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Prison Time Author(s): Michael Hardt Source: Yale French Studies, No.

91, Genet: In the Language of the Enemy (1997), pp. 64-79 Published by: Yale University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2930374 . Accessed: 07/03/2011 08:56
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MICHAEL HARDT

PrisonTime
Prisons their and inmates havetoorealan existence to havea not effect peoplewho remain on free. profound -Jean Genet, MiracleoftheRose

for In Leninlikedto thinkofprisonas a university revolutionaries. a rather different Genettoo was schooledin revolution his way, during the time in prison.He studiedintensively transformative powersof centers aroundthedestruction of love and desire.Genet'srevolution of timethatnowimprisons and theconstitution a new theempty us, of that It time,a newrhythm living. is a transformation is bothmatesocial and divine.Prison well seem an unrialand immaterial, might for of likelyor eccentric pointofdeparture a collective project stormtimelies at theheart but thatprison ingtheheavens, in Genetwe find is of our social order, thatits destruction the condition any and for revolution. in of Prisontimeis theobviousform punishment ourworld.Freeof as and dom,thatis, thecontrol ourtime,is conceived thekeystone the most covetedpossessionin modernsociety, equal to all. By an for the indubitable is logic,then, paradigm punishment theloss ofthis mostpreciousasset thatall possess equally:time.' Prisontakes our determined Like theequationsbetween timein precisely quantities. labor-time value,oursociety up an elaborate and sets calculusfamiliar to all ofus betweencrimeand prison-time. Theftofa car equals six sale ofillegaldrugs murder months; equalsfive years; equals tenyears. The concrete crimeis abstracted, multiplied a mysterious by variable, in and thenmade concrete of againas punishment a precisequantity are do notevenhavethe time.The calculations utterly arbitrary (they
1. "How couldprison bethepenaltypar in in not excellence a society which liberty is a goodthatbelongs all in thesame way... ?" (MichelFoucault, to Disciplineand Punish, trans. Alan Sheridan Books,1977], [NewYork:Vintage 232). ? ed. YFS 91, Genet:In theLanguage theEnemy, Durham, 1997byYale University. of

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horrible metonymic correlation cutting a hand fortheft), of off but, while we mayoften values on the two sides ofthe questionrelative equation, seldomdoubttheviability thecalculusitself. we of Punishmentequals time.Itslogicis simply obviousfrom within modem our society. Through prison, the poweris invested directly intotimeas a seriesofdisciplines, regimentations, orderings.2 Time is themeasure ofpower, oncea sovereign and power ourtimeitis loathtoletitgo. has thatthecorpse a certain of inmate was not (Genettellsus,for example, in givenoverto his family had to remaintemporarily theprison but because he still had threeyearslefton his sentence. Powerin our )3 is society aboveall poweroverourtime. Inmatescommonly refer thetimethey to spendin prison qualias tativelydifferent fromtime outside. Prisonwastes time, destroys their time.Prisoners timefor crimes do timeto and time,empties get dues.You can do your timehardoryoucan takeit easy-that paytheir is a matter attitude-butit is all equallywasted.The timeis empty of becauseoftherepetitiveness theprison of scheduleandroutine. Time stretches and collapsesin a kindof opticalillusion.Each dayis out filledwithprecisely specified, required activities and appointments. Time movesat a snail'space; thedayis never-ending. watchthat You slow.Mealtimenever flyon thewall and its motionsseem infinitely seemsto arrive. Look backat thosedaysfrom distance, a however, and are intoeachother thebellowsof like they indistinguishable. fold They an accordian. no Time spentseems to have no duration, substance, of becauseofthepreciserepetition its component the parts, homogethe Prisontimeis devoidof chance,it is fated neity, lack ofnovelty. All time.Nothing unforeseeable. is plannedin advancebya higher is The manyhandsofprisonauthorities seem to make conall power. cretethe all-powerful hand offatethatmovesthe inmatealong the time.Inmates in vaintoholdon to this programmed ofprison path try if it ephemeral, fleeting time,giving some concrete, onlysymbolic, out notchesin the substance, crossing dayson a calendar, scratching wall-they marktime. as Inmatesliveprison an exilefrom orrather, life, from timeof the
2. "Time,operator punishment." of "Power articulated is directly ontotime;it assuresits control guarantees use" (Foucault, and 108). and its 160 3. ".1.. as for Botchako, it is truethatevery if prisoner mustputin thetimeto will which wassentenced as he stillhadthree he and years go,hisfamily notbe ableto to Miracleof theRose, claimhis bodyuntilthree yearshaveelapsed. . . " (Jean Genet, trans. Bernard Frechtman [NewYork:GrovePress,1965], 234).

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concern.(Anyinmatewould Time is alwaystheirprimary living.4 for of tradetwice the severity punishment halfthe time.)In prison time,the beingitselfof the inmatesseems to have been emptied, around corridors. the The thatshuffle themto mereshadows reducing powerofprison of the weight destiny, fateimposedby the sovereign bodies,out ofexistence timeseemsto havepushedthemout oftheir to Prisoners thus forced seek an essence elsewhere, are altogether. existence. Interior aplife from their wasted,impoverished detached outsideof time and beyondthe pain and pears to some as a refuge No howmuchthey exposeme to routine. matter tediumoftheprison no howmanystrip searches authorities, matter thebrutal ofprison eye and humiliations, theycan'ttouchtherealme inside.Otherinmates the of in imagining fullness a lifeoffreetake consolation feverishly their domoutside wallsoftheir the imprisonment-either realpast,an I'll or after their release.The first thing do alternative present, a future This fullbeingand full be whenI getout is . .. ThenI'll really living. but altime cannotcoincidewiththeirexistence, mustbe projected that inmates undergo It wayselsewhere. shouldbe no surprise so many to withone ofthemost Theyareforced grapple conversions. religious sufferproperly a ontologiand problematics they metaphysical intense from to beingseparate cal malady. Theyareconstrained an existence exilefrom thisis their living. outsideof prisonlookingin, mightimagine Those who are free, in to time. and ownfreedom defined reinforced opposition prison their a Whenyougetclosetoprison, however, realizethatitis notreally you from but a the siteofexclusion, society, rather focalpoint, site separate difof concentration a logicofpowerthatis generally ofthe highest in the fusedthroughout world.Prisonis oursociety its mostrealized withthe existential whenyou come intocontact form. That is why, of you cannotbut preoccupations inmates, questionsand ontological If of thatelsewhere of ownexistence. I am living doubtthequality your fullbeingthatinmatesdreamof,is mytimereallyso full?Is mylife redisciplinary through reallynot wasted?My lifetoo is structured gimes,my days move on with a mechanicalrepetitiveness-work, or discomfort the commute, sleep.I do nothavethesamephysical tv, but the sexualdeprivation, evenwithout wallsandbarsmylifeendsup or Moreprecisely, time,whether cheerful similar. my beingstrangely
stay-his of 4. " . . . theinmatetendsto feelthatfortheduration his required exiledfrom Asylums[New Goffman, living"(Erving sentence-he has been totally Books,1961], York:Anchor 68).

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drab, often is equallyempty, equallywasted.I look back on mydays of and weeks and have the same experience timefolding ontoitself, I compressed an accordion like becauseit is empty. liveprison timein ourfreesociety, exiledfrom living.Buthow could one redeemtime, how could one live a fulltime?The veryexistence prisonmakes of thesequestionsnecessary urgent. and of The miracle Genetis totransform empty, the time homogeneous of prisonlifeinto full time. He attacksthe problemat its point of a of highest intensity seemstograsp fullness timewhere is most and it denied.Whenthe narrators Genet'snovelsinsistrepeatedly of that he theylove prison, is notsimply the of enjoying perversity reversing ourexpectations.5 am nottrying be scandalous."6 response "I A to to socialmores common and notions aimedonlyatviolating publicopinion would be a merereactive gesture, confirming normsin their the transgression. that love of prisonis real and true.The love of No, prison, however, shouldnotbe confused witha simpledesireto be in prison a preference prison or for overthesociety outside.Genet'scharactersdo not choose to go to prisonbecause of theirlove forit or because of its beauty;theydo all theycan to avoid arrest, and do nothing resist to their release.Theft assaultaregiven theproxiand as mate causes ofimprisonment, finally characters but the seem to be of Whatwe need to understand guidedto prisonbytheforce destiny. and elaborate Genetis the complex in between love and relationship In we our to destiny. a first moment, will see thatloveinvolves power the forceof destinyin a stateof divineabjection;then,in a accept secondmoment, lovetakesan activerole,capableoftransforming the worldand forging new destiny. a THE SAINTLINESS OF EXPOSURE
I Duringthetheft, bodyis exposed. knowthatit is sparkling my with all mygestures. world attentive all mymovements. .. The is to . -The Thief's Journal

of The fullness beingin Genetbegins withthefact thathe never seeks an essenceelsewhere-being resides in onlyandimmediately ourexisin 5. "I loveMettray, paradise theheart royal that of Touraine" of (Miracle theRose, to making fingers Tenyears go!Mygood, gentle my fly! my 171)."I'vegotlotsoftimefor minealone,I loveyouso!" (Genet,Our Lady ofthe friend, cell! My sweetretreat, my trans. Frechtman [NewYork:GrovePress,1963],129). Flowers, 6. Genet,The Thief'sJournal, trans. Frechtman (New York:GrovePress,1964), 214.

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of is tence.And the exposure thatexistence whatallows beingto apGenet's transformative pear.This is the first key to understanding oftheft, example, thatin for is The primary ontological project. appeal is the theact thethief fully is exposed.Genet'sthief neither invisible in nor bodythatslidesunperceived andoutofthesocialorder; is he the criminal thattriesto force worldto obeyhis ownrules. the sovereign This thiefis the exposedbodyopen to the world.It should not be thissame exposure thebodyoftheprisin that surprising Genetfinds with oner.7 Prisoners never are really alone,butalwaysopentocontact Twoprisoners moother inmatesandguards. sharean intimate might but mentcrossing pathson the stairs, it is neverlonguntil another In them. effect, prisoner the is inmate passesalongora guard questions a of to that exposed theprison itself, complex organism consists walls, Likethatofthethief, bodyof and the gates, inmates, guards, so forth. the theinmateis exposed, opento theworld.In thisexposure bodies arefully realizedand theyshinein all their gestures. is of of Genet'sexposure in parttheacceptance thereality material of to the forces, acceptance fate.Exposure theworldis notthesearch in but the for essenceelsewhere, thefulldwelling thisworld, belief an an in this world.The unexposedmightconstruct interior world,a in and realmofdepths abysses;exposure, contrast, all of lays separate in beingequallyon the surface, theflesh.Exposedbeingis univocal; in beingis saidalwaysandeverywhere thesamevoice.Itis notdefined Whenwe exposeourselves theforce to in of bybeingdifferent itself. of the we things realizethisontological condition, immanence being in existence. merge We withthe destiny are livingand are swept we of flux. "theuniverse theirremediaalonginitspowerful Herewe enter same as theone we werein,withone peculiardifference: ble. It is the we we insteadof actingand knowing are acting, knowwe are acted is are upon" (OurLadyoftheFlowers, 246).The world as itis,things as they thus, are, irremediably.8 havealwaysbeenthatwaybutnow They their surfaces seemto sparkle glow. and we irremediable, lose Exposed,
alone;he is always within sight 7. "In general, course, inmate never of the is fully Prison cageswithbarsfor walls andoften earshot someone, only fellow of if his inmates. realizesuchexposure" fully (Goffman, 25). is are,in thisor thatmode,con8. "The Irreparable thatthings just as they are to are whatever signed without remedy their wayofbeing.Statesofthings irreparable, atrocious blessed.How youare,howtheworld or is-this is they maybe: sad orhappy, The ComingCommunity, trans.Michael Hardt the Irreparable" Agamben, (Giorgio of 90. [Minneapolis: University Minnesota Press,19931,

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the of melt, theseparateness, detachment ourselves.Fixedidentities of intothe ourboundaries dissolve, we merge and withtheforce things a univocalsurface theworld. of Exposure a sortofsublimepassivity, is intothecolony joyful abjection. The juvenile delinquents merge itself; theinmatesenter onenessoftheprison; thief gestures the the 's glitter the of in theunityoftheworld.Exposure precisely realization the is of univocity singularity being, ourequal and absoluteimmerand and in sion orparticipation it. But Exposureis the first step on Genet'spath to divinity. why this shouldhe burdenwithreligious terminology ontologicalclaim and abouttheimmanence essencein existence theunivocaloneness of ofbeing? itmerely reactive and revenge on Is a kindofheresy mockery, it theCatholicChurchfor sufferinghas caused?That maybe true the in inpart, thatreactive for of but gesture no wayaccounts theintensity wherelifehas a heightened Genet'sexperience. Genetfinds divinity wherein the intensity, charge, a wherethe worldseems to sparkle, onenessofbeingshinesforth. divineis the The exposure itssurfaces of space,but immanent not hiddenin any beyond, any transcendental of "One is a saintby the forceof and exposedin the surface things. of thatis theforce God!" (MiracleoftheRose,264; translation things of other thantheforce things, of modified). force God is nothing The of surfaces existence. thematerial (Deus siveNatura,as Spinozasays.) our of our Saintliness then, is, precisely opennessto theforce things, The saintcan be recognized a certain by abjecexposure theworld. to to of a of tionwithrespect theforce things, passiveacceptance circumThis abjectbodyofthesaint, stance.Genetdeifies however, abjection. shouldnot be conceivedsimplyas subjectto and dominated the by force things-thatwouldstillbe to conceiveit as separate. of Rather, its the is withthe its through openness, exposure, saint'sflesh infused and force things becomesonewithit.Exposure of actualizesthedivinof The existence thesaintis alwayscondemned, swept ityoftheflesh. of Genetfindsthissaintlyexposure most alongin the force destiny. of in and intense thegestures thethief, thebodiesofabjectconvicts, in condemned death, thesearenotunique to but in thefacesofmurderers that instances, theyare insteadexamplesor singularities allow us to of the acrossthesurfaces being, the throughout world. recognize divine narrators' love shouldhelpexplain Genet's Andthisin turn mysterious " (MiracleoftheRose, ofprison. lovedmyColonywithmyflesh. . . "I In of 237).Thisloveis theultimate signofexposure. theflesh thesaint,

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of and with essence(theforce God) coincidesfully irremediably existhis divinecoincidencemakes the body tence (theforceof things); glow.That is whythefleshofa saintis alwaysbathedin a halo. in This exposure eroticprecisely the sense thatit dissolvesthe is the of the self-possession, discontinuity individual separateness, acrossbeing.In and thus opens onto an absolutecontinuity things, relationships comand bodiesdecompose certain movement rest, and fluxofdesires. undertheswayofthematerial This operapose others melts away the prisonof the selfand its tion overcomesor rather in or, isolation.Genetloses himself eroticexposure, moreprecisely, of are his boundaries, along with the boundaries all things, transsweptin the formed open to flowsand intensities, into thresholds of witha longtradition of divinetides ofthe force things. Together in a mystics, Genetdiscovers divineenergy eroticexposure. THE ABOLITION OF TIME
timeturned dust. to [T]hewallscrumbled, -Miracle oftheRose

is however, not enoughforGenet.Our abjectaccepExposureitself, and riska certain indiftanceofourexistence ouropennessto being, of mustbe accompanied a power constitution and ference. by Exposure our us love to fillthatexposedbeing.Prisonwalls separating from seem to encounters, prohibiting desires,isolatingus fromcontact, The sexualdeprivation is one ofthecenterthat makeloveimpossible. of is deprivaregime onlyindicative a moregeneral piecesoftheprison tion ofaffect. Genetchallenges thisisolation,thisexile from affect, In Genet's theamorous event withan activeproject. (whether writings in of or shakesthevery foundations fantasized experienced theflesh) theirpowersof separation. inmate An the prisonwalls and destroys and fantasizes abouthis lovedone condemned death,forexample, to of "Theprison thewallsdance,shaken theseismicenergy theevent: by Help,we are moving!"("Le condamnea mort," leaps and trembles! CEuvres vol. two completes, 2, 215). Or alternatively, inmatessharea and timeturned to sparkoflove in thecorridor "thewalls crumbled, dust . . . " (Miracle of the Rose, 46). In the momentofthe eventthe or of segmentations striation prisonspace dissolveand givewayto a smoothspace of love. The inmatesare no longerisolatedbut fully of of is event exposed. Exposure thecondition possibility theamorous

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around the Jericho, event and vice versa.Like themusiciansparading downwalls. seemsto have themysterious powerto batter of of the This destruction space, however, tumbling walls that of partial.Even Genetimaginesin themoment love can onlyremain mustering his all Harcamone, glorious the saintawaiting execution, sentbyJean-evenhe is not strength alongwiththe amorousenergy of the all powerful enoughfinally perform miracle passingthrough to of walls is infuriatingly theprison walls. The reality prison stubborn. in understood The miraculouspowerof the eventis perhapsbetter temporalterms-"time turnedto dust." When love arises,prison away."I shouldhave time,its regimentation, its tediumwither and I likedto talktoyouaboutencounters.havea notionthatthemoment is thatprovoked-orprovokes-them locatedoutsideoftime,thatthe time shockspatters surrounding and space. . . " (Our Lady ofthe the from encounto events Flowers, 146).Weshouldbe careful distinguish are the thatcomefrom outtershere.Encounters provoked events by to itself transit side; in fact, wouldbe moreproper saythattheevent portsus outsidetime. The eventhas no time of its own,it is never It like or present, has no duration. strikes a boltoflightning, arrives it far the as a heraldfrom away announcing abolitionof time. In the for and we moment, escape passionate event, an infinite infinitesimal of time. thetediumand emptiness prison in nor The eventis neveractual (neither the temporal existential virtual. The eventis thusnot senseoftheFrench actuel);it is purely properly understood a stateofthings. maybe actualizedin a state as It of and ofthings an encounter-an arrangement bodies,affects, so or forth-butit alwaysremains outsidethatactualization, that distinct, a of of is like state.The event a klinamen, moment rupture thethrow of we It thedice.Itshatters fixity thedestiny hadbeenliving. opens the This up thechaosofchanceandcutsa pathorplaneacrossitsuniverse. The Genet'sencounters. is the region outsideof time thatprovokes eventneveroccurs in time. It ruptures time,defiesdestiny-time to is turns dust.On theother the potenhand,however, event thevery tial thatsubtends timeitself. is at once theabolition timeandits It of of call condition possibility. might theevent One transcendent, then, in the sense thatit seems to flyabove or outsideour temporal existence.This transcendence, inheres within temporality itself, however, of it It as its condition possibility; is an innermost exteriority.maybe the moreclear, to as real then, recognize event purevirtuality: without The is being actual,idealwithout beingabstract. event thepureimma-

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thatis notactualized.9 the nenceofthevirtual Perhaps halo thatsurroundsdivineobjectsis caused precisely the pureimmanenceof by inactualin them.It is theglowofthevirtual. The event whatremains no has no beginning, end,no duration-andas suchitgivesus no time as forliving.Death mightbe imagined precisely thisvirtualstateof of beingoutsideoftime.'0The experience the eventis thusbothecstaticand unlivable. CEREMONIAL CONSTITUTIONS
Wearea bookoffamiliar living and in history whichthepoetcan the decipher signsoftheEternal Return MiracleoftheRose

The event shatters prison timewitha pureandunlivable liberation. It of the of of is themoment purechance, moment thethrow thedice,the of opening theuniverse chaos,theabsolutedestruction thedesof of is tinywe had been living.The eventitself, however, unlivableprebecause it has no time. The ciselybecause it refuses actualization, timebutfailstooffer alternative. is thepure an It event destroys prison an of negation timeitself. Living requires alternative time,a positive or We articulation actualization. have to elaborate event[dresser the a as l'evenement] a modeoflife, livingstateofthings."The first step will the ofthistemporal constitution movefrom event theencounto of ter.Without thisarticulation an alternative time,ourescape from not timeis onlya flash, evena moment, brief ephemeraland prison to In we arestillconfined an exilefrom we living. other words, haveto of construct waythatthemoment lovewillreturn, it willrepeat a that to a thatwill be the incessantly marka temporal density, duration structure a newtime.The eternal of return themoment of of material of love will be thefabric ournew destiny. Saintlinessconsists,then,not only in the abject opennessthat of makespossiblethearrival theevent, makespossiblethebirth that of The love,it also involvesa positiveand activeconstruction. saintis defined his orhercreative is finally by powers. Divinity notonlythe it of realization beingin existence, is notonlya matter exposure, of it
of or 9. "[I]t thepure is immanence whatis notactualized whatremains indifferent to actualization, because its reality does not dependon it. The eventis immaterial, unlivable: incorporeal, purereserve" (GillesDeleuze andFelixGuattari, Qu'est-ceque la philosphie? Minuit,1991],148).Translation mine. [Paris: The Frechtman 10. See,for trans. Grove example, Genet, Screens, (NewYork: Press, 1962),144. 36 11. See Deleuze and Guattari, and 151.

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involves also theconstitution beingitself. Genetis God,as Sartre of If lies not in his playing God, an omnipotent tells us, his divinity at creator from creatures a private fictitious its separate in or world, but in our rather Genet'srevealing common potential constitute to reality, to constitute being.'2The powerofcreation, powerto cause our the of The constitution beingrequires consistency overtime,a cona tinualrepetition, duration. a This is a pointat whichGenet,like his belovedSudaneserevolutionary to Mubarak,13showshimself be profoundly Spinozian.Like Spinoza,Genettoo beginshis entire project from simpleaffirmation: stilldo notknowwhatbodiescan do. the we Our exposurecasts us fullyon the material plane of bodies and the force things. how are different of But bodiescomposablein new relanew encounters? How can we make ourjoyful tionships, encounters return? How can we constitute newmodeofliving, newworld, a a out ofthesejoyful in encounters? event An mayintervene ourlifeandgive riseto a joyful but that encounter, we cannotguarantee joywill return sincethecause oftheencounter from comes unknown us. to outside, The fortuitous is us joyful encounter, however, a gift-itpresents with Ifwe a certain to whatis common that opportunity. recognize bodyand ourown,ifwe discover waythatbodyagrees the withourownandhow ourbodiestogether we cause that composea newbody, can ourselves encounter return. to joyful This is how Spinozaconceivesour active modeofliving.'4 of constitution a joyful Andlove is thedriving force in thisconstitution. The organization joyful of encounters theinis our to creasein ourpower, power actand ourpower exist-that is a to of notionoflove.This eternal return thejoyful encounter is Spinozian a constitution being,not in the sense thatit fixesan immobile of in a identity from butrather thatitdefines movement,becom(far it), a of ing,a trajectory encounters, continalwaysopenandunforeseeable,
12. Jean-Paul Sartre, trans. Frechtman (New York:Pantheon Books, Saint-Genet, 476. 1963), 13. "The onlyboss I recognize a Jew-Spinoza"(Genet, is Prisoner Love,trans. of Barbara Bray [Hanover: Wesleyan University Press,1989], 296). a 14. "Whenwe encounter bodythatagrees withourown,whenwe experience a we to the to joyful passiveaffection, areinduced form ideaofwhatis common that body and ourown.... Wemustthen, theaid ofjoyful the by form idea ofwhatis passions, and common someexternal to For body our-own. thisideaalone,thiscommon notion, is in trans. adequate"(Deleuze,Expressionism Philosophy: Margin Joughin [New Spinoza, GillesDeleuze (Minneapolis: York: Zone Books,1990], 282-83. See also,MichaelHardt, of 95-100. University Minnesota Press,1993),

own existence, is divine.

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of The return to uouslysusceptible theintervention thenewevents.'5 encounter thefirst is thread from whichwe will weavean ofthejoyful time. alternative, constituent The encounter, contrast theevent, to already presents certain a in to timethoseencounnotionofduration, inorder but really constitute are tershave to return. Genet'swritings filledwithincessantrepetiin in return the tions;thebooksseemtobe written waves.Encounters of form theceremonial. never governed rebellion by or "Myadventure, of will be merely one longmating, burdened and a feeling injustice, erotic ceremonial ceremo(figurative complicated a heavy, by strange, it)" (The Thief'sJournal, 10). nies leading to jail and anticipating of are Genet'sceremonials alwaysceremonials love. Theyconsistin The ceremonial of finally the infinite repetition joyfulencounters. the brings eventinto time,makingit a time ofliving.It is thusthe of thatinsists itsownrigidity, on insists on constitution a newdestiny out fail. beingcarried without for for even Genetis wellknown hispropensity betrayal, ofthosehe on He any or loves.Butwe shouldbe careful thispoint. willbetray fixed the and constituted identity he willdisobey law,at timesonlytoprove of is thathe will not be ruledby them.His affirmation betrayal the of an insubordination: "don'tserve refusal anyobedience, absolute any is whatever" betrayal theproof purpose (TheScreens, 199).Thisgeneral this to ofsingularity. shouldnotextend notion, We however, meanthat in Genet refuses"to participate any socialityat all."'6 Genet will but or a betray purpose fixed any identity will pursueunendingly pro"You've no right a a to cess of constitution, becoming, ceremonial. in unless,of course,you hit upon changeanything the ceremonial, from the it."' The onlydeparture some crueldetailthatheightens its ceremonial will be one thatintensifies line of constitution. One the but might thatGenetdoes notbetray ceremonial, thatwould say of to implya relationship subordination it. It wouldbe moreaccurate
... an with 15. "Theklinamen provokes encounter theneighboring andfrom atom is and of encounter encounter to there a pile-up carambolage] thebirth a world.... [un Each encounter aleatory.... [Ijnstead conceiving is of contingency a modality as or of one as of exception necessity, mustconceive necessity thebecoming-necessarythe "Le du encounter contingents" of souterrain materialisme (LouisAlthusser, courant in de la rencontre," Acritsphilosophiqueset politiques, vol. 1 [Paris: tditions 541 STOCK/IMEC,1994], and566). Homos (Cambridge, Harvard 16. Leo Bersani, Massachusetts: University Press, 1995),168. Frechtman 17. Genet,TheBlacks,trans. (NewYork:GrovePress,1960),18.

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tosaythathis life, newmodeofliving constituted therhythm his is by and movement the ceremonial. of Genetabandonshimself (and any notionofself)in his equal immersion participation theceremoor in nial. This ceremonial thebasic figure thenew time,the timeof is of joyful encounters, we will to return. that How silly it would be forGenet to followthe classical dictate about the unityoftimein his theater. Whatsense wouldit make to createdramaifwe wereonlyto repeatin it thetimeoftheworldwe had been living, empty the timeofoursociety? prison in Already the of solitudeand detachment prison Genetdiscovered powerofcrethe can atingtime."In thecell,gestures be madewithextreme slowness. You can stop in the middleof one. You are masterof time and of of thinking.... That is whattheluxury cell lifeis composedof.... Eternity flowsintothe curveofa gesture" (MiracleoftheRose, 156). The time Genetcreated his cell was perhaps first in a elaboration of the temporal constitutions wouldarticulate stage.His private he on prisonceremonies, conducted thedark, in underthecovers, wereexin of periments miniature the collectiveceremonial of creations the theater. Whattheater mustdo aboveall is createa newtime,thatis, a new rhythm mode of living.It is perhapssymptomatic this and of mandatethatin theproduction The Screens, of Genetis continually withthevarying preoccupied speedand slownessofthedialogue.The letters Roger to and in Blin,theplay'sproducer, theinstructions the ofthetextarefilled in withindications therhythm which on margin the actorsshoulddeliver theirlines: "very fast,""very, veryslowly," of "veryrapid,""make the rhythm SirHaroldand Blankenseemore and luxuriousslownessare the lively."The dizzyingaccelerations construction a new gait,a newpace for of The ceremonies, existence. as theygather collectivemass and repetition, a createa new tempothatis notlimited thefewhoursofperformance expands to but rality intoa new timeofliving. As Sartre Genetrealizeshe is boundto destiny thus and suggests, he makesdestiny own.18 his This formulation, risksobscuhowever, the of and ring complexity thisoperation thetransformation involved in it. Genet does not simplyacceptthe dead,homogeneous, empty timeimposedon him bysociety, does he resistit in a dialectical nor He of struggle. abandonsthattime,abolishesit in thepurevirtuality
18. "Since he cannotescape fatality, will be his ownfatality.... He wills his he destiny; will try loveit" (Sartre, he to SaintGenet, 49-50).

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outsideoftime.Prison our theevent, time, common destiny, expelsall chance,but the eventopensup chancelike the momentofa cosmic in In throw thedice,shattering of destiny thechaos oftheuniverse. a second momentthe dice fall back,come to rest,and displaya new 19 of number. Thisis theconstitution a newdestiny, fixed thefirst as as butnowfullofourdesire. Hereis thejoyful encounter we will to that The return eternally. ceremonial mustbe performed precisely because of it is therepetition ourdesire-you haveno right change to anything our And yet this unless you intensify desire.We will it to return. ceremonial time,thisnewdestiny be shattered anymoment can at by a new thunderbolt comingfrom outsidetime,a new event, opening Event-encounter-ceremonial: againtheentire process. Genet'sprocess of transformation thisclearly defined of has trajectory constitution. The newtimethatemerges from process thedestiny the is thatGenet makeshis own. REVOLUTIONARY TIME
in in ThereweretheZengakuren Japan 1966;theRedGuardin unrest Berkeley; BlackPanthers; at the China;thestudent May 1968 in Paris;thePalestinians.
-Prisoner of Love

from lifeoutsidethe Genet'sliterary work never is his entirely separate of The blur writing. boundaries theworkcontinually withautobiograOne phyand reportage. might speculatethatthefactthatartis conto from is whatledGenetat different life times signed a realmseparate in his lifeto abandonwriting pursuehis project a larger to in realm. in Whatis important, anycase, is thatthe constituent timethatwe not of havebeentracing be isolatedtothework artbutextend a time to of living, otherwords, in thatit enteror constitute history. History, as it is often conceived, appears merely thecrystallization as however, ofprison and seriescollapse time, homogeneous empty. Longtemporal of underthefixity one immobile one destiny, idea,one homogeneous streamofprogress-with same accordion the effect experience we in In there seemsparadoxically be no to prison. sucha notionofhistory, and movement no time,onlya rigid of identipantheon constituted
19. "[Tlhehandofthediceplayer, raised high, thenturns over up hovers moment a andspillsthenumbers to themarble, on on spillsfate to thecafetable.The dicemakea as But terrible noiseas they urgent thebeatofa drum. nowthatfate spoken fall, has the gambler's fingers relaxand comebackto reston thetable"(Prisoner Love,249). of

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A ties,nations, sovereign and powers. notionofhistory founded the on eventis something altogether different. time of this history The is alwaysbecoming, alwaysunforeseeable, to chance,and continuopen ouslyformed our desires, joyful by our encounters.20 notionof Any and is sovereignty destabilized thisperpetual unpredictable by movement.History thusnow recognized the chaos ofa multitude is as of in desires becomecoherent, temporarily, constituent groups, patterns, of or movements-in a procession encounters. This constituent hisin to tory, contrast a constituted is elaboration of history, theextended thatanimatethetimeofGenet'swriting. theceremonials arrives an event as Every revolution thatblastsopenthecontinuum ofhistory.2' revolutionary The eventalwaysbursts intohistory from out oftime-"to have been dangerous a thousandth a second" for of (Prisoner Love,239). But thenthe revolutionary of movement must articulatethateventin time with a repeated seriesof gestures and encounters. Genetis drawnto certain revolutionary groups, then,in a He partbecause oftheir theatricality. discovered kindoflivingthefor and dressoftheBlackPanthers. ater, example, thehairstyles in In in movements same ceremonial the effect, Genetfinds revolutionary he constitutions workedto createin his own novelsand plays,cast now on a larger scale. These groupsmanageto live collectively, for an varying durations, open,constituent history. Genetwas charmed a cardgame thathe witnessedduring his by time with the Palestinians.The fedayeen were forbidden their by leadersto play cards;gambling mightlead to othervices and allow of to The outsiders questionthemorality thefighters. fedayeen played but cardsin their hands.Theyconpokernonetheless, withimaginary handscarefully, sidered their cardson the nonexistent empty dropped floorand picked them up nonchalantly, triumphantly and showed their combinations withluxurious slownessand solemnity. winning on with a serenecalm. Their They carried theirgame or ceremony leadersdidnotwantthem handling kings, queens,andjacks-all symbols ofpower.Theyhad no powerin theirhands,no sovereignty, no
20. "History the subjectofa structure is whosesite is nothomogeneous, empty of time,but timefilledbythepresence thenow [Jetztzeit]" Benjamin, "The(Walter in trans.Harry ses on the Philosophy History," Illuminations, of Zohn [New York: Schocken Books,19681, 261. are 21. "Theawareness they abouttomakethecontinuum history that of explode is classes at themoment their of characteristic therevolutionary of action"(Benjamin, 261).

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of Real cards,evenas meresymbols soverfixedterritory identity. or theirexposure. Instead,in their eign powers, mighthave mitigated virtualcardgame the fedayeen weretotally exposed;theirexistence of The was completely opento chance,to theevent revolution.22 fedfloor. ayeenwerelike livingdice cast on the open desert "[M]anyof in thosewho fought the case ofthe Palestinians-thosecard-players in cards-were regarded Europeas outcastswithout real any without country, and linkwitha recognized identity, withoutanylegitimate to above all withouta territory belonging themand to which they of . of belonged, withthe usual proofs existence . . " (Prisoner Love, movement completely open,withas 204).Genetsaw thePalestinian or fluxofrevoluout sovereignty, territory-a constant identity, fixed movement a constituof is Revolution defined thecontinuous by a processis closeddownin a conentpower. Whenever revolutionary a a stituted identity,State, nation-the revolution power-a sovereign In time revolutionary shouldbe conceases to exist.23 thesame way, to homogetimein contrast the constituted, ceivedas a constituent time finally powers.Revolutionary neous, emptytime of sovereign marksour escape fromprisontime into a full mode of living,unThis modeofliving at all times is foreseeable, exposed, opento desire. of time.24 Prisontime,however, constituent our new,revolutionary time as willalways return soonas that as revolutionary is closeddown, soon as rebelsallow the revoltto congeal,as soon as a constituted We poweris erected. do notbreakout ofprisononce and thenremain in our existence mustbe a continuous project perpetfree; alternative time is a never-ending meanswithoutan ual motion.Revolutionary it. end.Anyendwoulddestroy Genetwill onlytolerate thisnew conare I stituent time."[T]hedaywhenthePalestinians institutionalized, be becomea willno longer at their side.The daywhenthePalestinians be with nationlike another nation,I will no longer there"(Interview vol. 6, 282). Genetwill betray Oeuvrescompletes, the Wischenbart, as whenit has closeddown any Palestinians, he will betray identity,
of ... a game[of Palestinians] is a style, principle deterriorializathe 22. "[Tlhecard in Gal[Paris: "Genetretrouv6," Cartographies tion. . . " (Guattari, schizoanalytiques ilee, 1989], 283). Power, trans. MauriziaBoscagli(Minneapolis: Negri, Constituent 23. See Antonio of Press, University Minnesota forthcoming). of of collectimeis a machine constitution." "Outside a materialist, 24. "Liberated of to conception timeit is impossible conceiveoftherevolution" tive,and dynamic 1982], and 253). 330 (Negri, Macchinatempo[Milan:Feltrinelli,

tionarydesire.

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time a revolutionary in merely newsovereignty. a Becoming Statelike all the otherswould negatethe revolutionary forceof the Palestina ians.25 Genetmaybetray constituted Statebuthe willnever deny the revolutionary force things. maybetray identity fact, of He any (in he wouldhappily all but betray identities) he will continuously, without fail, abandon himself theconstituent to the time, ceremonial time,the time revolutionary thatalways remains Thisrevoluopenandexposed. tionary timeis thetimeoflove.

25. "The idea ofaccepting some territory, however small,wherethePalestinians that it wouldhavea government, a capital... theideawas suchheresy eventoentertain of (Prisoner Love,266). of as a hypothesis a mortal a betrayal therevolution" was sin,

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