Box 1. Our Iliad: Here is presented what we keep of the Homeric Iliad: what is its general movement, its main character that we rediscover today by reading it as if we never did, as if we did not possess this narrative in our cultural patrimony. Then, the text appears less as the narrative of the Troyan war, than as the one of the “no war”. The “before the war”, before the action is really accomplished and where one can see all the level of relations at work in this space and time dealing with the waiting, the struggle of esthetics, fight for appearing in the form each character is composing for himself with his words, his body…The war transforms into a poetic game…
Instead of staying at the level of the first representation that everybody is supposed to know (that is to say the Iliad as the narrative of the Troya’s war) our reading focuses on what the text really presents us: the poem of the unaccomplished Troya’s war. What seems to interest Homere is less the reaching of the goal (the victory of a people and the failure of an other) than all what is produced when the goal is just an horizon; all what is on the “road” of this goal (passions, conflicts of different levels and particularly the one of rivalry, competition..that turns the ground of the war into a form of playground (cf point 3. the golf)). The more one advances in the text, the more one can see that this “path to Troya” does not exist as a mean for something else but is, as a “path”, the central point of attention where each character wants to appear. Each of them is in a permanent work of its presence, of its esthetic and its way to speak…and the Iliad is more a war of words, a “struggle between esthetics” or a sophisticated game than a pure military and political strategy.
This modality is given since the beginning of the poem when Achille decides not to kill Agamemnon (he sheathes his sword) but rather starts insulting him: the murder transforms itself into language (Pierre Vidal Naquet) and from there, everything will be matter of words, verbal provocation, performative speeches instead of actions (cf selected scenes of the book) where each character tries to “appear”, tries to exist thanks to its ability to present himself, to tell to his enemy his own strengths or the weaknesses of the other. This breaks the representation of the Iliad as a progressive narrative that is orientated only by a final point, and turns it into a kind of horizontal space for languages, a frame that is quite narrow (only the space of the poem and not of all the greek and turkish history as it is presented in a realistic view) but where it is precisely possible to see how many, how infinite the possibilities of a relation, of relation here between 3 men (who are, each, a kind of multiplicity) are. The Iliad opens by the anger of Achille’s and the anger in greek is mneme which is close to “mens” the spirit. It will be the song of this characteristic of the human beeing: to be a beeing of spirit and of language. The struggle happens at this level and in all that is included in it.
It is the poem (from the etymological meaning of Poieisis: the composition) of a “fake” waiting, since the tension towards the end of the conflict, that everybody is supposed to wait, is twisted into a permanent and immanent intensity given to the “here and now”, to each new step that is done there, each new figure that appears, each new word that is said. What is the most important is not to go out of the waiting by reaching the point, but it is to inhabit it in the most splendid, glorious and first of all pleasant way. It is as if the war was just a pretext to get conditions of a certain “serious game”, a play where we die “pour du faux”.This makes the Iliad at the same time very very close to the composed space of stage: a reduced perimeter where we play as if it was real, and where the shared play ground gives visibility and access to things that the reality can not let us experiment (the death, the spiritual strengths, the large temporalities…). And it also makes it close to another stage, the one where the Political is mostly at work today: not in a visible conflict or a war where clear and very distinct entities are confronting each other, but in this struggle for “having the speeches”, a war of words more than a war of arms…(cf point 2.)
In a certain way this encounter between Iliad and stage gave birth to “our stage”: the space of a fake but sophisticated conflict, with precise rules that includes not only the players but all a social organization: the golf (cf point 3.)
– selected extracts of the book (Camille)
– serie of schematas and micro biographies of the main characters observed with the criteria of our reading of the Iliad
– eventual commentaries, parallel analysis of the homeric text (Pierre Vidal Naquet, Jean-Pierre Vernant….; of the notion of “game”