Lukhnos Liu

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In Memory of Shih-Chieh Ilya Li (1973-2019)

Ilya passed away in May 2019. He was a mentor, a connecting supernode, and a thinker who introduced Emmanuel Levinas to me. He derived his name from Levinas's idea of the anonymous being, the "there is", il y a:

Being, as we noted, also is dark indeterminacy. […] This anonymous being, also called the il y a [there is], does not “give” the way Heidegger's Being does. And it is not revealed through mere anxiety. Nevertheless, it is a beginning. Insomniac and in the throes of horror, the hypostasis falls asleep. Or again, it lights a light and reassembles its consciousness. It “sobers up.” Therein lays our first, constitutive escape from neutral Being. But the il y a gives the lie to the question: Why is there Being instead of simply nothing? Nothing, as pure absence, may be thinkable, but it is unimaginable. Indeterminate Being fills in all the gaps, all the temporal intervals, while consciousness arises from it in an act of self-originating concentration. This is the first sketch of Being as totality. The self-“I” dyad becomes a limited transcendence arising in the midst of the self's encompassing horror. It hearkens to a call that comes not from neutral Being but from the Other.

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