Klossowski’s text is organized around the premise that industrial mechanization introduces new forms of perversion and pleasure.33 Klossowski defines perversion as the separation that occurs as soon as the human is aware of a distinction between reproductive instincts and pleasure (“voluptuous emotion”): this first perversion distinguishes the human from the mechanical, the functional from then on functional, but it is subsequently appropriated and contained by institutions as a way to organize the processes of production toward specific and highly policed ends.34 As such, industry engages in a perverse act (reducing human actions to a functional tool, fixated on doing only one thing) while at the same time expelling as perverse everything that overruns and exceeds this functional gesture. Klossowski argues that art (which comes under his category of simulacre) is thought to die in this domain of excess because it is not functional, but in fact art should also be seen as a tool, since it is compensatory and creates new experiences (“l’usage, c’est-à-dire, la jouissance”). Klossowski pressures the dialectic of use and non-use, breaking down this distinction to argue that the functional and the non-functional, industrial processes and art, are both libidinal and rational, since the drives ignore such externally imposed distinctions. Humans are “living currency,” and money is the mediator between libidinal pleasure and the industrial/institutional world of normative imposition.

Claire Bishop -Delegated Performance: Outsourcing Authenticity

33: Klossowski refers to Sade’s La Nouvelle Justine: D’Esterval can only sleep with someone if that person also agrees to be paid. Valuing one partner (to the exclusion of thousands of others) is a kind of financial transaction. See Pierre Klossowski, La Monnaie vivante (Paris: Editions Joëlle Losfeld, 1994), p. 62.

34: In other words, since the advent of industrialization, “voluptuous emotion” is no longer tied to the auratic artisanal object, but attaches itself to the superficial, mass-produced commodity, which allows emotion to be externalized and exchanged, but always through the institutional norms of the economy.