Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Marion's Paradox

Marion says:

The musical offering offers first the very movement of its coming forward–it offers the effect of its very offering, without or beyond the sounds that it produces. Let me name this phenomenological extremity where the coming forward exceeds what comes forward a paradox

(Being Given, p. 216, emphasis Marion's).

For the moment let's overlook what is obviously paradoxical here (music without sounds) and see what Marion has to say about the paradox. I quote him at length because this very long paragraph sums up his thinking and touches on (without resolving) what I feel are the central problems in Marion's account of givenness.

The paradox not only suspends the phenomenon's subjection to the I; it inverts it. For, far from being able to constitute this phenomenon, the I experiences itself as constituted by it. To the constituting subject, there succeeds the witnes–the constituted witness. Constituted witness, the subject is still the worker of truth, but he cannot claim to be its producer. With the name witness, we must understand a subjectivity stripped of the characteristics that give it transcendental rank. (i) Constituted and no longer constituting, the witness no longer enacts synthesis or constitution. Or rather, synthesis becomes passive and is imposed on it. As with constitution, the giving of meaning (Sinngebung) is inverted. The I can no longer provide its meaning to lived experiences and intuition; rather the latter give themselves and therefore give it their meaning (a meaning that is for that matter partial and no longer all-encompassing). (ii) That is, in the case of a saturated phenomenon, intuition by definition passes beyond what meaning a hermeneutic of the concept can provide, a fortiori a hermeneutic practiced by the finite I, which will always have less givable meaning (concept, intentionality, signification, noesis, etc.) than the intuitive given calls for. (iii) The inversion of the gaze, and therefore of the guard it mounts over the object, places the I, become witness, under the guard of the paradox (saturated phenomenon) that controls it and stands vigilant over it. For the witness cannot avail himself of a viewpoint that dominates the intuition which submerges him. In space, the saturated phenomenon swallows him with its intuitive deluge; in time, it precedes him with an always already there interpretation. The I loses its anteriority as egoic pole (polar I) and cannot yet identify itself, except by admitting the precedence of such an unconstitutable phenomenon. This reveresal leaves him stupefied and taken aback, essentially surprised by the more original event, which takes him away from himself. (iv) The witness is therefore opposed to the I in that he no longer has the initiative in manifestation (by facticity), does not see the given phenomenon in its totality (by excess of intuition), cannot read or interpret the intuitive excess (by shortage of concept), and finally lets himself be judged (said, determined) by what he himself cannot say or think adequately. In this way, the phenomenon is no longer reduced to the I who would gaze at it. Irregardable, he confesses himself irreducible. The event that comes up can no longer be constituted into an object; in contrast, it leaves the durable trace of its enclosure only in the I/me, witness constituted despite itself by what it receives. In short, the witness succeeds the I by renouncing the first person, or rather the nominative of this first role. In this witness, we should hear less the eloquent or heroic testator to an event that he reports, conveys, and defends–assuming again therefore a (re-)production of the phenomenon–and more the simple, luminous witness: he lights up as on a control panel at the very instant when and each time the information he should render phenomenal (in this case, the visible) arrives to him from a transistor by electric impulse without initiative or delay. Here the witness himself is not invested in the phenomenon, nor does he invest with it . . .; rather, he finds himself so invested, submerged, that he can only register it immediately

(pp. 216-218, emphasis Marion's).

Marion's paradox adds a wrinkle to the problem of the givenness of the I: it might not be prior to the givenness of the phenomenon, or prior to the me in the case of the paradox, the excessive phenomenon. I don't think this really solves the problem of the I's non appearance, which is a problem to the extent that Marion equates giving and showing. And it's not nearly a complete reckoning of the givenness of the I. Allowing these doubts to sit off to the side for a second, I'm still not sure that Marion's witness resembles anybody I know.

Labels: , , ,

posted by Fido the Yak at 2:15 PM.


Anonymous anne said...

Thanks, Thanks, Thanks

January 19, 2007 11:35 AM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

You're welcome.

January 23, 2007 9:02 AM  

Post a Comment

Fido the Yak front page