Invitation to Two Working Groups: #TheEreignisTexts and #LacanianTheory.

You know how it is with social-network groups–they are frustrating more often than not, and many of them have to be dismantled after a while for lack of participation and related issues.  Not so many people are generous enough with their time and ideas to want to participate in working groups that might expose them to real conversation, and we need to take that into account and keep it in mind.  Still, provided I know you (I do want to keep trolls and spam away from this), I am inviting you to join one or the other of them, or both.

Those two groups are important to me for the following reasons: it seems to me the future of critical theory at least in the US is at stake. Things are looking bad, from where I am, and that includes several dimensions of the problem: the lack of ideas and the thorough routinization of the contemporary theoretical field, the lack of investment in the humanities by institutions that ought to know better, and the complicity of so many professionals (our own colleagues, ourselves) with the dire state of affairs. And I believe, looking at things, that there will be no salvation coming from biopolitical thought, no salvation coming from robotics or a.i. and singularity studies, no salvation coming from political philosophy or Marxism or neo-Marxism, no salvation coming from any kind of identity-powered studies, or from science studies or new media studies, etc., etc., and even if we are not looking for salvation—I am not–we can at least look forward to having some fun and some interesting moments in coming years. It seems to me either we create them for ourselves or they won’t come into existence. In any case, there is a conversation to be had. I am inviting you to it.

I think we are at the verge of what we could call the resurgence of an existential turn (certainly beyond conventional subjectivism, I am not talking about repeating the previous one)—partially as a result of the ruin and loss of momentum of everything else. It seems to me there are two main references from the tradition that stand in need of attention and care when it comes to an existential turn: Lacanian analysis and late Heideggerianism. I do not want to dismiss other very important aspects of contemporary thought, i. e., certain developments in Marxism, the ongoing publication of Derrida’s seminars or, indeed, theoretical developments in the African American field, but I think the Lacanian text and the late Heideggerian text are essential for a new and exciting theoretical avatar—if, indeed, we can have it (not at all clear to me at this point.)  You may have of course the impression that other things could be cited here, that I am reducing too drastically the field of productive discourse. You may be right, but all I am proposing is that those two fields of engagement–late Heideggerianism and Lacanian theory–need attention.

One more thing: I am inviting you to working groups. They will not be particularly work intensive, if only because we all understand that all of us have, if not excessive, at least demanding work constraints, and we do not totally dispose of our own time (although I do try to dispose of as much of it as I can for free intellectual engagement.) But, to the extent this is an invitation to working groups, of course a minimal investment in work is expected from every member. Otherwise, frankly, you should not be a member, you should not join.

This is not at all whimsical. Those of us who have experience in virtual conversation know very well that the presence of more than a few silent or inactive members in any given group has a paralyzing effect on the active members—I do not know the technical reason for it, but it is intuitive enough: if I expose myself and share my ideas with you, I expect at least minimal reciprocity and recognition. If you do not provide it, I start feeling like I am in some Amsterdam shop window acting up and you are looking at me from the street. It is no good. Even the Amsterdam mayor recently forbade the practice. It is ok if there are, say, twenty members, and four or five fall silent for a while because of whatever reason, provided the other 15 are reasonably active. But if we were to have four or five active members and fifteen inactive ones, the group would collapse in a matter of weeks. So we want to avoid it.

Looking forward to hearing from you if you are truly interested. I do not expect many, and membership of course will not be limited to people who read this blog.  If you are interested, please let me know through private channel (email, etc.), and I will send you a registration link.  The groups are #The EreignisTexts and #LacanianTheory.

Cuaderno de apuntes sobre la obra de Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio. Tercera Parte. Por Gerardo Muñoz

Non Olet (2003) es uno de los ensayos tardíos de Sánchez Ferlosio sobre materia económica. En realidad, su vórtice es la mutación del modelo de la producción al dominio del consumo. El aliento de las premisas del ensayo es muy ruskiano, aunque nunca se aluda a John Ruskin. Una mirada contramoderna como la Ruskin puede ayudarnos a desenmascarar las veleidades del valor como absoluto. Por eso hay que recordar que en Unto This Last, Ruskin argumentaba que el objetivo final de la economía política es siempre la glorificación exitosa del consumo, porque lo “usable” deviene sustrato de su sustancia hegemónica para perfeccionar el valor. Ruskin, por supuesto, no tuvo que esperar al declive histórico del trabajo y el cierre de la fábrica para darse cuenta. Ya todo estaba en el cosmos del liberalismo y del commerce.

El rastreo de Ferlosio se mueve en esta rúbrica. Para Ferlosio, la estructura tardía del capitalismo es esencialmente de equivalencia absoluta: “…el poder de determinación de la demanda y por lo tanto el poder determinante de la producción sobre el consumo, tendría el inimaginable porvenir de convertirse en el quid pro quo fundamental para el portentoso triunfo del liberalismo” (p.13). Ferlosio subraya que la “estructura de la demanda” es la unidad básica del este aparato del valor, ahora expuesto con la crisis de la forma tradicional del trabajo, puesta que hoy “el único capital humano que necesitan [las empresas] no es sino el que está compuesto de consumidores” (p.41). La intuición de Kojeve: si Marx fue el Dios, Ford fue su profeta.

No deja de curioso cómo la “demanda” también se ha convertido en el último resorte conceptual de la teoría política. No por gusto Jorge Dotti decía que la teoría del populismo era una mímesis de la equivalencia del dinero. En este nuevo absoluto, la brecha entre economía y política se rompe, haciendo del consumo la forma definitiva de la “Economía”. Por ejemplo, la noción de “ocio” entendida como tiempo de consumo es la expresión de una determinación compensatoria ya siempre entregada a la producción. En otras palabras, ahora producción y consumo son dos polos de una misma máquina que ha entrado en una zona de indeterminación (p.50).

Y es por esta razón que un marxista heterodoxo como Mario Tronti podía escribir en Operai e capitale (1966), que para luchar contra el capital la clase obrera debía primero luchar contra sí misma en cuanto capital. Es una sentencia dinámica, difícil de atravesar, y que coincide con la expansión del discurso de lo ilimitado. Hablar de un exceso en la exterioridad del Capital pone en crisis la negatividad de lo político. Así, se inaugura una nueva tiranía de los valores. Por esta razón, Ferlosio prefiere hablar de la Economía como “absoluta equivalencia, ajena a todo principium individuationis que pone en jaque a todas las formas de vida” (p.75).

La crisis de la negatividad es también agotamiento de la separación en la vida, esto es, de lo narrable como brillo de experiencia. Lo irónico de la economía moderna es que, a pesar de su origen como descarga contra el absoluto, su destino es la justificación de la rentabilidad como única verificación del valor” (p.81). El ethos económico moderno no es haber dejado atrás el peso de la contingencia del dios omnipotente, sino haber diferenciado el valor como una “función social” de las diferencias. Por eso es que Ferlosio no cree que podamos hablar de “sociedad civil” ni de “funciones sociales”, puesto que lo social ya presupone el valor como antesala de toda relación humana (p.106-107). Ferlosio escribe: “Bajo el omnímodo y omnipresente imperio de la “sociedad contractual”, todo queda indistintamente comprendido bajo el signo de las relaciones económicas. La sociedad no ya más que el sistema vascular para el fluido y el flujo de los intercambios económicos” (p.108). En efecto, ya no hay más “sociedad civil”, sino cómputo (cost & benefit) que sostiene la forma Imperio.

La estructura genérica de la sociedad consta de tres elementos – crédito, valor, y deber – que componen la máquina tripartita que produce al sujeto de consumo. De la misma manera en que la magia de la producción ha sido depuesta hacia el polo del consumo, ahora la existencia es depuesta como vida que debe ponerse en valor. Escribe Ferlosio: “Bajo la férula de la racionalidad económica, hoy coronada por el absolutismo de la hegemonía del a producción, no hay ya otra confirma de relación hombres que la de las relaciones contractuales; cualquier posible resto o renovado intento de relación no-contractual o está en precario o alcanza apenas una realidad fantasmagórica.” (p.158-159).

Un examen que nos toca de cerca: ¿no es la cultura de la culpa un modo contractual en todas relaciones sociales contemporáneas? ¿No ha sido el asenso de la identificación y la empatía, la nueva máscara obscena de la relación contractual entre personas? La función contractual no hay que entenderla como una esfera efectiva del derecho (no hay que firmar un documento en cada caso), sino como una función plástica del poder, ya sea como deber, como mandato, o como obligación. El agotamiento del contrato de la época del Trabajador, vuelve cada praxis humana una forma contractual. Es curioso que al mismo tiempo que se eliminan los contratos duraderos en la esfera laboral, toda experiencia con el mundo es hoy un contrato. Ferlosio nota un cambio importante: la palabra “caridad” (carus) paulatinamente fue reemplazada por “solidaridad”. ¿Y qué es la “solidaridad” (palabra que puede aparecer ya sea en el discurso de  una ONG, de una corporación de Wall-Street, o en el discurso piadoso de un profesor de Humanidades)?

La solidaridad es un término filtrado desde la esfera jurídica que apela al reconocimiento de un acuerdo previo. La solidaridad es el contrato con la Causa. Por eso sabemos que no hay solidaridad sin intereses y sin milicias. Sólo podemos ser solidario con la Humanidad, ya que en realidad reservamos el cariño para los amigos. La solidaridad despacha siempre a lo no-humano. Aunque lo no-humano realmente sea lo único importante; lo único que rompe la equivalencia general y que le devuelve la mueca mortal a la vida. De eso se trata: de devolverle al singular sus olores contra el non-olet genérico del Capital. Sánchez Ferlosio nos recuerda que hasta Edmund Burke tuvo “solidaridad” con los pobres en función de “la situación general de la humanidad” (p.161). Hoy cierta izquierda es burkeana porque sintetiza la solidaridad en nombre de una Humanidad que, por supuesto, cambia de rostro mensualmente. En efecto, las “Causas” no huelen.

 

Primera entrega

Segunda entrega

Cuaderno de apuntes sobre la obra de Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio. Segunda Parte. Por Gerardo Muñoz

¿Qué es un pecio? El último libro de Sánchez Ferlosio, Campo de retamas: pecios reunidos (2015) es una exploración total de esa forma. El pecio no llega a ser un aforismo, ni tampoco un decálogo de máximas, en la estela de La Rochefoucauld o Lichtenberg. Definición de pecio según la lexicógrafa María Moliner: “pecio es resto de una nave naufragada o de lo que iba en ella”.

El pecio irradia desconfianza, dice Ferlosio: “Desconfíen siempre de un autor de “pecio’. Aún sin quererlo, es fácil estafar porque los textos de una sola frase son los que mass se prestan a ese fraude de la “profundidad”, fetiche de los necios, siempre ávidos de asentir con reverencia a cualquier sentenciosa lapidariedad vacía de sentido pero habilidosamente elaborada con palabras de charol” (p.11). El pecio puede derivar el poder de lo indiscutible, y lo indiscutible es “como un carisma que sacraliza la palabra” (p.11).

El pecio, por lo tanto, es un resto que descarga la deriva sacer del lenguaje. Los restos nunca pueden terminar en la síntesis de la Alta Alegoría. El pecio por lo tanto no interesa tanto como forma, sino, para decirlo con Rodriguez Matos, de lo informe. Esto es lo interesante del pecio: su potencia al delegarnos una metafórica del naufragio. En Campo de retamos no hay ningún esfuerzo meta-teórico por definir el pecio. Todo pecio es singularidad, porque es superficie y extravío. De ahí también su densidad.

El pecio como metafórica del naufragio. Según Hans Blumenberg, el naufragio es la mejor exposición de la existencia humana. En el mar encontramos al existente en una situación de riesgo anómico. Mar es anomia. En la experiencia del naufragio, vemos la miseria y la autoafirmación de lo humano. Blumenberg cuenta anécdota que aparece en uno de los diarios tardíos de Jünger: los marineros antes del siglo diecinueve negaban sin saber nadar. La razón era simple: delegan a la velocidad del tiempo de una probable muerte (caso de naufragio) la incapacidad de ejecutar una acción. En otras palabras, incluso en una región anómica como el mar, la existencia habilita mecanismos de distanciamiento y repliegue. Por esta razón, lo más importante en la vida no es la unidad o la cohesión social, sino lo que trasciende la vida. Solo esto puede ser realmente considerado lo sagrado en la vida (lo ex-sacer), esto es, una vida auténticamente profana.

Volvamos a la cuestión de la singularidad contra la cohesión social que para Ferlosio remite al problema de la “unidad”. Escribe Ferlosio: “…la expresión “cohesión social: ninguna otra palabra podría recordar más de cerca el pegamento capaz de pegar cascotes rotos, pero no de conciliar personas” (p.47). Volviendo a la metafórica del naufragio: en el mar el naufragio se distancia de la unidad como artificio compensatorio. La unidad es una invención de la autorictas, de la misma manera que “el destino es un invento de la desventura, como el pecado es un invento del castigo y el juez es un invento del verdugo” (p.97). Se pide “unidad” para no pedir el sacrificio; son bondades de la gramática de la hegemonía. Es importante que en uno de los pecios de Campo de retamas se titule explícitamente ‘Anti-Goethe’, porque aquí queda expuesta la crítica ferlosiana  a la noción de “vida”:

“A nadie podría sentir yo más ajeno y más contrario que al que dijo: “Gris, mi querido amigo, es toda teoría; verde, en verdad, el árbol de la vida”. Siempre ha parecido a mí, por el contrario, ser la vida lo gris, y aun lo lóbrego, lo nusiestor, polviente y reseca momia de si misa. Verde, tan solo he visto, justamente, el árbol idea de la teoría; dorada, solo la imaginario florido de la utopía…desafiando la ominosa noche, en la ciudad bajo los bombardeos” (p.126).

No es menor que el blanco sea Goethe. Puesto que Goethe es la figura ilustrada en el camino de la Forma. La vida es ya la formalización de la existencia. De ahí la postura anti-Goethe. En cambio, a Ferlosio le interesa el desvío en lo informe. La unidad de la vida como facticidad alimenta las pretensiones de la Historia. Como escribe Ferlosio: “El fascismo consiste sobre todo en no limitarse a hacer política y pretender hacer historia” (p.53). La vida de la heliopolítica de Goethe es una Alta Alegoría de la Humanidad: lo que es legibilidad en la Historia (Lux) se convierte en la pegatina de la “unidad” en política. Ferlosio, en cambio, es un pensador fuerte de la separación. En realidad, el pecio es la unidad mínima de la separación entre vida y existencia, plenitud y naufragio, sol y la noche del pensamiento. El derecho positivista no nunca puede recoger esto como “alfombra solada bajo un suelo futuro” (p.103).

El pecio es el resto profano irreductible a la unidad. Hacia la última parte de Campo de retamas, escribe Ferlosio: “La amistad relaciona a los hombre en su condicion de de hombres; la unidad los junta y mantiene juntos como cosas. La unidad destruye la amistad porque la desplaza y la reemplaza, usurpando su lugar. La unidad funciona igual que un pegamento, es una especie de sindeticón, que mantiene pegados a los hombres como cascotes inertes, inconscientes, de un cacharro roto…El origen del concepto de unidad no es otro que la guerra y la dominación” (p.200).

La unidad es condición de toda cohesión social que suprime la stasis en nombre de la guerra como motor dialéctico de la Historia. ¿Qué es la teoría para Ferlosio? El árbol más verde, porque es la contemplación de las formas de vida. En el artículo del 2002 titulado “Naufragios democráticos”, Ferlosio retoma la metafórica marítima para discutir de la crisis como arte del gobierno: “…”crisis” no connota el inmediato aspecto “natural” del accidente”, sino el mediato del riesgo político electoral” (Ensayos 2, p.306-308). La crisis es la afirmación de la excepción en lo inmediato.

En otras palabras, la crisis en política no es un elemento creativo (Schumpeter) de la naturaleza del capitalismo. La crisis es la forma en que la guerra es administrada desde la eficacia del error. No dejar de ser curioso que las últimas palabras de Ferlosio, reaparezca la metafórica del naufragio, en versos de Leopardi: “E il naufragar m’e dolce in questo mare”. Una oposición importante en Ferlosio: riesgo vs. naufragio.

El concepto de “riesgo” no es ajeno al constitucionalismo. En cambio, el naufragio del pecio nos retrae a la desobra de otra imaginación. Una imaginación que siempre antecede a los titanismos del polemos del orden.

 

Primera Entrega

On Presentiment.  The Anticipation of an Other Beginning. Ankhibasie.

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Everything is now strictly bound in planning and control and in the exactitude of a sure course of action and a domination ‘without remainder.’ Nonbeings, under the semblance of beings, are brought by machination into the haven of beings, and human desolation, which is ineluctably compelled thereby, finds its compensation in ‘lived experience.’ (Martin Heidegger, Contributions322)

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The future ones stand in sovereign knowledge as genuine knowledge.  Whoever attains this knowledge cannot be subjected to calculation or compulsion. Furthermore, this knowledge is useless and has no ‘value;’ it does not matter and cannot be taken as an immediate condition for a currently ongoing business.  (Martin Heidegger, Contributions314)

On Presentiment.  The Anticipation of an Other Beginning.  Ankhibasie. Draft Paper for BeiträgeWorkshop, Indiana University, April 12, 2019. By Alberto Moreiras.

In Conversations on a Country Path Martin Heidegger talks about devastated life as, among other things, life deprived of what is unnecessary for it.  He refers to some Chinese dialogue about the necessary and the unnecessary.  The Chinese sage says that the only necessary thing is a square foot of earth where one can plant himself and stand up.  But if someone were to come and remove all the unnecessary dirt that surrounds the necessary square foot, then one could no longer ever take a step without falling into a fairly radical Abgrund.  I am sure everyone of us will have their own opinion as to whether the world in general is increasingly moving in the direction of devastated life, that is, of bare life for the human in general (and of no life for many species, as we know).  But we can narrow it down a bit, to make it manageable: Is the Chinese parable not a good parable of the contemporary public university, both for teachers and for students?  It could be the case that the ongoing reduction of the unnecessary, particularly in the humanities, in the name of good business practice, is threatening the necessary.  We will always find out too late.  Once we do, we may become vigilant as to whether the tendencies toward devastation to which our administrations happily subscribe (with the passive complicity of the faculty, obviously) reach absolute success or whether a reaction against them may thwart them.   But then of course we need to ponder the reach of the possible reaction, and whether the reaction is and can be anything other than devastating itself.  At this point there are no ideas, there is no program, whether in the left or in the right, to salvage the situation.  Ongoing devastation seems to be what everybody wants. To that extent and for that purpose we can certainly trust our university leaders.

Let me state that the structural site of thought today, such as it is, is the university.   If the university, as structural site of thought, is moving towards the elimination of everything unnecessary, perhaps in the name of business (or is business the name for something else yet unnamed and unnameable?), then it may be time to ponder the unnecessary as the toposfor a breakaway, at the unstructured center of the structure: can we see there, in the inconspicuous unnecessary, the “clearing of a self-concealing,” as Heidegger would put it?  The clearing of the university, following the logic of the parable, must then be a clearing from the university, a move away from the university, ex universitate.  Let me accept beforehand that such a move will be politically useless, and entirely without value.  No business will be done.

I have been reading Heidegger all my life, more or less, on and off, yes, but not professionally.  For me that means I was not reading him to quote him, not reading him in order to write about him.  Until recently.  He was a private pleasure, formative, yes, but in pretty much the same way my favorite thriller authors, also a reading passion of mine, were formative: they offered me an intriguing show of style, thoughts to lose myself into, and even, secretly, perhaps a way to model myself, a prop for my own path, the idea of a master to follow, something not to share, something others would have to find on their own.   Friedrich Nietzsche, Jacques Derrida, and a few others, at different times, were also that for me.  For god’s sake, I was in Spanish, not even a literary critic, not even a cultural studies fellow, not even a historian of ideas, somewhere in between, as I tried to accumulate, through the rest of my writings, a necessary knowledge, or experience, or guts, or permission, to write about the unnecessary authors within my academic field that were really important to me: Valente, Benet, Goytisolo. Which I have not done yet.   This is not a disclaimer, just an explicitation of what is the case, of facticity.  And I thought that my contribution to this workshop on Heidegger’s Beiträge, a fairly inexhaustible “unwork,” in my opinion, could come directly from that facticity, from that modality of Weg-sein, of being thrown into what is the case, of being-away, which happens to be mine.  I have no pretensions to expertise, therefore, but let me tell you something: I do not believe in expertise any more, not in the humanities, I no longer seek it.  The only game for me is to manage to say something to you, here and now, that might prompt a conversation, in this case in relation to Heidegger’s Beiträge.  Oh, this has nothing to do with modesty.  I do not claim modesty.  I will claim, I do claim, that I am following an imperative of thought that Beiträgeitself seems to suggest to me, co-suggest, prompt me into.   Let me call it, for short, the transport into an existential clearing.  And I will offer my own context for it.  The last thing I feel I can do is to utter an exegetic or paraphrastic account of Heidegger’s own attempt at transitional thought.  I will try to say something about my own transitional thought, indebted to Heidegger, if you want radically indebted to Heidegger, and grateful to him.  But I do not particularly want to speak as a Heideggerian (this sentence may become meaningful only at the end of my paper, through the mention of the death drive.)

What moves the transition?  What moves movement?  This is of course an old question.  Thomas Sheehan has linked the Heideggerian conception of ex-sistence to Aristotle’s notion of kinesis, movement, as energeia atelés. Through kinesisa thing achieves itself, completes itself, or at least does so when its dynamisdisplays. According to Sheehan, Heidegger’s notion of Eignungtranslates dynamis, which would be the thing’s (force of) appropriation to the thing’s own telos.  In terms of the human being, Ereignisbecomes for ex-istence what Eignungis for things: existential kinesis, move toward self-appropriation, which in Beiträgewill several times be named “selfhood” in a non-subjectivist sense, i.e., the “selfhood” of Da-sein, Da-sein’s appropriation into the “there.” Sheehan reserves the word that Heidegger used in what was perhaps a slightly different context, ankhibasie, an extant word from Heraclitus meaning “ever approaching” (to Logosin the Heraclitean sense, to the Da of Seyn in the Heideggerian one), to name this “asymptotic condition of ex-istence” (Sheehan 1), that is, a condition of ex-sistence according to which ex-sistence can never fulfill itself but can come closer and closer to such a fulfilment.   Ankhibasieis therefore an existential practice of radical transition into a “there” that receives several names in Beiträge: “the other beginning,” “the clearing self-concealing,” “the essence of truth,” “the sheltering,” even “the last god” among others.  What interests me at this point is the imperative dimension of ankhibasie, not present in the Heraclitus fragment: that fact that, in the Heideggerian-Sheehanian way, it names a drive that is a drive for Da-sein, an existential drive somehow explicitly situated beyond the drives of animal rationale.  If the animal rationalemeans to be left behind, and with it the “sheer, insatiable riot of blind drives” that Heidegger refers to at one point in his text (196), it is not as if Da-sein were to be deprived of dynamic movement. In fact, we could probably, and impossibly, sum up Beiträgeby saying that it marks the attempt to establish a blueprint for a transformation or transfiguration of animal rationaleinto Da-sein.  What does this mean?  It means that there is no “closeness to life” that may rescue us, that an intensification of life, a recuperation of life, a redemption of life is not what Da-sein seeks.  But, if the inversion of animality is spirituality (rationalehas meant “spirit” all along the history of metaphysics), then no spiritual transformation is being invoked here: neither spiritual transformation nor life’s redemption.  Da-sein’s drive is a drive of desire otherwise, an ex-istential desire, a form of jouissancefor which I am happy to accept Sheehan’s suggestion and call it ankhibasieAnkhibasienames Da-sein’s dynamic movement forward.

In the section of Beiträgeentitled “The Future Ones” the connection between the seeking of transitional thought and what Conversations on a Country Pathwould name ankhibasiebecomes almost explicit: “Seeking is intrinsically futural and is a coming into the nearness of being.  Seeking brings the seekers to themselves for the first time, i.e., brings them into the selfhood of Da-sein, wherein the clearing and concealment of beings occur” (Contributions315).   It is also important to point out that, in that section, Heidegger marks a difference between those he calls “the future ones,” of whom he will say that “there are already a few” without further precisions (317), and those of us who live in our own hour:  “Our own hour is the era of downgoing” (314), which is “the path to the reticent preparation for what is to come, i.e., for the movement in which and the site in which the advent and the remaining absent of the gods will be decided.  The downgoing is the utterly first beginning” (314).   In another section, Da-sein is defined as “the crisis between the first and the other beginning” (233).  The first beginning is our history, which our downgoing consummates.  There is a way in which Da-sein, that is, not the human being, certainly not the animal rationale, but the human being that has leaped into Ereignis, that is, the human being who has accepted the need for a transitional thought into his or her own asymptotic condition of ex-sistence, is opposed to what Heidegger calls Wegsein, being-away.  In its first mention Being-away presents itself as a rewriting of the notion of inauthenticity in Being and Time(cf. Contributions238). It is a “denial of the exposure to the truth of beying” (239), and it is as such “the ordinary way of being human” (256): a way of living, in history, away from history, distracted from it. If so, then there is a way in which Being-away also grounds Da-sein: “To the ‘there’ belongs, at its extremity, this concealment in its most proper open realm, i.e., the ‘away’ as the constant possibility of being away; the human being is acquainted with the ‘away’ in the various forms of death” (256).  Hence, Da-sein must incorporate the concealedness of the ‘there’ into the steadfastness of enduring the truth” (257).   Such incorporation, the accomplishment of what Being and Timecalled “Being toward death,” is the passage into Da-sein, and the leap toward the other beginning.  Which consummates our history in an alternative sense, precisely by opening it up again.  Ankhibasieis Da-sein’s dynamic movement toward another history, which is history itself.

What would I want you to retain from all of this? We are living in our own hour, in our own time, a time of downgoing that can solve itself into a time of permanent blockage, a time of devastation and of the deprivation of everything unnecessary for life, paradoxical as that may sound, or a time that can find in that very devastation an intimation and a presentiment of what Heidegger calls “the most intrinsic finitude of beyng,” “the last god” (325), understood as “the danger of something strange and incalculable” (322), simply the most extreme decision regarding that danger, and death as “the most extreme possibility of the ‘there’” (257).  There is a choice here, or rather than a choice, a decision, a decision for history, a decision for time, but it is unclear who decides, and even whether a “who” decides.  In any case, ankhibasieis the name for the exposure to the ceaseless imperative of the there, which means exposure to the decision of the last god, exposure to our own ongoing death as completion and Ereignisof our finite existence, and exposure to the “utterly first beginning,” to the end of the first beginning as abandonment of beying and overcoming of the metaphysical path: a decision for history, a historical decision.  They all may be the same.  This is the crisisof Da-sein as Heidegger presents it.  It is a crisis precisely as the site of a decision in favor of the asymptotic condition of ex-sistence that alone may enable us to understand the radical negativity of the abandonment by beying in the constellation of death and the advent or remaining absent of the most extreme god that may open up history again.

2.

The decision, between the Wegseinof the first beginning and the Da-sein of the other beginning, hinges on an intimation, a Wink(also called an Ahnung, a foreboding, a presentiment).  Who is receptive to it?  Or even: can there be receptivity?  In the first section of Beiträge, entitled “Prospect,” Heidegger speaks about the “long future” of transitional time (19) and mentions the need for a “basic disposition” that would attune the human being to it.  Heidegger calls it “presentiment,” Er-Ahnenor Ahnung, and says of it that it encompasses shock, and restraint, and diffidence (14), and that the presentiment is the “decisiveness” itself (20). This decisiveness is ankhibasie, Da-sein’s drive.  The decision for the other beginning, that is, for the not-yet, is grounded in a leap away from the first beginning, that is, the no-longer.   It is a decision that stems from a basic disposition, a Grundstimmungthat not everybody has—only “the transitional thinkers,” named such in the text.  Who are they?  Again, let us narrow the question down in order to make it manageable.

Who are they? Certainly not everybody in the university.  In fact, Beiträgeincludes a ferocious indictment of the German university in the late 1930’s.   We have become so familiar with Heidegger’s dubious exaltation of the institution during his rectorate in the early 1930’s that it is possibly worthwhile to quote him at length, since by the time of Beiträgehe had abandoned all illusion:

the universities, as “sites of scientific research and teaching,” . . . are becoming sheer business establishment.  In these establishments, which are ever “closer to reality,” nothing is decided.  They will retain the last vestiges of a cultural decorationonly as long as they must also and for a while still remain a means for “cultural-political” propaganda. Nothing resembling the essence of universitaswill be able to unfold out of them any longer: on the one hand, because the commandeering of everything into political-ethnic service makes such an unfolding otiose, and also because science itself as a business can hold its course more securely and easily withoutwhat is “proper to a university, i. e., without the will to meditation.  Philosophy, understood here exclusively as thoughtful meditation on truth, i. e., on the question-worthiness of beyng, and not as a historiological and “system”-building erudition, does not have a place in “universities” and certainly not in the business establishments they will become.  For nowhere at all does philosophy “have” a place, unless it is the place it itself founds, to which indeed no path could lead immediately, starting from an established institution.  (121-22)

We can no doubt split a few hairs and claim that our university of today, in the United States, for instance, does not do cultural-political or political-ethnic propaganda, which in Heidegger’s terms would mean that universities have lost their last vestige of “cultural decoration” value, that is, their last claim to symbolic prestige.  It is not quite so, as we all know, thanks in part to branding and propaganda techniques and to the residual prestige of social hierarchy, which means that a degree from Texas A&M University in the main campus of College Station is worth more than a degree from, say, Texas A&M Prairie View, or Stanford is worth more than California State at Fresno. But that only means that even the residual value of cultural decoration has been reduced to business–money rules the day in the university, and there is no longer even a pretense to anything other than the increasingly radical application of the principle of general equivalence, on which branding itself is based.    For university administrations, increasingly, at least in the public area, the university is an institution that should be handled according to the logic of so-called Customer Relationship Management–really, no longer an institution, only a corporate business where meditation, Besinnnung, what Heidegger calls philosophy or thought according to the imperative of ankhibasiefinds no place, no site, no mercy.   The logic of today’s university of excellence is exclusively the logic of machination, of which Heidegger said: “The hex cast by technology and its constantly self-surpassing progress is only onesign of this bewitchery that directs everything toward calculation, utility, breeding, management, and regulation.  . . . The average becomes better and better, and thanks to this betterment the average secures its dominance ever more irresistibly and unobtrusively” (98).   The principle of general equivalence can only fight himself–a generalized leveling of all ranks promotes of course the most extreme hierarchization.  “The constant raising of the average level and the concurrent widening and wide application of this level, until it becomes the platformfor all activity, constitute the most uncanny sign of the vanishing of the decisive places: it is a sign of the abandonment by being” (99).

What is to be done?  Does Heidegger advocate for an institutional change?  Does he ask for university reform? For something in the nature of an academic countermovement?  For a leftist correction to the hegemony of the right, or for a rightist correction to the hegemony of the left?  No.  In fact, he says: “Not a counter-movement, for all counter-movements and counter-forces are essentially codetermined by that which they are counter to, although in the form of an inversion” (146).  The possibility of what Heidegger calls “opening up the truth of beying,” that is, of a transitional thinking orientated toward the other beginning, “will not be made in previous domains (‘culture’ — ‘worldview’), ones still upheld by counter-movements” (147).  Thought is only possible today ex universitate.

What could we then say of university politics? Politics is overrated, I think, it has become another form of chatter.  Politics, either for business or as a counter-movement to business, that is, for more business, will not guarantee, will in fact cover over the very possibility of finding an existential clearing in the university. I take my authorization from Beiträge.  At several early points in the text Heidegger repeats the notion that he would like to have nothing to do with Existenz, as he does not want his project to be confused with Existenzphilosophie.  But in #179, admittedly a paragraph that stands alone and has no precedent or continuity, Heidegger will nevertheless say in black and white that “being-historical Ex-istence” is “steadfast transport into the there” (239).  There is therefore a clear reason, from Beiträge, to speak of the need for the return to a thinking and a practice of existence, to a meditation on existence that I will simply name infrapolitical.

Daniela Vallega-Neu has often called the reader’s attention to the passages in Mindfulnesswhere Heidegger discusses the three possibilities of the so-called “decision.”  According to the first possibility (but Heidegger says that “the order in which these possibilities are named here is not important” [Mindfulness204; I am using Parvis Emad and Thomas Kalary’s translation, and it will sound very different from the English terminology used so far, I apologize]), “whether in poets and thinkers ‘the thinking-ahead-remembering’ of the truth of be-ing enowns itself, that is, in those who have a burden to lift, whose weight escapes any and all numerical calculation” (204).   That is, the truth of beyng will come out of unconcealment in the word of the poets and thinkers, always the spokesmen for the essence of their people. According to the second possibility,

whether beings hold on to the claims and conventionalities of the hitherto historically mixed up and inextricable beingness and compel to a total lack of decision; whether within the sphere of this lack beings then pile upon beings in ever-newer arrangements and ever-faster controllability; whether under the guise of an intensified “living” a being chases another being, takes its place, and settles the haze of an amusement over all beings . . . until the end of this mastery of beings (of “actuality that is close to life”) has become endless. (204)

It is clear that, of the two possibilities, Heidegger favors the former and not the latter, and his wager seems to be for the former as the many paragraphs in Beiträgethat speak about “the essence of a people” and as the very fascination with Hölderlin, understood as the poet of the German fatherland, as one of “the future ones” would seem to indicate.  For us, indeed, eighty years later, and in spite of the hopelessly counterfeited resurgence of contemporary nationalisms everywhere, it seems as if that first option is already gone from the books, and the poets and the thinkers will never accomplish the feat of carrying the burden of their people and saving them all beyond, precisely, calculation, even if we make it merely political calculation.  At the same time, I assume we reject the second possibility as desirable–even if we cannot reject it in its sheer facticity.   What about the third possibility, then?  Heidegger writes: “whether the first possibility stays away, and though the second one does assert itself, and given their admitted appearance, beings dominate all being but still something else happens: whether the history of be-ing (the grounding of its truth) begins in the unknowable hiddenness-shelteredness within the course of the struggle of the ‘alone ones’ and whether be-ing enters its ownmost and strangest history whose jubilation and sorrow, triumphs and defeats beat only in the sphere of the heart of the most rare ones” (204-05). Surely the rhetoric is old, perhaps even distasteful.  Those lonely ones, the rare, the rarest, would have it on themselves to follow ankhibasie, to expose themselves to the end of calculation, to sound out the absent gods.   If so, something would be kept, and could be transmitted.

It seems to me, such is my own transitional thinking, that the keeping of the unnecessary, to go back to the Chinese tale, as we let all machination pass us by without resistance (no counter-movement, no counter-politics: let them come to their own end), is the only possible promise of an existential clearing ex universitate.  It is not much, and it may be nothing.  We still have students, and we may owe them our presentiment, which is all we really have.  But let me not moralize, let me not end in a note of moralism: perhaps beyond students, what I am arguing for is the need to let ankhibasieflourish, to let it proceed to where it may lead, no spiritual transformation, no individual redemption, just a liberation of a certain drive, which could indeed prove to be a form of the death drive: Da-sein’s death drive, to be distinguished from the biologistic death drive of animal rationale.  How are we to think about it?

Alberto Moreiras

Texas A&M University

(Notes missing on Vallega-Neu, Polt, Ziarek, Dastur, Sheehan, Schürmann, on Country Path, etc. . . .  Note on the death drive in Freud, Lacan?)

 

Works Cited

Dastur, Françoise.  …

Heidegger, Martin.  Contributions to Philosophy.  (Of the Event).  Richard Rojcewicz and Daniela Vallega-Neu translators.  Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2012.

—.  Conversations on a Country Path.  …

—.  Mindfulness.  Parvis Emad and Thomas Kalary translators.  London: Continuum, 2006.

Osborn, James.  “The Overturning of Heidegger’s Fundamental Ontology.”  Journal of Philosophical Research41 (2016): 559-600.

Polt, Richard.  The Emergency of Being.  On Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy.  Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2006.

Sheehan, Thomas.  Making Sense of Heidegger.  A Paradigm Shift.  London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.

Vallega-Neu, Daniela.  Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy.  Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2003.

—. Heidegger’s Poietic Writings.  From Contributions to Philosophy to The Event. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2018.

—. “Heidegger’s Reticence: From Contributionsto Das Ereignisand toward Gelassenheit.”  Research in Phenomenology45 (2015): 1-32.

Schürmann, Reiner.  Wandering Joy.  Meister Eckhart’s Mystical Philosophy.  Great Barrington, MA: Lindisfarne, 2001.

Ziarek, Krzysztof.  “The Modern Privilege of Life.”  Research in Phenomenology44 (2014): 28-49.

—. “Image-less Thinking: The Time-Space for Imagination in Heidegger.” International Yearbook for Hermeneutics. . .

 

 

 

 

 

Cuaderno de apuntes sobre la obra de Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio. Primera Parte. Por Gerardo Muñoz

La serie a continuación son solamente notas de lectura en preparación para el curso que daremos en unos meses titulado “Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio y la infrapolítica“. La lectura va dirigida en función de dos hipótesis de trabajo: a. Primero, tener una idea integral de la operación “destructiva” de Ferlosio; operación que abriría, según ha dicho el propio escritor, una entrada a “la esencia de la lengua pertenece al ser profana” (Pecios, p.12). Ferlosio pertenece – junto a una serie de escritores, como Simone Weil, Cristina Campo, Yan Thomas, Giorgio Agamben, o María Zambrano – a una modalidad que busca cuestionar el suelo sagrado (sacer) de los dispositivos del humanismo. b. Segundo, me interesa ver lo que Sánchez Ferlosio tiene que decir sobre la optimización del conflicto contra el paradigma de la guerra. Estas dos líneas de lectura buscan explorar lo que pudiéramos llamar el arcano de la obra Sánchez Ferlosio. Para llevar a cabo estas interrogaciones, utilizaremos solo dos fuentes bibliográficas: los ensayos reunidos en cuatro volúmenes (ed. Ignacio Echevarria, Debolsillo, 2018), y la biografía El incognito Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio: apuntes para una biografía (Ardora Ediciones, 2017), de J. Benito Fernández. Una de las metas de esta investigación es poder llegar a decir algo sistemático sobre la crítica de los fundamentos teológicos-políticos de Sánchez Ferlosio. Sólo así pudiéramos despejar en él la órbita infrapolítica.

En esta primera parte quiero detenerme en el ensayo de 1996-1999 titulado “El Castellano y Constitución” (p.397-443). Interesa por al menos dos razones: como comentario a la escritura de las constituciones, y como análisis del aparato lingüístico. El punto de partida, para Ferlosio, es una máxima constitucional: “El castellano es la lengua española oficial del Estado. Todos los españoles tienen el deber de conocerla y el derecho a usarla“.

Es curioso que Ferlosio no diga nada de los dos polos que cierran la máxima, y cuyo peso conceptual no se le escapa a nadie: deber y uso. Veremos si en textos posteriores Ferlosio pondrá atención en la noción kantiana de “deber” que tanta influencia ha ejercido en el derecho moderno y en la subjetividad hispánica (Opus Dei). Ferlosio prefiere aislar estos términos para enfocarse en la esencia “modal” de la expresión, y de la estructura del presente indicativo (p.399). Las constituciones tiene mucho de presente del indicativo, pero también de la forma modal. Esto hace que se establezca una especie de “efecto de noticia”, que la vuelve siempre actual (p.400).

Dice Ferlosio: “Así pues, el que informa a otro del contenido de una ley usa el presente, porque da noticia de algo que, por decirlo con la lúgubre formula inmemorialmente acunad para el destino, ya “esta escrito”. Con esta misma fórmula “está escrito”, se remitían los judíos a la Torá, a la Ley, cuyos libros no, ciertamente, por casualidad tomaron precisamente el nombre de Escrituras” (p.400-401).

Ferlosio detecta uno de los misterios del derecho en Occidente: la ley tiene que estar escrita. No hay derecho sin escritura. La escritura misma en la constitución es “escritura escribiente” (p.401). (Nikolas Bowie tiene un artículo muy interesante sobre este problema como la arcana del constitucionalismo norteamericano: “Why the Constitution Was Written Down”, Stan.L.Rev, 2019). Pensar aquí en Yan Thomas: la escritura funciona como uno de las operaciones de la artificialidad del derecho. Esta es una de las herencias fuertes de la romanitas. Lo importante, nos dice Ferlosio, es que el presente indicativo de la escritura constitucional no es un “valor veritativo”, sino imperativo: “La ley es un mandato obligante; su enunciado no puede ser más verdadero o falso de cuanto puede serlo una frase en el modo llamado “imperativo” (p.401).

¿Qué es un mandato? Es la pregunta que sobresale en estas páginas de Ferlosio. El mandato traspasa el límite de lo verídico, y puede prescindir de ella, puesto que su interés es producir una orden que a su vez ordene. Esta es la esencia del sacramento (p.402). El mandato es principio y orden, pero más importante, dice Ferlosio, es que produce un sentido de “futuro”, ya que la afirmación del sujeto y predicado ya esta dada. Piénsese en este mandato: “Pondrás la mesa todos los días” (p.406). La futuridad no es una cosa de mera temporalidad abstracta, sino de la construcción de hábitos y normas efectivas. El derecho es la coherencia de la normalización.

Dice Ferlosio: “La noción de norma, no acepta en modo alguno cubrir una orden ocasional como la que se dan “imperativo”, de tal manera que puede servir como piedra de toque para distinguir entre las funciones del modo “imperativo” y las del “futuro” (p.407). Lo decisivo aquí: el indicativo de la ley produce “vigencia” (p.408). O también pudiéramos decir, eficacia. Por eso, la ley no puede ser más que el futuro, nunca el presente (p.409). En realidad esto es importante, puesto que si pensamos en las discusiones sobre el “originalismo” en el constitucionalismo norteamericano, el debate pareciera ser una operación de fidelidad en el origen, pero no es tal. La verdadera operación es instrumentalizar el principio para tener acceso directo al futuro y atrapar al destino. Ferlosio cita una frase de Benjamin que va directo al problema: “El juez puede ver el destino donde quiere; en cada pena debe infligir ciegamente el destino” (p.410). Pero como decía Carl Schmitt (Hamlet o Hecuba): ningún destino inventado es un destino. Y este es el problema.

Este también es el problema de la lengua. El castellano se ha vuelto ley escrita y por lo tanto un dispositivo de la hegemonía imperial, perdiendo radicalmente su destino material y profano. Termino con este momento al final del ensayo. Escribe Ferlosio sobre el “castellano”: “…España no significa la unidad e integridad  – o “de destino” – sino sencillamente la amistad entre sus reinos o, en lenguaje de la Iglesia, la “paz y concordia entre los príncipes cristianos” (p.437). La operación moderna por la cual la guerra civil es suprimida y desplazada, a cambio del miedo (Hobbes) y la auctoritas tiene un secreto importante en la operación de la lengua como forma del imperativo. Un imperativo que está ya siempre caído al imperii del futuro.