Ars Dogmatica

Pierre Legendre

Et caetera

All that is left … I am thinking of the formula that circulated in France under the ”Ancien Regime” with respect to the writing of notarial deeds : “Beware of the notaries’ et caetera ” ! Law was then dealing with the inextricable entanglement of oral customs and written rules in dimensions that made the notarial task difficult to impossible ; in order to protect their clients from the threat of court actions, notaries used to try and escape each and every possible legal wasp’s nest through the use of the clause “et caetera”. Hence the vengeful maxim from the part of attorneys eager to recruit new litigants – a timeless literary theme.

All that is left … is here a clause stipulating what we shall call the spirit of non-completion , which is quite foreign to the programming of overabundant knowledge.

So much questioning … was touched upon. So was the French case, the first of its kind I had access to. Should I add anything to the bits and pieces I am about to let run free ?

Any discussion about the state in France remains entrapped by its own code. The state form is viewed through the lens of the ethereal domain of abstract principles, and restricted within the limits of a laicistic discourse of faith and devotion to the Republic, as embodied in the statue of a benevolent and peaceable matron-in-chief somewhere on a place in Paris – the unconscious recollection of the Goddess of Reason, so beloved by Robespierrre !

One can hardly hear the echo of the international jungle, where new forms of power confront each other, and sometimes profile private Empires with transcontinental ambitions that do not fit the baseline of political theory inherited from the past. As to ENA, (the National School of Administration), nowadays too timid to teach with court records brought in as supporting evidence the harshness of the business imperium facing the states, it has appeared to me in recent years as moving towards the consolidation of what Balzac termed ‘mediocracy’.

And la nave và. Consideration should be given, however, to how the ship sails. The reflex-like distinction between left and right which, if memory serves me, was an invention of the good Doctor Guillotin during the Revolution (who was, as we know, the inventor of the “guillotine”) ended up obscuring social life itself.

Furthermore, let us never forget the type of occult rule of co-ownership, adopted by Robespierre and his allies, applied to the Republic : live under two principles of legality, the constitution and the insurrection. Political pundits may be content to observe the “power in the streets” without further questioning … Could there possibly be a danger of causing trouble to the delicate spirits that populate the political parties ?

In this respect I am happy enough with reflecting upon Arnaud Teyssier’s judgment about the fifth Republic and its political evolution : ”a democratic immaturity”.

All that is left … it is to explore time and again the inventiveness of the speaking species as far as institutions are concerned. Though not without recalling the devastation brought about by dictatorships, Hitler’s in particular, as it meant the  collapse of modern civilization. This has been properly acknowledged as a fact, whereas the chain of events unleashed on the whole West as a consequence has not.

I will not discuss again the unthinkable of the parricide perpetrated against the whole  scale of culture, nor the murder of the Jewish Ancestor, which forged the path to the ransacking of the genealogical construction. I realize my words remain inaudible, not simply because revealing the genealogy behind the scenes of Reason (both subjective and legal) is obscured by the failings of psychoanalysis, but also because ultramodern individualism, fed on a social delirium as invincible as the previous one, has taken hold of all levers of normativity. In truth, we have witnessed the invention of dictatorship within freedom

I know from international experience that the systematic destruction, in the name of Development, of all ancient montages of transcendence in former colonies triggered a mechanism of genealogical disorientation, hardly noticeable at first, but which became over time truly terrifying for the subject – a phenomenon aggravated by mass migrations into the West. No prior warning, no anticipatory statement could ruffle the decision makers who arrived from outside, including UNESCO. About this vicious cycle I tried to raise awareness, but to no avail.

Today I will add : humanity, from North and South, is pushed to living beyond the limits of its mental resources. The impossibility to admit such an observation is ramping up when it comes to fighting the epidemic of jihadist terrorism : the necessary return to oneself, and to the genealogical debacle masked in the West by an unbridled libertarianism remains unacceptable. Leaving the issue exclusively in the hands of the military and the police is inadequate in the absence of critical self-appraisal. The refusal to change course expressed by pedagogues and expertise authorities, that is to question our own decaying dogmatic structures, highlights the disarray of a civilization that has become incapable of considering the universal nature of the immemorial, the genealogical Debt.

All that is left … Even though human questioning is endless, it finally comes to its limits.

The future is a sealed letter. The aftermath of what we call the present will tell us whether we are in the process of inventing the species’ self-destruction, or if the more banal threat of an unprecedented servitude looms, one that would gently slaughter a few generations lost to the easiness of mass individualism.

The destruction of institutions that has been promoted with the violence of a new moral Order since the last World War, merits a new Diary of Hell ; but radical poetry, the one able to combat madness, is defunct. What remains before us is a socially accepted uselessness and its dogmas – accepted for now.

The memory of the species teaches us : something in life is more invaluable than life itself, the pricelessness which carries the reproduction of humanity. And which announces new beginnings.

For the primary existential torment that inhabits the subject lives on : why ? We are at the foundation of discourse, a foundation which is metaphorically expressed with the utmost accuracy by the fiduciary (greater than religion), by the myths and the rituals. What is at issue is conveyed by the humour of a Yiddish chant, The Eternal Enigma, set to music by Ravel in 1914:


The world asks an old question
Tra La la la la la
The world asks an old question
Tra La la la la la 

L’Enigme éternelle, chant yiddish, mis en musique par Maurice Ravel et interprétée ici par Victoria de Los Angeles

Translated by Peter Goodrich, with the collaboration of Vincent Bleuse



Solennel, l’oiseau magique préside à nos écrits.
Le paon étale ses plumes qui font miroir à son ombre.
Mais c’est de l’homme qu’il s’agit :
il porte son image, et il ne le sait pas.

« Sous le mot Analecta,
j’offre des miettes qu’il m’est fort utile
de rassembler afin de préciser
sur quelques points ma réflexion. »
Pierre Legendre

« Chacun des textes du présent tableau et ses illustrations
a été édité dans le livre, Le visage de la main »

Ars Dogmatica