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Monday, 3 February 2014

Gelassenheit, Verlassenheit, Government

Had a dream today with something like a subject of knowledge becoming a monad. I can't recollect the whole plot, this is obviously my immediate reconstruction of the dream. It felt quite insightful at the time but as it often happens it faded away and its message became something closer to what I had previously thought. But it also made me remember Hölderlin's Shicksalslied and the connections between fate and availability:

Ihr wandelt droben im Licht
Auf weichem Boden, selige Genien!
Glänzende Götterlüfte
Rühren euch leicht,
Wie die Finger der Künstlerin
Heilige Saiten.

Schicksallos, wie der schlafende
Säugling, atmen die Himmlischen;
Keusch bewahrt
In bescheidener Knospe,
Blühet ewig
Ihnen der Geist,
Und die seligen Augen
Blicken in stiller
Ewiger Klarheit.

Doch uns ist gegeben,
Auf keiner Stätte zu ruhn,
Es schwinden, es fallen
Die leidenden Menschen
Blindlings von einer
Stunde zur andern,
Wie Wasser von Klippe
Zu Klippe geworfen,
Jahr lang ins Ungewisse hinab.

(Edwin Evans' translation:
Ye wander gladly in light
Though goodly mansion dwellers in Spiritland!
Luminous heaven-breezes
Touching ye soft,
Like as fingers when skillfully
Wakening harp-strings.
Fearlessly, like the slumbering
Infant, abide the Beatified;
Pure retained,
Like unopened blossoms,
Flowering ever,
Joyful their soul
And their heavenly vision
Gifted with placid
Never-ceasing clearness.
To us is allotted
No restful haven to find;
They falter, they perish,
Poor suffering mortals
Blindly as moment
Follows to moment,
Like water from mountain
to mountain impelled,
Destined to disappearance below.)

Deleuze, in the D&R, talks about the difference between fate and determination. Fate, he points out if I remember right, allows for some gaps, for some indeterminacy for it can be accomplished in different ways (there are many paths a soul can take to be doomed, but it can simply be fated to be doomed in any of these different paths - like an oracle prediction). In this gap between fate and determination lies the Verlassenheit that is pictured by Hölderlin: because a thing is at all the other's disposal, it can be carried away like in a river, with no restful haven. To find serenity in the turmoils of one's Schick, not as something written somewhere by an author, but as something affected by the writings of many authors - characters subjected to many authors. It is as if anything can author me, thousands of pens are right now ready to write down my future whereabouts. Many repetitions acting upon a single thing - to be is to wonder a valley populated by the attraction of many repetitions. "No restful haven to find" is no-substance: not a being that seals itself but rather a being-available, the openness of the unsealed. Availability is the opposite (at least in the sense of being contraries: they can't be both the case*) to substantiality - to be available is to be open to be seen (or prehended, or captured, or sponsored, or maintained, or rendered) in different ways, to be unready, inachévé. Finally, Schick is also the Verlassenheit of community, of one's life affected by many subjects. The Parmenidean being can only be rendered in a single way. Parricide dissolves this unicity.

Availability is then a matter of government. What is communal (and therefore not sealed, not immune) is governed by many other things - it is not self-governed, it is not automaton (not causa sui, not spontaneous, not undetermined) but rather open to government, multi-governed or multi-determined. When one presents a virtuality - say, a law of nature - one presents a single determination; but laws lie because they speak truth in lab conditions, where they are made immune. Outside the lab, too many things also affect a particle - it is governed by the law, but it is not immune to anything else. Verlassenheit is therefore the name of actuality, of what is not merely virtual, of what is subject to many governments. The monadological way to think about these multiple governments is to think in terms of distribution: one's subject and one's object is spread in the world. If a central command (clausure, harmony) is removed from a world of monads, what is left is each monad's capacity to govern around. Such a capacity is exercised in an environment of multiple governments where governing can only be exercised while being governed.


* It is an interesting question whether something can be neither substantial nor available in this sense. Surely, this can be a way to think of an alternative mode of existence.


1 comment:

  1. Hi there,
    Loved that entry, I have also read quite a bit of Holderlin and find his epigrams particularly interesting. I'm actively looking for fellow thinkers, my own pompous efforts can be found at this address: http://commemoratum.blogspot.co.uk
    Cheers!

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