The Mutability of The Self in Being-Together-With

“We Are The Same”. We are the same in being self-same and self-different. We become a self, properly speaking, ourselves as self-same precisely in changing through self-difference. Self-Identity can never mean identification in the sense of some commonality.

“The same is in no way the equal. The same is even less the coincidence without difference of the identical. The same is rather the relation of the different.”

“”Belonging lies in the assimilation that distinguishes the appropriating event. By virtue of this assimilation, we are admitted to the event. This is why we can never place appropriation in front of us, neither as something opposite us nor as something all-encompassing.

.. This is why thinking which represents and gives account corresponds to Appropriation as little as does the saying that merely states.”

Representing one’s self, as in the I-Subject, nor representing the other can ‘get hold’ of what is meant in being-the-there-together as appropriating event. Nor can representations such as space get hold of the place we open up in which we become who are together.

To say that emmie and I became what we are for ourselves and for each other in the appropriating event of coming together means precisely this, that what is retrospectively the self is in the first instance, an outline, a figure that must be filled in by living. “Figure” does not mean picture, but a prefiguring in the sense that the wings of a butterfly are prefigured just prior to metamorphosis, by corresponding shapes that appear in the body of the caterpillar.

“Master and slave” are such a prefiguring outline. What it means to be such can only be worked out from the prefiguration, but the figure only properly is in the working out, the outline defines as little as necessary. Representing is to “picture”, which overdetermines becoming from the start. Identity becomes identification, which is opposed to both self-sameness and self-difference. It is merely applying a prefabricated generalization as already decided to what should instead develop out of decision.

Being the same does not mean being the same as the other, which is exactly what equality conveys. The same (το αὐτó) does not presuppose the equality of “two things or two terms”. In fact it precludes such equality. The same is always the same of some other, but this other is first of all itself, or self-same. The same is the gift of self, given in the event. The same is dative—for itself and with itself—in relation to itself, and therefore of a different self-relation.

The dative ἐαυτω means: each thing itself is returned to itself, each itself is the same for itself with itself. In sameness, there is thus difference—opposition to self. “Opposition appropriates itself. It appropriates itself in the same as the essential of being. This “opposition” is the incision of the other in the same, an incision that remains occluded within relationships of equality.

If being the same originally means being self-(ex) change (the withdrawal of oneself in self-giving—the play of the dative) and letting the other be in the self, and if, originally, identity is a metamorphosis, then the incomparable character of being simply designates the impossibility, for everything that is, of being equal to itself. A being could be just like another being, but it cannot be just like itself in that it originally differs from itself. The being of beings is what inscribes in beings the difference of beings from themselves.

It is in this sense that being and time belong together, we differ from ourselves in time, over time. Self-difference as contradiction has another definition: finitude. We can be “in time” and “over time”, and simultaneously self-different and self-same because we are finite. But as the same, being, essence, and beings are all finite and mutable. Through finitude we become incomparable except via the incomparable itself.

The complicity between being, essence, and beings revealed by the (ex)change stems from this change and rupture of identity that makes each thing, each person, simultaneously an essence, a being, and the difference between the two; a dative self-difference that prevents every self-enclosure. When I encounter emmie, after the event that appropriated us to each other, I move into her, exploring her difference, the singular play opened in her between my essence and itself. It is exactly there, at that place, that she welcomes me. Ereignis, the event that appropriates, or the enowning, is the place where this can happen, there where we make room—a place for the other.

This welcoming, or passage into the other and back, neither is pure transcendence, nor is it some sort of transcendental hospitality; it is ordinary in the sense of ordinary changes in living, where the interplay between living and those who live changes both. There is no alterity without change. The other changes me because I change myself in it. The strange resemblances between people who live together without being kin; between lovers, friends, and children are such living changes. Alterity is transformation—fashioning of and by the other.

The metamorphosis and migration of Dasein, God, the relation to being, beings, etc., corresponds neither to the sudden appearance of new monsters nor to what are ordinarily called fantastic creatures. The new metamorphosis and migration results from the way in which, after an appropriating event, breathe the same air, and live the same novel ontological condition: being-essence, being-beings, and being the difference between the two.

Self, Self-Identity and the thinking of identity are changed to the extent that what is the same is not the closed circle of generic community or commonality but a gathering that precisely does not generalize. Essence is henceforth a remaining open, the revolving door of the house of being through which the exchange of the favor passes.

The “gift” and the “giver” are not abstractions, but ourselves and the things we give each other, in this case emmie and I and what we give and receive, and the ways in which those things matter. The “gift” is material, in the true sense of mattering, and only by understanding each other, and each others place, the “there” we each are, have we a shared place where we could understand what matters to the other, and thus to ourselves. Favor is gift, of course, but also the excess of giving that is never exhausted in any gift.

“The visibility of Being itself found in transformed beings in and after the event is born precisely from ontological mutability, where god can be shown as Dasein, “Dasein as god, being as a thing, Dasein as a thing and a thing as a god, without any of these essences trying to alienate each other or become equal. The divine, the thing, man, and being from time to time show in each other, are installed in each other in passing. Essence—stand-in, double, halo, aureole—is the other name for what, in a thing, god, Dasein, or animal and in being itself is the most exposed, the most fragile, the most ordinary. The littlest, in everything, is living tissue of a constant autotransformation, which is itself living, thinking, and thinging: a being’s capacity to take leave of itself so as to be crossed and exchanged with another. There can be no “belonging” without this suppleness of gathered terms, itself founded on the suppleness of gathering, a suppleness that permits them to fold into and substitute for each other while remaining what they are.” —  Malabou, Catherine

That emmie can substitute for me, that she can put herself in my place and do what I would have her do; that she can see me as her Master, not despite the ordinariness she knows in me, but precisely because of that ordinariness, is part of suppleness, the exchangeability that nevertheless keeps us who we are. That I can put myself in her place and understand what she needs, understand what she wants, and decide whether those are congruous with our place together is also part of that suppleness and fluidity of self and self-identity. Enowning makes the ordinary explicit as fantastical, and the fantastical simultaneously real by living.

“Pain maintains a natal tie with the logos, meaning with gathering and belonging. An essential bond would in this way unite pain and gathering. “Pain would be that which gathers most intimately,” in the littlest, most fragile, and exposed fashion.” —  Malabou, Catherine

“It is necessary to look after and protect what is supple” – Malabou, Catherine


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