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Posted November 3, 2003
´Simulacrum´ is the term that hides the law of desire in Pierre Klossowski´s ´Roberte´ novels. It¿s a word that fascinated the mind of a vieux garçon who bears it unto us as if it were a number or an emblem just discovered in the encyclopaedia. This ´insignia´ is offered insistently in ´Roberte Ce Soir´ and ´The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes´, in an animic frenzy of joy, sensuality and a sort of innocence that is quick to disguise itself as ´perversion´. These are the true conceptual habits of the so-called ´simulacrum´: beneath the apparent complex of desire-and-pleasure ostensibly written, lies a well-spring of hope, longing and personal (not written) desire. This underlying desire is what Klossowski is and the basis for what he does (first as person then as writer): he simulates, through literature, signs of the very French delights of sensuality and intellectualism. He does so in blissful unawareness that as literary signs and ´simulacra´, they must be in fact simulated and kept hidden, intertwined into the text so that they truly are merely insinuated to the reader of literature. He could not do this. These blatantly French signs, exposed as they are, lay bare the true object of Klossowski´s desire: France itself, the beloved (it is perfectly conceivable and ´natural´ to desire an ´abstract entity´, like a nation´s essence; because, in fact, the idea, the identity and the reality of a nation are not really that abstract: they are all too concrete). Another way of putting things is this: by stating that he ´desires France´, one can also understand that he desires to be what he thinks is ´truly French´ (and not of foreign origin, as he was). One may add, following this thread, that he desired it almost ´sensually´; just like he ´sensually´ displays French sensuality and intellectualism in his novels. Klossowski seems, in his style, subjected to the law of his own desire, which remains unsatisfied, negative. This is why in ´Roberte Ce Soir´ he writes so much of ´laws´ that are described negatively as ´marginal´ and ´shameful´. He never writes of ´essential laws´, ´central laws´, the laws of what would be, for him, ´essentially French´ laws. In his self-judgement (and in fact), he never manages to actually write ´essentially´ French literature. In both books, ´Roberte Ce Soir´ and ´The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes´, this basic object of desire, ´France´ (or ´to become ´truly´ French´), is sublimated into an image, a feminine figure he names ´Roberte´. She is described, in her soul and her beauty, as the French Lady par excellence, her essence ´always slipping away´, ´inaccessible´, ´enigmatic´ and ´hidden´ (images that simulate the feelings toward what is perceived as ´France´ and her essence). Klossowski, in the guise of ´Octave´ (described as ´impotent´, ´old´, ´perverse´ and always frustrated), expresses his desperation for the desired object, ´Roberte´, by inflicting all sorts of violent ´laws´ upon her, counter-laws to the law of his own desire, in the hopes that somehow he might obtain her essence. Thus ´Octave´ battles with a subtle, intelligent lady-figure that in many ways is beyond him and surpasses him. If ´Octave´ is Klossowski, his main weapon seems to have been literature, one that in real life he abandoned. Perhaps ´Roberte´, or (in Klossowski´s soul) ´France´, finally disarmed him and won. The simulacrum of Klossowski´s person began when he had the audacity to name ´his neighbour´ a French author whose opus has an almost immemorial, mythic stature: le Marquis de Sade. Perhaps it was then that Klossowski began to feel the forcefulness of French intellectualism; perhaps it was then when he began to desire it, already prey to an implacable law. One discovered seemingly within himself, but also inflected upon him, despite himself, by the terrible enchantment of a culture.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.