Anti-Honesty

This is something I have written in my notes, just to whet the our appetite: “Literature is nothing.”

This is kind of stupid, since we’re using scare-words. But that is good enough for my notes, the idea there I find striking. Literature is something that is certainly real and whole to us, we would rather say that it is “volatile”, that it is capable of shifting in meaning and function. But our overall task is really to write a history where everything goes through literature, where literature is basically a “site” and no more. We’re really saying that literature is not a “component”, we proposed a “componential history” in the previous note. We’ve spoken about a few components: the hunt (that is, the search for an origin, based on our distance or absence from the origin), the wild (the place where our hunt is stressed, distorted). But literature is not a component, it is place where things pass through, it is sort of a frozen moment. It is not volatile because it is not whole, ie, it is not a whole thing that shifts or moves as a unit.

But there is a third component, which we have long been thinking about, which is “the event”. Literature is the place of an event, and this is because it is material. Hunt, wild, and event / material, that is basically the three components that we want to work with, and literature is that which lies in the space between the three. I think this thought is striking, since we tend to start with the notion that literature is “something”. This is really a methodological principle.

I became more convinced of these ideas after reflecting on this notion: the fascination with the volatility of literature is very recent, very new. We hesitate to call it an actual historical event — it probably isn’t. But for the bulk of history literature was certainly simply a tool or a place. When people sought the origin, they “happened upon” a a solution which literature provided, but which is obviously not the book itself, but rather something contained in the book or referenced by the book. The event, and not the book, whose materiality is obvious but inconsequential, is what is lasting, a “component”.

“Anti-honesty” is the attempt to link two things:

1) the componential history, the three components of history — remember, these are not analytic components, not components with which we can analyze the present. The present is not really our concern, but rather, they are the three components of “the book of love” which we are trying to write, ie, of a history of, well, romantics, you can call it, but really, the only possibility of a “non-materialistic, non-humanistic” history.

2)  — well, let me first start by saying that the idea that we aren’t talking about “analytic” components is important. Literature must not be understood too precisely, emphasis on the “must not” (ie, it can be). Precision is related to our “volatile” from earlier. “Honesty” is that which characterizes the hunt for an origin understood conventionally, thus, it is also an error since it always ends up understanding literature as something. But we cannot be “negative Nancys”, that is, we have to approach this with a position of our own — albeit a negative one — and not simply correct the errors of others. The idea of “negativity” and “a positive position of our own” is not incompatible, it is referred to in the word “anti-“, and this is what “anti-honesty” refers to.

Thus, to continue, anti-honesty is the attempt to link a componential history to a specific reading. The hunt of honesty is actually itself componential as well, since at the very least it focuses on the event rather than the volatility of the book. But this event is, well, not of interest to us. Rather, we are interested in — TBC

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