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THE REVOLUTION OF EVERYDAY LIFE - VANEIGEM
Suffering - Page 22

Sometimes I feel as if power is making me like itself: a great energy on the point of collapsing, a rage powerless to break out, a desire for wholeness suddenly petrified. An impotent order survives only by ensuring the impotence of its slaves: Franco and Batista demonstrated this fact with brio when they castrated captured revolutionaries. The regimes jokingly known as 'democratic' merely humanize castration. At first sight, to bring an old age prematurely seems less feudal than the use of the knife and ligature. But only at first sight: for as soon as a lucid mind has understood that impotence now strikes through the mind itself, we might as well pack up and go home.

There is a kind of understanding which is allowed by power because it serves its purposes. To borrow one's lucidity from the light of power is to illuminate the darkness of despair, to feed truth on lies. Thus the aesthetic stage is defined: either death against power, or death in power: Arthur Cravan and Jacques Vaché on one side, the S.S, the mercenary and the hired killer on the other. For them death is a logical and natural end, the final confirmation of a permanent state of affairs, the last dot of a lifeline on which, in the end, nothing was written. Everyone who does not resist the almost universal attraction of power meets the same fate: the stupid and confused always, very often the intelligent too. The same rift is to be found in Drieu and Jacques Rigaux, but they came down on different sides: the impotence of the first was moulded in submission and servility, the revolt of the second smashed itself prematurely against the impossible. The despair of consciousness makes the murderers of Order, the consciousness of despair makes the murderers of Disorder. The fall back into conformity of the so-called anarchists of the right is caused by the same gravitational pull as the fall of damned archangels into the iron jaws of suffering. The rattles of counter-revolution echo through the vaults of despair.

Suffering is the pain of constraints. An atom of pure delight, no matter how small, will hold it at bay. To work on the side of delight and authentic festivity can hardly be distinguished from preparing for a general insurrection.

In our times, people are invited to take part in a gigantic hunt with myths and received ideas as quarry, but for safety's sake they are sent without weapons, or, worse, with paper weapons of pure speculation, into the swamp of constraints where they finally stick. Perhaps we will get our first taste of delight by pushing the ideologists of demystification in front of us, so that we can see how they make out, and either take advantage of their exploits or advance over their bodies.

As Rosanov says, men are crushed under the wardrobe. Without lifting up the wardrobe it is impossible to deliver whole peoples from their endless and unbearable suffering. It is terrible that even one man should be crushed under such a weight: to want to breathe, and not to be able to. The wardrobe rests on everybody, and everyone gets his inalienable share of suffering. And everybody tries to lift up the wardrobe, but not with the same conviction, not with the same energy. A curious groaning civilization.

Thinkers ask themselves: "What? Men under the wardrobe? However did they get there?" All the same, they got there. And if someone comes along and proves in the name of objectivity that the burden can never be removed, each of his words adds to the weight of the wardrobe, that object which he means to describe with the universality of his 'objective consciousness'. And the whole Christian spirit is there, fondling suffering like a good dog and handing out photographs of crushed but smiling men. "The rationality of the wardrobe is always the best", proclaim the thousands of books published every day to be stacked in the wardrobe. And all the while everyone wants to breathe and no-one can breathe, and many say "We will breathe later", and most do not die, because they are already dead.

It is now or never.

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