The C Word

Is it really necessary to say something about the individual here? Some see in its invention and in the culture, if not in the cult built around the individual, Europe’s incontrovertible merit of having shown the world the sole path to emancipation from tyranny, and the norm by which to measure all our collective or communitarian undertakings. But the individual is merely the residue of the experience of the dissolution of community… Still, one cannot make a world with simple atoms. There has to be a clinamen.* There has to be an inclination or an inclining from one toward the other, of one by the other, or from one to the other. Community is at least the clinamen of the ‘individual.’ Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative Community, 3-4.


“Ecstasy (or ekstasis) “to be or stand outside oneself, a removal to elsewhere” from ek- “out,” and stasis “a stand, or a standoff of forces”). According to wikipedia.

I have an impulse to write a fragment on the subject of “community.” Michelle writes about ferality and poetics in relation to community–to community, as I understand it, configured as a problematic. It gets me thinking.

The first term to which I gravitate is “methexis”( μέθεξις). I don’t know what those symbols mean. I copy and paste them from the wikipedia entry on “methexis.” Wikipedia also says that methexis has 2 meanings. In theater, it means “group sharing.” “Originating from Greek theater, the audience participates, creates and improvises, the action of the ritual.” In philosophy, “methexis” names the relation between a particular and a form: for example, a beautiful object is said to partake of the form of beauty.

“Ferality,” I wonder, vis-a-vis methexis. The appeal of the theatrical sense registers immediately. In terms of the problems of community. Communities can oppress in time (in the demands of duration, continuity, permanence, heritage, remembering, allegiance, debts, inheritances, obligations) and in space (in the demand for techniques of enumeration, in membership, in property, in occupation, in weight, in fixity, in immobility). The feral speaks to the will to avoid these oppressions. In time–the feral community is limited to the time in which the activities of the group sustain the group’s existence. Which could be 5 minutes or 100000 years, in theory. In space–we recall that “ferum naturae” is a key category of Roman property law. Outside of “occupation” and “possession.” That which cannot be fixed.


“Clinamen (pronounced /klaɪˈneɪmɛn/, plural clinamina, derived from clīnāre, to incline) is the Latin name Lucretius gave to the unpredictable swerve of atoms…

According to Lucretius, the unpredictable swerve occurs ‘at no fixed place or time’:

When atoms move straight down through the void by their own weight, they deflect a bit in space at a quite uncertain time and in uncertain places, just enough that you could say that their motion has changed. But if they were not in the habit of swerving, they would all fall straight down through the depths of the void, like drops of rain, and no collision would occur, nor would any blow be produced among the atoms. In that case, nature would never have produced anything.[1]

This indeterminacy, according to Lucretius, provides the ‘free will which living things throughout the world have.’[2]

In English it implies that one is inclined or biased towards introducing a plausible but unprovable clinamen when a specific mechanism can not be found to refute a credible argument against one’s hypothesis or theory.”  From wikipedia.

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