The story is well known. In 1492 Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba and Haiti. He revolutionized the vision of the world in his time.
Trying a route against the current to reach the East required a lot of courage. At that time, no one ventured into the turbulent waters of the Atlantic. No one knew what to expect. The extent of the unexplored fed the myths of the fantastic. The world has always been divided into two parts : the known -- integrated, characterized by form and order, stable and firm ground ; and that which lies beyond it -- associated with unformed space, a space of chaos. This area, which transcends the realm of the familiar, is linked to the divine -- we have assigned gods and demons beyond the sky -- the collective imagination often populated areas of the unknown with monstrous and terrifying beings (dragons, Cyclops, giants and, closer to us, Mars).
The ratio of men to the regions beyond is plural. Leaving the familiar is synonymous with danger. On the other hand, it is the unknown regions that excite curiosity. Entering and leaving these places and the limits of the known is often considered taboo and profane (take for instance Adam and Eve and the fruit of the tree of knowledge, or Prometheus stealing fire from the gods), involving serious consequence for the perpetrators of such acts.
This separation of the dialectic of form and formless into two zones sealed from one another, however, takes us away from the true reality of these two opposites. Here, the known is regarded as what is definitively acquired and integrated : it is identified with phenomenal reality. The discovery, from this point of view, becomes an act of conquest -- of colonization -- wearing the traditional certainties and planting them proudly into new territories (such as the European settlers in the Americas). But reality is not what is finite : on the contrary, it is the infinite, the formless, the noumenon, which in itself cannot be determined. The intuition for this phenomenon is reflected, for example, in the conception of the depth of the essence of things, away from the superficiality of their appearance. The form in which things appear to us is not their reality, but how we perceive them. Thus, colonization just extends the limits of the known and pushes back the world in its living reality.
Leaving European shores, Columbus left traditional conceptions behind. He abandoned the farmland in favour of the infinite ocean. Discovery, however, cannot be made in response to a reaction. The new does not appear when you leave with the intention of finding it. It is not the opposite of what is known and, therefore, cannot be deduced dialectically. The discovery of the American continent, for example, is made by chance : you could almost say by mistake. By sailing west, the east is believed to reach the navigator. His goal was to reach the known using another way. He did not think he would set foot on new territory.
Discover means first of all, to be open : open to the world as something that is alive, infinite. It also means that one has to let oneself be surprised -- and to maintain the ability to be surprised. Because the unknown, the new -- what is alive, do not lie there beyond the limits. It occurs everywhere and at all times, for those who strive to pay attention.
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ou la conception négative et extrême d’une phénoménologie du vivant
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Et si Morphée ne mentait pas !
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La vie des autres
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