Class Warrior-Taoist Style

Class Warrior-Taoist Style

by Abdelkéir Khatibi, Matt Reeck

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<P>Abdelkébir Khatibi (1938 – 2009) is one of the most important writers and thinkers to emerge from North Africa in the second half of the twentieth century. Though not widely known beyond the Francophone world, Khatibi's critical and creative works speak to the central concerns of postcolonial and postmodern life. Offered here in English for the first time, his long poem from 1976, Le lutteur de classe à la manière taoïste is a wildly inventive, transgressive, and important text. Class Warrior delivers a kind of free-verse Marxist handbook, written with the energy, movement, and style of a highly idiosyncratic Taoism. Matt Reeck's compelling translation captures the stylistic and thematic beats of Khatibi's verse, rendering the deceptively simple language of the original without losing its extraordinary layers and complexities. The introduction provides biographical context and an overview of Khatibi's poetics of the orphan, a subject position that seeks to avoid authenticating notions of origins and that is also constantly restless and forever questing. This is a rich text for contemporary readers of poetry, as well as scholars of postcolonial theory.</P><P><B>Hardcover is un-jacketed.</B></P>

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780819577610
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Publication date: 10/17/2017
Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 72
File size: 3 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

<P>ABDELKÉBIR KHATIBI (1938 – 2009) is considered one of the most prominent writers of postcolonial Francophone literature from North Africa. His list of works includes thirty-six separate titles. During his lifetime he won literary and intellectual prizes in Morocco and France. After earning his PhD in sociology at the Sorbonne, he returned to live and work in Morocco. A writer of great breadth and challenging variety, Khatibi is known for works of literary and social criticism such as Maghreb pluriel, as well as for experimental fiction in titles such as Amour bilingue, a work of anti-autobiography in La mémoire tatouée, and poetry, including this volume and Aimance. As a translator, MATT REECK has published Mirages of the Mind (Vintage India, New Directions), selected as one of the 25 best translations of 2016 by Three Percent and Bombay Stories (Random House India, Vintage UK/US), chosen by the New York Times as a 2014 editor's pick. He has won grants from the Fulbright Foundation, the NEA, and the PEN/Heim Fund. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.</P>

Read an Excerpt




history is a word ideology a word the unconscious a word words are like dares in the mouths of the ignorant

or each sign regenerates an undeniable freshness don't get lost in your own thinking don't disappear into that of others

test the blood of your thinking

because in answer to your question you will find only quavering targets action shapes words like the arc consumes the crystalline arrow


the orphan is the class warrior the sovereign orphan

what does "orphan" mean to us?
every hierarchy presupposes a father a mother and a third every politics a master a slave and a third

the historical person is a disgrace

can you disfigure the class enemy without taking on his likeness?

can you defeat your own mirages?

everyone cherishes identity everyone looks for origins and I teach orphan knowledge

wander the roads without getting entangled in the weeds

the bird's song will fail to keep up with your pace on your lips the wound will fail to redden the sun

I teach difference without return and precision violence that's what "orphan" means

what does "the sovereign orphan" mean to us?

the class warrior never shows off his weapons he keeps strong and quiet and destroys with rigor the person who can do those two things is my orphan comrade

sovereignty burns the class warrior like a straw dog


inside outside nearby far away visible invisible capital work this is the class enemy

how to defeat the class enemy?
change your thought categories and you will change your actions change your actions and you will raise up your body raise up your body and you will talk with the unthinkable

politics is sensual a shapeshifting calligraphy with a rainbow of precise gestures mark out your destiny

what the iris reflects erases heaviness a strict lightness must command your style

how to defeat the class enemy?
everything that is said against the class enemy must be a poison target


when a revolutionary reads Marx he puts it into effect with vigilance when a liberal reads Marx sometimes he keeps it in mind sometimes he forgets when a fascist reads Marx he breaks into laughter if he didn't laugh at all Marx wouldn't be Marx

but my adage says the real revolution has no heroes


family undercuts you love absorbs you every institution is regressive

practice combinatory lovemaking this is the secret of every light drunkenness

the before and the after harmonize the high and the low make anew the genitals and the butt touch that's where the body's desires are cut off

I heard it said that the revolution is universal coitus but beware of this phrase beware!

it's better to make love to love this is the secret of every drunkenness


licit illicit good bad presence absence law transgression a vacillating symmetry separates them

don't hamper yourself with these cold binaries the class struggle alters the meaning of number

open yourself to contradictory shades first blind contradiction then contradictions dissolve

tactics strategy revolution three words used when talking beware each action invents a dancing hierarchy

the rise and fall of the stars will never end the human revolution will never stray

how to define your new hierarchy?
by everything that is said

a healer's touch will never calm my particular delirium


I like the gazelle running on the beach

and like a gust of wind I disappear into the sand and glistening water

and so my metaphor is a vague outline

to each part of your body give sweet sustenance at every moment of your life be active and intractable

living in time is a migratory art


in your gaze there's a strange scratch I will call this thing color

the occidental appears red and yellow the oriental appears red and white if everyone becomes red what will happen to the rainbow?

the eyelash equal to a sun is too delicate the jade pin is too nostalgic

so I teach you the orphan voyage

the voyage halted in crystalline drift volatile desire rips the horizon bind yourself to difference without return this is the supreme song of all drunkenness


the eskimo says you're as desirable as a baby seal the bedouin says you're as desirable as a gazelle tattoo the hindu says you're as desirable as symmetry the class warrior says you're as desirable as a grand revolution

what is a "grand revolution"?
a class never destroys another like a sandcastle that's why the revolution is a cannibal it defeats then absorbs the class enemy

in turning against itself it makes history in making history it opens up a double universe

while laughing prepare the act of very great violence


the universe is a chessboard this principle is simple but no one can know all its ins and outs it's better to renounce luck

why is this secret so secret?
when you take a pawn you submit to living in time when you approach living in time madness destroys you

practice while playing the art of the gyre

every stroke of good luck is unjustifiable this principle is simple but the vibration here is immense it's better to cum on top of the class enemy

that's why revolutionary cum can slide down the throat

every stroke of good luck is unjustifiable but why?
nothing equals difference without return nothing stops constant fervor

only the trembling of my lust remains and when I cry I invite you to share ecstasy

stick to simple hardships and cherish the other as you break with yourself to love is to understand better

to understand is to suffer better to suffer better is to never despair

the class warrior keeps in his breast a piece of jade


why don't you eat with your hands anymore?
why aren't flies pestering you anymore?
now that you're someone the simple ways abandon you

who knows how to stop the drifting of meaning understands the hierarchy the one who understands the changing hierarchies acts according to new values

that's why the class warrior doesn't jump like a fickle grasshopper

happily he wounds his own class so practice oblique thinking


truth is a word found in language

I write these simple words to surprise you who possesses language controls violence but the supreme violence exceeds words

make your actions a faltering truth make your truth a lasting critique

if all the class warriors applied their force a strange dew would descend upon all peoples

step forward and stop to think practice the art of the lightning bolt

strike where the luck of the other dazzles you dig the arrow into the heart of its wound and strangle the questions that hound you

destiny chips off like a crystal flower


you don't have a soul you don't have a heart you don't have a body

soul heart body empty and sterile categories if I use the word body it's because I hate the perversion of the soul if I use the word heart it's to test the blood of your thinking

this isn't simple word play meditate on the gyre of double language

how to make a hierarchy of your body?

on your divided body trace a volatile circle the most exact rhythm rejects right and left the most intoxicating symmetry destroys all centers

place your body in the pleasure of the other and regain in your dance the breath of stars

without a center without a right or left will your body be the sovereign orphan?
will you pirouette without losing your balance?

no bee's sting will distract me

meditate upon the bitter proof that I reveal to you

and if this argument doesn't stir the blood in your heart then what can I do for you, poor fool?

renounce your uncontrollable joy


to understand is to challenge four sources of power the power of writing goes from the sign to its disappearance the orthographic trace separates the hand from its root the dance and the animated image overtake your body the song and the music measure out your possibilities

hold to poetic knowledge without creating a fetish

what is "poetic knowledge"?
in writing you will protect thinking in the orthographic trace you will reign over volatile motions in music you will puncture living in time

a dry fig tree absorbs the singing of the stars throw yourself laughing upon the straw of the wind


the quality of the misery comes from the effort that's why great misery is an orphan

in front of your eyes man dies like a swatted fly and you cry like a bubbling fool

the class warrior never cries his solitude is furtive he proudly kisses a cold excess

not one drop of blood merits your fury

you want the wealth of many it's better to destroy the place where all wealth blooms you dream of a strange transformation of the world when will you dare to break from the singlemindedness of your desires?

meditate upon my vibratory discourse because it dislodges the route of origins


today is the awakening of your dead senses but beware of this real pleasure marijuana wine allow your negligence

to smoke when history seems to fail consoles your easy cluelessness, poor fool!

to drink wine with your sleeves rolled up helps a little your phallic leap it's better to swallow the class warrior while dancing

I tell you this to drink in your spirit

stick to the aquatic mode of production


the secret is to remain within the wound that is the world that's why I'm infinitely orphaned capable of destroying myself I break with the class enemy

hardships will never stop my trance-like violence


the border between two countries is invisible that's how I can merge with your language without losing myself

stick to the wild sound of the word "barbarous"

you will know the difference of difference that your whirling jubilation will bring you learn the language of the other so that the language of your veins will be distilled

nothing can surpass the word "barbarous"
turned into a sword to fight sand

confront the rapidity of my language and learn


those who stay in one place haven't dared live those who travel without knowledge fall adrift

the rainbow in the sky repeats my wandering and from cloud to cloud my words burn your steps

promise to your barbarity the flash of menace


what makes one people the rival of another?
the rich crawl to money the poor bleed from their bodies

to dominate is to put in play the final weapons to distrust is to tremble from one's own horror to break apart is to take pleasure from one's folly

I reveal this very simple thing to you so that the class war redoubles its fury

sometimes the people rush forward sometimes they slip in ignorance sometimes they change in their disorder sometimes they stick to constant virtues

so I teach you difference without return and I add to your harp a resonant chord I speak of your drunkenness sign after sign I teach you everlasting pleasure

if all oppressed peoples took up arms they would dance proudly on the class enemy

but pride is a word used when talking

don't give in to the agile cruelty of my language at every moment vacillate in the double mirror

the braid that you weave resounds on the vibratory sands


how to defeat the usury of your historical being?
mobile ungraspable you will confront the enemy while timing your breath

in appearing take on the suppleness of the dancing reed

prisoner cast off your personal fears practice the asceticism of non-action

after the torture demystify the torturers

O suicide go back to fight the class enemy or hit the open road always nuance your aggression

because the subject of history is transitory class war requires an orphan movement

because lasting critique dislodges your desires action and knowledge collide and spark

open yourself to a radical divestment


while talking about his wandering an ancient sage said I don't know if the wind pushed me along or whether I pushed the wind

meditate upon this crystalline point of being

stranger to the center you displace things stranger to origins you place value in the return be it eternal

and so I walk with my head bowed and so I wander a winged murderer


whether male or female or androgynous each term carries with it the two others the void that unifies them incites your uncontrollable joy to make love well is to tie together this volatile site to make love well is to paint this void white that's why I talk about making love to love

I heard it said that each one of these terms is sufficient by itself I heard this and I burst out laughing why?
the more we focus on one term the more it shrinks the more we valorize it the less we know ourselves the closer we approach it the less we're our own masters the suppleness of lovemaking resides in the combinatory


the male falls seven times and gets up eight the female half gives herself up and half enjoys herself

those who pivot with suppleness will understand the orientation of the cosmos those who make love with harmony will discover the combinatory

a good male is a quadruped of incense a good female is a vermilion ravine a good androgyne unites the perfume to the jade

an ancient sage said why do you worry about the Immortal Pill when you can drink from the Fountain of Jade?

meditate upon this metaphor while pivoting according to the rhythm of your desired positions


imitating the style of the ancients I disfigure their morality altering their voice I set free origins

the non-origin is at play in the origin imitation requires distance that's why I reject nothing without having chewed some ginger

poor fool who refuses the secret of imitation learn here learn these four principles for reading and unreading a text:
identity of opposites fragility of images music of rhetoric and overdetermining rigor therein lies the frame of the text

in imitating me you discover your difference


this bread is hot this bread is round that's why I eat joyfully

the one who laughs deafens the enemy each laugh makes you sovereign

the warrior doesn't suck his mother's breast nor his father's dick he swallows them

eat this eat that that's the secret of every act of eating


the rain falls in the desert once or twice a year the bedouin gently caresses his camel the supreme departure throbs on the horizon

the rupture of the voyage enlivens difference but why insist upon this?
it's left up to people to teach fasting to their kindred it's up to them to leave origins behind

upon the doorstep of being your solitude quavers

to dance a jig to the rhythm of the universe that's to discover the wisdom of wandering

to kiss the wisdom of wandering that's to open up the body's fertile slope

while leaping learn the gyre of your desire


set free your body quavers wandering your body challenges the class enemy that's why the illness is the oblique doorway of your disorder acupuncture upends class medicine

I heard it said that dream science cures your illness I heard that and I balled my fists

knowledge will never cure your irremediable distemper

every day and every night while breathing swallow your neverending madness that's the secret of every cure


class war moves like a big wave it can go right and left

the class warrior is born of this trembling without origin the class warrior takes sovereign action without false rule the class warrior takes hold of power while decentering it

its force traces out a lasting critique


the low tears down the high the high raises the low that's how authority crumbles

it will eliminate the external fury so fury will devour it from the inside it will neutralize the internal fight so a delirious vacuity will ensue

because power is a continuous sharing its overcoming requires an art of divestment in the exercise of power be a vigilant bystander I tell you this so you can conserve your energy

while pivoting listen to the reason of my song


language of gold language of class this is my first adage knowing more is a class privilege this is my second adage

being a class warrior is also a class virtue

reject all goals while transforming the world this is the extreme secret of all utopias

my sentences are simple my word choice exact the parable of the people inspires my singularity


what makes a writer?
a good writer seduces first poisons second and in the course of writing the writer poisons the writer

what makes a reader?
a good reader absorbs the poison but doesn't die from pleasure the reader creates a purer poison absorbing the spirit of other readers

what makes a book?
a good book obeys the laws of transmigration it has an orphan signature it stands outside of its intimate uncontrollable joys

good writer good reader good book this is still a class virtue

write while clawing at your crystalline voluptuousness


the pure image quavers between two mirrors that which remains plunges into the forgotten pleasure how else to surprise the zither's sound?

nothing will ever fix in place my wandering

before I had to load the wind onto horses now I have to rewrite history

while flying accentuate the shapeshifting of your body


peaceful solitude nostalgic sadness strange sadness I leave it up to vacuity to control their fervor

will someone cross beyond the veil of my hazel eyes?
will an orphan drifter like my dissipation?
will the aquatic vibrate in response to my drunkenness?

from the corner of my eye I see half of the universe


Excerpted from "Class Warrior — Taoist Style"
by .
Copyright © 1976 Abdelkébir Khatibi.
Excerpted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

<P>Introduction<BR>Class Warrior—Taoist Style</P>

What People are Saying About This

David Fieni

“Khatibi’s postcolonial poetics are both experimental and urgently militant; his fusion of Deleuzian nomadism (and even Sufism) resonate with the work of Edmond Jabès. The translation carries across the force of crystalline poetic koans and stands beautifully on its own. In an era witnessing the chasm of inequality yawning ever more widely around the planet and the subsequent throbbing pulses of each new crisis in immigration, this text is a manifesto for those wary of manifestos but also desperate for fighting words.”

Olivia C. Harrison

“Oscillating playfully between the violence of his early poetic texts and the poised reflections of his mature essays, Class Warrior: Taoist Style offers a rare view of the genesis of Khatibi's oeuvre.”

Alison Rice

“This elegant, gripping translation of Abdelkébir Khatibi’s evocative text compels readers to contemplate complicated questions of class, language, love, and identity in poetic terms that sing of the “orphan voyage” and embrace the possibilities of difference.”

From the Publisher

"This elegant, gripping translation of Abdelkébir Khatibi's evocative text compels readers to contemplate complicated questions of class, language, love, and identity in poetic terms that sing of the "orphan voyage" and embrace the possibilities of difference." —Alison Rice, author of Time Signatures: Contextualizing Contemporary Francophone Autobiographical Writing from the Maghreb

"Khatibi's postcolonial poetics are both experimental and urgently militant; his fusion of Deleuzian nomadism (and even Sufism) resonate with the work of Edmond Jabès. The translation carries across the force of crystalline poetic koans and stands beautifully on its own. In an era witnessing the chasm of inequality yawning ever more widely around the planet and the subsequent throbbing pulses of each new crisis in immigration, this text is a manifesto for those wary of manifestos but also desperate for fighting words."—David Fieni, SUNY Oneonta

"Oscillating playfully between the violence of his early poetic texts and the poised reflections of his mature essays, Class Warrior: Taoist Style offers a rare view of the genesis of Khatibi's oeuvre."

—Olivia C. Harrison, author of Transcolonial Maghreb: Imagining Palestine in the Era of Decolonization

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