Unphilosophical and philosophical eternity
by Andrew Taggart
The Phenomenology of Exhaustion
1. Can one describe the lack or loss of eros? Of course. The experience would be felt as burdensome, pain-laden, leaden, tiresome, exhausted, a sense of separateness, of cleaving, of infinite matterlessness.
Eros and Temporality
2. The distinction between eros and its lack may come down to that between two differing conceptions of eternity. In philosophical life, eternity is totality; in non-philosophical life, it is the indefinite.
3. In Book I of the Ethics, Spinoza defines eternity as that which is without duration (a-duration). “By eternity I mean existence itself.” He explains that eternal existence cannot be “explained by duration or time, even if the duration is conceived to be without beginning or end.” So what is eternal simply is: it does not come into being or go out of being. It is being.
4. I take it philosophical life resides in the temporality of eternity. When, e.g., I really look at a flower, I exist in the temporality of eternity.
5. The long present–the Now of Eternity–says, “Here I am. Where else would/could I be?” Food is put in the mouth and savored; music is put in the ear and savored; inquiries are put into words and slowly savored; touching is put on the fingers and savored.
6. Time is not precious or urgent because it can go away. It is precious because in the long present we are.
7. The time of eternity is the time of love.
8. Non- and pre-philosophical others grasp eternity as indefiniteness. They want to live “n+1.” If they are 50 yrs. old, then what matters is to live 51 yrs. Then 52, 53…, 100, 101. Eternity is not ‘being here’ but ‘that which is one more, one beyond.’
9. The present is understood in punctual terms (i.e., the Now is a single point that passes in an instant). Additionally, life itself is cast as a Task writ large.
10. The (punctual) Now is to be negated. The Now is not. It must be devoured or conquered or overcome. The Now, rather like an affliction, must be obliterated or removed. The credit card transaction, like binge eating, like fucking, obliterates the Now and, in the case of the credit card especially, the human relation. It is intended to be through with the Now, to get over the Now. To be done with the Now, with Life.
11. The non-philosophical experience with most things–food is obliterated, fucking runs us past or through the Now into orgasm, insurance removes us from the idea of death, etc.–are throughways. It is deadness.
12. This experience of temporality is one of the No: the No first and last and forever. Killing the Now, one is killed by the Now. Without knowing it.
13. The desire for indefiniteness is a tacit acknowledgement that one is already dead.