To what do these two motives essentially relate? In its most recent phase - and this much is certainly clear in Genette's propositions - the most advanced critical axis has led to a rereading of the entire history of genre-theory. This rereading has been inspired by the perception - and it must be said, despite the initial denial, by the correction - of two types of misconstruing or confusion. On the one hand, and this will be the first motive or ground for my abstention, Plato and Aristotle have been subjected to considerable deformation, 224
privileged scenes of the process, and, no doubt, sheds the greatest obscurity on it. One need not mobilize etymology to this end and could just as well equate genos with birth, and birth in tum with the generous force of engenderment or generation - physis, in factas with race, familial membership, classificatory genealogy or class, age class (generation) or social class; it comes as no surprise that, in nature and art, genre, a concept that is essentially classificatory and genealogico-taxonomic, itself engenders so many classificatory vertigines when it goes about classifying itself and situating the classificatory principle or instrument within a set. As with the class itself, the principle of genre is unclassifiable, it tolls the knell of the knell (glas), in other words of classicum, of what permits one to call out (calare) orders and to order the manifold within a nomenclature. Genos thus indicates the place, the now or never of the most necessary meditation on the 'fold' which is no more historical than natural in the classical sense of these two words, and which turns phyein over to itself across others that perhaps no longer relate to it according to that epochmaking logic which was decisory, critical, oppositional, even dialectical, but rather according to the trait of a contract entirely other. De jure, this meditation acts as an absolute prerequisite without which any historical perspectivizing will always be difficult to legitimate. For example, the romantic era - this powerful figure indicted by Genette (since it attempted to reinterpret the system of modes as a system of genres) - is no longer a simple era and can no longer be inscribed as a moment or a stage placeable within the trajectory of a 'history' whose concept we could be certain of. Romanticism, if something of the sort can be thus identified, is also the general repetition of all the folds that in themselves gather, couple, divide physis as well as genos through the genre, and through all the genres of genre, through the mixing of genre that is 'more than a genre', through the excess of genre in relation to itself, as to its abounding movement and its general assemblage which coincides, too, with its dissolution.3 Such a 'moment' is no longer a simple moment in the history and theory of literary genres. To treat it thus would in effect implicate one as tributary - whence the strange logic - of something that has in itself constituted a certain romantic motif, namely, the teleological ordering of history. Romanticism simultaneously obeys naturalizing and historicizing logic, and it can be shown easily enough that we have not yet been delivered from the romantic heritage - even though we might wish it so and assuming that such a deliverance would be of compelling interest to us - as long as we persist in drawing attention to historical concerns and the truth of historical production in order to militate against abuses or confusions of naturalization. The debate, it could be argued, remains itself a part or effect of romanticism.