Tonight, after I got the girls off to bed, I was reading some things online. At one point I stumbled upon an interesting twitter feed, not least because the author was quoting Derrida:
“To pretend, I actually do the thing: I have therefore only pretended to pretend.”
I’ve always liked this quotation, and I paused to think on it. It took me back to a conversation I had with a friend a few weeks ago, and an idea I blogged about recently. My friend had expressed to me a concern about being vs. seeming, that he knew that he was not, but others thought him to be. I know that he is, and can see that he is drawing a distinction only for himself.
There is only one way out of this: to play and pretend. At first this sort of being seems only to be available to us in pretending to be so: we know we are pretending, we know we are not. Only later does it become clear that this pretending to be is itself what it means to be. And this is only available to me through the other, who names my play for me: the being is made available to the other through me, not for me. As such I never have access to what I myself see in the other, which always seems authentic in a way I cannot produce, but only reproduce.
After reflecting on this some more, I had to step away from the computer to get the book that first introduced me to this idea, Gadamer’s Truth and Method. I’ll leave you with a section that demonstrates what I’m talking about better than I could:
“We are familiar with this kind of highly puzzling temporal structure from festivals. It is in the nature of periodic festivals, at least, to be repeated. We call that the return of the festival. But the festival that comes round again is neither another festival nor a mere remembrance of the one that was originally celebrated…For the essence of the festival, its historical connections are secondary. As a festival it is not an identity like a historical event, but neither is it determined by its origin so that there was once the ‘real’ festival–as distinct from the way in which it later came to be celebrated. From its inception–whether instituted in a single act or introduced gradually–the nature of a festival is to be celebrated regularly…It has its being only in becoming and return. A festival exists only in being celebrated…the being of the spectator is determined by his ‘being there present.’ Being present does not simply mean being there along with something else that is there at the same time. To be present means to participate.”