Show Less
Restricted access

Pierre Klossowski

The Pantomime of Spirits


Hervé Castanet

This book examines the many facets of the work of Pierre Klossowski (1905–2001). Klossowski first established himself as a writer and was known and admired by peers such as Bataille, Blanchot, Gide, Foucault, Deleuze and Lacan. But in 1972 he gave up writing to devote himself to his ‘mutism’: painting made up of large coloured drawings. In time he became as famous a painter as he had been a writer and theorist. Klossowski now has two separate groups of commentators: those concerned with his writings and those with his painting, with little overlap between the two.
Here, this separation is explicitly removed. Klossowski’s entire œuvre revolved around the concept of the gaze. Rarely has the gaze been so radically interpreted – as an active, mobile, evanescent object that breaks down the connections between representation and the visible. How is one to see the invisible divinity? This question plagued Klossowski, and he displaced it onto pornographic rituals. The pantomime of spirits is the scene, fixed in silence, where bodies meet – a knotting of desiring body and dogmatic theology. A creator of simulacra, Klossowski attempted to exorcise the ‘obsessive constraint of the phantasm’ that subjugated him in all these scenes.
Translated from the French by Adrian Price in collaboration with Pamela King.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Body, Currency, Utopia


La Monnaie Vivante [Living Currency]1, published in December 1970, develops the principal theses put forward in the Art and Text article ‘The Phantasms of Perversion, Sade and Fourier’. The numerous commentaries on ‘the semiotics of impulses’, previously seen in Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle, are here fully established, and shown to be implemented by the insane philosopher in both his physical and mental life. Along with this theoretical aspect, the work proposes the construction of a counter-utopia whose name becomes the book’s title. Living Currency is an invented (and ideal) society where the present-day economy of needs is replaced by a Brownian circulation of emotional impulses freed from their straightjacket, and ordered into diverse unities: the ego, rational and logical language, market structures, and so on. It would be naïve to give credence to this counter-utopia, as if it were something that could be brought about in a not so distant future. Living Currency uses irony, semblance, the as if, and provocation in a parody of the classic utopian text. In spite of this, it is not a vain text to be simply filed away as one of the author’s amusements. On the contrary, this essay, which is frequently cited though seldom commented on at the level of its demonstrations and conceptual articulations, is to be taken seriously – to the letter.

← 137 | 138 →

From the moment it first appeared, the text produced a good many effects on some of its readers. Michel...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.