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Sunday, 15 December 2013

"Drink with the dead without a revealed God returning to spoil the party (and trouble our intimacy with tombstones)" - anarcheology, immanence and monadology

Meillassoux's boutade (DI, 232, in Harman's appendix) on not welcoming a revealed God in a World of justice has an interesting echo in Jabès thoughts about divine (in)hospitality. I compiled bits of his Livre de l'Hospitalité here. The issue of hospitality brings about, as I pointed out in a recent talk about Jabès, the issue of subversion - God is subversive, but his creation (and faithfulness to it) is not. Hospitality opens up the space of availability. Availability contrasts with achievement - it is not about completeness-to-be neither about completeness-that-was. Jabès and Blanchot seem to be attempting to go ahead with Heidegger's project of understanding Nietzsche's death of God in terms of breaking up with archés. Heidegger is still hostage to the idea that thoughts have an origin, that language can be revealed through etymology. It is as if the notion of Verlassenheit were bounded by a ready-made (original) past,that pre-exists all events and shape them. It is a ghost of a principle of individuation: a hauntological arché expressed in the originary language that is present in the workings of thought. Blanchot (and Jabès) seem to break away with this boundaries: no etymology to spoil the party - or, as Jabès has it, if truth existed, it would be an enemy, but as it doesn't, we can make enemies up (Le petit livre de la subversion hors de soupçon, Gallimard publication, 83). There is no knowledge that is not renegotiated with each new event, no original order independent of all existing struggle, no transcendent source. (This has to do with Latour's connection between irreduction and hosting new non-humans, explored in my previous post on this blog).

Blanchot (and Jabès) find then the path of fragment. Fragment is not to be thought in terms of a previously existed composition, nor as steps towards a coming achievement. Thought is rather committed, through its fragmentary nature, to glimpses. Knowledge is then thoroughly distributed: no piece is deprived from an element of alliance where knowledge resides. Distribution of knowledge is one of the key features of a monadology as I take it - not only Leibniz's but all the many forms of monadological thought that would draw on his original formulation (Tarde, Latour, Whitehead but also Simondon, for reasons aired in the past few posts). Blanchot's fragments seem to be up for recomposition. It has a monadological element in this sense: it is a part of a world - even though the world doesn't exist not will it ever exist. The monadological feature of distributed knowledge can be formulated by a slogan: je suis donc je sais. Knowledge is not alien, there is no transcendental distinction haunting anybody's alleged capacity to know something about the world. The slogan is reminiscent both of the original cogito and of Th. Nagel's attempt to encapsulate Davidson's idea: je pense donc je sais. I am therefore there is something I know. There is a whole world in a glimpse, as in a fragment. Glimpses are not illusions, they are monads - they point at something, at a world (that could even be thought as a World in Meillassoux's terms) even though the advent of such a world is up for grabs. Monads are like glimpses, like fragments: they are units of commitment - and they can become weaker or stronger as such. Glimpses and fragments make a connection that can turn into a full-blooded alliance or just disappear in the safety of the margins (of the subversions, of the questions). Like allegories or parables, fragments express thoughts that are still looking for a context. Or rather, they don't come to a context attached to them - they just make an appearance (and this is their main similarity with all thought).

1 comment:

  1. Blanchot translating Engführung, de Paul Celan: "la trace ne trompe pas".