The skin is a variety of contingency: in it, through it, with it, the world and my body touch each other, the feeling and the felt, it defines their common edge. Contingency means common tangency: in it the world and the body intersect and caress each other. I do not wish to call the place in which I live a medium, I prefer to say that things mingle with each other and that I am no exception to that. I mix with the world which mixes with me. Skin intervenes between several things in the world and makes them mingle.
Christianity grasped perfectly that there is an element in the apparent contingency of love that can't be reduced to that contingency. But it immediately raised it to the level of transcendence, and that is the root of the problem. This universal element I too recognize in love as immanent. But Christianity has somehow managed to elevate it and refocus it onto a transcendent power. It's an ideal that was already partly present in Plato, through the idea of the Good. It is a brilliant first manipulation of the power of love and one we must now bring back to earth. I mean we must demonstrate that love really does have universal power, but that it is simply the opportunity we are given to enjoy a positive, creative, affirmative experience of difference. The Other, no doubt, but without the 'Almighty-Other', without the 'Great Other' of transcendence.
Certainly, I know what to do, and when I am Vice President -- and I will be -- there will be contingency plans under different sets of situations and I tell you what, I'm not going to go out and hold a news conference about it. I'm going to put it in a safe and keep it there! Does that answer your question?
But there is no substance under the things I have gathered together about me. I am hollow, and my structure of pleasures and ambitions has no foundation. I am objectified in them. But they are all destined by their very contingency to be destroyed. And when they are gone there will be nothing left of me but my own nakedness and emptiness and hollowness, to tell me that I am a mistake.
The moment when a man's head drops off is seldom or never, I am inclined to think, precisely the most agreeable of his life. Nevertheless, like the greater part of our misfortunes, even so serious a contingency brings its remedy and consolation with it, if the sufferer will but make the best, rather than the worst, of the accident which has befallen him.
The contingency of history (both for life in general and for the cultures of Homo sapiens ) and human free will (in the factual rather than theological sense) are conjoined concepts, and no better evidence can be produced than the "experimental" production of markedly different solutions in identical environments.
Stephen Jay Gould
By admitting they have no contingency plan to assist the millions that may lose subsidies, the administration confirms how the misguided law is unworkable for the American people, i'm committed to working with my Republican colleagues on how Congress can respond to help those hurt by Obamacare's broken promises.
By no amount of reasoning can we altogether eliminate all contingency from our world. Moreover, pure speculation alone will not enable us to get a determinate picture of the existing world. We must eliminate some of the conflicting possibilities, and this can be brought about only by experiment and observation.
Morris Raphael Cohen
Fiction, with its preference for what is small and might elsewhere seem irrelevant; its facility for smuggling us into another skin and allowing us to live a new life there; its painstaking devotion to what without it might go unnoticed and unseen; its respect for contingency, and the unlikely and odd; its willingness to expose itself to moments of low, almost animal being and make them nobly illuminating, can deliver truths we might not otherwise stumble on.
But [in bureaucracies], too, decision making takes place in a world full of unceratinties. Any actual system of information processing, planning and control will never be optimal but merely practical, applying rote responses to recurrent problems and employing a variety of contingency tactics to deal with unforeseen events.
Manuel De Landa
Theology recognizes the contingency of human existence only to derive it from a necessary being, that is, to remove it. Theology makes use of philosophical wonder only for the purpose of motivating an affirmation which ends it. Philosophy, on the other hand, arouses us to what is problematic in our own existence and in that of the world, to such a point that we shall never be cured of searching for a solution.
In all cultures, it is the task of a religion to close the field of contingency ...and to set up havens of the absolute where it is possible to be led from acting to listening, from having to being, from planning to hoping, from judging to forgiving from the finite into the infinite. A society in which such open spaces of eternity do not exist or are only insufficiently developed dies of itself due to lack of air to breathe.
A writer's work has to take account of many rhythms: Vulcan's and Mercury's, a message of urgency obtained by dint of patient and meticulous adjustments and an intuition so instantaneous that, when formulated, it acquires the finality of something that could never have been otherwise. But it is also the rhythm of time that passes with no other aim than to let feelings and thoughts settle down, mature, and shed all impatience or ephemeral contingency.
For if indeed God became a man, then Truth condescended to became a truth, from whose historical contingency one cannot simply pass to categories of universal rationality; and this means that whatever Christians mean when they speak of truth, it cannot involve simply the dialectical wrestling of abstract principles from intractable facts. (5)
David Bentley Hart
The guarantee of safety in a battering relationship can never be based upon a promise from the perpetrator, no matter how heartfelt. Rather, it must be based upon the self-protective capability of the victim. Until the victim has developed a detailed and realistic contingency plan and has demonstrated her ability to carry it out, she remains in danger of repeated abuse.
Judith Lewis Herman
In brief, nationalism is a theory of political legitimacy, which requires the ethnic boundaries should not be cut across political ones, and, in particular, that ethnic boundaries within a given state a contingency already formally excluded by the principle in its general formulation should not separate the power holders from the rest.
Encased in an elaborate illusion of unlimited power and progress, each of us subscribes, at least until one's midlife crisis, to the belief that existence consists of an eternal, upward spiral of achievement, dependent on will alone. This comforting illusion may be shattered by some urgent irreversible experience... None more potently confronts us with finiteness and contingency than the imminence of our own death.
Irvin D. Yalom
Contingency is rich and fascinating; it embodies an exquisite tension between the power of individuals to modify history and the intelligible limits set by laws of nature. The details of individual and species's lives are not mere frills, without power to shape the large-scale course of events, but particulars that can alter entire futures, profoundly and forever.
Stephen Jay Gould
The new goddess contingency could not be erected until the God of heaven was utterly despoiled of his dominion over the sons of men, and in the room thereof a home-bred idol of self-sufficiency set up, and the world persuaded to worship it. But that the building climb no higher, let all men observe how the word of God overthrows this babylonian tower.
what are you looking for? There is no Truth. There's only action, action obeying a million different impulses, ephemeral action, action subjected to every possible and imaginable contingency and contradiction, Life. Life is crime, theft, jealousy, hunger, lies, disgust,stupidity, sickness, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, piles of corpses. what can you do about it, my poor friend?
I hope I have now made it clear why I thought it best, in speaking of the dissonances between fiction and reality in our own time, to concentrate on Sartre. His hesitations, retractations, inconsistencies, all proceed from his consciousness of the problems: how do novelistic differ from existential fictions? How far is it inevitable that a novel give a novel-shaped account of the world? How can one control, and how make profitable, the dissonances between that account and the account given by the mind working independently of the novel? For Sartre it was ultimately, like most or all problems, one of freedom. For Miss Murdoch it is a problem of love, the power by which we apprehend the opacity of persons to the degree that we will not limit them by forcing them into selfish patterns. Both of them are talking, when they speak of freedom and love, about the imagination. The imagination, we recall, is a form-giving power, an esemplastic power; it may require, to use Simone Weil's words, to be preceded by a 'decreative' act, but it is certainly a maker of orders and concords. We apply it to all forces which satisfy the variety of human needs that are met by apparently gratuitous forms. These forms console; if they mitigate our existential anguish it is because we weakly collaborate with them, as we collaborate with language in order to communicate. Whether or no we are predisposed towards acceptance of them, we learn them as we learn a language. On one view they are 'the heroic children whom time breeds / Against the first idea, ' but on another they destroy by falsehood the heroic anguish of our present loneliness. If they appear in shapes preposterously false we will reject them; but they change with us, and every act of reading or writing a novel is a tacit acceptance of them. If they ruin our innocence, we have to remember that the innocent eye sees nothing. If they make us guilty, they enable us, in a manner nothing else can duplicate, to submit, as we must, the show of things to the desires of the mind. I shall end by saying a little more about La Nausee, the book I chose because, although it is a novel, it reflects a philosophy it must, in so far as it possesses novel form, belie. Under one aspect it is what Philip Thody calls 'an extensive illustration' of the world's contingency and the absurdity of the human situation. Mr. Thody adds that it is the novelist's task to 'overcome contingency'; so that if the illustration were too extensive the novel would be a bad one. Sartre himself provides a more inclusive formula when he says that 'the final aim of art is to reclaim the world by revealing it as it is, but as if it had its source in human liberty.' This statement does two things. First, it links the fictions of art with those of living and choosing. Secondly, it means that the humanizing of the world's contingency cannot be achieved without a representation of that contingency. This representation must be such that it induces the proper sense of horror at the utter difference, the utter shapelessness, and the utter inhumanity of what must be humanized. And it has to occur simultaneously with the as if, the act of form, of humanization, which assuages the horror. This recognition, that form must not regress into myth, and that contingency must be formalized, makes La Nausee something of a model of the conflicts in the modern theory of the novel. How to do justice to a chaotic, viscously contingent reality, and yet redeem it? How to justify the fictive beginnings, crises, ends; the atavism of character, which we cannot prevent from growing, in Yeats's figure, like ash on a burning stick? The novel will end; a full close may be avoided, but there will be a close: a fake fullstop, an 'exhaustion of aspects, ' as Ford calls it, an ironic return to the origin, as in Finnegans Wake and Comment c'est. Perhaps the book will end by saying that it has provided the clues for another, in which contingency will be defeated, ...
When it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table. ... That includes all elements of American power: a political effort aimed at isolating Iran, a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored, an economic effort that imposes crippling sanctions and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.
The denial of "self" challenges only the notion of a static self independent of body and mind-not the ordinary sense of ourself as a person distinct from everyone else. The notion of a static self is the primary obstruction to the realization of our unique potential as an individual being. By dissolving this fiction through a centered vision of the transiency, ambiguity, and contingency of experience, we are freed to create ourself anew.
Fear can't be reasoned with. Neither can hate. They're like love. They're almost identical emotions. That's why Ares and Aphrodite like each other. Their twin sons - Fear and Panic - were spawned from both war and love.' 'But I don't... this doesn't make sense.' 'No, ' Piper agreed. 'Stop thinking about it. Just feel.' 'I hate that.' 'I know. You can't plan for feelings. Like with Percy, and your future - you can't control every contingency. You have to accept that. Let it scare you. Trust that it'll be okay anyway.
It seems the height of antiquated hubris to claim that the universe carried on as it did for billions of years in order to form a comfortable abode for us. Chance and historical contingency give the world of life most of its glory and fascination. I sit here happy to be alive and sure that some reason must exist for "why me?" Or the earth might have been totally covered with water, and an octopus might now be telling its children why the eight-legged God of all things had made such a perfect world for cephalopods.
Stephen Jay Gould
Another way to be prepared is to think negatively. Yes, I'm a great optimist. but, when trying to make a decision, I often think of the worst case scenario. I call it 'the eaten by wolves factor.' If I do something, what's the most terrible thing that could happen? Would I be eaten by wolves? One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist, is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose. There are a lot of things I don't worry about, because I have a plan in place if they do.
The vanity of existence is revealed in the whole form existence assumes: in the infiniteness of time and space contrasted with the finiteness of the individual in both; in the fleeting present as the sole form in which actuality exists; in the contingency and relativity of all things; in continual becoming without being; in continual desire without satisfaction; in the continual frustration of striving of which life consists. . . Time is that by virtue of which everything becomes nothingness in our hands and loses all real value.
McEwan's Atonement... truly dazzles, proving to be as much about the art and morality of writing as it is about the past... . The middle section of Atonement, the two vividly realized set pieces of Robbie's trek to the Channel and Briony's experiences with the wounded evacuees of Dunkirk, would alone have made an outstanding novel... . There is wonderful writing throughout as McEwan weaves his many themes "" the accidents of contingency, the sins of absent fathers, class oppression "" into his narrative, and in a magical love scene.
So-called real life has only once interfered with me, and it had been a far cry from what the words, lines, books had prepared me for. Fate had to do with blind seers, oracles, choruses announcing death, not with panting next to the refrigerator, fumbling with condoms, waiting in a Honda parked round the corner and surreptitious encounters in a Lisbon hotel. Only the written word exists, everything one must do oneself is without form, subject to contingency without rhyme or reason. It takes too long. And if it ends badly the metre isn't right, and there's no way to cross things out.
[W]hat counts as 'realistic', what seems possible at any point in the social field, is defined by a series of political determinations. An ideological position can never be really successful until it is naturalized, and it cannot be naturalized while it is still thought of as a value rather than a fact. Accordingly, neoliberalism has sought to eliminate the very category of value in the ethical sense. Over the past thirty years, capitalist realism has successfully installed a 'business ontology' in which it is simply obvious that everything in society, including healthcare and education, should be run as a business... [E]mancipatory politics must always destroy the appearance of a 'natural order', must reveal what is presented as necessary and inevitable to be a mere contingency, just as it must make what was previously deemed to be impossible seem attainable.
On Love and Happiness:When someone embarks on his research, if he ever makes it, (there is, in addition, a contingency that he/she will never embark on it), then he sails on a journey, a course that incubates various events. It's like opening a precious gift that hides myriads of secrets. Nobody acknowledges its content unless he attempts to inspect it. Happiness is not always dominated by heavenly chances, blue and green seashores of euphoria and pink clouds of serenity. Happiness does not dwell in luxurious mansions and expensive cars neither in glamorous appearances. Many times Unhappiness and loneliness lurk behind the ledges of luxury and surface brightness. There are so many examples around us, in newspapers, magazines, television and radio of people who are plunged in uncertainty, grief and insecurity. I wonder why this is.
And yet, you didn't bother telling me yourself, ' I snapped, still outraged. 'I couldn't! They made me promise not to.' Somehow, his betrayal hurt worse than all the others. I had come to trust him implicitly. How could he do this to me? 'No one believed I'd be able to talk the Warriors down, so everyone just made contingency plans without me.' Never mind that I Hadn't been able to talk them down. 'Someone should have told me. You should have told me.' There was legitimate pain and regret in his voice. 'I'm telling you, I wanted to. But I was trapped. You of all people should know what it's like being caught between groups, Sage. Besides, don't you remember what I said just before you got in the car with Trey?' I did actually. Almost word for word. No matter what happens, I want you to know that I never doubted what you're going to do. It's smart, and it's brave. I slouched further into my seat and felt like I was on the verge of tears. Adrian was right. I did know what it was like to have your loyalty stretched between different groups. I understood the position he'd been in. It was just, some selfish part of me wished that I'd been the one his loyalty has been strongest to.
you make me laugh, with your metaphysical anguish, its just that you're scared silly, frightened of life, of men of action, of action itself, of lack of order. But everything is disorder, dear boy. Vegetable, mineral and animal, all disorder, and so is the multitude of human races, the life of man, thought, history, wars, inventions, business and the arts, and all theories, passions and systems. Its always been that way. Why are you trying to make something out of it? And what will you make? what are you looking for? There is no Truth. There's only action, action obeying a million different impulses, ephemeral action, action subjected to every possible and imaginable contingency and contradiction, Life. Life is crime, theft, jealousy, hunger, lies, disgust, stupidity, sickness, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, piles of corpses. what can you do about it, my poor friend?
Haven't you got it through your head that human thought is a thing of the past and that philosophy is worse than Bertillon's guide to harassed cops? You make me laugh with your metaphysical anguish, it's just that you're scared silly, frightened of life, of men of action, of action itself, of lack of order. But everything is disorder, dear boy. Vegetable, mineral and animal, all disorder, and so is the multitude of human races, the life of man, thought, history, wars, inventions, business and the arts, and all theories, passions and systems. It's always been that way. Why are you trying to make something out of it? And what will you make? What are you looking for? There's no truth. There's only action, action subjected to every possible and imaginable contingency and contradiction. Life. Life is a crime, theft, jealousy, hunger, lies, disgust, stupidity, sickness, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, piles of corpses. What can you do about it, my poor friend?
Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying motherhood lacks meaning. There's great dignity in the smallness of motherhood; we're essential in our contingency. And though we may not follow the Western model of the epic hero, we mothers can find a metaphor for our lives. The metaphor is in the kuroko, the Kabuki theater stage assistant. You've heard of Kabuki-with its wildly theatrical actors, its gorgeous costumes, and spectacular scale. The kuroko are assistants who help the actors move through their elaborate dramas. Meant to provide unobtrusive assistance with props and costumes, kuroko try to remain in the wings. They huddle in half-kneeling posture, wearing black bags over their heads and bodies-the better to recede into both actors' and audience's preconscious mind. Scurrying to arrange the trailing hems of heavy brocade kimonos, like an American mother repeatedly straightening her daughter's wedding train, the kuroko's role is to suport the real players of life's dramas.
Remaining for a moment with the question of legality and illegality: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368, unanimously passed, explicitly recognized the right of the United States to self-defense and further called upon all member states 'to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of the terrorist attacks. It added that 'those responsible for aiding, supporting or harboring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of those acts will be held accountable.' In a speech the following month, the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan publicly acknowledged the right of self-defense as a legitimate basis for military action. The SEAL unit dispatched by President Obama to Abbottabad was large enough to allow for the contingency of bin-Laden's capture and detention. The naive statement that he was 'unarmed' when shot is only loosely compatible with the fact that he was housed in a military garrison town, had a loaded automatic weapon in the room with him, could well have been wearing a suicide vest, had stated repeatedly that he would never be taken alive, was the commander of one of the most violent organizations in history, and had declared himself at war with the United States. It perhaps says something that not even the most casuistic apologist for al-Qaeda has ever even attempted to justify any of its 'operations' in terms that could be covered by any known law, with the possible exception of some sanguinary verses of the Koran.
Sure, zombies can 'be a metaphor.' They can represent the oppressed, as in Land of the Dead, or humanity's feral nature, as in 28 Days. Or racial politics or fear of contagion or even the consumer unconscious (Night of the Living Dead, Resident Evil, Dawn of the Dead). We could play this game all night. But really, zombies are not 'supposed to be metaphors.' They're supposed to be friggin' zombies. They follow the Zombie Rules: they rise from death to eat the flesh of the living, they shuffle in slow pursuit (or should, anyway), and most important, they multiply exponentially. They bring civilization down, taking all but the most resourceful, lucky and well-armed among us, whom they save for last. They make us the hunted; all of us. That's the stuff zombies are supposed to do. Yes, they make excellent symbols, and metaphors, and have kick-ass mythopoeic resonance to boot. But their main job is to follow genre conventions, to play with and expand the Zombie Rules, to make us begin to see the world as a place colored by our own zombie contingency plans. [... ] Stories are the original virtual reality device; their internal rules spread out into reality around us like a bite-transmitted virus, slowly but inexorably consuming its flesh. They don't just stand around 'being metaphors' whose sole purpose is to represent things in the real world; they eat the real world.
There can be no doubt that the chief fault we have developed, through the long course of human evolution, is a certain basic passivity. When provoked by challenges, human beings are magnificent. When life is quiet and even, we take the path of least resistance, and then wonder why we feel bored. A man who is determined and active doesn't pay much attention to 'luck'. If things go badly, he takes a deep breath and redoubles his effort. And he quickly discovers that his moments of deepest happiness often come after such efforts. The man who has become accustomed to a passive existence becomes preoccupied with 'luck'; it may become an obsession. When things go well, he is delighted and good humored; when they go badly, he becomes gloomy and petulant. He is unhappy-or dissatisfied-most of the time, for even when he has no cause for complaint, he feels that gratitude would be premature; things might go wrong at any moment; you can't really trust the world... Gambling is one basic response to this passivity, revealing the obsession with luck, the desire to make things happen. The absurdity about this attitude is that we fail to recognize the active part we play in making life a pleasure. When my will is active, my whole mental and physical being works better, just as my digestion works better if I take exercise between meals. I gain an increasing feeling of control over my life, instead of the feeling of helplessness (what Sartre calls 'contingency') that comes from long periods of passivity. Yet even people who are intelligent enough to recognize this find the habit of passivity so deeply ingrained that they find themselves holding their breath when things go well, hoping fate will continue to be kind.
We are all poor; but there is a difference between what Mrs. Spark intends by speaking of 'slender means', and what Stevens called our poverty or Sartre our need, besoin. The poet finds his brief, fortuitous concords, it is true: not merely 'what will suffice, ' but 'the freshness of transformation, ' the 'reality of decreation, ' the 'gaiety of language.' The novelist accepts need, the difficulty of relating one's fictions to what one knows about the nature of reality, as his donnee. It is because no one has said more about this situation, or given such an idea of its complexity, that I want to devote most of this talk to Sartre and the most relevant of his novels, La Nausee. As things go now it isn't of course very modern; Robbe-Grillet treats it with amused reverence as a valuable antique. But it will still serve for my purposes. This book is doubtless very well known to you; I can't undertake to tell you much about it, especially as it has often been regarded as standing in an unusually close relation to a body of philosophy which I am incompetent to expound. Perhaps you will be charitable if I explain that I shall be using it and other works of Sartre merely as examples. What I have to do is simply to show that La Nausee represents, in the work of one extremely important and representative figure, a kind of crisis in the relation between fiction and reality, the tension or dissonance between paradigmatic form and contingent reality. That the mood of Sartre has sometimes been appropriate to the modern demythologized apocalypse is something I shall take for granted; his is a philosophy of crisis, but his world has no beginning and no end. The absurd dishonesty of all prefabricated patterns is cardinal to his beliefs; to cover reality over with eidetic images-illusions persisting from past acts of perception, as some abnormal children 'see' the page or object that is no longer before them -to do this is to sink into mauvaise foi. This expression covers all comfortable denials of the undeniable-freedom -by myths of necessity, nature, or things as they are. Are all the paradigms of fiction eidetic? Is the unavoidable, insidious, comfortable enemy of all novelists mauvaise foi? Sartre has recently, in his first instalment of autobiography, talked with extraordinary vivacity about the roleplaying of his youth, of the falsities imposed upon him by the fictive power of words. At the beginning of the Great War he began a novel about a French private who captured the Kaiser, defeated him in single combat, and so ended the war and recovered Alsace. But everything went wrong. The Kaiser, hissed by the poilus, no match for the superbly fit Private Perrin, spat upon and insulted, became 'somehow heroic.' Worse still, the peace, which should instantly have followed in the real world if this fiction had a genuine correspondence with reality, failed to occur. 'I very nearly renounced literature, ' says Sartre. Roquentin, in a subtler but basically similar situation, has the same reaction. Later Sartre would find again that the hero, however assiduously you use the pitchfork, will recur, and that gaps, less gross perhaps, between fiction and reality will open in the most close-knit pattern of words. Again, the young Sartre would sometimes, when most identified with his friends at the lycee, feel himself to be 'freed at last from the sin of existing'-this is also an expression of Roquentin's, but Roquentin says it feels like being a character in a novel. How can novels, by telling lies, convert existence into being? We see Roquentin waver between the horror of contingency and the fiction of aventures. In Les Mots Sartre very engagingly tells us that he was Roquentin, certainly, but that he was Sartre also, 'the elect, the chronicler of hells' to whom the whole novel of which he now speaks so derisively was a sort of aventure, though what was represented within it was 'the unjustified, brackish existence of my fellow-creatures.