Of Dramatology

But what if we take respect or regard in the sense intended in Levinas's doctrine of the face? As will be explained more fully in the next chapter, in that ethical or, more strictly speaking, proto-ethical sense—for the ethical as expressed by the face is the ethical as first philosophy, prôtê philosophia (TEI 291, TI 304)— the attribute or property (Eigenschaft) is significant because it can be alienated (enteignet) from my own domain (Eigentum): possession becomes dispossession because the I becomes emphatically 'possessed' by the other. Furthermore, the synchrony that Aristotle attempts to ensure by including the phrase 'at the same time' in his formulation of the principle of non-contradiction, thereby provoking Kant's comment that no reference to time and place need be made in such a purely formal principle of logic,4 gives way to diachrony. And the visibility of the point of view is interrupted by invisibility. The third-personality of talk of points of view, their being seen laterally as points of view from a point of view which compares them, must be 'deduced'. But deduction, declared as an aim in earlier writings by Levinas, is distinguished quite explicitly in Totality and Infinity from deduction according to rules of inference and so-called laws of thought such as the principle of non-contradiction. Deduction as sought by Levinas destructures the structure of thought, fragmenting it 'into events which this structure dissimulates, but which sustain it and restore its concrete significance' (TEI XVII, TI 28). If these events sustain the very structure they explode, the deduction of them in Levinas's emphatic sense can lay claim to necessity, but that necessity cannot be the necessity of logical implication or transcendental presupposition of deduction as classically understood. It is not analytic necessity or the necessity of synthetic a priori propositions. For it is not the necessity of propositions. It is the necessity by which propositions and the formal necessities by which they may be connected are connected concretely to non-propositional events. To say that the prepositional is concretely connected to the non-propositional is to state a proposition which as such conceals what it purports to reveal. The event, e-venting, occurring or Ereignen, as in a different context Heidegger would say, cannot be said or phenomenally shown. Neither the formally or transcendentally logical nor the phenomenological can constitute this; any more than a verb, for example the verb of all verbs, 'to be', can be a noun; any more than an act of speaking, an (o)uttering, even if what it purports to say is self-referential, can be simply the prepositional entity that is what is said.

Yet Levinas calls this événement 'the ultimate event of being itself (TEI XVI, TI 28). It is ultimate in the sense in which being-in-itself, the kath auto, which according to him is being for the other, is contrasted with the phenomenon. Here being is other than the purely nominal being of the separated subject. It is also other than the neutral being of classical metaphysics, of fundamental ontology and of the thinking of being. Neither the nominal being of an entity nor being parsed as a verbal noun, the being of the event of being is the being expressed by the verb. It is the being of the word as expression or act of speech.

But the word 'act' here is liable to mislead. Being and Time argues that acts of speech performed in everyday life are projective. Everyday life is primordially projective. The structure of projection is that of a referential though not necessarily significatory whole. Heidegger stresses the priority of this Verweisungsganzheit because one of his own projects in writing Being and Time is to bring out that the everyday world is not the totality of present at hand entities as which it has been commonly seen by philosophers. Levinas welcomes Heidegger's analysis to the extent that it is a corrective to what he also considers to be the overextension by Husserl and other philosophers of the noetic-noematic conception of being in the world. But this corrective and its holistic conception of being call in their turn for correction by the acknowledgement that 'the ultimate event of being itself is not reducible to 'active interventions realizing projects' (TEI XVI, TI 28). These last words are taken from a footnote in the preface anticipating what will be said toward the end of Totality and Infinity under the heading 'Beyond the Face'. Whether or not we find reason to read back that beyond into the face to face, it does not seem unreasonable to apply what he goes on to say in this footnote to the face to face. For the face to face, no less than the beyond the face, is interpretable neither as noetic-noematic nor as projective interpretation 'nor, of course, as physical forces being discharged into masses' (TEI XVI, TI 28). What does he go on to say in this footnote? He goes on to admit that he would have liked to use the word 'drama' in the way that Nietzsche says he would have liked to use it in The Case of Wagner. Nietzsche's remark therefore deserves to be cited at some length:

It has been a veritable misfortune for aesthetics that the word drama has been translated as 'action' [Handlung]. Wagner is not the one who errs here; all the world is still in error about the matter; even the philologists, who ought to have known better. The ancient drama had grand pathetic scenes [Pathosszenen] in view—it just excluded action (relegated it previous to the commencement, or behind the scene). The word 'drama' is of Doric origin, and according to Dorian usage signifies 'event' [Ereignis],

'history', both words in a hieratic sense. The oldest drama represented local legend, the 'sacred history or story' [heilige Geschichte] on which the establishment of a cult rested (consequently no doing, but a happening [Geschehen]; dran in Dorian does not at all signify 'to do' [thun]).5

Levinas comments that it is because of this risk of confusing drama with doing or active intervention that he does not use the word 'drama' of the 'conjunctures in being' he locates beyond the face. There seems to be no other reason why he should not be ready to use the word also of the 'conjunctures of being' of the face to face. This readiness is suggested by his statement that fecundity, which is the relation situated beyond the face, is only 'part of the very drama of the I' (TEI 251, TI 273). Only part. And The I is...drama in several acts' (TEI 258, TI 282). So its earlier acts are drama too, as a closer consideration of Levinasian earliness may eventually confirm.

The word 'drama' lends itself to a still wider application, application at the methodological level to deduction in Levinas's emphatic sense. For the deductions performed in Totality and Infinity turn on the effectiveness and accomplishment of the mode of address (Ansprechen?) in which the author faces his reader. Somewhat as it has to be said that the so-called deconstructions performed in the writings of Derrida are not simply deeds done by him, but that he intervenes rather as the occasional cause of a middlevoiced (neither simply active nor simply passive) se déconstruire of the texts worked through in those writings, so with the deductions performed in the writings of Levinas. The reader of those writings is witness to a se déduire or, as Levinas's definition of production in the preface to Totality and Infinity underlines, a se produire, a ceci se produit comme cela which is neither simply active nor simply passive in a sense opposed to active, but more passive than passivity in that simple sense. Absolutely passive, and absolutely past, as too could be in its own way Heidegger's Gelassenheit, for that is not only outside the opposition of activity and passivity, as is said in the dialogue which endeavours to 'place' that word, but is formed from the past participle of lassen, as in Seinlassen ('to let be'). Not an activity or doing in the common sense of these words, Gelassenheit is a 'higher doing', ein höheres Tun.6

Liddell and Scott say that the Attic equivalent of the Doric dran is prattein, for which they give as translations 'to effect' and 'to accomplish', observing that the primary sense seems to be 'to pass over' or 'to go through', dia-, as in 'diachrony' (to which in the next chapter we shall return). Although what Levinas calls deduction in an emphatic sense is not translation or logical inference, but a passover from identity defined by relations of formal or dia-lectical opposition to the concrete significance by which the foundations of these structures are both borne and shaken, he advises his readers that these deductions are marked throughout Totality and Infinity by expressions like 'this accomplishes that',

'precisely', 'that is to say' and 'this is produced as that'. It is precisely as though he does not always forget the 'as such' of metaphor, as Derrida says Levinas sometimes does. In Totality and Infinity at least he does not slip into 'etymological empiricism, the hidden root of all empiricism', which forgets that it is using the verb 'to be'.7 There, in expressing the deduction of 'the ultimate event of being' through the expressions just reproduced, it is as though he is productively parodying Heidegger's statement in Being and Time that 'In our fundamental analysis of being, and of course in connection with the interpretation of the "is" (which, as a copula, gives "expression" to the addressing [Ansprechen] of something as something), we must again make the phenomenon of the "as" a theme and delimit the conception of this "schema" existentially' (SZ 360). In making the phenomenon of the 'as' a theme, and in dephenomenologizing it, Levinas delimits Heidegger's existential delimitation of this schema of the 'is' as 'as' in a manner that lets the manners of being (Seinsweise) of prepositional truth and primordial proto-propositional aletheia be as manners of being of the veracity of exposition to another in the face to face. There comes to pass an ethical or proto-ethical 'letting-be' of the letting-be of the Heideggerian thinking of being and of thinking as such. Therefore, if the production of economy as face to face ethics is indicated by 'that is to say', that is not to say that the equivalence is without ambivalence. If beyond the amphibology of being and beings an ultimate metaphysico-ethical event of being is traced, then the logicality of the deduction of the latter is proto-amphibological. The verb-noun ambiguity of Aristotle's on and the multiple sense of being, including the sense and history of being pursued in Being and Time and Heidegger's later works, are multiplied by an ambiguity of logos as 'saying' and logos as 'said'. Unavoidably if, as the author of that book says, logos is being's house.8

In other words, what one may risk calling Levinas's 'other thinking', the andere Denken and Andenken of his 'humanism of the other man', is a thinking otherwise of the 'productive logic' of which Heidegger writes in the Introduction of Being and Time that it 'leaps ahead' (vorspringt) (SZ 10), and of which he writes in the opening sentences of his 'Letter on Humanism':

We are still far from pondering the essence of action [Handeln] decisively enough. We view action as causing an effect. The actuality of the effect is valued according to its utility. But the essence of action is accomplishment [Vollbringen]. To accomplish means to unfold [entfalten] something, into the fullness of its essence [Wesen], to lead it forth [hervorgeleiten] into its fullness—producere. Therefore only what already is can be accomplished. But what 'is' above all is Being. Thinking accomplishes the relation of Being to the essence of man. Thinking brings this relation to Being solely as something handed over [übergeben] to it from Being. Such offering

[Darbieten] consists in the fact that in thinking Being comes to language. Language is the house of being. In its home man dwells.9

But, it must now be asked, what is a house? What is a home? What is it to dwell?

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