Pierre Klossowski is not well-known outside of France, and especially not for La monnaie vivante or Living Currency (1970). His récits or his philosophical readings of Sade or Nietzsche have garnered the most acclaim. By way of his reading of “living currency” however, he deconstructs contemporary economics, teasing out the intricacies between sensuality, value, and the simulacrum, transgressing the categories between language and economic transaction. Published alongside photographs by Pierre Zucca that ostensibly illustrate Klossowski’s hermetic theses, La monnaie vivante is at once satirical and deathly serious, a synchronous commentary on the Marquis de Sade’s Society of the Friends of Crime and the utopian socialism of Charles Fourier. After a brief overview of Klossowski’s life and career, a reading of La monnaie vivante in depth is developed. By inverting the classical usage of the simulacrum through its analogies with the numeraire or basic standard of value, Klossowski critiques the discursive biases that stand against a pure flux of intensities. In this way he anticipates postmodernism even as he also problematizes it. The destruction of political economy and metaphysics are combined he suggests, and the relativity of one cannot be granted without the other. We here show how Klossowski uses affect and the exorbitant to address the sensuous libidinal currency moving through and alongside its economic counterparts, as well as how these observations still remain underestimated today.
In Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound, the maiden Io describes, in violent terms, the sexual overtures of the god Zeus that are made to her in a dream. Her father, asking the oracle at Delphi for advice concerning these nightly visitations, is ordered by Apollo to drive his young daughter from her home to wander aimlessly over distant lands. Io describes how, attending her banishment, she is transformed into a heifer and driven mad. While the transformation into the heifer is directly attributed to Hera, Aeschylus leaves the origins and essential nature of Io’s madness vague. Compounded by contradictory accounts of her madness and its origins within the play itself, we are left with a patently mad young woman and yet with very little unambiguous reason for her madness. In order to resolve this ambiguity, I have chosen to make use of Lacanian psychoanalysis and its particular emphasis on the subject’s relationship with itself and with external reality. Focusing on Io’s account of her dream, I argue that her dream expresses her strong identification with an ego focused on childhood—an ego that is in the process of being undermined by her impending transition into adulthood. Ultimately, it is this state of contradiction, appearing in the figure of the Eye of Zeus, which reveals to Io the essential vanity of identification with both childhood and adulthood and which brings about her descent into madness.