L'Objecteur d'esprit Bernhard:
Une transformation
by Pierre Wolfcarius
(in French)
as described by Pierre Wolfcarius, the author.

Thomas Bernhard has chosen the most difficult of all artistic courses: first, to make music with concepts; second, to write a "comical-philosophical" work, using only concepts which are made to laugh at themselves, to make them fly, then systematically to shoot them down – freeing, through such a process of destruction, the rhythmic energy they contain. Bernhard's thoughts "are Asiatic thoughts:"  their final, global goal is always to signify NOTHING ("to destroy everything, rub it out, cancel it;"  "to treat everything thus, till it's not there anymore;" "to rub out right away all that was born"). This total annihilation, this extinction, Bernhard reaches by means fair and foul; for instance:

  • tautologies
  • "Witze," oxymorons: saying one thing and its opposite at the same time (destruction of the principles of identity/contradiction)
  • palinodes: saying the opposite later
  • overstatements
  • humour
  • inversion (and so destruction) of the principle of causality
  • self-referencing of the text

Much more than comical and philosophical, the expression "comical-philosophical" means thought is fated to be destroyed, either by an opposite thought, or by laughter, just as laughter itself comes from the destruction of thought. Like nature ("Logos-like"), Bernhard produces through destruction, destroys through production.

Outer goal: to write a comical and intelligent condemnation of intelligence; inner goal: to move forward; to advance always further, to the extreme of what will prove possible for him, and there to find it was all a trap. But no matter: his nature now compels him to get going again: the pendulum swings in the opposite direction.

To alternate is Bernhard's way of life, but this alternating is always in vain: all is absurd, all the more art, expression of that absurdity ("everything we say is absurd, all the same we say these absurdities in a persuasive way"); but in that meta-absurdity, Bernhard feels fine.

Being artistic-philosophical, as befits Bernhard, this book is also a reflection about the nature of art, defined (possibly for the first time in a clear, plain and precise way) as mind object  : the projection of a unique mind (i.e. a style, a form : not a content, a substance ; a “how”, not a “what”) onto a matter, producing an object that will retain this mind as faithfully as possible.

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