The Open and Closed Horizons

Timing in politics is said to be of paramount importance. Right from the time of Plato, we can find that philosophy has thought the importance of time and politics. Plato himself gave great importance to eternal time. To him, a good polis/ society is to be modelled in accordance with the forms of the world of ideas. He found the permanent unchanging forms of the world of the ideas reliable over the restless political world that lead to the unjust execution of his teacher Socrates. A question still persists. Is there an appointed time that is appropriate for politics to reach its fullness? We think of appointed time only at the possible level where we think in terms of closed horizons and we think time through closures that make it opportune for politics. Such thinking is not free from what Jacques Derrida calls metaphysics of presence.

Thinking through a closed horizon is linear and the appointed time is thought to be intensive self-present time. All politics that we know occurs in the closed horizon and seeks to trace different appointed times/ opportune times to become effective. There is therefore opportunistic dimension to politics. If one misses the opportune time one misses a lot in politics. We have to agree that the political is opportunistic within a closed horizon. We can also think time in the absolute or open horizon. Open horizon has no foreclosures. Time also remains open and is in the coming in the open horizon. Time remains in the flow and is always in the coming. What time will bring is not known to us. We cannot see the future. The future is the future to us. It will stay other from what we experience here and now. It always brings the other that remains unknown and cannot be understood or assimilated through the categories that we have. These categories cannot become fore-structures as time and the horizon in the open horizon has no fore-closures. Hence, time and politics remain undecidable.

This makes politics as we know impossible on the open horizon. Political duties, roles, boundaries, limits, and powers remain in the coming and cannot be fixed or fore-closed. Nothing can be presentified to us as everything remains in the coming. There is always certain anticipation of the futurity to come, but it’s is to come remains terra incognita to us. It is there that we may trace the political. The future is promised to us in the now but promising now is never present in the future and the future promised always remains in the future that even the future becomes a now to us. This means we simultaneously open and closes us to the always promising future to come. Maybe an example will help. Suppose one makes a promise now. The promise is uttered in the now but can only be fulfilled in the future. Moreover, the now in which the promise is made is never present in the now, it remains in the time that has passed the now that uttered it. It always remains in the already have been while the promise remains in the coming. This means both promise and time are marked by the possibility and impossibility at the same time. The impossibility is in the presence of now that makes the promise in the future that keeps the promise.

We have an impossibility and possibility of experiencing the present. This experience is radicalized in the open horizon. Thus present passes us and stays in what can be called as has been. Thus, everything in the open horizon passes through the semiotic black holes. Language and words get delinked and deconstructed from their fore-closed meanings and remain open for the new meanings to come. In other words, in the open horizons, everything remains folded within everything. Thus, justice remains folded within injustice, goodness remains folded within evil, truth within lie or falsity, etc. The horizon being open, the world appears flat. It means our world becomes a tabula rasa and stays in a asemiotic condition waiting for the coming of the other future. This coming of the other future can trigger re-semiotization pushing us into a novel horizon that then leads us to explore the new fore-closures implanted by the novel horizon. The novel horizon is new and can also be totally new to all previous horizons yet it remains closed.

The politics to come in the open horizon becomes radical politics that can totally transform us and our society by introducing a radical otherness that promises a new future to our society. Real transformation can occur only in the open horizon but paradoxically these possibilities have to be actualized in the closed horizon. It is only through what may be called the thickening of the open horizon that we reach a new political that can be transformative and emancipative. This transformation and emancipation comes on the wings of disruption of the foreclosures of the reigning closed horizons. The rapture of the closed horizons can indeed open us to new horizon that springs forth from the open horizon. This new horizon is a new closed horizon but one that enables us to re-semiotize all signs and bring new life, new political roles, powers etc.

In the closed horizon, we can fix opportune time. Every moment in the open horizon is full of promise and can be viewed as opportune. We need to the take the decision to enter the open horizon by putting into suspension all the signs systems that rule us in the possible level of the closed horizon. Passing the signs systems into the semiotic black hole, we become agents that choose to enter the tabula rasa opened by the open horizon and do the impossible. This means openness to the closed horizon is not a call to passivity but a challenge to actively wait for the coming of the other future. It is indeed profoundly political to do without doing or wait for the future to come with the promise of the new politics. Although, we like the politics of the status quo, we have the challenge to enter into the open horizon and actively wait for the advent of the other future and usher it with active engagement with the for-structures that begin to close though the collective works or actions of people in our society. By being open to the absolute horizon, we become active agents of politics to come and could open and close the horizon towards emancipative destinies.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao