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Thursday, 2 May 2013


I somehow went slightly back to the topics of my book Excesses and Exceptions in the last few days. There I put forward ideas related to how direct reference that makes no appeal to description could be a way out of the Lévinas' challenge: to find ways to avoid the violence that thought does to what is being thought. Lévinas, in Autrement que l'être, talks about il-eté, something that could be translated as he-ity. Notice the indexical (he) - Lévinas thinks that the other is not someone I relate and know, not someone I'm engaged with but rather someone I make some sort of contact short of the type of contact that would enable me to present a description. The other, in his terms, is an indexical other - someone who is connected to a place, there, and not to a plot or to a landscape. The other is someone I bump into, not someone I prefigure in my thought or predict from my concepts. The indexical is elusive and surrounded by sameness around, but it is not (yet) concept. Concrete space, what is not beyond the horizon of concretude, is where there is a plane where things escape their descriptions. There is an idleness to things that indexicals somehow hint: a thing we meet is not merely a business, it is partially idle, open to new alliances, available, exposed to the elements. This idleness is related to the messianicity of all things: they can be referred by the means we use to point at an expected He that has no form or shape. The face, in Lévinas, has the idleness and the messianicity of infinity. The face hosts the incompleteness in which indexicals dwell.

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