The fact that what we call life does not include dead material can’t conceal the fact that it proliferates within the living, as if death mushroomed within life, which led Friedrich Kittler to speak of the “fathomless depths of the body.” Agamben is right—he riffs here on a statement from Derrida’s Spectres de Marx—that the question of life—What is life?— plunges the thinking of “our culture” (that is, western culture) at least into the greatest of dif culties. Maybe this question is exemplary of the aporetic condition of all thought that abandons empirical description as well as formal logical deduction in order to turn to metaphysical problems. It is insufficient to fall in with the usual condemnations, dismissals, and deconstructions of metaphysics and ontology in order to elude the experience of the body’s dizzying depths. With the body, through it, the human subject is connected to its animality as well as the experience of exceeding it. The body proves to be the theater of thought. The dust of dead stars swirls and accumulates within it, the memory of dead material, the history of its genetic disposition. The living body, it would seem, before it sets about thinking or reflecting consciously, demonstrates itself to be the archive of humanity, as fathomless as it is fragmentary. It stretches far beyond the human—which remains one monstrous dimension—into ancient unconscious material.

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