Friday, June 26, 2009

One Solution

Dickens suggests three moments of revolution in Tale of Two cities (moments which have a power in spite of the dodgy history which surround them)

The First: The forming of the language. Before the revolt, das captial needs to be written and a language found to name the sins of the current system. This language is essential both collective and creative. It is shared by would be enemies; Defarge and Darnley, Mirabeau, Danton, Robespierre, and Seyies. all have a hand in the developing and the using of it. But the language is also creative. In linking together passions, words, perceptions and actions it creates a real world. It makes a sin. It becomes the way that emotion is expressed, and miseries caught in truth. It becomes therfore the reality into which the mind is poured . It gives the way to understand the world, and therefore the nature of truth.
It is a language characterized by Irony and scorn. The old reality is withered and forced by laughter and mocking to concede that really it is at a loss to understand the world and name passions and worlds. Scorn therefore scours language and forces a debate elsewhere.

The second moment comes with the event itself. In the event a person or a set of circumstances becomes the dark precursor that created the lightening strike . Under their gaze everything changes. The event reached into that old (collective) language and purifies(or splits) it: words become unsayable or else cannot said in that fashion, while new forced languages are born. It reaches into the past and forces that past to become what was making it alone . It becomes then fate. Here of course is a real irony. The event itself, that is exactly what happened is contigent and often the active creation of a small number of individuals, and yet the action itself, once it happens will demand that the past warp and change in how it is viewed. The past becomes that which created what followed. it becomes the oil in which the event was sown. It becomes the pathway to it. It is forced therefore to allow or what was not in it, or not in that form, the event that happened.
The event is therefore the moment the past is bent into a certain present; it is the point at which a language is made to say only one thing : the point Mirabeau and then Seyies and then Danton fall away form the revolution that is Robespierre. It is the moment at which time is forced onwards. The terror; The point history and all its effects need to change once and for all.

The third moment, the aftermath happens as the event is itself absorbed as a fact into other lives. Those whose language is utterly changed by events have in a sense the last laugh. They must for ever allow for it, and cannot return quite to what they were. And yet they have the power in communicating and understanding the event to change how it is viewed. This change is pivotal. It is the nature of the initial event to be divide. It is after all the moment history splits. Something new occurred. Older or merely other views are then crushed or dismissed or destroyed. The event is that which divided. But the reaction to the event is somewhat different: minds which the event initially divided come together to understand their division, and so locate the event within a personal but also a wider history. The event becomes then shared in spite of itself. It becomes collective. The solitary masters who expressed it are then robbed of their power (and often their lives). They represent the split and not the reaction to the split. A world might then have changed (and it will not change back), and yet it never need change in quite the way the revolters wanted .
In a sense it cannot.
The moment the event is open to history itself (and not merely re-throwing fate), this much is clear. For exactly happened, and what should follow from that happening is always an open question in the fluxes of the world. It changes as many people inhabit and do so differently.
In a sense this difference is the events great legacy.It marks the splitting off of a language into other languages, other takes different communions, different takes on the event,. The event thereofore takes the collective talk of revival and potential enemies and transform it across a history into a set of closed affairs and defined constitutions (in nations or in families). It defines then a series of limits and creates a language for those limits.
The great events of the state become then a thing for school kids to debate over, or politicians to use as a badge of identity - until that it the process starts again.

This then for Dickens was Marx's error. He failed to realize what he was the master of. He was the master of the creation of a language for capturing the essence of a time; The problem of capitalism; He is then one of the thinkers creating out of the diverse languages the revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth century created a single language, in which many voices can be heard. This project is the one he shared with Dickens (but also Darwin). What Marx was not the master of was however revolution.: but then it is a role which at least half of Marx (the man of the british library would have surely relished).

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