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Looking for ground, reaching the floor

I've been thinking a bit about the connection between what I have once called a metaphysics of landscape - the idea that there is a landscape of things laid out there that could somehow be viewed from a privileged point of view - and the act of contemplation. If we suspect contemplation somehow leads to a tendency to postulate a landscape (because it is not intervening, to think with Hacking, or because it detaches what is viewed from the connections that place it in the world, in Heidegger's sense or for any other reason) we will then look for ways to avoid, trick, shortcut, exorcise or suspect the gestures of contemplation. Heidegger sketched attitudes of being in the world that avoided at least the vivisection that could be associated with contemplation. An interesting attitude is that of looking askance at things, gazing sideways, so that a focus doesn't render the rest oblique. Like looking without staring, attending without contemplating. My friend and colleague Cabrera once described the way one should spot the being: turning backwards very quickly before one gets noticed.

Poet Manuel de Barros inspires, among many other things, an attention to the floor. The floor is the superficial thing that we build everyday - by throwing things on it, by moving it around, through the sewage system, by producing garbage, by living and by dying. The floor has a solidity we need to step on and yet is far from being stable. A floor is always dispensable because there ought to be a floor to any floor - it is superfluous apart from being superficial. It's got etymological connection with the skin (pele) and the plane (one could think of a floor of immanence in contrast with a plan of transcendence). To think of the floor - instead of looking for a ground - is maybe a way to avoid some gestures of contemplation (and a tendency towards a metaphysics of landscape). The floor is always spatial - and in a sense, reference to the floor is often de re. The floor is what is reached, but not as a bedrock, but as a sufficient support.


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