Saturday, 19 October 2013

Non-full presence: or, Thank goodness for our liquid world

Some reckon the impossibility of full presence to be a limitation, a tragedy or something to be buried lest the commonfolk find out.  Others (not as dissimilar to the first crowd as they would like) think its absence to be a void towards which we are drawn and that this drawnness is a good thing - the best thing - that the void holds the highest virtues; it is that at which we gaze, necks craned upwards, expectant.  Because of this latter prejudice, no less unbelievable than the former, everything good becomes messianic and we all twiddle our thumbs, awestruck, doing as we're told and waiting...  Or we would if we were really listening.  It's good that we nod at this philosophy and that it travels no deeper into our being than our neck muscles.

No, the absence of full presence is a good thing but not because we are drawn towards the void.  There is a void but it serves a completely different purpose.  Despite the ubiquity of non-full presence - well, that's just it, isn't it?  Presence is ubiquitous.  Were it ever full we wouldn't be able to move.  We do not want for presence, we are swimming in it.  It is liquid.  That is its virtue and its virtuality.  Full presence would be strictly solid, tighter than a diamond.  We would be crushed under its infinite mass, instantly.

Thank goodness that there is enough warmth in our world to keep the absolute away.  And thank goodness that there is enough coolness in our world that it doesn't flee itself, lurching into gas form, scattering particular traces so far apart that they could never be connected again (not by any mortal anyway).  Thank goodness for our liquid world, our world just the right distance from the sun; a world that the slightest orbital perturbation could either freeze or enfurnace.  Thank goodness that absolute presence not only is not here but is not and that its not being leaves not a vacuum, a void, but a liquid, a semi-presence.  Just the right amount of presence for currents to circulate.

Yes, the fact that presence is always also elsewhere and other and beyond and strange and intangible is a good thing but precisely because we are not drawn to it like moths to a flame (we don't need more heat, not that much anyway).  We are drawn from present to present, in the present - concurrently.  Even the 'Absolute' is a presence within the present.  Even the regulative ideals of Truth and Justice are only the following of one present to another, not the stalking of the absolutely absent presence.  What use would such ideals be if their targets were wholly elsewhere or wholly nowhere?  Elsewhere, over the horizon, yes, but not in some other dimension.  Never fully realisable, no, but found in crumb-form, partially assemblable if the collector is fastidious and obsessive enough - that is, if she puts her gloriously opposable thumbs to better use than mere twiddling...

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