Thursday, 21 July 2011

An aknowledged illusion

L'homme est l'être qui ne peut sortir de soi, qui ne connaît les autres qu'en soi, et, en disant le contraire, ment.
Man is the creature that cannot emerge from himself, that knows his fellows only in himself; when he asserts the contrary, he is lying.*

Paradoxically or not, acknowledging this quasi-solipsistic principle is a prerequisite of an ethical relation to other people, other minds, hearts and bodies. Another paradox is that we can learn to acknowledge this truth – about a lie – through fiction, itself a sort of lie. Literature constitutes the type of lying that, while pretending to penetrate the surface of another man's being, or while, explicitly or implicitly, manifesting different variations of this theme of penetration (or non-penetration), also maintains its status as a "lie" of sorts, an illusion "conscious" of itself (this "consciousness" is not "someone's" consciousness, and thus not really a consciousness in the first place; it can also be a manifestation in spite of itself, "ultra-subjective").

* Marcel Proust, Albertine disparue (Paris: Gallimard, 1999), 34. Trans. C.K. Scott-Moncrieff.

Monday, 18 July 2011

"Beschneide das Wort"

Circumcision, brit milah, at once both incision and excision: a sign, symbol, sumbolon, token of participation, a letter avant la lettre, a word drawn (like you draw blood, and not only “like”) from an infant.

(A marginal note to the chapter on "The Tropic of Circumcision".)