In his ontology of the singular plural, Jean-Luc Nancy makes the claim that nothing preexists the event of being: no principle, arche, or prior substance. With such a statement, a thinking of the event emerges: not preceded by any principle or ground, and no longer referred to any prior substance, being is nothing but the event of itself. Thus preceded by nothing and grounded in no essence, the event of being can only come as a surprise. This essay explores Nancy’s thinking of the event as surprise. Indeed, for Nancy, far from being an occasional accompaniment of an event, the surprise is a constitutive feature of the event. An event, he states, is surprising, or it is not an event. In the end, as Nancy puts it, thinking the event, the surprise of the event or the event as surprise, will amount to thinking being surprised, or “over-taken” (sur-prise) by the event, for the event always exceeds thinking while also each time happening to it.

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