And you wrap up his tired face in your hair
and he hands you the apple core
I’ve been contemplating my posts on Foucault. I like trying to combine thinking and writing in the daily format, where the writing is all about having no shock absorbers, and the longer term project, where all arguments, rhetorical feints, themes, tropes, tricks, hedges, and surprises have been milled through the thick shadow of reflection. The shadow I cast inside, my beloved, the shadow that no sunlight reaches, but only a lunar and lunatic glitter.
The Buddhists are right to compare the mind to a monkey.
So I’ve been contemplating my posts on Foucault with the shock of thinking through the Other, basso profundo O, that German import. I came upon this truth before I understood its meaning – which is of course the method of the monkey, the illuminated monkey. Although am I really saying anything more, deviating from the standard intellectual history that would make Hegel’s dialectic between the master and the servant a founding moment of our modernity?
If, however, we look at the Other as part of a system that unfolds as the human limit is dissolved and human finitude becomes the ground of the possibility of thought (which are not contradictory moments, but moments that express the two fold nature of man’s domination of the world, the wedding of the universal and universal history), then Hegel’s story is not of a struggle for recognition, but a story of new limits. We pass in review the savage, the animal, the slave, the woman, the proletariat, the peasant – and we find the faces, the many faces, of Nemesis, for this is the space into which this review is invited. It is here that alienation from the culture of happiness and the humanization of the world has its redoubt.
I cannot say, beforehand, that there is some incommensurability between Man and these losers. I suspect infection, however.
But to return to Foucault – I do not so much doubt the rupture Foucault describes as the linearity of the units he is using to describe it – the age, the epoch, the century, the ‘occidental’ culture. I prefer the move that Foucault makes in the seventies – where these unities are dissolved into fronts, mobile, diffuse, often overrun. It is the unities that Foucault is using, which come from the stock of universal history, which often make the reader of Les Mots et Les Choses –especially if that reader is even more a reader of the White Mythology – pause. A false sound comes from the bell.
The Other comes in bits and pieces – there’s no invention of it here, no sudden act of creation. That is simply the impression one gets from the point of view of universal history. Suddenly, a specter is haunting Europe. The Other is not so much resistant to the grid of the Great Tradition, with its obsessive knowing, than invisible to it. The Other, in other words, finds itself in another zone, a zone defined by the adventurer – by the possibility of adventure. In the world of the Great Tradition, adventure dissolves and is allocated to other vocations; in the world of the Little Tradition, the adventurer is a threat, either for good – the saint – or for evil – the witch. But the adventurer has his or her own zone, a zone under the sign of discovery, and here communication is, at its most primary, the exchange of intersignes.
Is this what I meant?