Towards a Clandestine Aesthetics

Étienne Brouzes, trans. Sylvia

from: Philo-fictions, La revue des non-philosophies, No 1: Clandestinité, une ouverture, 2009, Paris, ONPhi, pp. 5-10

Abstract: This work exposits seven axioms for a clandestine aesthetics to come, understood as the transformation of philosophical aesthetics according to the non-philosophical One. Philo-fiction, for Utopia and the World; we introduce the postulate of Identity (of) the Impossible in view of the foreclosed Real. The point here is to assert creative invention and hesitation as the foundations of the Salvation of Man, for all eternity. This discourse is hence equally eschatological.


Key words: Aesthetics, Clandestine, Identity, Hesitation, Invention.

“Disaster ruins all in leaving all as is”[i]


            § 1: The non-aesthetic solution that we will attempt to sketch here is the description of that by which a work is “manifestation”: the invention (of) the Impossible (which we will also write as One-possible or II). This solution is not announced as the absolute truth of the artistic fact but as truth-without-solution, as evidence: neither below or beyond, rather Other-than the system formed by the True and Non-True.

            § 2: We will come back to void evidence [évidence vide] as the transformation of the relations from contingency to necessity. What each work reveals is that there is a (r)apport between the One-possible and what arises from language-thought. Although we take for granted the foreclosure of the Real, to language as to thought,—the radically separated Real—we should admit that radical immanence does have a certain form of barely concealed or hidden acting within artistic creation.

            § 3: It is hence without possible access to the Real but on the occasion of manifestation of works and theories rendered non-sufficient that we can transform the All (philosophy as unitary form of the World), breaking up with the circular structure of philosophy and its sufficient pretense, with its pastist bulimia. The trans- of transformation is the acting (of) the Future. Or the “futurality” of this science to be elaborated.

            § 4: Let us be precise. The Real is indifferent to the Possible just as much as the Impossible, however the One-possible comes-under the Real. Pure, unilateral, and radical creation—or the non-acting of immanence—makes a symptom in the World. Can we think a discourse adequate to the immanent “nature” of the Real, a discourse which doesn’t remake the Real in a subject? A discourse that does not immediately give primacy to the World and then seek to abolish it or to integrate it eternally? A discourse which can render comprehensible the all confused artistic phenomenon? A discourse which we could call scientific but also eschatological?

            § 5: What is then this subject particular to the messianic discourse, to the One-possible work, the unknown of philosophy, which is not of this World but always accompanies it and transforms it once each time? What is the knowledge which makes the weakness, the finitude of this One-capable “subject” that remains so often hidden?

            § 6: It is that of the Clandestine within art-thought. A Stranger to Logos which nevertheless reveals itself as a condition of possibility of Utopia as much as of the World. That which gives philosophy under a non-sufficient condition. The Clandestine is not only forgotten or repressed by Philosophy, it is also void of every determination, hence not a philosophical subject which can receive attributes. It is Resistant Identity to the World. This will be the first axiom for a Clandestine Aesthetics to come.

            § 7: Clandestine Aesthetics doesn’t seek to elaborate a new system of Fine Arts, always hierarchical and postulating the existence of a universal and transcendent nature of art, always debating in dualities of the type: Beautiful / Ugly, True / Non-True, Authentic / Imitated or even Reproduced. Nor is it a new philosophical point of view on aesthetics or a new philosophical aesthetics. Clandestine Aesthetics is a science valid for the non-acting of the Clandestine.

            § 8: Contrary to the philosophical subject which is always presented finally divided, the Clandestine not only dissolves, according to its Lived-in-immanence, Lived-One, the amphibologies produced by philosophical aesthetics (and other mundanities) but can operate transformations of the All by the means of science and art united in-last-instance: i.e., philo-fictions. This will be our second axiom for a future Clandestine Aesthetics.

            § 9: Clandestine Aesthetics operates a unilateral break [coupure] between the Clandestine and the All (not really constructed or deconstructed but 1) on the occasion of aesthetic systems and 2) according to the One-possible). The philosophizable All, auto-totalization of philosophy can be determined in-last-instance by Man-in-person. This determination is hence also a transformation, the minimal harm done to the World by the One-possible.

            § 10: The Clandestine, this Other-than or (non-)One, being without relation, can determine the (r)apports of aesthetics and science. To determine a new usage of aesthetics according to Man understood as Resistance and weak force, in struggle with the World but exactly for Utopia; a usage in addition to but outside price, without surplus-value, in suspension we would say say.

            § 11: Man qua Clandestine does not justify itself. Neither does it seek to be recognized or identified. It knows itself as Stranger to the World. This will be our third axiom. The non-philosophical evidence is that the One does not need to be shown [montrer] or to be demonstrated [démontrer]. It tolerates however being cloned under the name of the Clandestine which is capable of affect and can show itself as it pleases.

            § 12: Let's summarize. Aesthetic affect is an affect (of) itself, radical immanence. Its beauty comes from the simultaneous presence of the Lived-One and of occasional supports or means of the work; it is an improbable and contingent affinity of the affect (of) itself and of the World, a traumagic alliance. It is this agreement or reconciliation that makes it possible to speak according to immanence and under the conditions of the foreclosure of the Real. This affect cannot be submitted to the question of its emergence, it must be understood as the a priori of every possible aesthetic experience. It will make possible the transformation of the World and of aesthetics for artistic creation and definitively Man.

            § 13: The Lived-One, affect in-last-instance, if a work presents itself, is an emotion-of-beauty, a veritable immediate affect, independent, anterior to technical causes and stylistic or material determinations of the work, more anterior than life itself, Lived-without-life, a non sensible sensing which is not determined by sensibility. This lived is affect-One, neither interiority nor materiality; it protects its identity and hence does not alienate itself in the world, aesthetic theories, or even works. There is no longer an auto-position of aesthetics which can no longer pretend to co-determine the work by an effect of return or rather the reverse.

            § 14: Clandestine Aesthetics is the conciliation, without mediation of opposites, of the two terms of the dyad Clandestine / World: finally, it is a quasi-magical agreement (a black magic without doubt), without system and without rapport of any kind. That is our fourth axiom.

            This non-rapport is in the same moment displacement and inversion of the mundane determinations of philosophical aesthetics. Clandestine Aesthetics postulates an equality-without-relation rather than a relation of force or a forced relation, than a internal philosophical struggle. An a priori equivalence of differences which allows a unilateral contribution for artistic thought.

            § 15: The artist renounces the truth as a full and coherent whole or absolute and ends up in the fragmentary, in the chaotic, in radical indecision. Moreover, this chaos is not infinite, it is limited by the material that aesthetics and philosophy have become. Chaos is which is therefore a certain form of universality but not a totality. The knowledge—this solution-without-problem—which founds Clandestine Aesthetics is “generic”, neither universal nor particular. One-certainty (moreover we are not within certainty, in the shameful immanence that hides itself), non-decisional hesitation, uchronic and utopic, viewed-in-One or updated by Clandestine Aesthetics constitutes the “a priori form” of fiction and creation. Fifth axiom.

            § 16: The work, in the manner of Man-in-person, is indifferent to success and failure, to sense and non-sense, to the true and the non-true, to every mundane speculation. It’s more than an effect of the affinity of art and Man. And this is easily comprehended when we stop wanting to evaluate the work by using the transcendentals of philosophical aesthetics, to try to give it a place in a system or in a classification of works that always remains, but to varying degrees, hierarchical.

            § 17: Art has no criteria in-itself nor need of proof, in the same way as Man and the Real. The work is affect (of) itself through and through, a multiple-without-continuity, i.e., a chaos. However, this multiplicity does not result from a division or an operation of the One. Action-without-reaction, the work of the Clandestine comes out of nowhere and does not seek a hypothetical place it would have left; it can only wander through the fossilized Maze and Museum of the World.

            § 18: From contingency to necessity: the Identity (of) Invention for solution. How can, from chaotic contingency, a necessary and generic knowledge that is ignored be freed? Very simply. Since the contradiction is only apparent, is only a new philosophical hallucination, the Identity (of) the Invention is Identity (of) Hesitation (or unilateral One-certainty) by its real edge and necessity by the transcendental edge: true-without-truth; sixth axiom. We no longer turn in the contingency / necessity duality always with the pretention to the True (or to the Authentic, etc.) as horizon.

            § 19: Just as art, understood as affect-One (by its immanent edge which is not even first), cannot be taught, the work only understood “as” expression (of) the One, of the non-acting of Man-in-person, cannot be transmitted. Thus, we will not seek a beginning or an end to art either. By hypothesis, we can think that creation, invention always accompany Man.

            § 20: A provisional conclusion: Clandestine Aesthetics can be a practice which is no longer philosophical (neither philosophical aesthetics nor aesthetic philosophy) but identically scientific and artistic, not at the margin of philosophy but at the limit of a unique edge (of) the solitary and silent Real.

            § 21: Finally: the seventh axiom, Clandestine Aesthetics will be a thought according to the One, an ultimatum for peace by art, summons for a new distribution of art and philosophy in fiction. Resolution of invention not only understood as hesitation. The Identity (of) Hesitation viewed, in before-first, for the salvation of Last Man.

            Resistance is first, the Identity (of) Invention is before-first.

[i] Maurice Blanchot, L’écriture du désastre, Gallimard, 1980, p. 1