Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Davy Jones' Locker

Imagine a nothingness that is not negating but intensifying and therefore affirmative. Nancy says that the truth of the abyss and of intensification can be designated as experience (The Experience of Freedom, (p. 84). It is tempting to think that Nancy is thinking freedom completely without foundation. But he is cryptic, and he plays with foundation more than he abandons it. He says, "It is a finite freedom which is the 'foundation of foundation'" (p. 83, Nancy's emphasis). The foundation of foundation is also the abyss, I venture. Can we ask how the abyss is experienced? I have a feeling that inasmuch as Nancy approaches the experience of experience as a thinking, he would say that the abyss is experienced in thought. This isn't quite right, because he might say that thought rather than experiencing nothingness measures itself against nothingness. So presently the question as to how we experience the abyss remains unanswered. Let's see how Nancy plays with the idea of foundation and see what it tells us about experience or the experience of experience which is thinking.

"The act of founding is indeed the act par excellence of experiri, of the attempt to reach the limit, to keep to the limit," Nancy says (p. 84). He argues that where the foundation takes place there is nothing but indeterminable chora (ibidem) and goes on to say:

We have related, through concepts and languages, "experience" to "piracy." But foundation always has something of piracy in it, it pirates the im-propriety and formlessness of a chorā–and piracy always has something of foundation, unrightfully disposing rights and tracking unlocatable limits on the chorā of the sea. In order to think the experience of freedom, one would have to be able ceaselessly to contaminate each notion by the other, and let each free the other, pirating foundation and founding piracy. This game would have nothing to with amusement; its possibility, or rather its necessity, is given with thought itself and by thought's freedom.

(p. 85)

Experience, I take it, as the gesture of founding, pirates the formlessness of the chorā. Does thought take form or does it take formlessness? It will have to be thought at the limit, a sublimely mathematical twilight. "The experience of founding takes place at the limit," Nancy says. "What is founded exists (it is not only projected, but is first thrown, as founded, into existence) and it exists according to the limit's mode of existence, that is, according to the mode of the self-surpassing (overcoming and emancipation, gestures of liberation), which is the very structure of the limit" (ibidem, Nancy's emphasis). Is the thought that takes place in the chora thought as in a dream, something itself wonderous (θαυμαστός)? Nancy wants us to think of neither a founding subject nor founding object, but rather a founding gesture that "carries itself–at once anterior and posterior to the tracing of the limit traces–to the contour, path, and outward aspect of a singularity whose freedom and existence it makes arise simulataneously" (p. 86, Nancy's emphasis).

I'm intrigued that Nancy sees an outward aspect to singularity, but I'll let that pass to get to the meat of the argument here. There is, in thinking in the chora, at the limit, a resonance with Derrida's thinking about the chora, which he says alternates between a logic of participation and of exclusion ("Khōra," in On the Name, p. 89), and with Agamben's thinking about abandonment in Homo Sacer. First Nancy says that "experience does not experience anything, but it experiences the nothing as the real that it tests and as the stroke of luck it offers" (p. 86, Nancy's emphasis). Then he says that "freedom is the foundation that is discovered in the fact that being is essentially abandoned" (p. 92, Nancy's emphasis). Now I might say that the abandonment of being is its haplessness which has nothing to do with luck, having been abandoned by luck. There must be a feeling among those who insist on being of having been marooned by the philosophers. Whose Image is abandonment? I'll revisit Derrida's thinking about the chora later. In the meantime I'll be trying to wrap my head around the chora of the sea and how this might relate to abadnonment or to experience.

The metaphor of piracy is more fun and perhaps truer to thought than the metaphor of founding. As Nancy vacillates between piracy and founding, the word "shipwreck" also springs to mind–which is not say that Nancy's brigantine is foundering. I'm just having trouble finding my sea legs.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 12:37 PM.


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