Text: sak

Sick or insane? I would prefer not to.

Geh ins Kloster, bald werden überall böse Geister und Monster sein.

Wieso soll ich lernen, den Körper zu fürchten – schützen Abscheu und Ekel vor Angst? Den Anblick meiden und wo unumgänglich verdrängen. Das Christentum ist zurück.

Living-Together, especially idiorrhythmic1 Living-Together, implies an ethics (or a physics) of distance between cohabiting subjects. The problem is a formidable one – without doubt the fundamental problem of Living-Together and consequently of this lecture course. We will approach the problem through fragments, partial, indirect themes. Here, I’ll briefly set out one of the forms that the problem can take (but by no means propose a solution): the distance between bodies (in Living-Together).
The problem can be formulated as an aporia2, and that aporia is a chain:
1. I find other people’s bodies –someone else’s body – unsettling, disconcerting. I desire, I experience the energy and the absence of desire, I engage in the exhausting strategies of desire.
2. From my confusion, I infer, I fantasize a state that ought to make it go away: hesuchia3: respite from desire, a vacency without distress, equanimity.
3. I then set out the rules that would enable me to achieve hesuchia. Generally speaking, they’re rules of distance with respect to other bodies – which are what give rise to desire.
4. But by extinguishing my desire for the other, for others, I extinguish the desire to live. If I’m never unsetteled by someone else’s body, if I can never touch anyone else, what’s the point in living?
The aporia is closed.

From: Roland Barthes: «How to Live Together; Novelistic Simulations Of Some Everyday Spaces. Notes for a lecture course and seminar at the Collège de France (1976-1977)». S. 72–73. New York (2013): Columbia University Press

1 (Christianity) self-regulating; usually referring to a form of monastic life where monks live alone, often in isolation, constantly in mental prayer.
2 An insoluble contradiction in a text’s meaning; a logical impasse suggested by a text or speaker.
3 Hesuchia (Greek) : tranquility, peace