BHL on 'Technoscience,' the Volcano, and de Sade
AUTHOR: Bernard-Henri Lévy, French philosopher, at The Huffington Post
OPENING SENTENCE: "We can argue all we like."
CLOSING SENTENCE: "And this time, may Empedocles remain standing straight in his sandals."
IN BETWEEN: Poetic comment on the Icelandic volcano
THESIS: "The fact remains that an event has taken place."
REFERENCES INCLUDED TO CONTEXTUALIZE SAID EVENT: The Bible, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae, the Laki eruption in 1783, the Tambora eruption in Indonesia, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the financial crisis, Roman oracles, the Marquis de Sade, Aetna and Empedocles, the Greek god Hephaistos, the Cyclops, the Marquis de Sade--and Empedocles, again
AN ASIDE: Russian President Medvedev is very brave
WHAT THE VOLCANO IS WONDERING:
Who is the strongest, asks the little volcano, you or my cloud of ashes? Who is the cleverest, my stealthy, almost invisible dust whose slow and crazy course no one dares to predict from one hour to the next, or your battalions of volcanologists and other meteorologists who saw nothing, predicted nothing, and who, even today, despite their science and technology, their ultra-sophisticated systems of prevention and intervention, and their gigantic observatories, are reduced to scanning the sky like Roman oracles watching the erratic flight of birds?
WHAT MANKIND IS LIKE: "the alchemist Almani in the Marquis de Sade's Nouvelle Justine"
WHAT THE VOLCANO IS LIKE: a "womb that vomits flame"
WHAT THE VOLCANO DOES TO AIRPLANES: "[gobble them] up like Aetna did Empedocles"
SECTION OF GREATEST IMPENETRABILITY:
Is the die cast, in other words, to such an extent as the certainties of technoscience would have us believe, between the marvelous tools capable of fashioning, transforming and, in principle, domesticating and pacifying the real and those other Forges where the Ancients believed Hephaistos's laborers -- those monstrous Cyclops who were also, at the same time and paradoxically, the guardians of the Being -- worked at the foot of the volcanoes?
Prosopopeia of the volcano.
The wrath of the little volcano, inflamed by the immense and indecent arrogance of men.
TO WHICH THE ONLY RESPONSE IS: "Silence, says the volcano, silence, I'm the one who is speaking now. Nobody move."
WHICH BRINGS US BACK TO: "Marquis de Sade again"
CONCLUSION: "Blessed be the volcano. Fortunate the chaos it forments."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.