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B o o k R ev iew s that the more effective way to forget would be to forget through representing the unrepre­ sentable: “ Only that which has been inscribed [in memory] can in the current sense of the term, be forgotten, because it could be effaced” (p. 26). Once represented, an appropriate response can be identified and one projects to the outside a misery which is constitutive of the spirit. In his discussion of Heidegger, Lyotard selects a number of topics upon which to com­ ment, most prominently, Heidegger’s silence about the extermination of the Jews, this for­ getting of the holocaust in the midst of a thought about the forgetting of Being. But of par­ ticular significance for understanding the continuity between the two halves of Lyotard’s essay is his examination of Heidegger’s people, das Volk. Lyotard introduces it as follows: “ Heidegger’s ‘politics’ is in itselfthe resolute decision, as it is elaborated in his thought, by which the Volk determines one of the possibilities to which it is projected, ‘served’ by the knowledge that is delivered to it by the rereading of its ‘tradition’ ” (p. 71). Subsequently Heidegger gives an account of the thinker not as Führer, but as the guardian of the memory of forgetting, at which point Lyotard claims, somewhat tenuously it seems to me, to find a “ moment” that touches the thought of “ the jews” (p. 79). I have restricted myself to unravelling only one strand of Lyotard’s suggestive essay, and indeed much more could be said about his treatment of the various peoples he evokes— the Jews, “ the jews” and das Volk—while we await for him to return to this subject. When he does so, one must expect to find many revisions and retractions, for such is the style of his thought, a thought which is often stimulating and rarely final. R o b e r t B e r n a s c o n i M emphis State University Jean-François Lyotard. L ’I n h u m a in . C a u s e r ie s s u r l e t e m p s . Paris: Galilée, 1988. Pp. 219. Lyotard’s L ’Inhumain broaches the question of the “ inhuman,” or rather the inhumans: for there are two kinds of inhumans running through Lyotard’s “ informal talks” [causeries] on time, written between 1981 and 1988. And, in order to distinguish between the two inhumans, the question of time is decisive. On the one hand, the inhuman characterizes development, “ progress,” in our societies today. It is the general process of complexification affecting the entire cosmos, a process in which, for Lyotard, the new technologies seek to open up the possibility of thinking after the end of mankind. Whereas humanism is concerned with man’s ends and purposes, this process is inhuman insofar as the metaphysics of development needs no finality—no pur­ pose, no origin. Development accelerates, with no other necessity than its own cosmo­ logical randomness. Its temporal modality requires acceleration, speed, efficiency. On the other hand, the “ second” inhuman is “ le propre de l’homme” (p. 10), the specificity of mankind. This inhuman testifies to a suspension of thinking, to an unthink­ able which consists in the fact that something can happen (or not happen) “ before” all con­ sideration of what may happen: the inhuman testifies to the quod (the “ that” it happens) before the quid (the “ what” happens). It is insofar as the quod is not addressed, or final­ ized, has no form and no concept, that the inhuman suspends thinking, suspends the possibility of linkage, and marks the end of synthesis. For Lyotard, the artistic avant-gardes are concerned precisely with the presentation of the quod, thereby constituting a form of resistance to the “ first” inhuman. The shock of this presentation, presenting nothing but “ presence” itself, belongs to the aesthetic of the sublime (in the tradition of Burke and Kant), insofar as the sublime feeling (the shock of a VOL. XXXI, NO. 1 163 L ’E s pr it C r éa te u r combined pleasure and pain) stems from a failure of Imagination (the faculty...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 163-164
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
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