Blame and Ethics (Derrida and Deconstruction)

(After Derrida and Deconstruction)

Guilt and Anger as Intimate Violence:

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But if momentum can be disappointed, if it can recover, accelerate, in what sense are these undulations not to be thought of as guilt, anger, joy? There is not a thing we could know as guilt or anger as such, definable outside of the most local context of instantiation. What would such terms as guilt or blame even signify if we have deprived all words of any retrievable identity other than the utter particularity and singularity of their instantiation of barely new senses of density, momentum, speed, less than anything that would be stably definable? How would we speak of moods in a thinking which would claim to deprive them of their effect?

When we examined the way in which discourses characterized meaning's duplicitous play of difference, the adjectives they chose to capture the dynamics of meaning's relation to itself as presence and absence, pleasure and pain, and other such dualities of effect, marking the possibility of making sense, we were able to note in their terms a certain relative neurosis, an unreduced substantiality of presence-absence. Such moments of an always re-invented ethical development or `affective desubstantialization´ evince a certain constipated, polarized ploddingness of play. Let us use something like guilt as an example. We could draw up a sketch of the way that guilt might be articulated across a range of discourses: we could link it to such ideas as culpability and blamefulness, wherein we are said to feel guilty for letting someone down, shirking our responsibility, personal negligence.

It has been said that we can't look the other in the eye in guilt. We don't have to be accused by another to feel we have failed her or him. The other need not be disappointed in us, nor even be aware of our failure at all. Guilt as self-blame would be the realization of our failure to behave in the way we expected of ourself, the hurt and disappointment we feel when we are not quite what we thought we were. It would originate in a being-other-than what we expected, the sense of missed opportunity, of a mourning of a better fork in the road not taken. Guilt would register a sense of seeming self-regression or decadence in the momentum of one's experience.

What, preliminarily, might we comment concerning the structure we've just sketched of a `twinge´ of guilt, the feeling of `letting oneself down´? Let us at first locate the peculiar edge of guilt, as we have described it above, as its `I ought to have, should have, could have´ way of thinking, our awareness that we failed to do what we were capable of, what we assumed we would. The proximity between that which one expected of oneself and one´s apparent failure to live up to that standard would mark guilt as a gnawing, teasing puzzlement or surprise. Our falling away from another we care for could then be spoken of as an alienation of oneself from oneself. When we feel we have failed another, we mourn our mysterious dislocation from a competence or value which we associated ourselves with. It follows from this that any thinking of guilt as a `should have, could have´ blamefulness deals in a notion of dislocation and distance, of a mysterious discrepancy within intended meaning, separating who we were from who we are in its teasing gnawing abyss.

Guilt and sadness would seem to represent a plunge into the darkness of separation. As we have seen, for Derrida there would be guilt as an always implied within-trace effect determined by the origin of every event as other than itself in the instant of being itself. This within-trace sense of mourning would be an irreducible quasi-transcendental condition of experience. One disturbs and disappoints oneself in a certain sense at every moment. Then there would also be for Derrida the possibility of guilt, sadness and mourning as a momentum of between-trace relation marking our stumbling into experience marked by a sparse density of change. This disappointing, guilty field of eventness could be the death of a friend one should have spoken to more often or better, or the encounter of a repressively authoritarian regime that one should have or could have resisted, or done so more effectively.

Just as we can fall away from the relative contentment of an intimate experience of self-motility and progress, we can seem to find ourselves recovering from our slide into the relative regressiveness of interruption. Wherever this disappointment is thought via a language of alterity, violation and guilt, recovery seems to imply the justice and violence of resistance, condemnation and punishment. Philosophies which believe, to various degrees, in meaning's moody self-distancing would seem to be not only a thinking of guilt and despondency but also a thinking of anger, recompense and forgiveness. Anger would be a commentary on guilt, on the proximity we perceive between what was and what should have been. Anger would act on the `should have, could have´ of guilt as an accusation of culpability.
What does such a judgement imply? Anger would proceed from the recognition of a blameful proximity between a thematic unfolding of experience and that which fails that thematic. The other who interacts with us (and this other can be ourselves) can respond in such as way as to fall afoul of our expectations; they (or we) `should have known better´ than to do what caused our pain.

We don't become angry when we believe another had no way of knowing, could not have been expected to know that his actions would be responsible for our distress; in such a case our prior expectations of them would not have been violated. But when we believe that the object of our wrath shares a certain empathy with us or with himself which appears to have been breached, anger wants to remedy and resist that breach. The other who `knew better than´ to do what disturbs us is seen, via our anger, as herself hostile, annoyed or irritated with us, as wanting to punish us, as believing we were deserving of her disrespect. When we believe we were in fact deserving of the other´s hostility, we become guilty. However, when we believe ourselves to be undeserving of the other´s rejection, we turn their hostility back at them. Our anger acts to promote guilt and blame in the other; it remedies, resists, wants to transcend. Anger is a faith in the ability to minimize the abyss of blame. Anger would be a confidence, an insight into how to remedy guilty, disappointed experience.

Hostility as a Question:

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If terms like punishment and condemnation point to a momentum of desubstantialization, of increasing proximity and intimacy with the other, of reducing the fat contentfulness and violent distance of the other from us, then why would retribution seem to want to degrade the other, to inflict pain and destruction? Why would the infliction of pain on another be desirable to us in revenge, and what would the desiring of another's suffering even mean? We have to remember that for now we have allowed that there would be two ways of thinking desire (we will reduce these later).

Firstly, there would be desire as within-trace play, desire as nothing but eventness itself; the twofold mechanics of momenting not as sequence but as simultaneity. If an event is a self-exceeding, it is in the same breath a self-decadence. If we say that the origin of desire, need, craving, affectivity as the duplicity of a singular event is the preferring of presence over dislocation we do not capture a sequential order. To find oneself wanting is to experience at the same time two poles, but it is not to be able to say which came first and which came second. What seems to be a `moving toward´ is more originally a `having both´ , an equivocal-singular awareness that is in the same `instant´ both the better and the worse. That desire `wants´ the depowering minimization of distance is only to state a redundancy. Words like desire, prefer, privilege, precedence, minimization and order fail to do anything more than remind us of this a-sequential twofoldness of motive that structures each event within itself.

The goodness of proximity and the undesirability of effacement would not reveal anything about each other besides the fact that they occupy the same space in each moment of experience. If proximity is good and separation bad, they are good and bad for no reason besides the fact that without this minimal dyssymetry between a having and a losing there would be no world. Being informed that the goodness of possession is that feature we prefer contributes nothing further to our understanding since an instant of preference simply reinstates the dual poles presence-absence. To ask the question `the presence or absence of what?´ is to fail to understand that the object or content of a moment experience can never be isolated as anything more substantive than `this particul ar event which is a new instantiation of presence-absence.´ To prefer is only to state that one exists in transit. We don't choose to be motivated. We are already motivated because we are already in motion.

Another way to understand desire, quasi-transcendentally co-essential with the previous account of desire as within-trace, is as a between-event trope or thematic expressing the variable rhythm of repetition of events. Since we are in motion before we could ever choose to motivate ourselves, the variability of motive resides in the relative coherence of the movement of our experience, event to event. In coming back to itself moment to moment as non-self-identical but nonetheless integrally, unsubstantially self-similar, desire can continue to reaffirm `almost exactly´ what it wants, and it can make progress toward or find itself being distanced from what it wants, even as the very basis of that objective is gently re-invented in each intended instantiation of it. Because we find ourselves choosing rather than controlling our choice, what desire chooses has already altered us before we can duplicate and recover what we choose. It would always be a new sense of desire and progress or disappointment of desire that return moment to moment in the unfolding of experience. Nevertheless, in its non-self-identical journey, desire can find or re-discover itself (rather than simply willing itself) making progress toward the furthering of itself, its culture, its world.

We can only intend to welcome the Other who saves us from chaos; we intend to reject the Other who offers the oppression of incommensurability. Freedom from incoherence implies a sense of liberation, whereas freedom from the order of intelligibility and intimacy implies a sense of subjection. We always have desired to welcome, give ourselves to, sacrifice ourselves for the intimate Other, and always disliked, `chose against´ the incommensurate Other. We only `want´ to escape from that which is indoctrinating, repressive, and we only know such conventions in these terms to the extent that we are alienated from them, disconnected, impoverished, deprived. What is repressive to us is what we cannot establish connection, intimacy of relation with. What is `boring´, stagnant and redundant in what we label as totalitarianisms is what refuses us, keeps us at a distance, leaves us in banishment.

Boredom is always a symptom of dislocation and incipient incoherence. As counterintuitive as it may seem, repetition of experience is only perceived as redundant to the extent that such `monotonous´ experience disturbs us by its resistance to intimate intelligibility. Boredom and monotony herald the failure of comprehension rather than its success. To choose to love the impossible, the unforeseen and unpredictable is to prefer that aspect within unforeseen experience which is foreseeable, which offers us the hope of avoidance of the abyss of violation and disconnection. To the extent that we can say that we look forward to the unknown, it is only to that degree that we ANTICIPATE the unanticipatable that there is the h ope of godliness, love, intimacy in that otherwise meaningless unknowable. We cannot get beyond this link between the lovable and the recognizable without losing the basis of any ethics, which is the ability to distinguish between, even if without yet defining, what is preferred and what is not.

What would it mean to attempt to circumvent the structure of preference by a sacrifice of intention? What would we be effecting in `choosing´ to welcome without knowing what or whom we welcome; in acting so that our left hand does not know what the right hand is doing? As long as we speak of a volunteeristic `choice´ or `act´ of sacrifice of desire, of generosity, selflessness, or even of choosing not to intend at all, neither as benevolence or malevolence, we are still in-desire. To attempt to do what we don't want to do, or to act before we understand why we are acting, is still to prefer, and preference is always the finding of ourselves in a movement of desubstantializing intimacy.

In desire's progress, in re-inventing what a progress would mean, desire is always a same-different movement away from destruction and suffering for itself and `deserving others´, a minimization of the pain of incoherence and absence. One wants to destroy only the `undeserving´; one prefers to prefer against disruption, that which threatens with greater perceived harm. Thus the instant of motive is as a minimization-depowering of perceived harm and violence. To punish would be in the first place to act for the sake of a faith in the metaphysics of the foreign or the mysterious, but to minimize the force and substance of that gulf of alterity and disturbance. It would be to transfer our pain to the other in order to achieve the other´s remorse and repentance. We want him to identify with our suffering because, more centrally, our anger wants to coax him to understand that relational intimacy of experience which was disappointed and damaged for us via his actions, that which we mourn but which he apparently has failed to understand in the first place and thus does not appreciate was destroyed.

It is not his suffering we want for its own sake but his understanding, his contrition, his desubstantializing movement toward what we deem he should have thought and felt in the first place. Whereas in our own guilt we discover ourselves seemingly regressing from or disappointing the intimacy of our remembered, preceding experience, our anger is the transcendence of this momentum of apparent deceleration and reversal. We deem that the target of our indignation should have known what he failed to act on; we insist that he used to acknowledge the importance for us of what he now apparently disregards in his thoughtlessness. Our anger wants to rekindle this spark, to move him to a recollection of the consideration we believe he once had for us or our concerns. But why would we want to inflict punishment if we assume he already knows of our distress, already empathizes but chooses to ignore or forget this empathy? Our indignation wants us to reinstate for the other the pain we believe he didn't feel keenly enough originally.

The angered wants to teach the guilty party a lesson, remind him, shame him, make him feel the guilt he inexplicably failed to feel as a result of his regressive actions. Why do we say the criminal should suffer what the victim suffered, get a `taste of his own medicine´? If he really knows the ethical rigor of what was lost to us in our disappointed suffering, we think, then he may see the error of his ways and return to what we believe he knew all along. Our hostility wants to provoke the other´s pain only in order to gain the opportunity to ask "How do YOU like it?" and hear him empathetically link his pain with ours by linking his thinking more intimately with ours.

The angry accuser believes the accused knew his actions were responsible for the accuser's suffering. The accuser's anger, then, depends on an unanswered question concerning the perpetrator, which is the same question the guilt-ridden person asks himself: `Why did he fail to do what he knew he should do?´ The accuser wonders:`Why does the perpetrator´s hostility put the victim´s thinking into question when it is the perpetrator´s assessment of his relationship to the victim which needs to be interrogated and forced to a more intricate and desubstantialized space?´`Why does the perpetrator not feel guilty?´ According to the indignant person´s original axes of understanding, the very contemplation of the sort of nasty behavior he or she is presently witnessing should have produced a sufficiently amount of guilt in the perpetrator as to have prevented the translation of those vindictive plans into action. After all, thinks the angered party, "I´ve been tempted by that sort of indulgent acting out, too, but I´ve controlled myself." Unable to come up with any workable alternative explanation of the nonconformist´s actions, the offended person attempts to inculcate the other with the feeling of remorse that the indignant one initially assumed the offender should feel, but inexplicably fell short of.

The goal of anger´s punishing intent is not to destroy but to return the other closer to ourselves, to save him and us from his decadence, his falling short of a more condensingly depowering thinking which would allow him to see our behavior not as an obstacle to his movement but as a precipitation of it. Our anger wants to prompt him to an indication of insightful empathy with the pain he knows we feel and knows he was responsible for in his need to punish us. The other´s dest ruction will not satisfy anger´s urge for the perpetrator to bridge the taunting abyss between what he did and what he `knew better than to do´.

Our anger only begins to dissipate to the extent that we believe the other directly identifies the `retaliatory´ teaching we inflict on him with the suffering he was responsible for in us, and more fundamentally with our thinking he failed to embrace. Anger´s gesture, as any instant of desire, is the preferring of what we indulge ourselves in preliminarily referring to as a depowering minimization of otherness. But since we don´t know why he violated our expectation of him, why and how he failed to do what our blameful anger tells us he `should have´ according to our prior estimation of his relation to us, this guilt-inducing process is tentative, unsure. It is precisely the interruptiveness and intermittency of the `knowing what to do´ of anger which is potentially manifested as explosiveness, violence and destructiveness because the behaviors associated with these terms represent the limited repertoire of responses which mark the incipience of angry insight. Anger´s impulsive, potentially explosive character would mark it as a delicate confidence, an ambivalent insight. Anger would be ambivalent in its force; a composition of vulnerability, tentativeness, questioning, a residing with alterity even as it attempts to desubstantialize its effect.

Forgiveness as Acknowledgement of Transcendence:

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The dissipation of anger is closely tied to forgiveness, seen as the faith that our intervention may have succeeded in moving the other's thinking depoweringly closer to himself and to us. Considered in this way, we can only forgive a trespass of the other to the extent that we recognize a sign of the desubstantializing transformation of their thinking. Ideals of so-called unconditional forgiveness, of turning the other cheek, loving one's oppressor, could be understood as actually conditional in various ways. In the absence of the other's willingness to atone, we may forgive evil when we believe that there are special or extenuating circumstances which will allow us to view the perpetrator as less culpable (the sinner knows not what he does). We can say the other was blinded or deluded, led astray. Our offer of grace is then subtly hostile, both an embrace and a slap. We hold forth the carrot of our love as a lure, hoping thereby to uncloud the other's conscience so as to enable them to discover their culpability. In opening our arms, we hope the prodigal son will return chastised, suddenly aware of a need to be forgiven.

Even when there is held little chance that the sinner will openly acknowledge his sin, we may hope that our outrage connects with a seed of regret and contrition buried deep within the other, as if our `unconditional´ forgiveness is an acknowledgement of God´s or the subliminal conscience of the other´s apologizing in the name of the sinner. As the forgiving one, we are proud of our `courageous´ and `compassionate´ response, but the important term here is response. To forgive is to acknowledge willingness to change one´s attitude of condemnation only in RESPONSE to and acknowledgement of indications of potential repentance, at a conscious or unconscious level, on the part of the sinner. Perhaps the simplest kernel of forgiveness, then, is a mere experience of relieved awareness on our part, prior to any volition or declaration of intent to forgive, of the other´s renewal of intimacy with themselves and us.

In any case, our forgiving renewal of relationship with the other never succeeds in fathoming the other's initial disappointment of our experience, their apparent `forgetting´ of the intimacy of their previous relationship with us. The `resolution´ of our anger in successfully achieving the other´s transformation, in moving them depoweringly and desubstantializingly closer to us and to themselves by reminding them of what they should have remembered, is an ambivalent progress due to its failure to understand why and how the perpetrator surprised us and fell short of our expectations in the first place. Repentance cannot ameliorate the mystery of this seeming forgetting; the other´s sense of culpability is their internalization of this same mystery. They become angry with themselves to the extent that they fail along with the accuser to penetrate the violent mystery of their self-disappointing `sin´.

Let's look at anger and forgiveness in the context of deconstructive thinking. Anger, beyond the within-trace tension intrinsic to every event, is tied to a particular momentum of between-event experience, reinventing itself subtly differently instant to instant. In general terms, it belongs to the precipitant recovery from regions of experience, from texts which disappoint in their tarrying with tropes of programmatic ideality. Deconstruction can be angry in its need to resist a thinking which it sees as violent, oppressive and destructive in a misguided faith in a purported institutional stasis of history. But as we have seen, anger may be said to be more specific in its effect than this general response to the other's regressiveness. We don't find ourselves angry with any and all texts which tarry with polarizing language. We condemn the other who more or less irritatingly disappoints our prior expectation of them. Our anger acts to remedy a rift in a certain intimacy of relationship with the other; it acts to remind in cases where it would seem the other has subtly forgotten, fallen just short of, a former proximity-density of contact with us and with themselves.

This exquisitely teasingly, gnawingly subtle delay of movement would express a `could have´, `should have´ quality of blame. What presumably has been forgotten or interrupted is not a specific content but a momentum of self-deconstructive change. For Derrida, it would never be a question of returning to a supposed self-present conceptual scheme, but of precipitating back into movement a self-deconstructive iteration which had stalled or suffered paralysis. And in saying that it is a momentum of transformation rather than a content which is being recovered, we must add that for Derrida this shift from `less´ to `more´ depowering movement which decon struction wants to coax is not a simple oscillation from one template to the other but a returning differently. Experience gathers and disperses itself, modalizes itself as more or less each time via a differently reinvented sense of more and of less, of forgetfulness and recovery.

Where it finds a text slipping into a hostile, forgetful mode, its anger concentrates itself as a response to the specific parlaying of this forgetfulness into a weapon of violence and punishment. The other who grieves has in a sense forgotten the previous intimacy of their motile comportment with experience, but our engagement with this mourning is empathetic rather than hostile. But this is not quite true. It is not that we are less empathetic in our hostility toward the accused than in our consolation of the mourner, but that, from our vantage, the accused has lost less depowering momentum than the grieving one. There is less to remind and recover in the case of the guilty party than in the case of the mourner. Our helpless incomprehension in the face of another's depression and grief distances us more from the other than does the comparatively minor puzzlement of our angry disapproval of those we accuse.

Anger is nothing but an intimate, aggressively and ambivalently confident reminder to the one who we believe is so close to his/her prior momentum (with which we empathize) in their present waywardness that a push in the `right´ (desubstantializing) direction may do the trick. Consolation of the grieving, on the other hand, is a process of reminding and recovery that has farther to travel in order to repair the gaping, fat rift between the prior other and the mourning other who sits in their place. In setting a `stubbornly´ exhausted thinking back to work, deconstruction´s anger expresses itself as an accelerated momentum of desubstantializing change, a release from relative paralysis toward a greater density of inventive eventness. Deconstructive anger, at the same time as accelerating momentum of change, does not hav e any better way to understand the forgetful text it wants to precipitate back to work than via accusations of abusive, plodding, repressive, thinking. As a result, the deconstructive response to a text seen this way is necessarily violent in the minimal extent that it `resists´, `intervenes´ and `forces´ the text back to work.

We mentioned that anger accompanies or effectuates the recovery of a certain thematic intimacy which has been breached by a guilty perpetrator. It might seem, though, that it is precisely the attempt at a concentrated gathering which is being resisted by a deconstructive response. Isn't it the attempt to turn experience (in myriad ways and degrees) into a fortress of self-identity which is being resisted in the name of an otherness keeping itself free of conceptual imprisonment? In other words, isn't a certain violence being encouraged here, a violence in complicity with putting a stalled and paralyzed thinking back to work? Yes, but remember that according to our reading, what characterizes a text in need of deconstruction is not that it lacks any internal movement, but rather that as a certain naive deconstruction of itself, it represents, moment to moment, a peculiarly lugubrious, inefficient, weary, and thus intrinsically polarizing and violent form of self-transformation. To this sickly progress a deconstructive intervention contributes acceleration; in rendering the stalled moments fluid, it converts programmatic violence into a more (differently) intimate and in an important sense a lesser violence. Deconstructive anger fights to precipitate a thinking both more intricately thematic and more radically critical than that it questions.

But why is this relationship of deconstructer to deconstructed hostile? The hostility asks a question it cannot answer: Why and how does anyone fall short of a more rigorous deconstructive thinking? Of course a quick answer is available. We need only explain that deconstruction is, like all writing, historical; it is born of specific conditions implicating a complex intersection of theological, ethnic, political, economic and social influences, among many others. Deconstruction as an overtly articulated activity depends, then, on conditions available only in a certain cultural interval. But, as we pointed out, we don't become angry at the text which doesn't understand itself overtly in deconstructive terms. Our anger responds to the other's surprising but subtle disappointment of our expectations of them, regardless of what those original expectations entailed.

In order to address our question, then, we need to probe more deeply into the way in which historical circumstances and conditions iterate and transform themselves. Specifically, we need to examine the more fundamental terms of the general dynamics of the unfolding of the textuality of experience instant to instant. Deconstruction is hostile to the extent that experience as iteration of differance doesn't trust itself. To ask why one fails more or less to think deconstructively is to ask how deconstruction itself fails to think deconstructively, which is to say, how meaning wanders from itself in the act of instantiating itself within and between moments. Experience is doomed to be always (each time differently) more or less disappointing, more or less infuriating, more or less deviant and disturbing.

Deconstruction is in this way constantly disturbed by and forgiving of itself and others. Attempts to transcend this deviance within us and between us via politico-ethical or therapeutic analysis will run up against a universal limit of conciliation. Derrida believes that to forgive is always to forgive the unforgivable, that is to say, to be obliged to respect the secret of radical evil which remains inaccessible, which no amount of reconciliation and attempts at mutual understanding can alleviate. The origin of this radical evil is the dehiscence within the Derridean trace, determining an event's play of absence and presence to be dominated by a certain qualitative otherness. Whether in frightened surprise, guilty mourning, angry resistance or joyful furthering, moment to moment experience depends on and perpetuates a minimal violence.

Answering the Question:Before the Ethics of Disturbance:

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How would we answer this question which we say deconstruction cannot: how do we conceive disappointment emanating from experience with others or ourselves as less-than-blameful, less-than-angering, less-than-deviant? When the shifting fortunes of experience are burdened with the heaviness of alterity, the momenta of moods etched by expansions and contractions, disappointments and recoveries could never escape the implications of hostility and guilt. To think of a mysterious rift between my own need and that of another, and within myself, is precisely the origin of the possibility of such a thing as blame, anger, guilt, as well as a certain fatness of pleasure-joy. To want, to desire, to mean would involve an inherent self-distancing or otherness, a bastardization which would limit my reconciliation with myself or with another.

Justice would be cruel, as Nietzsche says. To feel cruel is to feel blamefully responsible, culpable, guilty. If we inhabit different social worlds, if our own `individual´ world is itself an endless iteration of differential cultures of self, then we must say that desire itself can only want to further one of an infinity of different realms, in asymmetric contradiction to the others. To think this way is to believe in the perversity of want. As distinct as Nietzsche´s notion of will to cruelty may be from metaphysical concepts of evil and divine righteousness, he has in common with such tropes a faith in the possibility of my obliviousness to another´s suffering. If meaning repeats itself as a trace of moody affirmative-negational difference, then to say that my hostility and desire to punish is the attempt at bringing the other closer to me is to also imply the dislodgement or violation of the other´s desire.

A world of suffering, anxiety, guilt and contempt is implied by a philosophy w hich sees moody otherness at the origin of meaning. All philosophies and psychologies which allow quality to dominate the essence of meaning are in a fundamental sense philosophies of blame, to the extent that to blame is to grant to meaning the fundamental power of mystery, which underlies the force of suffering.
Levinas' notion of the Other, Heidegger's primordial anxiety, Derrida's differance, and any thinking which depends on faith in otherness as meaning's double core, maintains a remnant of blamefulness. Levinas writes:

"God does evil to me to tear me out of the world, as unique and ex-ceptional-as a soul(TE182)...Suffering qua suffering is but a concrete and quasi-sensible manifestation of the non-integratable, the non-justifiable. The `quality´ of evil is this very non-integratability...In the appearing of evil, in its original phenomenality, in its quality, is announced a modality, a manner: not finding a place, the refusal of all accomodation with..., a counter-nature, a monstrosity, what is disturbing and foreign of itself. And in this sense transcendence!"(TE180)

The thought that, as Levinas characterizes it, thinks beyond what it thinks, beyond thematization and being and negation, older than consciousness and intentionality, nevertheless relies on, and in fact is centrally defined by, a certain substantiality of mood which demands a justice imprisoned by its blindness.

Heidegger says:

Understanding is never free-floating, but always moody. Having a mood brings Dasein face to face with its thrownness...not known as such, but disclosed far more primordially in `how one is´(BT339-340).

He argues that a primordial anxiety is the authentic mood of Dasein. Fundamental anxiety, he says, is not anxiety in the face of this or that `thing´. It reveals the nothing, the indeterminateness of that for which we feel anxious. This mood is `older´ (ontologically), more primordial than all other moods. And what is the quality of this feeling of fundamental anxiety? Heidegger says it is pervaded by a peculiar calm. It is an anxiety "of those who are daring", and "stands in secret alliance with the cheerfulness and gentleness of creative longing".

Desire seen as alterity is a boundary of mystery and secrecy, of the alien. It is the seed of contamination and disturbance which projects a world of violence and injustice as well as the hope of redemption and conciliation. It is at the heart of terms which speak of a willful, forgetful, repressive `knew better than to´,`could have´, `should have´. The unjust or pathological other is that which is the opposite of my understanding and desire, that which opposes me, thwarts me, makes me suffer. The criminal or pathological act is another name for that which subverts our desire, that which causes our suffering. Thoughtless, lazy, selfish, inconsiderate, contemptible, greedy, cruel, guilty, evil, dishonorable, condemnable, decadent, conscienceless, malicious, ungrateful, psychopathological, misbehaving, erroneous, unadaptive, violator, criminal, deviant, abusive, arrogant; these names would have in common a measure of the undermining or repressing of desire.

When we are thwarted, surprised, our anger is the impetus of our moving past and resisting the repression. Rehabilitation, punishment, Nietzschean cruelty and revenge, therapy, subversion and emancipation, justice are some names for the impetus of recovery from violation and hegemonic repression. Recovery maintains the mysterious senselessness which a violation of desire marks, just as a feeling of joy preserves the mysterious senselessness of a despair which it would be a recovery from. Guilt, blame, punishment, apology and forgiveness implicate each other as the movement through a culture of irreducible otherness.

A possibility of justice that depends on a fulcrum of deviation or decentering at the heart of meaning drives the `should´ and `could´ of responsibility and projects, in innumerable degrees through different discourses, a world torn by suffering as well as by a peculiarly heavy, indulgent joy. When another´s intent is seen as grossly inconsonant with mine, he is my enemy. My enemy is a threat I have no choice but to protect myself from. I need to overcome, censure or escape the evil in the other or myself, to depower a harm. Murder and genocide name acts directed at me which seem to be behaviors of destruction, but similar acts directed from me are heroic attempts to lessen the harmful abyss of incoherence. The harshness of my protective efforts will be a reflection of the severity, that is, the substantiality, of this threat. Our desire to minimize deviance, separation, loss implies the punishment, condemnation, reconditioning, violation and subversion of the culpable other. The criminal, the inflicter of genocide, the murderer, the rapist, the torturer, the psychopath: these labels depend on faith in a break or separation between them and us.

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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:

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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:

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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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