n+1: From indexicalism to spectral realism


Speaker: Hilan Bensusan, Universidade de Brasília

When: Oct 07, 2022 - 03:30pm - 06:00pm

Where: MITCH 101



In Indexicalism (Edinburgh UP, 2021) I claim that deictic notions like exteriorityotherbeyond, tor outside lie underneath any thoughts involving substantives. It entails a (paradoxical) situated metaphysics where exteriority is a key term. The idea of indexicalism is built from a reading of Levinas informed by Whitehead, by direct reference approaches to language and thought and by Amerindian perspectivism.

Following from the basic ideas of the book, I'll develop the idea that exteriority is closely connected to posteriority and sketch a post-metaphysics of addition where asymmetric addends provide a furniture to what exists. Struction (Nancy), excess (Bataille) and the supplement (Derrida) are taken to be figures of addition; they make clear that addends provoke transformations that range from permanence to destruction. (I’ll say something about minimal logic, my attempt to start thinking about the logic of asymmetric addition – or the logic of the supplement.) Addition acts on what is in retention and I claim that it belongs together with memory: there is no content to retention and, in fact, no retention without retrieval provided by an addend. I argue that, in fact, there are two intertwined Zusammengehörigkeiten here: the one between between addition and memory and the one between retention and retrieval. I develop the idea of a memory assemblage that could take both the shape of a text or a writing (or an archi-writing) or that of plastic form (as suggested by Malabou’s criticism of Derrida). A memory assemblage is relative to an addend – like a text is defined in tersm of its readability – and makes clear that nothing subsists indifferent to addends.

Memory assemblages provide an image that is different from that of the metaphysics of presence in that an event (an addend) stirs on what is in retention, it is a specter that comes back in a different and often unrecognized way and not anything that is fully present. This entails some kind of spectral realism according to which existence requires an anachronic hybridism where addends are some kind of revenants that end up shaping much of what subsists. Permanence – of objects and of (categorical or dispositional) properties – is hostage to the tectonics of retrieval. Spectral realism, in contrast with most forms of speculative realisms, are not commited to a metaphysics of presence.

Now, the reality of the past – and of the future – are themselves indexical as the past is situated. An indexicalist spectral realism is such that it is from a specific position always that retrieval is possible and that addends can act. The past is both told from the present – and importance could be more salient than the evidence left – and hostage to the future. I’ll point at the notion of messianicity (without messianism) thought by Derrida as a way to understand how archives require a future both as a promise and as a threat. I’ll claim that messianicity ought to be itself situated