Madness and the Night of the Poetic Community: The Just Desert of Malika Mokeddem’s Century of Locusts


In the preface to a slender volume entitled La communauté affrontée, philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy writes: “The present state of the world is not a war of civilizations. It is a civil war: it is the internecine war of a city, of a civility, of a citizenry [citadinité] that are being deployed up until the limits of this world, and because of this, up until the extremity of their own concepts” (11). Globalization, or the limitless expansion of the West driven by totalizing notions such as “History, Science, Capital, Man and/or their Nothingness” reaches a point where such concepts must of necessity break apart, where “a distended figure bursts, [and] a chasm appears” (13, 1). This chasm signals a rent in the supposedly unified essence of a community, a tear within the fullness of an immanence completely present to itself. The gap is the sign of a community confronted with itself [“la communauté … affrontée à elle-même” (17)], or rather, exposed to itself at its limit, facing the outside with which it is joined edge to edge.

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