22 October 2012

Jean-Luc Nancy is FUNNY!

In Jean-Luc Nancy's contribution to "Little Dialogues," a talk series at Montreuil's Center for the Dramatic Arts which pairs philosophers with an audience of children, the author of Noli me tangere: On the Raising of the Body chose to address the idea of "heaven." In a moment that brilliantly highlights the difficulty some pedagogues have in addressing a multiplicity of interlocutors, he makes the following claim to a room full of children:

"...god names the possibility that there exists for us collectively, as well as for each of us singularly and individually, a relationship with this nowhere and everywhere. In other words, god, or the divine, or the celestial, would name the fact that I am in relation not with something but with the fact that I am not limited to all those relations I have with all the things of the world, or even with all the beings of the world. It suggests that there is something else, which I will here call "the opening," something that makes me be, that makes us be as humans open to something more than being in the world, more that being able to take things up, manipulate them, eat them, get around in the world, send space probes to Mars, look at galaxies through telescopes, and so on. It suggests that there is all this but also something else."

The Opening! HA! I read this to Ezra, and here's how he responded:

The other best moment in the talk is the following exchange between Nancy and a child in the audience:

Q: Why and how does god exist?

J-L N: Oh boy.

This, to me, is the primary difference between a teacher and a thinker: a teacher knows how his/her interlocutors masticate and digest, and prepares the meal accordingly...a thinker simply thinks.

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