DAVID AMES CURTIS: ASA(RPT) STATEMENT

DAVID AMES CURTIS

27, rue Froidevaux 75014 Paris FRANCE TEL/FAX: 33 (0) 1 45 38 53 96
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CURTIS@MSH-PARIS.FR


Statement of David Ames Curtis
concerning the announcement of the
PDF electronic publication of
Cornelius Castoriadis/Paul Cardan's
A Society Adrift: More Interviews and
Discussions on The Rising Tide of Insignificancy,
Including Revolutionary Perspectives Today


From: "Bill NOT BORED!" <bill.notbored@gmail.com>
To: David Curtis <curtis@msh-paris.fr>

Please note that a new digital edition, a volume of Cornelius Castoriadis/Paul Cardan writings, A Society Adrift: More Interviews and Discussions on The Rising Tide of Insignificancy, Including Revolutionary Perspectives Today, can now be downloaded in pdf format at this link: http://www.notbored.org/ASA.pdf This is done as a public service in order to make these Castoriadis/Cardan writings available to all.
-- NOT BORED!
16 October 2010


Paris, October 2010

Dear www.notbored.org :

Thank you for your announcement of the PDF electronic publication of Cornelius Castoriadis/Paul Cardan's A Society Adrift: More Interviews and Discussions on The Rising Tide of Insignificancy, Including Revolutionary Perspectives Today <http://www.notbored.org/ASA.pdf>.

As with other electronic versions of Castoriadis texts--for example the electronic partial reprint of "Power, Politics, Autonomy" <http://www.anarchy-movement.org/anarchist.php?ID=7> and the first two PDF electronic publications of Cornelius Castoriadis/Paul Cardan volumes,The Rising Tide of Insignificancy (The Big Sleep) <http://www.notbored.org/RTI.pdf> and <http://www.costis.org/x/castoriadis/Castoriadis-rising_tide.pdf > and Figures of the Thinkable (Including Passion and Knowledge) <http://www.notbored.org/FTPK.pdf> and <http://www.costis.org/x/castoriadis/Castoriadis-Figures_of_the_Thinkable.pdf>--the information you have sent us will be posted on the Cornelius Castoriadis/Agora International Website English-Language Webography.

Noted is the "Notice" on p. ii, which urges worldwide shared distribution of this electronic book, using a "pyramid scheme" whereby each individual, on his or her own initiative, would contact ten persons or organizations about this publication, with a free-will donation sent to the Castoriadis family.

Similar to what I wrote in my first statement concerning the RTI(TBS) PDF electronic posting, and my first statement concerning the FTP&K PDF electronic posting, I can now also state with regard to ASA(RPT):


1. I have read the Foreword to the ASA(RPT) electronic edition and find it accurate as concerns my own self. As for the "Association Cornelius Castoriadis" (ACC) established by the Castoriadis family, the description given in the RTI(TBS) Foreword, and reiterated in the Forewords to FT(P&K) and ASA(RPT), of its moral and organizational failings strikes me as, if anything, too mild in light of their abuse and misuse of the name of the person it has adopted as its own. (See also, http://www.kaloskaisophos.org/rt/rtdac/rtdactf/rtdacftp&kblogstatement1.html#undemocraticACC concerning the many damning questions posed to, but never answered by, the ACC.)

2. Allow me to state here, however, my continuing feelings of love for Zoe, Sparta, and Cybele Castoriadis as well as my profound regret and deep sadness with respect to the embarrassing and disturbing situation in which they have knowingly and willingly placed themselves. (Indeed, my reiteration of these feelings of love in the face of a certain person who is understandably extremely angered and hurt by the Castoriadis heirs has even, regretfully, occasioned a break with that very person, whom I still respect and honor.)

3. The word 'heartbroken' accurately has depicted my feelings with regard to Pierre Vidal-Naquet and his failure to keep his word, not once but many times over since Cornelius Castoriadis's death and until his own death; I had thought better of him.

Some important and striking new developments described in the ASA(RPT) Foreword are to be noted.

1. As for the new ACC President, Vincent Descombes, he began his ACC tenure by making promises he could not or would not keep (see "Soutien du travail jaune?/Support of Scab Labor?" and "Open Letter to Vincent Descombes, President of the Association Cornelius Castoriadis, Who Fails to Honor His Word and Continues to Support Scab Labor"). This is perhaps not surprising, considering his damaging earlier tenure at Oxford University Press--where he and his OUP series co-editor failed to keep the promise they had made to Castoriadis to publish three volumes of Castoriadis's writings in quick succession; Descombes and his series co-editor also acquiesced when OUP decided to impose a wholly unacceptable subtitle on the sole volume ultimately published at OUP, Philosophy, Politics, Autonomy, and this despite the protest letter Castoriadis asked me to write on his behalf (see now “Preface to the Electronic Reprint of the 1989 Editor's Foreword”).

2. A year ago, scab translator Helen Arnold finally admitted that she had been wrong all along to have undertaken the Figures of the Thinkable translation she did for Stanford University Press, whose "incompetence and disorganization" she now denounces. This is an astonishing and long-awaited event, which by itself alone vindicates my nearly decade-long struggle.

3. However, Helen Arnold balked at pursuing negotiations with me when she realized that she would have to make public and financial amends for the ethical misconduct she now acknowledges she committed. Ultimately, she remains as blithe about these violations of professional ethics as when she first decided to become a scab translator for the writings of--of all people!--Cornelius Castoriadis.

4. Early this year, Helen Arnold published, for a different academic press (Fordham University Press), but with the same editor, Helen Tartar, who had refused to honor the contract I signed with her earlier at Stanford University Press for a Figures of the Thinkable volume, an astoundingly ignorant and incompetent translation of Une société à la dérive. This new translation was first criticized by me on Amazon.com and later on Powells.com. As one long-time translator of Castoriadis put it after reading these criticisms: "The list of unbelievable failures you're pointing to is impressive and very annoying. . . As you suggest: a probable result will be that a reader relying on this version will blame the author for this sloppiness - and that's the worst thing a translator can perpetrate. One wishes that those who are respons[i]ble will act."

5. Instead of trying rationally to dispute these astounding examples of ignorance and incompetence of Helen Arnold's part, Fordham University Press Editorial Director Helen Tartar immediately wrote to the ACC's online "ccastoriadis" yahoogroups.com discussion list to threaten censorship of my criticisms of this volume of questionable moral value whose publication she had overseen: "Amazon has been directed to remove and block all [sic] posts from you."

6. ACC Secretary Zoe Castoriadis further disgraced herself by immediately writing to the discussion list in support of Helen Tartar's censorship threat. I feel so sorry for Zoe that she now feels she must openly favor censorship as a way of trying to block criticisms of her, the CC heirs', and the ACC's horrendously embarrassing editorial track record.

7. Fordham University President Joseph M. McShane, S.J. refused to make any public statement condemning a threat of censorship made by someone working at his own institution of higher learning. McShane refused to undertake any public investigation of Helen Tartar's threat of censorship. Moreover, the supposedly independent ethical watchdog group Ethicspoint.com Fordham University uses to pretend that its ethical actions are subject to independent review refused even to respond to a request for an independent investigation and gave no indication that any such independent ethical investigation was ever undertaken. President McShane has said, "[W]e believe that students have to be invited to wrestle with the great ethical issues of their time. We want them to be bothered by the realization that they don’t know everything and bothered by injustice.” Those who deal with Fordham University can now know that Fordham has no ethical credibility, merely the hoped-for semblance thereof when it is not challenged to back up its President's fine words with real, responsible actions.

A few additional observations:

1. I agree with the Anonymous Translator's statement in the Foreword to A Society Adrift: More Interviews and Discussions on The Rising Tide of Insignificancy, Including Revolutionary Perspectives Today that ASA(RPT)--as it is abbreviated there--is not in competition with Helen Arnold's astoundingly ignorant and incompetent Fordham University Press translation, A Society Adrift. Helen Arnold's translation work here is so laughably and discouragingly awful that we can now leave behind talk of "pirate" editions, "bootlegging," etc. ASA(RPT) may be viewed as a useful educational tool in its own right. ASA(RPT) is a corrective, a must-have antidote to this latest instance of the Castoriadis heirs letting their publication projects go awry.

2. Moreover, by comparison, Helen Arnold's translation work serves here as an object lesson in what happens when one struggles unsuccessfully to maintain professional work standards while violating standards of professional ethics--a violation Helen Arnold herself now admits she committed. Indeed, Helen Arnold's version of A Society Adrift is a perfect contemporary illustration of "a society adrift," for, in becoming a scab translator of Castoriadis, this former member of Socialisme ou Barbarie has herself succumbed to the "rising tide of insignificancy" Castoriadis so eloquently denounced. The ASA(RPT) Translator's Foreword offers abundant and detailed proof of this very point.

3. We may therefore conclude that the Castoriadis heirs, the ill-named Association Cornelius Castoriadis, Stanford University Press, Fordham University Press, Helen Arnold, and anyone who now or in the future cooperates with these people and organizations who have sullied Castoriadis's memory with their shoddy work, their systematically undemocratic practices, and their lamentable and unseemly threats of censorship have, short of a renewal of negotiations and a public disavowal of their prior actions, no credibility at all, nor do they have any legitimate ethical business continuing the work of translating Castoriadis into English that I undertook with Castoriadis's full and enthusiastic support.

4. ASA(RPT) includes "Revolutionary Perspectives Today," a fascinating 1973 talk delivered by Castoriadis before a group of militants from Socialisme ou Barbarie's British sister organization Solidarity that has never been published before in any language. As the Anonymous Translator explains (it is indeed within the purview of a translator--and also a part of his/her duty--to endeavor to justify publicly his/her actions and choices), inclusion of this talk gives ASA(RPT) a coherency and integrity both Helen Arnold's A Society Adrift and the French Editors' Une société à la dérive lack.

5. ASA(RPT)also includes the full text of Castoriadis's 1990 interview with Radical Philosophy, whereas the French Editors--with Helen Arnold, as usual, slavishly following their lead, the English-speaking reader be damned--had only included a small portion thereof. The full interview constitutes, however, a precious document, as it contains the only extended discussion by Castoriadis in English of his Socialisme ou Barbarie years. Arnold had instead superfluously retranslated a 1974 interview with Castoriadis that had already appeared in The Castoriadis Reader. Indeed, Arnold's knowledge of the English-language publication history of Castoriadis's writings is so shaky that she doesn't even seem to know about this version already published in The Castoriadis Reader, let alone note the existence of the 1975 Bart Grahl/David Pugh version published in Telos. She thereby does a great disservice for English-speaking readers. By providing full, accurate, and reliable information, ASA(RPT) performs a crucial public service to the English-speaking reader that is sorely lacking in Arnold's astoundingly ignorant and incompetent translation of Une société à la dérive.

6. Let us note, finally, that, as I myself had shown in my first statement concerning the FTP&K PDF electronic posting, neither the French Editors of Une société à la dérive nor, since then, Helen Arnold's astoundingly ignorant and incompetent translation of Une société à la dérive would ever have appeared in print, had it not been for the efforts of the Anonymous Translator. In the ASA(RPT) Foreword, the Anonymous Translator explains:

An Appendix to [RTI(TBS)] had listed "non-Carrefours texts considered for possible inclusion" in this unauthorized internet publication
and announced that "translations of some of these texts may be prepared at a later date for publication in an electronic volume devoted
to Castoriadis’s post-S. ou B. public interventions." The heirs thus suddenly found themselves faced with the prospect of seeing significant
Castoriadis texts published in English-language translation on the Web before the French originals could be collected in book form. Their
old policy, centered mostly around publishing the seminars, was quickly overturned, and Une société à la dérive became available just
a bit over a year after the RTI(TBS) Appendix appeared.

Through this nonconformist challenging of a publication project gone severely awry, ASA(RPT) continues to perform the effectively creative public service initiated so well by RTI(TBS) and FT(P&K).

I also reiterate the following points:


1. As pointed out in the FT(P&K) and ASA(RPT) Forewords, if anyone wishes to dispute their factualness or discuss the substantive aspects of what is written in these Forewords, they need not object that they have been published anonymously. I will gladly enter the public arena to defend what is stated therein, as well as what was stated in the RTI(TBS) Foreword.

2. Moreover, I will be glad to receive at my e-mail address and post online suggestions for corrections or improvements that people would like to see incorporated into an eventual second edition. I have already, myself, begun to draw up a list of typos and other minor errors.

3. Really, I do feel love as well as sadness for Zoe, Sparta and Cybele Castoriadis, with no personal animosity toward any one of them. I would be glad to resume labor negotiations with them and with the "Association Cornelius Castoriadis" at any moment, with no preconditions for any direct or indirect meeting, in order to resolve outstanding issues amicably and with mutual respect, so that I may resume regular publication in translation of the writings of the man who had full confidence in me and in my collaborative work with him over the last thirteen years of his life.

4. These labor negotiations were cut short by the Castoriadis family. After the Cerisy Colloquium in June 2003, Zoe Castoriadis and I had hammered out an eight-point agreement, to be OK'd by myself and by the other Castoriadis literary executors as a prelude to resumption of my Castoriadis translation work. When, at Zoe's request, I sent a copy of this eight-point agreement to Sparta Castoriadis, I did receive an initial positive response from her; that response did not, however, explicitly endorse the eight-point agreement, as Zoe had insisted must occur. I am still awaiting a response to my subsequent letter to Sparta Castoriadis, dated August 5, 2003, and thus consider these labor negotiations still open: Good-faith negotiations cannot be terminated unilaterally, by silence or other means, while there is still an agreement on the table endorsed by negotiators from both sides; and anyone who volunteers to replace a worker during ongoing labor negotiations can be considered, quite objectively (again without animosity), as a "scab." RTI(TBS), the first PDF electronic volume of Castoriadis/Cardan writings, it is to be noted, appeared December 6, 2003, four months to the day after a copy of the letter to Sparta Castoriadis was e-mailed on August 6, 2003 to Zoe Castoriadis, Secretary of the "Association Cornelius Castoriadis"; that e-mail, too, received no response, not even the requested return acknowledgment.

5. It is most unfortunate, moreover, that Castoriadis family members have repeatedly refused since then to heed private calls from third parties that they seek to find common ground again with me. They have sometimes even refused the simple politeness of acknowledging that such private calls for conciliation, mediation, or negotiation have been addressed to them.

6. I reiterate: I will gladly resume labor negotiations at any moment. Because approval of this eight-point agreement was a precondition for my being authorized by the Castoriadis literary executors to resume contact with Stanford University Press (SUP), I have held off on all substantive contacts with SUP in the interim. I still consider my SUP contract valid (even though I was told at one point by a SUP representative that they had no intention of honoring it, because they had made a "mistake" in what they had legally signed!), and I am still owed a substantial sum of money (though money is not my principal concern or objective) for work a SUP representative asked me to complete while awaiting replacement contracts I was promised would be forthcoming but which never arrived. I trust this information will put to rest the rumors that Costis informed me Zoe Castoriadis has been spreading to some of Castoriadis's comrades in Greece that I somehow have pocketed "her" (!) money.

7. There have been some questions as to why I would "insist" upon writing a Translator's Foreword for published works and as to whether these Translator's Forewords might be either acts of "egotism" on my part or, rather, superfluous ("Castoriadis doesn't need to be introduced/explained/commented upon," etc.). Actually, it is usually a publisher and/or an author who has insisted, requested, or agreed that I write a Translator's Foreword, Helen Tartar, SUP's Editor at the time my contract was signed, offering me 6,000 words per volume (see now the eight-point agreement).

8. AN ADDED POINT: Helen Arnold obtained her employment by repeating the Castoriadis heirs' line that "Castoriadis doesn't need to be introduced/explained/commented upon." However, her A Society Adrift translation violates this hitherto supposedly sacrosanct principle, for Arnold has written a Translator's Postscriptum that lectures the reader about what s/he should think of the book s/he is about to read; and Arnold even goes so far as to tell "the reader" what s/he "can only" do (viz., . . . agree with what the French Editors of Une société à la dérive wrote a few pages earlier in their Preface). This clear violation of a principle Arnold endorsed only to gain her employment (and which was promulgated in the first place only to provide the semblance of a reason to exclude me) thus also violates a basic principle of the project of autonomy: treating others as the source and locus of the development of their own autonomy. True to this principle, the Anonymous Translator, by way of contrast, writes (p. xlix, n. 64) "What 'the reader can only' do is not for the person who makes translations available in the International Republic of Letters to dictate." It is one thing to provide useful additional background information in a Translator's Foreword as a public service to the reader; it is another to attempt to preclude the reader's own reading experience by telling him/her what s/he has to think as the only valid interpretation of what s/he is about to read. No more than with regard to the functioning of the Association Cornelius Castoriadis or with regard to various brandishings of censorship threats by the established authorities have there been any real, substantial, consistently observed principles involved in the editorial actions of translator Helen Arnold, the Castoriadis literary heirs, and the academic presses that have been dragged down by them. It is time for everyone to come back to the negotiating table in order to reach an amicable agreement that respects all parties and that can be defended in public.

Allow me also to take the opportunity to express once again my admiration for Not Bored's trilogy of serious appreciations of the work of Cornelius Castoriadis:

Bill Brown. "Workers' Councils, Cornelius Castoriadis and the SI." Not Bored!, 26 (November 1996): 44-53.
http://www.notbored.org/councils.html

Bill Brown. "Cornelius Castoriadis, 1922 to 1997" (review of PSW 3). Not Bored!, 29 (July 1998): 64-69.
http://www.notbored.org/castoriadis.html

Bill Brown. "Strangers in the Night...." Not Bored!, 31 (June 1999): 74-83.
http://www.notbored.org/strangers.html

I am posting this reply at: <http://www.kaloskaisophos.org/rt/rtdac/rtdactf/rtdac-asarpt-statement1.html>, for the record.

Yours in the struggle,

David Ames Curtis