Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Escape from the Now, or Return turn to the Present (pt 1)

what is the situation of the 'present', or the 'now', in the current philosophical and cultural perspective?

The ethics of the Other, recourse to the Past/Future, are all attempts to escape a totalitarian conception of rationality and correlated politics. With Levinas’ turn toward a forgotten past where ethics preceeded ontology, and Derrida’s endless deferral to the future, the present time was vacated as a means to guarding against the ‘presence’ of modernity, the immediacy of Enlightenment rationality, and it politics of certainty. Is the future really what we should be longing for? A ‘messianism without messiah’ for Derriada? A future without determinate content, b/c otherwise it would be rendered 'present.'

but I ask, might we instead return to the present? Not to demand, control, or institute the ‘presence’ of some idea, but to be present to receive the gift of the present.

This perspective seems to also accord with recent articulations of the social/cultural milieu of forgetting the historical (past) and lacking utopian dreams (future) [see Jason Clark and my response]. Because of this there is the contemporary desire to remember and hope for the future (See Fredrick Jameson’s Archaeologies of the Future [which i want to read, and would fit with SciFi Fridays]).

So, again, should the goal of contemporary philosophy and pastoral cultural critique be to get us out of the present, the keeper of presence (philosophically), or escape the Now of consumer capitalism (culturally)?

I say No! I think the situation is exactly opposite.
But I’m not telling why ‘til later.

What do you think?

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