Wednesday, September 02, 2009

An Enigma of Coevality

How do we share a here? Nowly? Momentaneously?

Barbaras distinguishes depth, the embeddedness of my body it the world, from the distance between things in a homogenous metrical space.

Depth, the remoteness that cannot be carried forward in the form of an outline within things, is the first dimension. Whereas height and width seem to belong to the things themselves and to owe nothing to the subject, depth corresponds to the originary unfolding of spatiality. The priority of depth does not therefore mean a privilege would be granted to it, within objective space, vis-à-vis height and width; in this space, all of the dimensions are equivalent. Depth is of another order than actual distance; it is situated just short of metrical space and reveals thereby a new sense of dimension.

(Being, pp. 209-210)

Does the space between things exist as space? If so, what kind of space? How is it presented? "The enigma of depth, Merleau-Ponty notes, is that there is a between of things" (p. 213). Is the between of between us of the same order? I feel a depth to our relationship. Do I compare this depth to the depths of my relations to other people? Do I instead operate out of a uniformal between, or, alternatively again, out of a depth belonging to a region or a modality of interrelations between people? Does the between exist polymorphously? Is it made polymorphic? Does the between have its unifocality, in its unfolding if not in its etiology? Does it at any time belong here?

Does the idea of bewteenness drive us to envisage the coexistence of things and the coexistence of people as belonging to a shared dimension? Indeed Barbaras asks us to rethink coexistence. To begin with, a question of phenomenality, he notes that "the phenomenon ascends to itself only by making itself co-present to the world and consequently to all the others" (p. 215). Does this formulation grant too much agency and ultimately too much personhood to the phenomenon in general? Again, from a different angle, do the co-presence of phenomena and the coexistence of people equally arise from depth? (Is there an implication here that depth is worldless, that things hover in a betweenness, a polymorphic being around in which if a horizon could only be discernible in an embryo?

Coexistence, Barbaras instructs, should not be bemuddled with strict contemporaneity, "which supposes precisely a space entirely unfolded. As soon as the being-together of phenomena is determined as depth, their articulation cannot go up as far as the order of the contemporaneous; their articulation cannot coincide with the axis of the "now" (p. 216). What would a loose contemporaneity resemble? Would one want not want to characterize it as coexistential? What if we initially divide the contemporaneous from the now?

Here's a thought: "The relation of the present to the past must be characterized as chiasm" (p. 224). If nothing in reality exists momentaneously in that the past is always chiasmically implicit and the "presence of depth opens the dimension of a future" (p. 216), then strict contemporaneity almost appears to be a strawman. Well, perhaps our interrelations are haunted by a ghost of contemporaneity. Perhaps we live with a spectral contemporaneity. Or else, if we are to interrogate strict contemporaneity, we could posit an irreducible plurality in the depths of coexistence. I don't know about this. We speak of having a shared history, or sharing a life together. What do these phrases mean? Is what we share enigmatically never quite here, or never quite in a here implicit in there being an us? How do we interpret our irreversibility?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 5:10 AM.


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