Michel Foucault: “Speech Begins After Death”


..does the pleasure of writing exist?  I don’t know.  One thing I feel certain of is that there’s a tremendous obligation to write.  This obligation to write, I don’t really know where it comes from.  As long as we haven’t started writing, it seems to be the most gratuitous, the most improbable thing, almost the most impossible, and one to which, in any case, we’ll never feel bound.  Then, at some point – is it the first page, the thousandth, the middle of the first book, or later?  I have no idea – we realize that we’re absolutely obligated to write.  This obligation is revealed to you, indicated in various ways.  For example, by the fact that we experience so much anxiety, so much tension if we haven’t finished that little page of writing, as we do each day.  By writing that page, you give yourself, you give to your existence, a form of absolution.  That absolution is essential for the day’s happiness.  It’s not the writing that’s happy, it’s the joy of existing that’s attached to writing, which is slightly different.  This is very paradoxical, very enigmatic, because how is it that the gesture – so vain, so fictive, so narcissistic, so self-involved – of sitting down at a table in the morning and covering a certain number of blank pages can have this effect of benediction for the remainder of the day?  How is the reality of things – our concerns, hunger, desire, love, sexuality, work – transfigured because we did that in the morning, or because we were able to do it during the day?  That’s very enigmatic.  For me, in any case, it’s one of the ways the obligation to write is manifested.

This obligation is also indicated by something else.  Ultimately, we always write not only to write the last book we will write, but, in some truly frenzied way – and this frenzy is present even in the most minimal gesture of writing – to write the last book in the world.  In truth, what we write at the moment of writing, the final sentence of the work we’re completing, is also the final sentence of the world, in that, afterward, there’s nothing more to say.  There’s a paroxysmal intent to exhaust language in the most insignificant sentence.  No doubt this is associated with the disequilibrium that exists between speech and language.  Language is what we use to construct an absolutely infinite number of sentences and utterances.  Speech, on the contrary, no matter how long or how diffuse, how supple, how atmospheric, how protoplasmic, how tethered to its future, is always finite, always limited.  We can never reach the end of language through speech, no matter how long we imagine it to be.  This inexhaustibility of language, which always holds speech in suspense in terms of a future that will never be completed, is another way of experiencing the obligation to write.  We write to reach the end of language, to reach the end of any possible language, to finally encompass the empty infinity of language through the plenitude of speech.

Another reason why writing is different from speaking is that we write to hide our face, to bury ourselves in our own writing.  We write so that the life around us, alongside us, outside, far from the sheet of paper, this life that’s not very funny but tiresome and filled with worry, exposed to others, is absorbed in that small rectangle of paper before our eyes and which we control.  Writing is a way of trying to evacuate, through the mysterious channels of pen and ink, the substance, not just of existence, but of the body, in those minuscule marks we make on paper.  To be nothing more, in terms of life, than this dead and jabbering scribbling that we’ve put on the white sheet of paper is what we dream about when we write.  But we never succeed in absorbing all that teeming life in the motionless swarm of letters.  Life always goes on outside the sheet of paper, continues to proliferate, keeps going, and is never pinned down to that small rectangle; the heavy volume of the body never succeeds in spreading itself across the surface of paper, we can never pass into that two-dimensional universe, that pure line of speech; we never succeed in becoming thin enough or adroit enough to be nothing more than the linearity of a text, and yet that’s what we hope to achieve.  So we keep trying, we continue to restrain ourselves, to take control of ourselves, to slip into the funnel of pen and ink, an infinite task, but the task to which we’ve dedicated ourselves.  We would feel justified if we no longer existed except in that minuscule shudder, that infinitesimal scratching that grows still and becomes, between the tip of the pen and the white surface of the paper, the point, the fragile site, the immediately vanished moment when a stationary mark appears once and for all, definitively established, legible only for others and which has lost any possibility of being aware of itself.  This type of suppression, of self-mortification in the transition to signs is, I believe, what also gives writing its character of obligation.  It’s an obligation without pleasure, you see, but, after all, when escaping an obligation leads to anxiety, when breaking the law leaves you so apprehensive and in such great disarray, isn’t obeying the law the greatest form of pleasure?  To obey an obligation whose origin is unknown, and the source of whose authority over us is equally unknown, to obey that – certainly narcissistic – law that weighs down on you, that hangs over you wherever you are, that, I think, is the pleasure of writing…

…I’m not an author.  First of all, I have no imagination.  I’m completely uninventive.  I’ve never even been able to conceive of something like the subject of a novel…I place myself resolutely on the side of the writers [in distinction – Roland Barthes – from authors] those for whom writing is transitive.  By that I mean those for whom writing is intended to designate, to show, to manifest outside itself something that, without it, would have remained if not hidden at least invisible.  For me, that’s where, in spite of everything, the enchantment of writing lies…I’m simply trying to make apparent what is very immediately present and at the same time invisible…I’d like to reveal something that’s too close for us to see, something right here, alongside us, but which we look through to something else…to define the proximity around us that orients the general field of our gaze and our knowledge…

So, for me, the role of writing is essentially one of distancing and of measuring distance.  To write is to position oneself in that distance that separates us from death and from what is dead…I’m in the distance between the speech of others and my own…In exercising my language, I’m measuring the difference with what we are not, and that’s why I said to you earlier that writing means losing one’s own face, one’s own existence.  I don’t write to give my existence the solidity of a monument.  I’m trying to absorb my own existence into the distance that separates it from death and, probably, by that same gesture, guides it toward death…

I’dd add that, in one sense, my head is empty when I begin to write, even though my mind is always directed toward a specific object.  Obviously, that means that, for me, writing is an exhausting activity, very difficult, filled with anxiety.  I’m always afraid of messing up; naturally, I mess up, I fail all the time.  This means that what encourages me to write isn’t so much the discovery or certainty of a certain relationship, of a certain truth, but rather the feeling I have of a certain kind of writing, a certain mode of operation of my writing, a certain style that will bring that distance into focus…

Foucault saisi par la révolution - Vacarme | Michel Foucault | Scoop.it

“That’s it, weave, weave” – Samuel Beckett

Image result for hofstadter strange loop


Samuel Beckett

What she set out to do, she did not achieve.  Intention and realization went un-joined.

Which in no wise implies that beauty was lacking.  Or interest.  There were still trees, efforts, water running here and there, struggles, many other animals, emotions, scenes.  Nothing, really, was lost in failure.  But what could be?  Nothing that might potentially eventuate (from action, intention, emotion, or hope) is ever known, therefore where could failure lie?

Ice is its own phenomenon and occurrence, regardless.  Such strange wet-dry thing, fluid and solid becoming-unbecoming.  The sound of a voice – perhaps of an “inside” impossible without “outside.”  Many “things” are in-between.  Ever on the way to something, ever proceeding from.

He found it all incalculable, without appropriate measure.  Which was not what she intended, not what she set out to do.  Yet could not be called a failure.  For who or what might measure that?  What thermometer, rod, or calculating machine might tally such “results”?  In relation to what when where?  And how might “results” be defined?

The term for an idea or concept named “beauty” being interesting in itself.  Apparently something pertaining only to them (these so-called “human subjects”).

She intended to express, or so it seemed to him.  Set out to communicate an experience with her surround,  a something she was hoping to say, to give voice to.  This experience was such that she perceived it as something transpiring for her in such fashion as to not be readily apparent to others, nor easily translatable (even observable) to those arrayed around about her – both those with whom she valued attachment and reciprocal relations, and any “others” – in this case whom (a human kind of self-referencing versus what or how) – might be capable of demonstrating care, comprehension, or attention to what (or how) she was “experiencing” (i.e. having a felt-living-sense with and within her environment).

He (perhaps the proposed recipient of her attempt of expression) found all of it incalculable, and without appropriate measure.  He, in his own idio-specific way (or relation) to whatever (whomever, however he considered his ‘surround’) was entrenched in his own meticulous (incalculable and immeasurable – at present time of writing – by ‘science’ or current ‘arts of knowing’) particularities of being-with / affecting / effecting / participating in his perceived environment [what, as a sort of short-hand, might be termed his Umwelt (look it up!)]: what happens to matter for him.

Some have called it ‘sense-making’; others’ ‘making-sense.’  Many (in some strange-impossibly proposed ‘objectivity’ – a falsified, imaginary distancing involving a blind delusion of “as if” they were NOT in fact WHAT they are – a kind of ‘sense-making-sense’ (in two senses of the word “sense”)): in other (no…in MORE) words: an ‘human’ account-possibility of its proceptive, perceptive, immersive and recursive experience WITHIN its surround AS IF it were not.  I.e., fiction, or fantasy.  So far as he or she have been able to uncover – NO ACCOUNTS of human experiencings have been proposed, recorded, or proffered by other-than-human ‘beings’ that any human has been able to perceive, understand, or translate…therefore there are no ‘objective’ (distanced other) reliable sources for measuring, calculating, analyzing, reporting on, under-standing or evaluating the experiences of the human ‘he’ and ‘she.’  At present THERE IS NO OTHER with which this kind (‘human’) might informatively and effectively communicate, learn, argue, or confer…only itself.

[Which may be the situation of all cells, plants, animals, stars, etc…but humans can’t know…being all too human, after all].

None of this was her intent.  No content recorded concerns what she set out to do.  But this in no wise indicates MIS-take, for there is no future in advance which one might con-fuse, err, or malfunction toward.  The next simply is, just like any number of things before.  All options extremely limited according to case, kind, and percipient.

In the case of this writing – ‘human’ (so-self-called) KIND, as PERCEIVED and PROCESSED by itself only – with (thusfar) no other constituent or contributor except as designated and defined by its own self-kind-case.

The ‘human’ has NOWHERE to turn for what it considers ‘knowledge’ (he thinks) excepting NOW HERE and AS ITSELF (he thinks) while perceiving in ways it already has experienced to be variegated, faulty, and vague.

(Perhaps all living things) he thinks (but certainly all human-kind) affords no outside source or viewing, perception, communication, expression, or understanding/interpretation of itself.  It only confers with itself and its surrounding (as experienced according to itself and slight variations of itself over time).  No human could be considered “reliable” – if re-liable were intended to re-fer to “reality” – taken to signify THE CASE OR STATE OF THINGS beneath, before, pertaining to, and beyond THE HUMAN BEING AS IT EXPERIENCES ITSELF ‘to be,’ he thinks.

“A pointless matter,” he vocalizes in response to her ‘expression’ and ‘intention.’  “Even among our own kind, sort, and communicable compatriots – we ‘humans’ as we call ourselves,” he states, “’I’ cannot know whether or what you’re referring to, and whether or what of it corresponds to my own ‘human’ experiencing (as we say and apparently agree, confer).”

She cries a little.  Wishes something.  Or so it seems to him, in his NOW HERE.  She intended other-wise.  Goes quiet (from a ‘human’ – so-self-called, ‘perspective’).

It is quiet.  Perhaps from many perspectives.  ‘Human’ science (arts of knowing) claim that snakes (so-humanly-called) can’t ‘hear,’ nor the clocks humans have made, nor cats, nor dogs, days nor plants, nor wood, nor dirt – whatever else ‘humans’ are able to notice and create or differentiate in any given perceptive scenario.

Between like kinds, this is NOT what she set out to do, nor intended…and only the ‘humans’ (“so far as we know,” he says) might even be capable of de-signifying, de-coding, com-prehending (perceiving-together) these sounds, marks, signals, gestures, movements, motions between them.

And here you (perhaps) are … reading (de-coding, de-signifying, transposing, translating) … “IT” (according to your NOW HERE).

What she set out to do she did not achieve, nor he.  But of course the proposed possible, capable, or potential of ‘setting out to’ is not known… so WHO knows?

The intention and realization have not joined… or have they?  Who or what might measure (and when and how) calculate, evaluate, or demonstrate that?  “They” seem left / bereft purely to themselves.  If a lion could speak, apparently we would not be able to understand it.

And so ‘he’ and ‘she’ make sounds, motions, and varieties of contact (according to ‘human’ perceivings) on a ‘porch,’ in a ‘house,’ through various ‘rooms,’ ‘spaces,’ ‘surfaces,’ and so on.  Birds chirp (according to the ‘hearing’ of ‘humans’), clouds drift, squirrels chitter, grass wavers, and so on all the same (according to ‘human’ sense-making-sense)… ‘he’ sets out, intends, struggles, interacts, and feels with ‘his’ surround (NOW HERE), as does ‘she’… neither achieving their ‘goals,’ neither controlling nor creating any realizations they intend – albeit with NO knowledge of what they might actually be able to evince or conjure – all having not yet occurred.

It would appear (to the ‘humans’) that many many ‘things’ (stars, genes, planets, soil, weather, corporations, arachnids, societies, viruses, equations, materials, activities, and so on and so on…) just carry on their various “natural” (according to their kind) ways regardless, in spite of, in ANY case, in accord with… with no ‘concern’ for ‘hers’ or ‘his’ intentions or settings-forth or out to do.

And so it goes.  And so it goes… on… apparently.

Still, what she set out to do she did not achieve…whatever that may have been.

see also:

Immediacy and the Impossible Poetic by Robert Lumsden

Alias Alive at the Ends

Always too late.  This is the message of disaster.  We are too late to the scene, and undone.

Even thinking and emotion.  Even love, can’t keep pace with disaster, with entropy, with chaos.

Death always outruns us.  World and chance incessantly out-maneuver.  We are small.  Very small.  Infinitessimal, as it were, in our finitude.

Thus begins our own story of destruction: we are born.  Perhaps conceived (of).  Perhaps even further back, before developing.  Prior to evolution.  The brokenness.  The cracks.  The destitution.

Arising of accidents.  Formed of the fractures.  We become.

In other words – doomed from the start.  Our ends preceding beginnings – the beginning began at the end.

At the point of ‘exist’ – our last chapter.”

This would be Alias, grieving his friend, in two colors.  The living, the dead, the to and the from.

Laramie dies, and is absent (if memory serves).

Alias keeps after his death – loving Lucy, and children, performing labor and sin and its necessary too much – in his office with paper and pen.

He pauses and looks to the window.  Birdsong, stray cats, and the leaves.

L. is gone, but he’s not. Just inevitable.


He perceives it as some kind of race – but death always the tortoise that outruns the hare – and is needed.

No more.

Lucy calls.

No more.

Hears the children.

No more.

Senses purpose –


The pen stays on – marking the book.

Alias.  Alias alive.

Laramie.  Laramie ceased.

Spiders and sunlight and dust – all alone.  All all-one.  All “the Same” in some mystical way, called the Real.  The Real that repeatedly ends – its beginning.  The Ends, then.  The end.

Ouroboros, or Autophagia


I often feel that I’m dying.  Killing myself with disease. Killing myself via the activities of my “mind.”  Killing myself with alcohol.  Killing myself by over-extension, -exertion, lack of self-regard.    Worry.  Anxiety.  Perfectionism.  Wishes.  Desires.  Dying from the absence of sex (and yet orgasm is also a breathless ‘little death’).  Dying from lack of joy.  Dying of disuse, depletion, or disregard.  Dying of my own engulfing life.

Which only emphasizes the insistent FACT.  One thing we know, perhaps the ONLY certainty we’ve understood in the thousands or millions or billions of years we’ve been species-al (spec-ial) and aware of such information…is that we are dying.  Constantly.  Continuously.  Unstoppably.  Irrefutably and inescapably.  Inevitably.

Whether we do it to ourselves – amplify or expedite its course – or are at the mercies and whims of some enormous cosmic complex entanglement; whether our cells turn against “us,” or we turn our “selves” against our cells; excruciating or peaceful, ecstatic or terrifying – WE DIE.  ARE DYING.  WILL DIE.

For some, this undeniable evidence and unstoppable knowledge instigates a kind of “dead-already” worldview or perspective…a nihilism for some.  A not-ness.  A foregoing of LIVING, a preemptive attack, or some strange passion of alignment with the TRUTH – some subversion of the FACT (at the same time true, and as certain) – that a DYING thing MUST be LIVING.

An “it doesn’t matter.”  Usually tacked on with an “ultimately.”  Meaninglessness.  Pointlessness.  Purposelessness.  Something some supposed “scientist” (devoted to “objective” observable “truths”) like a psychologist, biologist or physicist; doctor or therapist or mathematician – might call “depression,” “skepticism,” “cynicism,” – when in FACT it is adherence to one of the ONLY FACTs we’ve described or descried that has held TRUE while all of our tools, technologies, expansions of knowledges and theories, inventions, medicines and so on carry on their wars against it.  A veritable CERTAINTY (indeed, perhaps the only occurrence in which a human being accords with reality).

DYING.  From there – who knows?  “At one’s own hand/operations” or “at the mercy of” environments, situations, circumstances, world… who knows?  No one.  Uncertainty.  The process of being-alive to being-dead is fraught with everything else we are able to imagine.  And almost entirely UNCERTAIN.

It happens.  Living.  Then Dead.  Each one.  Every one.  “Me,” “You,” “I’s,” “They’s,” “We’s,” “Those” and “These.”  Whatever begins…ends (in some form).  Whatever emerges, converges and devolves.  Whatever occurs…deceases.  Ceases “to Be.”

And so what do we do…what do “I” do…with this LIVING?  In full awareness of the synonymity – LIVING/DYING – why is the awareness of dying and depletion of a potency that oft outstrips its necessary , indeed indubitable counterfactual?  LIVING.  LIVING.  LIVING…

Who now, what now, where and for why?

reading dead profile

Parataxis / Parallaxis

parataxis, n.

The placing of propositions or clauses one after another, without indicating by connecting words the relation (of coordination or subordination) between them, as in Tell me, how are you?.


Parataxis is a literary technique, in writing or speaking, that favors short, simple sentences, with the use of coordinating rather than subordinating conjunctions (from Greek for ‘act of placing side by side’; from para, ‘beside’ and tassein, ‘to arrange’; contrasted to syntaxis or hypotaxis).

It is also used to describe a technique in poetry in which two images or fragments, usually starkly dissimilar images or fragments, are juxtaposed without a clear connection. Readers are then left to make their own connections implied by the paratactic syntax.


parallaxis, n.

Difference or change in the apparent position or direction of an object as seen from two different points; (Astron.) such a difference or change in the position of a celestial object as seen from different points on the earth’s surface or from opposite points in the earth’s orbit around the sun. Also: (half of) the angular amount of such a difference or change; (Astron.) the angle subtended at a celestial object by the radius of the earth’s orbit, giving a measure of its distance from the earth; any of various similar measures of distance calculated by methods incorporating the motion of the sun relative to the local region of the galaxy, the proper motion of the observed body, the motions of a cluster of bodies having similar distances and speeds, etc.

“parallax, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, December 2015. Web. 7 March 2016.


Parallax is a displacement or difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight, and is measured by the angle or semi-angle of inclination between those two lines. The term is derived from the Greek word παράλλαξις (parallaxis), meaning “alteration”.  A parallax is the difference in the angular position of two stationary points relative to each other from different viewing positions.

Wikipedia contributors. “Parallax.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 28 Feb. 2016. Web. 7 Mar. 2016.

On “waking depressed,” or, Human Clear-sightedness


We say that we “wake up depressed” wonder why and conjure up reasons.  What is this “hollow” or “indentation” in relation to?  Depression versus delusion?

Squirming up out of dream or slumber into wakefulness, awareness – illusions and solipsism scattered by light of day, by alertness – what would be the “norm” ‘depression’ dips under?

Say we consider “normal” as the state or condition of being aligned with what is.  The only certain trajectory of living is dying.  Dying the condition of life.  The only permanent outcome of breathing, saying, doing, being…are their cessation.  In confirmation or conformation to this “reality” – what should be the normal living response?  Depression, I should say, full awareness and wakeful understanding that my promise, potential, outcome and fortune are to end.

Decay, departure and death are the certain “norms” ruling human existence.  What occurs, forgets; what merges, diverges; what events, unravels; what happens, undoes; what is made, erodes.  Assuredly, they are strange loops, ambiguous and temporal – more wave/particled than 0/1 – and yet as “fate” or “doom” would have it (definite futures) we know of no other.

Therefore it should seem “depression” would be the normal human state of life, and all forms of happiness or joy come about due to some compromise or delusion – an abnormality – some neuroses or failure to accord or conform to what is.  How might we have come to classify conformity to what is as a “disorder” or diagnosable swerve?

“Certifiable depression” is marked as a disability, a failure to thrive, a condition incapacitating function.  Yet does that not most assuredly accord with the certitude of demise, destitution, eradication?  To terminate activity, halt health, conclude creativity, finish folly and destroy delight would all seem to indisputably align with the necessary phenomenon of obliteration.

Thoroughgoing comprehension of what is – that birth has a single objective – that all roads lead to one – that all effort leads to naught – that entropy – is not lunatic, demented, deranged or unhinged – but rather most enlightened and balanced, intelligent and lucid, perspicacious and well-advised.

Being pressed down, a lowering of quality, vigour or amount, feelings of severe despondency and dejection are surely the most accurately normal experiences – regulated, coordinated and adjusted to what is versus what is imagined or desired – indications of astute apprehension and capacities of apperception to the real.

Do not be flummoxed by “waking depressed” – do not seek for treatments or reasonings ‘why’! – do not be baffled that a heaviness descends, or a ‘pressing down’ is felt or occurs – we emerge into life and descend into matter…the cradle and grave a continuous process.

everyone dies

Pursuing what Eludes…Borrowing : Blanchot / Bataille

“Perhaps dread is always the more powerful; 

perhaps the joy granted to the only animal that knows it is not eternal is poisoned from the very beginning.”

Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe – Ending & Unending Agony: On Maurice Blanchot

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“Indeed, man is always in pursuit of an authentic sovereignty…We shall see that in a number of ways he continued to pursue what forever eluded him.  The essential thing is that one cannot attain it consciously and seek it, because seeking distances it.  And yet I can believe that nothing is given us that is not given in that equivocal manner…”

“Thus, at all costs, man must live at the moment that he really dies, or he must live with the impression of really dying.”



“It is not Hegel alone, it is all of humanity which everywhere always sought, obliquely, to seize what death both gave and took away from humanity”
“In order for a person to reveal himself ultimately to himself, he would have to die, but he would have to do it while living – watching himself ceasing to be…”


“Man does not live by bread alone, but also by the comedies with which he willingly deceives himself.

In Man it is the animal, it is the natural being, which eats.  But Man takes part in rites and performances.


to the extent that it is sovereign – authentic – LITERATURE prolongs in him the haunting magic of performances, tragic or comic.”

Georges Bataille – Hegel, Death & Sacrifice