Chaos and Empire, not a love song (The forms of chaos. In the political art of Virginia Woolf)

Un remarkable writing by Valérie Gérard, The forms of chaos, reminds us that Virginia Woolf was not only one of the great English metaphysical writers of the 20th century, the female prose equivalent of TS Eliot (the later conversion to Christianity that made this interpretation more tangible), but also a political and social one, mindful of the divisions of his time. Captured by the two great disasters of 1914-1918 and 1939, it did not cease to explore new forms to confront them with the turmoil of wars, the arrogance of the Empire, the power of the patriarch.

After Victoria’s reign, Woolf’s Edwardian England was an ecosystem where people reflected on themselves in the mirror of an unshakable, almost pathological conservatism. The ingenuity and courage of the novelist is to succeed in cracking this system through his trials (A room of its own), his thoughts (Log, Moments of life), his novel experiments (Flush, Orlando, The Waves). A room of its own expresses the necessary and essential autonomy of women (economic, artistic, intellectual), when works of fiction break the traditional structures of the novel in order to liberate themselves. to oppress theplanaccording to Jacques Rancière (in The missing thread). All of his work is an attempt to overcome the paradox of social isolation and pervasive sensitivity. Innovative and interesting, Valérie Gérard’s essay begins to analyze Mrs. Dalloway and question sexual As land of a possible global political investment, the political creature here is inseparable from the sensitive and the sensual.

Mrs. Dalloway resonates with different senses, assembly to bring to his point the incandescence of waves, but from this novel this double polarity is formed (the sensitive and the political). Rancière’s analysis focuses on the more specific literary dimension by focusing on The Lighthouse Walk (rejected the previous day and allowed the next day), explains the modernity of the Woolfian project by exploding (implication?) traditional narrative plots: indeed, if the aim of the novel (in fiction) consists to construct the events that take place in The characters, in an hour, the facts and the story (what happens…) are parasitized by immersing the sensitive interpreting and disseminating the agreed-upon forms of narration. Since then, intrigue, dramaturgy and denouement have been absorbed by the influence of the time of creatures consisting of the worries of the day and the troubles of the home (family dinner, authoritarian father, friends gathering).

Rancière shows how to resist paternal tyranny (in terms of plot, structure). the Ddemocracy in the great impersonal life, time alone moves things, producing events immeasurable in scans of any human project. it lack of personality comprises a major stake in novel modernity (perhaps informs the Tropism by Nathalie Sarraute and in New Roman). The impersonal life is all that escapes the event, overflowing with expected meanings: the airlessness of the rusty hinges, the rooms emptied of their occupants, the fallen plaster , the futility of disappearance (after the death of Prue Ramsay) as opposed to the noise of presences.

Valérie Gérard extends this analysis by turning it into the political and showing how the most vulnerable characters, attacked by their affiliation, are unable to adapt to the social cause of a standard, cold, conservative society, which she described under the generic term PROCESSION.

In all its majesty, the man of the English tradition (the man, not the woman) is in eternal representation, to a point beyond the stereotype. We might think of it as a tourist (having fun with a red and black Buckingham guard in a fur helmet), but behind this playmobil vision of an England postcard, it’s an arrogant civilization that has imposed itself , here in the mouth of Septimus: It is the desire to normalize and confine life that produces crimes … when the ancient accumulation of propertyprivatelyies created theft… Before civilization, before law, there was no crime… But Septimus committed suicide. In what work.

Abstract political ideas are made to be effective and produce effects, such as they cause hatred and fear in those they fail to conquer, to overthrow. The obstacles that come from despair and the tragedy of existence can only be solved by the desire to not writing which is equivalent to a concern to consider what is not mandated by the standard: Describe the use of forms in a different way, writing a life that is not in the colonial and police structure of thoughtful, relatable life … write Orlando to escape the grip of the Empire, because it is a question of gender fluidity (which strangely resonates with current concerns). Understand that in the visions of Septimus, life crosses and unites creatures, leaves are connected in thousands by millions of fibers to its body … the smallest life carries within it to trace everything else …

Septimus committed suicide, then. Here, madness, there, reason. His death reveals the incompetence of the psychiatric institution through the number of the doctor (Bradshaw) who embodies the ideas of social and physical confinement of people in their classes, to organize them, to subdue them, to normalize them, as well as the truth. a state, the essayist continuedby sending his cops to sow chaos in a demonstration, that any form of multiple composition only works to produce relations of decay, which brings chaos to relations between people and between oneself. and self.

Another separating institution, marriage: One was Mrs. Dalloway; though Clarissa, no, we are Mrs. Richard Dalloway. Conjugality destroys the meaning of carnal life and it is in fact civilization as a whole, the PROCESS, that destroys lives through imperialist hypocrisy and religious fanaticism.

Personally, I have always considered England in the light of the sympathetic story (the edge of Prince Charles ’kilt), sympathetic but paradoxical and schizophrenic, legalistic AND eccentric: from the mauve hat of the Queen to the youthful energy of the Beatles ( hysteria of young women.), from Shakespeare to Parliament (representatives wigged and pinned), from Margaret Thatcher to the Sex Pistols, and from Ken Loach to Lady Diana (hysteria, too) , a mixture of social and royal, repression and rebellion. PROCESSION is depleted of what remains today of a corrupt monarchy: the vulgarity of its male successors (Andrew’s hormonal dysregulation, Harry as star influencer).

In England, no more or less than elsewhere, it is possible to be optimistic or gloomy, generous or indifferent, there as elsewhere, for two years and the appearance of Covid, the CARING as a way of life makes us more sensitive (to caregivers, applause at 8pm), to neighbors (kindly flicker in the elevator), to forest animals. Does the overall disaster suddenly allow for a collective and particular empathy? Have we become little Septimus?

When I talk to my cat, the baker, or the person I helped fill out his or her social security form at the photocopier on rue Marcadet, I feel empathy: there is a link, a relationship, an exchange, the assurance that i am not i am an airtight cell, life passed between the world and me in a moving motion (cat, bakery, photocopies and metro Marcadet).

A contemporary of Woolf, Aby Warburg talks to butterflies, Warburg is praised, Nietzsche hugs a horse while crying, and Woolf himself, surrounded by moths, hears voices at the height of his attacks. in anxiety. So, we are not alone, we are together and part ofa mist raised over the trees. Waves remind menothing is strong, nothing is straightened, everything is flowing.

In some contemporary poetic works, I understand a connection to this fluid vision of desire, to empathy as an attempt to move forward (sublimation, displacement). on a peopledescription by Stéphane Bouquet a woman who is not afraid of loneliness … she absorbs / is absorbed in the interspecies conversation of things. He noticed hyperinflation in his desire… it was already a lot. Vincent Broqua saw relationships such as falling icebergs, under the wind, in the rotation of the earth, in the circumpolar current that is broken into two, then into three, then into many. (Photocall, Softening Project). As for the concept blond by Cécile Mainardi (blondeness), a truly amorous and materialistic lyric, he reveals desire as a metamorphosis that is both transient and permanent.

Valérie Gérard reminds us that the painter Lily Brisco, at the end of The walk to the lighthousedoor to the world a loving look that allows her to have a common impression by ensuring unity as a whole … her love is a mix that brings people together and allows plenitude. He can get her visions at the very moment it collapses: He had the impression of bathing his lips in an unfathomable substance, of moving there… So many lives spread there; those of the Ramsay; to their children; where all kinds of destruction are added… He is preserved from this melting. He will move the tree is slightly towards the center.

I like Lily better than Septimus.

Valerie Gerard, The forms of chaos. In the political art of Virginia WoolfMF editions, March 2022, 224 p., € 16

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *