Sunday, May 20, 2012

To come or not to come

No, this isn't about orgasm. Or about how withholding physical ejaculation might offer opportunity for multiple orgasms in men a la tantric sex. Granted that would be much more spectacular topic and no doubt garner many more page views that the boring philosophical meanderings to follow. I promise though that at some point I will indeed discuss tantric sex in that regard, both from the literature and personal experience.

For now, continuing from the last post on this topic, Balder raised a pertinent issue:

Balder: I struggle with the idea of the "unconditioned" as the yet-to-come.  Such a way of putting it doesn't make sense to me (meaning, I can't imagine what a yet-to-come unconditioned would even be, since the to-come implies an eventuality, which would seem to make the unconditioned a discrete conditioned event, i.e. a causal event or the promise of a future causal event happening at some point within the stream of conditioning).  In putting it in the neverland of the future, it also creates a kind of dualism (the impossible actuality is at an eternal remove from the actual).

But with Bryant's equation of being and becoming, there is therefore never a prior reason for becoming -- i.e., becoming isn't an after-effect of some a priori being, which makes the stream of conditional becoming itself unconditional, always unprecedented (as Faber puts it in the longish quote by him I posted above).  If this is acceptable, it gets close to a Nagarjunan or a Dogenesque way of seeing (as I understand them).

What does he mean by "yet to come"?  I don't think he means that the unconditioned is a discrete causal event in the future, but that is what the words "yet to come" suggest, so that is what I was questioning.  Why does he use that language?  I believe I follow a number of your comments above about the inseparability of past, future, and present (TSK posits a similar notion, and also uses the notion of the future infinitive, as the non-arriving openness that "sponsors" the present, inseparable from the present).  Is this close to what Derrida means?  If so, then I think I get it, but it seems he stops a bit short in his language of the view I find in Dogen, Nagarjuna, or TSK.

theurj: I cannot say for sure what Derrida means, which I think is one of his points, as well as one of Bryant's. Each object is singular and can only interpret, or make meaning, of another object through its own limitations. Hence no object ever gets at another object's true or whole meaning, not even an object in regard to itself. There is always this virtual reserve or 'potential,' or a 'to come' as Derrida might say, but recall Bryant per above:

"While the virtual refers to potentiality, it would be a mistake to conflate this potentiality with the concept of a potential object. A potential object is an object that does not exist but which could come to exist. By contrast, the virtual is strictly a part of a real and existing object” (3.2).

The 'to come' is like this in that it is not something that does not yet exists but will; rather it is part of an actual object but its virtual, withdrawn aspect. Parts of this withdrawn can and often do become actual depending on changing exo-relations, but never in its totality. Hence it acts much like a 'regime of attraction' for future potential actualities, as well as drawing from past actualities. Singularity and iteration, past, present, future.

Yes, the language of 'to come' is, as you say, indicative of what you suggest if used in traditional ways. But as we know, Derrida has always used terms differently while explaining the new uses, itself an expression of this singularity-iterative process. Granted he has also created neologisms, which for me are preferred since it makes it more difficult to then associate the word or phrase in the traditional sense. Same for the term 'withdrawn,' with which we've both struggled. Or even 'object.'

As to whether Nagarjuna or Dogen say it better, mean something similar but not completely, or not at all I don't know. As you know I've tried to find similarity between Derrida and Nagarjuna (as have many others). And to what degree I'm representing either of them accurately, i.e., as they would represent themselves, or to what degree I am engaging in my own creative recontextualization of their relation, remains uncertain. And moot if I take the above point, in that we each must ultimately build our own mysteries.

I've also referenced Caputo probably hundreds of times, another professional philosopher and according to Derrida an accurate interpreter of his work. Caputo has had this constant theme for decades, and as but one example, see this from an older work, Demythologizing Heiddeger. Here Derrida uses the word 'justice' but again, in a new way.

"The myth of justice is the myth of time immemorial and of an unforeseeable avenir. It calls from a past that was never present toward a future that is open and indeterminate, which is only 'to come'....not the calculated expectation of a more or less foreseeable future actuality" (207).

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