Unknown fondant | literature

Benjamin Fondane, Jewish, was born in Romania in 1898 and died in Auschwitz in October 1944, a few days before the entry of the Allied forces. He was a poet – he was considered the greatest Jewish poet of his time – an existentialist philosopher, and a great friend of cinema – thanks to Victoria Ocampo he spent some time in Argentina in 1929, and again in 1936, when he made a film, Darella, which was never distributed, but it was possible to salvage a small series of sequences that can be found on YouTube, where the entry was simply made by “Benjamin Fondane” – a friend of the Parisian Surrealists with many reservations, to the point that he disagreed with the movement’s pope, André Britton. In short, it’s almost a human orchestra with an apocalyptic tuba dominance.

He emigrated to Paris in 1923 armed with the luggage that would characterize him for the rest of his life: the books and ideas of Lev Exstov. Until recently, not a single book by Fondan, Zestov or Zestov has been published, but a Spanish-language title has been published. Questeuve and then Fondant were the greatest representatives of Roman existentialism, a rare doctrine due to the weight of Marxism in that country, but which, as we know, is a philosophy of great importance and preached in the French capital: Sartre, and especially Camus, to put forward two examples known only in our country, represent an existentialism close to Existential fondant. But the Romanian did not even agree with all the postulates of Sartrean philosophy, and he fought him.

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In fact, Fondane was so critically intelligent that only economic and political theory saved him from the materialist Marx – and he agreed with this passage: “Man is not an abstract idea rooted in the isolated individual. In his reality, man is the aggregate of social relations” – as He agreed with almost none of the supposed “founders” of existentialism, such as Kierkegaard, that Fondane believed that we live in perpetual existential suffering, but that the activity of knowing, the relentless drive to find out who we are in the world we live in, was the key to transforming “unhappy existence” into existence. Inconvenient, but a fighter and, at best, a savior.

We must thank the Hermida Publishing House for recently publishing two important books by Lev Shestov (Athens and Jerusalem, 2018; Dostoevsky and Nietzsche. Philosophy of tragedy2022) and two more by his student and distributor in France, Fondin (Existential Monday And the Date Sunday, 2019, with an exceptional edition and introduction by Gonzalo Tornet; And now La conciencia desdichada, 2024). Hermida’s intention is to edit the complete work of one and the other.

“Unfortunate consciousness” is a term inaugurated by Hegel, and comes to denote something similar to alienation in Marxist terms, that is, the inability of the individual to take charge of his life, the master of his thoughts and will, the master of his designs. According to Hegel, consciousness ceases to be unfortunate when it comes into contact with the Absolute, an ideal theory well suited to the Hegelian system, since there is no other path to all thought than that which is included in the progressive march of the concept, the capitalized. As it seems logical, no theory of existentialism has merged with Hegelian idealism, nor has it done with any religion or with any philosophy in which essence is considered an a priori of existence; Nor, therefore, with any metaphysics or with any existentialism: for this reason Fondane strongly criticized Heidegger – without being aware of the “Rector’s Discourse” – from which he considered that he had begun his philosophy as a phenomenological and “existentialist”. To end it in the field of pure ontology or ontology and not existence. As Fondane wrote in his book La concienca desgraciada: “What kind of philosopher is he for whom freedom does not begin, but where knowledge ends?”

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However: “All philosophy is nothing but a council of surrender, enlightenment, and a disguised but active morality of denial.” And also with the refutation of Husserl’s theories: “This self, in which I am and am not in it at the same time, represents a bitter struggle as long as the opponent exists within the self itself, a place where existence meets the two resistances of reason, and reason meets the resistance of reason.” “A desperate opposition to existence.”

Times have changed, and one can legitimately believe that we now live in a time of “identical consciousness,” or, worse still, of “numbing consciousness.” Since all philosophies are outdated, that is, alien to historical time, it will be interesting to browse the pages of Kustoff and his great student, Benjamin Fondane, who is still unknown among us.

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