August 13, 2017

The irreparable world

An impression from Giorgio Agamben's The Coming Community

Seeing something simply in its being-thus—irreparable, but not for that reason necessary; thus, but not for that reason contingent—is love.

At the point you perceive the irreparability of the world, at that point it is transcendent.

How the world is—this is outside the world. 1

A restatement of the existentialist attitude: I can’t say what the world is like, because I can’t stand apart from the world to look at it.

The world is irreparable not because it is broken, but because it is no longer possible to believe that we can look upon it and assess it in such terms, as a broken thing in need of repair. In other words, the irreparable world is the world in which the last traces of the messianic have disappeared.

The irreparable is not nihilism and it is not despair; it is not a renunciation of the world. The world is irreparable because to address its problems is not to undertake its repair. There is nowhere to go back to, nothing to restore. Nothing can be made great again.

When there is still the possiblity of the messianic, there is the possibility of a certain kind of moment, in which the sky opens up and the uncanny hangs like electricity in motionless air, and we are able to stand apart from the world to see how it is.

But the irreparable world is irreparable because it is profane; it has no outside and it is not moving forward.

It is because the world is irreparable that there is the possibility of freedom. There is nothing the irreparable world must be except free. This is why to see something in its irreparability is to love.

  1. Giorgio Agamben, The Coming Community. Translated by Michael Hardt. Minneapolis: University Of Minnesota Press, 1990, 106. From the appendix, entitled “The Irreparable.” The fragments making up this appendix “can be read as a commentary on section 9 of Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time and proposition 6.44 of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus.” The proposition from Wittgenstein reads, “Not how the world is is the mystical, but that it is.”

I'm a graduate student in historical musicology based in NYC. This blog is a journal of my mostly "esoteric" experiments with theory. Please feel free to contact me by email.