PASSION AND KNOWLEDGE (1)


FIGURES  OF THE THINKABLE

NOTICE
The present volume is offered to readers as a public service  in the hopes of encouraging reflection and action aimed at deepening,
and realizing, the project of individual and collective autonomy on a
worldwide basis in all its manifestations.

Neither any website that would make the electronic version available nor any other distributor who may come forward in any  medium is currently authorized to accept any financial remuneration  for this service. “The anonymous Translator/Editor” (T/E) will thus not receive, nor will T/E accept, any monetary payment or other compensation for his labor as a result of this free circulation of ideas.

Anyone who downloads or otherwise makes use of this tome is suggested to make a free-will donation to those who have presented  themselves as the legal heirs of Cornelius Castoriadis: Cybèle  Castoriadis, Sparta Castoriadis, and Zoé Castoriadis. Either cash or  checks in any currency made payable simply to “Castoriadis” may be  sent to the following address:

Castoriadis 1, rue de l’Alboni 75016 Paris FRANCE

A suggested contribution is five (5) dollars (U.S.) or five (5) euro s.

The aforesaid legal heirs are totally unaware of this  undertaking, and so it will be completely for each individual user to  decide, on his or her own responsibility (a word not to be taken  lightly), whether or not to make such a contribution—which does not
constitute any sort of legal acknowledgment. It is entirely unknown  how these heirs will react, nor can it be guessed whether receipt of  funds will affect their subsequent legal or moral decisions regarding  similar undertakings in the future.*

Nevertheless, it is recommended that each user contact, by electronic mail or by other means, at least  ten (10) persons or organizations, urging them to obtain a copy of the
book in this way or offering these persons or organizations gift copies.
It is further recommended that each of these persons or organizations  in turn make ten (10) additional contacts under the same terms and  circumstances, and so on and so forth, for the purpose of furthering  this nonhierarchical and disinterested “pyramid scheme” designed to  spread Castoriadis’s thought without further hindrance.

 

French Editors’ Preface*
The first volume of Carrefours du labyrinthe {Crossroads in the Labyrinth in English} appeared in 1978.
Four other volumes were published, during the author’s  lifetime, between 1986 and 1997. The singularity of this  experience of “entering into the Labyrinth,” of this
philosophical questioning pursued over a period of twenty years by Cornelius Castoriadis, was presented by him in  the first pages of Crossroads:

To think is not to get out of the cave; it is not to  replace the uncertainty of shadows with the clearcut  outlines of things themselves, the flame’s  flickering glow with the light of the true Sun. To  think is to enter the Labyrinth. . . . It is to lose  oneself amidst the galleries which exist only because we never tire of digging them; to turn  round and round at the end of a cul-de-sac whose  entrance has been shut off behind us—until,
inexplicably, this spinning around opens up in the  surrounding walls cracks which offer passage.1
As early as this first volume, Castoriadis was reflecting upon the being of language—as anonymous  creation of speaking subjects—as well as upon psychoanalysis—in which he saw essentially a practicopoietical  activity—and he was looking into the enigma of the historical character, in the weighty sense of historical, of  philosophy and science as well as into the question of the  mode of being of the social-historical. Finally, he was  blazing the trail toward what was for him one of the basic  political questions of our time:

Would the project of autonomy  be able to survive if the anthropological type that
was consubstantial with its birth and its development was  threatened with extinction? These questions, which were  broadened and deepened in the following volumes, are to
be found again in the texts brought together right here.
Figures of the Thinkable is not a title chosen by  Castoriadis himself. We do, however, encounter this  phrase in his writings.2
This is not a question of literary style, or of the  “style” of thought—any more than it is a question simply of new “ideas.” It is a question of new and other forms, types, figures/schemas/significations;
and of other “problems,” and a new sense of what  is and is not problematic.3
It will be clearly apparent to the reader that “what is and is  not problematic” for Castoriadis distinguishes him  radically from those who are the stars of today on the
intellectual stage. On themes like the limits of the  “rationality” of capitalist society, democracy as the explicit  self-institution of society, literary creation as creation/
positing of new types of eidos, philosophical interrogation into science or into the mode of being of the social historical and of the psyche, these final texts dig a new into

——————————————————————–

2″The historical dimension of philosophy is also what is realized as
creation. It is the emergence of other figures of the thinkable,” ibid.,
xx.
3Ibid., p. xxii.

——————————————————————–

those “galleries” traveled many times by the author.
Whence the inevitable repetitions, and all the more so  since these presuppositions are far from obvious to  everyone, as Castoriadis had already had the occasion to
write when another collection of his texts was brought to  publication.4
Under the section heading “Poi‘sis”—poetic  creation, of course, but just as much institutional  creation—we have brought together two texts in which  Castoriadis reflects upon the creation par excellence within  language: poetry. There, he shows:
The poet is not only metropoios [creator of meters,a versifier] and muthopoios [creator of myths, of  stories]. He is also no‘matopoios, creator of  meanings and of significations. And he is also  eikonopoios, creator of images, and melopoios,creator of music.
He also shows how, in the different answers given to the  question What is man? in the two great Greek tragic poets of the fifth century, one can already read the passage from
the idea of a divine anthropogony to that of a self-creation of man, conscious of his own mortality. These two texts,”Notes on A Few Poetic Means” and “Aeschylean
Anthropogony and Sophoclean Self-Creation of Man,”illuminate some aspects of human creation that, while not  being entirely new in this author’s work, were rarely  approached by him head-on and in this light.

——————————————————————–

4A translation of this brief “Notice” for La Montée de l’insignifiance
appeared in the English-language electro-Samizdat edition, The Rising
Tide of Insignificancy (The Big Sleep), p. xi. —T/E

——————————————————————–

Foreword
With this second in a series of electro-Samizdat editions, which follows upon the publication a year ago of  The Rising Tide of Insignificancy (The Big Sleep)—RTI(TBS)
<http://www.notbored.org/RTI.pdf>—book-length translations  into English of Cornelius Castoriadis’s Carrefours du  labyrinthe (Crossroads in the labyrinth) series are now
complete.1 Figures of the Thinkable (including Passion and  Knowledge)—FT(P&K)—contains, with one exception, all texts selected for the single French posthumous volume of
Castoriadis’s Carrefours writings—Figures du pensable  (FP)—plus one last major Carrefours text yet to be  published in book form in English.2 One task accomplished,
others may begin.
~
It was, however, with constant self-questioning,enormous hesitation, and considerable trepidation that the  anonymous Translator/Editor (T/E) began electro-Samizdat
publication of Cornelius Castoriadis/Paul Cardan writings   in December 2003.3 These concerns have now been  addressed and alleviated to a great extent by the vast outpouring  of interest and support the first such volume has  garnered. Over 5,600 visits for this “public document file”  were recorded in the first seven months, according to Bill  Brown of the Not Bored! website.4 While internet statistics are not wholly reliable, it is fair to state that probably more  people have obtained copies of this edition than of any other Castoriadis volume previously published in English.5
A major article, in the leading American academic journal,on the controversy surrounding publication brought  knowledge of Castoriadis’s work to the nearly 100,000 subscribers of The Chronicle of Higher Education, most of  the copies of which are reportedly seen by multiple  readers.6 Courses now propose RTI(TBS) chapters as  suggested reading for young students quite adept at and  used to procuring information on the web. And various  left journals, on line and in print, have announced to their readers the easy availability of RTI(TBS). By all available  accounts,7 our first risky experiment in Castoriadis/Cardan  internet publication for the third millennium has been an unmitigated success. Absent any positive or conciliatory  movement on the part of the Castoriadis literary heirs (they  have in fact rejected offers of third-party mediation), this  initial success therefore seems to warrant a second trial.
Moreover, this particular electro-Samizdat publication may have produced salutary effects beyond simply making specific Castoriadis/Cardan writings available to  the public in English and bringing broader and greater  attention to his work. It is now announced that the Castoriadis  family’s “Association Cornelius Castoriadis” (ACC)  will be publishing a further collection of Castoriadis’s  interviews, lectures, and dialogues in February 2005 under  the title Une société à la dérive (A society adrift).8 This  forthcoming Éditions du Seuil volume, edited by Enrique  Escobar, Myrto Gondicas, and Pascal Vernay, is reportedly to include the original French versions of such RTI(TBS)  texts as “The Gulf War Laid Bare,” which the French Editors  had neglected to include in the final Carrefours volume, FP.

Indeed, the new book’s title itself derives from  one of the many texts catalogued and brought to light as a  public service in the RTI(TBS) Appendix, where it was also  stated that “translations of some of these texts may be prepared  at a later date for publication in an electronic volume  devoted to Castoriadis’s post-S. ou B. public interventions”(p. 388). We are glad if our first unauthorized electronic edition and its Appendix promising additional such  publications in English have finally prompted the ACC to  reconsider their former, highly restrictive editorial policy regarding Castoriadis writings not yet gathered together in  book form in French.9 Mme Castoriadis, we note quite
specifically, had previously stated in categorical terms that FP would be the final collection of non-seminar Castoriadis  texts the literary executors would publish.
On other fronts, however, the circumstances leading to this electro-Samizdat publication have changed  very little. While the ACC’s <http://www.castoriadis.org> website no longer greets visitors, including non-insider members of the ACC itself, with a “Forbidden access”
notice,10 the ACC itself continues to function in the  undemocratic manner described in the RTI(TBS) Translator’s  Foreword. Still no word, over 1,200 days later, what ACC President Pierre Vidal-Naquet and the ACC’s  governing Council have done to fulfill their promise to  study and/or act upon a suggestion that this Council be provided with an “anti-Council” chosen by lot among the  rank-and-file membership.

The Council persists in  announcing decisions already taken, instead of seriously  soliciting effective input and sincerely fostering  widespread participation while disseminating relevant  information in a timely manner— which, of course, would  have been more in line with the direct democratic principles  of the individual after whom their nonprofit group is named. The posts for the organization’s statute-mandated  Publication Committee remain vacant after the mysterious  resignation of its members, and the ACC Council itself, in  making publishing decisions in the absence of a duly and publicly appointed Publication Committee open to all who  wish to join, persists in its undemocratic practice of  holding multiple offices. Blacklisting of speakers proceeds  unabated at conferences and meetings devoted to  Castoriadis’s work, and the labor dispute between the ACC/Castoriadis literary executors and Castoriadis’s longtime  American translator and friend David Ames Curtis,
which occasioned the first electro-Samizdat publication,regrettably remains entirely unresolved.11 The Castoriadis  heirs and the ACC have also rejected a direct request to
state that they would not sue if a public account Curtis  gave of his experience as Castoriadis’s translator were to  be published, refusing at the same time to state what, if
any, statements in this text they consider legally actionable.12 And so FT(P&K) now appears in the present  electronic public document file, available to all without
hindrance.

 

(TO BE CONTINUED)

by Cornelius Castoriadis**
translated from the French  and edited anonymously as a public service

**A Paul Cardan (active 1959-1965) was a pseudonym for Cornelius Castoriadis (1922-1997).

NOTES

——————————————————————–

1Besides Crossroads in the Labyrinth (CL), these English-language book-length volumes include Philosophy, Politics, Autonomy (PPA),World in Fragments (WIF), parts of the Castoriadis Reader (CR), and RTI(TBS).
2We say major because, as noted in the RTI(TBS) Translator’s Foreword,
a number of shorter, occasional pieces from the Kairos section of the second Carrefours volume, Domaines de l’homme (DH), along with the Preface to DH, have yet to be translated into English.

3The reasons for this move were explained in the RTI(TBS) Translator’s Foreword—both explicitly, in its second section, and implicitly, in the following section, devoted metaphorically to the obscenity involved in making “sausage and legislation.”
4Another 1,360 downloads occurred on the alternate website posting <http://www .costis.org/x/castoriadis/Castoriadis-ri s ing_tide.pdf>
undertaken by Greek artist and long-time Castoriadis friend, Costis.
5An exception may be sales figures for some mimeographed pamphlets published by London Solidarity, but no information has been obtained on this score.
6See Scott McLemee’s news essay, “The Strange Afterlife of Cornelius Castoriadis: The Story of a Revered European Thinker, a Literary Legacy, Family Squabbles, and Internet Bootlegging” < h t tp : / /c h r o n i c le . c o m / fr e e /v 5 0 / i2 9 / 2 9a 0 1 4 0 1 . h t m > and <http://www.notbored.org/strange-afterlife.html>. It is thus not out of the question that upwards of a quarter million individuals in the United States glimpsed, most of them for the first time, at least some word of Castoriadis and of Socialisme ou Barbarie in the Chronicle’s pages.

7No indication from the Castoriadis heirs as to how many individuals sent them the suggested contribution of 5 euros/5 dollars to download this volume—a serious suggestion: see the “Notice” on page ii of RTI(TBS) and now again in FT(P&K), p. ii.
8The originally announced title was Questions interminables (Endless questions)—a title reminiscent of a RTI(TBS), chapter title, “Unending Interrogation”—until, perhaps, the French Editors discovered/recalled that this 1979 Esprit interview with Castoriadis had already been published in French in DH (1986) as “Une Interrogation sans fin” . . .

9T/E now looks forward to reading this volume and will prepare an appropriate edited electro-Samizdat version in English. Six of the eight Éditions 10/18 volumes of Castoriadis’s S. ou B.-era writings are no longer available to readers, so that in France people are now buying copies of the English-language volume of “greatest hits,” the Castoriadis Reader. Similarly, there have been no known (i.e., public) efforts
to reprint the first two volumes of the Political and Social Writings (PSW); the original Crossroads in the Labyrinth (CL) is also out of print.
10Since the “Forbidden access” notice was brought to light in the RTI(TBS) Translator’s Foreword, this “Association Cornelius Castoriadis” website has apparently been closed down. It is unknown, however, whether there remain, elsewhere, some secret insider
webpages accessible only to a covertly chosen few.

11Mme Castoriadis had insisted that the literary executors agree to a series of written ground rules, worked out between her and Curtis,before Curtis could resume translation work. Curtis still awaits a response from literary executor Sparta Castoriadis to his August 5,2003 letter requesting such explicit approval. Meanwhile, Curtis is owed a substantial sum of money from Stanford University Press (SUP) for work already completed, because SUP refuses to honor its original contract in the absence of an agreement between Curtis and the literary heirs. As the “Notice” states, no one, including Curtis, will receive any money for the present electro-Samizdat publication.

12This text by Curtis will thus not be published in the acts of a
colloquium held in May 2004 at the Facultés universitaires de Saint-
Louis (Brussels). It will soon be published, along with a Postscript
Curtis has composed, in an alternative German publication that does
not bend to veiled prepublication threats.

——————————————————————–

*Much Castoriadis material has gone out of print and much more remains to be  translated into English, publication projects in which T/E is currently engaged

About sooteris kyritsis

Job title: (f)PHELLOW OF SOPHIA Profession: RESEARCHER Company: ANTHROOPISMOS Favorite quote: "ITS TIME FOR KOSMOPOLITANS(=HELLINES) TO FLY IN SPACE." Interested in: Activity Partners, Friends Fashion: Classic Humor: Friendly Places lived: EN THE HIGHLANDS OF KOSMOS THROUGH THE DARKNESS OF AMENTHE
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