Feuilleton – Prébende #5

Antoine Dufeu
21.11.01 → 21.11.30

Antoine Dufeu has been an associated author at the cneai = since November 2020. In the “FEUILLETON” section of the cneai = newsletter, he invites you to read texts that are currently being written and unpublished texts. “Prébende” is the title of a book that is currently in the process of being written and is being shared here opportunistically.

Prébende #5

I) The Major: an excerpt from Adventures (in progress)

I extend my left hand to you. We had been there for a while, side by side. You and I, my friend, seek—if you are a man, I am a robot, and if you are a woman, I am also a robot—what among the elements of the landscape that unfolds before us, which notably consists of calanques and cliffs, could randomly teleport us to the city of Gaza or the Gaza Strip, both of which inevitably and regularly disappear from the headlines here in France, but perhaps also there in the United States, Tunisia, or Bulgaria. If the most recent ruins of the strip or the city of Gaza are, failing to be manifestly politically ineffective with the self-proclaimed international community, which is nothing more than a concert of nations but, as always, the chaos of nations, invisible to our eyes that insolently pass from the harbor to the horizon and vice versa, they nonetheless divide our respective minds in the same way: being on one side and me on the other, you first and me later, we talk amiably. No insects seem to be flying around us, yet I notice, in early December, a ladybug on the chunky-knit sweater you’re wearing, which a Cassidian over eighty years old lent you last night while we were sitting in a charming outdoor amphitheater overlooking the sea. It is from this same place that you are addressing me in these moments, saying “much love,” which I immediately inscribe in one go on the palm of my right hand with a blue ballpoint pen. As I explain to you that I am finally questioning its spelling, you mention the concept of “attached writing,” recently formulated by the French anthropologist and linguist Pierre Déléage, and suggest, without my understanding why, interpreting my way of writing this expression as a symptom of a tragedy derived from an economy that is oppressively confiscated by a few authorities powerfully hermetic to the knowledge, needs, and desires of the people, those who make us billions and who will be even more numerous in the years to come. As night gradually falls and the cold begins to penetrate us, you quite prosaically suggest making this all-attached “muchlove” the password for our new shared virtual data storage space. After dozing off that night under the stars and being awakened either by the cold or by the moon, the next morning you and I meet around nine o’clock on the magnificent terrace of one of our two apartments overlooking the bay to perform our daily physical exercises. Dating back at least three thousand years, they consist of gradually awakening all our senses and limbs. After a session lasting about fifty minutes, turning our gaze together toward the same amphitheater located a few meters below, perhaps we would wonder how much its copy, built in the hyper region of Canton, China, would be worth first; secondly, its transfer to one of the seven United Arab Emirates; or thirdly, its dismantling and reconstruction identically here one hundred and forty million years after our respective disappearances.

II) The Minor: an excerpt from “Book V” (in progress)

Between the year one thousand and the first half of the fourteenth century, the population of the West doubled or even tripled, new cities appeared, and others developed. At the beginning of that century, London or Venice each had about ninety thousand inhabitants, roughly a fifth of the number of inhabitants of Cairo at the same time. In an “atmosphere of calculation,” as Jacques Le Goff qualifies it, little by little, the bourgeoisie knew how to read and write better than the ecclesiastics and the nobles; states began to form and collect taxes instead of the Church. Francesco di Marco Datini, born in 1335 and died in 1410, a merchant from the Tuscan city of Prato, wrote at the head of his account books, “In the name of God and profit.” There, at that time, the only hope of understanding the course of affairs was to keep their accounts in the manner of a new methodology of accounting, which would become so famous that it would lastingly impose itself everywhere, since even the Soviet republics six or seven hundred years later would not question it. At that time, before the advent of the use of Arabic numerals, the confusion between Roman numerals and attached letters was difficult to avoid because the Roman numerals were letters. Can you imagine writing a gross operating surplus in Roman numerals? It is proposed here to pause to celebrate the memory of the scholar Abû Ja’far Muhammad ibn Mûsâ al-Khwârizmi, who lived in the ninth century of the era that must be properly described as Christian and whose trace of part of the name remains in the word famous for some, or for some, notorious algorithm. Then, to leap forward, trying to imagine the map of the world that Fra Mauro established in 1459, on which Asia was so extensive that the city of Jerusalem was off-center […]