Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

26 April 2012

What I'm Reading Right Now

I am reading Agamben's Remnants of Auschwitz. (Don't ask me why I read things like this as quote light reading unquote that is supposed to be a break from my dissertation.) Agamben is talking about memory and testimony and shame and the "self". It's really interesting stuff, although I don't quite understand all of it (which is fine). But here's something cool from the middle of the book:

Binswanger [with his concepts of "life-function" and "life-history"] indicates an aporia so radical that the very possibility of identifying a unitary terrain of consciousness is called into question.

Consider, on one hand, the continuous flow of [the body's] vital functions: respiration, circulation, digestion, homeothermy (but also sensation, muscular movement, irritation, etc.) and, on the other hand, the flow of language and of the conscious "I," in which lived experiences are organized into an individual history. Is there a point in which these two flows are unified, in which the "dreaming" of the vital functions is joined to the "waking" of personal consciousness? Where, and how, can a subject be introduced into the biological flow?

"I" signifies precisely the irreducible disjunction between vital functions and inner history, between the living being's becoming a speaking being and the speaking being's sensation of itself as living.

It is certainly true that the two series flow alongside one another in what one could call absolute intimacy.

But is
intimacy not precisely the name that we give to a proximity that also remains distant, to a promiscuity that never becomes identity?