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Rough first draft August 2002 8176 words

I Want to Die, I Hate my Life - Phaedras Malaise 1 Simon Critchley I want to die I hate my life! Such is the malaise of "haedra heroine of Racine#s 1677 tragedy $the master%iece of the human mind# as &oltaire declared! 'et why does "haedra feel this malaise( )ell adultery incest and murder of an innocent are not mere moral *au*les e+en for one descended from line of the gods! "haedra was the daughter of ,inos and "asi%ha- and granddaughter of "asi%ha-#s father the Sungod or .elios whose light *urns "haedra#s eyes and whose scorching ga/e she cannot *ear *ut from whom she cannot hide! 0he Sun watches her throughout the %lay1 silent remote to the %oint of a*sence *ut of %iercing intensity li2e the Deus absconditus of 3ansenism! .er father was 4ing of Crete and later 5udge in .ades! She married 0heseus 4ing of Athens who *rought her *ac2 to 6reece after slaying the ,inotaur in the Cretan la*yrinth! A%hrodite as she is wont inflamed "asi%ha- with a monstrous %assion for a *ull! 7aedalus the artificer made a hollow wooden cow where "asi%ha- could crouch to *e fuc2ed *y the *ull! 8rom this union was *orn the ,inotaur! It is the o+erwhelming %ower of her mother#s %redestined %assion that now flows through "haedra#s +eins! &enus is in "haedra#s *lood it flows through her li2e a +irus the sic2ness of illicit erotic desire! )ith 0heseus away for o+er si9 months on one of his ad+entures she *urns with %assion for .i%%olytus 0heseus#s son and her ste%son! )hen "haedra first saw .i%%olytus she declares $dar2ness drenched my eyes#! She languishes in dar2 desire &enus clawing at her heart her mother#s sin *oiling in her *lood! )orn down *y the guilt of this %assion and the di+ision it creates within her she resol+es to die! 0his is how we first encounter her in the %lay dragging herself into the light to greet her grandfather the Sungod for the last time Soleil, je te viens voir pour la dernire fois.

0hese thoughts were initially %rom%ted *y an in+itation to res%ond to the )ooster 6rou%#s +ersion of Phaedra entitled To you, the birdie %erformed at the Ri+erside Studios :ondon ,ay 2002 directed *y ;li/a*eth :eCom%te with 4ate &al2 as "haedra and )illem 7afoe as 0heseus! I ma2e e9tensi+e use of "aul Schmidt#s e9cellently direct +ersion of Racine#s te9t %re%ared for the )ooster 6rou% alongside <uotations from the 8rench original! I am grateful to Andrew =uic2 Adrian .eathfield and :aura .o%2ins for gi+ing me the o%%ortunity to ta2e %art in a sym%osium that accom%anied the %erformance!

"haedra#s silence a*out her sin is *ro2en on three occasions in three confessions which mar2 the dramatic high%oints of the %lay! >elie+ing 0heseus dead and at the %rom%tings of her Iago?es<ue confidante @enone "haedra with great reluctance confesses her lo+e for .i%%olytus "haedra1 Tu vas our le comble des horreurs. aime!" ce nom fatal, je tremble, je frissonne. aime! @enone1 #ui$ "haedra1 Tu connais ce fils de l"ma%one, &e prince si lon'temps par moi(m)me opprim*$ @enone1 +ippolyte, -rands Dieu., "haedra1 &est toi /ui las nomm* 0his is why Roland >arthes calls Phaedra a nominalist tragedy!2 "haedra#s cul%a*ility is crystal clear to her from the *eginning of the drama the only issue is getting her to name it to *rea2 her silence! As 0heramenes says in the first scene she suffers from a malady /uelle sobstine 0 taire! 0he central issue in the tragedy is the naming of the monstrous the monstrous desire that %roduced the ,inotaur the monster that 0heseus 2illed the desire for his son that now courses through "haedra#s *ody! She names the truth a second time in a scene of awesome erotic intensity where "haedra in a sort of trance?li2e ra%ture confesses to .i%%olytus +*las, e ne tai pu parler /ue de toi(m)me. 1en'e(toi, punis(moi dun odieu. amour. Di'ne fils du h*ros /ui ta donn* le jour. D*livre lunivers dun monstre /ui tirrite. 2a veuve de Th*s*e ose aimer +ipployte, &rois(moi, ce monstre affreu. ne doit point t*chapper. 1oil0 mon &oeur. &est l0 /ue ta main doit frapper. 3mpatient d*j0 de.pier son offense, "u(devant de ton bras je le sens /ui savance. 4rappe. 5u si tu le crois indi'ne de tes coups, Si ta haine menvie un supplice si dou., 5u si dun san' trop vil ta main serait tremp*e, "u d*faut de ton bras pr)te(moi ton ep*e. Donne. "haedra is ma2ing two e9traordinary demands here mar2ed *y the two monosylla*ic e9clamations that *rea2 u% the rhythm of the ale9andrine line1 4rappe, Donne, $stri2e# $gi+e#! If .i%%olytus will not stri2e at the monstrous desire within "haedra with his %hysical ardour %iercing her heart with his arm as she rises to meet him then she will ta2e his

See Sur 6acine ASeuil "aris 1B60C %!11D?22!

sword from him and do it herself1 $gi+e#! She remo+es his sword from him in a gesture that it would sim%ly *e too facile to descri*e in terms of castration! .i%%olytus the chaste the hunter and the god of hunting is also the god of chastity ? is a%%alled! .e flees! )hen rumours of 0heseus#s death come to a%%ear somewhat e9aggerated "haedra concocts the story that .i%%olytus had ra%ed her in order to %rotect herself! After learning this news from sly @enone 0heseus *anishes .i%%olytus damning him with a %rayer for +engeance to the god Ee%tune! Resol+ed to tell the truth to 0heseus e+ents ta2e a sudden turn for "haedra when she learns that .i%%olytus whom she *elie+ed indifferent to all women lo+es Aricia last sur+i+ing descendent of the line of 2ings of Athens usur%ed *y 0heseus! .i%%olytus could lo+e *ut lo+ed not "haedra! Suddenly consumed *y 5ealousy she stands in silence while .i%%olytus is +iolently and rather o%eratically drowned *y Ee%tune#s sea monster! "haedra ta2es %oison and after confessing her guilt to 0heseus dies! 0heseus %oor wooden uncom%rehending two?dimensional comic?*oo2 hero that he is ? concludes the %lay Dune action si noire #ue ne peut avec elle e.pirer la m*moire, .e em*races Aricia as his daughter and e9its stage left to find his son#s *ody! * She wants to die she hates her life! >ut does "haedra die( )ell yes and no! I would li2e to loo2 at "haedra#s third and final confession which effecti+ely concludes the drama at the end of Act 8our Act 8i+e is little more than dramatic house2ee%ing tidying u% a few loose ends! Still *urning for .i%%olytus "haedra sees that she has sun2 into a we* of criminal dece%tion fuelled *y incestuous desire! In her wretchedness she turns to face her ancestors the gods! :et me cite the te9t in "aul Schmidt#s free and muscular rendering and then in the original 8rench @h @enoneFGam I going mad( .ow can I as2 a hus*and I#+e *etrayed 0o a+enge my sinful lo+e for his son( I#m sin2ing in a sea of criminal designs1 Adultery incest and murder of an innocent 0ell me to sto%F 0ell my ancestor the sun 0o *urn away my %ain to %altry ashes! ,y grandfathers were gods the stars a*o+e Shine in the sha%e of my ancestral lineageH

0he uni+erse is %art and %arcel of my *lood! )here can I run( .ow can I e+er get away( ,y father is the fatal 5udge of .ell )hat will he do when he sees his daughter confess to crimes that ,a2e the demons stare( >ecome my e9ecutioner( 8ind me a fitting form of eternal %unishment( 0ell him the family curse li+es on! @h god if only I#d en5oyed my lo+eF 3ust onceF 0o die li2e this unsatisfied And full of nothing *ut remorseF #ue fais(je$ 57 ma raison se va(t(elle *'arer$ 8oi jalouse, 9t Th*s*e est celui /ue jimplore, 8on *pou. est vivant, et moi je br:le encore, Pour /ui$ #uel est le coeur o7 pr*tendent mes voeu.$ &ha/ue mot sur mon front fait dresser mes cheveu.. 8es crimes d*sormais ont combl* la mesure. e respire 0 la fois linceste et limposture. 8es homicides mains, promptes 0 me ven'er, Dans le san' innocent br:lent de se plon'er. 8is*rable, 9t je vis$ 9t je soutiens la vue De ce sacr* Soleil dont je suis descendue$ ai pour aeul le pre et le ma;tre des Dieu.< 2e ciel, tout lunivers est plein de mes aeu.. 57 me cacher$ 4uyons dans la nuit infernale, 8ais /ue dis(je$ 8on pre y tient lurne fatale. 2e sort, dit(on, la mise en ses sevres mains= 8inos ju'e au. enfers tous les p>les humains. "h, &ombien fr*mira son ombre *pouvant*e, 2ors/uil verra sa fille 0 ses yeu. pr*sent*e, &ontrainte davouer tant de forfeits divers, 9t les crimes peut()tre inconnus au. enfers, #ue diras(tu, mon pre, 0 ce spectacle horrible$ e crois voir de ta main tomber lurne terrible, e crois te voir, cherchant un supplice nouveau, Toi(m)me de ton san' devenir le bourreau. Pardonne. ?n Dieu cruel a perdu ta famille= 6econnais sa ven'eance au. fureurs de ta fille. +*las, Du crime affreu. dont la honte me suit amais mon triste coeur na recueilli le fruit. us/uau dernier soupir, de malheurs poursuivie, e rends dans les tourments une p*nible vie.

>urning and wretched she turns to face the Sun her grandfather! In this mo+ement of turning she re+eals the di+ision at the heart of her su*5ecti+ity! "haedra is watched throughout *y the Sun and she is acutely conscious of *eing watched *y this silent distant *ut omni%resent 3ansenist 6od! As :ucien 6oldmann %ersuasi+ely argues at the centre of the tragic +ision of Racine and "ascal is a 6od who is hidden to the %oint of a*sence who ne+er inter+enes in the drama of the world and yet who watches intensely and who for the tragic hero is more %resent than anything else1 $the 6od of tragedy is a 6od who is always %resent and always a*sent#!I Against this there is the +irus of &enus in her *lood $a cruel 6od# the dar2ness of her mother#s desire! "haedra#s su*5ecti+ity is torn *etween these two %oles the Sun and &enus which could *e redescri*ed as the call of conscience and the %ressure of li*idinous desire! >ut "haedra#s e9%erience of her su*5ecti+ity is cosmic her for*ears fill the s2ies the uni+erse is constituted *y the o%%osed forces aiming at her tragic destruction! 0hese forces are meta%horically coded in the imagery of light and dar2 that fills the %lay! 0he merciless light of the sun is o*scured *y the shadow of &enus %roducing what "haedra o9ymoronically calls $une flamme si noire#!J "haedra#s guilt ? and all guilt I would *e tem%ted to add ? is e9%erienced as mo+ement an oscillation *etween o%%osites! 6uilt is stretched *etween these two %oles of conscience and desire of the Sun and &enus! It is in this mo+ement that "haedra#s su*5ecti+ity is rent! "haedra is a %arado91 she detests her desire yet she cannot gi+e way on itH she fears the *urning conscience of the sun yet she constantly calls to him! 0he gra+ity of her desire is constituted *y her will to %ull free of it in the e9%erience of conscience! 0he %romised ecstasy of li*idinous transgression is directly %ro%ortionate to the %ower of moral %rohi*ition! 8or "haedra and this is her %arado9 once again her sad heart has ne+er e9%erienced the fruits of the crimes that she has committed! .ers is a sin of the heart not a sin of the flesh! She ne+er e9%eriences erotic %leasure with .i%%olytus she ne+er cou%les with the *ull li2e her mother and the truth is that she couldn#t *ecause her conscience wouldn#t let her not e+en if some crafty 7aedalus constructed her a wooden engine of disguise! She is una*le to sin fulsomely! 0his is why she ends her life u%on a rac2 of %ain! 8or this finally and %athetically she as2s


6oldman The +idden -od ref %!D0 and cf! %%! I6?I7! 8or a hel%ful discussion of the imagery and language of Phaedra see ;dward 3ames K 6illian 3ondorf Phdre ACam*ridge Lni+ersity "ress Cam*ridge 1BBJC %!1B?D2!

forgi+eness in a sim%le Pardonne which echoes the 4rappe and Donne of the %re+ious scene! 0o my mind what Racine is dramati/ing here is the inner conflict that constitutes Christian su*5ecti+ity in Augustine#s &onfessions a wor2 whose influence on the theology of 3ansenism Aand as we will see *elow ? .eidegger#s e9istential analytic those two +ersions of a 2indred tragic +isionC cannot *e o+erstated! Cornelius 3ansen#s 1I00?%age commentary on Augustine was %osthumously %u*lished in 16J0 and <uic2ly condemned as heresy *y the In<uisition the 3esuits and the "o%e himself! In >oo2 &III of the &onfessions Augustine descri*es himself as $still tightly *ound *y the lo+e of women# which he descri*es as his $old will# his carnal desire! 0his conflicts with his $new will# namely his s%iritual desire to turn to 6od! Alluding to and e9tending "aul#s line of thought in 6omans &II Augustine descri*es himself as ha+ing $two wills# the law of sin in the flesh and the law of s%irit turned toward 6od! "aralysed *y this conflict and una*le to commit himself com%letely to 6od these two wills lay waste Augustine#s soul! .e waits hesitates and hates himself! Seeing himself from outside himself from the stand%oint of 6od Augustine is *rought face?to?face with his self and sees how foul he is $how co+ered with stains and sores#!D .e continues $I loo2ed and I was filled with horror *ut there was no %lace for me to flee to away from myself#! >ut where Augustine finds %eace in con+ersion to 6od at the end of >oo2 &III "haedra continues to *urn in the dar2 fire of self?di+ision una*le to free herself! Such are the fatal circuits of what 8oucault would call the Christian hermeneutics of desire!6 In a seminar at E'L in 1B80 8oucault is re%orted to ha+e said that the difference *etween late anti<uity and early Christianity might *e reduced to the following <uestions1 the %atrician %agan as2s $gi+en that I am who I am who can I fuc2(#! 0he Christian as2s $gi+en that I can fuc2 no?one who am I(#!7 8oucault#s insight is %rofound *ut let me state categorically and without a trace of irony that as a committed atheist I side with the dee% hermeneutics of Christian su*5ecti+ity against the su%erficial %agan aesthetics of e9istence! 0he <uestion of the *eing of *eing human who am I( the fundamental issue of %hiloso%hical anthro%ology that *egins with "aul and is %rofoundly dee%ened in >oo2 M of the &onfessions, arises in the sight of 6od! 0he %ro*lem is how that <uestion sur+i+es 6od#s death!

D 6

Augustine &onfessions ref((( %!1BI! Ref .istory of Se9uality &ol! 2! ref((( 7 I owe this anecdote to >ernie 8lynn!

* ;+erything wounds "haedra! )hen she first a%%ears onstage she is *arely a*le to *ear the weight of her *ody her 2nees trem*ling ? threaten to gi+e way mes 'enou. tremblants se d*robent sous moi! .er 5ewels +eils and the +ery *raiding of her hair are felt as afflictions! She e9%eriences her e9istence as a sheer weight as the *ody *eing %ulled to earth *y the gra+ity of erotic desire the +irus of &enus! ;9istence is not something to *e affirmed or the ground for one#s freedom understood as a %ro5ecti+e lea% towards the future! Eo life is %ain! 7estiny is %redestined! ;9istence is thrown! It is to this thrownness this rac2 of %ain that "haedra is riveted! She is ri+eted to herself to her curse to the sin that flows in her *lood to the sheer fact of her life! 0hat is the cause of her malaise! So where can she hide( Eowhere! )hat is uni<ue a*out "haedra#s life is that it cannot *e esca%ed in death! 7eath *rings no end to her malaise *ecause death for her is not an end! In the cruel words of 0heramenes in the first scene of the %lay "haedra is une femme mourante et /ui cherche 0 mourir! .er e9istence is what >arthes calls une mort(dur*e! )ith this is mind consider again "haedra#s third confessional s%eech1 her ancestors were gods the sun and stars a*o+e shine in the sha%e of her ancestral lineage the uni+erse is %art and %arcel of her *lood her cosmic su*5ecti+ity! >ut if her for*ears fill the s2y di+iding her guilty su*5ecti+ity *etween conscience and desire then can she esca%e into the dar2 infernal night of .ades( Can she esca%e from this rac2 of %ain *y 2illing herself( Eo *ecause her father is the fatal 5udge of hell and holds the urn of doom! And what will he do( 8orgi+e her( 8orgi+e such uns%ea2a*le crimes that continue the horror of the family curse( It is hardly li2ely! )ill he 2ill her( .e can#t she is already dead! .e will therefore ha+e to find some fitting new form of eternal %unishment! If "haedra#s e9istence is defined *y malaise then this malaise will continue after her death! )hich is to say that death is not death *ut sim%ly a dee%er ri+eting to the fact of e9istence and its eternal curse! "haedra#s disco+ery is death#s im%ossi*ility! 7eath is not the %ossi*ility of an esca%e hatch something she can dis%ose of through the controlled lea% of suicide! Rather there is a fate worse than death namely that of an e9istence without end whether here?a*o+e in the sight of her grandfather .elios or there?*elow at the mercy of her father ,inos! After her death at the end of the %lay "haedra#s sufferings will continue only more intensely in the dar2 suffocacy of .ades! ;9istence is without e9it!

)hich raises the following <uestion1 if "haedra doesn#t die then of which su*5ect is this %lay the tragedy( )ho or what dies in this tragedy( In my +iew the cor%se on stage at the end of the %lay is not that of "haedra *ut that of the city the state the world! 0he moral of the tragedy is that life in the world is im%ossi*le! I will come *ac2 to this! * She hates her life she wants to die *ut she can#t! :earnNd readers might ha+e noticed that I ha+e *een glancing o+er my shoulder at :e+inas while %ondering "haedra#s malaise! :e+inas cites %art of the a*o+e %assage from Racine together with Sha2es%eare#s +amlet and 8ac@eth and modern e9am%les from "oe and ,au%assant ? in his discussion of what he calls the il y a in De le.istence 0 le.istent 2e ciel, tout lunivers est plein de mes aeu.. 57 me cacher$ 4uyons dans la nuit infernale, 8ais /ue dis(je$ 8on pre y tient lurne fatale.A 8or :e+inas "haedra confronts what he calls $le Osans issusP de l#e9istence# the e9it?lessness of e9istence! )ith the il y a :e+inas as2s us to underta2e a thought?e9%eriment $:et us imagine all *eings things and %ersons re+erting to nothingness#! >ut what would remain after this re+ersion( Eothing( :e+inas claims that this +ery nothingness of all things would *e e9%erienced as a 2ind of %resence1 an im%ersonal neutral and indeterminate feeling that /uel/ue chose se passe, what he elsewhere calls $an atmos%heric density a %lenitude of the +oid or the murmur of silence#! 0he il y a is this murmuring the indeterminate sense of something ha%%ening in the a*sence of all things e9%ressed with the neutral or im%ersonal third %erson %ronoun! 0he %resent a*sence of the il y a is a descendent of the hidden 3ansenist 6od! 0o illustrate %henomenologically the e9%erience of the il y a, :e+inas writes $)e could say that the night is the +ery e9%erience of the il y a. 0his is what >lanchot calls the essential or other night towards which the desire of the artist tends! 0he night into which all familiar o*5ects disa%%ear where something is there *ut nothing is +isi*le the e9%erience of dar2ness the density of the +oid where lucid o*5ecti+ity colla%ses into a swarming of %oints! 0his is the night of insomnia the %assi+e watching in the night where intentionality undergoes re+ersal where we no longer regard things *ut where they seem to regard us! 0his is what :e+inas calls la veille which denotes *oth watchfulness and wa2efulness a +igil a nightwatch *ut also the state of *eing on the *rin2 or +erge!

Ref le+inas source <uotation

>orrowing >lanchot#s definition of the artist we might say that "haedra is linsomnia/ue du jour the insomniac of the day!B 7uring her first a%%earance on stage @enone says 2es ombres par trois fois ont oscurci les cieu. Depuis /ue le sommeil nest entr* dans vos yeu. @ne is reminded of "ascal#s e9traordinarily austere words $3esus is suffering the torment of death until the end of time! )e must not slee% during that time#!10 0hese words find a more or less direct echo in ;stragon#s words in Baitin' for -odot A%ossi*ly the *est line e+er writtenC $)as I slee%ing while the others suffered#! In her slee%lessness and on the *rin2 of madness "haedra watches wa2efully and is watched constantly *y the slee%less gods whether the +engeful transcendence of the Sun or her father#s eternal night in .ades! 0he mood that accom%anies this e9%erience of *eing ri+eted to e9istence is not an9iety or fear *ut rather horror! As is so often the case :e+inas is using .eidegger as a critical le+er to o%en his own thought! In Sein und Ceit, an9iety is the *asic or fundamental mood e9%erienced in the face of *eing?towards?death! 0herefore the most horri*le thought would *e that of concei+ing the %ossi*ility of my own death of that fatal moment when I sli% o+er into nothingness! Against this :e+inas claims that $horror is in no way an an9iety a*out death#! )hat is most horri*le then is not the %ossi*ility *ut rather the im%ossi*ility of my death! Demain, h*las, 3l faudra vivre encore such is the sentiment of the world of horror! )hat is truly horri*le is not death *ut the irremissi*ility of e9istence of awa2ening underground in a coffin with no*ody to hear your so**ing or your fingers scratching on the woodH of *eing %aralysed and s%eechless while a team of doctors casually discuss what they diagnose as your %ermanent +egetati+e state etc! etc! etc! .orror is %ossession *y that which will not die and which cannot *e 2illed something wonderfully demonstrated *y ,au%assant in his short story $0he .orla#! "haedra feels herself %ossessed *y that which she cannot esca%e *oth *y the sin of &enus in her *lood and the mute %resence of the Sun in her conscience! @f course ? and this is the entire %arado9 of horror ? what she is %ossessed *y is herself *y her consciousness of sinfulness! 0he su*5ect of horror is the su*5ect#s horror at itself at that demonic hither?side of itself that it see2s to e+ade! 0here is no need for demons ? it is the su*5ect itself that is demonic!11

ref >lanchot ;du7 Cited in 0he .idden 6od %!67 K 80 11 I owe this remar2 to con+ersations with Rudi &is2er


"haedra#s horror at herself %ro+o2es malaise *ut what is it e9actly to *e mal 0 laise( :e+inas says the following in his stunning first original essay from 1BID De l*vasion 2e malaise nest pas un *tat purement passif et reposant sur lui( m)me. 2e fait d)tre mal 0 son aise est essentiellement dynami/ue. 3l appara;t comme un refus de demeurer, comme un effort de sortir dune situation intenable. D!E &est une tentative de sortir sans savoir o7 lon va, et cette i'norance /ualifie lessence m)me de cette tentative.A%!I80C 0hus malaise is not a %assi+e or <uiescent state it is a dynamic state e+en a dramatic state that arises as a refusal to remain in e9istence! ,alaise is a mo+ement that attem%ts to evade e9istence! "haedra is ri+eted to her e9istence and this fact %ro+o2es a malaise that ma2es her want to e+ade it! 0his is how I understand what might otherwise a%%ear to *e her madness 3nsens*e, o7 suis(je$ 9t /uai(je dit$ 57 laiss*(je *'arer mes voeu. et mon esprit. She would li2e to *e insens*e *ut she is not insane! ,adness would *e an esca%e an e+asion from her curse *ut she remains tragically lucid throughout! She wants to die *ut she cannot! She would *e mad *ut remains sane! In the agoni/ing meanwhile of her suffering she see2s to e+ade herself! In what( In death *ut she cannot die! In eroticism *ut she cannot e+en commit the sins for which she lacerates herself! In the )ooster 6rou%#s e9traordinary +ersion of the %lay "haedra is su*mitted to +iolent and noisome enemas as if see2ing to e+acuate and e+ade her own *ody! Around her the other characters a*stractedly %lay *adminton! 0his is the world it would a%%ear a distraction a farce a comic game! "haedra tries to %lay *ut lac2s the strength e+en to lift the *irdie or shuttlecoc2 Awhich is if anything an e+en funnier word than *irdieC! "haedra is enchained to the fact of herself and this is what she wants to e+ade *y fleeing towards the Forld. ;9istence the *eing of *eing human is not something to *e em*raced it is rather that in the face of which we ta2e flight towards the world in a mo+ement that :e+inas calls e.cendence1 "insi, au besoin d*vasion, l)tre nappara;t pas seulement comme obstacle /ue la pens*e libre aurait 0 franchir, ni comme la ri'idit* /ui invitant 0 la routine, e.i'e un effort dori'inalit*, mais comme un emprisonnement dont il sa'it de sortir. >eing is not our home its house is a %rison the cell of the self constantly sur+eyed *y the murmuring of the il y a! 0his %rison is airless and "haedra is constantly close to as%hy9iating! 0he s%ace of the drama is claustro%ho*ic! @ne has the sense of the action ta2ing %lace in a *o9 a


lit?*o9 that is *eing watched not 5ust *y the audience *ut *y the %layers themsel+es and *y the gods! 0his is a little li2e the %lay within the %lay in +amlet ( The 8ousetrap ( where the %layers are caught ri+eted to themsel+es! After noting that the desire for e+asion $re+Qt une forme dramati<ue# :e+inas goes on Dans lidentit* du moi, lidentit* de l)tre r*vle sa nature dencha;nement car elle appara;t sous forme de souffrance et elle invite 0 l*vasion. "ussi l*vasion est(elle le besoin de sortir de soi(m)me, cest(0(dire de briser lencha;nement le plus radical, la plus irr*misible, le fait /ue le moi est soi(m)me.A%!I77C ;9istence is enchainment not emanci%ation! "haedra e9%eriences it as suffering and the desire to e+ade oneself to flee towards the world to e9cend oneself in distraction! >ut the mo+ement of flight is held tight *y the chain that ties me to myself! Such is the *asic fact of the human condition1 that I am myself h*las, * Counter?intuiti+ely %erha%s the :e+inasian thought with which I am trying to read "haedra#s e9%erience has its home in Sein und Ceit *ut it is a .eidegger read +ery much against the grain! It is s%ecifically the conce%t of @efindlichGeit that is of interest here1 state?of?mind attunement or already?ha+ing?found?oneself?there?ness! .eidegger#s claim is that I always already find myself attuned in a Stimmun' a mood or affecti+e dis%osition! Such a mood discloses me as 'eForfen, as thrown into the $there# DDaE of my *eing?in?the?world! 8or .eidegger these three terms @efindlichGeit, Stimmun', and -eForfenheit are interconnected in *ringing out the nature of what .eidegger calls 4aGti%itHt facticity! .eidegger#s early wor2 and this is a de*t that :e+inas re%ays from the first to the last word of his %u*lished wor2 des%ite his unflinching horror at .eidegger#s %olitical commitment ? is a hermeneutics of facticity a descri%tion of the e+eryday ways in which the human *eing e9ists! In *eing dis%osed in a mood and here we *egin to hear "haedra#s +oice 7asein is satiated or weary DIberdrIssi'E with itself and as such its *eing *ecomes manifest as a *urden or load Deine 2astE to *e ta2en u%! 0he *urdensome character of one#s *eing the sheer weight of the $that?it?is# DDas es istE of e9istence is something that I see2 to e+ade! .eidegger writes 3m "usFeichen selbst ist das Da erschlossenesA1IDC! 0his is fascinating *ecause .eidegger is claiming that the *eing of 7asein#s Da, the there of its *eing?in?the?world is disclosed in the mo+ement which


see2s to e+ade it! ;+asion discloses that which it e+ades! It is %recisely in the human *eing#s turning away D"bGehrE from itself that the nature of e9istence first *ecomes manifest! I find myself as I flee myself and I flee myself *ecause I find myself! .eidegger rather en5oys the %arado9 ! 'efunden in einem 4inden, das nicht so sehr einem direGten Suchen, sondern einem 4liehen entspricht!A1IDC )hat is elicited in this turning away of 7asein from itself is the facticity of 7asein#s *eing deli+ered? o+er to itself D4aGti%itHt der JberantFortun'E and it is this that .eidegger intends *y the term thrownness -eForfenheit! 0he %arallels *etween .eidegger and :e+inas in the a*o+e?cited %assages although stri2ing should not *e o+erstated! 0rue the conce%t of @efindlichGeit re+eals the thrown nature of 7asein in its falling mo+ement of turning away from itself! >ut two %aragra%hs later in Sein und Ceit .eidegger will contrast this mo+ement of e+asion with the conce%t of 1erstehen understood as a*ility?to?*e which is lin2ed to the conce%ts of 9ntFurf and 8K'lichGeit! 0hat is 7asein is not 5ust thrown into the world it can throw off that thrownness in a mo+ement of %ro5ection where it sei/es hold of its %ossi*ilities?to?*e! 0his mo+ement of %ro5ection is the +ery e9%erience of freedom for .eidegger! 7asein is a thrown %ro5ect ? *ut where .eidegger will %lace the em%hasis on %ro5ection %ossi*ility and freedom as the essential elements in the mo+ement towards authenticity :e+inas might *e read as following out another %ossi*le tra5ectory of the e9istential analytic of Sein und Ceit! 0his tra5ectory is what I call $originary inauthenticity#! :et me e9%lain myself!12 @riginary inauthenticity *egins *y acce%ting that what I reluctantly confront in my e+asi+e turning away from myself is the fact of my facticity! 0his stares *ac2 at me li2e an enigma ASuR 1I6C the enigma of who I am the %ast whose o%acity constantly threatens to o+erwhelm me li2e the +irus of &enus in "haedra#s *lood! In the wisdom of "aul 0homas Anderson#s 1BBB mo+ie 8a'nolia $you might thin2 you are through with the %ast *ut the %ast isn#t through with you#! @riginary inauthenticity is the thought that human e9istence is fundamentally sha%ed in relation to the *rute fact of a thrownness which cannot *e mastered through any e9istential %ro5ection! 0he +irile surge of freedom is the mere rattling of *ars in a %rison cell! Authenticity sli%s *ac2 into a %rior inauthenticity from which it cannot esca%e *ut which it would li2e to e+ade! 8rom this %ers%ecti+e human e9istence is something that is first and foremost re+ealed as a *urden a weight a load as something to which I am ri+eted without *eing a*le to 2now why or 2now further! 0his

ref enigma %a%er


is how we first meet "haedra in Racine#s drama! Inauthentic e9istence has the character of an irreduci*le and intracta*le thatness what .eidegger called a*o+e das DaL seines Da! I feel myself *ound to $the that of my there# the sheer 4aGtum of my facticity! 7asein learns to ta2e u% this *urden in the e9%erience of guilt DSchuldE understood as inde*tedness D1erschuldun'E or e9istential lac2! As .eidegger writes in his e9traordinary %ages on guilt 7asein is a thrown *asis Dein 'eForfene -rundE! As this *asis 7asein continually lags *ehind itself $>eing a *asis D-rund(seiendE that is to say e9isting as thrown Dals 'eForfenes e.istierend one of .eidegger#s nicely o9ymoronic formulationsC 7asein constantly lags *ehind its %ossi*ilities#!ASuR 28JC! 0he e9%erience of guilt re+eals the *eing of *eing human as a lac2 as something wanting! In the light of these remar2s we might say that the self is not as many would ha+e .eidegger *elie+e Aand argua*ly as he *elie+ed himself at the time of writing Sein und CeitE the ecstasy of a heroic lea% towards authenticity energi/ed *y the e9%erience of an9iety and *eing?towards?death and consummated in the moment of +ision Dder "u'enblicGE! Such would *e the reading of the e9istential analytic that sees its goal in autarGy, self?sufficiency or self? mastery! Rather the self#s fundamental self?relation is to an unmastera*le thrownness the *urden of a facticity that weighs me down without me e+er *eing a*le to %ic2 it u%! ;9%ressed tem%orally one#s self?relation is not the li+ing %resent of the moment of +ision *ut rather a delay with res%ect to oneself that is %erha%s *est e9%ressed in the e9%erience of fatigue and languor! 0his I would claim is the ontological meaning of "haedra#s guilt its e9istential mo+ement %rior to any ontic %enum*rae! "haedra des%erately tries to %ro5ect or throw off a thrownness through life in the world! >ut this mo+ement of throwing off catches her in its throw and in+erts the mo+ement of %ossi*ility! She finds herself mood?wise as .eidegger might ha+e said ri+eted to the fact of her self! She does not e9ist in the %resent let alone the future of %ro5ecti+e freedom! Rather she is a %risoner of her %ast the facticity of her mother#s monstrous desire and her grandfather#s conscience! As such "haedra#s %resent continually lags *ehind itself! She cannot ma2e u% her time! She is always too late to meet her fate! She is sim%ly too weary to die too utterly and %rofoundly fatigued! 0he horror of *eing ri+eted to one#s facticity in5ects a fearful lan'uor into "haedra#s lim*s! 0he +irus of &enus that flows in her *lood weighs her down! She writhes she *urns! .er *ody %ossesses or is %ossessed *y an un*eara*le gra+ity that %ulls her earthwards! :anguor is her affecti+e


res%onse to the e9it?lessness of e9istence to the fact of *eing chained to herself! )hat interests me greatly here is the e9%erience of languor as a *odily res%onse to facticity of the *ody *eing coursed through *y a desire that is e9%erienced as alien the +irus of &enus in the *lood! 0his desire o+erta2es me and slows me down inducing a languid sluggishness a lethargy a cree%ing inertia a sort of TrH'heit which is 8reud#s word for descri*ing the death?dri+e that cosmic?sounding force that %ro+ides a com%elling analogue to "haedra#s e9%erience! :anguor ma2es me an enigma to myself! I find myself enchained to a facticity whose +ery nearness ma2es me lose focus and una*le to catch my *reath! I *urn *reathless in my languor! 0his e9%erience is wonderfully descri*ed *y Augustine in &onfessions, >oo2 M where he is agoni/ing a*out the +irtue in+ol+ed in the sensual %leasure of religious music! .e writes and thin2 here of "haedra#s sense of *eing watched *y 6od >ut do you @ :ord my 6od graciously hear me and turn your ga/e u%on me and see me and ha+e mercy u%on me and heal me! 8or in your sight I ha+e *ecome a <uestion to myself and that is my languor Dmihi /uaestio factus sum et ipse est lan'uor meusE Augustine#s words are cited here in 3ean?8ranSois :yotard#s remar2a*le and remar2a*ly o*scure %osthumously %u*lished 2a confession d"u'ustin which is an oddly Christian te9t for such an a+owed %agan!1I ,y languor is the <uestion that I ha+e *ecome for myself in relation to the %resent?a*sent Deus absconditus who watches me who may heal and ha+e mercy u%on me *ut whom I cannot 2now and whose grace cannot *e guaranteed! 0he <uestions I %ose to 6od ma2e me a <uestion to myself! :yotard adds gnomically 2a'aros languid *es%ea2s in 6ree2 a humour of lim%ness a dis%osition to1 what#s the %oint( 6esture rela9es therein! ,y life this is it1 distentio letting go stretching out! 7uration turns lim% it is its nature!A%!18C 0he e9%erience of languor for :yotard is *oth the *ody#s lim%ness its languid <uality and time as distension as stretching out %rocrastination! In languor I suffer from a delay with res%ect to myself my suffering is e9%erienced as what :yotard calls in language reminiscent of >lanchot $waiting#1 $0he &onfessions are written under the tem%oral sign of waiting#! @riginally inauthentic the weight of the %ast ma2es me wait and awaiting I languish! I grow old I shall wear the *ottoms of my trousers rolled! I am filled with longing! :yotard close to dying as he is writing <uotes the a*o+e %assage from Augustine for a second time and adds

Cite :yotard %!18 DD!


Gipse est lan'uor meus! .ere lies the whole ad+antage of faith1 to *ecome an enigma to oneself to grow old ho%ing for the solution the resolution from the @ther! .a+e mercy u%on me 'ahweh for I am languishing! .eal me for my *ones are worn! "haedra languishes! In an e9istence without e9it time stretches out and she waits for an end that will not come! She e9%eriences languor as a mental and %hysical weariness a sheer fatigue in the face of her thrownness! >ut her languor also has strong erotic o+ertones1 it is a feeling of dreaminess and la9ity closer to the ,iddle ;nglish $lo+e? longing# and the 6erman Sehnsucht, yearning!1J 0his is the sort of eroticised sic2ness that afflicts 0ro%%mann the hero of >ataille#s 2e bleu du ciel, languishing in his disgrace and *urning with hallucinatory se9ual desire and thoughts of his own death $I 2now! I#m going to die in disgraceful circumstances#!1D In "haedra#s confession to .i%%olytus she says 5ui, Prince, je lan'uis, je br:le pour Th*s*e And again ai lan'ui, jai s*ch*, dans les feu., dans les larmes "haedra#s malaise is the e9%erience of languor as an affecti+e res%onse to the fact of *eing ri+eted to herself! 6uiltily *ound to the fire of &enus that *urns in her *lood with the distant Sungod watching im%assi+ely she languishes sensuously in this ca%ti+ity! :ife is a trance for "haedra a sort of agoni/ed fainting away that %roduces moments of erotic stu%efaction where she is hy%noti/ed *y the desire that she loathes! If life is %ain then you might as well en5oy it! * If Phaedra is a nominalist drama then there is a name that my entire discourse is dishonestly circling around without discussing namely sin. ,ight not originary inauthenticity *e another name for sin( Is this entire %ro5ect not therefore an attem%t to reco+er the conce%t of sin( 0his remains an o%en ? if not ga%ing ? <uestion! 6ood Catholic *oy that he was .eidegger#s e9istential analytic is alert to this <uestion and neatly sideste%s it! 8irst he insists that his conce%t of falling das 1erfallen should not *e understood as a fall from a state of grace to a state of sin!ASuR 180C Second .eidegger rather cutely claims that as sin is ontic and the 7asein?analytic is ontological his conce%t of
1J 1D

Ref :u2acs longing in Soul and 8orm 6eorges >ataille @lue of Moon A>oyars :ondon 1B7BC %!2I!


guilt %ro+es nothing either for or a'ainst the %ossi*ility of sin Alisten to the sound of a %hiloso%her eating his ca2e and ha+ing itC! Such a mo+e would *e 5ustified if one could restrict the conce%t of sin to the ontic domain! >ut I ha+e my dou*ts1 if the conce%ts of falling and guilt can *e raised to the dignity of ontology then why not also sin( I do not mean sin as an ontic feature of e+eryday AimCmoral action *ut rather as an essential feature of the *eing of *eing human! 0his would e9clude +enial mortal or actual sin which might *e indeed *e classed as ontic *ut include original or hereditary sin which is a claim a*out the *eing of *eing human! All that I ha+e said a*out the inauthentic su*5ect finding itself in flight disclosing itself in its e+asi+e turning away from itself might *e resdescri*ed as an attem%t to reco+er the notion of hereditary sin! 8or what is hereditary sin *ut the claim that the *eing of *eing human is originally constituted as a lac2 as a radical inde*tedness to a %ast that cannot *e made u% *y the su*5ect#s own +olition( @riginal sin constitutes the su*5ect in a state of want as a thrown *asis that cannot throw off that thrownness in a mo+ement of free %ro5ection! ;9istence is that load or *urden to which I am enchained and in which I languish! I languish in sin li2e @swald at the end of I*sen#s -hosts whose final "haedra?li2e words *efore he colla%ses into the languor of his hereditary sic2ness are $the sun the sun#! * I would li2e to conclude with a remar2 a*out tragedy and comedy! Racine#s Phaedra is a tragedy is it not( 'et what ha%%ens in a tragedy why is it tragic( 0ragedy is tragic *ecause someone dies sometimes a whole stage?full of %ersonae! If "haedra is the tragic heroine then we ha+e seen that her death is at least am*iguous and %ossi*ly on the +iew argued for in this %a%er im%ossi*le! She dies *ut her e9istence does not come to an end! It continues in the twilight of .ades with the same awful languor and malaise the same e9%erience of *eing ri+eted to the original sin of who she is with the gods still watching on! Is "haedra therefore a tragic figure( @ne might wonder whether her fate is more tragic than tragedy and ins%ires not so much %ity and terror as horror! >ut if "haedra does not die then of whom is this drama the tragedy( )ho is the su*5ect of this tragedy( @n this %oint 6oldmann#s inter%retation of Phaedra %ro+es once again in+alua*le in leading us *ac2 to Racine#s 3ansenist ins%iration!16 At the core of 3ansenism is a refusal of

The +idden -od o%!cit! %%!I71?B1!


the world and a turning of the su*5ect towards a hidden watchful 6od! In what 6oldmann calls Racine#s $tragedies of refusal# what gets shown is the im%ossi*ility and futility of life in the world! )hat therefore ha%%ens at the end of Phaedra is not so much her actual death as her death to the world! )hat "haedra is forced to renounce is the tem%tation of life in the world of the tem%orary satisfaction of desire of some sort of contentment! 0he world is a farce a mere *au*le a comic illusion where indi+iduals a%%ear light em%ty and two?dimensional! 0o a much stronger degree than any other tragedy I 2now "haedra is not only the e%onymous %rotagonist of the drama *ut also the only su*stantial character onstage! 0he other onstage characters are slight and indeed slightly comic1 @enone is little more than a sounding *oard for "haedra#s essentially solitary dialogues 0heseus a%%ears somewhat of a flatfooted oaf throughout and %oor +irginal .i%%olytus is an unworthy o*5ect of such ferocious desire! >esides "haedra the only real characters are offstage the gods to whom "haedra addresses her monologues! In the face of the farce of the world it is to the gods that "haedra is o*liged to confess! Eo?one else has the ca%acity to understand! She is a dee% Christian tra%%ed in a su%erficial %agan world! 0o this e9tent the drama of Phaedra once again %resses against the limits of the genre of tragedy and one wonders whether its de%iction of the world is not in fact closer to .egel#s understanding of the world of comedy as that of illusion dece%tion and insu*stantiality!17 0his *rings me *ac2 to the )ooster 6rou%#s dramatisation of Phaedra To you, the birdie ? which is dee%ly comic often farcical and where *athos re%laces tragic %athos! 0his is wonderfully e9em%lified in 0heseus#s o%ening lines which are deli+ered as a sort of $.oney I#m home#! 0he wea%ons of tragedy swords shields and daggers are comically su*limated into *adminton rac<uets and shuttlecoc2s! 0he comic effect is reinforced *y the )ooster 6rou%#s use of technology where the %erformance is %unctuated with noises reminiscent of some anachronistic +ideo game or an imagined soundtrac2 to a silent mo+ie! Lnwittingly or not the )ooster 6rou% are true to the 3ansenist ins%iration of the %lay! >y %laying tragedy as comedy what is achie+ed is the radical se%aration of the character of "haedra from the noisy and senseless s%ort of the world that surrounds her! Is this to say that the tragic the truly and dee%ly tragic the e9%erience of *eing ri+eted to the sheer fact of e9istence and the games we %ursue to e+ade this fact is something that can only *e %layed comically( 7oes the

Ref Aesthetics


tragic ha+e to *e comic for us here now whosoe+er we are and whate+er moment of history this %asses for( @ne might s%ea2 of tragic?comedy after all there are good >ec2ettian %recedents! Is the tragic only tragic as the comic( If it is and I am inclined to thin2 so then this is not funny not funny at all!18 So Phaedra is not e9actly the tragedy that one might imagine! Something dies *ut it is not "haedra! )hat dies is the world and the cor%se onstage at the end of the %lay is not "haedra#s it is that of the illusion of the polis, the city the state the %olitical order! 0he tragedy here is that of the %olitical order of .elleno?.egelian SittlichGeit, or .eideggerian 3n(der( Belt(Sein. 0he shi% of state is a wrec2 at the end of the %lay! >uilt u% through war con<uest *loodshed and usur%ation it is destroyed *y them too! :ife in the world is a game of %ower a farce of force a murderous illusion! It is senseless! 0hen as now! 0he anti?%olitical nature of Racine#s tragedy is what se%arates it most %rofoundly from the entire s%irit of ancient 6ree2 tragedy! Attic tragedy dramati/es the a'on at the heart of the constitution of the %olitical order whether that *etween the old and new gods A@restes +ersus the 8uriesC in Aeschylus# 5resteia or *etween the laws of the family and the laws of the polis AAntigone +ersus CreonC in So%hocles# "nti'one! 0he essence of Attic tragedy is the conflict *etween o%%osed yet mutually 5ustified claims to 5ustice! 7es%ite the crises of the tragic a'on the hori/on of ancient tragedy is the reconciliation of these forces in a re+i+ification of the %olitical order! Seen from this %ers%ecti+e Phaedra is something com%letely different! It is that which Eiet/sche would see as a monstrous contradiction in terms1 a Christian tragedy! Anti?%olitical in its essence the moral of Phaedra is the utter re5ection of the tem%oral world! 0he true life is elsewhere! @nly "haedra li+es in the truth! And she li+es in the truth *y refusing to li+e in the world! It is the world that dies in the tragedy and "haedra who li+esGafter a fashion! 0his gi+es a +ery intriguing twist to the Aristotelian conce%tion of tragedy characteri/ed *y peripateia and ana'noreisis. .a+ing resol+ed to die at the *eginning of the %lay "haedra *ecomes %ersuaded to li+e in the world! .er recognition at the end of the %lay is that this is im%ossi*le and she re+ol+es to die once again only to disco+er that this is also im%ossi*le! Aristotle might ha+e *een %er%le9ed!


ref ;"S cha%ter 10 and 5n +umour!


* 0he truth of su*5ecti+ity has to *e li+ed a%art from the world! Such is the tragic +ision of 3ansenism and its many heirs1 the 4antian se%aration *etween the realms of %ure and %ractical reason the 8ichtean ego Schlegelian irony 4iergegaardian religiosity the literary modernism of 4af2a the early ;liot >ec2ett and >lanchot a strand of Sartrean e9istentialism the later :acan of the Real and :e+inas#s defence of su*5ecti+ity as se%aration! >ut how far a%art are su*5ecti+ity and the world( .ere we confront the dee%est dialectical %arado9 of Phaedra! If the lesson of tragedy is that life in the world is im%ossi*le that the true life transcends the world then I am still o*liged to li+e in the world! 0he world is the only reality of which I can *e sure and rightly ? there is no <uestion of mystical intuition or a higher state of authentic awareness within the tragic +ision! I li+e immanently in a world which is real of which I can *e certain yet I e9%erience a demand for transcendence that e9ceeds the world *ut also my %owers of cognition! .ence the need in "ascal for the wager which is not some intellectual game for a sce%tical ur*ane 17th Century audience *ut is rather my *est *et of that which I cannot *e sure! 0he tragic +ision is a refusal of the world from within the world as 6oldmann writes 0ragic man is a*sent and %resent in the world at one and the same time e9actly as 6od is simultaneously a*sent and %resent to man!1B 0he human *eing li2e "haedra is a %arado9 we are inelucta*ly in the world *ut we are not of the world! 0hat is Fe are not Fhat Fe are in. Such a situation might *e descri*ed as tragic *ut it might *e e+en *etter a%%roached as comic! )ithout 6od the drama of Racine#s Phaedra is reduced to *eing some story a*out a cra/y woman trying to commit incest at court! )e ha+e to *elie+e that Racine *elie+ed! 'et what if we don#t *elie+e Fhat he *elie+ed( )hat if we want to acce%t a tragic +ision without 6od( Can that thought really *e endured( Can it( Really(


The +idden -od o%!cit! %!60!