Abstract: In the first part of this article,‘Togethernes: Self-convicted closeness’ , I propose a complex intervention on the persistence of the concept of community, on the perverse mode in which it maintains itself, even in the most radical forms of its emptying. I try to reconstruct, and deconstruct, too, the collapse of the political concept of community. I search for its conceptual origins and historical destination. I pay special attention to the over dramatized philosophical discourse on ’the end’ and ’death’ of community. This kind of narrative was connected, from the very begining, with a homogenizing idiom of community, which was rejected and replaced by the singularity paradigm of community of those who are without a community.
Togetherness: Self-convicted closeness
The common condition is at the same time the common reduction to a common denomination and the condition of being absolutely in common. These two senses of common are both intermixed and in opposition to each other.(Jean-Luc Nancy, La Comparution/The Compearance, 1992)
Before I begin to speak on the increasing mistrust that surrounds the very notion of ‘community’, I would like to thank my Russian friend Oleg Nikiforov, who generously invited me to participate in this conference.
I also wish to express my profound gratitude to my colleagues at* The article,Community of Non-Belonging represents a revised version of a speech delivered at the National Centre for Contemporary Arts(NCCA) Moscow, 1 August, 2011.172:141.78 12|Belgrade Journal for Media and Communications #2 the National Centre for Contemporary Art (NCCA), Moscow, for their welcoming hospitality. I came to this conference with the deep conviction that Moscow is really the proper place to articulate the most painful testimony of the modern world, the ‘testimony of the dissolution, the dislocation or the conflagration of community’. In some sense, Moscow may represent the final political destination of the unstoppable and ongoing process of dissolution of the collective desire for unity, for a unified community. Endorsing Boris Groys’s ironic comment, the ‘real community’ was a new, collectivistic practice of togetherness, of total restriction of the personal, intimate life, and a total revocation of the private property. ‘During the 1930s every kind of private property was completely abolished. […] One could eat communistically, house and dress oneself communistically – or likewise non-communistically, or even anti-communistically.” (Boris Groys, The Communist Postscript, 2010: 16 ). In a later evaluation of the historical explosion of ‘communist anger’, Peter Sloterdijk refers to Groys’s insight with the following comment: ‘To the communists in power, taking satisfaction in the philistine joy of expropriation and longing for revenge against private property was, overall, always more important than any spreading of new values.’(Peter Sloterdijk, Rage and Time: A Psychopolitical Investigation, 2010:34). There is no longer anything enigmatic in the socio-historical collapse of the totalitarian community. Yet, despite the crumbling of ‘dictatorial imma-nentism’, the communist utopia of togetherness still functions as a political banner of ‘leftist communitarianism’.
This renewed discourse of community as ‘unified brotherhood’ becomes, however, un-operative at the very moment it is transformed into the unworkable ideology of work. Communism was the last giant failure predicated on a dream of harmonious socialistic life. The manifest collapse of what it promised upon the emblem of Communism is inseparable from the self-evident betrayal of community understood as political unity, as a unified political community. Let me here clarify briefly what may be a cause for confusion. To my mind,Communism was, and still is, an ontological proposition, not a political option. As Jean-Luc Nancy apparently argued,“Communism” means – it wants to say, it has worn itself out trying to express, to yell, to bring out, to prophesy this … (and this is what all has to be said over, completely differently) – communism wants to say that being is in com-mon. It wants to say that we are, insofar as we “are”, in common. That we are commonly. That each one of us, from between us, is in common, commonly. Between us: what is it that is “between”? What is there between, in the “be-tween,” as “between.” This is what it is all about.1 The socio-historical and politico-ethical analysis of the very notion of community calls for a rigorous analysis, and for responsible interpretations. Such an analysis must be open toward concepts that are deeply embedded in the extensive history of the community. Therefore, the intolerable question of the death and the end of community, even of crime in, and by, the community was broadly articulated by an impressive group of thinkers (from Blanchot and Nancy to Agamben and Esposito) who shaped a new philosophical interrogation into the ‘deadly concept of community.’ What is strange is that these thinkers are uncompromising in dealing with a speculative, thanato-ontological conception of community but they never work on the empirical, or ‘really existing community’, as has been articulated by Zygmunt Bauman, for instance. Nominally, of course, the philosophers have accepted a non-metaphysical approach to community: ‘Philosophers start to think precisely the community of being, and not the being of community. Or if you prefer:the community of existence and not the essence of community.’ (GeorgesVan Den Abbeele, Community at Loose Ends, 1991: 32). Technically, they form the pre-eminence of speculative discourse on the self-destructive community, a discourse that starts to function as philosophical narrative on the ‘work of death’. The main task of such alarming and alarmist discourse is to bear witness and testify to the ‘collective practice of killing’. In a sense, these overdramatized discourses on the end, and death, of community represent a radical tendency (I am quite aware of the understandable reservations that today could be expressed regarding the felicity of the term ‘radical’)inside contemporary ‘totalitarian debates’. This line of thinking favours a genealogy of community based on an ‘act of crime’. Its main assault on the community comes from the popular theory of ‘foundational crime’: accord-ing to this tradition ‘Crime presides over the birth of any community, either secret or public one.’ (Frank Tannenbaum, Crime and the Community, 1957:12). The discourse on community has survived these philosophical attacks, extensively transformed, although its theoretical reputation and influence are much diminished. The reluctant question proposed by Benedict Anderson,‘Why is the idea of community so powerful that it is possible for its members to willingly die for such limited imaginings?’ is evidence that the long celebration of an idea of heroic self-sacrifcing for the homeland – is reason-ably dead.
1 Jean-Luc Nancy, La Comparution/The Compearance, 1992: 378).
In the age when it is so common for progressive, cosmopolitan intellectuals (particularly in Europe) to insist on the near-pathological character of nationalism, its root in fear and hatred of the Other, and its afinities with racism, it is useful to remind ourselves that nations inspire love, and often profoundly self-sacrificing love. […] The idea of the ultimate sacrifice comes only with the idea of purity (homogeneity of the ethnic nation), through fatality.
The prevailing philosophical critique of the Life and Death of, in, and by, with community is particularly based on the idea of a ‘conceptual break’, an epistemological rupture at the heart of the very notion of community, a community that is separated from, and confronted with, itself.That this confrontation with self may be a law of being-in-common and its meaning, this is what is on the task sheet for the work of thought – immediately accompanied by this other project of thought: that the confrontation, in grasp-ing the fact of itself, grasp the fact that mutual destruction destroys all the way along to the very possibility of confrontation, and with that destruction the possibility of being-in-common or being-with.3 What dominates over Western conceptions of community is the unavoidable dichotomy between real and imagined community. What constitutes the dynamic of this dichotomy is a nostalgic desire for the loss of ‘ full presence’ of the homogenized and unified community. This captivating nostalgia is based on the foundational myth of homogenized identity. Such a nostalgia degenerates into a painful discourse about the supposed loss of collective unity, a loss which is not accidental but rather constitutive of the destiny of the political community. After the ‘community turn’ in contemporary philosophical discourse, however, we know very well that ‘what sounds like nostalgia is not nostalgia at all; loss does not refer here to anything one has ever had, except wistfulness for the very possibility of community itself’. Nancy was first among the philosophers to try to articulate the ontological foundation of togetherness and thus to move away from the homogenizing idiom of community .2 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Community, (London: Verso press,1991), p.141.3 Jean-Luc Nancy, The Confronted Community, Postcolonial Studies,Vol. 6, No.1/2003, p. 25.
What is especially challenging today for the debate over the destiny of the political notion of community is the surprisingly effective argument that we can imagine a community without essence – neither ‘people’, nor ‘nation’n or indeed ‘destiny’. In any case, Nancy’s answer is tentative and suggestive: in our political pro-grams, he argues, ‘the properly common character of community disappears’- that is, ‘being-in-common’, or ‘with or the together that defines it. In contrast to the immanentism of the subject and of the common—or, as he also calls it, the generalized totalitarianism in which the individual is absolutely closed off from all relation, and in which being itself is absolute in the form of ‘the Idea,History, the Individual, the State, Science, the Work of Art, and so on’ – Nancy proposes that singular plural beings only exist in an original sociality’, inso far as ‘nite being always presents itself ‘together,’ hence, severally.4 According to this post-metaphysical concept of ‘community,’ our singular plural existences must be grounded in the ‘work of relations’:what we share is only the existence of these relations. The new community is simply made of relations, of those relations without relations. Coming into existence with shared relations is granted by the ontological status of the human being, asa ‘being open to’: This openness to, this inclination toward the world, the world of the other, has nothing to do with tolerance, friendship, or with moral and political correctness. Rather, to be is being-toward, being exposed, be-ing abandoned, prior to any will, intention, or open-mindedness of a subject.Indeed if one were to say a community is founded on disassociation, is it not to thoroughly destabilize the integrity of the concept of community itself? IsDerrida not simply saying that at the heart of any community is an inescapable volatility? […] Instead, there seems to be the simultaneous desire to reafirm a notion of a community which is differentiated, fractured and porous, exposed to and taking its condition from that which it is not.5
It seems that the reluctant debates on the inhuman moment constituted on any imagined, harmonized togetherness partake of a reinvention of the idea that community discourse has an inner-conflicted structure, internal
-4 Stella Goan, ‘Communities in Question: Sociality and Solidarity in Nancy and Blanchot , Journal for Cultural Research, No. 4, 2005: 394.5 Patrick O’Connor, Derrida: Profanations (New York: Continuum, 2010), p.122.
differences, and alterity options that are ultimately unsuitable for straight forward communal identification. Collective identity is broken down and incommensurable singularities are privileged.There is no essence to the relation between singular beings; they depend on the existence of a relation and are defined by it, yet there is no communality that could describe in it any definite manner. There is sharing between singularities but no essential being in common. […] Freedom is this relation without relation, the coexistence of singular being and the absence of communal essence.[…] Singularity is not only multiple in terms of its relations with other singularities but also plural within itself.6 I could not follow the main traces of the restoration of community, the singularisation of a ‘deconstructed concept of community’ because I am not quite sure that such a concept is really valid, or even possible! It is well known that Derrida openly expressed his deep suspicion, even animosity, toward the very notion of community. As Derrida explicitly states:I don’t much like the word community; I am not even sure I like the thing. If by community one implies, as is often the case, a harmonious group consensus, and fundamental agreement beneath the phenomena of discord or war, then I don’t believe in it very much and I sense in it as much threat as promise. There is doubtless this irrepressible desire for a ‘community’ to form but also for it to know its limit – and for its limit to be an opening.7 Community never played a central role in the history of Derrida’s deconstructive interventions, and he never engaged or participates in actual valorisation, sustained valorisation, of community itself. Simply speaking, ‘Community does not hold the conceptual resources to undermine what it already6
Jane Diddleston, Reinventing Community, Legend, London, 2005, p. 73.7 Jacques Derrida, Points(Stanford CA: Stanford UP, 1995), 355. For aninstructive discussion of Derrida’s sporadic remarks on community, see Geoff Bennington’s, Interrupting Derrida, (London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 113–21. A condensed theoretical speculation on deconstructed community, ‘community yet to come’ can be found in the charming book, Jelisaveta Blagojević, Community of those without Community (Bel-grade: Faculty of Media and Communications, 2008). It is also worth-while to read the book, Miroslav Milović, TheCommunity of Differences (Čačak: Gradac, 2008).
is, namely community. Community is thus not deconstructive and offers no challenge to whatever communal space is posited’. We can add here that the bookThe Politics of Friendship, for the first time offers, more stringently than anywhere else, ‘fraternalistic critique of community’ ‘There is still per-haps some fraternity in Bataille, Blanchot and Nancy, and I wonder, from the depths of my admiring friendship, whether it doesn’t merit some loosening [déprise] and if it should still orient the thought of community, even if it be a community without community or a fraternity without fraternity’ (JacquesDerrida, The Politics of Friendship, 2005: 48) and, on the other hand, deconstructive protection of the promising concept ‘a community without community’. It is quite unusual that Derrida himself tries to save community, even in its singular and contingent form, based on a deep sense of exceptional love and incomparable friendship. Thus he announced the unique form of ‘anchoritic community’, a community of those who love in separation (who love to stand alone, qui aiment à s’eloginer ), ‘those who can love only at a distance, in separation (qui n’aiment que à se séparer au loin)’, of those who are uncompromising friends of solitary singularity. Perhaps, Derrida created, invented a rebellion concept of ‘a community of those without community’ because, let us speculate for a moment, he was very disappointed with the classical concept of community always belonging to the past, and death, and therefore, created a promising concept of community, ‘a community yet to come’ (à-venir, Zu-kunft), open for the future, and, on the side of life. I will return later to the question why, for Derrida, as well as for Esposito, but in a different way, autoimmunity becomes a more relevant notion than community. Immunity is ‘a more radical concept since it is subject to originary violability, and therefore, in principle, susceptible to incalculable violations’. How is it possible that ‘community just does not hold the same deconstructive force as autoimmunity’ if that community is on the side of protection, and hence on the side of life, or more specifically, calls for the survival of life no matter what the cost!? Community, for Derrida, must thus be wholly erased because its own system of survival is rendered dead entail-ing the drive to survival, life itself.The growing and unstoppable process of critical profanation (and deregulation) of the political concept of community (‘disassociation and singularity are pre-conditions for the coming community’) offers a perfect reminder that community discourse can perpetuate itself by way of a radical break with ethnic, national, and race mythologies of togetherness, endlessly resurrected by the sanguinary logic of a ‘bloody community’. A long and uninterrupted history of the suspected concept of a ‘community of blood’ has been finally articulated in the exemplary philosophical book by Gil Anidjar, Blood: A 18|Belgrade Journal for Media and Communications #2Critique of Christianity, 2012. In his remarkably analysis of the community as a community unified in, by, and as blood, with blood, Anidjar searches for the conceptual origins and historical destination of the Christianized concept of community asa ‘community of blood’:The argument I wish to advance in this chapter is quite straightforward: Christianity invented the community of substance as the community of blood. […]It becomes the first community ever to understand and conceive itself as a community of blood.8 Anidjar exposes the historical moment of blood, a crucial moment in the history of the community of blood, a moment whereby blood becomes part for the whole, and comes to dominate the whole, as a privileged ex-ample of a generalized signifier.“’This is the turbulent and raging moment –an extended one, but still only a moment –whereby a collective (family or tribe, clan or nation) can be isolated, separated and singled out, taken asa part and taken apart, by way of blood.’ In this eloquent and critical work, Anidjar offers disturbing insights into the politics of blood – ‘indeed massiveexpansion of blood as the site – figurative as it may at times be – of the collective bond, of which the Inquisition is but a small if significant part’. The reach of Anidjar’s Hematheology goes far beyond Derrida’s elegant formulation that ‘blood would make all the difference’, thus proposing that blood functioned as a possible marker for the exceptional construction of difference on the basis of blood. Quite the opposite:The major contribution of the purity of blood to history is not to be found in the exceptional construction of difference on the basis of blood, and in the ensuing exclusion of specific groups and collectives. On the contrary, the purity of blood, as its numerous opponents knew well, was part of a massive transformation, a general refiguration of the body politic as a whole, and first (if not alone)in it, the new community of Christians, the Christian community as a community of blood. […] The first individual whose blood, everywhere following as it8
Gil Anidjar, Blood: A Critique of Christianity, 2012: 74, forthcoming.Intriguing and fascinating theoretical reflections on Christianity can be found in other Anidjar’s books: Jacques Derrida, Acts of Religion (London: Routledge, 2002);The Jew, the Arab: A History of the Enemy(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003);Semites: Race, Religion, Literature (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007).
had never flowed before, initiated and established the possibility of imagining a community of pure blood, and enforcing it by law.9 Having in mind the theological-political, and bio-political implications of Anidjar’s book on blood, we can say that a ‘continuum of blood’ underpinned every secular community understood as a Christianized ethno-national unity.
The inclusion of blood in a lexicon of political concepts, whether blood is a symbol, metaphor, or cipher, requires a new theological-political discourse on community understood as a violent, despotic unity.
The idea of community in modernity has obvious Christian connotations and, even more deeply, Hebraic mystical roots, and is already present in philosophical debates:On several sides I saw approaching the dangers inspired by the usage of the word ‘community’: its invincibly full resonance […] its quite inevitable Christian references (spiritual and brotherly community, communial community) or more broadly religious one (Jewish community, community of prayer, community of believers-‘umma), its usage to support the claims of supposed ‘ethnicities’ could only put one on one’s guard. […] Objections or reservations were quick to emerge, even friendly ones such as that coming from Derrida, who opposed himself on this point to both Blanchot and myself, or like Badiou’s, which demanded that ‘equality’ be substituted for ‘community’.10
The present, overdramatized articulation of the ‘end of community’ and ‘death of community’, needs to be rethought, as much as possible, between exercises of political, and moral responsibility and their theoretical, or even doctrinal thematisation. This demand for a critical thinking of community implies an active and permanent responsibility (‘one is never responsibleenough’) toward what has been always neglected and ignored by the conventional discourse on community. By now we have learned from Derrida(The Gift of Death, 1999) that ‘there is no responsibility without a dissident and inventive rupture with respect to tradition, authority, orthodoxy, rule, or doctrine’. Having in mind this subversive remark, I shall take the risk of a conversion, even of apostasy, and say that exponential violence ( the violent9 Gil Anidjar, ‘Blood’, Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon, 2011.<(http://www.politicalconcepts.org/2011/blood)> [accessed 5 October2012] 10 Jean-Luc Nancy, ‘The Confronted Community’, PostcolonialStudies, 6/1 (2003), pp. 23-36 (p, 31). relations of all relations) remained unthinkable in community discourse as it was, for example, in ‘academic debates’ between liberals and communitarians. But with the new elaborated ‘paradigm of blood’ we might, together with Stathis Gourgouris and Gil Anidjar, pose the question with brutal literalness: what is violence without blood?, and, still further, what is a community without blood, a ‘community of blood’? I think the possible answer to this required question lies in a reconceptualization of the community connected with the figure of blood, the ‘community of blood’. Even if the idea of bloodless violence holds some validity, some amount of blood is always present, even in its absence, as the price of participation in a ‘bloody community’ which is the converted, secularized politico-theological concept of the ‘community of blood’. As Anidjar puts it: ‘Blood operates, or, shall we say, circulates at the outer extremes of politics, there where the shedding of blood signifies the ultimate exercise of power, as well as the undoing of the community that descends into violence’. (‘Blutgewalt’ inOxford Literary Review. Volume 31, 2009: 174). If we go further, we can argue that the community paradigm was transformed into a great series of social principles, universal norms, either practiced everywhere or tolerated nowhere. In the specific historical constellation, small groups, communities, organizations and associations can start to ‘resonate’ with each other and create extremely unified ‘micropolitics of power’ – in other words, fascisms. But fascism is inseparable from the proliferation of molecular focuses in interaction, which skip from point to point to point, before beginning to resonate together in the National Socialist State. Rural fascism and city or neighborhood fascism, youth fascism and veteran fascism, fascism of the Left and fascism of the Right, fascism of the couple, family, school, and office: every micro fascism is defined by a communications with each other, before resonating in a great, generalized, central black hole. (…) Even after the National SocialistState has been established, micro fascism persisted gave it unequaled ability to act upon the masses.11
This explains why the exponential violence of masses has always come with exalted communities, with national brotherhood in the moment of mass euphoria and collective autohypnosis. I can’t comment here the brilliant analysis-11 Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (Minneapolis:University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1987), p. 214. offered by Elias Canetti, who tray to explain how a ‘normal’ community can transform into wild, erupted crowds. But I can stress here that Canetti’s sobering formulations can help us to understand the ‘self-cannibalization’ of community itself. (Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power [New York: Farrar,1960]) The discourse of ‘self-immunized community’, a narrative of permanent violence against itself, of deadly violence, always required an endless responsibility toward ‘lucid afirmation of a death that is coming, always already there, impossible to anticipate’. ‘On the horizon of new justice to come’, as Derrida pleads, we need new, endless responsibility before ‘the ghost of those who are not yet born or who are already dead’ (Jacques Derrida, Learning to Live Finally,2007: 13), before those who died from, and for,‘our’ community. This eternal responsibility toward a defeated humanity of togetherness (‘Only absolute inhumanity can testify for humanity’ – PrimoLevi) is revealingly present in the colossal fictional works of Franz Kafka, one of the best thinkers of the very notion of (post)humanity.I shall focus provisionally on Kafka’s fictional writings, on the ghostly structure of private, as well as public life. It is well known that Kafka’s literary universe was structured around the idea of the claustrophobic community (all Kafka characters feel eternal anxiety, either in private or in public life). All of his novels and short stories are set within an inescapable constellation of imprisonment . ‘His characters are constantly trapped by parents and family, or imprisoned by state institutions’ (Kairina Kordel, Freedom and Confinement in Modernity: Kakfa’s Cages, 2011: 12). The traumatic fear of the brutality of the external world demands a ‘Sisyphean labour’ on the part of Kafka’s characters, an escape from this dehumanized world. As Kafka himself says, the problem is not that of liberty but of escape from the unacceptable obscenity of communal life, the possibility of fleeing from any form of compulsive familiarity and closeness.Both of them (Proust and Kafka, O.S.) seek to avoid, through letters, the specific sort of proximity that characterizes the conjugal relationship … But to get rid of proximity, Kafka maintains and guards spatial distance, the faraway position of the loved one: he too presents himself as a prisoner (prisoner of his body, of his room, of his family, of his job) and multiplies the obstacles that prevent him from seeing or rejoining his beloved. In Proust, in contrast, the same exorcism takes place in an inverse way: one reaches the imperceptible, the invisible, by exaggerating proximity, by making it a captive proximity Proust’s solution is the strangest—to overcome the conjugal conditions of presence and of vision. By an excessive rapprochement; one sees less the closer one is.12
Perhaps the most astonishing discovery is found in Kafka’s idea that there is nothing sacred in community, and that it is not exclusion that produces human suffering, but the opposite:inclusion itself , insofar as it goes hand in hand with a fetishisation of being-in-common, of togetherness. Let us con-sider the ‘Kafkaesque’ allegory on friendship, the unavoidable paradox of mutual exteriority in being together and of existing separately, alone. In his autobiographical short story, ‘Fellowship’, Franz Kafka describes in ironic, almost humoristic way, how a neighbourly community can be built only through the discrimination of the newcomer. I will take a small risk and describe the figure of the newcomer as ‘the guests who arrive – always too early or too late, even if they are ‘on time’. Let us consider how Kafka’s allegorical narrative demystifies the dominant, self-limiting practice of ‘built togetherness’. We are five friends, one day we came out of a house one after the other, first one came and placed himself beside the gate, then the second came, or rather he glided through the gate like a little ball of quicksilver, and placed himself near the first one, then came the third, then the fourth, then the fifth. Finally we all stood in a row. People began to notice us, they pointed at us and said: Those five just came out of that house. Since then we have been living together, it would be a peaceful life if it weren’t for a sixth one continually trying to interfere. He doesn’t do us any harm, but he annoys us, and that is harm enough; why does he intrude when he is not wanted? We don’t know him and don’t want him to join us. There was a time, of course, when the five of us did not know one another, either, and it could be said that we still don’t know one an-other, but what is possible and can be tolerated by the five of us is not possible and cannot be tolerated with this sixth one. In any case, we are five and don’t want to be six. And what is the point of this continual being together anyhow?It is also pointless for the five of us, but here we are together and will remain together; a new combination, however, we do not want, just because of our experiences. But how is one to make all this clear to the sixth one? Long explanations would almost amount to accepting him in our circle, so we prefer not 12 Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), p. 34. to explain and not to accept him. No matter how he pouts his lips we push him away with our elbows, but however much we push him away, back he comes.13 According to Kafka’s literary admonition, elaborated in a sustained manner in his celebrated novelThe Castle, the ‘cohesiveness of the village community’ is an effect of the administrative paternalism which produced a passive, even submissive, mode of togetherness. The individual is subjected by way of a heightened disciplinary violence of the bureaucratic machinery of the state. The anonymous bureaucracy is governed by its own self-preserving rationality and rules independently of all considerations for any singular be-ing, any individual, and particularly if they are visitors, guests, immigrants, refugees, in a word, foreigners: ‘As a stranger you have no right to anything here, perhaps here we are particularly strict or unjust toward strangers, I don’t know, but there it is, you have no right to anything’, (Franz Kafka, TheCastle, 1969: 457). Hidden ethnic-ideological dynamics in the village (‘ruralghetto’) around the castle reliably document the empty form of community. Traumatic experiences with the adaptation to the ‘local community’ (K. was well aware of the significance of his marrying Frieda, a local woman, as a means of overcoming his outsider status and becoming an accepted member of the community) fictionally confirm Kafka’s radical insight that ‘Together-ness is deeply rooted in the emancipation of human beings from each other.’14Kafka’s fictional narrative on community as an ‘empty frame’ reflects his increased suspicion toward the inclusive rhetoric that had dominated the13 Nahum H. Glazer, ed., Franz Kafka: The Complete Short Stories,Vintage, London, 1983, p. 435.14 Suzanne Keller, Community: Pursuing the Dream, Living the Reality (Princeton: Princeton, University Press, 2003), p. 12. It is well known that Kafka participated in the work of the Brentano Club. He participated in alarming political debates on anti-Semitism and critique of assimilatedJews who never received reciprocating love from the Germans. In the closed sessions dedicated to the political community there participated many of Kafka’s friends and colleagues: Brentano’s philosophical followers Oskar Kraus and Alfred Kastil, close literary friends Max Brod and Felix Weltch, and sporadic visitors Sigmund Freud and ThomasMasaryk. For detail see: Vivian Liska, When Kafka says We: UncommonCommunity in German-Jewish Literature (Bloomington: University ofIndiana Press, 2009), and Mark E. Blum, Kafka’s Social Discourse: An Aesthetic Search for Community (Bethlehem: Lehigh University Press,2011). Western political tradition for so long. For example, his short story ‘TheGreat Wall of China’ (separately published as A Message from the Emperor : Eine kaiserliche Botschaft, 1919) can alert us to Kafka’s narrated distrust, his deep suspicion toward very close neighbours, as well as most distant strangers. In the famous story about the Imperial Wall, narrated in the form of a legend, Kafka turns back again, once more, and always more than once, to the ‘hidden mechanism’ of public life. The nominal reason for building theWall is to protect the Empire from exterior enemies, but in fact, to shield the kingdom from within, to protect it from its own, disloyal citizens:In the end, the Great Wall is built not to defend the empire against its enemies – there are no enemies, Kafka tells us, or if they do exist they can easily bypass the Wall’s piecemeal structure. Instead, the Wall is built so as to defend the empire against its own people, against their self-consciousness as archogenetic agents, as autonomous beings. In order for this selfdefense – or rather – defense against the self – to be effective, enemies from the North (or wherever)must be invented. The Great Wall of China is really the constitutive object of fantasy that holds a society’s imaginary together.15 Kafka’s gigantic work represents a pure ‘satiric affirmation’ (Vladimir Nabokov), one of the most painful experiences in modern time: the dramatic collapse of the communal as well as of private life. He discovered pure emptiness, even banality, in the face of promised intimate life: (‘Temporary and constantly changing human relationships, which never come from the heart’ – Metamorphosis, 1915). Kafka was more than conscious of the death of community, a death that is coming, always already there, impossible to anticipate or predict. There is one specific moment of auto affection in Kafka’s fictional discourse that can be the result of the sorrowful narrative of (self) isolation and avoidance: ‘Links with others are cut, I isolated myself from the world, I withdraw into sadness… and this unbinding that has cut me15 Stath is Gourgouris, Dream Nation (Stanford: Stanford University Press,1996), pp. 12-13. Stathis Gourgouris does not hesitate to promote Kafka’s entire corpus as a ‘supreme theoretical moment in twentieth-century history’. His radiant analysis of Kafka’s great story ‘The Burrow’ (1924)can function as a paradigm for the analysis of the nationalised subject’s predicaments and the nation’s dream-work. It would be useful to read additional readings of Kafka’s work and his allegorical theorisation in Stathis Gourgouris book, Does Literature Think?: Literature as Theory for an Antimythical Era (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003). off from the world will end up cutting me off from myself.’16 As Benjamin and Adorno once proposed, Kafka’s allegoric discourses illuminate the deep structure of the ruined world in non-arbitrary and non-illustrative ways.Quite the opposite, in allegory the observer confronts a petrified, primordial social and political reality. Kafka’s allegory on ‘separation’ – the gesture of one who has escaped from the family – reveals history in the form of a desert. Max Brod has commented: ‘The world of those realities that were important for Kafka was invisible. What Kafka could see least was the gestus. Each gesture is an event – one might even say a drama – in itself.’ (WalterBenjamin, Illumination, 2007: 121).On the other hand, Deleuze and Guattari suggested that Kafka’s hyperrealistic narrative reconnected isolated individuals and operative collectivities into some ‘machined assemblage’: ‘The highest desire, desires both to be alone and to be connected to all the machines of desire. A machine that is all the more social and collective insofar as it is solitary, a bachelor, and that, tracing the line of escape, is equivalent in itself to a community whose conditions haven’t yet been established.’ (Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, 1986: 71). If I understand this promising speculation correctly, Kafka’s humoristic discourse ( Kafka’s Laughter )operates as a detector for the comic structure of a prudent, self-isolated life.I agree with this opinion that Kafka’s literature is not a voyage through the past but one traveling into an enigmatic future. At the same time, I am more than sceptical about the political promotion of a ‘minor literature’ as a new modality of togetherness, inseparable from active solidarity: ‘It is literature that produces an active solidarity in spite of skepticism; and if the writer is in the margins or completely outside his or her fragile community, this situation allows the writer all the more the possibility to express another possible community and to forge the means for another consciousness and another sensibility!’ (Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature,1986: 30). Does it mean that Kafka’s main character K. functions as 16 Tina Chanter, Ewa Ziarek, ed., Revolt, Affect, Collectivity (New York:SANU Press, 2005), p. 3. Critical comments on debates on the role of ‘affected narrative’ in the formation of modern political community are pre-sent in the recent book: Patricia T. Clough , Autoaffection: UnconsciousThought in the Age of Technology (Minneapolis: University of MinnesotaPress, 2012). On ‘affective turn’ in Community studies see book: Patricia Clough, Jean Halley, ed.,The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social (Durham Duke University Press Books, 2007).
a polyvalent assemblage of which the solitary individual is only a part and the coming collective another? In the end, Deleuze and Guattari carefully acknowledge: ‘We cannot know in advance what this assemblage of the new community will be: Fascist?, Revolutionary?, Socialist?, Capitalist? Or, even all of these at the same time, connected in the most repugnant or diabolical way!’ This philosophical appropriation and expropriation of Kafka’s work is very inspired, but it is also deeply problematic and challenging as well, because his novels and short stories always resist precisely such philosophic extrapolations. One of the reasons for that can be the undeniable fact that Kafka is the prevalent thinker, not the philosopher, of the coming, post-human world.This might be a reason why a new series of current lectures on Kafka (delivered at the European Graduate School, Leuk-Stadt, Switzerland, 2011) are dedicated to post-philosophical, deconstructivist readings of Kafka: JudithButler, ‘Kafka and the poetics of Arrival’, ‘Kafka on das Ziel – destination’ , ‘Kafka on Leaving’ and Avital Ronell, ‘Kafka and the Sublime’, ‘Deconstruction of Kafka: The Test, The Call, The Servant’ and ‘Kafka’s Letter toHis Father’. Probably, these new forms of reading attempt to read something that was never written: ‘Study, for Benjamin no less than for Kafka, is in-separable from reading , even and perhaps especially where the text or script, or key has been lost: To read what never was written.’ (Samuel Weber, Benjamin’s -abilities, 2008: 207).WORKS CITED(This extensive bibliography of quoted books covered three different chapters of text: additional two chapters will to be published successively in the coming issues of the Journal).1. Adrian Little, The Politics of Community, Edinburgh UP, Edinburgh,2002.2. Alphonso Lingis, The Community of Those Who Have Nothing in Com-mon, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1994.3.Andrew Mason, Community, Solidarity and Belonging: Levels of Community and Their Normative Significance, Cambridge University Press,Cambridge, 2004.4. Andrew Norris, Politics, Metaphysics, and Death, Duke UP, Durham,2005. Obrad Savić |275. Anthony Giddens, Beyond Left and Rights, Polity Press, Cambridge1994.6. Arjun Appadurai, Fear of small Numbers, Duke University Press, Durham, 2006.7. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Community, Verso press, London, 1991.8.Boris Groys, The Communist Postscript, Verso Press, London, 2010.9. Donald Moon, Constructing Community: Moral Pluralism and Tragic Conflicts, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1993.10.Etienne Balibar, We, the People of the Europe?, Princeton UniversityPress, Princeton, 2004.11.Frank Tannenbau, Crime and the Community, Columbia UP, New York,1957.12.Geoff Bennington, Interrupting Derrida, Routledge, London, 2000.13.Geoff Bennington, Not Half No End: Militantly Melancholic, EdinburghUP, Edinburgh, 2011.14. Georges Van Der Abbeele, Community at Loose Ends, University ofMinnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1991.15. Gerard Deltany, Community, Routledge, London, 2003.16. Gil Anidjar, Blood: A Critique of Christianity, 2012.17. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, University ofMinnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1987.18.Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature,University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1986.19. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature,University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1986.20.Giorgio Agamben, Coming Community, University of Minnesota Press,Minneapolis, 1993.21.Helmut Lethen, Cool Conduct: The Culture of Distance in Weimar Ger-many, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2001.22.Helmut Plessner, The Limits of Community, Humanity Books, NewYork, 1999.23. Horsman, M. and A. Marshall, After the Nation-State: Citizens, Tribal-ism and the New World Disorder, Harper, London, 1994.24. Jane Diddleston, Reinventing Community, Legend, London, 200525. Jacques Derrida, Points, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1995.26. Jacques Derrida, The Politics of Friendship, Verso Press, London, 2005.27. Jacques Derrida, Learning to live Finally, Melville House, New Jersey, 200728. Jean-Luc Nancy, Inoperative Community, University of MinnesotaPress, Minneapolis, 1991. 28|Belgrade Journal for Media and Communications #229. Jean-Luc Nancy, The Confronted Community, Postcolonial Studies, No.1, 2003.30.Joshua Meyrowitz, No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1986.31. Kairina Kordel, Dimitris Vardoulakis, ed., Kakfa’s Cages, Palgrave, London, 2011.32. Lingis Alphonso, The Community of those who have Nothing in Com-mon, Indiana University Press, Indianapolis, 1994.33.Mark E. Blum, Kafka’s Social Discourse: An Aesthetic Search for Community, Lehigh University Press, Bethlehem, 2011.34. Matthew Calarco and Steven De Caroli, Giorgio Agamben: Sovereignty and Life, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2007.35. Mathew Horsman, Andrew Marshall, After the Nation-state: Citizens,Tribalism and the New World Disorder, Harper, New York, 1994.36. Maurice Blanchot, The Unavowable Community, Station Hill Press, New York, 1988.37. Maurice Blanchot, The Instant of my Death, Stanford UP, Stanford,2000.38.Maurice R. Stein, The Eclipse of Community, Harper & Row, New York,1965.39. Miller J Hillis, The Conflagration of Community: Fiction before and after Auschwitz, Chicago University Press, Chicago, 2011.40. Miranda Jospeh, Against the Romance of Community, University ofMinnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2002.41. Nahum H. Glazer, ed., Franz Kafka: The Complete Short Stories, Vintage, London, 1983.42. Olivier Marchart, Post-foundational Political Thought, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2007.43. Patrick O’Connor, Derrida: Profanations, Continuum, New York, 2010.44. Patricia Clough, Auto affection: Unconscious Thought in the Age ofTechnology, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2012.45. Patricia Clough, Jean Halley, ed., The Affective Turn: Theorizing theSocial, Duke University Press Books, Durham, 2007.46. Peter Sloterdijk, Rage and Time: A Psycho political Investigation, Columbia University Press, New York, 2010.47. Philip Selznick, The Communitarian Persuasion, Woodrow Wilson Center Press, Washington, D.C, 2002.48. Roberto Esposito, Immunitas: The Protection and Negation of Life, Polity Press, Oxford, 2011.49. Roberto Esposito, Communitas: The Origin and Destiny of Community,Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2010. Obrad Savić |2950. Roberto Esposito, Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2008.51. Roberto Esposito, Terms of the Political: Community, Immunity, Bio- politics, Fordham University Press, New York, 2012.52. Samuel Weber, Benjamin’s – abilities, Harvard University Press, Cam- bridge, 2010. Scott Durham, Phantom Communities, Stanford UP, Stan-ford, 1998.53. Stathis Gourgouris, Dream Nation, Stanford University Press, Stanford,1996.54. Suzanne Keller, Community: Pursuing the Dream, Living the Reality,Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2003.55. Tina Chanter, ed., Revolt, Affect, Collectivity, SANU Press, New York,2005.56. Vivian Liska, When Kafka says We, University of Indiana Press, Bloomington, 2009.57. Walter Benjamin, Illumination, Shocked Books, New York, 2007.58. William F. Whyte, Street Corner Society, University Of Chicago Press,Chicago, 1993.59. Will Kymlicka, Liberalism, Community, and Culture, Oxford UP, Ox-ford, 1989.60. Zygmunt Bauman, Community: Seeking Safety in an Insecure World,Polity Press, Cambridge, 2001.TO BE CONTINUED
Obrad Savić is Director of Center of Media and Communications, Faculty of Media and Communications, University Singidunum, Belgrade. He worked as research fellow and lecturer at the School of Fine Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds, UK, Visiting Lecturer at American University in Kosovo (AUK), department of the Rochester Institute of Technology, NY,USA. He has also been Editor-in-chief of a many journals: Theory, Philosophical Studies, Text, Belgrade Circle, and guest editor of Parallax, London,UK. Published and edited many books/collections, and more than hundred texts on various topics: Pornography of the Past: Construction of National Memory(forthcoming);Community of Memory, 2006 (with Ana Miljanic); Balkans as a Metaphor , 2005 (with Dusan Bjelic); Politics of Human Rights, 2002;Charles Taylor: Invoking Civil Society, 2000