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

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Out Of It

Today, it is commonplace to question identity, to insist upon its problematic and unstable character. And yet, who today has the courage to submit this question to its own test? Who will question the identity of this question, which is to say, in the persistence of its iteration, who will question its consistent direction at one same object? This is not the trivial point that identities are only temporary crystallizations in a constant flux of difference, and hence that the identical object is only ephemeral and apparent. It is not that, in aiming at identity itself, self-identity, the identity of identity with itself, we can only ever find particular things that are perhaps identical with themselves, but that are nonetheless not identical to identity itself. Identity in such cases is only an apparent effect of differential relations. (This is most certainly not what Deleuze is claiming in Difference and Repetition.)

No, the claim is that, in aiming at the identity of things with themselves, we only ever find identity itself with itself. Identity is that which is the same, and hence not sameness, the relation of sameness between two things, but is that which is the same, directly is the same as... Identity is the same as itself, it is this comparison given in a comparable figure itself. Identity is 'the same' as itself, it is 'the same' the being of the same, in its ipseity, its identity with itself, together with itself. Identity is the same as itself, it is the same thing as its self, it is that which directly is its own ipseity or being-with-itself.

Some-thing is the same as some-other. This is the formula.

First: Some-thing is. It is not given, but is like the gift in which one gives what one never had. One does not promise to give, nor does one owe the gift as a debt. Rather, it is a gift that repays a debt that could not be repaid, it is the return delivered to an infinite debt, not by erasing the debt, but in erasing ownership itself, such that nothing can be 'had' to be given, and nothing can be 'had' in accepting a given.

'Some-thing is': something is there, is given, that could not have been given, that was not there for giving. The given is not taken for granted, as merely given, but that by which the given is given, the giving of givenness, is also not given nor is it owed to us. The given is given in the given of the some-thing without a givenness, some-thing given as not to be given and not given.

Second: the same as... We have adressed this element above in brief. This element, as itself, does not pertain to the comparison of two things more or less the same, nor to the sameness of something with itself or with another or with itself as another or another as itself. It is here, between, that the same as... is no longer bound between subject and direct object, between terms related in sameness. When it is the same as it is, it is as it is, which is to say, it is not the same as anything, nor is anything the same as it is. It is, the same as..., not the same, it is not-itself, it is not- the-same-as -itself, and the same as not-itself is.

Third: some-other. The same, as it is itself, is as some-other, which is to say, is as-not, not-itself and some-other. Not other itself, but itself other. It is not itself the same as itself, but is itself the same as itself is some-other. Have we yet thrown you off the scent, or must you still persist in chasing this voice through the thorns?

The formula is, then, that identity as the same, as, the same as, some-other, means that there is no-other that is not itself, and thus that to say "the same" seems meaningless. How can we say something is the same, without say it is the same as (some-other thing)? It amounts to the claim that identity, without itself in ipseity, is the very condition of being-not-itself. And with itself in ipseity, being can only be-with if it is beside, and along with, another one or some-other, and hence, is either with another that is not it and hence not the same as it, or it is with itself alone, and without some-other to be the same as it is.

Identity can only ever claim that which, with itself, is not-itself, or is as not-itself. This is the secret being must keep and keep quiet, that in-itself being is not-itself, as not-itself, and then, maybe, in-itself only as outside, as an outside folded upon itself, facing itself and staring back at itself, which is to say, already beyond itself and toward the limitless reaches outside itself, on the outside in-itself.

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