Bartleby in Hell

Bartleby is someone that ‘doesn’t give a fuck’, and this is not because he has transcended in some way, but rather because, I will argue, of his mourning. Looking back on my efforts in these past few entries, I realize, I think, my impasse in attempting to define, for example, the negativitiy of Plato’s negation — it did not properly think about the past. I want to here rectify this.

I mean, for Bartleby, there are two things to pay attention to here: 1) Bartleby’s drunken rampage 2) and his pause, ie, what causes him to rampage forth and what causes him to hesitate or pause — the wall, mostly, in the latter case. Now, one goes on a drunken rampage, again, not because of transcendance (and this was the fact that had been plaguing me, despite my best efforts) but rather because the contemporary world is in ruins, is the ruins of an older world.

Personally, this is related to the difference between *bitterness* and *mourning*. For the former case, we had been angry at the world for breaking its promises. But in the latter case, we mourn or we look back on … not really novelty (which would be nostalgia) but rather the original … thing, or promise, that was the origin of the modern world. There is definitely an element of mourning in the Platonic Idea.

That is, consider that our modern world is (1) something that takes advantage, profits off the promise, or (2) is the ‘good enough’ remnant of the original promise. That is, it is, in the first case, merely a mode of deference, but with a fee, like a merry go round — the fee is our sacrifice, basically: the key word here is *infernal*: an infernal merry-go-round.

… I remember reading a Michael Cary comic book called, ‘Lucifer’, a very cool and literal comic book about the demons and hell. It’s honestly one of the most pleasurable reading experiences, I mean, for me and my ilk, I who sympathize with demons. An underpowered Lucifer, stripped of most of his powers but not of his cunning, visits the Chinese hell in order to … retrieve something, in a Dungeons and Dragons sort of way. What he discovers there has always remained me for some reason or another: he discovers an “infernal” machine, that somehow taps into the dreams of the living in order to harness power for its hell. Dreams have become the domain of the demonic. Although not exactly clear, it’s a very gripping sort of story — the very definition of the infernal: something that feeds off our hopes in a sense. In a sense we can’t be bitter because we were never cheated to begin with — bitterness assumes the possibility of success.

How *infernal* is our world? The very possibility is striking because it allows us to assume a beginning: “The infernal river”, Conrad said. The river that, in the heart of darkness, seems to transport us somewhere, brings us somewhere, but where the steamboat ‘crawled along’, in an apparent stagnation. The river moves along but brings us nowhere, at once transport and stagnation.

The big distinction, when it comes to the river, is the distinction between *virtual movement* and *infernal movement*… the two are entirely different. Virtual movement is movement towards some goal within a set of promises… well, you get the idea. Infernal movement is that which carries us along the set of virtualities, non progressively. It is probably that which I refer to when I say that we always seem to have some intuition or some feeling that we are merely playing a game.


Let’s return to Bartleby, as we said, there are two components, that of aggression and that of pause. … The aggression is the aggression of mourning, the kind of disregard at the contemporary world which is *infernal*, which profits off of promises that it can’t keep, that can never be realized. The pause is the pause before the river…

TBC: Dead Letters Office


Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s