This paper examines the ways Merleau-Ponty and Nancy think about light, a central theme in Western philosophy closely tied with form and intelligibility. The first section of this paper points out that each thinker replaces the “highest moment of light”, where it is relieved of its weight and materiality, with darkness, where light instead emerges from some apophantic depth indissociable from the material. The second section of this paper gives a critique of darkness in Nancy from Merleau-Ponty’s perspective. According to the latter’s view, Nancy’s claim that darkness is distinct from the structures of intentionality and instead has to do with a presentation of the inappropriable fact of things would be untenable. The difference between the thinkers relates to how each thinks about negation after their very similar critiques of light and form. Still, I argue, the same critique of presentation in Nancy ought to also be applied to Merleau-Ponty, or at least to the usual way he is thought to favour the sensible instead of intelligibility. In the third section of this paper I consider one of Merleau-Ponty’s phrases, “there is no painting before painting”, a statement I take to be about how explicit formal structures, and thus also light and line, comes from a sensible register that does not lack variation and is not totally “deformed”, to use Nancy’s word that describes the homogeneity of a sensible field.

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