Friday, 8 April 2011

Jacques Camatte

The struggle against reduction of the amplitude of the revolution is already a revolutionary struggle. The reader should not be astonished if to support this amplitude we refer to authors classically tagged religious, mystical, etc.
Camatte, The Wandering of Humanity 

It is down the narrowest and most obscure of a revered text’s alleyways that we first embark on our journeys of divergence. We use only the smallest excerpts of our readings as the foundations for our own cities of ideas. Nowadays, we find that there is nothing left to use in the pronouncements and major themes contained in great works. These major themes have already been absorbed to shape our perspective on the world, we cannot escape them, they are integrated into our perceptions to a degree that we cannot even register them as separate from ourselves. 

We find that the always recently proposed ‘return to a close reading of the text’ (of Marx, Shakespeare, Freud), intended to revive our appetites and allegiences, has been undertaken so often against ‘errors of interpretation’ that the works in themselves have become exhausted by the weight of a need for orthodoxy. And as a perverse consequence we tend to prefer the misreadings and heresies – the departures from what is written, if only for distraction’s sake, and with no particular desire for correction. 

What relevance the words quoted above have to Camatte’s wider theory is debatable, and they do not form a major part of the text The Wandering of Humanity. But it is this very marginality that is the source of their significance for us. It is because Camatte does not centralise his proposition with supporting arguments that we are released from the obligation to criticise it... as a consequence, readers may choose to ignore it completely or swallow it whole.  

We choose to take it cleanly, wholly. We have found that it is the asides, inconsistencies  and ephemera contained in a text, the notebooks and letters of a writer, that contribute most to the establishing of our own perspective – this is because we are not propagandists or believers. We do not want our project to merely reproduce orignal arguments that are to be found better expressed elsewhere. 

These words of Camatte, which we have now quoted at numerous junctures, seem to belong more to our domain than his, serving our purposes not his, even though they never appear without our also connecting them to him. And of the text quoted, it is just the last few words that supply us with that permission we needed for our project, which somehow already existed unformed for us, and which, once discovered through these words, now sets us on our way. 

From Camatte’s wider arguments, we no doubt derive much benefit: his comments on the community of capital; marxism’s repressive consciousness; the autonomic drives of organisations and so on. But these useful concepts are also balanced with analyses and predictions which have proved unfounded – Camatte is by no means the end of the theoretical line. These lines of thought of his are a familiar terrain to us, in many ways they are us, and constitute our origins, but being ours already, they do not inspire us. 

In order to set off in an unprecedented direction, and escape the trap of orthodoxy, we needed a direct connection to the familiar which also acted as a means of detaching ourselves from it. Or, another way, we needed a means for separating ourselves, which also attached our project to that which has gone before. Therefore, it is this two sentence crack in the revolutionary project that provides us with an opportunity for departure form that project but which also, we imagine, through our quotation of it, performs a blessing on our travels.