étienne de la boétie on the master-slave dialectic

C’est ainsi que le tyran asservit les sujets les uns par les autres. Il est gardé par ceux desquels il devrait se garder, s’ils n’étaient avilis : mais, comme on l’a fort bien dit pour fendre le bois, il se fait des coins de bois même. Tels sont ses archers, ses gardes, ses hallebardiers. Non que ceux-ci ne souffrent souvent eux-mêmes de son oppression ; mais ces misérables, maudits de Dieu et des hommes, se contentent d’endurer le mal, pour en faire, non à celui qui le leur fait, mais bien à ceux qui, comme eux, l’endurent et n’y peuvent rien. Et toutefois, quand je pense à ces gens-là, qui flattent bassement le tyran pour exploiter en même temps et sa tyrannie et la servitude du peuple, je suis presque aussi surpris de leur stupidité que de leur méchanceté. Car, à vrai dire, s’approcher du tyran, est-ce autre chose que s’éloigner de la liberté et, pour ainsi dire, embrasser et serrer à deux mains la servitude ? Qu’ils mettent un moment à part leur ambition, qu’ils se dégagent un peu de leur sordide avarice, et puis, qu’ils se regardent, qu’ils se considèrent en eux-mêmes : ils verront clairement que ces villageois, ces paysans qu’ils foulent aux pieds et qu’ils traitent comme des forçats ou des esclaves , ils verront, dis-je, que ceux-là, ainsi malmenés, sont plus heureux et en quelque sorte plus libres qu’eux. Le laboureur et l’artisan, pour tant asservis qu’ils soient, en sont quittes en obéissant ; mais le tyran voit ceux qui l’entourent, coquinant et mendiant sa faveur. Il ne faut pas seulement qu’ils fassent ce qu’il ordonne, mais aussi qu’ils pensent ce qu’il veut, et souvent même, pour le satisfaire, qu’ils préviennent aussi ses propres désirs. Ce n’est pas tout de lui obéir, il faut lui complaire, il faut qu’ils se rompent, se tourmentent, se tuent à traiter ses affaires et puisqu’ils ne se plaisent que de son plaisir, qu’ils sacrifient leur goût au sien, forcent leur tempérament et le dépouillement de leur naturel. Il faut qu’ils soient continuellement attentifs à ses paroles, à sa voix, à ses regards, à ses moindres gestes : que leurs yeux, leurs pieds, leurs mains soient continuellement occupés à suivre ou imiter tous ses mouvements, épier et deviner ses volontés et découvrir ses plus secrètes pensées. Est-ce là vivre heureusement ? Est-ce même vivre ? Est-il rien au monde de plus insupportable que cet état, je ne dis pas pour tout homme bien né, mais encore pour celui qui n’a que le gros bon sens, ou même figure d’homme ? Quelle condition est plus misérable que celle de vivre ainsi n’ayant rien à soi et tenant d’un autre son aise, sa liberté, son corps et sa vie !!


Jean-Léon Gérôme, Slave Auction, 1866, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Thus the tyrant enslaves his subjects, ones by means of others. He is protected by those from whom he would have to guard himself, were they not abased: but, as it is well said, to split wood one needs wedges of the selfsame wood. Such are his archers, his guards, his halberdiers. Not that they themselves do not often suffer at his hands, but these wretches, accursed alike by God and man, are content to endure evil in order to commit it, not against him who wrongs them, but against those who, like themselves, suffer him and cannot help it. And yet, when I think of those men who basely flatter the tyrant to profit at once from his tyranny and from the servitude of the people, I am almost as astonished by their folly as by their wickedness; for to get to the point, how can they approach a tyrant, but by withdrawing further from their liberty, and, so to speak, embracing and seizing their servitude with both hands? Let such men briefly lay aside their ambition, or slightly loosen the grip of their sordid avarice, and look at themselves as they really are; then they will realize clearly that the townspeople, the peasants whom they trample under foot and treat like convicts or slaves, they will realize, I say, that these people, mistreated though they be, are happier and in a certain sense freer than themselves. The laborer and the artisan, no matter how enslaved, discharge their obligation through obedience; but the tyrant sees men about him grovel and beg for his favor. They must not only do as he says; they must also think as he wills; and often to satisfy him they must anticipate his wishes. Their work is far from done in merely obeying him; they must also please him; they must wear themselves out, torment themselves, kill themselves with work on his behalf, and since they cannot enjoy themselves but through his pleasure, replace their preferences with his, distorting their character and corrupting their nature. They must continually pay heed to his words, to his intonation, to his glances, and to his smallest gestures: let their eyes, their feet, their hands be continually poised to follow or imitate his every motion, to espy or divine his wishes, or to seek out his innermost thoughts. Is that a happy life? Is that a life properly so called? Is there anything in the world more intolerable than that situation, not just for any man of nobility, but even for any man possessed of a crude common sense, or merely of a human face? What condition is more wretched than to live thus, with nothing to call one’s own, receiving from someone else one’s sustenance, one’s own accord, one’s body, and one’s life!!

—Étienne de La Boétie (1 November 1530 – 18 August 1563), Discours de la servitude volontaire, 1549

ни трагедия, ни фарс

Человек стремится всю жизнь не быть посредственностью (חוצפה, если не ὕβρις), или хотя бы не осознавать себя оною (tragische Konflikt, не ἁμαρτία, а ἀμαθία). Кончает посредственным скандалистом—не в силу лени, и не за неимением таланта, а из-за провинциальной ограниченности.

В Париже или Берлине пожалуй вышел бы Доминик Стросс-Кан или Даниэль Кон-Бендит; в Лос Ангелесе или Нью Йорке—Майкл Милкен или Эл Франкен. В Питере знаменательно произошёл Виктор Леонидович Топоров.

essays on man and woman

An Essay on Man
An Essay on Woman
Awake, my St. John! leave all meaner things
To low ambition, and the pride of kings.
Let us (since life can little more supply
Than just to look about us and to die)
Expatiate free o’er all this scene of man;
A mighty maze! but not without a plan;
A wild, where weeds and flow’rs promiscuous shoot;
Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit.
Together let us beat this ample field,
Try what the open, what the covert yield;
The latent tracts, the giddy heights explore
Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar;
Eye Nature’s walks, shoot folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rise;
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can;
But vindicate the ways of God to man.
Awake, my Fanny, leave all meaner things;
This morn shall prove what rapture swiving brings!
Let us (since life can little more supply
Than just a few good Fucks and then we die)
Expatiate free o’er that lov’d scene of Man,
A mighty Maze! for mighty Pricks to scan;
A wild, where Paphian thorns promiscuous shoot,
Where flow’rs the monthly Rose, but yields no Fruit.
Together let us beat this ample Field,
Try what the open, what the Covert yield;
The latent Tracts, the pleasing Depths explore,
And my Prick clapp’d where thousands were before.
Observe how Nature works, and if it rise
Too quick and rapid, check it ere it flies;
Spend when we must, but keep it while we can:
Thus Godlike will be deem’d the the Ways of Man.
I
I
Say first, of God above, or man below,
What can we reason, but from what we know?
Of man what see we, but his station here,
From which to reason, or to which refer?
Through worlds unnumber’d though the God be known,
’Tis ours to trace him only in our own.
He, who through vast immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compose one universe,
Observe how system into system runs,
What other planets circle other suns,
What varied being peoples ev’ry star,
May tell why Heav’n has made us as we are.
But of this frame the bearings, and the ties,
The strong connections, nice dependencies,
Gradations just, has thy pervading soul
Look’d through? or can a part contain the whole?
Is the great chain, that draws all to agree,
And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee?
Say, first of Woman’s latent Charms below,
What can we reason but from what we know?
A Face, a Neck, a Breast, are all, appear
From which to reason, or to which refer.
In ev’ry Part we heavenly beauty own,
But we can trace it only in what’s shewn.
He who the Hoop’s Immensity can pierce,
Dart thro’ the Whalebone Folds vast Universe,
Observe how Circle into Circle runs,
What courts the Eye, and what all Vision shuns,
All the wild Modes of Dress our Females wear,
May guess what makes them thus transform’d appear
But of their Cunts, the Bearings and the Ties,
The nice Connexions, strong Dependencies,
The Latitude and Longitude of each
Hast thou gone throu’, or can thy Pego reach?
Was that great Ocean, that unbounded Sea
Where Pricks like Whales may sport, fathom’d by Thee?
II
II
Presumptuous man! the reason wouldst thou find,
Why form’d so weak, so little, and so blind?
First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess,
Why form’d no weaker, blinder, and no less!
Ask of thy mother earth, why oaks are made
Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade?
Or ask of yonder argent fields above,
Why Jove’s satellites are less than Jove?
Presumptuous Prick! the reason would’st thou find
Why form’d so weak, so little and so blind?
First, if thou canst, the harder Reason guess
Why form’d no weaker, meaner and no less.
Ask of thy Mother’s Cunt why she was made
Of lesser Bore than Cow or hackney’d Jade?
Or ask thy raw-boned Scottish Father’s Tarse
Why larger he than Stallion or Jack Ass?
Of systems possible, if ’tis confest
That Wisdom infinite must form the best,
Where all must full or not coherent be,
And all that rises, rise in due degree;
Then, in the scale of reas’ning life, ’tis plain
There must be somewhere, such a rank as man:
And all the question (wrangle e’er so long)
Is only this, if God has plac’d him wrong?
Respecting man, whatever wrong we call,
May, must be right, as relative to all.
Of Pegos possible, if ’tis confess’d
That Wisdom infinite must form the best,
Where all must rise, or not coherent be,
And all that rises, rise in due Degree;
Then in the scale of various Pricks, ’tis plain
God-like erect, BUTE stands the foremost Man,
And all the Question (wrangle e’er so long)
Is only This, if Heaven plac’d him wrong?
Respecting him whatever wrong we call,
May, must be right, as relative to all.
In human works, though labour’d on with pain,
A thousand movements scarce one purpose gain;
In God’s, one single can its end produce;
Yet serves to second too some other use.
So man, who here seems principal alone,
Perhaps acts second to some sphere unknown,
Touches some wheel, or verges to some goal;
’Tis but a part we see, and not a whole.
When Frogs wou’d couple, labour’d on with Pain,
A thousand Wriggles scarce their purpose gain:
In Man a Dozen can his End produce,
And drench the Female with spermatic Juice.
Yet not our Pleasure seems God’s End alone,
Oft when we spend we propagate unknown;
Unwilling we may reach some other Goal,
And Sylphs and Gnomes may fuck in woman’s hole.
When the proud steed shall know why man restrains
His fiery course, or drives him o’er the plains:
When the dull ox, why now he breaks the clod,
Is now a victim, and now Egypt’s God:
Then shall man’s pride and dulness comprehend
His actions’, passions’, being’s, use and end;
Why doing, suff’ring, check’d, impell’d; and why
This hour a slave, the next a deity.
When the proud Stallion knows whence ev’ry Vein
Now throbs with Lust and now is shrunk again;
The lusty Bull, why now he breaks the Clod,
Now wears a Garland, fair Europe’s God:
Then shall Man’s Pride and Pego comprehend
His Actions and Erections, Use and End.
Why at Celaenae Martyrdom, and why
At Lampsacus ador’d chief Deity.
Then say not man’s imperfect, Heav’n in fault;
Say rather, man’s as perfect as he ought:
His knowledge measur’d to his state and place,
His time a moment, and a point his space.
If to be perfect in a certain sphere,
What matter, soon or late, or here or there?
The blest today is as completely so,
As who began a thousand years ago.
Then say not Man’s imperfect, Heaven in fault,
Say rather, Man’s as perfect as he ought;
His Pego measured to the female Case
Betwixt a woman’s Thighs his proper Place;
And if to fuck in a proportion’d Sphere,
What matter how it is, or when, or where?
Fly fuck’d by Fly, may be completely so,
As Hussey’s Dutchess, or yon well-bull’d Cow.
III
III
Heav’n from all creatures hides the book of fate,
All but the page prescrib’d, their present state:
From brutes what men, from men what spirits know:
Or who could suffer being here below?
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed today,
Had he thy reason, would he skip and play?
Pleas’d to the last, he crops the flow’ry food,
And licks the hand just rais’d to shed his blood.
Heav’n from all creatures hides the Book of Fate
All but the page prescribed, the present state,
From boys what girls, from girls what women know,
Or what could suffer being here below?
Thy lust the Virgin dooms to bleed today,
Had she thy reason would she ’skip and play?
Pleas’d to the last, she likes the luscious food,
And grasps the prick just rais’d to shed her blood.
Oh blindness to the future! kindly giv’n,
That each may fill the circle mark’d by Heav’n:
Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
Atoms or systems into ruin hurl’d,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.
Oh! Blindness to the Future, kindly given,
That each m’enjoy what fucks are mark’d by Heaven.
Who sees with equal Eye, as God of all,
The Man just mounting, and the Virgin’s Fall;
Prick, Cunt, and Ballocks in Convulsions hurl’d
And now a Hymen burst, and now a World.
Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;
Wait the great teacher Death; and God adore!
What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,
But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
Hope, humbly, then, clean Girls; nor vainly soar
But fuck the Cunt at hand, and God adore.
What future Fucks he gives not thee to know
But gives that Cunt to be thy Blessing now.

— Alexander Pope

papa takes a piss

About the James book: It is not great no matter what they tell you. It has fine qualities and greater faults. It is much too long and much too bitching and his one fight, against the planes, at Pearl Harbour day is almost musical comedy. He has a genius for respecting the terms of a kitchen and he is a K.P. boy for keeps and for always. Things will catch up with him and he will probably commit suicide. Who could announce in his publicity in this year 1951 that “he went over the hill” in 1944. That was a year in which many people were very busy doing their duty and in which many people died. To me he is an enormously skilled fuck-up and his book will do great damage to our country. Probably I should re-read it again to give you a truer answer. But I do not have to eat an entire bowl of scabs to know they are scabs; nor suck a boil to know it is a boil; nor swim through a river of snot to know it is snot. I hope he kills himself as soon as it does not damage his or your sales. If you give him a literary tea you might ask him to drain a bucket of snot and then suck the pus out of a dead nigger’s ear. Then present him with one of those women he is asking for and let him show her his portrait and his clippings. How did they ever get a picture of a wide-eared jerk (un-damaged ears) to look that screaming tough. I am glad he makes you money and I would never laugh him off. I would just give him a bigger bucket on the snot detail. He has the psycho’s urge to kill himself and he will do it. 
    Make all the money you can out of him as quickly as you can and hold out enough for Christian Burial. 
    Wouldn’t have brought him up if you hadn’t asked me. Now I feel as unclean as when I read his fuck-off book. It has all the charm and true-ness of the real and imitation fuck-off. I give you James Jones, Gentlemen, and please take him away before he falls apart or starts screaming.

— Ernest Hemingway, letter to Charles Scribner, 5 March 1951, Selected Letters 1917-1961, edited by Carlos Baker, Scribner, 2003, p. 721


Ernest Hemingway, late spring 1952, John F. Kennedy Library

Jones made another remark that I had difficulty dealing with. When Hemingway’s name came up, he proclaimed that, “The problem with Papa was he always wanted to suck a cock. But when he found one that fit, it had a double barrel.”

— Michael Mewshaw, Do I Owe You Something?: A Memoir of the Literary Life, Louisiana State Univ Press, 2003, p. 53