Notes on Immanent Opening

The philosopher’s error is to locate the Open. One locates it in the self or in the body (“you are the open”): a kind of absolute of being-there, the imperative is then to think it qua an experience of (self-)presence as opening(-to-presence), where openness is what is most proper to the self or to the movement of Being itself. This leads, if not to a philosophy of self-overcoming and becoming (Nietzsche), then to one of the “unconcealment” of the Open; the human is here tasked to speak its truth, its poetry, its silence, etc., by being appropriated or used by the Open (Heidegger). Another approach locates the Open elsewhere, in the other or in nature or in the signifier, for example, thus rendering it accessible or experienceable only through adventure, exposure, transgression, trauma, confession, interpretation, surprise, the sublime, the Event, etc. This leads to an ethics of relation to the Open, be it of respect, violation, exposure, vulnerability, chance, risk, contemplation (as when the Open is identified with God), creativity, or of course “openness” itself. But here one also imagines oneself to be capable of producing or allowing the Open through some sort of human procedure or act–something is lost and must be remembered, something is occluded and must be revealed, etc.

In all these cases, “the opening” is redoubled, transcendentalized in a strong fashion, “elevated” or made sacred or separated in a way that then calls for some human comportment meant to regain it: letting-be, prayer, writing, drugs, adventure, poetry, sex, laughter, etc. Some attainment strategy is introduced, and its discourse cannot help but circle around “the impossible,” which thus forms a pair with “the opening” here thoroughly hypostasized or reified as that which remains forever deferred and to-come–although the very same philosophy must affirm (between joy and melancholy) not just that the impossible happens but that the impossible is what happens (Derrida). Thus “death” becomes the ultimate cipher for access to the Open and will be seized as the very fury of presence at the heart of every human behavior.

The only other solution here, and in a sense this must be philosophy’s own conclusion, is to conjecture an a priori and immanent open(ing) that is non-ecstatic, non-acting, and radically illocalizable, not effectuated by any human behavior whatsoever and in fact so indifferent to it that, just as nothing we do or think generates it, nothing we do or think can “stop it,” since it precedes every decision, strategy, or act. It would not constitute in any way a special or extraordinary experience–unless perhaps it signifies a simple extraordinariness about which we know nothing but that never, like the impossible, fails to happen. Non-ecstatic: because it is not about flight, transport, fusion or escape, because it is not dependent on attaining a magical state. Non-acting: because it is not “effective” in the world, does not inform philosophies, does not create or leave marks, but rather comes underneath them and “undoes” or “unworks” them–not as if this were its own work, but simply because, as immanent, it under-determines works, just as it under-determines us in our egoity, “weakens” the claims of our discourses, and deprioritizes the world of production and effectiveness. Radically illocalizable: because without essence, because prior-to-first, because without access code or operation, its surprise is not the surprise of something but of simple under-coming immanence, come prior-to-self, prior-to-decision, prior-to-action, etc.

There is then nothing individual, personal, human, or even strictly “social” about the immanent opening, even if we must admit that all these materials are taken up in it or “carried” by the opening in some manner. What is crucial to emphasize here is that the Open is not something to be “attained.” It doesn’t “call” us either, even if we sometimes feel called by it or to it and feel impelled to answer that call. The opening is simply relaunched in every instant in an immanent fashion, so to speak unstoppably, but also without power and without “proof”–not from any extreme transcendence (such as from the occasionalist’s God), but from the complete instant itself which itself remains forever open.

Here we radicalize the thesis of the ontological incompleteness of reality (Zizek) without centering it on “the ultimate Void of reality” (clearly yet another transcendentalization, albeit formal/symbolic); nor do we center it on a subjectivity or consciousness which would in some manner undergo or suffer this incompleteness as lack, decenteredness, alienation, and so on. We should think incompleteness from the completed without any imperative to complete anything, without any slash or cut or “Void” at the center, without any teleology and certainly not a natural or subjective one. Completion and open-endedness are here indistinguishable. Temporally, the immanent opening gives us the illusion of timelessness, or a feeling of “being eternal” (Spinoza), because here the end of time as we know it and the relaunched opening are one. At stake is the Omega that comes from Nowhere and Nowhen, the immanent opening of the Last Instance as the futurality we are without knowing it.

An opening which is not ours: never affixed to an ego or a subject or a human project of any sort, there is no need for decision here–no need to be shattered/lacerated (Bataille) or to intensify through a becoming-imperceptible (Deleuze) or to destine/disseminate traces that speak for the truth of the Open (Heidegger) or even, though it comes closer to our idea, for the truth/cause of the other’s time (Celan, Lacan). Important as all these movements of opening are, we must posit their equality and so save ourselves from having to choose. There is no “the” Open to disclose, enter, render intelligible, promote, or even respect. The immanent opening makes room for our intentions but is in no way affected by them ultimately. Indeed, despite all the beauty in our dreams of grandeur (including all the illusions of transcendence about the Open), they are (under-)determined in immanence. The immanent opening is prior-to-first, similar to the pause before time that was Derrida’s obsession and the stand-still of time that was the mark of all revolution for Benjamin, but here the pause is not restraint (Verhaltenheit) before the im-possible other, nor an operation obligated to rub history against the grain and thus stay caught in its eternal return. It is rather a flux of futurality that comes under the world and traverses it clandestinely without getting “lost” in it or acting in it in any direct way.

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4 Responses to OMEGA

  1. Rex Styzens says:

    I shall be reading this over and over again for I know not how many times. It is the best brief discussion of the Open that I am aware of. So far my only response is the old saw, to “save ourselves from having to choose” is a decision. And that distinguishes the possible from the impossible. I recall asking my philosophy of science prof if possibility was a respectable philosophical concept and he assured me that it is not. But he was not interested in any congruency between philosophy and poetry.

  2. Rex Styzens says:

    Nancy personalizes the open with the following comment:

    Thus, insofar as “self,” or “ipseity,” means “by itself,” relation to itself, returning into itself, presence to itself as presence to the “same” (to the sameness of the “as such”), ipseity occurs or happens to itself as coming; and such coming is anticipation, which is neither preexistence nor providence, but instead the unexpected arrival [survenance], the surprise and the being-placed back [remise] into the “to come” as such, back into what is to come. BEING SINGULAR PLURAL, p. 95.

    • tmlavenz says:

      Excellent, thanks. This is no doubt the heart of the Derridian/Nancean system of self (“differant life”). Derrida would just add or emphasize: insofar as that self “has” come, I mourn, I must mourn it, I begin in my being as a mourning of myself and in no other way – this is debt, duty itself, really, and it is enforced (by philosophy…). Nancy takes a step that is already indicated in Derrida – the affirmation of a “we” that owes nothing to death and that is infinite (the experience of friendship, one could say). Nancy immanentizes the Derridian other in a self that is never immanent to itself – its first immanence is of the other that transcends it (being-with) and thus the responsibility of existence.

      • Rex Styzens says:

        Thank you for putting that all together. I have not as yet been able to do that by myself. Consequently, my understanding is limited. I can now take those relations back to my continued study.

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