Every genuine beginning hesitates to begin.
No deed, word, thought, or activity suffices to prove that beginning has begun–not that these nor their “real effects” would be denied, but because the genuineness of the beginning requires hesitance. At no moment will we have established a foundation upon which we might build; nor can we be content with facile assurances, as those who build upon abysses would like to taut. Our responsibility to begin, and to begin well, forbids us any modicum of good conscience. Our conscience is not then bad, for at no point have we failed the beginning either. Nonetheless for the beginning to be genuine–to be an open beginning amenable to others–our conscience must remind us: as yet, we have failed to begin.
The beginning withholds itself from us: we will never know what we ourselves have inaugurated, yet we will have inaugurated it. For we are also withheld in the beginning. Our place in it we experience as our own suspension–as the mystery of an event that is “productive” of a language that grounds the possibility of a beginning, though without guaranteeing it. The beginning remains concealed in the product: this remaining is something other than the standing-there of an object. What lies concealed is only revealed as the possibility of another beginning as the genuine one–which, in the event, we experience as impossible and as first and last. It happens, it befalls us, as an irreplaceable.
No beginning is intimable; this is just what every genuine beginning intimates.
Predication belongs to the realm of calculative thinking appropriate to daily dealings. It implies maps of beings, sets of laws regarding motion and interaction, according to which tasks can be planned and prospects assessed. It needs a busy mouth and a busy hand. Preparedness is something very much other and belongs to the realm of meditative thinking appropriate to genuine beginnings. Preparedness is the capacity to remain in hesitant receptivity for the happening of the event as unexpected–that is, as exceeding all forehand representing on the part of the subject. It is a readiness to meet what exceeds knowledge (the event) with knowledge in order to grasp it and give is “permanence” (genuine beginning). But the permanence of the beginning is the most ungraspable, the most impermanent: no evidence for it exists save for a trace whose place and status remain undecidable. Thus is the beginning permanent solely in preparedness, in our preparation for it. The event never happens.
What prepares us then? The decision to ready ourselves. No doubt this calls upon our creative energies to organize the chaos surrounding us with an eye to disposing ourselves to Being. But the event comes over us, which is decisive for decision: what makes these starts (which may be “false” or indeed have to be) genuine is that representation–and with it predicating, planning, programming–is suspended indefinitely. The event effects this suspension and confers another sense of selfhood, one that does not dominate or master, or even create, but prepares for and receives the beginning. In the open region where the self approaches its own truth as a truth that originates in the other, readiness is a gift from the future and every orienting decision comes as a surprise or surplus. To maintain oneself in the “indecisiveness” required of this decisiveness is the ultimate effort: readying.
Ready eyes shuttle, unsettled, with one goal: to bring something home, that is, to transport into a realm of ownness that which is worth preserving so as to share with the other. We seek beginnings as some would seek certainties–we are not at home, we are heading there. Our “there,” our realm of ownness searching for the shareable, is our heading. Therein apprehension shuttles and exposes itself to the unknown of that goal, creating its home ahead of it, by readying itself.
Ready words reckon with nothingness and do not despair. In them lamentation and jubilation are reconciled, for they are both similarly withheld. Such words come from and return to the pregnant silences of coming beginnings–to be-ing as possibilization, which encompasses death and embraces the without-me (and the without-them) of the coming world. In this way, what is one’s own becomes secluded entirely in the posthumous; afterlife is “lived” “today” as the enduring truth of one’s being. The silence that reigns there is a child that gives birth to its own father.
Business, lost in objects and programs, ensues when sufficient readiness is assumed and meditation on the self is superseded in favor of self-assertion, appearance, enjoyment, immersion: one heedlessly enters a world and its orders presumed to be valid presently, demanding and urgent, instead of encountering things as a chaos calling for creative reckoning, let alone experiencing oneself as belonging to a to-oneself-unique truth that is without precedent in anything already given, and that demands commitments from us that no knowledge can prepare us for, let alone any lived experience.
How to preserve the absolute commencement in its initiality? How to abide and remain in this fructifying reticence, this delay which appears to precede time and the representation of beings? The event comes over us and is in no way masterable, never verifiable. What could attest to it? Only receptivity to its possibility, which it itself makes possible. Does it not leave traces of this possibilization? Yet the trace is ash; in it there is no trace of activity or progressive step. Assimilation to the wreckage is total. Words have never safeguarded the event. It occurs only as the insistence of a withdrawal that summons us to a vigilance we only rarely honor.
Our tendency is to appropriate the truths as our own or humankind’s treasures, reckoning discoveries as ours and interpreting the event or the word as that which befalls us: we remain entangled in metaphysics to whatever extent we take it “personally” or more broadly let the event settle in to an interpretation or view on things and the world. But doesn’t this truth call upon us to take it to heart in the most severe way? Are we not inspired to organize our commitments around the receptivity we have tried to name? Thus the question remains enigmatic for us and grounds our reticence: who is called thus? Is it proper to say that the event befalls us, appropriates us for the saying of its truth? Is the difficulty brought out by these questions a genuine difficulty, or only so because of the entanglement it seems we are trying to work ourselves out of? But we are not trying to overcome tendencies. Honestly spoken, we are not trying to do anything.
We are: not. So runs the inevitable conclusion, if conclusion we must have, though we don’t. A conclusion: that is what there is not.
The event never happens. We ourselves are hesitating to begin, refused any being of our own. We are listening to the traces to prepare.
Dwelling in the opening just named, as what is most proper to oneself because never a property of or ownable by oneself, because only “there” in the decision (to decide) to be “there” in the withdrawal of being and removal of oneself (=existence), and not to unleash fury or hatred or indifference at this crossing fact, but to affirm the ungraspable beginning that one is in the midst of beings, the inception that befalls while keeping to itself and alone gives one one’s chance, leaving a trace of its emergence in a movement of erasure of that very trace, on the horizon of a time that only dawns–well, who could have the stamina for this, or the courage to withstand and not understand? How will we ever transcribe what occurs essentially? How will we ever remember how to believe what is happening?
We shall have more to succumb to this vertigo that rings, to risk a voice that never represents, to prolong the hesitant spreading of our lips.
Last minute preparations, the final touches: is this not the moment itself when possibility is most fecund and acts for all time instantly?
Each bend in the verse, every utterance moving towards its end, ferocious but calming steps, focused on the difference that erupts, the nuance that will seal the total affirmation with a kiss, and then exist, or fade, or carry on–we’re preparing for that as we act on it, in gate with a bull become tender, strapping ourselves tight to the violent wag.