| Diwan Special issue|

Miško Šuvaković

Born in 1954 in Belgrade (Serbia), lives in Belgrade (Serbia).

QUESTIONS OF DEATH

(Proust and Foucault; Bataille, Masson, Barthes – emptiness)

The difference between Proust the writer and Foucault the philosopher is the difference between written language and body language. They have completely different approaches to death. Proust has ’rendered’ death in writing with words used to describe (represent) time. The inexhaustible ’movement’ (flux) of time over a body that hangs does not care (at least that is what Proust believes) for ’time’. A body in white. A body tied to a sick-bed. The scent of cleanliness mixes with the scent of whiteness. Urine, blood, mucus… Illness and the proximity of death. There… Can death be near? Rather, perhaps, dying? Foucault tried to ’exit’ from time (the infinite overflow of talk about ‘death’) as a body that no longer cares for time and that loses its own body in the consumption of ’public’ orgasm. The performity of orgasm. Truth is in the act. Strike, pierce, pain… The beauty of a mulatto. Pain.

Leather and chains. A strike. A performative. The body experiences the act (truth). What is pain? What is the limit of pain? Death is not a limit. Death cannot be described by a division line. Death has no contour. Battaille spoke quite reasonably about the alternative: scientific utilitarianism and perverted violent pleasure. As if the ’orgasm’ of a philosopher in timelessness wants to seem like ’that’ beyond dying

- like death. Everything seems like everything else. Orgasm and nothing. Without utilitarianism. The automatism of drawing lines. The gesture of the hand, the absence of controlled consciousness. Lines on the skin, furrows, cuts… An picture of death. André Masson ”le mort”. A picture painted for Bataille, for his novel ”The Dead Man”. Formlessness and ambition to portray ’it’. Death has no form - but death cannot be the concept of formlessness. Death cannot be a concept. Death and pleasure are similar because there is no function for death and there is no function for pleasure. But, still there are no similarities. Death does not resemble something else and nothing resembles death Pleasure is similar to anything: watching, listening, touching, smelling, collecting, challenging death… Oh! Cliché and phrases. Sublime. The cliché of sublime. Foucault’s dying was futile. But, isn’t every dying futile?

It is difficult to assign (approximate) meaning to death. Dying was related only to the body that was pushing with writing

(ecriture) the body into the fatal orgasm. Pleasure is connected to dying. Pleasure is outside ’death’? Death cannot be connected to pleasure. Death cannot be connected, there is no death, and thus there are no relations. The previous sentence is a sentence of a phenomenologist. Saying ’outside death’ means portraying death as a container or box. But, death is not a container or box. Is this a correction of Freud’s concept of the ’death impulse’? Are we moving towards a concept of a dying impulse in our minds. Foucault exposed only his body to dying. Death had nothing to do with it. The body still shows its affiliation with institutions, even a dead body. On the contrary, death shows nothing. Death is nothing. Death is without function. In every society dying ’exists’ through institutions, death has no institution. But, death can neither have nor not have. The ’thing’ beyond dying is a fiction constructed in speech, writing or thoughts. the wish for the Other, never the wish of the Other. Capital or small o(O)ther - either way. In death there are no gradations. There is nothing there, someone says from the shadow. But, there is no ’there’ either. The ’shadow’ is yet another vivid suggestive metaphor. The shadow implies the fear of death, but not death itself. Death ceases to be the ’founder of the name’ (demiourgos onomaton) and does not remain a thing or substance. Then, nothing. Noting is nothing, without the possibility of being something. How to get rid of the figurability of visualising death? Proust’s chattering solace before the fear of death and Foucault’s inconsolable violent clarity in death are only related to the desire of the body: the urban, frightened, but transgressive body of the dying! I talk of death, but my chattering brings me back to the ’name’ or the ’body’. Nothing can be said about death, for the word is empty. The word has not been emptied: the word ’death’ did not use to be full, and now is an empty word. On the contrary: the word ’death’ has always been empty.

Translated by Ulvija Tanović

 

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