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A Question of Being Human (7)




(Between) Subject and Object





And so we are left…


At one with the object, at one with ourselves (apart from the one before…). At once one and the other. The ‘subject’ (the rest after all is surmise). Whether we are happy with this unique and non-returnable, non-exchangeable, utterly inescapable oneness is another matter (we are talking here of our sense of the ‘here and now’, not of the many divisions of identity or loyalty). At once subject and object in their inseparability (for the subject examined becomes object, other, thing or person outside, figure in the discourse of science, remembered material or encounter, the past). And neither: as both are also inseparable as ‘outside’; therefore these terms are not useful from ‘our’ point of view…


The opening of a space in-between (between Subject and Object) taking the middle line and finding all already within its orbit, so gradually opening out, expanding till the realm of subject and object (out and in) appear just at or as its rim, as two opposite poles, or sides, lips even, with the mouth as the place of our experience of ourselves and everything else, with only the rhetoric of eternity (and the ‘thing in itself’) as ‘outside’, an ‘outside’ itself produced by the inside as its own proper ‘fictional’ guarantor (‘fictional’ because, fictional as outside, but ‘fictional’ as ‘outside’, so real as part of us, albeit we ‘misremember’ its situation, an ‘outside’ inside, our own little ‘Black Hole’). Identity, it seems, would rely on largely imaginary entities, imagined communities and places…


Why between subject and object; because the subject also is before it… (before itself) so also an object, as outside the opening… So both between, what is between as including, encompassing, both subject and object. As the middle term, it swallows up its margins, includes its limits as its skin, its frontiers.


(Before itself… or beside itself, as imagined, and if again imagined, as together re-imagined, as imagined together, as all previous relations together…. Infinite regress, or infinite progress, and who can say, infinity in a hall of mirrors, horizon of repetition which may -or may not- be telling us something about our own internal architecture. Like the repetitions which give away the fact that thinking we were, had moved, ‘outside’, indicate, with a fall of the spirit or a sense of bitter righteousness, that we are still, very much ‘inside’ - which may, on the other hand, be as far ‘outside’ as we can get…).


Otherwise subject and object as, from inside anyway, objects before an unnamable un-examinable point of view… the things that are opposite… (From outside, the perspective of the sciences provides the apposite picture).


The apposite picture… also the ‘opposite’ picture… the picture (image) of what is ‘opposite’ (but opposite what… a ‘what’ that magically becomes ‘opposite’ as soon as we touch it…). From what an unnamable, un-examinable ‘point of view’ might this be, how to write it… a ghost story; in a tale told by ghosts… The eye (‘I’) that views from out of the cut, watches though the crack in the wall, fissure that is at once of, and in, the self, barrier between what is visible, namable, the sensible and that which (we must assume) lies there, within… attribute-less (from this point of view, from this our fundamental experience…). Subject without predicates… (subject) without predicates. Two paths from here; negations (often condemned as resulting in gibberish… ); and a conscious experimenting with this ‘position’ of ours, and the many parallels it, in fact, does have (coincidentally?) with matters physical and conceptual; ‘absent’ or ‘empty centre’, ‘bad infinity’, any logic without axioms or all that is left unspeakable after any logic with axioms, the persistent ‘unfinishedness’ of the world of logic (after Gödel), ‘negative theology’, ‘wave/particle’ ambiguity, wavelengths or ‘orbits’, ‘dark matter’, ‘Black Holes’, Deconstruction, recursion as such… self-reference and repetition (the later the building block of ourselves in time). A contagion of undecidabilities, of deferral to probabilities, of an unceasing flowering of aporia as the self lends its form(lessness) to all it touches…. An epidemic of viral mimesis. In the middle, the (self) holding all together – but empty. Like a ‘room’ in the middle of which we find, or better, sense (our selves).


(Genius) Loci.


Our room, outside of which we find (ourselves). In the middle of which…


Sensing something; like the afterimage of an afterimage, echo of an echo… perpetually watching ghost, form of ourselves; the form/space that is ourselves… frame, the imaginary content of which is…


In the middle (of which) there is only perception. Awareness (we like the idea of ‘behind the eyes’ but experience teaches us that this must be limited, from all that is actually ‘behind’, to our head size). If all is ‘before’ us, a metaphor (an experience!) which is primarily visual, ‘ahead’ of us (by contrast, we hear in surround sound!): then all that is behind us is ourselves- but strangely inaccessible; leaving us as if a film, a film on a screen (a film on a subject which is ourselves), yes, but a film of substance-less material, made of light or less… a film, translucent, but with one way vision only, so no looking ‘back’, no behind the curtain – any glimpse of the source of projection is always second hand (‘third person’ and ‘after’, ‘after all’). Leaving us again, (as) the barrier, dividing line, membrane (permeable) between ‘before’ and ‘behind’. Film of the stories of others and ourselves. Film on which is projected the story of others and ourselves. (All visual culture, the world as image, with photography and film as its privileged forms of physical memory, is but a logical extension of this experience or sense; the visual object within, virtual, part of the fabric of the subject, from which the illusion of separation is maintained…).


And what of sound alone; music, conversation… (with their visual equivalents, visual notations, scripts) and noise… Alone and with others (alongside the perception of others), listening alone or in conversation with others… accompanied by images, not of the present, but those called up by the words heard, or overheard, by music listened to or accidentally overheard, images of or from the past, a kind of ekphrasis or hypotyposis (image interrupting narrative) where the past is returned by words or music (or other sound, a naturalistic ‘musique concrete’) to erupt in the eternal present (accompanied perhaps with its own aural memories, interrupting the sound flow of the music of the eternal present).Husserl famously shows the present becoming the (recent) past as the experience of listening to music and unifying the ‘moments’ into a melody (which can then be recollected as from the past, as a memory proper).A further fusion takes place when he demonstrates this example by representing music in a visual figure.


A figure that, like the unifying of the words that make up a sentence, takes place in the unity of subject and object, if not on the side of the subject (and according the codes it has learnt)…


The alternative to this persistent process of fusing (as our way of understanding ourselves) is the permanent contradiction of the subject/object division; along with the permanent revolution of its putative overcoming (realism, materialism, idealism and the variety of other ’solutions’) or its acceptance as the very basis of being human, as part of the way we understand the world (along, or an aspect of, other ‘fundamental’ divisions, set/element, in/out, self/other, meta-language and object-language (sic)). And so (back) to all (historical) dualisms…?


Or do we move to a full-blown ‘monism’. But this too is the result of an exterior point of view! All ‘wholes’ are the view from without, a visual conceit… (Or a breach of the axiom that we do not refer to a meta-set, set of all sets (as an element in a set – so to infinity…)). Either (logically) a contradiction or, at best (phenomenologically), a thought-experiment – such as we perhaps can not do without at this level of abstraction (or this level of embedded particularity). Yet to a being in medias res only the past can appear as finished; but then it is its interpretation of this ‘finished’ past that all too quickly becomes infinite (un-finishable, incomplete… ); a ‘monism’, which is an eternal becoming (the ever-changing content/time) and where the outside is also only available as a kind of perpetual becoming, the suppositions generated by incoming experience and by stored experiences, including those of thought, of ordering methods… their unification in the (as the (experience of the)) eternal present.


The Eternal Present.


Naming; putting words to the experience… names to the objects… our endless word-play, commentary on the eternal present (our experience of the Eternal Present) – not really distinguishing the human, other animals also have, are in, language, to what degree it is hard to tell, they can not yet tell us, we can not yet tell them how to tell, telling for them we have already done enough… But observing them we can tell, that language they do have… and presumably like us, they communicate the state of themselves and the world… their ‘room’. That much we can tell; and that is already a lot (given the prejudices that militate against this telling).


Propositions and sentences; back to objects; our inner objects… virtual replicas of the objects (real) without (language). ‘Outside’. But born of interaction with ‘others’, as with the language we use to communicate the states of these same objects, and for their persistent, near perpetual, use in our interaction with ‘others’. Including imaginary others; the imagination organ, like the language organ, or the recognition organ, once formed will not go away. Henceforth we are always in conversation with someone, with our(other)selves… representing objects, of which, foremost… ourselves. In the middle of an eternal conversation. Or so we perceive. Self-consciousness; perceiving self. Putting into words. Perceiving self perceiving…


We are what we perceive… the present, its objects (our ‘self’ and its words, images and feelings included, the place of perception, which we somehow perceive, included). The rest is memory, second order (or projection, fantasy) the past (or future), and the unknowable (‘outside’, ‘Other’, ‘eternity’). But in our actual life all jumbled up, entangled and mutually supporting. The flow of current experience made comprehensible by our past experience and learning (from the experience of others) and given value, justification and priority from ‘outside’ - in turn informing choice, our attitude to what has not yet arrived… but will arrive, preformed by what has gone before, by what has gone through us, before…by what we have gone through, before… The recapture of which is something we can only (dimly) perceive… in the present.


Whence the ‘eternal present’; final unity of subject and object in time.


(With the fading in sound and sight that gives time, gives the past and the future… and the exorbitant generalization which extrapolates eternity from the eternal present).


And our unending (once begun) commentary upon this experience: the eternal conversation.


In which instant we perceive… But which instant? ‘This’ rather than ‘that’ instant. That we cannot tell, the ‘instant in which’ can not … not directly (required in the view from without; without which we cannot view as required…). The un-measurable (but experiential) instant in which we perceive the relation of things, their proximity to us, their spacing relative to themselves. (Rather the blurring of the instant into an on-going experience – again beyond the ‘moment’ of origin to ‘in medias res’… (from discreet particle to never-ending wavelength)). But which ‘after all’ we can call… ‘this’.


(With the fading in sound and sight that gives distance, gives space… the intervening space…).


( …with its organization into so many layers, binaries (or reducible to such): up/down, top/bottom, left/right and margin/centre, figure/ground, open /enclosed and subdivided by three grounds or interior frames… the rules of the (in this case visual) game, are given… ‘this’ place without echoing that within… ‘this’ within, that ‘that’ that constitutes us…).


Whence the ‘room’ of our perception, final unity of subject and object in space.


Yet the hazard of a monist conception is of a contingent, frail, ‘self’, present only as a site of reception or a sense of self that rides on the flow of language, of ‘our’ thoughts… (and the delusion of ‘self’ as origin of action?) a notion that may serve the worst in the world – and the best… The ultimate, consistent truth about ourselves may be neither useful nor workable – even the opposite…








Copyright Peter Nesteruk, 2012