This is Shaj Mohan’s contributions to the debate on Coronavirus and the state of exception sparkled by Agamben’s contribution. It was originally published in the European Journal of Philosophy together with pieces by Agamben, Nancy, Esposito, Benvenuto, Dwivedi,  Ronchi, and de Carolis. https://www.journal-psychoanalysis.eu/coronavirus-and-philosophers/

It is frightfully sublime in part because of its obscurity. – Immanuel Kant

Implicit within the debate on Coronavirus curated by Antinomie and archived by Sergio Benvenuto[i] is the question—for what must we carry on?  That is, do we—humanity, which has been reckoned by many thinkers as the error in nature—carry on for the sake of carrying on?  Or, should we, following Thomas Taylor, M. K. Gandhi, Pierre Clastres, and several others, proceed with a project of returning towards a moment in history that, for Agamben, is “the normal conditions of life”>[ii].  Is not Agamben’s notion of normal life none other than a mythical European bourgeois idyll where “the churches” do not “remain silent”?  Should we continue to evaluate everything in our present with these “normal conditions of life”?

These conversations have been happening in America too, where “the boomers”—those few of a post-war generation who enjoyed prosperity and relatively stable conditions of life—evaluates the lives of “millennials” on the basis of its own myths and idylls. Wittgenstein distinguished the philosopher from the bourgeois thinker who thinks “with the aim of clearing up the affairs of some particular community”.  It is impossible to avoid the fact that the “normal conditions of life” to be guarded from “biopolitics” were, and are, dependent on colonial, capitalistic, and other exploitative processes which all these families of thoughts including the theory of “bio-politics” seek to criticise.  Since the notions of “normalcy” and “biopolitics” held by Agamben, and derived from Michel Foucault, have been exported through analogy over regions of the world and of thought that are homologically distinct, a certain “bourgeois thinking” has become the universal today.  In many parts of the world these theories provide the experience of a conspiratorial spirit in history determining its course, leaving humans to merely lament, which is our sense of “resistance” today.

The terror before this question—for what must we carry on?—was always understood and it is not limited to any epoch or region.  The closing off of this question has been mostly the work of what we call “religions”.  However, it began to acquire an urgency with Nietzsche’s destruction of all values towards a revaluation of all values.  Nietzsche pointed to an obscure object of thought as the reference for the revaluation of all values—eternal return of the same.  Martin Heidegger would execute a certain act in philosophy in 1934 which would then suppress the import of the question for what must we carry on in a lecture course titled “Logic as the Question Concerning the Essence of Language”.  In this lecture, long before Foucault and Agamben, Heidegger specified a certain form of politics—“population politics”—which considers people with indifference to their blood-lines and ‘tongue-lines’.  He wrote,

In a census, the Volk is counted in the sense of the population, the population, in so far as it constitutes the body of the Volk, the inhabitants of the land.  At the same time, it is to be considered that in a governmental order of the census a certain part of the Volk is included, namely the part that dwells within the State’s borders.  The German nationals living abroad are not included in the count, [they] do not belong in this sense to the Volk.  On the other hand, those can also be included in the count, those who, taken racially, are of alien breed, do not belong to the Volk.[iii]

Here, population refers to something of a “motley crew”, whereas the ideal type for “a people” are those dwellers of the soil who once enjoyed a mythic unity with one another.  Here is a German bourgeois thinker.

If we assume that this tendency of the last century is “Eurocentric” it will be a grave error. In fact, its most profound and startling expression can be found in the subcontinent.  M. K. Gandhi too conceived an Indian village idyll and contrasted it with “western civilization”.  Gandhi’s idyll is the village of the privileged upper caste Indian under whom the racial hierarchies and exploitations of the majority lower caste people carry on, but without an ounce of resentment on part of the exploited.  The logic of surrendering to the caste order without resentment in the subcontinent is called “Karman”[iv].  Gandhi understood that this ideal was never realised in history, and never will be.

However, Gandhi’s evaluation of mankind was not founded on the ideal village as the “normal conditions”.  Instead, the village itself was founded on the principles of hypophysics, according to which nature is the good.  We had called this mode of thinking hypophysics following Kant’s taxonomy of moral thought[v].  The ideal Indian village is the home of hypophysics where all things are retained at their original value, that is, a place where nature was never de-natured.  The ideal village conservers the “normal conditions” in spite of the presence of man.  Gandhi’s verdict was that man was infected with a range of faculties that allowed him to explore all the milieus given in nature and also propelled him to discover the milieus unknown to nature.  The being without an appropriate milieu is the effervescent error in nature.  If a being cannot be given a fixed milieu then what is good and bad for it are also indefinable.  That is, action in the moral sense is impossible for such a being, who must therefore seek its own dissolution in nature.

As we know Gandhi’s goal in life was to reduce himself to “zero”, a point at which no action was required.  As with all rigorous thinkers, he sought the same end for humankind itself—we must not carry on.  Gandhi’s advice to Martin Buber on the fate of the Jewish people in Nazi Germany came from his interpretation of “for what must we carry on”.  When Gandhi was requested by Buber to intervene on behalf of the Jewish people using his considerable moral standing in the world, he responded:

The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities.  But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant.  For to the godfearing, death has no terror.[vi]

The schema of this response, shocking as it is, continues to reign over our time.  What holds the schema together is hypophysics, and the theory of “bio-politics” is itself a species of hypophysics.

Today, the dominance of this tendency—hypophysics—is not to be scorned upon without understanding the conditions in which it arose.  Hypophysics came to be dominant when metaphysics became impossible; that is, instead of referring to another domain for values we began to find the Ideal within our preferred socio-economic milieus and in the calamitous misunderstandings of nature.  We became acutely aware of the absence of “value” and hence a certain inability to distinguish between good and evil in the last century.  We must note that this aversion of the eye from the absence of value, which makes one hold fast to the nearest ideal or idyll, is still a caring thought.

The formalisation of the experience of being without value, without an orientation in the face of the question “for what must we carry on”, is most acutely found in the schema of Heidegger’s early works[vii].  In philosophy, difference is found in something which is differentiable.  For example, we say that “1” and “a” differ in the differentiable “written characters”.  Duns Scotus’ theology relies on thinking being as the ultimate differentiable in which God was the infinite being and creatures the finite beings.  This gives us something akin to infinite man and finite gods to work with.  Being, in which the difference is made, gives man his orientation in God.  The similarity between the logic of this division in being and the theory of Idea in Plato’s middle period made Nietzsche remark that Christianity was Platonism for the masses.

Heidegger would propose a new kind of difference without precedence—ontico-ontological difference or the difference between being and beings—for which there is no differentiable.  From this moment, being could not be thought as something that is the primary differentiable, nor could it be thought as the place holder for the higher beings—Idea, Subject, Will—for there is no primary differentiable.  Heidegger’s unthinkable logic would open the mystery of being itself and at the same time keep in abeyance the unthinkable through the narrative of the decline in the history of the difference between being and beings.  In this narrative, there once was an ideal village in Greece where “normal conditions of living” were available.

Jean-Luc Nancy pursued and revealed the limits of this thought when he wrote the obscure proposition “existence precedes and succeeds upon itself[viii].  It stands outside the family of propositions such as “existence precedes essence” and “essence precedes existence”, and it implies at least two things.  First, reason can be given for the succession of each thing upon itself and of a thing upon another thing.  However, there is no reason, under any other names, for the persistence of existence.  Second, we can determine our actions, or our movement from moment to moment, through reason which drives this movement in spite of us.  However, we are abandoned in the face of the moment itself, which does not submit to reason.  That is, the duratio noumenon is properly obscure.  The world wraps around us with its intrigues of reason while at the same time reason itself drives us towards the absence of itself in the fact of reason, a seizure from which one cannot shake free.  

In a series of proper names—Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Derrida, Deleuze, Nancy—and through different logics and systematicities, we have come to an acute understanding of this fact: that we are forsaken.  But what does it imply, especially now when we are seeking an orientation in the face of an epidemic, and then other calamities?  In a short text with the least formal steps something can still be indicated and shared.  Anticipation is when we say that “there is lighting, and thunder is set to follow”.  When several elements are involved in the constitution of a phenomenon our anticipations are likely to meet with disappointment or surprise; for example, a concert may be cancelled due to an earthquake.  The moments, and the relation between the moments, which we can account for through reason can fall within the experience of anticipation; that is, everything in the world.  However, there is something outside anticipation—the persistence of the world—which we embrace with the absolute certainty that its disappearance with us in it is never a concern, although we know that “a world” of a “someone” will withdraw, including our own.  In each step of anticipations and disappointments we are surprised by this disorienting certitude.  If we bring Kant and Wittgenstein together the end of the world is not an event, for it is not an event in the world.

This absolute certitude is the most obscure experience, while also being the most distinct. Like a membrane it envelops everything while penetrating everything as we look into everything.  Early Wittgenstein’s experience of this mystery was that of the individual who in his solitude experienced the sense of the world lying outside it while the being of the world itself was for that very reason obscure.  But what we can say, for now, is that this experience of the obscure—the assurance of an absolute persistence—is possible on the condition that we are able to speak with one another in sharing our reasons and responsibilities.  Later Wittgenstein would argue that the possibility of each experience is public, for there is no private language.  Then, each one of us, without knowing the whence and whither of it, share the obscure because we can share words, cultures, love, cautions and tragedies.

From the experience of the obscure we should think of the other side of hypophysics, which is technological determinism.  It is the same aversion from the obscure experience that turns us towards technological exuberance where a new god is being founded—the hyper-machines that will make machines which humans can neither build nor comprehend.  It will be these machines that will then give ends to man.  Bio-politics and other theories are rendering us immobile and resigned like animals who are caught in the headlights, but of our own rushing technical exuberance. 

Tonight we should rest a while in our shared solitude (the only kind of solitude as we can see) with the thought that the mystery is not that the world is, but that it is mysterious to us making of us the mystery, the obscure “mysterium tremendum”.  In the words of the poet tonight we are “Alive in the Superunknown”.

[i] See “Coronavirus and Philosophers” https://www.journal-psychoanalysis.eu/coronavirus-and-philosophers/And https://antinomie.it

[ii] See Giorgio Agamben on coronavirus: “The enemy is not outside, it is within us.” http://bookhaven.stanford.edu/2020/03/giorgio-agamben-on-coronavirus-the-enemy-is-not-outside-it-is-within-us/

[iii] Heidegger, Logic as the Question Concerning the Essence of Language (Buffalo: SUNY Press, 2009): p. 56, emphases added. 

[iv] See Giorgio Agamben, Karman: A Brief Treatise on Action, Guilt, and Gesture (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2018).

[v] See Shaj Mohan and Divya Dwivedi, Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Anti-Politics (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019, foreword by Jean-Luc Nancy).

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (London: Routledge, 1922) arrived at the absence of any kind of “for what” for us to “carry on” before Heidegger came into the scene, but it did so through a different logic.

[viii] Jean-Luc Nancy, Sense of the World, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997): p. 34.

New contribution from Agamben, with a short piece in response to the controversy surrounding his article on the response to the Coronavirus.
https://itself.blog/2020/03/17/giorgio-agamben-clarifications/?fbclid=IwAR079vYMlEhnBZLvFx432kN08vMXusznSfkuzlTlsa48Dx4EzF7WRLf3-yw

Another Italian intellectual, Moni Ovadia (actor, singer, musician, and theatrical author) writing on the coronavirus. Once again, focusing on the Italian case but concluding with a provocative (and intentional?) allusion to Mao’s famous question about the issue of political solidarity. This was originally published in Il Manifesto, on March 12.  

I’ve devoted my life to striving for the highest possible level of intellectual honesty and coherence and rebelling against injustices and abuses. I have always taken the side of the exploited, the harassed, the victims of discrimination, the last ones, and I have fought with all my strength against the inequalities generated by the logic of privilege, which is the source of all depravation and crime, even in a society that deems itself “civil.”

Even in those self-styled “democratic” societies, if the principle of equality does not rule, we have neither democracy nor liberty. These days, large swaths of the world are afflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, and our country is suffering with particular intensity. Like millions of other Italians, I am self-quarantining at home; I keep a safe distance even from my family; I don’t go out; I obey the rules issued by the government, even if I am “anti-government” by vocation (including being against those governments for which I voted). I practice the principle of maximum responsibility.

It is a paradoxical but life-saving attitude for those of us in the profession of culture and thought. Under such dramatic conditions, as a citizen, I decided to place my trust in the government of Prime Minister Conte, believing in the equity of the adopted measures. Then I discovered that the executive decree, point 6, comma d (concerning productive activities), says: “[workers] must follow anti-contagion safety protocols, and where it is not possible to keep the recommended 1-meter inter-personal distance, they should adopt instruments of individual protection.”

Which instruments? The masks that are nowhere to be found? Or that are sold at black market prices by criminals who speculate on panic? And this came after we were all told that the function of the mask was not to protect ourselves from contagion but to protect those who work in close quarters with infected people?

Why are workers left unprotected or under-protected? Why is the right of protection from contagion not automatically extended to workers? Why are protests, strikes, and tough statements from the unions required to put this issue on the agenda?

It is because the working class is treated as a pariah caste. Now that logistic has become crucially important, even the ultra-proletarianized workers of this sector, who are subject to indecent rhythms and conditions, are part of the class which is the backbone of the productive economy.

And now, when the entire country needs to be made safe, industrial workers are once again our last thought as we determine who has the right to safety in the workplace. The working class has been a founding pillar of every great democracy; its culture, which takes labor not only as a source of livelihood but as the condition for personal and social dignity, has inspired the most significant conquests of advanced societies.

Recently Claudio Magris [novelist and essayist] described a trip to the legendary Lenin steel factory in Danzig [Gdansk ], which has now been transformed into a museum to commemorate Solidarnosc, the political and union movement that contributed to overthrow the regime of so-called “really exiting socialism” in Poland. This great writer from Trieste recounted that visit: “I saw, plastically, the twilight of the working class. And it’s a catastrophe, because it has been the only class which, as such, carried the universal.” When the coronavirus pandemic has run its course and disappeared from our horizon, we will have to redefine the priorities on our political and social agenda, learning from the lessons it will have taught us.

We will have to re-learn to build communities and societies, re-learn to respect the values that are rooted in a substantial democratic identity, and not in a democratic rhetoric floating over the chaos of opinions, on the magma of the fighting narcissisms of a ruling class devoid of any authority. It will be necessary to re-learn how to respect those who build and not those who quack, to respect the working class as a constructive force which resides at the center of democracy.

In conclusion, let me ask one last question: what are 30,000 US troops, armed for war, doing in Italy and Europe, moving around without any sanitary precautions? I will answer with a whatsapp message I received yesterday: “China sent us 1000 ventilators and 100,000 masks/ the EU sent us a 100 billion bill for its banks/the US 30,000 marines ready for war. Maybe it’s time to rethink who our ‘friends’ are.”

 

This was originally published  in Chinese on February 26 https://news.mingpao.com/ins/文摘/article/20200226/s00022/1582626076007/疫情暴露中國司法制度不公(文-潘毅)
Translated by Chris Connery.

The coronavirus is now spreading throughout the world.  From the January 20 television interview with Zhong Nanshan, when human-to-human transmission was first confirmed, to most recently, there have been about 80,000 diagnoses in China, about 3000 of which are medical personnel. We have known for a long time that this is not simply a natural disaster.  A long history of top-down control of public opinion has formed a regime that cares nothing for the citizens’ right to know, that has concealed the nature of the epidemic, that has admonished “whistle blowers”, and that has led to the quarantining of infected people unaware of their conditions. Medical personnel, who most needed protection, did not get it in time.  This regime has contributed to an epidemic that has gotten out of control, with locked down cities, villages, and residential districts, a stagnant economy, and trapped existences for its people.  The damages and losses from this epidemic are already incalculable. And all of this, it must be said, is not only a natural disaster; this is also a human disaster.

On February 21, the nation was rocked by startling news:  in five prisons in three provinces, there were 505 confirmed  diagnoses.  Since the epidemic began, the central government had ordered that there was to be no concealment or falsification of reports.  Nevertheless, this is a system that has long operated with minimal transparency, and no respect for the public’s right to know. These are not new conditions, but are deeply rooted in the system’s logic of control.  What has come into clear view in this epidemic is really just a more spectacular manifestation of the long-term erosion of popular rights, as in the authorities’ treatment of “whistle-blowers” and rights advocates.  This treatment has included censure, arrest, house arrest, and imprisonment.  All of this is intrinsic to the judicial system, contributing to the tremendous mistrust that the people of Hong Kong have for China’s attempts to revise Hong Kong law, and a significant motivating force behind the popular movements since the middle of last year.

Rights Violations of the Three Editors of The New Generation

The press conference called recently by judicial bodies to admit their errors in the handling of the epidemic could be considered a measure of progress.   But despite this one incident, we are all aware of the depth and duration of the system’s opacity. Since the second half of 2018, there has been a succession of arrests of workers’ welfare advocates, some of whom were put under house arrest for eight or nine months before being released.  But the fate of the three editors of the new media platform The New Generation—Wei Zhili, Yang Zhengjun and Ke Chengbin—remains unknown.  From the beginning of their investigation into workers’ rights advocates, the public security authorities committed outrageous violations of privacy. They not only knew the details of their daily lives, but they even knew in detail what they liked to snack on and what their bedtime reading was. This level of detail took a great psychological toll on those arrested.   Those subject to six to nine months of house arrest were unable to see their parents, and one was able to see neither his pregnant wife nor his newborn child.  The case handlers took a hard cop-soft cop approach; forcing the welfare workers to write, day and night, reams and reams of apologies. It was a period of psychological torture and abuse, a gross violation of basic human rights.

The law states that arrestees have the right to choose their own attorneys, but the authorities repeatedly infringed on this right, demanding that the arrestees get rid of the attorneys hired by their families and use specified attorneys instead.  How this was accomplished we cannot know, but we can infer from common sense and experience whose interests the new lawyers represented, and to whom they were reporting.  Although the three editors’ families were notified that their case was about to go to trial, their case has been put on hold due to the epidemic, and they remain detained without justification.  What goes on at the detention center is unclear, as if in a black hole. Family members cannot visit, and the attorneys chosen by the authorities say nothing to families about the detainees’ conditions.  Since the coronavirus epidemic has already spread into the penal system, we are of course very apprehensive over conditions in the detention centers, and over the health and other rights of prisoners held inside.

As incidents like these occurred time and again, opposition was muffled, and our cries of protest were silenced.  Until the outbreak of the epidemic, most people weren’t aware of how easily the rights of ordinary people were so casually trampled on, or of how what had once seemed like violations of the rights of a small minority really affected the lives of the great majority of the people. 

The author is Professor of Sociology at Hong Kong University

https://www.nchrd.org/2019/07/ke-chengbing-wei-zhili-yang-zhengjun/

https://clb.org.hk/content/gone-100-days-three-labour-activists-“disappeared”-china

India has for long been full of exceptional peoples, making meaningless the notion of “state of exception” or of “extending” it. Brahmins are exceptional for they alone can command the rituals that run the social order and they cannot be touched by the lower caste peoples (let alone desired) for fear of ritualistic pollution. In modern times this involves separate public toilets for them, in some instances. The Dalits, the lowest castes peoples too cannot be touched by the upper castes, let alone desired, because they are considered the most ‘polluting’. As we can see, the exception of the Brahmin is unlike the exclusion of the Dalit. One of the Dalit castes named “Pariah” was turned into a ‘paradigm’ by Arendt, which unfortunately lightened the reality of their suffering. In 1896, when the bubonic plague entered Bombay, the British colonial administration tried to combat the spread of the disease using the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897. However, caste barriers, including the demand by the upper castes to have separate hospitals and their refusal to receive medical assistance from the lower caste peoples among the medical personnel, added to causes of the deaths of more than ten million people in India.

The spread of coronavirus[1], which has infected more than 100,000 people according to official figures, reveals what we wonder about ourselves today—are we worth saving, and at what cost? On the one hand there are the conspiracy theories which include “bioweapons” and a global project to bring down migration. On the other hand, there are troublesome misunderstandings, including the belief that COVID-19 is something propagated through “corona beer”, and the racist commentaries on the Chinese people. But of an even greater concern is that, at this con-juncture of the death of god and birth of mechanical god, we have been persisting in a crisis about the “worth” of man. It can be seen in the responses to the crises of climate, technological ‘exuberance’, and coronavirus.

Earlier, man gained his worth through various theo-technologies. For example, one could imagine that the creator and creature were the determinations of something prior, say “being”, where the former was infinite and the latter finite. In such a division one could think of god as the infinite man and man as the finite god. In the name of the infinite man the finite gods gave the ends to themselves. Today, we are entrusting the machine with the determination of ends, so that its domain can be called techno-theology.

It is in this peculiar con-juncture that one must consider Giorgio Agamben’s recent remark that the containment measures against COVID-19 are being used as an “exception” to allow an extraordinary expansion of the governmental powers of imposing extraordinary restrictions on our freedoms. That is, the measures taken by most states and at considerable delay, to prevent the spread of a virus that can potentially kill at least one percent of the human population, could implement the next level of “exception”. Agamben asks us to choose between “the exception” and the regular while his concern is with the regularization of exception.[2] Jean-Luc Nancy has since responded to this objection by observing that there are only exceptions today, that is, everything we once considered regular is broken-through[1]. Deleuze in his final text would refer to that which calls to us at the end of all the games of regularities and exceptions as “a life”;[4] that is, one is seized by responsibility when one is confronted with an individual life which is in the seizure of death. Death and responsibility go together.

Then let us attend to the non-exceptionality of exceptions. Until the late 1800s, pregnant women admitted in hospitals tended to die in large numbers after giving birth due to puerperal fever, or post-partum infections. At a certain moment, an Austrian physician named Ignaz Semmelweis realized that it was because the hands of medical workers carried pathogens from one autopsy to the next patient, or from one woman’s womb to the next’s, causing infections and death. The solution proposed by Semmelweis was to wash hands after each contact.  For this he was treated as an exception and ostracized by the medical community. He died in a mental asylum suffering from septicemia, which resulted possibly from the beating of the guards. Indeed, there are unending senses of exceptions. In Semmelweis’ case, the very technique for combating infection was the exception. In Politics, Aristotle discussed the case of the exceptional man, such as the one who could sing better than the chorus, who would be ostracized for being a god amongst men.

There is not one paradigm of exception. The pathway of one microbial pathology is different from that of another. For example, the staphylococci live within human bodies without causing any difficulties, although they trigger infections when our immune system response is “excessive”. At the extreme of non-pathological relations, the chloroplasts in plant cells and the mitochondria in the cells of our bodies are ancient, well-settled cohabitations between different species. Above all, viruses and bacteria do not “intend” to kill their host, for it is not always in their “interest”[5] to destroy that through which alone they could survive. In the long term—of millions of years of nature’s time—”everything learns to live with each other”, or at least obtain equilibria with one another for long periods. This is the biologist’s sense of nature’s temporality.

In recent years, due in part to farming practices, micro-organisms which used to live apart came together and started exchanging genetic material, sometimes just fragments of DNA and RNA. When these organisms made the “jump” to human beings, disasters sometimes began for us. Our immune systems find these new entrants shocking and then tend to overplay their resources by developing inflammations and fevers which often kill both us and the micro-organisms. Etymologically “virus”[6] is related to poison. It is poison in the sense that by the time a certain new virus finds a negotiated settlement with human animals we will be long gone. That is, everything can be thought in the model of the “pharmakon” (both poison and cure) if we take nature’s time. However, the distinction between medicine and poison in most instances pertains to the time of humans, the uncanny animal. What is termed “biopolitics” takes a stand from the assumption of the nature’s temporality, and thus neglects what is disaster in the view of our interest in – our responsibility for – “a life”, that is, the lives of everyone in danger of dying from contracting the virus.

Here lies the crux of the problem: we have been able to determine the “interests” of our immune systems by constituting exceptions in nature, including through the Semmelweis method of hand washing and vaccinations. Our kind of animal does not have biological epochs at its disposal in order to perfect each intervention. Hence, we too, like nature, make coding errors and mutations in nature, responding to each and every exigency in ways we best can. As Nancy noted, man as this technical-exception-maker who is uncanny to himself was thought from very early on by Sophocles in his ode to man. Correspondingly, unlike nature’s time, humans are concerned with this moment, which must be led to the next moment with the feeling that we are the forsaken: those who are cursed to ask after “the why” of their being but without having the means to ask it. Or, as Nancy qualified it in a personal correspondence, “forsaken by nothing”. The power of this “forsakenness” is unlike the abandonments constituted by the absence of particular things with respect to each other. This forsakenness demands, as we found with Deleuze, that we attend to each life as precious, while knowing at the same time that in the communities of the forsaken we can experience the call of the forsaken individual life which we alone can attend to. Elsewhere, we have called the experience of this call of the forsaken, and the possible emergence of its community from out of metaphysics and hypophysics, “anastasis”.[7]   

[1] Coincidently, the name of the virus ‘corona’ means ‘crown’, the metonym of sovereignty.

[2] Which of course has been perceived as a non-choice by most governments since 2001 in order to securitize all social relations in the name of terrorism. The tendency notable in these cases is that the securitization of the state is proportionate to corporatization of nearly all state functions.

[3] See L’Intrus, Jean-Luc Nancy, Paris: Galilée, 2000.

[4] See “L’immanence: une vie”, Gilles Deleuze, in Philosophie 47 (1995).

[5] It is ridiculous to attribute an interest to a micro-organism, and the clarifications could take much more space than this intervention allows. At the same time, today it is impossible to determine the “interest of man”.

[6] We should note that “viruses” exist on the critical line between living and non-living.

[7] In Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Anti-Politics, Shaj Mohan and Divya Dwivedi, foreword by Jean-Luc Nancy, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019.

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