Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Meontic Mode of Silence

Irigary, in a criticism of Hegelian dialectic, recommends a turning away from "an absolute saturated with language. . .in order to return to the absolute silence that the respect for other as irreducible to oneself calls for" (Between East and West, p. 100). She continues, "Negativity is then applied to the absolute itself as the accomplishment of the subject, an absolute reduced not to nothing but to a silence attentive to the other" (ibid.).

I'd like to give a moment's thought to the possibility of a meontic mode of silence, a mode of silence that invites us to hear what isn't voiced in order to better hear the voice. (It is appropriate to speak of voices, to hear voices in these words. We are indeed speaking in interpersonal terms. At issue is something like an egalitarian imperative, what Irigaray refers to as "horizontal transcendence," and the whisper of a radical panecastics that would resituate negativity, thought and the question without the violence of a depersonalization.

Let's say, for the sake of conversation, that the duration of silence is dialectical in every direction. Naturally. The attentionality of a silence is dialectical in every direction, open to interlocutors from all corners, speakers of the between, so it is might be expected that its duration should be multidirectional or polyvalent. Is this true of even the most intimate silences? The nature of the most intimate of silences is to not be widely known. That limitation too represents a kind of meontics. Maybe to be intimate is to be incompletely answered in a special way, to not know all of the valences of a silence's duration, to not let them be known.

Where would our interiors be without silence? Could we then build an interior without attention to others? This is an anxiety I think many people have, that one can indeed build build an interior away from all attention. People fear being trapped, and at the same time they fear a threat to betweenness. Perhaps though it is a question of durations. One attention span does not perfectly synchronize with another. Silences overlap, perhaps even lay askew. They seem not to attend to each other, and for a moment at least, the each other is thrown into doubt. Where would each other be in the absence of attention? Well, let's not rush to fill every silence with a lack of attention.

Will silence tell us whether it masks attentiveness or inattentiveness? Will words?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 10:43 AM.


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