- The Hunger for a Life without DifféranceOn Juan Manuel Garrido
In two recent books, Chances de la pensée—Àpartir deJean-LucNancy (2011) and On Time, Being, and Hunger: Challenging the Traditional Way of Thinking Life (2012), Juan Manuel Garrido conceives life as infinite hunger. Taking as his point of departure Aristotle’s well-known and celebrated definition of life as self-nourishment, growth, and decay (Aristotle 2000, 412 a 14–15), he observes that by definition it is the living being’s “task to maintain itself in life, to nourish itself, to grow, to reproduce itself—all that which Aristotle called hè threptikè psychè” (“la tâche de se maintenir en vie, de se nourrir, de croître, de se reproduire—tout ce que’ Aristote appelait hè threptikè psychè”) (Garrido 2011, 23). Therefore, he concludes that the “life” of a living being “consists in the exercise of not ceasing to be what it is by nature” (“consiste dans l’exercice de ne pas cesser d’être ce qu’il est par nature”) (2011, 23). It is important to underscore that Garrido subtracts “the exercise of not ceasing to be what it is by nature” from any telos or finality, hence “in general from all causality of production” (“en général à toute causalité de la [End Page 271] production”) (2011, 26). Hence, “the organic life—of man as much as of bacteria—is constituted by a structural incompleteness” (“est constitué par une incomplétude qui lui est structurelle”) (2011, 26). Garrido calls the structural lack of the conditions for not ceasing to be, “hunger.” That is, the living being is terminally hungry. His most precise definition of “hunger” is found in On Time, Being, and Hunger:
The living condition is that of being-in-want or being-in-need—in one word, hunger (orexis). Hunger is the original and singular experience of being cut off from any nourishing source and of being delivered to one’s own hands in the undelayable task of not ceasing to be. Hunger is the emergence of singular living self-organizing beings. Hunger is structural to self-organization. Hunger is not a lack that can be fulfilled in order to restore equilibrium and harmony. Hunger is original or factual; it is the fact of being in excess of and in rupture with the general integration of things. To be born, to grow, to reproduce, to multiply, to vary, to increase complexity, and so forth, are only thinkable as coming out of such an excess, not as existing for the purpose of filling a lack or satisfying a need.1(2012, 40–41)
Living beings “are abandoned to their hunger” (2012, 41), which is insatiable: “Never, while alive, does a living being overcome its hunger” (2012, 101). The fact that hunger does not fulfill the function of reestablishing the equilibrium or the harmony of the living being means that hunger is not at the service of the metabolism, as the traditional conceptions of hunger argue.2 Against the traditional interpretation of hunger, which has been understood as incorporation, Garrido maintains that “[h]unger is the interruption of metabolism . . . ; it opens metabolism to an infinite (without end and without purpose) process of dissolution of the image or form of things” (2012, 79). Because hunger “interrupts” metabolism, which has been conceived on the basis of an image of fulfillment or completion, because there can be no fulfillment of the living being, Garrido writes, “‘becoming’ should be thought as hunger” (2012, 79). Becoming, then, “must be understood as the stream of such a dissolution, of such nothingness—as the stream of things (Fluss der Dinge) that destroys all possible thingness (including the thingness of the stream itself)” (2012, 79). [End Page 272]
Hunger, as Garrido conceives it, defines life and does so according to the logic of impossibility. On Time, Being, and Hunger concludes: “Hunger is then both the experience in which I am delivered to my ownmost and innermost self and the experience in which self is ceaselessly and from everywhere exceeded, disorganized, disappropriated, alienated, dispossessed from itself ” (2012, 101, my emphasis). This understanding of...