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  • Is Life an Opportunity?
  • Aïcha Liviana Messina (bio)

It is rather difficult to give an exact or faithful translation of the title of Juan Manuel Garrido’s book, Chances de la pensée. A chance is a chance, or an opportunity, a risk. Or, rather, a chance—as it happens randomly—is an unpredictable opportunity, and to give oneself a chance implies running the risk of the unpredictable. La pensée is the thought or the thinking. But what it means exactly to think, or what makes the act of thinking a thought, is rather enigmatic. Garrido’s book doesn’t say much about it. It locates the “thought’s chances” in what resists the concept’s power (Garrido 2011, 105) and exposes it to the unknown, the unpredictable. Thought has a chance, an opportunity, only if it risks itself beyond the limits of what can be thought and appropriated as a thought. Yet, what puts at risk the thinking, and that gives it a chance, is not beyond the limits of the knowable. It happens within the knowledge’s limit: “The cloture of the already known is in itself the exposure to the unknown: disclosure of the to-think [l’à-penser] (106).” The thinking’s chance is the thinking as a chance to risk; it is the [End Page 259] chance as the only opportunity of the thinking. The chance is the thinking; it is its most intimate exposure to the real. Indeed, Chances de la pensée—The Thinking’s Opportunities—faces a great ambition.

This is where I would like to start. This “little book” (for Chances de la pensée has the grace of being a little book that faces a great ambition) is indeed a book of thought rather than that of a “scholar.” It doesn’t present an infinity of footnotes, which in the worst of cases, are mainly meant to indicate a debt to the academic world (to prove that one has interiorized the logic of the debt and the respect of the forms, and that one has submitted to it). In fact, even though Juan Manuel Garrido does recognize from the beginning a debt (to the professor, Jean-Luc Nancy, but most of all to his work), he immediately assumes the responsibility of a chance, the one that consists in “giving oneself an opportunity to think” (2011, 9). Chances de la pensée is not a book on Nancy, but, indeed, a book from (à partir de) Nancy: it is a book where the debt takes place as a starting point, a point of departure—it is a book where, therefore, a certain number of dis-placements will be exposed, and where, far from limiting itself to respectful commentary, the matter will be, not to speak in the first person, but to make thought speak otherwise. Indeed, the chance that Chances de la pensée assumes is the risk to make thought speak and not only authors, commentaries, and oneself in the midst of or above them.

One of the ambitious risks of this book consists in venturing that ontology, and with it, the ontological difference (that is to say, the nothing of Being on which beings are opened), might be overcome by a thought of life. For Garrido, life is not an impulse of self-conservation (namely, a life thought as appropriation) but rather a constitutive lack that he also calls “infinite hunger.” Hunger, in fact, is not an accident of living being; it makes possible being’s aspiration to growth, development, and creation, namely: life.2 Life—“hé psyche,” “breath” (2011, 33–34)—is made possible from its lack, from what Garrido calls “hunger.”3 Life would therefore be this nothing that maintains alive, or, rather, that maintains life out of itself. In this way, life cannot be thought as a self-sufficient substance, as a substance appropriated to itself, but rather as its disappropriation. Life is the insufficiency of life; it is nothing else than this essential insufficiency. But if life does not designate a state of [End Page 260] satisfaction (as the fact of being fed) but, on the contrary, the fact of separation (which Garrido calls...


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pp. 259-270
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