Give me Norway, and I’m yours. My husband, who is very very smart, knows what to do when I worry, when I feel guilty, or get mathematical (read the latter as crazy). Over dinner at the Caribbean restaurant in Oslo, Lemmon Grass, he tells me: “you, know, I know you. You want Norway for breakfast, for lunch, and for dinner. And if you get to do the dishes in a bathtub, you’re ecstatic.” Damn right, I nod, and then say that Wittgenstein is not the worst model one could do with. He did all of the above, and was in love with Norway. Infinitely in love. Those with a penchant for infinity understand. Those with a penchant for actual infinity, rather than merely potential one, are ready to die, or go bonkers on the spot while swooning over mathematical analysis (no algebra for us, thank you very much).

So I eat lamb carré, drink a divine Portuguese wine, after a black Bacardi – straight shot – lick my fingers grand style, and then, over a mango crème brulée tell my husband that people who are capable of demonstrative silence fascinate the shit out of me. Here’s the argument (or part of it, as I remember it – good food always interferes with my memory).

Demonstrative silence is interesting because it refutes most questions. Particularly the most obvious ones. Faced with a silent subject, the question ‘what are you trying to demonstrate’ becomes not only redundant, but is in fact downright stupid. Thus I get interested in the situation when questions such as these cannot be posed. For, what then? One is still forced to understand something, but what, if this something is not articulated in words? Bypassing the materiality of words involves a process through which knowledge can be said to be brought about not by verbal eloquence but by a sensual kind. One understands by sensing. So far so good, where the interlocutor is concerned. If you get it, you get it, and if you don’t, you don’t. (At this point I totally get into the reggae rhythm, swing my chair by balancing it on its two legs, and sense that I’m on to something). Namely that where the active agent is concerned – the one who keeps silent – saying nothing requires assuming precisely this risk: that no one gets it. Which means that ultimately a silent act must be directed first and foremost to no one before it is addressed to someone. This takes not only a lot of guts and balls but also a lot of trust. Infinite trust. (At this point, as the Bacardi works its way through my body, I get a shivering thought.) If I should ever be the recipient of such trust, how can I ever betray it? I pose this question to myself, as I’m ready to move north, to inhabit a mountain, perhaps even in the Arctic. But I don’t answer it. Not yet. Meanwhile, I praise God for smart husbands and dead mathematicians. Other things can wait. Others can wait.


Søren said…
Should have been appended to your last blog entry. I wasn't fast enough, but a little too patient, which carries with it its own kind of serendipity. Quoth Reb Derrisa:

"There is something secret [whole sentence italicized in the original, shb]. One can always speak about it, that is not enough to disrupt it. One can speak of it ad infinitum, tell stories about it, utter all the discourses which it puts to work and the stories which it unleashes or enchains, because the secret often makes one think of these secret histories and it even gives one a taste for them. And the secret will remain secret, mute, impassive as the khora [italicized in the original, shb], as Khora [italicized in the original, shb] foreign to every history, as much in the sense of Geschichte [italicized in the original, shb] or res gestae [italicized in the original, shb] as of knowledge and of historical narrative (epistémè, historia rerum gestarum [italicized in the original, shb]), and outside all periodization, all epochalization. It remains silent, not to keep a word in reserve or withdrawn [en retrait [italicized in the original, shb]], but because it remains foreign to speech [la parole [italicized in the original, shb]], without our even being able to say in that distinguished syntagm: "the secret is that in speech which is foreign to speech." It is no more in speech than foreign to speech. It does not answer to speech, it does not say "I, the secret," it does not correspond, it does not answer [répondre [italicized in the original, shb]]: either for itself or to anyone else, before anyone or anything whatsoever. Absolute nonresponse which one could not even call to account or for something on account [acomptes [italicized in the original, shb]], grant indemnities, excuses, or "discounts" - so many ruses, always, to draw it in to a process [procés] [italicized in the original, shb]. It may appear to give rise to one (indeed it always does so), it may lend itself to it, but it never surrenders to it. The ethics of the discussion may always not repsect it (according to me it owes it respect, even if this seems difficult or contradictory, because the secret is intractable [intraitable [italicized in the original, shb]]), but it wil never reduce it. Moreover, no discussion would either begin or continue without it. And whether one respects it or not, the secret remains there impassively, at a distance, out of reach. In this one cannot not respect it, whether one likes it or not, whether one knows it or not."

"In place of an absolute secret. There would be the passion. There is no passion without secret, this very secret, indeed no secret without this passion. In place of the secret [whole phrase italicized in the original, shb]: there where nevertheless everything is said and where what remains is nothing - but the remainder, not even of literature."

From: Jacques Derrida, "Passions: 'An Oblique Offering'"
Camelia said…
Søren, Derrida always gives us a ride on the highest plateau. Your quote, which I know well, makes me think of imposition. Between a secret and its passion as its displacement, its supplement, and its drive there is imposition. We always want to impose ourselves, don’t we? But on whom? Not all are worth the effort. I’m thinking of Derrida’s Envois in his La Carte Postale. Remember that passage, where he says this: “Of yourself, of you alone you are jealous. Your only right. What I have (put) inside you (in me) and that I will never take back, for I will never take myself back, you are now going to drag around everywhere…” (170). Now that’s what I call passion of the highest order, because it calls for imposition on a match point. One that matches our anagrammatical being, à la lettre, as it were, the indivisible grapheme, the l’être of being. Between passion and its secret there is also the question of sovereignty. It may be that the secret does not enunciate itself: “I, the secret,” but it certainly claims a presence, and through presence it reclaims a body. One that is wanted. Today, I liked you quoting Nietzsche: “Grand passion uses and uses up convictions, it does not submit to them – it knows itself sovereign” (The Anti-Christ/). Let’s think of that for a while.

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