Suffering is surely a given in consciousness, a certain ‘psychological content’, like the lived experience of colour, of sound, of contact, or like any sensation. But in this ‘content’ itself, it is in-spite-ofconsciousness, unassumable. It is unassumable and ‘unassumability’. ‘Unassumability’ does not result from the excessive intensity of a sensation, from some sort of quantitative ‘too much’, surpassing the measure of our sensibility and our means of grasping and holding. It results from an excess, a ‘too much’ which is inscribed in a sensorial content, penetrating as suffering the dimensions of meaning which seem to be opened and grafted on to it. For the Kantian ‘I think’—which is capable of reuniting and embracing the most heterogeneous and disparate givens into order and meaning under its a priori forms-it is as if suffering were not only a given refractory to synthesis, but the way in which the refusal opposed to the assembling of givens into a meaningful whole is opposed to it: suffering is at once what disturbs order and this disturbance itself. It is not only the consciousness of rejection or a symptom of rejection, but this rejection itself: a backwards consciousness, ‘operating’ not as ‘grasp’ but as revulsion. It is a modality, or the categorial ambiguity of quality and modality. Taken as an ‘experienced’ content, the denial and refusal of meaning which is imposed as a sensible quality is the way in which the unbearable is precisely not borne by consciousness, the way this not-being-borne is, paradoxically, itself a sensation or a given. This is a quasi-contradictory structure, but a

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