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172 11 A Philology for a Future Anterior: An Essay-as-Seminar Victor J. Vitanza For John Poulakos I cannot imagine what would be the meaning of classical philology in our own age, if it is not to be unmodern—that is, to act against the age and, by so doing, to have an effect on the age, and let us hope, to the benefit of a future age. —Friedrich Nietzsche, Unmodern Observations We . . . say of some people that they are transparent to us. It is, however, important as regards this observation that one human being can be a complete enigma to another. We learn this when we come into a strange country with entirely strange traditions; and what is more, even given a mastery of the country’s language . We do not understand the people. (And not because of not knowing what they are saying to themselves.) We cannot find our feet with them. —Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations [T]he Greek word opiso, which means literally, “behind” or “back,” refers not to the past but to the future. The early Greek imagination envisaged the past and the present as in front of us—we can see them. The future, invisible, is behind us. Only a few very wise men, can see what is behind them; some of these men, like the blind prophet Tiresias, have been given this privilege by the gods. The rest of us, though we have our eyes, are walking blind, backward into the future. —Bernard Knox, Backing into the Future Introduction as Predispositions When I was in secondary school with the good nuns, I collected words. One was the word philology. But it was a roundabout way that I arrived at this word philology. It was an accidental detour, an inclination, from A Philology for a Future Anterior 173 all other words, that began with my collecting the word Logos. This word of words, as I have come to understand it, was introduced to me in a catechism class. Drawn in all caps on the blackboard! No one dared to erase the word. As for philo-logy, I learned the connection between philos and logos as the love of the word, the love of Logos, or the love of the word of God as The Word. Years later, however, I discovered the word misology. 1 And from and with that strange word, I learned about the dis/connection between misos and logos. I learned that the word of words misfires. Henceforth, I eventually, and yet hesitantly, placed LOGOS under erasure. My predisposition, ever since, has been to become-pagan, to becomeHeraclitus , to stir and to listen to the coals, their firings and misfirings. I dis/engage in drifting here, d.rifting Oscillating. Se.arching. For the dis-ease in logos itself. I have attempted to make some things, intermittently and perpetually, with these misfirings. These specters that haunt the history of rhetoric. And the maternity of modernity. Hung up in utero. My approach, in this attempt, is to write an essay-as-seminar on philology.2 I would write such for We historiographers who would be We philologists. Classicists. In the facelessness of Modernity. As for myself, when it comes to philology, I am ignorant. I must become an autodidact, knowing, all along, that I will never know what I would dream of knowing. To be a philologist, after all, is impossible for me. I do not suffer from delusional fantasies of omniscience. One can only become a philologist. Perhaps at best an amateur philologist. And yet, primarily, I am called to become responsible, not as some colleagues would have me be “responsible,” but as I am called to increase my ability to respond to the other, as well as others. In logos. And I can best accomplish that end through collaborations with logos in its various (mannerist , baroque) ramifications, by following traces (or remainders) left by logos. Simply put, I find myself obliged to read-think-write countless traces. My hybrid essay-as-seminar will have been, perpetually in notes taken. Assignments given. Test Drives that contest.3 But in every way, aphoristically and contradictorily. And yet, coherently. As in a (lucid) dream logic of desires providing for “coherent contradictions.”4 And in all ways, misunderstood by way of an ex-stasis of misologies. Ecstacies. While these notes are addressed, reflexively to myself in the future anterior and to logos, these notes are also addressed to a Society of the Friends of...


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