Derrida recognizes that even within the raw experience of an encounter with the

Derrida recognizes that even within the raw

This preview shows page 283 - 285 out of 341 pages.

Derrida recognizes that even
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within the raw experience of an encounter with the other, the host is still subject to laws of identification and appropriation. Therefore, while these laws and the knowledge they provide are indispensable to my decision, they nevertheless will subject me to a logic that pre-determines the decision. Derrida explains, “If we knew what to do, if I knew in terms of knowledge what I have to do before the decision, then the decision would not be a decision. It would be the application of a rule, the consequence of a premise, and there would be no problem, there would be no decision.”5 With conditional hospitality, no decision, in the Derridian sense, actually occurs; rather, the logic of exchange has already anticipated and determined the host’s response to the foreigner. And , as discussed above, this conditional relationship necessarily reduces the otherness of the guest into the logic of sameness and knowledge, even though “decision, an ethical or a political responsibility, is absolutely heterogeneous to knowledge.”6 To avoid the consequences of conditional hospitality, a decision should arise from the otherness within me that absconds from laws of conditional hospitality and calls forth the unconditional acceptance of the other as other. Decisions must there fore be difficult and even terrible, but only from difficulty and terror can the host emerge from the paralysis of undecidability and invoke the otherness that is shared with the guest as opposed to the sovereignty that is not. With this account of the decision in mind, unconditional hospitality requires the absence of any traditional agency. The host as sovereign of the house withdraws from her selfidentifiable place of mastery, freeing the otherness within and opening herself to the otherness without. Derrida envisions this hospitable gesture rhetorically as a split of the self. He explains, “There would be no responsibility or decision without some self-interruption, neither would there be any hospitality; as master and host, the self in welcoming the other, must interrupt or divide himself or herself. This division is the condition of hospitality.”7 Unconditional hospitality exposes the division of the master and thus suspends her mastery over the home. Accompanying the suspension of mastery, unconditional hospitality also requires the host to welcome any other, all others, the absolute other, no questions asked. The tether to conditions must be completely snapped. Thus, “if you exclude the possibility that the newcomer is coming to destroy your house—if you want to control this and exclude in advance this possibility—there is no hospitality. In this case, you control the borders, you have custom officers, you have a door.” 8 An absolute exposure of this sort should engender absolute fright and absolute emptiness. To be absolutely open to anyone would entail an exposure that leaves every bit of the host outside the host, as if she had poured herself out, like Zarathustra’s sun, to the other she does not know and refuses to know. This unconditionality is what
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  • Jeff Hannan
  • organic life, Bataille

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