Second episode of the ongoing investigation (following Episode 1 in the series).
And so it goes on. This detective story concerning the long-suffering, but nonetheless complex, spouse Fanny Grandjouan from Limousin has several strands that we need to seek to draw together, however convoluted this approach may seem to be to the uninitiated. Some of the secret aspects of Fanny’s backstory, however clear they become or repressed they remain, are significant. This in a different context could have been the ‘story of a little girl’. There are tortured letters and diaries I have seen. Of course, on these, for now at least, I am sworn (legally) to silence.
In terms of the editorial apologetics, scratch that prelude. What sense might any notion of convolution have for a genuine (that is, willing to fake it) avant-garde? I used to get cranky with all those folks casting aspersions on postmodernism, as if somehow the latter’s purported superficiality was some kind of contrast to their meaningful depth. As if Jean-Francois Lyotard really was going to be worried by some bunch of Christian pseudo-saints seeking to salvage the remnants of their tattered Good from the apocalypse their own self-deceptions had instigated. As if Henri Lefebvre was really going to be genuinely intimidated by a bunch of late neo-modernist defence barricaders, already getting nostalgic for the cul-de-sac in-jokes of a poor man’s Dadaism. Is there anything worse than a moral presumptuousness? Francis Bacon knew this, which also made him one of the first postmodernists, in colour and in the bloody midst of the Pope’s horrorshow, if not in word (also Lucien, who focused on nude decrepit bodies, more of which later). At least with intellectual hubris, there is a springboard to creativity and the chance of breaking cycles of stagnation. Instead, the former tendency of anti-convolution just curdles itself into the worst form of traditionalism. I have read Fanny’s diaries, so I know there is more there to say, but for now HUSH.
Let’s keep the jury out on Deleuze himself when it comes to such matters of modernism versus arch-Medievalism. Just because he kept saying he was an ‘Anti-Platonist’, apparently the only one in history, well that doesn’t count for much except posturing. The plot thereby thickens. It cannot have been a coincidence that Fanny was one of the very few individuals who brought together, in their haecceity of singular individuality, the overtly divided pillars of Gallimard on the one side and Pierre Balmain’s Parisian fashion house on the other. For example, with no disrespect intended, we can safely say that Deleuze’s only sense of fashion was cerebral (this notwithstanding his grandstanding on empiricism and even the body without organs). Philosophers, after all, are in the end Idealists with a capital. But not necessarily their wives and lovers, or their children or especially their dogs (in this case, paradigmatically, the aforementioned Felix). This was then our first clue, and also Fanny Grandjouan’s exact advantage, in our tale of mystery. It also is an exemplary point of interest which the so-called burgeoning field of Deleuze and Guattari Studies (one tries not to vomit, seriously) seems to have entirely missed, bedazzled as it was (and as it continues to be) by its supposed radical materialism and deterritorialization. The phrase ‘disappeared up its own bourgeois arsehole’ seems most appropriate here.
Perhaps we should make an exception of the real flesh and blood Gilles here who stands almost as a contradictory example to the self-serving metaphysics his work (no doubt against his best intentions) became in France. After all, during the apex of the ’68 faff, wasn’t it Gilles who unlike so many of his academic radical comrades, actually cheered the rioting and the carnage? Enough Little Cartesians, he used to say, to anyone who would listen. Then again, this was also a kind of preliminary suicide, as those who cannot see the line which goes straight from Descartes to Spinoza and then on to Bergson are just acting out mauvaise foi. Didn’t Fussmann, that arch-Stalinist student who had attended the best of the Vitalism lectures, and been initially entranced by the hidden ideological dimension, nonetheless eventually call it well, call it exactement? The Philosophy Professor is the servant of the bourgeoisie, bankrolled by capitalism. Deleuze was meant to have laughed, then choked into his handkerchief in the lecture theatre, surrounded and protected by his usual cadre of Third Worldist revolutionaries, while nonetheless showing a very specific vulnerability.
Let us immediately also invoke a second previously indicated strand, somewhat earlier chronologically. This takes us to the late Nineteenth-century and that purported but secret ritual which was meant to have been performed during the closure hours of the Sûreté Générale, the bureau of National Criminal Investigation. Not just this act in itself in the epiphanic moment it was performed but moreover in its occultic anticipation in time, by our bould hero Durtal. In that first meeting with Mme Chantelouve, the mystical foreknowledge did indeed emerge and we can speculate as to the conditions for this epistemological opening even if we cannot be certain in these matters of the Dark Arts. Was it not, dear reader, an exact effect of the integral and very exquisite evil of Mme Chantelouve herself, no doubt a catalyst for significant occultic events across her lifetime? Is it that much of an exaggeration to see a connection between this precise erotic encounter between Durtal and Chantelouve and the enigmatic figure of Fanny Grandjouan from Limousin? I think not. Pierre Klossowski would be a key witness here for the Prosecution. A former Jesuit priest himself, the brother of the Balthus phenomenon, an acute observer of the Parisian bourgeoisie and what they were up to, constantly and in flagrante. Klossowski invented a very specific concept in the attempted architectonic of forgiveness for this, Medievialist we might say, in the very name of delectatio morosa, or morose delectation. Fanny had that name, shall we say, for a very good reason.
Up to now, I have been reticent to mention the parental, original primal family scene as some kind of definitive evidence. But let us be honest. Forget about Freud, this is only a Lacanian matter in essence. And please do not jump ahead to the post-’68 Department of Psychoanalysis at Vincennes and the ensuing ructions. That would just be too easy. And yet there too, of course, this Department run by Lacan’s daughter (Judith, not the other one fathered by none other than Georges Bataille) got so up Deleuze’s Oedipal Complex that he tried to have it shut down by decree. Let us remember the rumours (all too true, sadly) concerning the fact that Gilles found even the smallest mention of his childhood unbearable. As a five year old, my father tried to teach me algebra but within five minutes he became so angry with my imperfection as a budding genius mathematician that I began to start sobbing and convulsing uncontrollably and I haven’t stopped since. This is no fabrication. There is a letter extant (and published in several all too available periodicals) where Deleuze denounces the twisted heresies of this carry-on (of Judith’s Lacanian Department that is, not of his childhood which remained a secret). Sometimes, you sharpen the blade for yourself. Sometimes, the sense of humour (no doubt real, no doubt black as the asthmatic soot which clogged his lifelong lungs) does its best to mask the acute physical and psychological suffering which lies beneath. Does its best.
But, what, I hear you remonstrate with the nearest onlooker, has any of this to do with the murderous intent of one Fanny Grandjouan from Limousin? In what way can the supposed divided pillars, of Gallimard on the one side and Pierre Balmain’s Parisian fashion house on the other, do to cast light on this extraordinary series of events? For sure, in addition and not simply as a distracting mechanism, the trajectory which leads back chronologically to Durtal (or even to J.K Huysmans himself) seems removed significantly from a connection to Fanny, Deleuze’s erstwhile faithful typist. But all is not as it appears to be. Is it ever? People need to remember that the ritual which was discovered as having been performed at the Sûreté Générale, the bureau of National Criminal Investigation, was most definitely performed after hours. This was not some kind of 9am-5pm crime or occultic occurrence. The Devil does not keep ordinary hours. This is as true today in Autumn 2022 as it was in the late Nineteenth-century. Therefore, let us draw the tentative conclusion which might allow our argument, our parallel demonstration, to proceed. This supernatural and Magick crime act instantiated on the very premises of the venerable detectives of the French Government clearly (but not in any Little Cartesian sense of ‘clear and distinct ideas’) shows that Forces were lying in abeyance for Gilles even in the years before his birth. This cannot be debated. Instead, we need to acknowledge that these Forces were incubated in the Underworld at this very acute moment of fin-de-siècle decadence.Not only this. The connection to Huysmans goes deeper. For we also can be clear that this was known, again not in any empiricist sense (poor Gilles and his obsession with Hume et al). Rather, au contraire, if Durtal knew all this (and HE DID) then it was precisely as a kind of divine Satanic and therefore wholly forbidden foreknowledge. We can say that this is the kind of KNOWLEDGE that is banned by Society as soon as it is even whispered in corners, never mind written down or passed between understanding minds. Durtal knew all of this, and he knew it the very first time he met the exquisitely evil Mme Chantelouve. Yet, we haven’t even begun unpacking the severity of this point, its morbid delectation may indeed be too much to bear. Again, I can only ask that we stay on this track, that we try not (however difficult a task) to get impatient with the Metaphysical Detective. The drasted mystery continues.