Friday, March 03, 2006

The Standards of Responsible Scholarship: Ends of Politics

Marc Froment-Merice: From (Within) Without (2001):

...To start with (or without), I confess that I am still at odds with the title of this conference: "Deconstruction Reading Politics." For me, politics looks like an impossible place: too close and too far, forcing me in the weird position of being without position, in a de-position that would not even be able to turn into another position, a solid and impregnable fortress. Something that no one in my family of male politicians could understand, since they cannot get what makes politics impossible: its retrait from within its "essence," its being-without-being. They still believe that you can be a politician, do politics, whereas politics can only undo anyone who wants to appropriate it all as a family business; while they claim to serve the State or the community, they represent what Hegel said of women: "the irony of community"...

So "without" is to be understood as out of at home, and thus as the same as the "ex" of existence or of exile. But it is not the mere contrary to immanence, and it is not simply transcendence. You can get it in the French for "homeless," sans-abri, "without shelter." To be homeless is neither to be immanent nor to be transcendent. Maybe it is not even to be. Both transcendence and immanence share this common characteristic: they are both at home, be it the self or the other.*21 They are sheltered in the here or the beyond, a beyond that is always conceived as another home, or the home of an Other. On this level, any ontology, whether it be of immanence or transcendence, comes down or back to—precisely returning to—the self like or as to the other, the self being the other, each one at home in being. It is true that this turn of the return seems unavoidable, even with the "without" (which should exclude any return to the self, being without return because without being), insofar as in departing from, it seems to come from, out of, and thus reaffirms an origin, even as absent. Or let us say that the "without" reinstitutes the being (of the) "with" as that out of which it is without. To think a parting without starting point, a parting with "without" as a step out of any starting point, as pas-de-départ, is what I attempted in inventing this word, "départenance." It is not the mere opposite of "appartenance," belonging. Départenance does not belong, not even to itself, being itself only by being without self. We shouldn't even name it, since every name implies identification, and thus appropriation...

Here again, you may understand it in two ways: first, that politics is basically always apolitical; politics has never reached the heart of the political, politics was always apolitical for want of being able to be really political. This would be the radical, extremist, eschatological way: the promise of the political was forgotten by politics, the being-with has foreclosed itself precisely for having constituted itself in a one being-with, i.e. in a being-with, that never could conceive of the "with" with its inner "without"...(more)

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