Louis Wolfson & logophilia (no Esperanto)

[. . .] Wolfson, like Brisset and Roussel, has no thought of producing a new language, for which he would set codes, and which would compensate for the insufficiencies of each language which has not provided signified and signifying series totally isomorphous to those of English. By studying an increasing number of languages, Wolfson, like the poet according to Mallarmé, strives to ‘remunerate the deficiencies of languages’. This is an interminable undertaking that a personal Esperanto could have greatly simplified, had the rationality of an economic calculation been able to find a place in that which recognizes only the law of desire, whose despotism cannot be repelled. Like Mallarmé, Saussure, and Roussel, Wolfson comes face to face with something like a transcendence, an enigmatic being which effects the collusion of a desire and a form. This elusive phantom, some aspect of which escapes from every grasp, whether it be that of science, literature, or whatever, is the sign. The absolute horizon of pleasure and suffering, of being and knowledge. Wolfson cannot tolerate the idea of splitting the sign, and isolating the signifier from the signified. The technique of universal translatability which he institutes from one language to all the others seeks only to preserve the integrity of the meaning, on condition that it be free to migrate, to circulate among all languages without coming up against the frontiers of a system which would arrest its flux, on condition that it be able to reterritorialize or expatriate itself at will. This promotes an incessant motility agitating from within the paradoxical content of a membrane, which makes languages a coalescence of sounds and meanings struggling against chance. The French in which Wolfson finally tells his story constitutes a makeshift solution, the stasis of a respite in the depths of a temporary refuge to which he episodically manages to withdraw. In no sense is it a metalanguage with which the manipulator would put an end to the manipulations which affect him. There is no more a place in Wolfson’s adventure for a metalanguage, than there is for any Esperanto—thereby verifying Lacan’s formula. Language remains for him an empirical continuum; the territory cannot be divided so as to permit the emergence of a mastery, nor is there any possibility of a reprieve in which the subject would no longer be in question, in which the interrogation which continually calls him into question would lose its impact. In other words, for Wolfson, there is no science.

SOURCE: Pierssens, Michel. The Power of Babel: A Study of Logophilia, translated by Carl R. Lovitt (London; Boston; Henley: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980), p. 60.

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