Leslie Kaplan - Les outils

What is the relation between my experience at the factory, that « mad » place, and my experience as a writer ?
My experience at the factory was radical : it put every thing in perspective, and first of all (though I didn’t realize it) language, the most common of things, what men and women have, at the beginning, in common. I mean that EVERY THING could be, had to be, thought differently. Words for the most ordinary things seemed no more to the point. You work, really ? You eat, really ? You live, really ? To say anything what so ever you had to invent.
You can make a speech, but that does not account for anything_except for the capacity of making a speech.
When I started to write this experience, I tried to account for feeling : I wanted to write the outside, and also what you had in your head, in opposition with naturalism, determinism, where things, and beings, are so called in their place, correspond to their definition. It was only after that I realized how « the factory » and the world « under the sky of the factory », questioned everything, contaminated every thing, and could, one had to acknowledge it, empty experience, make experience something empty. Take the word rythm, I think of the word because I recently read an article on factories in China. What does it mean, to follow the rythm on the assembly line. Those words mean nothing, or almost. Becoming the rythm on the assembly line would be more correct. You can also talk of an infernal rythm, Down with infernal rythmes ! was a slogan in May 68. This question is the alienation of experience, how real expérience is made to become unreal, how language becomes false, a lie, and this question belongs to every body, and that is why a naturalistic vision, where words are reduced to a social, psychological, etc., origin, has never suited me.
This question continues to be alive for me today, in different forms, of course, novel, theatre, poetry, essays. But the question of the « factory » always seems to me to be linked with a research on language, and a research on madness. Do we speak, think, write, like in a factory or otherwise ? Is a sentence open or closed ? Do we live inside language as an alienated consumer or as a free man/woman ? Do we talk to each other as in a factory ? Do we assemble our sentences together without thinking as if we were making manufactored objects ? Do we speak to a person or to nobody ? Do we want to crush the person we are talking to with words ? Do we want to have the last word ? Are we present or absent to ourselves ?
And when we speak of « madness », what are we talking of ? A place, a situation, a way of behaving that are « mad » ? Is language mad, has language become mad ? How can we fight, with what forms can we fight, the attempts to make everything trivial, to promote anecdotes, clichés that are empty and agressive, even murderous, clichés that are the present form of the « opium of the people » ?
Those who have lived through a strike and an occupied factory know it : the most important event is always how one takes possession of one’s expérience, and the dignity and the pleasure that comes with that. Collective action brings into movement all the different categories of people, makes them come out of themselves, workers, employees, precarious, and unity is made around action, the activity of thinking, and the pleasure of thinking. Let’s remember what Serge Daney said about Lubitsch and nazism : the real answer to terror is not virtue, but refusing to renounce to pleasure… and remember Rancière’s descriptions of « the night of the proletarians » in the 19 th century. The most difficult and the most important thing, it seems to me, is to live without letting yourself be idictated a rythm that is not your own, to live and find forms that pass on what you have understood, at a certain time, through this struggle, because these forms pass on how you have made a possible exist, another life possible.

©Leslie Kaplan, mis en ligne le mercredi 11 avril 2012

written for the group of book stores "Initiales" (march 2011), in a dossier Ecrire le travail

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