Shifting perspectives; Double Consciousness II

Re-reading Fourquet and Murard’s preface, with a view to adding to the ‘Index of Concepts’ on which Susana has been working, and drawing inspiration from the ‘writing idea’ which she added to the folder yesterday, a shift of perspective occurred to me: the volume of R13 is as noted at the outset, heterogenous, in terms of its different sections and typography. I had been thinking of the chapters as the main, substantial element of the dossier, and the ‘interventions militantes’ as parenthetical, supplementary additions. The other perspective would be to see the primary objective of R13 as its investigation and experimentation of the ‘militant libido’, or of the ‘libidinal practice’ of the group’s research. Why? Because in this period – post-1968, of a near ‘police state’, and the ‘underground’ activities of the Gauche proletairienne etc. militancy is at stake. To think of it, as R13 do, as an ideal, as invested with ‘fantasmes’, and as ‘libidinal’, is to bring to bear Nietzschean and Deleuze-Guattari perspectives upon it, but also to narrate the living of the contradictions it entails. A libidinal practice at a collective level which does not resolve the contradictions inherent in the group. Bion’s work in Experiences in Groups is relevant. What are the ‘basic assumptions’ at stake? When does R13 operate as a group on the basic assumption of fight or flight, when as a group form coupling, when as a work group? Fourquet’s discussions in R14, of the ‘idéal historique’ also confirm this emphasis on the ‘rapports de force’ and ‘libidinal’ underpinnings of ‘theory’ and ‘critique’, and the structuring of R14 does too. So we could think of ‘collective equipment’ etc, the ‘object’ of R13’s enquiry, as secondary to the primary objective, to explore and analyse the libidinal practice of collective research and critique the ‘militant’ ideal or fantasy. Of course this structural pattern – primary object/secondary object is not fixed; it’s a revolving mirror; at high speed the objects blur, as in a ‘toupie folle’.

Later in the day – in the course of translating the ‘Presentation’ – a really good way of getting thoroughly into the material, it struck me – what are the ‘libidinal’ components or coefficients of our own relation to this object, the object being R13, but also the whole set of relations and problematics that it brings into play. This relation has to be thought in the context of the political and libidinal avenues open to ‘us’ now, that is, in 2021, which are different, one would think, from those available in 1972/73. When Fourquet talks about the shaking up of organisational possibilities in the ‘rout’ of after May, and the options open – go and live in the Cévennes, become a professional manager, etc., it provokes the insight that, as a University academic, ‘we’ are ‘already’ professional managers; thus there is a certain amount of … cynicism, kidding oneself, having one’s cake and eating it, I don’t know, involved here. Double consciousness, at least. In any case, one mode of the libidinal relation to the object of R13 is nostalgia, melancholy, mourning. The loss of a (virtual) life which exists only as a possibility at that moment. Melancholy of the left. I remember a conversation with Sanja about this. Walter Benjamin as its thinker and witness.

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