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Alternative - History from the Losers


But we do have an answer – you should vote negative, as only rejecting the affirmative’s hegemonic ontology can we Ever begin to affirm ourselves as intellectuals seeking to create change, people that can put the elevator in the Guggenheim, people that can make a difference, and that can work for real change. Vote negative to embrace a positive ontology that separates the affirmative from negative. The loser from the winner.

Spanos 2k (William V, Professor of English at Binghamton University, America’s Shadow, p. 61-62)


If the genealogy of the triumphalist imperial thinking I have undertaken in this chapter teaches us anything at all, it is to take this telling "qualification" of the end-of-history discourse seriously. Doing so puts one in a position to perceive not only the inordinately persuasive power of this kind of contradiction-defying "technological" thinking, but also its weakness, a weakness that up to now has been obscured by oppositional discourses that contradictorily think resistance in the logic prescribed by the dominant thought of the Enlightenment, the very thought they would oppose. If, indeed, the highly prized Western consciousness as such is a technological optical machine of conquest, if the Western will to know is simultaneously a will to total power, if the Western subject in fact defines itself as "I think; therefore I conquer," and if it is this imperial ocularcentric Western mode of thinking that has gained complete discursive dominion over the planet, then surely in this interregnum the time has come for those who would effectively resist the practical fulfillment of the Pax Metaphysica as the Pax Americana to return to the site of ontology as point of departure. I mean the site of Heidegger's de-struction and of the deconstruction of those like Derrida, Levinas, Lyotard, Lacoue-Labarthe, Nancy, and others whose thought — even their critique of Heidegger's — Heidegger's catalyzed. In thus calling for such a "step back," I am not positing the ontological in opposition to the other more "political" sites that, admittedly, these thinkers originally neglected or rarefied. I am suggesting, rather, that the "triumphant" liberal/capitalist democratic culture's overdetermination of the "truth" (the correspondence of mind and thing) in justifying its "triumph" has rendered a rigorous analysis of the ontological ground of this imperial truth an imperative of political resistance against the New World Order, the Pax Americana, that would follow this Pax Metaphysica. I mean an analysis such as that inaugurated in the post- Vietnam decade by these "postmetaphysical" thinkers, but this time reconstellated into the context of the global imperial politics enabled by metaphysical thinking in its fulfilled technological/instrumental phase. Far from being identifiable as totalitarian in tendency or simply obsolete, as so many New Historicist, neo-Marxist, cultural, and postcolonial critics have all-too-hastily concluded, these postmetaphysical or postlogocentric or postocularcentric discourses imply recognition not only of the global triumph of the imperialist thought they would oppose. Equally important, they constitute inaugural efforts, precipitated by the very planetary technologization — that is, colonization — of thought, to think thinking differently or, rather, differentially. They are, that is, symptomatic manifestations of the contradictions — the subverting or decolonizing Other — that the "fulfillment" and global "triumph" of metaphysical thought, like the end of philosophy, according to Heidegger's quite different reading of modernity, necessarily precipitate at its limits. They are, to put it in Heidegger's terms, symptomatic gestures of the Abgeschiedene, the "ghostly" wandering stranger, who, aware of the global colonization of originative thinking by the total instrumentalization and banalization of "enlightening" thought, has parted from the solar "at-homeland," but whose very spectral nonbeing haunts the "victorious" culture of the "age of the world picture."102

Alternative – Forgetting


By forgetting the past we are able to avoid the eternal debt and guilt of forgiveness.

Zupancic 2003

(Alenka is a full-time researcher at the Institute of Philosophy of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts/ The Shortest Shadow Nietzsche’s Philosophy of the Two/ Part 1: Nietzsche the Metapsychologist/ pgs.56-57/HS)



 

There is also an important difference between forgiving and (what Nietzsche calls) forgetting. Forgiveness has a perverse way of involving us even further in debt. To forgive somehow always implies to pay for the other, and thus to use the very occurrence of injury and its forgiveness as a new “engagement ring.” Nietzsche makes this very point in relation to Christianity: the way God has forgiven our sins has been to pay for them, to pay for them with His own “flesh.” This is the fundamental perversity of Christianity: while forgiving, it simultaneously brandishes at us the cross, the instrumentof torture, the memory of the one who suffered and died so that we could be forgiven, the memory of the one who paid for us. Christianity forgives, but does not forget. One could say that, with the eyes of the sinner fixed on the cross, forgiving creates a new debt in the very process of this act. It forgives what was done, but it does not forgive the act of forgiving itself. On the contrary, the latter establishes a new bond and a new debt. It is now infinite mercy (as the capacity of forgiving) that sustains the infinite debt, the debt as infinite. The debt is no longer brought about by our actions; it is brought about by the act of forgiving us these actions. We are indebted for forgiveness. The infinite capacity to forgive might well become the infernal flame in which we “temper”our debt and guilt. This is why Nietzsche counters the conceptof forgiving with the concept of forgetting (“a good example of this in modern times is Mirabeau, who had no memory for insults and vile actions done to him and was unable to forgive simply because he—forgot”).26 This is perhaps the moment to examine in more detail what Nietzschean “forgetting” is actually about. What is the capacity of forgetting as the basis of “great health”? Nietzsche claims that memory entertains some essential relationship with pain. This is what he describes as the principle used in human “mnemotechnics”: “If something is to stay in the memory it must be burned in: only that which never ceases to hurt stays in the memory.”27 Thus, if memory is essentially related to pain (here it seems that Nietzsche claims the opposite of what psychoanalysis is claiming: that traumatic events are the privileged objects of repression; yet pain is not the same thing as trauma, just as “forgetting” is not the same thing as repressing), then forgetting refers above all to the capacity not to nurture pain. This also means the capacity not to make pain the determining ground of our actions and choices. What exactly is pain (not so much physical pain, but, rather, the “mental pain” that can haunt our lives)? It is a way in which the subject internalizes and appropriates some traumatic experience as her own bitter treasure. In other words, in relation to the traumatic event, pain is not exactly a part of this event, but already its memory (the “memory of the body”). And Nietzschean oblivion is not so much an effacement of the traumatic encounter as a preservation of its external character, of its foreignness, of its otherness.\

 

Forgetting is the surplus of passions that allow us to dismiss past injuries. By forgetting the past we allow for new possibilities.



Zupancic 2003

(Alenka is a full-time researcher at the Institute of Philosophy of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts/ The Shortest Shadow Nietzsche’s Philosophy of the Two/ Part 1: Nietzsche the Metapsychologist/ pgs.59-61/HS)



 

If we read this passage carefully, we note that the point is not simply that the capacity to forget, or the “ahistorical condition,” is the condition of “great deeds” or “events.” On the contrary: it is the pure surplus of passion or love (for something) that brings about this closure of memory, this “ahistorical condition.” In other words, it is not that we have first to close ourselves within a defined horizon in order then to be able to accomplish something. The closure takes place with the very (“passionate”) opening toward something (“a woman or a great idea”). Nietzsche’s point is that if this surplus passion engages us “in the midst of life,” instead of mortifying us, it does so via its inducement of forgetting. Indeed, I could mention a quite common experience here: whenever something important happens to us and incites our passion, we tend to forget and dismiss the grudges and resentments we might have been nurturing before. Instead of “forgiving” those who might have injured us in the past, we forget and dismiss these injuries. If we do not, if we “work on our memory” and strive to keep these grudges alive, they will most probably affect and mortify our (new) passion. It could also be interesting to relate Nietzsche’s reflections from the quoted passage to the story of Hamlet, in which the imperative to remember, uttered by Hamlet’s father’s Ghost, plays a very prominent role. Remember me! Remember me!, the Ghost repeats to Hamlet, thus engaging him in the singular rhythm that characterizes the hero of this play—that of the alternation between resigned apathy and frenetic activity or precipitate actions (his killing of Polonius, as well as that of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern; his engagement in the duel with Laertes . . .). This movement prevents Hamlet from carrying out the very deed his father’s Ghost charges him with. Many things have been said and written about the relationship between action and knowledge in this play, and about how knowledge prevents Hamlet from acting. Although the two notions are not unrelated, it might be interesting to consider this also in terms of memory (not only in terms of knowledge). It could be worthwhile to contemplate the role played by the imperative of memory. Could we not say that one of the fundamental reasons for the difficulty of Hamlet’s position  is precisely the structural incompatibility of memory and action

that is to say, the fact that action ultimately always “betrays” memory? And do we not encounter something similar in the wider phenomenon of melancholy (in the play, Hamlet is actually said to be “melancholic”) as a never-ending grief that keeps alive, through pain, the memory of what was lost? Additionally, although we can recognize in this kind of melancholy a form of fidelity (for instance—to use Nietzsche’s words—fidelity to “a woman or a great idea”), this kind of fidelity, bound to memory, should be distinguished from fidelity to the very event of the encounter with this woman or idea. Contrary to the first form, this second form of fidelity implies and presupposes the power to forget. Of course, this does not mean to forget in the banal sense of no longer remembering the person or the idea in question, but in the sense that forgetting liberates the potential of the encounter itself, and opens up—precisely through its “closure”—the possibility of a new one. If we return to the question of the ascetic ideal, we can easily see its link to the imperative of memory: the “sleeplessness” it generates is very closely related to the state of being “everlastingly awake” that Nietzsche identifies as one of the essential features of the ascetic ideal. The same is true of frenetic activity as the very impossibility of actually acting and of the obsession with the fact that everything that happens to us, or everything we do, has to be registered somewhere.

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