Thoughts on Expression and the Other Person

The Poietic Basis of Being: Thoughts on Expression and the Other Person
Based on the Work of Merleau-Ponty
by Majken Jacoby

Published in Poiesis, A Journal of the Arts & Communication, vol. 5, EGS Press 2003.

Between myself as speech and the other as speech, or more generally myself as expression and the other as expression, there is no longer that alternation which makes a rivalry of the relation between minds. I am not active only when speaking; rather I precede my thought in the listener. I am not passive while I am listening; rather I speak according to … what the other is saying. … (W)e are resuming a common effort more ancient than we, upon which we are grafted to one another and which is the manifestation, the growth, of truth.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Expression’s condition and the field of the human being
One of the basic perspectives and challenges of the thinking of Merleau-Ponty is that the elements of his thoughts are interdependently connected and constituting one another. One conception or element cannot be captured without considering the others. To lay out a “first” and a “second”, i.e. first we may consider an expressing, sensing “I” and secondly, there is “the other person”, is bracketing the fact that they come together. The other person is there from the beginning, or always already there, as phenomenologists say in order to avoid the dubious idea of “beginning”, of constituting who we are and how we may understand our situation by giving something the status of “first”. In the thinking of Merleau-Ponty everything conditions everything else simultaneously, as if in a “now”, and yet we are historical beings with a past and a future, with changing hearts and viewpoints that include and exclude each other.
All the same, there is a point of departure to any narrative, and to Merleau-Ponty it is the sensing of the living body. Sensing is the axis of his thinking as it expressively occurs to the bodily, “incarnated” human being. Because sensing happens the way it does, the world, my life, relations and the work of art appear as formed expression.
In the following and by sketching out Merleau-Ponty’s notion of sensing I will first describe the “situational field” of the human being in the world, his expressive condition. Then I will focus on “the other person” as his partner-in-expression, this fellow shaper who helps me, stands in my way, ignores or falls in love with me or is absent when I need him, and last I return to the notion of form that appears in the work of Merleau-Ponty.
The living body is, as already said, a key notion to Merleau-Ponty. It is not the physiological body, and neither is it body as a vehicle of ideas and thoughts. The living body (le corps vécu), inextricably bound to the world through sensing, is the shaping condition of human life’s multiple and ambiguous expressions. To the living body the world appears as a shaped and shaping habitat of views, landscapes and things, taking up their position in a space with a changing horizon. The living body sees, hears, moves, gestures. It is touching the things of the world with hands, ears or eyes; it is sounding forth a space that reciprocally shapes the sound. The living body of the human being inhabits a world that, all things considered, makes sense: today the sun is out, yesterday it rained, and the guest I am expecting can walk from the train station without getting wet. This primary sense making is what determines the specific and changing situation of our daily lives, this is what conditions expression, the ongoing forming. The living body in the world is the living of a formative principle, so to speak: except living is never a principle.
It happens through sensing. Sensing is not a passive reproduction of images, neurophysiologically occurring “inside” the human being and projected “out” upon the world. This is the classical empirical approach, but to a phenomenologist like Merleau-Ponty sensing is not passive; it is actively taking part, even when the sensing person seems to “do” nothing actively apart from opening the eyes. Seeing, Merleau-Ponty’s preferred sense modality, together with all sense modalities, happens to a living body in the world, and the constellation of body-in-world is the “making” of form.
The Intertwining – the Chiasm is the title of a chapter from a book Merleau-Ponty never got a chance to finish before his death. The title contains the principles of the acting of sensing, as they appeared to him at the end of his life. The act of sensing, primary sense making, manifests according to two disparate “modes”, one characterized by its quality of intertwining and binding together, the other by its chiasmic, crossing-breaking quality. The appearance of the formed world, the “expressed” world, is thus the result of the act of a paradoxical principle, the continuous-discontinuous acting of sensing: sensing tears apart and binds together.
Reading Merleau-Ponty, one is struck by the two clusters of words that throughout his work characterize the qualities of the intertwining and the chiasm. Words like fabric, veil, weaving, tissue, folding, enfolding, confusing, overlapping, intermingling, simultaneity describe the notion of intertwining. They are images, or conjure up images, of a world of together-ness. They seem to indicate that more than anything we are together, interdependently and organically evolving from what was to what will be. They give a sense of continuity and coherence, of connection and cohesion, and in that sense they speak of a world where change happens as an evolutionary and causally traceable process.
The other chiasmic word-cluster consists of words like fissure, hole, cavity, separation, rupture, rupturing, tear, edge, splitting, breaking, punctuation, crisscrossing. These are words that ring into an uneven world of instability and discontinuation, of displacement and disjoining, where incidents and accidents suddenly emerge, and changes take place unforeseeably. This is gathered in the notion of the chiasm. As the chiasm does not necessarily carry a sense of “falling to pieces” as an expression of despair, so “the intertwining” of the other word-cluster does not necessarily point to an evenness and cohesion that essentially is hopeful. Despair and hope emerge in the double determination of intertwining and chiasm: in their contradiction, so to speak. One cannot imagine the one without the other. They are complementary, point to differences and “same-nesses”, even make them possible in so far as any differentiation - and these are, one could say, beings basic differentiation principles upon which all expression stands - needs differences; but they do not form an opposition, an either-or, like a team of cohesion-players playing to win against a team fighting for no cohesion. Hope and despair, and with them all states of being, are connected to the twin-existence of sameness and difference, as founding principles of expression, of formation’s possibility. Neither is more founding than the other; we are founded on paradox. That there is a ring or an atmosphere of apprehension around words like “breaking” and “rupturing” has doubtlessly to do with their association to destruction. Destruction, however, need not come as a rupture or a break; there is equally the destruction that has a character of dissolution, or the destructive character of the meaning-net being held too tightly around us as in all the variations of fundamentalism, or the destructive effects of petrification, or the destruction that follows when no distance is possible. It is a sneaking, silent destruction that comes not as a volcano but as a gradual poisoning of the air; the breathing becomes laborious, reflection stops, and we go blind and deaf.
In a porous world of weaving and fracturing, of joining and disjoining, it is senseless to imagine a world where everything makes sense, where everything, in one way or another, fits in wholes without fractures or fissures, without doubts and questions. Fracturing, weaving, fissures and wholes are equally foundational, not each other’s denial or eradication. Dislocation and displacement are as inherent to the human world-field as are cohesion and continuity; sense and senselessness make each other. Together they guarantee the openness of the field. Together they are the precondition of poiesis. And the synthesis, the inventing of a conceptual principle that folds the one into the other, will, instead of bringing more understanding, reduce and obscure the changing view of the open space. It will deaden the flesh’s passion of becoming, necessary for any impregnation or formation, any speaking, and, accordingly, fall into inconsequence, one version of ruin, and one more condition of destruction. What makes sense is forever married to what does not make sense.
The propensity to close the holes of incomprehensibility and ignore contradictions is not difficult to understand; apart from the fact, however, that it is an experiential impossibility to reach total comprehension, any thing or idea would dissolve in familiarity and predictability, as would we, if we imagined away incomprehensibility. We live as much from what makes sense as from what does not. We become alive in the tension of what we do and do not grasp and know.
This is the field of the human being, a characterization of his expressive situation. Here the subject “takes up his position in the world of meaning.” Here the subject stands as the reflecting, imagining, shaping and speaking member of a world of coherence and rupture, alternately making sense and no sense of his life; the human field of the poietic, erotic tension of value and sense making.

The Attraction of Expression
There is an erotic ‘comprehension’ not of the order of understanding, since understanding subsumes experience, once perceived, under some idea, while desire comprehends blindly by linking body to body.

The tension shifts and intensifies the moment another person enters my field; indeed, my field remains mine, and yet it becomes my field-with-another-person-and-his-field. Our gazes catch each other. This reciprocity of the gaze, which becomes almost threatening “if each of us feels his actions to be not taken up and understood, but observed as if they were an insect’s,” and which makes a loop without beginning and end, arrests momentarily my acting and disturbs. Who is there? I become eminently aware of my own bodily and to myself partially visible shape as well as his. He is like me. We are different. We take part in the same world and share a twin-life, and yet we are different to a degree that communication beyond the initial glance may be a task too demanding. I do not know what he will do and say. His presence is like a question, what does he want? There is a pull, an attraction to this other body that is not a thing but a person, and by turns I feel comfortable and uncomfortable, like a stranger not only to him but also to myself, when he is there. For a while, perhaps just for an instant, my “position in the world of meaning” is less self-evident, it is being scrutinized, looked upon by other eyes, and, by that simple fact, it is under questioning. What has changed? When I place myself close to him our gazes are almost parallel, we see roughly the same; surely the children I have been watching playing on the sidewalk have not changed. Yet, now they have become children-playing-while-we-look. It is a different experience. Together with the other person comes his “position in the world of meaning”, and our reciprocally overlapping field-net has gained in complexity. Meaning opens to its other possibilities. The presence of the other person, even his mere existence in my imagination, has an impact on my situation; it crystallizes the complexity of being-together-being-apart. It brings to the foreground the multiplicity and contradictions of our common ground. Does he, do I, do we know our position in the world of meaning? Maybe he would like to join the children in their ball game, the rules of which I do not know. Maybe he hates kids.
“My” field is thus never just mine. It is composite, a field-web of overlapping other fields, the impure common ground of bits and pieces, of stories and images that shape meaning and position us. On the one hand my field-web secures for me a certain hold on the world, a bodily sense making that goes without saying like an erotic primacy, and on the other hand I am exposed to the demand of making sense of things and events myself. The backwards, re-flective look understands the past on the condition of one perspective or another. My history becomes history seen through the light of change. It “requires one more moment, bounded by the horizon of its future, and requiring in its turn further developments to be understood.” Understanding is partial, even when we really seem to “get it”, and the memory that sweeps over my past binds together events, places and times that may or may not take me by surprise, as if, nevertheless, it were in the grip of an infatuation. The ground is uncertain.
This other person, fellow human being, Mit-mensch, potential friend, traitor, lover, neighbor, thief, child – possesses himself in the same certain-uncertain way as I do and as sensing and thinking possess him. To “have” sensibility, sensibility must have had him. His seeing is a variation in Seeing, and he is a self by virtue of his ability to exchange his vision with another, to position himself differently in a world of Visibility and Mobility, elements of the element of flesh that lies in-around him and between us as latent possibility-traces of shaping. He is a self I cannot quite localize: where is this self, that is him, is he “in” his voice, “in” his facial features, “in” his body’s mass, this thing that is not a thing, but speaking and looking at me, like me? If I approach him “frontally” he eludes me. He is, rather, “by my side”; and he is different. He is what would be lacking, if he did not exist.
“ … there is a myself who is other, which dwells elsewhere and deprives me of my central location …” . I am not at the hub of the world, not even of my own. The other person embodies an otherness that opens my field, so much so that I become other. I am thrown off my center, decentered. Centrum moves off toward the periphery, it holds not forever: who is subject and who is object? There is always another, and although his space was always already prefigured in my space, I am stirred up by his elusive yet bodily being-there. Not that “his space” is prefigured as a manifestation of The Structuring World Spirit behind the material world, but prefigured as the living body’s necessary bond to the living body of the other, complementing one another as of one system of call and response, the one attracting the other. He is another that is my other, taking part in the same world and looking at me, seeing with eyes as eye-like as mine, holding my gaze, or shading for the sun that is also my sun, buttoning his coat against the strong wind that makes me shiver.
The presence of the other almost forces reflection on me. Is there an Eros of reflection? Certainly there is a joy when the words come out right, their message adding to what can be grasped, and there is a strong pull-push in that which disturbs and disrupts and questions the hold I seemingly have on the world. Does it turn into disgust? I want to “get it”. I want to understand not only as a way of asserting my will upon an unruly situation, to order it into meaning-positions that so far made sense, but as much to stay in touch with the other person and the pleasure-pain-disgust-anger-surprise that comes with it, the Eros of living with or without rather than living care-lessly, inconsequentially. I want to be disturbed. I want to reflect.
My bodily, silent world-knowledge and self-awareness is jerked loose from its habitual position, it is pushed out of equilibrium and that calls for an act of expression: words? Gestures? Something wants to be shaped. A distancing has occurred, the necessary distance of reflection .
Living and looking bodies are pulled toward each other. Their moving-seeing-and-seeing-further attracts and distracts them, and time and space add more dimensions to their changing relationship. It is a partnership of proximity and distance, and it appears as acts of expression of gesturing, reflecting, thinking, imagining.
The existence of the other person in my life is forever. I cannot possibly think him away. I can call him back any moment, if not in the flesh then in imagination. I can forget or ignore him, I can turn my back on him but our reciprocal bodily awareness has from now on (and this “now” has always already happened) thrown me into a place where not only the “otherness” of the world, but also the otherness of the other person echoes forth my own otherness, and reflection emerges. Is this I? I am an object to myself. I look for my face. I search for my face in his face. The categories blur. He is like-me-unlike-me. We are subject-object to our selves and to each other, and we speak, including one another in the loop of speaker-and-listener. A loop of shaping.
The pull of shaping is erotic. I long to speak and act. Speaking and acting force themselves on me when there is someone to speak to and act with. There is a desire of the flesh that condenses and concentrates when the other becomes a reality to me that makes mine real. I must speak. I must act. Indeed I can refuse to respond, I can ignore the desire to shape, and whatever is between or in front of us will retreat and its possible value will be denied or lost. But not forever; next time, with another other perhaps, it is there again, offering me the possibility of shaping. Expression unfolds in a realm where the other person exists; he may be ever so far away.
Thus, the existence of the other person and my relation to him secures my thinking and my speaking, my words and my thoughts, my bodily acting. The desire of the flesh tends to crystallize between us and we-of-the-world are caught in language: “hello” acquires a sense. If speech and reflection specifically characterizes human beings, then the other person and I become humans to each other by speech; speaking is essentially a speaking to, a being spoken to. In the attraction of bodies to bodies, and with their oscillation between proximity and distance, are born the twins of language and reflection, the in- and ex-carnation of the flesh.
There he is, this witness to my existence and its expression in all senses of the word. He is my co-seer, whose seeing makes mine real, whose eyes on me turns me into somebody “to be seen”, a some-body of self-seeing and world-seeing, a partner in Visibility. His witnessing turns me into “expression” that ultimately only makes sense if it is conceived as a call to be responded to. By being more than alone, literally or imaginatively, the not-yet-maybe-never-possibility of the flesh becomes an actual possibility. Now I can. I can, because something else and somebody else can. There is an “act-ability” in the fissuring and intertwining of the sensible that breeds action, and because I am not alone it becomes actual. I speak to him and because of him. The other becomes a witness to the silent and audible voices of reflection, acting and speech. The other that is also myself.
He is “with” me, this other person, he is a Mit-mensch, a fellow human being, also when he stands as my adversary, also when he ignores me or is absent. He figures in my landscape. If he did not, my field of meaning would collapse. In what shape he will appear is impossible to say exactly, and of what kind our relationship will be is equally open. However, there is a relation between us, if only for a moment, if only until one of us turns away, ignoring or refusing the other. An aborted relation is a relation nevertheless. “The refusal to communicate, however, is still a form of communication.”
There is an attraction between the same and the different. There is Eros between the world and me and between me and the other person. Exactly the otherness, “the alien presence”, the tension that comes with that thing, person or event, which positions itself by making small or big waves in my world, its very strangeness pushes me toward articulation, be it in lamentation or praise, in artistic expression or the expressions of everyday life. The attractive and repulsive otherness, in the world, in the other person and in me myself, is foundational to my sense making: the poietic basis of my life rests upon and is bound to a co-habitation with aliens as well as non-aliens.
To sum it up: there is an unending circuit between the human being, the other and the world. It is, in principle, never cut off, we are always caught in “the tissue of being”, even though we forget it or deny it, even when we feel cut off and isolated. Despite this unbreakable tie, we are handed over to, or exposed to, our own sense making. As I take up my position in the world the other person takes up his, and as much as I am unique and singular, my singularity presupposes the other and his strangeness to my world. Our relation is equally one of joining and disjoining. He embodies exemplarily the cluster of paradoxes and contradictions that shapes me and pushes me into articulation. By his sensing living body he demonstrates our togetherness and separateness as in one instant. We are same-and-different. There is another myself that is another himself. In everything he does, the tension of sense and non-sense between his actions and mine is constellated; his looking at me turns me into something seen, as my look upon him does it to him. I become a member of the visible world, one of very many “members” yet superbly singular, and I begin to see myself, literally and metaphorically: I search for a face. Through the other person I am drawn into the world of reflection and language, of expression in all media, transcending the matter of my corporeality. Our communication and relation rests on the “fundamental contradiction” between twins who are also strange to each other.
The existence of the other makes shaping possible; it is the Eros of the relationship that pushes us to strive for form. The differentiation and precision of speaking depends on careful listening, as well as listening is dependent of being spoken to. The precision of any forming or shaping depends on the shaping I meet. The other person throws me off balance, in doubt, cracking the situation open by his mere presence and thus forcing me to think and act. He is with me, closely and at a distance. He is my co-actor and my witness. Articulation happens in our joint situation. I speak as a response to a call from the otherness of the person who witnesses me as other.
Is it a love affair? Sometimes. The joy when something works is indisputable. It is this longed for side effect that is only obtainable when whatever is there-to-be-shaped finds its “right shape”, - the shaping medium not withstanding, whether it be a relation between me and the other person, thing, idea, thought, work of art, even if it be ever so ephemeral. There is a pleasure, when the words come out right, and relief, surprise and satisfaction when they also are understood, “caught in the other end,” as Merleau-Ponty says in the essay Cézanne’s Doubt. It makes sense to more-than-me, and it shatters the loneliness and isolation that, at times, accompany me and indeed follow in the wake of expression not caught in the other end or misunderstood.
The desire of the flesh, this invisible realm of possibility in which both I and the other person are steeped, guarantees nothing specifically, just opens to the possibility of “something”. My relation to the other person is indispensable in order for me to be not only one of many but also one of a kind, for my finding my face. It is indispensable for my ability to reflect and speak, imagine and materially shape. Sensing itself depends on the other person; his sensing opens to more and different aspects in mine. He is forever built into my life, and the particular relationship follows all kinds of courses. Our ambiguous selves (abyss, node, cross field, act-ability?) take up their positions in the middle of the contradictions of things.
If it is an affair of love, it is what can happen when the uncertain space of multiple interpretations and shaping possibilities is more-than-usual-open, and, accordingly, when the contradictions are allowed their paradoxical presence. It is a space we can only stay in for a limited span of time. The space of love is the space of possibility, as a fleeting concretization of the ephemeral sphere of the flesh. It is the space where Victor Turner’s communitas happens, the sense of unity and care among human beings equally exposed to the uncertainty of the folds and fissures of being. And, according to Turner, it will always pass. If we try to hold on to it in its spontaneous shape and demand or command it beyond its manifestation, or rid it of its paradoxical base, it petrifies.
If there were no other and otherness, if everything made sense from finite and definable points of view, the world would forever stay flat, stretching from here to there. Similarly, if my relation to the other person would be rid of its ambiguity, the relationship would lose its attraction to an all-pervading familiarity. I would dissolve into a desert of known-ness. I would be without distinction, have no voice, no individual style, because there would be no otherness to make the life-giving crack in the familiar. There would be only an engulfing eternity of the same; no thought, no reflection, no future, no past. The poietic basis of being would be replaced by prosaic functioning.
The experience of otherness is vital to my survival. I cannot survive only alone or only together. And, certainly, I cannot survive only different or only same. By literally being born by another human being and being different and strange even to her – “she has your eyes, but look at that nose, where does that come from?” - I am immediately also a stranger. I am immediately set apart.
Can our likenesses be found, if we are not allowed our strangeness? The other as exactly other, and the other as another myself, this fundamental contradiction is vital to the poetic act of finding form on all levels of expression.

Finding form: the aesthetic condition
The notion of form that emerges from the above has, so to speak, “otherness” as a built-in quality. Firstly, it is form-as-participation. It is equally in and out of the eyes of some-body, it even gives eyes to this living body of somebody: form is not an acquisition of her or him, but “captured at the other end”.
The body in the world, a partnership between two separate entities, is the point of departure of the shaping of difference and sameness. Form is body shaped by another body, being’s desire of linking body to another body, world, thing or human being. We take part and we act our part in a pulsating and porous field, the circumference or horizon of which is open, uncertain, incomplete, always up for questioning, always situated upon other fields, yet never completely identical with any other but slightly askew. Expression in its infinite variations is the incessant attempts at shaping the relation to the world, with ourselves and each other; it is the continuous formulation of the shaping of the inhabitant among other inhabitants; to expect its completion or full formulation is a contradiction in terms, and to see it as a progress towards an imagined perfection blurs vision to the fact, that falling away, dying out and fragmenting is as much part of formation’s foundation as is coming into being and into form. Expression is steps taken in a fog, with no guarantee of a stepping stone somewhere, or somebody to go to, yet Wechselgesang, Weltmöglichkeit …
Secondly, it lies in the paradoxical otherness of the dynamics of sensing. Sensing itself makes a mark, without which there is no sensing, shaping by virtue of the double acting of the intertwining and the chiasm. The coming-into-form carries the double paradox, on the one hand of otherness as that which-is-not-the-same and, on the other hand, as fragmentation, break-down and dissolution. Following these contrary principles of manifestation Merleau-Ponty unites an always incomplete form-realization of experience with a certain stability and coherence. Form keeps, and it also breaks down, appears anew or appears differently, sometimes almost at the same time. Stability is carrying instability as a founding condition. The experience that something changes is only possible because not all changes simultaneously.
Merleau-Ponty links the notion of form, expression, to the world without placing it either as an ideal formality in matter itself or “in” an otherworldly realm of formative “ideas”, or, on the other hand, as a subjective and relative manifestation that is only culturally determined: the fact that the world appears as form links us to it, and vice versa. The linking goes two ways. The appearance of form does not happen “according to a norm”; it is the “beginning of a norm”, a beginning that takes place all the time, one might say. There is always an element of incompletion to any view. The formative condition of sensing sets the stage on ambiguous ground and the formed world appears as simultaneously changing and stable. However, it secures a shaped “something” that allows us to shape further in innumerable ways and in “all” media, in thought, language and artistic expression. Because of the openness of the notion of form, the expressive range is principally endless. Even though the singular formative act closes in upon itself, the formative horizon is always open.
Artistic expression is connected to the same notion of form. Otherness is inherent to artistic expression as to other kinds of expression. Moreover, artistic expression positions itself as other in relation to everyday expression. Everyday life is, one might say, constituted by qualities of recognition and cohesion. It is determined by familiarity. The power of daily life derives from being-as-usual. It stands on the necessary illusion that “things” stand on and “acts” happen on stable ground, allowing us to comprehend and function rather unhindered by thoughts of the contrary. Its worries and pains are “comprehended” and comprehend-able. It rests, so to speak, on an exaggeration and maintenance of the intertwining aspect of sense making. It “forgets” the disruptive side of the world.
The artistic expression and process have a less restricted relation to “things as they usually are”. Since the artwork cannot help us catch the bus or go to the grocery store, it does not need to stabilize habits and the conditions of everyday life. That is taken care of by everyday living itself. On the contrary: it de-familiarizes. One might even say that artistic expression “lives” from standing next to life-as-usual and watch its “strange” unfolding, strange itself. It becomes an embodiment of what is other to everyday life. By its mere existence it creates a fissure between the usual and the un-usual, and in that sense it “remembers” what everyday life must forget in order to be everyday life.
Of course, everyday life is not a continuous flow of “the same”, but if “the same” were not the dominant quality, everyday life would cease to be. Artistic expression opens to the otherness inherent not only to itself, but also to daily living. It questions the self-evidence of everyday categorizations. It reminds us of the chiasmic and disruptive and strange side of the world.
Expression in art plays with the limits of the supposed and real necessity of categorizations as such. The artwork becomes a concretization of the categorical confusion we tend to overlook and want to order in place. Otherness becomes otherness in the encounter with the same; the expression of everyday life and the artistic expression test reciprocally the validity of each other, ask of each other disturbing and unanswerable questions. They give a contour to each other, they allow each to evaluate what is.
That is what partners do. They “intertwine” and they “chiasm”. The otherness of form secures the possibility of form, secures that “sameness” will never “win” over what is “other”, as otherness will never eradicate the same. The existence of all that is also there, and particularly the other person, the fact that we are not only alone, activates the formative possibilities toward realization as well as annihilation.

We are given a world and given to a world that appears on the basis of a paradox. The paradoxical and ambiguous ground of sensing is what we are exposed to, stand on, and a sense of the beauty that comes with the twilight and the possible as well as the bright colors and the decisive statement is the challenging gift of being alive. That is the expressive condition of the human being. It binds together and pulls apart, it appears as finite form and it breaks and frays at the edges.
The human being is the living of an open formative principle, bound to a unique and concretely shaped position in the midst of multiple formative possibilities. The possibility of the singular and precise expression – “this is what I think” – is preconditioned by what is already said or thought, what is not thought and what is unthinkable, and it prefigures more thought, more saying. It is the acting “now” of the intertwining and the chiasm. It is Eros acting on contrary ground, pushing ‘I’ and ‘other’ into a shape of expression and meaning among multiple shaping possibilities.
We cannot elevate our shaping, our stand, our position in the world of meaning, above the contrary tendencies and the ensuing tensions of intertwining and chiasm that make it. We cannot command the world according to our position. We can, however, act, make a mark while being marked, and thus stay in touch with the poietic basis of Being.