On the Way to Anaximander: Language and Proximity

Philosophy Series Contents (to be updated with each new installment)

Philosophy Series 1 – Prelude to the Philosophy Series

Philosophy Series 2 – Introduction

Philosophy Series 3 – Appendix A, Part 1

Philosophy Series 4 – The Pre-Socratics – Hesiod

Philosophy Series 5 – A Detour of Time

Philosophy Series 6 – The Origin

Philosophy Series 7 – Eros

Philosophy Series 8 – Thales

Philosophy Series 9 – An Interlude to Anaximander

Philosophy Series 10 – On the Way to Anaximander: Language and Proximity

Philosophy Series 11 – Aristotle and Modernity: The Eternal and Science

Philosophy Series 12 – Levinas and the Problem of Metaphysics

Philosophy Series 13 – On Origin


On the Way to Anaximander: Language and Proximity

Language defies our originality. Individuality is never an absolute. Individuality as an absolute is an absolute impossibility just as no one makes up their own private language which always precondition our perceptions and judgements. Even the ostensive word “individual” has already been taken up into language prior to any metaphysical determinations. Language is external to metaphysical determinations as writing is to speech yet speech takes up in ritual hermeneutics the work of externality and interruption while writing can only disembody itself from its author in its sheer, iterable ‘isness’; the ‘there is’ of il ya . The symbiosis of language and speech is simultaneously totality and infinity, peras and apeiron. Totality must always be in bad faith; committed to mere appearance. Totality can only appear as, and from, presence. Pure presence is always absolutely contingent and infinitely empty in its lack of mediation and content. It is abstract as Hegel rightly points out in agreement with Aristotle. Likewise, language as externality can never be unified into presence and therefore, totality.

Language1, as saying2, first opens the space for a self, a “me”, which through iterations (history) of self-presence becomes ego and culture in the said. Yet, ego can only appear as apparition; as saying evokes the-one-for-the-other, an anarchical gap. Ego must be maintained all the while it erodes and degrades with age, it changes with growth and maturity. It is captured in its inauthentic retreat from radical exteriority which commands it before vitality and power are defensively thrown against the face of the other. Ego must always evade and barricade itself against the externality of language as saying from which it necessarily arises. Authenticity is an impossibility for ego. It is always captive from, and by means of, its origin to what it is not and can never be. In this then, we first glimpse the classic Greek apeiron.3 Ego dwells as abode in ritual retreat in the totality of ‘presencing’; its form as peras, bounded and shaped as subject.

Likewise, culture maintains itself in its fantasma of origin. It must pass over into metaphysics to accomplish its feat of defiance; to forget its transitive lack of ground and locate itself in the founded security of permanence, tradition and institution. It is secured as ground in belonging to the ghost of totality. If there was no God, totality would certainly have to create one. The need to be, secure and individual, betrays a sense of dread about the possibility of being. A yawning, gaping, ever expanding gap inevitably and irretrievably interrupts from without and in infinite absence makes anything such as an unconscious and radical externality possible.

Temporality is the epoch of abode; it is the essence of origin and the birth of transgression.

“Whence things have their origin,
Thence also their destruction happens,
As is the order of things;
For they execute the sentence upon one another
– The condemnation for the crime –
In conformity with the ordinance of Time.” Anaximander4

Proximity as eternality and interruption makes possible the abstraction of distance as distance spans gap in nearness and farness. Gap can never dissolve into immediacy. It must always preserve itself, its essence, as radically other and retreat as mediation. It can never be a dialectical unity, the same or an identity. It can only be effaced from its brute rawness with the familial and the uncanny, desire and horror. Space can only open up as an abstraction of proximity. Proximity demands and requires abstraction from its infinite recoil. Proximity interrupts pure presence. It bumps into us from without and forces change upon us. It texturizes our natural anonymity to language. Proximity makes possible name as home and stranger, same and other as what refuses and commands substitution. However, proximity as gap, as yawning gap, as chaos can never be truncated into a simple whole, a present, without doing injustice. Injustice requires retribution. Primal violence is will to power, the heroic and always tragic phantasm of egoic and historic totality. Proximity is not neutral. Neutrality cannot interrupt. Neutrality sets proximity afar and in synchronic orbit. It makes the other the object of bourgeois interest. It resolves gap as disinterest, superfluous and inconsequential. Yet, origin as gap can only ever undo itself. It can never establish itself. It must always give way to diachrony; its dissolution from necessity and essence. The other, the he or she that faces us can never be surmised as idea. Desire can never resolve itself in object just as gap can never rest in origin. Externality is not subsumed or contained in idea only relegated to the darkness of eternal recurrence; of what must always return. Expiation must always answer from the dark side of being and light.

The tragedy required by proximity and language as saying and said sets the stage for the drama of life. The irrecoverable withdrawal of the absolute emptiness of being requires mediation and retribution. Its ecstasis, standing out, from the impossibility of nothingness severs and forever denies justice, faithfulness and truth as the showing of phenomena. Only radical externality which requires me and culture can any such thing as ethics find relevance; “condemnation for the crime” of sameness, synchronicity and origin. Language as symbol and grapheme must embody the logic of contradiction and absolute construction for the requirement of justice. It must pronounce the impossible Real in the face of what it reels against. It must be mediated inphantasma as physics (phusis), as absolute idea, so that its crime can meet infinity (the unbound, unlimited) in utter passive demarcation of archetypal, tragic drama. Without defense and in substitution for the command of the other, it must perpetually replay its own death and pay its penalty. The proximity of the face of the other evokes Desire before language can mediate and intercede. Language in its absoluteness bows passive before its own interruption and undoing. The death rattle of the abysmal, destitute ‘there is’ cannot face the other from which sight must eternally hoard itself. Forever cast out from place, domain and origin, silence gurgles through the rhizome of transcendental apperceptions sparkling with a placeless effervescence which once again gives birth to wonder, beauty and infant, infinite other.

Philosophy Series 11 – Aristotle and Modernity: The Eternal and Science


1 Emmanuel Levinas, “Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence”, ISBN 90-247-2288-8, Page, 34

2 Emmanuel Levinas, “Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence”, ISBN 90-247-2288-8, Page, 37

3 Apeiron (ἄπειρον) – “unlimited,” “infinite”, or “indefinite” from ἀ- a-, “without” and πεῖραρ peirar, “end, limit”, the Ionic Greek form of πέρας peras, “end, limit, boundary”.

4 Anaximander (c. 610—546 B.C.E.)