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The Trois Fontaines Interviews: Accompanied, in the Wild

Ali Hmiddouch, Serge Valdinoci, Foutre de Dieu, trans. Sylvia

Pictures and original text from: Et puis après ça commence, INgens.

C. Samarsky: I would gladly go back to your writing. Having reread you recently, it’s impressive and rare to see that your text does what it says. While very often other texts indicate—I think of Michel Henry for example, for whom life is not presented in the sphere of thought, since for him thought is transcendence, and language remains still exterior to what he speaks of. In your text we can indeed sense, as Ali said, there is a thickness. And at the same time—you speak to yourself as well, in La Traversée de l’immanence—, there is disappointment; one is found in front of a text without metaphor, for example, where the authors are worked on but, at the same time, have a face so different from what we have known of them, like Husserl for example, or Nietzsche… But it is at the heart of this disappointment, where there are no more landmarks, that one is perhaps able to receive something from europanalysis, finally that there is work done. And the surprise is that, in the reading, we don’t advance in a linear manner, by accumulating knowledge… there are these moments where one feels cramped, sometimes one feels stuck, the language becomes thicker and thicker. These are readings that finally overwhelm [bouleversent] us, even if, on the conceptual plane, we don't have the sentiment of having learned much about the authors. But there is a voyage that has commenced. As if it was the disappointment [déception] that permitted the reception. Is this something that you yourself have consciously worked on, this writing?


S. Valdinoci: In any case, it is true, it’s an obsession with me, and which is not of personal moralization, of “moraline”, as Nietzsche said. It is about, as much in writing as in life—but we only speak of writing here—, saying what we do and doing what we say. Life is no joke. Anyhow, if we do not say what we do, if we don’t do what we say, we get broken. Moreover, there is something to say on what we do. It is an absolute criterium which is posed there at the start, and which functions in my texts. I did not theorize it, but it is a necessity which should engage the human species towards more cohesion and coherence, less folly, less chaos finally… Now, concerning disappointment, there is one thing I have come to comprehend little-by-little in my life, in my life as a writer, I comprehended that the text had a thickness. It is a thickness that is not like this jacket, or this bag, has a thickness. It is a thickness that sends back, once again, within the structures of immensity, which sends back to what I call the unlimited (I suggest a fundamental critique of limitation, of the limit, I work on the inter [l’entre], and not on limits, therefore on translations [translations] and not on relations…). How does disappointment intervene therein? What seems important to me, it is true, is that my goal was never to teach someone, a reader, anything on an author, or even on me. My goal was never to teach something to someone. I am the anti-professor (my colleagues sensed it…). This is not my goal, not at all. The goal is to pass beside something and to know, to be aware that we have, as I said earlier, that we have passed beside, that we are lagging behind ourselves [en retard sur soi-même]—behind a self that is more real than the little biological reality that I am. Why are there disappointments, for the reader in any case, who resents it (for me there is no disappointment; indeed, it was brutal at the start, but I comprehended something and now I cultivate it)? It is evident: one wants to get information from a book… and even, when they are more important books, education [formation], which goes further. There is interoception, while we await something, a confirmation. I can imagine and conceive the disappointment when the man or woman in question finds themselves—and this is inevitable—lagging behind themselves. And we are all, except for some enlightened ones, we are all lagging behind us. Disappointment proceeds from this element.

There are surely the disappointments of the writer, psychological disappointments, and this is very cruel. When you make a living from that, you find yourself in front of yourself very dejected... But disappointment is something which is equally very enriching. I was disappointed to not have the mathematical training to comprehend quantum physics, for example. We cannot pretend to understand it. I was disappointed; I did five years of science at uni: it is too young to do quantum physics, much too young. It is a disappointment, but it is very important, because during this time, you have a training [formation] which is real, however insufficient, it is real.


C. Samarsky: In sum, this disappointment is positive because what is disappointed in us is representation, and it is there that a work can commence.


S. Valdinoci: Yes, whether it is the representation of us, others, or the representations of sciences—which are more or less ultimate representations, but which are representations… This disappointment permits enrichment in a definitive fashion; it guarantees stupidity… on the condition that we say what we do and we do what we say.


A. Hmiddouch: Even when we don’t understand exactly what you want to say, when reading, because you nevertheless mobilize many knowledges and cognizances, there is nonetheless something of this thickness which passes and makes us sense where you want to bring us, despite, sometimes, the conceptual incomprehension.


S. Valdinoci: It is true that I mobilize a lot of knowledge. But that comes from the fact that I frequented many sciences—even if relatively, let us get it right, we are in the twentieth century and more in the seventeenth century—; I tried from right to left simply to comprehend it, not my luck. It already gives a cloth, not yet a thickness, but already something that does not facilitate the approach...


A. Hmiddouch: We have the impression of penetrating within a non-linearity…


S. Valdinoci: Yes, the word is exact. What I try to do, and that I sensed at the time of the phenomenological psychiatrists, I sensed that their pertinence was not so much in their text—moreover, I wrote a whole text on the fact that they were doing… paraphrasing, ideology, notably with Schelling; it is not with these texts that it functions. It functions otherwise. There are many times in my life, but I will take the most radical still, that perhaps of La Traversée de l’immanence: the thickness is within the zigzag, the thickness comes from the fact that it curls up. It curls up and the linearity, Husserl already said it, is an idealization.


A. Hmiddouch: The problem is that language functions a lot on linearization.


S. Valdinoci: What is important anyway is that, as in philosophy, although the specificity is real, language functions on linearity but there is an expressive layer which maintains the same rapport, if you want, with impression that identification does with the real. The expressive layer says something, but in an element of which we have total ignorance; this element is the universe. Language is a thickness.

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