Ordinary Oblivion and the Self Unmoored: Reading Plato's Phaedrus and Writing the Soul

By Jennifer R. Rapp | Go to book overview

Preface

We are porous creatures. Our lives are saturated with repletion and incompleteness. Brimming and leakage abound. There is a surfeit of the self, even as much of what flows into a life slips to the margins or becomes obscured from view, often lost without a trace. Sometimes the fugitive surfeit of the self drifts back into our lives, as a rekindled intimacy with who we have been and who we are. Sometimes it remains fugitive, a ghostly vestige imparting knowledge at a distance. My primary interest has been how this lost surfeit of the self creates fissures in self-knowledge that are not empty or vacant, though they are spaces where something has gone missing. What would it mean to build an understanding of the human person from such spaces? Do these spaces suggest a way of understanding the sacred? What is their ethical significance? This book focuses on the first of these questions. Subsequent writing will engage the remaining two queries, informed by the endeavor presented here.

The whole of this book is evoked by the title. Reflecting on it, prior to reading the remainder of the text, would engender a more dialogical encounter with what I propose. A few remarks to bear in mind, if you embark on this suggested interruptive reflection:

“Ordinary oblivion” is how I have named the spaces in a person described above, those fissures best characterized neither wholly in terms of presence nor wholly in terms of absence. Literally and figuratively,

-ix-

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