back cover

Concepts made for war don't need to be unanimous. And it's only natural that they'd be reproached for those aspects of them in which they are slanderous of the realities that they make visible. And as for those who have successfully blinded themselves to the nonetheless massive fact of the Young-Girl, that's not all they're blind to. It's not the theory of the Young-Girl that is the product of misogyny, but the Young-Girl herself. Open any women's magazine and you'll see. The Young-Girl's not always young, and she's not always a girl; she is but the figure of total integration into a social totality that's disintegrating. When fools protest against the evidence that "the world isn't a commodity" and by the way that they aren't either, they're feigning a virginity that only justifies their powerlessness. We want none of that virginity nor of that powerlessness. We propose a different emotional education.

alternate introduction


Outside of the ever more numerous places where it must visibly wage war, domination in its most advanced forms usually refrains from using brute force.  Thus it's come to refine its procedures to such an extent that it's made itself relatively invisible.  The enemy party is thus present everywhere, as an occupying party, but it is not known as such, since it is not named.  However, a territory so vast cannot be held down without a large deployment of troops, material, and various arrangements.  In such conditions as these, some are keen to declare that we've come too late to critique domination, since there's no self-delcared master anywhere, nor, so they say, any obvious tyranny.  And that's one of the most remarkable aspects of the world of the authoritarian commodity - that the concentrated power of the police is dissolved and diffused in minute particles, that have managed to harbor themselves in the heart of people's very regards, gestures, thoughts, discourses, and even, in a certain sense, in their very organs.  This metamorphosis is not a consequence contingent upon the triumph of the commodity, but the simple result of what it is essentially, which Marx has blocked off access to.  When the latter analyzed reification as the perversion of relationships between men into relationships between things, he left out the ultimate sense of perversion: the occultation of the political, and first of all of the commodity itself as a political device.  But because this occultation is itself still political, the universal dissemination of the commodity is none other than the universal dissemination of the political by the method of hiding it universally.  The Young-Girl represents a central aspect of this dissemination.  The Young-Girl is the modern authority figure.  A real critique, a critique which would have the most definitive and most immediate ravages, must start by setting out a cartography of elementary oppression.

In general, the conjunction of extreme power and extreme vulnerability that is characteristic of spectacular domination cannot be explained without discerning the fact that its effect is not directed immediately towards men, but towards what is in between them, toward their common world, towards Publicity.  "Society is only human insofar as it is an ensemble of Desires desiring each other as Desires." (Kojeve).  The Spectacle is a tyrannical monopoly over everything that's human about society.  It is the direct seizure of the explicitness of desires, the armed occupation of the space proper to that "ensemble of desires desiring each other as Desires," the anthropogenic Desire for recognition: the mind, that I that is in We, that We that is an I.  The alienation of Publicity appears as the political essence of the control of each person.  Commodity domination, at its final stage, moves on a primordial plane where it has become totally vain to claim to be able to untangle what falls under the sensible from what results from the supra-sensible, where in the deepest part of each of them the other is discovered: the metaphysical plane.


The whole of the revolutionary character of critique is contained in its capacity to give experience form with the use of Figures.  Only then can eyes be opened to the true depth of what is.  In the light of the Figure, the world itself becomes but the stage on which the Figures evolve in their relationships between each other.  The Figure makes no sense in the immanence of history, and is not engendered by it.  It is prior and posterior to time.    "The Figure is, and no development adds to or diminishes it." (Junger).  Each era can be clarified with the use of a few Figures, which, where they overstep all their manifestations, do not just embrace the visible, but rather polarize the the whole of the possibilities that this era is overflowing with, which are more real than it is.  Each Figure seizes in all its contradictory aspects a certain region of Being, conferring upon it the characters of totality and unity.  But its truth resides far beyond what it refers to; it is wherever the unity of the mode of revealing and of the revealed object, which the figure realizes over time, has always already been realized.  There is no causality in the socio-historical field, only Figures that enter into effectiveness and exit it.  The Figure is the ens realissimum.  It is the true metaphysical power.


There is no metaphysical affinity between the figure of the Young-Girl and women or young people, only a historical one.  The Young-Girl does not coincide with a particular class of individuals any more than she coincides with a certain type of abstractions, no matter how real they may have become.  Thus separated, these are two objects equally stripped of ontological breadth.  The Young-Girl designates neither a particular spectacular form, nor the Bloom that attempts to realize her, but rather their mutual embrace, whether desired or forced.  The Young-Girl is the tension towards unity of a certain mode of disclosure and the object being disclosed.  In her, however, they there is no equality in that unity.  Therein, it is the form of appearance that really wins out over what appears, in the same way as metaphysics really precede physics, and not just in terms of logic.  Thus, within commodity Publicity, that is, within a totally alienated state of the explicitness of Desires, all the ways that Bloom is different from the Young-Girl comprise an objective insufficiency, a deformity.  The object revealed is not free to escape its mode of disclosure: the artificial character of the Young-Girl is not betrayed by her renunciation of that artificiality, since even that's just an artifice.  There is an important consequence to this: in the same way as it's not biological determinism that condemns ovary-bearing bipeds for all eternity to the living death of the Young-Girl, since that only takes place in thanks to complete Publicity alienation, that is, thanks to a certain organization of social relations, in the same way, there's no reason a sixty-five year old louse of the masculine sex can't be a perfect Young-Girl too.  In the light of the Young-Girl figure, age differences and gender differences are insignificant.  Thus it's not that the Young-Girl has once and for all been dispossessed from herself by the Spectacle; rather, it's that at every moment that dispossession is being worked on and updated.  That the impersonality of "what PEOPLE would say" is the true "subject" animated in the Young-Girl also means that there there is no individual liberation from the figure of the Young-Girl.  That a private individual may refuse the Young-Girl, even publicly, does not emancipate that individual from the Young-Girl at all.  The theory of the Young-Girl must be grasped collectively.

But since her inevitable defeat is contained in the essence of commodity society, the impossibility of the Young-Girl is part of her concept.  The commodity mode of disclosure is characterized by the fact that the mode of revealing/disclosure and the object revealed therein appear separately.  That's why all it introduces into presence are things, and changes into things everything it has enter its presence.  Its action consists in the petrification of the world.  What is human puts an intangible limit on that petrification.  The Spectacle cannot reveal it without denying itself.  The embrace that the Young-Girl is both the subject and the object of is thereby determined as an impossibility, as pain.  That's why it might be said that the Young-Girl suffers, and that she suffers as a figure.  

That the Young-Girl perceives her very form as simple suffering is enough to show that the Young-Girl figure is in itself wrong.


Naturally, people get restive about nothing more than they do the apprehension of the Young-Girl as a figure.  People would rather like to see it as the prototype for a humanity completely reformatted by the Spectacle, or the most monstrous product of commodity society in its terminal phase, or rather, more soberly, as the crossroads of all alienations.  People might even go so far as to whine about her having an identity based only in self-punishment where a being mutilates its own metaphysical dimension continuously and in vain.   But people naturally will refuse to recognize any more than a human type in her, nothing but a new and somewhat eccentric object for anthropology.  The terrifying assurance of this blueprint-being will be denied with great vigor, this blueprint-being fashioned exclusively out of the ruling conventions, codes and representations.  Because otherwise they might recognize that behind it all that figure contains all alienated human power, all the irrefutable evidence of the dominant explanations, that each of her judgements have the imperative weight of the whole social organization.  Some people prefer to imagine human beings as being independent of their conditions of existence, and of the meaning they have within their world.  To talk about the Young-Girl as a total category of the social being, who in the present historical period lends her face to all manifestations of life, would never be permitted.  Because the Young-Girl is not simply an arrangement of behaviors, but a metaphysical Figure that in revealing itself reveals the world.  At the same time as she is what appears of mankind in its commodity appearance form, she is also what appends all the things onto that form.  Thanks to the Young-Girl, the old expired antinomies (domination and servitude, work and leisure, adventure and everydayness, politics and economics, sickness and health, human beings and commodities, body and mind, etc.) take on once more a strength and meaning that they had lost.  But the new youth given to these oppositions which became inoperative long ago cannot last long.  Because at the moment that the theory of the Young-Girl is elaborated, the Young-Girl is already transcended, at least in her primitive, crudely sophisticated mass production aspect.  Only the victory or practical defeat of the Imaginary Party will tell whether it was merely an evolution taking place within the Young-Girl, simply tied to the expiration of the fordist model, or if indeed the Young-Girl will have come to an end.

As an everyday reality, the Young-Girl appears at first glance as something trivial, which understands itself.  It is not at all.  Our analysis on the contrary will show that it is a very complex thing, full of metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties.  The dispersion of fragments that follows naturally does not comprise a theoretical construction of any organicity at all.  The cardinal ruse of theoreticians in general is that they present the result of their elaborations in such a way as to make the elaboration process itself no longer appear in them.  The procedure has its reasons and its subjects.  Certainly, though, nothing would have better served those who up to now have claimed to make pure critiques of everyday life than to clear away the scissors marks like that.  Whereas elsewhere its strength may be reduced, the exposition of the theory in its original form and in its incompleteness here has the effect of violently adding to its noxiousness.  Thus, all that will be found in it are materials of an elementary nature, such as they would be presented before being assembled together at all, before any fusion.  Their classification under a few headings has however not been done at random.  In their succession, what's really happening is a return to their foundations.  Understood correctly, it starts with the phenomenon, and ends with its implosion.  Meanwhile, each stage thereof will totally incinerate the prior stage.  Truth is devastation.

changed April 6, 2011