Lecture 23

Lecture 23

Momentary exchange of glances in the scarce presence of you and me

The exchange of glances in the moment between those who love each other (here not in the sexual sense of bodily desire for each other) is a subtle, fleeting kind of worldsharing very different from communication by means of language through which worldsharing gains definition. The momentary exchange of glances is an indefinite disclosure to each other which says perhaps something like 'I am there with you' or 'We are here together in the opening of this present moment'. The phrase 'perhaps something like' is no accident in such a context, for here we are dealing with indefinite, nebulous phenomena that elude further definition and can only be surmised. The exchange of glances is an impossible momentary union, for you and I each remains an individual human being, forever ontologically separated from each other and yet, as human beings, also forever ontologically together in a sharing of world. The reading of the exchange of glances remains surmise and guesswork and is, above all, a mooded exchange coloured by a certain mood of the moment. "There was a delightful interchange of influence in their eyes, and what they said had that superfluity of meaning for them, which is observable with some sense of flatness by a third person. ... Even the points it [the gossamer web of young love-making] clings to "” the things whence its subtle interlacings are scarcely perceptible; momentary touches of finger-tips, meetings of rays from blue and dark orbs, unfinished phrases, lightest changes of cheek and lip, faintest tremors." (George Eliot Middlemarch Chaps. 27, 36 emphases added) The loving exchange of glances can be distinguished from a hostile exchange of glances. The look in the other's eyes can differ and thus be read differently as perhaps a different mood and attitude. We can share the moment with each other but, because mood is momentary, it also changes from moment to moment. Thus, our sharing of the moment is also fleeting, instable.

The very phrase 'you and I' suggests an intimacy in sharing a situation. Mooded, sym-pathetic, co-affective sharing of world in the intimacy of you-and-me is also different from co-operating or collaborating on a shared project which calls for the co-operative exercise of each of our abilities, communication, etc. You-and-I is a mooded co-presence in the world which is scarcely present. This scarce presencing of you-and-me in fleeting moments is nonetheless experienced, albeit indefinitely. The interstice between us in you-and-me is barely still present but present nonetheless. You-and-I is a declination of being from standing presence into a presence inclined toward each other "” scarcely but nonetheless, i.e. such presencing for one another in the interstice of you-and-me is not a lesser presence than, say, the defined, understood presence of the knife in my world which I practically use to cut vegetables.

The moments of you-and-me are also rare. These rare moments of being scarcely present with and for each other enable nonetheless a sharing of world in a love relationship, for in such moments, our hearts seem entwined, and these moments carry over to quotidian life as a whole in going about one's daily business and casting our selves.

For love, all love of other sights controules,

And makes one little roome, an every where. (John Donne The good-morrow)

The rare moments of scarce, no-lesser presence of you-and-me have a special existential-ontological weight despite their fleeting, barely present character.

She'is all States, and all Princes, I,

Nothing else is.

Princes doe but play us; compar'd to this,

All honor's mimique; All wealth alchimie. (John Donne The Sunne Rising)

Not only do these moments moodfully colour one's own daily business, not only do they enable my own projects in casting my self, but they also open up the possibility of common, shared projects of a shared, practical life with one another.

A barely shared mooded presence is part of a loving relationship made possible through a heightened sensitivity to how each of us as other momentarily finds self moodfully in the world. It is as if you and I momentarily bridged the gulf of our ontological isolation from each other in our individuality (Vereinzelung). In this indefinite, bare presencing of a between, it is appropriate to talk in terms of 'as if'. Sensitivity for each other's moods and tenderness in treating each other in our world situation are usually the stuff of poetry and literature which evoke an atmosphere in language. Such language relies on evocation and suggestion, not so much upon categorial clarity and non-ambiguity.

Co-casting each other in intimacy

In the language spoken between you and me there is evocation. In our susceptibility to each other, each of us is also open to being evoked by the other. In evoking me you call me forth and perhaps even give me definition in my self-casting by suggesting how I could understand myself in the world. Your evocation enables perhaps even another possibility of self-casting, whether it be a project I share with you or a project which is my very own. Simply sharing the world with you in a loving relationship in which each of us is concerned for the well-being of the other enables other possibilities of existentially casting our selves. This could be called 'emotional support', but the very sobriety of the term seems inadequate to the fragile presence of moodful sharing of world in inclined presencing for one another, scarcely but nonetheless. In a loving relationship, our evocation of each other is of course reciprocal. I contribute to your self-casting just as you contribute to mine.

The paradoxical nature of loving thus comes somewhat to light. The fleeting, scarce presence of you-and-me in our intimacy serves as the basis of a practically shared life together in the practices of everyday life. Rainer Marten speaks in such a context of a "practical certainty" that "each is the other's" (Lebenskunst Fink, Munich 1993 p. 33, 32); this "practical certainty", however, is based on a presence for each other which is scarcely present, but present nonetheless. Each "being the other's" ("des Anderen zu sein" ibid.) is a kind of belonging to each other. This belonging takes place in the interstitial, scarcely present dimension of you-and-me which nonetheless forms the foundation of a life together shared in intimacy. The scarcely present dimension between you and me makes us susceptible to each other. Every word you say has particular weight because you say it. Our intimacy with one another gives your words weight in co-defining my self-casting, and vice versa. This is a tender and dangerous game in the play of a shared world. Insofar as each of us is called through our proper names to exist in the world of standing presence as somewho, which necessitates each of us casting ourselves into a stand which promises some sort of success in the world, the intimacy that fleetingly flickers between you and me is like a foundry in which each of our malleable self-castings is susceptible to re-forming through the intimate dialogue which you and I carry on.

To be continued...

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