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Martin Hägglund “Radical Atheism. Derrida and the Time of Life”

Hägglund, Martin 2008. Radical Atheism. Derrida and the Time of Life. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Introduction
The notion of survival that I develop is incompatible with immortality, since it defines life as essentially mortal and as inherently divided by time. To survive is never to be absolutely present; it is to remain after a past that is no longer and to keep the memory of this past for a future that is not yet. I argue that every moment of life is a matter of survival, since it depends on what Derrida calls the structure of the trace. The structure of the trace follows fom the constitution of time, which makes it impossible for anything to be present in itself. Every now passes away as soon as it comes to be and must therefore be inscribed as a trace in order to be at all. (1)

The trace can only live on, however, by being left for a future that may erase it. This radical finitude of survival is not a lack of being that is desirable to. Rather, the finitude of survival opens the chance for everything that is desired and the threat of everything that is feared. (1-2)

The desire for survival cannot aim at transcending time, since the given time is the only chance for survival. There is thus an internal contradiction in the so-called desire for immortality. […] the state of immortality would annihilate every form of survival, since it would annihilate the time of mortal life. (2)

[…] différance articulates the negative infinity of time. No moment is given in itself but is superseded by another moment in its very event and can never be consummated in a positive infinity. The negative infinity of time is an infinite finitude, since it entail that finitude cannot ever be eliminated or overcome. (3)

His [Derrida’s] notion of autoimmunity spells out that everyting is threatened from within itself, since the possibility of living is inseparable from the peril of dying. (9)

I argue that the reason why autoimmunity is inscribed at the heart of life is because there cannot be anything without the tracing of time. The tracing of time is the minimal protection of life, but it also attacks life from the first inception, since it breaches the integrity of any moment and makes everything susceptible to annihilation. (9)

I – Autoimmunity of Time: Derrida and Kant
In Derrida’s analysis the autoimmunity of democracy is not a deplorable fact that we could or should seek to overcome. Rather, Derrida emphasizes that there can be no democratic ideal that is exempt from autoimmunity, since the very concept of democracy is autoimmune. In order to be democratic, democracy must be open to critique and to the outcome of unpredictable elections. But for some reason, democracy is essentially open to what may alter or destroy it. […] It must both protect itself against its own threat and be threatened by its own protection. (14)

The coimplication of life and death spells out an autoimmunity at the heart of life as such. Even if all external threats are evaded, life still bears the cause of its own destruction within itself. The vulnerability of life is thus without limit, since the source of attack is also located within what is to be defended. (14)

If we follow the philosophical logic of identity, autoimmunity is inconceivable. What is indivisibly identical to itself has no need to immunize itself against itself. It may be threatened by what is other than itself, but it cannot turn against itself. (14)

Given that the now can appear only in disappearing […] it must be inscribed as a trace in order to be at all. This is the becoming-space of time. The trace is necessarily spatial, since spatiality is characterized by the ability to remain in spite of temporal succession. Spatiality is thus the condition for synthesis, since it enables the tracing of relations between past and future. Spatiality, however, can never be in itself; it can never be pure simultaneity. Simultaneity is unthinkable without a temporalization that relates one spatial juncture to another. This becoming-time of space is necessary not only for the trace to be related to other traces, but also for it to be a trace in the first place. (18)

If the spatialization of time makes the synthesis possible, the temporalization of space makes it impossible for the synthesis to be grounded in an indivisible presence. The synthesis is always a trace of the past that is left for the future. Thus, it can never be in itself but is essentially exposed to that which may erase it. (18)

For Derrida, the spacing of time is an “ultratranscendental” condition from which nothing can be exempt. (19)

To think the trace as an ultratranscendental condition is thus to think a constitutive finitude that is absolutely without exception. From within its very constitution life is threatened by death, memory is threatened by forgetting, identity is threatened by alterity, and so on. (19)

For Kant, the unconditional is the Idea of a sovereign instance that is not subjected to time and space (e.g., God). For Derrida, on the contrary, the unconditional is the spacing of time that undermines the very Idea of a sovereign instance. (19)

Sovereignty is by definition unconditional in the sense that it is not dependent on anything other than itself. In contrast, Derrida argues that the unconditional is the spacing of time that divides every instance in advance and makes it essentially dependent on what is other than itself. What makes X possible is at the same time what makes it impossible for X to be in itself. Such is the minimal formula for the illogical logic of identity that deconstructive reason employs. (25)

For Derrida, time and space are not transcendental forms of human intuition, which would be given in the same way regardless of their empirical conditions. Rather, the ultratranscendental status of spacing deconstructs the traditional divide between the transcendental and the empirical. If time must be spatially inscribed, then the experience of time essentially dependent on which material supports and technologies are available to inscribe time. That is why Derrida maintains that inscriptions do not befall an already constituted space but produce the spatiality of space. (27)

If the essence of X is to be identical to itself, then the consummation of X must be thinkable as an Idea even though it is inaccessible for our temporal cognition. Finitude is thus a negative limitation that prevents us from having access to the fullness of being. But given the deconstructive logic of identity, a completely different argument emerges. If the essence of X is to not be identical to itself, then the consummation of X cannot even be posited as an Idea since it would cancel out X. finitude is thus not a negative limitation that prevents us from having access to the fullness of being. On the contrary, finitude is an unconditional condition that makes the fullness of being unthinkable as such. (30)

The relation between the conditional and the unconditional in Derrida’s thinking can thus be described as an autoimmune relation. Inscribed within the condition for X is the unconditional coming of time that attacks the integrity of X a priori. Accordingly, Derrida maintains that there can be nothing without autoimmunity. (30)

Derrida first asserts that for something to happen, there must be both a chance and a threat. He then asserts that this double bind cannot even in principle be eliminated, since if nothing happened there would be nothing at all. What I want to stress is that this argument presupposes that being is essentially temporal (to be = to happen) and that it is inherently valuable that something happens (the worst = that nothing happens). In other words, it presupposes that temporal finitude is the condition for everything that is desirable. (32)

The finitude of survival is not a lack of being that it is desirable to overcome. Rather, Derrida makes clear that whatever is desired is finite in its essence. Even the most intense enjoyment is haunted by the imminence of death, but without such finitude there would be nothing to enjoy in the first place. […] There is no way out of this double bind because the threat of loss is not extrinsic to what is desired; it is intrinsic to its being as such. (34)

There is no opposition between undecidability and the making of decisions. On the contrary, it is because the future cannot be decided in advance that one has to make decisions. If the future could be predicted, there would be nothing to decide on and no reason to act in the first place. (40)

Derrida describes the undecidable future as the very possibility of justice or quite simply as a “justice” beyond law. The point is that decisions concerning justice cannot be reduced to a rule for how the law should be applied. Rather, the demand for justice is always raised in relation to singular events, which there is no guarantee that the law will have anticipated. The condition of justice is thus an essential contingency. (40)

The exigency of “justice” is not something positive in itself but designates that every decision is haunted by the undecidable coming of time, which opens the risk that one has made or will have made unjust decisions. Without such risk, there would be no question of justice in the first place, since the execution of law would be nothing but a faultless application of rules. (41)

Absolute destructibility entails that deferral, detour, and delay is internal to life as such, since the final destination is nothing but death. From the first inception, life has to protect itself against the force of destruction that it bears within itself and without which it could not be. Life can thus only be given through the movement of survival, which takes the time to live by postponing death. (47-48)

On the one hand, life is opposed to death because to live is to be mortal, to resist and defer death. On the other hand, life is internally bound to what it opposes because mortality is inextricably linked to death. The defense of life is thus attacked from within. There can be no cure for such autoimmunity since life is essentially mortal. From the definition of life as essentially mortal, it follows that immortality is death. To live is to be mortal, which means that the opposite of being mortal – to be immortal – is to be dead. If one can no longer die, one is already dead. (48)

IV – Autoimmunity of Life: Derrida’s Radical Atheism
[…] Derrida maintains that we love the mortal as mortal and that there can be nothing beyond mortality. For Augustine, to love the mortal as mortal is deplorable and misguided. If one is bound to the mortal, the positive can never be released from the negative. Any mortal bond is a double bind, since whatever is desirable cannot be dissociated from the undesirable fact that it will be lost. (109-110)

The other is infinitely other – its alterity cannot be overcome or recuperated by anyone else – because the other is finite. (110)

It is because the beloved can be lost that one seeks to keep it, and it is because the experience can be forgotten that one seeks to remember it. As Derrida strikingly puts it, one cannot love without the experience of finitude. (111)

[…] Derrida relies on the desire for mortal life to read even the most religious ideas against themselves. Messianic hope is for Derrida a hope for temporal survival, faith is always faith in the finite, and the desire for God is a desire for the mortal, like every other desire. (120)

There is thus no exception to the law of survival, which is inscribed in the movement of life as such. To live is necessarily to affirm the time of survival, since it gives the possibility to live on in the first place. But to live is also to fear the time of survival, since it entails that one may always become dead or be left to mourn the death of the beloved. (122)

When Derrida argues that the coming of time is the undeconstructible condition of justice, he thus emphasizes that it is a “de-totalizing condition,” which inscribes the possibility of corruption, evil, and mischief at the heart of justice itself. If this impossibility of absolute justice were to be overcome, all justice would be eliminated. (123)

Every recognition is thus haunted by a possible misrecognition, every identification by a misidentification, and every decision by an undecidable future that may call it into question. (125)

The threat of evil does not testify to a lack of the good; it is internal to whatever good that we desire. (126)

Insofar as salvation is understood as the absolute immunity of immortality, it is out of the question. There can be no such salvation, since nothing can happen without the greeting of an other that can come to compromise any immunity. However, insofar as salvation is understood as a survival that saves one from death by giving one more time to live, it is not out of the question. It is rather a precarious possibility that always can “be refused, threatened, forbidden, lost, gone” because of the infinite finitude of time (“the endlessness of the end that is never-ending”). (131)

The crucial question […] is why Derrida chooses to retain the term messianic to designate the opening to the undecidable future. Derrida’s use of the term may seem counterintuitive and easily invites religious appropriations. My argument, however, is that Derrida’s notion of the messianic without messianism follows the radically atheist logic that we traced in his notion of the salut without salvation. A radical atheism cannot simply denounce messianic hope as an illusion. Rather, it must show that messianic hope does not stem from a hope for immortality (the positive infinity of eternity) but from a hope of survival (the negative infinity of time). (136)

V – Autoimmunity of Democracy: Derrida and Laclau
[…] the finitude of survival opens the possibility of everything we desire and the peril of everything we fear. The affirmation of survival is thus not a value in itself; it is rather the unconditional condition for all values. Whatever one may posit as a value, one has to affirm the time of survival, since without the time of survival the value could never live on and be posited as a value in the first place. (164)

Democracy to come does not designate a utopian hope for a democracy that will come one day and bring about a just society. […] Rather, all aspects of democracy require political negotiations that cannot be grounded in deconstruction or anything else. […] On the contrary, he argues that solutions and norms cannot be justified once and for all, since they are instituted in relation to the undecidable coming of time that precedes and exceeds them. Far from absolving us from politics, it is the undecidable coming of time that makes politics necessary in the first place, since it precipitates the negotiation of unpredictable events. (171)

If Derrida privileges the concept of democracy, it is not because he thinks it can guarantee a good or just society but because the concept of democracy more evidently than other concepts takes into account the undecidable future. (171)

The concept of democratic freedom is thus autoimmune, since the equality that protects it also attacks it from within and compromises its integrity. Inversely, the same autoimmunity is at work in the concept of democratic equality. If everyone is equally free, it follows that freedom is intrinsic to equality and threatens it from within. The calculation of equality is always the calculation of an incalculable freedom that opens the possibility of inequality. (174)

[…] it is misleading to say that democracy is “always deferred” insofar as this implies that there is a democracy (or an Idea of democracy) that remains out of reach. The point is not that democracy is deferred but that democracy is deferral and cannot overcome the movement of deferral without ceasing to be democracy. (175-176)

Even the most despotic monarch or totalitarian dictator is engaged in a “democratic” relation, since he must negotiate with past and future selves that may overturn his rule. (177)

[…] Derrida argues that what Schmitt denounces as depoliticization – namely, the absence of an autonomous domain for the political – answers to a “hyperpoliticization” that marks the political from its beginning. In other words, there has never been an autonomous domain for the political. The impossibility of a definitive delimitation of the political is both the reason why there is politics in the first place and why politics has no end. (181)

[…] what Derrida calls “the condition of the event” is radically descriptive, since it designates the condition for anything to happen and for everything that happens. Even the most active and sovereign decision is passive, for the same reason that even the most immediate autoaffection is inhabited by a heteroaffection. (184)

For a hyperpolitical thinking, nothing (no set of values, no principle, no demand or political struggle) can be posited as good in itself. Rather, everything is liable to corruption and to appropriation for other ends, which also means that no instance can have an a priori immunity against interrogation and critique. (184)

More forcefully than any other political concept, democracy brings out the autoimmunity that is the condition for life in general. In the name of democratic freedom one can assault the given delimitation of democratic freedom, and in the name of democratic equality one can assault the given delimitation of democratic equality. […] What distinguishes the concept of democracy […] is that it explicitly takes into account that the violence of exclusion does not have an ultimate justification. (195-196)

Thus, the concept of democracy testifies to an “absolute and intrinsic historicity” where nothing is immune from its own destructibility. (196)

The constitutive drive for survival is quite incompatible with the constitutive drive for fullness that Laclau assumes as the foundation for his theory. Laclau wants to recognize that “freedom and consciousness of our own contingency go together.” However, if we really desire an absolute fullness, the freedom of contingency can only be disappointing. (197)

Charles Ramond “Derrida. Éléments d’un lexique politique”

September 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Ramond, Charles 2007. Derrida. Éléments d’un lexique politique. Cités, 30(2) : 143-151.

L’auto-immunité. L’auto-immunité, c’est le fait de se protéger contre soi-même : c’est-à-dire de se considérer soi-même comme un étranger, ou un parasite : « l’autoinfection de toute auto-affection » (Voyous,154). L’auto-immunité conduit donc à la mort par un suicide qui n’est pourtant pas « voulu ». Cette notion intéresse Derrida (il lui accorde même « une portée sans limite » (Voyous, 175), non seulement parce qu’elle contribue à rendre indécidable et impensable le « propre » (cible principale de la philosophie de Derrida), mais aussi parce qu’elle met en cause circulairement la possibilité d’un soi-même, d’un « auto » : « Ce que j’appelle l’autoimmunitaire ne consiste pas seulement à se nuire ou à se ruiner, (…) non pas seulement à se suicider, mais à compromettre la sui-référentialité, le soi du suicide même. L’auto-immunité est plus ou moins suicidaire (…) mais menace toujours de priver le suicide lui-même de son sens et de son intégrité supposés ». Pas de maîtrise dans le suicide : Derrida retrouve ici une pensée de Spinoza, qui pensait qu’il était impossible de « se » « sui »-cider, et que c’était toujours « un autre » qui nous tuait. (143)

Déconstruction (et politique). En général, la « déconstruction » est une méthode de lecture qui consiste, un peu à la manière de l’ironie, à laisser se détruire d’elle-même la thèse que l’on déconstruit. Il ne s’agit donc pas d’une critique résultant d’une intention de nuire. Derrida se contente le plus souvent de rapprocher certains passages : par exemple, pour Socrate, dans le Phèdre, l’écriture est un « poison » pour la mémoire, tandis que la philosophie est un « remède » pour la peur de la mort. Mais Platon emploie un seul mot(pharmakon) pour « poison » et « remède ». Chasser l’écriture de la philosophie, ce serait donc chasser la philosophie de la philosophie, ce qui est impossible. La « construction » d’une opposition entre ces deux notions aura donc (toujours déjà) échoué.
La déconstruction dit à la fois le rapport paradoxal (critique) que la démocratie entretient avec elle-même et le type d’interventions (prudentes, singulières, toujours contextualisées, jamais acquises d’avance) de Derrida concernant les questions politiques. (144-145)

Démocratie (à venir). La démocratie est le plus souvent dite « à venir » par Derrida (l’expression apparaît pour la première fois dans Du droit à la philosophie, 1990, p. 53), car, pour un certain nombre de raisons, elle lui semble un État instable ou indécidable par définition, toujours à la fois en phase d’autoconfirmation de soi et de critique de soi. […] Que la démocratie soit dite par Derrida « à venir » n’implique cependant en aucune manière, de sa part, une distance par rapport aux démocraties telles que nous les connaissons, ou l’idée que la démocratie pourrait attendre pour ceux qui n’y ont pas encore eu accès. Derrida est tout à fait clair sur ce point : « La démocratie à venir ne signifie surtout pas simplement le droit de différer (…) l’expérience ou encore moins l’injonction de la démocratie » (Voyous, 53). Il ne veut pas dire que la démocratie sera toujours différée (il sait très bien que, comme l’avait annoncé Tocqueville, la démocratie envahit peu à peu le monde), mais il estime que la démocratie « restera toujours aporétique dans sa structure » : « Force sans force, singularité incalculable et égalité calculable, commensurabilité et incommensurabilité, hétéronomie et autonomie, souveraineté indivisible et divisible ou partageable, nom vide, messianicité désespérée ou désespérante, etc. » (Voyous,126). (145)

L’événement. Le véritable événement devrait être absolument imprévisible, devrait ne s’insérer dans aucun possible, n’être la réalisation d’aucune possibilité, ne pas même s’inscrire dans quelque horizon d’action ou d’attente que ce soit. Seul un tel type d’événement pourrait être véritablement dit « arriver », et c’est pour cela que Derrida soutient que seul « arrive » « l’impossible » – c’est sa définition (204). (147)

Messianicité sans messianisme. Expression qui apparaît assez souvent chez Derrida (voir par exemple Voyous, 126, 128, et s.). Elle caractérise la démocratie, selon un schéma kantien (comme la « finalité sans fin », déconstruite par Derrida dans La vérité en peinture). Le sens est assez clair : la démocratie délivre structurellement une espérance, sans qu’on puisse dire exactement laquelle. Comme la plupart des structures démocratiques, il s’agit donc d’une détermination paradoxale. (148-149)

Jacques Derrida “The Ends of Man”

September 7, 2014 Leave a comment

Derrida, Jacques 1969. The Ends of Man. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 30(1): 31-57.

And yet, in spite of this supposed neutralizing of metaphysical presuppositions, we have to admit that the unity of man is not in itself called into question. Not only is existentialism a humanism, but the ground and horizon of what Sartre then called his “phenomenological ontology” (this is the subtitle of Being and Nothingness) remains the unity of human-reality. In so far as it describes the structures of human-reality, phenomenological ontology is a philosophical anthropology. (35)

Sartre’s attempt is a remarkable example verifying Heidegger’s propsition according to which “all humanism remains metaphysical,” metaphysics being the other name for onto-theology. (36)

The transcendental structures described after the phenomenological reduction are not those of that intra-mundane being called “man.” They are not essentially linked with society, culture or language, or even with man’s “soul” or his “psyche.” And just as, according to Husserl, a consciousness can be imagined without soul (seelenloses), so can -and a fortiori -a consciousness be imagined without man. (38)

[…] what authorizes us today to consider as essentially anthropic or anthropocentric all that which, in metaphysics or at the limits of metaphysics, has presumed to criticize or to delimit anthropologism? What remains of the “relève,” of man in the thought df Hegel, Husserl and Heidegger? (40)

Phenomenology is no longer but it is still a science of man. In this sense all of the structure described in the Phenomenology of Mind -just as everything which links them with Logic -are the structures of what has taken over for man. Man remains there in his “relbve”. His essence lies in the phenomenology. This equivocality of the relation of “relbve” undoubtedly marks the end of man, of man past, but at the same time it marks the completion of man, the appropriation of his essence. This is the end of finite man, the end of the finitude of man, the unity of the finite and the infinite, the finite as surpassing of oneself; these essential themes of Hegel are recognized at the end of the Anthropology when consciousness is finally designated as “infinite relation with oneself.” The “relbve” of man is his telos or his eschaton. (41)

Despite the criticism of anthropologism, “humanity” is still, here, the name of the being to which transcendental telos, determined as Idea (in the Kantian sense), or as Reason, is announced. It is man as rational animal which, in its most classical metaphysical determination, designates the place of deployment of teleological reason; that is, history. For Husserl as for Hegel, reason is history and there is no history except that of reason. The latter functions in every man, no matter how primitive he may still be, in that he is “the rational animal” (Origin of Geometry). (43)

Thus, under the auspices of the founding concepts of metaphysics, which Husserl revives and restores, assigning them if necessary an index or phenomenological quotation marks, criticism of empirical anthropologism is but the affirmation of a transcendental humanism. And among these metaphysical concepts which form the essential resources of Husserl’s discourse, that of end, or telos, plays a decisive role. (44)

The end of man (as factual anthropological limit) is announced to thought with the end of man. Man is that which is relative to his end, in the fundamentally equivocal sense of the word. This has always been so. The transcendental end can appear to itself and unfold before itself only in the condition of mortality, of relation to finitude as the origin of ideality. The name of man has always been inscribed in metaphysics between these two ends. It has meaning only in this eschato-teleological situation. (44)

[…] just as the Dasein -the being which we are ourselves -serves as the exemplary text, as the good “lesson” for the explicitation of the sense of Being, so the name of man remains the link or the leading thread which joins the analytics of Dasein with the totality of the traditional discourse of metaphysics. Hence the strange status of phrases or of parentheses such as these: As different behaviours of man, sciences have the style of Being of this being (man). We assign to this being the term “Dasein” (Dieses Seiende fassen wir terminologisch als Dasein).” Again, “The problematics of Greek ontology, just as that of any ontology, should take its leading thread from the Dasein itself. Dasein, that is, the Being of man, is understood (umgrentz) in its vulgar “definition” as well as in its philosophical “definition” as that living whose Being is essentially determined by the power of speech” (of the discourse: Redenkonnen). In the same way, a “complete ontology of Dasein” is posited as the prerequisite to a “philosophical anthropology.” We see, then, that Dasein, if it is not man, is not, however, other than man. It is, as we shall see, a repetition of the essence of man permitting to go back beyond metaphysical concepts of humanitas. (48)

[…] that Dasein “which we are” constituted the exemplary being for the hermeneutics of the sense of Being due to its proximity to itself, to our proximity to ourselves and to this being which we are. Heidegger thus notes that this proximity is ontic. On the contrary, ontologically, that is, as regards the Being of this being which we are, the distance, is as great as it can be. “The Dasein in truth is not merely that which is ontically (ontisch)near or even nearest us -we are it ourselves. However, in spite of, or rather because of this, it is ontologically (ontologisch) the farthest.” (48)

What is the orientation of the “concern,” if not to re-establish man in his essence (den Menschen wieder in sein Wesen zuriickzubringen)? Can this mean other than making man (homo) human (humanus)? humanitas remains at the heart of such thought, for humanism consists of this: to reflect and to see that man be human and not inhuman (unmenschlich); that is, outside of his essence. Of what, then, does man’s humanity consist? It resides in his essence.” (50)

The ontological distance from Dasein to what it is as eksistence and to the Da of Sein; this distance which was given as first ontic proximity, must be reduced by the thought of the truth of Being. Hence, the pre-dominance, in Heidegger’s discourse, of a whole metaphorics of proximity,
simple and immediate presence, associating with the proximity of Being the values of neighborhood, shelter, house, service, guard, voice and listening. (51)

Consequently, the prevalence accorded to the phenomenological metaphor, to all of the varieties of phainesthai, of brilliance, of illumination, of clearing, of Lichtung, etc., opens on the space of presence and the presence of space, understood in the opposition of the near and the far. In the same way, the privilege accorded not only to language, but to spoken language (voice, listening, etc.) is in harmony with the motif of presence as presence to itself. (53)

If, then, “Being is farther removed than every being and yet nearer to man than every being,” if “Being is that which is nearest,” we should consequently be able to say that Being is the near of man and that man is the near of Being. The near is the proper; the proper is the nearest (prop, proprius). Man is that which is proper to Being, which speaks into his ear from very near. Being is that which is proper to man. Such is the truth, such is the proposition which gives the there to the truth of Being and the truth of man. This proposition of the proper must certainly not be taken in a metaphysical sense: the proper of man is not here an essential attribute, the predicate of a substance, one feature, as fundamental as it may be, among the others which constitute a being, object or subject, called man. Neither can we talk, in this same sense, of man as the proper of Being. The propriety, the co-propriety of Being and man, is proximity as inseparability. It is as inseparability, furthermore, that the relations of being (substance or res) with its essential predicate were conceived in metaphysics. Since this co-propriety of man and Being, such as it is conceived in Heidegger’s discourse, is not ontic, it does not relate two “beings” to one another but rather, in language, relates the sense of Being with the sense of man. (54)

In the reading of this interplay, the following chain of events can be taken in all of its senses: the end of man is the thought of Being, man is the end of the thought of Being, the end of man is the end of the thought of Being. Man has always been his proper end; that is, the end of what is proper to him. The being has always been its proper end; that is, the end of what is proper to it. (55)

Jacques Rancière “La démocratie est-elle à venir?”

Rancière, Jacques 2012. La démocratie est-elle à venir ? Éthique et politique chez Derrida. Les Temps Modernes, 669-670 : 157-173

La « démocratie à venir », c’est une démocratie avec quelque chose de plus, suspendue à ce « quelque chose de plus ». Il est clair que ce supplément n’est pas quelque chose qu’il faudrait apporter de l’extérieur à la démocratie ; clair aussi que la «  démocratie à venir  » ne veut pas dire la démocratie future. Cela veut dire « la démocratie comme démocratie à venir ». (158)

Le dèmos est le sujet de la politique pour autant qu’il est hétérogène au compte des parties de la société. C’est un heteron, mais un heteron d’un genre très particulier puisque son hétérogénéité est fondée sur le principe de substituabilité. Sa différence propre est l’indifférence aux différences — c’est-à-dire aux inégalités — qui constituent un ordre social. (161)

Le dissensus est l’acte qui met deux mondes, deux logiques hétérogènes, sur la même scène, dans le même monde. (161)

C’est là pour moi la dimension esthétique de la politique : la mise en scène d’un dissensus— d’un conflit entre plusieurs mondes sensibles — par des sujets qui agissent comme s’ils étaient le peuple formé par le compte incomptable des n’importe qui. (162)

C’est ainsi que je comprends le supplément démocratique : comme le principe de la politique elle-même. Je pense que l’interprétation de Derrida est toute différente. […] Mais la « démocratie à venir » n’est pas, pour lui, le supplément qui rend possible la politique. C’est un supplément à la politique. Il en est ainsi parce que sa démocratie est une démocratie sans dèmos. Dans sa vision de la politique, l’idée du sujet politique, de la capacité politique est absente. (162)

Tout comme il identifie politique et souveraineté, Derrida identifie la notion du sujet politique à celle de la fraternité. De son point de vue, il n’y a pas de rupture entre pouvoir familial et pouvoir politique. De même que l’Etat-nation est un père souverain, le sujet politique est un frère. Même le concept de citoyen dont on a abondamment usé et mésusé dans le discours politique français des vingt dernières années est sans pertinence dans sa conceptualisation. Le citoyen n’est qu’un autre nom du frère. (163)

Le point essentiel est que la fraternité signifie pour Derrida une certaine équivalence, une certaine substituabilité. En d’autres termes, la charge contre la fraternité pourrait bien être une façon de se débarrasser, sans l’affronter de face, d’un autre concept, celui d’égalité — un concept avec lequel Derrida est mal à l’aise, mais qu’il se sentirait plus mal à l’aise encore d’avoir à exclure. (163)

L’hôte est le sujet qui vient à la place du dèmos. Tel que Derrida l’entend, l’hôte signifie bien plus qu’un lien d’hospitalité qui outrepasse les frontières des Etatsnations. Ce qu’il outrepasse, en fait, c’est toutes les frontières au sein desquelles il peut y avoir réciprocité. Le personnage de l’hôte ouvre un abîme irréconciliable entre la scène du possible — ou du calculable — et la scène de l’inconditionnel — de l’impossible ou de l’incalculable. (165)

L’un des traits frappants dans l’approche derridienne de la politique, c’est la violence — et, osons le dire, le simplisme de son opposition entre l’idée de la règle et celle de la justice. Très souvent nous rencontrons dans ses écrits politiques, le plus souvent dans des termes identiques, l’affirmation que, là où il y a une règle simple, il ne peut y avoir de justice. (165-166)

S’il y a une règle, s’il y a un savoir qui fonde notre décision, ce n’est plus une décision. Comme il l’écrit dans Voyous : « On sait quel chemin prendre, on n’hésite plus, la décision ne décide plus, elle est prise d’avance et donc d’avance annulée, elle se déploie déjà, sans retard, présentement, avec l’automatisme qu’on attribue aux machines. » (166 – Derrida, Voyous ; Paris, Galilée, 2003, p. 124).

C’est ce qu’implique l’« à-venir » de la démocratie chez Derrida : la démocratie ne peut pas être présentée, même dans la figure dissensuelle du dèmos, du sujet qui fait comme s’il était le dèmos. Dans la « démocratie à venir », le « à » sépare en fait les deux termes : démocratie et venir. Il prend, à strictement parler, la place du dèmos. L’« à-venir » est l’équivalent d’un « non-présent », d’un « non-anticipable ». Le kratos de la démocratie devient alors l’akratia du dèmos. Le supplément de l’« à-venir » est un supplément à la politique. Il est subsumé sous une rationalité qui n’est pas celle de la politique. (167)

La justice inhérente à l’idée de la « démocratie à venir » est la justice de l’événement imprévisible — ou de l’imprévisible venue de l’autre. (168)

Dans ses textes des années 80 et 90, Lyotard a clairement renversé la logique du paradigme moderniste qui liait l’avant-gardisme esthétique à l’émancipation politique. Il a placé l’interprétation de l’art moderne sous le concept du sublime qu’il a interprété, à l’encontre de Kant, comme le pouvoir d’une hétéronomie irréductible qui nous met sous la dépendance de la loi de l’Autre. (169)

D’une même référence à l’Autre lévinassien, Derrida a tiré des conséquences très différentes. Il a lié la loi de l’Autre à la promesse d’une « démocratie à venir » et il a substitué cette promesse messianique à l’obéissance à la Loi. Il a donc en quelque sorte apporté un second tourà la conceptualisation éthique de l’altérité. (169)

Or Derrida lui donne un sens tout à fait inattendu : « quiconque, n’importe qui, à la limite d’ailleurs perméable entre le “qui” et le “quoi”, le vivant, le cadavre et le fantôme ». La justice, pour lui, concerne ce qui excède toute famille de semblables et de congénères. Elle doit donc excéder les limites de l’Humanité et inclure en particulier les animaux. (170)

L’autre, en ce premier sens, c’est tout être, vivant ou inerte, qui a besoin que je réponde pour lui. C’est ce que signifie la responsabilité : l’engagement envers un autre qui m’est confié et pour qui je dois répondre. Mais, en un second sens, c’est tout être, ou toute chose, qui a sur moi un pouvoir sans réciprocité. (171)

S’il faut faire reposer l’égalité politique sur l’absolue différence de Dieu, et si cette différence absolue se négocie à travers le crime, la complicité et la trahison, cela veut dire que la politique est fondée sur ce dont Derrida prétendait la délivrer, à savoir la souveraineté. Celle-ci, disait-il, est un concept théologique, transféré de la religion à la politique. Mais ce que nous présente le sacrifice sur le mont Moriah est une autre idée de la souveraineté. Cela veut dire, pour moi, que la politique derridienne reste fondée sur la théologie, même si c’est sur une sorte de théologie hérétique. Derrida n’a-t-il pas délié la politique d’une certaine théologie simplement pour la lier à une autre ? C’est, je crois, une question que nous devons laisser ouverte. (173)

Claire Colebrook “Hypo-Hyper-Hapto-Neuro-Mysticism”

December 29, 2013 Leave a comment

Colebrook, Claire 2013. Hypo-Hyper-Hapto-Neuro-Mysticism. Parresia 18: 1-10.

The fact that we are increasingly abandoning thought (as intellection) is proclaimed as a redemption from Cartesianism, logic, disembodied abstraction and the delusion of mind. Just as thinking ought to confront its destructive and dichotomousrelation to the earth, theories of embodied, embedded and affective mindfulness proliferate. (2)

Here [example of Avatar], we approach a first definition of the complex I want to explore today: theory today is tending towards a form of mysticism insofar as it appeals to direct intuition or immediate contact and literal proximity; there is a privilege accorded to the felt rather than stated (to affect and touch over concept and system). (2)

But the paradigm is primarily neural, for what “the brain” has come to figure, after the “decade of the brain,” is not a command centre or ghost in the machine but a plastic, evolving network that comes into being not by imposing code but by being ever more responsive, more connected and more dynamic. This neuro-mania is a form of hyper-haptocentrism precisely because it is touch—body to body and from the body to itself—that overcomes the distance and difficulty of thinking. At the same time this complex is also a hypo-haptocentrism precisely because touch is best thought of (as in the neural network) notas one part to another part, or one thing to another thing, but as a mutually proliferating and multiply connected whole, in which there are not so much parts that touch, but a web of touch from which one might discern relatively stable tendencies. (2)

Haptocentrism. For Derrida, however, touch, proximity and affect have been mobilized as figures that enable a tradition of the metaphysics of presence. Indeed, the very reason or logocentrism that would supposedly be circumvented by embodiment and haptics, establishes itself as a form of self-contact without distance or mediation. (3)

One can use the term “metaphysics of presence” to indicate that across a series of competing claims and traditions a certain ideal of knowing and truth promises to overcome the risks and contingencies of irreducible gaps by some means of a self in touch with itself. Knowledge and experience more generally are properly and normatively defined in terms of the value of proximity (a value that is not one value among others, but the axiom through which all value can be thought). If there is such a thing as reason it is because the thinking subject can intuit directly, without distance or disturbance that which would remain the same through time, and also be true for any subject whatever. (3)

For touch is not the self-presence of reason, but—as in Merleau Ponty’s flesh, or Jean-Luc Nancy’s sense, or Deleuze’s affect—what is posited as the generative givenness from which all logics emerge and which cannot be fully known, mastered or rendered present to thought. It seems as though thought abandons its claim to be able to coincide with itself in a presence of self-touch. (3)

All of Derrida’s work can be considered as a deconstruction of proximity: the condition for something being near to itself and touching itself is that there be distance. (4)

Hyper-haptocentrism. Here, Derrida situates phenomenology’s supposed radicalism, and Nancy’s seeming departure from a metaphysics of self-commanding reason, within haptocentrism. It is now not reason that bypasses the body in order to be self-affecting, for the body possesses its own self-sensing awareness. This self-touching also—attractively—never reifies into a formalized system but becomes nothing more than ongoing self-revelation. Philosophy’s autonomy and self-coinciding principle of logocentrism is at once displaced by modes of affection that occur beyond consciousness in the narrow sense, and yet it is this self-sensing, affective, touching power of flesh, life and world that yields a hyper-haptocentrism. The world now senses itself: this is at once a displacement of the humanprivilege of auto-affection, but it is also a continued valorization of proximity. Nothing is left untouched. The world touches itself, senses itself, and is brought to its own presence, in a phrase that is summed up by Derrida as not only hypo-haptocentrism but “absolute realism”. (4)

Touch has this genuinely ethical value not when it is one body or thing making contact with another body or thing, but when contact is communal, mutual, and disclosive of a certain pre-given ground of life, love, spirit or feeling from which our individual bodies are only temporarily (if at all) detached. (4)

To offer touch is to give oneself more than one had, by giving away. Touch might appear, at least metaphorically, as the ethical concept par excellence: the power of touch signals both the capacity to reach towards what is not oneself, and to be open to what is not oneself (to be touched). (5)

We might say that “man” (the figure of self-affecting, self-constituting and self-present reason) is no longer the privileged figure of presence that calls out to be displaced: for it is now life, the world, cosmos or Gaia that is always already in touch with itself. I would suggest that it is no longer resistant or counter-normative to privilege process, dynamism, interconnectedness, embodiment, affect and de-centered auto-poetic systems over distinct and logically oriented individuals. We have shifted from human or rational haptocentrism, in which knowledge and the good are grounded on a privileged locus of auto-affection—a reason that touches itself, or a subject that presents to itself—to hyperhaptocentrism, in which everything is in touch with everything else. There is one grand network of proximity and mutual, dynamic inter-affective touch. (6)

The brain, formerly and mistakenly perceived as a computer, is now—we are constantly reminded—not a central command centre, but a responsive, adaptive, distributed, dynamic, affective and embodied system. This new neural paradigm was articulated in the works of Maturana and Varela, who tellingly also referred to Buddhism’s model of an ego-less consciousness that is nothing other than its relation to the world. (6)

Hyper-hapto-neuro-mysticism. Mysticism does not approach what is other than itself discursively but passes to direct contact, but this contact is not one in which the self has mastery. The self does not impose its logic on what is other for the sake of knowledge, but is transformed by the encounter. Latour’s account of the affective and embodied nature of knowledge avoids mysticism by stressing the notion of articulation: the body becomes what it is by being affected, just as the world that affects the body takes on its layers of difference through the complex encounters it enables: the world is different, and differentiated, according to the multiple approaches it offers. (7)

On the one hand there can be no ethics without touch: the isolated body that is sufficient unto itself, without relation, and without the tendency or capacity to be affected could not be said to be a living being. (This much is already explicit in Latour’s work on the body and his insistence on the power to be affected.) But ethics is also, necessarily, a question of distance, and “letting be.” Touch and relations in general are required precisely because the other person or other living being is different, and one cannot assume in advance any right or imperative to touch. (7)

There is always some subsumption and reduction of the other, and just as Derrida insists that there is no such thing as a non-violent relation—for all relations must to some extent reduce the pure distance of ethics—we can begin to conclude that there is also no such thing as proper touch. Recognizing the other as otherreduces the other’s absolute separation. And yet for all this supreme difficulty of touch, touch has come to be regarded not so much as cure but as the sign that there has never had been any problem at all. The idea that the world, others, knowledge, feeling and even one’s own self might be different and untouchable has been diagnosed as a modern ill—a problem of the wrong way of thinking—that simply needs to be recognized as a false problem. (7)

We live by touch and yet can never—as living beings—either achieve or avoid the contamination of touch. Touch is required for any achievement of the proper, and yet there is no proper touch. It is symptomatic that precisely when the impossible question of touch ought to be posed—when we are dealing increasingly with the violence and intrusion of touch (both human to human, and human to non-human)—that we present touch as salvation and cure, rather than the impossible predicament that can never be silenced. (9)

Jacques Derrida “Struktuur, märk ja mäng humanitaarteaduste diskursuses”

February 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Derrida, Jacques 1991. Struktuur, märk ja mäng humanitaarteaduste diskursuses. Akadeemia 7: 1411-1438.

Keskme funktsioon pole […] üksnes struktuuri orienteerida, tasakaalustada ja korrastada – õigupoolest ei saagi ju ette kujutada korrastamata struktuuri –, vaid eelkõige tagada, et struktuuri korrastav printsiip piiraks seda, mida me võiksime nimetada struktuuri vabamänguks [jeu]. (1412)

[…] on alati arvatud, et kese, mis on määratluse järgi unikaalne, moodustab selle ainsa asja struktuuris, mis kuigi valitseb struktuuri, on ise strukturaalsusest vaba. Seetõttu võiski klassikaline struktuurikäsitlus öelda, et kese on – paradoksaalselt – ühtlasi struktuuri sees ja väljaspool teda. Kese on terviku [totalité] keskmes, ja ometi – et kese ei kuulu tervikusse, siis on terviku kese kusagil mujal. Kese ei ole kese. (1413)

[…] kese pole fikseeritud asukoht, vaid funktsioon, teatav mitteasukoht [nonlieu], kus tuleb mängu lõputu hulk märgiasendusi. See on moment, mil keel tungib universaalsesse problemaatikasse, moment, kui keskme või lähtekoha puudumisel muutub kõik diskursuseks – eeldusel, et me võime selle sõnaga soostuda –, tähendab, et kõik muutub süsteemiks, kus keskne tähistatav, algne või transtsendentaalne tähistatav pole mitte kunagi absoluutselt presentne väljaspool erinevuste süsteemi. Transtsendentaalse tähistatava puudumine avardab tähendussfääri ja –mängu lõpmatuseni. (1415)

[…] on mõttetu loobuda metafüüsika mõistetest selleks, et metafüüsikat kõigutada. Meil pole keelt – ei süntaksit ega sõnavara, mis seisaks väljaspool seda ajalugu; me ei saa välja öelda ainsatki destruktiivset väidet, mis poleks juba libisenud just nimelt selle nähtuse vormi, loogikasse ning implitsiitsetesse postulaatidesse, mida see väide püüab vaidlustada. (1416)

Vististi võib öelda, et kogu filosoofiline mõistemoodustus, mis kuulub ühte süsteemi looduse-kultuuri vastandusega, on määratud jätma mõteldamatu sfääri just nimelt selle, mis selle mõistete moodustamise üldse võimalikuks teeb – nimelt verepilastuskeelu lähtekoha. (1421)

See, mis osutub diskursusele uue staatuse kriitilisel otsingul tegelikult põnevaimaks, on avalik loobumine igasugusest viitamisest keskmele, subjektile, privilegeeritud referentsile, lähtekohale või absoluutsele arche’le (algusele). (1425)

Vastandina episteemilisele diskursusele peab strukturaalne diskursus müüdist – müto-loogiline diskursus – olema müto-morfne. Tal peab olema selle vorm, millest ta räägib. (1426)

Tervikustamist võib pidada võimatuks klassikalises stiilis: seal kutsutakse välja mingi subjekti [sujet] empiiriline pingutus või mingi sellise lõpetatud diskursuse oma, mis asjatult ohkleb piiritu rikkuse järele, mida ta ei suuda kunagi valitseda. Seda on liiga palju, rohkem kui sõnades saab väljendada. Kuid mitte-tervikustamist [non-totalisation] saab piiritleda ka teistmoodi: mitte enam lõplikkuse mõiste seisukohalt, mis tähendaks empiirilisuseni alandumist, vaid vabamängu mõistest lähtudes. Kui tervikustamisel niisiis pole enam mingit tähendust, pole asi selles, nagu ei saaks teatud lõpmatut ala ainsa lõpliku pilgu või lõpliku diskursusega haarata, vaid põhjus on selle ala loomuses: keel üleüldse ja teatud piiritletud keel välistavad tervikustamise. See on tegelikult vabamängu ala, lõputute asenduste ala just seetõttu, et ta on lõplik – selle asemel et olla ammendamatu nagu klassikalises hüpoteesis, selle asemel et olla liiga suur, miski hoopis puudub sealt: puudub teadmine keskmest, mis kütkestaks ja põhjendaks asenduste vabamängu. Võiks öelda, et vabamäng, mis toimub tänu keskme ja lähtekoha puudumisele [absence], on suplementaarsuse [supplémentarité] liikumine – kasutades rangelt sõna, mille kummalist tähendust on prantsuse keelest alati püütud kustutada. Ei saa piiritleda keset ja viia lõpule terviku moodustamist, sest märk, mis asendab keset, mis lisandub [supplée] talle, võttes endale keskme koha viimase puudumisel – see märk lisatakse, ta tuleb esile kui lisa, kui lisand [supplément]. Tähistamine lisab midagi, mis viib selleni, et alati on midagi rohkem, kuid see lisandus on ebakindel, sest ta hakkab täitma asendusfunktsiooni, korvama [suppléer] tähistatava-poolest puudujääki. (1430-1431)

Tähistaja ülekoormatus, ta suplementaarne iseloom, on seega teatud lõplikkuse tulemus, s.t mingisuguse puudumise tulemus, mis tuleb korvata. (1433)

On niisiis kaks tõlgendust tõlgenduse, struktuuri, märgi ja vabamängu jaoks. Üks ihaldab dešifreerida tõde või lähtekohta, mis jääb vabamängust ja märgitasandist välja ning elab tõlgenduse paratamatust üle kui pagulust. Teine, mis enam lähtekoha poole ei pöördu, jaatab vabamängu ning püüab minna teisele poole inimest ja humanismi: inimese nime kannab see, kes on kogu metafüüsika või onto-teoloogia ajaloo jooksul – teiste sõnadega, kogu omaenese ajaloo jooksul – unistanud täispresentsist, usaldatavast põhialusest, mängu lähtekohast ja lõpust. (1436)

Jacques Derrida “Différance”

Derrida, Jacques 1986. Différance. – Derrida, Jacques. Margins of Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 1-27.

[…] contrary to a very widespread prejudice, there is no phonetic writing. There is no purely and rigorously pho-netic writing. So-called phonetic writing, by all rights and in principle, and not only due to an empirical or technical insufficiency, can function only by admitting into its system nonphonetic “signs” (punctuation, spacing, etc.). […]The inaudible opens up the apprehension of two present pho-nemes such as they present themselves. If there is no purely phonetic writing, it is that there is no purely phonetic phone. The difference which establishes phonemes and lets them be heard remains in and of itself inaudible, in every sense of the word. (5)

Now if differance is (and I also cross out the „is“) what makes possible the presentation of the being-present, it is never presented as such. It is never offered to the present. (6)

Differance is not only irreducible to any ontological or theological—ontotheological—reappropriation, but as the very opening of the space in which ontotheology—philosophy—produces its system and its history, it includes ontotheology, inscribing it and exceeding it without return. (6)

The problematic of writing is opened up by putting into question the value arkhe. (6)

In the delineation of differance everything is strategic and adventurous. Strategic because no transcendent truth present outside the field of writing can govern theologically the totality of the field. Adventurous because this strategy is not a simple strategy in the sense that strategy orients tactics according to a final goal, a telos or theme of domination, a mastery and ultimate reappropriation of the development of the field. Finally, a strategy without finality, what might be called blind tactics, or empirical wandering iithe value of empiricism did not itself acquire its entire meaning in its opposition to philosophical responsibility. (7)

Différer in this sense is to temporize, to take recourse, consciously or unconsciously, in the temporal and temporizing mediation of a detour that suspends the accomplishment or fulfillment of “desire” or “will,” and equally effects this suspension in a mode that annuls or tempers its own effect. (8)

The other sense of differer is the more common and identifiable one: to be not identical, to be other, discernible, etc. When dealing with differen(ts)(ds), a word that can be written with a final ts or a final ds, as you will, whether it is a question of dissimilar otherness or of allergic and polemical othemess, àñititerval, a distance, spacing, must be produced between the elements other, and be pro-duced with a certain perseverence in repetition. (8)

The sign is usually said to be put in the place of the thing itself, the present thing, “thing” here standing equally for meaning or referent. The sign represents the presence of its absence. It takes the place of the present. When we cannot grasp or the thing, state the present, the being-present, when the present cannot be presented, we signify, we go through the detour of the sign. We take or give signs. We signal. The sign, in this sense, is deferred presence. […] According to this classical semiology, the substitution of the sign for the thing itself is both secondary and provisional: secondary due to an original and lost presence from which the sign thus derives; provisional as concerns this final and missing presence toward which the sign in this sense is a movement of mediation. (9)

What is written as differance, then, will be the playing movement that “pro-duces”—by means of something that is not simply an activity—these differences, these effects of difference. This does not mean that the difference that produces differences is somehow before them, in a simple and unmodified—in-different— present. Differance is the non-full, non-simple, structured and differentiating origin of differences. Thus, the name “origin” no longer suits it. (11)

[…] we will designate as differance the movement according to which language, or any code, any system of referral in general, is constituted „historically“ as a weave of differences. “Is constituted,” “is produced,” “is created,” “movement,” “historically,” etc., necessarily being understood beyond the metaphysical language in which they are retained, along with all their implications. (12)

It is because of differance that the movement of signification is possible only if each so-called “present” element, each element appearing on the scene of presence, is related to something other than itself, thereby keeping within itself the mark of the past element, and already letting itself be vitiated by the mark of its relation to the future element, this trace being related no less to what is called the future than to what is called the past, and constituting what is called the present by means of this very relation to what it is not: what it absolutely is not, not even a past or a future as a modified present. An interval must separate the present from what it is not in order for the present to be itself, but this interval that constitutes it as present must, by the same token, divide the present in and of itself, thereby also along with the present, everything thatis thoughron The basis of the present, that is, in our metaphysical language, every being, and singularly substance or the subject. In constituting itself, in dividing itself dynamically, this interval is what might be called spacing, the becoming-space of time or the becoming-time p1 space (temporization). And it is this constitution of the present, as an “originary” and irreducibly nonsimple (and therefore, stricto sensu nonoriginary) synthesis of marks, or traces of retentions and protentions (to reproduce analogically and provisionally a phenomnological and transcendental language that soon will reveal itself to be inadequate), that I propose to call archi-writing, archi-trace, or differance. Which (is) (simultaneously) spacing (and) temporization. (13)

This implies that the subject (in its identity with itself, or eventually in its consciousness of its identity with itself, its self-consciousness) is inscribed in language, is a “function” of language, becomes a speaking subject only by making its speech conform—even in so-called “creation,” or in so-called “transgression”—to the system of the rules of language as a system of differences, or at very least by conforming to the general law of differance, or by adhering to the principle of language which Saussure says is “spoken language minus speech.” (15)

Thus one comes to posit presence—and specifically consciousness, the being beside itself of consciousness—no longer as the absolutely central form of Being but as a “determination” and as an “effect.” (16)

Thus, differance is the name we might give to the “active,” moving discord of different forces, and of differences of forces, that Nietzsche sets up against the entire system of metaphysical grammar, wherever this system governs culture, philosophy, and science. (18)

The alterity of the “unconscious” makes us concerned not with horizons of modified—past or future—presents, but with a “past” that has never been present, and which never will be, whose future to come will never be a production or a reproduction in the form of presence. Therefore the concept of trace is incompatible with the concept of retention, of the becoming-past of what has been present. One cannot think the trace—and therefore, différance-_on the basis of the present, or of the presence of the present. A past that has never been present […] (21)

Not only is there no kingdom of difference but difference instigates the subversion of kingdom. Which makes it obviously threatening and infallibly dreaded by everything within us that desires a kingdom, the past or future presence of a kingdom. And it is always in the name of a kingdom that one may reproach difference with wishing to reign, believing that one sees it aggrandize itself with a capital letter. (22)

Since the trace is not a presence but the simulacrum of a presence that dislocates itself, displaces itself, refers itself, it properly has no site—erasure belongs to its structure. And not only the erasure which must always be able to overtake it (without which it would not be a trace but an indestructible and monumental substance), but also the erasure which constitutes it from the outset as a trace, which situates it as the change of site, and makes it disappear in its appearance, makes it emerge from itself in its production. […] The paradox of such a  structure, in the language of meta-physics, is an inversion of metaphysical concepts, which produces the following effect: the present becomes the sign of the sign, the trace of the trace. It is no longer what every reference refers to in the last analysis. It becomes a function in a structure of generalized reference. It is a trace, and a trace of the erasure of the trace. (24)

How to conceive what is outside a text? That which is more or less than a text’s own, proper margin? For example, what is other than the text of Western metaphysics? It is certain that the trace which “quickly vanishes in the destiny of Being (and) which unfolds . . . as Western metaphysics” escapes every determination, every name it might receive in the metaphysical text. It is sheltered, and therefore dissimulated, in these names. It does not appear in them as the trace “itself.” But this is because it could never appear itself, as such. (25)

Such is the question: the..alliance of speech and Being in the unique word, in the finally proper name. And such is the question inscribed in the simulated affirmation of differance. It bears (on) each member of this sentence: “Being / speaks / always and everywhere throughout / language.” (27)