Archive for the 'filozofie' Category

gabriel liiceanu, despre ura

DESPRE URĂ

Gabriel Liiceanu — Studii de filozofie şi filologie clasică la Universitatea din Bucureşti. Bursier al fundaţiei Alexander von Humboldt. Profesor de filozofie la Universitatea din Bucureşti. Director al Editurii Humanitas.
Scrieri — Tragicul. O fenomenologie a limitei şi depăşirii (Univers, 1975; Humanitas, 1994,2005); încercare în politropia omului şi a culturii (Cartea Românească, 1981); ediţia a Ii-a, cu titlul Om şi simbol. Interpretări ale simbolului în teoria artei şi filozofia culturii (Humanitas, 2005); jurnalul de la Păltiniş. Un model paideic în cultura umanistă (Cartea Românească, 1983; Humanitas, 1991, 1996, 2004, 2005); Le Journal de Păltiniş (La Decouverte, Paris, 1998); Păltiniş Diary (CEU Press, Budapesta şi New York, 2000); Dziennik z Păltinişu. Pajdeja jako model w kulturze humanistycznej (Pograznicze, Sejny, 2001); Epistolar (coautor şi editor: Cartea Românească, 1987; Humanitas, 1996); Apel către lichele (Humanitas, 1992, 1996); Cearta cu filozofia (Humanitas, 1992, 2005); Despre limită (Humanitas, 1994, 2004, 2007); De la limite. Petit trăite ă l’usage des orgueilleux (Ed. Michalon, Paris, 1997); Itinerariile unei vieţi: E.M. Cioran urmat de Apocalipsa după Cioran. Trei zile de convorbiri — 1990 (Humanitas, 1995); Hineraires d’une vie: E.M. Cioran suivi de Les continents de l’insomnie (Ed. Michalon, Paris, 1995); Apocalypsen enligt Cioran (Dualis Forlags, Ludvika, Suedia, 1997); Declaraţie de iubire (Humanitas, 2001); Uşa interzisă (Humanitas, 2002); Despre minciună (Humanitas, 2006).
Traduceri mai importante — Platon, Hippias Maior, Euthydemos, Phaidros; Martin Heidegger (în colaborare), Originea operei de artă, Repere pe drumul gândirii, Introducere în metafizică, Fiinţă şi timp.
Filme — Exerciţiu de admiraţie (în colaborare cu Constantin Chelba, 1991); Eugene Ionesco. Ultimul interviu, 1992; Apocalipsa după Cioran (în colaborare cu Sorin Ilieşiu, 1995).

GABRIEL LIICEANU
DESPRE URĂ

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Despre ură / Gabriel Liiceanu – Bucureşti: Humanitas, 2007
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Cuvânt înainte

Aceste pagini, ca şi în cazul textului Despre minciună, au fost prilejuite de o conferinţă „Microsoft” pe care am ţinut-o la Târgu Mureş, în ziua de 19 aprilie 2007. în dimineaţa acelei zile, în timp ce în aula Universităţii Petru Maior vorbeam despre „crima originară”, despre genealogia urii şi despre intelectuali şi ură, în Parlamentul ţării se puseseră în mişcare procedurile de suspendare din funcţie a Preşedintelui României. Am început conferinţa spunând că nu pot fi cu totul întâmplătoare nici locul şi nici momentul în care ea se desfăşoară: „în martie 1990, ura dansa pe străzile oraşului dumneavoastră, după cum, în clipa în care vorbim, ura dansează pe băncile Parlamentului României. E greu să ne imaginăm un timp
———— 7 ____________

şi un loc mai bun pentru a vorbi despre ură. Acest discurs devine, acum şi aici, o manieră intelectuală şi simbolică de a exorciza ura. înţelegându-i, pur şi simplu, mecanismele.” Adevărul este că la subiectul acesta nu am ajuns întâmplător. De şase decenii în România se urăşte variat şi continuu. In România comunistă se ura din două direcţii: de sus în jos şi de jos în sus. Se ura din principiu. De sus în jos: era evident că guvernanţii unei ţări, care socoteau că populaţia este inaptă de libertate şi care o guvernau numai cu ajutorul minciunii şi terorii, o dispreţuiau şi o urau. Tot din principiu se ura şi de jos în sus, de vreme ce guvernanţii fuseseră impuşi cu forţa, iar alegerile se dovediseră o mascaradă. Apoi, când lucrul acesta a fost dat uitării şi când regimul comunist s-a instalat „pentru totdeauna”, ura a început să se hrănească din umilirea cotidiană. Toată lumea era infantilizată: fiecare gest care alcătuia viaţa noastră stătea sub binomul „e voie” – „nu e voie”. Aveai voie să spui asta, şi nu asta, aveai voie să vezi asta, şi nu asta,
———– 8 ———–

aveai voie să mănânci asta, şi nu asta, aveai voie să te înmulţeşti atât, şi nu atât, aveai voie să te distrezi aşa, şi nu aşa. Patruzeci şi cinci de ani trăiţi în frustrare, mizerie şi frică transformaseră România într-un tărâm al urii. Sentimentul activ al urii – activ, la drept vorbind, doar la o parte din populaţie, cea care încă mai avea sentimente publice -poate explica, într-o măsură cel puţin, căderea lui Ceauşescu.
De 17 ani încoace, de la „revoluţia din decembrie 1989″, lucrurile s-au schimbat şi totuşi cantitatea de ură acumulată în corpul societăţii româneşti pare să rămână intactă şi să se diversifice. în primul rând, pe un plan strict psihologic, în condiţiile în care resursele de creativitate se pot acum manifesta, reuşita faptei cuiva a ajuns să fie cântărită la noi prin cantitatea de ură pe care ea o stârneşte. Ura, aşadar, ca simptom al reuşitei. Lucrurile merg până într-acolo încât, „de dragul” urii, oamenii sunt dispuşi să facă orice, la limită să te împiedice să faci (chiar dacă astfel pierd odată cu tine), decât
———– 9 ____________

să-ţi vadă numele aureolat şi isprava recunoscută public. Se ajunge astfel la „ura sinucigaşă”, în care coechipierul preferă să te placheze decât să-ţi lase în seamă golul victoriei. Pe de altă parte, în plan social, ura care îşi are izvorul în cei 45 de ani de comunism pare inepuizabilă. Urăsc cei ce constată că persoanele care le-au schilodit vieţile şi destinele în comunism vor ca, după ce şi-au păstrat locurile, funcţiile şi atribuţiile puterii, să le organizeze iar, tot ei, vieţile şi destinele în noua societate. Aceştia din urmă, la rândul lor, îi urăsc pe cei care îi contestă şi care le periclitează, prin tresăririle lor periodice de indignare şi prin protestele lor mai mult sau mai puţin sistematizate, privilegiile, impunitatea şi puterea.
Pe acest fond, am socotit că o reflecţie asupra problemei urii este cât se poate de bine-venită: orice lucru înţeles poate fi mai lesne stăpânit. în acelaşi timp, este straniu să constaţi cât de puţin loc a acordat gândirea modernă unei chestiuni care face parte dintre trăsăturile înseşi ale modernităţii: de
———– 10 ———–

la sfârşitul secolului XIX istoria omenirii se defineşte prin explozia periodică, simultană sau alternativă a patru feluri de ură: ura de clasă, de rasă, de naţiune şi ura religioasă. Gânditorul care a mers cel mai departe pe linia evaluării impactului urii în societatea modernă şi pe relaţia acesteia cu clasa intelectuală a fost Julien Benda. Căderea în uitare, dacă nu ignorarea sistematică, a cărţii sale La trahison des clercs (Trădarea cărturarilor), apărută în 19281, nu poate fi explicată, într-un secol al tuturor angajărilor vinovate, decât într-un singur fel: prin ea, cei mai mulţi intelectuali s-au văzut confruntaţi cu o imagine de sine deloc complezentă. Ei erau acuzaţi de a fi abdicat, de dragul „pasiunilor politice”, de la menirea lor eternă: aceea de a apăra, peste vremi, valorile de adevăr, bine şi dreptate ale omenirii.
Când a scris cartea, Benda nu avea, aşa cum am avut-o noi desfăşurată retrospectiv, imaginea istoriei din secolul XX cu tot cortegiul atrocităţilor lui. Cu atât mai surprinzătoare, prin caracterul ei premonitiv, este
———— 11 ———–

analiza sa. Paginile de faţă s-au construit în fond pe ideea centrală a cărţii lui Benda: „Secolul nostru va fi fost secolul organizării intelectuale a urilor politice”. Am încercat, în textul conferinţei mele, să detaliez această idee, punând-o faţă în faţă cu ura şi cu crima originare, proprii lui Cain, şi să arăt, pe urmele lui Benda, ce eficacitate infinit mai mare are ura modernă faţă de cea biblică, care, nefiind dotată cu o ideologie, nu putea face din fiinţa umană echivalentul unei bombe cu neutroni, în speţă, cu vorbele lui Andre Glucksmann, o „bombă umană”. Această bombă încărcată cu ură, de departe cel mai explozibil „material” imaginabil, a putut omorî în secolul trecut peste o sută de milioane de oameni şi, după semnele existente, potenţialul ei de a ucide este departe de a se fi epuizat. „Bomba cu ură”, bomba fabricată din patimă umană şi dotată cu ideologie, este pesemne singura „armă globală”, singura prin care specia umană va reuşi să îşi vină de hac.
———— 12 ____________

în sfârşit, am încercat să văd care este raportul intelectualului cu ura după 1989 în România: cât de departe se află el, după ce a ieşit din comunism, de menirea sa eternă şi în ce condiţii mai poate ieşi el astăzi în piaţa publică, fără ca prin asta să ia automat parte la „organizarea intelectuală a urii”?

………….13…………….

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Jerry Fodor The Modularity of Mind

This study synthesizes current information from the various fields of cognitive science in support of a new and exciting theory of mind. Most psychologists study horizontal processes like memory and information flow; Fodor postulates a vertical and modular psychological organization underlying biologically coherent behaviors. This view of mental architecture is consistent with the historical tradition of faculty psychology while integrating a computational approach to mental processes. One of the most notable aspects of Fodor’s work is that it articulates features not only of speculative cognitive architectures but also of current research in artificial intelligence.

Jerry A. Fodor is Professor of Psychology and Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at MIT.

Jerry Fodor is Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University. His many books include In Critical Condition (MIT Press, 1998) and The Elm and the Expert (MIT Press, 1994).

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John Taylor Gatto

Underground History of American Education

Epilogue

What has happened in our schools was foreseen long ago by Jefferson. We have been recolonized silently in a second American Revolution. Time to take our script from this country’s revolutionary start, time to renew traditional hostility toward hierarchy and tutelage. We became a unique nation from the bottom up, that is the only way to rebuild a worthy concept of education.

PROLOGUE

Bianca, You Animal, Shut Up!

Our problem in understanding forced schooling stems from an inconvenient fact: that the wrong it does from a human perspective is right from a systems perspective. You can see this in the case of six-year-old Bianca, who came to my attention because an assistant principal screamed at her in front of an assembly, “BIANCA, YOU ANIMAL, SHUT UP!” Like the wail of a banshee, this sang the school doom of Bianca. Even though her body continued to shuffle around, the voodoo had poisoned her.

Do I make too much of this simple act of putting a little girl in her place? It must happen thousands of times every day in schools all over. I’ve seen it many times, and if I were painfully honest I’d admit to doing it many times. Schools are supposed to teach kids their place. That’s why we have age-graded classes. In any case, it wasn’t your own little Janey or mine.

Most of us tacitly accept the pragmatic terms of public school which allow every kind of psychic violence to be inflicted on Bianca in order to fulfill the prime directive of the system: putting children in their place. It’s called “social efficiency.” But I get this precognition, this flash-forward to a moment far in the future when your little girl Jane, having left her comfortable home, wakes up to a world where Bianca is her enraged meter maid, or the passport clerk Jane counts on for her emergency ticket out of the country, or the strange lady who lives next door.

I picture this animal Bianca grown large and mean, the same Bianca who didn’t go to school for a month after her little friends took to whispering, “Bianca is an animal, Bianca is an animal,” while Bianca, only seconds earlier a human being like themselves, sat choking back tears, struggling her way through a reading selection by guessing what the words meant.

In my dream I see Bianca as a fiend manufactured by schooling who now regards Janey as a vehicle for vengeance. In a transport of passion she:

1. Gives Jane’s car a ticket before the meter runs out.

2. Throws away Jane’s passport application after Jane leaves the office.

3. Plays heavy metal music through the thin partition which separates Bianca’s apartment from Jane’s while Jane pounds frantically on the wall for relief.

4. All the above.

You aren’t compelled to loan your car to anyone who wants it, but you are compelled to surrender your school-age child to strangers who process children for a livelihood, even though one in every nine schoolchildren is terrified of physical harm happening to them in school, terrified with good cause; about thirty-three are murdered there every year. Your great-great-grandmother didn’t have to surrender her children. What happened?

If I demanded you give up your television to an anonymous, itinerant repairman who needed work you’d think I was crazy; if I came with a policeman who forced you to pay that repairman even after he broke your set, you would be outraged. Why are you so docile when you give up your child to a government agent called a schoolteacher?

I want to open up concealed aspects of modern schooling such as the deterioration it forces in the morality of parenting. You have no say at all in choosing your teachers. You know nothing about their backgrounds or families. And the state knows little more than you do. This is as radical a piece of social engineering as the human imagination can conceive. What does it mean?

One thing you do know is how unlikely it will be for any teacher to understand the personality of your particular child or anything significant about your family, culture, religion, plans, hopes, dreams. In the confusion of school affairs even teachers so disposed don’t have opportunity to know those things. How did this happen?

Before you hire a company to build a house, you would, I expect, insist on detailed plans showing what the finished structure was going to look like. Building a child’s mind and character is what public schools do, their justification for prematurely breaking family and neighborhood learning. Where is documentary evidence to prove this assumption that trained and certified professionals do it better than people who know and love them can? There isn’t any.

The cost in New York State for building a well-schooled child in the year 2000 is $200,000 per body when lost interest is calculated. That capital sum invested in the child’s name over the past twelve years would have delivered a million dollars to each kid as a nest egg to compensate for having no school. The original $200,000 is more than the average home in New York costs. You wouldn’t build a home without some idea what it would look like when finished, but you are compelled to let a corps of perfect strangers tinker with your child’s mind and personality without the foggiest idea what they want to do with it.

Law courts and legislatures have totally absolved school people from liability. You can sue a doctor for malpractice, not a schoolteacher. Every homebuilder is accountable to customers years after the home is built; not schoolteachers, though. You can’t sue a priest, minister, or rabbi either; that should be a clue.

If you can’t be guaranteed even minimal results by these institutions, not even physical safety; if you can’t be guaranteed anything except that you’ll be arrested if you fail to surrender your kid, just what does the public in public schools mean?

What exactly is public about public schools? That’s a question to take seriously. If schools were public as libraries, parks, and swimming pools are public, as highways and sidewalks are public, then the public would be satisfied with them most of the time. Instead, a situation of constant dissatisfaction has spanned many decades. Only in Orwell’s Newspeak, as perfected by legendary spin doctors of the twentieth century such as Ed Bernays or Ivy Lee or great advertising combines, is there anything public about public schools.

2. I Quit, I Think

In the first year of the last decade of the twentieth century during my thirtieth year as a school teacher in Community School District 3, Manhattan, after teaching in all five secondary schools in the district, crossing swords with one professional administration after another as they strove to rid themselves of me, after having my license suspended twice for insubordination and terminated covertly once while I was on medical leave of absence, after the City University of New York borrowed me for a five-year stint as a lecturer in the Education Department (and the faculty rating handbook published by the Student Council gave me the highest ratings in the department my last three years), after planning and bringing about the most successful permanent school fund-raiser in New York City history, after placing a single eighth-grade class into 30,000 hours of volunteer community service, after organizing and financing a student-run food cooperative, after securing over a thousand apprenticeships, directing the collection of tens of thousands of books for the construction of private student libraries, after producing four talking job dictionaries for the blind, writing two original student musicals, and launching an armada of other initiatives to reintegrate students within a larger human reality, I quit.

I was New York State Teacher of the Year when it happened. An accumulation of disgust and frustration which grew too heavy to be borne finally did me in. To test my resolve I sent a short essay to The Wall Street Journal titled “I Quit, I Think.” In it I explained my reasons for deciding to wrap it up, even though I had no savings and not the slightest idea what else I might do in my mid-fifties to pay the rent. In its entirety it read like this:

Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents. The whole blueprint of school procedure is Egyptian, not Greek or Roman. It grows from the theological idea that human value is a scarce thing, represented symbolically by the narrow peak of a pyramid.

That idea passed into American history through the Puritans. It found its “scientific” presentation in the bell curve, along which talent supposedly apportions itself by some Iron Law of Biology. It’s a religious notion, School is its church. I offer rituals to keep heresy at bay. I provide documentation to justify the heavenly pyramid.

Socrates foresaw if teaching became a formal profession, something like this would happen. Professional interest is served by making what is easy to do seem hard; by subordinating the laity to the priesthood. School is too vital a jobs-project, contract giver and protector of the social order to allow itself to be “re-formed.” It has political allies to guard its marches, that’s why reforms come and go without changing much. Even reformers can’t imagine school much different.

David learns to read at age four; Rachel, at age nine: In normal development, when both are 13, you can’t tell which one learned first—the five-year spread means nothing at all. But in school I label Rachel “learning disabled” and slow David down a bit, too. For a paycheck, I adjust David to depend on me to tell him when to go and stop. He won’t outgrow that dependency. I identify Rachel as discount merchandise, “special education” fodder. She’ll be locked in her place forever.

In 30 years of teaching kids rich and poor I almost never met a learning disabled child; hardly ever met a gifted and talented one either. Like all school categories, these are sacred myths, created by human imagination. They derive from questionable values we never examine because they preserve the temple of schooling.

That’s the secret behind short-answer tests, bells, uniform time blocks, age grading, standardization, and all the rest of the school religion punishing our nation. There isn’t a right way to become educated; there are as many ways as fingerprints. We don’t need state-certified teachers to make education happen—that probably guarantees it won’t.

How much more evidence is necessary? Good schools don’t need more money or a longer year; they need real free-market choices, variety that speaks to every need and runs risks. We don’t need a national curriculum or national testing either. Both initiatives arise from ignorance of how people learn or deliberate indifference to it. I can’t teach this way any longer. If you hear of a job where I don’t have to hurt kids to make a living, let me know. Come fall I’ll be looking for work.

3. The New Individualism

The little essay went off in March and I forgot it. Somewhere along the way I must have gotten a note saying it would be published at the editor’s discretion, but if so, it was quickly forgotten in the press of turbulent feelings that accompanied my own internal struggle. Finally, on July 5, 1991, I swallowed hard and quit. Twenty days later the Journal published the piece. A week later I was studying invitations to speak at NASA Space Center, the Western White House, the Nashville Center for the Arts, Columbia Graduate Business School, the Colorado Librarian’s Convention, Apple Computer, and the financial control board of United Technologies Corporation. Nine years later, still enveloped in the orbit of compulsion schooling, I had spoken 750 times in fifty states and seven foreign countries. I had no agent and never advertised, but a lot of people made an effort to find me. It was as if parents were starving for someone to tell them the truth.

My hunch is it wasn’t so much what I was saying that kept the lecture round unfolding, but that a teacher was speaking out at all and the curious fact that I represented nobody except myself. In the great school debate, this is unheard of. Every single voice allowed regular access to the national podium is the mouthpiece of some association, corporation, university, agency, or institutionalized cause. The poles of debate blocked out by these ritualized, figurehead voices are extremely narrow. Each has a stake in continuing forced schooling much as it is.

As I traveled, I discovered a universal hunger, often unvoiced, to be free of managed debate. A desire to be given untainted information. Nobody seemed to have maps of where this thing had come from or why it acted as it did, but the ability to smell a rat was alive and well all over America.

Exactly what John Dewey heralded at the onset of the twentieth century has indeed happened. Our once highly individualized nation has evolved into a centrally managed village, an agora made up of huge special interests which regard individual voices as irrelevant. The masquerade is managed by having collective agencies speak through particular human beings. Dewey said this would mark a great advance in human affairs, but the net effect is to reduce men and women to the status of functions in whatever subsystem they are placed. Public opinion is turned on and off in laboratory fashion. All this in the name of social efficiency, one of the two main goals of forced schooling.

Dewey called this transformation “the new individualism.” When I stepped into the job of schoolteacher in 1961, the new individualism was sitting in the driver’s seat all over urban America, a far cry from my own school days on the Monongahela when the Lone Ranger, not Sesame Street, was our nation’s teacher, and school things weren’t nearly so oppressive. But gradually they became something else in the euphoric times following WWII. Easy money and easy travel provided welcome relief from wartime austerity, the advent of television, the new nonstop theater, offered easy laughs, effortless entertainment. Thus preoccupied, Americans failed to notice the deliberate conversion of formal education that was taking place, a transformation that would turn school into an instrument of the leviathan state. Who made that happen and why is part of the story I have to tell.

4. School As Religion

Nothing about school is what it seems, not even boredom. To show you what I mean is the burden of this long essay. My book represents a try at arranging my own thoughts in order to figure out what fifty years of classroom confinement (as student and teacher) add up to for me. You’ll encounter a great deal of speculative history here. This is a personal investigation of why school is a dangerous place. It’s not so much that anyone there sets out to hurt children; more that all of us associated with the institution are stuck like flies in the same great web your kids are. We buzz frantically to cover our own panic but have little power to help smaller flies.

Looking backward on a thirty-year teaching career full of rewards and prizes, somehow I can’t completely believe that I spent my time on earth institutionalized; I can’t believe that centralized schooling is allowed to exist at all as a gigantic indoctrination and sorting machine, robbing people of their children. Did it really happen? Was this my life? God help me.

School is a religion. Without understanding the holy mission aspect you’re certain to misperceive what takes place as a result of human stupidity or venality or even class warfare. All are present in the equation, it’s just that none of these matter very much—even without them school would move in the same direction. Dewey’s Pedagogic Creed statement of 1897 gives you a clue to the zeitgeist:

Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth. In this way the teacher is always the prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of heaven.

What is “proper” social order? What does “right” social growth look like? If you don’t know you’re like me, not like John Dewey who did, or the Rockefellers, his patrons, who did, too.

Somehow out of the industrial confusion which followed the Civil War, powerful men and dreamers became certain what kind of social order America needed, one very like the British system we had escaped a hundred years earlier. This realization didn’t arise as a product of public debate as it should have in a democracy, but as a distillation of private discussion. Their ideas contradicted the original American charter but that didn’t disturb them. They had a stupendous goal in mind. The end of unpredictable history; its transformation into dependable order.

From mid-century onwards certain utopian schemes to retard maturity in the interests of a greater good were put into play, following roughly the blueprint Rousseau laid down in the book Emile. At least rhetorically. The first goal, to be reached in stages, was an orderly, scientifically managed society, one in which the best people would make the decisions, unhampered by democratic tradition. After that, human breeding, the evolutionary destiny of the species, would be in reach. Universal institutionalized formal forced schooling was the prescription, extending the dependency of the young well into what

had traditionally been early adult life. Individuals would be prevented from taking up important work until a relatively advanced age. Maturity was to be retarded.

During the post—Civil War period, childhood was extended about four years. Later, a special label was created to describe very old children. It was called adolescence, a phenomenon hitherto unknown to the human race. The infantilization of young people didn’t stop at the beginning of the twentieth century; child labor laws were extended to cover more and more kinds of work, the age of school leaving set higher and higher. The greatest victory for this utopian project was making school the only avenue to certain occupations. The intention was ultimately to draw all work into the school net. By the 1950s it wasn’t unusual to find graduate students well into their thirties, running errands, waiting to start their lives.

5. He Was Square Inside And Brown

Barbara Whiteside showed me a poem written by a high school senior in Alton, Illinois, two weeks before he committed suicide:

He drew… the things inside that needed saying.

Beautiful pictures he kept under his pillow.

When he started school he brought them…

To have along like a friend.

It was funny about school, he sat at a square brown desk Like all the other square brown desks… and his room

Was a square brown room like all the other rooms, tight And close and stiff. He hated to hold the pencil and chalk, his arms stiff His feet flat on the floor, stiff, the teacher watching And watching. She told him to wear a tie like All the other boys, he said he didn’t like them. She said it didn’t matter what he liked. After that the class drew. He drew all yellow. It was the way he felt about Morning. The Teacher came and smiled, “What’s this? Why don’t you draw something like Ken’s drawing?” After that his mother bought him a tie, and he always Drew airplanes and rocketships like everyone else. He was square inside and brown and his hands were stiff. The things inside that needed saying didn’t need it Anymore, they had stopped pushing… crushed, stiff Like everything else.

After I spoke in Nashville, a mother named Debbie pressed a handwritten note on me which I read on the airplane to Binghamton, New York:

We started to see Brandon flounder in the first grade, hives, depression, he cried every night after he asked his father, “Is tomorrow school, too?” In second grade the physical stress became apparent. The teacher pronounced his problem Attention Deficit Syndrome. My happy, bouncy child was now looked at as a medical problem, by us as well as the school.

A doctor, a psychiatrist, and a school authority all determined he did have this affliction. Medication was stressed along with behavior modification. If it was suspected that Brandon had not been medicated he was sent home. My square peg needed a bit of whittling to fit their round hole, it seemed.

I cried as I watched my parenting choices stripped away. My ignorance of options allowed Brandon to be medicated through second grade. The tears and hives continued another full year until I couldn’t stand it. I began to homeschool Brandon. It was his salvation. No more pills, tears, or hives. He is thriving. He never cries now and does his work eagerly.

6. The New Dumbness

Ordinary people send their children to school to get smart, but what modern schooling teaches is dumbness. It’s a religious idea gone out of control. You don’t have to accept that, though, to realize this kind of economy would be jeopardized by too many smart people who understand too much. I won’t ask you to take that on faith. Be patient. I’ll let a famous American publisher explain to you the secret of our global financial success in just a little while. Be patient.

Old-fashioned dumbness used to be simple ignorance; now it is transformed from ignorance into permanent mathematical categories of relative stupidity like “gifted and talented,” “mainstream,” “special ed.” Categories in which learning is rationed for the good of a system of order. Dumb people are no longer merely ignorant. Now they are indoctrinated, their minds conditioned with substantial doses of commercially prepared disinformation dispensed for tranquilizing purposes.

Jacques Ellul, whose book Propaganda is a reflection on the phenomenon, warned us that prosperous children are more susceptible than others to the effects of schooling because they are promised more lifelong comfort and security for yielding wholly:

Critical judgment disappears altogether, for in no way can there ever be collective critical judgment….The individual can no longer judge for himself because he inescapably relates his thoughts to the entire complex of values and prejudices established by propaganda. With regard to political situations, he is given ready-made value judgments invested with the power of the truth by…the word of experts.

The new dumbness is particularly deadly to middle- and upper-middle-class kids already made shallow by multiple pressures to conform imposed by the outside world on their usually lightly rooted parents. When they come of age, they are certain they must know something because their degrees and licenses say they do. They remain so convinced until an unexpectedly brutal divorce, a corporate downsizing in midlife, or panic attacks of meaninglessness upset the precarious balance of their incomplete humanity, their stillborn adult lives. Alan Bullock, the English historian, said Evil was a state of incompetence. If true, our school adventure has filled the twentieth century with evil.

Ellul puts it this way:

The individual has no chance to exercise his judgment either on principal questions or on their implication; this leads to the atrophy of a faculty not comfortably exercised under [the best of] conditions….Once personal judgment and critical faculties have disappeared or have atrophied, they will not simply reappear when propaganda is suppressed…years of intellectual and spiritual education would be needed to restore such faculties. The propagandee, if deprived of one propaganda, will immediately adopt another, this will spare him the agony of finding himself vis a vis some event without a ready-made opinion.

Once the best children are broken to such a system, they disintegrate morally, becoming dependent on group approval. A National Merit Scholar in my own family once wrote that her dream was to be “a small part in a great machine.” It broke my heart. What kids dumbed down by schooling can’t do is to think for themselves or ever be at rest for very long without feeling crazy; stupefied boys and girls reveal dependence in many ways easily exploitable by their knowledgeable elders.

According to all official analysis, dumbness isn’t taught (as I claim), but is innate in a great percentage of what has come to be called “the workforce.” Workforce itself is a term that should tell you much about the mind that governs modern society. According to official reports, only a small fraction of the population is capable of what you and I call mental life: creative thought, analytical thought, judgmental thought, a trio occupying the three highest positions on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Just how small a fraction would shock you. According to experts, the bulk of the mob is hopelessly dumb, even dangerously so. Perhaps you’re a willing accomplice to this social coup which revived the English class system. Certainly you are if your own child has been rewarded with a “gifted and talented” label by your local school. This is what Dewey means by “proper” social order.

If you believe nothing can be done for the dumb except kindness, because it’s biology (the bell-curve model); if you believe capitalist oppressors have ruined the dumb because they are bad people (the neo-Marxist model); if you believe dumbness reflects depraved moral fiber (the Calvinist model); or that it’s nature’s way of disqualifying boobies from the reproduction sweepstakes (the Darwinian model); or nature’s way of providing someone to clean your toilet (the pragmatic elitist model); or that it’s evidence of bad karma (the Buddhist model); if you believe any of the various explanations given for the position of the dumb in the social order we have, then you will be forced to concur that a vast bureaucracy is indeed necessary to address the dumb. Otherwise they would murder us in our beds.

The shocking possibility that dumb people don’t exist in sufficient numbers to warrant the careers devoted to tending to them will seem incredible to you. Yet that is my proposition: Mass dumbness first had to be imagined; it isn’t real.

Once the dumb are wished into existence, they serve valuable functions: as a danger to themselves and others they have to be watched, classified, disciplined, trained, medicated, sterilized, ghettoized, cajoled, coerced, jailed. To idealists they represent a challenge, reprobates to be made socially useful. Either way you want it, hundreds of millions of perpetual children require paid attention from millions of adult custodians. An ignorant horde to be schooled one way or another.

7. Putting Pedagogy To The Question

More than anything else, this book is a work of intuition. The official story of why we school doesn’t add up today any more than it did yesterday. A few years before I quit, I began to try to piece together where this school project came from, why it took the shape it took, and why every attempt to change it has ended in abysmal failure.

By now I’ve invested the better part of a decade looking for answers. If you want a conventional history of schooling, or education as it is carelessly called, you’d better stop reading now. Although years of research in the most arcane sources are reflected here, throughout it’s mainly intuition that drives my synthesis.

This is in part a private narrative, the map of a schoolteacher’s mind as it tracked strands in the web in which it had been wrapped; in part a public narrative, an account of the latest chapter in an ancient war: the conflict between systems which offer physical safety and certainty at the cost of suppressing free will, and those which offer liberty at the price of constant risk. If you keep both plots in mind, no matter how far afield my book seems to range, you won’t wonder what a chapter on coal or one on private hereditary societies has to do with schoolchildren.

What I’m most determined to do is start a conversation among those who’ve been silent up until now, and that includes schoolteachers. We need to put sterile discussions of grading and testing, discipline, curriculum, multiculturalism and tracking aside as distractions, as mere symptoms of something larger, darker, and more intransigent than any problem a problem-solver could tackle next week. Talking endlessly about such things encourages the bureaucratic tactic of talking around the vital, messy stuff. In partial compensation for your effort, I promise you’ll discover what’s in the mind of a man who spent his life in a room with children.

Give an ear, then, to what follows. We shall cross-examine history together. We shall put pedagogy to the question. And if the judgment following this auto da fe is that only pain can make this monster relax its grip, let us pray together for the courage to inflict it.

Reading my essay will help you sort things out. It will give you a different topological map upon which to fix your own position. No doubt I’ve made some factual mistakes, but essays since Montaigne have been about locating truth, not about assembling facts. Truth and fact aren’t the same thing. My essay is meant to mark out crudely some ground for a scholarship of schooling, my intention is that you not continue to regard the official project of education through an older, traditional perspective, but to see it as a frightening chapter in the administrative organization of knowledge—a text we must vigorously repudiate as our ancestors once did. We live together, you and I, in a dark time when all official history is propaganda. If you want truth, you have to struggle for it. This is my struggle. Let me bear witness to what I have seen.

8. Author’s Note

With conspiracy so close to the surface of the American imagination and American reality, I can only approach with trepidation the task of discouraging you in advance from thinking my book the chronicle of some vast diabolical conspiracy to seize all our children for the personal ends of a small, elite minority.

Don’t get me wrong, American schooling has been replete with chicanery from its very beginnings.

Indeed, it isn’t difficult to find various conspirators boasting in public about what they pulled off. But if you take that tack you’ll miss the real horror of what I’m trying to describe, that what has happened to our schools was inherent in the original design for a planned economy and a planned society laid down so proudly at the end of the nineteenth century. I think what happened would have happened anyway—without the legions of venal, half-mad men and women who schemed so hard to make it as it is. If I’m correct, we’re in a much worse position than we would be if we were merely victims of an evil genius or two.

If you obsess about conspiracy, what you’ll fail to see is that we are held fast by a form of highly abstract thinking fully concretized in human institutions which has grown beyond the power of the managers of these institutions to control. If there is a way out of the trap we’re in, it won’t be by removing some bad guys and replacing them with good guys.

Who are the villains, really, but ourselves? People can change, but systems cannot without losing their structural integrity. Even Henry Ford, a Jew-baiter of such colossal proportions he was lionized by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf, made a public apology and denied to his death he had ever intended to hurt Jews—a too strict interpretation of Darwin made him do it! The great industrialists who gave us modern compulsion schooling inevitably found their own principles subordinated to systems-purposes, just as happened to the rest of us.

Take Andrew Carnegie, the bobbin boy, who would certainly have been as appalled as the rest of us at the order to fire on strikers at his Homestead plant. But the system he helped to create was committed to pushing men until they reacted violently or dropped dead. It was called “the Iron Law of Wages.” Once his colleagues were interested in the principles of the Iron Law, they could only see the courage and defiance of the Homestead strikers as an opportunity to provoke a crisis which would allow the steel union to be broken with state militia and public funds. Crushing opposition is the obligatory scene in the industrial drama, whatever it takes, and no matter how much individual industrial leaders like Carnegie might be reluctant to do so.

My worry was about finding a prominent ally to help me present this idea that inhuman anthropology is what we confront in our institutional schools, not conspiracy. The hunt paid off with the discovery of an analysis of the Ludlow Massacre by Walter Lippmann in the New Republic of January 30, 1915. Following the Rockefeller slaughter of up to forty-seven, mostly women and children, in the tent camp of striking miners at Ludlow, Colorado, a congressional investigation was held which put John D. Rockefeller Jr. on the defensive. Rockefeller agents had employed armored cars, machine guns, and fire bombs in his name. As Lippmann tells it, Rockefeller was charged with having the only authority to authorize such a massacre, but also with too much indifference to what his underlings were up to. “Clearly,” said the industrial magnate, “both cannot be true.”

As Lippmann recognized, this paradox is the worm at the core of all colossal power. Both indeed could be true. For ten years Rockefeller hadn’t even seen this property; what he knew of it came in reports from his managers he scarcely could have read along with mountains of similar reports coming to his desk each day. He was compelled to rely on the word of others. Drawing an analogy between Rockefeller and the czar of Russia, Lippmann wrote that nobody believed the czar himself performed the many despotic acts he was accused of; everyone knew a bureaucracy did so in his name. But most failed to push that knowledge to its inevitable conclusion: If the czar tried to change what was customary he would be undermined by his subordinates. He had no defense against this happening because it was in the best interests of all the divisions of the bureaucracy, including the army, that it—not the czar—continue to be in charge of things. The czar was a prisoner of his own subjects. In Lippmann’s words:

This seemed to be the predicament of Mr. Rockefeller. I should not believe he personally hired thugs or wanted them hired. It seems far more true to say that his impersonal and half-understood power has delegated itself into unsocial forms, that it has assumed a life of its own which he is almost powerless to control….His intellectual helplessness was the amazing part of his testimony. Here was a man who represented wealth probably without parallel in history, the successor to a father who has, with justice, been called the high priest of capitalism….Yet he talked about himself on the commonplace moral assumptions of a small businessman.

The Rockefeller Foundation has been instrumental through the century just passed (along with a few others) in giving us the schools we have. It imported the German research model into college life, elevated service to business and government as the goal of higher education, not teaching. And Rockefeller-financed University of Chicago and Columbia Teachers College have been among the most energetic actors in the lower school tragedy. There is more, too, but none of it means the Rockefeller family “masterminded” the school institution, or even that his foundation or his colleges did. All became in time submerged in the system they did so much to create, almost helpless to slow its momentum even had they so desired.

Despite its title, Underground History isn’t a history proper, but a collection of materials toward a history, embedded in a personal essay analyzing why mass compulsion schooling is unreformable. The history I have unearthed is important to our understanding; it’s a good start, I believe, but much remains undone. The burden of an essay is to reveal its author so candidly and thoroughly that the reader comes fully awake. You are about to spend twenty-five to thiry hours with the mind of a schoolteacher, but the relationship we should have isn’t one of teacher to pupil but rather that of two people in conversation. I’ll offer ideas and a theory to explain things and you bring your own experience to bear on the matters, supplementing and arguing where necessary. Read with this goal before you and I promise your money’s worth. It isn’t important whether we agree on every detail.

A brief word on sources. I’ve identified all quotations and paraphrases and given the origin of many (not all) individual facts, but for fear the forest be lost in contemplation of too many trees, I’ve avoided extensive footnoting. So much here is my personal take on things that it seemed dishonest to grab you by the lapels that way: of minor value to those who already resonate on the wavelength of the book, useless, even maddening, to those who do not.

This is a workshop of solutions as well as an attempt to frame the problem clearly, but be warned: they are perversely sprinkled around like raisins in a pudding, nowhere grouped neatly as if to help you study for a test—except for a short list at the very end. The advice there is practical, but strictly limited to the world of compulsion schooling as it currently exists, not to the greater goal of understanding how education occurs or is prevented. The best advice in this book is scattered throughout and indirect, you’ll have to work to extract it. It begins with the very first sentence of the book where I remind you that what is right for systems is often wrong for human beings. Translated into a recommendation, that means that to avoid the revenge of Bianca, we must be prepared to insult systems for the convenience of humanity, not the other way around.

 

tot textul: aici sau aici

Terry Eagleton

Autor: Terry Eagleton

Editura: Blackwell

Descriere: This classic work, whose first edition sold more than 120,000 copies, is designed to cover all of the major movements in literary studies in this century. The second edition contains a major new survey chapter that addresses developments since the book’s original publication in 1983, including feminist theory, postmodernism, poststructuralism-what is broadly referred to as cultural theory. Noted for its clear, engaging style and unpretentious treatment, Literary Theory has become the introduction of choice for anyone interested in learning about the world of contemporary literary thought. Unique in its range and accessibility, it provides an iconoclastic and entertaining guide to current debates in the humanities.

 

Fragment:

Introduction:
What is Literature?
If there is such a thing as literary theory, then it would seem obvious that
there is something called literature which it is the theory of. We can begin,
then, by raising the question: what is literature?
There have been various attempts to define literature. You can define it,
for example, as ‘imaginative’ writing in the sense of fiction – writing which
is not literally true. But even the briefest reflection on what people commonly
include under the heading of literature suggests that this will not do.
Seventeenth-century English literature includes Shakespeare, Webster,
Marvell and Milton; but it also stretches to the essays of Francis Bacon, the
sermons of John Donne, Bunyan’s spiritual autobiography and whatever it
was that Sir Thomas Browne wrote. It might even at a pinch be taken to
encompass Hobbes’s Leviathan or Clarendon’s History of the Rebellion.
French seventeenth-century literature contains, along with Corneille and
Racine, La Rochefoucauld’s maxims, Bossuet’s funeral speeches, Boileau’s
treatise on poetry, Madame de Sevigne’s letters to her daughter and the
philosophy of Descartes and Pascal. Nineteenth-century English literature
usually includes Lamb (though not Bentham), Macaulay (but not Marx),
Mill (but not Darwin or Herbert Spencer).
A distinction between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’, then, seems unlikely to get us
very far, not least because the distinction itself is often a questionable one. It
has been argued, for instance, that our own opposition between ‘historical’
and ‘artistic’ truth does not apply at all to the early Icelandic sagas.1 In the
English late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the word ‘novel’
seems to have been used about both true and fictional events, and even news
reports were hardly to be considered factual. Novels and news reports were
2 Introduction: What is Literature?
neither clearly factual nor clearly fictional: our own sharp discriminations
between these categories simply did not apply.2 Gibbon no doubt thought
that he was writing the historical truth, and so perhaps did the authors of
Genesis, but they are now read as ‘fact’ by some and ‘fiction’ by others;
Newman certainly thought his theological meditations were true but they
are now for many readers ‘literature’. Moreover, if ‘literature’ includes
much ‘factual’ writing, it also excludes quite a lot of fiction. Superman comic
and Mills and Boon novels are fictional but not generally regarded as literature,
and certainly not as Literature. Ifliterature is ‘creative’ or ‘imaginative’
writing, does this imply that history, philosophy and natural science are
uncreative and unimaginative?
Perhaps one needs a different kind of approach altogether. Perhaps literature
is definable not according to whether it is fictional or ‘imaginative’, but
because it uses language in peculiar ways. On this theory, literature is a kind
of writing which, in the words of the Russian critic Roman ]akobson,
represents an ‘organized violence committed on ordinary speech’. Literature
transforms and intensifies ordinary language, deviates systematically from
everyday speech. If you approach me at a bus stop and murmur ‘Thou still
unravished bride of quietness,’ then I am instantly aware that I am in the
presence of the literary. I know this because the texture, rhythm and resonance
of your words are in excess of their abstractable meaning – or, as the
linguists might more technically put it, there is a disproportion between the
signifiers and the signifieds. Your language draws attention to itself, flaunts
its material being, as statements like ‘Don’t you know the drivers are on
strike?’ do not.
This, in effect, was the definition of the ‘literary’ advanced by the Russian
formalists, who included in their ranks Viktor Shklovsky, Roman]akobson,
Osip Brik, Yury Tynyanov, Boris Eichenbaum and Boris Tomashevsky.
The Formalists emerged in Russia in the years before the 1917 Bolshevik
revolution, and flourished throughout the 1920s, until they were effectively
silenced by Stalinism. A militant, polemical group of critics, they rejected
the quasi-mystical symbolist doctrines which had influenced literary
criticism before them, and in a practical, scientific spirit shifted attention to
the material reality of the literary text itself. Criticism should dissociate art
from mystery and concern itself with how literary texts actually worked:
literature was not pseudo-religion or psychology or sociology but a particular
organization of language. It had its own specific laws, structures and
devices, which were to be studied in themselves rather than reduced to
something else. The literary work was neither a vehicle for ideas, a reflection
of social reality nor the incarnation of some transcendental truth: it was a
Introduction: What is Literature? 3
material fact, whose functioning could be analysed rather as one could
examine a machine. It was made of words, not of objects or feelings, and it
was a mistake to see it as the expression of an author’s mind. Pushkin’s
Eugene Onegin, Osip Brik once airily remarked, would have been written
even if Pushkin had not lived.
Formalism was essentially the application of linguistics to the study of
literature; and because the linguistics in question were of a formal kind,
concerned with the structures of language rather than with what one might
actually say, the Formalists passed over the analysis of literary ‘content’
(where one might always be tempted into psychology or sociology) for the
study of literary form. Far from seeing form as the expression of content,
they stood the relationship on its head: content was merely the ‘motivation’
of form, an occasion or convenience for a particular kind of formal exercise.
DonQuixoteis not ‘about’ the character of that name: the character is just a
device for holding together different kinds of narrative technique. Animal
Farm for the Formalists would not be an allegory of Stalinism; on the
contrary, Stalinism would simply provide a useful opportunity for the construction
of an allegory. It was this perverse insistence which won for the
Formalists their derogatory name from their antagonists; and though they
did not deny that art had a relation to social reality indeed some of them
were closely associated with the Bolsheviks – they provocatively claimed
that this relation was not the critic’s business.
The Formalists started out by seeing the literary work as a more or less
arbitrary assemblage of ‘devices’, and only later came to see these devices as
interrelated elements or ‘functions’ within a total textual system. ‘Devices’
included sound, imagery, rhythm, syntax, metre, rhyme, narrative techniques,
in fact the whole stock of formal literary elements; and what all of
these elements had in common was their ‘estranging’ or ‘defamiliarizing’
effect. What was specific to literary language, what distinguished it from
other forms of discourse, was that it ‘deformed’ ordinary language in various
ways. Under the pressure of literary devices, ordinary language was intensified,
condensed, twisted, telescoped, drawn out, turned on its head. It was
language ‘made strange’; and because of this estrangement, the everyday
world was also suddenly made unfamiliar. In the routines of everyday
speech, our perceptions of and responses to reality become stale, blunted, or,
as the Formalists would say, ‘automatized’. Literature, by forcing us into a
dramatic awareness of language, refreshes these habitual responses and
renders objects more ‘perceptible’. By having to grapple with language in a
more strenuous, self-conscious way than usual, the world which that language
contains is vividly renewed. The poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins
4 Introduction: What is Literature?
might provide a particularly graphic example of this. Literary discourse
estranges or alienates ordinary speech, but in doing so, paradoxically, brings
us into a fuller, more intimate possession ofexperience. Most of the time we
breathe in air without being conscious of it: like language, it is the very
medium in which we move. But if the air is suddenly thickened or infected
we are forced to attend to our breathing with new vigilance, and the effect of
this may be a heightened experience of our bodily life. We read a scribbled
note from a friend without paying much attention to its narrative structure;
but if a story breaks off and begins again, switches constantly from one
narrative level to another and delays its climax to keep us in suspense, we
become freshly conscious of how it is constructed at the same time as our
engagement with it may be intensified. The story, as the Formalists would
argue, uses ‘impeding’ or ‘retarding’ devices to hold our attention; and in
literary language, these devices are ‘laid. bare’. It was this which moved
Viktor Shklovsky to remark mischievously of Laurence Sterne’s Tristram
Shandy, a novel which impedes its own story-line so much that it hardly gets
off the ground, that it was ‘the most typical novel in world literature’.
The Formalists, then, saw literary language as a set of deviations from a
norm, a kind of linguistic violence: literature is a ‘special’ kind of language,
in contrast to the ‘ordinary’ language we commonly use. But to spot a
deviation implies being able to identify the norm from which it swerves.
Though ‘ordinary language’ is a concept beloved of some Oxford philosophers,
the ordinary language of Oxford philosophers has little in common
with the ordinary language ofGlaswegian dockers. The language both social
groups use to write love letters usually differs from the way they talk to the
local vicar. The idea that there is a single ‘normal’ language, a common
currency shared equally by all members of society, is an illusion. Any actual
language consists of a highly complex range of discourses, differentiated
according to class, region, gender, status and so on, which can by no means
be neatly unified into a single homogeneous linguistic community. One
person’s norm may be another’s deviation: ‘ginnel’ for ‘alleyway’ may be
poetic in Brighton but ordinary language in Barnsley. Even the most ‘prosaic’
text of the fifteenth century may sound ‘poetic’ to us today because of
its archaism. If we were to stumble across an isolated scrap of writing from
some long-vanished civilization, we could not tell whether it was ‘poetry’ or
not merely by inspecting it, since we might have no access to that society’s
‘ordinary’ discourses; and even if further research were to reveal that it was
‘deviatory’, this would still not prove that it was poetry as not all linguistic
deviations are poetic. Slang, for example. We would not be able to tell just
by looking at it that it was not a piece of ‘realist’ literature, without much
Introduction: What is Literature? 5
more information about the way it actually functioned as a piece of writing
within the society in question.
It is not that the Russian Formalists did not realize all this. They recognized
that norms and deviations shifted around from one social or historical
context to another – that ‘poetry’ in this sense depends on where you happen
to be standing at the time. The fact that a piece of language was ‘estranging’
did not guarantee that it was always and everywhere so: it was estranging
only against a certain normative linguistic background, and if this altered
then the writing might cease to be perceptible as literary. If everyone used
phrases like ‘unravished bride of quietness’ in ordinary pub conversation,
this kind of language might cease to be poetic. For the Formalists, in other
words, ‘literariness’ was a function of the differential relations between one
sort of discourse and another; it was not an eternally given property. They
were not out to define ‘literature’, but ‘literariness’ – special uses of language,
which could be found in ‘literary’ texts but also in many places
outside them. Anyone who believes that ‘literature’ can be defined by such
special uses of language has to face the fact that there is more metaphor
in Manchester than there is in Marvell. There is no ‘literary’ device metonymy,
synecdoche, litotes, chiasmus and so on which is not quite
intensively used in daily discourse.
Nevertheless, the Formalists still presumed that ‘making strange’ was the
essence of the literary. It was just that they relativized this use of language,
saw it as a matter of contrast between one type of speech and another. But
what if I were to hear someone at the next pub table remark ‘This is awfully
squiggly handwriting!’ Is this ‘literary’ or ‘non-literary’ language? As a
matter of fact it is ‘literary’ language, because it comes from Knut Hamsun’s
novel Hunger. But how do I know that it is literary? It doesn’t, after all, focus
any particular attention on itself as a verbal performance. One answer to the
question of how I know that this is literary is that it comes from Knut
Hamsun’s novel Hunger. It is part of a text which I read as ‘fictional’, which
announces itself as a ‘novel’, which may be put on university literature
syllabuses and so on. The context tells me that it is literary; but the language
itself has no inherent properties or qualities which might distinguish it from
other kinds of discourse, and someone might well say this in a pub without
being admired for their literary dexterity. To think of literature as the
Formalists do is really to think of all literature as poetry. Significantly, when
the Formalists came to consider prose writing, they often simply extended to
it the kinds of technique they had used with poetry. But literature is usually
judged to contain much besides poetry to include, for example, realist
or naturalistic writing which is not linguistically self-conscious or self6
Introduction: What is Literature?
exhibiting in any striking way. People sometimes call writing ‘fine’ precisely
because it doesn’t draw undue attention to itself: they admire its laconic
plainness or low-keyed sobriety. And what about jokes, football chants and
slogans, newspaper headlines, advertisements, which are often verbally
flamboyant but not generally classified as literature?
Another problem with the ‘estrangement’ case is that there is no kind of
writing which cannot, given sufficient ingenuity, be read as estranging.
Consider a prosaic, quite unambiguous statement like the one sometimes
seen in the London Underground system: ‘Dogs must be carried on the
escalator.’ This is not perhaps quite as unambiguous as it seems at first sight:
does it mean that you mustcarry a dog on the escalator? Are you likely to be
banned from the escalator unless you can find some stray mongrel to clutch
in your arms on the way up? Many apparently straightforward notices
contain such ambiguities: ‘Refuse to be put in this basket,’ for instance, or
the British road-sign ‘Way Out’ as read by a Californian. But even leaving
such troubling ambiguities aside, it is surely obvious that the underground
notice could be read as literature. One could let oneself be arrested by the
abrupt, minatory staccato of the first ponderous monosyllables; find one’s
mind drifting, by the time it had reached the rich allusiveness of ‘carried’, to
suggestive resonances of helping lame dogs through life; and perhaps even
detect in the very lilt and inflection of the word ‘escalator’ a miming of the
rolling, up-and-down motion of the thing itself. This may well be a fruitless
sort of pursuit,but it is not significantly more fruitless than claiming to hear
the cut and thrust of the rapiers in some poetic description of a duel, and it
at least has the advantage of suggesting that ‘literature’ may be at least as
much a question of what people do to writing as of what writing does to
them. .
But even if someone were to read the notice in this way, it would still be
a matter of reading it as poetry, which is only part of what is usually included
in literature. Let us therefore consider another way of ‘misreading’ the sign
which might move us a little beyond this. Imagine a late-night drunk doubled
over the escalator handrail who reads the notice with laborious attentiveness
for several minutes and then mutters to himself ‘How true!’ What
kind of mistake is occurring here? What the drunk is doing, in fact, is taking
the sign as some statement of general, even cosmic significance. By applying
certain conventions of reading to its words, he prises them loose from their
immediate context and generalizes them beyond their pragmatic purpose to
something of wider and probably deeper import. This would certainly seem
to be one operation involved in what people call literature. When the poet
tells us that his love is like a red rose, we know by the very fact that he puts
Introduction: What is Literature? 7
this statement in metre that we are not supposed to ask whether he actually
had a lover who for some bizarre reason seemed to him to resemble a rose.
He is telling us something about women and love in general. Literature,
then, we might say, is ‘non-pragmatic’ discourse: unlike biology textbooks
and notes to the milkman it serves no immediate practical purpose, but is to
be taken as referring to a general state of affairs. Sometimes, though not
always, it may employ peculiar language as though to make this fact obvious
– to signal that what is at stake is a way oftalking about a woman, rather than
any particular real-life woman. This focusing on the way of talking, rather
than on the reality ofwhat is talked about, is sometimes taken to indicate that
we mean by literature a kind of self-referential language, a language which
talks about itself.
There are, however, problems with this way of defining literature too. For
one thing, it would probably have come as a surprise to George Orwell to
hear that his essays were to be read as though the topics he discussed were
less important than the way he discussed them. In much that is classified as
literature, the truth-value and practical relevance of what is said is considered
important to the overall effect. But even if treating discourse ‘nonpragmatically’
is part of what is meant by ‘literature’, then it follows from
this ‘definition’ that literature cannot in fact be ‘objectively’ defined. It
leaves the definition ofliterature up to how somebody decides to read, not to
the nature of what is written. There are certain kinds of writing – poems,
plays, novels – which are fairly obviously intended to be ‘non-pragmatic’ in
this sense, but this does not guarantee that they will actually be read in this
way. I might well read Gibbon’s account of the Roman empire not because
I am misguided enough to believe that it will be reliably informative about
ancient Rome but because I enjoy Gibbon’s prose style, or revel in images of
human corruption whatever their historical source. But I might read Robert
Burns’s poem because it is not clear to me, as a Japanese horticulturalist,
whether or not the red rose flourished in eighteenth-century Britain. This,
it will be said, is not reading it ‘as literature’; but am I reading Orwell’s
essays as literature only if I generalize what he says about the Spanish civil
war to some cosmic utterance about human life? It is true that many of the
works studied as literature in academic institutions were ‘constructed’ to be
read as literature, but it is also true that many of them were not. A piece of
writing may start offlife as history or philosophy and then come to be ranked
as literature; or it may start off as literature and then come to be valued for
its archaeological significance. Some texts are born literary, some achieve
literariness, and some have literariness thrust upon them. Breeding in this
respect may count for a good deal more than birth. What matters may not be
8 Introduction: What is Literature?
where you came from but how people treat you. If they decide that you are
literature then it seems that you are, irrespective of what you thought you
were.
In this sense, one can think of literature less as some inherent quality or
set of qualities displayed by certain kinds of writing all the way from Beowulf
to Virginia Woolf, than as a number of ways in which people relate themselves
to writing. It would not be easy to isolate, from all that has been variously
called ‘literature’, some constant set of inherent features. In fact it would be
as impossible as trying to identify the single distinguishing feature which all
games have in common. There is no ‘essence’ ofliterature whatsoever. Any
bit of writing may be read ‘non-pragmatically’, if that is what reading a text
as literature means, just as any writing may be read ‘poetically’. If I pore over
the railway timetable not to discover a train connection but to stimulate in
myself general reflections on the speed and complexity of modern existence,
then I might be said to be reading it as literature. John M. Ellis has argued
that the term ‘literature’ operates rather like the word ‘weed’: weeds are not
particular kinds of plant, but just any kind of plant which for some reason or
another a gardener does not want around.’ Perhaps ‘literature’ means something
like the opposite: any kind of writing which for some reason or another
somebody values highly. As the philosophers might say, ‘literature’ and
‘weed’ are functional rather than ontological terms: they tell us about what we
do, not about the fixed being of things. They tell us about the role of a text
or a thistle in a social context, its relations with and differences from its
surroundings, the ways it behaves, the purposes it may be put to and the
human practices clustered around it. ‘Literature’ is in this sense a purely
formal, empty sort of definition. Even if we claim that it is a non-pragmatic
treatment of language, we have still not arrived at an ‘essence’ of literature
because this is also so of other linguistic practices such as jokes. In any case,
it is far from clear that we can discriminate neatly between ‘practical’ and
‘non-practical’ ways of relating ourselves to language. Reading a novel for
pleasure obviously differs from reading a road sign for information, but how
about reading a biology textbook to improve your mind? Is that a ‘pragmatic’
treatment of language or not? In many societies, ‘literature’ has served
highly practical functions such as religious ones; distinguishing sharply
between ‘practical’ and ‘non-practical’ may only be possible in a society like
ours, where literature has ceased to have much practical function at all. We
may be offering as a general definition a sense of the ‘literary’ which is in fact
historically specific.
We have still not discovered the secret, then, of why Lamb, Macaulay and
Mill are literature but not, generally speaking, Bentham, Marx and Darwin.
Introduction: What is Literature? 9
Perhaps the simple answer is that the first three are examples of ‘fine
writing’, whereas the last three are not. This answer has the disadvantage of
being largely untrue, at least in my judgement, but it has the advantage of
suggesting that by and large people term ‘literature’ writing which they
think is good. An obvious objection to this is that if it were entirely true there
would be no such thing as ‘bad literature’. I may consider Lamb and
Macaulay overrated, but that does not necessarily mean that I stop regarding
them as literature. You may consider Raymond Chandler ‘good of his kind’,
but not exactly literature. On the other hand, if Macaulay were a really bad
writer – if he had no grasp at all of grammar and seemed interested in
nothing but white mice – then people might well not call his work literature
at all, even bad literature. Value-judgements would certainly seem to have a
lot to do with what is judged literature and what isn’t not necessarily in the
sense that writing has to be ‘fine’ to be literary, but that it has to be ofthe kind
that is judged fine: it may be an inferior example of a generally valued mode.
Nobody would bother to say that a bus ticket was an example of inferior
literature, but someone might well say that the poetry of Ernest Dowson
was. The term ‘fine writing’, or belles lettres, is in this sense ambiguous: it
denotes a sort of writing which is generally highly regarded, while not
necessarily committing you to the opinion that a particular specimen of it is
‘good’.
With this reservation, the suggestion that ‘literature’ is a highly valued
kind of writing is an illuminating one. But it has one fairly devastating
consequence. It means that we can drop once and for all the illusion that the
category ‘literature’ is ‘objective’, in the sense of being eternally given and
immutable. Anything can be literature, and anything which is regarded as
unalterably and unquestionably literature Shakespeare, for example can
cease to be literature. Any belief that the study of literature is the study of a
stable, well-definable entity, as entomology is the study of insects, can be
abandoned as a chimera. Some kinds of fiction are literature and some are
not; some literature is fictional and some is not; some literature is verbally
self-regarding, while some highly-wrought rhetoric is not literature. Literature,
in the sense of a set of works of assured and unalterable value, distinguished
by certain shared inherent properties, does not exist. When I use the
words ‘literary’ and ‘literature’ from here on in this book, then, I place them
under an invisible crossing-out mark, to indicate that these terms will not
really do but that we have no better ones at the moment.
The reason why it follows from the definition of literature as highly valued
writing that it is not a stable entity is that value-judgements are notoriously
variable. ‘Times change, values don’t,’ announces an advertisement
10 Introduction: What is Literature?
for a daily newspaper, as though we still believed in killing off infirm infants
or putting the mentally ill on public show. Just as people may treat a work as
philosophy in one century and as literature in the next, or vice versa, so they
may change their minds about what writing they consider valuable. They
may even change their minds about the grounds they use for judging what
is valuable and what is not. This, as I have suggested, does not necessarily
mean that they will refuse the title of literature to a work which they have
come to deem inferior: they may still call it literature, meaning roughly that
it belongs to the type of writing which they generally value. But it does mean
that the so-called ‘literary canon’, the unquestioned ‘great tradition’ of the
‘national literature’, has to be recognized as a construct, fashioned by particular
people for particular reasons at a certain time. There is no such thing as
a literary work or tradition which is valuable in itself, regardless of what
anyone might have said or come to say about it. ‘Value’ is a transitive term:
it means whatever is valued by certain people in specific situations, according
to particular criteria and in the light of given purposes. It is thus quite
possible that, given a deep enough transformation of our history, we may in
the future produce a society which is unable to get anything at all out of
Shakespeare. His works might simply seem desperately alien, full of styles of
thought and feeling which such a society found limited or irrelevant. In such
a situation, Shakespeare would be no more valuable than much present-day
graffiti. And though many people would consider such a social condition
tragically impoverished, it seems to me dogmatic not to entertain the possibility
that it might arise rather from a general human enrichment. Karl Marx
was troubled by the question of why ancient Greek art retained an ‘eternal
charm’, even though the social conditions which produced it had long
passed; but how do we know that it will remain ‘eternally’ charming, since
history has not yet ended? Let us imagine that by dint of some deft archaeological
research we discovered a great deal more about what ancient Greek
tragedy actually meant to its original audiences, recognized that these concerns
were utterly remote from our own, and began to read the plays again
in the light of this deepened knowledge. One result might be that we stopped
enjoying them. We might come to see that we had enjoyed them previously
because we were unwittingly reading them in the light of our own preoccupations;
once this became less possible, the drama might cease to speak at all
significantly to us.
The fact that we always interpret literary works to some extent in the light
of our own concerns indeed that in one sense of ‘our own concerns’ we are
incapable of doing anything else – might be one reason why certain works of
literature seem to retain their value across the centuries. It may be, of course,
Introduction: What is Literature? 11
that we still share many preoccupations with the work itself; but it may also
be that people have not actually been valuing the ‘same’ work at all, even
though they may think they have. ‘Our’ Homer is not identical with the
Homer of the Middle Ages, nor ‘our’ Shakespeare with that of his contemporaries;
it is rather that different historical periods have constructed a
‘different’ Homer and Shakespeare for their own purposes, and found in
these texts elements to value or devalue, though not necessarily the same
ones. All literary works, in other words, are ‘rewritten’, if only unconsciously,
by the societies which read them; indeed there is no reading of a
work which is not also a ‘re-writing’. No work, and no current evaluation of
it, can simply be extended to new groups of people without being changed,
perhaps almost unrecognizably, in the process; and this is one reason why
what counts as literature is a notably unstable affair.
I do not mean that it is unstable because value-judgements are ‘subjective’.
According to this view, the world is divided between solid facts ‘out
there’ like Grand Central station, and arbitrary value-judgements ‘in here’
such as liking bananas or feeling that the tone of a Yeats poem veers from
defensive hectoring to grimly resilient resignation. Facts are public and
unimpeachable, values are private and gratuitous. There is an obvious difference
between recounting a fact, such as ‘This cathedral was built in 1612,’
and registering a value-judgement, such as ‘This cathedral is a magnificent
specimen of baroque architecture.’ But suppose I made the first kind of
statement while showing an overseas visitor around England, and found that
it puzzled her considerably. Why, she might ask, do you keep telling me the
dates of the foundation of all these buildings? Why this obsession with
origins? In the society I live in, she might go on, we keep no record at all of
such events: we classify our buildings instead according to whether they face
north-west or south-east. What this might do would be to demonstrate part
of the unconscious system of value-judgements which underlies my own
descriptive statements. Such value-judgements are not necessarily of the
same kind as ‘This cathedral is a magnificent specimen of baroque architecture,’
but they are value-judgements none the less, and no factual pronouncement
I make can escape them. Statements of fact are after all
statements, which presumes a number of questionable judgements: that those
statements are worth making, perhaps more worth making than certain
others, that I am the sort of person entitled to make them and perhaps able
to guarantee their truth, that you are the kind of person worth making them
to, that something useful is accomplished by making them, and so on. A pub
conversation may well transmit information, but what also bulks large in
such dialogue is a strong element of what linguists would call the ‘phatic’, a
12 Introduction: What is Literature?
concern with the act of communication itself. In chatting to you about
the weather I am also signalling that I regard conversation with you as
valuable, that I consider you a worthwhile person to talk to, that I am not
myself anti-social or about to embark on a detailed critique of your personal
appearance.
In this sense, there is no possibility of a wholly disinterested statement.
Of course stating when a cathedral was built is reckoned to be more
disinterested in our own culture than passing an opinion about its
architecture, but one could also imagine situations in which the former
statement would be more ‘value-laden’ than the latter. Perhaps ‘baroque’
and ‘magnificent’ have come to be more or less synonymous, whereas only
a stubborn rump of us cling to the belief that the date when a building
was founded is significant, and my statement is taken as a coded way of
signalling this partisanship. All of our descriptive statements move within an
often invisible network of value-categories, and indeed without such categories
we would have nothing to say to each other at all. It is not just as though
we have something called factual knowledge which may then be distorted by
particular interests and judgements, although this is certainly possible; it is
also that without particular interests we would have no knowledge at all,
because we would not see the point of bothering to get to know anything.
Interests are constitutive of our knowledge, not merely prejudices which
imperil it. The claim that knowledge should be ‘value-free’ is itself a
value-judgement.
It may well be that a liking for bananas is a merely private matter, though
this is in fact questionable. A thorough analysis of my tastes in food would
probably reveal how deeply relevant they are to certain formative experiences
in early childhood, to my relations with my parents and siblings and to
a good many other cultural factors which are quite as social and ‘non-
. subjective’ as railway stations. This is even more true of that fundamental
structure of beliefs and interests which I am born into as a member of a
particular society, such as the belief that I should try to keep in good health,
that differences of sexual role are rooted in human biology or that human
beings are more important than crocodiles. We may disagree on this or that,
but we can only do so because we share certain ‘deep’ ways of seeing and
valuing which are bound up with our social life, and which could not be
changed without transforming that life. Nobody will penalize me heavily if
I dislike a particular Donne poem, but if I argue that Donne is not literature
at all then in certain circumstances I might risk losing my job. I am free to
vote Labour or Conservative, but if I try to act on the belief that this choice
itself merely masks a deeper prejudice – the prejudice that the meaning of
Introduction: What is Literature? 13
democracy is confined to putting a cross on a ballot paper every few years then
in certain unusual circumstances I might end up in prison.
The largely concealed structure of values which informs and underlies
our factual statements is part of what is meant by ‘ideology’. By ‘ideology’ I
mean, roughly, the ways in which what we say and believe connects with the
power-structure and power-relations of the society we live in. It follows
from such a rough definition of ideology that not all of our underlying
judgements and categories can usefully be said to be ideological. It is deeply
ingrained in us to imagine ourselves moving forwards into the future (at least
one other society sees itself as moving backwards into it), but though this
way of seeing may connect significantly with the power-structure of our
society, it need not always and everywhere do so. I do nO,t mean by ‘ideology’
simply the deeply entrenched, often unconscious beliefs which people hold;
I mean more particularly those modes of feeling, valuing, perceiving and
believing which have some kind of relation to the maintenance and reproduction
of social power. The fact that such beliefs are by no means merely
private quirks may be illustrated by a literary example.
In his famous study Practical Criticism (1929), the Cambridge critic I. A.
Richards sought to demonstrate just how whimsical and subjective literary
value-judgements could actually be by giving his undergraduates a set of
poems, withholding from them the titles and authors’ names, and asking
them to evaluate them. The resulting judgements, notoriously, were highly
variable: time-honoured poets were marked down and obscure authors celebrated.
To my mind, however, much the most interesting aspect of this
project, and one apparently quite invisible to Richards himself, is just how
tight a consensus of unconscious valuations underlies these particular differences
of opinion. Reading Richards’ undergraduates’ accounts of literary
works, one is struck by the habits of perception and interpretation which
they spontaneously share what they expect literature to be, what assumptions
they bring to a poem and what fulfilments they anticipate they will
derive from it. None of this is really surprising: for all the participants in this
experiment were, presumably, young, white, upper- or upper-middle-class,
privately educated English people of the 1920s, and how they responded to
a poem depended on a good deal more than purely ‘literary’ factors. Their
critical responses were deeply entwined with their broader prejudices and
beliefs. This is not a matter of blame: there is no critical response which is
not so entwined, and thus no such thing as a ‘pure’ literary critical judgement
or interpretation. If anybody is to be blamed it is I. A. Richards
himself, who as a young, white, upper-middle-class male Cambridge don
was unable to objectify a context of interests which he himselflargely shared,
14 Introduction: What is Literature?
and was thus unable to recognize fully that local, ‘subjective’ differences of
evaluation work within a particular, socially structured way of perceiving the
world.
If it will not do to see literature as an ‘objective’, descriptive category,
neither will it do to say that literature is just what people whimsically choose
to call literature. For there is nothing at all whimsical about such kinds of
value-judgement: they have their roots in deeper structures of belief which
are as apparently unshakeable as the Empire State building. What we have
uncovered so far, then, is not only that literature does not exist in the sense
that insects do, and that the value-judgements by which it is constituted are
historically variable, but that these value-judgements themselves have a
close relation to social ideologies. They refer in the end not simply to private
taste, but to the assumptions by which certain social groups exercise and
maintain power over others. If this seems a far-fetched assertion, a matter of
private prejudice, we may test it out by an account of the rise of ‘literature’
in England.

 

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Dada and Surrealism – A Very Short Introduction

Autor: David Hopkins
Editura: Oxford University Press

The avant-garde movements of Dada and Surrealism continue to have a huge influence on cultural practice, especially in contemporary art, with its obsession with sexuality, fetishism, and shock tactics. In this new treatment of the subject, Hopkins focuses on the many debates surrounding these movements: the Marquis de Sade’s Surrealist deification, issues of quality (How good is Dali?), the idea of the ‘readymade’, attitudes towards the city, the impact of Freud, attitudes to women, fetishism, and primitivism. The international nature of these movements is examined, covering the cities of Zurich, New York, Berlin, Cologne, Barcelona, Paris, London, and recenlty discovered examples in Eastern Europe. Hopkins explores the huge range of media employed by both Dada and Surrealism (collage, painting, found objects, performance art, photography, film) , whilst at the same time establishing the aesthetic differences between the movements. He also examines the Dadaist obsession with the body-as-mechanism in relation to the Surrealists’ return to the fetishized/eroticized body.

text integral: aici sau aici

IISUS CONTRA IISUS

coperta

 

IISUS CONTRA IISUS

de Gerard Mordillat

Autori: Gerard Mordillat si Jerome Prieur

Traducere de Gabriela Siclovan.

An editie :2007

Editia :I

Stoc :Disponibil

388 pag. Format 130×200. Legat. ISBN 978-9975-79-232-5

 

Fragment:

EVANGHELIILE, TEXT MINAT
Cititorul Evangheliilor se aventurează de fiecare dată pe un teren minat.
Riscul este legat de faptul că istoria lui Iisus ţine în mare măsură de imagine, or imaginile referitoare la Iisus subminează
textul. Prin intermediul catedralelor, al bisericilor, al muzeelor din toată lumea sau prin imageria populară, ajungem
să vizualizăm istoria sa, convinși că am fost, suntem și vom fi întotdeauna martorii ei. Cunoaștem istoria pe de rost: e vorba de copilul care se naște într-o iesle din Bethlehem, între un bou și un măgar, de Fecioara Maria, cea care-l ţine la piept, de Iosif, tâmplarul, tatăl său, de Magii veniţi să-l adore, de Ioan Botezătorul, botezându-l în Iordan. E vorba de cei doisprezece discipoli, de nunta din Cana, de omul din Nazareth
care mergea pe ape, înmulţea pâinile, vindeca bolnavii, săvârșea miracole și-l învia pe Lazăr. E vorba despre negustorii
goniţi din Templu, despre cei doisprezece comeseni ai Cinei, despre trădarea lui Iuda, despre arestarea de pe muntele
Măslinilor, despre judecata preoţilor, cu Pilat spălându-
se pe mâini. Apoi despre Patimi, despre Golgota și despre crucea uriașă, despre moartea celui răstignit și despre Maria copleșită de durere. E vorba despre Înviere, despre ridicarea din mormânt, despre apariţia în faţa pelerinilor din Emaus, despre Toma care nu crede decât ceea ce vede, apoi despre Hristos care se înalţă în slavă.
Trăim de secole în ritmul zilelor care marchează etapele destinului lui Iisus: Crăciun, Paște, Înălţare… Suntem, fără
14
să știm, protagoniști și spectatori ai dramei interpretate în numele lui. Respirăm și gândim în interiorul povestirii evanghelice,
împărtășind modelul, tragismul, morala, structura sa mentală. Credincioși sau necredincioși, atei sau agnostici, creștini sau nu, “Iisus Hristos” face parte din memoria, din conștiinţa și din subconștientul nostru.
Riscul provine și din aceea că nimic nu părea să-l consacre
pe Iisus unei notorietăţi dincolo de moarte: nu ne-a rămas nimic în urma lui, niciun semn, niciun document din epocă, oficial sau privat, care să-l menţioneze. El este subiectul unei opere în întregime postume, căreia îi servește drept inspirator
fără să-i fie autor. Cu alte cuvinte, Iisus e ceea ce alţii au făcut din el. Este un personaj pe care literatura l-a acaparat. Credincioșii vor vedea în asta acţiunea Sfântului Duh care i-ar fi inspirat pe evangheliști, în timp ce necredincioșii vor aduce în discuţie circumstanţele care-au făcut ca, în anturajul lui Iisus sau al celor care l-au urmat, să se găsească cineva care să-i povestească viaţa și moartea, în timp ce despre ceilalţi profeţi mesianici din vremea sa nu ne-a rămas decât cel mult numele. Contemporane cu primele portrete de la Fayyum și cu frescele de la Pompei, Evangheliile sunt adevărate arhive, referitoare la unul dintre nenumăraţii sărmani, sortiţi pe veci anonimatului. În ciuda limitelor lor, ele ne furnizează despre Iisus informaţii mult mai bogate decât am putea avea despre un neguţător egiptean, despre un ţăran sirian din epocă ori despre orice zilier, negustor ambulant sau vagabond din secolul
al XVII-lea.
În interiorul scrierilor canonice, al textelor recunoscute de Biserică: Evangheliile după Marcu, Matei și Luca, numite “sinoptice” pentru că le putem confrunta dintr-o singură pri15
vire, și Evanghelia după Ioan, se ciocnesc două tendinţe narative
opuse. Ele nu se pun de acord nici asupra locului nașterii, nici asupra duratei activităţii lui Iisus, nici asupra identităţii discipolilor, asupra miracolelor, asupra procesului, nici asupra
datei morţii sau a apariţiilor… Ar trebui, oare, ca, pentru atâta lucru, să respingem aceste documente, cu atât mai mult cu cât ele sunt doar “arhive interne” ale mișcării creștine? “Ce ar mai rămâne din Salamina dacă am «respinge» textele lui Herodot sau Eschil sub pretextul că cei doi sunt partinici? Ce-ar rămâne din Iisus dacă am «respinge» Evangheliile?”, se întreabă Pierre Vidal-Naquet.
Alte riscuri provin din faptul că, dincolo de aparenţe, deosebirile între scrierile recunoscute prin Canonul Noului Testament și scrierile respinse, “apocrife” (texte secrete), nu au la origine nici cea mai mică pertinenţă. Aceste diferenţe nu existau înainte de definirea unei “orthodoxia”, definire ce va avea loc între secolele II și IV, cu preţul negocierilor, al compromisurilor
și al demonstraţiilor de forţă. Fragmentul din relatarea Patimilor care constituie Evanghelia lui Petru, lista spuselor lui Iisus din care e compusă Evanghelia lui Toma vor sfârși prin a fi considerate eretice, spre deosebire de Evanghelia
după Ioan sau de Apocalipsa atribuită acestuia, care au evitat
o soartă asemănătoare. Cât despre dialogul filosofic propus în scrierea lui Hermas Păstorul, el a făcut parte din unele liste canonice, înainte de a fi exclus în cele din urmă.
Cu toate că poartă numele autorilor lor, Evangheliile n-au fost scrise dintr-un condei de numiţii Marcu, Matei, Luca sau Ioan, care se presupune că l-ar fi urmat pe Iisus pas cu pas, de la începutul misiunii sale de propovăduire până la răstignire. Evangheliile nu se identifică cu apostolii, pentru că cel puţin
16
una sau două generaţii le separă de ei. Oricât de pregnantă ar fi originea lor semitică, aceste povestiri ne-au parvenit, fără excepţie, în limba greacă, nicidecum în ebraică sau aramaică și cu atât mai puţin în latină! Înainte de a exista ca relatare, compunerea lor a început cel mai devreme la douăzeci de ani după moartea lui Iisus. Finalizarea lor trebuie să se fi întins pe o durată lungă, până la sfârșitul secolului I, pe mai multe faze și registre, într-un proces sinuos, pe care încercăm să-l dezlegăm pornind de la starea actuală a textului.
Evangheliile nu sunt opera unui singur om, ci a mai multora,
grupaţi sub autoritatea unei figuri emblematice, neidentificată
decât prin nume și neavând alte scopuri decât cele ale comunităţii sale. Iată de ce n-ar trebui să pierdem nicio clipă din vedere un fapt esenţial, cu consecinţe majore, dar prea des ignorat: nimeni nu poate preciza cu exactitate unde au fost scrise Evangheliile, nici când, nici de cine, nici pentru cine, nici împotriva cui. Departe de a ne oferi un răspuns, textele comunică mai întâi între ele, în acea perioadă deosebit de agitată pentru iudaism, reprezentată de a doua jumătate a secolului I.
Evanghelia a fost mai întâi orală și nimeni nu se gândea să fixeze litera sa în scris. Odată scrise, Evangheliile n-au fost menite să devină perene, traversând secolele pentru a ajunge până la noi. Libretele evanghelice au fost și sunt încă, prin funcţia lor liturgică, “scenarii”, argumentare, un ansamblu de fapte concepute spre a fi interpretate, dezvoltate, prelungite, transformate. Evangheliile reprezintă o literatură care adună în bloc toate genurile literare de care a fost nevoie pentru elaborarea
lor, genuri care nu pot fi nicicum reduse la unul singur.
Ele cuprind compilaţii, parafraze, citări, supraîncărcări, repetiţii, comentarii, digresiuni, controverse.
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Textele evanghelice sunt, rând pe rând, relatări biografice,
fabule pioase, legende istoricizate, dialoguri, precepte morale, sfaturi practice, tratate filosofice, dar, mai presus de toate, sunt texte de propagandă, al căror obiectiv e să răspândească
credinţa, să atragă, să convingă, să convertească. Proiectul lor prioritar este să facă din destinatari credincioși. Textul reprezintă “cuvântul evangheliei”. Și totuși, dacă împăratul
Constantin nu s-ar fi convertit, la începutul secolului al IV-lea, antrenând apoi întregul Imperiu Roman și întregul Occident, cum am mai fi citit noi azi aceste relatări, în cazul în care nu cumva ele ar fi dispărut cu desăvârșire?
Trebuie ca textul să fie teribil de puternic, pentru ca să proiecteze până la noi, la nouăsprezece secole după redactare, trupul unui personaj real și imaginar totodată, numit “Iisus din Nazareth” și, odată cu el, fragmente de istorie. Acestea apar, ici colo, printre cuvinte, printre rânduri, transpar prin iluminare, precum Iisus cel Înviat s-a arătat discipolilor pe malul lacului Tiberiadei, fără ca aceștia să-l poată recunoaște de la bun început. Poate că lectorul avizat al Evangheliilor, ca și discipolii, ca și toţi creștinii, va fi îndemnat să recunoască istoria în text, acolo unde cititorul nedibaci nu va recunoaște nimic.
Cu adevărat, cum să nu fii tentat să consideri Evangheliile,
cronică pe patru voci a faptelor și a spuselor lui Iisus, ca pe o suită de pagini smulse din biografia sa? Ele adâncesc însă vertiginos prăpastia între Iisus cel “născut din femeie” și Iisus cel “născut din text”, cu atât mai mult cu cât el este multiplicat prin rolurile și misiunile conferite lui Hristos a posteriori de către autorii celor douăzeci și șapte de cărţi ale Noului Testament.
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Iisus este rezultatul proiecţiei fiecărei comunităţi care îl recunoaște ca purtătorul său de cuvânt. Este Iisus cel după Marcu, după Matei, după Luca, după Ioan. Vocabularul evanghelic
amplifică la extrem perspectiva naraţiunilor. El evocă Împărăţia, Domnul Dumnezeul nostru, cele douăsprezece tronuri, “împărăţia universală” – ca într-o dramă elizabetană la care ar fi invitaţi să participe cei ce discern asupra adevăratei
identităţi a lui Iisus. Se spune că “mulţimile” îl urmează, deși am fi îndreptăţiţi să credem că numărul partizanilor săi era cât se poate de mic, că intrarea sa în Ierusalim nu putea fi decât “triumfală”, prezenţei sale la Templu i se conferă un rol “purificator”, amintind de Iuda Macabeul, liberatorul pământului
sacru al lui Israel. Dar aceste exagerări tendenţioase sunt minore comparativ cu exagerarea importanţei textelor ca efect al întregii istorii ulterioare a creștinismului.
Intenţia evangheliștilor n-ar putea fi, deci, aceea de a ne povesti istoria, ci de a-i conferi un sens. Pentru ei, istoria nu există dincolo de interpretarea sa teologică. Această concepţie
îi determină pe redactori să modifice ceea ce știau despre Iisus pentru a armoniza biografia sa cu obiectivul, respectând
sursele, dar învăluindu-le într-o reţea de referinţe care dă peste cap percepţia. Orice ar gândi unii, a despărţi legenda de realitate va conduce întotdeauna la o judecată superficială, prezumptivă, într-atât teologia și faptele sunt înlănţuite.
În mod paradoxal, tocmai lipsa de veridicitate a surselor creștine, eterogeneitatea, lacunele lor, contradicţiile, defectele și fracturile lor ne dau posibilitatea de a ne implica în text pentru a recompune timpul.
Textul Evangheliilor implică un dublu fundament, amestecă
în mod constant două realităţi anacronice: vremea lui Ii19
sus, în jurul anilor 30 ai erei noastre, în Galileea și în Iudeea, și cea cu care se confruntă moștenitorii săi în timpul redactării
acestor relatări, mult mai târziu, departe de Palestina. Lectura
textului implică, deci, detectarea acestui permanent joc dublu între ceea ce aparţine istoriei vremii lui Iisus și ceea ce ţine de epoca rescrierii, formării, redactării și apoi a editării cărţilor ce vor compune, în opoziţie cu Biblia ebraică, Noul Testament. Istoria factuală, despre care par a aduce mărturie Evangheliile, nu e poate decât un ecran care ocultează mizele profunde ale textului: cea doctrinală (de a fonda o interpretare),
cea genealogică (de a fonda o autoritate), cea liturgică (de a fonda un cult), cea polemică (de a fundamenta excluderile),
cea simbolică (de a fundamenta o apartenenţă). Așa cum ne reamintește Paul Veyne, istoria “ne face să ne confruntăm fără încetare cu lucruri stranii, în faţa cărora reacţia noastră cea mai naturală este să le ignorăm; departe de a constata că nu dispunem de cheia potrivită, nu sesizăm nici măcar că există o încuietoare de deschis.”
Riscurile sunt demonstrate și de faptul că, spre a traversa acest câmp minat, s-a constituit, în întreaga lume, un corp special de artificieri, care să descifreze cu răbdare semnele; cititori extraordinari, cum puţini se mai găsesc astăzi, capabili
să aprecieze miza unei cărţi după un singur cuvânt. “În exegeză,
aproape toate metodele se bucură de interes, cu condiţia de a fi mânuite cu umor”, spune cu modestie Charles Perrot.
Paradoxal, acest corp special de lectori provine mai ales din instituţiile creștine. Majoritatea celor ce au misiunea de a face să explodeze acest text, aparent atât de simplu, de evident,
în realitate deseori opac și chinuit, periculos pentru cei ce se apropie prea mult, pentru că le risipește certitudinile,
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majoritatea, deci, s-au format și s-au oţelit chiar în interiorul Bisericii. Oare nu de aceea, secole de-a rândul, Biserica s-a opus cercetării, pentru ca, apoi, în disperare de cauză, să interzică
divulgarea rezultatelor, temându-se că, prin deminarea
acestor texte, credinţa însăși ar putea fi subminată?
Probabil că nu e cu totul întâmplător faptul că același cuvânt
deschide și închide biblioteca constituită din textele reunite
ale Noului Testament: cuvântul biblos, care trece în final de la singular la plural, de la carte la cărţi. Evangheliile sunt o incredibilă mașină generatoare de sensuri, de cunoaștere, de istorie, de credinţă, de îndoială, dar mai ales o incredibilă mașină generatoare de limbaj. A citi azi această carte înseamnă
a evita să te lași orbit de comentariile care i s-au substituit. Sunt construcţii, glose, interpretări, extrapolări produse de propria combinatorie a textului, care relevă un Iisus diferit, un Iisus născut din secole de lectură. “Experienţa unei lecturi pur literare a unui text evanghelic auce fără îndoială a pariu, remarca Jean Starobinski. Această lectură se adaugă oricărei exegeze anterioare, pe care o ignoră sau se preface că o ignoră. Nefiind nici lectura unui credincios, nici măcar cea a unui teolog de altă confesiune, ea ar părea inadecvată prin chiar exterioritatea ei. Exterioritate pe care n-ar compensa-o nici măcar închiderea în interiorul textului, pentru a încerca surprinderea
dinlăuntru a întregului sens. Pentru cel ce se dedă acestui exerciţiu, e o miză care-l pune la grea încercare. Va ști el să discearnă tot atâtea fapte semnificative pe cât a observat tradiţia exegetică?”
Nicio certitudine istorică, niciun adevăr știinţific, nicio schemă unică nu vor putea, o dată pentru totdeauna, să rezolve
problemele ridicate de text. Căci trebuie mereu schimbate
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punctele de vedere, perspectivele, abordările, trebuie mereu să te opui relatării, să întorci textul pe dos, ca pe o mănușă, fără a pierde însă din vedere presupusa lui coerenţă. Răspunsurile
vor fi întotdeauna provizorii, parţiale, ipotetice, condiţionale,
deschise asupra unor noi întrebări, invitând fără încetare la a citi, a reciti Evangheliile, sfidând în permanenţă două prejudecăţi majore, care, dintotdeauna, perturbă abordarea
acestora: pe de o parte “raţionalismul”, care presupune proiectul evangheliștilor de a înșela cititorii pentru a-i aduce în Biserică, și, invers, “cristocentrismul”, care, proclamând că Iisus este Hristosul, pretinde a explica inexplicabilul și face din această certitudine cheia înţelegerii Noului Testament, fără de care textul ar rămâne eminamente ilizibil.
Evangheliile sunt, în fine, subminate de o fantomă mai imperceptibilă și mai misterioasă decât celelalte, fantoma cititorului,
auditorului, destinatarului. Noi ignorăm astăzi care era utilizarea concretă a cărţii, modul său de folosire. În locul papirusului cunoscut până atunci, inventarea codexului, acel mic caiet manevrabil, scris recto-verso, a facilitat propagarea Evangheliilor în toate mediile sociale, la orice nivel cultural, în toate regiunile mediteraneene, cu un succes extraordinar. Cititorul de altădată e pentru noi un frate și un străin. Noi nu mai citim astăzi cum citea el altădată, dar ochii noștri deslușesc, urechile noastre aud și buzele noastre rostesc, din nou, aceleași cuvinte.
Riscurile provin, în cele din urmă, și din faptul că, prin orice rând, prin fiecare cuvânt al său, textul Evangheliilor încearcă
să ne facă să uităm că este ceea ce este, adică o povestire
construită de la un capăt la altul. Riscant, pentru că logica
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textului nu ni se mai relevă. Riscant, pentru că seamănă cu un puzzle din care lipsesc anumite piese, în timp ce altele par a fi în plus. Riscant, pentru că, la fel ca în scrisoarea furată a lui Edgar Poe, soluţia enigmei e totuși acolo, sub ochii noștri, în text, în această carte pe care toţi cred că o cunosc și nimeni n-o mai citește, în această carte pe care trebuie să învăţăm să o citim. Să o citim ca pe o carte.
Ne-am referit constant la:
— ultima ediţie a Bibliei din Ierusalim (Editura Cerf, 1998) pentru cea mai mare parte a citatelor din Vechiul și Noul Testament;
— Sinopsa celor patru Evanghelii stabilită de P. Benoit și M.-E. Boismard (Editura Cerf, 1990).

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Vladimir Jankelevitch “L`imprescriptible”

 L’IMPRESCRIPTIBLE

PARDONNER ? DANS L’HONNEUR ET LA DIGNITÉ

ÉDITIONS DU SEUIL

27, rue Jacob, Paris VIe

 

Cet ouvrage a été édité

aux Éditions du Seuil

sous la direction de Jean-Pierre Barou

Pardonner ? a paru initialement en 1971 aux Édi­tions Le Pavillon, dirigées par Roger Maria.

Dans l’honneur et la dignité, en 1948, dans les Temps modernes.

Ces deux textes particulièrement complémentaires étaient devenus introuvables. Ils sont réunis ici sous le titre : /’Imprescriptible, qui fut celui que choisit Vladi­mir Jankélévitch lorsqu’il exprima, en 1956, dans la Revue administrative, les thèses contenues dans Par­donner ?

isbn 2-02-009383-9

© ÉDITIONS DU SEUIL. NOVEMBRE 1986

La loi du ! 1 mars 1957 interdit les copies ou reproductions destinées à une utilisa lion collective. Toute représentation ou reproduction intégrale ou partielle faite par quelque procède que ce soi!, sans le consentement de l’auteur ou de ses ayams cause, es) illicite « constitue une contrefaçon sanctionnée par les articles 425 ei suivanis du Code pénal.

O Dieu de justice qui régnez, non aux cieux.

Mais dans le cœur de l’homme, au cœur de sa colère,

Ne vous répandrez-vous donc jamais sur la terre ?

Jban Cassou, Trente-trois sonnets écrits au secret, XXII,

Il n’y a pas de salut sur la terre Tant qu’on peut pardonner aux bourreaux. Paul Eluard

AVERTISSEMENT

On entend dire parfois que les déportés, les Juifs, les résistants commencent à fatiguer leurs contemporains en évoquant trop souvent Auschwitz et Oradour. Nos contemporains, paraît-il, en ont assez, ils voudraient bien qu’on parlât d’autre chose… Les survivants du massacre sont sur ce point d’un autre avis. Nous nous permettrons donc, dans le présent écrit, de contribuer à la lassitude de ceux que tant d’horribles souvenirs dérangent. Notre ami Henry Bulawko, président de l’Amicale des anciens déportés juifs de France, n’a pas jugé, lui, que ces pages, pourtant tardives, fussent anachroniques. Nous ne saunons dire tout ce que lui doit leur parution. Qu’il veuille bien trouver ici l’ex­pression de notre fraternelle gratitude. Notre amicale reconnaissance va également à Roger Maria, sans qui Pardonner ? serait resté éternellement inédit.

Cet écrit développe les thèses que nous défendions en 1965 lors des polémiques relatives à la prescription des

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crimes hitlériens : sous le titre l’Imprescriptible nous avions, en février 1965, plaidé contre le pardon dans la Revue administrative, et nous remercions aujourd’hui le directeur de cette revue, M. Robert Catherine, dont L`amitié permit ainsi à notre voix de se faire entendre. Cet article avait lui-même pour origine une lettre publiée par le Monde du 3 janvier 1965 sous la rubrique des « Opinions libres ».  Comme toutes les opinions sont « libres », la nôtre, Dieu merci, l’est du même coup. J’ai de la chance ! Il faut en prendre son parti : l’horreur  insurmontable  que  tout  homme  normal éprouve en pensant aux camps de la mort, cette horreur est une opinion « libre ». Serait-ce qu’on peut très bien professer l’opinion contraire ? Applaudir aux fours crématoires, serait-ce par hasard une « opinion » ? En tout cas notre opinion à nous est au minimum une opinion  comme les autres…   Et c’est par surcroît, désormais, une opinion officielle, en vertu d’un vote unanime du Parlement français. Cette opinion n’étant pas contraire aux bonnes mœurs, nous la développons et la justifions ici.

Dans une étude purement philosophique sur le Pardon, que nous avons publiée par ailleurs ‘, la réponse à la question Faut-il pardonner ? semble contredire celle qui est donnée ici. Il existe entre l’absolu de la loi d’amour et l’absolu de la liberté

1. Aux éditions Aubier-Montaigne, 1967.

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méchante une déchirure qui ne peut être entièrement décousue. Nous n’avons pas cherché à réconcilier l’irrationalité du mal avec la toute-puissance de l’amour. Le pardon est fort comme le mal, mais le mal est fort comme le pardon ‘.

1. Cet avertissement, bien sûr, est celui qui figurait déjà en 1971 en tête de Pardonner ?

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Est-il temps de pardonner, ou tout au moins d’ou­blier ? Vingt ans sont, paraît-il, suffisants pour que l’impardonnable devienne miraculeusement pardon­nable : de plein droit et du jour au lendemain l’inou­bliable est oublié. Un crime qui était inexpiable jusqu’en mai 1965 cesse donc subitement de l’être à partir de juin : comme par enchantement… Et ainsi l’oubli officiel ou légal commence ce soir à minuit. Il est légitime d’en vouloir à un criminel pendant vingt ans : mais à partir de la vingt et unième année, ceux qui n’ont pas encore pardonné tombent à leur tour sous le coup de la forclusion et entrent dans la catégorie des rancuniers ! Vingt ans : tel est le délai. Et c’est pourtant la première fois que les plus indiffé­rents réalisent dans toute sa plénitude l’horreur de la catastrophe : oui, il leur a fallu vingt ans pour en réaliser les dimensions gigantesques, comme après un crime hors de proportion avec les forfaits habituels ou

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comme après un très grand malheur dont on ne mesure que peu à peu les effets et la portée ; les usines d’extermination et notamment Auschwitz, la plus grandiose d’entre elles, sont en effet dans le cas de toutes les choses très importantes ; leurs conséquences durables n’apparaissent pas du premier coup, mais elles se développent avec le temps et ne cessent de s’amplifier. Et quant aux rescapés de l’immense mas­sacre, ils se frottent les yeux : ils apprennent tous les jours ce qu’ils savaient déjà ; ils savaient, mais pas à quel point ; revenus de ces rivages lointains et terri -fiants, ils se regardent en silence.

En prenant maintenant conscience de la catastrophe mondiale déclenchée par l’Allemagne hitlérienne, on distingue dans cette catastrophe deux visages : d’une part l’épopée de la Résistance, et d’autre part la tragédie de la déportation ; d’une part l’héroïsme des maquis et les gloires de la France libre, magnifiés par le verbe exaltant de Malraux, et d’autre part les camps de la mort ; d’une part Jean Moulin, honoré par la foule des patriotes dans le claquement des drapeaux, sur les marches d’un Panthéon de gloire ; de l’autre Jean Moulin torturé, défiguré, pantelant, sauvage­ment piétiné par les brutes : car le déporté et le résistant bien souvent ne faisaient qu’un. D’un côté Bir Hakeim et les barricades de Paris ; de l’autre… De l’autre une chose innommable, inavouable et terri­fiante, une chose dont on détourne sa pensée et que

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nulle parole humaine n’ose décrire… Les orchestres jouaient du Schubert tandis qu’on pendait les déte­nus. .. On emmagasinait les cheveux des femmes… On prélevait les dents en or sur les cadavres. Cette chose indicible dont on hésite à nommer le nom s’appelle Auschwitz.  C’est en ce  lieu maudit que  se sont célébrées, comme dit Claudel, les monstrueuses orgies de la haine.  Les, hommes de notre génération se sentent parfois porteurs d’un lourd et inavouable secret qui les sépare de leurs enfants. Comment leur diront-ils la vérité ? On prétend que le survivant de Verdun, à l’ordinaire, ne parle pas volontiers du « pays monstrueux et morne d’où il vient ». Or qu’est-ce que le secret de Verdun auprès du secret d’Ausch­witz ?

Ce secret honteux que nous ne pouvons dire est le secret de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, et, en quel­que mesure, le secret de l’homme moderne : sur notre modernité en effet l’immense holocauste, même si on n’en parle pas, pèse à la façon d’un invisible remords. Comment s’en débarrasser ? Ce titre d’une pièce de Ionesco caractériserait assez bien les inquiétudes de l’apparente bonne conscience contemporaine. Le crime était trop lourd, la responsabilité trop grave, remarque Rabi avec une lucidité cruelle. Comment vont-ils se débarrasser de leur remords latent ? L’« antisionisme » est à cet égard une introuvable aubaine, car il nous donne la permission et même le

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droit et même le devoir d’être antisémite au nom de la démocratie ! L’antisionisme est l’antisémitisme justi­fié, mis enfin à la portée de tous. Il est la permission d’être démocratiquement antisémite. Et si les Juifs étaient eux-mêmes des nazis ? Ce serait merveilleux. II ne serait plus nécessaire de les plaindre ; ils auraient mérité leur sort, C’est ainsi que nos contemporains se déchargent de leur souci. Car tous les alibis sont bons, qui leur permettent enfin de penser à autre chose. Nous nous proposons dans les pages qui suivent de les ramener à ce souci.

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O fumée épaisse et noire des crématoires – drapeaux flottants sur toutes les cités dans les tresses du vent. Pourquoi m’étranglez-vous dans mon sommeil ? mon gosier serait-il devenu cheminée afin que vous puissiez par moi répandre les imprécations ? Dora Teitei.boim, trad. de Ch. Dobzynski.

Disons-le d’abord nettement : tous les critères juri­diques habituellement applicables aux crimes de droit commun en matière de prescription sont ici déjoués. D’abord il s’agit d’un crime international, et les Allemands n’ont pas à nous reprocher notre immix­tion dans leurs affaires ; ce ne sont pas « leurs affai­res ». Cette affaire-là est l’affaire de toutes les nations piétinées. L’Allemagne, c’est-à-dire l’accusée, est bien plutôt le seul pays qui n’ait pas à se mêler de cette question. Ensuite l’assassinat de ces millions de Juifs, de résistants, de Russes n’est pas un fait divers tel que, par exemple, le meurtre d’une rentière survenu à Montélimar il y a vingt ans. Les crimes allemands sont

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des crimes à tous points de vue exceptionnels ; parleur énormité, leur incroyable sadisme… Mais avant tout, ce sont, dans le sens propre du mot, des crimes contre l’humanité, c’est-à-dire des crimes contre l’essence humaine ou, si l’on préfère, contre l’« hominité » de l’homme  en  général.   L’Allemand  n’a  pas  voulu détruire à proprement parler des croyances jugées erronées ni des doctrines considérées comme perni­cieuses : c’est l’être même de l’homme, Esse, que le génocide raciste a tenté d’annihiler dans la chair douloureuse de ces millions de martyrs. Les crimes racistes  sont  un  attentat contre l’homme  en  tant qu’homme : non point contre l’homme en tant que tel ou tel (quatenus…), en tant que ceci ou cela, par exemple  en  tant  que  communiste,  franc-maçon, adversaire idéologique… Non ! le raciste visait bien l’ipséité  de  l’être,  c’est-à-dire  l’humain  de  tout homme.   L’antisémitisme est  une grave offense  à l’homme en général. Les Juifs étaient persécutés parce que c’étaient eux, et non point en raison de leurs opinions ou de leur foi : c’est l’existence elle-même qui leur était refusée ; on ne leur reprochait pas de professer ceci ou cela,  on leur reprochait d’être. Jusqu’à un certain point ce refus s’étend, aujourd’hui encore, à l’existence de l’État d’Israël.  C’est une immense concession, un cadeau gratuit que l’on croit faire à Israël en lui accordant le droit d’exister…, comme si cette reconnaissance n’était pas le droit

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élémentaire et vital que tout homme doit respecter en tout autre homme, et ceci sans négociations d’aucune sorte, sans nulle prétention à la gratitude. Ou pour reprendre ici  le beau titre du journal fondé par Bernard Lecache : Nous devons respecter le droit de vivre de notre prochain, et notre prochain ne nous doit rien en échange… sinon le même respect. Mais, avec un Juif, il est inutile de se gêner. Avec un Juif, on peut tout se permettre. Quand il s’agit d’un Juif, Y être ne va pas de soi. Les ennemis d’Israël ne « reconnaissent » pas l’existence d’Israël : Israël est transparent, inexis­tant. On ne négocie pas, on ne dialogue pas avec celui qui n’existe pas. Or il n’est pas évident qu’un Juif doive exister : un Juif doit toujours se justifier, s’excu­ser de vivre et de respirer ; sa prétention de combattre pour subsister et survivre est en elle-même un scan­dale incompréhensible et a quelque chose d’exorbi­tant ;  l’idée  que  des  « sous-hommes »  puissent  se défendre remplit les surhommes d’une stupéfaction indignée. Un Juif n’a pas le droit d’être ; son péché est d’exister. Comme les Inquisiteurs, en nihilisant les hérétiques  par le  feu  exterminateur,  supprimaient l’existence de l’Autre, lequel n’existait que par une inexplicable inadvertance de Dieu, et prétendaient accomplir ainsi l’intention divine, de même les Alle­mands, anéantissant la race maudite dans les fours crématoires, supprimaient radicalement l’existence de ceux qui n’auraient pas dû exister. Et ainsi les sadiques

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qui faisaient du savon avec les cadavres des déportés ne cherchaient pas à augmenter la production ni à améliorer le  rendement.  Le  colonialiste,  quand  il exploite  les  indigènes,  est avant tout un  homme d’affaires en quête d’une main-d’œuvre à bon marché en vue de la plus-value, et il utilise le bétail humain comme un instrument de travail. Mais le Juif n’est pas pour l’Allemand un simple « instrument de travail 1 », il est en outre lui-même la matière première. L’indi­gène pourra passer un jour dans le camp des colonisa­teurs et à son tour exploiter d’autres indigènes ; le prolétaire   pourra   devenir  contremaître,   et   même patron, et même bourgeois. Mais le crime d’être juif est un crime inexpiable. Rien ne peut effacer cette malédiction : ni le ralliement, ni l’enrichissement, ni la conversion. L’insulte allemande, l’insulte qui piétine, utilise les cheveux des femmes comme une chose minérale, cette insulte infinie est donc une insulte purement gratuite ; cette insulte n’est pas tant « mépri­sante » que méchante, car son but est d’avilir et de dégrader pour nihiliser. Un tel acharnement a quelque chose de sacral et de surnaturel, et nous n’insisterons pas davantage, puisque Jules Isaac l’a fait avant nous,

1. Voir l’étude de Georges Wellers, particulièrement boulever­sante en sa sobriété : le Système concentrationnaire nazi, édité par l’UNADIF et la FNDIR (1965). L’importante thèse d’Olga Worm-ser-Migot, le Système concentrationnaire nazi, 1933-1945, reste en cette matière l’ouvrage capital et définitif (Publications de la faculté des lettres et sciences humaines de Paris-Sorbonne).

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sur le rôle qu’a pu jouer ici une éducation religieuse immémoriale. Si le préjugé du « peuple maudit », du peuple « déicide » et coupable d’une faute originelle est profondément gravé dans l’inconscient collectif, c’est bien l’Allemand, en fait, qui s’est chargé de l’annihilation des réprouvés. Et ainsi l’extermination des Juifs est le produit de la méchanceté pure et de la méchanceté ontologique, de la méchanceté la plus diabolique et la plus’gratuite que l’histoire ait connue. Ce crime n’est pas motivé, même par des motifs « crapuleux ». Ce crime contre-nature, ce crime immotivé, ce crime exorbitant est donc à la lettre un crime « métaphysique » ; et les criminels de ce crime ne sont pas de simples fanatiques, ni seulement des doctrinaires aveugles, ni seulement d’abominables dogmatiques : ce sont, au sens propre du mot, des « monstres ». Lorsqu’un acte nie l’essence de l’homme en tant qu’homme, la prescription qui tendrait à l’absoudre au nom de la morale contredit elle-même la morale. N’est-il pas contradictoire et même absurde d’invoquer ici le pardon ? Oublier ce crime gigantes­que contre l’humanité serait un nouveau crime contre le genre humain.

Le temps qui émousse toutes choses, le temps qui travaille à l’usure du chagrin comme il travaille à l’érosion des montagnes, le temps qui favorise le pardon et l’oubli, le temps qui console, le temps liquidateur et cicatriseur n’atténue en rien la colossale

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qui faisaient du savon avec les cadavres des déportés ne cherchaient pas à augmenter la production ni à améliorer le  rendement.  Le  colonialiste,  quand  il exploite  les  indigènes,  est avant tout un  homme d’affaires en quête d’une main-d’œuvre à bon marché en vue de la plus-value, et il utilise le bétail humain comme un instrument de travail. Mais le Juif n’est pas pour l’Allemand un simple « instrument de travail ‘ », il est en outre lui-même la matière première. L’indi­gène pourra passer un jour dans le camp des colonisa­teurs et à son tour exploiter d’autres indigènes ; le prolétaire   pourra   devenir  contremaître,   et   même patron, et même bourgeois. Mais le crime d’être juif est un crime inexpiable. Rien ne peut effacer cette malédiction : ni le ralliement, ni l’enrichissement, ni la conversion. L’insulte allemande, l’insulte qui piétine, utilise les cheveux des femmes comme une chose minérale, cette insulte infinie est donc une insulte purement gratuite ; cette insulte n’est pas tant « mépri­sante » que méchante, car son but est d’avilir et de dégrader pour nihiliser. Un tel acharnement a quelque chose de sacral et de surnaturel, et nous n’insisterons pas davantage, puisque Jules Isaac l’a fait avant nous,

1. Voir l’étude de Georges Wellers, particulièrement boulever­sante en sa sobriété : le Système concentrationnaire nazi, édité par l’UNADIF et la FNDIR (1965). L’importante thèse d’Olga Worm-ser-Migot, le Système concentrationnaire nazi, 1933-1945, reste en cette matière l’ouvrage capital et définitif (Publications de la faculté des lettres et sciences humaines de Paris-Sorbonne).

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sur le rôle qu’a pu jouer ici une éducation religieuse immémoriale. Si le préjugé du « peuple maudit », du peuple « déicide » et coupable d’une faute originelle est profondément gravé dans l’inconscient collectif, c’est bien l’Allemand, en fait, qui s’est chargé de l’annihilation des réprouvés. Et ainsi l’extermination des Juifs est le produit de la méchanceté pure et de la méchanceté ontologique, de la méchanceté la plus diabolique et la plus’gratuite que l’histoire ait connue. Ce crime n’est pas motivé, même par des motifs « crapuleux ». Ce crime contre-nature, ce crime immotivé, ce crime exorbitant est donc à la lettre un crime « métaphysique » ; et les criminels de ce crime ne sont pas de simples fanatiques, ni seulement des doctrinaires aveugles, ni seulement d’abominables dogmatiques : ce sont, au sens propre du mot, des « monstres ». Lorsqu’un acte nie l’essence de l’homme en tant qu’homme, la prescription qui tendrait à l’absoudre au nom de la morale contredit elle-même la morale. N’est-il pas contradictoire et même absurde d’invoquer ici le pardon ? Oublier ce crime gigantes­que contre l’humanité serait un nouveau crime contre le genre humain.

Le temps qui émousse toutes choses, le temps qui travaille à l’usure du chagrin comme il travaille à l’érosion des montagnes, le temps qui favorise le pardon et l’oubli, le temps qui console, le temps liquidateur et cicatriseur n’atténue en rien la colossale

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hécatombe : au contraire il ne cesse d’en aviver l’horreur. Le vote du Parlement français énonce à bon droit un principe et, en quelque sorte, une impossibi­lité a priori : les crimes contre l’humanité sont impres­criptibles, c’est-à-dire ne peuvent pas être prescrits ; le temps n’a pas de prise sur eux. Non point même qu’une prorogation de dix ans serait nécessaire pour punir les derniers coupables. Il est en général incom­préhensible que le temps, processus naturel sans valeur normative, puisse exercer une action atté­nuante sur l’insoutenable horreur d’Auschwitz. M^ Boissarie a fait justice, devant le Comité d’action de la Résistance, des deux motifs généralement invo­qués pour légitimer la prescription. S’agissant d’un crime à l’échelle mondiale, les preuves ne dépérissent pas avec le temps, mais au contraire elles se multi­plient. Et l’émotion publique, à son tour, elle, ne s’atténue pas par l’effet des années, mais elle ne cesse de grandir : bien des frivoles qui ne voulaient pas croire ont été obligés d’apprendre ; ils commencent aujourd’hui à réaliser, le procès de Francfort aidant, ce dont ils détournaient leur pensée : bien qu’organi­sés de mauvaise grâce et avec une évidente mauvaise volonté, dans l’intention de justifier hypocritement et par avance la prescription, ce procès et ceux qui l’ont suivi auront bien malgré eux servi à quelque chose… Aussi est-on tenté de dire, en toute conscience : les Israéliens ont eu raison d’enlever Eichmann et de le

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juger eux-mêmes. Sans ce commando israélien, l’in­différence de la justice argentine et la complicité de la police eussent permis sans doute au pourvoyeur d’Auschwitz, comme elles le permirent à Ante Pave-lie, le bourreau sanglant de la Slovénie, de mourir en bon bourgeois dans son lit. Toutes les normes juridi­ques qu’on peut invoquer contre cet enlèvement – la souveraineté de l’Argentine, le droit des gens, etc. – paraissent dérisoires et font hausser les épaules quand on pense à l’immensité des crimes commis. Ah ! s’il s’était trouvé en France un commando de résistants pour enlever le général Lammerding, le bourreau d’Oradour, et l’empêcher de mourir lui aussi dans son lit, entouré de l’affection des siens…

Que peut-on trouver encore à dire sur Ausch-witz ? Nous renvoyons ici à l’admirable article de A.-M. Rosenthal, le plus beau et le plus bouleversant sans nul doute qui ait jamais été écrit sur ce lieu d’insoutenable horreur. Laissons tout d’abord par­ler A.-M. Rosenthal, qui fut un pèlerin de cet enfer : « Ce qu’il y avait de plus terrible peut-être à Brzezinka (Auschwitz), c’est que le soleil était brillant et chaud, les rangées de peupliers exquises à contem­pler et que près de l’entrée des enfants jouaient sur l’herbe. Si le soleil brillait, si l’on entendait de jeunes rires, si la nature était lumineuse et verte, ce ne pouvait être, semble-t-il, que par l’effet de quelque prodigieuse anomalie, comme il en survient dans les

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cauchemars. 11 aurait été approprié que l’herbe y sèche sur pied et que le soleil n’y luise jamais, car Brzezinka est un inexprimable lieu de terreur. Et pourtant, chaque jour, de toutes les parties du globe des visiteurs arrivent à Brzezinka, qui est probable­ment le centre touristique le plus sinistre du monde. Ils viennent pour beaucoup de raisons, pour constater que vraiment c’était possible, pour ne pas oublier, pour rendre hommage aux morts en regardant simple­ment le lieu de leur souffrance… Il n’y a rien de nouveau à dire sur Auschwitz. Si ce n’est que l’on se sent tenu de témoigner ; on a le sentiment qu’il n’est pas possible d’avoir visité Auschwitz et de s’éloigner sans un mot, sans une ligne ; ce serait, semble-t-il, un grave manque de courtoisie envers ceux qui sont morts là. »

Des années se sont écoulées depuis que la der­nière fournée de malheureux « est entrée nue dans les chambres à gaz, poussée par les chiens et les gardes 1 ». Par des gardes pires que leurs chiens. Car cela a été possible. Ce crime sans nom est un crime vraiment infini dont l’horreur s’approfondit à mesure qu’on l’analyse. On croyait savoir et on ne savait pas encore, ni à quel point. Nous-mêmes qui aurions tant de raisons de savoir, nous apprenons chaque jour

1. A.-M. Rosenthal, « Rien de nouveau à Auschwitz. Où prier ? », L’Observateur du Moyen-Orient, 12 septembre 1958, p. 23.

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quelque chose de nouveau, une invention particulière­ment révoltante, un supplice particulièrement ingé­nieux, une atrocité machiavélique où l’on reconnaît la signature du vieux vampirisme héréditaire. Faire du savon ou des abat-jour avec la peau des déportés… il fallait y penser. Il faut être un vampire-métaphysicien pour faire cette trouvaille. Qu’on ne s’étonne donc pas si un crime insondable appelle en quelque sorte une méditation inépuisable. Les inventions inédites de la cruauté, les abîmes de la perversité la plus diabolique, les raffinements inimaginables de la haine, tout cela nous laisse muets, et d’abord confond l’esprit. On n’en a jamais fini d’approfondir ce mystère de la méchan­ceté gratuite.

A proprement parler, le grandiose massacre n’est pas un crime à l’échelle humaine ; pas plus que les grandeurs astronomiques et les années-lumière. Aussi les réactions qu’il éveille sont-elles d’abord le déses­poir et un sentiment d’impuissance devant l’irrépara­ble. On ne peut rien. On ne redonnera pas la vie à cette immense montagne de cendres misérables. On ne peut pas punir le criminel d’une punition propor­tionnée à son crime : car auprès de l’infini toutes les grandeurs finies tendent à s’égaler ; en sorte que le châtiment devient presque indifférent ; ce qui est arrivé est à la lettre inexpiable. On ne sait même plus à qui s’en prendre, ni qui accuser. Accuserons-nous ces honnêtes bourgeois de province qui furent jadis offi-

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ciers dans les SS ? De près, le bourreau est plutôt sympathique, et le sadisme ne se lit pas toujours sur le visage du sadique. Accuserons-nous ces touristes alle­mands placides et bonasses et qui, eux, se portent bien et ont à coup sûr très bonne conscience ? Ils seraient certes fort étonnés d’être ainsi pris à partie et se demanderaient ce que nous leur voulons et de quoi il est question. Les descendants des bourreaux sont de bonne humeur, et ils trouvent tout naturel de se promener en troupes bruyantes, comme si de rien n’était, à travers cette Europe que leurs armées ont mise naguère à feu et à sang. Personne ici-bas n’a mauvaise conscience, cela est assez connu. Personne n’est coupable, car personne n’a jamais été nazi ; en sorte que le monstrueux génocide, catastrophe en soi, comme les tremblements de terre, les raz de marée et les éruptions du Vésuve, n’est la faute de personne. Autant accuser le diable ! Le diable, dit M. Jung, a toujours existé, le diable a existé avant l’homme, le diable est le principe éternel qui a perverti l’homme pur ! Et ainsi il y aura toujours des méchants… L’inculpation du diable n’est pas à proprement parler une monstrueuse absurdité, mais plutôt une commo­dité providentielle. Car le diable a bon dos ! Le diable se charge de tout. Du moment que c’est la faute du « principe éternel », ce n’est évidemment plus la faute d’Eichmann ni de Bormann ni de qui que ce soit. Une trouvaille aussi philosophique comblerait évi-

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demment les avocats de la prescription. Y aurait-il par hasard des gens pour trouver certaines circonstances atténuantes aux misérables qui tuaient les enfants d’une piqûre de phénol dans le cœur et pratiquaient des expériences sur les femmes enceintes ? Hélas ! nous craignons d’avoir à reconnaître que ces avocats indulgents existent : ils ne sont pas horrifiés par le massacre de six millions de Juifs, ni spécialement étonnés par les chambres à gaz, ils ne trouvent nullement ces crimes exceptionnels, ils ne sont pas convaincus de leur monstruosité, ils ne sont pas d’accord, paraît-il, sur le nombre des millions… Com­bien fallait-il de millions pour les émouvoir ? Un journaliste plein de bon sens a même découvert que la différence entre les crimes hitlériens et les autres était simplement (!) quantitative. Selon les conceptions qualitatives de ce brillant journaliste, les millions de Juifs et de résistants exterminés n’étaient sans doute pas des victimes suffisamment distinguées. D’autres essayistes en quête d’alibis ont découvert récemment qu’il existait des « Kapo » juifs chargés par les Alle­mands eux-mêmes de surveiller et de dénoncer leurs camarades. N’ayant, comme chacun sait, jamais trouvé de complices chrétiens dans les pays occupés, tes Allemands en ont donc trouvé parmi les Juifs ? Quelle aubaine pour une bonne conscience qui se sent malgré tout un peu lourde et même vaguement cou­pable ! On imagine l’empressement avec lequel un

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certain public s’est jeté sur cette attrayante perspec­tive : après tout les Juifs étaient peut-être eux-mêmes des collaborateurs?… Voilà une découverte provi­dentielle ! Et si par hasard les Juifs s’étaient extermi­nés eux-mêmes ? si par hasard les déportés s’étaient enfermés eux-mêmes dans les chambres à gaz ? Ces Juifs sont si mauvais qu’ils sont capables de s’être fait incinérer exprès dans les fours crématoires, par pure méchanceté, pour être le plus désagréables possible à nos malheureux contemporains. Car les Juifs ont toujours tort : tort de vivre, tort de mourir ; tort de lutter les armes à la main contre les égorgeurs qui rêvent d’exterminer les survivants d’Auschwitz, tort de s’être laissé massacrer ; tort de se défendre, tort de ne pas se défendre ; obligés de justifier leur calvaire devant ceux qui firent paisiblement carrière sous l’occupation ; tenus de rendre des comptes aux anciens inciviques et de recevoir leurs leçons sur la manière dont il convenait de résister aux bourreaux ; défendus avec une condescendance quelque peu pro­tectrice par des esprits magnanimes qui ne prirent jamais le moindre risque pour la Résistance. En tout cas, voilà nos polémistes bien débarrassés de tant de désagréables scrupules, et moralement fondés à n’y plus penser.

Il faut en prendre son parti : les camps d’extermina­tion soulèvent de nombreuses polémiques. Des polé­miques sur Auschwitz ? Oui, si stupéfiant que cela

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puisse paraître : des polémiques ! Un homme de cœur et de sens droit se demandera évidemment sur quoi peuvent bien porter de telles polémiques ; et comment les polémistes n’ont pas saisi au contraire cette occa­sion de garder le silence… Mais non ! on discute avec Virtuosité, quand on pourrait si facilement se taire, et la « contestation », pour parler le langage d’aujour­d’hui, va bon train ; les évidences les plus horribles, les sentiments les plus sacrés et les plus cruels qu’un homme puisse éprouver sont livrés en pâture à la dialectique. Nos dialecticiens sont très en forme, parfaitement à leur aise, et ils ne semblent nullement gênés d’avoir à soutenir une aussi affreuse discussion. L’« affaire Treblinka », comme ils disent. On est tenté, pour toute réponse, de mettre sous leurs yeux l’hallucinant album-souvenir que nos amis de la Fédé­ration nationale des déportés et résistants ont publié à l’occasion du XX1 anniversaire de la libération des camps. Laissons-les seuls devant ces horribles images, et souhaitons-leur bonne nuit, s’ils peuvent.

Il faut le redire : l’appréciation du degré de culpabi­lité des misérables qui ont massacré en masse les enfants juifs et récupéré ensuite les petits souliers, cette appréciation n’est pas un sujet de controverse. Dans une controverse il y a le Pour, et il y a le Contre, et il y a la mixture du Contre et du Pour, comme à la Société française de philosophie ou aux colloques de Cerisy-la-Saile. La France est depuis quelques années

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en état de colloque permanent… Mais Auschwitz, répétons-le, n’est pas un sujet de colloque ; Auschwitz exclut les dialogues et les conversations littéraires ; et la seule idée de confronter le Pour et le Contre a ici quelque chose de honteux et de dérisoire ; cette confrontation est une grave inconvenance à l’égard des suppliciés. Les « tables rondes », comme on dit, sont faites pour les jeux auxquels se livrent chaque été nos brillants causeurs pendant les loisirs de leurs villégiatures ; mais les camps de la mort sont incompa­tibles avec ce genre de débats et de babillages philo­sophiques, D’ailleurs le nazisme n’est pas une «opi­nion », et nous ne devons pas prendre l’habitude d’en discuter avec ses avocats. Insistons encore : les souf­frances sans nom dont Auschwitz reste le monstrueux symbole excluent la médiocrité des sentiments et le pédantisme des arguties ; et elles ne sont pas faites non plus pour les humoristes professionnels de Munich et d’ailleurs. Non, nous n’avons pas envie de plaisanter. Nous nous retirons donc du « colloque », n’ayant rien à dire aux brillants casuistes qui considèrent les fours crématoires comme on considère les horreurs de la guerre en général. Auschwitz n’est pas, ainsi que les pillages, bombardements et ennuis de ravitaillement, un.de ces bons et braves malheurs communs à tous les sinistrés honorables. Auschwitz est inavouable. Auschwitz n’est pas simplement un cas particulier de la barbarie humaine. Et cette guerre-là n’était pas non

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plus une guerre comme les autres. Et les résistants qui dirent non à la servitude ne sont pas uniquement des « anciens combattants ». C’est un des alibis les plus commodes de la bonne conscience que de se représen­ter la Deuxième Guerre mondiale comme un simple règlement de comptes entre belligérants, un règle­ment de comptes avec, selon l’usage, indemnités de guerre, réparations et annexion de territoires ; une fois les comptes réglés, on ne voit pas pourquoi le petit malentendu franco-allemand occuperait encore les esprits. Dans ce vulgaire contentieux on finit par ne plus distinguer très bien si c’est l’Allemagne qui s’est jetée sur la France, ou, qui sait? la France sur l’Allemagne… Or la guerre hitlérienne ne ressemble en rien à la Première Guerre mondiale. Le pacifisme généreux de Romain Rolland, récusant le chauvi­nisme traditionnel, qui est nationaliste et militariste, s’abstrayait du « conflit franco-allemand ». Mais depuis 1939 on ne peut plus être «au-dessus de la mêlée » : c’est pourquoi la Résistance n’a pas été « au-dessus », mais bien dedans. Insistons encore. Auschwitz n’est pas une « atrocité de guerre », mais une œuvre de haine. L’œuvre d’une haine quasi inextinguible. J’ai lu quelque part que Treblinka avait été rendu possible par Verdun. Verdun est en effet, comme Borodino, l’exemple pour ainsi dire classique des horreurs de la guerre justement stigmatisées par Goya et Verechtchaguine. Comme Borodino, mais en

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beaucoup plus réussi. Une boucherie grandiose. Pour­tant les obus de Verdun ne sélectionnaient pas une race maudite. Dans révocation complaisante de ces souvenirs, les anciens combattants trouvent même des motifs de dignité, les écoliers une leçon d’héroïsme, les politiciens une occasion de célébrer la « fraternité d’armes » franco-allemande. Une page de gloire, vous dis-je, pour deux « grands » peuples inexplicablement dressés 1 l’un contre l’autre, et maintenant réconciliés dans l’attendrissement général… On peut compren­dre, après tout, pourquoi le « rapprochement franco-allemand » touche si peu les Juifs, pourquoi finale­ment cette « réconciliation » ne les concerne en rien. Que l’Allemagne renonce à toute guerre d’agression, à toute visée pangermanique sur la France, c’est déjà beaucoup et nous nous en félicitons. Mais l’invasion militaire et l’extermination des Juifs sont deux entre­prises distinctes, et ces deux entreprises ne se recou­vrent que partiellement, et elles vont à la rigueur l’une sans l’autre. En 1914 il y avait invasion, mais il n’y avait pas d’Auschwitz. Et réciproquement on peut très bien concevoir une situation où celui qui regrette d’avoir déclenché la guerre impérialiste ne regretterait nullement Auschwitz : dans cette situation, assez sem­blable à celle de 1940, les Juifs seraient considérés comme les principaux obstacles à la grande réconcilia-

1. Par les Juifs, sans nul doute.

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tion franco-allemande ; ces détestables Juifs empê­chent les colloques franco-allemands, les embrassades et les agapes franco-allemandes. Il est nécessaire de comprendre les Juifs. Ils n’éprouvent pas seulement, en commun avec tous leurs concitoyens, le ressenti­ment légitime qu’on nourrit à l’égard des bourreaux de la France : ils sont en outre spécialement concernés, intimement offensés, personnellement humiliés.

L’inexplicable, l’inconcevable horreur d’Auschwitz se réduit-elle à ces abstractions indéterminées qu’on appelle la violence, l’artillerie lourde, les horreurs de la guerre ? C’est vouloir noyer le problème dans de pieuses généralités, banaliser 1 et dissoudre pudique­ment le caractère exceptionnel du génocide, parler de tout à propos de n’importe quoi. Comme toute expli­cation conceptuelle a quelque chose de rassurant, on se sent déjà rassuré à l’idée de subsumer l’antisémi­tisme hitlérien sous une loi, de replacer les camps de la mort dans un cadre historique ou d’un contexte banalisant. Si par hasard Auschwitz n’était que le cas particulier d’un phénomène plus général ? Ce confu-sionnisme atteste la difficulté que Ton éprouve à faire comprendre aux ergoteurs de mauvaise foi la spécifi­cité  de  chaque  problème,   à  fixer  l’attention  des

1. André Neher s’oppose avec raison à cette banalisation : «Dimensions et limites du dialogue judéo-allemand depuis 1945», Cahiers de l’Institut de science économique appliquée, n” 132, dé­cembre 1962.

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brouillons sur un événement déterminé. 11 y a au choix du brouillon bien des manières d’escamoter l’unicité d’Auschwitz : car toutes les périphrases sont bonnes, qui  permettront de contourner ces deux  horribles syllabes et de détourner la conversation. Nous disions que le problème d’Auschwitz, pour les esprits distin­gués, semble tenir en ces trois mots : Comment s’en débarrasser ?  Les  plus  avisés  parmi  nos  brillants causeurs  invoquent  les crimes  de  Staline,  crimes décidément providentiels, car ils leur servent à excuser ceux de Hitler. Mais les crimes de Staline ne sont pas une réponse à tout…  Aussi a-t-on trouvé encore mieux : Hitler se serait inspiré du sultan qui organisa, au début du siècle, l’odieux massacre des Arméniens. Si les Juifs ont été exterminés, c’est en somme la faute d’Abdul-Hamid. Un éminent historien a même écrit que les « noyades de Nantes », sous la Terreur, étaient le véritable précédent d’Auschwitz et de Treblinka. Il n’est donc arrivé aux Juifs rien que de très ordinaire ; aussi notre éminent collègue n’en est-il nullement étonné. Le résultat de ces comparaisons ne se fait guère attendre : au bout d’un certain temps personne ne sait plus de quoi il s’agit. Ce qui était évidemment le but recherché.

Or il ne s’agit pas aujourd’hui du massacre des Arméniens, ni de l’enfer de Verdun, ni des tortures en Algérie, ni de la terreur stalinienne, ni des violences ségrégationnistes en Amérique, ni de la Saint-Barthé-

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lemy : il s’agit du crime le plus monstrueux de l’his­toire, et il s’agit du quitus définitif promis aux crimi­nels  de  ce  crime.   En  présence   d’un  crime  aussi révoltant, le mouvement naturel d’un homme de cœur n’est pas de se précipiter aux Archives ni de recher­cher dans  le  passé  des violences  plus  ou  moins comparables ; un homme de cœur ne se demande pas de  quelle manière il disculpera  les coupables ou excusera les horribles bourreaux : le mouvement natu­rel d’un homme de cœur est de s’indigner et de lutter passionnément contre l’oubli et de poursuivre les criminels, comme les juges du tribunal allié de Nurem­berg l’avaient promis, jusqu’au bout de la terre. Mais nos distingués casuistes ont mieux à faire :  il faut absolument escamoter l’atroce génocide et trouver dans  l’histoire  d’autres  Auschwitz  qui  dilueront l’épouvante du vrai Auschwitz. Cette inversion des mouvements les plus naturels du cœur et de la raison, je ne puis l’appeler que perversité. Seuls en définitive les criminels impunis, seuls le docteur Mengele et ses semblables auraient intérêt maintenant à de tels ali­bis : si tout le monde « en a fait autant », comme les amis du docteur Mengele ne demandent qu’à l’établir, il est évidemment inutile de s’indigner ; si tout le monde est coupable, personne n’est coupable. Parlons de tout, ne parlons de rien.  Parlons donc d’autre chose.

Eh bien, parlons-en quand même ! Et d’abord on

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n’a jamais excusé un crime en alléguant que d’autres seraient éventuellement capables de le commettre. Et en outre ce crime-là ne se compare à rien.  Non, Auschwitz et Treblinka ne ressemblent à rien : non seulement parce qu’en général rien n’est la même chose que rien, mais surtout parce que rien n’est la même chose qu` Auschwitz ; ce crime-là est incom­mensurable avec quoi que ce soit d’autre ; nous allions dire que c’est une abomination métaphysique. Avec leurs six millions d’exterminés, les Juifs sont certaine­ment en tête du martyrologe de tous les temps ; triste avantage, hélas ! et que personne ne disputera aux souffre-douleur privilégiés de la haine gothique. Les pervers, quand on leur parle d’Auschwitz, nous oppo­sent les souffrances des Allemands pendant la guerre, la destruction de leurs villes, l’exode de leurs popula­tions devant l’armée russe victorieuse. A chacun ses martyrs, n’est-ce pas ? La seule idée de mettre en parallèle, ou sur le même plan, l’indicible calvaire des déportés et le juste châtiment de leurs bourreaux, cette idée est une perfidie calculée, à moins que ce ne soit une véritable perversion du sens moral. Perver­sion ou perfidie, cet incroyable retournement des évidences, ce scandaleux renversement des rôles don­nent l’envie de répondre : chacun son tour : beaucoup penseront devant les ruines de Berlin et de Dresde : c’est bien le moins qu’on leur devait ; et ils jugeront peut-être que ce peuple responsable de la plus grande

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PARDONNER ?

catastrophe de l’histoire s’en tire encore à bon compte. Ceux que n’émeuvent ni la tuerie de Lidice, ni le massacre d’Oradour, ni les pendaisons de Tulle, ni les fusillés du Mont-Valérien, de Châteaubriant, de la Cascade et de Chatou, réservent leur indignation au bombardement de Dresde par les Anglais, comme si, en ce domaine, les Allemands n’avaient pas eu l’initia­tive, comme si la destruction de Rotterdam, de Varsovie et de Coventry par un adversaire implacable n’avait pas précédé les raids anglo-américains. Au bombardement de Dresde, qui nous glace d’épou-vante, Auschwitz ajoute une dimension d’horreur inédite : je veux dire son caractère orienté, méthodi­que et sélectif. C’est vraiment le monstrueux chef-d’œuvre de la haine. Les violences anonymes et en quelque sorte impersonnelles de la guerre, écrasant indistinctement les malheureux civils sans défense, ne choisissaient pas leurs victimes comme les choisissait le sadisme raffiné des Allemands ; à proprement parler, c’étaient des atrocités sans intention ; l’avia­teur inconscient qui lâchait aveuglément sa bombe au-dessus d’Hiroshima ne triait pas le bétail humain, et il n’a pas non plus détruit Hiroshima par méchan­ceté ; il ne déniait pas aux Japonais le droit de vivre ; il ne cherchait pas à humilier, à piétiner, à dégrader longuement sa victime avant de la tuer : son propos n’était pas d’exterminer la race japonaise ni d’avilir tout un peuple, mais de hâter, fût-ce par la terreur, la

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fin du conflit. – Pas davantage l’extermination des Juifs ne se compare aux massacres que les despotes sanguinaires de tous les temps ont organisés pour se débarrasser de leurs ennemis. Certes (et en cela du moins  les  nazis  avaient  plus  raison  qu’ils  ne  le croyaient eux-mêmes) les Juifs sont les ennemis-nés du fascisme… Pourtant l’extermination des Juifs n’est ni une vengeance ni une précaution. Rien de commun avec ces excès déplorables qui font si souvent cortège aux révolutions, et qui ne sont pourtant pas voulus comme tels par le révolutionnaire : car le terrorisme est moins souvent une intention expresse du révolu­tionnaire qu’une dégénérescence de la révolution. L’extermination des Juifs est tout autre chose. Hitler a dit  longtemps  à  l’avance ce qu’il  allait  faire,  et pourquoi il comptait le faire ; en vertu de quels principes ;  au  nom de quels dogmes.  11 s’en est expliqué longuement, avec ce mélange inimitable de pédantisme métaphysique et de sadisme qui est une spécialité allemande.  Le ton doctoral du racisme germanique fait penser à la fois aux communiqués de la Wehrmacht et au galimatias de M. Heidegger, et l’on sait qu’il est devenu aujourd’hui l’un des signes de la  profondeur  philosophique…  Théoriciens  du racisme et praticiens de l’atrocité scientifique, ils sont les uns et les autres aussi méticuleux que sanguinaires, aussi bavards que féroces. L’extermination des Juifs ne fut pas, comme les massacres d’Arméniens, une

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flambée de violences : elle a été doctrinalement fon­dée, philosophiquement expliquée, méthodiquement préparée, systématiquement perpétrée par les doctri­naires les plus pédants qui aient jamais existé ; elle répond à une intention exterminatrice délibérément et longuement mûrie ; elle est l’application d’une théorie dogmatique qui existe encore et qui s’appelle l’antisé­mitisme. Aussi dirions-nous volontiers, en renversant les termes de la prière que Jésus adresse à Dieu dans l’Évangile selon saint Luc : Seigneur, ne leur pardon­nez pas, car ils savent ce qu’ils font.

Il ne s’agit donc pas des malheurs de la guerre. Il s’agit d’un problème bien précis et très urgent : si nous avions laissé les Brid’oison ergoter sur le bombarde­ment de Dresde et bientôt (qui sait ?) sur les « cri­mes » de la Résistance, la prescription eût été acquise le 8 mai 1965. Désirons-nous que le docteur Mengele, le bourreau des enfants, le sadique qui faisait des expériences sur les déportés, rentre bientôt en Alle­magne et recommence à exercer paisiblement (on frémit d’y penser) son métier de « praticien » ? Dési­rez-vous qu’il publie bientôt ses Mémoires, comme tout le monde, aux éditions Machin? Mais il serait trop facile  de ne  s’en prendre qu’à cet horrible docteur ; et la découverte de quelques grands crimi­nels ferait plus de mal que de bien si elle devait servir de prétexte à l’octroi, pour tous les autres, d’un non-lieu général. Le massacre minutieux, administra-

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tif, scientifique, métaphysique de six millions de Juifs n’est pas un malheur «en soi», ni un cataclysme naturel : c’est un crime dont un peuple entier est plus ou moins responsable, et ce peuple, après tout, a un nom, et il n’y a pas de raison de ne pas dire le nom de ce peuple, ni de céder à l’étrange pudeur qui interdit aujourd’hui de le prononcer. Un crime qui fut perpé­tré au nom de la supériorité germanique engage la responsabilité nationale de tous les Allemands. Les deux Allemagnes, héritières de l’État national-socia­liste, ont des comptes à rendre, c’est un fait. La monstrueuse machine à broyer les enfants, à détruire les Juifs, les Slaves, les résistants par centaines de milliers ne pouvait fonctionner que grâce à d’innom­brables complicités, et dans le silence complaisant de tous ; les bourreaux torturaient, et le menu fretin des petits criminels aidait ou ricanait. Hélas ! du mécani­cien des convois qui menaient les déportés à la mort jusqu’au misérable bureaucrate qui tenait les borde­reaux des victimes, – il y a bien peu d’innocents parmi ces millions d’Allemands muets ou complices. Dire qu’il faudra longtemps encore pour découvrir toutes les complexes ramifications du crime, ce n’est pas dire que les Allemands soient responsables collectivement ou en tant qu’Allemands : il y avait des démocrates allemands dans les camps, et nous saluons bien bas cette  élite  perdue dans la masse  vociférante des autres ; de tous les autres. On ne peut passer ici sous

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silence le geste bouleversant du chancelier Brandt devant le mémorial du ghetto de Varsovie. Et d’autre part le courage admirable de MTM Béate Klarsfeld prouve que l’élite de la jeune génération allemande a su relayer l’élite dont nous parlons. En dehors de ces élites, un peuple entier a été, de près ou de loin, associé à l’entreprise de la gigantesque extermination ; un peuple unanimement groupé autour de son chef qu’il avait maintes fois plébiscité avec frénésie, à qui il confirma tant de fois son adhésion enthousiaste, en qui il se reconnaissait. Nous avons encore dans l’oreille les affreux hurlements des congrès de Nurem­berg. Qu’un peuple débonnaire ait pu devenir ce peuple de chiens enragés, voilà un sujet inépuisable de perplexité et de stupéfaction. On nous reprochera de comparer ces malfaiteurs à des chiens ? Je l’avoue en effet : la comparaison est injurieuse pour les chiens. Des chiens n’auraient pas inventé les fours créma­toires, ni pensé à faire des piqûres de phénol dans le cœur des petits enfants…

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II

NOUS A-T-ON DEMANDÉ PARDON ?

Peut-être la prescription aurait-elle moins d’impor­tance si l’épuration avait été plus complète et plus sincère, si l’on sentait plus de spontanéité, plus d’una­nimité aussi dans l’évocation de ces terribles souve­nirs. Hélas ! la disproportion entre le tragique de ces quatre années maudites et la frivolité de nos contem­porains sera sans doute l’une des plus amères dérisions de l’histoire. Que vient-on nous parler d’oubli et de pardon ? Ceux pour qui les fusillés du Mont-Valérien et les massacres d’Oradour n’ont jamais beaucoup compté, ceux pour qui il ne s’est rien passé de particulier entre 1940 et 1945 hormis quelques difficul­tés de ravitaillement, ceux-là étaient déjà réconciliés dès 1945 avec un occupant si « correct » ; le lendemain de l’armistice de 1945 ils avaient déjà oublié ce qu’ils ne tenaient nullement à se rappeler. Ils n’ont pas attendu les vingt ans de la prescription. Quand ils parlent du « mur de la honte », vous avez compris qu’il

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s’agit du mur qui gêne les communications entre les deux  Berlin :   ils  n’ont  pas  connaissance   du  mur tragique qui enferma cinq cent mille condamnés à mort dans le ghetto de Varsovie. Le pardon ? Mais il était préfiguré, pendant l’occupation elle-même, dans le  consentement  à  la  défaite  et  l’abandonnement maladif au néant, et il s’est inscrit aussitôt après la guerre dans le réarmement des malfaiteurs, dans la réhabilitation des malfaiteurs, dans l’inavouable com­plaisance à l’idéologie des malfaiteurs. Aujourd’hui le pardon est un fait depuis longtemps accompli à la faveur de l’indifférence, de l’amnésie morale, de la superficialité générale. Tout est déjà pardonné et liquidé. Il ne reste plus qu’à « jumeler » Oradour avec Munich. Certains Français remarquablement peu ran­cuniers trouvaient  tout  naturel,  six  mois  après la guerre, de renouer de fructueux rapports d’affaires et de divertissement avec les anciens bourreaux de leur patrie. Comme si l’affreuse humiliation de 1940 ne les concernait pas. Comme si la honte de la capitulation ne les avait pas atteints. Oui, allez passer vos vacances en Allemagne. L’Autriche vous accueille. L’automne est merveilleux à Ravensbrùck. L’oubli avait déjà fait son œuvre avant la prescription : après la prescription l’oubli deviendrait en quelque sorte officiel et norma­tif. Notre époque a le cœur bien léger : elle aurait désormais le droit de l’avoir léger : elle aurait le cœur juridiquement léger.

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Et quant aux Allemands eux-mêmes, pourquoi se sentiraient-ils en quarantaine, alors que personne ne leur demande de comptes ? La bonne conscience des Allemands d’aujourd’hui a quelque chose de stupé­fiant. Les Allemands sont un peuple « irrepenti ». Si l’Allemagne semble avoir changé de visage, c’est parce qu’elle a été frappée à mort à Stalingrad, parce que les Russes ont pris Berlin, parce que les Alliés ont débarqué en Normandie et les Forces françaises libres en Provence ; sans les blindés de Joukov, de Patton et de Leclerc, l’Allemagne serait encore hitlérienne, et le nazisme triomphant régnerait dans toute l’Europe sur les cendres des martyrs. Qu’en eût-il été des peuples piétines et asservis si les chiens enragés de l’Europe avaient eu l’eau lourde avant les Alliés ? Le repentir allemand, il s’appelle Stalingrad ; il s’appelle la percée d’Avranches, il s’appelle la Défaite ! C’est un repentir militaire ; et c’est aussi un repentir commercial au nom des affaires, un repentir diplomatique au nom de la raison d’État ; la contrition n’y est pour rien… L’Allemagne a prorogé de cinq ans la prescription comme elle a accordé des réparations à Israël ou offert des indemnités aux spoliés, – parce que c’était son intérêt du moment, parce qu’elle cherche à « se dédouaner » : sous la pression de l’opinion démocrati­que européenne et de la Résistance unie, elle a offert en effet cette rallonge dérisoire du délai prescriptif, mais après combien d’atermoiements et de lamenta-

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bles marchandages ! Les bien-pensants que notre refus de passer l’éponge agaçait saisiront sans doute l’occa­sion de cette prorogation misérable pour penser enfin à autre chose… L’opinion publique, que l’émotion des résistants avait fini par alerter, acceptera peut-être de se laisser démobiliser à son tour? Mais nous, nous savons bien que la grâce de la conversion n’a pas subitement touché les Allemands. Certains verdicts scandaleux, des signes inquiétants 1, tout annonce l’éclatante mauvaise volonté dont les Allemands… et les Autrichiens vont de plus en plus faire preuve dans la poursuite de criminels qu’ils ne se décident pas, en leur for intérieur, à renier. S’ils les poursuivent sans conviction et comme à leur corps défendant, c’est qu’ils se reconnaissent en eux.

Le pardon ! Mais nous ont-ils jamais demandé pardon ? C’est la détresse et c’est la déréliction du coupable qui seules donneraient un sens et une raison d’être au pardon. Quand le coupable est gras, bien nourri, prospère, enrichi par le « miracle économi­que », le pardon est une sinistre plaisanterie. Non, le pardon n’est pas fait pour les porcs et pour leurs truies. Le pardon est mort dans les camps de la mort. Notre horreur pour ce que l’entendement à proprement parler ne peut concevoir étoufferait la pitié dès sa

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1. Voir l’excellente étude de Bernard Lavergne, « L’absolution en Allemagne des crimes de guerre », Année politique et économique, n« 183, 1945.

PARDONNER ?

naissance… si l’accusé pouvait nous faire pitié. L’ac­cusé ne peut jouer sur tous les tableaux à la fois : reprocher aux victimes leur ressentiment, revendiquer pour soi-même le patriotisme et les bonnes intentions, prétendre au pardon. Il faudrait choisir ! Il faudrait, pour prétendre au pardon, s’avouer coupable, sans réserves ni circonstances atténuantes. C’est aujour­d’hui la première fois depuis 1945 que des Allemands font mine de s’excuser ; ils découvrent qu’ils ont peut-être certains comptes à nous rendre, et on nous fait l’aumône de quelques explications. Si nous n’avons pas entendu plus tôt un mot de compréhen­sion, c’est, paraît-il, que nous avons fui le contact avec les Allemands… Était-ce à l’offensé à chercher ce contact ? Les Allemands et les Allemandes n’y ont donc pas pensé tout seuls ? Auraient-ils eu l’idée d’écrire tant de belles lettres émues aux hebdomadai­res si nous n’avions pas protesté contre la prescrip­tion ? Rien ne prouve mieux, en tout cas, le manque de spontanéité d’une certaine jeunesse allemande, son peu d’empressement à aller au-devant des victimes, sa foncière bonne conscience. Devancer sa victime, c’était cela : demander pardon ! Nous avons long­temps attendu un mot, un seul, un mot de compréhen­sion et de sympathie… L’avons-nous espéré, ce mot fraternel ! Certes nous ne nous attendions pas à ce qu’on implorât notre pardon… Mais la parole de compréhension, nous l’aurions accueillie avec grati-

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tude, les larmes aux yeux. Hélas ! en fait de repentir, les  Autrichiens  nous  ont  fait  cadeau  du  honteux acquittement des bourreaux. Nous attendons encore le geste solennel de réparation ou de désaveu qu’une si terrible responsabilité morale imposait aux intellec­tuels allemands, aux professeurs allemands, aux philo­sophes allemands, et même (je n’ai pas envie de rire) aux « moralistes » allemands, s’il y en a. Mais les intellectuels et les moralistes allemands n’ont rien à dire. Cela ne les regarde pas.  Us sont bien trop occupés par l’« être-là » et par le « projet existential ». Et pourtant les intellectuels ne sont pas à un manifeste près !  L’initiative ne viendra jamais, ni la grande protestation par laquelle la pensée allemande se serait désolidarisée sans réserve de ce passé hallucinant, qui après tout la concerne, et l’aurait rejeté avec horreur. Et comment renierait-elle une doctrine où Heidegger s’est immédiatement reconnu et qui porte si visible­ment  l’empreinte  de  Nietzsche ?  Il faut  le  dire : l’Allemagne tout entière, sa jeunesse, ses penseurs, ils sont tous passés à côté de la plus horrible tragédie de l’histoire ; ils n’ont aucun rapport avec les millions d’exterminés sans sépulture, aucun moyen de penser ce malheur ; ils ne se sentent nullement coupables, ne se   reconnaissent   aucun   tort.   Apparemment   leur « existentialisme », comme ils disent, ne s’étend pas jusque-là. Pourquoi pardonnerions-nous à ceux qui regrettent si peu et si rarement leurs forfaits ? Heideg-

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ger est responsable, dit fortement Robert Minder, non seulement pour tout ce qu’il a dit sous le nazisme, mais encore pour ce qu’il s’est abstenu de dire en 1945 1. Bien au contraire, l’Allemand semble atteint aujour­d’hui d’un furieux prurit de discuter, de contester, et même d’accuser ; il le prend de haut, distribue l’éloge et le blâme : lui non plus, il n’est pas d’accord ! Pas d’accord sur quoi ? sur le nombre des victimes ? sur la nature du gaz employé pour asphyxier les femmes et les enfants ? On croit rêver. Bientôt nous nous senti­rons fautifs à notre tour à l’égard des Allemands, heureux encore s’ils nous concèdent que les torts étaient partagés. Où donc ont-ils pris cette assurance ? D’où leur vient cette stupéfiante bonne conscience ? Nous devrions dire sans doute : cette totale incons­cience ! C’est l’Allemagne qui est décidément l’offen­sée et dont l’intéressante détresse préoccupe les bons esprits. Les déportés devront-ils s’excuser à leur tour d’avoir trop longtemps retenu l’attention du public ? Du train dont vont les choses, on finira par découvrir que les bourreaux sont les vraies victimes de leurs victimes. Ce ne sont pas les millions d’exterminés qui intéressent nos Sudètes du journalisme parisien, c’est le sort des malheureux Allemands expulsés de Prusse et de Bohème par les Slaves. Il ne s’agit plus désormais

1. Robert Minder, Hebel et Heidegger, lumière et obscurantisme, «Utopies et institutions au xvnr siècle», éd. par P. Francastel, 1963.

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de l’immense massacre des innocents, victimes de la rage allemande… Il s’agit de savoir si M. Heidegger a été calomnié ; et c’est nous qui devrons lui rendre des comptes ! Des millions de malheureux sont morts de faim, de froid et de misère dans les camps ; mais le grand penseur, lui, mourra dans son lit de grand penseur. Au demeurant nous n’engagerons pas la conversation avec les métaphysiciens du national-socialisme, ni avec leurs amis ; ni avec les amis de leurs amis ; ni avec les Sturmabteilungen de la philosophie allemande ; car nous ne leur reconnaissons qu’un droit : prier, s’ils sont chrétiens ; nous demander par­don s’ils ne le sont pas. Et dans tous les cas, se taire. En outre il y a quelque chose de choquant à voir les anciens inciviques, les hommes les plus frivoles et les plus égoïstes, ceux qui n’ont ni souffert ni lutté, nous recommander l’oubli des offenses ; on invoque le devoir de charité pour prêcher aux victimes un pardon que les bourreaux eux-mêmes ne leur ont jamais demandé. Ménager ces victimes, tenir compte de leurs blessures, n’est-ce pas aussi un devoir de charité ? Quant aux millions d’exterminés, quant aux enfants suppliciés, ils sont aussi dignes que les Allemands et autres Sudètes d’émouvoir les professeurs de pardon. Et qui sont ces juristes indulgents, s’il vous plaît ? Pourquoi sont-ils si pressés de tourner la page et de dire, avec les anciens SS : Schluss damit ? où étaient-ils, que faisaient-ils pendant la guerre ? à quel titre se

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PARDONNER ?

permettraient-ils de pardonner en notre nom ? qui les en a chargés ou leur en donne le droit ? Libre à chacun de pardonner les offenses qu’il a personnellement reçues, s’il le juge bon. Mais celles des autres, de quel droit les pardonnerait-il ? Jean Cassou lui aussi s’adresse aux amis des hitlériens : « Oui êtes-vous, vous qui vous faites les défenseurs des criminels nazis ? Au nom de qui, par qui, en vertu de quels principes, pour le service de quels intérêts, à quelles fins vous estimez-vous habilités à demander qu’on cesse toute poursuite contre eux, qu’on les laisse à jamais tranquilles ? » Et j’ajoute encore ceci : Je ne vois pas pourquoi ce serait à nous, les survivants, à pardonner. Craignons plutôt que la complaisance à notre belle âme et à notre noble conscience, craignons que l’occasion d’une attitude pathétique et la tentation d’un rôle à jouer ne nous fassent un jour oublier les martyrs. Il ne s’agit pas d’être sublime, il suffit d’être fidèle et sérieux. Au fait, pourquoi nous réserverions-nous ce rôle magnanime du pardon ? Comme me l’écrivait en termes admirables un chrétien pravo-slave, M. Olivier Clément, c’est aux victimes à par­donner. En quoi les survivants ont-ils qualité pour par­donner à la place des victimes ou au nom des rescapés, de leurs parents, de leur famille ? Non, ce n’est pas à nous de pardonner pour les petits enfants que les brutes s’amusaient à supplicier. Il faudrait que les petits enfants  pardonnent eux-mêmes.  Alors nous

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nous tournons vers les brutes, et vers les amis de ces brutes, et nous leur disons : demandez pardon vous-mêmes aux petits enfants.

Que les autres, les non-concernés, ne nous en veuillent pas si nous ressassons indéfiniment les lita­nies de l’amertume. Cette affaire-là ne sera pas facilement liquidée. Quand on a massacré, au nom des principes, six millions d’êtres humains, il faut s’atten­dre, n’est-ce pas ? à ce que les survivants en parlent pendant un certain temps, dussent-ils agacer ou fati­guer les autres ; bien des années seront encore néces­saires pour que nous revenions de notre stupeur, pour que le mystère de cette haine démentielle soit entière­ment élucidé. Nos contemporains jugeront sans doute qu’on parle beaucoup trop des camps de la mort ; et ils souhaiteraient sans doute qu’on n’en parlât plus du tout. Or on n’en parle pas assez, on n’en parlera jamais assez ! Au fait, en a-t-on jamais vraiment parlé ? Ne craignons pas de le dire : c’est aujourd’hui la première fois qu’on en parle. Car l’importance de ce qui est arrivé est bien loin d’être universellement reconnue. Les souffrances démesurées qui ont marqué ces années maudites sont hors de proportion avec la médiocrité dérisoire du renouvellement que l’après-guerre nous a valu. Amère, scandaleuse ironie de l’histoire ! Il est presque sans exemple qu’un si terrible cataclysme ait abouti à des conséquences si misé­rables, que le remords d’une telle tragédie, la plus

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grande tragédie des temps modernes, ait glissé si vite, et sans presque laisser de traces, sur la mémoire des hommes… Tant de larmes, et pour en arriver là! Depuis 1945 d’autres causes ont mobilisé les hommes généreux, d’autres injustices ont suscité l’indignation de la jeunesse, parfois même elles nous ont servi d’alibi en faisant diversion à notre obsédant cauche­mar, en nous empêchant de réaliser cette horrible chose dont, à proprement parler, aucun homme ne supporte la pensée : puisqu’on ne peut plus rien contre les usines de la mort allemande, protestons au moins, et de toutes nos forces, pendant qu’il est temps encore, contre les tortures. Nous avons ainsi évité le désespoir. Heureusement les nouveaux persécutés ne sont plus seuls, car les démocrates du monde entier se joignent à leur cause. Et les Juifs, eux, étaient seuls. Absolument seuls.  Cette poignante solitude, cette absolue déréliction n’est pas le côté le moins affreux de leur calvaire. Il n’y avait pas encore de « Nations unies », pas de solidarité internationale. La presse était muette. L’Église silencieuse. Elle n’avait rien à dire, elle non plus. Roosevelt savait, mais il se taisait, pour ne pas démoraliser les boys. Les Polonais horri­fiés, mais peu enclins à courir des dangers pour les Juifs, ont laissé la mort faire son œuvre diabolique pres­que sous leurs yeux. Tout le monde est plus ou moins coupable de non-assistance à un peuple en danger de mort. La « conscience universelle », comme disent les

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paladins de la « guerre sainte », a été certes plus émue par l’incendie d’une toiture de mosquée que par le massacre réfléchi et scientifique de six millions d’êtres humains. C’est pourquoi nous disons : on n’avait jamais parlé de cette chose. Il faut bien en parler à la fin ! Il faut bien dire ce qui en est, n’est-ce pas ? Mais nous, devant ce qui est accompli, que devons-nous faire ? Au sens propre du verbe faire, on ne peut faire aujourd’hui que des gestes impuissants, symboli­ques et même déraisonnables comme par exemple de ne plus jamais aller en Allemagne… et encore moins en Autriche ! de n’accepter ni les indemnités des Allemands, ni leurs «réparations»… Des répara­tions, hélas ! des réparations pour les petits enfants juifs que les officiers allemands s’amusaient à choisir comme cibles vivantes dans leurs exercices de tir ? Les exigences de la cohabitation aidant, les tortionnaires retirés de leurs affaires de torture trouveront toujours des interlocuteurs assez peu dégoûtés pour entrer avec eux, d’un cœur léger, en rapports d’argent et d’intérêt, et se charger de ce que nous répugnons à faire. Notre refus n’est pourtant pas sans signification. Avec une gravité et un courage admirables, André Neher a dégagé la signification morale de ce refus 1. Il était

1. «Non à l’Allemagne», L’Arche, mars 1965. Du même: « Dimensions et limites du dialogue judéo-allemand depuis 1945 », Cahiers de l’Institut de science économique appliquée, n” 132, décem­bre 1962.

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temps qu’André Neher nous le rappelât : la vie sans les raisons de vivre ne mérite pas d’être vécue ; la vie sans les raisons de vivre n’est que ce qu’elle est : une vie de fourmi ou de ruminant. A notre tour nous disons aux Allemands : gardez vos indemnités, les crimes ne se monnayent pas ; il n’y a pas de domma­ges-intérêts qui puissent nous dédommager pour six millions de suppliciés, il n’y a pas de réparations pour l’irréparable. Nous ne voulons pas de votre argent. Vos marks nous font horreur, et plus encore l’inten­tion bien allemande de nous les offrir.  Non, les affaires ne sont pas tout. Non, les vacances ne sont pas tout ; et le tourisme non plus, ni les beaux voyages, ni les festivals, fussent-ils autrichiens. Mais cela, vous ne pouvez pas le comprendre. Nous renonçons de grand cœur à tant d’avantages, et si attrayants. Et comme on ne  peut  pas  être  l’ami  de  tout  le  monde,  nous choisissons d’agacer les amateurs de « jumelages » franco-allemands, plutôt que de blesser les survivants de l’enfer.

Et ainsi quelque chose nous incombe. Ces innom­brables morts, ces massacrés, ces torturés, ces piéti­nes, ces offensés sont notre affaire à nous. Qui en parlerait si nous n’en parlions pas ? Oui même y penserait ? Dans l’universelle amnistie morale depuis longtemps accordée aux assassins, les déportés, les fusillés, les massacrés n’ont plus que nous pour penser à eux. Si nous cessions d’y penser, nous achèverions

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de les exterminer, et ils seraient anéantis définitive­ment. Les morts dépendent entièrement de notre fidélité… Tel est le cas du passé en général : le passé a besoin qu’on l’aide, qu’on le rappelle aux oublieux, aux frivoles et aux indifférents, que nos célébrations le sauvent sans cesse du néant, ou du moins retardent le non-être auquel il est voué ; le passé a besoin qu’on se réunisse exprès pour le commémorer : car le passé a besoin de notre mémoire… Non, la lutte n’est pas égale entre la marée irrésistible de l’oubli qui, à la longue, submerge toutes choses,et les protestations désespérées, mais intermittentes de la mémoire ; en nous recommandant l’oubli, les professeurs de pardon nous conseillent donc ce qui n’a nul besoin d’être conseillé : les oublieux s’en chargeront d’eux-mêmes, ils ne demandent que cela. C’est le passé qui réclame notre pitié et notre gratitude : car le passé, lui, ne se défend pas tout seul comme se défendent le présent et l’avenir, et la jeunesse demande à le connaître, et elle soupçonne que nous lui cachons quelque chose ; et en effet nous ne savons pas toujours comment lui révéler ces terribles secrets dont nous sommes porteurs : les camps d’extermination, les pendaisons de Tulle, le massacre d’Oradour.  En évoquant les jours de la colère,  de  la  calamité  et  de   la  tribulation,  nous protestons contre l’œuvre exterminatrice et contre l’oubli   qui  compléterait,   scellerait   cette  œuvre   à jamais ; nous protestons contre le lac obscur qui a

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englouti tant de vies précieuses. Mais on n’est pas quitte envers ces vies précieuses, envers ces résistants et ces massacrés, parce qu’on a célébré une fois l’an la Journée de la déportation, prononcé un discours, fleuri une tombe. Nous qui survivons par le plus miraculeux des hasards, nous ne sommes pas meilleurs qu’eux ; nous qui avons échappé au massacre, nous ne sommes tout de même pas plus à plaindre qu’eux ; notre nuit n’est tout de même pas plus noire que la leur ; notre existence n’est pas plus précieuse que la leur ; l’affreux calvaire de ces martyrs nous a été épargné ; leurs épreuves, nous et nos enfants ne les connaîtrons plus. Méritions-nous une telle chance ? Ce qui est arrivé est unique dans l’histoire et sans doute ne se reproduira jamais, car il n’en est pas d’autres exemples depuis que le monde est monde ; un jour viendra où on ne pourra même plus expliquer ce chapitre à jamais inexplicable dans les annales de la haine. On éprouverait quelque soulagement à banali­ser ce cauchemar : une guerre comme toutes les autres, gagnée par l’un, perdue par l’autre, et accom­pagnée par les malheurs inévitables de la guerre – il n’y aurait, dans ces abstractions, rien que de très ordinaire, rien qui puisse déranger la quiétude d’une bonne conscience, ni troubler le sommeil de l’incons­cience. Mais non, le sommeil ne revient pas. Nous y pensons le jour, nous en rêvons la nuit. Et puisqu’on ne peut cracher sur les touristes, ni leur jeter des

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pierres, il reste une seule ressource : se souvenir, se recueillir. Là où on ne peut rien « faire », on peut du moins ressentir, inépuisablement. C’est sans doute ce que les brillants avocats de la prescription appelleront notre ressentiment, notre impuissance à liquider le passé. Au fait, ce passé fut-il jamais pour eux un présent ? Le sentiment que nous éprouvons ne s’ap­pelle pas rancune, mais horreur : horreur insurmonta­ble de ce qui est arrivé, horreur des fanatiques qui ont perpétré cette chose, des amorphes qui l’ont acceptée, et des indifférents qui l’ont déjà oubliée. Le voilà notre « ressentiment ». Car le « ressentiment » peut être aussi le sentiment renouvelé et intensément vécu de la chose inexpiable ; il proteste contre une amnistie morale qui n’est qu’une honteuse amnésie ; il entre­tient la flamme sacrée de l’inquiétude et de la fidélité aux choses invisibles. L’oubli serait ici une grave insulte à ceux qui sont morts dans les camps, et dont la cendre est mêlée pour toujours à la terre ; ce serait un manque de sérieux et de dignité, une honteuse frivo­lité. Oui, le souvenir de ce qui est arrivé est en nous indélébile, indélébile comme le tatouage que les rescapés des camps portent encore sur le bras. Chaque printemps les arbres fleurissent à Auschwitz, comme partout ; car l’herbe n’est pas dégoûtée de pousser dans ces campagnes maudites ; le printemps ne distin­gue pas entre nos jardins et ces lieux d’inexprimable misère. Aujourd’hui, quand les sophistes nous recom-

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mandent l’oubli, nous marquerons fortement notre muette et impuissante horreur devant les chiens de la haine ; nous penserons fortement à l’agonie des déportés sans sépulture et des petits enfants qui ne sont pas revenus. Car cette agonie durera jusqu’à la fin du monde.

 

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