Two Harman Responses… and then Nancy’s Fragments

First, I remember when this powerpoint first hit the news a few months ago and some commentator (I think Matty Yglesias) actually had a great point that this powerpoint of the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan was helpful, since it showed just how darned complicated it is. (Of course, that’s a great built-in excuse for any bad diagram…)

Second, I’m in a weird time reversal with my RSS newsfeed, since I hit refresh and it goes backwards in time. And incidentally, that’s really a strange way to read while also reading Amis’s Time’s Arrow (I’m teaching it today) and so part of me wants to mentally reverse the quotations, since that’s how one makes sense of conversations in Amis’s book. Anyway, this meant that I didn’t catch Harman’s response to my post on Nancy until after a bunch of other posts.  I’ll write on this at some point, but here’s what I’ll say quickly: this problem that Harman discusses is, I think, the right one to discuss. Don’t let people get away with pure multiplicity, since as Hegel pointed out, that’s just the One in disguise (if it’s pure, it’s undifferentiated…).

But Nancy specifically champions the “fragment” as a mode of being in the world, such that each fragment is in touch with the others, yet recedes… which is when he uses litanies. (Oh Graham, the anus is necessary…) I would have to say much more on this to be convincing, but it’s farther along the way to taking the real sense of the retreating singularities of things, and heck, you might even talk about Nancy’s “real” sense as something like an allure, but again, this is just opening a move I need to work on more  to show is in Nancy (I had a whole set of Nancy on realism ideas ready to go… with outlines and everything and then I just dropped them for something else… I’ll have to get back to them to make this point…).

I don’t have Sense of the World here (perhaps the only Nancy text I don’t have, which happens to have all my marked up quotes for this), but for those who like Nancy’s work and think Harman’s questions are somehow metaphysical (in the bad old sense of having a presupposition of one particular being), Nancy’s question in Being Singular Plural is put thusly: “this thinking is in no way anthropocentric… If existence is exposed [this term means a lot in Nancy] what is exposed there also holds for the rest of beings?” In a word: no. And he then unfolds the inorganic in the human, and then discusses “a stone” as the “exteriority of singularity in what would have to be called its mineral actuality” (18). I’ll cite more later, since this just the opening to (non-human) fragment… and I’d have to tease out what Nancy means when he writes (in full Latourian fashion) “reality is always in each instant [read: fragment], from place to place, each time in turn, which is exactly how the reality of the res cogitans [here he's simply doing what Harman and Bogost do: extend the self-referentiality to each nonhuman X] attests to itself in each ‘ego sum.'” Then he concentrates on the relation of the “with”… and that self-differentiation of each thing is, I don’t think, so foreign (or rather is precisely the foreign under discussion) to the OOO peeps. Of course, the passage I cite happen to work through the human, but since the critique in the background is of the Heidegger’s Dasein, it’s going to have that kind of elaboration… Ok, time to head to do some other reading…

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  1. Hello,

    Interesting points there. I have also wondered about ‘the fragment’ and its relation to OOP, although in probably a less overt way.

    The connection I have been (not very rigorously) thinking about would be through Schlegel’s concept of the ‘fragment’,- something I am aware that Nancy has written on.

    Just seemed worth mentioning the possible connection between the two things.

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