628 Conclusion

my death, hence time as contretemps, confers my singularity. The singular “I” thus implies neither fullness nor property. It is not some sort of freedom, nor the self. Rather it comes about with the dephenomenalizing strategy in ordinary experience, with the expropriation outside my own world. Social theorists have always recognized this, albeit indirectly, when they say that the world—community or collectivity, family, civil society, state—does not come about through accretion and that, in all idealist rigor, the individual has no being. Singularities are always only dispossessed singularities for a thinking that recognizes originary time in the expropriation to come. Therefore, what singularizes me is not some particular asset of which I can make a show. My world always being on the verge of expelling me, the singular instead has its being through the temporality of imminence. I am “I,” singularly dispossessed.

Natality and mortality, which are the ultimates in differend, thus have different concerns regarding the future. Putting to death—this is not a popular thought, since norms and values are proclaimed from all sides—falls within the domain of the first; this is at least the case when one kills “in the name of . . .” Thus, one has been able to speak of the banality with regard to exterminations. We have to understand this—evil becomes banal once a common focalization is exalted and singularization denied. Putting the other to death is easily accepted when a fantasm has won the day and when it obsesses the collective field of vision. On the other hand, the single death suffered, mine, coming now, falls under the domain of mortality.12 We will never stop investing more and more in maximizations unless we have enough confidence in philosophy to expect it to be able to dissolve the hubris behind any simple normative meaning—that it can analyze it, trace it back to its elements, disclose its denial, and thus from under the prestige of common nouns rehabilitate singularization.


In philosophy we may just as well put our pens away if we give up inquiring into the ultimate conditions of experience. But we cease to so inquire when we maximize this or that representation that happens to be thought of highly. Such theticism is gratifying, and essentially so, for it crowns with an ultimate guarantee our fantasmic investments a little like the FDIC guarantees bank accounts. There exists today a whole philosophical industry, administered by the “functionaries of humanity” (Husserl) whose purpose is to sanction institutions and usages. But something unsteady remains about gratifications, since during the interval they last they require that one blind oneself to negative experience. Such is the secret that accounts for the lineage of archic positings: They condense the true, the beautiful, and the good at the extreme. And how could one not enjoy this—a literally marvelous exaltation like the ascent to the ideas—which includes, of course, the ascent toward the ideal of perfect intersubjective communication.

Yet it is concerning just such marvels that in everydayness we do know better. If pleasure demands that I deny negative experience, then this kind of experience has already been recognized. Otherwise there could be no denying it. In addition, everyone knows that it will have, and therefore already has, the last word. As a result, the platform from which fantasmic maximizations are hoisted up, and from which normative arguments therefore depart, has always been carved out in advance to serve more or less magnificent—because more or less magnifiable—interests.


Reiner Schürmann - Broken Hegemonies