Sunday, December 10, 2006

Nancy the Dialogic

Nancy says:

Language is essentially in the with. Every spoken word is the simultaneity of at least two different modes of the spoken word; even when I am by myself, there is the one that is said and the one that is heard, that is, the one that is resaid. As soon as a word is spoken, it is resaid. As such, meaning does not consist in the transmission from a speaker to a receiver, but in the simultaneity of (at least) two origins of meaning: that of the saying and that of its resaying.

(Being Singular Plural, p. 86).

In these passages on language Nancy is principally in dialogue with Heidegger. I don't know the source of his dialogism, if any. It does feel like a resaying–a singular resaying to be sure. Again, Nancy touches on meaning:

Meaning is the exhibition of the foundation without foundation, which is not an abyss but simply the with of things that are, insofar as they are. Logos is dialogue, but the end of dialogue is not to overcome itself in "consensus"; its reason is to offer, and only to offer (giving it tone and intensity), the cum-, the with of meaning, the plurality of its springing forth.

(pp. 86-87).

"Not an abyss but simply the with of things that are." I recall my troubles leaping over the abyss with Grassi. Though Grassi is not without courage (and elegance), Nancy strikes me as the more courageous reader of Heidegger, at least by the measure of his willingness to contradict him.

It is not enough, then, to set idle chatter in opposition to the authenticity of the spoken word, understood as being replete with meaning. On the contrary, it is necessary to discern the conversation (and sustaining) of being-with as such within chatter: it is in "conversing," in the sense of discussion, that being-with "sustains itself," in the sense of the perseverance in Being. Speaking-with exposes the conatus of being-with, or better, it exposes being-with as conatus, exposes it as the effort and desire to maintain oneself as "with" and, as a consequence, to maintain something which, in itself, is not a stable and permanent substance, but rather a sharing and a crossing through. In this conversation (and sustaining) of being-with, one must discern how language, at each moment, with each signification, from the highest to the lowest–right down to those "phantic," insignificant remarks ("hello," "hi," "good" ...) which only sustain the conversation itself–exposes the with, exposes itself as the with, inscribes and ex-scribes itself in the with until it is exhausted, emptied of signification.

(p. 87).

Personally, I prefer the term "phatic," which has the advantage of being in my English dictionaries. If "phantic" is to be allowed, it shouldn't be on etymological grounds ("phatic" already does the job), but only because Nancy is setting up a play on the Heideggerian apophantic.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 9:29 PM.


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