The Exinterior of a Car

In the beginning there was the impression. The idea that we can reinvent the world based on a renewed perception of things, situations, conceptions, ways of life. In the beginning there was the necessity to start from and with yourself. What is the core of your being? Can you access it via an impression or via an act?

I am looking at a car. I know that in our current shared reality it is a vehicle that is used for transportation. But what if it was something else? Something that has not yet been identified by any discourse, neither practical, neither technical, neither scientific, neither economic nor emotional. We might say: a car is an experience such that you are either inside or outside. But if you slice a car in its middle, there is perhaps no more inside and no more outside, or at least the distinction becomes blurry. You created a new experience, that of an unexpected opening. The car loses its banality, its habitual and domestic potentiality to take us here and there, it becomes a curiosity, like a dissected shellfish or like the collected insect of an entomologist.

The sliced or dismantled car has lost at least its locomotive capacity by being cut into two longitudinal halves. Has it lost more? Has it gained something? Is it still a car? No, it is, as we said, a curiosity. Reality as we know it and practice it every day weakens our curiosity. We get used to things, rituals, thoughts, protocols, cultural traits, and we stop paying attention to their singularity, to their arbitrariness, to their capacity to be otherwise. Philosophy starts in part as a perceptive game, a priori a useless game and for some even vaguely dangerous or parasitic (don’t philosophise and drive at the same time!). Philosophy can start when one considers objects or ideas or practices in their curiousness, instead of taking them for granted.

Cutting a car into two or several chunks might not seem like a very useful or constructive activity. However, several contemporary artists have done it, in order for their work of art to produce an effect of strangeness, curiosity, amazement or even irritation that is meant to suggest the idea that it is possible to rejuvenate our perspective on reality, at least for an instant. Art is philosophical in this sense, or pre-philosophical. Perhaps a philosopher produces many contemporary art pieces, but in imagination only. Einstein, as a creative scientist, practiced daily imagination experiments in order to see the world differently and understand it.

Einstein’s goal, or the philosopher’s dream, is eventually to generate a systemic theory, an all-encompassing new truth, one that is less illusionary, less arbitrary, if possible. Curiosity and imagining things differently can be refreshing, but the next step is to organise our new perceptions into a coherent, consistent, harmonious and effectual narrative. Sometimes it is said that a scientific theory allows us to predict future events accurately. Well, there is no reason why a coherent philosophical theory could not be predictive in some sense. Or better, performative. Marx’s Capital was performative. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra also.

Producing a systemic narrative is more difficult than being curious and open minded. Anyone can imagine a dismantled car but only a few can dismantle the way we look at reality and propose a new coherent way of looking at the world, like Einstein, for instance, with spacetime, Descartes with the cogito, Hegel with the dialectic World-Spirit or Aristotle with empiricism. However, totalising worldviews have often been presented as forms of dogmatism, and the possibility of a knowledge of absolute truth itself has been questioned already by the philosophers of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, for example Kant or d’Alembert.

Now, are you a follower or an originator? It is so difficult and rare to be the originator of a new way of looking at the world that being a follower should not be a reason for shame. But are you a coherent follower? If one is a follower, it is still needed to carefully choose the worldview that one is following and also to identify if one is not following different and contradictory worldviews depending on the mood, opportunity or situation, thus perhaps making your life more miserable or less joyful than it could be.

Now let’s go back to our thought experiment of slicing a car into two longitudinal parts, and in particular to the distinction between an outside and an inside of a given reality. If I let this distinction barely formulated, it is an intriguing impression. If we open the windows of a car, it preserves its interior. But if we dismantle it, or if we cut the vehicle wide open, does it still have an interior? We previously suggested that the answer was no. Let us follow this thread for a while.

Perhaps there is, here, something to explore, the embryo of an idea that, if deployed, unfold, could lead to a system of thought that would be articulated along the primary polarity outside/inside, or exterior/interior. I have thought previously about this theoretical possibility, because of one etymology of the term I coined, crealectics, of which more below.

Let’s imagine a conceptual chimera by considering the neologisms inexterior or exinterior. Something or some experience that would be at the same time an inside and an outside. This wordplay has been suggested by the slicing of a car, and probably by the reminiscence of Hegelian dialectics, in which an idea and its opposite are subsumed into a synthesis.

In fact, another philosopher already imagined the neologism exinterior: Hélène Cixous, in a book about yet another French philosopher, her friend Jacques Derrida.[1] She writes:

When, in my seminar, I share him with my friends or listeners, it’s “Derrida” that I offer to a reading, that I extend. It’s because he is, since forever, this tu [second person-singular you] in me that speaks, who speaks of who speaks of living, my complication, my accomplice, my interior force stronger than me. But everyone knows that there is more than one tu […] Yet this tu is indeed him, the one who speaks to me in the tube of the so-very-interior ear that right away I say tu to him, I echo internally […] Naturally, there is no opposition between outside and inside, everything that happens happens only at the line of nondemarcation, at the edging, at the self’s exinterior, in the outside of the inside, that doubly locked heart that he calls the secret.[2]

If philosophy is a path, an adventure, a sublime journey, and I believe it is, a direction is sketched here by my initial impression in this meditation, my thought experiment of the opened car; it follows the echo of the keyword exinterior into Cixous and Derrida. The curiosity of looking at a car led to another and unexpected curiosity, that of listening to the unanticipated voice of Hélène Cixous and perhaps that of Jacques Derrida’s idea of “the secret”. A crealectician is a philosophical detective following several leads. Cixous, at least via one of her textual manifestations, just became a philosophical friend (in fact I remember “meeting” her already twelve years ago when I was imagining the French portemanteau word joissance (joie + jouissance) and realised she had also discovered it.

What is this “line of demarcation”, this “edging”, this “outside of the inside” where “everything happens”? As you know, I have in previous texts offered a neologism to name the creative inside of the outside reality, or the actualising outside of the inside matter, a mysterious concept meant to designate the spiritual-material, transcendent-immanent source of everything as creative becoming, the  “real Real”. By combining the signifiers create and real, I called this secret impression Creal back in 2008 in my French novel Paridaiza, soon to be published in English (USA) by Snuggly Books.[3] I called crealectics the reality and study of how the Creal manifests itself, how the inside becomes one or many outsides, or how the outside produces one or many insides.

Crealectics is a concept that came to me as an inspiration on 30 May 2017, as I was meditating on Aristotle’s concept of aretê (ᾰ̓ρετή) and virtue while considering my fascination for the Creal idea. I propose that the etymology of my concept of crealectics can be considered, by analogy with dialectics, as a combination of creation and logos (λόγος), Creal and Logos, or, somewhat differently and more in tune with Cixous and Derrida, as the articulation of Creal and ektos (ἐκτός), the latter suffix designating in ancient Greek the outside, the exterior.

Now Cixous speaks of the exinterior as a property of the self, and she speaks of it in dialogue with her philosophical friend Derrida. There is only an exinterior of the car because we are having an inner dialogue about it, in the communion of selves, in the heart of that sublime friendship that we call philo-sophy.

 

[1] Hélène Cixous, Insister of Jacques Derrida, translated by Peggy Kamuf (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007).

[2] Hélène Cixous, Insister of Jacques Derrida, pp. 51–2.

[3] Luis de Miranda, Paridaiza (Paris: Plon, 2008; Sacramento: Snuggly Books, 2020).

Author: Luis de Miranda

Crealectician, PhD, author, philosophical counselor

3 thoughts on “The Exinterior of a Car”

  1. After reading your post, your blog surely deserves the name of Crealectics! Beautiful choice and beautiful analyze on perception and representation. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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