Unreal Nature

August 19, 2018

Ever More

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:34 am

Never more! Do you understand what these two words signify?

Continuing through The Bad Conscience by Vladimir Jankélévich, translated by Andrew Kelley (2015):

… this passage, which is impeccable so long as it is a matter of Caius, suddenly becomes shocking and scandalous and incomprehensible if Caius is mysef, not the I in general (which is a concept), but me: me who speaks, suffers, fears, and hopes, who says ‘I’ at this very moment and who is the first person for itself; an inexplicable resistance reveals itself as soon as it is no longer only about deducing but about ‘making real.’

… Naturalistic conceptualization waters down my private tragedy in the immortal youth of springtimes and metempsychoses, while religious promise spirits away my sorrow into the golden heavens of athanasia. Mea res agitur! The paradox of my personal case, of my personal problem, of my personal promotion outlives the derisory sermons and protests against the dragees and the medals of Consolation.

… Even in the loss of the object that is the most replaceable, the most indiscernible from all the others, and in appearance the most ordinary, there is an I-know-not-what that no one in the world can give back to me. The impossibility of reiterating is even more poignant if the “first time,” or in other words the original event, is shrouded in a particular mental or moral context — intention, recollection, movement of the heart, that nevertheless cannot be read in to the very morphology of the thing and is not an element of its structure.

[line break added] An identical object can be bought again but the décor, the manner (as Balthasar Gracián stated), the circumstances that made the thing into an event will no longer be there. It is a beloved hand that had given it to me … Desdemona’s handkerchief was a handkerchief like all handkerchiefs, and Mélisande’s ring was a ring like all rings.

… What is true of toys is, naturally, even more true of tragedies: however much commutative justice says that all equivalent merchandise is exchangeable and substitutable with each other … — I, however, hold fast to the humble dried flower of my recollections, and one will not compensate me for the past of which it reminds me by purchasing for me a beautiful, wholly new carnation at the florist. No one can do anything for me. And similarly it is not a child in general for whom the inconsolable mother clamors; it is her own, whoever it may be. This one and not another.

… But the semelfactivity that, in this case, is unique not only in the present space but in all of history, and that happens not just once a month like a full moon, nor once per year like birthday celebrations, nor once per century like comets, but once in all of eternity, is semelfactivity not the fine, extreme point of a point, the height of the apex?

[line break added] Of such a value, one can say willingly that it has an infinitely infinite price or that it has no price at all … How would we not passionately cling to this inappreciable value, to this unevaluable value that is the source of all value? A work that will have neither a second audition nor a second edition, not a second emission, that will be neither repeated nor reproduced …

… Life is given only one time to a man, and it will not be renewed for him. Never more! Do you understand what these two words signify?

… Remorse despairs not so much as to evoke but to annul, and the torture of irreversibility here consists, not in forgetting, but in the impotence for repairing. The originality and the diabolical cruelty of this pain is that the irreversible lesion, in the bad conscience, is the very work of the sick person; not only does it involve his health, but he recognizes himself as the author.

… Something irreparable is going to exist due to my fault; the complication here comes from this positive act of my liberty that shatters an already irreversible continuity with all sorts of enterprises that are without return.

My most recent previous post from Jankélévich’s book is here.

-Julie

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