Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The conversation continues...


... in our most expansive threads yet (catalytic manifesto here, provocation and dilation here, suturing point here, buggy follow up question here). Brandon Hawk also offers some good thoughts on what's at stake at Point of Know Return.

(If you've been reading along, you do not need the famous image reproduced here explained. If you are puzzled, then you are waaaaay behind in your reading, my friend).

[EDIT 5/23]
We believe in the existence of very special becomings-animal traversing human beings and sweeping them away, affecting the animal no less than the human.
-- Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

I feel like a latecomer to a vivacious party. Everyone has formed their mingle groups, the discussions have a long history behind them, and no one wants a parvenu arriving who needs to be brought up to date.

Actually it's not that bad, since I have been reading along during infrequent moments of freedom. What interests me are the middle spaces that Eileen, Karl, and our legions of commentators have in common. From Nicola's first reaction to Karl's post to MKH to Eileen to dan remein -- and many others in between -- what has been constantly observed is the violence that strong categories and forceful demarcations entail. Eileen is our most eloquent proponent of the guarding of difference (of the difference that difference must make, if you will), but even she has been quite detailed in her articulation of those intermediary geographies where the differences brush against each other and -- I would think, intermingle, interact, transform. Like many others, I like very much Eileen's idea of the human as portal.

I wonder if within these multiple imaginings of multiplicity -- helped along by theorists as diverse as Caputo, Derrida, Deleuze, and so on; helped along by poster-theorists as diverse as Nicola, MKH, dan, laudine, Dr V, and so on -- I wonder if these imaginings haven't already offered Karl and us a way out of the bind of domination and the crimes of humanism. As I pointed out at the BABEL humanisms panel, if Karl's position is to be taken seriously, then much of what we are saying here and what the panelists said there must be discarded. If there is also another way of formulating the identities he speaks of, though (not human versus animal in frozen domination so much as human and animal and world in mutable encounter) then perhaps all is not so utterly lost. To take this position means giving up on something dear (stability, boundedness, perdurability for human and animal identity). It potentially glosses over or at least distracts from the violence/lack of love that Karl is emphasizing in the relationship he articulates. It doesn't actually even challenge that relationship, at least not on the level of social wholes and discrete cultural phenomenon. But it does allow the possibility that on a microlevel there is another narrative being told, a story that has a little more room for becoming, for movement, for desire, for love.

Sincere both Eileen and Karl reference it, here's what I wrote in Medieval Identity Machines about such an assemblage, in the chapter on "Chevalerie":
The chivalric assemblage -- problematic, masculinist, too violent, too medieval -- nonetheless offers this line of flight: it necessarily acknowledges that a body is not a singular, essential thing but an inhuman circuit full of unrealized possibility for rethinking identity. The knight and horse united in the charge are the consummate figures of war, the expression of a "will to destruction, a judgment of God that turns destruction into something 'just.'" Yet the knight and the horse as a potentially open, potentially explosive circuit is what Deleuze calls a combat-between: "a combat against judgment" in which "it is the combatant himself who is the combat," a disaggregation and conjoining of human and nonhuman forces which erupt into "a becoming":

The dominant force is tranformed into the dominated forces, and the dominated by passing into the dominant -- a center of metamorphosis. This is what Lawrence calls a symbol: an intensive compound that vibrates and expands … It resolves the combat without suppressing or ending it. ("To Have Done with Judgment" Essays Critical and Clinical 132, 134)

Deleuze suggests "the horse, the apocalyptic beast" as a particularly good symbol of combat-between, of amalgamating force to surpass the destitution of singular subjectivities, of apprehending "what is new in an existing being" as well as sensing "the creation of a new mode of existence" (134-35).

This is not a topic new to this blog; follow this link, for example, and see a preview of some of what Michael Uebel shared with us as he was thinking about his K'zoo paper. Yet I could have put it more simply than I have, as Deleuze and Guattari themselves do: we always make love with worlds.

Unlike Eileen in her BABEL manifesto, I don't fear that this means that human identities (or animal identities) are abandoned completely. To return to D&G, no matter how radical your becomings, you need a place to sleep at night. But that doesn't make it an all or nothing proposition. It's a both/and.

13 comments:

Eileen Joy said...

Okay, so let's see if we can bring all the parties HERE, maybe?

First, I thought I might try to re[trace] my way back to Dan Remein's commentary within the Caninophilia thread that elicited from me a "wow," where he asks us to rethink the term "secular" [which, yes--and thanks for noticing!--I very purposefully attached to the "heterotopias" I was wishing for in my manifesto] in relation to what we [or I] seem to be saying about the "sacred" aspects of this thing we call "being." Dan R. notes how the sacred in the way Derrida [reading Levinas] and Caputo [reading Derrida reading Levinas] is often figured as that "which cannot be touched" and around which we can only "skim productively around its infinite différance, its nothingness." Dan R. concluded then with this:

***[beginning of Remein excerpt]***

"If there is a sacred, it seems to begin with an admission of nothing. It is an admission I think the speaker of an enigmatic poem in the Exeter book is willing to make.

I'd like then to ask a question concerning this . . . and see what people think if they know the poem of which I ask: what do we call the speaker in the OE "Wulf and Eadwacer"? What the speaker has learned fits easily into that formula of Derrida's in English 'always already' (as in, "always already a writing" etc.): 'so mon eathe tostliteth / thaet naefre gesomnad waes, / uncer gied geador.'

'So one swiftly shreds that which was never joined, the riddle of us together' (crudely).

This comes at the end, I remind us, of a poem in which we do not know, cannot, be sure how many people are involved, if any of them are to have resonances with animals (wulf, star-watcher, etc.) and in which there seems to have been infanticide. And yet there also seems to be a love triangle, but we can't tell which point is being addressed.

It is the begining (if at all possible) at "nothing" which seems to move closer towards a more workably secular sacred, and one which might be preferable for simply its pluridirecitonal efficacy."

***[end of Remein excerpt]***

I know this poem well, Dan R., mainly because for about five years now, I have been responsible for reviewing the scholarship on it for "The Year's Work in Old English Studies," but I have always been afraid to approach it as an interpreter precisely because of its opaquely enigmatic referents. But it seems to me that your "use" of it here [if we want to call it that], in reference to our ongoing conversations about animal and human inter-becomings, is beautifully apropos and does, indeed [perhaps perhaps], offer a way out of what might seem at times to be the either/or dilemma we often fall into, whereby life is *either* sacred or not, either *only material* or not, and where, further, the idea of the sacred as that space of "nothing" holds open an infinite potential for what I would call the "spacing" and "inter-spacing" of identities, so-called "animal," so-called "human," and otherwise.

We can't forget, though [can we?], the *anger* [or is it despair, or just a feeling of futility] of the speaker of "Wulf and Eadwacer," such that the lines you cite, "So one swiftly shreds that which was never joined, the riddle [which could also be "song"] of us together," while possibly pointing to a forceful negation [collapse] of a "never-joined-anyway" that *could* be productive of more efficacious multiplicities [and "joinings"], ALSO, nevertheless, voices a lament for some kind of particular "join," which although it is claimed "never really was," is still lamented as lost. Just, as JJC wrote so beautifully, we "need a place to sleep at night" [presumably in our, at least for a moment, singular and all-too-weakly-human bodies/identities], so too do we need particular, singular others whose skins/hearts we must believe, often mightily and against all reason, we inhabit as second, intimate selves. It's a beautiful fiction and one I won't relinquish easily and have lost and mourned more than once already in my life. This is all-too-human.

Perhaps the trick, finally, is in trying, as best we can, to travel back and forth, and as often as possible, between multiple sites of bodies-becomings [to see if we can always be on the lookout for ways of expanding ourselves, enlarging the possibilities of "joining" to others] while also coming to terms with the ways in which love is a type of recognition--not self-recognition, but of *being recognized*. The other trick, then, would be to expand our notions of who or what can recognize who or what and *as* who or what?

Because I already know that Karl will not like any system of "rights" or any economies of affectivity that that rely upon categories of "sameness," I want to make it clear that, by "recognition," I do not mean: I know and love something because it is familiar [although god knows, a lot of loving plays out on that compass point]. I mean, instead, I am hoping I can figure out a way to formulate a philosophy of love that could approach the Other in all its difference and singularity, brush by it [without touching/harming it], and yet somehow accomplish a relationality that is not so much a shattering of selves as it would be a returning of lonely individuals, abandoned in their various outposts of post-Enlightenment, Western liberal individualism, to a more enworlded habitation.

Just out of curiosity, how far down in this rabbit hole are we, anyway?

Michael O'Rourke said...

If I may tumble into your hole for a moment I would point out that the name (if it is a name) for that abyssal space( if it is a space) which both Derrida and caputo refer to/ appeal to is khora. And khora, alongside messianicity, is given as one of the two sources of "religion" in Derrida's very long essay "Faith and Knowledge". I need only draw attention to one thing Derrida says there for Eileen's argument, which is that khora supports "every social or communitarian link". And for Dan Remein's argument, its key to remember that khora marks itself as resistant, irrecoverable, unpresentable, withdrawn. In fact, Derrida says khora is "absolutely impassible and heterogeneous to all the processes of historical revelation or of anthropo-theological experience, which at the very least suppose its abstraction. It will never have entered religion and will never permit itself to be sacralized, sanctified, humanized, theologized, cultivated, historicized". I don't think I need to underscore whats important in Derrida's reticent notion of khora as he describes it here but I would stress that for Derrida and Caputo the sacred is never all that easily spaced away from the secular since the two are always already contaminated, interimplicated, differantially intertwined. Thats maybe why i think khora is the key term for anyone trying to understand derrida's religion without religion (note that he places religion in scare quotes, sous rature, in the title of the essay I am quoting).

Eileen, I think Bersani and Dutoit are doing something loving in the way you hope for in their Forms of Being, I really do, and most especially in the last chapter on human and nonhumkan life in Malick's Thin Red Line, which tries to frame a more ethical and just relation to others (all others: human, animal, object) and to the world. This "reworking of the individual within a new relational ethic" via a Deleuzian faceicity is far too complex for me to do justice to here. It is typically Bersanian (queer theorists will most likely only recognize the first part (it is mainly those outside QT who have continued to read Bersani since Homos, and absord his new emphases, with and without Dutoit, on sociability and relational modes):

"The Thin Red Line transmits a relational lesson of great simplicity, one that appears to ask us to do little more than to let the world be {here Caputo's Heideggerian gelassenheit is palpably felt}...The demand being made on us is none the less a radical one...the precondition of {Witt's} gaze is a subject divested of subjectivity...a subject without claims on the world...Witt approaches the limit of a subject without selfhood, ideally an anonymous subject...we remember him...for his willingness not to be-in order to be the world he never refuses to absorb...the attentive way in which witt's look simply lets the world be also replicates the world as an accretion to consciousness, and a look, ceaselessly receptive to the world".

This disseminated individual's connectedness to the world takes on a decidedly Deleuzian cast (a la JJC in his post):

"The inaccurate replications scattered throughout the film propose an ontology of universal immanence: the surfaces of all things "quiver" {remember EJ asked us to tremble a bit more?} from the presence within them of all the other things to which they relate...this world is seen as a vast reservoir of correspondences {a khora? a portal?}, of surfaces always ready to 'open' in order to acknowledge, to welcome, to receive that which at once their outer and their immanent being".

This new relational ethic truly is a work of love, inventing new modes of sociability and relationality no longer dependent on viable subjects, settled identities, or stable selves, and thus more in the world or as Eileen says enworlded. And its one, given the death drivenness of current queer theory, I find tremendously nourishing. And its a rabbit-hole or khora I could curl up in at night too.

Karl Steel said...

I am hoping I can figure out a way to formulate a philosophy of love that could approach the Other in all its difference and singularity, brush by it [without touching/harming it], and yet somehow accomplish a relationality that is not so much a shattering of selves as it would be a returning of lonely individuals, abandoned in their various outposts of post-Enlightenment, Western liberal individualism, to a more enworlded habitation.

Yes, yes, yes.

Michael O'Rourke said...

A number of yes then Karl!

See, sameness isn't always so bad. Just ask Bersani. Or Lacan ("The real is that which always returns to the same place"). Or Badiou ("Philosophically, if the other doesn't matter it is indeed vecause the difficulty lies on the side of the Same. The Same, in effect, is not what is (i.e the infinite multiplicity of differences) but what comes to be). Or even Deleuze ("It is not the same which returns, it is not the similar which returns; rather, the Same is the returning of that which returns").

I once wrote, back in the 1990s as an undergraduate (some people will be surprised to hear that my brackground is in Old English and Old Norse), a queer reading of Wulf and Eadwacer. But I can't find same anywhere.

Eileen Joy said...

Oh my, did someone [MOR] say "The Thin Red Line?" This is just getting freaky now--this is in my top 10 best movies of all time list; I consider it almost like a religious text [yeah, yeah, I know . . .]. My favorite voiceover in the film, spoken by Sean Penn's character after Witt dies is, "If I never meet you in my life, let me feel the lack of it." It goes without saying that, just before posting this comment, I ordered Bersani and Dutoit's "Forms of Being." An excellent companion film to Malick's "Thin Red Line, " and extremely apropos to our conversations here is David Gordon Green's "George Washington" [which is also partly an homage to Malick, Green's favorite filmmaker]. Maybe I'll post on that next week.

Well, suffice to say that, between JJC making me re-read Elizabeth Grosz, Michael Uebel providing me with bibliography after bibliography on works on compassion and attachment, and MOR's suggestion to read Caputo, I think my life changed.

Nicola Masciandaro said...

This conversation has produced so many fresh articulations of the thing or category through which love and hope may and do live, JJC's "mutable enounter," EJ's love as brushing, MOR's khora . . . I am impressed and like Karl experience a "yes" repeating itself within me.

But I am also starting to wonder what that "yes," which echoes a promise of something more than intellectual agreement, which promises "a more enworlded habitation," might really mean beyond, but of course always also through, this delightful discursive practice. I feel like we have worked our way out of a cave and it is time to ask, Now What?

This brings back Karl's original problem, the problem of the domination of others, and the further question of whether an intellectual solution of the problem is even possible. The answer of the cave parable I suppose is that there has to be a return, a return that always risks ridicule, to the "mundane," an descending-ascending return that completes and perfects, in an unexpected way way, the exit from the cave.

In a similar manner it seems that this conversation, befitting the medieval axiom of the past as the site of renewal, has been struggling to determine what is the new-old place, the site of the already there undiscovered real, to which we may return in order to discover the future.

Which reminds me of Michael Uebel's eloquent words at Kzoo against academic/intellectual narcissism and for unknowing, as well as JJC's commencement story. And yesterday I saw an award-receiveing Theatre professor moved to tears at the moment of remembering her students from she has learned so much. Her message: "listen to the other with every pore of your being."

So the point, as I see it, is that this love we are all talking about needs a material vehicle, needs body, and that the never-finished perfection of "becomings" resides in bodies being vehicles of love. So isn't our conversation's general elision or forgetting of service of others as an ethical priority, the opposite of their domination, of love-in-action, a conspicuous elision? Doesn't love give us not only a beautiful vision of the invisible other but practiced love, materializing love, working love, give us a true life-in-the-other, actual co-being, through which one lives in multiple centers? Isn't egoism, of the individual and the collective, tribe-egoism, species-egoism, etc., really the disease we are diagnosing in a nutshell and expansive disindentification from one's arbitary inhabiting of one's given self and species the cure? Doesn't it all come down to an unavoidable imperative to do the hard, dirty work of making an honest, conscious, real effort to love and practice love towards others? And aren't we, as enlightened intellectuals or as people struggling to be that, struggling with the difficulty of saying that in a manner that preserves the social authority of our discourse, that preserves its difficulty, our special right to make sense only to each other? Isn't Karl, in posing a problem about the relation between discourse and domination, really reproposing the question of the ethics of thinking? And isn't the problem of humanism in essence the problem of the humanity of the intellectual?

Risking naivety (that's my intellectual narcissism speaking), I'd like to make an ethical pitch, trembling before the possibility of really putting it into action, for two things:

1. Service. Doing what one does best (following the inner whim) but in a manner that allows one's doing of it to be shaped by its teleological home in others. Ergo, the opposite of competitive-narcissistic scholarly production.

2. Honesty. With oneself and others, public and private. Difficult but essential. The sine qua non of all authentic discourse and action.

J J Cohen said...

Beautifully -- sublimely -- put Eileen. I'll only add that it is in sleep that even if we curl up within our lonely bodies, it's also in that soporific moment that we feel most loosed from our flesh, at liberty to whirl whatever dreamscapes thefiring of our synapses can conjure.

MO'R, I love these lines: This new relational ethic truly is a work of love, inventing new modes of sociability and relationality no longer dependent on viable subjects, settled identities, or stable selves, and thus more in the world or as Eileen says enworlded. Enworlded, I think, like dreamers in their beds.

J J Cohen said...

Nicola, I agree that it is time to ask "What next?" I was going to ask also if we were any closer to a mutual comprehension of the difficult term that started all this consternation, at least for me: humanism.

Eileen Joy said...

In his last post here, Nicola wrote, "risking naivete," that we might begin to start putting some of our thinking here [and in other threads] into action in these two ways:

"1. Service. Doing what one does best (following the inner whim) but in a manner that allows one's doing of it to be shaped by its teleological home in others. Ergo, the opposite of competitive-narcissistic scholarly production.

2. Honesty. With oneself and others, public and private. Difficult but essential. The sine qua non of all authentic discourse and action."

Also risking naivete, I would just say here that #1, especially, has always been the primary aim of the BABEL Working Group and I would even like to claim, albeit in a minimal fashion, that we have started to actually enact that in small ways. Although our larger project has to do with rethinking and reformulating "humanism" [and I would say now, too, with addressing, in vigorous fashion, biopolitics], the main impetus behind founding the group arose from the serious despair that certain of us felt in the overwhelming face of what Nicola terms "competitive-narcissistic scholarly production." At first, BABEL was just three or four of us pretending we were just doing whatever it was we thought we wanted to do over and against whatever it was we were often being told we *should* be doing [participating more vigorously, for instance, for a stake/role in the supposedly sexy realm of competitive-narcissistic scholarly production]. I can genuinely say now that I really believe, partly due to the conversations and alliances/friendships that have developed via this and other blogs, and also through more virtual encounters and friendships formed at conferences, that BABEL now has a better chance of producing new affective, collaborative nodes/sites of scholarly interchange in which one scholar is not competing against an "other" scholar or an "other" so-called "group" of scholars, or even just trying to be "like" or be accepted by the "others" [deemed to have the so-called competitive edge], but rather, scholars and hopefully artists and those situated outside the university proper who have taken "the human" or "human rights" or "human development" or "happiness/well-being," etc. as one of their primary concerns can come together with some kind of larger, shared set of aims and hopes, and while not always in agreement [often not], work together in mutual regard and affection on *truly* [and not artificially] collaborative projects and what I would call collaborative "life-works." This also means eventually "springing ourselves" out of the usual sites [conferences, for example] and into other venues BABEL dreams of all the time: one of our ideas, long-simmering is to have regular biennial "retreats," at places like Big Sur or in northern Italy, where we combine the ethos of the slow food movement with the idea of scholars coming together for amity and "slow" discussion and recharging through visual beauty--landscape/unscripted conversations/pranks.

The line that separates the personal from the professional has become too severe. Yes, many of us enjoy [love, even] our teaching and researching and writing, but too often, we do those things when we are "too much with ourselves" and not enough, as Nicola would say, in "the teleological home of others." Thinking that we have to carve out our own singular niches, and because, frankly, chairs, deans, and provosts reward the monograph [the supposedly singular work of a singular genius] over everything else, true collaborative humanistic scholarship projects either die on the vine or find temporary residence in institutional or externally-funded institutes and symposia and initiatives where they can be kept "safe" and non-threatening to the status quo. But I like the idea of BABEL working somewhat to the side, while also being within, the university itself--a very organized group of rogues, as it were, who need the existing corporate university *for the interim* as a space within which to create a new university that would not recognize itself as such, in which the lines and boundaries between "inside" and "outside," between the college and the city, would be more difficult to trace, and to maintain.

Eileen Joy said...

And then there is Nicola's #2 point, regarding honesty,

"With oneself and others, public and private. Difficult but essential. The sine qua non of all authentic discourse and action."

I think this may be the place to also address JJC's question as to whether or not we are

"any closer to a mutual comprehension of the difficult term that started all this consternation, at least for me: humanism"?

I do not know if we can have reach a mutual comprehension of the difficult term "humanism," or even "human," but I wonder if we could have some kind of mutual accord [or pact] whereby we collectively refuse to give up the terms as "always already lost" to us, as somehow still possessing some kind of value/worth that nevertheless need a perpetually thoroughgoing and rigorous examination/analysis as well as vigilant safeguarding/caring? By which I mean, I wonder if we can
agree that, historically, humanism and "the human" have a long and troubling history that implicates them in violence and terroristic exclusions [as well as in deprivations, disenfranchisements, and unhappinesses of various sorts], but that also implicates them in heroic acts of psychic and material sustenance, rescue and redemption, mutually-productive alliance and overcoming, personal freedom, etc. It's not a question of having some sort of scale that allows us to measure whether humanism has led to more atrocities than it has to social and other boons, but rather, of acknowledging that it has done both, sometimes simultaneously, or in separate places at different times, first one, then the other, or even that in a particular street in a particular city at a particular point in time, in a room on the second story of a house, one so-called humanist was engaging in an act of cruelty underwritten [and approved] in his philosophy, while in another room in that same house, and from reading the same books, another so-called humanist was engaging in a radical, even illegal, act of kindness. And our job, in a way, is to understand as well as we can this complex and complicated history of humanism and to decide: what is salvageable and what must be put away forever?

But I think we must hang on to the terms "human" and "humanism," not because they are meaningful terms and/or states of affairs and/or states of being *in and and of themselves* [obvious somehow, ipso facto or otherwise], because they are not now and never have been coherently meaningful or inherently true or "beautiful" or "best" or "highest," but because we need them as always-open sites for continual explorations and forays into what we think we are, at any given moment, because, biologically and even historically speaking, and regardless of our abilities [beautiful abilities, actually] to enter into processes of becomings with and alongside others, and even though we all agree our "selves" extend beyond our "skins," *we are thus and not thus*. Regardless of the names we give ourselves, or even of our capacities for transformation, there must be a way to account for own difference that does not do violence to others. I am thus and not thus. What is my given-ness, the place from which I begin to go forth? What are the possibilities, partially determined by my given-ness, available to me? What, further, *given* my given-ness [which is a particular sort of gift], are my responsibilities in this world [how do I re-give]? It is to these questions, and with all the powers of post-structural critical thought we can muster from whatever corners, that I would like to see a new humanism address itself.

dan remein said...

Something that seems to be emegering here with respect (an I apologize for doing so after such a long flurry of posts in between, but I must refer to Eileen's repsonse to my W&E question) to relationality both to the past and the future as well as each other.

The way the discussion of the BABEL group in term of "the inside "is" the outside" as a way of looking to a new university, and the hope for a future springing into other sites--all of this invovles at once the affective relations between scholars separated by distance and time (including the spectre of the late Derrida as it haunts this discussion) which alternate between agony, ecstasy, and of course occasional boredom.

It is this I think Eileen hits "right on" in writing:

[Eileen]
We can't forget, though [can we?], the *anger* [or is it despair, or just a feeling of futility] of the speaker of "Wulf and Eadwacer," such that the lines you cite, "So one swiftly shreds that which was never joined, the riddle [which could also be "song"] of us together," while possibly pointing to a forceful negation [collapse] of a "never-joined-anyway" that *could* be productive of more efficacious multiplicities [and "joinings"], ALSO, nevertheless, voices a lament for some kind of particular "join," which although it is claimed "never really was," is still lamented as lost. Just, as JJC wrote so beautifully, we "need a place to sleep at night" [presumably in our, at least for a moment, singular and all-too-weakly-human bodies/identities], so too do we need particular, singular others whose skins/hearts we must believe, often mightily and against all reason, we inhabit as second, intimate selves. It's a beautiful fiction and one I won't relinquish easily and have lost and mourned more than once already in my life. This is all-too-human. [end Eileen]

There is a simultaneity here an it brings me back to my own simultaneous joy an agony of both Derrida in the Ecriture and Diff. Essay I cited, and the new relationality at the end of _Forms of Being_.

Bersani and Dutoit seem to "get" the problem of the Other as an impossibility without originary violence really well, and do their damndest to think a solution in their radical break with heteroness altogether. Thus the "letting be" of the World is Heideggeran, but without the onto-theology (?). The opening to the world is sort of a brilliant reversal of Derrida's primacy of the Same in the above essay. Both recognize the potential violence inherent in this Desire for the other as the unique, irriducible, sacred,

For this, I want to thank Eileen for risking an inteprretation of W&E regardless of the poem's problems. Since I encountered it as an undergraduate, and read through all the MLA bib.-cited work on the poem I have been bothered by the refusal to "interpret" because of the lack of referent. It seems our relationship to this poem is more telling about a simultaneous need for _both_ difference and sameness: the hermeneutic of never being joined, and yet having had the spectre of being-joined in riddle or song or even the temporal event of "recitation" which C. Hall also glosses as possible defs. of "gied."

Derrida enacts this in _Archive Fever_, performing a traveling back and forth. He first praises the possibility of Jewishness (as opposed to Judaism, certainly an "identity") as a unique "one" which is unique in both its _need_ to remember the past as well as its ability to see the future as hope, having an absolutely unique trait of openness-to-the-future. Bur from here, Jacques remembers Freud (with which Bersani twists in Homos, this fact of the other-as-trauma) is part of his essay and reminds us that even in this formulation "As soon as there is the One, there is murder, wounding, traumatism. L'un se garde de l'autres. The One gauards against/keeps some of the other..." (78).

"To travel back and forth" is then very important. Be on the inside of the university and on the outside in imagining new expansions of ourselves. All of this is to see a certain sacredness in productivity: in open-ness to the future which depends both on the unique possibility of the Other as unique, and the impossibility of that other. To what extent does the future emerge as a possibility, as a "yes" between these very oppositions and a movement between them--as a hermeneutic movement. this Hermeutics should leave as as Julian teaches "mekyl in unkowing"--as possibility I am glad Nicola raises.

Thus the "teleological home in others" might be thought alternately as a movement towards a future relationality. But to do this we need a past relationality and a past (as such)--we need that unique irriducibility (Derrida sees in the archive) as that which calls us to the future." "Love" seems to have a lot to do with moving back and forth, singing the song of us together and expanding what that us might be: the song not a transcendence but the rhythm of moving back and forth "enworlded."

Eileen Joy said...

Um, Dan, how can you be so young and so smart? Again, I can only say "wow." More tomorrow as I am, once again, situated at what is now known as the official "EJ" table at Erato and listening to some pretty amazing jazz. Cheers and good night.

dtk said...

Crossing a boundary here which I have not yet, to duck into and out of such a marvelous conversation, I offer a snippet of my own current preoccupations--a little Levinas, who speaks to some of the same concerns in a slightly different idiom, and whom everyone I've ever read seems to have read before me:

"Sociality [is] not to be confused with some weakness or privation in the unity of the One. From the depths of natural perseverance in the being of a being who is assured of his right to be, from the heart of the original identity of the I—and against the perseverance, and against that identity—there arises, awakened before the face of the other, a responsibility for the other to whom I was committed before any committing, before being present to myself or coming back to self."