Who poses the imaginary question? The imaginary question cannot be posed by the imagination without thereby becoming a "real" question, a realized question, a question that in an important respect no longer qualifies as imaginary. (I'm assuming that a question posed by one's inner voice is actually posed to oneselfthough this self may also be imaginary, the imaginary addressee of imaginary questions. Perhaps this assumption, if we stick with it for a second, already mistakes the imaginary for the actual; however, there would still be a problem to think about with respect to the posing of an imaginary inner question.) The imaginary question would have to be posed by a consciousness capable of setting apart its imagination from its questioning. This merely states the obvious, yet we should wonder why should it be that we seem to body forth both the imaginary and the question with our entire existence, at least for a performative moment.
Let's ponder this moment. Is there some essential relation between the present moment and the question? Is the question tied to something like an event? The arousal of a curiosity, for instance. Is there any aesthetic moment of the curiosity prior to its being a curiosity about something? Might a curiosity about something be at once an aesthetic moment? In speaking of the event of the question, if we could completely erase an active consciousness from the equation, we should then be able to easily imagine the imaginary question. We could imagine the event of the question as easily as we can imagine a birthday party. Wait a second. Do we actually imagine a birthday party or do we imagine something like scenes from a birthday party, or do we merely imagine images from scenes from a birthday party which we piece togetherquicker than emergency surgerywith operations of memory or cognition? How exactly do we live an event in our imaginations?
I imagine asking questions. I make gestures. My forearm turns, my palm facing up, my fingers spread as if holding a ball. The word, the body of the question is turned around, as if it had a behind. Is there revealed in this gesture an appresentation of the question, a behind of the question that would intimate, following Kojima after a fashion, the coexistence of another intention within the intentionality of the question? (We incidentally see why it so important to make a study of composition; the composition of the questioner is to be questioned.) Kojima's analysis, however, would place the appresentation of the question, if such indeed occurs, prior to any movement of the body. That is not my claim here. In fact, if we could easily separate movements of the body from acts of consciousness we should be able to easily pose the imaginary question.
If we live questions, images or events of consciousness, insofar as such exist, in the moment, how then do we sustain an inquiry? Surely it is not completely nonsensical to say that we can sustain an inquiry. Perhaps we shouldn't take the moment for granted, as if it already existed as some measurable unit of time ready to fit to acts of consciousnesswe don't yet know how to clearly demarcate acts from activities, particular questions from sustained inquiries. "Sustained inquiry" answers in part how a question arises, though of course it can only address part of the question of the manner of the question's arising, and is only the rudest beginning of an account of the cultivation of a questioning disposition. Do we need to assume that the moment is destroyed with the advent of a new question, or could moments possibly be expandable or repeatable in a way that would still allow them to be moments, to define the temporal boundedness of a conscious engagement?
Is the imaginary question spontaneous? Do we see it emerge from an engagement with the world or does it completely take us by surprise? These alternatives may not in fact be mutually exclusive but it may be helpful to begin to think of spontaneity by viewing it as a complete and instantaneous surprise, so as to appreciate spontaneity for itself, and then to wonder about its history of engagement with the world. Casey draws a distinction between controlled imagining and spontaneous imagining, and says that an image can either be exclusively controlled or spontaneous. Yet what is spontaneity? Casey says that "a truly spontaneous phenomenon initiates itself rather than being initiated by other phenomena: it is autogenous" (Imagining, p. 68). I wonder though about a possible heterogeneity of the imaginary question, perhaps involving a heterogeneity of the imaginary questioner. And still I wonder whether a spontaneous image must be imagined to be real. In what manner is "to be imagined" an engagement with the world?
Perhaps it is movement itself that imagines, to wrest an idea from Barbaras. It occurred to me (out walking the other day) that only a being who could move could imagine spontaneity, and, extending the idea with a twist back on itself, only a being who could imagine itself stepping free of causality could enact causality. On reflection, though, perhaps it is not a being nor even a hermeneutic extentiality but actually a living movement who imagines spontaneity, an existential hermeneutic living movementa questioner? An existence capable of grasping the appresented, of turning the question around, making it a question? Who would be capable of the impossible, of asking the imaginary questionbut is the impossibility of the imaginary question an established fact? We can imagine that it can be posed, and we can begin to imagine how it can be posed, by an existence who could so to speak keep itself hidden from itself for the duration of the posing of a question, who could realize and irrealize at once, as just one possible avenue. How do we imagine posing questions at all? Do we want to say that that's impossible? I can imagine posing an empty question, a question without content. The gesture is here. How close am I then to posing an imaginary question? I always seem to be at the limit of the imaginary question itself. Could I be held back by a belief in the question itself, the question as such? Is it possible that someday, in a moment when the question itself slips my mind, the imaginary question will emerge spontaneously? How can I be sure that this isn't possible? Why would I assume that the things I can learn about my imagination, my questioning or my consciousness at the present moment will always obtain, that a possible other consciousness cannot ever be real? What is the meaning of an other consciousness? Certainly not simply what I imagine it to be, what I put in therebut what about a spontaneous imagination, the other imagination? Must that be imagined? Must spontaneity be embodied, and wouldn't that then be a kind of other consciousness that would be second in importance to a singular other to whom we have an ethical responsibility and whose otherness must not be conflated with the imaginary otherness of a spontaneity?
I didn't quite intend to end up here brushing up against ethics in pursuit of the imaginary question. However, let me add a thought. Why do we ask questions? Do we ask questions merely to feed our own curiosities, or might we be practicing a style of engagement with others, a way of turning a problem around to let curiosities be generated from multiple facets of a fascinationokay, there's a danger of going in circles here; we are still thinking about feeding a curiosity, by way of a fascination, which would have some relation to movement by being other than a movement though it might be generated by a living movement, but we are adding to curiosity the idea of other facets. Does the other facet arrest movement? Does it transfix? Does it transfigure? (And with transfiguration we are back to thinking of spontaneity as an other figure, another animal form (we may have twisted ourselves around: only an ethical being could imagine spontaneity, only a being who could respond to others could see itself as ex-isting outside of causality). How do we conceptualize the transfixation on the facet of the question? Does the fascination of the question only have this facet, this turning of a face, and never touch on a question itself, which would kill all curiosity once and for all, and might a fascination's impossible existence only in facets be a reason for the difficulty in conceiving the real possibility of an imaginary question? No, but there would still be the turning of the facets in place of the "itself," and that would have to be an itself of sorts, or at the minimum it would qualify as realor would it? Can we both irrealize and realize the turning of a facet for (another) consciousness? Can we or can we not ask an imaginary question?