Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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September 16, 2008
on "but," "then," and "and"

TiR notes a colorfully written and nicely ironical post here (written by a classmate!), as among the first to call out what we independently noticed: the phrase "thanks, but no thanks" is being compulsively deployed lately to tag a factual timeline more properly characterized as one of "thanks, THEN no thanks."

However, we may ask: Does not every "but" logically encompass a "then"?

We interpret the "but" here to be what the OED calls an "adversative conjunction," one that "append[s] a statement contrary to, or incompatible with, one that is negatived," or a synonym for "on the contrary."

Does not contradiction always entail a "first this, then that," an "A, ~A" temporality? What if the Then can always be assumed to be contained within the But?

Well, not so, one might argue: What about a situation of simultaneous contradiction, like when one equivocally reaches with the right hand for an object that one pushes away with the left hand? But here too, we might wonder whether the phenomenology of embodied human cognition imposes at least some kind of spatiotemporal framework over our grasp of the situation.

TiR would love to speculate that the speaker of the "thanks, but no thanks" slogan is, in fact, attempting their own characteristic comment on the "nihilating structure of temporality." Each "but" is automatically a "then," and vice-versa. Each successive moment ruthlessly contradicts, extinguishes and nullifies the very existence of its precedecessor.

Though, as Husserl noted when introducing his discussion of "the continua of running-off phenomena -- the diagram of time," in § 9 of his Lectures on Internal Time-Consciousness from the Year 1905:
Every temporal being "appears" in one or another continually changing mode of running-off, and the "Object in the mode of running-off" is in this change always something other, even though we still say that the Object and every point of its time and this time itself are one and the same.

Husserl uses the analogy of a musical melody, a succession of individual tones grasped as a unity via retention/memory.

§ 426 of B&T goes further:
Why do we say that time passes away, when we do not say with just as much emphasis that it arises? Yet with regard to the pure sequence of "nows" we have as much right to say one as the other. . . .

Herein lies an inauthentic awaiting of 'moments' -- an awaiting in which these are already forgotten as they glide by. The awaiting of inauthentic existence -- the awaiting which forgets as it makes present -- is the condition for the possibility of the ordinary experience of time's passing-away.

We are driven to conclude that "thanks, but no thanks" should properly be translated as the proud affirmation:
"In the past, I said 'thanks'; but/then in the present, I say 'no thanks'; AND in the future, I will say 'thanks,' again and again, forever."

Thus we foolishly, foolingly and foolEDly* attempt to decode the semi-encrypted discourse of our times. The distinction between "thanks" and "no thanks" is artificial and meaningless. There exists only the universal regime of the identitarian, of "same"-ness, the "again," the being-towards of the "more, please." (The "earmark" is and will always be our eternal "imminent object.") The regime of repetition demands a compulsive repeat of the "thanks/but" slogan in the arena of "public time." There is no "but." There is no "then." There will only be the eternal "and."

                                                                                                                                                                                                     and again: ?????]

*(spoken 6 years ago tomorrow)