The Trois Fontaines Interviews: Thrown Entry

Foutre de Dieu, Serge Valdinoci, trans. Sylvia

Pictures and original text from: Entrée jetée, INgens.

Serge Valdinoci and a dew others sitting on chairs on a lawn. Someone with long, curl hair lies on the grass. They all seem to be listening attentively.

F. de Dieu: This is something uncommon in the literature of the twentieth century, and it is very sensible when we reread your books: your writing, your thought, has presumably put in place a type of ascesis—which is nearly the contrary of all that has been sustained as movement in Europe, and something which is very exacting, a rigor that we sense as much from the side of writing as the people you read. When we take your books, as we have done just before undertaking these interviews, this exigency, at a very very high threshold of concentration that is necessitated by the reader and occurs, since you have set up a very pointed oeuvre, quite arduous to read, and which nevertheless gives an account of an experience which it announces as totally ordinary, as specifically human, across this discipline baptized europanalysis.

I do not know much how to enter within the genesis of this thought, which is presented both as a conceptual matrix and, at the same time, as a specific experience of the real. Firstly, we would like to ask how this thought is progressively constructed: maybe how the experience that has given lieu to your writing was put in place, whether across your encounter with philosophical thought, experiences which are indeed anterior to your contact with the University, or, on the contrary, encounters that you made within philosophy, encounters with works or living encounters with your contemporaries—and see a little how the putting in place of this experience and this theory is marked in fact—in any case of this kidnapping—which accounts for europanalysis.


S. Valdinoci: The question that you have posed me is decisive. By that, I mean that it is difficult to mark out this type of thought in the fashion in which it is classically marked: classically, indeed, we go to the encounter with anterior authors, or even with works of art, with philosophical works, with political works for example, and while waiting for a certain majority, around thirty years, we construct what we call the premises of a system. So, it is still the concept of malnutrition [innutrition], Rabelais’ concept, that functions; the encyclopedic concept. There, it’s different.

This thought was not formulated—“formulated”, I do say—at first as thought, nor later as encounter. It was not at first formulated as thought because, to come back to what you say, it was formulated at an age where thought does not exist, quite simply. It is an experience which was formulated, very young by the way—we will not come back to the details—very young, an absolutely not pathological sentiment, at all, a sentiment of foreignness, we say, …of strangeness, of foreignness…, which took place around thirteen-fourteen years, thereabouts.

Philosophy—we all commence via the history of philosophy, when we are young, finally (or else we do philosophy in high school, it is something else there for once, but it is no more philosophy); for me it was otherwise: I mean that I haven't been a philosopher at all, at the start in any case—I was one by what followed, by my career as professor, which is in fund very secondary in my life. Philosophy is an operation which has emerged thus in an experience of strangeness, far from philosophers, books, far from philosophical Classics that we are all acquainted with and to which I do not come back to. So much so that when I entered the Baccalauréat, when I emerged in the cadre of the Baccalauréat, I had the highest marks, but I think that I came across as an either very demented or very intelligent person: that had nothing to do with philosophy, absolutely nothing to do with it, it was truly “another world”, to speak simply. So much for two milestones: one positive, one a little less.

And then there was the necessity of being a professor, at first in the secondary, and then in the higher; it is a necessity that I resented with a great violence, personally, I had much trouble in occupying this function, whether it was in the higher or the secondary. But that permitted me occasionally to plug the holes, i.e., to read what my colleagues read, to read what my students asked me to read, the exigencies of the program. And thus I, if I can say, aged it as one ages wine, I aged a thought.

But I feel thirteen, here, right now, at the level of thought.


F. de Dieu: And yet you came into particular resonance with phenomenology. There was nevertheless the meeting with all of Husserl's concepts which must have marked a milestone; you have, in any case, worn [revêtu] this conceptual habit.


S. Valdinoci: Your word is exact; it is truly the topical word: it is “worn”. I wore it because it was finally about finding a job, and more so it was about making a thesis: it was about making a thesis with who I am, i.e., with a man who doesn’t do the history of philosophy and who is not interested in authors. So, I took the most autodidactic author possible, the one who recounts the most blunders on the history of thought in the West, and this man—evidently it is ill-said because he is so well known, and he is so profound elsewhere—, this man is Husserl, indeed. But what interested me, rather, was phenomenology, while Husserl only interested me in taking up the post of professor, Husserl making a part of the grand classical, traditional authors who are accepted by the establishment; in Husserl’s time, he was much less accepted than Heidegger by the way. And I did a course in private, thanks to Ricœur, who wanted it; I was the only Husserlian in France at that time, in 1974, and that interested Ricœur.


F. de Dieu: And Paul Ricœur, did he not sense this marginality, this strangeness from where you came to thought: he took you for someone who was interested in archives, who wanted to sink [s’enfoncer] into Husserl, or he perceived what moved you more deeply?


S. Valdinoci: Ricœur stood on both shores, I believe. Effectively, he proposed I go to Chicago to work in the global center of phenomenological research on a grand dictionary of rethought Husserlian archives; that is one aspect of things. But Ricœur was interested by another aspect, in all modesty I speak: he published absolutely everything I wanted, and that did not necessarily have any relation with philosophy, it had a relation with Mallarmé, with other things, with poetic experience among others. And then Ricœur accepted, it struck me because when I defended my thesis, I was reproached a lot for this: I wrote a phenomenology, that we called Les Fondements de la phénoménologie husserlienne—I wrote it interesting myself only on the unity form of the phenomenological text; thus, I excluded what became more important, in Germany notably, I excluded all hermeneutics. And Ricœur, while telling me elsewhere that I was not lacking in nerve—because it was the hermeneutics of the time—, said “good, well, let’s leave it, let’s move on, it is your thought”, and he wrote it during the thesis defense (he was the only one who was favorable to me by the way): “it is your thought, it is no more that of Husserl… and that poses a problem…”.

The scene from the previous photo from a different angle. Now, Valdinoci looks almost directly into the camera. Teh faces of the others are still obscured.

F. de Dieu: We feel exactly in the thesis, and this is maintained even from the moment when europanalysis begins to be formulated as such, we feel the detournement from hermeneutics, the will to hold a unity, to seek even under Husserl a unity which founds all phenomenologies, at the moment where, in the midst of the deconstructionist epoch, on the contrary one seeks dissemination, scattering. We feel this hook—there is the will to hold together, to go to the core of the experience, something that would not scatter, to rejoin a unity—we feel this…, I do not know if we can talk of an imperative, in any case this drive in you to go to unity…


S. Valdinoci: There was this drive to go to unity, which is real by the way. The end of my thesis, if we want to speak of it for a second, it is a thesis which produced a logic of deconstruction, what is worst of all, because the deconstructionists, I speak of Derrida for example, or even of François Laruelle at the start, these are people who undo, putting “logocentrism” in continuous dephasing: me, I attempted to produce a driven [pulsionnel] type of logocentrism, a type of logocentrism which takes us out of hermeneutics and the anti-hermeneutic reaction that was French deconstructionism.


F. de Dieu: But paradoxically you did find this unity in a fund that makes a substrate, it is maybe the most astonishing point in your thesis, you quickly put forward that this unity functions on nothing, on something aberrant, which will be found later when you approach psychopathology: something moving and which makes a fund and, at the same time, is absolutely unseizable.


S. Valdinoci: Yes, indeed from ’74 I preferred to start from chaos: chaos is at the start; and I attempted to show that, with Husserl, chaos is at the start. Chaos with a positive sense. I was not understood at that time. I do not regret it, that was the thesis, with its difficulties. But this chaos very quickly made me comprehend that what exists was just as well nothing. And I do not produce an "archeology", in the sense where Foucault, later, spoke of an archeology, I produce, I attempted, an Arché-logic (without the “o”). This marked all the thesis. It is on this arché-logic, on this “sense = signification” which I also speak about in the thesis, that I develop a creative text, a text which is no more the subject (whether in Husserl the transcendental subject or any other), but it is a text which in itself may well maintain concurrence with other texts within the same thesis: there may be different types of texts, the thesis could have been written, if I had more time (because at the time it was about having to eat), if I had more space too (I had a thousand pages at the start, we cut it to three hundred pages all the same), I wanted to write different meta-texts and multiply them, and deepen this question of an arché-logic.