What is the nature of the difference between reflection and immediacy, between the orders of thought and of our inescapable exposure to light, to noise, to the proximity of another person? Between blindness and synesthesia, a word — a universe. Between the instant and the timeless, a positive indetermination which ruptures with the order of both image and essence, disrupting the fragility of duration as well as agitating the eternal time of truth — in short forcibly opening thought onto the pure multiple.
Determination almost annihilates multiplicity, for unlike the one with its tiny arrow, (beholden to the singular, microscopic graph of substitution) with the multiple there is only noise — no categorical tables, no certain translations. Upon multiplicities, determination (especially as network, as protocol) is the work of almost total negation, a triple erasure whose traces are then painstakingly classified: subtraction dominating the supplement, an order without order. “Science is not necessarily a matter of the one or of order, the multiple and noise are not necessarily the province of the irrational. This can be the case, but it is not always so.” (Serres, Genesis 131) So what is it to “take” pure multiplicity as an explicit object for philosophy, for science, for politics, for art? What is it to think these surging flocks of singularities, or even to produce these dense aggregates of interconnections — dreams, the sea, time? What does the ego become, once one begins to think, to think the multiple as such?
A transistor, a becoming, open at any rate to the noise of the sea: a model of knowledge, certainly, but also of the world. At once, all at once. Thought circulates, agitates through a radical indetermination in which it finds its singular positivity (if I may be permitted to say so, its humanity or humility.) A rigorous determination of multiplicity can be found in Plato and Hegel — hidden by the divisions characterizing the form of the Good, or the Whole — no less than in the Lao-Tzu, where multiplicity is reflected through cosmic experience itself and finds continuity only though the rupture of assigned identities: “From way-making arises continuity / From continuity arises difference / From difference arises plurality / From plurality arises multiplicity.” (Lao-Tzu, Daodejing 47) Thinking turns away, escapes at once, misses the point, goes astray; it is fluttering and chaotic, in the same way the world is turbulent. Always between sleep and consciousness, word and cosmos, being and nothingness, number and letter. No figure of thought, no poem or formula, could represent the multiple — no gesture could safely reproduce it. What is the multiple but pure risk, the becoming-excluded of the third, the very involution of the “safe” observer? The one in the other, without representation; the me within the multiple, the multiple in me, all at once and without extension. No distance is great enough, exposure is inevitable, we must respond.
The essence of the generic is finitude, an infinite displacement; the meaning of finitude is noise, an infinite repetition. There is a darkness and incompleteness at the very heart of knowledge, a heresy in the most rigorous formulae, a dangerous obscurity and black magic in even the purest thought. Finitude implies iterability, proximity, futurity, in short: society, noise, time, the sea. Being coincides with a generic excess, and essentially refers beyond the situation, to a process of connection to the infinite, to an outside, to pure multiplicity. Thinking — what but a conversation, a dance for two? Being and becoming, logos and chaos, image and essence, time and light, movement and rest. Before the dance begins, and between each pose, there must be a step, a measure, a form or transformation, a pause: a resonance and reception, an order and a response, silence and exposure.
A suppleness is needed in order to hang in-between, a certain light-hearted spark without which the dance evaporates. Yet hardness is needed in order to maintain the vulnerable posture, tense, pronate. Finitude ceaselessly iterates, rapidly alternates, suddenly disintegrates. Absolute knowledge and absolute ignorance are both impossible; the question is one of phases, degrees, angles, senses. Thought is submission and mastery, learning and teaching, power and humility at once. Mastery without mastery, submission without submission: the situation presented produces a new situation, which itself needs reiteration. How to translate the infinite, the multiple, this conversation without words, this text without image? This formlessness of the purest form, this uplifting of the veil, this pure impurity.