Sunday, April 15, 2012

having a post-exotic time. wish you were here.

[There’s an explanation of this at the “life world” blog.]

Dear Professor Jennifer, 

If you’ll allow—because the parts of your work I’ve read address me very personally. The ecstatic quotidian is a poet’s ethic, therefore a luscious book title (and philosophical aesthetic). 

Yesterday, I finished reading the “Introduction” of Exotic Spaces, all of your “Conclusion” sections to each of the 5 main chapters, and your final chapter, “Conclusion,” (which your editor should have bolded in the Table of Contents, like the “Introduction” and other chapter titles are bolded. Anyway...).

The chronological period of writers covered by Exotic Spaces is more or less the period of time that Heidegger had been alive up to Being and Time—as if Exotic Spaces is implicitly an examination of the German literary-existential Condition implicitly backgrounding Heidegger’s existential sense of his Time (distinguishable from the ontological complement of the question of “Being”)—as if I might disregard the influences he actually dwells with. 

Indeed, the problem of being in Time that motivates his province of “Being” goes to the heart of German self-understanding (getting beyond “being” German—which, of course, Heidegger critically sought to trans-Germanically Westernize, then to critically planetize). Concordantly with Heidegger endeavoring to disclose great potential implicit to misguided German times, you expose validities of emancipatory and enhancive engagement in the mix of horizonal conceptions of the Other that the notion of the exotic embodies. 

[…deleted paragraph from my sent letter…]

One is inevitably Of one’s Time in being nonetheless thinking/living authentically beyond the horizons of one’s Time. How that works through the horizonality of literary thinking is wonderfully articulated in Exotic Spaces. I look forward to dwelling with details of the writers you discuss. (I read all of the “Conclusions” simply because I just had to know what the Hölderlinian of Ecstatic Quotidian was up to.) Apparently, the heart of your book is the first two sections of chapter 4, which I would like to address in some detail someday. (Don’t worry; I’ll keep it to myself.) 

By the way, you apparently would regard “individuation” and “individuality” as synonyms. There is good reason to not do so.

On the one hand, you importantly distinguish the engagements of your examined authors from the excursive maturations of bildungsromans, the latter being like a seed finding its way to destined full bloom, as if it’s already fully (though implicitly) constituted in its futural flourishing. The character of the sojourn-of-development finds her/his way into what s/he Is To Become. One thereby comes into the fullness of one’s potential individuality, which is weighted by its destining past, from which possible futurity emerges. Givenness prevails in the horizonal mirror (pushed by the will of time).

On the other hand, authentic existential time—whose potential is drawn into exotic appeals—emerges from an undesting futurity, like path-changing advents of learning (Discovery), emancipation from preconceptions (“The truth shall set you free”), and environmental influence (“nurture” by The Road: I may be transformed in self conception by new “horizons,” which don’t mirror, rather Appeal greatly)—which altogether may fundamentally transform constitutive conditions of possibility (i.e., conceptuality of worlding). 

One does not sojourn into authentic singularity (a non-idiosyncratic individuality) by basically living out given conditions for possibility. A greater individuality (a high individuation) is different from a maturational individuality. (So, a reader may easily identify with the novel of development because it’s so recognizable or easily appreciable—a genre that is easily popular). I know that the legacy of humanistic psychology has not been about maturational individuality. Certainly, Harold Bloom’s “strong poets” (haunted by anxieties of influence, in their originality) are not called into mere maturational individuality. (What’s the story of philosophical possibility becoming identified with its originator—Kantian, etc.—as if philosophical originality expresses a high individuation that’s unprecedented and irreplicable?)

So, I’ve long thought of ‘individuation’ for distinguishing idealizing potential from mere maturation of individuality, establishing a difference between authentic flourishing and mere blooming individuality. Exotic Spaces supports that difference beautifully. Clearly to me, you’re exploring authentic flourishing. Your book is an excellent tropography of good reason to define ‘individuation’ relative to a high sense of flourishing, distinct from any rich individuality which essentially mirrors one’s destining background. The bildungsroman gives us exemplars we might emulate. But we don’t hope to emulate a True odyssey. Ulysses came back from his Shakespearean seasons—romance, comedy, tragedy, and irony—(or that day in Dublin) another kind (another kindness, another conception) of being human for his Time. The resulting kind of issue is not about possible emulation, but about finding or founding potentials for our Time. That’s not to make individuation heroic, but there’s certainly a difference between authentic flourishing and mature individuality. 

You also apparently regard ‘appropriation’ like most people do: as more or less synonymous with accomodation, if not assimilation—generally as incorporatively adaptive—rather than as outreachingly mediative. 

If I adapt you (different from adapting to you, which is the non-mediative contrary of adapting you), I bring sense of you into my tropology of conception. My conception of sense is not thereby transformed by the experience of you. You are my other; or I understand you relative to my conceiving. This tends to be narcissistic; it’s not about appreciation of you

If I’m truly on the way to appreciating you, I not only gain representations of you that are likely different from adapting senses of you to my conceptions—I not only grow to better know you—but I may be changed in self-conception and in my conceiving, by appreciation of you (which is different from adapting to you, because the latter here is attachmental, rather than possibly self-transformative). 

An event of appropriation is not basically adaptive. (Let me cap it—Appropriation—without intending to represent the depth of engagement that Heidegger’s Ereignis expresses.) Heidegger’s “belonging together in the Same” is, at least, a dynamic of mutual genesis, unlike Adam’s experience of Eve as emanation of his rib. True love is partly about fidelity to such generative mutuality of Mitsein or Belonging in “being” together. Likewise for durable friendship, good parenting, teaching (which is not lecturing), pastoral counseling, the therapeutic alliance, and art—and truly scientific curiosity. All prospect for basic discovery, all hope for educing originality, gives way to the thing itself in its ownmost character or potential or presencing. 

The final page of your “Conclusion” is very thought provoking. It “threatens” to annul the validity of the notion of exoticness, such that the exotic essentially frames a symptomology, albeit one with great potential—as the emancipatory interest (which is expressed in willful misconception) symptomizes one’s primal desire to learn truth (e.g., capabilities) that frees one to fairly constitute “truth” (manifold validity)—including enactively realizing one’s ownmost potential for being (which is no Originist, blooming fullness—contrary to ontotheology; rather, expressing the futurity of time as such, like our evolving, through potentially self-formative individuating—academically associated with notably high creativity, which is sometimes theorized). 

I know I’m writing enthymemically. I’m not trying to be obscure. 

You ask, on your last page, “to what extent may [de-exoticization] diminish real differences...?” (257). An Appropriative appreciation of the question is about that “accurate or generous understanding,” and that emerges from mutuality of appreciation—identity-in-difference which is, at the same time, a differentiated identification with our belonging. To truly love “you” is, in part, to love complementarity, which implies genuine difference (beyond the ingenuine differencing of projective “other” and the other, there being). Appropriately conceived, Appropriative thinking cannot “force an ungenial homogeneity,” for there, there’s no desire for “facilitation of assimilation” (which is ultimately narcissistic), nor anything “in the name of efficiency,” whereby the other becomes “standing reserve,” as MH put it. (I think of parents who have children in order to have their unfulfillable dreams embodied, somewhat regardless of a child’s ownmost individuation—or else there’s a sometimes-ungentle withdrawal of love.)

So, this goes to ecological implications, too. As we learn to relate with others (beyond to others), so we learn to regard environments (e.g., the Romantic communion, heir of mystical communion, that becomes spiritually environmentalist). The Other that exoticization entertains (the native complement, in its own integrity—or nature in its integrity) is not basically about resistance to assimilation (your chapters show well); therefore, de-exoticization is not about losing that resistance. Rather, it’s about mutually gaining genuine appreciation of the other’s speaking for itself with and in our appreciative belonging together (which is a communicative rapport). Mapped into ecological thinking, a mutualist sensibility invites such notions as biophilia (Edward O. Wilson) and ecopsychology (Theodore. Roszak). Exoticness is a prelude to self-enhancive (after emancipatory) appreciation Of the other (that indigenous person who is initially so curious about the exoticizing visitor, as if the Inner Child links all of humanity)—the real other who/which holds a promise of expanding one’s sense of belonging or of transforming one’s ownmost horizon. De-exoticization is a Founding of being-with one’s others, not a “loss of symbolic otherness,” the latter of which was already always a concealment of our potential for Founding. 

[…] Founding might eventually be a grassroots grounding authentically—a so-called “regioning of that which regions”—which also, by the way (trope-ically speaking), pertains to ecological rapport (nature-centered design), interpsychal rapport (generative appeal of the “inter-”), and self-reflective rapport (generative appeal of thinking or the mentability of that which regions). Ultimately that which regions is twofold: physics and intelligence. Or maybe it’s fourfold, because we’re Earthlings that die: facing—interfacing—one’s sojourn on Earth and one’s mortality, as well as one’s sense of sky and “divine” gifts of our evolving.  

But we all are possibly far beyond the trace of the 19th century in the 20th. Heidegger was a precursor, and so at best are we all—still children of an evolving (“Being”) that we are no better able to predict than prophets, mystics, the Romantics, and the deconstructionists that leave us all in the Open, students of our own imaginability, giving way to our inestimable evolving through tropologies, like old Heidegger’s experiments in languaging. 

Exotic Spaces is delicious. Again, I’d like nothing better than to entwine myself narratively with the apparent heart of your excursion: the first 2 sections of chapter 4 (which, again, I should keep to myself). [Insert: Those sections are titled: “The Inner Topography of the Self and its Exoticization” and “The Influence of Nietzsche on the Exotic Rendering of Primal Consciousness.”] But a writer/scholar (you) can reasonably want nothing better than to have readers who can’t wait to entwine oneself with the text. I suppose that my result would (will I?) open into tropological venturing that is just me carrying on. (Or perhaps you can want better: that a reader be an engaging complement.)

Normally, we think of mediative thinking as bipolar: “you” and I. But the hermeneutical condition of thinking is 3-fold: Janus-faced, channeling a manifold sense of potentials (e.g., through conceptual teaching—philosophy, Literary enthusiasms, where the Janus-faced channeler is a textual intimacy of the hermeneut with her/his love) for the sake of potentials (others) that/who deserve to not be framed (i.e., not seen as determined in their wayfaring), while in turn those potentials have responsibility to appreciate that Time didn’t originate with one’s blooming (an endearing plague of youth). 

[…] You show—unwittingly, I guess (it’s my mapping here)—how trOpical spaces channel high potential of one’s appreciability (authentic time), there being promise Of genuine rapport with “the thing” (which was always, for Heidegger, a “vase” [skull] of mental time-space with whom “I” may be generatively entwined—or, as he might have put it: be indwelling a mirrorplay of granting and bearing). 

It’s my eccentricity, maybe, to read an event of Appropriation into exotic appeals—to find in your Exotic Spaces an opening into how existential time may draw one into a high individuation. At heart, it’s a love of conceptual venturing, a love of writing—an appeal of poetic thinking—which is elating for me, an eros of mind. More appealing than the textual spatiality of story may be the generative temporality of writing (actualizing—presenting—futural imaginability?). More appealing than exotic spaces is the time metonymized, metaphorized, ironized by tropographies of imagination—generative time trOped by ecstatically appealing horizons. 


In the beginning is the ecstatic quotidian—which every healthy child proves. In long-lived old age, there is one more day of potential for appealing dailiness. If I recall correctly, Heidegger alludes, in The Principle of Reason, to “the royal child,” and the child turns up hauntingly in at least one essay in poetic thinking (with heavy eyes), a great trope of our ever-renewable mystery Of being alive. How on Earth did we become (our evolving Of) this divine mortality? “Ever to the child in man,” writes Martin somewhere (Conversation on a Country Path?), “night neighbors the stars.”

Thanks for an inspired excursion,