Lecture 24

Lecture 24

Through the interstice of intimacy, your words co-shape who I am, just as my words co-shape who you are. To be who I am in the world, I depend on the assurance you give in certain rare moments of intimacy in which you-and-I eventuates into barely present nonetheless presence. In reciprocally contributing to defining who each of us is, each of our words has the potential to either strengthen or weaken our own self-understanding and stand in the world. Loving care and concern for each other in self-casting thus tends to oscillate with the possibility of annihilating hate. Such annihilation relates to the stand assumed as who in the world and the oscillation between love and hate as perpetual possibility derives from the unstanding, unstable nature of our between, which takes place next to the well-defined being of standing presence. The intimacy of you-and-me in between gives each of our words a defining weight and power of casting the other. Such power is reciprocal and can turn, either intermittently or lastingly, into the annihilating power of hate. In leaning toward each other in love out of our respective, independent self-stands in the standing presence of whoness, each of us risks the power of the other to co-cast who each of us is.

Love different from esteem: standing and barely standing presence

The intimacy of love, enfolded in the interstice of the between of you-and-me, is thus ontologically different from the mutual recognition and appreciation possible in esteem accorded and received. In esteem, the look of who one is as presented to the world is appreciated and held in regard by the other. My abilities and self-definition gain recognition in the eyes of others. The intimacy of you-and-me, however, is to be conceived ontologically from our mooded co-sharing of world in which we affect each other affectively. We are exposed also to each other moodfully in how we affect each other, either upliftingly or depressingly. In the barely still present interstice of our between, each of our self-definitions becomes fluid, malleable and open to co-casting influence. You do not simply hold me in your regard, but you intervene in the casting of my self, first of all in affecting whether I feel good or bad about my self, and secondly, in affecting, through your words, the stand which I adopt in the world. Just as the regard of others in esteem is necessary for ek-sisting out-standingly out in the world, enabling each of us to come to a stand and be somebody, so, too, an intimate love relationship between you and me, barely present as it is, nourishes and enables a stand in the world. A successful and happy, flourishing life is then not only a matter of exercising and practising my abilities to a state of excellence, but draws also on the encouragement derived from the scarce encounter between you and me. In my dependence on your encouragement in our fleeting, intimate between, my very own selfhood becomes vulnerable to a revision and re-forming which you formulate in your words. The definition of my self hangs upon your words, and vice versa. My life is reshaped and recast, just as yours is, in such a way that the selves which each of us defines in habitual world practices come to approximate and assimilate with each other to enable a practically shared life in companionship.

The closeness of intimacy is not just an affection for each other, but an affection of each other, including through bodily contact. Bodily touch is affective in a way which the words we speak to each other cannot be, for bodily touch eludes and slips under the definition of understanding through which words make sense. Touch is a sense through which the soul is open to the world, but in the affective dimension of moodedness. In touching each other we are present for each other in an immediately sensuous way which signals wordlessly that we are sharing world in intimacy. Touch touches the heart encouragingly. This wordless, affective affection of each other in physical affection for each other is only possible through the scarcely present interstice of you-and-me which opens in attunedness. Our intimacy is an attunement for each other that harmonizes, resonates with our bodies touching, quite apart from sexual desire coming to play. Our intimate co-presence in the world gains a particular moodful hue in direct touch. Such a mood enshrouds our respective who-stands with an indefinite, mutually encouraging aura.

Phallic instability

The closeness of you-and-me, however, always maintains its ambivalence, since the fold in being called intimacy admits no well-defined, delimited standing presence which could become a permanent state. Each of us also stands in the world as an individual self involved in everyday practices. Each of us is in continual transition between the intermittent fold of intimacy and involvement with (third person) beings out in the world. This intermingling of the folds of being in its manifoldness brings tension and even contradiction into how one can lead one's life. It does not suffice to orient one's striving in life in an Aristotelean way toward practising and attaining excellence in various respects, for such a conception of a successful life derives solely from an implicit understanding of being as standing presence. The intimacy of you-and-me in between brings into play an 'unstanding', instable presence for each other in a scarcely present fold of being where we are inclined toward each other in sympathetic sensitivity for one another.

Such a shared affective movement in the world as an existential possibility has traditionally been overlooked. The philosophical discovery of this existential possibility today could be regarded as a questioning of the hitherto unquestioned 'phallic' stance that has inhabited Western philosophy and the Western historical world since its inception. The phallus stands for the hegemony of standing presence. The fallibility of the phallus, the possibility of bringing it to fall into falsity in view of a truth disclosed about being in its unstanding modes, is achieved only through posing the question of being in an explicitly existential context of lived quotidian life. Manliness then comes to light as a phenomenon wedded to an implicit understanding of being as standing presence. Phallic instability first becomes apparent with a tentative insight into an instable realm that can scarcely be defined by the conventional logos but which is nonetheless experienced by human beings in sharing the world.

The falsity of the phallus lies not in it being incorrect compared to a correct truth, but in it remaining hidden in its self-evident obviousness. Falsity comes from Latin 'fallere' and Greek sfa/llein which, apart from 'to bring to a fall', 'to deceive', 'to lead into error', can also mean 'to remain hidden and unknown'. This is the situation with the phenomenon of manliness which, in the hiddenness of its obviousness, has remained unquestioned in philosophy, thus surreptitiously, i.e. falsely, equating manly being with human being as a whole.

End of lectures.

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