Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Nancy thinks that freedom must be thought in its absoluteness, which means that it must be distinguished from every concept of freedom that would be opposed to, and therefore relative to, anything like fatality (The Experience of Freedom, p. 110). In the course of exploring this idea Nancy thinks the temporality of surprise in a way that put me in mind of Tengelyi's idea of a present that has never been future. However, whereas Tengelyi thinks such temporality as belonging to a destinal event, Nancy wants us to imagine a suddenness of time that would happen without happening in time. The time of the surprise seems to be a time outside of time that, if it belongs to anything, belongs to freedom. "This is the structure of surprise (and it will form the exact reverse of the structure of the present): it takes place without having happened; it will therefore not have taken place, but will have opened time, through a schematism of the surprise whose 'I' would surprise itself" (p. 114). Nancy doesn't explain what "the structure of the present" means, so I am a little fuzzy on what he means by its reversal. I note his consistent use of the future perfect tense to talk about the time of the surprise, and wonder if it's something paradoxical like a future that has never been present, but, then again, the sudden time doesn't really happen according to Nancy, which is another kind of paradox. He offers a few concrete ways of thinking about the time that happens without happening in time, the open time. "Open time could be the time of astonishment and upheaval, or that of interrogation and explanation" (ibidem).

"Freedom always surprises when there is no longer or not yet time. That is, when there is no longer or not yet time for time, and for the oppostion of a 'freedom' and a 'fatality,'" says Nancy, returning to his theme of freedom's absoluteness (p.115, Nancy's emphasis). He says, "Freedom separates itself from resignation and revolt not in order to do nothing, but in order to open up this separate place, which is that of the free act in its proper and revolutionary force" (p. 116). He argues that freedom is neither free will nor destiny, but an exposed existence. And, importantly, he says that surprise does not determine existence but exposes it "as an infinte generosity to time's finitude" (p. 117).

Does the revolutionary force of the free act pertain to anything that actually happens, or is it completely outside of happenings? Is it vulnerable? Exposure connotes vulnerability, and I can easily imagine the vulnerability of the giver. Does existence possess revolutionary force or any agency that would have within it or about it revolutionary force? Would "I" be surprised to find a revolutionary force at the heart of "my" exposure?

When I really start to imagine a free time, I imagine a floating time, time unmoored, dipping in and out of the course of events, giving birth to rhythm. The forces that touch upon the rhythm of events, do they have a quality of irreality? We need more ways of talking about reality. Alloreality and spasmoreality. Spasmoreality is a revolutionary force that touches upon the course of events, a force of reality sustained not by belief but by surprise.

If tragedy can be imagined according to a spasmoreality of the free time, the time of the question among other things, without opposing free will to destiny, what then becomes of destiny? On the side of freedom, we have not leveled a skepticism but instead pursued a radicalization of freedom. Do we likewise pursue a radicalization of destiny? Might that lead into a synthesis of freedom and destiny that wouldn't compromise freedom? Or do we abandon destiny to its fate? If freedom and destiny aren't spasmoreally opposed, does destiny surprise itself, as if it will have become unrecognizable? According to Nancy we are born to and die to freedom. They are verso and recto of the infinite generosity that is existence, in which we infinitely accede to freedom (p. 119). The generosity of existence is surprising, and for this reason "destination" and "liberation" say too little, because they mark conscious, willed action (p. 120). Should we be surprised by the generosity of the tragic hero?

What, concretely, is a politics of generosity? Just throwing it out there.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 9:10 AM.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Finite but especial. Let me start by considering that being finite is not found to include by itself existential self-finding (or gnoseologically apprehending self-reference, a self-revealing or manifesting being).
In nature, the hylozoic hiatus does not encounter itself; minds do.
All minds do it; and so for every finitude life is a great surprise.

But I am referring to another kind of surprising encounter, related to the following question: how does the presence of one’s gnoseoconative finitude exist as not-another circumstanced existentiality?
Living is a surprise; living in not-another circumstance is a further surprise.
With the determination of such an alterity in regard to other minds, evidently something more than fungible, or exchangeable properties tells minds apart from extramentalities.
This prevents every finite mind to be a specimen of an entity that includes all minds. This non-instantiability is a fact of central interest for mind’s ontology....(Crocco, Palindrome).

There may be a connection btwn Nancy's intuition of a surprise 'outside of time' and the agnt's view on minds as xenochronic...???

Natural science describes originated realities of two kinds: observers, also called minds, which do not generate time inside them (but may emulate any outer course, an aptitude that may be called xenochronism)...(Crocco).

just rambling on...

October 30, 2007 3:43 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Hi, Paul. The xenochronic may be close to what Nancy means, but he also speaks of being outside temporality, which suggests a phenomenologically constituted time. The xenokariotic? I dunno.

But, you know, Nancy's existentialism, such as it is, is very thinkerly. I do see a similarity. Maybe not the xenochronic as an emulation, but something rhythmical.

Nancy wants to bring us to a point at which the temporality of time is not temporal, or "where the temporality of time is temporal to the extent that it gives the time of time, in some sense its rhythm rather than its course–if we can risk forgetting that this rhythm occurs only in the very course itself" (p. 111).

Tricky stuff.

October 30, 2007 4:08 PM  

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