The Inventory (1959) by Henri Lefebvre


Pieter Breugal the Elder, Children’s Games, 1560

Human life (the praxis of man, indivisibly individual and social being) includes no basic elements or attributes other than those which emerge from the origins of life and physical nature: struggle, play, food, love and reproduction, rest. Let us look at the meaning of the words ‘human nature’ dialectically. Neither for man in general, nor for the specific individual, is there a fixed nature, a strictly determined essence, a kind of biological preformation of what he may and must become. Every man is therefore – virtually – every nature. He has only to recognize possibilities and apply them to himself. While some of these possibilities will be more nearly within his reach than others, and while there exist inclinations or gifts, this given ‘essence’ represents no more than access by one route or another to a more complete existence. We have thought it equally necessary to eliminate the idea of pure plasticity as that of innate endowment. Furthermore, what differs completely – between animal and man, between individuals, between cultures and civilizations, between classes and groups – is the order imposed on innate chaos. It is the way of dividing up moments, perceiving them and distinguishing between them, placing them in a hierarchy, moving from one to another, uniting them.

In socio-individual man, a living and organizing reason tends to separate out what in animal life was mixed up (let us say, for example, rest and struggle) and also to connect what was separated (let us say, grace and power). This reason has an aim. Its work meets many obstacles, arising both from immediate, spontaneous life that suddenly reasserts its demands, and from the social distribution of goods and objects, which are not subjected to the order that this reason attempts to impose.

From living reason at work in civilization, we will say here that it is inclined to constitute ‘moments’. We will not use the ambiguous terms ‘domains’ or ‘regions’ because we are not talking about a theory of knowledge [connaissance] or an ontology (or a critique of ontology), but about the study of a reality that first presents itself at a sociological level, at which the individual is not separate from the social.

Let us consider the moment of play. The highest civilizations, as they become more refined, tend to create forms of play which are specifically nothing but play. Earlier, in the childhood of societies as in that of individuals and in the animal kingdom, it is difficult to distinguish play from action, work, or fighting [Lutte]; it is mixed up with them; the child plays while working or works while playing; ethnographers study societies in which play is a prelude to fighting, or in which dance combines movements of love and war with play, etc. In advanced civilizations, play constitutes a moment. It is not isolated. Figures of war or love are integrated, but are subject to the rules governing the particular game. Thus, chess represents a pitched battle between royal armies, but the configurations are rigorously defined on the field of play. So, card games include configurations of love, but subject to rules of necessity and chance. These particular games do not come into being suddenly, produced by an abstract will to play. The abstract will to play creates only games without depth or reality: trivial social games.

True games derive from magical and cosmic objects. These objects changed their positions as civilization developed, and became subordinate to play as such, while retaining something of the role they originally played in the totality. The movement of magical objects towards games obviously involves radical transformations, such as a very specific kind of formalization: the ‘rules of the game’. The game has its specific categories: the rule, the partner, the stake, the risk and the wager, luck, skill, strategy. The sphere of these categories, the borderlines of play, are not fixed. There is no guard to give the order, ‘Play stops here, the serious starts here.’ The borderlines of moments depend on the moments and on men. Anything can be played at and become a game. Love can be played at and be presenced as a game (but then it is not, is no longer or has not yet become love). The actor plays, the playwright is played (but the actor has a profession; neither art nor theatre is described as a game). Social life can be feigned, mimicked – played; but then frivolity wins our over real interests, those which make social life interesting. Game-playing, with categories of its own, reveals one modality of presence. My partner shows himself to me playing, as a player; and while I may be able to discover in the course of the game the qualities or faults that I see in him in other circumstances, he may appear very different then from the way he does at other times. Finally, because it has its own categories, a game presents a world. I may enter into it to the point of allowing myself to be caught in it. Because a game is a moment, it sets a trap. l become a player. It presents something: an abyss, a potential vertigo. There is an absolute in the moment of the game; and this absolute, like every reality or moment taken to the absolute, represents a specific form of alienation.

This substantiality without substance (in the ontological sense) which is conveyed by the existence of an absolute at the heart of the relative, is expressed as all substantiality by a tautology at one and the same rime meaningful and empty: ‘the game is the game’. This proposition, in appearance identical but empty as logical identity, is categorically not reducible to a pleonasm. In its first part, the game is presented as a specific activity; in the second part, it is a game, all the categories of this specific activity are condensed, which then have to be clarified; in this way identity opens out indefinitely into a non-identity that says what play is: what games are. Play thus has to do with logic, formalism and formalization, and yet it is anything but form and formalism. It is much more about abyss and vertigo, mesmerism, infernal pleasure: alienation. Elementary activity, arising from the murky depths of nature, has taken this transparent form in order to rediscover its murky depths.

The problem of the moment of rest has recently been posed, and in a curious way, using a wide and obscure vocabulary. We talk about ‘relaxation’ and ‘unwinding’, conflating ideology, myth and need. Techniques for resting have existed for as long as civilization has existed, but are rather poorly defined and utilised. Only now do we realise that a science of rest, organizing the objective and subjective conditions of this ‘moment’, has to be created. Resting is not easy for human beings, whose ‘essence’ is activity. It is not enough to lie down in order to relax, to close one’s eyes and block one’s ears to achieve relief or peace. The absence of movement is not in itself methodical relaxation, because it leaves most of the muscles of the body with residual tensions and poorly proportioned. In short, our civilization tries to create the moment of rest consciously and rationally. It institutes it through the use of various elements, some material, some not: bodily techniques, places in which to rest, soothing sounds, etc. The moment of rest as we confusedly try to create it in the ‘modern world’ cannot be reduced to relaxation. Re-creation in and through leisure takes many forms, which are sociological in nature and studied by the sociologist.

About the moment of justice, I have already said almost everything I have to say. Justice and judgement are not formed in nature. This moment exists only in civilized man. To the extent that for a long period of time, ontological thought projected it into the absolute being: God, the supreme Judge. All of life has to do with justice and judgement; however, judgement is no more than a moment. For a long time it was extrapolated into eternity, in the form of the supreme and final judgement. This colossal image, which enlarged the figure of the Judge to the scale of the universe, is becoming blurred. (One day I should like to write a novel in which to bring this magnificent image back to life. It would be called ‘The Last Judgement’.

One day, some day, at a given hour or minute, the last judgement begins; but the people do not know that; they have not heard the angels’ trumpet. But slowly, slowly, they begin ro see their suppressed memories again; actions and events that they had forgotten return with a sour taste to their lips and their consciousness; they begin to show through, one in place of another, beneath their words, beneath their pretences and their masks; they reclaim their past, while their shameful secrets are revealed, their slips becoming more frequent, then their confessions. Slowly, slowly. The Last Judgement has all the time in the world. When the Judge arrives, men will already have judged one another, in their everyday lives: husbands and wives, children, parents and friends, naked, already damned or already saved.

The great Judge has only to carry out the supreme sentence. I should like the novel to take place in the household of a distinguished, right-thinking person, and why shouldn’t he be a politician of the MRP1 sort? Let’s end the digression here.) There is no longer a supreme Judge, and that’s why our consciences are obsessed by the themes of Judge, Trial and guilt. The moment of justice is also defined by a form, a procedure: summons, court appearance, testimony and cross-examination, indictments, pleas, deliberation, application of the law, sentence and the execution of the sentence. This or that partial moment may be missing, or their order may be reversed – it doesn’t much matter. This form is more or less the same in the individual as in the social consciousness. And [for] me, as around me, the ceremonial of justice unwinds with the same gravity and the same absurdity, internal or external. Justice has its machinery and its Time. In both cases, for want of an absolute Judge, the Judge is always both judge and party to the case. Justice is not of this world, and there is no other world. Justice is a modality (and no more than a modality) of presence. It succeeds neither in totally justifying itself, nor in imposing itself, nor in fully legitimizing the sentence, nor in fully ensuring its execution, except when it is unjust. Justice is an absolute, around which we become dizzy. Like every absolute, this one makes demands and alienates. There is an absolute of justice, just as ungraspable as others, as compelling, as urgent; however, as a moment, justice is necessary. I should like to show here how Brecht drew an important dramatic form from the moment of justice, ceremonial becoming spectacle and subordinating to itself the elements of this spectacle: the dramatic moment corresponding with the court appearance, dialogue with testimony and cross-examination, denouement defined by the sentence and the central character with the Judge.2 The absence of the Judge, and the end of the great image of the Last Judgement have led to a major dramatic form. It is a reflection of the despair that no longer believes in the Judge and recreates him in fictional form. Social life may offer a sketch of its basic elements and broad outlines, but a thinker is still needed to grasp them and formulate them within a specific set of circumstances.

There is the moment of poetry, resting solidly on the form of language. An object, a being, a fugitive impression, thus receives the privilege of an unbearable, unbelievable, inexplicable burden of presence. A smile or a tear, a house or a tree become a whole world. They really are, for the moment that lasts, and which fixing themselves in words will recur and be repeated almost indefinitely in the future. In this way a smile or a cloud become eternal.

In this way the poet evokes a specific feeling, which can only be expressed by a tautology, ‘poetry is poetry [la poesie, c’est la poésie]’, this parallelism, with its rich content, being capable of infinite explication. It defines the poetic moment, and its manner of proceeding: melody and sense, the excessive emotional burden of the object, signifying the poet’s whole sensibility. Hence the misunderstanding between lyric poetry and the sense of the serious, so clearly seen in the recent Pasternak affair.3 For a slightly old-fashioned romantic like him, the fall of a leaf is as important as the fall of a State. It was Amiel, I think, who said that in connection with German romantic poetry.4 We can imagine such a poet writing a very beautiful, very pure poem on the fall of a leaf, declaring that it is of crucial importance to him, more important than a world war or a revolution. The moment of poetry is essential to the poet and the person who listens to him. If the poet wished to sing of his love, and the smile or rhe kiss of his beloved, without thereby revealing in it a whole world, he would not write a good love poem. ‘But it’s not real! It’s not true! It’s a joke! The fall of a leaf is of no importance! There are millions, billions of women; there’s nothing special about this one’s smile or her kiss.’ Quite so! Quire so! On second thoughts, the Soviets should be forgiven for many things. In this ‘modern’ world they represent an enormous mass of seriousness not deprived of weightiness. That’s the way it is. You have to take people as they are. You can explain, but explanation is not important here.

For the serious, weighty mind, instants and moments are of equal merit; they’re closely examined for their usefulness, using political criteria. Boredom obviously leads to pedantry. When serious-mindedness takes the poet utterly seriously and exclaims, ‘No, look, you’re being frivolous, socialism forbids us attaching so much importance to a kiss, or trying to move people’s hearts with the fall of a leaf … ‘ , and when this serious-mindedness contemplates the abuse of power, then the situation becomes delicate. We then have to restore the rights of the moment of poetry and the powers of lightness as a moment. The poet does not lie; he does not deceive. He reveals a presence, transferring to it the power that comes from a totality chat surpasses it and surpasses himself: language. He uses magic spells. But do we still burn witches and wizards in the twentieth century?

What therefore, would moments be? They are limited in number, although the list cannot be declared closed: play, love, work, rest, struggle, knowledge, poetry … If the number proved unlimited, they would no longer be moments. However, we cannot stop enumerating them, since it is always possible to discover or to constitute a ‘moment’, in principle, at least, and since there are perhaps ‘moments’ in individual life. Theory ought, if it is to be consistent, to declare a criterion. What is a ‘moment’? What is not? It is not obliged to undertake the task of making an exhaustive list. In order for it to present a coherence that would make it acceptable, it is better to indicate and emphasize a few general characteristics of these ‘moments’.

First of all, a moment defines a form and is defined by a form. Wherever the word ‘moment’ is used in a more or less precise sense, it refers to a certain constancy over time, an element common to a number of instants, events, situations and dialectical movements (as in ‘historical moment’, ‘negative moment’ or ‘moment of reflection’). It thus tends to refer to a structural element that thought must not separate from the conjunctural without precaution. The word clearly designates a form, but this form is specific to each case. What is the form of play? The whole set of rules and conventions (categories of the game). What is the form of justice? An external or internal ritual, a ceremonial that governs the sequence of events, the bond, the summoning or indictment of defendants and witnesses, their appearance in court, etc. What is the form of love? A code of etiquette that prescribes the manner and style, the progression from courtship (declaration, avowal) to acts of possession and voluptuous pleasures. This etiquette excludes brutality and in principle includes shared pleasure as the goal of love. With necessary strictness, it sets – allowing for eventualities and the unexpected – the role of the kiss, of conversation, of boldness, respect, discretion, modesty, immodesty, abandon, renewal, etc.

While the word ‘form’, behind its false precision, is one of the most confused in our vocabulary, we may say (in the hope chat we are making a statement that makes some sense at least), chat every civilization is a creator of forms. In this it differs from society (which consists of an economic structure, a mode of production, property relations, etc.) and culture (which consists of forms of knowledge, of matter learned and facts retained, and of accepted works). It is essential that we connect these three terms without confusing them, and clearly distinguish between them without separating them.

Civilization creates forms whose historical developments would be worth following. Thus we have formality in speech and ritual in gesture, courtesy and politeness, as modes of contact and communication. The long, winding road from archaic societies to civilizations (or civilization in general) allows natural gestures to be stylized and organized into a set of significant gestures.

Social groups take as their starting point magical words and actions, designed to protect a moment, to disarm enmities and to place this moment under the sign of harmony or poetry (formulas that thus become rituals of everyday social life: greeting, blessing, shaking hands). This means chat the theory of civilization does not cover the whole.of reality (praxis). It does not encroach on either the study of society (from economy to ideology) or the study of culture, even though it must take them into account and cannot be separated from them.

The relationship between such forms with content differs from the relationship between content and form in knowledge or productive praxis. The form of civilization allows the introduction of widely differing material element it governs their order and succession, not their materiality. Thus, the summons dictates that certain characters will come before the court, or where the tribunal is concerned, a consciousness of events, impressions, ideas, decisions, remote or immediate feelings. The form, independent of the materiality of the content, does not impose itself on it or distort it; it allows it a degree of freedom, while at the same time assigning it a role and a place within the whole. The material elements of which these forms preside over their making and valorization; can they also be taken from the totality of praxis? Praxis taken as a whole comes under justice, it falls within the sphere of judgement, although, justice and judgement represent no more than a moment. An individual’s entire life may be affected by his love, and his love may become coextensive with his life, even though love is only a modality of presence. The ritual and ceremonial elaborated and stylized within a given civilization (and by specific social groups, peoples and classes, within an historical context) leave nothing out of their stylization – neither everyday objects, nor gestures, nor works of art, despite the fact that the ritual in question was created in daily life and in direct, everyday relationships. The unrigorous forms described here are not completely stable; they oscillate between the extremes of seriousness and frivolity, conventional artificiality and almost spontaneous nature. Despite these oscillations, they continue to have a specific existence, and are confirmed through circumstantial elements.

Each moment, which is a partial totality, reflects or refracts a totality (global praxis), including the dialectical relationships of sorcery with itself, and the relations of social man with nature (in and around him). Each moment perceives the others and is distinguished from them by the modality of apperception.

From such a viewpoint, a rigid boundary between nature and society (or nature and culture) is no longer conceivable. The germs that develop into ‘moments’ exist in the deepest parts of nature, animate or inanimate. Nevertheless, they lie shrouded, buried, at one and the same time mingled together and separated. The forms of civilization take their elements from nature, from natural instincts and needs. They insert the natural into the structures of the civilized consciousness. Thus, civilization ‘reflects’ nature, material or living; but the relationship involved is radically different from a passive reflection. It extracts natural elements from nature in order to profoundly metamorphose them by inserting them into forms: into a human order. ‘Instincts’ can be recognized in it, but sometimes transposed in such a way that their vital animal reality hardly survives in their human form. The process of formation and formalization – in the sense indicated above – involves the distance created by the power of society over nature (man’s power over nature). Civilization, in recovering the natural, making up the distance, closing the loop and recreating the totality, is thus still determined by a distancing of the human and of the natural. There is no barrier, but a space and a time in which forms or ‘moments’ are created. Not without conflicts between the natural and the ‘created’, between which there is no separation. This relationship between nature and society is without an ontology. Being is reflected in social man – in the totality – and not in a privileged act of reflection. Life reflects life, and not pure thought.

These moments thus first appear as sociological realities. Their categories also are categories pertaining to sociology. So the categories of play and games can only be arrived at sociologically. Only sociology is capable of studying the social distribution of games, the groups that play such and such a game, etc. The same goes for love, or rest, or knowing. In those areas there is a sociology of forms, still poorly developed. Could we call it ‘structural sociology’? The term seems shocking. Sociology studies the formation of ‘moments’; rather than moments, it deals with the groups who create them. ‘Moments’ and the theory of moments are on another level, that of philosophy. There is therefore something imprecise and improper about the phrase ‘structural sociology’.

The theory of moments excludes the idea of a boundary between nature and society (or nature and culture); it also includes the idea of a reciprocal immanence between the sociological and the individual. There is no separation between them. The moments that an individual person can experience are developed (formed or formalized) by the whole of the society of which he is a member, or by some social group that spreads its collective creation (such as ritual, or the form of feelings, etc.) throughout society.

These realities pertaining to sociology constitute ‘moments’ in as far as nature and the natural must also form part of the structures of social consciousness. This mutual immanence does not lead to confusion between the psychological and the collective. They are not ‘the same thing’. all the more so since it is not a question of ‘things’. Individual consciousness opens onto ‘moments’ that are also part of social consciousness. Conflicts are always possible, as individual consciousness may reject the form that has been developed socially and historically. It may aspire to other forms. It chooses between propositions that reach it from outside. It alters them, and each one selects differently from the ‘others’ the material elements that become part of forms. It also alters – adapts, amends – their forms. The unity of the individual and the social is manifested in these very conflicts. This dialectical unity can only rend towards an overcoming. From this viewpoint, civilization is conceived of as what arises from conflicts between the individual and the social in their dialectical unity, and it tries to resolve the conflict on the basis of the material and formal elements chat constitute the given problem. Moments, which are social relationships and forms of individualized consciousness, are also forms of communication. The modalities of the presence constituted by them ‘present’ or ‘presentify’ in a single unity nature, others and oneself. This form in which I present myself to the other is also that in which the other presents himself to me. So, in a game, each partner presents himself to the other as playing. As the act does not differ from its communication, its communicability is complete. The fact that my partner does not know my game is part of the game and does not constitute an impenetrable reality, falling outside communication in and through the form.

Such a conception goes beyond pluralism as well as totalitarianism. Distinguishing between a multiplicity of moments, theory belongs to a form of pluralism; all the more so in that it claims to be neither exhaustive nor dosed. It takes into account a variety of different modes of presence and activity; but each modality of presence is itself determined as a partial totality, open to the totality and a ‘perspective’ on it, immanent in this totality. The idea of the natural and social whole, or rather, this whole as such, concretely considered, manifests itself and is understood in a number of different attributes and modes: games and play, love, knowledge, justice, rest, etc. None of these modes is metaphysically privileged. By going beyond ‘ontologism’, we go beyond the antinomies that derive from it and in particular, those that separated the whole from the parts by setting up the multiple in opposition to the total, or conversely. The theory of moments thus repeats with a new meaning the theory of the ‘total man’.

Need we stop here to show that theory attempts to overcome the opposition between the circumstantial and the structural, while leaving a place for each of these aspects of becoming? It is more interesting to show how it overcomes (or aims to overcome) the opposition between ontology and axiology. It excludes ontology, but conceives of ‘being’ as reflected by the human totality or the total man. It excludes the antimony between observing (or discovering) and creating or establishing. The moment I am going to live, I must recreate it in order to live it; I discover it, but as form, in such a way that, in order to make this form my own, I have to reinvent it by reinventing the arrangement of its elements. It is ‘valid’ for me; I receive it, but not as something imposed; I ‘pose’ it for myself, and at the same time I expend my activity in it. So, when I play, I accept the rules of the game and make myself a player, to the full extent. I recreate, reinvent the game through the way I play it, and in a new way on each occasion. Discovery and observation, fact and value, frequency and prescriptiveness thus cease to be mutually exclusive.

The ‘moment’ thus conceived of has its memory and specific time. Repetition is an important aspect of this ‘temporality’. The repetition of moments forces us to refine the concept of repetition. It frees itself from psychology or metaphysics. It is no longer repetition of an ‘ontic’ or ontological nature; nor it is any more a repetition copied to the letter from the phenomena of memory, pushed as far as they will go. The re-presentation of a form, rediscovered and reinvented on each occasion, exceeds previous conceptions· of repetition. And furthermore, it includes them; because it also involves the return and reintegration at a high level – individual and social – of elements of the past and the surpassed. In a general sense, the concept of repetition has to be re-examined and refined in confrontation with the theory of forms. Whether psychological or metaphysical, this concept was too close to materiality. Repetition of a form differs from material repetition; what’s more, material stability, equilibrium and consistency (when observed) should not be confused with formal repetition. Which at this point introduces the project of a general theory of forms, that would finally make a dear distinction between the different uses of this term and the specificities of form.

As for alienation, its concept has a place in the theory of moments. Each moment, a modality of presence, offers an absolute for thinking and living. The criterion reductio ad absurdum [le critere par l’absurde] for the ‘moment’ could even be determined in this way. The moment can be raised to the status of an absolute, or, rather: A MOMENT IS WHAT IS SET UP AS AN ABSOLUTE. There is no moment except in so far as it embraces and aims to constitute an absolute. It is possible for every moment to become hypertrophied, or hypostatized. There is an absolute of play. This absolute alienates and defines a specific alienation. To play is a normal or normalizing activity; the player is an alienated person [un aliene].In any case, there is no clear separation within the moment. The alienated person locks himself in the moment; he makes himself its prisoner; by pushing it to its highest point, he becomes lost in it; his consciousness and his being lose their way in it. There is no demarcation separating love from the madness of love. And yet, although there is no border between them, there is a fundamental difference between moment and alienation. The form of communication becomes a form of isolation and incommunicability. The modality of presence is transformed into a modality of absence. The mode of being or the attribute of existence is transformed into annihilation [neantisation]. Action changes into passion, all the more indistinct the ‘purer’ and nearer to the absolute it is. The absolute is thus defined as a constant temptation, within each moment.

The possibility of this temptation of the absolute emerges as soon as the ‘temporary’ structure is created. If it wished to avoid it, active liberty would settle at the level of everyday life, which offers first of all a mixing of moments: their indispensable, rich (natural and social) material elements and even some formal elements, stylized bur still lacking their most delicate structure. Attempts at ‘structuration’ appear and develop at the everyday level. And yet something further is needed: regulation and control. The everyday is necessary but not sufficient. In it, virtual moments are both mixed together and separated. It re-presents on its own level certain characteristics of natural life. An intervention has to be made in order to add to it an aspect or dimension that can be defined in various ways: style, order, liberty, civilization, but also, perhaps, philosophy? This intervention could well be represented, on the level of everyday life, by a better distribution of its elements and instants into ‘moments’, in such a way as to intensify the vital performance of the everyday, its capacity for communication, for information, and also, and especially, for enjoyment, by defining new modes of enjoyment in natural and social life. The theory of moments is thus not situated outside the everyday, but can be seen as articulated with it by uniting with critique in order to introduce into it what is lacking to its richness. It can thus be seen as tending to overcome at the heart of the everyday, in a new form of particular pleasure united with the whole, the old oppositions of lightness and heaviness, the serious and the lack of seriousness.

While the ‘absolutization’ of the separated moment is alienating, mixing and ambiguity also play an alienating role. Theory indicates a direction and a form of (individual) liberty. From the point of view that concerns us here, it is formed in constant struggle against the alienation that lies in wait for it. If absolute choice leads to mutilation, and thus alienation, to nor choose, to hesitate indefinitely, to remain in a state of formless chaos, is also to risk the alienation of liberty. Liberty cannot make itself effective if it presents itself as arbitrary. le has to use the means and mediations offered to it by everydayness. It is formed by forming ‘moments’, by taking from here and there the material elements on which form is able to confer a higher order. It extricates itself from ambiguity and admixture, without, however, entering completely into a moment; it reserves for itself possibilities, choices and options, disengagement and commitment. The theory of moments thus includes a certain notion of liberty: a form of liberty that does not exclude other forms on other levels.

This is the time to repeat that the ‘theory of moments’ neither claims to be nor presents itself as exhaustive. As a perspective on the totality, it is located on a particular level: the theory of civilization, the theory of forms. It takes elements from other levels, other theories; far from contesting them, it allows them to express their specificities. Thus, it does not encroach on the study of the economic-social formation (the analysis of society considered as a mode of production, with its ideological repercussions) or of culture (knowledge as social fact). In particular, considerations about alienation take nothing away from the theory of fetishism and economic reification. Considerations about liberty in no way eliminate other aspects of liberty. The theory of moments thus respects the sciences of human reality. Nevertheless, it is more closely related to sociology than to political economy, for example.

Is it then to he considered a philosophy? A philosophy of presence? Or the outline of a new type of philosophy?



1  [Editors’ note: Mouvement Republicain Populaire – French Christian-Democratic party between 1944 and 1968.

2 [Editors’ note: Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), German playwright. The reference is probably to his The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1948).

[Editors’ note: Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), Russian novelist. The reference is to the banning of his Dr Zhivago (1957), and his expulsion from the Soviet Writers’ Union.

4  [Editors’ note: Henri-Frederic Amid (1821-81) was a writer and critic, best known for his journal Intime (1883). We have been unable to find out whether he made such a comment.]

5[Editors’ note: An aliene is someone who is alienated, but also a mental patient.]


Henri Lefebvre, ‘The Inventory’ (from La Somme et le reste (Paris: Meridiens Klincksieck, 1989 [1959], pp.642-55), reproduced from Henri Lefebvre, and Elizabeth Lebas, Henri Lefebvre: Key Writings, Ed. Stuart Elden, Trans. Eleonore Kofman, New York; London: Continuum, 2003, pp.166-176.


About anti

Anthony Iles is currently a doctoral candidate at the School of Art & Design, Middlesex University. A founder member of the Full Unemployment Cinema. A contributing editor with Mute / Metamute since 2005. He is the author, with Josephine Berry-Slater, of the book, No Room to Move: Art and the Regenerate City (Mute Books, London 2011), contributing editor to the recent publications, Anguish Language: writing and crisis (Archive Books, Berlin, 2015), and Look at Hazards, Look at Losses (Mute/Kuda, 2017) and a contributor to Brave New Work: A Reader on Harun Farocki’s Film A New Product. Recent essays have been published in Mute, Radical Philosophy, Rab-Rab: Journal for Political and Formal Inquiries in Art and Logos.
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