philosophy as not philosophy: para-ontology, hauntology, schizoanalysis

"Articulating the past historically does not mean recognizing it ‘the way it really was’. It means appropriating a memory as it flashes up in a moment of danger. Historical materialism wishes to hold fast that image of the past which unexpectedly appears to the historical subject in a moment of danger. The danger threatens both the content of the tradition and those who inherit it. For both, it is one and the same thing: the danger of becoming a tool of the ruling classes. Every age must strive anew to wrest tradition away from the conformism that is working to overpower it. The Messiah comes not only as the redeemer; he comes as the victor over the Antichrist. The only historian capable of fanning the spark of hope in the past is the one who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he is victorious. And this enemy has never ceased to be victorious."
- Walter Benjamin, Thesis VI

"The materialist doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances and upbringing forgets that circumstances are changed by men and that it is essential to educate the educator himself. This doctrine must, therefore, divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society. The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-changing can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice."
- Karl Marx, Thesis III

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Heir To Be(ing)

Inheriting -- being. The inheriting being, the heir whom receives or responds to the call of a gift, also is the inheritor of this being: the inheritance is being. To give - a giving that sends forth and relinquishes, cedes and abandons, but also abandons over to..., to an abandon that is also no more than the named, the called upon and responsible and surely unwitting heir. To give, to bequeath, in this way is to give everything, to leave everything, to let go of everything one is, to one's own being. Proper being: and this is even not enough, because a cleavage holds being in relief, before itself unfamiliar to its own reflection (and it is not accidental to read that, rather than a reflection or mirror-image that is not recognized by its original, the model or source, the represented and real reflected visibility; it is rather a reflection, a mirror-image or representation that does not recognize what is represented, that mistakes its own origin for a poor semblance or even a stranger, and altogether-other and unrelated opacity, an unrecognizable stain. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.)

Held in relief, being before itself - in representation. It cannot be said, if it is the representative representing the represented, or if the representation itself constitutes a presence as represented, thereby representing that which cannot be represented as such. In representation, the being as immediate presence, accessible and sensible, given and accepted, givable and acceptable - is this even proper? Is this not already given up, acceded, sent away and dissented over? Acceded over to a sovereign arbitration - to the indifferent and impartial rendering of a decision, which is also an arbitrary decision, and also a rendering arbitrary of that which is decided upon - in that the arbitrator is impartial, that is, uninvolved, indifferent, and without the capacity to decide. The sovereign decision, as inside and outside of law at once, must be the ignorance of the law regarding that which it rules upon, that is, an indifference to a real content, an undecidability in reference to a real situation. The sovereign is the life of a moment at which the criteria and capacity for decision become totally abstracted from their content, the matter of decision, rendering a decision on that which cannot be decided upon, while also rendering the undecidable as such - opaque to the judging eye. Law can only come into its own in disowning that which it can no longer speak to, or find in itself: that which, in itself, is not itself, is manifest in a becoming-otherwise of what (it) is, leaving it in the dust, abandoned by its own identity. If the law is purely an effect of concrete social relation, and not a being unto itself, a real force in the world but only an alienated force left over, a remainder or unincorporable by-product of being-in-the-world, a 'reification' as they moreover and nonetheless reduces and leaves the original immediate force to a by-product of its own by-product, an instrument of its own task (man as the reproductive organ of machines; the puppeteer as manipulated by its own puppet;...).

The immediacy of presence to the being-present, of the self to itself, of the inheritance to the heir or the given to the subject: this is already suspect when its representation claims to posit it in presupposing it, or when the law ruling upon it and over it claims to rule it in, to order it to be so, to be the case... When the being becomes identical to its being-thus, this way, its being-given in this way, its being present to this account or inherited by this heir. A this-ness, such-ness, an haecceity, takes the place of the what-ness of the thing-in-question, the thing called upon, made responsible (before the law); it takes the place of, and is the place of the replaced, the mere structural or symbolic place thereby positing itself as holding itself, of holding itself in relief in holding forth the thing into space and spacing, into an allotting and allowing for, a sharing of the thing and of space with and for the thing. In other words - the thing is relieved of itself in other words, words that do not belong to the thing but that it nevertheless shares, imparts, gives up, and that give up the thing, both giving it over and giving up upon it, handing it over in cowardly dissociation and washing ones hands of it. In other words - the thing is given in words and gives words that are not its own, but that rather are only given when the thing is given up and disowned.

Proper being: does this expropriation and impropriety characteristic of presence as represented, as the actor is characterized by a performance (which is also the performance of a character, the acting and giving in acting of a character that causes - in the sense of 'giving a cause to' and being the cause to which one is devoted - the actor, that which acts and enacts) - does this leave a certain potential propriety to the heir, to the executor of the will and character of the actor, to the 'manner' of its being? Or is it already the case - and we have already seen it was the case - that the the word taken for the thing, that our 'taking its word for it', our counting on and investing in the word of the thing; the word taken to be so, to be the case - that the word already was the case, in that the thing is in other words, that is, given in words that are not properly its own, as if there are words that are its own, that could be its own and to which it owns up and is owned over? The principle is that the thing already belongs to words that will not accept it, that the heir does not cannot recognize what it inherits, and also that any heir cannot properly be such, as the gift is given by one (the departed) not present to give to a recipient. And yet this also can (and will, but let's not get ahead of ourselves) mean that the one who gives, in giving, has given over and given up on his own being, let go of being, and thereby has constituted the recipient as to-be, but never present there for it, that is, for being.

The inheriting being - the heir - inherits itself, its being, its being as such, as conditioned by what it receives and accepts; and - and this does not amount to the same thing - the heir is its inheritance, it is the very way of accepting its being, or the way of being its way-of-being, its being its own being-such. And its own: this is proper to it, and yet the property is not the received being as it is immediately received, nor is it the being as accepted and given by the place given to it, amounting to no more than its valence and potency in being there, in its place, that is, in the place of that which is given and disclosed, or placed or emplaced. It is not the thing owned, nor is it the ownership of thing as the proper form of a thing cleaved to its content and cleaving its content - we can abbreviate: the form as cleavage, as cleavage of the thing from itself and to itself.

The proper inheritance is the disappearance, and at once also the persistence, the perseverance of, the progenitor or forebear, which is not to say father - it is rather the father as already dead to himself, in that, to become father, he must already be an ancestor, and thus not yet a father, but a fore-father, an antecedent and thus completely dependent upon its own offspring. Proletariat: those whose only wealth is their offspring, whose only property is their own expropriation into an eternally past precedence or antecedence. If the commodity-form is a ghost (and es spuk is not only a haunting or spooking, but we should say, or hear Derrida say: a ghosting or apparitioning, an action of the ghost that is the only existence of the ghost, and yet this act which posits its own actor is not only a fallacy of grammar, but also a temporal backflip, positing that which it produces as having always been there, invisible or departed, and waiting to reappear, to return. The ghost always comes in returning, it is a revenant, and its is always a coming-back, not of a once living, now dead being, but of itself, its own indefinite inhabitance, haunting, or possession), it is not merely a false and misleading distortion of the living truth, a disturbance of the normal and proper running of things: the ghost is not merely the impropriety of the representative form of exchange-value, its inappropriateness to the immediate density of use-value; no more than it is the impropriety of a purely-posited use-value, which has no material density of its own, but is merely the presupposition of a subjective utility function which already represents the world to the subject, in a quantitative weighing that precedes market value, but which is nonetheless the evidence of an exchangeability and replaceablity. No. The ghost is the very form of relation of (exchange)-value to itself as use-value, which is to say, the form of representability as the proper being of given, or, we should say, the exchanged.

This amounts to the paradoxical affirmation that the very expropriation of the immediate being of the thing is its proper being - not that the word which expropriates the thing is its proper being, but that the thing is only its expropriation. Not a communication, representation, or signification of the thing, but its communicability, giveability. It is bequeathed, it is given up, abandoned, and thereby given over to an offspring, to abandonment as its offspring, to an offspring that comes to-be with it, with which it comes to-be. Rather than 'inheriting being' or 'the inheritance is being', we should say that the inheritance is to-be, it is to-be, in order to be, it is in order to be not being, it is being in order to be not being. Or rather, we can say that Marxism calls for more than a substantiated and 'justified' messianism of the revolutionary proletariat, at once redeemer and redeemed, on the one (Eastern) hand, and a dry, desert-like messianism without content, of an altogether other and unforeseeable redemption to-come that will shirk any figure of a redeemer, and of an already lost and unidentifiable ghost, the ghost of all fallen figure that cannot be recognized. The redeemer, the messiah, is thereby not an inappropriate ontologization of an insistent and unimpeachable spectrality, nor are those in need of redemption reduced to the expropriated victims of a founding crime, to law as the founding crime that must exclude or ex-cept that which is nothing to it. Rather, the two figures are drawn together and cleave in the form of the proletariat - not a positive sociontological category, but a form of social (though non-intersubjective) being, a manner or structure of being-there - which is anyone who is exploited, in the sense of giving over to market exchange that to which, as given or bequeathed, they are already dead, departed and no longer, lost and irreparable. It is the form in which one is oneself only in having already surrendered oneself, abandoned oneself, bequeathed oneself - in which one is only worth one's offspring, and is nothing in himself, but only the condition of an offspring which must already be without its own conditioning generation.

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