Truth Weapons, Parrhesia and Critique

To situate that dispositif more comprehensively within the ambit of Foucault’s methodological contributions, we must heed another of Foucault’s concepts, what he calls “regimes of veridiction.” Developing that concept elaborately in his investigation of the history of punishment, Foucault refers to relationships between juridical and veridictional practices and suggests that what is to be understood is “how a certain practice of veridiction was formed and developed in... penal institutions.”30 Foucault also illustrated the concept of truth-as-veridictional practice in his treatment of medical discourse, noting for example, “what is currently politically important is to determine the regime of veridiction established at a given moment that is precisely the one on the basis of which (. ) doctors said so many stupid things about sex. What is important is the regime of veridiction that enabled them to say and assert a number of things as truths.”31

Crucially, in pointing to “regimes of veridiction,” it is important to note that methodologically, Foucault is not offering explanations. As he has stated, his analyses do not “partake of (...) so-called explicative procedures to which are attributed causal value (...).”32 Instead, he saw himself undertaking “the critique of knowledge,” which “consists in determining under what conditions and with what effects a veridiction is exercised.”33 Without using the concept explicitly, Enard effectively describes, in a further observation, the regime of veridiction that determines what is sayable and by whom at Blaskic’s war crimes trial. His protagonist, Mirkovic, says, “in the great trial organized by the international lawyers immersed in precedents and the jurisprudence of horror, charged with putting some order into the law of murder, with knowing at one instant a bullet in the head was a legitimate de jure and at what instant it constituted as grave breach of the law and customs of war.”34

Thus, in contrast with Foucault’s explicit narration of his method, Enard’s analysis proceeds through juxtaposition, through what Walter Benjamin famously called “literary montage.”35 This passage, in which Mirkovic observes some of his fellow passengers on a train to Rome (where Mirkovic is headed with an archive of atrocities to sell to the Vatican), has a subtle connection with the long quotation about the trial, earlier in the novel; it implies a different mode of responsibility for the atrocities during the Balkans Wars, for it alerts the reader to the role of arms trading,

Egyptian, Lebanese, and Saudi businessmen all educated in the best British and American prep schools, discretely elegant, far from the cliches of colorful, rowdy Levantines, they were neither fat nor dressed up as Bedouins, they spoke calmly of the security of their future investments, as they said, they spoke of our dealings, of the region they called “the area,” the zone, and the word “oil”.. .some had sold weapons to Croats in Bosnia, others to Muslims.36

Given Mirkovic’s prior observation about Blaskic, “one single man (...) has to answer for all our crimes, according to the principle of individual criminal responsibility which links him to history,” the reader is in effect asked to reflect on the supply side of technologies of violence and thus to focus on weapon dealers who play a significant (albeit unacknowledged within the trial) role in creating the conditions of possibility for atrocities. The unindicted, commercially predatory entrepreneurs observed by Mirkovic operate in a world in which global capitalism is redrawing the map as it secures its various clienteles, profiting from global antagonisms, ethno-national among others. Novelist Michel Houellebecq (who like

Foucault is a “new cartographer”)37 describes that map: “(...) free-market economics redrew the geography of the world in terms of the expectations of the clientele, whether the later moved to indulge in tourism or to earn a living. The flat isometric surface of the map was substituted by an abnormal topography where Shannon was closer to Katowice than to Brussels, to Fuerteventura than to Madrid.”38

The characters/entrepreneurs, whose activities create that map, are not governed by cultural or political allegiances (as Enard’s passage implies). Nevertheless, their conduct is at least as connected to atrocities as are those who hold the weapons they sell. As Enard’s Mirkovic puts it, “our businessmen from the Zone didn’t see the threat behind the outstretched hand, the deadly games that would play out in the course of the years to come (...).”39 Thus, although victims and perpetrators are arrayed throughout Enard’s novel, he (like Foucault) eschews universals. He does not offer a definitive judgment about justice. Instead of becoming absorbed into a moralistic affirmation of legal justice, his writing opens the issue of justice as he maps the lines of force that make possible both atrocities and the apparatuses that emerge to confront them. In effect, Enard offers a critique that challenges the pursuit of truth that tribunals seek. In this sense, his writing affirms Foucault’s critical method.

 
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