Issue #47 December 2021


It’s one of the curious fates of thought that when it thinks itself, it has to do so via a detour, much like in the way we can’t be acquainted with our faces but for being acquainted with mirrors and photographs. More often than not, this detour is grasped as the errand itself. For example, the real is there all around us before we begin at anything, but in order to grasp it, we must first erect a construction, and often take this construction for the real-deal. The authentic needs to be manufactured, and to investigate language we need to be on the guard against the encroachment of writing. The mess of the ethical gets grasped as universal law, and the self is eternally confused with its own produced image.

One could be forgiven for thinking that merely a correction is needed. One can survey the detour and trace the vector back to the point of origin – or at least point to where it is supposed to be –, which was the intended destination all along. Perhaps all of this thinking is about pivoting this vector. Or, perhaps, we should read a bit more into the necessary nature of this detour, and begin to think the destination can only possess its nature qua destination in virtue of the geography of these detours, these satellite towns and post-stations. For, after all, to set about a conquest, is it not necessary to first draw the map, the territory of what is desired? Or does this bellicose metaphor already betray some fundamental misstep, so that thought, in thinking itself, can only do so in thinking against itself, against its dreams of capture and control? Does this imply, then, that the beginning of thought – not as a point of origin, but as its impulse – is, after all, the ethical?

Perhaps, then, thought ought to quit bemoaning its inescapable fate, like a burden that it cannot shake off, and instead leap directly into the messiness that it desperately tries to subdue.

Cover Illustration: Owen Jones, “Designs for tiles in Islamic style”, (ca. 1840–50) [Detail].


December 2021


The Ethics of Proximity: A Defense of Different Ethical Duties to Friends and Family

by Antonio Wolf

On Kierkegaard and the Autobiographical Self

by Timofei Gerber

Socrates' Garden of Letters: On Writing, Relays, and Discourse

by Trent Portigal

The Specter of Reality TV

by Alexandra Fall