Tuesday, January 20, 2009


"Even philosophy succumbed to the "terrorism" of innovation. When French philosophers began to look for an insurance policy against the greatest possible ill—fidelity to the past, the repetition of dépassé philosophies—one of their inventions was la rupture épistémologique. This miraculous concept made it possible for the communist Althusser to be an old-style aparatchik on the one hand and, on the other, one hundred per cent innovative, almost as much so as Marx himself, since Althusser was the first to take full measure of the prophet's innovative genius.

"The psychoanalyst Lacan pulled exactly the same trick with Freud. Very quickly, however, one single rupture épistémologique for all times and for all people seemed paltry. Each thinker had to have his own, and then the really chic thinkers had several in a row. In the end, everybody turned themselves into a continuous and monstrous rupture, not primarily with others, but with their own past.

"This is how inconsistency has become the major intellectual virtue of the avant-garde. But the real credit for the tabula rasa school of innovation should go to Nietzsche, who was tired of repeating with everybody else that a great thinker should have no model. He went one better, as always, and refused to be a model—the mark of genius. This is still a sensation that is being piously repeated today. Nietzsche is our supreme model of model-repudiation, our revered guru of guru-renunciation."

—Catty words from René Girard ("Innovation and Repetition," 1990) hip through sheer squareness, "radical" through Roman Catholic traditionalism.


Alex said...

I just watched Rossellini's The Taking of Power of Louis the XIV and it well illustrates my previous points about the new statesman taking power initially.

ZC said...

It's a film dear to my heart and also perhaps my scholarship - I'll get these new Criterion releases and rewatch them soon and we can continue discussing around Louis, and the others perhaps, if you'd like.

Alex said...

Louis XIV's final speech to Colbert seems to me to be most critical.

Alex said...

I will put up an initial post on the Accession of Louis XIV on my blog shortly.