I once heard a person express wonder and delight at “sharing a world with such creatures” in relation to something that had resonated with her at the level of thought. There is a profound precision and rightness in this expression, such that I hardly know how to capture it at the level of the Notion. The indefinite article hints at a pluralism of worlds and a possibility of other worlds and other fields of individuation, expressing an awareness of the contingency of this shared world and the hope of other worlds yet to come. But the concept of the “creature”, applied to what are ordinarily referred to as persons or humans, suggests singularity, animality, mad and untamed becomings that can no longer quite be classified in terms of subjectivized positions. The creaturely evokes the irreplaceable, and functions in much the same way that Levi-Strauss’ word mana, as an empty signifier that names that which fails to be embodied in language or the contemporary system of signifiers. But above all, to inhabit a world with creatures, would this not mean that there are still things worthy of wonder, astonishment, and admiration?… That there are forces that counter-act our cynicism, holding out the hope for something more? These are powerful and traumatic words to hear… Words that bring one to tremble and fill one with envy. Perhaps the creaturely, as an empty place holder of what cannot be named is nonetheless an end that should be aimed at. This would be the affirmation of a very different Gregor Samsa.

About these ads