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Abstract

What to make of “the ordinary,”“the everyday,” and their common “eventfulness”? What to think of what Veena Das, in her recent book Life and Words, prefaced by Stanley Cavell, has called our need to “descent into the ordinary”? Is there a parallel figure of “ascent,” again, into the same “ordinary,” that we might we want to juxtapose with it and that resembles the motif of “change,” even “conversion,” that Cavell analyzes at some length in The Claim of Reason and throughout his oeuvre as a whole? And what could be our reasons for doing so? This essay will draw on Cavell's reading of Ibsen's work in the volume Cities of Words to spell out what such an “ascent” might mean.