|Roberto Calasso em 1960|
Here is a photo of you and your late friend Brodsky. He wrote a wonderful essay on The Marriage where he talks about self-projection. He draws a parallel between mythology and television. The scales and parameters are different, but myth and TV are both ultimately about self-projection. The seat of both is one’s mind. The altar in both cases is a box. Sacrifice is the remote control.
That’s highly Brodskian. The point is, man has a surplus of energy which he has to dispose of. That surplus is simply life. There is no life without surplus. Whatever one does with that surplus, that decides the shape of a culture, of a life, of a mind. There were certain cultures that decided they had to offer it in some way. It is not clear to whom, why, and how, but that was the idea. There are other cultures, like ours, where all this is considered entirely useless and obsolete. In the secular world, sacrifice shouldn’t have any meaning at all. At the same time, you realize that it does, because the word has remained very much in use. In discussions of the economy, analysts speak all the time of sacrifices, without realizing what is inside the word. Even in psychological terms, sacrifice
is a most usual word. It is considered illegal—for instance, if one celebrated a sacrificial ritual in the middle of London or New York, he would do something illegal, he would be put in jail. Sacrifice is connected to destruction—that is an important thing and the most mysterious one. Why, in order to offer something, you must destroy it. These are the themes of the last part of L’ardore
You have said that Lévi-Strauss was afraid of the notion.
He couldn’t deal with sacrifice, it destroyed his whole theory. I have much admiration for Lévi-Strauss, and I learned a lot from him. But there are certain things, like ritual and sacrifice, that made him nervous, because they disrupted the architecture of his thought.
But Bataille tackled it.
Bataille is the opposite. Bataille wrote of sacrifice all his life. His best book on that was La part maudite, a very audacious work. But Bataille was not a rigorous thinker. He wrote too much and had a terrible habit—ressassement, endless repetitions. Yet in a way, he put the question at the center of everything.
I think it is also central for you. Why is sacrifice so important?
Maybe it’s simply because sacrifice brings us into dealings with the unknown. In the act of sacrifice, you establish a relation with something that you recognize as enigmatic and powerful. Our collective psyche seems to have lost touch with it, although science is providing countless motives for being overwhelmed by the unknown. The unknown itself is in our own mind as well—our mind is in its largest part totally unknown to us. Therefore, it is not only a relation to the exterior world, it is a relation to ourselves. We establish a connection with the unknown through the act of giving something and, paradoxically, the act of destroying something. That is what is behind sacrifice. What you offer and what you destroy, it is that surplus which is life itself. (fonte
|Joseph Brodsky em 1967|
Via a mim mesmo no declínio de uma vida inocente e desafortunada, a alma ainda repleta de sentimentos vivazes e o espírito ainda ornado de algumas flores, murchas pela tristeza e ressequidas pelos desgostos. Sozinho e abandonado, sentia chegar o frio das primeiras geadas, e minha imaginação esgotada não mais povoava minha solidão com seres criados por meu coração. Dizia a mim mesmo, suspirando: o que fiz neste mundo? Fui feito para viver, e morro sem ter vivido. Pelo menos não foi por culpa minha, e levarei ao criador de meu ser, se não a oferenda das boas obras que não me deixaram fazer, pelo menos um tributo de boas intenções frustradas, de sentimentos sadios tornados inócuos e de uma paciência à prova dos desprezos dos homens. (Rousseau, Os devaneios do caminhante solitário. Trad. Júlia da Rosa Simões. L&PM, 2011, p. 18-19).