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On Fidelity;

or, will you still love me tomorrow...

by Jeremy Fernando
with an afterword by James Batcho
& a post-script translation by
Daniel Chan

Layout and Cover Design by Yanyun Chen

This book was made possible by a collaboration between the

Centre for Science & Innovation Studies at the University
of California, Davis; Tembusu College at the National
University of Singapore; the Centre for the Critical Study of
Communication, Media, and Art at the National University
of Singapore; the Centre for Modern Thought at the
University of Aberdeen; and the European Graduate School.

For Caren Kaplan;

with thanks and gratitude for your warmth, kindness,
intelligence, and generosity.
And above all for the gift of your friendship.


On fidelity; or, will you still love me tomorrow...

by Jeremy Fernando


Afterword (or, Beyond Words)

by James Batcho


Une lettre sur les lettres ; or, the splat is the
site of love
par Jeremy Fernando


A letter on letters; or, the splat is the site of

by Daniel Chan & Jeremy Fernando

This talk was delivered on the 25th of February 2014, at the

Centre for Science & Innovation Studies at the University of
California, Davis. It was organised, and moderated, by Mario
Biagioli, Director of the CSIS and Distinguished Professor of
Law and Science and Technology Studies.

On fidelity;
or, will you still love me tomorrow...

by Jeremy Fernando

I tell you yes. I begin us with a yes.

Yes begins us.
(Hlne Cixous)

16 And it is this us that is the site of thought. For, in order to

begin thinking, we have to open a relationality between our

selves and something, or someone; between our selves and
Thinking begins with a yes.
But, in order for that relationality to be opened, one would
first have to be open to that, to its, possibility. Thus, it is an
openness that precedes thinking, even as much as one is
thinking as one opens that relationality: it is and we might
never quite be able to say with any certainty what it is both
the condition and an approach to the possibility of thinking
And here, we have to attend to the fact that it is not one who
begins us with a yes but an I. So, not only is it an active
decision, it is one that is made by a singular person and in
that moment of deciding, the I cannot escape, retreat, hide
behind, universality: there is no duty, imperative, framework,
that makes that decision for the I. It is only such as I have
chosen it to be so. I have called us to begin with that yes.
In fact, the decision to begin must come before that yes
even as it can only come as the yes is uttered. Thus, opening
oneself to a relationality with another resides in the yes;
and yes is the very condition and juncture of relationality
that we are speaking of.
But, if opened by an I, then perhaps it is only that of Hlne
Cixous. And by reading her I, do I then also make it mine,
make her mine? Which opens the question of its legitimacy:
for my reading of her I may never have had anything to
do with her: the I might well only be voices in my head.
Which might suggest that one has moved back into the
realm of an imperative, a duty, a call: but, even if so, it is one
where the one called, that thinks (s)he is called, can never

quite be certain from where this call is emanating, where it

is coming from. So, perhaps the risk here is not just that by
responding to a call one might make it ones own, but that
acknowledging the possibility that it might be a call already
opens the possibility of us; an us that could only happen
because of the intervention of the I. An answering that
might have already happened the moment one says yes to
the possibility of the call, to the possibility that it is a call.
An openness, an opening, that resides in a yes even as yes,
it, is only opened by an I. A yes that is preceded by a yesness of the yes; a yes-ness that can only be called into being by
an I who cannot yet know of it. Or, perhaps even a yes that
always carries with it a yes-ness that escapes the yes.
For, even as a yes is opened, this is an affirmation that
cannot be a complete affirmation: if that were so, this would
be a yes that completely consumes the object that it is
purporting to open a relationality with at that point,
the object or person that the I is in a relationality with is
subsumed under the self; which would be the end of the
possibility of that relationality. Perhaps here, it is the notion
of possibility that we have to pay most attention to, keeping
in mind that potentiality is not merely a phase preceding
actuality. Which is not to say that nothing will happen; not
only can we not quite be sure of that, if it were so, it would no
longer be a potentiality. Nor it is as Giorgio Agamben likes
to say a potential-to-be and a potential-not-to-be. For,
if that were so, the not-to-be would lie beyond potentiality.
Whilst there is something that quite possibly escapes
potentiality, this is a beyond that is not outside the realm
of potentiality, but within it. Thus, true potentiality is the
potential-to-be and an impotentiality not-to-be, a potentiality
that negates itself as a negation, but still shimmers there, as a
possibility of a non-negation.1


18 In other words, even as there is a yes, in order for it to be

an opening to thinking, to thought, it has to always also

carry the spectre of a no in it. And if thought is an openness
to possibility otherwise it would merely be a moment
before action, be a precursor to doing there has to be the
potential for thought to not only amount to nothing, but also
be non-thought itself. But this would not be a non-thought
that is an antonym to thinking, a negation of thought, but a
thinking that thinks itself as non-thinking, or a non-thinking
that is already thinking; a no within a yes; a no that quite
possibly carries echoes of yes-ness within it; the two perhaps
remaining indistinguishable.
A yes carrying echoes of a no.
A yes that opens the possibility of a relationality, a
possibility that is maintained as such only by the possibility
of a no within, a no that perhaps cuts, but that never quite
wounds. A cut that opens: keeping in mind Jean-Luc Nancys
reminder that it is space that is needed for touch to begin in
the first place.2 Perhaps then, a no that not only maintains
the proper distance between the two saying yes the two
that attempt to open a relationality with each other but
more than that, a no that opens the possibility for yes to
even begin us.
A no that we find in the opening line of Hanif Kureishis
novel Intimacy It is the saddest night, for I am leaving
and not coming back3 a no uttered by the protagonist,
Jay, to no one in particular, perhaps not even himself. For,
one must try to remember that even as one encounters his
thoughts at the beginning, that they touch one at the start,

Jay spends most of the novel doing absolutely nothing. And

more than that, it is this no that opens his reflection, his
recounting, of his relationship with his wife, Susan, and his
two children; meditating upon them in a way that it seems
that he has never before done. So, even as he is ostensibly
enacting, or at least uttering, a cut, a break, from them, he is
also already opening another perhaps more intimate
relationship with them.
And in this way, the time he remains with them he
does eventually leave is a time that pulses and moves
within chronological time, that transforms chronological
time from within.4 Whilst it may seem strange to evoke
Agambens meditation of messianic time here, one should
not forget that the realm of memory, of remembering, is
not just achronological, ahistorical, nor merely historical,
chronological; it is a time that evokes what has already
happened, and whilst doing so always also brings what is
recalled back to one in the present. However, this particular
parousia involves a second coming of an event that may or
may not have happened. And here, one should never forget
that one has no control over forgetting. And thus, not only
is each memory potentially unreliable, one can never quite
be sure if each act of memory, remembering, might always
already have forgetting written into it. Where even if what
one remembers is true, has a truth, aletheia, there might
always be a certain forgetting, oblivion, lethe, inscribed in
it.5 Here, one might even open the register that forgetting
is the very condition of memory itself: for, if there were no
forgetting, there would never be any need to remember.
Thus, when one remembers, not only is one recalling a time
that has past, one is also potentially calling forth a possibility
that has not quite happened; a future-possibility; not from
somewhere outside ones own time, but from the time that
remains within ones own past, ones own time. Which
reopening our registers to Agamben can only mean a


20 radical transformation of our experience of time,6 or, if one

prefers, times.

Moreover, we should recall Agambens lesson that the

messianic is not the end of time but the time of the end.
What is messianic is not the end of time but the relation
of every moment, every kairos, to the end of time, and to
eternity.7 Which suggests that without even needing
a divine notion of time here it is a time which always
already knows it own end, without actually knowing where
the end is; a time which bears in mind a time when it is no
longer time; a time which has non-time in time.
Thus, time in relation with its other.
And what else is relationality other than an attempt to be
in relation with another;8 a call to another which never
subsumes the other under the self. Or, to echo Alain
Badious conception, a construction, a life that is being
made, no longer from the perspective of the One but from
the perspective of Two.9 And, as Badiou would call it, the
moment of Love: keeping in mind that love always starts
with an encounter. And I would give this encounter the
quasi-metaphysical status of an event, namely of something
that doesnt enter into the immediate order of things.10 This
is not a fusing of two into one the romantic notion that
continues to haunt, to tempt, attempts to think of love a
notion that not only as in classic mythology leads
towards death, but more importantly, leads to the effacement
of one by another, an effacement of relationality itself.
Instead, this is love that invents a new way of lasting in life
a new way of experiencing time.11 Where the invention
involves the transformation of the absolute contingency of
[an] encounter with someone I didnt know [into something
that] finally takes on the appearance of destiny.12

In other words, love as the moment in which another time

is written into ones; the time of an other that transforms
ones time whilst always also remaining other, always also
remaining a time that remains.
A time with a time in tune with another time yet also not
of the same time with time contemporaneous. With
and not-with at the same time.
An impossible time.
Here, perhaps it might be time to attempt to open the dossier
of fidelity; and, in particular, attend to the question of the
relationality between fidelity and its object, to the question
of must there be an object to fidelity?. For, if one is faithful
to something or someone, is one responding to the what,
the characteristics of the thing, the person; or, the who, the
person, thing, as such? Which is not to say that what and
who are necessarily distinguishable, separable, to begin
with. However, if we open the register that the who is always
already beyond us outside of knowability, even if only
slightly this suggests that it is the spectre, the potentially
unknowable, that haunts all relationality. Thus, even if there
is an object to ones fidelity without which one cannot even
begin to speak of fidelity, speak of relationality this might
well be an objectless object or, at least, an object that remains
veiled from one.
And whenever we open the dossier of fidelity, the notion of
love is, of course, quite possibly, never far behind. A notion
that one often encounters through a notion that might
well come through, call to us through the phrase I love


22 you. A phrase that Badiou reminds us is usually thought to

be completely meaningless and banal [but, what it also says

and here I am, perhaps irresponsibly, disregarding ones
intentions, or even the subject who utters the sentence is],
I shall extract something else from what was mere chance.
Im going to extract something that will endure, something
that will persist, a commitment, a fidelity.13 When one
says to another I love you, you say that to someone living,
standing there in front of you, but you are also addressing
something that cannot be reduced to this simple material
presence, something that is absolutely and simultaneously
both beyond and within.14 Or, perhaps even, something that
is absolutely simultaneously beyond whilst extracted
within. And even as one posits that one extract[s] something
that will endure, the thing that lasts, that stays with the
two, that might well be the sign of fidelity, is perhaps only
to come, venir. Thus, I love you, is an utterance of relation,
of a relationality between an I and a you; a relationality
particularly if the other, both others, remain wholly
other in which the two in relation with each other remain
unknown, where the other remains veiled. And, if love is
the openness of one to another, it is a relationality where the
I is altered, but perhaps in ways that one remains blind to.
More than that, since the two the I and the you are,
remain, unknown, the relationality itself love itself
might well also remain hidden from one.
Thus, I love you is an utterance of relationality that does
nothing more, or less, than promises relationality between
one and the other an utterance in fidelity to the possibility
of relationality.
And here, as the dossier on promises is opened, one might
also hear echoes of Werner Hamachers teaching that,
whenever there is a promise, something other than the
promise and something other than language or simply

another language is also spoken. What is promised is

always something other than understanding, other than
another understanding, and other than an alteration of
understanding alone. Something unpromisable.15 Something
that is always already not of the promise; not in the sense of
being excluded from promises, certainly not antonymous to
promises, but something that escapes being promised even as
it is part of the promise. For, in order to promise, there has to
be something that is only to come, something not quite yet,
something beyond; where the something that is promised
cannot even have the status of a thing, or at least a known
thing thus, there can never be a referent to the promise.
Which means that even as it is being promised keeping
in mind that promises can only take place as a relation, in
relation to another it is a relationality where the promisory
utterance, statement without which there cannot be
any promise is one that is without correspondence, is
catachrestic. A statement, an utterance, that not only cannot
be verified, but which might never be verifiable. And, which
might well have occurred without one ever even knowing
a coming to be outside of, exterior to, what one knows, one
thinks, one has uttered. Which means that it is not so much
whether it is promised or not, but that the unpromisable
cannot be promised because one can not know of it even
when one has uttered it. Or, even: the unpromisable cannot
be promised precisely because even when it is uttered, it
is not, cannot be, is not quite yet, stated. Thus, promising
means nothing else [other than] a promise of the mere
possibility of making promises.16
Which is not to say that the one that is promising is not
responsible for the promise, for the utterance of the promise;
for, one must never forget that even as it is perhaps always
only in potentiality, it must also be uttered. A promise only
exists if it can be said to exist, to be; but at least it is always
in becoming in and through language.

24 Keeping in mind that often-times language says far more, or

far less, something other, than what one is saying, writing.
Or, to turn to Hamacher once again: speaking a language
means nothing else than speaking as one who does not yet
have a language17 as one who is speaking as if one can
speak a language as one who is doing nothing other than
promising to speak a language.

Speaking in fidelity to the possibility of speaking a language

perhaps, especially when one is attempting to speak of
fidelity, in fidelity, to another.
Perhaps especially when one is uttering I love you.
Which opens the possibility that not only does the I never
quite know what (s)he, one, it, is uttering that one is
uttering in blind faith to the possibility of love, in the hope of
a fidelity to come but that at the point of love, the I and
the you might well be in a relationality that brings with it
the possibility of a non-relationality.
A relationality that puts the two in a relation with each other,
whilst at the same time maintains a distance within that
A relationality that knows not what it is, even as it enters that
A relationality where the one the I that enters into
that relationality knows not what it does; where one jumps,
where I jump, in blindly, even foolishly.

The fool, the clown, the picaro for, whenever one hears of 25
love, especially a love that is intensely devout in spite of all
circumstances, situations, particularities, it is not too difficult
to hear the voice of Don Quixote, calling out, declaring his
service, dedicating his life even, to Lady Dulcinea, or more
aptly, his Lady Dulcinea. In his own words: ... her name is
Dulcinea, her country El Toboso, a village of La Mancha, her
rank must be at least that of a princess, since she is my queen
and mistress, for in her are realised all the impossible and
chimerical attributes of beauty that poets assign to ladies;
for her hair is gold; her forehead Elysian fields; her eyebrows
rainbows; her eyes suns; her cheeks roses; her lips coral;
her teeth pearls; her neck alabaster; her bosom marble; her
hands ivory; her fairness snow; and those parts that modesty
has concealed from human sight are such, I think and trust,
that discretion can praise them, but make no comparison.
Despite the fact that or, to be fair once again, according to
Sancho Panza I can tell you that she can pitch the iron
bar as well as the strongest lad in the whole village. God save
us! Shes a lusty lass, tall and straight, with hair on her chest,
who can pull the chestnuts out of the fire for any knight
errant now or to come who has her for his lady.19
But, it would be too easy to say that infatuation has pulled the
wool over the Dons eyes, and that he cannot see her for who
and what she really is: that, in spite of everyone even his
trusty squire pointing out that Dulcinea is really Aldonzo
Lorenzo, the Knight of the Rueful Figure sees her as the
fairest lady in the world. Moreover, this would be consistent
with his version of the world attacking windmills as giants,
challenging other non-existent knights, declaring himself a
knight whilst forgetting that he is Alonso Quixana. For, one
should not forget that his madness the catalyst, as it were,
of his transfiguration from Quixana to a knight comes
from, through, too many books on chivalry, from too much
reading. In this sense, one can open the dossier of Avital

26 Ronells wonderful reading of Madame Bovary where

she teases out the possibility that Emmas addictions to

pharmaceuticals and reading are not necessarily completely
distinguishable20 and attend to the register that it is not
so much that Quixana is seeing things that are not there,
in a flight of fancy as it were, but that he is seeing new
possibilities in what is in front of him, in reality itself. This
distinction between fancy and possibilities or between
fancy and imagination as Wallace Stevens would put it is
in ones relationship to reality itself. Fancy, as Stevens posits
in The Necessary Angel is an attempt to break, separate,
from reality; imagination is an attempt to be in the world,
but not in a way that is bound by convention, repetition,
habits, mores, culture even.21 In other words, imagination is a
throwing of oneself into the world; where ones habitus is not
merely habit, merely habitual, but an attempt to respond to
the world in such a way that there is a momentary cut not
from the world, but in the world itself. Thus, imagination is a
manner of opening oneself to the possibility of a relationality:
one that is not quite there yet, where the relation itself has not
yet formed, but where one acts as if it has already done so.
Which might be why to everyone else the one who
imagines might seem to be mad, to be out of her or his
mind, to be quite literally seeing things. Or, more aptly,
seeing things that no one else can see not because they
are not there, not because they are not looking hard enough,
but perhaps because they are not looking blindly. For, if
knowledge, if knowing, is based on correspondence, it
is always also in the realm of memory what is known
is also what one recalls, calls back to oneself. Thus, it is a
relationality between one, a subject, and the object one
remembers. However, since forgetting happens to one one
can neither control when it strikes us, nor what one forgets
this suggests that there is no necessary object to forgetting;
or, at least, no object that can be known to the one who

forgets. Hence, one might never be able to detect if one has

forgotten, even retrospectively. And more than that, since
forgetting can come and go as it pleases, since it is beyond the
possibility of knowing, it remains a name referring to nothing
except the fact that it is a name; a catachrestic metaphor
that moves in and out independently of ones cognition.
Thus, there is no reason to believe that each act of memory
might not have forgetting inscribed in it. Which opens the
possibility that this moment of madness, this moment of
seeing what no one else sees, is also a glimpse into forgetting.
Not that one can articulate it for, the moment it is uttered,
one is back into an attempted correspondence, into memory.
But, at the same time, one almost always articulates it if
only to express the fact that one does not, cannot, know what
one has forgotten through the enigmatic utterance, the
utterance of an enigma, I forgot. An utterance of a memory
since it can be, and is, uttered but a memory that is not
shared by anyone else, not even one self, ones self. And what
ones utterance, this utterance, makes all too clear is that it
is often quite impossible to distinguish with any certainty
between fancy and imagination: for, if one cannot know if
ones recollection has any correspondence with the world,
with what has happened, one cannot know if it has anything
to do with reality or not. Thus, at that moment of seeing, of
bringing back before oneself, one is always seeing blindly; in
the precise sense of there being an inherent blindness in ones
sight. Not just because one might have missed something,
or that one might have seen something that others cannot;
not just because one can never be sure if what one is seeing
is actually there, that there is an unknowability in all
referentiality; but that one must make a leap of faith that
one is actually seeing, that one can even see, that there is a
possibility of knowing, that one can even know.

28 And perhaps imagination, seeing what is not seen by others,

is an acknowledgment a foregrounding even that even
as one is seeing, one is always already seeing blindly.
Where blindness is both the limit, and the necessary
condition, of seeing itself.
Which might be why he is the Rueful Knight: for, what he
is sorrowful about is the fact that not only can no one else
see the Lady Dulcinea that is in Aldonzo Lorenzo, but that
even as he can name her as the fairest of ladies, her beauty is
impossible and chimerical, a beauty that is only that which
poets assign to ladies a beauty that is such perhaps
only because he has named her as my queen and mistress.
Or, even: that her beauty is impossible as it is only in
his naming her as queen and mistress; and that it will
Dulcinea will always remains chimerical, even to him.
Which brings us back to the beginning, and to the question
of the relationality between love and the who and the what
the question of, do we love someone for who they are, or
what they are. And the possibility that, even as they remain
potentially inseparable, one perhaps catches a glimpse of
the who in these moments of foolishness, in these moments
when everyone else calls one a fool, mad. Not that one
might even necessarily be able to know what this glimpse
is, but only that one names it so; in the very moment that
one names the other as the loved one in the moment of
uttering I love you.
Thus, not so much why do fools fall in love, but that one has to
be a fool to fall in love.
Where the risk is precisely that of falling itself. Not just
when love fails, but perhaps even more so when there is a
momentary opening of the possibility of the Two. Where,

in that moment, there is a coming together even as both

remain wholly other from each other. And here, one should
never forget the risks involved in any potential communion:
for, as Georges Bataille teaches us: communication cannot
proceed from one full and intact individual to another. It
requires individuals whose separate existence in themselves is
risked, placed at the limit of death and nothingness; the moral
summit is the moment of risk taking, it is a being suspended
in the beyond of oneself, at the limit of nothingness ...22
Perhaps then, the risk is precisely that the two can no longer
quite remain wholly other, cannot remain whole; that what is
opened, ruptured even, is quite possibly the self.
That at that point, he really is no longer Alonso Quixana but
is Don Quixote.
As to, why do they fall in love?, if the question is one that
is calling for a reasonable response, a response of reason,
perhaps the only possible reply is another question: so, why
do birds sing so gay?
Which is perhaps a way of saying: I dont know.
Which is why I love you is never two-way.
For, just because it is an utterance that opens to the possibility
of a relationality does not mean that it is reciprocal. And,
even if reciprocated, it is a reciprocity that is another I love
you; possibly through an I love you too another one-way;
and, perhaps more importantly, another utterance that might
not know, might not ever know, the reason for its utterance;
a response that is an utterance which, an utterance as an

30 attempted response that, might always already lie outside

reason; a response that is made in the same blindness

whatever that might even begin to mean as the one it is
perhaps attempting to respond to.
An utterance that might have naught to do with the other.
But, as Roland Barthes never lets us forget: proffering cannot
be double (doubled): only the single flash will do, in which
two forces join (separate, divided, they would not exceed
some ordinary agreement). For the single flash achieves this
unheard-of thing: the abolition of responsibility. Exchange,
gift, and theft (the only known forms of economy) each in
its way implies heterogeneous objects and a dislocated time:
my desire against something else and this always requires
the time for drawing up the agreement. Simultaneous
proffering establishes a movement whose model is socially
unknown, unthinkable: neither exchange, nor gift, nor
theft, our proffering, welling up in crossed fires, designates
an expenditure which relapses nowhere and whose very
community abolishes any thought of reservation: we enter
each by means of the other into absolute materialism.24 And
not just materialism in the sense of conditions, contexts,
particularities, situations; but also, and perhaps more
importantly, in the unknowability of the object, and the
unknowability that the other, both others, plunge themselves
into as they, we, become objects.
Which is why I hallucinate what is empirically impossible:
that our two profferings be made at the same time.25 But,
perhaps possible if one considers the possibility that love is
the opening of the time of the two, of two in their own time.
A dream perhaps, a hallucination even. After all, it would
not quite be a dream if it were already possible. However,
in order to dream of something, to imagine it, it would also
have to be within ones realm of possibility at the very

least, one would have to be able to conceive of it. Perhaps

then, the dream of simultaneity is an impossible possibility:
possible only if we take seriously the impossibility of the
Perhaps then, only in a time which cannot designate a
chronological period or duration but, instead, must represent
nothing less than a qualitative change in how time is
experienced.26 Which suggests that it is not time itself that is
altered how could that even be but ones relationship to
it. Thus, a relationality that might never be able to be felt by
anyone but oneself; or even, it might well be a relationality to
oneself that is at stake here. After all, one should recall again
that this is a time that Giorgio Agamben calls, the time of
the messiah,27 messianic time. One that is not the end of
time, but the time of the end where to experience the
time of the end, can only mean a radical transformation
of our experience of time.28 Keeping in mind that this is a
time that pulses and moves within chronological time, that
transforms chronological time from within.29 Not that the
chronology is altered, but rather, the manner in which one
experiences it: for, what is radically transformed, is changed
at the root, is oneself. And here, one should not, even as one
tends to, forget that the I is always already plural; even
grammatically. (S)he loves I love. Perhaps always already
an indication, a reminder, of its own othernessperhaps
even to itself.
Thus, it is a situation where one is both in time, and in
another time, at the same time: where one is contemporary.
Perhaps then, keeping in mind that I love you is an attempt
to open a relationality, it is an opening, an utterance, that
distends time, an already that is also a not yet, a delay that
does not put off until later but is, instead, a disconnection
within the present moment that allows us to grasp time.30
For, without this momentary delay, this disconnection, there


32 would not be the gap, the space-between, for the other I love

you, for the response from another, to be an actual response.

It is a relationality, an opening to the event, to the possibility
of the Two, only in the moment when the I love you doesnt
merely assume an automatic affirmation, isnt seeking a
banal reaction where it opens itself to the possibility of
a rejection, even a non-response but at the same time
remains open to a possible response that is to come. And,
in fact, is uttered as if the response is to come never
expectantly, but always already in hope.
Perhaps only awaiting ...
Bearing in mind that waiting has no object. For, the moment
one knows what, or whom, one is waiting for, waiting has
already ended: one is already in expectancy; where arrival is
the mere actualisation, where waiting is only part of a phase.
Moreover, if one already knows the object that, whom, one
is waiting for, (s)he, it, is always already there, just not yet
materialised and one is in chronological time. But, at the
same time, if one has absolutely no idea of what, or whom,
one is waiting for, there is no relationality; there is no waiting
as well. Thus, the only way in which one can be waiting
without it being merely functional, simply utilitarian is
to have a name to the waiting; where one is waiting for a
name, without necessarily knowing whom or what this
name corresponds to, with. In this way, it is a relationality to
something, but a something that remains in possibility.
Godot, for instance.
Where there is a distance, a gap between, that opens the
possibility that the name that one is awaiting is not just
about to come, but also perhaps always already there; an
already and a not yet. But, not in the same form as when
one knows the object: for, that is when the idea is already

there, and the material object is not yet. This, instead, is a

radical transformation of ones experience of waiting: where
both the eidos and the physis are both simulateneously
potentially there, and not yet there. Where, all one can say is
that, I wait.31 Allowing all echoes of Roland Barthes beautiful
question Am I in love? to resound here, alongside his
enigmatic response: Yes, since Im waiting.32 And where
else is waiting but in the dash, : between the mark of the
question, and the response. And he continues: the lovers
identity is precisely: I am the one that waits.
Which opens for us, leaves us with, the question of the I,
and the identity of this I: for, since the I cannot quite know
whom, or what, (s)he might be awaiting, and since love is
the openness to the possibility of another, since love is of
the possibility of the Two, all the I can know is that it is the
one that waits. For nothing other that the possibility of the
Two, nothing other than what one has named love. Whether
another responds, whether another comes, whether the other
that comes is I itself is not known; and perhaps can never be
known, even if, even after, there is a response.
For, the I love you that one hears might always only be voices
in ones head.
Which might be why one can say at least in the English
language that I am a faithful person,33 that I am a person
of faith. For, faith always already brings with it a notion
of doubt without which, it is a matter of knowledge,
of knowing. In order for there to be faith, one has to also
acknowledge that one believes in spite of the fact that it might
be untrue or, at least that, the object of ones faith might
remain veiled from one. Thus, it is a relationality between
one, the I for, to have faith, one must say that one is the
one who has, that it is I who have, who professes, faith and
an object that is already and also not yet here. For, to know

34 that I am a faithful person, one would both have to already

be faithful to, and yet also has to wait until the end, until
the end of the relationality, to know if one has been faithful.
Hence, I am a faithful person is, and can always only be, a
profession, a promise, where one acts as if one is faithful. And
in acting as if, one lives as a faithful person; one has a radical
transformation and is always already even as one is not yet
faithful; faithful even as one can never be faithful enough.
Which is also why I am a faithful person is, must be, an
utterance. For, it is not, and can never be, at the level of
fact: it is only so as it is said to be. Not even a performative
statement even as it might affect another, might sometimes
be perlocutionary but one which refers to nothing except
its own utterance, does nothing except call itself ones own
faithfulness into being.
And more than that, it is an utterance that waits that
awaits the possibility of its own being, or even becoming. An
utterance that is faithful to the possibility of its own fidelity.
An utterance that remains faithful to itself.
One made in fidelity to nothing but the possibility of fidelity.
An utterance returning once again to the beginning, to
where we began, to the voice that continues to resound with
us that attempts to attend to the echoes of Hlne Cixous
that whisper:

I love you: I work at

understanding you to the
point of not understanding
you, and there, standing in a
wind, I dont understand you.
Not understanding in a way
of holding myself in front and
of letting come. Transverbal,
transintellectual relationship, this
loving the other in submission
to the mystery. (Its accepting,
not knowing, forefeeling, feeling
with the heart.) Im speaking
in favour of non-recognition,
not of mistaken cognition. Im
speaking of closeness, without any


This particular notion of, relationality with,
potentiality was opened to me in a conversation with Werner

The need for space in relation to touch was explored

by Nancy particularly in relation to love, relationality,
closeness, and the possibility of rupturing, wounding, ripping
when space is effaced during his seminar, entitled Art,
Community, & Freedom, at the European Graduate School in
June 2006.

1999: 3.

Hanif Kureishi. Intimacy. London: Faber & Faber,

Giorgio Agamben. The Church and the Kingdom.

translated by Leland de la Durantaye. Calcutta: Seagull
Books, 2012: 12.

Lethe being one of the five river of Hades (whose

water when drunk caused forgetfulness); from the Greek
lethe, literally forgetfulness, oblivion, which is related to
lethargos forgetful, lathre secretly, by stealth, lathrios
stealthy, lanthanein to be hidden. Also related to the Latin
latere to be hidden.

Aletheia: truth, truthfulness, which comes from alethes

true, literally not concealing; from a- not+ lethe
forgetfulness, oblivion.
Which opens the register that it is not so much that
forgetting is the negation of memory, but the very opposite:
memory, and thus, knowledge, perhaps truth even, lies in

Giorgio Agamben. The Church and the Kingdom: 9.

Ibid: 8.

And when one opens the dossier of attempts, of

attempting, it also brings with it echoes of a tempting,
temptations. Keeping in mind that to attempt first requires
trying out (temptare), finding out: a sentiment that is not too
difficult to hear in the primordial question in the garden, the
question posed to the woman, the question of did God really
say you were not to eat from any of the tress in the garden?
(Genesis 3:1)

Alain Badiou with Nicholas Truong. In Praise of

Love. translated by Peter Bush. London: Serpents Tail, 2012:


Ibid: 28.


Ibid: 33.


Ibid: 43.


Ibid: 44.


Ibid: 85.

Werner Hamacher. Premises: Essays in Philosophy

& Literature from Kant to Celan. translated by Peter Fenves.
Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999: 142.


Ibid: 133.


Ibid: 133.



Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Don Quixote.

translated by Walter Starkie. New York: Signet Classic, 2001:
Volume 1, Chapter XIII, 134.


Ibid: Volume 1, Chapter XXV, 247.

Avital Ronell. Crack Wars: Literature, Addiction,

Mania. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992.

Wallace Stevens. The Nobel Rider & the Sound

of Words in The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality & the
Imagination. New York: Vintage Books, 1965: 3-36.

Georges Bataille. On Nietzsche. translated by Bruce

Boon. London: continuum, 2004: 19

Why do fools fall in love?

Why do birds sing so gay?
And lovers await the break of day
Why do they fall in love?
(Frankie Lymon & Morris Levy: Why do fools fall in love,

Roland Barthes. A Lovers Discourse: Fragments.

translated by Richard Howard. London: Vintage, 2002: 150151.


Ibid: 150.


Giorgio Agamben. The Church and the Kingdom: 4-5.


Ibid: 4.


Ibid: 9.


Ibid: 12.


Ibid: 26.

This is, perhaps, Samuel Becketts lesson in Waiting

for Godot: Vladimir and Estragon are waiting for nothing
other than a name. For, even as they know that Godot exists
after all, at the end of each day, a little boy comes to tell
them that Mr Godot will not be able to make it that day, but
that he will the next they do not know exactly whom he
is. Thus, even if he had arrived without a referentiality to
the name they would not know if he were Godot or not.
Which means that all Vladimir and Estragon can do is: either
leave or wait. They would either cut all ties with the name, or
continue waiting for Godot; where Godot is nothing but the
name for waiting itself.


Roland Barthes. A Lovers Discourse: Fragments: 39.

This particular phrase was brought to my attention

by Christian Baier, during a conversation with Dustin
Hellberg and myself in Phuket, January 2014.

Hlne Cixous. What is it oclock? or The Door (we

never enter), translated by Catherine A.F. MacGillivray in
Stigmata. New York: Routledge, 2005: 106.


Afterword (or, Beyond Words)

by James Batcho

42 When sound came to the silent medium of film in the early

20th Century, a collision both sensorial and ideological

ensued. Film was the capturing of light. But what this really
meant was that light was a means of rendering shadows,
the stuff that defined objects. What was it that sound was
meant to capture? And in so doing, what did one wish to
render? Recordists, the practitioners of sound, argued that
their work should offer an audience the sonic experience
of place, a world of sound in its true being. The studios,
desiring legibility and predictability, favored techniques of
isolating voices in order to reproduce spoken words. This
latter approach, known as the intelligibility model, prevailed.
It endured through an ongoing relationship one could call
it a co-dependence between the film industry on the one
hand and Bell Labs and RCA on the other to make intelligible
renderings possible. Not only is this why we hear films as
we do, it is the reason why microphones are instruments
of authority and why telephones capture words more than
voices. In intelligibilitys victory, the former model of sonic
experience was left behind and forgotten. It was known as the
fidelity model.1 As such, film, a recorder of narrative, produces
a sonic object of speaking over presence. Film is a document
of intelligibility riding a medium of visual experience.
Why begin an afterword for Jeremy Fernando, who explores
the depths of literary acts, with a footnote to technological
history? It is because if you listen closely to his words, you
will find that Jeremy hears things. This does not make him
mad, but like the madman, he is open to hearing not only
what is there, but what is not yet and may never be. It is a
theme that he traces in all of his work, albeit never explicitly.
In every encounter, his subject is subject to questioning, and
his object can never be objectified; there is no beginning and
no end in any meeting, rather a continual crossfade of ongoing possibilities as it is with sound, as it is with hearing. He
listens within hearing for the fidelity of moments.

At the same time, what he does is he writes and he reads;

in such acts, he engages in the intelligible. I will leave it to
others (Jeremy himself in his own way) to write what writing
may be, but it seems that in one sense it is this ongoing
endeavor to play with the in-betweens of intelligibility and
fidelity, their meeting points and divergences. Pragmatic
creatures that we are, one can usually identify the intelligible
in a reading, for that is ones ground in the act of reading.
The fidelic is something we may not notice. Here is where
the writer casts spells in suggestions, relations, insinuations
and flirtations, all in an effort to conjure some possible
manifestation of the poetic out from the otherwise quotidian,
instrumental structures of language. To hear fidelity in words,
one must read with fidelity, to offer a gesture of faith in the
act of reading, to choose to be open without the a priori of
expectation as Jeremy might say, to read with no object.
This is the distinction within the encounter. Intelligibility is
an intelligibility of (of the words, of the dialogue, of the
other), whereas fidelity is a fidelity to (to a possibility, to a
promise, to another). So in our world of fragments, pieces,
objects, we might on the one hand ask what it is that we are
acquiring and assembling, what we are making of all this
intelligibility. But perhaps that is a matter for another day,
and is instead a means toward approaching this distinction,
toward the possibilities ignored when intelligibility stands
alone. In my reading of Jeremy, which is of course only mine,
fidelity is an expression that cannot be known; it lies as much
outside the words in writing, the speaking as within
them. It is an ongoing expression wherein we must accept
the uncertainties that come with any particular instance of
being expressed. Fidelity resides beyond any possibility of
acquisition; it is devoid of any hint of utility. It lives only in
how we regard the relation, in what we bring in an act of
engagement, a knowing that one will never know. This is
what resonates for me in the question that Jeremy Fernando

44 asks: Is an act of fidelity to a whom or a what? In asking the

question, he leaves open a space in order to fall into the

relation itself. If intelligibility is the promise in words, can we
say that fidelity is the promise in the encounter, that which
is rendered not by any one but in the relation as such, which
lives through the experience of now and hopefully maintains
itself in the evolving memory of us?
If we stop to think more about the word, in its most
colloquial of meanings, we find a presence within the event
that includes also its eventuality, its remembrance. This is
what I mean by a rendering.2 To have fidelity is an attempt
to be true to its origination, in order that we may be faithful
to it in memory. The call, as Jeremy suggests, is also the
recall. Fidelity then is everything that we have brought to
this moment, and what resonates into the recurring now of
remembrance. It feeds back on itself with each expression of
recall a fidelity to fidelity in acts of nurturing. Of course,
this is the hope, for we cannot know with any certainty what
is being rendered, nor what resonates from it. In the gesture,
the speaker exhibits a desire for purity within the promise.
We want this singular act of faith, of fidelity, to be heard as
purity. In my words, which I can only produce intelligibly,
I want to be received in a manner that transcends its
construction in language, something that embodies my very
being, and thus delivers an open invitation to my soul.
Then there is the response to the call, that gesture which
constitutes the call. Here we have openness itself; the call as a
willingness to call forth all the unintelligible uncertainties of
reception. Fidelity is thereby extended into what is heard in
the listening, a desire answered, a desire to experience what is
pure in the impossibility of purity. What we too often fail to
acknowledge in any relation is that in this opening of our self
to the others speaking, we are not merely hearing words; we
are hearing the resonance of the encounter itself.

Jeremy explores this openness, not only here but in Writing

Death, in which he considers the act of listening that has
no objective, the act that refuses to consume, subsume, the
other.3 Let us therefore explore this notion, the question
of what it is we hear in the listening, what we hear in the
reading, and what we hear in the hearing as such. Admittedly,
this is my particular rendering one possible expansion
of Jeremys intent regarding the notion. What follows is a
resounding in me, from his words that I have read. In this
sense of an after words, therefore, what I wish is to play with
the word, in words. We can proceed with some key questions:
Are such resonances, the distal and proximal subharmonics
of experience, always feeding back to the fundamental
notes expressed as language, in language that is us? Or is
there something in the promise of fidelity that lies beyond
words, a beyond that lives both within and without? Such an
exploration is an impossible task, being as we are, in words.
And yet
Love comes not through the eyes but through the ear.
Vision is the sense modality of attraction, of capturing. It
is our means of discerning prior to engaging, of finding
the beautiful. As Plato has offered repeatedly, though all
the senses are illusionary, light at least points toward the
possibility of knowing. Hearing draws its illusions from a
deeper place; it does not define the shadows but lives within
them, in darkness. Therefore, in having fidelity in hearing,
we give our faith to the hidden within the illusion. And
this is where a gap arises in the promise of fidelity. The ear
never takes but rather receives. It is that mode of access that
neither seeks the object of fidelity nor speaks its promises,

46 but can only receive the promise. Love comes not in a look,

not in a beholding, but through a whisper a hearing of

that particular sound of the other who promises. Eyes closed,
in the dark of night: this is when we often hear the promise,
initially or in affirmation. Such an event, to which we hope
to bring purity, is in fact encased in the impossibility of
verification. Hearing is most potent and most terrifying when
it is truly blind, when the light is nowhere to be found. It is in
these moments that we trust it. We must. We either pull our
psyche back against the safest corner, arms huddled around
knees in the need to hold onto some thing, waiting for the
light to reveal the knowable again; or we trust what is given
through the ear and stumble forth, awkwardly, blindly toward
the promise not only the words, what has been codified
in I love you, but as an engagement with the event of
sounding. The who of the what. The voice who says in words
what is more than the words said.
Of course we know, always: this blind advance does not save
us from the unknowability of the utterance. In darkness,
where sound lies, the promise is perhaps safer for the speaker
in that darkness, and more fragile for the hearer. Darkness
is a blanket that hides the said, providing safety to the
speaker. But in the event it also enshrouds any possibility
of safety in the hearing. The voice brings no evidence, no
illusion of the knowing, the comfort, that seeing gives us.
If the who is veiled from us, as Jeremy suggests, it is partly
due to the resonances within the encounter itself, the
vibrations between I and the other, that constitutes the veil.
In the flat light of day, the eyes verify. Even as it is its own
interpretation, the meeting of the eyes signs the contract
of verification. In the unseen we are adrift, left to navigate,
starless, the shifting currents of audibility, the promise not
only in the words but in the act of saying, in sound itself.
In an extended now the act stands alone, momentarily
suspended and trembling, waiting to be integrated, accepted.

What we hear in such a vibration is the possibility of fidelity 47

the answer of the call that constitutes our faith in the act of
hearing, an embrace that mollifies the unspoken stammering
of being. Here it becomes clear that fidelity is a matter of trust
as much as it is an offering.
We must also, however, recognize the power in the unseen,
a primal narrowing of possibility into singular events, signs
that have no structure. We hear the other not only in voice,
but in the body that shares my world, our world that may not
yet be ours if there is waiting. In the time before the promise
we have no offerings explicit in revelation. Instead, we live
within the deeper shadows, the nonverbal aspects of the
call the body calling out to the other. In such encounters
there is always the question of whether such a call is being
sent or whether I am simply receiving a phantom: a notion,
a possibility in the sound, or rather, in my hearing. The
particular shuffling of her socks moving upon this wooden
floor (particular, like the voice, hers and hers only are they
coming closer?); her busy in the next room, creating sounds
that call a sound that calls back to some activity that
attracts me; the clearing of her throat (is she about to speak?).
These are all acts of fidelity in this other sense of the word:
fidelity in sound alone that produces indices toward the
possibility of the expression to come in words the promise
offered, heard, in fidelity, to fidelity.
For Henri Bergson, hearing is a means toward solving an
old Cartesian problem: how do I know I am not dreaming?4
Hearing straddles the borderspace between worlds, wherein
the shouting of a crowd in the dream becomes a barking
dog in that of the awakening. That between, the gap, is the

48 moment when we are offered the opportunity to know. For

Bergson, the dream world is just as valid as the waking world;

we simply move from one to the other. It is a world primarily
of colors, shapes and objects. The sound is something else, a
buzzing, tinkling, whistling which we hardly feel while
awake, but clearly distinguish in sleep.5 That is why the
shift from the dream toward wakefulness,6 the gap itself, is
our means of knowledge; it announces our coming forth to
what we may then, after the fact, regard as intelligible. But
in the meantime, hovering sonically within the borderspace,
we might have something like a fidelity to the moment, a
moment of transcendence. Consider that sleep itself is a cut,
an acknowledgement of the need to shut down intelligibility.
Every fall into sleep is a death of the self, a severing of what
we regard as consciousness, yet one in which I am conscious
of the faith I have in my eventual rebirth come morning. To
enter into sleep we must first make the easy decision to
close our eyes to the images of the waking world. But in order
to fall, we must next do what is far more difficult: We must
allow ourselves to turn off our language, to cease the internal
listening that is thought itself. Only then can we open
ourselves to the other world of possible vision and hearing.
This then opens the question: can I recall the memory of
a hearing as Jeremy might say, bring a hearing back to
myself? Or is it doomed to be forgotten entirely, lost in the
ephemeral kairos of now? When we remember, bringing with
it what we have forgotten, we tend to recall in brief and often
disjointed silent films. It seems also that to recall a particular
sound we must conjure its image, even in its vagueness. If I
recall the voice of another, I visualize her face and with the
image the sound of the voice comes. In the recollection of
dreams, this does not happen. We can draw forth images,
but we struggle to recall the sounds.7 This is perhaps most
profound in dreams of falling in love, which are powerful
experiences that resonate long into the return to wakefulness.

What is interesting here is that the person does not require a 49

previous rendering in the waking world for the dream to take
hold. And yet, she has a specificity to her in her appearance,
and more than that, a singularity in her being. I can not
only see her in the memory, but feel the intimate knowing of
her beyond vision. In each instance of a dream of this type,
there is always a moment in which this someone will say
something to me that is so deeply felt that time elongates into
suspension. There is something in this gesture, this moment,
that is akin to the wish fulfillment of a promise to fidelity in
the waking world. So much of the intensity, the future recall
of the dream, is in that act of speaking that I am attending
to. But I cannot recall the voice itself, the particular sonic
qualities that belong to her. What she said meant everything,
but I remember neither the words nor the sound, only her
face and the fidelity her act of speaking brings. The words
defy any attempt at recollection. Perhaps this is because
the dream world does not welcome langue; therefore the
utterance, delivered in fidelity, is incapable of accompanying
the listener back to the intelligible world.
Where does this leave the unseen heard in wakefulness
the voice in my ear that night, all the broken signifiers that
carried me along, this never quite knowing? As in the dream,
we are seeking origins. Here, once again, fidelity has kinship
with hearing, sharing the desire to reach back along chains
of association, traces. The fidelity to would seem to have its
end in the other. What we find instead is not an end but a
beginning one that draws back into the depths of histories,
hers and mine, that are shared but unknowable. The source,
the other who speaks, is synecdochic in the act of revealing,
drawing us back to nothing other than the unfathomable
navel. And yet we believe because we cannot do otherwise.
This is the unknowability in all referentiality that Jeremy
writes of that brings the leap of faith. In the listening, I render
my own promise to be faithful to this promise as I have heard

50 it. Perhaps then fidelity is a sphere that encases both you

and me. As with words, it resonates what is both within and

without, yet it is only revealed to us from the inside. This
sphere is semipermeable, vulnerable to the elements and to
all our future utterances and actions, within and beyond us,
that are yet to come. The great fear in fidelity is that through
the changes, I (we) will forget, and that in turn, I (we) will
be forgotten entirely. Worse still, we fear that we will not
recognize that it has already happened. We hope always
that our fidelity to the moment will be what provides the
precision, a clarity in the rendering, which signs the bond
to memory. But such writing produces no document other
than fidelity itself. In asking therefore what is remembered,
perhaps it is neither what is intelligible in words nor fidelic
in experience, and instead lies safe within the knowing that
it occurred faith in the now that was more so than the
what that can only leave us guessing. Anne Dufourmantelles
musings about the sexual encounter rings just as true for
promises such as these: Our desire to merge, to become
one, to forget everything with the other finds its ideal in this
experience of the kairos. It is the desire for ones very self to
dissolve into something else that would be the world itself, its
whiteness, a blind space in which you or I have disappeared
from the scene together.8
And yet ...
This reaching out as kairos, the moment, is never attainable
as any manifestation of knowing. This is why we render in
forms in art, in writing. So here I am, caught up in the
act of writing, perhaps now even in the act of being read.
As Jeremy has written, and is always saying in writing,

much of the why and the what in these acts is tied to this
forgetting. Here is my act, my attempt to be faithful to Jeremy
Fernando, in words, to the person and his words. As he has
said elsewhere, we write so that we do not forget; we write
so that we can forget. This response that we all do the act
of reading is the gesture that promises without a word, in
fidelity, and carries the impossibility of ever knowing: I will
remember you.


The fidelity/intelligibility (also known as
phonographic/telephonic) divide in audible representation
has been perhaps best examined historically by James Lastra
in Sound Technology and the American Cinema: Perception,
Representation, Modernity. New York: Columbia University
Press, 2000.

This use of rendering is something of a play on

Michel Chions use in Audio-vision and elsewhere. Whereas
he uses the word as an encoding of notions of realism over
truth in film, I am using it in two somewhat related ways:
first, as any making of something (a promise, a work of literature, etc.) as drawn from experience; second, as a relation of
self to memory. Experience is written to memory in a rendering, and that which is rendered is what we draw from in
yet another act of rendering that is the recall. In this way, we
can also say that reading is as much a rendering as writing.

Michel Chion. Audio-vision: Sound on Screen. New York:

Columbia University Press, 1994.
Jeremy Fernando. Writing Death. with an
introduction by Avital Ronell. The Hague: Uitgeverij, 2011.

Henri Bergson. Dreams in Mind-Energy. translated

by Carr, H. Wildon. New York: Henry Holt Company, 1920:
104-133. (Reprinted in 1975 by Greenwood Press).

Ibid: 108.

The noun dream has no syntactic opposite that

does not privilege the status of consciousness. I therefore
have appended to wake into wakefulness.

Bergson would seem to be in agreement on this point 53

with Roland Barthes after him, that in the recall of dreams,
the visual takes precedence over the audible. See Barthes.
Listening in The Responsibility of Forms: Critical Essays on
Music, Art, and Representation. translated by Richard
Howard. Oakland: University of California Press, 1991.

Anne Dufourmantelle. Blind Date: Sex and

Philosophy. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007.


Une lettre sur les lettres ;

or, the splat is the site of love

par Jeremy Fernando

A letter on letters;
or, the splat is the site of love

by Daniel Chan with Jeremy Fernando

M erci pour les penses, les commentaires : je suis trs

reconnaissant pour votre prsence, pour le don de votre

rflexion. Peut-tre, cest tout ce que je peux dire. Et peuttre seulement dans une langue qui nest pas la mienne.
Quoiquaucune langue ne nous appartient vraiment.

T hank you for the thoughts, the comments: I am very

grateful for your presence, for the gift of your thinking.

Perhaps, that is all I can say. And perhaps only in a language
that is not mine. Although no language really belongs to us.

Peut-tre comme lamour.

Perhaps like love.

Une relationnalit qui appartient tous, laquelle tous

appartiennent, mais qui nappartient personne en mme

A relationality which belongs to all, to which all belong, but

which belongs to no one at the same time.

Qui pourrait tre la raison pour laquelle il est difficile, pour

laquelle je trouve quil est difficile, voire impossible, de parler
de lamour.

Which could be the reason why it is difficult, why I find it

difficult, in fact impossible, to speak of love.

C ela aurait t facile, ou au moins je pensais que a le

serait aprs tout, je nai jamais eu de mal rpondre,

donner une rponse, des questions mais, a ne lest
srement pas. Peut-tre, a a toujours t un de mes rves:
dtre capable dcrire dans une langue qui nest pas la
mienne. Quoique la langue ne pourrait jamais vraiment nous

I t should have been easy, or at least I thought it would

be so after all, I never had difficulty answering, giving

an answer to, questions but, it certainly is not. Perhaps,
it has always been one of my dreams: to be able to write in
a language that is not mine. Not that language could ever
belong to us.

Comme les rves.

Like dreams.

Rves. La langue. Le langage des rves. Heureusement, je

parle dans mes rves peut-tre, je ne parle que dans les
rves. Ou, il se peut que je rve de parler, que parler ma
parole nest quun rve.

Dreams. Language. The language of dreams. Fortunately, I

speak in my dreams perhaps, I speak only in dreams. Or,
it could be that I dream of speaking, that speaking my
speech is only a dream.

La chose propos des rves cest quils ont leur propre temps.
Un temps qui pourrait mme rester le secret quelquun ;
un secret qui reste peut-tre mme le secret lui-mme. On
pourrait mme dire : un secret connu seulement du temps ;
que seul le temps sait.

The thing about dreams is that they have their own time. A
time that could remain secret to one; a secret that perhaps
remains even secret to itself. One could even say: a secret
known only to time; that only time knows.

Mme sil peut changer constamment.

Even as it may be ever changing.

Non pas que je sois sr de ce qui pourrait arriver mme

si jattends, aprs lattente, aprs mon attente si mme
quelque chose arrivera.

Not that I am sure of what might happen even if I wait, after

waiting, after my wait if even anything will happen.

Peut-tre alors, seulement un rve qui rve quil est un rve.

Ou, lun qui est silencieux sur le fait dtre un rve. Peut-tre
alors, un rve silencieux. Mais, ce nest pas parce que cest
silencieux, quil y a du silence, que cela signifie quil ne dit

Perhaps then, only a dream that dreams it is a dream. Or,

one that is silent about being a dream. Perhaps then, a silent
dream. But, just because it is silent, there is silence, does not
mean it does not say anything.

Peut-tre alors, une parole silencieuse.

Je suis absolument sr que cest possible ; je pense.
Ou, du moins je laurais dit.
Peut-tre, seulement dans un rve.

Perhaps then, a silent speech.

I am absolutely sure that it is possible; I think.
Or, at least I would say so.
Perhaps, only in a dream.

P eut-tre alors, une rponse, nimporte quelle rponse, est

comme un rve.

P erhaps then, a response, any response, is like a dream.

Oui, cher Mario : nous sommes, on est, en effet une

confluence des histoires. Cependant, je refuse peut-tre
navement de renoncer la possibilit dun sujet, aussi
instable que celui-ci puisse tre ; car, le site du je est aussi le
site de la possibilit de la rponse, de rpondre un autre, de
la responsabilit elle-mme.

Qui ne veut pas dire que lon peut tre assez responsable; ou,
que lon peut mme rpondre un autre. Mme si lon peut
rver de le faire. Car, on ne doit jamais oublier quon crit sur
ce qui est cher soi-mme. Ainsi, une rponse nest jamais
seulement une rponse quelquun ; une rponse pourrait
mme ne pas savoir ce quoi il rpond, si elle rpond mme,
ou si elle est seulement des voix dans ma tte.

Yes, dear Mario: we are, one is, indeed a confluence of

histories. However, I perhaps naively refuse to give
up on the possibility of a subject, however unstable; for,
the site of I is also the site of the possibility of response, of
responding to another, of responsibility itself.

Which does not mean that one can ever be responsible

enough; or, that one can even respond to another. Even if one
may dream of doing so. For, one must never forget that one
writes on what is dear to oneself. Thus, a response is never
only a response to someone; a response might not even know
what it responds to, if it even responds, or if it is only voices
in my head.

Peut-tre, ce nest quavec un rve que je rponds, que nous

pouvons rpondre.

Ce qui signifie galement chers Joe et Josef que dans ma

fidlit certaines possibilits de lamour, la fidlit, je suis
galement tout fait irresponsable, infidle, tous les autres
possibles, tous les autres. Aprs tout, on na le choix que de
choisir qui, ou quoi, on rpond : et tout choix implique
une coupure, une trahison, de toutes les autres possibilits.

Peut-tre, cest seulement dans un rve que je peux rpondre,

que je rponds.

Perhaps, it is only a dream that I respond, that we can


Which also means dear Joe and Josef that in my fidelity

to certain possibilities of love, to fidelity, I am also absolutely
irresponsible, unfaithful, to all other possibilities, to all
others. After all, one has no choice but to choose whom,
what, one responds to: and any choice involves a cut, a
betrayal, of all other possibilities.

Perhaps, only in a dream can, do, I respond.

Ou, que chaque rponse nest quun rve.

Or, that each response is but a dream.

M ais, peut-tre, voil tout ce que je peux faire : continuer

rver. Il se pourrait bien que ce soit tout ce que je peux

faire. Car, comme Donna Haraway pourrait dire : stories
and facts do not naturally keep a respectable distance; indeed,
they promiscuously cohabit the same very material places. 1
On pourrait mme risquer de poser que le site o les histoires
et les faits viennent ensemble est toujours derrire notre
dos car, si ctait devant nous, nous aurions t obligs de
distinguer les deux. Mais, le fait quil est derrire nous ne
signifie pas que lon ne peut pas sentir ses effets. Tout comme
peut-tre comme quand on rve. Quoique nous ne
pourrions jamais distinguer mon rve du vtre.

Donna J. Haraway. Modest Witness@Second Millennium.

London: Routledge, 1997: 68.

B ut, perhaps, all I can do is: continue to dream. It might

well be all I can do. For, as Donna Haraway might say:

stories and facts do not naturally keep a respectable distance;
indeed, they promiscuously cohabit the same very material
places.1 One could even risk positing that the site where
histories and facts come together is always behind our back
for, before us, we would have been obliged to distinguish
the two. But, the fact that it is behind us does not mean that
one cannot feel its effects. Just as perhaps like when one
dreams. Not that we would ever be able to distinguish my
dream from yours.

FemaleMan Meets OncoMouse: Feminism and Technoscience.

Dans ce sens, il y a une chance que ou, du moins je lespre

comme Doris Day dirait : my dream is yours.

In this sense, there is a chance that or, at least I hope that

as Doris Day might say: my dream is yours.

E t pour cela pour tre une partie de la conversation

et pour beaucoup plus, je voudrais offrir, et donner, mes

remerciements : Theresa Bachmann, Jim Batcho, Carole
Babyak, Tekla Babyak, Mario Biagioli, Evan Buswell, Xan
Chacko, Duskin Drum, Joe Dumit, Jim Griesemer, Kirk
McGregor, Sophie Moore, Hlne Mialet, Josef Nguyen,
Aaron Norton, Christina Owens, Diana Pardo Pedraza,
Cristina Perez, Branko Popovic, et May Ee Wong.

A nd for this for being part of the conversation

and for much more, I would like to offer, give, my thanks

to: Theresa Bachmann, Jim Batcho, Carole Babyak, Tekla
Babyak, Mario Biagioli, Evan Buswell, Xan Chacko, Duskin
Drum, Joe Dumit, Jim Griesemer, Kirk McGregor, Sophie
Moore, Hlne Mialet, Josef Nguyen, Aaron Norton,
Christina Owens, Diana Pardo Pedraza, Cristina Perez,
Branko Popovic, and May Ee Wong.

Avec le souhait que ma chre amie, Berit Jane Soli-Holt, a

prononc pendant sa sance avec la mmoire de, dans un
rve avec Friedrich Kittler : ... may our own eyes remain
as ever sparkling in the excitement of our studies ... 2

Berit Jane Soli-Holt (with Avital Ronell). Material Engagement &

Silent: A Commemorative Colloquium for Friedrich Kittler.
New York University, March 14-16, 2013.

Alongside the wish my dear friend, Berit Jane Soli-Holt,

pronounced during her session with in memory of, in a
dream with Friedrich Kittler: ... may our own eyes remain
as ever sparkling in the excitement of our studies ...2

Pedagogy: A Report from Kittlers Last Seminar in The Sirens Go

Organized by Avital Ronell & Arne Hcker at the Deutsches Haus,

En gardant lesprit que les yeux sont les fentres de lme, de

ses mmoires, peut-tre mme son tre. Et que lon brille, que
nos yeux brillent, quand on est confront quelque chose
qui, quelquun qui, capture limagination, ses rves.

Peut-tre, surtout quand on est debout en face de lautre, de

ltre, de nos rves.

Keeping in mind that the eyes are the windows to the soul,
to ones memories, perhaps even to ones being. And that
one shines, ones eyes shine, when one is confronted with
something which, someone who, captures ones imagination,
ones dreams.

Perhaps, especially when one is standing across from the

other, the being, of ones dreams.

En gardant lesprit que celui de nos rves nous est souvent

voil. Et lorsquon est face un autre, un autre qui nous reste
voil, il est souvent difficile de maintenir son sang-froid
car, tout ce quoi on peut penser est le fait que lon est nu
devant lautre. Et, ce moment, tout ce que lon peut penser
est pour faire cho Jacques Derrida quil y a du mal
faire taire en moi une protestation contre lindcence. 3
Mais, maintenant, aprs avoir avou ceci mme si ce
nest que dans les mots dun autre je pense que javouais
linavouable et que, comme on dit, javais voulu me mordre la
langue. 4

Jacques Derrida. A poil devant un chat dans Lanimal que

Ibid: 18.

Keeping in mind that the one of our dreams is often veiled

from us. And when faced with another, another who remains
veiled to us, it is often difficult to maintain ones composure
for, all that one can think of is the fact that one is naked
before the other. And, at this time, all that one can think is
to echo Jacques Derrida there is a difficulty in silencing
in me a protest against indecency.3 But, now, after having
admitted this even if it is only in the words of another I
think that I might have been admitting the unadmittable
and that, as one says, I had wanted to bite my tongue.4

donc je suis. Paris: Galile, 2006: 18-28.

Tout comme quand on pense, sent, que lon a trop dit. Surtout
lautre pour qui lon ressent lamour, peut-tre mme que
lon aime trop. O tout ce qui se dit peut toujours tre dj
trop et toujours pas assez.

Just like when we think, feel, that one has said too much.
Especially to another for whom one feels love, perhaps even
loves too much. Where all that can be said might always
already be too much and still not enough.

O tout ce qui est dit, peut tre dit, est dit dans la fidlit
lautre qui lon le dit mme si ce qui est dit est peut-tre
impossible dire.

Where all that is said, can be said, is said in fidelity to the

other to whom one utters even if what is said is perhaps
impossible to say.

Tout comme quand on est amoureux

Just like when one is in love

le 15 mars 2014

15 March 2014


James Batcho is the author of Sound for Independent

Audiovisual Storytelling, and has written for Media Culture
& Society, and Journal of Sonic Studies, amongst other
publications. He was sound designer and music supervisor
for the documentary Ari Ari the Korean Cinema and
previously taught film and media studies at Kyungsung
University in South Korea. James is currently writing his
dissertation on audibility and its possibilities with regard to
agency and creativity at the European Graduate School. More
information is available at

Chan Kwang Guan Daniel is a French lecturer at the

National University of Singapore, with over 10 years of
experience in teaching the language to school students and
adults. Formerly a Public Service Commission scholar, he
holds a doctorate in Linguistics from Universit Denis Diderot
(Paris 7) after completing his Matrise with the equivalent of
a first class honours from Universit Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris
3). He is also a translator accredited by the French Embassy
in Singapore, and has a passion for languages, cross-cultural
communication, classical music, and cats.

Jeremy Fernando is the Jean Baudrillard Fellow at the

European Graduate School, where he is also a Reader in
Contemporary Literature & Thought. He works in the
intersections of literature, philosophy, and the media; and
has written seven books including Reading Blindly, and
Writing Death. His work has also been featured in magazines
and journals such as Berfrois, CTheory, TimeOut, and Vice,
amongst others. Exploring other media has led him to film,
music, and art; and his work has been exhibited in Seoul,
Vienna, Hong Kong, and Singapore. He is the general
editor of both Delere Press, and the thematic magazine One
Imperative; and a Fellow of Tembusu College at the National
University of Singapore.