Tuesday, December 1, 2015

World Enough and Time: Emmanuel Falque on the Flesh

In The Metamorphosis of Finitude, Falque presents the flesh as always bearing traces of finitude (152). Indeed, we carry "indestructibly" within us both 'immanence and temporality.' I interpret Falque to mean here a necessary return to ourselves (in the flesh), regardless of our projects. Though he roundly rejects, in a rather spectacular way, Nietzsche's 'eternal recurrence' in favor of a rehabilitated 'resurrection,' Falque always seems to be suggesting that we always end up where we start, though we are transformed, transfigured and metamorphosed. It's almost as if, when we go to grandmother's house for Sunday dinner, as if when we leave at a certain time and traverse a certain space, that is, when we live through a time and a travelled distance, arrive, and then repeat in reverse, we never really left, at least not without a trace of never having left.

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph.[...]

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half heard, in the stillness
Between the two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always--
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of things shall be well... ('Little Gidding,' Four Quartets, V, TS Eliot)

Falque's reduction certainly leads us back, perhaps to the beginning, however transformed; perhaps to the historical critical bodily resurrection (e.g., R. Brown, J. Fitzmyer, etc.); perhaps to Stanley Kubrick's 'star-child'. 

The metamorphosis of finitude begins and ends in finitude,  and traces the resurrection of the flesh to traces of finitude finally transformed and transfigured. This flesh in MF is of a piece with the flesh in the work of Michel Henry (see CM Gschwandtner's Postmodern Apologetics? "Michel Henry: A God of Truth and Life" as well as her Degrees of Givenness) and Jean-Luc Marion. This "phenomenology of birth"... is a "way of talking about our resurrected relation to mankind as well as to ourselves" (128). We are born in the flesh in the world and in time, even in our worlding of our world. It is interesting that even here Falque avoids the flesh as a saturated phenomenon as overwhelming 'relationality;' yet as he argues, such avoidance is not a contradiction, but as a strategy to be taken as complementary (19).

There is world enough and time for the flesh, a lived body. That is a central point in the argument of MF. In order for a phenomenology of the resurrection to ensue, a commitment must be made to what is resurrected. And, if I may resurrect a concept that enjoyed some currency in this blog not so long ago, reshith also entails resurrection as a substrate in the creation. "The resurrection...must be the transcendental condition of every entry into Christianity...There is no (Christian) creation outside this new creation..."(24).

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