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Saturday, 17 December 2016

The law of hospitality and familism

I was wondering, in my thinking about co-existence and hospitality, of how much the idea of a family works as ersatz self-sufficiency. In other words, how the crucial link between an existent and its co-existents is replaced by a pre-figured circle of co-existence in such a way that such a circle (such a sphere) replaces the individual existent becoming a unity of co-existence. Familism is the idea that infinite responsibility for the other can be confined to a sphere - so, for instance, familism but also Tardean societies that make molecules or microbes respond almost only to social groups of their own. Familism is the assumption of a sort of a co-ontological short circuit where the family and the larger group (including the community, societies and the species as providing a sense of belonging) can be somehow like an individual of greater size. In terms of Simondon, we can think of familism as the drive for fixed individuals, for ready-made units indifferent to the processes of individualization. In terms of Wittgenstein (and Crispin Wright's problem of the public language) it is as if the public language itself could self-sufficient enough to work as a private language, with its own criteria of intelligibility. It is as if we're trying to replace the lost individual by a larger, self-sufficient individual instead of thinking the individual as crucially sundered, as somehow intrinsically split. The world itself - as it appears in Leibniz or in non-junky conceptions of the concrete - is a familist conception. It is a way to close a circle for interruptions - to allow interruption to be domesticated, confined, limited. This is where interruption meets Deleuze and Guattari's cosmic ravings: dreams are means by which we are affected by anything else, they are open doors that demand a decision as well - we can ignore them, but this is our action. Those cosmic ravings are confined by familism by the mechanisms described in the Anti-Oedipus - they become about families, about what is close, about a proximity that is somehow ready-made.

The law of hospitality requires a non-prescribed opening to what interrupts. It is not about the known you - although the family itself can be a space for the experience of interruption. Maybe this is what a phenomenology of family relations (Levinas engages in this kind of endeavor) purports to do: to examine the experience of interruption even outside the scope of a general hospitality. But the law of hospitality is a cosmic opening - and in fact is more open than any cosmos, it is about otherness. (Klossowski is maybe a common link between Levinas' evasion and the Other on the one hand and Deleuze's not quite Whiteheadean conception of becoming - together with their common origin in the idea of concreteness in Jean Wahl.) Families are, in this sense, like quick fixes to regain the lost paradise of self-sufficient individuals. They provide a scope where a larger individual is to a large extent immune from interruptions.

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