In Gabriela Basterra’s discussion of Levinas’ rhetoric employed in Otherwise than Being, she analyses the metaphors used by Levinas to describe the ethical event as an act of Auto-Heteronomy. The external “face” in Totality and Infinity becomes an elusive “trace” in Otherwise than Being that now highlights the impact of the ethical event on the subject, what is left behind but it is still absent, catachresis. We see a movement from an other that is exterior to an other that resides within the subject, embedded beneath the “skin.” In attempting to myself visualize what Basterra is describing, I see the ethical event operating auto-heteronomically as a parasitical other that has incepted itself within the subject commanding it from within it’s own voice.
I was most intrigued by where she goes in page 123 when redefining Kant’s idea of autonomy in the presence of an ethical act as a reaction to a command that comes from an other that lies within hence allowing the self to not only be conscious of itself as the subject receiving the command but act as its author simultaneously. I was primarily interested in how the conscious inaccessibility of that which generates the ethical obligation gets distorted as a cruel other inflicting guilt. If guilt is a result of catachresis, an absence of representation of that other from which the ethical event generates, then the subcutaneous alterity that makes possible this hetero-autonomous event can be viewed as a parasite, an alien corrupting its host, an other of unknown origin.