16 August 2009

Steps on the way to alterity

1. By long and common use, our sentences become unbreakable. This resilience is attested, for example, in the fact we can still misspell the most common words of our language—if, that is, it is the written word that expresses our thoughts. “But spelling is a mere convention and there is nothing essential to the spelling of a word. What matters is the thought expressed by it.” – Yet we know, of course, that language is always already inhabited by others. In a truly private language (which is not, NB, a solitary language) there is only one meaning, which is expressed in the perfect univocity of a baby’s cry.

2. Or consider the resistance of certain sentences that refuse to budge, even when we are prone to falter—e.g., the ones who hang on the wall as “affirmations”. What is this “I” indicated by these? Not the splitting of the ego or merely a projection (more or less the I/me of social interactionism) but the reflection (in language) of the ego: a glimpse of what cannot otherwise be experienced.

10 August 2009

An optimistic techno-politics

Between the fatalism of archic justice and the strategies of resistance both demanded and necessitated by retributive politics on the one hand and the an-archic metapolitics of subjectification whose function is both to de/construct the state, Gaillot has suggested an experimental techno-politics of touching—the touching of bodies, the touching of possibilities: “technics, itself a force of deterritorialization and métissage, in its contemporary form effects and provokes … mutation in our being-together, taking it from a belonging in fact (to a nation or a contract) to a polymorphous sociability that no longer recognizes itself in traditional forms of identity”. In the merging of technology and a music that, ostensibly, has no political program, “in the final analysis, the question is no longer one of representation or exposition, but of the genesis of an event to be experienced in common and thereby replayed within a new perspective. To outside observers techno will present only its ‘cortex,’ its outer skin, if they fail to see this demand for participation and communion of bodies in and through dance”.

Even if we could more clearly distinguish between Galliot’s conflation of electronica and techno—where we would still be faced with the difficulty of what is apparently a cultural economy of sound—two problems face what would otherwise be an appealing endeavor. First, not the music but the culture does have an overt politics (PLUR!) that, second, has apparently been lacking in efficacy: amidst the showers of amphetamines, rave candy, and pacifiers, the only results seem to have been anorexia and diminished cognitive capacities.

07 August 2009

Some notes on the limit

That it should be necessary for philosophy to think the notion of the limit which, as Théodorou correctly observes, is a “significant marker of our experience of the world, collective or intimate …”, comes as the result of a series of misnomers: the limit of reason, the limit of ambition, the limit of law. Philosophy and religion have erred in several familiar ways with respect to this notion: by positing it or dialecticizing it (and thereby abrogating it completely), by folding it into infinite interiority (e.g., existentialism), or quite simply by confusing limit with something like “boundary” or with some other negative definition.

To Théodorou’s comment we should add Legendre’s insight that the primordial form of the limit is time in the dual sense of subjective time and the time of civilization (or simply “history”), which is given dramatization—in a technical sense—in Aeneas’ fated departure from Troy toward the horizon of an unknown future. This dual aspect of time helps us distinguish limit and finitude in a way that existentialism could not. And, lest we fall into familiar errors, Jullien reminds us that, against the abstraction of “universal” time, the folds of time are persistently concrete in flesh and bone, in the qualitative differences of the seasons, that life is not what happens “between beginning and end”.

Instead of an extrinsic determination—e.g., in thinking that to be limited is to be limited by something—limit is the very principle of identity. But, as we know, identity is non-coincidence. What existentialism called “ambiguity” is something like this: the structure of the limit is a double movement of in/exclusion.