LAND 1992 (Nick Land is a lecturer in Continental Philosophy at Warwick University, The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism, 138-140)
However great the revulsion that can be felt in contact with a single corpse, especially when it is in an advanced state of decomposition, or marked with the traces of an ignoble extremity of agony (torture in particular), this is massively augmented—and not merely quantitatively—when one is confronted by heaps or mounds of corpses; the stacked remains of an ossuary, the human remnants from an extermination camp, piles of skulls, anonymous tangles of bodies in the Ugandan bush or at the edge of a Kampuchean paddy field. The corpse not as a lost person, but as a disintegrating clot in the depersonalized refuse of death. Sade’s writings are not without such images, but nor are the mass media of twentieth-century societies. It is only at the lip of such abysmal indignities, when bodies are vomited as faceless masses of Herakleitean dung, that one glimpses the filthy and senseless death one craves. Whatever the monstrosity of Sade, he does not point into Auschwitz; it is more true to suggest that he points out of it. Despite the peculiar desperation in our attempts to give a moral interpretation to the somatic shock induced by traces of the Nazi exterminations, our intellectual conscience remains offended by the sanctimonious inanities that ensue. We treat Hitler as a persuasive Satan, a figure that the church was unable to invent, in whom we vicariously live our evil (as if we were masturbating over a magazine). In the aggregate, our squalid separation from the victims gapes its stale complacency. Our lurch for innocence seals us against communion, and we are repulsed from the place where their fate is also ours, as if death itself has been soiled by their torments. That we are an ineliminably massacreable species of animal scarcely marks us. We engineer an apartheid of the dead. Partly this is due to the widespread dread of corpses, Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals prevalent in our societies. All of which elements are consigned by morality to the same howl-choked dungeon as desire, irresponsibility, and profound contact with the real. Our moral natures would complete the sanitization of the 1940s’ pogroms, contributing to the elimination of sprawling bodies, and of the problematic affects they provoke. We are even stupid enough to believe that between a KZ guard and a young Jew treading the edge of a death factory it is the latter who is most profoundly caged.
The technical core of the final solution was not merely an apparatus for mass killings, but one that was also guided by the exigency of the utile disposal of corpses. We simplify out of anxiety when we conflate the mounds of emaciated bodies strewn about the camps at the point of their liberation—the bodies of those annihilated by epidemics during the collapse of the extermination system—with the reduced ash and shadows of those erased by the system in its smooth functioning. The uneliminated corpse is not a submissive element within this or any other ‘final solution’, but an impersonal resistance to it, a token of primordial community. The docility of the inert body is itself a fascist myth. The final solution is a myth and a fact; each of its traces being invested by complex libidinal forces. The lamp-shades made from human skin, the meticulously salvaged heaps of dentures and artificial limbs, the calm efficiency of the Nazi genocidebureaucrat: all are freely circulating tokens of powerful affect. None of these images is more extraordinarily wounding to our sense of cosmic order than the bars of soap made from the body fat of the exterminated, the transubstantiation of verminized flesh into an implement of hygiene; white, glistening, malleable, inert. The soporific words of the allied propaganda machinery, with their insistence on fascist filthiness, are paralysed in the throat. Here are purists; clean and dutiful men, and yet we would be more fastidious than they were?
That there is nothing to insulate us from falling prey to such things—that the slime and ash in a drainage ditch outside Birkenau might be the residue of our own flesh—is a savagery of chance in which it is necessary to exult if we are to connect. A wall that stood between us and such acute horror would still be a wall, and if a God had existed to prevent the annihilation of Hitler’s victims life as a whole would be the camp (for the Nazi it is). Pain, degradation, and death are one thing, the enslavement of desire something else. It is only because our bodies are weak and die that it is impossible for there to be a perfect cage, or for the sun to be locked interminably in a fascist health. To be protected by something more than zero is the final term of imprisonment.
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There is poetry after Auschwitz, just as there was poetry within it, and only because there was. There is poetry wherever there are droplets of the sun who are not afraid to touch (however imperilled). I imagine there was even laughter amongst the doomed. There have been shadow-spaces of the Earth such as are impossible to think, but ‘[w]hat does truth signify…if we do not think what exceeds the possibility of thought…?’ [III 12]. It is only at the edge of the impossible that the wretchedness of isolated being is grated open, and ‘poetry is the impossible’ [III 520].
It is not out of innocence, but from out of a history pock-marked by exterminations, that Bataille writes: ‘I would like to efface the trace of my steps…’ [III 161].
Fascism is not so much a symptom of political desperation, as of libidino-religious numbness, a kind of anti-poetry on the streets. Like all policy-obsessed behaviour patterns it is rooted in the humanist dead-end characterized by hysterical struggle for autonomy: self-determination, national self-management, master-races, autarky…all attempts to seal the blister from within, to hide from the ocean. The thought that there might be a political response to fascism makes me laugh. Shall we set our little fascism against their big one? Organize ourselves, become disciplined, maybe we could make ourselves some smart uniforms and stomp about in the street? Politics is the last great sentimental indulgence of mankind, and it has never achieved anything except a deepened idiocy, more work, more repression, more pompous ass-holes demanding obedience. Quite naturally we are bored of it to the point of acute sickness. I have no interest at all in groping at power in the blister. What matters is burning a hole through the wall.
Modern science has created a myth of infinite knowledge which stifles creativity and represses excess with the quest for literal truth. Our philosophical investigation of the ocean resists this completion and provides an outlet for scientific inquiry and resists the dominant form of scholarship as accumulation and work, which demands predictability, order, and stasis. Exploration resists both scientific certainty and mystical obscurantism—thought without restriction is important in and of itself