Readings of Auguste Blanqui, Eternity by the stars
June 15 and 16 2022, 15:00-18:00
Videoconference seminar with Francisco Naishtat (UBA/Conicet)
Department of philosophy and Laboratory for studies and research on the Contemporary Logics of Philosophy at Paris 8 University
University research school (EUR) ArTeC
Miguel Abensour and Valentin Pelosse in the early 1970s offered a reading of Blanqui, freed from ideological doxas because, they say, Blanqui was no more blanquist than Marx was marxist or Nietzsche nietzschean. There was a biography, and a work of archives, where one could discover a utopian socialism borrowing crossroads, and especially the reading of Walter Benjamin, whose On the concept of history gives an account in the dialectical image, of the opening of possibilities in the eternal return of the cycle of the revolution of the planets, according to a thought of materialist history.
Among many others in the infinite play of quotations, of which “Libérer l’Enfermé” presents some of them, Löwy, Rancière, Piperno or Block de Behar have also offered readings from both sides of the Atlantic, where Blanqui’s cosmogony gave rise to the theorization of new forms of acting, of reading and writing, and of dreaming the impossible.
Eternity by the stars was written in prison in 1871, where Blanqui spent more than thirty years of his life, and “Prisoner of all States, Blanqui presents himself as one of the most formidable denunciations in action of politics in the modern world. What can a perpetual prisoner aim for, if not the destruction of all prisons, the end of all states?” (1972).
“The universe is infinite in time and space, eternal, boundless, and indivisible. All bodies, animate and inanimate, solid, liquid and gaseous, are connected to each other by the very things that separate them. Everything fits. If we suppressed the stars, there would remain space, absolutely empty no doubt, but having the three dimensions, length, width and depth, indivisible and unlimited space. Pascal said with his magnificence of language: “The universe is a circle, the center of which is everywhere and the circumference nowhere.” What more striking image of infinity? Let us say according to him, and specifying again: the universe is a sphere whose center is everywhere and the surface nowhere. Here it is before us, offering itself to observation and reasoning. Stars without number shine in its depths. Suppose we are at one of these “centers of the sphere”, which are everywhere, and whose surface is nowhere, and admit for a moment the existence of this surface, which is therefore the limit of the world” he writes at the opening of the book.
First, we will return to the history of the reception, or rather the non-reception, of Eternity by the stars by Blanqui, which in fact was first read as a literary work, dissociated from history of the Commune, or added to the archives of the Commune anecdotally, or is even absent from it and as if Blanqui, political and revolutionary, and Blanqui, author of Eternity by the stars, had been two different person.
If it was during the Commune that Blanqui wrote Eternity by the stars, it was not until the end of the 1930s that this singular work took on the dignity of a sense of literary or philosophical invention, when Benjamin found in it an exit from both the linear time of progress and the circular time of tradition, and Bioy Casares and Borges, the variability at the heart of the repetition of the motifs that make up the plot of the narrative that has become infinite.
Abensour and Pelosse when they write “Liberer l’Enfermé”, and this perspective will be taken up by Rancière, will definitively reunite the two Blanqui, Blanqui political and revolutionary, and Blanqui the author of a work of astronomy written in prison, in only one by showing the political meaning of the multidimensional conception of his astronomy as it is a multidimensionality of his word, political, military, literary, philosophical.
In a second phase open to contributory readings, we will reread the notions of eternal return, difference, variability and repetition more widely among the modern and contemporary philosophical corpus, in particular in Nietzsche.
Miguel Abensour and Valentin Pelosse, « Libérer l’Enfermé : Auguste Blanqui » (1972), in Auguste Blanqui, Instruction pour une prise d’armes – L’éternité par les astres – Autres textes, 2000, reproduced in a book in 2014, Libérer l’Enfermé : Auguste Blanqui, Sens & Tonka.
Louis-Auguste Blanqui, L’éternité par les astres, Librairie Germer Baillière, 1872.
Gustave Geffroy, L’enfermé : Avec le masque de Blanqui, Bibliothèque Gustave Charpentier, 1897.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Considérations inactuelles (1873-1876).