Intentionality and Metaphysical Otherness

I want to foward a theory about a particluar kind of otherness I want to call “metaphysical otherness”, for the time being.

It is opposed to fantasy and to exoticism. There, because our dialectics is unconstrained, our imagination has free room to wander and so to say something is not has the effect of creating all these fantastic things. But when we think of metaphysical otherness I think of an imagination that is somehow constrained, we want to think of a tighter sort of impasse or posturing. And I feel that this mode of otherness is related to the mark.

Let’s consider a passage from A Rose for Emily. Now, the gossipy townspeople are interested in Emily because she is a part of the old world — she is other. But as we said this fantastic form of otherness is unconstrained. We can consider even the Homer Baron character. Homer Baron is someone who is very non-mysterious… he is sort of this big, handsome fellow. He is simply someone who acts as his position allows him to. If I was a big handsome fellow — which I am not — I would probably act in much the same way. Thus for him gossip seems to suffice. The entire short story is of course told in the form of gossip. Gossip is a kind of social alchemy, of putting together the various peices (such as “big”, and “handsome”) in order to draw various conclusions. The same sort of gossip attempts to take hold of Emily too, which is something that she tries to defeat. Well, that is not her primary purpose, of course, otherwise the story would be very uninteresting as it would be about rebellion.

So we equate gossip with fantasy. There is a scene that we always go back to, in this blog I mean — simply because it is a kind of obvious one. I mean the scene where the tax collectors visit her house. They enter this old house and find a kind of configuration. Everything seems meaningful… Emily has this pocketwatch suspended from her neck. When they sat down on the furniture the layer of dust arose and danced about the sunlight. So there are peices here, and indeed they asked to be put together, but they cannot be. So we go into the house of Emily expecting to find something that would solve or confirm our suspicions but we instead find that the past is not dead and gone, but rather still there, “looking at us”, in the sense of, intervening with our detective work. So this is what I call a “metaphysical otherness”. It is the moment when the elements of the house are no longer so “passive”. They still ask to be reconfigured. But the reconfiguration here involves, not the putting together of contextual peices, but rather the attempt to decipher intentionality.

I mean, let me just remark that, in a very general sense, all thinking is posturing, is positioning. We shouldn’t view the brain as a giant computer, that is a deceptive metaphor. But instead of asking about the mechanics of thinking, we should be asking about the peices that thinking works with. So that thinking is simply, in most cases, reality as such. If we, for example, see a dog run away, hear a crash, and see a broken vase, then we have to reconstruct this scene causally. Most animals — well, I imagine — could probably do the same thing. We might call this reality but it is really our thinking of reality. All thinking, no matter how complex or pragmatic, ends up with the production of this “world”. With metaphysical otherness, as opposed to gossip or fantasy, regardless of how a solution is produced, the peices are a bit different.

The peices of furniture, I suppose, are still there, but they also carry now some intentionality with them, which is a puzzling sort of injection into the situation. I have, as a mental picture, a sort of existential rearranging, a rearranging of oneself in relation to the mark. Well, the world rearranges itself too, I mean, at a broader scale. But at the heart of all this seems to be something I’ve been calling allegoricism, which is the way in which a representation ceases to be a representation.

(1) Isn’t this rearranging recurring? Is it true that a metaphysical rearranging can never account for the the unpredictable ways in which intentionality can arise?


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