Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The boundaries of estrangement are negotiated in the context of a plurality of others

Consciousness, in Understanding, takes the world of appearance as a mediation between itself and the inner being of things. The inner world, posited here as something beyond consciousness, presents itself as empty and inaccessible to knowledge. Hegel gestures in passing at approaches that stop at this point - accepting this barren “beyond” as the necessary limit of consciousness. He argues that such approaches fail to recognise that this barrenness derives from consciousness’ taking inherent being as an object outside itself - starting from the position that the inner, true realm is devoid of objective reality (and thus supersensible), and holding the position that it is also devoid of consciousness - leaving only a void that tosses consciousness necessarily back into the phenomenal realm of appearance. For Hegel, this conclusion follows, however, only if we remain bound to Understanding.
Hegel counterposes the position that the supersensible arises only in and through the realm of appearance, such that the play of forces in the realm of appearance, the flux of the sensible realm, is the mediation through which the supersensible inner world is generated. The realm of appearance thus fills what, to Understanding, presents itself as a void, by establishing an inner world through which the sensible world is transcended. At the same time, consciousness, as itself a moment in this dynamic process, is not walled off from an inner being intrinsically beyond itself, but is rather already implicated in its object.
As I write this section, with the text sitting beside me, open, but untouched, this chapter has spontaneously separated itself from the spine, and slithered out of the book and onto the floor: the entire section on Force and Understanding - and only the section on Force and Understanding - has now self-excised from my copy of the Phenomenology. I’m wondering how to interpret this. The silent unweaving of Spirit? Regardless, it’s getting late, and I need to stop for the night - unfortunately at what is probably a slightly misleading juncture (even assuming I haven’t been massively misreading Hegel’s voicing to this point). Worse, I have left myself still to write on the parts of this section that I find most difficult. Still, it would undoubtedly lead to worse results, for me to try to write on this text even later into the night… Apologies if I should have made this decision much earlier than this…
Nancy's intrus has been haunting me. As I've been doing physical exercises the body I call mine has been changing. What makes this body a body, what gives it the consistency of a body? The heart–but Nancy's intrus haunts me, stands between me and the heart–and yet I feel the heart grow stronger. It doesn't feel disembodied, yet I can't precisely give it boundaries. I drink water prodigiously. It feels like water is also my body, woven in with my muscles. Pumped. A realization about my watery body came to me Monday night after forgetting to take my meds. I couldn't sleep. It was as if a demon possessed me, the mirror image of a beast that comes to me sometimes in nightmares. The beast is not exactly familiar, since it always frightens me, surprises me, it takes many forms, and still I am familiar with its force and its anger, its refusal to lie down.
It feels like I'm repressing a tremendous rage, and also something more vital. Joy perhaps. Who is this person who refuses to sleep? How can I have an everyday certainty of the self in this situation? And is it really so unusual to be uncertain about the self? Whose thoughts are these? I don't imagine I'd want to give Nancy a big wet kiss, but I take his words (translated mostly) and put them in my mouth, allow them to circulate, allow them to go to my head. I read a description of psychasthenia and think oh yeah, this too describes a reality. Under the right set of circumstances it could be my reality.
The psychasthenic self would be no less of a self than Cavarero's narratable self with its everyday certainty. In counterpoint to this certainty of self, Cavarero notes an unpredictability and a multivocality of the self. Could my familiarity with my unpredictable and polyvalent ipseity be anything but a desire? If I recognize the uniqueness of existents I wouldn't want to say that estrangement draws its boundaries in and around me exactly as it does in and around you. The boundaries of estrangement are negotiated in the context of a plurality of others. In our life together there is the remains to be seen. I have my doubts about the exposure of the existent, chief among them the sense that the existent is exposed in an instant, or already always exposed. If there is a desire for narration of one's life story, perhaps there is also desire for the remains to be seen. Oh yeah, and ghosts.

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