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Martin Heidegger, French Theory & Great Replacement: A Talk with Renaud Camus

Renaud Camus (CC BY 4.0 Wikipedia)
Renaud Camus (CC BY 4.0 Wikipedia)

Renaud Camus is a French bathmologist.

In your last book, you say that God is dead- as Nietzsche wrote in 1882- and replaced by Science. Heidegger wrote, however, that Nietzsche was the “last of the metaphysicians”, and that science does not yet “think”. Would you define yourself as more of a metaphysician than a philosopher?

Renaud Camus: Oh, I wouldn’t be so bold to define myself as one or the other, and to adorn myself with these beautiful titles to which I have no right! Writer is quite enough for me, and even then, on condition that one sees in it no guarantee of quality or level but the only indication of a trade, of a professional status, of a certain type of relationship with meaning — type a relationship that, unfortunately, is hardly understood anymore in a post-literary society such as France is now. I am very sensitive to the views set out by Pascal Quignard, in his beautiful book of 1995, Rhetoric speculative, which recalls, relying on Fronton, the Roman writer, the rights and hermeneutical skills of literature, rivals of those of philosophy, to interpret and to tell the world. One needs only think of a Montaigne, or closer to us of a Michel Houellebecq. Of course there can be philosophy and metaphysics in writers, and a fortiori in poets. But they are not philosophers or metaphysicians. They obey another regime of meaning, at the same time more subtle, more approximate and less constraining.

The idea of the death of god also interested Michel Foucault, who subsequently situated his questioning around the idea of ​​the death of the subject. How does this conclusion allow us to reconsider the place of man as Being-in-the-World?

Renaud Camus: The theme of the death of God, and even the expression itself, is already present in Hegel, who, in order to advance it without too much risk, in Lutheran and Biedermeier Germany, relies upon Luther himself, or at least upon a 17th century Lutheran hymn. One could moreover maintain that it is the whole Christian religion which proposes its variations around this central abyss: a dead God (but, it is true, resurrected). In this it is not very different from most other religions, whose gods, René Girard has shown enough, are first of all sacrificial victims. It is very different, on the other hand, from the two other so-called “monotheistic” religions, which are much more so than Christianity, and whose Gods are so abstract, despite their possible bad temper, that it would be absurd and almost inconceivable to maintain that they are dead. Foucault, in the famous pages to which you allude, I believe, the last of Words and Things, interprets Nietzsche as announcing, “more than the death of God”, “the end of his murderer”. He leaves no doubt: Man is going to disappear. He sees antagonisms everywhere, but between the murderer and the murdered, he sketches the formidable figure of a third protagonist, language. Between the being of language and the being of man, one must choose. “Perhaps this is where the most important philosophical choice of our time is rooted,” he wrote. And he adds: “The only thing that we know for the moment with complete certainty is that never in Western culture has the being of man and the being of language been able to coexist and ‘articulate one on the other’. However, he seems to doubt very strongly, as indeed I do, the ability of the human sciences to help in this choice:

« But to imagine that human sciences have defined their most radical object and inaugurated their positive history on the very day when one decided to project the calculation of probabilities to the phenomenon of political opinion, and to use logarithms to measure the growing intensity of sensations, that is to take a superficial counter-effect for the essential fact» [Mais imaginer que les sciences humaines ont défini leur projet le plus radical et inauguré leur histoire positive le jour où on a voulu appliquer le calcul des probabilités au phénomène de l’opinion politique et utiliser des logarithmes pour mesurer l’intensité croissante des sensations, c’est prendre un contre-effet de surface pour l’événement fondamental]

The all matter is to find out and decide whether the antagonisms can only be resolved by the disappearance of the adversaries. In other words — and this is a very serious question — does the death of God imply, as it would seem, the death of man? Or is there a recourse, necessarily Heideggerian, and Greek, on the side of the Logos?

Roland Barthes has reflected on the question of the death of the author. Is this the beginning of the era of literary replacism?

Renaud Camus: Your question is rather embarrassing for me, although it is perfectly in line with the previous one, and, I hope, with my answer. It is embarrassing because there are two points on which I do not agree at all with my master Roland Barthes, to whom I nevertheless owe so much. On the one hand, I do not believe at all, and I believe I have never believed, that language is fascist, nor even, with Nietzsche, that to get rid of God it is necessary to get rid of grammar. On the other hand, I don’t believe at all, either, in the death of the author. I don’t believe in its advisability, especially. In this case, I believed in it, however, and perhaps more under the influence of Pessoa, Jean Ricardou, of the “Nouveau nouveau roman”, as they said then, than under that of Barthes. One of the central masses of my abundant literary production is the Ecloguesex-logos, taken from the discourse — a collection of seven volumes whose supposed authors, in the name moreover, are given names, quite imprecise and slippery, are characters from other books, or even of the one they write. But the author resists, and I think is a good thing: he’s like language, he’s like race, he’s like Cratylus in his infinite dialogue with Hermogenes, who are the protagonists of my central laboratory, Du Sens. . They are what always comes back, what eternally rises to the surface: always defeated, never eliminated. I have a Lazarean conception of the homeland. But we could also take the example of the Hebrew language: who could have foreseen its resurrection as a living language? Thus the author: he is Man. Man signs: hence my horror, incidentally, of anonymity and pseudonymity on social networks, which is the door open, as we can see every day, to ignominy.

Is Derrida’s deconstruction a thought of the death of man and did it influence the New Right?

Renaud Camus: It certainly fits into this perspective, yes, if only in response to Foucault. What in post-concentration and post-atomic thought is not haunted by this questioning? Strikes me in an almost comical way, however, the obstinacy of the trivial, habitual, profane meaning of the word deconstruction to come back up under the Derridian meaning, so eminently elaborated, “constructed”, as if it had nothing to do with the first: but it clearly has. I speak about it knowingly since about the same misadventure happens to me, all things considered, with my innocence: in vain do I insist on their difference, on their almost contradictory character, even, innocence always comes back to entangle in-nocence like destruction deconstruction. As for the influence of deconstruction on the New Right, frankly, I cannot say: you would have to ask its survivors. But does not the idea imply a slight anachronism?

Isn’t dispossession, Heidegger’s equivalent concept of Expropriation or Depropriation, corresponding to the total mobilization of being ?

Renaud Camus: The equivalent, certainly not, it would be absurdly pretentious of me to say that it is, and at the same time it would be admitting the vanity of my work. But that there is debt, no doubt about that, and acknowledgment of debt, certainly. Heidegger is very present in La Dépossession, but often within prospects that owe much to Günther Anders, Gadamer, Zygmunt Bauman or Jean Vioulac.

Are you a Heideggerian interested in the “arraisonnement de l’être” (Gestell, inspection or framework of being) by the technic, as a fond disponible (available background, Bestand) ?

Renaud Camus: It is undoubtedly and modestly and respectfully in line with this way of thinking. It also owes a lot to Jacques Ellul or, closer to us, to authors as different as Friedrich H. Tenbruck, Agamben, Johann Chapoutot or Baptiste Rappin. On the other hand, it cannot fail to take into account the formidable evolutions which have taken place since the time of Heidegger, in particular the changes of people, of culture and of civilization, the Great Replacement, which it is my task to inscribe in what I call global replacism. The last Heidegger had perfectly seen the era of management and cybernetics coming in its full sense of government of the world, and more precisely of management of the human park, to use the words of Peter Sloterdijk. But perhaps he had not foreseen the almost literal and almost official character that this substitution of power was going to assume, passing from skilfully “deconstructed” States, since we mentioned deconstruction (see the conceptually admirable Macron, for example, with his very recent abolition of the prefectural and diplomatic corps), to multinationals, pension funds, hedge-funds, GAFAM which we see daily replacing the courts, I am well placed to talk about it, when it comes to regulating freedom of expression. Twitter, YouTube and even Flickr are greater powers than the 17th Chamber [the special court for press and writing], and less subject to laws. This is what I call the Davocracy, the management of the world by Davos, its economic, symbolic and managerial capital, like Las Vegas is its cultural capital.

Jean-Luc Nancy said the mobile phone was the last manifestation of the death of God. Is the smartphone the main threat of the “great replacement” via the tech corporations of the Silicon Valley?

Renaud Camus: Oh dear, you greatly overestimate my technical skills! As I barely know how to use one and the other, I find it difficult to distinguish between them. I believed that the smartphone was a kind of more advanced cell phone. Both seem in any case unmistakable manifestations of the enslavement of the species, if only by the availability they imply, aggravated by the enthusiasm they arouse. Never was servitude more voluntary. This is, moreover, one of the specific traits of modern totalitarianism, which no longer even needs coercion. It is a playful dictatorship. Seduction is its operating principle. This is why advertising is its natural language, its literature, its epic poetry, its founding texts, but also its Constitution and its codes. It is advertising which what profit wants and who is responsible for making desirable to all its will of iron.

If I may say so, we must not confuse the Great Replacement, which, colossal as it is, is only a very small part of it, with global replacism, which is the totalitarian operating principle, and which change of people and of civilization are only manifestations among others, even if they are among the most serious and the most criminal. Let us note in passing that Silicon Valley is quite honest in calling itself that, silicone being par excellence a material of replacement and illusion, of lies, whether it concerns breasts, lips, reprography, pharmaceutical or semiconductor substitutes.

The appalling crimes committed in the name of the “Great Replacement theory” in Christchurch, El Paso, Poway, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, sometimes broadcast live on social networks, as in Uvalde, are they not the illustration of the “arraisonnement de l’être” (inspection or framework of being) through mobile phones or Go Pro cameras, on Facebook or Twitch?

Renaud Camus: There is no such thing Great Replacement theory: it is a purely journalistic invention, typical of contemporary denial of the “genocide by substitution”, to borrow the phrase of Aimé Césaire. The Great Replacement is not a theory, alas: it is a crime, or if you want, it is a name for a crime, the crime against humanity of the 21st century. For several years now the words “Great Replacement” have been everywhere in the world, no doubt because they adequately designate the sad reality of a phenomenon, ethnic substitutions. Attributing the crimes of the mass murderers to some theory that doesn’t exist is about as logical as attributing the suicide epidemic of the Great Depression to a man who would have written a book about the economic crisis. of 1929, calling it The Great Depression. And to talk about the Great Replacement theory  is about as absurd as to talk about the Great Depression theory, or the Great Plague theory, or the Great War theory. The only “theories” implicated in mass murder are those, generally quite delusional, put forward by the killers themselves, not one of which — as has been clearly established by several courts, in New Zealand and in France– makes the slightest reference to my books or to me. As I like to say, there are two socio-professional categories of which we can be sure that no one has read me among them, they are that of journalists and that of mass killers. For the latter, what absolutely proves that they have not read me, and that in any case they are not influenced by me, is their crimes: the central concept of my political reflection, both ecological and moral, is that of in-nocence, non-nocence, non-nuisance, non-violence. If I am against the Great Replacement, it is also because it brings violence everywhere with it.

For the rest, you are a thousand times right. All the so-called “modern means of communication” are instruments of the enframing of being, if only because they partake eminently of the re-presentation, of the Debordian “spectaculaire-marchand” (market-spectacular), of the immediate duplicating of everything by its figuration, its image, its copy, its facsimile, its ersatz. In the universe of global replacism, there is no such thing as the true being only a moment of the false: the false is twenty-four hours a day the only sensible reality. Permanently fitted out for mass tourism, for example, it is the world itself which, driven by the demand to give constantly more signs of its reality than it absent-mindedly provided when it was true, is constrained to the permanent representation of itself, to pasteboard, to silicone, to disguise, to folklore, to toc. There is worse than Venice in Las Vegas, it is Venice in Venice. This is why I forged the concept of fauxl, or fauxel, in English falseal, or fakeal, to designate this inverted, reversed real, this false real, this very real false: the transcendental reality of the false in a replaced world.

Can you explain that deconstruction’s common use does not correspond to its true philosophical meaning: the dismantling of metaphysics ?

Renaud Camus: Uh, no, why would it be up to me to explain it? This is apparently your opinion, it seems highly defensible to me, I am even quite ready to subscribe to it, but God knows that I have enough business to defend my own notions, concepts and theories (of which the Great Replacement does not in any way part) without having to explain those of others, even if they are legitimately illustrious.

Do you consider yourself a a philosemite, since the Camus affair suggested the contrary and did Marlène Zarader highlight the links between the question of being and Jewish thought ?

Renaud Camus: I don’t know if I call myself a philosemite, as you say, but my interest in Jewish thought and also in Jewish art long predates the Camus affair and has absolutely nothing to do with it. I will content myself with quoting here, in addition to Buena Vista Park and certain pages of Roman Roi, of which Robert Misrahi said, precisely at the time of the affair, that they would suffice to establish that I was in no way anti-Semitic, the Discours de Flaran, on contemporary art in general and the Plieux collection in particular, or Nightsound, followed by Six prayers, about the work of Anni Albers at the Jewish Museum in Brooklyn: a little book published just before the case and about which not a single journalist cared to say a word, so incompatible was it with the image that the profession was then busy giving of me. Similarly, De l’Innocence and the countless condemnations of attacks , even if they are purely symbolic, which are formulated by me there, is radically incompatible with the current media figuration which is made of me as a spring of inspiration for killers.

Your allusion to Marlène Zarader could bring us back, curiously, to what we were saying above, about Foucault, about language as a third party, and as a third party which could well be first. If her question and that of Ricœur to Heiddeger make sense, as I am completely convinced they do, it is perhaps in her beautiful meditation around the word davar that it is most concentrated, in La Dette inpensée. In the Jewish experience of language, she recalls, language is the crucible of all that is. “It is in this context that davar’s polysemy should be understood. This simultaneously designates the word and the thing. Now, let us think of all that Heidegger deduces from the double meaning of logos—which signifies both saying and positing—or of eon—which signifies both being and existing. (…) The single word davar therefore teaches us that any dissociation between the universe of language and the universe of existing is foreign to the Hebrew language, as well as to the experience that proceeds from it. »

It would be necessary to quote everything, as saying goes. But it was you who pushed me:

“We know the most famous example: if man is presented as made from the dust of the ground (Gn 2,7) – whereas none of the Mesopotamian accounts establishes such a link – it is first because man (adama) is in a linguistic relationship with the earth (adam)”.

Has there not been, within Islam, since Henry Corbin, a reform or at least an evolution, about it?

Renaud Camus: I am not sure that one can say within Islam for the thought of Henry Corbin; let alone Sunni Islam, of course. But you summon him with good reason since we started from Heidegger, his first master as much and more than Massignon. I admit that I do not see clearly, or do not know clearly, in what way he himself and his thought would have effectively reformed Islam, which I prefer to call Islamism, moreover, as we say Christianism, or Judaism, Buddhism or Shintoism. On the other hand, I can clearly see how he, like Christian Jambet after him, profoundly renewed the image and the knowledge that we had of it. Their approach obviously has nothing to do with that of Zarader. She Judaizes Heidegger, let’s say it serves him right. Corbin heideggerizes Sohrawardi and, to a lesser extent, Molla Sadra. Jambet himself shouts daredevil, in a note to The Act of Being: “There is nothing in common between Sadrian ontology and the philosophies of “existence”. The greatest confusion has reigned on this point, among several modern thinkers, in the land of Islam, who have sought to bring Molla Sadra closer to Sartre, even to Heidegger. Of course, he incriminates Corbin in no way. On the contrary, after recalling that his master is at the origin of two terms which have been happily translated and promised, all things considered, to comparable success, historical and imaginal (for the âlam al-mithâl of Ibn ‘Arabi), he cites Spiritual body and celestial earth: For a charter of the imaginal: “If the term is used to apply it to something other than the mundus imaginalis and the imaginal Forms, as they are situated in the scheme of the worlds who necessitates and legitimizes them, there is a great danger that the term will deteriorate and its meaning be lost. Even Being has its conceptual (and, for once, historical) geography.

Do you identify to the ideas of Pierre Boutang, of whom Michael Bar Zvi was a student, who saw Zionism as the only hope for the monarchy? Doesn’t this resemble Jean Raspail‘s desire for transcendence hoping to reconquer the Mapuche kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia in Latin America?

Renaud Camus: I don’t know if Zionism is the only hope of the monarchy and I don’t care to much about that, but I see Zionism very strongly, in any case, as a fundamental element of anti-replacism , that is to say the fight against the Great Replacement on the one hand, against the Davocratic global replacement on the other hand (the first being only a part of the second) (and the other way around). As I have written many times, if Israel does not belong to the Jewish people, and Jerusalem to Israel, there is no longer any serious reason for Paris to belong to France and the basilica of Saint-Denis or Roubaix or Marseilles or Vénissieux to the French people. Israel is the gold standard of all belonging, or of what I called, in Du Sens, generalized cratylism, in reference of course to Plato’s dialogue and Cratylus’ debate with Hermogenes. Davocratic global replacementism is the triumph of Hermogenes, or, if you prefer, of convention, of rubber stamping, of everyone’s right, and, in this case, of power, necessarily, to name things and beings as it suits them. There was in Athens, at the time of Plato, a real thinker named Cratylus, about whom we know almost nothing, except that he was supposed to be a Jew. Why did Plato choose his name for one of his two protagonists, the one about whom I said above that, if Hermogenes always wins – and certainly he has never won as much he wins today, under replacist Davocracy –, he, Cratylus, is never really defeated? I cannot guarantee the historical truth of this tradition or this suggestion, but I admit that I like to think that Cratylus is Jewish thought at the heart of Greek thought. In any case, that is all my Zionism. And if there’s one thing I am, politically, it’s Cratylian. With my real talent for successful and forward-looking political initiatives, I dreamed for a moment of a Cratylian Union. You have to admit that it would look good in an election campaign!

A documentary on LCP, claims that the mayor of Béziers, Robert Ménard internationalized great replacement ‘theory’ on Russia Today. He studied philosophy at Paul Valéry University. Is he the (involuntary) father of “Replacement theory” ?

Renaud Camus: So there, I admit I have no light on this point. It just seems to me that I spoke of “Grand Remplacement” and therefore of “Great Replacement” in interviews for Anglo-Saxon magazines or sites long before the twists and turns to which you allude and which I am discouvering from you. I certainly never spoke of a Great Replacement theory (except to say it doesn’t exist).

About the Author
Alexandre Gilbert is the director of the Chappe gallery since 2005. He lives and works in Paris.
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