On the advent of freedom

What is at play in our communication…? The question of philosophy as “literature,” which is about asking how far it is possible to take the third person discourse in philosophy. At what point must ontology become… what? Become conversation? Become lyricism? … The strict conceptual rigor of being-with exasperates the discourse of its concept. (Jean-Luc Nancy, Being Singular Plural, p 34)

I’m returning to my old self (the dead one, for whom I attest so well…). That is to say: I’m returning again and again to the subjectivization process that has made me “who I am”: that unknown truth that constitutes me as not yet being myself. In other words, the event of my own discourse, which no one, not even I, can appropriate.

Will I ever be myself? Immortal challenge of “exceedation,” meet animal torment! But I must pursue exceedation in spite of the limitless failure I recognize in my attempt to “inscribe” what is Immortal about “me.” For I am tired of being swayed by those who consider philosophy to be about “usefulness,” those who say, “That is all well and fine, but what can I do with it?” Those who ask such questions don’t have time for me in the first place, and I can’t blame them. For it’s not only am I exhausted by what is going on with me, or rather, by what the “going-on” that I am is. What’s more, I’m trying to be attentive enough to not mask over my exhaustion: to share that too. And because of my graciousness on this point (alas, it was unavoidable for me!), I’m stupid enough to think you’ll have patience for me; that you’ll recognize in all of this that something of your self is at stake. But I’d be lying if this meant we’d form a nice happy community together upon recognizing this. On the contrary, we seem doomed to cast one another out, crying, seized and consigned by the truth-process that we are. Oh, whoever you are, wherever you are, there is a kind of helpless love here, en ruine, despite how it drives us (apart). But at this point, “it is impossible to reach a clear distinction between determination and exhaustion.” The I that I speak, he is “a transient fact, not only as a result of [his] chance birth and [his] approaching death, but also because the process that determines [me] is the one that exhausts [me]” (Bataille). This is all, I know, stated much too seriously. And alas, while it is terribly serious, by the end, it isn’t really serious at all, I know. In fact, I can already hear them laughing… And yet: “There is no point in doing philosophy if it isn’t to try and accompany this exhaustion of discourse to its limits…”

I — “The philosophical ideal and the cut of writing”

In Nancy’s book on Kant, Logodaedalus, the question at hand revolves around Darstelling (and Dichtung, we’ll get to that below). Darstellung– presentation– is best constrasted with Vorstellung– representation (emphasis on the “re-“). One could draw the contrast in this way: Darstellung deals with the thing-in-itself, whereas Vorstellung is mimetic. To be blunt about it, it is the difference between a naked woman and a picture of a naked woman; the one is absolutely unpredictable, unruly, seductive and yet unknown; the latter is “flattened,” a mere production or copy of the “real thing.” Thus, where representation implies something at a remove from the “thing” it represents, presentation implies that the thing presents itself. Already, we see that the “thing presenting itself” and the “presentation itself” are intertwined in an inextricable way. In terms of Kant’s philosophy, then, Darstellung is the “ideal” of a perfectly reasonable philosophical exposition: “In Critique, reason forms itself.” In other words, the form of the presentation (which is the presentation) becomes the very stakes of the content (the “thing presented”). It is thus how Kant comes to be known as the driest philosopher to have ever written. There few flashes of wit, and necessarily so. And yet, it is clear that it is not quite so simple (we’ll get to this: the operation which interrupts is named “Dichtung,” the cut of writing itself).

Pure philosophical presentation of the Idea (whether Reason, critique, freedom, etc.) is modeled on the ideal of the mathematical proof. In the mathematical proof, you have the idea of a presentation that is, in a sense, utterly divorced the the “man” of the mathematician. Sure, the mathematician preforms and creates the proof. But this “proof” is offered up as being free from all accouterments. Its “style” is meant to be purely reasonable, that is, accessible to an infinite amount of rational beings who, in following the pure presentation, could conceivably agree on its correctness. I leave aside the question of analytic vs. synthetic judgment, except to say that we are in the realm of the latter, insofar as the system proves its universality only by requiring the “agreement” of an indefinite number of other rational beings. This “agreement” constitutes the “true popularity” that Kant seeks; and he seeks this “true popularity” by forsaking any gimmick or any short-cut which would render his work up to the masses in a banally “popular” way. Thus, the impenetrability of the Critique. But Nietzsche’s subtitle for Zarathustra, “A Book for Everyone and No One,” seems to apply here as well (even if Nietzsche has nothing but disgust for Kant’s “science without honey”).

To recapitulate, the idea of a “science without honey,” of raw Darstellung, implies the need to combine Witz with judgement in order to avoid the silly, the popular, and the ambiguous, opting instead for the systematic and “dry,” such that the temptation to play is set aside and reason itself– reason alone– can speak. To quote Nancy:

Darstellung as such (presenting, staging, genre, style) insists on a specific demand leading all the way to the bitter asceticism of presentation.

Again, this is the opposition of popular “analogy” (Vorstellung, representation) and mathematical “demonstration” (Darstellung, presentation). In short, it is “the need to present the system itself simply and without graces,” for the sake of the purity of the exposition: this was Kant’s desire. It amounts to the exercise of an utmost scrutiny, as close as possible to the “dictates” of Reason (note: it is this “as close as possible,” the limit to Darstellung, which is what is at stake in “Dichtung”). The result is an outward obscurity, a dryness, a “science without honey”– which (perhaps) promises a higher joy.

Now, again, this is only half of the story. Darstellung is confronted with its own deterioration, its own alterity, its own “undeciding itself.” This confrontation arises in the writing of the philosophy. The name of this undeciding, this syncope, this suspension or interruption of the discourse, which is engendered by Darstellung itself, is “Dichtung.” Dichtung is “darstellen in the domain of written language.” As I like to phrase it, this is where the cut of writing comes to interrupt the hope of a pure philosophic Darstellung at every word, every sentence, every section, every book. Not only are these cuts evident in “Remarks,” in many footnotes, in revised and revised outlines and “Prefaces” (all those things which ‘deconstruction’ rightfully attends to), this cut is the chaos and the play of writing itself. It is unavoidable. While Kant points to his old age, his lack of time, his lack of (or even renunciation of) talent, to explain why he cannot realize the Darstellung he desires, these earnest “excuses” are so many veils over the “fact” of Darstellung denies itself fullness, giving rise to Dichtung right alongside it [à même].

While the urge for a fully “formalized” philosophical exposition is constantly there (again, the ideal is mathematical exposition or proof), the only model that the philosopher has to go on is the Dichter, the poet. Kant suggests that a more adept or poetic mind could accomplish what he admits he cannot accomplish. But this is the limit of the “as close as possible”: it is impossible even to get “as close as possible.” Kant thus delimits Darstellung and Dichtung by way of one another, unable to renounce either. He wants to achieve the former, but only has the latter for his “type.” The result is clear: the system is displaced in and of itself at every turn. Dichtung is the engine of philosophical exposition, of Darstellung, even as this latter cannot acknowledge it.

Thus, Kant himself is the creator of “pompus and brilliant words”– a logodaedalus— which is the very position that he stigmatizes and hopes to renounce. This is the cross-contamination, the cross-examination, between the ideal of a “philosophical” exposition and the cut of “literature” that it engenders: in these ways, these two words as modern genres are born vis-a-vis a tension internal to both– that is, internal to the dilemma of exposition as such. Nancy’s book (it is fantastic!) is the testing of this internal tension: it is riddled with quotes and citations from “philosophers” and “writers,” constantly interrupting itself with the voices of these others. Each quote shows how “Kant” has come to inhabit these written spaces, contaminating modern literature more than any other thinker. Whether those other writers consider “Kant” a literary great himself, or a buffoon lost in his own logodaedalie (Nancy is equal in representing all these sides), proves the “undecision” and undecidability inscribed in the form of Kant’s writings: is he a philosopher, or is he a writer? This “two,” Kant-the-philosopher and Kant-the-writer, is a “same” which undecides itself. The same itself is not coincident with itself. At the limit of these “two” touching upon one another, you have the extreme exposition of their separation.

Returning to the quote above from Nancy’s Being Singular Plural, written twenty years after Logodaedalus, we can see how this is at issue between philosophy and literature: “What is the limit of the third person perspective in philosophy?” “What occurs at the limits of an exposition?” “How to present philosophy?” What is at stake here is nothing less than the impossible “self” of Darstellung. Philosophy cannot “decide on its presentation cognizant of its cause and in full possession of its faculties” (p 71): Darstellung, the ideal of presentation, doesn’t fully know its why and its how. Philosophy is held in limbo due to “the impossibility of mastering the ideal conditions that discourse itself imposes on its own production and its own refinement” (p 114): Dichtung, the cut of writing, cannot be “controlled.” Thus, the impossibility is dual: one cannot be the author, the philosopher-poet, the Dichter; yet neither can there be a Darstellung without an author, for there is no “autopresentation of the system.”

All of his amounts to what Nancy calls the “syncope of the autograph” which is “constitutive of the whole of critical philosophy as such” (p 19). The syncope is engendered precisely from the question of “autos”: neither autograph (of some self) nor autodemonstration (of some thought), there is only the question of how to expose, or “exposit,” the autos, or how to present this undecision between the two: “it must be a question of the mode of inscription or the mode of production of the undecidable” (p 11). Necessarily at the center of the philosophical exposition, the “author” is incessantly decentered in and by the exposition; and the exposition undecides itself. This is why his own discourse constitutes “Kant” as a “disappointed identity”; and why, “If there is decision, it is, so to speak, of discourse itself,” even as discourse simultaneously decides to not decide, decides to not determine itself entirely (p 39). It is thus that critical philosophy becomes the question of “its own delimitation and its own exposition”: philosophy as the thought of its own literature.

This “undecision” at the heart of the same is not at all an indecisiveness, for here it is a matter of deciding not to decide. Both discourse and dichter (un)decide this, though the relation is clearly lopsided (we are always retracing our steps, discourse runs far ahead of us). I introduce a logodaedalie myself: it is a matter of an unmasterable and seductive exceedation on “both sides” of the “same.” It is “sublime” and “beautiful”– a freedom which is truly terrifying, constrained to exceed itself by way of its own excesses, which cannot ever be surveyed in a “total” way. Thus, it is no coincidence that Nancy’s book on Kant is riddled with explicit and implicit references to Bataille. A few instances worth noting:

  • Nancy warns against the “transubstantiation” of a concept supposed to be heterogeneous to discourse, instead of bringing these concepts to bear on discourse itself. For in fact these “concepts” are not really concepts; he points to Derrida’s “archi-writing,” Lacan’s “jouissance,” and Bataille’s “laughter.” In other words, scholastic attempts to make these undecidables appear before themselves in discourse misses this element of excess: an “outside” of discourse is conceptualized so as to stabilize this inside/outside dichotomy between discourse and being (supposedly “outside” discourse). Clearly, one could do the same with my phrase “the cut of writing,” similar (I think) to Nancy’s phrase “syncope” as it is placed in Logodaedalus. (Similarly, when Nancy is chastised for not giving any semantic meaning to the word “freedom” in his book The Experience of Freedom, he points out that it is the strategic placement of this “word” that matters. This does not imply mastery over said strategic placement; it means that its placement is part and parcel with its concept. The sequence of the exposition implies its consequence.
  • In discussing the syncope, Nancy writes that it is not anything and has no power. Further, it is “consciousness” insofar as consciousness can only be “grasped as an identity” when it “blacks out.” I would here point to Bataille’s inimitable book L’impossible. There Bataille writes: “We must see at the same time the delusion and the truth of the object”; “I get lost in conjectures, but the evidence grows”; “At the banquet of the intellect, the ultimate imposture!”; “what defines man’s intelligence is that it escapes him”; and lastly, “The zenith of the intellect is at the same moment its breakdown.” The connection between consciousness and its syncope, its blackout, could not be made clearer than in Bataille’s work: “I can only harmonize with the excess that will destroy me in my turn. But the excess that burns me is the harmony of love within me, and I don’t tremble before God, but with love.” (“Meanwhile… surprised at feeling an incongruity between my cries and my life”). In a word, the link between writing and writer is absolute: “my whole life making an exhibition of itself and the curiosity I had had to reach the point where I was, where the farce is so complete and so true that it says: ‘I am a farce.'”
  • Thus, the allusion is clearly to Bataille in Nancy’s question, “What comes of a discourse that marks its own undecidability?,” which marks its own blackout (its laughter, its jouissance, it’s archi-…). To which he answers, “it must be a question of the mode of inscription or the mode of production of the undecidable. But only in such a way that it is accepted from the beginning that there is no ‘I’ that prepares or plans the syncope, nor any organization or productive finality that gives itself the undecidable” (p 11). The task here is “less production than expenditure, or simultaneously expenditure and production.” Again, a whole web of relations to Bataille’s work on “useless expenditure” could be woven here: “What an opaque horror I feel victim to, an ant in the caved-in anthill, and no longer having any logical thread.”
  • Lastly, Nancy himself makes the connection between Kant and Bataille explicit. Here is Kant from his 1755 Nova dilucidatio: “I have thus carefully avoided extensive digressions and only laid bare the muscles and joints of my argument, having put aside all the charm and grace of language, like a discarded garment.” And in the footnote to this quote, Nancy writes, “Allow us once more to ruthlessly place alongside one another the two extremities of a history or the two poles of a crisis. Here is Bataille ‘I think in the way a girl takes off her dress'” (p 147). The themes of nakedness, so present in Bataille’s discourse, comes up throughout Nancy’s work on Kant as a constant form of meditation on veils, palliatives, armors, etc. Here, it seems pertinent to add that, if Bataille thinks the way a girl takes off her dress, he writes, “the way a child cries: a child slowly relinquishes the reasons he has for being in tears”).

Thus, Kant and Bataille– two poles of a crisis, the crisis of exposition as such. Both of them run up against the limit of philosophic formalization (of stripping naked), precisely on the question of the impossible “self” of Darstellung and the constitutive non-mastery of Dichtung. Philosophy– a sublime endeavor, and yet useless and laughable (if not horrifying). The desire for a formal presentation, absolutely “reasonable,” gets overrun with its own excesses, its own traces of making, the way it is led into its own labyrinth. In Bataille, the question of how to make a mark of these excesses becomes the prime philosophic question, and philosophy as such is cast out because of it (Bataille refuses the title “philosopher”). In Bataille, the labyrinth is made purely apparent, made manifest, acknowledged and inscribed (even as remainders remain): “Indeed I think that in a sense my narratives clearly attain the impossible.” In Bataille, the impossibility of “finishing” and of “complete knowledge” is absolutely recognized (it terrorizes his discourse); but for Nancy, this terror, although obscured, is absolutely recognized in Kant as well.

The ideal (delusion) of a possible perfect and controllable philosophical formalization– or if this is recognized to be a delusion, the transubstantiation into a “concept” of the non-conceptual which makes this recognition possible– allows one to sidestep the ordeal of what ontology could or must “become” once it is presented with its own mirror image in literature: the to-be-presented-morality becomes a question of the morality of presenting. The exposition itself becomes the question of “ontology.” What must philosophy become, once being-with is recognized to be ontologically prior to any concept of being-with? Once the chance at sociability is seen to precede any concept of the social? Once writing, making, dichten, is shown to be at the heart of exposition, presentation, and darstellen? It can only mean the ordeal of the labyrinth. As Adorno wrote, “any subjectively imposed order is a mask over chaos”; and to cite Celan from the Meridian materials: “The time of programmatic explanations is over– we are alone.” What is at stake is not only the presentation of some truth, but rather the truth of the one(s) who will have presented it.

II — “Ethics between philosophy and writing”

To anticipate the following meditation on Badiou’s Ethics, I would like to ask: what is the “event” to which I pledge my fidelity if not my very own discourse, where self (Dichter) and the exposition of truth (Darstellung) are both at stake, in a complex co-habitation? Clearly the question of a pure philosophical Darstellung is also at stake in Badiou’s work overall, which is only amplified by his decision to incorporate the idea of mathematical formalization into his work as such. But instead of tackling this question, I would like to instead inquire into the question of “event” as it is strategically constellated in his discourse.

It is my view that “event” comes to name, on the level of his Darstellung, something that Badiou cannot say insofar as he is playing the role of philosopher-thinker, which he maintains in his discourse with an amazing vigilance. Badiou cannot say that the word “event” really names the undecidable happening of his own discourse. This is not to take away the validity of his philosophical model, but to apply it to Badiou himself. Rather than on the terms of his own system (Badiou-as-philosopher), I’d like to understand his word “event” in terms of his own production of the undecidable in his discourse: Badiou as Dichter, as writer-maker. This is not to point out a limitation in his thought, not at all. It is simply to acknowledge that he cannot acknowledge that his own discourse is his “event.” It exists in his discourse as “Badiou himself,” in a sense: the “event” as the vanishing point that haunts every one of his words. He cannot acknowledge this within his discourse quite simply because it would lend consistency to a subject whose only consistency can come from an “event,” as Badiou obviously says.

We are left, in the end, with a paradoxical result: “Badiou the person” and “his edifice” are co-produced in this sense, and necessarily so, if we are to admit that Badiou, perhaps more than anyone, has remained faithful to what is at stake in his own discourse (i.e., its thought, its writing, its exposition, its unknown). This co-production of self and discourse, where “discourse decides” and the self is “undecided,” is the sense behind Nancy’s concept of exscription. For as separate as discourse and self seem to be, they touch absolutely– that is, if the Dichter remains faithful to the “event” of his discourse as the advent of a Darstellung.

Badiou begins from the radical non-pre-existence of what is too often assumed to be a “subject.” On the level of opinions, the level of the “given” parameters of the situation (being qua being), the level of constituted bodies of knowledge, there is no “subject,” but only so many banal political “subjects” (endowed with “rights” and oriented toward “living well,” “being happy,” etc.). For Badiou, this level is beneath Good and Evil, and is on par with simple human existence. Contrary to this, Badiou conceives of the subject as co-produced alongside a truth, vis-a-vis its fidelity in a truth-process. It is differentiated from the reflexive and doubting subject of Descartes and the transcendental and constituting subject of Kant. For Badiou, the subject only enters into the process of its composition, it is only composed, insofar as it enters into a truth-process and composes this truth at the level of the situation. The subject, then, never really escapes its stance of not-(pre-)existing, for to do so would be do betray the truth-process: it would be to collapse back on to its simple multiple being. Instead of “continuing” along the path of the unknown truth that it maps and composes, it would collapse back on to simple “perseverance in being.” Ethics amounts to persevering in that effort whereby the subject constantly exceeds his or her simple perseverance on the level of being (situation, opinion, constituted knowledge, etc.).

Of course, all of this is tied to the event which retreats. Now, I have not yet tackled “Being and Event” or “Logic of Worlds.” But it seems to me that if there is anything lacking in Badiou, it is the explicit acknowledgement of what event whereby he considers himself maintained in his truth’s consistency. I find him to be at his most powerful in recognizing that this amounts to a “fidelity to being faithful,” in a sense, an expression of an abyss before the void of the event and so many figures of nihilism in terms of the situation (“most powerful” thus denoting a recognition of powerlessness in terms of the situation, and yet “continuing!” anyway…). This is not to doubt the consistency of Badiou’s truth; on the contrary, it is practically unrivaled on the level of “self-evidence.” By this I mean it encounters the Real, and to encounter his work, head-on, is to encounter the Real of a truth-process that is both (a) given a unique and singular voice in Badiou and (b) for all, and thus accessible and “enterable” by all. In Badiou, there is an interesting intertwining, then, of “personal interests” on the level of the situation and the “disinterested-interest” on the level of the event, the constitution of the subject vis-a-vis a truth-process, made possible by its fidelity to it. This intertwining is also expressed in his differentiation between the “language of the situation”– of opinions, knowledges, situations– and the “subject-language”– which is co-produced, or co-produces, the subject and the truth at once.

Quite pertinently, the third and last Evil to be resisted is that of thinking that the “subject-language” could totalize itself on the level of the “language of the situation.” Why? Because something always remains unnameable for the subject-language. It seems to me that this “unnameable” is such because it is either the impossibility of actually narrowing down the event which gives ones truth a consistency, or the impossibility of actually narrowing down who the human-Immortal is whose ethical conduct gives a truth its consistency. While it is fidelity to the event that gives the subject its consistency, the ethical gesture par excellence seems to be to persevere (in exceeding the simple “perseverance in being”) even when the event’s nominative power or effect seems to have receded. But this seems to imply to me that ethics only begins where there is no longer an “event” which will give the truth-process and/or the subject its consistency! Again, we could raise the question of the event to which Badiou himself remains faithful: is it the Cultural Revolution? is it his encounter as understudy of Lacan or Althusser or Sartre? is it the break that Cantor makes with set theory? is it to Mallarme?

Alas, in the final analysis, it is clear that the “event” to which one maintains fidelity is truly void. Precisely one of the temptations to be avoided, in terms of the truth process, is to think that the event was “plentiful” and not “void”; but then isn’t the phrase “event” simply an infinitely receding name for the nomination that the subject itself is? In other words, isn’t this nominative power of the “event” (which can only ever “force” its truth into belonging, in terms of the situation) aligned squarely with the “subject-language” which can never be totalized (which only examines, in a disinterested-interested way, the situation from the perspective of the “event”)?

Obviously, to analyze Badiou’s work on the terms of his Ethics book is somewhat unfair. But I only mean to point out here a kind of homology between:

  • the ideal of a philosophical Darstellung and the nominative power of the event, to which is aligned the truth-process (and its forcing), “disinterested-interest,” the “subject-language,” and ultimately the consistency of the subject itself as it comes to realize its Immortal;
  • the interruption or syncope of Dichtung and the unnameable as that which “is not accessible to the Immortal,” to which is aligned the impossibility of imposing ones truth in a total way; the cohabitation of “disinterested-interest” with regular old “interest,” and its complication in any human-Immortal life; the way the subject-language speaks in the “language of the situation” and can never “name all the elements of a situation”; and lastly the way in which, to quote Badiou finally, “The Immortal exists only in and by the mortal animal.”

Is not this last phrase, in many senses, a confession to the non-existence of the supra-situational “event”? Or, in other words, its non-necessary and never-guaranteed positing? This entire post comes from a question that has been on my mind lately: where does Badiou account for freedom? It seems that, in terms of his philosophical edifice at least, “freedom” is precisely to posit the obscure “event” as that by which the subject maintains its consistency in fidelity, where in reality this “event” is synonymous, in the end, with the subject’s own birth. It is in this sense that the event, in terms of the earlier situation, must be considered as void; but in terms of the present situation, the event must be considered as not yet being. I don’t think this undermines the idea that the subject is co-produced alongside its truths; on the contrary, it makes this thesis all the more powerful, for it seems to suggest that this co-production is the event that has not ever yet taken place. Again, is this not unlike the idea of “freedom” in Kant, which must be assumed, and yet which is never guaranteed, never given to empirical experience? And is not the limit up against which Darstellung runs–i.e., Dichtung– like the idea that the subject-language “does not have the power to name all the elements of the situation,” that to do so is a complete disaster? (Perhaps there is then a sense in which Bataille’s work truly is “disastrous” and “Evil”).

It is no coincidence that the word “advent” crops up in Badiou’s work, immediately after saying that the Immortal in us exists in and by the mortal animal that we are: “[The Good’s] sole being lies in the situated advent [l’advenue en situation] of a singular truth. So it must be that the power of a truth is also a kind of powerlessness.” In my eyes, Bataille and Badiou are in full accord at this point. And just a bit above that, on page 85: “It is we ourselves, as ourselves, who expose ourselves to the becoming-subject.” Now, it is presumed that in doing so we expose ourselves to the event and the truth-process which proceeds from it. And yet, this truth-process has no being outside of our exposing ourselves to it (and so neither does the event!). It is in this sense that the “law of the unknown,” to which one remains faithful at all costs, lest one betray ones own becoming-subject, seems precisely to be the “law of freedom.” It is in this sense that the unnameable that escapes the event seems to be quite similar to the subject’s own self-exceeding, such that the unnameable self-exceeding is… “the symbol of the pure real [réel] of the situation, of its life without truth.” This life without truth– would it not also be a life without the unknown, a life without freedom? That is, a life without any advent as such? But this, we have to realize, is the possibility that we all run when we choose to “persevere in our being” instead of entering into the uncertainty of a truth-process that only we can be, that only we are.

In short, a life without the unknown is a life without freedom, without truth, without event (and there is clearly nothing “advantageous” about that).  It is not for nothing that, at least in my eyes, all these terms seem to be complicated, mixed, and even undetermined, once we’ve admitted that the human animal and the Immortal that I am not yet co-habitate “in me.” It is at this point that the amazing Darstellung of Badiou-the-philosopher runs up against his own unique “person,” irreplaceable mortal-Immortal Badiou-the-writer, in a word, the Dichtung that sends a syncope shivering over his entire edifice– precisely so that the edifice can force its truth (and not be a mere simulacrum). There is thus a profound sense in which “Immortal” comes to designate the infinity of the discourse that one leaves behind (or rather, will have left behind); while “mortal” comes to designate finitude as it comes to be inscribed in this very discourse. Immortal are the words of a mortal who remains faithful to the potential immortality of “his own” discourse (although again: whose discourse, if not yours?)– who thereby decides to undecide himself, to put his very consistency at stake in these words and their possible immortality.

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