I am reading David Ross Fryer's The Intervention of the Other again. Put briefly, the book is a plea for a reading of Levinas and Lacan through each other. I am not sold on the usefulness of this Levinas/Lacan relation, but it is highly suggestive (and perhaps this is why Fryer is drawn to it). I love the work of both of them and I am more than happy to be persuaded on this issue, but, as Fryer himself admits: 'they never wrote about each other'. It is striking that the book seems to fall toward Levinas here and Lacan there, like a great pendulum swinging between the two in the motion of an endless either/or. There is no place for the unconscious in Levinas, no place for anything like a metaphysics in Lacan. These are two absolutely incommensurate thinkers.
There is a tendency in recent scholarship, it seems to me, to proceed from what we might call a vulgar historicism, as if to want to promulgate a certain imperative that thinkers from the same place and time be of and about the same core cultural patterns, as if working towards a singular and coherent frame that is guaranteed by the historical predicament of their writing.
But writing is a solitary business and there is no such guarantee: place is as much a pragmatic as writing itself. These two might have sat in the same cafés, spoken with mutual friends, eaten in the same restaurants and fucked the same women. But, in the end, it is all something else, something other than THIS proposed relation, the relation that is not one.
No way in, no way out...
In the end, that difference is something we should treasure and make something of. Build with it, fashion, construct and open out...
No more smoothing, please.
I want it rough!