Surviving In This Very Moment…

My Personal Battle with Prostate Cancer … And Life!

Always Already Being In The Material World

Always Already Being In The Material World

Always Already Being In The Material World

To borrow a phrase from Martin Heidegger without necessarily committing to its meaning, being-in-the-world adequately represents the notion of the existential moment. If I could phrase it differently than Heidegger I would strip it of its ontological references while incorporating the notion of representing an illusory phantom of the trace of memory and a projection into the future. In Levinas’ terms, this is represented better by the notion of hypostasis, the question of the infinitely brief moment of existential time while merging the idea of the trace remembered and the future desired, both of which are measured by ever fading memory or ever more fantastic dreamt of futures. In brief, existential time is a simulacrum of the conjoining of past/future, while cleverly disguising both within a true sense of security of past events and a desired sense of future certainty. Nothing, however, exists outside of this very moment of existential time; all the rest is merely a ghost or a projection on a screen of hope; something like Plato’s images on the cave wall without the reference to forms.

Going beyond the ontic nature of Heidegger’s being-in-the-world, Levinas focuses on the idea that hypostasis focuses on the interiority of solitude in which one experiences existential time; the trace of memory and those projections for the future are clearly personal, not able to be shared with any other human being. If left to its own resources, Heidegger insists, the self would be so consumed with its own interiority that it could not relate to the exterior world other than to evaluate the entirety of that world as objects of the self with being incorporated in the objective relationship with the objects, including the human objects, in the world. Levinas is critical of this position arguing that one can only understand being by and through the social interaction with the other, by responding to the call of the other without reservation or expectation of reciprocation; to make oneself present in the world in order to be responsible for the welfare of the other without reservation or expectation of reciprocation. In this sense, being-in-the-world turns Heidegger on his head by proclaiming that ethics trumps ontology; that response-ability, the ability to respond to the call of the other from wherever it originates is a fundamental obligation of the ethical human being, denying the interiority of the self as more important than the self existing as a social being evidenced by its commitment to the exteriority of the world one encounters in this very moment of existential time.

I exist in this world in order to be of service to the other, to extend my hand whenever and wherever I hear the call of the other asking for help. Must I answer each and every call from the other? No, but I must answer the calls for which I am best equipped. For me, as a personal being existing in the world, I have two major callings. I will answer the call of anyone with a desire to stop drinking by extending my hand and offering the support I can and must offer. I do this because I am a recovering alcoholic with over two decades of not drinking. Recently, because of my diagnosis of prostate cancer I announced my presense to any and all who have the same or similar diagnosis; I will answer the call of anyone with prostate cancer by extending my hand and sharing my experience, strength and hope. The choice of these two ‘causes’ does not preclude my being responsible in other situations; it simply means that I have chosen to priortize my personal sense of responsibility in these two arenas at this very moment. It seems that I recognize my existence within the bounds of the spirit of Alcoholics Anonymous and the community of men diagnosed with prostate cancer as well as those men who desire to end prostate cancer as the second leading killer of men in the United States.

 

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4 thoughts on “Always Already Being In The Material World

  1. The past and the future make sense to me as you explain it here. By the way, I would like to hear your story of how you have overcome the addiction of Alcohol. I know that is not your focus for the most part here, but I believe your story on that could possibly help others. Thanks again for a thought provoking post.

  2. Hi Alesia, I was quite occupied yesterday as you might gather from my post today. In response to your question about overcoming alcohol addiction, the truth of the matter is that I am only recovering and not cured. I hit bottom nearly 22 years ago and found it impossible to continue living unless I found something to change my life. That change came as a result of my becoming a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. I learned there that I didn’t care who knew I was an alcoholic (although I am sure everyone I knew already did) as long as I didn’t forget it. It was in AA that I learned that service to others was the only way I could get and stay sober. Of course, that led to my investigating many approaches to ethical behavior, much of which I write about these days. Other than that, there isn’t much more to tell. Staying sober is a daily effort, although the effort today is far less than the effort of 22 years ago. The monkey is still on my back but it is currently in hiding.

  3. good for you. I do not really drink much myself. It is not a problem for me, but I see the effects of it in others lives and wish they could be as strong as you were 22 yrs ago. thank you.

  4. Strength comes from finding oneself in the darkest of holes with nowhere to go but up. Even then, strength is elusive unless one can tie it directly to a vision of hope. I am one of the lucky ones; I heard the message of hope even when I didn’t believe it but I did what I was told to do and then I understood.

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