Friday, March 6, 2009

Encounters and Uncanny Elements

In a recent (and strikingly poetic) post, Larval Subjects describes the wonder at finding a spot of mud that has been dried and cracked as a result of the heat of the sun. He remarks, “The idea, then, would be that substances reveal themselves, disclose themselves, in their interactions with one another. One substance draws something out from another substance, a new quality, a new arrangement, new properties.”

So, I want to discuss the second part of my object-cone by describing just this, the way objects reveal themselves. In a way, this is building upon our discussion of the thing itself, but more importantly we may now bring in a discussion on how objects interact with other objects, how subjects interact with objects, and how subjects interact with other subjects. Let’s first look at a new diagram:

As you can see, our original diagram has been left unchanged, but now we’ve added three new aspects, each of which will be discussed in what follows – they are, B (an event that relates directly to the thing itself or A), C (an element that passes from one realm to the other, in this case from the unknown realm to the known), and E (an event that does not relate to A).

When any thing interacts with any other thing we have a sort of meeting not just of substances but of entities with individual existences or being. As such these types of meetings are not simply a bumping of substances, nor are they merely a passing of information. Instead, when we encounter another object, as well as when other objects encounter us (and each other) there exists a type of exchange, much like a dialogue. By dialogue, I wish only to describe this type of meeting as a back and forth of availabilities. In other words, when I encounter say a rubber ball, I immediately encounter the ball’s texture, color, weight, circumference, etc. And, the ball encounters me in just as immediate of a way, through the pressure I exert on it, the oils in my skin, etc. Each encounter (B) is a sharing that takes place regardless of whether or not the other object is aware of it, much like Larval’s encounter with the dry mud. But, it is important to note that each encounter (B) always takes place in the realm of the known. We experience things (and things experience us) in certain ways, ways in which we can grasp understandingly. Therefore, I can know the color of the ball, it is familiar to me if I come upon it again, just like I can anticipate the weight of it since I have previously held it. The dialogue between objects, since it happens in the realm of the known, allows each object to perceive, apprehend, and even anticipate the other object.

Yet, with each encounter (B) there is also a slight encounter with an element from the unknown realm – element (C). In other words, each B is contains a C. But, what is this mysterious element? Well, the answer is quite simply, complex. It is a moment of un-canniness and contingency. Since the element (C) originates in the realm of the unknown and passes into the known realm, the only way it can do so is by way of the thing itself (A). By passing through (A), the element (C) takes on, or is changed by the thing itself in such a way that this change, this difference, is also experienced alongside the object in an encounter (B). However, this element (C) is never experienced outright, or by purpose. Instead it shows itself by accident, through a misunderstanding on the part of the object encountering it. So, for example, when Larval picks up the dry mud shapes and wishes to put them together as if they were puzzle pieces, he anticipates them being like other “solid” shapes he has encountered before – a simple misunderstanding – but when the mud shapes break, Larval instead encounters the element (C) of the unknown realm. In a sense, he realizes that the shape is something else – other – that it was hiding a part of itself (an unknown, unfamiliar, or uncanny) part that would never have shown itself if he hadn’t interacted with it. The mud is never there, present-at-hand or for-Larval, but instead is itself, simply unbeknownst to him. We, as other objects, encounter the mud always in the realm of the known. Mud behaves, then, as we expect it to behave until it does not. When the mud breaks, we get a glimpse at the possibility of the mud’s non-existence, or of its contingency and un-canniness. We understand that the mud could very well just as not be there (Un-Dasein) as well as be there (Dasein).

As for the last point on our diagram, (E) or the event that does not relate to A, all that needs to be said of it, at this point, is that this event takes into account the fact that there are other entities that play into the scenario of this object’s being or existence that do not directly come into contact with the object. An example of such an event could be seen as the writing of this post, which although a writing about the mud experienced by Larval Subjects, it has no direct encounter with the object in discussion - i.e. the mud. Event (E) as it exists in the diagram, then, is a concept of the object - in this case, my concept of the mud described by Larval Subjects. I can discuss the mud, describe the mud, and talk theoretically about the mud; however, since I had no direct encounter with the mud, these events never reach the point that (B) does - that is a point where element (C) appears.

Yet, I wish to make another point clear (a point that needs further clarification in another post) event (E) is an integral part to the object even though it may seem outside of the object proper, simply because of the aforementioned duty it holds – that it is through the event (E) that the object comes to exist as something other than material object. This is why, if drawn elsewhere event (E) should always be drawn as if it were just outside the known realm.

Hopefully, now that our object is completely drawn, we can begin to explore its eccentricities as they come into light.

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