File spoon-archives/french-feminism.archive/french-feminism_2000/french-feminism.0008, message 12

Date: Sat, 5 Aug 2000 09:24:01 +0100
Subject: Re: talking about Irigaray

Hi Catherine, you wrote recently:

>I think your suggestion Michael, of contributing a gloss of Derrida's
>"glance" at Heidegger on sexual difference would be very welcome to this
>list (certainly to me).

I think I've already suggested that this has become moredifficult and
fascinating a trip than I had imagined, but I'm still working on it...

>>A radical intervention of the obliviated sexual difference: a more original
>>cleavage than that of the ontological difference? or perhaps an other
>>difference, a different difference...
>Irigaray claims that sexual difference is an ontological (and hence
>ethical) difference. And she does argue for its primacy over other
>differences, philosophically speaking. (This has gotten her some flack
>from, for example, those concerned with sexualities, who smell - I think
>incorrectly - heterosexism here; and, perhaps more interestingly, from
>those interested in thinking race.)

This is the nub of it: the nature of the difference, the sexual difference.
Most Heideggerians would immediately jump on Irigaray and asseverate that
the sexual difference is precisely an *ontic* not ontological difference,
that it is a cleavage amongst beings not being. Given the richness of the
term Geschlect, that it means sex, race, genre, family, etc... it is easy
to immediately (without any of that called-upon-thinking that Heidegger
himself exemplified so often) rush down the path that Geschlect signifies
(blood, sex, generation) differences (even categories) of an ontic kind,
between classes of beings. I think that one should not rush so quickly to
see sexual difference as ontic. Without going too far here (and rushing
into my promised piece on this to come...), it might be that Heidegger does
not want to speak of the sexual *duality* of dasein, since this is surely
ontic and thus of no consequence for fundamental ontology (any more than
so-called race or so-called IQ, etc...), although it would be of extreme
significance to an anthropology or a humanistic study of some kind... It is
entirely possible that by 'neutralising' dasein (the gateway to the
question of being) as regards sex, Heidegger is precisely making way for
sexuality to be of the fundament, perhaps ontological (hints of this can be
read in Heidegger's astonishing essay on the poetry of Trakl in 'On the Way
to Language' ["Language in the Poem"]).

>And to begin the thinking with/of Heidegger, let me cite this passage from
>the essay "An Ethics of Sexual Difference":
>This air that we never think of has been borrowed from a birth, a growth, a
>phusis and a phuein that the philosoper forgets.

Heidegger often reads phusis as constant emergence and occlusion,
appearance and disappearance, of what happens of its own accord, the
self-sustaining, self-remaining, self-staying (and going). This can sound
like a pre-scription for life, just-life, but I think Heidegger does not
mean anything biological, or only biological, nor more broadly, anything
'physical' or 'natural'... and he sometimes 'equates' it with logos (which
I here suggest means something like a taking-care [of 'things', beings] --
this equation is not anything like an identity, more a
belonging-together... logos as a longing-for-being-in
taking-care-of-beings, phusis as the coming-to-be what has already
presented itself (being as presence). Is Irigaray arguing for the
all-pervading airiness at the heart of all beings that be-come and stay and
withdraw? The pneumatic soul/spirit? Irigaray's air sounds momentarily like
a combination, no, a chiasmus of soul--spirit, both stuff-of-life (animus?)
and that which enlivens the living... I need help here

and I must go get the cats some food...

will continue this later today

best wishes


>	To forget being is to forget the air, the first fluid given us
>gratis and
>free of interest in the mother's blood, given us again when we are born,
>like a natural profusion that raises a cry of pain: the pain of a being who
>comes into the world and is abandoned, forced henceforth to live without
>the immediate assistance of another body. Unmitigated mourning for the
>intrauterine nest, elemental homesickness that man will seek to assuage
>through his work as builder of worlds, and notably the dwelling which seems
>to form the essence of his maleness: language.
>	In all his creations, all his works, man always seems to neglect
>of himself as flesh, as one who has received his body as that primary home
>(that Gestell, as Heidegger would say, when, in "Logos," the seminar on
>Heraclitus, he recognizes that what metaphysics has not begun to address is
>the issue of the body) which determines the possibility of his coming into
>the world and the potential opening of a horizon of thought, of poetry, of
>celebration, that also includes the god or gods.
>She continues with a brief reflection on Heidegger's/Holderlin's "Only a
>god can save us now," and concludes with the sensible transcendental.
>Yes, I think Irigaray's "to come," or simply sexual difference, is very
>close to Heidegger's event, with the emphasis on the event's strange
>temporality: a future anterior that is also inappropriable. But it's been
>four years since I've done serious reading of Heidegger, so I would benefit
>from your insights here.
>Must run,
>At 02:40 PM 7/31/2000 +0100, you wrote:
>>hi Catherine, recently you wrote:
>>>I would just jump in here briefly to emphasize, as you all know, how
>>>important Heidegger is for her work. I think it is more useful to
>>>characterize it as a continuing-thinking, rather than oppose it to (or
>>>equate it with) Heidegger's project.
>>A sort of furthering the thinking from another source? Presencing the
>>forgotten, the covered-over of metaphysics (the question of being) has been
>>the difficult task of Heidegger's thinking; could we say that Irigaray
>>continues Heidegger by reperforming his thinking onto his oeuvre?
>>displaying what his thinking has covered over -- the sexual difference?
>>air? life?
>>>The big difference, of course, is that
>>>she takes sexual difference as the (to come) locus of difference, and the
>>>to come can be read both logically and historically, a blurring her writing
>>Is the 'to come' something like Heidegger's ereignis (event of
>>appropriation, the admission into the mission sent from the inception, and
>>its attendant waiting upon, gelassenheit)? Heidegger's thinking has
>>somewhat dis-solved the chrono-logical notions of time, historicity and
>>temporality -- this seems true for Irigaray too, can you exemplify?
>>>The notion, for example, of the forgotten feminine is central;
>>>however, after Heidegger we are certainly not speaking of a feminine
>>>essence to be refound and reinstated. This forgotten, and this forgetting,
>>>is rather constitutive of the world (of metaphysics), and so, as you
>>>intimate, to weave it back into that world would entail its (the
>>>forgotten's) invention, and the world's radical change.
>>A radical intervention of the obliviated sexual difference: a more original
>>cleavage than that of the ontological difference? or perhaps an other
>>difference, a different difference...
>>>Another suggestion: if you haven't read her essays in An Ethics of Sexual
>>>Difference, and are just moving into Irigaray as a philosopher, I think
>>>you'd find them most helpful.
>>Thankyou for the suggestion (I'll try to get the book ...)
>>May I ask, given my newness on this list and my not being familiar with
>>what issues you have covered in the past, whether it would be appropriate
>>(not covering old ground long-since travelled) for me to summarise
>>Derrida's glance at Heidegger's apparent omission of sexuality and sexual
>>difference in his fundamental ontology project, why dasein is sexually
>>neutral and the status of this observation? Might this be relevant to
>>dfiscussing the relationship between Irigaray and Heidegger at one critical
>>point of apparent departure, of parturing?
>>>Nice to see words on the list again...
>>>Catherine Peebles
>>best wishes
>>>At 08:53 AM 7/30/2000 +0100, you wrote:
>>>>hi Simone
>>>>you wrote recently:
>>>>>Michael and all,
>>>>>Hi.  irigaray has several books that deal with elements in the works of
>>>>>other philosophers: Elemental Passions (earth) and The Marine Lover of
>>>>>Friedrich Nietzsche (water), and some argue that Speculum can also be
>>>>>placed in this category (fire).
>>>>>her emphasis on the elements: air, earth, fire, water, is part and
>>>>>parcel of her development of a sensible transcendental, and the elements
>>>>>operate on both literal and metaphorical levels (thus sensible
>>>>>transcendental), as well as part of her own return to pre-Socratic
>>>>>thinking.  usually, the elements are those that are ignored or devalued
>>>>>in other works, and she excavates them deconstructively as 'symbols' for
>>>>>the covering over of the feminine in metaphysics (the connection between
>>>>>the abyss and the womb in her Heidegger book and others, for instance).
>>>>>it's complicated.
>>>>Shortly, I should have Oblivion... and Marine... and I Love.... (when
>>>>amazon gets to ship them) and I'll treat myself to a full immersion. I the
>>>>very mean time, I wonder, given my interest in Heideggerand his attempts to
>>>>deconstruct the entire metaphysical tradition, in your opinion, whether
>>>>Irigaray is exposing, dis-covering, the feminine in metaphysics, in order
>>>>to re-instate, recover it within or around metaphysics or whether she is
>>>>attempting an overcoming (verwindung) of metaphysics and moving through to
>>>>another 'space' of thinking, say, by threading through the forgotten
>>>>feminine into the tapestry of erstwhile metaphysics, [thus transporting the
>>>>whole into...]?
>>>>The little I've read of Irigaray reminds me greatly of Heidegger at his
>>>>poetic scintillating best: it is language (of) thinking...
>>>>best wishes
>>>>>my advice is never to get your irigaray second hand, no matter how
>>>>>honest or good the source.  each of her books is part of a fairly well
>>>>>unified (though i admit unified by the logic of metaphor and symbol more
>>>>>than by linearity) project, and her parole is so uniquely her own that
>>>>>one, i think, really should get immersed for themselves.  she a very
>>>>>poetic writer, and no two people read quite the same Irigaray for that
>>>>>best to all,
>>>>>michael david pennamacoor wrote:
>>>>>> thankyou Noelle
>>>>>> two or three initial questions:
>>>>>> 1) are the "elements" earth & air meant literally or (in what way)
>>>>>> metaphorically?
>>>>>> 2) is not earth also abundant and the 'soil and root'  for all that
>>>>>> be-comes and stirs (into life)? Heidegger also privileges light and the
>>>>>> clearing afforded by lighting... what does Irigaray say about this
>>>>>> privilege? Is it on a par with earth and oblivious in the same way of
>>>>>> best wishes
>>>>>> michael
>>>>>> >Irigaray's main point in _The Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger_ is
>>>>>> >that Heidegger privileges the element earth and is oblivious to the
>>>>>> >element air, which is abundant and is where "everything comes to pass
>>>>>> >and everything stirs" (13).
>>>>>> >
>>>>>> >--Noelle McAfee
>>>>>> >Content-Type: text/x-vcard; charset=us-ascii;
>>>>>> > name="Noelle_McAfee.vcf"
>>>>>> >Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
>>>>>> >Content-Description: Card for Noelle McAfee
>>>>>> >Content-Disposition: attachment;
>>>>>> > filename="Noelle_McAfee.vcf"
>>>>>> >
>>>>>> >Attachment converted: Capitalist Pig:Noelle_McAfee.vcf (TEXT/TBB6)
>>>>>>      --- from list ---
>>>>>Woe to the writer who fails to cultivate
>>>>>[her] megalomania, who sees it diminished
>>>>>without taking action. [She] will soon
>>>>>discover that one does not become *normal*
>>>>>with impunity.
>>>>>		-- E.M. Cioran
>>>>>		"On the Verge of Existence"
>>>>>Simone Roberts
>>>>>Ph.D. Candidate, Studies in Lit.
>>>>>19 and 20 Century Euro-American Poetics,
>>>>>	Feminist Philosophy
>>>>>The University of Texas-Dallas
>>>>>School of Arts and Humanities
>>>>>primary email:
>>>>>secondary email:
>>>>>Instructor, Art Institute of Dallas
>>>>>     --- from list ---
>>>>Michael Pennamacoor
>>>>38 Sandown Lees
>>>>Kent CT13 9NZ
>>>>tel: 01304-617626
>>>>     --- from list ---
>>>     --- from list ---
>>     --- from list ---
>     --- from list ---

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