File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0111, message 147

Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2001 20:53:02 +0000
Subject: Re: [Fwd: re:  Ethics as a figure of nihalism]


Interesting argument - and I am finding it an interesting and useful 

Firstly by 'work' in the last post I actually 'meant' to refer to using 
the Nancy texts/works to understand "practically existing communities" - 
the difficulty is not in my view simply the issues you have raised with 
my reading and use of Nancy's theorization but rather the difficulty of 
dealing with the fissures and the violence between communities, when 
they are considered as what one might call "really existing communities" 
rather than the idealized structures you are arguing that Nancy is 
proposing. However only slightly contrary to your reading I quote the 
below from page 40 - my reading of this is that the community referred 
to is precisely an existing community, or perhaps I should re-emphasize 
that there is not just one community but many. It is very interesting to 
me that we are reading the following passage from what appear to be 
divergent views. This passage like many of the passages in the text 
returns us to the concrete world of 'actually-existing-communities'... 
and the associated problems of the real, I suspect this is an 
irreconcilable difference.

"The political, if this word may serve to designate not the organization 
of society but the disposition of community as such, the destination of 
its sharing, must not be the assumption or the work of love or of death. 
It need neither find, nor regain, nor effect a communion taken to be 
lost or still to come. If the political is not dissolved in the 
sociotechnical element of forces and needs (in which, in effect, it 
seems to be dissolving under our eyes), it must inscribe the sharing of 
community. The outline of singularity would be "political"--as would be 
the outline of its communication and its ecstasy. "Political" would mean 
a community ordering itself to the unworking of its communication, or 
destined to this unworking: a community consciously undergoing the 
experience of its sharing. To attain such a signification of the 
'political' does not depend, or in any case not simply, on what is 
called 'political will'. It implies being already engaged in the 
community, that is to say, undergoing, in whatever manner, the 
experience of community as communication..."

The experience of the community does take place in friendships, families 
and neighbourhoods alone but in sectarian and post-colonial violence and 
let us not forget racial and familial abuse. These elements are a 
function of the inherent violence of communities, as they interact... 
Perhaps at this point our differences are also identifiable as my 
identifying communities as a places of violence, initially sacred but 
now predominantly secular...

The other issue to touch on is the issue of the 'singularity' - we are 
generally in agreement on the issue of identities, singularities - 'the 
illusion of a stable self'. The reference to the 'split' subject is 
towards the psychoanalytical subject I'm not clear in my own mind 
whether the person I am is mad up of many singularities or not. But not 
withstanding this I think where the notions come together is in Politics 
1 and Politics 11 - the clearest reference/definition of singularity is 
in Someone also in 'the sense of the world'

>The starting point, as I understand nancy, has nothing to do with
>consciousness but precedes it. There is an "originary sociality" from
>which any I-dentity must extract itself. This originary sociality is the
>community of finite singularities. Every work as such, including the
>work that is "the subject," effaces this originary community that always
>already is. (The subject is not the architect or the cornerstone of
>community: it is community's bloody nightmare.)At the moment of the
>unworking of the work, at the ecstatic limit of my "I," "I" experience
>community. Sharing (that is: community) takes place not among similarly
>positioned subjecthoods-subjects share no/thing as subjects-but (only)
>at the extreme and exposed limit of subjectivity, where (a finite) being
>irrepressibly exceeds itSelf.

>Hmm. I'm not sure where we disagree or if we disagree on this point. I
>would argue (with nancy) that I-dentity, the illusion of a stable Self,
>does unravel (or, pick another word if you wish) precisely when it
>touches the limit. It is an experience of declension, de-situation,
>depropriation. But I don't think we're really disagreeing about this.
>Am I wrong? 
No - around the discussion of identity, subject and singularity I agree 
that we agree.

>Singularity is a complicated term for nancy, and I don't think "split"
>quite cuts it, nor do N's intro remarks cover what he ends up doing with
>it. Obviously I agree that it certainly shouldn't be mistaken for
>"individual," which is what my students tend to want to do with it. But
>in this piece and in several of his other works he does bring it up with
>some kind of reference to Deleuze, so I think you're onto something when
>you bring the two together up there. 
best regards



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