Three ambivalences in existence as standing

Existence is a primitive notion but one that the West has a long history of relating to the primitive notion of standing. Its IE root sta cultivates a line of analogues from the concrete referent of the characteristic upright posture of the human person. Any symbolic representation of the person (think of bathroom signs or stick men or the picture of man on the Voyager record) is shown standing, i.e. as performing the primal act that one does independently and of himself, both in defiance of and in unity with the natural, non-human forces that of themselves would make the body collapse and fall.  Because of this, standing is both an action and a readiness for action,  both a primal and  a pre-action, a fundamental doing and yet doing nothing. Call this the first ambivalence of standing.

Standing is status, that is, both a report of whatever you happen to be and a degree of dignity. On the one hand your status might be deplorable, degraded, or anywhere above this; on the other hand to have status is always a dignity, which is why it makes sense to speak of status-seeking. The second ambivalence.

We modify the standing with ex- to have it be out or apart. Verbally, existence is what stands out or is  outstanding. This places the existent relative to the indifferent, the undifferentiated, the mediocre, the homogenous. Existence is the foregrounded in opposition to the background. The background is both context (or even world) while at the same time being the irrelevant, the edited-out, and the sum of all invisible gorillas.  Existence is therefore both what all things have and yet a foregrounding that sets one thing apart from the whole universe. The third ambivalence.

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