Life in the remains

A friend writes to us:  » Faced with the current disasters, you mention at the end of your Manifesto the chimpanzees of the future(1), the increased audience of the environmentalist movements which « is not necessarily a good sign. There is no smoke without fire ». This one, « ever thicker since 1972, emanates from the earth scorched by the industrialists, it signals the fire but in no way puts it out. It is not the saving deluge ». What do you think the saving flood would be? How to better investigate, reveal the objectives, denounce collusion? How do we encourage critical thinking and perspectives? What actions to take? « .

First of all, what is left to save? The empire of destruction has not ceased to expand since the Neolithic period, constantly strengthening the scientific and material (industrial) bases of its power, to launch itself at the dawn of the 19th century in a general (final?) offensive against the living. What since Jean Chaptal, the chemist and entrepreneur, minister of Napoleon I, has been called by analogy « the industrial revolution », whereas it was a vertical, uninterrupted and perhaps exponential acceleration, which began in the Middle Ages, and even before. Since that moment, all statistical indicators (economic, demographic, growth, production, consumption, traffic, communications, pollution, destruction…) have the graphism of a missile shooting faster and faster at the zenith. Many are happy about this and call it progress. 

A good part of the scientific activity now consists in establishing the inventory of these destructions and their autopsies, and in keeping the register of those in progress. We will thus have the satisfaction of knowing that our own disappearance is largely a matter of suicide; and this suicide of the death instinct, theorized by Freud. That is to say, a childish will to omnipotence which ends up turning against itself, so much the increasing power of the acquired means exceeds the wisdom of their holders. 


One last time, we return the question to you: what is left to save? 

Nature? But the newspaper of reference of the technocracy answers you in its edition of April 25, 2018: » Man, serial killer of large mammals. The study of records containing thousands of fossils is without appeal: with each arrival of « Sapiens » on a continent, the average size of animals collapses. An American team has analyzed these exterminations that have been going on for more than 125,000 years(2) « . Finally the hunter-gatherers were not so good savages, as phantasized by Rousseau and the anarcho-primitivists. If they lived in the Age of plenty(3), it was as voracious consumers, finally reduced to agriculture. The fire is ignited with the « invention of fire », and the scorched earth policy. 

Culture? But the conquerors burned all the libraries of antiquity. Not only that of Alexandria, burnt down once by Julius Caesar in 48 BC, a second time by the emperor Theodosius (391) and the patriarch Theophilus, a third time by the caliph Omar (642), but also the dozens of libraries of Rome and the Mediterranean basin purged and destroyed by the Christians, under the impetus of the fathers of the sinister sect. Most of the books, scrolls, papyri, parchments, burned, sequestered, scratched and smeared with theological ink, with a particular hatred for those of Epicurus and his disciples; so much so that it took more than a thousand years for the humanist Le Pogge, in 1417, to find and publish the only remaining copy of the De Rerum Natura by Lucretia(4).

Surviving in the remains, perhaps we must save the remains. And then the restologists and restology, such as these researchers who exhume the memory of mammoths and their slaughter in the journal Science (April 20, 2018). Or that other who exhumes Le Pogge, who exhumes Lucretius, who exhumes the memory of Epicurus, from the mouldy bottom of a German monastery. And from this exhumation springs a good part of the Renaissance. « Spring » and « Venus » by Botticelli, the laughter, revolt and heroism of Giordano Bruno, the skepticism of Montaigne who quotes Lucretius more than a hundred times, and covers his copy of De la Nature with annotations. The safeguarding of the remains as a practice of an irremediable mourning, their memory as an irreducible scar, the vigil of the dead, here is what could and should be saved; and from these remains perhaps, from these mourning, vigil, memory, scar, perpetual exhumation, something could be reborn which would deserve the name of life. Another life, La vita nuova(5).

Parts and labor 

Notes et références
  1. Cf. Le Monde, 25 avril 2018 et l’article original de Science, en ligne sur
  2. Cf. Le Monde, 25 avril 2018 et l’article original de Science, en ligne sur
  3. Cf. Marshall Sahlins, Âge de pierre, âge d’abondance : l’économie des sociétés primitives (Gallimard, 1976).
  4. Cf. Stephen Greenblatt, Quattrocento, Flammarion, 2013.
  5. Dante, La vita nuova.
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