What kind of understanding no longer needs to think of meaning's inhabiting different worlds from event to event, no longer needs the thinking of `should have´, of blame and alterity, of qualitative disruption, of hegemony and subversion, of regimes of language and their mutual incommensurability, of moody deconstructive resistance and dissemination? The radicality of thinking is evidenced most precisely by its penetration beneath the affective substantiality of a range of thinking of blame and anger (and equally implicated in those discourses' treatment of joy and pleasure). The moodiness of these terms, thought in various and particular ways, hide within themselves a more insubstantial mark or move, which has little room for affective appellation. To be a thinking of blame is to have faith in any of a variety of notions of Otherness, but my actions are more insubstantial, and therefore, in a certain peculiar sense more ordered with respect to me and my world than is overtly understood by philosophies, psychologies and aesthetics which fail to reduce the metaphysics of qualitative alterity (which locates blame in meaning's self-distancing) to a structure of radically unformidable linkage.
Such a reductive thinking undermines the feelings of alienation and anger (as well as from too-substantial notions of joy) which accompany our conclusion concerning the alterity of the other, the irreducible manner in which we and `they´ do not belong, feelings which betray our reluctant failure to penetrate beneath this assumed alterity at the core of experience to the double edge of a gentle intricacy which preserves its gentleness even as it is instantiated as the wild contingency of all possible senses-moods.
When the dynamic space of choice, desire, need, motive is seen as a mark which barely exceeds itself, which in fact is itself only as an impossibly inconsequential iteration of twoness, then a social world no longer has the power, and never did, to project deviance and violence, punishment and condemnation, psychopathology and therapy, error and correction, incommensurability and hegemony, the tensions of power. If a choice does not have the power to violate then it is no longer a deliberation. Desire without the passion and disruption of mystery needs nothing. Responsibility which does not risk failure to anticipate is no longer a response. A more radical thinking does not move beyond but within the thickness and remoteness of relation which the blameful `could and should have´ of anger, guilt and forgiveness convey. If the effect of desire is a subliminal linkage of moments of meaning, if the moment of meaning is itself defined as a barely registering dissymmetry less formidable than duality of subject-object or presence-absence, then morality and justice can no longer be understood by reference to violence, polarity, contamination, paradox.
To recognize the genesis of a phenomenal world as an exquisitely variating desubstantializing gesture is to locate the origin of the arbitrary, the accidental, the repressed, the forgotten, the chaotic, the painful and tragic, in an infinitesimal dichotomy which never did have room for the affective fatness these terms imply. Any way of thinking which expresses a residual `fatness´ of mysterious content finds a remnant of irreducible suffering in the world, the qualitative negation or disturbance of understanding. But to know that in the same instant we point to a `this´, an entity, an edge, we have moved beyond-within it in the most impossibly imbecilic and intimate way, is to see the meaningful edge of experience not as a suffering alterity but as (almost) a no longer affective-sensate gesture, a venue too insubstantial for pain and pleasure except as these terms are now understood as mere ghosts (but not hauntings) of an asymmetry almost too small to measure, the preservation of an extraordinary thread of linkage.
This thread has no room for the breakage and alienation of despair and darkness, or the heaviness of substantial joy and happiness, except as these terms reveal within themselves an impossible richness and density of relation which are too intricate to suffer or celebrate.
To render a social world of discordances, deviances, violations between-within people, to believe in anger and guilt, is to fail to penetrate beneath a certain mystery masking a radical intricacy inhering in the self-transforming motives of self and other. Such terms as legal, social and individual codes of justice and forgiveness reveal themselves variously as faiths in the other's redemption from the void of difference, but retribution's impetus, in thinking itself the remedy of a violation, a deviance, the subversion of a dominating hegemony, the countering of a discrepancy, an incommensurability, a parology, lingers with violence in its response to perceived oppression. In coaxing the perpetrator's contrition and conformity to expectations, contempt and condemnation is a success which represents a progress in the insight of the accuser and thus for him a desubstantializing gesture, but in relation to a more rigorous thinking it is exposed as a perpetuation of the blameful violation it resists. The very faith in `resistance´ or subversion, projects the world as a fundamental battlefield of tensions of various sorts.
In poststructuralist accounts such as that of Foucault emancipation is no longer naively thought as a correction of error or progress toward or of the good;it is the movement, incessantly occurring in any span of culture, from one to another region of temporary stability, an island of relative coherence with no moral justification outside of this tentative, historically contingent belonging to local practices of language. Desire is no more that a pole of attraction belonging to the intersection of forces of domination. Knowing my `self´ as a mere strategy or role in social language interchange, I can know longer locate a `correct´ value to embrace, or a righteous cause to throw my vehemence behind. The only ethics that is left for me to support is the play between contingent senses of coherence and incoherence as I am launched from one local linguistic-cultural hegemony to another. To the extent that I know what such a thing as guilt or anger is beyond the bounds of local practices, these affectivities would have resonance as my experience of relative belonging or marginalization in relation to conventionalities that I engage with in discourse.
I am always guilty, blameful in the extent to which I am a stranger in respect to one convention or another, including those that I recall belonging to in the past. I am always guilty in existing as a dislodgement from my history. Even in my ensconsement within a community of language, my moment to moment interchange pulls and twists me away from myself, making me guilty with respect to myself (my `remembered´ self) and my interlocutor. Similarly, I am always hostile in my engagements with others in the sense that I coerce (not willfully but prior to volition) another into my orbit in interchange. The non-directional vector of my desire, as the minimization of the distance between myself and the other, necessarily commits the violence of tearing him away from his past, which is in some measure a mystery to me. Because moment to moment interchange implies a mutual subversion of language, this is true in some small fashion even when we move within shared commitments.
As we have seen, experience viewed from Derrida's deconstructive vantage already contains the basis of both hegemony and its subversion in each moment, radicalizing the schematic basis of a Foucaultian poststructuralism . Even this deconstructive discourse which refuses to allow a trace of meaning to be simply present to itself so as to be recognized as either organized or disorganized, perpetuates blameful justice of a minimal sort. A Derridean `psychoanalysis´ would move within the margins of a Freudian thinking as a less consequential and severe justice than that which would deal in an empirically punitive language of neurotic and psychotic pathology. Such a thinking would also find lingering assumptions of ontological self-presencing in the texts of Heidegger. Nevertheless, the relentless Derridean equivocal decentering of presence and absence itself protects a remnant of blameful otherness at meaning´s double core, invoking its own psychoanalysis of culpability and justice.
For Derrida, justice implies non-gathering, dissociation, heterogeneity, nonidentity with itself, being unequal to the other, endless inadequation, infinite transcendence. It is that which is always reinvented in a singular-equivocal situation. The impetus of justice, then, is none other than the impetus of the deconstructive trace of meaning itself.
Derridean justice is not one value among others, not that which would be opposed to injustice, but the very affirmational-negational tension that infest's meaning's origin as writing. If justice as Derrida understands it no longer reveals a self-present particularity, a `this thing which would be just´, it shares with other philosophies a reliance on a certain moody remoteness of distance as its very basis. The irreducible play or tension which founds a world is necessarily cruel, guilty, and indignant as well as joyful and loving. Even as these affective terms do not locate themselves as preservable (non-deconstructed) senses, they would be tied to the modalizing repetition of a general-specific effect, the disseminative mark as always more or less just, more or less forgiving, more or less disappointing. Desire, throughout its various fortunes and misfortunes maintains itself for Derrida as the tension-play of an ought, a should, an obligation, responsibility, guilt, a risk.
To think a text further as a subliminal edge of moreness is to effect a most gentle continuation-alteration, an engagement of familiar anticipation and predictiveness which no longer feels its movement (and never did) as incorporating the mystery of blame and guilt. A thinking of meaning's double site as this moreness is a notion of difference so insubstantial as to precede any sense of blame as the expression of a rift or distance between we and they, between me and myself. It is a notion of content so minimal as to barely repeat itself as `two more´ names. As we will soon show, it is less consequential than even the minimal stability of names such as presence and absence, structure and genesis, positivity and negativity, distance and proximity.
Injustice and Disappointment as Anachronism:
(return to index)
We have spoken of the self-distancing moodiness of meaning implied by non-recuperable terms like anger, guilt, punishment and justice. We have said we may envision what otherwise would be thought as a guilty, blameful angry split or gap within meaning, including that considered as quasi-transcendental invagination, as instead an intricate linkage, history's peculiar quasi-developmental thread. We can envision the other who disappoints us as belonging to such a developmental illusion. The very success of anger's punitive intent hides a more elegant understanding within which the `evil-doer´s´ actions appear to us as something akin to a familiar, benign past of our own understanding, a return to an `old´ event in a history of ethical desubstantialization. What kind of past is this a return to?
The other whom we might otherwise characterize as disappointing us, angering us, whom we blame and condemn, now is understood as barely distinguishable from their prior thinking as well as from our prior expectation of them, their transgression belonging to a thread of radical familiarity and predictability. This thread of familiarity, this thread to which the other belongs, is something like our recalling a past cultural history, within which we can place the inadequate actions or beliefs of the other as a moment of an always `appropriate´ assimilative ideational evolution. To experience another person would be to place them on a nostalgic thread of cultural genesis as affective desubstantialization, granting the otherness of meaning no power or substantiality except a minuscule quality of difference. My experience of that which would be other, separate in the guise of my experience of another person, reveals itself in this way as the apparent return of an intricate structure of `what used to be´ as appropriate, valuable, belonging, necessary, not because it invokes the familiarity of memory, but because its impossible proximity to me (and my impossible proximity to my apparent past and future) leaves it strikingly devoid of any useful sense of deviance, departure, distance, perversion.
What would give the relationship between `what used to be´ and `what is´ its radical intimacy? We spoke of a preliminary characterization of intellectual history as akin to a progressive desubstantialization of affect-sense-meaning, a developmental illusion. A history of philosophy, as the variable unfolding of a demoodalization, thought in this way, would seem to be capable of the minimization of the thickness of mystery, thingness, difference. From Plato to Descartes, Kant to Heidegger, a relentless depowering condensation of sorts would operate. It would be as if another's thinking could be placed somewhere along such a recalled spectrum of philosophical history, as a recapitulation of a moment in such a thread of affective progress. The thinking which inspires architects of warfare, inquisition, holocaust, torture, which within certain traditions would be thought of as the essence of evil, pathology , moral error, malice or alterity would be understood more penetratingly as that which is uncannily reminiscent of a subsumed gesture of what I conjure as my cultural past.
The most subtle `everyday´ feelings of anger, guilt, annoyance, and everyday slights and irritations are stripped of their thickness and power when we recognize their perpetrators as belonging to a most radically coherent-insignificant, appropriate hierarchy of similarity.
It is along such an axis (which we will soon unravel) that we can provisionally align a `morality´ of human action. The myriad worlds seen by `saints´ and `sinners´ are reconciled such that they collapse onto each other in the most impossibly compressed way. Underlying what would be termed an essence of the ethical would be a thread of desubstantialization. A cultural history would be a moral development insofar as it constitutes a peculiarly self-transcending iteration, but this movement which we preliminarily parody with the term ´progress´ has no identifiable vector. We may undermine pro-gress without doing damage to that which is of central importance to us, as we reveal how these minimal notions of valuation have worked for us in preparation for an equivocal thinking having no room for history and too little significance to justify not only any trend or direction, but even any name.
When the outlook of another, which would otherwise be deemed criminal, unadaptive, lazy, inconsiderate, psychopathological, incorrect, irrational, selfish, inappropriate, malicious, arrogant, rude, irresponsible, condemnable, is understood most intricately in relation to an impossibly insubstantial evolution of self-similarity, then the furthering of the `violator´s´ own aims and desires is recognized as consonant with our own pro-gress, as that which seemingly regurgitates the necessary ´past´ of our thinking. The beliefs we would have despised as dangerous, condemnable, evil, unadaptive, prompting our coaxing of another´s contrition, now are understood as a movement of extraordinary , because practically contentless, synchrony with us and themselves, rather than as a mysterious contentful spacing. We need no longer oppose, deconstruct, or resist that in the other which we now identify and participate with in a peculiarly radical way as that which is at the same time impossibly close to us and impossibly insubstantial in itself.
We can see how the other's behavior now is understood not as a mystery or gap, but as a moment of a familiar, `predictable´ dynamic, even if the return of that which is predicted, anticipated, deja vu, is the return of that which has never been. In the moment of meaning, meaning´s only moment, its equivocal terms can muster only enough pneuma to indicate peaceful distinction. There is no longer any force attached to terms like guilt and anger because there in no longer, and never was, a thickness of mystery separating me from myself and myself from another.
To recognize another, who otherwise would be characterized as deviant or guilty, as belonging to me most closely as the seeming past of my own thinking is to first recognize my own past as less than a forceful break from my present. This is central to the distinction between a thinking of blame and retribution and that of a gently, intricately insubstantial similarity-difference between and within people. What would have been experienced as a quality of alterity, the possibility of disappointment in the other, is now seen as something like an impossibly insignificant anachronism of the other, her uncanny resemblance to both a personal and cultural past we can recall as a most unobjectionable order.
To experience another person would be to see their thinking as resembling impossibly closely a region of a recollected thread of cultural genesis, in which each moment belongs to all that precedes and follows it as participant in an apparent infinity of barely self-separated iteration. It is to grant the otherness of meaning no power or substantiality except that of a barely registering forgetfulness of anachronism. My experience of that which would be other, separate, in the guise of my experience of another person reveals itself as the apparent return of a structure of `what used to be´ whose historical expanse is so intricate as to conjure at every point the sense of intense and global, imbecilic similarity-differentiation. As anachronism (in the way in which we mean it here, as something like the apparent return of a past moment of a peculiarly self-similar cultural development), another person projects himself to me as a limit which I gently move with and from, as a furthering mo re subliminal than any notion of alterity, otherness could convey.
When there is no longer seen to be a substantive otherness about another's thinking, it would be giving too much power to a text to say that I disagree, argue, debate, critique, resist, correct, or deconstruct it. Perceiving another as familiar, subsumed anachronism, within what appears as something like a history of supremely similar events (but based on no grounding notion of the similar, other than as a de-powering concentration) has a character close to a peculiar predictive anticipation.
It would be as though, at a glance, a history of culture appeared as a blinking light whose successive behavior is manifested as vicissitudes of acceleration and deceleration of its flickering pattern. The thinking of anyone we encounter could be placed onto this developmental process as a particular density of flicker, a quasi-rate of self-transformation fluctuating instant to instant. But we could not measure the relative slowness of a moment of experience in terms of a `taking of time´, a calculable distance between light blinks. In the first place, its `acceleration´ would not simply be a matter of changing distance between identical flashes, but the simultaneous contraction or expansion of an empty spacing and of an equally empty `fatness´ of presence. Furthermore, as we have mentioned, there would be no question of defining the more or less of this momentum in conceptual-mathematical terms.
We could not expect to subsume the `how much´ of the quasi-density of experience via a numerical name or conceptual scheme. It would be ever so subtly asymmetric senses of more and less which would return to themselves instant to instant, destroying the possibility of subsuming this dynamic under the regnancy of a formula. Most importantly, these terms, presence and spacing, are robbed of affective import, of their ability to act as forces, by virtue of their origin as being (almost) indistinguishable from each other, and thus as (almost) meaningless effects. Because the very duplicitous instant of sense is devoid of tension and violence, the same is true of the play of instants, always experienced only locally, contextually, from one event to the next, whether as apparent progress or decadence. A relatively fat space of empty content simultaneous with a relatively fat space of empty difference sounds absurd as the mark of a particular moment of a historical `past´, and it is meant to. It is meant to be absurdly without force, effect, consequence, alterity.
It is precisely because the movement of experience as little more than the quasi `more or less´ momentum of this pair is so gently, inconsequentially intimate, devoid of the tension of contradiction or paradox, that it allows us to see the ongoing reinvention of ourselves and others via a radical continuity born of utter lack of consequence. This limit is welcome; the only freedom it restricts is the sinister power of arbitrary change. The dream of educative, political, therapeutic emancipation is a nightmare to the extent that it depends on faith in a rational-moral telos or the weak relativism of language-culture as a circulation of tensions and forces. Even so, we need not emancipate ourselves from such philosophies of emancipation. We instead climb into them, gliding with them, allowing ourselves to hear in the rhetoric of the believer in singularities-in-tension an embodying and carrying forward of a peaceful intricacy that is imbedded in the very harshness of that rhetoric.
Understanding this about the modes of culture that seem to surround and impinge upon me allows me to effortlessly glide through the experiencing of these traditions. What do we mean by gliding through? What Derrida might think in terms of the minimal violence of reading otherwise, and Nancy might think in terms of the violence of being-with, would be seen intensely informidably as my being-with (as) another's intricately unfolding text (Nancy describes this original eventhood of meaning as `disruption´, the `shock of meaning´, `discord´, the 'irreducible strangeness of each one of these touches to the other (BSP6)', `odd´, `curious´, `disconcerting´, `bizzare´, `incommensurable´. Com-passion as Being-with is "the disturbance of violent relatedness"(BSPxiii)).
The same method which allows us to place another's thinking as a gentle relation of belonging within a quasi-developmental cultural continuum allows us to treat the moment to moment vicissitudes of that individual's thinking as less than violent shifts. We described hostility as the attempt at remedying the other's apparent violation of our expectations, as his subtle forgetting or falling away from his prior momentum of thinking. We said the force of such terms as hostility, anger, irritation, could be seen as determined, in various ways according to different discourses, by faith in an irreducible moody otherness. For instance, in `Call It A Day For Democracy´, Derrida expresses the need to respond to "...interpretive violence, abusive simplification, the rhetoric of insinuation, stupidity as well..."(OH106). Terms like violence, abuse, stupidity, as well as selfishness, indecency, dishonesty, obscenity, arrogance (B812-873), are weapons in the hands of a deconstructive analysis of texts.
Deconstruction's puzzled anger exposes it as depending on a certain plodding harshness common to its anger, its joy, its sadness and all other modalities of its experience. In other words, most fundamentally, this harshness would be intrinsic to the within-trace and between-trace quasi-transcendental basis of differance. To reduce this moody otherness to a moreness with no force is to re-think any experience of loss, forgetfulness or regression we perceive in ourselves or in another from time to time as a lapse remedied via exquisitely subtle and insubstantial increments of depowering re-engagement.
Rather than coaxing the other's guilt or self-anger by `resisting´ the rhythm of his thematics, `forcing´ him to another heading, we may instead accept the other´s thinking, moving with it and from it gently. Since we never saw his departure from his previous history in the first place in terms of a disturbing rift, we need not disturb or be disturbed (and in fact can no longer justify the sense of such a term) in order to find ourselves or the other in motion. The deconstructive alternative, having no choice but to want to plunge the other into a chaotic transformation, stunts the fluidity of the other's self-transformative efforts. Undermining the violent basis of the `otherness´ of experience allows a more effectively intimate recovery of momentum for the one we would otherwise be tempted to call the `guilty´ party.
What would it mean to no longer need to encourage, to any degree, another's sense of culpability and self-directed anger, in order to guide them to an effective questioning of their thinking? It would be to move within his language of fat, moody differences such as not to be perceived by him as resisting, forcing or rejecting his tropes. How would such a thinking treat the other who does not understand our philosophy, who believes in a certain justice of guilt and condemnation? The test of the effectiveness of our assessment of the other's thinking as belonging to an exquisite quasi-developmental thread, is whether that other embraces rather than resists our engagement with his thinking, whether we can assure that he will not see us as intruding, violating and resentfully challenging his world. Such a test also measures our ability to anticipate in what way he can be expected to `misread´ perspectives which would claim to deconstruct or desubstantialize his thinking.
This test comes down to a measure of our success at inserting ourselves into his discourse precisely where it extends, furthers, depowers his evolving perspective rather than causing itself to be treated by him as an anachronism to be attacked and rejected (as a hostile deconstructive intervention undoubtedly would be). In `subsumingly´ moving within-beyond his perspective, we succeed in converging with that other at the very edge of his experience, anticipating in close proximity to his own anticipations, in the process earning his great interest, respect and approval.
We can engage fluidly and satisfyingly with the other as guide at the limit of his movement, knowing that there is no question of dramatically transforming this rhetoric and faith of his, and no question of "setting his programmatic fantasies to work" via the internal intervention of deconstruction, since he is already in motion. There would be a participation in the most subtle furthering of his understanding within his own subliminally changing terms. It is from this vantage that we recognize the perpetrator of murder and genocide as no more ethically incorrect than the healing humanitarian. Both are correct from our vantage as we read their thinking in relation to an older, ethically `fatter´ thinking they desubstantialize, and both are inadequate (what otherwise might be determined as murderous, criminal, evil) measured against an understanding which lies in their future, but an understanding they (and I) are always already in the midst of desiring to aim toward (always infinitesimally differently).
It would never be a question of accusing the other who disappoints us of a failure of nerve or courage or some other term expressing our hostile inability to recognize the fact that he is always already motivated to move as fast as the limits of his understanding allows him to in the direction of a desubstantializing depowerment of his experience. This understanding, simultaneously in its manifesting and its trend, has no content other than as a dumb quasi-density knowing only akin to more and less, an exceeding (presencing) and that which has been exceeded (lost-distanced).
The acceleratively-deceleratively blinking light projecting itself as history is, as we have said, a developmental illusion, but may be useful as a preliminary way of capturing a most (almost) utterly meaningless notion of experience that obeys no named trajectories (acceleration-deceleration, more-less, past-future, desire-disappointment of desire). It does not matter that my experience of another's thinking as harking back to a supposed intellectual past is an `illusion´ in indulging in a seeming categorical or formulaic notion of temporality. What is not illusory is my moving through this regurgitated specter such as to be with another´s thinking in the closest possible way, beyond-within the resources of too-substantial terms like anger, irritation, guilt, anxiety, or any mood-mode of tension, loss, disruption, contamination, perversion. More specifically , I would be able to dance with her at this frontier of her thinking, that region defining both her most joyful and meaningful experience and the limits of her tolerance.
Moving with her in this region, I would anticipate the sort of argument that she would perceive as unacceptable and deserving of condemnation and repression, and the sort of argument that she would delightedly embrace. In understanding her in this way, I am not considering myself to be imposing a scheme, and I am certainly not construing her actions any more effectively than I construe my own. Even as I indulge myself in the illusion that I am identifying her with a retrieved archive of ideation, I liken the exercise to that of re-reading a book. Even as familiar, the eventness of the book reinvents itself subtly in each moment of the new reading (just as any previous reading reinvents the book at every point in the reading). The memory of the book, not as a whole but as each new moment of encounter, only exists each time as the absolutely fresh simultaneous presentation of the couplet `past-present´.
The significance of my placement of another in relation to a fantasized past of culture is not the preservation of an order of content, because there is no retrievable content to be found in the thinking of such a `spectrum´. The order one finds is that of impossible proximity and familiarity devoid of guilt, irritation, tension, but not in relation to any content other than the utter unnameable particularity of the moment.
Now we can see that this world which imposes standards, codes, restrictions and laws is a world of individuals offering to me ways of thinking that in each uniquely occurring case I can participate in in a smoothly anticipatory fashion. Indulging in the fantasy of a cultural-ethical evolution as contentless quasi-condensation-desubstantialization, whose progress travels from archaic philosophies of the greatest imaginable substantiality and violence (empty simultaneous play of `content´ and difference) to those of the least imaginable content-difference spacing, I can engage with the individuals who present the various modalities of this world with a specific expectation of the relative substance-violence that the other may believe in, what thinking it represents a progress over, and what its future entails for the other from my vantage. What might otherwise be thought as that which impinges upon me or restricts me in the other's representing of cultural practice to me as standards, laws, punitive limits, is my following of the other's interruptive, lurching experience of the world as (almost) empty expanses of content-change.
In the instant I am able to experience the other in this way, I can no longer (and never did, since my recollection is in front of me) characterize them in moodily repressive terms as impinging, restrictive, selfish, unjust, immoral or irresponsible. There is but my minimal awareness of participating in another's plodding, interruptive movement, proceeding just where it should by both his standards and mine (toward an infinitely tight and contentless quasi-density) as rapidly as it possibly can. The other, as anachronistic other, is always moral, just, responsible, whether in the guise of a Hitler or a St. Augustine.
Anachronism and Past as Future:
(return to index)
What is it to say that we move beyond-within another's thinking, or that we escape our own past, for that matter? We need to examine more closely the origin of such terms as memory and past. We look back over our shoulder at a past which we have argued can be provisionally treated as an ethical regression-resubstantialization of a peculiarly insignificant sort. And what would be the expression or sense of that which appears regressive to us? We would relive a past as akin to a redundancy, a seeming interruption or reversal of momentum in relation to a now with which we compare it. A past would be something like a less `accelerated´ unfolding of meaning in relation to that which would be treated as contemporary. It would be to seem to return to a greater moodiness, solidity, fatness, substantiality of content-difference. Via the thinking of meaning's gesture as barely other than an accelerative-decelerative more-or-less, we are enabled to perceive another who judges people as lazy, contemptible, selfish or thoughtless, as belonging to something akin to our cultural past in an exquisite bond of similarity.
It would be to understand the presumedly mysterious injustice and deviance of the other as no longer a deviance or rift but rather an exquisite belonging to a recollected cultural past as supremely self-similar ethical development. It would be to reveal what would have been thought as the other's error, deviance and pathology as only incompletion, his misinterpretation of me as only under-interpretation.
But what of subsumption and transcendence, of past and future? The origin of meaning's movement as desubstantializing moreness would seem to require an idea of memory or archive, out of which flows both a past and a future. But what is it I am doing when I recall a past? What does it mean to say that a transcended cultural past seems to re-appear in the thinking of my contemporary? How do we determine the developmental relationship between my present and my past, between the anachronistic and the contemporary? How do we understand the meaning of names such as other, past, nostalgia and anachronism? If we allow ourselves to refer to a history of philosophy or a cultural history, what would precede this history? Would there be a pre-cultural realm? If there would be no discontinuity, no incommensurability in the nature of a thread of genesis, then a cultural development would not find itself at any point `discontinued´ or bounded.
But what would be the sense of a pre-human genesis? And what would be the significance of such a `pre-history´, what terms would we use, what would be the source and method of our archeology? Would we embark from a point before the existence of human culture, before the emergence of living forms, before the formation of chemical elements, before the existence of subatomic particles? Would this journey not lead us right back to ´ourselves´ as the generators of these peculiar fictive, empirical stories of genesis?
There could be no infinitely old historical past without the assumption of a museum or archive of thought from which to retrieve facts. The infinitely old depends on a notion of the infinite as a self-duplicating concept. A pure `older and older´ is the return to presence of the same as a deductive logic. But the gesture of dislocation which past and memory express wanders away from itself ever so gently and imperceptibly from event to event, just enough to distinguish it from a deductive scheme.
To follow a history is not to recall a past except as that past is a new genesis, the furthering-dislocating of my now. Meaning's history is a history with no past except as that past is our future as the dislocation of presence. Reflection and memory are forwardness itself within the guise of terms like separation and distance. To look back and to retrieve what was, whether it be in the form of biographical memory or the themes of history books, is to invent anew. In any story, whether scientific, theological or literary, the elaboration of the plot of genesis transcends the meaning of the genesis being referred to. Every step in the telling of the story begins the story anew, moves within and divides that origin it follows, becomes a differently intricate genesis. To begin a story as an earliest simplest genesis, is to continue from the most recent, what is in fact always the only `now´.
What is the difference between my remembered autobiographical past and my cultural or hypothesized pre-human past? Is the archeologist uncovering a pre-human history when this history represents the `very latest thinking´ on the subject? As the essence of contingency, we are always at the earliest, the only beginning. Cultural, pre-cultural and autobiographical past are names of fictions which reduce to a double `we´ which is always at its own frontier of moreness in thinking of its ancient past. There is no prioritizing of regions or levels of knowing according to a scheme when any scheme or order would have no way, no need, no power to preserve itself as itself. Cultural history as ontological evolution as pre-cultural or cultural, these and an infinity of other names for threads of genesis in all their apparent levels of focus and perspective collapse onto a single-double thread which knows these names only as the duplicitous instant, the non-self-identical instantiation which is less than a definition.
History always `meets 1the new´ in a relation of radical predictiveness, familiarity, continuity and intimacy, born not of a theology of the positively and substantively Same but of an emptying of all the resources that would give Same and Other their senses as tension and force as well as contentful substance.
What is it we are knowing when we say that something happened 10 minutes ago or 20 years ago? When I think of an event of 1977, this apparent `thinking back´ spins an original or new span of history emanating from a never-before experienced 1977, a journey from a new 1977, a new philosophy of what these dating numbers would `mean´, to a new `present´. And so it is that the `earliest´, `simplest´ origin we establish for an unfolding world of meaning is the edge of meaning for us now. As we follow its development, we can seem to be able to look back at what we have transcended and experience it again. But in the very act of supposedly `looking back´, we recapture the wild contingency of momenting as a same-new dislocation-presence.
Development is always at the beginning and always has the same-new event as its basis (the moreness of repetition). What does it mean to even make the distinction between old and new, archaic and contemporary? To speak of a history as it `has been´ constituted is not to return to something but to move from where one is contingently, historically, and this returning now point is nothing but the empiricism of the effacement of the present. Past and memory, before they can be construed as nostalgia or anything else, represent the decadent pole of the now, a minimal interruption or dislocation of the fresh quietism of the present. As we said earlier, memory is foul before it is ever fond, missing before it is ever here. Decay-absence-distance initially marks both `good´ and `bad´ memory AS memory. Memory is `no longer´ before there is any sense of discovery as presently `new´. This `no longer´ and `new´ together name the basis of an event as simultaneously missing and present, but missing and present always anew. The play of loss and presence also determine ongoing between-event relations as contingently expanding and contracting densities of experience.
It is at this level of between-event experience that apparent anachronism comes into play. Episodes of nostalgia and recollection announce themselves in their supposed `pastness´ fundamentally as gentle disappointments or interruptions of ongoing experience, rather than as returns to anything. Both my activity of recollection and nostalgia, and my encounter of an other whose thinking seems to represent the return of a past, offer the return to a brand new past, a past, as the minimal strangeness of absencing, which never existed before. My experience of the anachronistic other always stands as the edge of my own non-journeying progress. Anachronism and progress constitute two senses of novelty.
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