Comments 6

5: Both, and yet Neither

I’m excited to present you with the outline for chapter 5 of Being & Death. Please read it over and let me know your thoughts! If you missed the opening post, you can read the outline comment guidelines and my overall purpose statement here.


I: The Respiratory Process

Chapter 1’s outline can be found here.

II: Queer Vision

Chapter 2’s outline can be found here.


III: Being

Chapter 3’s outline can be found here.

IV: Death

Chapter 4’s outline can be found here.


V: Both, and yet Neither

Chapter purpose: To rigorously introduce the concept of ‘Both, and yet Neither’, which can be understood in three steps: 1) you have two dualistic terms held in balance, this is the ‘both’ (for example: ‘yin/yang’), 2) you have the gap that sits between the two terms, this is the ‘neither’ (for example: ‘/’), and then 3) you have the paradoxical logic of that very gap, the ‘neither’, containing the entire system ‘inside itself’ so to speak, since we are now in a land where inside/outside duality doesn’t even apply (for example: the ‘Tao’ is both the yin/yang and also not the yin/yang). Confusing, I know. This complicated idea is slowly introduced through mixed-category identity, hybridity, and a series of paradoxical examples from science and philosophy. Finally, the concept of ‘Both, and yet Neither’ is even applied to itself, creating a system that loops back on itself, returning you back from where you came, but with a new perspective.

Main take-away: “The concept ‘Both, and yet Neither’ means a thing and its opposite are not contradictions, but rather superpositions.”


1) “WHERE THERE IS DANGER…” – Section purpose: to introduce this chapter and the concept of ‘Both, and yet Neither’ through a friend’s personal story of finding identity in the gap between racial categories.

  • The gap of identity
    • A look at mixed-race identity, via a story of being Korean-American. The problem with picking a category. Even the problem with picking both categories. The solution of identifying with the “-“ between the two.
  • …also grows the saving power
    • Re-visiting the notion from the last chapter that the Real is unspeakable and un-symbolizable. Thus, the problem with any model (or symbol, or label) is that it’ll be incomplete. Touch briefly on the incompleteness theorem. Revisit the “not quite” of language. The problem, however, holds the seeds for its own solution.
    • Where does the Thing reside? Are we the PSM? Are we the Real? Or are we the cut between the two? Thus, the solution of the “-“, which we can say is “the thing that is more in me than myself”.
  • The space between spaces
    • Presenting BayN as a paradoxical “solution” to the problem of models. We are both the PSM and the Real, but also neither, also the “-“ between. First there is the balance of the both (respiration), then there’s the neither of the hyphen. A whole system at work is BayN. It is there in the gesture of BayN that we can say, “That’s my heart.”
    • Intro/summary of the chapter to come, re: the space between things, paradoxical hybrid things, superposition of things (non-duality as death), BayN defined and the map of its concept, the BayN of BayN (duality and non-duality in meta-superposition), and coming full circle.

2) “BETWEEN THE SUBJECT/OBJECT SPLIT” – Section purpose: to apply the logic of ‘the gap between’ to the iconic split of subject/object, allowing us to ‘exit duality’ from the inside, rather than the outside.

  • Exiting duality
    • Reinvestigating duality, language, and being (esp. the power dynamics inherent in neg. diff.). Looking at the classic subject/object split as iconic duality.
    • How any “transcendence” of said duality would just create another term via neg. diff, thus making no “exit” seem possible. Is “non-duality” possible?
  • Transcend to the inside
    • A look at transcendence vs. immanence, and problematizing this duality. (See de Beauvoir for the power at play in these terms). Re-read to show immanence as staying in the cave, transcendence as leaving the cave, but, as we asked in the last chapter, what would it mean to enter the cave?
    • The example of House of Leaves re: the “inside” being bigger than the “outside”, the vastness of the “interior” space of the void / unconscious.
  • The project of the “/”
    • The story of the fish re: “seeing one thing from two different perspectives.” Duality is a mark of difference violently inscribed onto a single body. To get back to the body, enter the wound.
    • Exploring the grammatical mark of the “/” and the intertwining of bodies. Diving into dualism to find non-dualism.

3) “WEREWOLVES AND MINOTAURS, OH MY!” – Section purpose: to explore some hybrid creatures from our cultural imagination, creatures who embody ‘Both, and yet Neither’, the threat they pose to power, and the window they open to the sacred.

  • Paradox threatens power
    • Looking quickly again at Foucault and power operating through taxonomy, we look at the threat paradox plays to power, first in math via PM, then in law via Homo Sacer.
    • The logic of the inclusive exclusion revisited in more detail.
  • The threat of hybrid creatures
    • A look at the history of werewolves and the “danger” in-between taxonomies plays for society.
    • The line of paradoxical indistinction.
    • A look at the myth of the Minotaur as a creature both animal and man, both human and God.
  • Sacred, indeed
    • Despite the “threat” power sees in these hybrid “sacer” creatures, there is something God-like about them.
    • A look at the androgyny of God.
  • Dreaming in interstitial spaces
    • A look at the potentiality hybrid spaces play, interstitial spaces (spaces between spaces), and the capacity to dream

4) “SUPERPOSITION” – Section purpose: to provide a detailed conceptual understanding of ‘Both, and yet Neither as non-duality’ through a series of science examples and analogies from philosophy. This makes our understanding of ‘death’ from the last chapter much more rich.

  • Death via non-duality
    • An intro to this section, re: one of the key aspects of death is the quality of non-duality and non-self. In the last chapter, we hoped to trace the contour of this space through multiple experiential analogies. Here, we will be diving right into the paradox of non-self and non-duality through a new set of analogies. This conceptual framework will help us understand non-duality in all of its paradox.
  • When difference dissolves
    • Ganglion cell fatigue perceptual experiments are experiences of non-duality via indistinct multiplicity.
    • James Turrell’s art and the “Ganzfeld effect.”
    • Split brains explored and Jill Bolte Taylor’s “Stroke of Insight” discussed.
  • The force of potentiality
    • Wave-particle duality in both light and electrons explored.
    • The two-slit experiment and the force of potentiality.
  • Superposition
    • The structure of atoms reconsidered.
    • Superposition defined. The tree in the forest solved.
    • Coherence, entanglement, and decoherence defined.
  • Hyphenated reality
    • Mind-body, space-time, and wave-particle hyphens.
    • Low-level and high-level consciousness explored.
  • Light’s perspective
    • A look at relativity and what reality “looks like” from light’s perspective, when time dilation and distance contraction converge on a singularity.
  • The Chiasm of flesh
    • An intro to the rhetorical device of the “chiasm.”
    • MP’s use of “chiasm” and then “flesh”.
  • Sexual chiasm
    • A look at sexual differentiation in fetuses, and the prior, chiasmic state of undifferentiated potentiality.
    • Maybe discuss the “Body w/o Organs”
    • A dive into the art of Matthew Barney.
    • Enunciate the way this book takes MB’s ideas a few steps further, re: the simultaneity of BayN.

5) “PRESENCE AND ABSENCE” – Section purpose: to explore how an experience of ‘Both, and yet Neither’ might feel, through investigating two seemingly opposed examples from religion.

  • Non-duality through oneness
    • Overview of the main tenets of The Upanishads, mainly focusing on the non-duality of The Self.
    • Affirmations: you = Atman = Self = Brahmin = presence
  • Non-duality through nothingness
    • Overview of Buddha’s reaction to “Brahminism” and his turn from presence to absence. Positing nirvana. The story of the flame – where did it go?
    • Negations: no, no, no = Nirvana
    • The Heart Sutra
  • The milk of all cows
    • Both of these strategies are two seemingly opposite ways to get at the exact same thing. Thus, we must BayN them. All-Self and Non-Self become a paradoxical synthesis.

6) “FROM RESPIRATION TO SYNTHESIS” – Section purpose: to introduce the idea of ‘dialectical synthesis’ from philosophy, to then examine how ‘Both, and yet Neither’ is similar but different.

  • Dialectical synthesis
    • An overview of Hegel’s dialectical method and core philosophical ideas, ending with the “absolute idea.”
  • Science, mysticism, and the Real
    • A look again at affirmation and negation models. Seeing the thing Hegel misses in his all affirmation model is the negativity of mysticism. Thus, we need to BayN Hegel himself. Perhaps the endpoint isn’t some positivity nor negativity, but a strange loop?
    • Superposition is different from synthesis insofar as the tensions are not resolved, but rather held in balance.
  • The circular teleology of BayN
    • Carefully explain the move from duality, to non-duality, to the BayN of duality and non-duality. No more “BayNs” can occur, since the system then “strange loops” back in on itself, where biggest touches smallest.

7) “SIPPING REALITY FROM A KLEIN BOTTLE” – Section purpose: to put the question ‘what came first?’ to bed by examining the looping structure of ‘Both, and yet Neither’.

  • What is appearance and what is reality?
    • Via Zizek, a look at the “fuzzy math” of trying to figure out which came from what. Did appearance emerge from reality, or is reality just an effect of appearance?
  • A thing and its inverse
    • A look at how our very own Void Mandala must also be its own inverse. If death is at the center of life, then life too is at the center of death. It forms its own strange loop.
  • The Klein bottle
    • A look at Mobius strips and Klein bottles, and how the Void Mandala, through the power of BayN, becomes a strange loop circuit.

8) “PERFECT IMPERFECTION” – Section purpose: to explore the final paradoxical stage of ‘Both, and yet Neither’ where the term gets applied to itself as the non-duality of ‘duality and non-duality’, epitomized by Taoism.

  • The BayN of duality and non-duality
    • Intro to this idea via my story from Sunday school, re: God needing to be both perfect and imperfect.
    • Explore this second movement of the BayN concept: it took us from Being (duality) to Death (non-duality), and now back full circle to the reality of both, yet the neither of their gap.
    • Being the sugar (death) and tasting the sugar (life). Is there a sugar that tastes itself?
  • Where is the Tao?
    • An overview of Taoism, mapping it to all the movements of this book, from duality to the void to BayN.
    • The BayN of BayN of the Tao: there’s yin/yang (both), there’s the Tao (BayN) and there’s also the BayN of the fact that the Tao contains the yin/yang.
    • Returning to the flame story, using time and the Big Bang as a model for “how do we prepositionally situate the Tao”?
  • Seriously, how can I get to utopia?
    • An etymology of “utopia” as both the “perfect place” and the “no place.”
    • Discuss Badiou and the infinitely receding “utopia” of the Real, always deferred by formalization.
    • Link this to the Derrida and cosmology idea of the center being everywhere and therefore nowhere. There is no utopia because everywhere is utopia. Nothing and everything meet as two sides of a circle touching.
    • Re-visit the difference between BayN and Matthew Barney’s model: utopia isn’t some perfect place we’re trying to get to ‘out there’, but rather its always already at our very core.

9) “RETURNING FULL CIRCLE” – Section purpose: to conclude and summarize the chapter you just read, map out the dualities that have been ‘Both, and yet Neither-ed’, and then open the door to the next chapter.

  • What is “Both, and yet Neither”?
    • Conclusion: since the Real is unspeakable, all models are incomplete and contradictory. BayN is the holding of both models (duality) in superposition. BayN is also the superposition of duality and non-duality. It is the self-looping gesture of synthesis that embodies the paradox of the Void.
    • A thing and its opposite are not contradictions, but superpositions.
  • The apotheosis of metapattern
    • Map out all the concepts from Death and BayN chapters in a grand analogy chain of metapattern, just like Sebastian did in TS & Campbell’s apotheosis (merging of opposites).
  • Seeing with new eyes
    • Link the conceptual apparatus of BayN to the notion of “queer vision” from ch. 2. Why did we just do all this hard thought work? So that we may see better. Our journey from Being to Death to BayN (which brings us back in a loop) wasn’t meant to take us away from life, but rather take us on a journey that leads us back to life with new eyes.


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