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While speaking about vision, images, and texts, it would be appropriate to note that all such terms are not derived from a specific human bodily organ, such as "an eye" or even a localized brain function, but from a culturally predominant metaphor: light. The latter is not a visual phenomenon, but an all pervading sensuous dimension that allows various experiential fields to intersect and signify each other. Light metaphors abound: "In light of reason," or the "divine light," or "Enlightenment," and even such variants as "clear and distinct ideas" or "phenomena" belong to this domain. Moreover, the emphasis on one selected and biologically interpreted bodily function--the ocular--neglects more fundamental aspects of perception, one of which is kinaesthetic field that comprises an entire system of "oriented body" wherein a visual function comprises a narrow range of perception. Thus, "orientational movements" are a condition for visual capacity, and such movements are the activity of entire body. Moreover, the "physiological body" as a base, articulated in all sorts of scientific studies and autopsies would be a momentary point, forced to stand still and ceasing to be a worldly body. Scientific body is part of a causal chain and functions only when causes compel it to react to affects. But such body could not look for something that is not present as a cause of reaction. In this sense, scientific body is not active or interactive but reactive and hence mostly dormant. Only an active, oriented and interactive body can have a vision. In this essay this active body will be explored for the ways that allow the intertwining of intercorporeal visibility in the field of "aesthetics" as the primary source of the quest for intelligibility.

Body and action

While in his earlier works Husserl still spoke of hyletic data as given, in Ideen II and in Krisis this view is undercut by the functioning of corporeity (Husserl 1950); the latter belongs to the passive side of transcendental subjectivity, yet in such a way that it transgresses the factual and the essential while founding in its generality both. The constitutive activities subtend the hyletic data and show that the latter appear on the basis of kinaesthetic constitution of temporality. This means that even the primordial data are apperceptive, the impressional data already have a form and content and both are mediated by constitutive activities of temporalization that provide a duration for the data. Without apperception there are no impressions, and without kinesthesia there are no apperceptions. The urimpressions are synthetic units of kinesthesia. In this sense, kinaesthetic consciousness is time consciousness. This means, furthermore, that corporeity is not constituted but constitutive. It is a system of activities to which sense fields are coordinated and as such is on the side of transcendental subjectivity. This makes precedent of corporeity as "I can", provided that no phenomenological credence is given to the "I". It could be said provisionally that the empowerments of corporeity are genetically prior to the appearance of the ego, or the discovery of the "mine" precedes the discovery of the ego.

Here the world and other relationships are predelineated. But this subjectivity does not have the world as something facing it but something that is coextensive with it. The world is to the extent that our corporeal activities constitute it in synthetic praxis and articulation: we know of it as much as is announced in corporeal activities. The activities are not at our disposal but are what we are in praxis, and the world is the praxis world. In this sense the world is not confronted, but is coextensive with the transcendental becoming. This is precisely why the world escapes us as an object or subject and remains as anonymous groundless ground. Nonetheless, in itself it bears the principle of individuation and other relatedness, their difference and commonality. It pre-establishes a process which can be called mine and differentiated from others on a common ground.

Without the corporeal activities the consciousness of self is a presupposition, a condition for the possibility of experience but not an experience of the individual self or ego. The unity of the transcendental ego might turn out to be a construction, or an explanatory principle which presupposes in order to explain the unity of experience, both in recourse to factual experience and its conditions that make it possible. This is the central issue. If this is a result concerning necessary condition which must be presupposed, what constitutes its universal necessity? It might be a hypothesis that could turn out to be unwarranted, or an ideology, disproved in subsequent experiences.

The problematic could be restated in other terms. The basis, for which Husserl seeks, is absolute and yet the question of the individual is not answered purely on the transcendental arguments for an ego. Individuality is to be sought elsewhere. It is precisely such a search that leads to the absoluteness of the factual individual and inter-individual relationships: contingent absoluteness. How this contingency is to be understood? Earlier discussion would have suggested that it is a fact correlated to an essence, but such a correlation turns out to be impossible since every fact is already a constituted system in a field. In addition, the reflective thinking cannot determine the limits of the facticity of passive activities and hence correlate them to essential insights. Neither facticity nor essentiality will do, specifically if experienced facticity of self in activity does not yield any substantiality and predicative characterizations. The factual process is not experienced as a brute and dumb fact, to be subsumed as an exemplar of an eidos, but as a system of dynamic abilities, deployed from here and now not in the sense of being inserted in a pregiven space-time, but from which the world is opened in action. The null-point is the corporeity from which all actions unfold; but in such a way that the null-point itself is apperceptive and located in a process of shifting and intersecting activities that comprise a field and not a position.

Our contention is that this field and its field nature is predelineated in its factual life as a constant activity and a structuration of the perceptual world. The ego is an achievement of factual enablements that are field data. In this sense, the ego is the absolute fact. Its necessity is neither essential nor contingent. Both are subtended by the acting corporeity and its systematic engagements with the practical affairs. What follows from such an absolute fact is that any essential and contingent determinations of it are inadequate. In this sense it is without ground. One could claim that the activities are constitutive of, while being unconstituted by, the phenomenal field. Given this, it is now possible to take the last step towards the tracing of the question of individuality and inter-subjectivity.

Bodily activities constitute an ineradicable facticity that is not dumb but an articulated process that does not emerge into the foreground--specifically since it is not entitative but constitutive of spacio-temporalization as a field of patterns. The latter are neither interior nor exterior; hence, reflective awareness is inadequate to grasp it. Rather it is a taken for granted point of departure for any investigation of the lived world and a field of history. Each gesture and movement is accomplished spontaneously and recognized in correlation to, and distinction from, others. Since childhood there is a vital-kinaesthetic exploration of the world and the constitution of corporeal abilities. The latter are neither inner nor outer but are primarily effective. One can reach something, move something, pull, push, lift and throw. This effectivity comprises its own domain of cognition.

Pre-reflective, corporeal movements constitute their own self-reflexivity and self-reference. In a missed attempt to reach something the attempt is immediately repeated. The missing comprises an instance of movement which reflects back upon itself and calls for a variation of itself in a second attempt. There is a direct kinaesthetic question: "can I do this?"; it reveals at the outset an already articulated field of abilities and tasks with possible variations that never offer a final, factual limitation. Here, one builds recognition of oneself in terms of what one can do. This self-recognition is co-extensive with the recognition of the abilities as mine, not because the abilities are mirrored in a psychological interiority or in a mirror, but because they are kinaesthetically reflexive and at the same time coextensive with and differentiated from those of others. I cannot do this means that not only that I have tried and failed; but that I have seen others perform it. The correlation of abilities and inabilities is an inter-corporeal experience present in the handling of tasks and undertakings. Corporeal abilities comprise an understanding of commonalities and individuating differences.

The commonality has two components: the first is the common task in which we are engaged, and the second is the continuity of activities that differentiate themselves into variations. We lift something but you do it from one side and I do it from another. While the end you are lifting is heavier, you can, and I cannot lift that end; yet, I can lift this end, and thus discover a common activity and its corporeal differentiation. This constitutes a policentric field of activities and includes others who are not present at the task. "If only Joe were here to lend us a hand", includes the abilities of Joe as co-extensive with, and differentiated from our capacities. Or, "Lucky that Mike is not here; he certainly likes to lend a hand, but tends to be more of a hindrance than help". The investigations reveal possible variations that take over the suggestion of Cartesian Meditations concerning empathy. At the active level the term empathy can be modified by "filling in". It is quite a common notion; we do fill in for someone at the job by taking over a function, or by putting our shoulder to the task from another side. All these functions suggest a commonality and a variation. This is corporeal individuation and inter-corporeal field that is neither a simple fact, nor an essence; it subtends both. Concurrently, there is a level of reflexivity, of direct apperception of the self and the other on the basis of activities that both undertake. Her ability to reach something and my lack of such ability, despite my efforts, reflects directly our corporeal commonality of reaching and our differences. Thus, the 'I can' is prior to the pure 'I', since the former is individuated and differentiated from others, and yet is directly aware of them as well as of itself.

The factual states of affairs, correlated to our activities, are equally prior to essentiality and brute factuality. Rather they have an open explorability and generality, specifically with respect to their practical functions. It is to be noted that history is not thought but built, made in practical engagements. Such engagements reveal another aspect of activities that could be called dimensional, leading to corporeal analogization of the field of praxis. The active handling of objects does not exhibit a one-to-one correlation between activities and the objects. Each activity can range over various and typologically distinct objects and tasks. The hand can pick up a stone, a hammer, a stick and use any of them to pound a stick into the ground. And this constitutes a primal analogization in two senses. First, one can perform similar activities and recognize them directly anywhere and any place prior to historical temporalization; and secondly, the activities perform a passive analogization of objects by using them as interchangeable in face of a task. The hammer, the stone and the stick are analogates by virtue of the generality of our abilities. In this sense the "I can" is a factual generality that cannot be reduced either to a closed essence or a brute fact. One can then claim that the historical field is recognized by the interchanging functions as analogous to one another, capable of filling in one another, and equally by the facts as systems, not revealing essentialities, as was shown at the outset, but various analogical interconnections, recognizable corporeally. This allows an archeologist, a historian, and an anthropologist to reconstruct the so-called past on the basis of some handy find. This is to say, these scholars and researchers do not have to date what they find in a preconceived temporal sequence--this comes as an occupational tandem subsequently--but to encounter it as an analogate of what they could do with this object and imply that we, too, already recognize that we could equally do similar things.

But this means that there is no necessary interconnection among all activities; some are continued, others discontinued, and still others postponed, thus constituting varied time structures and task structurations that prohibit any teleological direction to history. With such a prohibition any quest for history as something that is unidirectional and above the activities and tasks, that build it, ceases to make sense. The activities are of course interconnected in various ways, inclusive of the above delimited commonalities and differentiations; yet, they comprise a field without a telos, without a direction and hence a continuous building but not in any sense temporal building. It is rather an atemporal intersection of activities wherein the so-called past and the presumed future, as ontologizations, come too late. In brief, the lived world as historical one is a world of praxis that does not admit either essentiality or facticity; rather both are co-extensive with what Husserl describes as "primordial techne".

While a great amount of historical work is based on written texts, such texts constantly refer to the actions and deeds of persons facing common and diverse tasks. In this sense, texts are explications of practical architectonic of the world. Architectonic includes everything that humans build, from implements to palaces. When we pick up a stone sharpened to cut, skin, sculpt, we recognize what they could do and what we can do. When we dig up a row of stones, we see through them the "more" of a building that we can reconstruct and understand how they lived, oriented and structured their living space and time. The architectonic is a map of how people lived, i.e. acted, and the structure of the world they possessed. Historical documents are correlates of and extensions of our understanding of people's concrete lives because we understand the "I can" of human activities.

Primacy of "I can"

Everything that we perceive is deployed on the map of the "I can". The visible world and even the structure of our projects are phenomena of the same process that depicts both, our abilities and the way the latter are meant or signified by the experienced phenomena. The meaning of human ways of being towards the world is composed by the actions of the lived body whose very styles are delineated by the concrete demands of the phenomena with which the engaged body must contend. In this sense the spatiality of the body is not a geometrical position but a situated field of action. Here, we must surrender the modern notion of a body as a sum of located organs ruled by regal mind and begin to think of the styles of action. To the extent that being bodily is premised on the possibilities of activity, the lived body is the grounding medium for having a world or, to be more precise, it is also a meaningful embodiment of the composition of phenomena. While human action inscribes the world with the meaning, the world, in turn, inscribes the meaning into the very flesh of the human existence. This inscription must be understood more precisely: human action engages the encountered phenomena; it is oriented toward and thus signifies them, yet in turn the phenomena are not "blind" as rationalists and empiricists would have it, but equally signifies and intertwines with the human action. To signify is to orient towards the phenomena but also to be signified by the phenomena, to be caught by their own requirements, to be meant and called upon to comply by what they mean.

To be more spesific, we read the phenomena with and through the actions of others who extend our vision and make us "reach" beyond our reach. Simple watching of a movie while seated on a chair is not a "couch potato" stasis. My eyes follow a figure moving toward and rounding a corner of a building, signifying his vision and extending mine with a question "what is there?" and indeed opening a kinaesthetic horizon: perhaps he went into a building, crossed the street, etc.. The movements of the other are not only situating-situated, they also situate us and locate our position as co-extensive with their actions--a continuous intercorporeal "I can" by virtue of what others are accomplishing at the same time. In this sense, the field of my vision is "our vision" that is intertwined and extended into depth and horizons that are always "more" and lead our intercorporeal awareness, but never to reach an absolute vision. Of course, divinities cannot have a vision, since they are "incorporeal" and hence infinitely flat. Hence, a corporeal activity means and the latter is "oriented visibility". In this sense, vision is the very meaning of oriented activities in multi-corporeal engagements. While for Husserl "meaning" was an act of awareness, more concretely it is an intercorporeal engagement.

The engaged body is always contextualizing and contextualized and in this sense one cannot speak of some essential or universal meaning. Each meaning emerges with the context and equally signifies the context. The actions of the body are neither distinct from nor are understandable apart from the context. Meaning is incarnate and constantly emerges with the shifting body actions and transfiguring phenomena. Correlatively, engagement with phenomena is equal to multiplication, segregation and propagation of the visible. If aesthetic activity is engaged with the world, it is coming into various formations that solicit and open up to visibility, it is proper to call it ontological, productive and not reproductive, but not representational.

There can be various contexts, both perceptual and perceptual-cultural. Take for example the meaning of "black" in art history. The black falling angels and black devils signify evil and the privation of being in accordance with Neo-Platonic scheme within a Christian theological framework. In turn, within the same paintings, gold signifies the richness of heaven, goodness, perfection, radiant holiness and divine majesty. The meaning of the black color was intertwined with a signifying scheme of theology and metaphysics. Meanwhile, for Rembrandt the black color is used to explicate visual figures insofar as it permits the depiction of shadows and a resultant coming to visibility of three dimensional depth. For Rembrandt black has hardly any symbolic meaning, since the meaning of this color is a way of making visible, opening up the possibility of sight as depth-perspectival. It must be strongly suggested that Rembrandt does not "represent" the world, since the appearance to visibility of depth and shadow perspective is not some naturally given, but an ontological-aesthetic enactment of a style of visibility that otherwise would not be available.

Goya, in turn, uses black to make visible various psychological meanings, such as death or the unconscious. His etchings, done purely in black, are very forceful since they reinforce the literary meaning of black. No doubt, such reinforcement would require an exposition of Merleau-Ponty understands of synaesthetic awareness, but for the present we shall postpone its treatment. If we move to Rauschenberg's series of black paintings, we shall find only the patterns of varying shades of black. It seems that here any symbolic meaning, any literary context has been excluded. There is nothing more except for the patterns of black having more patterns of black--almost a pure experience of blackness. This seems to suggest that the painting discloses pure perceptual content without any cultural intermixture and hence, perhaps, a meaningless set of phenomena. Yet, precisely at this level perceptual awareness, elicited by a painting of a color, reveals the presence of meaning without having to posit a subject, a representation or any kind of symbolism. How? Rauschenberg discloses the visibility that the simplest perceptual component, such as black, is always "thick" with meaning; after all, Rauschenberg shows the impossibility of having an "essence" of blackness in its purity; every stroke, every overlay of painter's brush strokes show shades of different black where each shade signifies the other shades as different from each other. Any homogeneous presence is a priori excluded.

The very phenomena engage us in the inevitable explication of the visible in its minimal, "diacritical" composition. That is to say, an explication of a simple perceptual phenomenon is an explication of differences within the phenomenon or from other phenomena. The green is dull because it is next to a bright yellow, and the latter is bright because it is in front of a shady tree. Meaning is not given as a quality of a thing, or a specific type of a thing, but as the phenomenon that points to other phenomena, as given between phenomena. The phrase "dull green" means a difference from a "bright yellow" and, hence, a presence between at least two phrases. Diacritical perception is the production of meaning that is "between" perceptual components so that no perceptual component is given without others and hence without opening up to a field of differentiations. The constitution of differences is the emergence of visibility as signitive. Every perceptual moment is in a system of meanings. Even at a cultural level, diacritical awareness is a condition for capturing the vectors of signification: black may be evil while white might be good in a culture such as West, while in India it might be reversed.

Black is never a pure essence, a pure sense datum, but is always situated as a locus of disclosure of visibility. Art is a way of such a disclosure that can inaugurate metaphoric series, break the traditional modes of signification and open new styles of visibility. Metaphoric variations break and recontextualize aesthetic styles and extend meaning possibilities. Art pushes the transparent wall of being both by producing novel visions and by extending the limits of the perception of being or being perception. The phrase "transparent wall of being" states that any perceptual component of being is never final; it leads towards more, it opens to variations of visibility and meaning that cannot be closed. "This grey is a worn grey, a shabby worn grey of an old carpet in the shadows of an evening." Here, the grey is a visibility that is transparent with more, although never in pure clarity: every perceptual component is ambiguous and thus it interrogates the gaze, it asks for explication and opening up of meaning vectors and more visibility. "This grey is a worn grey, a shabby but perhaps a fuzzy and warm grey of a comfortable and inviting carpet". Perception and the field in which it is engaged cannot be decomposed into sense data.

I am bodily

The world is a horizon of the body, the context and the field of action. In relation to all worldly meaning, each figure and symbol stands out against two entangled backgrounds: the body and the world. The living body is a fragile composition of the "I can", such that the world is traced and articulated by body styles of comportment. In brief, body background as signifying the world is equally signified by it. A note of caution: being signified by the world does not suggest a reaction to some causes emanating from things but a way that the field phenomena call upon the body to make visible what the field has to offer, how the field can be opened and traced in and through the body perceptual gestures or aesthetic engagement. We could justifiably say that even the thought is a continuation of the lived body, a variation of a situated bodily style of comportment or a figure on the background of the "I can". That background is always broader than any figure composed by a specific bodily gesture or movement. This is not to say that it is immobile or some mysterious static being; rather, it structures itself as an organization that supports a figure which is tracing some phenomenon in the field. While reaching for something, the arm extends on the background of a body that deploys itself as a total support for this reaching. This means that a given bodily gesture not only traces the worldly phenomena, but also inscribes its traces in the background body.

The activities of the lived body comprise a limited, yet open, horizon of spatiality and temporality in such a way that any orientation in the phenomenal field structures the shape of space and the temporal field required by specific action. Here, the shape of space is not a pregiven ontological structure in which action occurs, but is composed by such action as a set of emerging interconnection of significations. It could be called "signitive space" to the extent that the bodily orientation towards a specific task also deploys and brings to visibility the relevant aspects of the phenomenal field required by the task. In turn the temporal morphology emerges with the deployment of spatially connected phenomena and assigns such phenomena a required temporal locus in relation to other loci wherein each signifies the others. The world is the other background horizon from which figures, that are solicited by actions towards the world horizon and the emergent figures, that call forth the actions to explore the visibility of the emergent figures, emerge. In short, prior to action and reaction, there is an interaction where the signifying human action is equally signified by the emerging figures from the world horizon. The figures are not transparent and never complete; they intersect with other figures coming into visibility and hence comprise a primary reflexivity that interrogates our vision, that asks of us the way of comportment of such figures, their further coming into visibility: "Am I moving or static, am I a stump or a furry animal, am I short, long, heavy, alive, or just a mossy rock?" And our vision gains insight, opens answers that themselves turn to questions and thus continues to elicit visibility and depth from the world horizon. Such interrogation by the world is also a disequilibrium that constantly situates and resituates our vision.

This leads to the notions of ambiguity and indeterminacy, and thus of continuous emergence of meaning that can never be completed. There is a constant vacillation in two major dimensions: depth, comprising background/foreground, horizon/figure, and also lateral deployment of phenomena which in their mutual signification cannot be totally located. Every shift of focus redeploys background/figure and allows new meanings to emerge, just as every shift rearticulates the field of mutual significations, equally emerging with new meanings; but such shifts are also signified by the background/figure and field and hence are not the sole sources of meaning. But more importantly, meaning is non-positional and has no location because it is not given as something positive. In principle, this condition comes with the recognition that (1) all phenomena, as some sort of empirical presence, are not given; what is "given" is diacritical and, if we may say so, poli-critical significations wherein meanings are the differences between phenomena. This means that every phenomenon does not point to other phenomena but comprises a trace of being different from it. The bright blue does not point to the dull green, but appears as different from ... and conversely. Hence, the meaning is not a thing to be pointed to and described but a non-positional phenomenon that cannot be given in positive and univocal definitions. (2) All phenomena are ambiguous because each is more than any definition could offer. The "more" is never exhausted and indeed increases with every articulation of any phenomenon as a field and a depth. (3) The two aspects suggest another--the "overlapping" of phenomena which seems to be given at present covers over what is co-present as past and without any specific temporal location. Thus, the scattered leaves and branches on the ground in the morning are last night's storm and yesterday's tree branches shimmering with vibrant leaves. One is given through the others but in an ambiguous differentiation that would involve years past and those still to come as co-present, one through the others, as "overlapping" without specific positions in time.

The issue can be more complicated if we consider the question of hermeneutics and interpretive horizons, including the notion of linguistic and historical contexts. Forms are not only disclosed in different hermeneutical contexts, but might acquire a metaphoric extension that may lead from one form to another by breaking down the closed preconception of things. Take the photographs of Weston--his chambered nautilus shell. It has moved numerous observers to respond in a disturbing sexual way; obviously, not because it is a shell, but due to metaphoric possibilities of Weston's way of presenting its physiognomic mood. Its curvature suggests the classic lines of a Greek statue, of Weston's nude, or even of a toilet. Its opening suggests an entrance, penetration, by the narrower part of the shell that curves inward, evoking erotic metaphors. It is masculine, feminine and a union between them. But then it is possible to overlap this shell with a broader lineage of sea shells, the shells produced by Renaissance goldsmiths, the formal purity of Brancusi's sculpture. The metaphoric expansion of the signitive horizon is the artist's freedom and the opening of our visibility. This metaphoric breaking of forms discloses the "more", the over determination of meaning and thus elicits the emergence of novel meanings, a coherent deformation. Coherent deformation is a process whereby a form, a "fact" of the world, is shattered within aesthetic praxis which results in a new meaning and style. It is a detotalizing praxis insofar as it opens up any art work onto other art works (including texts and social environment) and thus denies closure of meaning. It is an understanding of art as situated, visible and yet open to free extensions and variations, novel meanings and resignification of the entire field. Yet, this more, this surplus of the aesthetic is what discloses the visibility of things and their field wherein they have their meaning. While a painting or a photograph might strive for internal coherence or for equilibrium of a "good form", it cannot attain such a form due to the shifting between the form and the field of visibility.


Both, the horizon and depth, the poli-critical lateral movement and depth phenomena disclose more in meaning, surplus of signification that finally lead to a "transparent wall" where every perceptual moment seems to be the limit, the impregnable wall, and yet it always opens up to more. This intimates that the ontological ground of all emergent perceptual meanings as phenomena do not signify anything that can be given a name, stability or identity with recognizable characteristics. We should not be misled by the notion of transparent wall as if it were some underlying domain that is reached after a careful delimitation of perceptual phenomena. It is completely intertwined in every perceptual moment, in the presence of the bright red rose among the dull yellow blades of autumn grass. The same must be said of the wild being: it, too, is the manifest in all phenomena in their coherent deformation. In this sense, horizons and depth are in constant shift, one through the other, and neither can be explicated without becoming the other. This must not be confused with ontologies of "becoming" where everything is in flux, where all events follow one another in constant transformation, in Nietzschean self forming and transforming life. There are always recognizable figures on the foreground and in a context. Pure becoming would disallow any recognition of any phenomenon, and even disallow the repeatable habits of bodily action in a context.

A fuller appreciation of his position requires a brief mention of the aims of traditional philosophies: all awareness, at whatever level, must coincide with Being or a founding reality. Whether it is empiricism or its counterpart rationalism, or some mixture of them, there is a striving to demonstrate that if knowledge is reduced to one of the theses it will coincide with things in them. Philosophy is a radical self and world interrogation, in this process a discovery that philosophizing and world intertwine without the ability of philosophy to transcend the world and perceive it from outside. The reason for this incapacity is that all philosophies, including sciences, carry with them the silent presence of perceptual faith. Thus, if there is any way to explicate the things in themselves, it will have to be done within the silent faith of perceptual world, the phenomena whose overlapping significations never allow a positional, clear, and transparent consciousness without residua, without ambiguities and even paradoxes.

Perceptual awareness is silent not only because it does not need and cannot fully come to language, because it testifies to our bodily coexistence with the phenomena in their silence, but above all because it involves opacity and absence as the ever more that cannot be made in totalizing presence. This also means that bodily self presence assumes a presence to and of differentiated phenomena that differentiates the bodily activities creating equally an ambiguity of the self and an absence, an inexhaustible surplus. Thus, the perceptual awareness disclose, composed and is composed of concretions of the inexhaustible, concretions which comprise primary inscriptions as openings into the wild being and are also traces within the wild being. In this sense, one cannot seek philosophy of transcendence that would allow it to have an external gaze upon this inscription; to the contrary, philosophical interrogation is this inscription.

Language is a specific modulation of perceptual silence. There is no silence that is absolute as there is no language which is not intertwined with silence. The latter includes the open field of a tradition of vocabulary from which we pick and voice some and retain others as a silent resource of speech figures. Thus, there is a complex intertwining of silence and perception with a language, a partially silent tradition that is brought to voice when the phenomenal world calls upon the required terms to come to the fore. Yet, the language has a thickness, a "body" in which meaning remains embedded like a fold in an immense fabric of language; and in ontology the language itself unfolds and is enfolded by the silent phenomenal field. This is the reason why the language resists complete clarity. Such clarity is usually assumed by the high altitude, thin metaphysics of contemporary analytic "philosophy." Within the density of a language, sedimented or habituated language forms a residue of silence insofar as it no longer shows a spontaneous and enigmatic intertwining with the silence of perceptual faith and its interrogation of our interrogative vision. This sedimented language is analogous to the habituated vision in contrast to the painter's interrogative vision as attuned to perceptual faith. Sedimented language must be kept from gaining the last word; it must be silenced by the silent speech of the phenomena.

The ontological domain is, therefore, neither things, nor propositional language, nor sense experience organized by autocratic reason, but perception as meaningful and hence an intertwining of the sensuous and the signitive, the visible and the invisible. The visible, in its diacritical and poli-critical giveness discloses the meaning as an in-between, invisible, absent phenomena whose absence allows visibility to be meaningful. Thus, perceptual experience is not only the domain of primary silence but, as an inscription into openness, it is also originary genesis, disclosing the hidden logos that grounds and pervades the explicit logos as a collection of phenomena into styles, patterns, space and time locations and thus into a lived world. But it must be emphasized that the perception is not a creation, even if it comprises a mode of visibility. It is productive of such a visibility because it constitutes an interrogation of the perceptual field and discloses more, the surplus, allowing an originary appearance of the wild being that otherwise would remain invisible or unintelligible. Perception, that brings forth a sensible formation must adhere to and trace the latent logic of this pregnancy. Such a genesis of meaning, disclosed by art, entwines activity and passivity prior to the giveness of a subject or an object. While opening up of the visibility of the perceptual world the artist opens up to such a visibility and thus becomes an artist as a figure on a more expansive body field. In this sense, the formation that is brought forth by perception is neither an idea nor a thing in space-time, but a pivot of a structure of differentiated equivalences which forms a horizon and dominates a region as well as constantly maintains the ontogenesis which gave birth to it. It is as if one were Cezanne in front of a canvas; his brush dancing, pregnant with visions till finally one stroke on the canvas sets up a figure inscribing itself as a foreground that comprises a differentiation of the canvas by deploying space-time options and the visibility of the wild being, the invisible surplus.


Perception through art's ability to constitute the visibility of the world is no longer a primacy in the order of human activity or structure of behavior but is the all presupposed emergence of truth in ontology. It is not to thinking or reflection but to perceptual faith that the ultimate ontological power belongs. While in his early writings Merleau-Ponty still assumed subject-consciousness and object distinction, he later recognized that the presumed objective conditioning of consciousness is an expression of an event of disclosing the wild being, where the visible and properly posited body at the same time excavates for itself an invisible sense. The wild being is never accessible directly, as if it was an object for consciousness, but is more like Husserl's "lived world" upon which one opens up and in which one is entwined. Indeed, the wild being is not even a subject to methodical doubt, since the latter is premised on positivism, but is available only as a diacritical aspect of its own emergent and never completed meaning. At this level the two main theses, empiricism and rationalism, fact and essence become secondary abstractions since the empiricism of fact is not only contingent but also mute, bereft of perceptual interconnections, while reason and essence do not appear in themselves but depend on historical and geographic contexts. Moreover, both are given in their arguments, one against the other, diacritically and hence depend on meaning which neither can provide. Philosophy is neither radical reflection nor doubt, but interrogation of the world and itself by the way the world interrogates philosophy. In this sense interrogation is always within the wild being and any effort to leave it comprises a return within it. It is a truism that interrogation for phenomenology leads to answers which transform the questions and, in fact, themselves become questions. It is similar to the perceptual field where any emerging figure signifies horizons and depths constituting visibility and in turn signifies and interrogates the perceiver, it makes him/her visible, disclosing an inevitable intertwining of seeing and being seen, of touching and being touched.

The reversibility and depth of vision also appears on the background of a body activity, its background-figure constitution in depth. This is to say, a traditional consciousness, rational and formal, or empirical impressional, could not experience depth phenomena and the ambiguous intertwining of diacritical and poli-critical significations. Such a consciousness would be flat, and if it were to be interpreted as absolute consciousness, ascribed to some divinity, it would be completely flat or infinitely shallow. It would also be totally self transparent and require no interrogation, find no paradoxes, indeed no ambiguities and hence no philosophy. It would be completely inaccessible and invisible. This sort of consciousness belongs to traditional philosophical quest which always failed not because one surrendered a quest for such a consciousness, but because one had to insist that we are not yet sufficiently advanced in our totalizing logic to be adequate to it. It is a disguised movement seeking a position that would be adequate to being. But for Merleau-Ponty body is the dimensional being that is disclosed in depths by the very phenomena interrogating it, exploring it, seeing its capacities, even its latent wild being. This means that the perceiving-perceived body institutes a depth dimension as both perceptual and transparent.

Iteikta 2009-10-01; priimta 2009-11-01


Husserl, E. 1950. "Ideen II", in Husserliana 4. Den Haag/Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publ.

Algis Mickunas

Ohio University Athens, Department of Philosophy, Ohio 45701

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Date:Mar 1, 2010
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