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Recurrence reexamined

Recurrence, in the Levinasian sense of going away from one's interiority and stepping the Other's shoes before coming back to where one stands, is a force that contrasts with that of extracting intelligibilities and controlling whatever crosses the way. It is the force that stems from the wound of the other - the obsession that leads to the evasion of oneself towards being substituted. Recurrence is what triggers acts of sanctity - and acts of sanctity are not acts of control, are not necessariy moral acts, are not religion. It is not about understanding others, it is about responding to them. Science is sometimes triggered by recursion as much as it is triggered by the will to extract intelligibility, but the latter normally wins over as it is in line with the most salient purposes of the endeavor (turning the world controllable). Good and evil narratives are often about recurrence and power, but good and evil are intertwined because recurrence is not a narrative, but a gesture moved by a trace - it is not an integrated side of a battle, but a procedure. Recurrence is transversal - it is neither about struggling against the ongoing cosmopolitics of science nor about siding with compassion or with community life (or anything of the sort). Compassion, for example, is often directed towards the security of the sameness of the human species. Community life, even more so, is very frequently driven by the human security system. However, compassion and community life etc involve recurrence.

A civilization forged by recurrence is one where the third person viewpoint, for which everything is supposed to become accessible, fades away. It fades away because dealing with the other is the guiding adventure - and not an obstacle. It is not about constructing a thesis nor is it about uncovering the physis or even going along with it, it is about being exposed to what is exterior.


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