Albert Caraco remains a fascinating, omniscient personality, with strong historical insights that any attentive reader will find subjugating in all his books, even if the sometimes overabundant abundance of contradictions and obsessive themes is misleading or annoying. It would be too long to enumerate here his premonitions only to justify a thinker whom we would do well to listen to with more attention. All the more so since many of the problems he tackles with an urgency and a dramatics that surprise us — when we know that they emanate from the sixties, in the middle of the “thirty glorious years” where they could seem quite vague and their treatment disproportionate — in times of pandemic and climatic catastrophe, are of a cruel and implacable acuteness. Curiously, Caraco’s imprecatory remarks give retrospective credence to the alarms of a Lévi-Strauss who, in 1971, worried about population growth in a planet that had become too narrow and whose resources were diminishing, creating its inevitable batch of hostilities between peoples. In addition to the erasure of cultural diversity to the benefit of fraudulent crossbreeding, Lévi-Strauss pointed out with globalization the rise of intolerance and the probability of serious geopolitical disorders. The visionary Albert Caraco never ceased to serenade us with his sparkling and painful style, in an apocalyptic gesture that would make the most pessimistic pale. For to read Caraco is to see the Grail of our ideals shatter in the hands of a man of shaken and prophetic genius. It is to feel the wind of the wing of nihilism, of absolute negation, pass over you. Albert Caraco is an impractical thinker who was cheerfully plundered by a phalanx of unscrupulous men of letters who were in no hurry to reveal the vitriolic source where these gentlemen dipped their pens, applying themselves to make the bourgeois shudder with platitudes on boredom, decadence and death… Albert Caraco remains a thinker otherwise more disruptive, abruptly sweeping away the social game in order to assert his string of extreme truths: “We will become atrocious, we will lack soil and water, perhaps we will lack air and we will exterminate ourselves to subsist, we will end up eating each other and our spirituals will accompany us in this barbarism, we were theophagous and we will be anthropophagous, it will be only one more achievement. Then one will see, but in the open, what our religions contained of barbarism, it will be the incarnation of our categorical imperatives and the presence become real of our dogmas, the revelation of our frightful mysteries and the application of our legends more inhuman seven times than our penal laws “.
It would be too easy to put Albert Caraco on trial for having hated the human race all his life. With what confidence, what candor, however, this son of Jewish bourgeois embraced European culture! But as he developed the great themes of an uncompromising reflection in voluminous essays with eloquent titles: The Tomb of History, Lust and Death, Races and Classes, Essays on the Limits of Human Understanding, Order and Sex… “the mass of perdition” or “the spermatic sleepwalkers”). His vigorous, provocative but invigorating prose, which impels with insolence and accuracy to the deepening and the lucid questioning of our values, rebuffed editors and critics. What is a writer in such conditions? “A writer without fame is a poor man, I hardly dare to declare the profession I practice and no one having read me, the leaves never speaking of me, I remain in my room as much as possible, writing, waiting, waiting, writing, in the hope that I will finally be judged by my writings.”
The desperate prose of the last years of Caraco, who will commit suicide (the Baudelairian “right to go away”) at fifty-two over the corpse of his father, follows in a straight line from this intolerable sensation of having been betrayed by what one has loved most in the world: civilization. To have preferred Catholicism to Judaism; to have given the best of oneself to a country that does not want it; to have burned to find a political order worthy of man when what counts seems to be the only gain of votes, lucre and the appetite for power; to have broken against “ball regents and mitred impostors” indifferent to the fate of their own, what more odious masquerade?
Caraco is excessive, brutal, drastic, often sententious and fiendish; in short, unpleasant. Perhaps a certain disdain on the part of sensitive beings can save us from mediocrity? Is he a fierce misogynist waiting for the return of the Magna Mater? A Jew vomiting Christians and their Church hostile to any change? Yes, probably all that and, certainly, it is not nothing… What does it matter! On each page Caraco pinches the nerves. He presses where it hurts: what he calls “order”, the symbolic agent of all that surrounds him, the engine of this dull and incessant movement that mortifies existing life and transforms it into something else, obviously more advanced, more scientific, more “enlightened”, therefore more destructive. Caraco is urgent: his extremism, his fulgurances apostrophize us, touching on the formidable crises generated by overpopulation, pollution, the flaws of democracy, the lowering of the spirit and the rise of insignificance, the decadence of the West, its cowardice and its flight forward. In what terms would he not have vilified the dumbing down by and in social networks? His acuity in pointing out our irrevocable impotence to stop the lethal processes we have unleashed is truly fascinating.
Albert Caraco is a man who thinks and in this he is entitled to tell us what life has become. A society incapable of assimilating part of its thought is a society without a future, doomed to ruin. One must listen to the prophets of misfortune: they predict the future expressly so that it does not occur, one could call that “preventive catastrophism”, it is precisely what one hears at Albert Caraco: “For it is no longer a question of giving oneself away, that would be too easy, it is no longer a question of carrying one’s cross, that would be too convenient, it is no longer a question of imitating this or that person and even less of following him or her, that would only be an escape route, it is now a question of rethinking the world and surveying our evidence, of measuring and weighing and laying new foundations, these duties come before the others. “
Albert Caraco seems to us to be one of the last representatives of this cohort of writers who have sadly illustrated the role of the writer as scapegoat. This cycle began with Hölderlin, culminated with Baudelaire — E. A. Poe and ended with Artaud. As Roberto Calasso has forcefully pointed out, after the twentieth century “the density of literary invention dwindles and the era seems to devote itself to absorbing the energies and shocks released by the previous decades.” And he adds, a bit disillusioned: “But above all: the staging of the self-sacrificing society begins to reveal itself in its insane pettiness.” A non-trivial reason to read (or reread) Albert Caraco, bearing in mind that good literature rarely leads to anthropological optimism.