The Dash—The Other Side of Absolute Knowing

Table of contents :
Contents......Page 5
Introduction: Hegel To The Letter......Page 8
Part I: First time as Phenomenology, second time as...Logic?......Page 16
Chapter 1: "Kant Brought To His Senses"......Page 17
Chapter 2: A Tale of Two Books......Page 35
Chapter 3: The Dash, or How To Do Things With Signs......Page 58
Part II: Ponctuations of Absolute Knowing......Page 67
Chapter 4: Hegel's Last Words......Page 68
Chapter 5: Hegel's First Words......Page 89
Epilogue: The Point Is To Lose It......Page 108
Abbreviations of Works by Hegel......Page 114
Notes: Preface......Page 116
Chapter 1......Page 118
Chapter 2......Page 126
Chapter 3......Page 139
Chapter 4......Page 143
Chapter 5......Page 148
Epilogue......Page 156
Bibliography......Page 158
Index......Page 173

Citation preview

Mladen Dolar, Alenka Zupanõiõ, and Slavoj Zi2ek, edito.t

The Puppet ond the Dwarf:The Perverse Core of Christionity, The Shortest Shadow: Nietzschei PhiÌosophy of the Two, by


AÌenta Zupanèiõ

Aline Flieger

Oedipus OnÌine? Siting Freud ofter Freud, by Jerry


Interrogation Mochine: Loibcch ond NSK, by AÌexei The PoroÌÌaxView,

by SÌavoj ZiZek

by Slavol Ziãek

AVoice and Nothing More, by Mladen DoÌar Subjectivity ond Otherness:Á PhiÌosophicoÌ Reading of Loccn, by Lorenzo Chiesa The Odd One In: On Comedy, by

AÌenka Zupanõiõ

The Monstrosity ol Chiist: Pcrodox or Dio.lectic?

by SÌavoj 2iZek and John MiÌbank, edited Ìry

Creston Davis Interface Fantosy: A Locanicn Cyborg Ontology, by André Nusselder Laccn ot the Scene,

by Henry Bond

Loughter: Notes on c Pcssion, by

Anca ParmÌescu

AlÌ for Nothing: Hcmlet! Negotivity, by Andrew CutrofeÌÌo The TroubÌe





Pleasure: DeÌeuze cnd PsychoonoÌysis,

by Aaron Schuster

by Aìenka Zupanõiõ

Liquidction World: On the Árt of living AbsentÌy, by

Alexi Kukuljevic

Incontinence of theVoid: EconomiccÌ-PhilosophiccÌ Spondrels, The

Dosh-The Other

Side of Absolute Knowing,

by Slavol Züek

by Rebecca Comal,and Frank Ruda




Rebecca Comay and Frank Ruda





@ zor8 Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology

AÌÌ rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any eÌectronic

or mechanical means (incÌuding photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrievaÌ) without permission in \ niting from the pubÌisher. This book was set in Joanna MT Pro by Toppan Best,ser Premedia Limited. Printed and bound in the United States ofAmerìca.

Library of Congress CataÌoging-in-PubÌication Data is available. ISBN: 978-o-262-S3S3S




Series Foreword

















Frank Ruda


Is To LosE



Abbreviations ofWorks by Hegel










A short circuit occurs when there is a faulty connection in the networkfaulty, of course, from the standpoint of the network's smooth íunctioning. Is not the shock of short-circuiting, therefore, one of the best metaphors for a criticaÌ reading? Is not one of the most effective critical procedures to cross wires that do not usuaÌly touch: to take a major classic (text, author, notion) and read it in a short-clrcuiting way, through the lens of a "minor" author, text, or conceptual apparatus ("minor" should be understood here in Deleuze's sense: not "of Ìesser quality," but marginalized, disavowed by the hegemonic ideoÌogy, or dealing with a "lower," less dignified topic) ? If the minor reference is welÌ chosen, such a procedure can lead to insights which compÌetely shatter and undermine our common perceptions. This is what Marx, among others, did with philosophy and religion (short-circuiting phllosophicaÌ speculation through the lens of political economy, that is to say, economic speculation); this is what Freud and Nietzsche did with morality (short-circuiting the highest ethical notions through the lens of the unconscious libidinal economy) . What such a reading achieves is not a simple "desublimation," a reduction of the higher intellectuaÌ content to its Ìower economic or Ìibidinal cause; the aim of such an approach is, rather, the inher ent decentering of the interpreted text, which brings to light its "unthought," its disavowed presuppositions and consequences. And this is what "Short Circuits" \ /ants to do, again and again. The underÌying premise of the series is that Lacanian psychoanalysis is a prìviÌeged instrument of such an approach, whose purpose is to illuminate a standard text or Ìdeoìogical formation, making it readable in a totalÌy new waythe long history of Lacanian interventions in philosophy, religion, the arts (from the visual arts to the cìnema, music, and literature), ideoÌogy, and pol itics justifies this premise. This, then, is not a new series of books on psychoanalysis, but a series of "connections in the Freudian field"-of short

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"Short CirLacanian interventions in art, phiÌosophy, theology, and ideology. text, a classic confronts cuits" intends to revive a plactice of reading which author, or notion with its own hidden presuppositions, and thus reveals its disavowed truth. The basic criterion for the texts that wilÌ be published is that they eÍfectuate such a theoretical short cilcuit. After reading a book in this series, the reader should not simply have learned something new: the point is, rather, to make him or her aware of another---disturbing-side of something he or she knew all the time. Sìavo1




This book works with a set of basic propositions that are arÌ interreÌated. First: If you want to modernìze Hegei-to retrieve Heger as a postcriticaÌ, profane thinker (that is, someone not onÌy aÌert to the contingencies of sociaÌ and historicaÌ exisrence but equipped and motlvated to intervene in these).you sooner or Ìarer have to face the've got to take seriousÌy the most embarrassingÌy grandiose moment in the system, the point at which it,s alÌ too tempting ro srart skimming, srarr apologizing, or simpÌy put the book down: absoÌute knowing. HegeÌ's critics, from Kierkegaard onward, have stopped revÌling 'ever HegeÌ's absoÌute ideaÌism as a philosophy

of identity (or of ,f it swaÌÌows contingencies, it smothers singurarities, ""*.rrr,,,, it cancels out time, it consigns historicar suffering to the sÌaughter b"ench of historf.tne cn_ max of the system is thus the moment of lts most terribÌe regression: absoÌÌrte knowing is an updated form of Stoicism-an urtimate you wish):


to the concrere worÌd. such indirference is expressed by phil0sophy,s principred disengagement from poÌiticaÌ Ìife in the wake of the French Revorution and its subsequent sequestration as a "priesthood

apart,,,-the reslgnation crys_ talÌized in the infamous image of the owÌ of Minerva. HegeÌ teÌÌingÌy ends the Phenomenology with the religious gesture of sacrifice:we rearn in the end that we to let things go. HegeÌ might have been the one phiÌosopher who _hav1 explicitÌy did not reÌl us how to the worÌd. H" p.o-.,ig",.a rro he refused to "give instruction as to what the world ought to be.','The "g", avowed aim of his phiÌosophy was ro grasp its own rime in thought. Jean HyppoÌite remarked on the shift that occurs with the move into the spÌrere of reÌigion in the pÀenom enology: we reave alr phenomena behind

and the phenomenology turns inro a noumenoÌogy, a reveÌation of what Ìies behind and beyond appearances.3 The science oitogic is expÌicitÌy a.Àrr.a ., "exposition the


God os he is ìn his eternoÌ essence before the creotion of noture ancl of

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spirit"l-an exposition of a moment belore time, a timeless



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alÌ the categories constitutive of the worÌd and thought. Hegel thus performs a

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megaÌomaniac transgression of Kant's prohibition: he presents us with everythÌng needed to think everythìng that is, was, and will ever be. We are invìted

to think what God thought before he created the world-we become prÌ\T to a world without us-a privilege that, however, onÌy forces us to give up any idea of changing the worÌd we do have (for we couÌd not but rely on the categories that are permanently constitutive of this world and that establlsh its necessity). But thÌs form of absoÌute knowing, as ScheÌÌing obiected, gives a monstrous precedence to logic, not onÌy over the workings of human history, but also over nature, even over the nature that unconsciously works inside aÌl of us (a point Kierkegaard wìiÌ also emphasize) . This is an abbreviated balance sheet of the conceit that stands at tÌle center of Hegel's thought-a claim so exaggeratedly absolute it seems írredeemabÌe Íbr any form of contemporary thÌnking. Given this historical consensus, the contemporary state of Hegel's reception is peculiar. For the generalized disparagement of absolute knowing no Ìonger entaiÌs a dismissal of Hegel's thought altogether, as it did for most of the Ìast two centuries.s The current situation rather bears curious similarities with the situatíon described by Friedrich EngeÌs, who wrote apropos of Feuerbach's interventÌon in the immediate post-HegeÌian aftermath that "everyone became instantly a Feuerbachian."6 HegeÌ surprì.singly seems to have become the Feuerbach of the twenty-first century. Today, ignoring the absoÌute bone in the throat of knowledge, everyone has become a Hegelian. Having been cured of his metaphyslcaÌ sickness, Hegel has suddenly become compatible with an unexpected variety of contemporary phiÌosophical proiects. From radical theoÌogy to Anglo-American pragmatism, from liberaÌ democratic theory to radical anarchism, from speculative realism to psychoanaÌysis, a plethora of diverging positions have set out to prove that Hegel was actuaÌÌy not so bad. He was Ìess teleological, Ìess totaÌity-obsessed, Ìess reactionary, less nationalist, less patriarchal, less warmongering, Iess monarchical, less contradiction-fetishizing, less subÌation-crazy-and not even aÌways off the wall ln his Ìogical deduction of the number of existing planets (seven!) in

the solar system./ Even Hegel's un-owl-of-Minerva-ish geopolitical prophecies have proved to be not so outÌandish (for example, his description of the impending gÌobal hegemony of the United States) ... Is this book another such rescue attempt?Yes and no. Here's our gambÌe:

the onÌy way to provide a rìgorously nonmetaphysical renderlng of Hegel is by affirming rn'hat is normalÌy taken to be HegeÌ's most moribund metaphysicaÌ baggage. What is usuaÌly regarded as the "mystical sheÌÌ" of the HegeÌian system turns out to be its most rational kerneÌ. Instead of reining in the Hege-

lian enterprise-whether by retreating to a critical transcendental (broadÌy

epistemoÌogicaÌ) standpoint or by embracing his aÌÌ-round friendÌiness as a theorist of recognition, his compatibiiity with ÌiberaÌ democracy, his contributions to human rights, or his attunement to singuÌarity and arterity--our intention is rather to push Hegel's project to its rimirs. one

must unapoÌo_ geticaÌÌy exaggerate what seems most irredeemable: it is at the extremities of Hegel's system that the points of resistance are found. we take Hegel,s radlcalism to be located at the point where his thought is usuaÌÌy taken to regress most' Far from serving up a sopÌristicated recycÌing of some version of precritÌcaÌ rationaÌist metaphysics, it's preciseÌy the cã.rcept of abso_ lute knowing that estabÌishes HegeÌ's contemporary credentiaÌs. To rocate this kerneÌ is to retrieve a countercurrent that wirl redeem the specuÌatlve promise of pragmatism agalnst its most vocal proponents-that is, praxis itseÌf,

second (and this directly folÌows): you can'r sever rhe

phenomenoìogy oÍ spirit TÌre infamous Abgeschrokenheir of the phenomeïology, its cÌosure or compÌetion, is not onry sustained and eÌucidated by the passage ro the logic but aÌso opens it up in startÌing directions. unÌike standard artempts to Ìink rhe Phenomenology ro the rogic (or ro uncoupÌe them), our srarring poinr is tÌre folÌowing: the rogic does nor so much stabiÌize, authorize, or ground the Phenomenoiogy, aìthough it elucidares or ilÌuminates it. rts funcrion is not to provide the PhenomenoÌogy witÌr some klnd of rationar scaffording or ro sup_ pÌy the hermeneutic key to its interpretatlon. And for this reason, Lo'g oth_ ers' it cannot be harnessed either to a neo-Kantìan agenda (for exampre, as

from the

scìence of rogic.

an expÌication of the transcendentaÌ rures governing our historicaÌÌy evoÌv_ ing epistemic practices) or to a neopragmatist one (a crarification or,,mak_ ing expÌicit" of the impÌicit commitments sustaining our ongoing ranguage games) These Ìast rwo agendas, rhe neo-Kanrian and th. ,r.Ç.ugLatÌsr, are surprisingÌy compatibÌe and have even come to coalesce in recent HegeÌ schoÌarship. Nor does the rogic represent an unfortunate regression from the "thoroughgoing skepticism"u of ihe phenomenorogy ro a prelriticaÌ, dogmatic metaphysics. it does not speak of or from the perspective of an ontotheoÌogical plenum where thought coaguÌates o. .op.,Ì.,", with being. It

cannot be peeled away from rhe phenomenoÌogy Ìike flotsam o. riegated to the -yr,i."Ì basement of a iong-discarded tradition. And so too conversely: the phenomenoÌ_ ogy cannot be jettisoned from the rogic as some kind of positivist or historicaÌ excrescence or set aside as a propaedeutic protocol that can be discontinued once one has arrived at a pÌace caÌled absolute knowing. A traditionaÌ view of HegeÌ's rogìc (usuarÌy presenred as a criticism) is that Hegel is not only expounding rhe erernar raws of reaÌity but thereby tíyirrg to prove the omnipresence and omnipotence of reason. contemporary critics of this grandiose vlsion sometimes attempt to rehabiÌitate hrs iogic-to rescue the logic from its own "meraphysicai" carapace-by arguing instead that the

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book establishes HegeÌ's more modest credentials as a philosopher of social practice: the Logìc unfoÌds the specific constrainrs of our historical forms of Iife. Rather than elaborating the unchangeable laws of being, the Science of logic describes the ever-evolving protocols of rational discursive activity. Despite their manifest differences, both these readings rely on a similar account of the reÌationship berween these two monumental texts. The standard argument is that the move from the Phenomenology to the toúic is a move from the examination of inherited assumptions to the elucidation of the structure of rationality. This move can be understood in two dlfferent ways: on the one hand, as a PÌatonizing move from ilÌusion to reality, from appearance io belng; on the other hand, as a Kantian move from experience to its transcendental conditions. In other words, the Science of logic is read either as a disquisitlon in dogmatic rationaÌ metaphysics or as an exercise in critical phiÌosophy.

different. If the passage ro rhe logic is essentiaÌ to the phethis is precisely because it exposes exper.ience to its own impossibiiity. If there is a finaÌ push beyond experience, rhis is nor because thinÌing has arrived in a realm of noumenaÌ otherworÌdliness where the subject is fÍnally able to actively think its thoughts instead of passiveÌy undergoing them. Absolute knowing rather marks the point where experience iurns into an experience of the impossibility of experience. The "beyond" of experience is strictÌy immanenl to experience. Our approach



Mindedness somehow seems too palÌid a term to caprure the upheaval at work. Rather, we have reached a moment of radicaÌ destitution where alÌ the coordinates of subjectivity have been taken apart. We have been brought to a point beyond consciousness, beyond seÌf-consciousness, beyond the colÌective self-consciousness of every community. All given structures and all structured givenness of experience have been relinquished. Not onÌy have the estabÌished forms of objectivity been sysrematlcalÌy dismantÌed but rhe form of subjectivity irself has been undone. At the limits of experience, something happens that completely reshufÍÌes rhe cards-not only of subsrance but equally of subject. HegeÌ hlnts of such destitution in the closing pages of the PhenomenoÌogy when he describes the final kenosis of spirit and its release into the domain of "free contingent happening."eThis is the moment when something like a decision is at stake. Hegel speaks of an EntschÌuss, a strange resolve that arises at the point of irresolution between activity and passivity, between the voluntary and the invoÌuntary. A strange kind of freedom. Third (and this too foÌlows): Reading Hegel can demand a kind of mindnumbing literalism: one musr risk trivialìty ro rhe poinr of pedantry. But rhe stakes are high. It wiÌÌ demonsrrare rhe tenacity of the infinite judgment in alÌ its ridicuÌousness-'íSpirit is l fens"ro-1he conjugation of the "highest"

and the "Ìowest," the most grandÌy universaÌ and the most stupidly particular,

the essentiaÌ and the inessential, the necessary and the contingent, the formaÌ and the material.

In otÌrer words, accordìng to HegeÌ's own protocol, to read speculativeÌyto read at all-one needs to suspend every advance decision about what is major and what is mlnor, what is essentiaÌ and what is inessential. There ìs no preexisting standard by which ro assess what may be significant; you must proceed as if anythÌng and everything is important, as ií there is a necessity at work in the most ordinary contingencies of existence. "rven the foom is an expression of essence!" (Lenin)." This indiscriminate attenriveness caÌÌ cre, ate the impression of a certain obsessiveness and even paranoia, and it is

no doubt in part responsibÌe for the accusations of "panÌogicism" that have pÌagued the receprion of Hegel ever sìnce Krug (unreasonabÌy) charÌenged him to deduce his own pen lrom the machÌnery of the concept.'. But this u'ould misconstrue tÌre nature of tÌre vigiÌance: it is not that everything is significant, only that anything might be, and you can'r know in advance what that might be. Even Hegel describes Ìris encounter with specuÌative rvords, for example, as a happy accident (eÌsewhere he speaks of a "free contingent hapa kind of slip or lapsus: he sturnbÌes against the miracuÌous poÌy semy of the word Áufhebung the way you might srub your toe. " [It] can deÌighr a thinker to falÌ upon such words and to find the union of opposites naively shown i'the dÌctionary as one word with opposite meani'gs."'+The occasion is as unrehearsed and as momentous as the proustian Ììarrator's stumble in the Guermanres corrrtyard. A lapse of spirit from which specuÌative spirit


Ìlray at any point arise: feiix cuÌpa.

HegeÌ demands

of his

readers a properÌy psychoanaÌytic amirude. The to rhe "fundamentaÌ ruÌe" of analysisthe annoying obiigation to speak "freely"-to communicate whatever comes to or "falÌs into" the mÌnd, Ëinfdlle , without selection, omission, or concern lor connection, sequence, propriety, or relevance. Like a passenger on a train (that's Freud's own somew'hat proustian anaÌogy), you're to ."port th" cÌranging mentaÌ scenery as ir passes by, mereÌy "looking on Zusehen],"'r 51s[reine pendÌng judgment and Ìeaving understanding and expÌanarion to another day (or person). our task is simpÌy to "take up whot is there before us [aufzunehmen, wos vorhcnden ist]."'6 absoÌute method is the equivaÌent

contemporary deflationary readings seek ro update Hegel's thought by discarding from his system anything redoÌent of metaphysics (the rerm currently íunctions much as reìigion had functioned for nineteenth-century Ìeft-Hege Ìianism), where tÌre supreme meraphyslcaÌ hobgobÌin is typicaÌÌy crystarÌized ür the category ofspirit (the personified agent ofuniversal history) or in rhe category of the absoÌute idea (the transÌucency of rational substance). such approaches tend to cast aside as insignificant what Hegel himself reckoned to be the weightiest component of his system. we wilÌ ürvert this deflationary

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first gÌance to be most triviaÌ. Not only must one unflinchingly affirm the absolute, but this is accessible only in the most mundane minutiae of its material unfolding. "Spirit is a bone." The deviÌ is (in) the detaiÌ.'T "Thought is, after all, the most trenchant epitomist":'8 it cuts into the real, it takes its cue from the miniscuÌe, it dlscerns in

gesture by inflating what might seem at

every particÌe an abbreviation of the totality. As Adorno said of psychoanalysis: the truth lies in the exaggerations.'e Reading Hegel without presupposition,

without eliminating anything in

advance or making any

prior decision about

what is essential and what is inessential, what is Ìiving and what is dead, we wiÌl attempt to explore Hegel's presentation of the absolute to the Ìetter. This literal approach may at times require goìng against what would seem to be the spirit of Hegel's own seÌf-interpretation. Sometimes what seems most obvious can on closer inspection turn out to be the most enigmatic. Hegel defamiliarizes everything we take most for granted, above alÌ our own Ìanguage.


Reading philosophy to the ìetter is dif-

ficult not because its language is especiaÌly arcane or compli.cated (on the contrary, Hegel exhibits a Lutheran commitment to the vernacular'') but on the contrary because ir appears so banaÌ and trivial that it can seem unworthy of inspection.This is why "individuaÌs who otherwise possess the educationaÌ requirement for understanding them" nonetheÌess compÌain about the "unintelÌigibility of phiÌosophicaÌ writings."" PhiÌosophy is difficult nor because ir speaks an esoterlc idiom or relies on speciaÌized terminoÌogy. It is difficuÌt because it does strange things with the language we take most for granted. HegeÌ took nothing for granted. (ActuaÌÌy, he showed us that we cannot even take "nothing" itself,-neither word nor thing-for granted.) If he can be characterized plausibly as an ordinary language phlÌosopher, this is only because he manages to extract weirdness from the most innocuous particles of everyday speech. Rather than plumbing the depths or reveaÌing the mysteries of being, he brings to light what is aÌready on the surface; he exposes what has become invisible through overexposure. One of HegeÌ's unremembered pupils, Karl Friedrich Ferdinand Sierze, remarked that "every language appeared foreign to him."'3 Hegel invented a "new concept of 'naïveté"'* that enabled him not onÌy to "revivify the hidden treasures of language"'s-ls1 16 unÌeash the uncanny, undead energy of living speech. Thls is what it means to write and to read speculatively. To read "naively"-to discover in ordinary language the conceptuaÌ accomplishmenr of philosophy-is to stumble on nature's own deviation from itself. Natural language generates its own impediment and spirituaÌ surplus-"1dash [Querstrich] of nature." '6 The idea for this book originated several years ago in a stupid Ìittle observation that kept deraillng both of us: Hegel punctuates strangely.There's a peculiarly placed dash in the last sentence of the Phenom enology , and in the opening sentence ofthe logic another odd dash appears.Two ofthe strangest books in

the history of philosophy, rhe phenomenoÌogy and the togic ended up being the onÌy books HegeÌ actuaÌÌy managed ,o *.i,.. Their reÌationship has puzzled generatlons oÍ readers.The two books seem to have ÌittÌe in common, but they do share a punctuation mark. And rhis is what"rrorrgh *. J. choosÌng to focus on? The exercise might seem precious and perverse. why shouÌd rhere be a grain of significance in a punctuation mark? No one reaÌly knew how

to punctuate properÌy in the nineteenth century anyway_and certainly not rvhen it came to dashes (tirey stiÌÌ don't). Does this not amount to a Íètish ism of sheer contingency, historicar accident, or triviaÌ fact-a category mistake on a par with the EnÌightenment reduction of God to the banalities of mere "Ìerters, papers, and copyists,,?'z Had not Hegel ÍamousÌy denounced this kind of positivist enterprise: "so much the * for the factsr,,rswhy shouÌd anyone bother to endow two inslgnificant strokes of the pen with the dignity of a phiÌosophical investlgation? The German worcl for "dash" is suggestive. Gedankenstrich: the genitive is ambiguous. The stroke points to . pu.,r.-i' thought, a pause for thãught, but aÌso to a kind of short-circuiting or canceÌration oí thought. As a punctuation mark' the dash induces a moment of essentiaÌ uncertainty in reading. It can mark the beginning of a break, but can arso introduce an addition, a digres, sion, a temporary detour; it signaÌs elther a continuation or a definitive rup_ ture This uncertainty connects to the most intractabÌe questions of the whore Hegelian enterprlse: totarity and cÌosure; continuity and transition; develop_ rnent and pïogress; idenrity and difference; beginnings and ends. we wiÌÌ be zooming in on these two particuÌar marks. But as there are dashes of absolute knowing pretty much every'where in Hegel, we wilÌ simuitaneousÌy zoom out to unfoÌd their specuÌative significance.The exercise requires Ìooking through two ends of rÌre reÌescope ar once, which can be disorientirrg. O,.iy jy .o*_ bining a paranoid microscopism of the detail with a preposterous macrosco_ pism of the system can one stake a cÌaim to the contemporary Ìegacy oÍ HegeÌ. This is obviousÌy not a phiÌological cÌaim tL. nir,oi.uíty .o.r.., reading ofHegeÌ. The probÌem ofabsoÌute "bo.,t kno,

orninãteentn'-.;";;;ontotÌreoÌogi..,u,..,,J'l5r;ï:ïïïii.iïüïï::; contemporary preoccupations extending over an array of fierJs

andlngages wlth some overtiy anachronistic .pp.o.Ã.r, most notabÌy psychoanaÌysis and

Marxism in tlreir rarìous guises. approacÌr is by this token deriberateÌy one-sided. "one-sidedness,,, Einseitigkeit, is, for orthodox HegeÌians, a rerm of abuse: from the;.;r;..,_. of a,sovereign ÁìÌseitigkeir, an imaginary view from nowhere, oniprï,r.,rf..

standpoint unfaiÌingÌy presenrs itseÌf as iÌÌegitimatery partiar a.rd blindÌy pu._ tisan AbsoÌute knowing is usuaÌÌy associateã with such a view from nowhere. our take is the opposite. AbsoÌute knowing is rather the acknowreagment of the partisanship inherent in thought ., ,r,".h, rhe conceir of .,aÌÌ-sidedness,,



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is a phantasm that obscures the real antagonisms of historical existence'This is not an endorsement of historicism or a pÌea for immanence, but rather an acknoìMÌedgment of the ideoÌogicaÌ interest of al1 disinterested universal claims. only from the bìinkered perspective of naturaÌ (that is, naturaÌized) consciousness does knowledge appear as an impartial üibunal-"an eye turned in no particuiar direction."'e Absolute knowing dispels this mirage.3" Or, which amounts to the same, thinking irwolves a decision. Against every pragmatist commitment constrained by the force of soclally authorized leasons, we are attempting to return to what is salvageable of the left-wing Hegelian legacy. This requires engaging Hegei's thinking at the most retrograde of all


tes-absolute knowing.





"KANï BRoucHT To Hts sENsEs'

in tÌre preface to the first edition of the Science of Logic, in rgrz, Heger ana,1 zes the hÌstorlcaÌ juncture at which he situates his own project: p"opt. hurr. 'ost interest in the contents and even the form of metapúysi.r, .rra thi, ,itrration is a paradoxicaÌ effect of Kant's attempt to inaugurate modern phiÌos_ ophy by bringing rarionaÌ metaphysics to iis compÌetion. Kant had argued 1or an active forgetting of aii earrier forms of metaphysics, for ..extirpating,, ;Ìrem "root and branch,"' since they were never anything but ,,mentor foncìes.,,. tsut Ì'ris arrempr to do metaphysics properry by rescuing Ìt from dogmatism

cffectiveiy became "the justlficarion .. . for renounclng (entsogen) spJculative rhought" akogether.3 The unwitting outcome of tpÌrit-in short, there ls no nature as such. This might be why Hegel never u'rote rhe phiÌosophy of nature in specuÌative or book form; nature itself can àppear onÌy in the abbreviated and naturalized form ofthe EncycÌopoedio.There :an be no phiÌosophy of nature strictly speaking. As soon as we reach the end rf the logic, the absolute idea reÌeases itself into narure, but the labor of the -rhenomenoÌogy has to begin again if onÌy so as to undo the naturalization that ,s depicted and inflicted


in the


we are stuck in the first day of

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ï i I

i :






\.*. lor the pedantry.

There's a strange punctuation mark that crops up ar key moments in both of Hege|s books.The mark appears orrà ,t th. =nd of the Phenomenoìogy and tÌren again at the beginning of tire Logic. It can :. easy to miss, especialÌy if one is r.r.orking wlth tÌre (untiÌ recentÌy sranrard) pubÌished EngÌish rranslations, because each time tÌre transÌator


r Ìeave


ir out.' It should have been the easiest thing to rransÌare. It did not :ieÌl ÌÌ€ed to be tra'slated: strictly speaking, alÌ the translator needed to do '' as simpÌy to transcribe the mark without furtÌrer aÌteration. A punctuation -

::rark does nor seem to bel0ng to any particular language; like the bÌack page r the squìggÌe in Trisrrom Shcndy, it wouÌd seem to te a lof for the rypeser .:r rather than the task of the translator. curiousÌy, both times, the translator, -.. v MilÌer, deÌetes the punctuatio' mark as if it were Ìnconsequential. He .:rikes it out. The erasÌrre is teÌÌing. MilÌer's decision seems to confirm walter 3enjamiir's point, in the "Task of the TransÌator," thar wÌrat is most untransrat_ :rÌe in every language-the "naveÌ" of the transÌatioÌ1, so to speak-is not the : ne scis quoi of the "poetic," not the sonorities of the acoustic, not the idio_ :'' Ìlcrasies of idiom or authoriaÌ style, but rather the uncertain point where :iansÌatÌon itself has aÌways aÌready occurred. what proves to be the greatest ,bstacle ro rransiarion is preciseÌy what makes it possibÌe. It is tronútcbiììty .lat blocks the possibiÌity of transÌation.' he resr of this book w-iÌr be focused on a pair of seemingry trivial detaiÌs. -{egel punctuares srrangeÌy. He e'ds rhe phenomenoìogy of spirii with a dash. He 'uddenÌy breaks offhÌs compÌex, winding, final sentence, inserrs a dash and :Ìren a paragraph space, and abruptÌy appends as an apparent epigraph to the rook a subtly aÌtered quorarion from a poem by SchirÌer. And he" begins the -''''11ic with a dash. After about eighty pages of throat crearing (t*o p..ã."r, .r, ltroducrion, a suppÌementary eÌaboration on why it is so ãim..,tt to begin), -{egeÌ finaÌly writes down his famous opening senrence, a sentence that is -



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grammaticalÌy speaking oniy a sentence fragment. There is no verb, no definìte articÌe, only a repetition, folÌowed by a punctuation mark-actualÌy two marks: a comma and then a dash-which forces the reader to return to the

beginning and start again. Here are the two sentences we wlll be explorÍng. The first sentence is verbose and convoluted and reads as foÌlows:

Their preservation, regarded from the side oftheir free existence appearing in the form ofcontingency, is history; but regarded from the side oftheir IphilosophicaÌÌy] comprehended organization, it is the science of knowing in the sphere of appearance; the two together, comprehended history, form alike the inwardizing and the caÌvary of absolute Spirit, the actuaÌity, truth, and certainty of its throne, without which it would be lifeless and alone.

Onlyfrom the chaiice ofthis realm ofspirits foams forth Íbr it its own infinitude.3

The second sentence is much shorter: Being, pure being,-without any further determination.a

The contrast berween the two sentences couÌd not be starker. Both sentences are equally bewiÌdering, but for precisely opposite reasons. The first meanders, a sprawlìng network of syntactic and grammatical connections, ending with a flurry of metaphors as it reaches its conceptuaÌ climax. The second is bareÌy a sentence ln its tautological brevityt-there is no verb, no definite articÌe, no adjective, no action or predication-and the phrase itself is devoid of both sensuous and conceptuaÌ content. All we are given is the repetition of the most abstract and uninformative word-"being"-to which HegeÌ adds tÌre equalÌy uninformative quaÌifiers "pure" and "without any further determination." The dash in the closing sentence of the Phenomenology points in two opposing directions: it retrospectively confirms the preceding phenomenological trajectory even as it turns its back on the phenomenologicaÌ horizon by poinring forward to a new (pureÌy logical) beginning. Even as the volume closes in on itsell returning to its beginning and supplying a retrospectlve com mentary on its own method, it points beyond its own terminus, opening to a sequel that wiÌÌ suspend the framework of the original book. The dash in this way functions simultaneously as a minus sign and an underliníng: it interrupts, subtracts, and cancels out the project of phenomenology even while emphasizing the latter's most fundamental clalms. It concedes to the persistence of appearances even as it suspends their coercive grip. It marks the ending of the Phenomenology as both a break and an interminabÌe repetitlon.

The dash in the opening sentence of the togic aÌso points in rwo directions. The punctuation forces the reader to return to what has just been Ìeft

behind-the stammering opening words, the accumuÌation of prefatory

material, and finalÌy the itseÌf as presupposition and precursor text. And it underscores the incompÌeteness of the first three words-it interrupts the sentence before it has the chance to complete itselÈ-and promises a suppÌement that in itself, however, wili end up adding nothing new. The German word for "dash" is suggestively ambiguous-Gedankenstrich. The doubÌe genitive points to a pause both in and for thought-a momenr phenomenoìogy


hesitatlon where thinking draws back from irs cusromary engagement with the worÌd. one might speak of a phenomenorogicar epoché, a temporary suspension or bracketing of the naturar attirude, aÌthough, strictÌy speaking, thls suspension does not take place within the confines of phenomenoÌogy. The act is not internaÌ to phenomenoÌogy but is rather the suspension of phenomenoÌogy. It signals the point where phenomenoÌogy calls into question its most fundamental commitment-nameÌy its commitment to the persistence and foundational priority of consciousness itself But the word aÌso points to a short-circuiting or striking out of thought: a canceÌlation that may also

rnvoÌve a kind of effacement and concealment.

The English word dash is even more ambiguous: it condenses into one effi_ cient monosyÌÌable a piÌe of divergent meanings-speed (a dash to the finish Ìine), violence, destruction, improvisation (to dash off an article), erasure, '.nmeasurable minimality or brevity (a dash of salt), superficiality, and even lashion (a dash of styÌe). If you listen hard enough the word even conrains a tarnt echo of blasphemy. The quaintness of the euphemism points not onÌy ro the stirrings of an archaic taboo but to the disappearance tf ,ni, tabooa negation of the negation that seems oddly appropriate to the disenchanted :erritory in which we've finaÌly arrived. But the ultimate ambiguity of the dash is not semantic but pragmatic. The lecuÌiarity of the mark is not primarily a function of the names *" .rrrgrr ro it, but is rather embedded in its performative impact. Every dash introduces r moment of uncertainty in reading. As a punctuation mark, the dash displays a puzzling temporal and syntactic ambiguity. Its orientation is simultaneousiy retrospective and prospective. It also dispÌays a fundamental uncertainty ln :rumber. unÌike the period, which arrives just once in every senrence, and unÌike parentheses or quotation marks, which come only in pairs, the dash ran either stand alone or in tandem. As such, it can signal a definitive breaking ofl a temporary digression, or an emphatic cÌarification. Does the punc:uation mark a break, an interruption, a continuation, a detour, a hesitarion,


prolongation, a premature termination? The dash combines hesitation and acceÌerarion: it both holds back and propeÌs. It both suspends speech and drives it forward. It scatters and connects. It corrects and confirms. It

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generates non sequìturs and announces explanations. It poiÌlts to dead ends and to the most lncisive conclusions. It points in aÌ1 possible dilections: con-

tinuatlon, detour, deviation-but also simply random, meaningÌess termination. Is there a better way to begin and end a couple of books that aggravate the meaning of both ending and beginning? The ambiguiry of rhe mark is simiiar ro thar which Hegel elsewhere attributes to "speculative words" and "specuÌative sentences." Hegel was delighted to discover, in his own mother tongue, a treasury of words bearing heterogeneous and even antitheticai meanings: "It can delight thought to stumbìe upon in the Ìexicon as one word that union of opposites which ... to the understanding is nonsensical."6 The famousÌy untransÌatable Áufhebung, of course, is Hegel's most celebrated example, and \ re wilÌ return to this (and even propose a new translation), but a host of other words also come to mind: Ir-innerung (Íemembrance/interiorization), Entschluss (resolve,/unclosing/non-sylÌoglsm), Urteil (iudgment/primaÌ division), Bedingung (condition,

"be-thinging"). specuÌative word is literalÌy a contra-diction: it speaks against whai seems to be saying. Some speculative words have a DoppeÌsinn,7 a double



meaning; some contain Mehrfochsinn, multipÌe meanings; some even bring together opposing meanings (entgegengesetztes Bedeutungen). Like the primal words (Urworte) in which Freud discovered a confluence of opposite mean-

a speculative word condenses different meanings into a single signifier without any common denomlnator that unites these mean



ings under a unifying conceptual rubric. Its heterogeneous meanings are tied together contingentÌy through an arbitrary "quilting poínt" that brings the

utterance into momentarY focus. Even while it brings aÌl the pleasures of a chance discovery-we trip on

such words inadvertentÌy and without premeditation-the encounter is nonetheless the "resuìt of speculative thinking."'"We can only recognize the conceptual richness of such words if we approach language with a rigorous philosophicaÌ commitment. To read speculatively is to take up what is contingent as if it were necessary-to discern rational connection in what would otherwise present itself as nonsensicaÌ concatenation. "To him who Ìooks upon the world rationally, the world in its turn Ìooks back in a rational

prior judgment as to which words have coÌÌceptual density and which are meaningless-in other words, to entertain the possibiÌity that any word might be speculative (or not) at any moment.'2 Like Oedipus, we become responsibÌe for what befalÌs us and for what we fall on. This is what lt means to posit the presupposition.

way." " To read philosophically is to suspend every

Hegel had also insisted on the importance of speculatìve grammar' He showed the propositional form of the sentence to be thoroughÌy overdetermined. Every sentence must be parsed in at least two ways. It can be read the

habituaÌ wa;4 according to the Ìinear sequence of metaphysicaÌ,,picture think_ or it can be read phirosophicaÌiy, according to the .e....sive and 'eÌf interrupring rhyrhm of specurative thought. The sfecuÌative proposition rng." S is P.

loth is and is not a proposition, and this is why th".e is . -o-à.r, -of error inro every acr of reading. objectiveÌy, there is nothing to disringuish : specuÌative from an ordinary proposition.'3 when we first encounter


any ,{Ìr'en sentence, we expect this sentence to behave as normar sentences do: '.r'e "beÌieve that the usuaÌ subject predicate relation obtains.,,,arhis expecta_ :ron is unavoidabÌe. Oniy by way of a preliminary misreading is ir possible ro :chieve a specuÌative reading; truth arises only in th. àf "rp..i".rr." . f.rr.r.. :ìat shatters our most basic cognitive assumptions. In other words: misrecog_

:itron and repetition

are constitutive of readlng. This is why the specuÌative :eÌltence is the "paradigm of the whole movement of spirit",i-"rrd i.rd."d :he paradigm of the Idea itself This produces some paradoxes for reading.A couple ofyears after the pub-ication of the phenomenology, HegeÌ posted an advertisement for the book in :he Bcmberger zeitung, where he was then working as editor (his academic :areer having temporariÌy fizzledin the wake of NapoÌeon's invìsion). Apolo-.rzing preemptiveÌy for the scattershot appearance of the



:otentiaÌ readers that the book wilÌ make no sense upon first readìng. onry rire second time around wiÌÌ the work have any meaning. only in rereading is

r: posslbÌe even to begin reading.'6


at first, one reads a speculative as an ordinary proposition, its move:nent "destroys" the standard representationaÌ

framework in which we usu_

describe the worÌd. we find this "irksome" or "burdensome,, (Ìcstig),,, lecause we are fòrced to see that there is "meant somethlng other than we aÌÌ1'

:Ìleant to mean fdie Meinung erfrihrt, dass es onders gemeìnt wor, oÌs sie meinte].,,,8 ?hiÌosophy means differentrl: or more preciseÌy, it aims at somethÌng erse rhan meaning, "and this correction of our meaning compeÌs our knowing to go back to the proposition."'e phirosophy is in this ,.nr" th. compuÌsion to :epeat. our thinking is impeded by a burden that weighs do*r, o.,. ordinary =Ìovement forcing us to stumbÌe and to go back to rhã begrnning. The coun:erthrust'o we experience in our encounter with specuratiu" gr"ir-". i, th" analogue to our stumbÌing encounter with speculative words.

we begin with the grammaticaÌ subject as the stabie basis of the proposition and wait for a predicate to be assigned to it.

But we find that the sub_ ject onÌy repeats itserf in this predÌcate:when S is p, an identity is expressed such that the subject disappears into the predicate. "The passive subpct,, of the proposition in this u'ay "perishes."'' we are forced to revise ou, prio. assumptions about both subject and predicate, and therefore aÌso about their relation' TellingÌ1a in Hegei s paradigmatic exampÌe of the specuÌative proposirion, "Go* ist das Sein" ("God is beìng").'it isboth the s.rb1"ct arrdìhe,rerb


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that are repeated in the predicate. "Being" is the nominaÌized inlinitive of the copula that binds together subject and predicate; it manages to condense aÌÌ the eÌements of the sentence into a single compact syllabÌe. The reÌation between S and P is in this way ÌoglcaÌÌy syncopated,'3 which causes thought itseif to short-circuìt: thinking expects to move but it does nor end up where it had expected. Thinking finds itself inhibited: it "suffers, aswe might put it, a counterthrust (Gegensto8)" that returns us to the starting poìnt that we thought we had left behind.'aThe Gegensto8 is not the Fichtean Ansto8 (we are not led to posit anything as our starting point).It is rather an interruption that triggers further repetition-a progression through legression.,s "The advancing [Fortgehen] to a result is thus as well the return fRückgehenl into itself, the counterthrust against itself,"'n Pìcture thinking thus faces a logical abyss: it seeks to flee this impasse but does not know where. This inhibition, as in Freud, is both the occasion and

the defining feature of anxiety. Seeking to return to a safe haven, we flnd upon return that our starting point is empty: there is only an empty space where we had previously assumed the subiect to reside.Where substance was, now appears onÌy the void of subjectivization. This throws us back again to the predicate in which this desubstantiaÌized subiect finds itself expressed. We are thrown back and forth according to the "immanent rhythm of the Notìon."'7 Thought repetitiveÌy moves in circles until this rotary movement eventually becomes the essentiaÌ content and form of thinking-the "drive Freed from [Trieb] to truth."'8This presents both an impasse and opportunity. a kind finds the metaphysical assumptlons of ordinary thinking, the subiect of freedom in its own stuckness. "Truth is its own self-movement."'e

"PhílosophicaÌ knowledge is indeed quite different in kind from the knowÌedge that we are used to."3' PhiÌosophy is peculiar not because it concerns itself with the unknowable or because lt worries whether things are unknowable in themselves or only for us. It does not direct itseÌf toward what is occult, opaque, buried, or accessibÌe only to the lnitiated. "Science is open and equally accessible to everyone."3'The absolute is out there in the open, it requires no arcane Ìanguage, no secret talent or expertise; we encounter it in

the most ordinary utterances of daiÌy life. We give voj.ce to it every time we speak. Philosophy brings us to see what is invisibÌe in plain sight: it teaches us to stumbÌe. We need [o Ìearn how to take up what is right there before our eyes. Philosophy is nothing more than the activation of a knowÌedge that we did nol know we had, an "unknown known" ias in Zi2ek's variation on Donalcl Rumsfeld)3'-----which is preciseÌy, of course, how Freud defines the unconscious. So there are specuÌative words and speculative sentences' But the speculative work of language also takes pÌace at a more inconspicuous and even microiogical leveÌ-a Ìevel that is both deeper and more superficial than

either semantics or grammar, at once more hidden and more exposed. There is aÌso such a thing as a speculatìve punctuation mark. HegeÌ's idiosyncratic punctuatìon is iÌÌuminating for a number of reasons, not Ìeast because it forces us to revise the standard account of his so-caÌÌed phonocentrism.This stilÌ prevalent view which feeds into the general impression of HegeÌ as a metaphysician ofpresence, has been Ìargely encouraged by a (seÌective) reading of Derrida's critique of HegeÌ's prívileging of speech over writing. It is not our point here to refute these charges, or to propose a dlfferent reading ofthe notorious passages in the Encyclopoedio where Hegel (oraÌly and problematicalty) denigrates the mortifying externalities of ideographic writing systems (Chinese, Egyptian, the Leibnizian chcrocteristica universolis) in favor of the liv ing self-presence of alphabetic script.33 In forcing the reader's attention to the graphic capaclties of language, HegeÌ not only confirms Derrida's cÌaim that, despÍte appearances, "the place of semioÌogy is realÌy at the center, and not in the margins or the appendix, of Hegel's Logic."s+ He also proves himself to be, as Derrlda is also the Íìrst to acknowledge, "the first thlnker of writing.":r But we are dealing here with another kind of writing aÌtogether. The punctuation mark is neither alphabetic nor ideographic. It is bound neither to speech nor to writing but operates at the extremities of both. Ìt introduces phrasing into the sentence and is thus even cÌoser to the voice than a Ìetter of the aÌphabet: it telÌs us to breathe. It remains an unpronounceabÌe mark and is thus even closer to writing than a Ìogographic sign: it forces us to look. At once pure writing and pure voice, punctuation points to another region of language.

The dash forces us to turn the gaze to ever-smalÌer units. Everything is growing smalÌer as we shift our attention from the sentence to the word to lhe punctuation mark. We seem to have reached a limit point of abbreviation. -t is tempting to consider the dash a linguistic atom: a minimal, nonanaÌyzabÌe unit in which is crystallized the compacted energy of the system-a kind rf Linguistic monad. But this would be misleading. The dash is not an atomic .lnit: it does not represent a zero degree ofshrinkage, ifonly because there is ro limit to the differential movement of language, only an endÌess fissuring ::'rat in turn calls for an interminabie analysis. The dash marks the splitting of :re logicaÌ atom. 3ut what are the atoms, phiÌosophically speaking, that we take the dash to -rlit? Ancient atomists, from Leucippus and Democritus onward, took atoms . r be the indivisibÌe units of which all matter is composed. But to account for ::re emergence of matter they needed to introduce another princÍple, namely :l:e void that lies between the atoms and opens up the space for them to ::or.e. There is a split between atoms and the void. Atoms seem to fall on the ,.de of being, the void on the side of nonbeing; the void names "the nothrgness that is between the atoms."36 But if the atoms are the components of


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matter, they must precede the formation of matter. And so, as the story goes, they have faLÌen in straight lines in the void, untiÌ thele was a clinomen, a contingent swerve, a cosmogenic parapraxis that caused them to colìide.what are the atoms and the void. before their deviation, if neither the atoms nor the as material beings?37 a striking analogy between atoms and letters:38 proposed Lucretius

void are defined

Are many letters common to many words, But yet you must admit that words and lines Differ in meaning and the sounds they make' Such power have Ìetters through mere change of order; But atoms bring more factors into pÌay To create alÌ things in their variety.3e

"through mere change Like atoms, letters have a specific power that appears of order."no Matter (and meaning) is constituted through the singular encounrers occasioned by the collision of the atoms (the shifting of the ietters). But this means that there is no stlaight fall of the atoms prior to their deviation, and no letters prior to their slippage.

"higher" order.a' Hegel notes that atomism is, in truth, an ldealism of a The atoms are not materiaÌ entitles (already Democritus had referred to But rhem as otomoi ideoia') since "the principle of fthe atom] is fuÌly ideal'"n3 if atoms are not the minimaÌ materiaÌ unit, and if they do not precede their own coÌlision, what are they? How can matter (and meaning) emerge from the deviation of something pureÌy ideaÌ? Mladen Dolar argues that to ans\Mel this question "Democritus enigmaticalÌy introduced precisely something that wouÌdn't fall on either side of the divide between the one and the void. He coined a term, den ..."4a Den, Democritus's name for the atom, points to

a peculiar kind of negativity. The neoÌogism itseÌf exhibits the structure it names, in that it has no meaning in itself but i.s just the remainder of a prior "nothing," are both operation. In Greek, ouden and meden, the usual words for formed as negarions of hen (one). Nothing, in Greek, means literaìly not one. while ouden (oud'hen) refers to "something that is not but couÌd have been," meden (med'hen) names "something that in principle cannot be."as Democritus's neologism, formed by dropping the prefix m€ or 0u, is the subtraction of a negation. Den is the trace left by the evacuatlon of the last vestige of positiv-

ity stilÌ ìatent in the prefix "not." Stripped of its substantifying prefix, the particle polnts to what is neither one nor not one-something that is even less than nothing, "a decapitation of nothing."a6 more Den expresses the speculative truth of Áufhebung: it reveaÌs a negativity or plenitude a semantic not to negative than any negation. The particle points but surplus of meaning but to a hypertrophy of emptiness-not a Doppelsinn i.n a DoppeÌunsinn-negativity redoubled. It is not that there are atoms floating

a void that then come into coÌlision. Rather there is the void and there is aÌso something that is even emptier than this void: a pecuÌiar ,,subtraction after negation,"l7 a redoubled minus-a dash.

Such a reading of the ancient atomists cÌarifies why there cannot be any

kind of stable Ìinguistic arom rhar wourd be an uitimate signifying unit: rhere is no atom without the void, no atom (and no void) that is not the resuÌt of a prior splitting. The atoms are already split when they co-emerge with the void as their flipside.The atom is itself the pulverization of every aromic unit.And astoundingÌy Hegel learns from the atomists that something that is less than a worÌd.

nothing can generate












aÌ1 is said and done, to let go of a book ls to go through a bout of :ourning. HegeÌ's struggÌe to get the thing off gives separation anxÍety a '.'.'hole new spin. Craziness, hypochondria, missed deadlines, publisher's

-:rssÌes, promises, more promises, bad postaÌ service, no document backup,

:ììoiley probÌems, job insecurity-the usual academic nightmare-pÌus :. dose of history: the Napoleonic horseman of the apocalypse, Jena under . tge: Hegel's lanyer finalÌy reassures him that, contractually speaking, acts of ','.'ar

do indeed count as extenuating circumstances.The manuscript somehow ..ts finished anlnvay, sent off nervousÌy in installments, the postman brav-

.:g enemy gunfire; arson, iooting, chaos in the streets; Hegel frets, Iooks over :iìe printer's shoulders, cringes, indulges in fantasles of instant republicarion ,:ì a new and improved edition, tacks on one of his trademark self-under-

::inlng prefaces, frets some more, procrastinates, suddenly has to find a new :r, shamefully confesses dissatisfaction with his orphan text, shamelessly -*rgs the book anpvay, preemptlvely defers judgment day (the usual way: -rve16 ls616r don't Ìeap to concÌusions, my book needs sÌow reading, multipÌe :.readings, and, don't forget, it's just the "first part" of the system, it needs . ,, be supplemented by the logic, which in turn, and so on . . .), the thlng still : resn't really seÌl, Ìife goes on, new job, next book . . . The rest is history. The focus of this chapter is much narrower. It involves the Ìast two lines :: the Phenomenology and the proÌeptic mourning work ("the undertakers are ':eady at the door"') performed as Hegel takes leave of the work that has : rnsumed his energies since arriving at Jena to begin transcribing the "ide .-s of [hls] youth"'? into scientific (systematic) form.The thing has bloated. ''1-hether or not the book conceptuaÌly exceeds the project announced in the -::troduction, HegeÌ has clearÌy ended up chewing more than he had bitten ::írvhen he set out to commit to paper the science of the experience of con,,iousneSÁ-science in lts phenomenaÌ aspect, as self-evident, and as (mere)


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sq'-le specuappearance. It's not lny purPose here to engage in Frankenstein


tutio,r, (did ttre book sornehow start to


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J ú



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somewhere around chapter ç? to note cÌrapter 6? an overdose of natural science? of cultural studles?) br'rt ]ust slowing steadìÌy been has chapter by rhe pressures on a work rhat chapter gearsdorvn under the weight of its own accïetions, untiÌ, abruptly shifting of were vision (there ancÌ as if t() mime tÌre syncÌrronicity of its concÌuding Íorw-ard to tÌre Course aÌso, as aÌways, deadÌine isstres)-it suddenÌy sprints grOw

aÌso finish Ìine. It's not just the lïauÌnatic abruptness of the Ìast dash but


curious ìndeterminacy of the endpoint that intrÌgnes me'

How(andwheneractly)doestlref-inalÌeave-takinggetregistered?Thecon"woÌl the concept," has text needs recapitulation. AbsoÌute knowing, having just run througÌr a breathless recapitulation of the sequence of its various niisadventures-finally vinclicated as Ìearning experiences-in the Ìearned sÌightÌy esoteric shorthand tlÌat suggests at once a flashcard seqlÌence a thoudied by .or" and tÌle cinemaric flipbook of a deatÌrbed vision. Having has mirac sand deaths on the battÌefleld oÍ'experience, naturaÌ consciousness allegorical of a sclìema to according tale, uÌousÌy survived, ìf onÌy to telÌ the resnarrative death, conversìon similar to tlÌat elaborated ìn Dante's Porodiso: own its urrectioÌl-the metamorphosis ol tÌre piÌgrimage of experience lnto and transcrÌprion. In a final flashback, absolute knowing suddenÌy rewinds five some history: its own of fast-forwards, Krapp,like, through the highÌights nine into Ìrundred pages of tortuousÌy detaiÌed exposìtion are complessed kitÌingÌy elÌiptical paragraphs, whicÌr in their paratactic and occasionally arbi the trary arrangemenr push to the lin-rit tÌre fonvard momentum of prose (as to the both gestures shorthand TÌre or proversus, i.e.,linear procession) prorsus

work's "verse-líke" reversion to its o$'n origins (its regressìon to draft, notes, or outliÌle) and to its decontposìtion into archivaÌ detrìtus: in the absoÌute and past, present o{'philosoptrl, sketch and ruin, proiect and memorl-, future

.or.o.rg.. Tire repetition announcing the n-ork's centripetal letuln to seÌf points io the lrresistibÌe force of fragn'rentation and decay. The seÌf-abbrevia tion of rhe science is thus indistinguishable from its entropic disintegratir-'n into dis]oint pÌrrases, titles, or labels, the commenorative labor from com not puÌsive rnnemotecÌrnic eÍÏiciency-or, as HegeÌ ridicuÌes it in tÌre preface,

"a synoptit quire realizing ihat it might aÌso be his ow-nwork Ìre is describing, table, like a skeletonrvith scraps of paper stuck aÌl over it" (PH $5r)' "annuÌThis mrniaturizatlon both describes and dramatizes the letroactive menr lrilgen] " of tirne (PH $8or ): tÌre overcoming of the fatal delay that had it: produced consciousness's fundamental obliviousness to the significance of ou,n experiences. (Hegel is here rigorousÌyAristoteÌian: time is tÌre retarding

Tht factor that prevenrs everything being given all at once and in advance.) paraconcluding in the almost iltegibÌy formulaic compression of language dilatior graphs of tÌre PhenomenoÌogy announces tÌre reversaÌ of the temporal

bÌocking rhe rransparency of seÌf-thlnking thought. To cÌose the book is to cancel the deÌay symptomatic of an unresolved gap between knowledge and its object. To "annul" time is, for Hegel, to "sublate" it,3 to release it ro its

higher truth, that is, to convert it from being a mere "container"4-an alien "destiny and necessiry" (PH g8or )-to being the very subsrance or "filting" oÍ'spirit's proiecr.

The shift from spirÌt's provisionaÌ appearance in tlme to its finaÌ vindication os time involves the recursive seÌf-application of the concept. As the "existent concepr," time needs to be "seized ferfol3rc]" or "conceptualized ro become ggor), adequare to itseÌf (pH fbegriffene]" fotÌowing an aÌimentary schema whose superficial proximity ro Kant's or.r,'n has been justly noted i most trenchantly bywerner Hamacher). Hegel hastens to point out the diÊ ierences. In his BerÌin Ìecrures on rhe history of phirosophy he wilÌ mock

*'itÌr biting sarcasm the "transcen-dentaÌ" aesthetic (Hamacher's uncharac, rrsticaÌly bad pun) interpretation of time and space as an oral-sadistic phan:asm sympromatic of a dÌsavowed breach between seif and worÌd:


There are things-in-themselves out rhere, but lacking space and rime; now consciousness comes along, whicÌr already possesses space and time within


as rhe possibiÌity of experience, just as it aÌready possesses mouth and teeth etc. as the conditions of eating. The things which are eaten possess neither mouth nor teeth, and just as consciousness imposes eating on things, so too it imposes space and time on them: just as it pÌaces things between mouth and teeth, so too it places them in space and time.ç

Hegel is here ridlculing Kant for reducing subjectlviry to the empty voraciry :hat, failing ro recognize itself in irs objecr, unfaiÌingÌy relnstates tÌre gulf Ìt seeks to eliminate as it appropriates the object through the jaws of the formal apperceptive apparatus. Such hunger reappears in the practÌcaÌ spÌrere as the ''coÌd duty" that, forced to make do with itseÌf as its soÌe enjoyrlent, is Ìeft qnawÌng on irs own pieties-a "]ast, undigested lump in the stomach"-and :hus displays aÌÌ the conversion symptoms of the asceric ideal: HegeÌ's terms

rre as aÌways prophetically Nietzschean.6 Hegel does not exactly renounce :his oral phantasm but in a characteristic hypertranscendental move both rroÌongs and overcomes the Kantian schema by turning the critlcal bite back rn itself such that the orlfice between inner and outer, container and con :ents, is in turn involuted. To overcome its mereÌy "subjective" character as empty intuition, whetÌrer

:s the mathematical continuum of Ìinear succession or as its historicist -'anations, time must turn its own bite back on itself, must submit to its }r'n destructive logic. It must consume itself in the act of consumption.r \s the "abstraction oÍ'consuming," time not onÌy destroys the independence rf its objects but must overcome its own exrernal character as "contaÌner,,,

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"stream," or "river." It must absorb the seriaÌity that it inflicts-the "not yet" symptomatic of an unresolved breach between knowledge and obiect-in the finaÌ synthesis that HegeÌ caÌÌs begriffene Geschichte (PH $8o8).In swallowrng itseÌf swaÌÌowing, time therefore marks itseÌf as not onÌy objective but absolute-a "conceptualized and conceptualizing intuiting" rather than a "merely

intuited concept" (PH $Sor)-a self-seizure in which time "filÌs" ancl "fulfiÌÌs" itself, but aÌso renders itseÌf impotent in its own engorgement: lt checks its own vioÌence.8 TÍme withdraws itseÌf as it draws itself inw-ard (to evoke a Heideggerean register), a whirlpool arrestíng the stream of becoming (to recall Benjamin's forrr'rulation,e an "abstraction [obstrohìeren]" that in drawlng

back from the self-presentatj.on oí spirit marks at once the Ìatter's apogee and

its bÌindspot.


in this way "enriches itselluntiÌ ... it has sucked into itself the entire structure of wÌrat is essentiaÌ to it"-a digestÌon (verdouen) Self-conscÌousness

(PH g8o8) whereby what is absorbed is already determined as spirit's own essence, and thus every bite effectively a seif-bite-an involution of and on the inside. But since such suction Ìras effaced the opposition between inside and outside, wÌrat appears from one angÌe as ingestion or contraction musl be riewed with equal cogency as àn e\cretion or expansion whereby spi rit "releases" itself toward a zone of untrammeied sensuous immediacy-time and space as "free contingent happening"-which it posits as a determinate negativity to be recuperated as its own other (PH S8oZ).' The "continuing existence" of the outside thus reinstates the subject in its heroic sublimity-a seÌf-possession forged in the act of selÊdispossession. Thus the circÌe cÌoses just where it breaks open: absoÌute knowing asserts its "supreme freedom and assurance" (PH $8o6) in lts controÌÌed regression to a natural prehistory that it embraces in a kind of docto ignorontio or feigned amnesia regulated by the anaÌogicaÌ, Kantian-style, subiunctive of the "as if," "spirit has to start afresh os if for it aÌÌ that precededwere lost and cs if Ìt had learned notÌring" from past experience.'' The passage continues with a Ìast minute reversaÌ: "But recoÌlection, the inwardizing fEr-innerung] of that expe rience, has preserved it and is the inner being and in fact the higher form ol the substance." The truth of absolute knowing as recoliection ls the fiction ol an absoÌute forgettíng.

Let's set aside the w-elÌ-trodden oblections, from Nietzsche through BatailÌe, that discern in the "supreme assurance" of the philosopher the bogus renunciations and fetishistic disavowaÌs of the loser wins. ("Spirit has tc start afresh os if aÌl ... were Ìost. ... But memory ..."). Let's aÌso set aside tht interesting paradox Ìurking in this gesture of wilÌed renunciation-a tensiorampÌ1fÍed in the Logic's closing reference to the "drive" or "resolve" of tht logical idea ro "Ìet itseÌf go " '3 with its ScheÌÌingian associations and its more contemporary resonances, for exampÌe, in Heidegger's notion of Geìossenheir










in the Proustian "search" for contingency, or indeed in the active forgetfulness of which Nietzsche wrires. It's the Saturnine aspect of the operation that fascj.nates me. SÌuggish, torpid, "sunk inro the night of irs own seÌf-conscÌousness," absoÌute knowing digests what it encounters and secretes what it has assimilated as its own excrescence (PH $8o8).The subject simultaneousÌy reaps and Ìays waste to the harvest of its history in a philosophicaÌ potlatch or Saturnalia-a moment of kenotic expenditure in which the speculative reversaÌ from loss to gain is agaln reversed: "To know one's Ìimit is to know how to sacrifice oneseÌf" (PH g8o7).

What is at stake in HegeÌ's decision to end the tale under the sign of Saturn? The ambivalence of the figure is immediately striking. A figure of both orodigality and privation, at once infinite abundance and insatiabÌe destruction, the "inscrutabÌe Kronos" stands, in Hegel, for the power of unchecked naiural consumptlon. Having castrated his father Ouranos, Kronos proceeds :o devour his own progeny-monstrous violence curbed onÌy by a feminìne cunning that wiÌl paralleÌ rhar of reason itseif. Tricked by Rhea into vomiting .tp his own chiÌdren, the Titan is banished to deepest Ta1111115-"11 the edges of the world, beyond the limits of seÌf-consciousness"'+-a primal repression of nature that for HegeÌ marks the violent inauguration of human history rroper. Kronos will resurface as the Roman harvest god Saturn, figure of the iolden age of abundance and unfettered freedom, whose rituaÌs wiÌl involve ',he utopian roÌe reversaÌs whereby masters wait on sÌaves at the beggar's ban;uet. Plutarch is the first to make the phonetic link between Kronos and

rlhronos-cannibaÌ father with "sharp-toothed time"-and

the Titan's scythe '.rrÌÌ henceforth oscillate between castrating knìfe and agricultural implement, -.i'ith images proliferating of a seniÌe Father Time rapaciously gorging on his

ru'n offspring (think of Goya's famous painting of Saturn gnawing on his :Ìoody infant). OsciÌlating between morose meÌancholia and obscene enjoyment, berween

:raumatic loss and ÌibidinaÌ excess, such a figure anticipates the perverse ãther (Lacan's père-vers) who makes his cameo appearance in Freud's Totem ond Ioboo. Siow, ponderous, welghed down by a gravitas that by the Renaissance 'ignals the ascendancy ofphiÌosophical genius, at once the stony blockage of :hought and its inspiration, Saturn wilÌ acquire during the Baroque period ::re trapping of voracious bibliomaniac cramming. Astrological rradition adds i treacherous quaÌity of indecÌsiveness, theologically gÌossed as the hèsiràncy born of ocedio, the deadly sin of indoÌence, as porrrayed in the icy fifth circle rf Dante's heÌÌ. could such an undecidable figure-the very figure of indecÌ, sion-serve as the final figure of the dialectic?Walter Benjamin thought so. ,\nd what is at stake in Hegel's decision to sign off with a quotation from SchiÌÌer?What ls the force of this interruption? Is phìÌosophy, unabÌe ro complete its own thoughr, forced to raid the grave and abandon itseÌf to stupid,


o o

seÌf-mortification? HegeÌ's mechanicaÌ citarion? c)r is there heroism ìn this




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of speculative reason hangs of phiÌosophy or its ultimate vindicatìon: the fate i.n the balance.

body lodged at the marEvery epigraph has a fatal ambiguity' A foreign

ginsofthetext,itsimuÌtaneousÌyconfì.rmsandunderminestheintegrity oftheworkitdemarcates.itmarksthebook'sinvoÌutiontowardanorrtside and as such stages the apothat both is and is not its own to appropriate'

as a kind of doubÌe ria of narrative termination. The epigraph thus functions text whose end it the of tombstone: it provides an epitaph both for the body it mangÌes' What does countersigns and for the corpus of borrowed speech


logic of this transaction needs ancestor: who ìs burying whom? The morluary inspection.

absolute know-

iccording to Hegel,s eliiptical account of the transition to thought and ing, spirit has risen phoenix-iike from the ashes of figurative rhe_fiÌneraÌ pronounce to is t.ig.,^g., the finaÌ achievement of rationality Christian of version orarion for religious-aesthetic VorsteÌlung. This is Hegel's sacramentaltheoÌogy.spiritperformstheÌastritesoverthecorpseofpoetrl' carnal particuby translatìng finite boày-Ìanguage in its most recalcltrant, in being introspìrit: the worÌdly ob)ect is reÌinquished

larity-into i.finit" "ãig",ttd" 1".t.a, abbreviated,

we can regard this as a to Ìoss: in work of mourning. This contrasts with the melancholic approach within the fractured this case, the living corpse is cannibalistlcaÌÌy taken up of internal extÌmac)' vault of the self, where it forms an ìndigestibÌe pocket the substitutive work oÍ and ìmposes a limit to symboÌization.'t In refusing PsychoanaÌyticalÌy'

languaç,themelancholicnotonlymaintainsthelostobiectinhaÌlucinatorl persistencebutcongealslanguagej.tselfintoacorpselikething:wordsand fetlsh obiects' .u.r, th. diacriticaÌ absence punctuating these become magicaÌ thing but pers[ipped of symbolic efficacy, no longer substitutes for the inassìmiÌable .,",,.1y identified with it aS they hover in the mouth as frozen, re mai nde rs.

scrap u: is HegeÌ a mourner or a meÌancholic? In signing off wÌth this schilÌer, does he contradict or confirm hís own infamous Pronouncemen" "prose oí Denhen"l of the supersession of the "poetry of vorsteÌlung" by the to its pertestimony or a Is this the triumphant absorption of the aesthetic

sistence:dispÌayofatrophyorconfessionofdefeat?ThesequestíonsarenC: and poetry' br-: intended to revlve the weary quarreì between phiÌosophy

toexplorewhatmightstiÌlbeatstakeinit.IfHegeÌ'schannelingofSchr'. could point either Ier invites at leasr rwo ìncompatible expÌanations-it


thetranspalentpotencyofthoughtortoasurdofirreducibÌeopacity-th. in the narrow sens' llncertainty has implications not only for the fate of art





but for everything tied up with this: history, reÌigion, politics, the whole theater of the body and its hungers. But these are not the only options. Why quotation, why poetry, why SchiÌler, why this poem, why these lines, why this pecuÌiar rendition? These questions have a cumulative force. Why, at the pinnacle of the subject's selÊaffirmation, does it suddenÌy resort to the stammering of the mechanicai memory?'7 And why is it poetry it chooses to recite? The Encyclopaedio will aÌso end with a quotation, but to a very dlfferent effect: in thls later work it is a philosopher, Aristotle, who is recruited, under his own name, writing in the Greek language and in the Greek script and of a God whose vigiÌant selÊsufficlency and uninterrupted productivity wiÌl collect and redeem the scattered moments of our own discontinuous existence as surely as day folÌows night. Not even the intrusion of a dead language and foreign script can cÌoud the transparency of self-thinking thought.'8

Why this poet? A seÌÊdescribed "hermaphrodite" Ie-half-poet, haÌf-phiÌosopher-Schiller will be sÌiced up and repeatedÌy cannibaÌized by Hegel to the end of his life. Snippets of his verse keep resurfacing, usualÌy unartributed, throughout HegeÌ's work: Hegel wiÌl quote him repeatedly in the BerÌin period-in the later lectures on religion, in the History of Phiìosophy, and in a much-reviled passage in the Philosophy of Right, to which I'11 return. He wiÌl continue to quote him despite or because of hls own deepest misgivings about Schiller's entire project. Despite the poet's failure to "break through the

Kantian barrier," to bridge the abyss between noumenal freedom and corporeaÌ enioyment2o-in short, his failure to be the thinker of fuÌfilled modernity-HegeÌ wiÌl not stop serving up the poet's membra disjecta, mangled but recognizabÌe, like haÌf-chewed morsels. The stakes are high: it is 18o6, NapoÌeon is at the door, the carcass of the :evolution is about to be shipped over to Germany-that "unreal land" where, it was thought, the tempest of French revolutionary freedom could be par:ied by the forces ofspirituaÌ advance (PH SSSS).Having aÌready undergone :ts own reÌigious revolution by way of the Protesrant Reformation, Germany '.çould have been already immunized against the fever of poÌiticaÌ revolution, -eaving it free to seek out its real battÌes in the cuÌtural arena.'' SchiÌter had erpressed the wager of a generation: we don't need that kind of revoÌution. OnÌy through aesthetic revolution can we forestall the short circuit of politics -nto terror. OnÌy through beauty do we inch our way toward freedom. When SchiÌÌer dies in r8o5, just one year before the completion of the PhenomenoÌogy, :le takes to the grave the promise of aborted revoÌutionary possibilities. I wilÌ -ome back to this. Why this particular poem? Hegel is not the first to ger his hands on ir. Firsr :ublished in ry8z, "Die Freundschaft" has already been pulverlzed, recycÌed, rnd parodically reinvested, by none other than Schiìler himself, who srarred :c borrow from it almost immediateÌy upon publication. In a patchwork

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prose work of ry86, the Philosophis che Briefe, a disenchanted protagonist, JuÌius (perhap, an avatar of the young Schiller), regurgitates scattered Ìines of the earÌier poem as an embarrassing specimen of his own irretrievable youthful enthusiasm. "Die Freundschaft" was from the outset condemned to lronizing

self-citation." Why this poem now? And why these lines, with their lightÌy veiled Eucharistlc content and hints of Saturnaiian enjoyment? As the scene of creation coalesces with the scene of resurrection, HegeÌ's book Ìoops back to its own beginnings: absoÌute knowing revisits sense certainty's initiation into the "Eieusinian mysteries of consumption" iust as it recalÌs the BacchanalÍan revel of natural experlence from the sober perspective of the Ìast iudgment. In the twiÌight of recoÌÌecrion, rhe fever of prephiÌosophicaÌ experience is retrieved


"transparent and simple repose.""

And why, finally, this particular rendition? HegeÌ's version ol the couplet eífaces the deep ambigui.ty pervading Schiìler's lines. In cutting off the finai distich from the immediately preceding velses, Hegel exactly reverses the force of Schiller's poem. The fina1 stanza of the poem describes an isolated creator-a "friendless worÌd-master"-forced to seek company in his own mirror image. when the poem was first published, ín ry82, schìÌler had appeared to celebrate rhis fusional modeÌ of reconciliation, but by the midr78os, when he starts recycling his own verses, he has begun to suspect the

narcissism of the scenario.'a "Die Gôtter Griechenlands"-whose three versions would have been well known to Hegel (he dwells on this poem obsessively in the Áesthetics)-uses identìcal imagery to describe the unbearable alienation of the modern Christian worÌd: a friendÌess God ruÌes 1n splendid

isolation on Sarurn's toppied throne, encountering only his own image projected into the void. Why close off the story of spirit's self-fashioning wìth this image of formless excess and evanescence-foam overflowìng its own Container and as ephemeral as the froth of the sea? Does SchiÌler's distich overflow the margins of Hegel's book as a kind of haÌlucinatory reminder of what has been forecÌosed in the drive to symbolic reparation? Or is the chalice a kind of Holy Grail-a promise of succor both to the wounded subject, pilloried on the pathway of despair, and to the wounded text, toltuled on the crux of its own illegibility? or (these options are nor mutuaÌly exclusive) perhaps the foam recalls the ophros-the semen dripping from the dismembered phalÌus of Ouranos, first victìm of Kronos's violence-sea foam from which pÌeasuregiving Aphrodite j.s born. This precious substance was once thought to pro vide a euphoric counterwelght to the meÌancholia afflicting dry, coÌd souis." To every question one could amass competing arguments to produce the double column of responses that captures the typical range of reactions to HegeÌ to date. As a renunciation of authoriaÌ sovereìgnty, the recourse to

quotation couÌd speÌl eitÌrer the subject's regression to the stammering of the unhappy consciousness or its accession to the universaÌ symbolic community. The appearance of poetry could indicate eitÌrer a regression to the vagarìes of VorsteÌÌung or a sign of pÌrìÌosophy's most prodigious powers of absorprion. TÌre tribute to SchilÌer could indicate either a residue of unresoÌved Kantian ism or the tombstone of a safely buried pasr. The invocation of friendship could testily either to tÌre iure of narcissism or to the inextinguishable pungency of the revolutionary fraternaÌ ideal. And the doÌlop of foam? This couÌd mark either the self putrescence of the system or the generative lerment of the ldea. It could mark either the spirituaÌ dìsappearance of narure or a mere residue of naturaÌ disappearance-a fleeting apparition of meaningless contingency as it fizzles out without a trace. To be sure, Hegel almost imperceptibÌy tips the baÌance by subtly rewriting SchilÌer's words.Torn out of context and from a Ìess-than,perfect memory-neither strict citation nor free paraphrase, neither perfectly embalmed nor fuÌÌy metabolized-the verse hovers in the ÌÌmbo berween receptivity and spontaneity, benreen repetition and interpretation. How exactly does HegeÌ remember SchiÌler ar this junction? Here is the SchiÌler coupÌet, in context, as it concludes the final stanza from "Die Freundschaft" in the original version ol 1782. Every word, every mark on rhe page, shouÌd be strictly nored. Freundios war der grosse WeÌtenmeister Füh1te Mangel-darurn schuf er GeÌster, Sel'ge Splegel seiner SeÌigkeit!Fand das hijchste Wesen schon kein gleiches, Aus dem Kelch des ganzen SeeÌenreiches Schâumt ihm-die UnenÌichkelt. fFriendÌess u,as the great world-master Felt a lack-and so cre ated spirits, Blessed mirrors of his ow'n bÌessedness But the highest being still cor.rÌd find no equaÌ. From the chalice of the whole realm of souÌs Foams up to him-infinitude.]

Here is Hegel's revision, aÌso in context, as the íntermínable final sentence :,i the PhenomenoÌogy suddenÌy lurcÌres to a haÌt: TÌre goaÌ, absolute knowing, or Spirit that knows itseÌf as Spirit, has for irs path tlìe recollection of the Spirits as rhey are in rhemselves and as they accomplish the organization of their realm. Their preservation, seen from

the side oftheir free existence appearing in the form ofcontingency, is history; but regarded from the side of their comprehended organization, it is the science of knowing in the sphere of appearance: the two togerher,

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comprehended history [begriffne Geschichte], form aÌike the inwardizing of absoÌute Spirit, the actuality, truth' and fËrinnerung] and the Calvary àertainty of its rhrone, without which it would be lifeless and aÌone; only-

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from the chalice ofthis reaÌm ofspirits foams forth for it its own infinitude. faus dem Kelche dieses Geisterreiches schâumt i hm seine UnendJichkeÍt.l'6

A series of elisions manages to scrub out what in SchilÌer's origì.nal seems ro poinr ro a surd of inassimiÌable aÌterity. The rephrasing of spirit's isolation-the rewriting of indicative descriptlon (schiller: "friendìess wos the

"without which it gïeat world-master") as counterfactual conditional (HegeÌ: referwould be iifeless and alone")-siphons away from the verse the painful prose philosophical of btock ence ro divine lack, which is absorbed within the assert surrounding the poem, where "actuality, truth, and certainty" sereneÌy "dieses Geistertheir power. In the penultimate line, HegeÌ's substitution of reiches" for "des ganzen SeeÌenreiches" not only convelts passive souÌ (the of sleep of reason, anthropological immediacy) into the active reciprocity demonfinite and infinite spirit.'7 By rewriting Schiller's definite articie as a srrative-this spirituaÌ world (our world: there is no othel)-Hegel aÌso manis ages to recast the scene as a sacramental performative, which is in turn endowed with the universality of the concept. Human rationaÌity has acquired the redemptive potency of the Eucharistic hoc est.'8 ReÌigion is no longer nec-

it is lrrelevant who picks up the cup: it "foams forth" and offers itseÌf to God's consumption' is the human world that God is here imbibing his own creation, rather than the other way around. Hegel's substitution of a possessive pronoun for Schilìer's definite article, in the last line, gnmmaricaìly binds infinity with its maker-an effect

essary for redemption, which is why

reinforced by the erasure of both the poet's italics (in German, the spacing visuaÌly hightighting God's isolated particuÌarity) and his dash (the stroke graphicaÌly separating creature from creator): HegeÌ provides a typographical surure of the ontoìogical fissure separating God from world. In Schiller, the transition from lack to satisfactlon, from Ìoneliness to friendship, is as precipitous as the dash that announces it. Hegel smooths over this transition. Both traumatic ìack and its correlative on the battlefieÌd of en)oymentfriendlessness, on the one hand, the foaming surpÌus of iouissance, on the other-are absorbed in the philosophicaÌ rewriting that erases context, grammar, and punctuation. Between Schiller's last word and HegeÌ's lies the almost imperceptible difference between the bad infinite of finitude or indetermi-

naly and its phiÌosophical homonym. A gesture of erasure marks without remarking on this difference.

Has Hegel here birten

offmore than he can chew? Mighr ir be that the


cf swalÌowing poerry, of remembering schiller's words specuÌatively, without "accent" or punctuation, is the reduction of language itseÌf to an indigestibÌe remainder? In his mature philosophy of Ìanguage, HegeÌ wilÌ argue that the specuÌative purification of language requires a mortifying passage through the nechanicaÌ memory: language must disÍntegrate into a succession of meaningless signifiers in order to be semantically reinvested as the medium of Denken.'e Rote memorization-habit-induced idiocy-permits the cathartic Íorgetfulness that marks the birth of thought. To use language phiÌosophicaìly we must empty Ìt of atÌ previous associations: evacuated of meaningful .ontent, the mind becomes a tabuÌa rasa for selÊthinking thought. And yet i'acuums can


and mechanisms can paraÌyze. Hegel eÌsewhere compares


hypertrophic automatism to the dyspepsia of an organism unable to assimilate what it ingests. His examples are conventional but reveaÌing: excessive reading, writing, the numbing rituaÌs of organized reÌigion.3. Hegel's readers, from SchelÌing through Deleuze, have never stopped seiz,ng on the rapaciousness of a thought that, by finding sustenance in its own antithesis, has come to epitomize the imperialism of a system that manages ic assimilate even its own excrement as food for thought. (Such seÌÊcon-

:umption corresponds preciseÌy to Nietzsche's definltion of nlhiÌism.3') "The -'pirÌt is the beÌly turned mind and rage is the mark of every idealism."r'while :re visceraÌ energy ofthe attacks suggesrs an addictive fascination on the part ,í HegeÌ's critics (why this obsession with Hegel's diet? why keep snapping :.1 such stale bait?), the polemics rend ro overÌook just how peculiarÌy the alimentary metaphor functions for Hegel. If from beginning to end-from 3acchanalian tumult to foaming chaÌice, from the Eleusinian mysteries ro ihe decapitated cabbages on the guillotine-if HegeÌ never stops ruminating rn the figure of digestion, if he voraciousÌy seizes on the image, obsessiveÌy ieeps reworking it, this is as if to digest, soften, assimiÌate preciseÌy what in :he image resists metaboÌization.

The spirit and the letter are at odds. The tension between the figurative and the literal senses of consumption, between spirituaÌ absorption and cor-

:oreaÌ ingestion, highlighrs an essenrial ambiguity lurking in rhe very conEr-ìnnerung. The literaÌ truth of "innering" :urns out to be anything but what it figuratively posits. This ambivalence also

:ept (of course a metaphor) of

lntroduces a cruciaÌ dissonance between HegeÌ's own figurai practice and the :retafiguraÌ theory that wouÌd contain it. on the one hond: the metaphor of eating presents a model of interiorìza:-on underwritten by the liquefaction of the material sign-the "conviviaÌ :ommunication"33 uniting a communiry of readers nourished by the unim:eded flow of thought. Friedrich KlttÌer has argued that such an oral fantasy iefines the "discourse network around r8oo"-a fantasy connected to the


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pedagogìcal practices

of the epoch, and cuÌminating Ín Goethe's maternaÌ

phantasmagoría of reading as a sucking at the "breasts" or "wells of life."3o The fantasy assumes the priority of the signified as the guarantor of transIatabiÌity: Goethe's "pure perfect substance" that survìves the translation of

poetry into prose. For HegeÌ this will be expressed as the ultlmate interconvertibílity of the arts: in the Aesthetics, poetry notorìousÌy enters as the "totaÌ art," whlch metaboÌizes all the other arts into its own medium while 1n turn submittìng to its own paraphrase into conceptuaÌ language. Reduced to a s onorous membrane, saturated with spirituaÌ content, the poetic medium deflates into a "mere external designation" that dissoÌves without residue into thought.3s On the other hand:

Ìf the metaphor


of transÌation, the literal invoca-

tion of the drives points to a somatic residue that can onÌy impede the pasto the ideal. This is spelÌed out in Hegel's analysis of desire (Begierde).


FaiÌing to eÌaborate the object, the voracious subiect keeps on demoÌishing it. only to relapse into the repetitive circÌe of mere Ìife. Every act of assimiÌation thus exacerbates the exteriority it wants to cancel: ít generates a mere "feel ing" of unity36 that unfallingÌy reinforces the vacancy at its core. Since such blockage defines the act of digestion, it is curious to encounter this as the fig ure for absolute knowing and its hermeneutic. AnaÌyzing the eucharist, in the Spirit of Christianity, HegeÌ proposes an analogy between the trope of consump tion and the trope of reading.3r The Ínterpretation of the written word, like the swaÌÌowing of the wine and bread, wouÌd seem at first glance to dissolve

the mortified objectivlty of the thing; it performs the "destruction of the souÌÌess"-the negation of the negation-that crystaÌÌizes the event of resurrectlon. If tÌre analogy breaks down as soon as it is introduced (Hegei empha sizes that, unlike the Ìrost, the text resists metabolization, it fails to vanish as a thing), it is immediately reinstated, in that the permanence of script and the evanescence of food prove to be symmetrical manilestatÌons of the same failure to mediate. Both testify to an iniransígent nonidentity. The disappear ance of the host signals an irremediable split belween faith and sensatìonbetween "living forces and the corpse"rs-while in its stony persistence the text presents a surd of unsurpassable materiaÌity.

Eating and reading therefore culminate

in their

antitheses: the emptl'

mouth, the fractured text-inedibÌe, ilÌegible aÌterity. Eating concÌudes

in hunger-"something dÌvine was promised and it meÌted away in the -orl,h":r-1çliÌe reading confronts the opacity of the writlen text. The destructive enjoyment of the thing betrays a profound faiÌure to rnediate the materiaÌ world, w'hich returns in the form of obscene, death bearing matter. Hegel aÌludes to the churchgoer's obsessional fantasies of contamlnatron "Many a man is afraid he wilÌ catch from the common chaÌice the vene real infection of the one r,vho drank before him," a fear dramatìzed by the

funereal cÌothing that stages the sacramentaÌ rituaÌ as a rire of death; cc-rmmunity is reduced to the contagious promiscuity and hypochondriacal suspicion that spelÌ the disintegration of the social bond. communion is revealed as an event of absolute expenditure-"purposeless destruction for the sake of destruction"a'-a negativlty that points both to the "infinite pain" of Christianity,+' its "mournful hunger for the actual," and to its kernel of obscene enjoyment. These two aspects are intimately connected sis

in the young Hegel's anaÌy, of Christianity. christianity's faiÌure to mediate its antitheses condemns

the believer to an "endless, unquenchable, unappeased craving"+'where the positivity of the object continues to affront the subject as the "stain" of contingent, unworked matter.a3 This stain appears as the rotting body of Christthe "real human form" that accompanies the risen savior as an extraneous appendage weighing him down with the gravitational tug of fleshly mamer.44 An unbridgeable schism thus arises between an otherwortdly God and the "ruins of this body."*s In producing onÌy a "monstrous combination" rather than an "actual unification"a6 of its antitheses, religion condemns humaniry to "the truth and harshness of [its] Godlessness."aT In the sacramental meal "enjoyment is overÌeaped."*8 It fails precisely to the extent that it succeeds aÌÌ too well: jouissance is missed because it comes always already too soon. Thus the uÌtimate degradation of the host to excrement: to worship the holy u.afer is, according to HegeÌ's gleeful reductio, already to worship the mouse shit to which this may be contingently reduced (the catholic church lodged a complaint about Hegel for saying this),"e and announces the perversion of Christianity into "the most di.sgusting and revolting spectacÌe that was ever



In his Berlin lectures on the Philosophy of Noture, Heget wilt dweÌÌ on the human mouth as the physiognomic signpost of the speculative union of contraries. The body itseÌf performs rhe work of philosophical mediation; it offers a kind

of carnal sylÌogism. As the switching station of ingestion and expression the mouth not only demonstrates the essentiaÌ reciprocity between inside and outsides' but provides a "concrete center" in which the "highest" and "ìowest" functions of humanity, speaking and eating, find common abode.s'The mouth is one of those specuÌarive ííknors"-a "point of unity" that by linking heterogeneous somatic functions aÌÌows the organism to transcend the entropic chaos of mere life. As Hegel's description proceeds, however, the adverbial connectives pile on with increasingly anxious insistence: Thus the mouth, for example, belongs to the particuÌar system of sensibirity for example, insofor finsofern] as it contains the tongue, which is the organ of taste, as a moment of the theoretical process. The mouth furthermore fferner] has teeth, which are its extremities, their function being to seize upon


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whatisoutside,andtogrindit.Themouthisbesides[ouBerdem]theorgan ofthevoiceandspeech;otherrelotedsensotions|ondereverwondteEmpfindungen]

suchasthirstareolsolouchllocatedthere;laughing'andolsofouch]kissing unifies the are marters for the -à.,tn1, well fgleichfolls]. The mouth therefore t3 expressions of many sensatìons moves from The syntax of this astonishing passage should be noted: HegeÌ heap up a to conjunction to adiunction to near asyndeton as he continues to the dazzllng non sequiseries ofincreasingly vacuous connectives, right up inferrÌng spiritual unity be to cìaims Hegel tur that concludes the Ìist. Even as

of his from the scattered functions of the organism, the spÌintered grammar Lest . . ."). ("therefore language undoes the integrity it ls deductiveÌy asserting teaches us yo., tttirrt I'm being whimsicaì, iust recali that it is Hegel who this kind of to notice such details and who underscores the significance of PhenomenoÌogy of the fissure between rhetoric and logic. The second chapter

throes of seÌfimpersonates the dissociative stammer of consciousness in the subject is annihilation: marooned on its own contradictions, the perceiving designed to ward reduced to spirting out coniunctions like magical taÌismans cubìcaÌ and it is it ls olso off tÌre fragmentatlon at its core. The sait is white and olso salty. I see, and I olso hear, and I olso smeÌÌ " dweÌls on the The same anxiety aÌso hovers in the Aesthetics, where HegeÌ bestiaÌ and between hovers that artlsric chaÌÌenge of representing a body part of measures rigorous spiritual attachments and therefore demands the most body, point of the conrainmenr. After identifying the face as the spiritual focaÌ visuaÌ disrupthe emphasizes HegeÌ animaÌ, the síte ol the human in the of animaÌ reminder snoutlike it a tion threatened by the mouth: not onÌy is emodisconnecterì it generates an inexhaustibÌe repertoire of

hunger but for tionãl dispÌay.'a Hegel describes the various sculptural methods available into a containing this visuaÌ disruption and converting the devouring mouth align "Greek (the spiritual profile" speaking mourh: rhe accentuation of the orihungry visual impact of the -".r, of ,ror. with forehead diminishes the

of satiety fice);ts the consrruction of the "Greek chin" (the rounded evocation hiding of ways various the and want);56 announces a freedom from material midIn the desÌre. animal the teeth and expunging from the Ìips all traces of of schilÌer's dÌe of his catalog of HelÌenic perfection, HegeÌ suddenly thinks exquisite mouth. Neither roo rhin nor too fuÌl, the poet's Ìips demonstrate an Bildung: aesthetic of demonstration freedom from appetite and a perfect


forms the p.,reÌy serrr.,ous and indicative of natural needs. Therefore it so scuÌpture tight nor "' mouth as to make it, in generaÌ, neither over-fuÌÌ case with SchÌller; makes the lower Ìip fuller than the upper one, as was the


richness of his mind and heart.This more ideaì form of the Ìips, in contrast to the animal's snout, gives the impression of a certain ubr"rr." of d"ri.", whereas when the upper Ìip p.or..,d", in an animaÌ we are reminded at once oÍ'dashing for food and seizing on it,r/

one courd choke on such Ìa'guage, and perhaps HegeÌ did. An eyewitness

at Hegel's Ìectures at Berrin describes his strange way of speaking and the pecu_ Ìiarly stranguÌated quaÌity ofhis voice. The pìsrage needs ro be read at rength:

I shaÌl never forget the first impression of his face. Livid and roose, a[ features drooped as if dead. ... When Ì saw him lecturing, I was unable ar first to flnd my way i'to the train of his thought. Exhausted, morose, he sar there as if coÌÌapsed into himseÌf, his head bent down, and wh'e

speaking kept turning page.s and searching in his Ìong foÌio notebooks, forward and backward, high and Ìow. His?onsranr crearing of his throat and coughing interrupted any flow ofspeech. Every senrence stood aÌone and

i:ïilï,ï'#:ff ïi,'"ï,ïï:J.X.#ïl'uu:1i,":ïilïÍ*

from the metaÌìic-empty voice with its strange Swabian accent,

as if each were the mosr iÌnporrant. NeverrheÌess, his whore .pp"u.ur." .J-i"rÌ"d such a profound respect, such a sense of worthiness, and was so attractive through the naiveté of the most o,rerwhelmino _;;;:;,;"""",;:,"ï':: oraìÌ Lv discomrort, and though Ì probabÌv said' I found rnyseÌf captivated forever. ... He faltered .,r"r, ,., ,r."'r"grrr.rrrrg, tried to go on, started,once.more, stopped again, spoke and pondered; the right word seemed to be missing fo.*à., l.,t tt r.o..a

ïii:ï:.ïìtï,t"t:lri:ï:, *orr

rurely; it seemed common and yet inimitabÌy " fitting, unusuar and yet ,rr" o,rif orr" thar was right. . . . Now one had grasped thï cÌear meaning .f .:";;:"." and hoped most ardently ,o p.ogr"rr. In vain. Instead of movÍng forward, the thought kept revolving uÀ"na rhe same point with simiÌar points. But if one's wearied attention wandered

.nd ,"d a few minutes before it suddenÌy retrÌrned with.a start to the iecture, ,, lorrrra itseÌf punished by having been torn entireÌy out oí the context. . . . The most wonderfuÌ stream of thought twisted and pressed ,,.,rggl"à, now isoìating something, "rrd now very comprehensiveÌy; occasionaÌly hesitant, then by;it, ,*"g along, it flowed forward irresistibÌy. gr,í .u.,, those who couÌd íoilow wlth their entire mind and understanding, *itho,rt 100king right or reft, feÌt the strangest strain and anxiety.ç8 Despite the auditor's efforts to reign in the anxieties provoked by HegeÌ,s body Ìanguage and by the bodiÌy p"..rr.,.. of his Ìanguag"_tt . fíof.rro^ sagging body is uplifted by.his majesty of spirit, his spu*erlng voice is dignified by dre seriousness of his -"rr.g., his jerky argumenr is smoothed over by his inteÌiectuaÌ composure-rhe ã"r.ription continues on reÌentlessly for pages' HegeÌ',s student cannot exorcise the pressure of this strange voice that


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its seems to proÌong itseÌf through its interruptions and to draw energy from

own defeat. In the cough, signiflcati.on is suspended and language comes to the brink of silence. If the dash is the written equivalent of the cough or stuttel.-a graphic hiatus-Hegel's finaÌ gamble is to erase this fissure within schiller's text. He ontologldashes out the dash. His eÌision wouid seem to efface not only the ca1

phiÌgap between creator and created, and not only the fauìt line between

oropúi."t prose and the poetry it would metabolize as conceptual foclder. It witness also erases the scar within language itself with which the body bears and famousÌy, HegeÌ writes heal, of spirit to its own hungers. The wounds of, or by Ìeave no scar (PH S66s). In this sense there can be no Ìast words in, Hegel-----only the imperceptibÌe gesture of effacement on which the transparleturns ency of his own language rests. But preciseÌy as a Sesture, the erasure traces the effaces Hegel it. If language to the body ar the moment of ab)ecting clative the interventions with the steaÌth of a burglar, adjusting

of his own of "KeÌch" to fit the new metrical requirements, lest the ear hesitate or the It wilÌ tongue falter,çe he cannot efface the violence of his own effacement. leave its mark in unexpected places.

In punctuation marks, writes Adorno, the check the writer draws on Ìanguage is refused payment.6o The puncture in the text is the ejected remainder of the process of symbolization: it marks not only the remnant Ìeft behind by spirit's self-interiorization but its presuppositlon. Noting a modern discomfort in the presence of such notations, Adorno remarks that reason has good reason to suppress these marks; it needs to efface the trace of its own bodily inscription. Quotation marks remind Adorno of hungry mouths: they betray quite an unquenchable thirst for the stuff we can neither quite remember nor

within the recycÌed swiÌI of history. Dashes, he continues, mark the hiÃs of thought-"mute lines into the past" through which the unanswered forget

demands of history continue to press their claim' with a single stroke, HegeÌ erases Schiller's dash-and


j.t the dashed

hopes of an entire generation. Marx's quip about Germany beìng the only country that is forced to suffer a restoration without having undergone its own revolution-the paradox of a countelrevolution in the absence of any revoìution-artic uìates thi s aporia precisely.6' Hegel's elision thus cannot fail to evoke the crisis of significati.on embodied by the Terror-the "coÌdest and meanest of aÌl deaths, with no more sig

nificance than chopping off a head of cabbage or swalìowing a mouthful of water."6. Lest this cuÌinary metaphor seem haphazard (and the gulp of water-without a bubble of effervescence: emphaticalÌy not wine--evokes Hegel's description of a modernlty so parched in abstraction, so thirsty for .onr"nr, that it gÌadly settles for a sip of water),tt *. must recalÌ that the Terror \ /as persistently troped as cannibaÌistic: print after grisly print depicts the

guillotine as a flesh-eating monster. In


ïod Georg Büchner

will com-

pare the revoÌution to a Chronos devouring his own children.

In detaching itself from this scene of melanchoÌy consumption, HegeÌ's final erasure unfailingly repeats the traumatic effacement it wouid cover over. The aÌmost unreadabÌe grammar of Hegel's final clause, the strange anacoÌouthon of its coda-a lonely monosyÌlabic nur, foÌÌowed by a seemingly superfluous dash, careÌessly dashed off as ifby accident (erased, telÌingly, in MiÌler's translation64), followed by a line break, folÌowed by the mangÌed quotation-poìnts to a residuaÌ fissure within the finished book. Squeezed out of the poem, SchiÌÌer's dash has migrated to the borderlands of philosophy where lt exerts a curiousÌy ambiguous force. It couÌd create a kind of cordon sonitoire between phiÌosophy and poetry (the opposítion standing in for a panopÌy of weÌÌ-rehearsed epistemoÌogical-metaphysical distinctions); it couÌd point to a philosophical takeover of poetry's resources. But it couÌd aÌso reorient the entire enterprise.6t If so, HegeÌ's intervention does not so much pacify interruption as it reinscribes within philosophy a new opportu n ity for self-invention.

In this Ìight, we should also reconsider the infamous hlphen in


(PH g8o8). Even whiÌe graphicalÌy emphasizing the intensification of interiority, the mark registers a spiit within the self-remembering self. The hyphen negates the inwardness it simuÌtaneously underscores. It subtracts what it underlines. The Bindestrich-in German, a "binding s11slçs"-unfinds what it ties together. The hyphen turns an ordinary word into a specuÌative word: it is punctuation, not semantics, that produces the effect of Doppeìsinn; speculative overdeterminacy is a function of metonymic adjacency rather than metaphoricaÌ density---displacement rather than condensation. It is not meaning but punctuation that causes thought to stumble. At this point of fracture, phiÌosophy is forced to pause at the memory of possibilities stilÌ unreaÌized. As Ìate as r83r Hegel wilÌ identify the RevoÌution as a "knot whose solution history has to work out in the future."66 SchiÌler does not stand for the "aesthetic" in a narrowly Ìiterary sense or even for the claims of a generalized aesthetic-the (new or old) materialisr package of embodiment, sensibility, and affect that has become so erhicalÌy inflated in recent years. In fact, Hegel iras spent much of the Phenomenology demonstrating what an equivocal category the aesthetic has come to be. If "art" has already come to an end-"beautiful fruit" in the museum6T-thls is not because its force is exhausted but onÌy because its ideoÌogìcal charms have worn thin; beautiful illusion no longer provides consolarion for the deficiencies ofexistence. Aestheticism is not an isoÌated problem in the Phenomenology of Spirit: ìt is the persistent temptation that has pÌagued the entire "Spirit" chapterlrom the beautiful harmony of Greek SittÌichkeit to the gorgeous fragmenration

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of the beautifuÌ soul. (In his searing satire of the Romantic genius HegeÌ manages to demonstrate that even dissonance can be pacifying.6s) The iury is stiÌl out whether HegeÌ's final solution to the antinomies of spirit-the magic wand of forgiveness-manages to discharge aestheticism or subtÌy reprorìuces it.6e The final portlon of the spirit chapter presents a sustained engagement wìth the many varieties of German aesthetic ideoÌogy circa r8oo, and the poÌiticaÌ stakes are high. But there is one notable exception. SurprÍsingly, there is no obvious engagement with SchiÌler in this clìmactic section of the "spirit" chapter; the mantle of postrevolutionary phiÌosophy somehow passes directÌy from Kant through Fichte to German Romanticism. HegeÌ does not give SchilÌer's experiment the dignity of a rebuttal: there is no word about the play drive, nothing about the aesthetic state, and Hegel says nothing about SchiìÌer's attempt to extract from beauty an antidote or pro phylactìc to revolutionary terror.The omisslon is striking given the thoroughness with which Hegel cataÌogues alÌ the available (German) philosophicaÌ optìons in the aftermath of the French Revolution; no standpoint, no matter how minor or marginaÌ, has been left unexplored. Only after the performance is over does HegeÌ bring Schiller on stage: he introduces the poet at the very last minute if only in order to dismiss him. SchiÌler is caÌled on to perform the final curtain call although he was assigned no lines in the Ìast act.7o

There are no pages more pressured than in the Ìast chapter of the Phe nomenoÌogy: it's as if the acceleratecl tempo is trying to compensate for the dilatory pace of the preceding severaÌ hundred pages (HegeÌ wilÌ retrospectively characterize the trajectory as a languid succession of "sÌow-moving" images).There's an almost Proustian temporaÌ economy atwork in the "Absolute Spìrit" chapter. Proust takes ten pages to describe a second of awakening, thirty pages to describe a sip of tea, lour hundred pages to transcribe a dinner party . .. and alÌudes casually to "severaÌ years in the sanitarium" ìn a single sentence. Hegel takes ten pages to describe the fleetlng encounter with a vanishing "now" point. That's much longer than it will take him to recapituÌate the book's entire narrative in the final chapter. HegeÌ's final dash functions as a kÌnd of caesura in the HôlderÌinlan sense: it forces a brake on the momentum. It produces a kind of profane katechon:


It introduces

a "counter-rhythmic

interruption" in which temporaÌ reÌatìons are completely reconfigured./' In HôlderÌin, the caesura stails the foru.ard rush of Ìanguage-the rapid "exchange of representations" aÌong the forced continuum of time. In the caesura, Ìanguage itself momen tariÌy comes into focus: intransitive speech prolonging itseÌf in the apparent withdrawal of speaker, auditor, referent, subject matter, and context, a kind oÍ communicability prior to communication-"pure Ìanguage," in Benjamin's delays the end.


Holderlin's priviÌeged example is Sophoclean tragedy, but the ìdea can be In his "Remarks on SophocÌes," Hôlderlin comments on the crucìaÌ positioning of the caesura: Ìike a dam, rhe caesura needs to be instalÌed at the criticaÌ spot where it can staunch the tidal wave of language-at just the right distance from the site of greatest dramatic intensity to be able to inter','ene effectiveÌy, just on rime to protecr one part of the work from the torren:iaÌ pressure of the other. When the dramatic action is most concentrated at :he beglnning of the work, the caesura should be set up toward the end: the rnterruption marks off a protected zone in which the end is sheÌtered from :he pressure of the beginnlng. When the greatest intensity is toward the end, adapted.

:he caesura needs to be set up near the beginning; the break protects the early :hases of the drama from being swallowed up by the terminal acceÌerarìon. lhe barrier can also be seen to function as a fuÌcrum: it creates "balance" or

'equipoise" (Gleìchgewicht) between the rwo parts of the work despite their nanifest differences ln iength, contenr, or styÌe. It redistributes the weight rr gravltas so as to protect one side from the overpowering pressure of the rther. (I'm paraphrasìng looseÌy iusr to underscore what's pertinent for my :rÌrposes; my hydraulic metaphor is not quite right, and HoÌderÌin's own use ,i a mechanical figure is idiosyncratic.) Ántigone, with its piling up of acrion r:ld intensity in the first scenes, exemplifies, for HôlderÌin, the first model; )edipus, with everything heaped up catasrrophicaÌly at the end, the second. In .re logic, the caesura is introduced ar the outser, virtually the instant the book :'-nally starts going. It appears in the PhenomenoÌogy onÌy at rhe very, very end.

lne break is inserted

at the last possible moment-possibly even after the last ,rornent-when the book is technicaÌly over and Hegel Ìays down his pen :rd hands over his text to his own precursor for compÌetion.


can read the dash as a minus sign: Hegel subtracts SchiÌler.With this he aÌso invites us to reread the entire Phenomenology as an immense pro-

-=dure of subtraction: the story as ar,vhoÌe telÌs of the gradual divestment of :','.ry last shred of unelaborated positlvity confronting, blocking, and frus:iting (but also seducing, placatìng, and narcorizing) thought. This pro,:dure wili uÌtimately have to include among its objects not only the usual , 'spects-al1 those lumps of congeaÌed morillry and productivity (the vari-

of nature, art, God, the human, the nation, the congregation, the ,Iìective singular of universal history, to name onÌy tÌre most obvious)-but . nsciousness itseÌf, with its own incorrigibÌe tendency to seÌf-monumen'.'ization. Hegel's finaÌ purge, at rhe end of the Phenomenology, takes selÊcon---ousness to the brink of extinctÌon: he wÌll have redefined the very terms -ls fetishes

: subjectivìty. In this sense, the


itseÌf amounts to nothing but

. lÌgantic dash: the negation sign that stakes out the outer limit of rhe text , rhe abbreviation and condensation of the negativity that's been streaking --:ough the book from the first page.

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But-and this is where the PhenomenoÌogy reaches its internal Ìimit-this procedure of subtraction wilÌ need in turn to be subtracted. Negation must be purged of its own tendency towaïd seÌÊreification. Even negativity"autonomous" or seìÊreÌating negativity-can congeal into yet another positivity and be fetishized as one more "fundamentaÌ operation." The dash is the

trace Ìeft by the Phenomenoìogy's operation of effacemenr; it wilÌ be the task of' the logic to efface this trace. The phenomenoÌogy ends with the appearance of disappearance; the Logic wiÌl mark the disappearance of this very appearance.

The logic wiÌl enact a subtraction of subtraction-a kind of subtraction for-

ward (by anaÌogy with Kierkegaard's "repetitlon forward',). The dash functions as a peculiar placeholder in that it stands in not for any positive or even negative content (even nothingness is far too monumental). It reveaÌs that even the ÌtseÌf-is a result: the bÌank space 'oid-emptiness is generated by the inscription that presupposes it. The dash carves out (by

marking) the emptiness that ir simukaneousÌy (aiso by marking) ruins. The dash is therefore the specuÌative slgn par exceÌlence:it incarnates the..magic power" of negativity. It marks the coincidence of destruction and construc tion. It is in this sense rhe perfect inscription of dÌalecticaÌ Áufhebung.

we can aÌso read the dash as a kind of hyphen. It stakes out the interstitial zone in which occurs the interminable transition from the phenomenology to the logic and back again. To speak more precisely, the dash marks the transi

tion lrom


to -logie to logik sÌmpÌiciter. It marks the momenr phenomenorogy is dropped and the suífix finaÌry

when the impÌicit genitive in

comes to stand alone. In the end, strictly speaking, there can be neither a logik

nor a PhônomenoÌogie, but onÌy a -rogik. An invisibÌe hyphen marks the disappearance of the two books into their secret foÌd.73

The hyphen flickers berween rhe phenomenology and the rogìc Ìike the grin of the Cheshire cat-pure anaphoric reference untethered from every referent, ÌÌke a pronoun pried Ìoose from every antecedent. It points to the ambiguous place of the Phenomenology in the system and conjures up aÌl the interminabÌe questions: is the phenomenoÌogy the introduction or the part, is it

outside or inside the system, is it dispensable or indlspensabÌe, inessentiaÌ or essential, is lt a kind of wittgensteinian Ìadder you're supposed to thror.r, away once you get there (and if so, does the act of throwing away itself need continual restaging, which would require keeping the iadder on hand if onÌ1,

to be abÌe to keep on demonstrating its superfluity);or is the whoÌe point of the exercise to demonstrare preciseÌy that there is no there there-an insight that , wouÌd make any Ìadder at once superfluous and insufficient? The answer is. of course, both none of the above and alÌ the above, but it wiÌl take the entire

L'gic to demonstrare just r.r.hy such questions are ÌÌl-formed, just as it wilÌ have required the entire Phenomenology to demonstrate why we can't stop ourselves from continuaÌ1y posing thern. It is the terrible anticlimax of the phenomenoÌogy

to reveal that the ether we've been seeki'g Ìs just the air weïe been breathing from the very beginning; it wilÌ be rhe accompÌishment of rhe rogic ro demonstrate the breathtakìng power of this deflating insight.



we can aÌso read the dash as a partial object-a rwin forever awaiting its own compÌement. The dash is a strange mark, Ìate to arrive in European writing systems, aÌmost unique among punctuatÌon marks. unlike the period, *'hich arrives jlÌst once Ìn every sentence, and unlike parentheses oï quotarion marks, which come onÌy in pairs, the dash can either stand aione or in a coupÌe. It can signaÌ a unique tuïning point or a provisional deviation, a deci.ire deraiÌment or a teÌnporary detour. preceded by a singÌe dash, words can re set loose or ejected; they can wander off, they can faÌì away, they can be rrpeÌÌed, they can be brought back sharpÌy ÌÌke a dog on a reash. FoÌiowed by a .ingÌe dash, words are lefr hanging; the reader is inevitabÌy pushed back to the reginning, and compeÌÌed to start reading the sentence again. placed between i pair of dashes, words are lramed and contained, subordinated to the main lrift of the sentence like an eddy within a current. It's never certain, wÌren ''ou first encounter a dash, whether the mark will be one or two, and this *ncertainty forces an impossibÌe double tempo in reading. you must simuÌ_

:aneousÌy race ahead and hord back. The possibiÌity of a repetition invires rhe SCâÌ1 forward-y'ou wait for the mark to dupricate itseÌÊ-and forces ' 'ru to hoÌd your breath until the main topic resumes. The absence of rep::ition forces you to adapt to the sudden change of direction; there win be .-.othing more-

:i e to


one or two: this uncertaÌnty defines the dash, and this ambiguity chimes poin t de capi-

itir the most intracrable antinomy of Hegel's thought. Even the :,r-the "quilting point" thar rerroactiveÌy tethers

the phrase and brings

'=gÌbility-is never final: every point can and must be r"p"at"d,


demands a sequeÌ that may or may not arrive.


it to ,-p...h





Hegel ... does nor begin with a principle or with a foundatlon. ... Thought is 1




-iegeÌ's science of Logic is one of rhe srrangesr "objects" in the history of phi, rsophy.' Its srrangeness provoked Adorno to make the folÌowÌng observation:


In the reaÌm of great phitosophy, HegeÌ is no doubt the onÌy one with whom Ìiterally does not know and cannot concÌusiveÌy determine rvhat is being talked about, and with whom there is no guarantee that such a judgment is even possible.3 at times one

logic "resists understanding"n more than any other of Hegel's texts but so more than any orher texr in the history of philosophy. one Ãason for this

-:e :

: ,ìmes to the fore if one reads one of its infamous cÌairrls-aÌlegedÌy the most -:-rmodest of them aÌl-from its introductlon. There Hegel states tfiat ,,the : lntent of pure science," the "veritable matter" of the science of pure thought the Science of logic is about to present, is what he calÌs ''.obrjrctive think_ ---g."twe are in the "reaÌm of pure thought."6 It is pure thought

because after

*e proceedings of the PhenomenoÌogy of Spirit, thought "has subÌated alÌ refer::ce to an other and to mediation."TThought is alone. It no longer (and at the

,:me tÌme not yet) has any relation to an other. But what does it mean to present pure thought-to present the realm of :-ought in which thought thinks nothing but thought itseÌf? It is "the exposi..x of God as he is in his eternaÌ essence before the creation of nature and a

:-rlte mind."8 Reading the logic and comprehending it is to read the mind of

-rd before he created the worÌd.e rhis is not the expression of a megaloma:lac madman.'' Hegel has a strong argument for it. If the logic delivers what -: promises, nameìy the "laws" of "thought 0s such,"" and if God has thought

o x,


ì F {n É,

; tÍl






before he created the worÌd, he mr-rst also have used "the necessary forms and self,determinations of thought" '' that any thought has to rely on. If this book arms at exposing God before the creatìon, this cannot but seem ìmmodest. But it is necessary. As Hegel once noted: God before the creation of the world is aÌone. ... God is not tÌre true God if he does not manifest himself outwardÌy. For God is God onÌy in the act of creating the world.'r

As soon as one achieves the "standpoint" of God before the creation of the world, it becomes clear that before the creation, God is not yet truÌy God. j.s, he There is less megaÌornania than disappointment. To become who he onÌ1 can the creation needs to create. His creation is self creatj.on: God beíore be tliought after he created (the thought that thlnks what he thought before he created ís postfestum). He is wÌlat can onÌy be thought of as a retroactive, retrocreatìve effect of his o\\,n creation. Beglnning is-even Íìrr God-a true

speculative probÌeq-r. The acr of creation must thus be linked to God's essence. Yet God is not identical to ir. Here a peculiar paralÌax emerges: in the beginning there is an act of creation (making God inío God for us), but there is also somethíng not creative but static (God

prlor to creation). The unity of diflerences of


ation, of movement and stasls, is the beginnlng. As soon as we start thinking God prlor to his creatÌon, we see that we must inscrlbe the act of creatÌoil into his essence, but \Ã/e also have to recalÌ that he precedes his creation. He wiÌl have become truÌy what he was before the creation after the cleation Against this background one might go as far as to cÌaim that the problem of problem of the Logic. Hegel insists that the logìc begins without any presupposition: it "cannot presuppose any ... forms of reflection and laws of thinking"'* After getting

beginning (creation) is


through the PhenomenoÌogy one made the move from an "unpurified and there fore unfree thinking"'t to the point where "the freedom ol spirit begins'"'' puriíication takes pÌace before the Logic, in the Phenomenology. In it we get the "education and discipÌine of thinking."'? This means: "The Notion oi Ìogic has its genesis in the course of the exposition and cannot tÌrerefore be premised."'E

we embark on an endeavor about which nothing can be said in advance and this impÌies that it is radicaÌly autonomous-a free Ìogic of freedolll Heinz Eidam cÌ that "freedom is probably the only thing that soÌely presupposes itself,"'r by presupposing that it can only be freedom when it i' freed from any presuppositÌons (of what freedom is). If we only know wha: the logic is after it has run its course, this impÌies that it is imposslble tc know where, when, and how it begins. But it is clear that its whole "clivisior.

must be ... immanent to the Notion itseÌf"'" Recail tÌre tabÌe of contents: the logic begins with two prefaces-writren in r8rz and rg3r-that are foÌ lowed by an Ìntroduction to the norion of logic and its generaÌ division. Then the first book ("Book one:The Docrrine of Being") begins.yer ir does'or begin immediarely. HegeÌ Ìnserrs a further text, "withwhat Must the Science Begin?," includes a brÌef expÌanarion of the "generaÌ division of being," and belore finaÌÌy starting, inserrs anorher very brief secrÌon ("section one") on

"Determinateness (Quality)." where does the logic begin? rvith the introduction, or witÌr Book One?


the prefaces,

one might argue with HegeÌ tÌrat "rhe superscrÌptions and divisions, too, *.üich appear in this system are not themselves intended to have any other signiflcance rhan that oí a Ìist of contents."'' But wÌrat about the things they are deaÌing with? Already Feuerbach remarked that for HegeÌ "the presentotion of phiÌosophy is to be raken as rhe essence of phiÌosophy itself,,,,' Bur ]usr

gìancing at HegeÌ's presentation, it is hard to trust one's eyes when aÌl sense -ertainty Ìs bracketed. what the Logic presents "cannor be stated beforehand".r and thus "a definition of litsl science ... has irs progf soÌeiy in the aÌready :nentioned necessity of its emergence."'n If the togic presents thought without ,-.n orÌrer (having purified itseÌí from "ordinary, phenomenal consciousness" ,'.nd its "errors""), the probÌem of horv to begin is an Ìmrïranent probÌem of

lought's exposition of pr-rre thought. How to begin with thought when the beginning-all presuppositions are suspended-must at tÌìe same .r.rie be the beginning oí thought?

:rought of



-,r begin-before properly beginning wltÌr the beginning-by providing a :ieí account of what HegeÌ says about beginning:A[ the preliminaries onÌy

. rn at "doing away with [aÌl] preliminaries,"'n demonstrating theìr futiÌity. - ris is an inrtiaÌÌy necessary move: before we deaiwith the thing itself we :-rÌst get rid of tÌre thìngs rhat are nor the thing (of thought) and must begin ' ith thlnking beginning. How ro do tÌris? Dld we now just begin when ask.:g thls question, even before beginning? HegeÌ answers negatÌvely by stating '-rf,r we can never begin with a definÌrion: "The defÌnition with whích any

-rence makes an absolute beginning cannot contain anything other than the ::cise and correct expression of what is imogined to be tÌre nccepted and fnmiÌ. sub]ect matter and aim of the science."'z A definition would, per defini-

. 'n, ground a science (of rogìc) on somerhing externaÌ ro that very science. rÌre logic we know that we do not know what the precÌse subject matter

.:: in

- the science


is only

within this science that we can find it out. This

,-',r ll-Ìry we caÌlnot begin with any preslÌpposed principÌe. : inprincipled.


Beginning needs to

o o



; F

o É

; o

:!l u



recent This is "the difficuÌty ... that thinkers have become aware of ' " in moment,"'e essentiaÌ times.,,18 But against reifying "the subjective act ... as an ,.the or as a logicaÌ beginning ... can be taken ... either as a mediated result "there is Nothing beginning proper, as immediacy."pThat is, at the begì'nning or mediimmediate as taken be can that 1., Ni.ità gilr].",' There is nothing Phenomthe of efforts ated. Because thìs nothing is the resuÌt of the cÌeansing "ridding oneseÌf of all reflexive determinations and enoìogy. Its achievement is

whatever.""The beginning of the [o6ic is thereby an always aÌready is immemediated beglnnlng, and the result of this seÌf-negating mediation diacy.33Inthisprocessallappearancesaresubtractedandsignedovertodis appearance to ultimately reach the purity of-absolute(1y pure)-knowing what is Ìeft after negaring mediation by means of mediation is (a) nothing. "take up, whot is before us After the Phenomenology we cannot do anything but


ist] " ;34 the only "thing" we can actually take up is [aufzunehmen, wos vorhond€n this very nothing of mediation. Immediacy is thus a product of the self-subtraction of mediation, but

but the this product is nothing to start with. we have nothing in our hands "ceases itseÌí it pllriii.d purity of knowledge' of a knowledge so pure that io b" krráwledge.",t Even absolute knowing disappears, Ìeaving nothing but from absence. we end up (and srail) wìth a knowledge indlstinguishable an

disapnonknowledge, a knowledge that disappears as much as all phenomena ln circle peared with the Phenomenolugy. Creation and decreation coincide-"a which the fi.rst is aÌso the Ìast and the Ìast is also the first."36The subtraction of aÌl presuppositions is a precondition for the lo6ic, but it is not its beginfor ning.,;The phrno,nrnology is its "presupposition,"3s but if the precondition knort'the togic is the diíappearance of appearances, then the purity of pure ing is úound io disappear itseÌf We end up with a disappearance of disappear-

nothing left to ance, an absence nor even of something being absent. There is and tc beginning a disappear except disappearance itseÌf. It is necessory to make etc.) as take the disappearance of appearances (determi.nations, mediations, disappeara prerequisite.Yet it is stïictly impossible to ground anything on the

"beginning must be ance of di.sappearance. HouÌgate emphasizes that a true with the the begÍnning of thought";3e however, this beginning is not yet made aÌsc disappearing outcome of the PhenomenoÌogy. For what can be deduced can

(retrospectirrely) be analyzed. And Hegel insists "that which constitutes thÊ "-' beginning, the beginning itseÌf, 1s to be taken as something unanalyzable Tolru$ begin-without relying on presuppositions-is to begin with beginninE an)'This is to say: "The beginning must be an absoÌute ... it moy not PÍesupPose is to be it rather a ground; have nor by anything must not be mediated


itself the ground of the entire science."*' ÌogThe only thing that can make a beginning is a beginning This is the ical consequence to be drawn from the result of the Phenomenology-th=



of the process of

disappearance curminating

Ìn pure know-

which nothing can be derlved and from the propËrÌy knorted

::ructure of the concept of beginning (as beginning of thoughi and thought

i beginning). For the logic as science of pure tho,rgÀt, *hor"' we jusr ':rained and that is jusr abour to disappear again, the beginning is toth Ìogi'::1v necessory and logically impossibÌe (i.e., undeducrbie

andìnanJyzabÌe). one

to begin, yer one cannot. Immediatery, there is onry one thing at hand: ,,ArÌ -'-at is present fvorhonden]+3 is simpÌy rhe resoÌve [EntschÌuss], *hiih ."r, arso be --'garded as arbitrary, thatwe propose to consider thought as such.,,+a If there , a knotring together of necessity and impossibility in the beginning, we --ed a nothing that can be considered "vorhonden," present, at hand; a noth '-g-ç that does equalÌy contain mediation and immediacy. HegeÌ,s name for it : resoÌve, decision. In the beginning there is a decision, on ìmmediote decision. But what : re s it decide? It does not decide anything concretely; it is thus not onry a . *:Ì1. immediate but also a fuÌly indeterminate decìsion. The decision onÌy decìdes (that) it(self) (has consequences for thought); -:rs is an indeterminate decision that immediately introduces a rearm of.con_ ::quences, but that remains fulÌy indeterminate: an indeterminate immediacy. '','Ìth such decision in scission (as it is spÌit between the act of deciding and '' -t deciding anything concrete), one is "immedictery in the consequences.,,*6 -:e decision is itseÌfa (de-)scission: it is characterized by an affirmative .as


by a negative moment.+7 yet the decision is so immedíate and so incre-

::miÌlate that one cannot presume any form of reÌation between the nega-" e and positive moments. It is spÌit in two, without any relatidn between the -'''''o of scissÌon: "This insight is irself so simple that this beginning

-:quires no prepaïarion

as such


The onÌy thing ro begin with is beginJ itserf '--c beginning of thought in decision, grounded in the absenà of a"begin'-ng (i.e., not grounded at aÌr). And the onry thing we can (begin with is to) -'cide ro think, if we decide ro begin, is the being of this very ]bsence. There ' .omething strange and pecuÌiarry nonderivabÌe, nonanaryzabÌe, nondioÌecticol :--'-ut ond in the beginnìng; it can only be an immediate, indeterminate decision _ scission. One must begin, one cannot begin, one has to begin, one will




withour o decision.



3eing comma pure Being comma Dash": Hegel's first words. This seems


After all the preÌiminaries, at the "beginning,' of the first of Being,,, rhese words appear.

. rok, ar the beginning of the ,,Docrrine --:ter nearly seven hundred pages in which

he re* and deconstructed, an endeavor necessary to write any words at alÌ, these are his first :es First, Hegel reconstructed, presented, and exposed the whore process


o É,


; F

o Ê

i : UI


o l!


of the becoming of "absoÌute knowing": he presented how and why consciousness ÍnitiaÌÌy bound to unquestioned assumptions Ìiberates itseÌf from them to be abÌe to reÌate to "pure thoughts, spirit thinkìng its own essential

This movement traversed "every form of the relotion of consciousness to the object"s' and at the true beginnìng of the logic we soÌely deal with the pure immanence of thought. Disappearance has disappeared, a decision took pÌace. The PhenomenoÌogy does not lead HegeÌ to write any words proper that could be part of a pure scÌence of pure thought. The only words that he couÌd have written were phenomenoÌogical, disappearing words, arguing that this project-under the banner of a pure science-is necessary and can and must be thought, presented, and developed. But he could not have written any Ìasting words to begin this science with. No words of beginning, no beginning signifiers even. He could have written only phenomenologicalÌy dísappearing (speculative) words, no pure (speculative) words (and signs). After the reconstructive verification of the concept of science, HegeÌ includes aiÌ the pre liminary texts before he actually begins w-riting any'ching at aÌI. AÌÌ we have belore us are prerequisites, necessary preconditions-not one singÌe word of the pure science has seen the Ìight of day so far. Then after about seven hundred pages of preparation, it ultimately happens: Hegel finally pulÌs out his pen and begins the Logic, "Book One," "Chapter r," with "Being Comma Pure Being Comma Dash." One should recaÌl that even in the iast edition of the Logic Hegel never changed this beginning a single bit, aithough he him self stated that it would be necessary to revise the whole project "seven and nature."



The beginning once written down was never alteredç it decìded once and for all. seventy times."


If any true beginning aÌlows for some "free play"s: of the arbitrariness of thought (which is an implication of the Ìdea that in the beginning there is a decìsion), ìt also holds that "consldered from its negative aspect, this busines: fof the logic] consists in hoÌding off the contÌngency of ordinary thinking anc the arbitrary seÌection of particular grounds-- or their opposites-as vaÌid.":This means that even if "knoin'ing what one is saying" or writing "is mucÌr rarer than we think," çç the beginning of the Logic presents us with such a rare case: HegeÌ did know what he was doing. Why then "BeÍng Comma Pure Beíng Comma Dash" ? Why is there a constelÌation of "being" and a comma? Why then a constelÌation of being anc pure being? Why does the whole syntagma end with a dash? Why a comÌrì: bettre the dash?

To begln, one can again take up a remark by Adorno:

Being, pure Being,-without any further determination, an anacoluthon that tries with Hebelian cunning to find a way our of the predicament thar "indeterminate lmmediacy," even if cÌothed in the form of a predicative statement like "Belng is the most generaÌ concept, without any further

determination," wo.Ìd thereby receive sentence wouÌd contradict itseÌf.


definition through which the


In German the anacoÌuthon is aÌso caÌÌed

Sctzbruch, a breaking up of the .:ntence. The Greek term on-oÌiolothous combines the prÌvative prefix on (,,not, ."'ithor-rt") with the Greek word for "foÌlowing, conseqr-Ìential." The anacolu]on thus stands for a breaking up of a sentence in which there Ìs something .lat does not folÌow, a non sequitur. LiteraÌly, it translates as "without com:Ìetion." Ernsr BÌoch-who astoundingly misses it in hÌs commentary on the -rgic57-argues that this rhetoricaÌ trope is aÌways accompanied by an .,inter_ :-lpting tone of language"ç8 that brings Ìiving speech into written syntax and ::rakes them aÌmost indistinguishabÌe. In an interview, he further elaborares:

what is in itself clear can arso be clear in its presentation.


TÌris is

different írorl what is íermented, self-parturient, stiÌl in vogue. ... It corresponds in Ìanguage to that which moves, is opaque, ro a new enrry, to the anacoluthon. Such a Ìanguage of "noncompÌetion;' "unvollenrìbar,'] is fdes not at risk of feigning completion where there is none, whereas a smoothed Ianguage obscures that which is to be said by its own smoothness.çe HegeÌ is in the begi'ning crearly not concerned with smoothing over any :-:ing and indicates by rhe very form of this nonproposition a necessary non_ -rmpletion, nontotaÌ rhe beglnning is incomplete, incornpleting, -rcompÌeted, Bruch im Sotz und des sotzes, breaking up of and in a senìence.o, -l the beginning there Ìs a break, a (de-)scission, a cut, a rupture within the pening sentence.6'This might be why Hegel notes: "That which constitutes

beginnÌng"-that is tÌie beginning itseÌf-"is to be raken as something ,nanaÌyzable."63 Henrich has shown6n that immediateÌy after the pubÌication ' 1 the logic this was forgotten by most earÌy readers. one can map some of the


:rriy criticisms-usuaÌly articulated apropos of the whoie chapteí on being "rd nothing-onro rhe very first words of the logic. ïhis wiÌl alÌow to dis-:iminare interpretations that Ìn the spirit of Hegel musr be avoided when

.rr estigarÌng his first words. Thinkers Ìike TrendeÌenburg,6ç von Hartman,,n and others criticized the -'rgic in the r840s,67 maÌnly articuiating three types of arguments apropos :f the beginning. FÌrst, they maintained that being and nothing ure ,impty r\-o aspecrs of indeterminate immediacy (Ìt is being because it is posited; it -s nothing because it is posited without dererminarions). HegeÌ is iust play-

a trick. Second, indeterminate immediacy (a predicate) functions as the of being and nothing. But Heger inverts genus and predicate. Third, -