Il y a: there is ‘something like’


As Heidegger says somewhere in his Introduction to Being and Time, “every inquiry is a seeking… [every] seeking gets guided beforehand by what is sought.”

We are seeking an image. Our search for that image is guided beforehand by what we intend to seek. We intend to seek a way to interrogate a concept.

That image is ‘something like’ a formal expression of existence. Heidegger used this exact string of words something like somewhere in his conclusion to Being and Time. ‘Something like’ is ‘something less’. If we are still unsure about something to which we have given much thought and careful meditation, it is only proper that we reserve a room for more thought and meditation.  For all this ‘something like’ is worth, Heidegger was not talking about something on which he can add a one, a two, a three, ‘a-more’. He was talking about ‘Being’, the most universal and yet the emptiest concept. For our part we are talking just about Da-sein, something like.

Here I recalled an illustration of an amoretto I saw in an old encyclopedia back when I was a young child. Then, I thought to myself ‘when will I be an amoretto?’ It seems beautiful and elating to be one. I slowly grew up running out of image juicers to sustain that childhood fantasy, to keep it fresh and moistly in my head.

And yet, even as an adult, I keep coming back to that image, though now as parched as the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world. (Surprisingly, and this perhaps attests to the power of surprise of the image, it is in the driest where one can see above it, in full, undisturbed, cool, tranquil view, the arc of the beautiful night sky). But I choose to remember the fresh image of an angel, something like a child, something less of a real child. And yet it is only as an adult that I perfectly understand It (the image of amoretto) can’t be more than an image. It is its own perfectly, just enough, surreal perfection. If it is more, then it is unreal. Instead, I can allow myself to believe that someday it will be less than an image without losing its integrity as an image such that it becomes less to its previous mode of existence. An image that is less and less to itself can’t be anything less than the real. It is the real.

Correspondingly, I can imagine the desert will return to its former green-self, its river-self, its meadow-self. It is there in the less of  the image to itself (in the less perfect sense of the surreal, hence, closer to ‘something like’ real) that I can truly be a child: sweetly winged, gliding carefree, jubilantly less than what I am now. I find this to be the utter joy of subtraction.

What is sought here is an image, something like, that is to say, closer to what a being means as an entity. If we are to re-present this early what is sought here, we can only say for now that it is nonconceptual, and that is to say also, even if this entity is conceptual in its own right. But then, what is sought could not be conceptual in the beginning, otherwise there is nothing else to search. We seek in light of what emerges in the first light, in the first flicker of thought, an image of a concept about to come.

Here I intend to seek the image of my Da-sein. If my hunch is right, this Da-sein is ‘something like’ an existent. I am guided here by what I intend to seek, and guided beforehand by what is sought. Already what is sought has been recognized in decades as a concept. But it can’t be more than an image to be a concept.

If I am correct, the less of image (vis-a-vis the concept, not in terms of the free play of the image itself) is the more-concept. The less and less of the image is the thickening of the concept,  the supposed fullness of integrity of the concept. Once again, this ‘more-talk’ is not a one, a two, a three or any integer we can add on to something. For an image is not just something. It has integrity. Did we say beforehand an image is rather the ‘something like’? And if Heidegger is telling us the truth about his work, what gets disclosed in the end can only be ‘something like’, an image. It can’t be more than Itself at the end of the disclosure. It can’t be more than what it discloses.  It can only disclose itself, both its relative fullness and limitation. If it is more, then it is no longer ‘something like’. It will be absolute fullness and completion, if these can be said at all. If it is more, then Heidegger would have said to ti esti in the manner of Aristotle, which is very un-Heidegger, or the quiddity of the scholastics, simply put, a concept in the representational sense.

But he said ‘something like’. If we rather say it is a concept in its own right, we must at least allow that It is half of Itself, a separate existence in its own right.  Thus, no singular existence suffices as Blanchot would say. We trust that Heidegger said what he, more or less, found out. An image of existence. An image of: this reveals a disjuncture which Da-sein already is from its there-ness (da) to its being (sein). Only an image can make of Da-sein a unitary structure in its own right.  Since then, Da-sein has learned to be proud. Thanks to its image. It gives it the integrity it lacks. It gives. Isn’t it that it is Being that gives? But Being can be another disjuncture. Be-ing. Another entity to give integrity to where it lacks.

But what if what gets disclosed in the end is less than a concept—what is it that gets disclosed? And also, what if the disclosed is more than a concept?

If it is less than a concept, then it is a concept within a concept. If it is more than a concept, then it is another concept. One the one hand, it is simply a reiteration of representation that what gets disclosed cannot be an image. On the other hand, it is superstition, if not a declaration of absolute contradiction, a war. For if what gets disclosed is another concept, that is to say, other than the concept of existence apropos of Da-sein as a formal expression of existence that makes it a formal horizon of Being, either doxa has prevailed upon the disclosure (other than existence can mean otherworldly), or representation has declared a war against all non-representational claims to Da-sein as a concept. The other concept of representation is that when all else fail, a bomb can silence resistance. A bomb? Indeed, a bomb is another concept. It simply demonstrates the horrible opposite of existence—genocide.  A bomb strives to be more than even its own image. A single detonating nuclear bomb is more than the sum of all the cries of humanity.

If I am a Da-sein, I believe I am, then I am ‘something like’. I like the way I am now. I am ‘something like’. Thus, I can’t be more than an image. This Da-sein of mine. This mineness of mine. Ah, this is going to be sweet…

virgilio aquino rivas

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