Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Synkairotic Moment

The synkairotic moment is not carved out of time by logos. If any carving is done it is with the synkairos, in the sense that one can accomplish something with an opportunity, a coming towards port. Said another way, it is synkairos which gives us the "not ever" in never allowing us to forget that the logos is an ongoing work. In one sense synkairos appears to be parachronic, which might, in a paroxysm of sloppiness, be taken as a substitute for achronia; however, this appearance can be explained as an artefact of mismeasurement, i.e., only by misapplying the methods we would use to measure chronos, were we to grant that such an entity exists that would adequately correspond to the concept, could we be led to the conclusion that synkairos is achronic.

So what is accomplished by saying synkairos? Well, the word springs from a dissatisfaction with synchrony, and it must in some sense be associated with all that the synchronic would stand for. That can't be denied. I'd like to make it mean something a little less, though, this little twist on the kairotic. The synkairotic captures the sense of the kairotic utterance being ensconced in response. The synkairotic utterance, by which I mean any utterance, is from and towards response, a discursion in the sense of being to and fro response. It is for response. Saying "synkairotic" makes its ensconcings explicit. (Perhaps you can see from another angle why I have such anxiety about thinking repetition?) In the language of opportunity the synchronic is the discourse of the passerelle, the concourse of embarkings and disembarkings that bracket a passage even if we cannot say what that passage means. Any fast distinction between the real and the symbolic may be jettisoned as need arises. The passerelle teaches us that opportunity.

Synkairos is not fictive, then, though it is fictile. The reason one cannot answer a question like "what is the duration of the synkairotic?" is not because the synkairotic is totally made up–again, it is with the synkairotic that made-up things are made up–but rather because if we mean for "duration" or its cousin "durée" to be of any use as a concept we should want to affix it to something permanently whereas properly synkairotic fixings are opportunistic, transiting towards port for reasons that are essentially transitory. They are neither fixatory nor nonfixatory, neither fixional nor nonfixional in any enduring sense. We might precisely say then that synkairos is not presumptively fictive, though fictions may surely be worked out synkairotically. This of course reiterates our initial proposition.

Perhaps I have missed the boat on duration. (I don't ask your forgiveness for showing my mistakes, but perhaps some forbearance.) It is important, if one seeks to understand the synkairotic, that duration be fixable, which also implies, perhaps, that it be unfixable. It seems that there is not a fixed or unfixed state that would be allowed to endure prior to duration. The same logic would apply to ephemerality, or the ephemerus, I think. That is, it may be assumed that duration and ephemerality are mutually exclusive or conceptual opposites while in fact here and now we can apply them to each other freely. This freedom of movement suggests to me that, as with something like affirmative negation, perhaps, the difference between duration and ephemerality, which seems to be carried on in the heart of duration, is not really a matter of dialectics or opposition, but rather it's a matter of two or more concepts inhabiting the same conceptual form, or making the same conceptual passage. Can you say "duration" of things that were thought to have no duration? We come to the concept of duration with other concepts in tow. Fixity, for instance. Yet we can reverse course. We can think duration otherwise than we have been given to think it. We can decouple it even from habit itself, which would keep duration forever in its hold.

If the synkairotic seems to decouple duration from fixity it is not on behalf of a prior (enduring) ephemerality, but only for the sake of allowing other couplings. The synkairotic then allows for the coupling of duration to fixity by allowing for the decoupling of duration from fixity.

I feel I'm in danger of disneyfying duration, but there are a few more words that need to be said about the question "what is the duration of the synkairotic?" The poetic function teaches us that the opposition between the axletree of the synchronic and the axletree of the diachronic cannot be permanently fixed, that the opposition admits of transposition. Well, we haven't even begun to think the diakairotic because we aren't prepared yet to think through passage. Perhaps thinking through the synkairotic will prepare us to think through passage, or perhaps we are avoiding a necessary step. In any case, evidently a doubt can be sustained. An aporia can be sustained. This is an important discovery which may help us address the question about the duration of the synkairotic. Unlike the synchronic, the synkairotic should not be expected to unfold all at once.

The synkairotic moment is multiple, complex. This is not so difficult to wrap our brains around, a complex moment, yet I would find it difficult to specify exactly how such a moment would relate to duration, or to temporality, ontologically conceived. (I won't say "synkairotic instant" because the instant is both overdetermined and etymologically all wrong–the moment does not stand still.) I suspect that there is some temporality at play in the synkairotic. I am playing with it. Yet if I were asked to define it with reference to what, I might rather think it were defined with reference to a complication of whats and whos. This is our synkairotic moment, and who we refers to, dear readers, is never definitively pinned down.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 9:52 AM.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

a propos of nothing I just wrote this to 'someone' else:

I was rereading Henri Atlan’s Enlightenment to Enlightenment: intercritique of science and myth (1993, SUNY, originally published in French as A Tort et à raison):

“Of course, there must be something in reality that makes it possible to order it. But one cannot truly speak of this something: neither by using scientific discourse, which it escapes by construction, nor by using ‘revealed’ discourses, because the experience of revelation is always – as is stated, paradoxically, by those who speak it – infinitely greater than the discourse that seeks to enclose it.

To say that this something is God solves nothing: quite the contrary, considering the burden of the connotations that this word has in Western languages. Only Wittgenstein’s ‘I’ can be located at a perspective that encompasses and unifies all these worlds; more precisely, this ‘I’ that can only manifest itself and that corresponds to only one of the two possible uses of this pronoun, the use that Wittgenstein calls ‘subjective’ (as in the case of someone who says ‘I am suffering,’ without saying who he or she is, such that this expression is, strictly speaking, equivalent to a sigh).

But in what this ‘I’ says, it cannot be mistaken; there is no room for error or truth; no room, in fact, for any discourse whatsoever.

Of this ‘I’ one can strictly say nothing. It can only be manifested, and that in silence. Any discourse about this subject (about the subject of the subject) is merely speaking to say nothing: words that do not mean anything, that are there in order to say nothing, an isolated abracadabra without context. Just like someone outside a closed door who, to the question, ‘Who’s there?’, responds, ‘It’s me’; but we do not recognize his voice, and before we can open up he vanishes without a trace.” (p. 401).


July 31, 2008 9:39 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Interesting quote, Paul. Hi. I'd be a little uncomfortable with the statement that speaking about this subject merely speaks to say nothing. On the other hand I'm sure there is more to speaking than explication, and Atlan's idea here seems to be that one cannot explicate the subject. Hmm. Fadi (The Psychoanalytic Field) has been doing some thinking about transitional phenomena, and I've been giving it some thought, and it would be awfully tempting to think the subject as a transitional phenomenon, though it would of course create a paradox. Well, I'd been thinking about transitional phenomena in relation to thinking and maybe especially what cognitive scientists call representations, or also their representations of thinking, and though I am not sure of what Wittgenstein means by "I," I do of course always have in mind William James' "I think, I feel" as the universal fact of consciousness. Anyway were I to push myself towards paradox—I haven't committed yet, and gosh it's only the germ of an idea for blog post—would I be speaking to say nothing? Nobody would be hurt by thinking the subject as transitional, I reckon. Perhaps some people might be annoyed?

August 02, 2008 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I don't really know anything about psy theory but Atlan has a whole chapter on 'man as game' incl Winnicott, Fink and Wittgenstein!

"One cannot avoid finding all the characteristics of ludic activity in our rational cognitive activity."

I'm not sure what it means to say the subject is transitional - except that we constitute ourselves in interactions but these may not do justice to cadacualtez...
"The coming into actuality of every person is thus setting, so to say, a separate logos." (crocco)

We change without becoming someone else...
Btw. You can now find Palindrome as an mp3 file on the AGNT site. I have been recording it for Mario Crocco. Not the easiest thing to read aloud!

August 04, 2008 4:41 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Cool (about the audio).

Thinking the subject as transitional phenomenon might mean that we cannot assume that the nature of relations which would constitute subjectivity would be anything we would want to call action, because of certain connotations of "to act," or implications of the idea of action, though perhaps we could draw a useful distinction between action and practice—on second thought I'm not so sure; I'd like to talk about actually as something beyond the realm of objects or relations to objects or relations patterned on relations to objects, but rather as something happening in the play- with-borders-space of "infinite" play, a transitional phenomenon of transitional phenomena. Maybe (maybe not) this sort of metagoof is generously "allowed" by transitional thinking. (Why should I care how thinking is allowed, except to the extent that I live to serve an inner voice whose wisdom I call into question, in decent measure?) Anyway, I really love Crocco's idea that the coming into actuality of any person is the setting of a separate logos, which is germaine, though it is of course a profoundly disruptive thought, and before rushing to think it differently, with a different sense of actuality, or of a coming into transition (an opportunity which would leave aside a metaphysical project of positing the possible (though possibly one sees opportunities yet to explore)), perhaps I should let it sink in a while longer.

I'm in Seattle now. I have Winnicott's Playing and Reality with me, but I am having too much fun being a tourist to really sit down and read a whole lot. The UW campus is a beautiful place to walk this time of year.
(Some of the locals have complaints about the rain, but it's been bright and sunny these past few days.)

August 05, 2008 12:56 PM  

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