Ease - Agamben

Ease from Giorgio Agamben, The Coming Community
ACCORDING TO the Talmud, two places are reserved for each person, one in Eden and the other in Gehenna. The just person, after being found innocent, receives a place in Eden plus that of a neighbor who was damned. The unjust person, after being judged guilty, receives a place in hell plus that of a neighbor who was saved. Thus the Bible says of the just, "In their land they receive double," and of the unjust, "Destroy them with a double destruction."
In the topology of this Haggadah of the Talmud, the essential element is not so much the cartographic distinction between Eden and Gehenna, but rather the adjacent place that each person inevitably receives. At the point when one reaches one's final state and fulfills one's own destiny, one finds oneself for that very reason in the place of the neighbor. What is most proper to every creature is thus its substitutability, its being in any case in the place of the other. Toward the end of his life the great Arabist Louis Massignon, who in his youth had daringly converted to Catholicism in the land of Islam, founded a community called Badaliya, a name deriving from the Arabic term for "substitution." The members took a vow to live substituting themselves for someone else, that is, to be Christians in the place of others.
This substitution can be understood in two ways.
The first conceives of the fall or sin of the other only as the opportunity for one's own salvation: A loss is compensated for by an election, a fall by an ascent, according to an 'economy of compensation' that is hardly edifying.
Agamben rejects the "economy of compensation" and suggests a mode of exiling
"exiling" is quite different to transgression, no?
Agamben rejects the "economy of compensation" and suggests a mode of exiling
"exiling" is quite different to transgression, no?
(In this sense, Badaliya would be nothing but a belated ransom paid for Massignon's homosexual friend who committed suicide in prison in Valencia in 1921, and from whom he had had to distance himself at the time of his conversion.) But there is also another interpretation of Badaliya. According to Massignon, in fact, substituting oneself for another does not mean compensating for what the other lacks, nor correcting his or her errors, but exiling oneself to the other as he or she is in order to offer Christ hospitality in the other's own soul, in the other's own taking-place.
This substitution no longer knows a place of its own, but the taking-place of every single being is always already common - an empty space offered to the one, irrevocable hospitality. The destruction of the wall dividing Eden from Gehenna is thus the secret intention that animates Badaliya. In this community there is no place that is not vicarious, and Eden and Gehenna are only the names of this reciprocal substitution. Against the hypocritical fiction of the unsubstitutability of the individual, which in our culture serves only to guarantee its universal representability, Badaliya presents an unconditioned substitutability, without either representation or possible description - an absolutely unrepresentable community. In this way, the multiple common place, which the Talmud presents as the place of the neighbor that each person inevitably re- ceives, is nothing but the coming to itself of each singularity, its being whatever - in other words, such as it is.
Ease is the proper name of this unrepresentable space.
The term "ease" in fact designates, according to its etymology, the space adjacent (ad-jacens, adjacentia), the empty place where each can move freely, in a semantic constellation where spatial proximity borders on opportune time (ad-agio, moving at ease) and convenience borders on the correct relation. The Provençal poets (whose songs first introduce the term into Romance languages in the form aizi, aizimen) make ease a terminus technicus in their poetics, designating the very place of love. Or better, it designates not so much the place of love, but rather love as the experience of taking-place in a whatever singularity.
In this sense, ease names perfectly that "free use of the proper" that, according to an expression of Friedrich Hölderlin's, is "the most difficult task." "Mout mi semblatz de bel aizin." This is the greeting that, in Jaufré Rudel's song, the lovers exchange when they meet.

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