Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, Philippe Sollers | What is the Meaning of the Avant-garde’s Death?

FIRST PUBLISHED: DIAPHANES How could Dante be avant-garde? Mehdi Belhaj Kacem: Mr. Sollers, for 23 years you were the editor of Tel Quel, doubtless the very last important literary review that can be considered “avant-garde.” It published some of the biggest “avant-garde” writers of its time, like Pierre Guyotat, Maurice Roche, Jean-Jacques Schuhl and yourself, as well as still-unknown academics like Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes and Gérard Genette. You also published Pierre Boulez and Jean-Luc Godard, who, like the writers and thinkers I just mentioned, were the leading avant-garde figures in their respective fields. In 1983 you left Les Éditions du Seuil,…

Walter Benjamin | The Author as Producer

    II s’agit de gagner les intellectuels “la classe ouvriere, en leur faisant prendre conscience de l’identité de leurs de-marches spirituelles et de leurs conditions de producteur. – Ramon Fernandez   You recall how Plato treats the poets in his projected State. In the interest of the community, he does not allow them to live there. He had a high idea of the power of poetry. But he considered it destructive, superfluous – in a perfect community, needless to say. Since then, the question of the poet’s right to exist has not often been stated with the same insistence;…

Devin Fore | Soviet Factography: Production Art in an Information Age (Sergei Tret’iakov)

  If facts destroy theory, then all the better for theory. —Viktor Shklovsky, “In Defense of the Sociological Method,” 1927   Any discussion of factography first has to deal with the conspicuous strangeness of the word “factography” itself, an awkward and selfconsciously technicist term coined in Russia in the latter half of the 1920s to designate a certain aesthetic practice preoccupied with the inscription of facts. Those who are familiar with contemporaneous avant-garde movements in other countries and who may also be skeptical of the early Soviet zeal for linguistic invention will wonder if factography is not simply another word…

Pasolini on de Sade: An Interview during the Filming of ‘Salò or the 120 Days of Sodom’

  by Gideon Bachmann It is reputed that Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade, spent only 37 days, writing from seven to ten every evening, in composing his masterpiece, the unsurpassed 120 Days of Sodom, the first psychopathia sexualis ever written, and preserved only in fragmentary form. More than half of what has been left are just lists of perversions, lacking that deep sociological and political insight which characterizes most of the Marquis’s other work, and which assured him his ranking place in prerevolutionary French literature. Nobody has ever used a de Sade book as material for a film. It is therefore all…

Roland Barthes | Sade – Pasolini

  SALÒ does not please fascists. On another side, since Sade has become for some of us a kind of precious patrimony, many cry out: Sade has nothing to do with fascism! Finally, the remainder, neither fascist nor Sadean, have an immutable and convenient doctrine that finds Sade boring. Pasolini’s film therefore can win no one’s adherence. However, quite obviously, it hits us somewhere. Where? In SALÒ, what touches is the letter. Pasolini has shot his scenes to the letter, the way that they had been described (I do not say “written”) by Sade; hence these scenes have the sad, frozen and rigorous beauty…

Harun Farocki | Peter Weiss On Display (The Aesthetics of Resistance)

  We were visiting Peter Weiss in Stockholm on 17th and 18th June 1979. We talked about his work on the book The Aesthetics of Resistance. Two volumes have already been published and P.W. is currently on the third. He has been working on it for over ten years and not one sentence is unfounded. Weiss has performed an unbelievable amount of research, studied the lives of people serving as models down to the tiniest detail, and attaches great importance to visiting the scenes of the action. The film gives an impression of his work. Harun Farocki, 1979     Harun Farocki:…

Esther Leslie | Fear Eats the Soul: Walter Benjamin & Baader Meinhof

Neither of the figures in my title – Walter Benjamin and The Baader Meinhof Group – are in any direct way associated with 1968 – indeed each brackets it in time. The one, Benjamin, was long dead by the time of the student and worker revolts, that would undoubtedly have thrilled him, even if they did not thrill his old friend Adorno, who called in the police on his revolting students. Benjamin’s adult thought emerges in the years of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and it reaches its final formulation in the dark days of Nazi rule, his death occurring…