The novel, which is a work of art, exists, not by its resemblances to life, which are forced and material ... but by its immeasurable difference from life ...
(R. L. Stevenson)
So, too, the value of thought lies not so much in its inevitable convergences with truth as in the immeasurable divergences which separate it from truth.
It is not true that, in order to live, one has to believe in one's own existence. Indeed, our consciousness is never the echo of our existence in real time but the `recorded' echo, the screen for the dispersal of the subject and its identity (only in sleep, unconsciousness and death do we exist in real time, are we identical to ourselves). That consciousness results much more spontaneously from a challenging of reality, from a bias towards the objective illusoriness of the world rather than its reality. This challenging is more vital for our survival and the survival of the species than the belief in reality and existence, which is of the order of otherworldly spiritual consolation. Our world is as it is, and it is no more real for that. `Man's most powerful instinct is to come into conflict with the truth and, therefore, with the real.'
But surely, say these good apostles, you aren't going to discredit reality in the eyes of those who already find it difficult enough to get by, and who surely have a right to reality and the fact that they exist? The same objection for the Third World: surely you aren't going to discredit affluence in the eyes of those dying of starvation? Or: surely you aren't going to run down the class struggle in the eyes of those who haven't even had their bourgeois revolution? Or again: you aren't going to discredit feminist and egalitarian demands in the eyes of all those who haven't even heard of women's rights, etc.? You may not like reality, but don't put others off it! It's a question of democratic morality: you must not demoralize the masses. You must never demoralize anyone.
As for ideas, everyone has them. More than they need. What counts is the poetic singularity of the analysis. That alone can justify writing, not the wretched critical objectivity of ideas. There never will be any resolving the contradictoriness of ideas, except in the energy and felicity of language.
Cipher, do not decipher. Work over the illusion. Create illusion to create an event. Make enigmatic what is clear, render unintelligible what is only too intelligible, make the event itself unreadable. Accentuate the false transparency of the world to spread a terroristic confusion about it, or the germs or viruses of a radical illusion -- in other words, a radical disillusioning of the real. Viral, pernicious thought, corrosive of meaning, generative of an erotic perception of reality's turmoil.
Promote a clandestine trade in ideas, of all inadmissible ideas, of unassailable ideas, as the liquor trade had to be promoted in the 1930s. For we are already in a state of full-scale prohibition. Thought has become an extremely rare commodity, prohibited and prohibitive, which has to be cultivated in secret places following esoteric rules.
Everything must take place in secret. We shall take the view that the official thought market is universally corrupt and implicated in the prohibition of thought by the dominant clerisy. Every intervention by critical, enlightened and right-thinking intellectuals, all of them politically correct even when they do not know it, will be considered vacuous and shameful.
Eradicate within oneself every trace of the intellectual conspiracy. Spirit away the reality file to wipe out all its conclusions. It is, in fact, reality which is fomenting its own disavowal, preparing its own ruin by way of our lack of reality. Hence the feeling that this whole affair -- the world, thought and language -- has come from elsewhere, and might disappear as though by magic. For the world does not seek to exist more, nor to persist in existing. It seeks, rather, the wittiest way to escape reality. It seeks, by way of thought, what can lead it to its doom.
The absolute rule is to give back more than you were given. Never less, always more. The absolute rule of thought is to give back the world as it was given to us -- unintelligible. And, if possible, to render it a little more unintelligible.
Jean Baudrillard, The Perfect Crime, Radical Thought
I follow my course with the precision and security of a sleepwalker