Céline thinker (3/5): Bergson and the rhythms of life


Within the first two episodes of this cycle, we evoke the pessimism of Louis-Ferdinand Celine and his conception of the impressed will Schopenhauer. A darkish and violent imaginative and prescient of the world, the place lies and loss of life are in every single place. discover this “din” hopelessly, a 3rd means? Is there slightly mild, on the finish of the Celinian evening? It’s maybe on this query that the author turns into extra Nietzschean: the reply is artwork. Why “Artwork is given to us to maintain us from dying from the reality” (Friedrich Nietzsche, the need to energyunfinished).

harmonic resonance

It’s notably by way of the artwork historian Elie Faure that Céline is delicate to the significance of Nietzsche’s aesthetic reflection, as Remi Wallon in his thesis “The music behind issues: destruction, data and creation within the writings of Louis-Ferdinand Céline”. For Faure, “Artwork, and solely artwork, is ethical, as a result of it’s obedience to rhythm and cruelly makes use of every little thing, even when it takes struggle, to rediscover rhythm when males are misplaced”. Artwork is the one chance to embrace the heartbeat of optimistic instincts, the harmonious improvement of a life undistorted by the burden and frustrations of existence. “I comply with emotion properly with phrases, I do not give it time to decorate in phrases… I grasp it uncooked, or moderately poetically – as a result of the depths of man, in spite of everything, are poetry. Reasoning is discovered – as he learns to talk, the child sings, the horse gallops – the trot is faculty »wrote Céline in a letter to milton hindus.

“Céline would solely like to jot down ballets”

Céline’s language testifies to an obsession not with the which means of phrases, invention derived from consciousness, however for its harmonic resonance. In case your model evolves slightly between Journey (1932) and Rigodonhis final novel printed posthumously in 1969, his musicality stays a pink thread: flights of slang, exclamation factors or suspension, artwork of the components that beats (“Love is infinity inside attain of poodles” inside : Journey…), intoxicating scansions, hallucinatory passages the place French turns into nearly summary (“No extra resistance! On the horizon of congestion… » inside : loss of life on credit score), and many others

As journalist Élisabeth Porquerol noticed in 1932, “Language appears to him an inadequate instrument; he speaks with envy of colours and above all of sounds, music, dance; he would identical to to jot down ballets.” Dance stays one of the simplest ways to characterize the Celinian model – the picture comes again time and again. The dance is the one parade, confirmed by an aphorism by La Rochefoucauld usually quoted: “A footman contented himself a while in the past with dancing on the scaffold the place he was about to be robbed. »

Towards the fragmentation of the world

Music, as Schopenhauer noticed, is the one strategy to overcome the warlike division between beings, come out of ourselves, escape the phantasm of our individuality and reconcile ourselves with the world. Opposite to this pure rhythm, language represents a fragmentation of life, a sclerosis. Céline, in one other letter: “Merely submitting to the coaching of the primal instincts is the most effective nervous remedy. However we begin occupied with sleep, starvation, love, the senses, about so many actions that we should always not perceive. Then intuition, tracked by thought (formidable however ridiculous) retreats, weakens and we’ve got a severe animal failure. »

We will discover these phrases from Nietzsche’s pen: “Your physique’s instrument can be that little motive, my brother, which you name ‘spirit’, little instrument and toy. […] It’s “motive” that leads us to falsify the testimony of the senses. So long as the senses present turning into, impermanence, change, they don’t lie. (Thus spake Zarathustra, 1883-85). Consciousness is only a spinoff appendage that shakes the instinctual unfolding of life.

An attested studying of Bergson

This consciousness, Céline additionally owes, a minimum of partially, to the attested studying of Bergson, which he praises for having underlined the imperceptible move, inconstant to the idea, of turning into. In one other letter, to your buddy Saint Simon :

[Bergson] says that he was very impressed by the truth that, relying on the day, hour or temper of the second, he didn’t expertise an identical impressions in entrance of artworks – which, quite the opposite, generally had very totally different impressions and I observed that they have been principally these impressions that gave the works all their worth. Whence this conclusion that high quality had its significance and that it couldn’t be lowered solely to amount – Amount is goal, invariable, everlasting, and the identical relationship between portions. High quality is, quite the opposite, subjective, variable. O [quantité] it is simply repetition and copy – the standard spontaneity and freedom – The primary, decided, may be predicted, the second is unpredictable. I by no means know for positive the day earlier than what I would be the subsequent day, how I’ll really feel, what I’ll determine to need. And if I do not know, who might know? The thesis is curious, refutable – however good on the identical time – If there have been quite a lot of Bergson, life, my pricey Simone, could be sweeter, I inform you.”

Louis-Ferdinand Céline, letter to Simone Saintu (quoted by Rémi Wallon)

For Céline, it’s due to this fact about reconnecting, by way of writing, with instinctive, unconscious and bodily life, a conception near Bergson’s vitalism. Instinct over intelligence, feeling over reflexivity:

“Considering is a poison – Private evaluation, at all times sterile, is dangerous – We should cease occupied with ourselves and always rethink ourselves. You need to reside, simply reside. Happiness is unconscious, it’s as a result of you may have tried to introduce intelligence into this area that you simply change into neurasthenic. Imagine me. Let the physique maintain itself, do not weaken it by analyzing phenomena which might be primarily incomprehensible. Life is simpler than you suppose”

Louis-Ferdinand Celine, ibid.

Sublimation… or complacency with violence?

Less complicated and nonetheless incomprehensible: as a result of if intuition is the inspiration of the human being, it may possibly solely escape consciousness and get misplaced in obscurity. What Nietzsche has already underlined: “To the extent that self-knowledge may be pushed ahead, nothing may be extra incomplete than its picture of the set of instincts that represent its being” (Daybreak. Issues about ethical bias, 1881). Nevertheless, aesthetics performs a vital function in the best way of accommodating the morbid and damaging impulses, inherent to the human being in response to Céline: with out the digital transposition of those impulses in artwork – the « sublimation » Freudian – the life intuition turns into irremediably damaging.

We’re due to this fact entitled to ask ourselves: with out writing, what else would Céline have performed? Would he have change into an executioner, the one who, from 1937 onwards, printed anti-Semitic propaganda writings – however didn’t commit against the law? Rhetorical questions for which it’s clearly not possible to reply, however which present the ambivalence of Celin’s “sublimation”: each a means out of violence and the one strategy to escape it, in response to him. The fourth episode of our collection addresses this concern extra instantly.

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