English version/Philosophie

Little thoughts about the lockdown and the verb “to confine”

Edward Hopper, « Office in a Small City » (huile sur toile, 1979/89)

We must pay attention to the verb “to confine”: as a transitive verb, it translates into be exposed to a limit; while as an intransitive one, it refers to being forced to stay within some boundaries. It means exposure and retreat, meeting something and taking time off at the same time. In this word appears a secluded loneliness beyond any boundary. The most thriving life is only possible with a withdrawal from life. Ethics always imply a choice commanding me to act, not another one, for another endangered one: it always suggests a loneliness by which I am the only one answering others and vouching for them, and by which, loneliness lined up with loneliness, I am alone facing my responsibilities. Therefore, it appears, in this lockdown, this cosmetic of the world where the infamous impose a new order of a harmonious confining interdependence, in the quant-à-soi of a life immunizing from death, to a collective life. The lockdown verges on stand together.

What is manifest in these communities immunizing against a virus by locking down is a paradoxical logic: the more I live for life, the more alone I am, the more supportive I am. The quant-à-soi brings up a community. The removal move away from isolationism and open up to the ethic exposure. Solidarity is not achieved through the rush, but through withdrawal and loneliness. Others only affects me in its weakness exclusively when, by myself, I realize that I am alone with a part of others, alone and already someone else, “oneself as others” (Ricoeur). The lockdown is the experience in which loneliness verges on stand together. What is loneliness? If not this long period during which facing myself, without any entertainment, I think about my life, and so about my death. Think as Pascal: in the loneliness emerges the boredom – which we try to escape from as it is easier to live blindfolded –, dragging to an endless period, that the German expresses better than the English – Langweile –, and which reveals by a surprising spin that, we say that time passes by, but we slip away while time does not pass by. Hence the escape from the present time and everything that is boring; hence the permanent entertainment and the careless networks; hence the hobbies in order to forget that this is us slipping away. Yet it is in this loneliness, in which everyone becomes aware of one’s death, or of one’s ephemerality, that an unprecedented solidarity structured itself. In order to belong totally to others, I have to be completely alone. Alone with myself, I understand that we are alone facing our destiny and facing a shared limit, our death. Solidarity implies loneliness, as the world implies hermitage. Generosity of the quant-à-soi; world uniting without any worldliness. To use the accepted expression, to save lives, it is necessary to protect ourselves.

© Valentin Husson

Traduction : Samuel Daudey

To read the French version (original), click here.

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