Friday, December 07, 2007

Of the Emissary

See if you don't see a contradiction here: Nancy says that there is nothing either philosophical or literary in writing, but rather "writing traces an essential indecision of the two, between the two, and consequently, an indecision in each one"; then he says that "[w]riting is of the community or it is not writing" (The Experience of Freedom, p. 152). I assume that there are different communities of writing, some of them more literary, others more philosophical, and there would be no sense in calling them communities if they lacked boundaries, identities or differences as you prefer. If writing must be of the community it must then be at the same time, if it is to trace an indecision between the literary and the philosophical, not of the community. Well, this may all be nonsense, or it may touch on a paradox of community. Are communities trismegistically sealed? Some communities are more trismegistic than others. A completely closed off community would perish with its members, but it would still have been a community. An age cohort would be an example. What social groupings deserve to be called communities? Who decides among whom obligations to each other exist? A commensality, at least, has discernable boundaries. Does a community finally decide on itself?

Nancy says, truly, that writing issues from reading, and also that writing is for reading and for other writings. I would stress that writing isn't merely for its own reading but for other readings. Writing is a gobetween. It has an emissary function with respect to communities of the literate. Nancy says, "Writing is the movement of meaning in the suspension of signification, which withdraws meaning in giving it, in order to give it as its gift" (ibidem). How very generous. In fact the gifts of writing are most frequently trade items, and its gifts must always be understood in the context of the emissary function, as the gestures of an emissary. Its meanings are emissary meanings. The community gives but it does not give meanings. It gives the suspension of meanings, which may or may not be a refusal of meanings. The community gives neither decisions nor indecisions, but entrusts them both to emissaries. What writing requires, to present meaning and also to be sent forth, is immunity, or rather immunities. It must be for and from other readings without obligation, or, precisely, without the decision of an obligation. This as I see it is the paradox of community: it covers what it refuses to decide with an immunity; it allows emissaries to partake of its indecisions with immunity for the sake of its self-interepretation; it is of the emissary. In this sense, then, all communities are trismegistic.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 9:24 AM.


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