having drunk from a can of tea containing a poison that same day, reported a police spokesman on Thursday, September 3rd. This death is part of an increasing spread of poisoning cases in Japan. On Tuesday, the manager of a supermarket in Suzuka, in the center of the country, spat out some canned tea because it tasted so bitter; police later found traces of cyanide in the can. On Wednesday, a taxi driver drank from a can containing a pesticide in Koryo (West). Four people died in July after eating a plate of curry containing arsenic, and at the end of August, a person unknown sent bottles of disinfectant labeled as a weight loss drink to twenty-three students at a school.” (Le Monde, Friday, September 3rd, 1998)
Faced with the spectacle of so many bitter calumnies, so many predictable machinations, so many misunderstandings maintained on purpose, we feel it is necessary to make public what was probably the first ever honest critique of the Bourdieuian imposture. We got our chance when one of the critical metaphysicians was invited, with near-total contempt, to participate in the 2nd International Marx Congress and speak on the impertinent theme, “daring to research critically.” None of them obviously would have ever consented to make such a grotesque engagement – everyone knows the role the Communist Party has in organizing these kinds of buffooneries – if the other puppets that’d been invited to pontificate hadn’t been two editors of “the ‘December’ of the French Intellectuals,” published in the collection Liber/Reasons to Act, under the protuberant eye of the much-worshipped Bourdieu himself. The decision was thus made to accept the invitation for Thursday October 1st 1998, on the grounds of Nanterre University, building L, at 2 pm, but the subject of the presentation was not explicitly clarified. When the day arrived, a sudden attack of courtesy permitted the critical metaphysician to let the two dismal doctors of sociology go first to enumerate their ordered list of complaints about the University, which so contemptuously deigns to give audience to “critical researchers,” and in so doing slows the progress of the Sociological Sciences, whose marble-white objectivity is sacrificed so scandalously in futile “political arguments,” etc… Once his turn had come at last, after so many terrifying platitudes, he delivered his contribution to the debate. It began like this: “It must be considered one of the most singular manifestations of the present face of domination that under the auspices of a party in a position of power a handful of State employees have publicly gathered here today with the otherwise quite healthy concern of ‘daring to research critically.’ In other times, this might have been taken as a kind of provocation, or at least as showing some spirit, but since then domination has effectively adjudged to itself the monopoly on critique – that is, the inalienable right to denounce its failings and jeopardize itself – because that jeopardy is precisely the permanent state of emergency that it needs in order to force general consent to the proliferation of its diktats. It’s now considered extremely rude to not ask a worm-eaten social organization for its permission before demolishing it. But the extreme insolence with which this society speaks of its vices is in no way a sign that it’s all-powerful; it’s just part of the final phase of its decomposition.” One of the first paragraphs drew up the death certificate for the University: “That the right to critique is a privilege only enjoyed by the powerful is as true in the University as it is in the rest of this society. But that’s hardly a significant scandal. It’s no less absurd to want to reform the university than it is to intend to destroy it. … Because within the heart of nihilism there is no true teaching or even any real technique possible anymore.” The conclusion went as follows: “All in all, the decline of the university and the disappearance of the student subject are but minor details within a much more titanic process: the decomposition of commodity society.” A second paragraph gave an easily recognizable analysis of the function of Bourdieu and his peers in the disaster economy: “The role of the intellectual within this movement, a movement which domination intends to freeze, must be measured in exactly inverse proportions. The intellectual’s strategic importance cannot be overestimated, and that’s all the more true if you take that as a critique. The intellectual certainly does in essence have a repressive social function. We say that as long as there are intellectuals – that is, as long as contestation, thought, and knowledge are seen as specialized, and not general activities of mankind - there will be no intelligence… And when at last the artificially prolonged survival of an evil and expired social order has been entirely stripped of its aptitude for rendering the gangrene consuming it invisible, that is, for preserving in the new reality the appearance of the old reality, the intellectual then finally ends up having a kind of power, even in all the powerlessness that he’s agreed to – a power that many people, especially those who sign up to get doctorates in sociology, even envy him for. The monstrous media inflation must also in the same way be considered connected to the absolute need – even beyond simple denial as imposed on him by everyday experience – to maintain the commodity mode of disclosure and all the categories it commands: usefulness, work, property, value, exchange, interest, etc… All these patched-together concepts, now so obviously unfit for use in understanding anything really experienced by anyone, which do no more than render it unintelligible, must be maintained, kept-up, and recycled at all costs by the intellectuals, naturally with the use of an ever more aberrant range of terminology, which brings the more scrupulous among them to talk, for example, about such things as a ‘calculus of impartiality,’ which is certainly no small thing…” … “The critical intellectual ensures the fine-tuned production of clear consciences. Simply by his long-winded existence, moreover, he reminds his listeners of the necessity of scientific analysis, the reasonable reform of everything, and the categorical imperative of dialogue – that is, of everyone’s duty to express themselves in the only language domination understands: its own. It is not at all paradoxical that the critical intellectual is the most useful objective ally of domination precisely where he is the most critical; it is, for instance, by attacking ‘market journalism’ that he most effectively maintains the illusion that there can be such a thing as good journalism, and by stigmatizing ‘the state nobility’ that he implicitly permits people to talk of States without immediately implying their equation with enslavement … Even when there’s no other real critique in the “closed universe of discourse” besides practical critique, besides the most naked violence, even when critique unquestionably implies just absolute hostility and foreignness to the world of the commodity, the critical intellectual still puts forth his dreary considerations about symbolic domination. And it is at this point that he unfailingly goes back over to the side of this society: in the dedication he puts into totally emptying the realm of the politically sayable of the Unsayable. The Infinite does not fall within his field of study, which only comprehends the determined and given. According to him, it doesn’t exist. And having said that he thinks the last word has been said. Anguish, passion, suffering, freedom, destruction, and, more generally, all the manifestations of human negativity are among the various things that he conscientiously works to hold back at the gates of Publicity. Just like Jünger’s dominant-type characters, the social sciences ‘live ceaselessly with the terrifying idea that not just a few isolated individuals but whole masses might one day cease to be afraid of them; that would mean their certain downfall. This is also the reason for their rage against all doctrines of transcendence. Those kinds of ideas, after all, hide the supreme threat: that men might lose their fear.’ There are certain places in the University where the mere word ‘metaphysics’ is hounded like heresy. And so the social sciences assiduously work to keep man stuck within the shattered horizons of his finiteness, his scattered understanding, his mortal remains and his miserable limitations. ‘It’s impossible to imagine an institution where just to preserve it for the sake of preserving it would be of any value,’ wrote Lukacs; but it is this society as a whole that can no longer justify its being preserved for any other reason than for the simple fact that it exists, aside, perhaps, from its remarkable way of portraying itself so clearly in every one of its perversions. Its nothingness calls for its destruction more distinctly each day. That’s why the critical researcher needs to do his research – because what needs to be critiqued (i.e. pulverized) is so blindingly obvious that it takes years and years of schooling to not see it.” Up to this point, the audience’s only reaction to the content of the speech and its somewhat martial tone was one of extreme atmospheric tension; after all, there was little chance that even a single future critical metaphysician might have happened to have been astray among so many brains so eager to have the French Communist Party indulge them. But it was the end of the lecture that brought that tension to its peak, which among certain spectators was signaled by a clearly recognizable hiccup-like hysterical snickering. And in fact the text’s conclusion could hardly have let any doubts persist about our intentions: “But for the time being, critique only makes for doctorates in Sociology, and on all fronts, everyone agrees to just let them starve to death among the dried-up teats of their Science. Because what critique needs now is poets and theologians, not conscientious functionaries of social intelligence… Indeed, it has no more immediate enemy than this ever all-knowing ‘sociology,’ which works so hard to make the disturbing familiar, with all the unbelievable patience that mediocrity can be capable of. And so we’ll have to leave the critical researchers to their miserable lamentations about the precariousness of their professional positions, and about how weak the resources the enemy allocates to them to make their dissertations about it with are. All those who can’t bring themselves to abandon the ship when it’s already so obviously sinking, just because even as it’s being swallowed up they esteem their careers more highly than the perilous freedom of the partisan, tie their fates to that of a world that’s doomed. Their mediocre yet detailed indignation gets no more than contempt from everyone. No one’s about to follow them, and no one’s even about to like them. Because they critique domination in terms that even domination itself isn’t averse to using, they’ll most likely end up facing the same firing squads as will those who, to the bitter end, they remained merely the fault-finding accomplices of. Whatever happens, they’ve no longer been keeping up with the times. Sociology is dead. We won’t have any good memories of it.” To finish it off, a codicil was uttered: “in spite of what one might have hastily concluded from the official documents for this congress, Marx was the man that wrote that ‘in order to pardon itself its sins, humanity only needs to recognize them as such.’” Reduced to their primordial nothingness, and incapable of citing any of the master’s books in his own defense, nor any of the books in his collection, we don’t expect to see any expression of resentment on the part of the comic buffoon Bourdieu towards Critical Metaphysics before at least 2002 [three years after the time of writing]. The biggest big-shot doctor of Sociology of the doctors of Sociology there tried to act like the whole thing was just “some kind of joke.” But he quickly realized that it was certainly no joke, when the crowd, having nervously applauded the intervention, attacked him without the slightest regard. In a cruel irony, he happened to be a kind of post-marxist confusionist whose speech was dependent on the newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique, and was forced by the virulence of their charges to leave the room before the conference was over. And having finished reading his text, the critical metaphysician just kept silent.