Nomadism is as old as any figure for the condition of our knowing.1 The exit of Plato’s cave-dwellers, the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt, modern colonial adventurism – Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari refurbished the figure again in their famous Nomadology: The War Machine (Deleuze 1989) One might read their work as a rather questionable romance of the nomad; their figure of the nomad as a guerrilla warrior may remind us again2 of Kant’s horror of the sceptic as a nomad, a threat to metaphysical dogma:
Even while it may upset us in disturbing our clichés about solid information and grounded judgement, it is an attractive image within a philosopher’s co-ordinated systems of images that constitutes our implicit outlook - our imagerie:
The nomadic moment within settled forms of knowledge remains at the edge of our peripheral vision, however. The place from which one looks is not what one can look at until one moves away. And when one does move, this ‘place from which one views’ keeps perfect pace and this new place can be seen only peripherally while one remains there. This conundrum nags at philosophy. Something in conservative procedure is at odds with the ideal of fixed knowledge. The philosopher’s ‘restless search’ is the inscription we make on what we found when settling after hard travels (‘Home at last!’). ‘This is how the world is’ transfixes, as a hypnotic gesture, what we would continue to know only if we continued to
explore. The philosopher transfixes this how the world is (the real world) as the result of search (‘re-search’). Thus they can imagine that this world lies securely within and yet outside enquiry. It is inside because they have searched it. At the same time, outside because the familiarity of the ways of the search makes those ways transparent. The world stands out; the means by which we know it - the scaffolding - falls away.