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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Remarks for the coda

These are some bits for the coda of The deictic universe:

Metaphysics at the age of epistemic injustice


I'm writing this book on proximity and against the usual dwelling with totality in metaphysics. For a reason that is only partly hinted by me, I'm writing this in Potosí, Andes, at a more than 5000 meters above the sea level. The mountain I see more often from my doorstep is the Cerro Rico. I look around town for some information about the silver trade. The number – 16 million kilos of silver between 1503 and 1660 sent to Sanlúcar de Barrameda – is repeated often, the details, including images, documents, traces of various kinds, disappeared from town. Some of these material is in Seville, or in a colonia museum in Madrid, the Cristóbal Colón Museum. There are other numbers too, less widespread – and other minerals. In the beginning of the 20th century, a select number of tin magnates became millionaire around Potosí; the lithium fever and other open-air multi-mining projects are still lingering. The plundering of the place who has enriched the western world and made modernity possible features extensively in a book I've been browsing: the catalogue of an exhibition held in Madrid, Berlin and La Paz – called Princípio Potosí. I wonder whether substantive metaphysics and its attempts to attain a view from nowhere is something like an immaterial colonial museum. Colonial unification, as has suspected Nick Land, is a form of weakening the underlying forces of resistance. Substantive metaphysics renders innocuous the deictic operations behind any thematization of what is around. The accusation could sound brutal, but maybe it is fair. Emanuel Levinas himself remarks:
"La sécurité des peuples européens derrière leurs frontières et les murs de leurs maisons, assurés de leur proprieté (Eigenheit qui se fait Eingentum) est non pas la condition sociologique de la pensée métaphysique, mais le projet même d'une telle pensée. Projet à accomplissement impossible, toujours différé, avenir messianique comme cette présence en défaut. [...] Tout matérialisme en porte la marque, comme tout idéalisme.” Levinas, Noms Propres 88,“Derrida: tout autrement”
Silvia Benso also writes:
“What has made Western philosophy unethical is not the committing of the metaphysical murder, but the denial of the murdered and of the murderous act”. (Benso, The Face of Things, 131).


Then I think of reparations. How would they take place? The silver taken away from the mountain is still circulating somewhere in the planet – and was not thrown in the sees in many quantities. The silver could be packed back here. Maybe then it can be buried in Cerro Rico. Or sold in the local market. The Cerro Rico doesn't need money – its current inhabitants do. The Cerro Rico doesn't need buried silver, once minerals are taken off the ground, they cannot be placed back. This is the fate of the anthropocene: the soil of the Earth is like passion, according to Martin Dysart, the psychiatrist in Sydney Lumet's Equus, it can be destroyed by a specialist, but it cannot be created.


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