chapter  5
66 Pages

Apparition of the Inapparent: The phenomenological “conjuring trick”

An articulation assures the movement of this relentless indictment. It gives some play. It plays between the spirit (Geist) and the specter (Gespenst), between the spirit on the one hand, the ghost or the revenant on the other. This articulation often remains inaccessible, eclipsed in its turn in shadow, where it moves about and puts one off the trail. First of all, let us once again underscore that Geist can also mean specter, as do the words “esprit” or “spirit.” The spirit is also the spirit of spirits. Next, The German Ideology uses and abuses this equivocation. It is its principal weapon. And especially, although it operates with constancy or consistency, and even if it is less tenable than Marx himself thinks, the argument that permits him to distinguish between spirit and specter remains discreet and subtle. The specter is of the spirit, it participates in the latter and stems from it even as it

follows it as its ghostly double. The difference between the two is precisely what tends to disappear in the ghost effect, just as the concept of such a difference or the argumentative movement that puts it to work in the rhetoric tends to vanish. All the more so in that this rhetoric is in advance devoted to the polemic, in any case to the strategy of a hunt or chase [une chasse]. And even to a counter-sophistics that at every moment runs the risk of replicating the reply: reproducing in a mirror the logic of the adversary at the moment of the retort, piling it on there where one accuses the other of abusing language. This counter-sophistics (Marx as paradoxical heir of Plato, as we shall see) has to manipulate simulacra, mimemes, phantasms. It has to watch out for, so as to denounce, the maneuvers of an illusionist, the “conjuring tricks” of a prestidigitator of the concept, or the sleights of hand of a nominalist rhetor.