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Monday, 30 January 2017

Conflicting hospitalities, infinite responsibility and the colonial stance

Few months back when I started getting hooked on the idea of hospitality and the project of an infinite hospitality as a stance against that of glorifying what one is (and being in general), I also into thinking about colonization. I was under the spell of a Nick Land's piece where he addresses the issue of the philosophy of colonization that emerged from Kant's take on the outer world and the very idea of a transcendental distinction. Colonization is the opposite of hospitality: it is the imposition of self instead of the opening of spaces in oneself for interruption. To be sure, the opposite of colonization is multiple because the demands for hospitality are infinite - in fact, it is always a cosmic struggle that one between hospitality (the broken self) and colonization (the expanding self). The choice for hospitality is a negative stance: a stance where no affirmation is made, no gesture of affirmation takes place. It is the negativity of availability. To be sure, the amount of availability that a being can afford is limited - as room for hospitality is always limited because one needs space to host. One cannot be pure hospitability - as nothingness is prey of being in an entanglement that began to surface in Plato's parricide. Hospitality is a necessary impossibility but also the room for conflict - different stances (nations, households, persons, parts of a person) get different demands and respond different to appeals of hospitality. The necessary impossibility is what makes it a denial, a negation: yes, the Mexicas were open to Cortez. They got destroyed, but they were open - and hospitable That is explored in my macehuales (anarcheological) fable in Being Up For Grabs.

The conflicting hospitalities are very much in evidence today with Trump's immigration polices and the resistance that has followed(federal state vs sanctuary cities, government vs universities, national institutions vs international bodies funded by nations, etc). It is not a matter of scale of hospitality - it a matter of different instances, different kinds of "chez soi", to use Derrida's phrase, that can host. Hospitality, as colonialism, starts out with a home (or a self, or a being). One moves towards affirming it and expanding it, making it go further; the other is based on letting it break, not on resigning, but on availability - on the other. Hospitality to the other opens a negative ethic, neither one of refusing to be nor one of refusing to perpetuate being, but one where negation is openness, negation is availability. The negativity is the negativity of the interruption. It is not a refusal or an elimination, it is a fracture - the negation provided by contingency.

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