Citation
"Speculations--on '(Derri)da'"

Material Information

Title:
"Speculations--on '(Derri)da'"
Creator:
Fletcher, Barbara ( Dissertant )
Ulmer, Gregory L. ( Thesis advisor )
Duckworth, Alistair ( Reviewer )
Leavey, John P. ( Reviewer )
Perlette, John ( Reviewer )
D'Amico, Robert ( Reviewer )
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publisher:
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
1984
Language:
English
Physical Description:
x, 260 leaves ; 28 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Deconstruction ( jstor )
Discourse ( jstor )
Metaphors ( jstor )
Metaphysics ( jstor )
Modeling ( jstor )
Referents ( jstor )
Rhetoric ( jstor )
Semiotic signs ( jstor )
Signification ( jstor )
Words ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
English thesis Ph. D
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Abstract:
This dissertation is a study of the work of Jacques Derrida, a French philosopher who attacks the "metaphysics of presence." After a brief discussion of a few of the contradictions inherent to concepts centered on speech ("phonologocentrism") , the dissertation examines the reception of Derrida 's work in the United States. Jonathan Culler, a theoretician, mistakenly identifies Derrida's reinscription of "writing" with the empirical mark, a (concept of) writing that represents the Voice itself; the unwitting result is that Culler analyzes what Saussure calls "the positive term." Culler's work remains in a precritical relation to Derridean deconstructicn. The dissertation then turns for an example of a deconstructive strategy of reading to Barbara Johnson's essay on Melville's Billy Budd. Johnson's analysis of the rhetorical levels of the text in no way departs from the principles of a classical reading model and in fact her analysis is caught in one of its own reading mechanisms. Johnson attempts to divorce the performative level of Melville's text from its statements. But we find that the performative is totally dependent upon the position it criticizes (and to which all positions are reducible) in order to proceed as such. The dissertation then moves to a consideration of how Derrida reinscribes (relocates, dislocates) the self-reflexive classical reader, a reader interested in the production of a thesis, who makes a mirror of the text, naming and identifying his own images; the classical reader plays the Freudian fort : da game . The dissertation then uses the work of Paul de Man, specifically his essay "Semiology and Rhetoric," as an example of this speculative game. The dissertation then concludes with a brief gesture to the Nietzschean fort: da : rhythm
Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1984.
Bibliography:
Bibliography: leaves 256-259.
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Barbara Fletcher.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
030501847 ( alephbibnum )
11665660 ( oclc )
ACN9004 ( notis )

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"SPECULATIONS--ON (DERRI)DA'"


By

Barbara Fletcher
























A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY



UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


1984






























Copyright 1984

By

Barbara Fletcher
















I wish to dedicate this dissertation to my sister, Mary

Roth, whose love meant so much to me and my children; to my

father, Robert J. Turnbach, who loved stories; to my mother,

Mary E. Benjamin, whose faith in me is unflagging; to my

sons, John Lloyd, William Charles, and Tucker McKay, my

future; and, finally to my good friend, John Leavey, whose

humor and support were unfaltering.
















ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


I should like to thank various people on my committee

for their incalculable aid. First, my thanks to my director

Professor Gregory Ulmer, whose enthusiasm for criticism

served as an impetus for my own, and whose penetrating

questions forced me to clarify my own thought. My thanks to

Professor Alistair Duckworth and Professor John Perlette

whose reading expertise was always available to me and whose

suggestions proved invaluable. To Professor Robert D'Amico

who encouraged me and who managed to keep a straight face as

I "trampled" around in his discipline, I extend my thanks.

My thanks to Professor John P. Leavey, Jr., whose sharp

intelligence was always at my disposal and whose patience

and kindness proved inexhaustible. Professor Leavey was

kind enough to supply the English translation for La Carte

postal. Finally, I should like to thank the people at

Professional Typing whose help was as expert as it was

gracious.















PREFACE


This dissertation is the result of a struggle to under-

stand the work of Jacques Derrida, a French philosopher who

attacks the metaphysics of presence. Part I, after briefly

summarizing a few of the contradictions generated by this

metaphysics, turns to American deconstruction. This turn

was prompted by a vague feeling that American deconstruction

had little in common with Derrida's work. I chose for

examination the work of Jonathan Culler who has written most

comprehensively on deconstruction as it is practiced in

America. Culler mistakenly identifies Derrida's reinscrip-

tion of "writing" with the empirical mark, a (concept of)

writing that represents the Voice (phonologocentrism), and

what he identifies with Derridean deconstruction turns out

to be the "difference" between (what Saussure called)

"positive terms." The dissertation then turns for an

example of a deconstructive reading strategy to the work of

Barbara Johnson. Johnson's analysis of the rhetorical

levels of Melville's Billy Budd serves as a model for any

kind of rhetorical analysis, but it in no way departs from

the principles of a classical reading model. In fact, it

serves as a demonstration of the problems that emerge from

that model. Johnson attempts to divorce the performance


v








level of Melville's text from its statements, but her

analysis is caught in one of its own reading positions, as,

consequently, is Melville. What I found is that the

performative is totally dependent upon the position it

criticizes (and to which all positions are reducible), the

literal-motivated, which the performative needs in order to

proceed as such.

Part II is more or less a rethinking of my own posi-

tion. What does it mean to read Derrida with classical

methods? What am I doing when I read a philosopher for

information, for a communication, for a thesis, a theme and

so forth, when these are the very things that he problema-

tizes? I am not without a "hypothesis." Derrida rein-

scribes (relocates, dislocates) the self-reflexive classical

reader (me), a reader interested in the production of a

thesis, who makes a mirror of the text, naming and identi-

fying his own images. Does this sound familiar? The

classical reader plays the fort:da game, and has fun doing

so. This is, at least, my hypothesis. Not one to be left

entirely speechless, I then turn to the work of Paul de Man,

specifically, his justly famous essay, "Semiology and

Rhetoric," and use it to learn how the speculative game

works. I then conclude with a very brief passage on specu-

lation and the Nietzschean fort:da game.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS


PAGE

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . . . . . . . . . iv

PREFACE . . . . . . . . . . . . v

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . . . ix

PART I THE METAPHYSICS OF PRESENCE . . . . . 2

CHAPTER
1 PROBLEMS WITHIN THE CLASSICAL FIELD . . . 2

Problems Within the Metaphysics of
Presence: Contradictories . . . . . 5
Problems Within the Metaphysics of Presence:
Relations . . . . . . . . . 11
Leaving Philosophy, "Philosophically" . . 16
Paleonomy . . . . . . . . . 23
Footprints . . . . . . . . . 30

CHAPTER
2 PROBLEMS WITH READING DERRIDA . . . . 34

Repetition . . . . . . . . . 38
The Positive Term (The Positive "Turn") . . 41
The Classical Model (We've "Grown
Accustomed" To Its Face--Almost!) . . . 60
Enter Husserl (Off Stage Directions:
He shakes hands with Saussure) . . . . 76
Footprints . . . . . . . . . 84

CHAPTER
3 PROBLEMS WITH READING CLASSICALLY: THE SELF-
PRESENTATION OF REPRESENTATION . . . . 90

Footprints . . . . . . . . . 119

PART II THE METAPHYSICS OF PRESENCE REVISITED . . .124

CHAPTER
4 SPECULATIONS ON THE CLASSICAL READING MODEL .124

The Fort:Da Game . . . . . . . . 131
The Athetic Mode of Speculation . . . .154
Footprints . . . . . . . . . .169

vii












SPECULATIONS ON THE "DA!"


. . . . . . 177


War Games . . . . . . .
Suspension Substitution In Other Words
Board Meeting . . . . . .
The Mock Fight . . . . ..
Station WPdM . . . . . . .
Take Two . . . . . . . .
Madly In Love With Appearances . .
Footprints . . . . . . .


THE QUICK TURN . . . . . . . . .244


Deconstruction and Text: Prosthesis .
Force: The Textual Dance . . .
Footprints . . . . . . .


. . .245
. . . 252
. . .253


WORKS CITED . . . . . . . . . . .256


.260


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . .


viii


CHAPTER
5


PAGE


CHAPTER
6


.179
.187
.194
.203
.206
.214
.220
.236















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy


"SPECULATIONS--ON '(DERRI)DA'"

By

Barbara Fletcher

August, 1984

Chairman: Gregory Ulmer
Major Department: English

This dissertation is a study of the work of Jacques

Derrida, a French philosopher who attacks the "metaphysics

of presence." After a brief discussion of a few of the

contradictions inherent to concepts centered on speech

("phonologocentrism"), the dissertation examines the recep-

tion of Derrida's work in the United States. Jonathan

Culler, a theoretician, mistakenly identifies Derrida's

reinscription of "writing" with the empirical mark, a

(concept of) writing that represents the Voice itself; the

unwitting result is that Culler analyzes what Saussure calls

"the positive term." Culler's work remains in a precritical

relation to Derridean deconstruction. The dissertation then

turns for an example of a deconstructive strategy of reading

to Barbara Johnson's essay on Melville's Billy Budd.

Johnson's analysis of the rhetorical levels cf the text in








no way departs from the principles of a classical reading

model and in fact her analysis is caught in one of its own

reading mechanisms. Johnson attempts to divorce the perfor-

mative level of Melville's text from its statements. But we

find that the performative is totally dependent upon the

position it criticizes (and to which all positions are

reducible) in order to proceed as such. The dissertation

then moves to a consideration of how Derrida reinscribes

(relocates, dislocates) the self-reflexive classical reader,

a reader interested in the production of a thesis, who makes

a mirror of the text, naming and identifying his own images;

the classical reader plays the Freudian fort:da game. The

dissertation then uses the work of Paul de Man, specifically

his essay "Semiology and Rhetoric," as an example of this

speculative game. The dissertation then concludes with a

brief gesture to the Nietzschean fort:da: rhythm.































PART I

THE METAPHYSICS OF PRESENCE















CHAPTER 1
PROBLEMS WITHIN THE CLASSICAL FIELD



Perhaps no other figure on the contemporary intellect-

ual scene has been the occasion of such heated debate as has

Jacques Derrida. Best known for his work of deconstruction,

Derrida poses a formidable challenge to the assumptions of

philosophy, synonymous for him with the metaphysics of

presence. With a waggish gesture to its idolatry of voice,

word, phallus, center (all substitutes in one way or another

for presence), he, piling syllable upon syllable, mimicking

its attempt to incorporate without remainder, christens it

"phonologophallocentrism." Now, when one considers that

philosophy has elaborated our understanding of the world no

less than of ourselves, that philosophy has supplied the

structure and vocabulary of our knowledge (presence,

essence, existence, experience, substance, subject, object,

truth, consciousness, reception, reality, phenomena, cat-

egories of time and space--indeed the catalogue seems end-

less), one soon becomes aware of the enormity of Derrida's

challenge and the importance of the debate. For philosophy

is not simply one arcane, specialized domain of knowledge.

Think for a moment of the various spheres of knowledge both

open to humankind and opened up by humankind, disparate








areas such as language, literature, psychology, physics,

biology, and so forth. Not only has the content of these

various disciplines itself originated within philosophy, but

the very means by which their boundaries are drawn come from

it. Philosophy has given us our notion of truth, has given

us a grammar of our language; it has supplied us with

differing definitions and criteria for our intellectual

activities. In short, philosophy, for better or worse,

consciously or unconsciously, structures our conceptual

apparatus and is the basis of our cultural formations.

We have also taken philosophy as a formulation of

universal truth: western rationality is rationality

"itself." How else are we to understand Jonathan Culler's

characterization of Derrida's work as showing us "that the

exercise of language and thought involves us in intractable

paradoxes, which we can not escape but only repress"

(Culler, 156:1981), other than as an underwriting of this

assumption. The unqualified acceptance of the nature of

language and thought--its very "naturalness"--is what

requires attention in this description along with the

fatalistic promotion of the necessity for a particular kind

of repression. Certainly, to consider as "paradoxical"

("seemingly" or "apparently" true, says the Random House

dictionary) the contradictions in "thought" that emerge

under the pressure of Derrida's reading is much more reas-

suring than to entertain the suspicion that perhaps what

we have taken for "thought" ("itself") is simply the








prescriptions of powerful forms of discourses united in a

common project of protecting presence in all of its various

forms, that is to say, prescriptions protecting themselves.

This brings me immediately to the question of Derrida's

relevance to the study of literature. In that literary

critics utilize concepts or philosophical principles to

examine and comment upon literary texts, their reading is a

philosophical or classical one, supported by the metaphysics

of presence. In this sense, literary critics are "doing"

philosophy and reading philosophically. Of course, this is

not to be taken as a slur. We cannot do without the classi-

cal reading, and Derrida has made that clear over and over

again. To be "guilty" of metaphysics, as one of my friends

slyly puts it, is no terrible thing. Derrida's deconstruc-

tive strategies are not replacements of the classical style.

Rather, they help resituate the philosophical. Decons-ruc-

tion is a means of reading that is not simply a "spin off"

from the classical kind. I am not trying to soft pedal the

implications of Derrida's critique, implications that are,

to my mind, political in the extreme. Watching Derrida

"solicit" or "shake" the foundations of the thought struc-

tures of our culture with what seems to be great ease is, if

I may indulge in understatement, "unsettling." I suppose I

am trying to say that, as readers, we should foster reading

and not simply one particular kind of reading.

At any rate, we might begin to approach Derrida's work

by considering problems he finds within the classical field








and problems he finds with other philosophers who attempt to

move beyond this field, but who fail precisely because they

"borrow" from a philosophy they would criticize. After

doing so, we will consider his strategy and why he deems

such a strategy necessary. What should become evident,

however, in the brief examples that follow is the way in

which the classical reading model in the hands of a rigorous

reader like Derrida can be used to point to its own prob-

lems.



Problems Within the Metaphysics of
Presence: Contradictories

One of the most devastating demonstrations of the

contradictory positions generated by the metaphysics of

presence is Derrida's analysis of Saussure in Of Gramma-

tology. Derrida delineates the way in which a theory of

language maintains two coherent positions, each of which

conflicts with the other. With regard to the metaphysics of

presence and its capacity to generate contradictory posi-

tions, Derrida remarks,

As in the dream, as Freud analyzes it, incompat-
ibles are simultaneously admitted as soon as it is
a matter of satisfying a desire, in spite of the
principle of identity, or of the excluded third
party--the logical time of consciousness.
(Derrida, 1976:245)

On the one hand, Saussure writes that "Language and writing

are two distinct systems of signs; the second exists for the

sole purpose of representing the first" (Saussure in

Derrida, 1976:30). Within the unity of the sign, the








concept is termed the signified and the -hought-sound is its

signifier. Between sense and sound, meaning and the phone,

there exists a "natural bond, the only true bond, the bond

of sound" (Saussure in Derrida, 1976:35). So language is

constituted solely by the spoken word, and writing is simply

a signifier of a sign, a sign's representation or "image."

As a simple "image" of this thought-sound, writing is

secondary, derivative, and external. On the other hand,

since Saussure has declared sign systems to be arbitrary

(language and writing as two distinct sign systems), how

writing might be supposed to "image" speech is unclear. One

might yet object that in limiting his analysis to phonetic

writing, Saussure is correct in claiming that the grapheme

"images"--better, represents--the phoneme, that the written

notation is simply a signifier of the word that is already a

unity of the signifier/signified. Nonetheless, Saussure

himself maintains that "signs used in writing are arbitrary;

there is no connection, for example, between the letter 't'

and the sound it designates" (Saussure in Derrida

1976:326-27). He then strikes at the very heart of what he

set out to protect: the privilege of sound in relation to

sense. He ultimately denies the primacy of sound and grants

it only secondary status: ". . it is impossible for sound

alone, a material element, to belong to language. It is

only a secondary thing, substance to be put to use"

(Saussure, 1966:118). More telling perhaps is his statement

concerning the nature of the "sound image" or signifier.








His description not only borrows from the very order that he

is trying to exclude ("writing"), but eliminates any possi-

bility of considering the signifier in terms of a reflection

or representation (substitute or stand-in) of the voice.

Nor has the signifier a simple relation with the reception

of its sound through the sense of hearing. As a matter of

fact, the description completely undermines the relation of

the signifier to an empirical model of perception:

The linguistic sign unites, not a thing and a
name, but a concept and a sound image. The latter
is not the material sound, a purely physical
thing, but the psychological imprint of the sound,
the impression that it makes on our senses.
(Saussure, 1966:66)

Hence the phoneme, as Derrida dryly concludes, "is the

unimaginable itself and no visibility can resemble it"

(Derrida:1976:45).

This overly brief consideration of Derrida's reading of

Saussure to which I intend to return later (see Chapter II)

serves here only as an example of contradictions within the

metaphysics of presence. It should be noted, however, how

firmly entrenched within this contradiction is the "belief"

in speech as a self-evident truth or the obvious itself. A

philosopher as astute as Newton Garver writes an extremely

sympathetic preface to the English edition of Speech and

Phenomena that, while assimilating Derrida to Aristotle (in

spite of the fact that "there can be no question of the

originality of Derrida's formulation . there is an

interesting historical precedent for some of the main points

in Aristotle" [Garver in Derrida, 1973:xxv]), misses the








point entirely. Garver's first statement signals, if

nothing else, the extreme difficulty a voice-oriented

culture experiences in understanding what Derrida calls

"writing" or in thinking of it other than as a recording

device for speech: "Like Derrida, Aristotle bases his

theory of meaning on spoken language; but what is spoken

becomes language only if it can also be written down" (xxv).

Aside from the misconstrual of the argument (not only the

equation of writing with an empiric representation, not only

the importation of Aristoltelian teleological determinations

that ensure a difference between meaningless animal sounds

and meaningful human ones--see, for example, Derrida (1982d:

236)--but also a rather murky indication of the traditional

alphabetic prejudice that overlooks other empiric forms of

writing), there is a rather touching repetition of a reading

practice that runs throughout the culture, a practice

Derrida criticizes incessantly: the constant recourse to

teleology, the infinite impulse to exert mastery by erasing

differences as quickly as possible. Nothing new here--we

find the "seed" "already" in Aristotle (". . as if every-

thing was in everything and always ahead of the cara-

van . you can always pass off the preexistence of a word

as the anteriority of a concept with which you then claim to

indebt or even impregnate everyone. You get your hands on a

brand-name, and use it everywhere" [Derrida, 1978e:82]).

From De Interpretatione, chapter two, Garver quotes:

A name is a spoken sound significant by conven-
tion, without time, none of whose parts is








significant in separation . I say "by conven-
tion" because no name is a name naturally but only
when it has become a symbol. Even inarticulate
[agrammatoi] noises (of beasts, for instance) do
indeed reveal something yet none of them is a
name. (Garver in Derrida, 1973:xxv)

The desire to inseminate Aristotle with ecriture and

difference, the desire to give Jacques a (Derri) "dada," to

make Jacques (as Freud assumed his little grandson Ernst was

doing with himself) (Derri) "Da," emerges in the commentary:

Here the key concept is that of being "articu-
lated," that is, composed of segments or parts,
for which Aristotle here uses the words grammata
(elsewhere stoicheia) and grammatoi. Now grammata
are normally thought of as letters; but since a
sound cannot literally have letters, they must be
thought of here as phonemes--that is, as the parts
of a sound that can be represented by letters
[underlining mine]. The natural cries of animals
do signify something, they are signs; but they are
not symbols, and we know they are not conven-
tional, because they are not composed of articu-
late parts and cannot faithfully be transcribed in
writing [underlining mine]. So Aristotle held
that what characterizes human speech and distin-
guishes it from natural cries is the possibility
of writing (ecriture) and the internal segmenta-
tion or differentiation of even the simplest
semantic elements differencee). (xxv)

In equating articulation (phonemes represented by

letters) and difference (segmentation of the simplest

semantic elements) with the phonemic structure of language,

the whole of Garver's analysis reiterates the traditional

understanding of writing with written speech. Garver also

argues that "phonemic difference is a matter of difference

rather than either actual acoustic difference as such or

ideal difference as such," yet he recuperates difference to

a phonology, to "patterns of vocalization"--segments of

sound that writing "faithfully" transcribes. Garver's








analysis misses Derrida's point (if I may use such an

expression). Difference escapes the order of the voice, of

being voiced, is neither phonic nor phonemic. Articulation

belongs neither to the visible nor audible order. Nor can

writing ("ecriture") be reduced to its "vulgar concept"

(Derrida, 1976a:65). Far from being available to any

empiric sensibility, "the graphic image is not seen and the

acoustic image is not heard" (65).

When Derrida resorts to what he calls "writing," which

becomes, in his words, a "tool of intervention," he does not

"borrow" its metaphysical equivalent ("vulgar concept").

For the metaphysics of presence has no concept of writing as

such, only a concept of "written speech," or concepts of

writing governed by speech. Take for example, the "problem

of the picture-puzzle (rebus a transfert):

The problem of the picture-puzzle (rebus a trans-
fert) brings together all the difficulties. As
pictogram, a representation of the thing may find
itself endowed with a phonetic value. This does
not efface the "pictographic" reference which,
moreover, has never been simply "realistic." The
signifier is broken or constellated into a system:
it refers at once, and at least, to a thing and to
a sound. The thing is itself a collection of
things or a chain of differences "in space;" the
sound, which is also inscribed within a chain, may
be a word; the inscription is then ideogrammatical
or synthetic, it cannot be decomposed; but the
sound may also be an atomic element itself
entering into the composition: we are dealing
then with a script apparently pictographic and in
fact phonetico-analytical in the same way as the
alphabet. (90)

Thus, where we least expect speech, or its principles, we

find it. Consequently, Derrida's refusal to "borrow" from

the principles (also a "bankrupt" capital fund) of








metaphysics, constitutes a good deal of the "credibility" of

his "account."



Problems Within the Metaphysics of
Presence: Relations

Derrida deals with another problem within the meta-

physics of presence in his Edmund Husserl's "Origin of

Geometry": An Introduction. Here, the example is not so

much two conflicting positions being advanced simultaneously

but rather the relational character of two metaphysical

concepts the tradition has conceived as mutually exclusive

and opposed. Derrida tackles the categories of univocity

and equivocity and shows how each, instead of being distinct

from one another, repeats within itself what allows the

other to be thought.

What is univocity and why is it important to Husserl?

Univocity is unambiguous language capable of carrying

meaning not subjected to the corruption of time. For

Husserl, univocity establishes what he calls historicityy"

(as opposed to empirical history)--to which we gain access

through the reduction. Historicity is a "pure" history

concerned with "the transmission and recollection [recueil-

lement] of sense" (Derrida, 1978b:102); available to us as a

part of our common heritage, history must necessarily escape

the confines of any particular language.

Husserl distinguishes two types of equivocity; the

first--homonymy--he dismisses rather prematurely. The

second type, that of "sedimented meaning" is perceived as








more disturbing simply because the accumulation of cultural

experience allows the original meaning expressed by the

language to "enter into unforseeable configurations"

(Derrida, 1978b:101). In other words, the original intent

of the statement, because it is expressed in a language that

acquires new meanings and undergoes change through cultural

experience and history, runs the risk of becoming just one

possible intention relative to all others. This is the

equivocity that science or philosophy must deal with. As

Derrida notes, what is at stake in the preservation of this

historicity is the meaning of the tradition itself: the

collective knowledge and experience shared by people of all

times. Husserl, through the reduction, wagers that he can

restore this meaning to its original state.

Because it brings everything to view within a
present act of evidence, because nothing is hidden
or announced in the penumbra of potential inten-
tions, because it has mastered all the dynamics of
sense, univocal language remains the same. It
thus keeps its ideal identity throughout all
cultural development. It is the condition that
allows communication among generations of invest-
igators no matter how distant and assures the
exactitude of translation and the purity of
tradition. (Derrida, 1978b:102)

The necessity of univocity becomes apparent when the effects

of equivocity are examined. If equivocity is admitted, its

effects would restrict a culture to itself and would elimi-

nate any possibility of a common history by generating many

possible histories; the "truth" of a culture would thus be

irretrievable. And yet, too rigid a univocity wculd amount

to the same thing by making a history unique; it would








"paralyze it in the indigence of an indefinite iteration"

(Derrida, 1978b:102) and thus remove it from a common

understanding. If the history of a specific culture were

absolutely closed upon itself, unique, or if each were

absolutely different, there would be no possibility of a

common understanding, no translation (however broadly or

narrowly conceived) of meaning.

Faced with the Scylla and Charybdis nature of each

position, how, Derrida asks, does one who in the Hegelian

sense desires "to assume and interiorize the memory of a

culture in a kind of recollection [Errinnerung]" (102), go

about such a precarious business? The first strategy

Derrida examines is that of Joyce who wagers on equivocity.

Since equivocity already "evidences a certain depth of

development and concealment of a past" (102), Joyce puts it

to work to unveil the structural unity of all empirical

cultures. His strategy would

repeat and take responsibility for all equivo-
cation itself, utilizing a language that could
equalize the greatest possible synchrony with the
greatest potential for buried, accumulated, and
interwoven intentions within each simple pro-
position, in all worldly cultures and their most
ingenious forms (mythology, religion, sciences,
arts, literature, politics, philosophy, and so
forth) . would try to make the structural
unity of all empirical culture appear in the
generalized equivocation of a writing that, no
longer translating one language into another on
the basis of their common cores of sense, circu-
lates throughout all languages at once, accumu-
lates their energies, actualizes their most secret
consonances, discloses their furthermost common
horizons, cultivates their associative syntheses
instead of avoiding them, and rediscovers the
poetic value of passivity. In short, rather than
put it out of play with quotation marks, rather








than "reduce" it, this writing resolutely settles
itself within the labyrinthian field of culture
"bound" by its own equivocations, in order to
travel through and explore the vastest possible
historical distance that is now at all possible.
(102)

Husserl's strategy, a wager on univocity, would seem to be

the opposite, but in fact is not. Indeed, it is "the

transcendental parallel to Joyce's" (103) and provides the

theoretical ground for the validity of Joyce's structures.

Thus, although parallel, the two are not symmetrical.

Husserl's strategy:

to reduce or impoverish empirical language method-
ically to the point where its univocal and trans-
latable elements are actually transparent, in
order to reach back and grasp again at its pure
source a historicity or traditionality that no de
facto historical totality will yield of itself.
This historicity or traditionality is always
already presupposed by every Odyssean repetition
of Joyce's type . (102)

In other words, in making use of empirical and equivocal

language in order to allow any common univocal structure to

emerge, Joyce's project either presupposes a given univocity

or produces one of its own, else "the very text of its

repetition would have been unintelligible; at least it would

have remained so forever and for everyone" (103). Nonethe-

less, if equivocity presupposes univocity, univocity must

recognize its complicity with equivocity. For "absolute

univocity is imaginable only in two limiting cases" (103).

Derrida's first example: an object not only "singular,"

"immutable," and "natural," but also of a kind "whose unity,

identity, and Objectivity would in themselves be prior to

all culture" (103). Even if this unimaginable precultural









object were possible, Derrida remarks, the act of coding it

linguistically would place it in a network of relations and

opposition, would load it "with intentions or with lateral

and virtual reminiscences" (103). It would be a question

here of the linguistic burden carried by anything inscribed

within the network of language. Second example: an object

both ideal (removed from all contingency) and transcultural.

But in this case what would come to frustrate its identity

or univocity would be its own capacity for future meaning,

other possibilities of signification.

Likewise, equivocity in language is unavoidable, indeed

desirable. "The 'same' word is always 'other' according to

the always different intentional acts which thereby make a

word significative significant] (104). Consequently,

equivocity and univocity must be understood, not opposition-

ally, but relatively. Univocity, Derrida explains, must

name equivocity, determine the equivocal that, in its many

possibilities within a series, is the condition for choosing

one particular meaning over another. And Husserl formalizes

the conditions under which this is possible.

In giving it the sense of an infinite task,
Husserl does not make univocity . the value
for a language impoverished and thus removed out
of history's reach. Rather, univocity is both the
a priori and the teleological condition for all
historicity; it is that without which the very
equivocations of an empirical culture and history
would not be possible. (104-05)

What are the consequences for the metaphysics of

presence? Derrida is demonstrating that the concept of

meaning ("univocal," "equivocal," "differential": let us









sum all these up as the Voice) itself is an effect of the

metaphysics of presence. The concept of meaning is both the

a priori and the teleological condition of "meaning." The

principle (of meaning, in this case), as he will later say,

is "there before being there" (Derrida, 1980b:427), or, to

put it differently, the principle (of meaning, in this case,

but this holds true of all principles) runs ahead (of

itself) in order to produce what comes after (itself).

Hence, "its possibility is its impossibility." "Principles"

are the (im)possibility of the metaphysics of presence as

are all concepts.

Does this mean that we should immediately abandon all

conceptuality? Of course, the attempt to do so might indeed

provide an afternoon's worth of entertainment, but probably

no more. Derrida is not arguing for "nirvana." The trick,

then, is to situate conceptuality, to re-write it. We shall

come to this shortly. But for now, let us examine the

problem of attempting to leave metaphysics by means ot

metaphysics, to criticize philosophy by means of philosoph-

ical concepts.



Leaving Philosophy, "Philosophically"

We have just reviewed analyses of two different kinds

of "paradox" generated by our conceptual system. We must

remind ourselves that we are dealing with a system of

critical/philosophical concepts whose objective is to

approximate more and more a condition of truth and lay bare








a transparent order of knowledge. This system, structuring

what we call thinking, appearing to us as "natural" and
"universal," is impossible to attack and not without (if the

pun will be forgiven) reason. Vincent Desccmbes has

described Derrida's attempt to resituate this system as a

"very close contest against a formidable Master, whom we

night think certain to win at a game with rules which he

himself has fixed" (Descombes, 1982:138). Why? Without a

strategic and delicate tool of intervention aimed at dis-

turbing the very foundations of the discourse of philosophy,

every objection one might bring against this system can only

be expressed within the conceptual (philosophical) language

of that system. Every "concept," every bit of knowledge we

recognize as knowledge, every new model one might offer as

replacement for a previous one, is already a part of and is

prepared for by this system. Philosophy can incorporate the

most radical kind of content, and yet because philosophy

provides the foundation for that knowledge and structures

it, philosophy remains impervious to that content. This is

why trying to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps in order

to leap out of this field with "both feet" is impossible.

There is no sense in doing without the concepts cf
metaphysics in order to shake metaphysics. we
have no language--no syntax and no lexicon--which
is foreign to this history; we can pronounce not a
single destructive proposition which has not
already had to slip into the form, the logic, and
the implicit postulations of precisely what it
seeks to contest. (Derrida, 1978f:280-81)

The warning here is addressed to those who think they

can turn the page of philosophy or simply step outside of








it, to "metaphysicians" of unbriddled optimism. In "The

Supplement of Copula," Derrida demonstrates that Emile

Benveniste's analysis of Aristotle--Beneveniste argues that

Aristotle, far from dealing with the categories of Being,

"is simply identifying certain fundamental categories of the

language in which he thought" (Derrida, 1982d:180)--is not

only inadequate philosophically but implicitly incorporates

philosophical criticisms and must resort to distinctions,

i.e. thought/language, provided by philosophy itself. In

any attempt to turn its page, philosophy resurfaces all the

more cunningly; one now cannot even recognize its func-

tioning.

In the same article, Derrida reviews two philosophical

broadjumps, those of Nietzsche and Heidegger, that fail

precisely because they leave the philosophical ground

untouched, or, perhaps equally as well, remain too firmly

planted upon it. The Nietzschean gesture takes the form of

an attack upon language and grammar, along with an analysis

of truth that is declared to be nothing but arbitrary

metaphors. As Derrida remarks,

At a given moment, then, Nietzsche has to appeal
to philosophical schemes (for example, the arbi-
trariness of the sign, or the emancipation of
thought as concerns a language), in his critical
operation against metaphysics. (1982d:179)

The distinction between thought and language (the exter-

iority of the signifier to the idea), between the sensible

(worn away to unwittingly yield) and the intelligible,








between the literal and the figurative, all of these come

from philosophy.

To declare that truth is metaphor is once more to

confirm the power of metaphysics. For Derrida, metaphor is

one of the more subtle yet important means that logocentrism

uses to cover its "tracks," so to speak.4

Metaphor in general, the passage from one existent
to another, or from one signified meaning to
another, authorized by the initial submission cf
Being to the existent, the analogical displacement
of Being, is the essential weight which anchors
discourse in Metaphysics, irremediably repressing
discourse into its metaphysical state. (Derrida,
1978f:27)

For in securing for itself a tropical relationship with its

beginnings or source, alluded to by means of (note the

"metaphors" within the definition of metaphor, the presence

of the defined within the definition: metaphor abysses

itself5) resemblance, or correspondence, metaphor generates

and secures an unlimited surplus value, an illimitable

return on a capital investment, this security being guar-

anteed by its infinite capacity to reflect only itself.

Deriving profit on its own loss (primordial meaning posited

by means of metaphor) on its march to truth or absolute

knowledge, philosophy can always declare its mistakes, its

stumblings to be "only metaphors" without impairing its

profit, its spirituality, the gain produced by its derived

"nonmetaphoric" concepts, without fear of losing authority

or face.

Nonetheless, metaphor's very wealth becomes the occa-

sion of its poverty.6 This becomes more immediately








apparent when we examine the status of such a statement as

"truth is metaphor." On the one hand, the statement seems

to cancel the value of truth by declaring it metaphoric; yet

it does so by means of one more metaphor. If truth is a

metaphor, the truth becomes a metaphor for metaphor, an

"extra" metaphor, at once both profit and loss. For this

"extra metaphor" that "extracts or abstracts itself from

this field . as a metaphor less" is "the missing turn of

speech," missing from the system that appeals to it as its

guarantee or ground. But since the ground can no longer be

grounded, metaphysics can no longer capitalize on itself or

make a profit (Derrida, 1982d:220).

Derrida also refers to Heidegger's attempt to free the

field of language from the domination of metaphysics (in the

form of logic and grammar) that occupies it. Heidegger

assigned this liberation to "thought and poetry." We might

for the moment detour through "The Retrait of Metaphor"

where Derrida deals with a classical reading of the

Heideggerian text and briefly summarize Derrida's remarks in

order to clarify what is at stake. When Heidegger turns to

poetic thought, and from determinate metaphors to the state

of metaphoricity, this move still underwrites metaphysics.

I shall simply snip out pieces of Derrida's argument in a

somewhat grotesque fashion: in Heidegger, the metaphysical

concept of metaphor corresponds to a withdrawal ("reserve,

shelter, dissimulation, veiling, being hidden") of Being and








this moment is indissociable from the movement of presence

or truth.

Withdrawing in displaying itself or being deter-
mined as or under this mode of Being . Being
is already submitted, autrement dit, sozusagen, so
to speak, to a sort of metaphorico-metonymic
displacement. This whole of this aforesaid
history of Western metaphysics would be a vast
structural process where the epoche of Being
withholding itself, holding itself in withdrawal,
would take or rather would present an (interlaced)
series of guises, of turns, of modes, that is to
say, of figures or of tropical aspects (allures)
which we could be tempted to describe with the aid
of rhetorical conceptuality. Each of these
words--form, guise, turn, mode, figure--would
already be in a tropical situation. To the extent
of this temptation, "metaphysics" would not only
be the enclosure in which the concept of metaphor
itself would be produced and enclosed. Metaphy-
sics itself . would itself be in a tropical
position with respect to Being or the thought of
Being. This metaphysics as a tropical system
. would correspond to an essential withdrawal
of Being: unable to reveal itself, to present
itself except in dissimulating itself under the
"species" of an epochal determination underliningg
mine], under the species of an as which obliter-
ates its as such (Being as eidos, as subjectivity
(sic), as will, as work, etc.), Being would only
allow itself to be named in a metaphorico-
metonymical divergence (ecart). (Derrida,
1978e:20-21)

This last remark requires the most careful consideration.

Derrida is underlining the difference between Being and a

simple determination of it as a species of a particularized

manifestation that, in its specific historical character, is

no longer Being "as such," Being "qua Being," but now a

being. As Derrida remarks, the "as" rips the "is" apart,

unstitches it. This determinate "as" puts the totality of

Being out of the order of philosophy and philosophy can no

longer order what exceeds its reach. To continue:








One would then be tempted to say: the metaphy-
sical, which corresponds in its discourse to the
withdrawal of Being, tends to reassemble, in
resemblance, all its metonymic divergences in a
great metaphor of Being or of the thought of
Being. This bringing together is the language of
metaphysics itself. (20-21)

Metaphor, since it cannot encompass the "as such," can only

deal with the "as" (i.e., "the 'species' of an epochal

determination"), with being, and not Being:

. the relation of (ontotheological) metaphy-
sics to the thought of Being, can nc longer be
named--literally--metaphoric as soon as the usage
. [is] fixed by way of this couple of metaphy-
sical opposition to describe relations among
beings. Being being nothing, not being a being,
it can not be expressed or named more metaphorico.
And therefore it dces not have, in such a context
of the dominant metaphysical usage of the word
"metaphor," a proper or literal meaning which
could be alluded to (vise) metaphorically by
metaphysics. Consequently, if we cannot speak
metaphorically on its subject, neither can we
speak properly or literally. (21)

The turn to a trope inscribed within the field of classical

rhetoric, to poetry as a way out of metaphysics, fails.

Aspiring to produce a meta-metaphorics, such metaphysical

discourse flounders on the shore of one more metaphor.

Reminding us that Sein und Zeit was never completed, Derrida

cites a remark of Heidegger's commenting on the failure of

his project.

Here everything is reversed. The section in
question was held back because thinking failed in
the adequate saying of this turning and did not
succeed with the help of the language of metaphy-
sics. (Heidegger quoted in Derrida, 1982d:179)

We have reviewed the attempt of two pre-eminent phil-

osophers to dismiss metaphysics. Each project fails either

because in reimporting philosophical schemas, philosophy








returns by way of the back door; or because in failing to

formulate a strategy adequate to the task, philosophy

declines the invitation to leave by way of the front one.

The risks of attempting to leap outside of the province of

philosophy, or of demanding ploys from it in the form of any

of the particular sciences or regional ontologies (science,

linguistics, rhetoric, science of literature and art,

religion, psychoanalysis, history, politics, and so forth)

that philosophy controls, should now be apparent. The

undoing or unstitching of metaphysics "cannot be achieved by

means of a simply discursive or theoretical gesture"

(Derrida, 1982d:xxi) and unless specific attention is paid

to philosophy's powers of reappropriation, "the philosophi-

cal order will remain activated a tergo by misconstrued

philosophical machines, according to delegation or precipi-

tation, ignorance or stupidity" (xxii). Thus, this undoing

or unstitching cannot be accomplished by means of more or

different concepts, concepts being the province of philoso-

phy and determined by presence.



Paleonomy

Metaphysics cannot be criticized by means of itself, by

means of its "principles."

The 'metaphysical' is a certain determination or
direction taken by a sequence or 'chain.' It
cannot as such be opposed by a concept but rather
by a process of textual labor and a different sort
of articulation. (Derrida, 1982b:6)








Derrida outlines the thrust his strategy takes, the form of

such "textual labor" (which must be done practically [3])

when he speaks of palecnomy, the "preservation of old names"

(3) a style that provides reconstruction a means of inter-

vening in the field it criticizes. It is the means by which

the tradition, submitted to a certain kind of re-examina-

tion, is "re-edited" (44), "re-published." Derrida inaugur-

ates the plural style of a double science

according to which every concept necessarily
receives two similar marks--a repetition without
identity--one mark inside and the other outside
the deconstructed system and which should give
rise to a double reading and a double writing.
(1982b:4)

This double system opens on to "a double understanding no

longer forming a single system" and delimitss the space of a

closure no longer analogous to what philosophy can represent

for itself under this name" (Derrida, 1982d:xxiv). It

propagates the rhythm of a certain dance by which philoso-

phical concepts, through the structure of this double mark,

are made to "dance otherwise" (Derrida, 1982a:69). To

dance: among other things, "to bob up and down." Somewhat

later we shall speak of this "bobbing up and down" when we

discuss Derrida's remarks concerning the Fort/Da game played

by Freud's little grandson, Ernst. For the moment, and

without benefit of the demonstration, let us think of this

bobbing up and down, this Fort/Da, as the rhythmic appear-

ance and disappearance of theses, themes, meanings posed or

imposed, concepts or of a concept, their rhythmic presence

and absence. To dance otherwise: paleonomy takes the








concept and reedits or re-publishes it according to differ-

ent rhythms, the rhythms of unheard and unseen forces and

differences; it takes a step which is not (pas), which can

never simply come to be. The paleonym dances to the

arrhythmic rhythm of difference.7

Two dances, two rhythms, two repetitions. However,

these two rhythms are neither in equilibrium nor are they

symmetrical. The rhythm of the latter (Nietzsche), which is

neither positional nor oppositional, situates the rhythm of

the former (Freud), is the condition of its possibility, its

appearance and disappearance. It saves the former from

destroying itself in the blast of a single note, from

exhausting itself in a sole and undifferentiated bleat.

Why is the labor of paleonomy necessary? Why, an

imaginary interlocutor might demand, use old names? Why

does Derrida insist on making of old concepts "little

nothings" ("nothings" because no concepts are involved),

"nothing" for speculative thought to look at nor to ruminate

upon; and thus, no way for the philosopher "to be able to

say to himself, again turning on his own hinge; I will have

anticipated it, with absolute knowledge" (Derrida,

1982d:xxv) yet retain the old name? Why not, he might

continue with an aggressive persistence, new names free of

old memories which impose both weight and burden? And why,

once warned of the existence of philosophical schemas that

lie all too "ready at hand," of their treacherous methods of

infiltration, why can we not avoid them? Why can't we draw









up a complete list of such snares, catalogue their uses,

trace their histories and modifications with all the thor-

oughness available to a conscientious obsessive, and simply

remove them from the field of use? Why all this tedious

remarking and why not new names, neologisms?

Derrida's first objection to our interlocutor's optim-

ism should surprise no one. For, as one might now suspect,

our friend assumes once more that we might leap outside of

philosophy (a step which philosophy is quite prepared to

deal with dialectically), the execution of such prancing

always, unhappily, bringing us face to face with philosophy

once more. For our friend must presuppose "the signifier's

simple exteriority to 'its' concept" (Derrida, 1982b:3), and

has merely reintroduced an old philosopheme. Extending this

objection, Derrida might note that it would further reduce

the signifier to the

merely circumstantial, conventional occurrence of
the concept or as a concession without any spe-
cific effect. It would be an affirmation of the
autonomy of meaning, of the ideal purity of an
abstract, theoretical history of the concept. (5)

One is reminded here of one of those little rubber

"schmoos," an air-inflated little creature that one could

bat about without fear of knocking over, so popular a figure

during the '50s. No matter how sly the approach, no matter

how baroquely executed the punch, the thing pops up without

any discernible signs of exhaustion.

Derrida's second objection is posed more in terms of a

political and institutional critique. To attempt to leap








outside the classical system generated by these names/

concepts, structured by a hierarchy of opposition, to do so

simply by fiat, not only constitutes the interminability of

a negative theology, but more, it is

to forget that these opposition have never
constituted a given system, a sort of ahistorical,
thoroughly homogeneous table, but rather a dissym-
metric, hierarchically ordered space whose closure
is constantly being traversed by the forces, and
worked by the exteriority, that it repressed; that
is, expells and, which amounts to the same thing,
internalizes as one of its moments. (5)

In other words, these names/concepts have their Achilles'

heel that power mechanisms such as institutions are inter-

ested in protecting. And as long as these concepts are

ignored or repressed, a flatfooted, aggressive domination

will continue to operate and ensure the perpetuation of the

status quo, no matter what reform may ultimately be insti-

tuted. Certainly this is one of the most formidable

strengths of the dialectic, "always that which has finished

us, because it is always that which takes into account our

rejection of it. As it does our affirmation" (Derrida,

1978f:246).

This brings us directly to a consideration of Derrida's

work, the relation of paleonymy to the tradition. To think

of his work in terms of primary or secondary material is

meaningless. These terms derive from the order that he is

busy putting out of order and thus are no longer adequate to

his work. Even a brief excursion into the problems of such

a classification based on the metaphysics of presence should

immediately make the absurdities apparent. Secondary









material concerns itself with the interpretation or expli-

cation of an "original" source and requires the reader to

double the text, to represent, repeat and validate the

text's self-representations by elucidating its themes,

noting its theses, formalizing its assumptions and presuppo-

sitions, its meanings in all their richness and possibility.

But the most cursory perusal of Derrida's work disabuses a

reader of the hope of finding a content of this particular

kind. On the other hand, primary material is--well--"pri-

mary," considered the vehicle of the conscious intention of

an author or, to choose a different model, a performance of

the language itself. Yet the phenomenon of a self-conscious

ego communicating something, along with that of another

self-conscious ego bent on understanding what is going on,

is simply to Derrida (as Freud said of his primary and

secondary processes) a "theoretical fiction" 9: "these

'phenomena' are not phenomena: they never appear as such"

and "cannot even be formulated ideally. Except, that is,

under the heading of 'fiction' . ." (Derrida, 1979b:217).

Here we enter the heart of the difficulty and perhaps

need to consider what Derrida is up to instead of worrying

about what he is not. Derrida actively engages texts of the

tradition yet re-works them in such a way that no adequation

or correspondence with the classical field is possible.

What he writes of in, for example, "The Pharmacy of Plato,"

since it is not based on the metaphysics of presence, is

inaccessible to the classical reading model, cannot be









derived through it; indeed, the energy of his effort is very

often directed towards undermining the rules that govern

this model. Hence, the classical opposition primary/

secondary not only does not apply to his work but, being

based on presence, the opposition itself is called into

question. Equally meaningless is the attempt to situate his

work within the traditional categories of knowledge defined

by academic institutions. Like a concept detached from a

particular discipline and deconstructed--now a paleonym--

that no longer simply belongs to the classical field, so it

is with his work. Speaking specifically of his texts'

relation to philosophy and literature, Derrida remarks:

I will say that my texts belong neither to the
'philosophical' nor to the 'literary' register.
Thereby they communicate, or so I hope at least,
with other texts that, having operated a certain
rupture, can be called 'philosophical' or 'liter-
ary' only according to a kind of paleonomy . .
(Derrida, 1981a:71)

These "ruptures" that occur in all areas of knowledge,

are named with reference to the field from which they are

taken only paleonymically. And if we "know,"

. we know something here which is no longer
anything, with a knowledge whose form can no
longer be recognized under this old name. The
treatment of paleonymy here is no longer a raising
or a regaining of consciousness. (Derrida,
1982b:21)

I began the discussion with a consideration of philos-

ophy and recalled its power in structuring cur thought. I

will conclude these remarks with a statement of Derrida's,

the subject of which is not only "thought" but also the

occasion of making it an old name, a paleonym for "nothing."









'In a certain way, 'thought' means nothing.'
"Thought" quotationn marks: the words 'thought'
and what is called 'thought') means nothing: it
is the substantified void of a highly derivative
ideality, the effect of a difference of forces,
the illusory autonomy of a discourse or a con-
sciousness whose hypostasis is to be decon-
structed, whose 'causality' is to be analyzed,
etc. First. Secondly, the sentence can be read
thus: if there is thought--and there is, and it
is just as suspect, for analogous critical rea-
sons, to contest the authority of all 'thought'--
then whatever will continue to be called thought,
and which for example, will designate the decon-
struction of logocentrism, means nothing, for in
the last analysis it no longer derives from
"meaning." Wherever it opera ts, 'thought' means
nothing. (Derrida, 1981a:49)

"Thought" "wants to say" (vouloir dire) "nothing" (rien);

"thought" "means" (vouloir dire) "nothing" (rien).

I have been concentrating on brief examples of the

problems as elaborated by Derrida within the metaphysics of

presence, and with the difficulties of what I shall call

(for lack of a better phrase) "trying something else."

American deconstruction has offered itself as 3ust such an

alternative. Is it? In order to attempt to answer this

question, I should like to turn to the work of Jonathan

Culler, which to my mind, best theorizes deconstruction as

it is practiced in this country. Instead of taking a broad

over-view of this work, however, I am going to analyze it in

as minute a fashion as possible. Let's put the classical

reading model to work.



Footprints

1. John K. Sheriff similarly desires to inseminate
only this time the expectant parent is C.S. Peirce.
(Sheriff, 1981:51-74). His equating of trace with sign,








along with his vigorous amputation of pertinent parts of
material cited from Derrida underscores the "miscarriage."
For a discussion of "the logic of pregnancy," along with
Derrida's gentle mocking of Barbara Johnson's attempt to
make Lacan big with him, see Derrida, 1980b:160-65.

2. In "White Mythology" (Derrida, 1982d), Derrida
draws a "short dialogue" from Anatole France's The Garden of
Epicurus "between Aristos and Polyphilos . subtitled 'or
the language of metaphysics'" (p. 210). In an attempt to
criticize metaphysics, Polyphilos harangues his friend, "I
think I have at last made you realize one thing, Aristos,
that any expression of an abstract idea can only be an
analogy. By an odd fate, the very metaphysicians who think
to escape the world of appearances are constrained to live
perpetually in allegory. A sorry lot of poets, they dim the
colors of the ancient fables, and are themselves but gath-
erers of fables. They produce white mythology" (p. 213). A
certain hilarity ensues, for in borrowing one of metaphy-
sics' concepts in order to criticize the metaphysicians,
Polyphilos joins the metaphysicians as does his language.
As Derrida remarks, "Parody of the translator, naivete of
the metaphysician or of the pitiful peripatetic who does not
recognize his own figure and does not know where it has
marched him to" (p. 213).

3. With regard to the sublation of the sensible into
the intelligible, Derrida remarks, "the whole of 'White
Mythology' constantly puts in question the current and
currently philosophical interpretation (in Heidegger as
well) of metaphor as a transfer from the sensible to the
intelligible, as well as the privilege accorded this trope
(by Heidegger as well) in the deconstruction of metaphysical
rhetoric" (Derrida, 1978e:13).

4. For a demonstration of the confusion on this
subject see Ryan, 1982:20. One statement in particular
seems to be representative of the difficulty with his
analysis of the way Derrida regards metaphor. "Perhaps
Derrida's most famous text on this problem is 'White Myth-
ology,' in which he argues that because all language is
metaphoric (a sign substituted for a thing) . ." Let us
arrest this statement here, for the moment. Derrida does
not argue that all language is metaphoric; this is specifi-
cally the position he attacks as the position of the meta-
physical tradition. Anyone familiar with his work on
"Rousseau" should regard such a reading as curious indeed.
If anything at all is to be learned from this analysis in Of
Grammatology (Derrida, 1976), it is his re-writing of the
tradition's naive substitutional or representational formu-
lation of the sign. "Rousseau" declares the sign to be a
supplement (an addition, but, at the same time, the replace-
ment). To describe language as metaphoric is to argue for
its identity and its origin or source. Metaphor and all its








opposites are couples that belong to philosophical dis-
course. The concept of metaphor inasmuch as there is a
concept (based on a presence substituted for) belongs to the
field to be deconstructed. Let us continue Ryan's citation:
"no metametaphoric description of language is possible that
escapes infinite regress." Derrida's analysis of this
position applies to more than the simple possibility of
description; it extends to all of language itself, its power
to say. He mocks its capitalization on itself in one of the
subtitles of the essay, "Plus de metaphor" meaning both
"more metaphor" and "no more metaphor" (see the translator's
note, Derrida, 1982d:219). It points towards the tradi-
tion's willingness to overlook the preposterous nature of
its own propositions when it suits its own needs: when, for
example, it decides to write conceptual discourse. For in
what way or to what extent does Ryan's analytic discourse
derive from metaphor?

5. "Each time a rhetoric defines metaphor, it implies
not only a philosophy but a conceptual network within which
philosophy as such constitutes itself. Each thread, in this
network, forms in addition a turn of speech, one might say a
metaphor if this notion were not too derivative here. The
defined is therefore implicated in the defining agent of the
definition" (Derrida, 1978e:15).

6. See Derrida's remarks in "The Retrait of Metaphor"
(Derrida, 1978e) on the philosophical schema of us or usure,
that incorporates the motif of "wear and tear" (p. 15) along
with that "of interest, of surplus value, of fiduciary
calculus or of usury rate" (p. 17). As he says, referring
to "White Mythology" (Derrida, 1982d), "The 'Exergue'
announces clearly that it is not a question of accrediting
the scheme of the us but of deconstructing a philosophical
concept, a philosophical construction erected on this schema
of worn out metaphor or privileging, for significant rea-
sons, the trope named metaphor" (p. 14). The schema of wear
and surplus value, or loss and profit, will take on greater
import in Part II of this study.

7. For a comparison between the Freudian Fort/Da, the
rhythm of the appearance and disappearance of the text's
self-representation, and the Nietzschean Fort/Da, a rhythm
neither oppositional nor contradictory, a rhythm that does
without consciousness, see Derrida, 1980b:433-37.

8. For example, see Derrida, 1982a. Here, Derrida
questions feminism's docile acceptance of a metaphysical
concept, the "identity" of "woman" begun in Spurs (Derrida,
1979b).

9. See Derrida's remarks in Derrida, 1979c:219.
Theoretical fictions are "regulatory ideals" and are con-
trolled by a teleology within the metaphysics of presence.




33



10. The reader needs to keep in mind the vouloir-dire
coupled with rien in the French text, the implications of
which are two that come immediately to mind. First,
"thought" does not want to say any thing, to present a
presence (meaning, signified, referent). Second, "thought"
means "nothing"--a "bit of nothing" (rien, and not the neant
of Sartre).
















CHAPTER 2
PROBLEMS WITH READING DERRIDA



If thought means or wants (to say) "nothing" (rien and

not Sartre's neant), hence "a bit of nothing," (Derrida,

1982b:196) as it is re-written by Derridean deconstruction,

in the American version of deconstruction thought engages in

endless speeches about itself and the way it "means." I

want to cite a statement of Derrida's concerning the problem

of meaning that unites what at first might be considered two

strange bed-fellows: phenomenology and semiotics.

Thus, whether or not it is "signified" or
"expressed," whether or not it is "interwoven"
with a process of signification, "meaning" is an
intelligible or spiritual ideality which eventu-
ally can be united to the sensible aspect of a
signifier that in itself it does not need. Its
presence, meaning, or essence of meaning, is
conceivable outside this interweaving as soon as
the phenomenologist, like the semiotician, alleg-
edly refers to a pure unity, a rigorously identi-
fiable aspect of meaning or of the signified.
(Derrida, 1981a:31)

Within phenomenology, meaning derives from the consti-

tutive power of consciousness, and is maintained in its

original sense giving act through concepts that, as ideal-

ites, can be repeated and reproduced, without alteration or

loss, through language. For semiotics, meaning is a product

of the language system itself. It might conceivably be

argued that because semiotics simply shifts the object of


34








analysis--meaning (albeit defined in a somewhat broader

sense of signification) from the "inside" (consciousness) to

the "outside" (language system)--semiotics merely replaces

consciousness with the language system as the locus of

meaning, the varying possibilities of which the system

itself generates. Thus, semiotics would constitute an

inversion of the phenomenological model, exchanging one

place of derivation for that of another. On the one hand,

this is, of course a ghastly oversimplification, but, on the

other, it points to the problem of "place," or "position,"

illustrates the way both place and position within the

tradition can be changed without changing the place or

position, without disturbing the ground. Whatever sub-

stantial and important differences are involved in these

two systems, along with the impressive and considerable

insights each has achieved, one origin is exchanged for

another. Why is it possible for one system to replace

another without provoking any fundamental disruption? Since

the concepts each makes use of draw from a "mutual fund,"

their grounds inevitably have something in common.

Since these concepts are not elements or atoms
taken from a syntax and a system, every particular
borrowing brings along with it the whole of
metaphysics. (Derrida, 1978f:280)

Jonathan Culler's book, On Deconstruction (Culler,

1982), is perhaps the most lucid and comprehensive work to

date on American deconstruction. But what his work best

shows is that American deconstruction is an analysis of

"meaning," an analysis of a concept or principle of the








metaphysics of presence by means of principles drawn from

(or on the "account" of) the metaphysics of presence.

Principles, as was noted earlier, rush ahead in order to

produce what comes after. Why is this problematic? First,

the defined is already present in the definition; any

definition of a principle is, in principle, a principle.

Secondly, if they are "there before being there," they have

neither meaning nor referent, signified nor object: they

have no content. They are "ideal." "Principles" fall

within the realm of the Kantian Idea. They regulate (and

here is another problem), ideal objects. All of these are

targets of deconstruction, which assigns them to the realm

of hypotheses (prosthetic devices). As hypotheses, princi-

ples (undemonstrable "in principle") function like Plato's

"beyond of all Being," fictions that work like "fathers" who

inseminate and activate the philosophical machine a tergo.

At times, Derrida reminds us that fictions cite the language

of metaphysics and call those citations "fictions": they

are "the language of metaphysics" (Derrida, 1975b:52;

Derrida, 1982d:210). As is, we must remind ourselves, the

philosophical concept of fiction that is also presented to

us with the label "fiction" attached. There is no point in

using metaphysical principles if one wants to unsettle

metaphysics. And analyses that utilize metaphysical princi-

ples, even to pit one against the other, can only generate

more metaphysics.








My examination of Culler's work attempts to explain

most economically why those critical discourses in this

country that aspire to the status of deconstruction (under-

stood as a critique of the metaphysics of presence) fail.

Culler's work fails at the theoretical level because it

repeats one of the same contradictions that runs throughout

Saussure's work. At the practical level, American decon-

struction fails because each "deconstruction" labors within

the space of meaning. And this brand of deconstruction,

because it labors within that space of meaning--sometimes

called "differential," sometimes "indeterminate," sometimes

"negative"--is again a repetition of Saussure's contradic-

tory gesture and shares in it. If I consider Culler, who

has instituted theoretical statements on the basis of this

contradiction, statements that encompass the work of those

figures he describes, then I will indirectly be addressing

my remarks to those same practitioners. While Culler's book

is an important contribution to the field and contains

extremely valuable insights into current literary concerns,

its statements, constituted by a Saussurian contradiction,

perpetuate that contradiction (but now, under the name of

"deconstruction"). Let us see how the "logocentric repres-

sion of writing" is still in full force, at the level of

theory. Afterwards, we shall turn to a work of a specific

critic.

I am going to begin with some of Culler's conclusions,

and from them, work to their premises.








Repetition

For Culler, deconstruction leads to an indeterminacy of

meaning that comes about as a result of the condition of the

sign's possibility: replication or repetition. How does

Culler understand the implications of repetition? Repeti-

tion leads to an indeterminacy of meaning because it is

impossible for "final meanings to arrest the movement of

signification" (1982:188) for the simple reason that "what

we may at one point identify as a signified is also a

signifier" (188). That it is impossible to separate the

signifier and signified is, of course, one of the moments in

Saussure's text that most radically challenges logocentrism.

As Derrida states, Saussure insisted

. against the tradition, that the signified is
inseparable from the signifier, that the signified
and the signifier are the two sides of one and the
same production. (Derrida, 1981a:18)

Thus, for Culler, repetition sets in motion the ceaseless

movement of the sign. It will be part of our project to

determine as precisely as possible how the sign functions in

his system. In order to clarify this interminable activity

of the sign, Culler cites Peirce:

. it follows from the purely differential,
nonsubstantial nature of the sign that the differ-
ence between signifier and signified cannot be one
of substance and that what we may at one point
identify as a signified is also a signifier
[underlining mine]. There are no final meanings
that arrest the movement of signification.
Charles Sanders Peirce makes this structure of
deferral and referral an aspect of his definition:
a sign is "anything which determines something
else (its interpretant) to refer to an object to
which itself [sic] refers (its object) in the same
way, the interpretant becoming in turn a sign, and








so on ad infinitum. . If the series of
successive interpretants come to an end, the sign
is thereby rendered imperfect at least.
(1982:188)

Why do we start with an identifiable signified that we may

also then, after such a recognition, treat as a signifier.

What necessity compels our starting with the signified? If

we were to start with the signifier (reverse the order3,

could we necessarily identify it with a signified? Under

what conditions would this be possible? This question

guides the reading that follows.

The structure of "deferral and referral" is comprised

of a "redoubling"--a signified that only as a signified

becomes a signifier, but an "interpretable signifier." An

interpretable signifier is a unit of meaning that, however

provisional or indeterminate, is first and foremost a

signified. If there are no "final" meanings, there are

already in place signifieds that call for additional inter-

pretations, additional meanings, additional signifieds.

Thus, the process of substitution is grounded in a center or

a meaning (that meaning that presents itself as the possi-

bility of additional meanings, interpretations), a stable

moment in this system from which the possibility of substi-

tution arises, which itself cannot be substituted for

without calling this system into question. Culler under-

stands the problem of repetition starting from a first

meaning, already the union of signifier/signified in its

most conservative and classical sense. The sign calls for

repetition (another interpretation), and repetition always








starts from an already constituted present signified, a

meaning, an interpretation. Culler defines indeterminacy as

the impossibility of checking this activity of the already

meaningful sign. It is simply the problem of sign closure:

the possibility of endless replication is not an
accident that befalls the sign but a constitutive
element of its structure, an incompletion without
which the sign would be incomplete. (1982:188-89)

Repetition, then, is subordinated to that first instance or

meaning event that becomes the basis for repetition, repeti-

tion of another instance or meaning event; repetition both

sets the system in motion4 and grounds it at the same time.

This is classical repetition.

The rest of the passage cited above will help us

appreciate Culler's position more clearly.

However, literary critics should exercise caution
in drawing inferences from this principle. While
it does enjoin skepticism about possibilities of
arresting meaning, of discovering a meaning that
lies outside of and governs the play of signs in a
text, it does not propose indeterminacy of meaning
in the usual sense: the impossibility or unjusti-
fiability of choosing one meaning over another.
On the contrary, it is only because there may be
excellent reasons for choosing one meaning rather
than another that there is any point in insisting
that the meaning chosen is itself also a signifier
that can be interpreted in turn. The fact that
any signified is also in the position of a signi-
fier does not mean that there are no reasons to
link a signifier with one signified rather than
another; still less does it suggest, as both
hostile and sympathetic critics have claimed, an
absolute priority of the signifier or a definition
of the text as a galaxy of signifiers. "The
'primacy' or 'priority' of the signifier," writes
Derrida, "would be an absurd and untenable expres-
sion. . The signifier will never by rights
precede the signified, since it would no longer be
a signifier and the signifier signifierr' would
have no possible signified." . The structural
redoubling of any signified an interpretable









signifier does suggest that the realm of signi-
fiers acquires a certain autonomy, but this does
not mean signifiers without signifieds, only the
failure of signifieds to produce closure.
(1982:189)

Let us note first of all that as soon as we situate the

sign within the impossibility of arresting its movement, we

are discussing what Umberto Eco calls "unlimited semiosis"

("continual shifting which refer a sign back to another

sign or string of signs" [Eco, 1976:71]). Second, recourse

to signifierr" derives not from any specificity of its own

but arises solely from the motivating instance of a part-

icular meaning chosen initially. Third, what are we talking

about when we introduce the possibility of meaning (signi-

fied, concept)? Everything points to the word written on

the page, the image of the spoken word. With its focus on

the word, the material entity, Culler's analysis relies on

the most conservative and classical gesture of Saussure and

reintroduces precisely what Saussure himself should have

problematized: positive terms.



The Positive Term (The Positive "Turn")

Speaking of Saussure, Culler states that

he [Saussure] concludes that "in the linguistic
system there are only differences, without posi-
tive terms." . This is a radical formulation.
The common view is doubtless that a language
consists of words, positive entities, which are
put together to form a system and thus acquire
relations with one another, but Saussure's analy-
sis of the nature of linguistic units leads to the
conclusion that, on the contrary, signs are the
product of a system of differences; indeed, they
are not positive entities at all but effects of
differences. (120-21)








This is not entirely accurate. As a matter of fact when

Saussure develops the negative and differential relations of

the language system (bracketing from it the facts of

speech), he states that these relations apply only to the

signifier and the signified understood if "they are consid-

ered separately"; the word, or the union of sound and sense

(the total sign) is indeed a positive term. Let us turn to

Saussure for a moment. He has just finished elaborating on

the negative and differential relations that are constitu-

tive of the signifier and signified when considered apart.5

These negative, differential relations do not appear within

experience, nor are they differences that can be apprehended

by consciousness. He calls the signifier a "sound image"

that is not a "material sound, a purely physical thing."

(This is important to Derrida's analysis because this "sound

image" cannot be understood with reference to any presence

or perception.) Now, as soon as one begins to talk about a

material manifestation, i.e., the union of signifier and

signified as sign, one has a positive term. Let us review

the passage and the reservations of Saussure that follow it.

Everything that has been said up to this point
boils down to this: in language there are only
differences. Even more important: a difference
generally implies positive terms between which the
difference is set up; but in language there are
only differences without positive terms. Whether
we take the signified or the signifier, language
has neither ideas nor sounds that existed before
the linguistic system, but only conceptual and
phonic differences that have issued from [my
underlining] the system. The idea or phonic
substance that a sign contains is of less impor-
tance than the other signs that surround it.
(Saussure, 1966:120)








Notice that as Saussure refers to the effects exercised by

differences, he is discussing, not the sign, but the signi-

fier or signified. Here are the reservations and the

logocentrism:

But the statement that everything in language is
negative is true only if the signified and the
signifier are considered separately; when we
consider the sign in its totality, we have some-
thing that is positive in its own class . .
Although both the signified and the signifier are
purely differential and negative when considered
separately, their combination is a positive fact.
. When we compare signs--positive terms--with
each other, we can no longer speak of difference;
the expression would not be fitting, for it
applies only to comparing two sound-images, eg.
father and mother, or two ideas, the idea "father"
and the idea "mother"; two signs, each having a
signified and signifier, are not different but
only distinct. (121)

This is one point where Saussure ignores the whole import of

his own analysis. He has analyzed the signifier in such a

way that it exceeds or falls short of consciousness; it is

nothing that can be subsumed under, by, or within presence.

Nor is the signifier "linguistic," if by that we understand

a phonic character. Indeed, it is made up of nothing, that

is to say, of no presence; neither material, substantial,

perceptual, nor phenomenal. At this point, neither is the

signified. These conditions, however, do not affect the

whole sign or positive term, as he calls it; and the fact

that they do not constitutes one of his logocentric ges-

tures. For in the structure of the positive term, he

reintroduced what in his most radical moment, he excludes:

the Voice, the union of sound and sense, concept and voice,

the "thought-sound" or "phonic and conceptual differences."








. two signs, each having a signified and
signifier, are not different but only distinct.
Between them there is only opposition. The entire
mechanism of language, with which we shall be
concerned later, is based on opposition of this
kind and on the phonic and conceptual differences
that they imply. [last part, underlining mine]
(1966:121)

"Difference" pertains only to the signifier and signified

(considered separately), not to the phonic and conceptual

character of the sign which has only distinction (not

difference). Once phonic and conceptual characteristics

come into consideration, we are dealing with the old meta-

physical sign made up of the classically conceived signifier

(material and substantial, the phonic and its written image)

and signified (the concept, the idea: semantics); the

signifier is simply the representative of the represented:

presence, the voice.

To assert, as Culler does, that "any signified is also

in the position of a signifier," and then to determine the

import of this statement as a problem of sign closure, of

interpretation, of meaning (no matter how provisional or

indeterminate) once more determines the sign classically.

The sign is again a material manifestation, once more

subordinated to thought, to meaning, to consciousness.

Indeed, one might say that Culler's analysis, in spite of

what he says, deals only with positive terms, the Voice

itself.

The pressure of the positive term runs throughout and

affects the whole of Culler's analysis of "deconstruction"

(while it applies inaccurately to Derrida's work, it applies









quite accurately to the work of the others that Culler

includes under this rubric and characterizes what they are

doing quite precisely).

Let us examine the way writing for Culler is simply

confirmed in its metaphysical, material, substantial

meaning. Writing on the practice of American deconstruc-

tors, Rodolphe Gasche points out a very important distinc-

tion.

The notion of writing (of text, and of literature,
as well) as used by modern deconstructive criti-
cism refers in general only to the phenomenolog-
ical experience of writing as something present in
all discourses and texts . Derrida's notion
of writing and of the trace presupposes a pheno-
menological reduction of all the mundane regions
of sensibility (but also of the intelligible).
Being anterior (yet not as an essence) to the
distinctions between the regions of sensibility,
and consequently to any experience of presence,
the trace or writing is not something which can be
said to be present in all discourses. The regions
of sensibility and of presence are "only" the
regions where writing as arch-writing appears as
such, becomes present by occulting itself. Thus,
the evidence in question, since it confuses and is
unaware of distinctions as important as those
between appearance and appearing, between appear-
ance and signification, consists of a fall back
into a phenomenological apprehension of writing as
something readable, visible, and significant in an
empirical medium open to experience. (Gasche,
1979:181)

Richard Rorty, an analytic philosopher whom Culler quotes,

similarly understands writing in its metaphysical represen-

tation. Let us begin here. Rorty puts himself in Derrida's

shoes (always a dangerous "feat" as we shall see when we

come to the lesson of the fort:da game) to pose what he

considers Derrida's question and then supplies his own

logocentric answer. If, Rorty asks, "philosophy is a kind








of writing," why do philosophers resist this characteriza-

tion? What is the threat of writing? Notice the definition

of writing implied by the answer. For philosophers, Rorty

states,

Writing is an unfortunate necessity; what is
really wanted is to show, to demonstrate, to point
out, to exhibit, to make one's interlocutor stand
and gaze before the world. . In a mature
science, the words in which the investigator
"writes up" his results should be as few and as
transparent as possible. Philosophical writing,
for Heidegger as for the Kantians, is really aimed
at putting an end to writing. For Derrida,
writing always leads to more writing, and more,
and still more. (Culler, 1982:90)

I think the statement "speaks for itself"; it is quite clear

that "writing," for Rorty, consists of (and is a somewhat

lamentable need to) committing one's thoughts to paper, of

writing them up, of "imaging" and "representing" them.

Culler's understanding of writing belongs in the same

empirical and experiential realm.

Writing presents language as a series of physical
marks that operate in the absence of the speaker.
They may be highly ambiguous or organized in
artful rhetorical patterns. (91)

Evidently it does not occur to Culler to question how or why

these "physical marks" can function in such a strange and

ineluctable manner. It does not seem to occur to him that

they can do so only if one assumes that these "physical

marks"--and this is phonologocentrism itself--"paint" or

"image" the voice, represent the voice, and are the signs of

(already unified) signs: the Voice. Should we not be

reminded here of why in (Derrida's reading of) Rousseau,

writing, the supplement, the "representative image" is








"dangerous"? Might we not recall that it is so because the

supplement makes[] one forget the vicariousness of its own

function and makes] itself pass for the plenitude of a

speech whose deficiency and infirmity it nevertheless only

supplements" (Derrida, 1976:144)?

When Culler directly addresses the metaphysics of

presence, in order to demonstrate the flaws in the concept

of presence, the real difficulty he seems to find is that it

is composed primarily of its own modified forms. Thus,

What is proposed as a given, an elementary con-
stituent, proves to be a product, dependent on or
derived in ways that deprive it of the authority
of simple or pure presence. (Culler, 1982:94)

Here is an example. It is one of Zeno's paradoxes that

"illustrates more convincingly . the difficulties of a

system based on presence" (94).

Consider, for example, the flight of an arrow. If
reality is what is present at any given instant,
the arrow produces a paradox. At any given moment
it is in a particular spot; it is always in a
particular spot and never in motion. We want to
insist, quite justifiably, that the arrow is in
motion at every instant from the beginning to the
end of its flight, yet its motion is never present
at any moment of presence. The presence of motion
is conceivable, it turns out, only insofar as
every instant is already marked with traces of the
past and future. Motion can be present, that is
to say, only if the present instant is not some-
thing given but a product of the relations between
past and future. Something can be happening at a
given instant only if the instant is already
divided within itself, inhabited by the nonpre-
sent. (94, underlining mine)

Admittedly, this is only an example and used, one must

suppose, for its heuristic value. But the example, at the

very least, is confusing and misleading. It is confusing to








use the word "trace" with reference to the past and future,

all simply modified forms of presence itself, moments of

presence that are past, and moments of presence yet to come.

Such use also places "trace" within what Gasche calls a

mundane region of sensibility. Additionally, it is con-

fusing to consider the present as simply divided, marked by

the nonpresent when "nonpresent" is also determined as a

modified form of presence. "Nonpresent" in Derrida's

vocabulary refers to nothing that can be equated with the

ordinary experience of time, with grammatical tenses, or the

experience of consciousness; indeed "nonpresent" problema-

tizes all of these. And it is equally confusing to talk

about the present as a product when again the "product" is a

product merely by virtue of its relation to past (one

presence) and future (another presence).

Presence is problematic only on the basis of this

infiltration of past and future. Thus,

the present instant can serve as ground only
insofar as it is not a pure and autonomous given.
If motion is to be present, presence must already
be marked by difference and deferral. (27)

As the present is only marked by other presence, it is only

marked by itself; hence no disturbance is produced in the

field. Culler's analysis encourages us to conclude that

Derrida argues that presence is suspect because it is

derived from modified forms of presence.

This model does not change appreciably when Culler

turns to an analysis of language. He situates its discus-

sion between (the concept of) structure and (the concept of)









event. Again, the passage I cite is a long one, but quite

instructive. Culler argues,

The meaning of a word, it is plausible to claim,
is what speakers mean by it. A word's meaning
within the system of a language, what we find when
we look a word up in a dictionary, is a result of
the meaning speakers have given it in past acts of
communication. And what is true of a word is true
of language in general: the structure of a
language, its system of norms and regularities, is
a product of events, the result of prior speech
acts. However, when we take this argument seri-
ously and begin to look at the events which are
said to determine structures, we find that every
event is itself already determined and made
possible by prior structures. The possibility of
meaning something by an utterance is already
inscribed in the structure of language. The
structures themselves are always products, but
however far back we try to push, even when we try
to imagine the "birth" of language and describe an
ordinary event that might have produced the first
structure, we discover that we must assume prior
organization, prior differentiation.
As in the case of causality [he refers to an
analysis preceding the section that I am discus-
sing], we find only nonoriginary origins. If a
cave man is successfully to inaugurate language by
making a special grunt signify "food," we must
suppose that the grunt is already distinguished
from other grunts and that the world has already
been divided into the categories "food" and
"nonfood." Acts of signification depend on
differences, such as the contrast between "food"
and "nonfood" that allows food to be signified, or
the contrast between signifying elements that
allows a sequence to function as a signifier. The
sound sequence bat is a signifier because it
contrasts with pat, mat, bad, bet, etc. The noise
that is "present" when one says bat is inhabited
by the traces of a signifier only insofar as it
consists of such traces. As in the case of
motion, what is supposedly present is already
complex and differential, marked by difference, a
product of differences.
An account of language, seeking solid foun-
dation, will doubtless wish to treat meaning as
something somewhere present--say, present to
consciousness at the moment of a signifying event:
but any presence it invokes turns out to be
already inhabited by difference. However, if one
tries instead to ground an account of meaning on








difference, one fares no better, for differences
are never given as such and are always products.
A scrupulous theory must shift back and forth
between these perspectives, of event and structure
or parole and langue, which never lead to a syn-
thesis. Each perspective shows the error of the
other i an irresolvable alteration or aporia.
(95-96)

First, I want to take the very last statement further.

Each perspective (each full and present moment: structure

itself, event itself) does not need its other in order for

either to manifest its own error. Each demonstrates its own

error by itself quite capably. Derrida has criticized the

notion of structure in his essay, "Force and Significa-

tion." Borrowing from this essay, we might say that the

whole notion of structure is a search for and an appeal to

simultaneity. Simultaneity requires the articulation of

events (as simultaneous). But the very articulation of

events dispels the possibility of simultaneity. Structure

is the "myth of a total reading or description, promoted to

the status of a regulatory ideal" (Derrida, 1979c:24,

underlining mine). Similarly, the concept of pure event, in

that it is, as Culler himself has demonstrated in the most

metaphysical terms possible, compounded with other pre-

sences--past presence (inhabited by traces of forms one is

not uttering but had uttered before, or will have uttered)--

should be sufficient to begin to call itself into question.

But there is another way that Culler's example of a "decon-

struction" is equally confusing: "deconstruction" is

founded on the difference between two presence, two posi-

tive terms: eventI0 and structure or parole and langue. If









the two self-present meanings produce an aporia, then the

aporia is derived from, dependent upon, and secondary to the

two meanings.

Inasmuch as the concepts of structure and event, in

Culler's analysis, are oriented by the presence of meaning,

the concept, intention, in short all the values of commun-

ication questioned by Derrida, it is not surprising that

Culler should speak of language as an expression of ideas

("the meaning speakers have given it in past acts of com-

munication"). Thus, it follows that the analysis remains

caught in a circle of exchange, event for structure, struc-

ture for event, without ever questioning the individual

status of each, or the assumption of their meaningfulness.

Oriented by semantics, by meaning, instead of resituating

the origin, his analysis in its infinite regress (maintained

by the concept of presence itself) simply generates another

concept of the origin, that of a nonoriginary origin,

nonoriginary because the individual moments of presence are

too many, too rich, too infinite to be arrested or simply

located. The substitute can always be substituted for by

another substitute, for example, another structure/event

determined and itself preceded by one more. The whole

analysis of the origin ("nonoriginary") is guided by tele-

ology and smacks of the "infinite task" of phenomenology.

For if in fact the recuperation of the origin is impossible,

it is in principle available "at infinity."11








Let's take another example (this will take a little

time but it is instructive), one that Culler offers as "a

compact instance of the general procedures we encounter in

the work of Jacques Derrida" (1982:88). It is a good

example of the assertion/denial structure in one of its

various forms that runs throughout most American deconstruc-

tion. In this specific instance, (philosophical) concepts

of experience are asserted and then denied by (philosophi-

cal) concepts of rhetoric.

An individual experiences pain, and this pain motivates

that person to search out the cause of the pain. Sure

enough the culprit takes shape in the form of a pin. Now,

by reversing the perceptual order, one establishes a causal

sequence between pain and pin: pin, therefore pain. Culler

then quotes Nietzsche whose analysis Culler expressly

identifies with Derrida's style (an identification that

Derrida might criticize as a "continuist assimilation or

setting into filiation," as though Derrida were attempting

no more than an "extension or a continuous radicalization"12

of the Nietzschean movement):

The fragment of the outside world of which we
become conscious comes after the effect that has
been produced on us and is projected a posteriori
as its "cause." In the phenomenalism of the
"inner world" we invert the chronology of cause
and effect. The basic fact of "inner experience"
is that the cause gets imagined after the effect
has occurred. (86)

The comment that follows these remarks sets up rhetoric as

the controlling and constitutive category.









The causal scheme is produced by a metonomy or
metalepsis (substitution of cause for effect); it
is not an indubitable foundation but the product
of a tropological operation. (86-87)

This is followed by a series of precautionary remarks

concerning the nature of deconstruction, what it is up to,

and what it isn't up to. It cannot and does not scrap the

principle of causality since it relies upon the notion of

cause itself, cause here being the experience of pain.

To deconstruct causality one must operate with the
notion of cause and apply it to causation itself.
The deconstruction appeals to no higher logical
principle or superior reason but uses the very
principle it deconstructs. The concept of causa-
tion is not an error that philosophy could or
should have avoided but is indispensable--to the
argument of deconstruction as to other arguments.
(87)

Furthermore, Culler admonishes, this specific deconstruction

is not to be confused with Humean skepticism, although there

are affinities with it. Hume eliminates causality because

it is unobservable within what upon examination simply

presents itself as moments of "contiguity and temporal

succession." Deconstruction will work with "contiguity and

succession" in a similar manner, but at the same time, it

will make use of the notion of cause in its own argument.

If "cause" is an interpretation of contiguity and
succession, then pain can be the cause in that it
may come first in the sequence of experience.
This double procedure of systematically employing
the concepts or premises one is undermining puts
the critic in a position not of skeptical detach-
ment but of unwarrantable involvement, asserting
the indispensability of causation while denying it
any rigorous justification. (87-88, underlining
mine)








We have now arrived at a point where we can determine

what "deconstruction" is up to:

the deconstruction reverses the hierarchical
opposition of the causal scheme. The distinction
between cause and effect makes the cause an
origin, logically and temporally prior. The
effect is derived, secondary, dependent upon the
cause. Without exploring the reasons for or the
implications of this hierarchization, let us note
that, working within the opposition, the decon-
struction upsets the hierarchy by producing an
exchange of properties. If the effect is what
causes the cause to become a cause, then the
effect, not the cause, should be treated as the
origin. By showing that the argument which
elevates cause can be used to favor effect, one
uncovers and undoes the rhetorical operation
responsible for the hierarchization and one
produces a significant displacement. If either
cause or effect can occupy the position of origin,
the origin is no longer originary; it loses its
metaphysical privilege. A nonoriginary origin is
a "concept" that cannot be comprehended by the
former system and thus disrupts it. (88)

Here is a wonderful example of "the philosophical order"

being "reactivated a tergo by misconstrued philosophical

machines, according to delegation . ." (Derrida,

1982d:xxii). What is Culler saying here, and what does it

have to do with delegation? Let me speak for a moment in

the mode of delegation in order to show what is going on.

"That meaning, that meaning right there, the meaning pro-

duced by those rhetorical operations that are also there,

that meaning and those operations, they aren't there."

Freud would have a picnic here.

In that "rhetorical operations" organize distinctions

(presence of cause, presence of effect--better yet--presence

of the principle of cause; presence of the principle of

effect, both "there before being there") and found the








ground of these categories (by means of which experience is

comprehended), rhetoric functions as a transcendental

signified. Everything is referred to rhetoric, even as it

itself is assumed and asserted in its metaphysical (concep-

tual) value. The conceptual value of these derived cate-

gories remains "untouchable." Thus, an explanation of "our"

"experience" of "pain" merely shifts from perception/

consciousness to these operations, but "undoing" rhetorical

operations simply proves one a good rhetorician. One system

substitutes for another, just as one concept substitutes for

another (cause, effect; effect, cause): "Either cause or

effect can occupy the position of origin." Of what help is

the concept of the "nonoriginary origin"? It would seem

either to mask philosophy's oldest trick, the "infinite

regress," or unwittingly appeal to the de facto/de jure

opposition: in fact, we finite minds are unable to deter-

mine which comes first, but in principle (unless we are

merely advancing simply opinion) it is there. And indeed,

rhetorical operations (and they are finally semantic opera-

tions) act as first principle and cause (cause of both cause

and effect). Does it matter a great deal to the metaphysics

of presence if we describe the origin in terms of either

cause or effect as long as we maintain causes, effects, and

let us not forget, the concept of "experience," along with

the "subject" who experiences? I am not arguing that these

concepts must be denounced and renounced, but these "con-

cepts" are not functional within a deconstruction.








Deconstruction certainly deconstructs the metaphysics of

presence, but it does not do so by means of the principles

of metaphysics.

As long as we change places without changing the place,

no disruption of this system is effected. Furthermore,

since experience itself has always been determined as a

relation with presence (and there is no exception in

Culler's analysis), I am not so sure that Derrida would

accept the terms of the argument, and indeed, I am not so

sure that upon further consideration, Culler might either.

At least not as univocally as this example might itself

suggest. For a little further on, Culler states that,

"Among the familiar concepts that depend on the value of

presence are: "the immediacy of sensation" (93). What then

is the value of the above example that asserts the "experi-

ence of pain," that denies it as "experience," denies it as

the rhetorical operation of cause/effect, only to assert it

as the rhetorical operation of effect/cause. Experience

(that is not) is the effect of a rhetorical operation (that

is); experience (that is not) is a product of rhetorical

operations working on consciousness (which certainly is

here). What about the value of the "subject" who does not

experience "experience," but experiences rhetorical opera-

tions? I think perhaps this "subject" is a little too

unified, too self-present, too quickly names (and thereby

masters) its experience. I suspect that one question a

deconstruction might first ask would involve what is meant








by "experience," in particular, an experience of "pain."

Indeed, we need only march Freud on stage in order to

complicate this question infinitely. Freud would certainly

give the "consciousness" of this "subject" a bit more

trouble than Culler does.

With reference to Derrida's work, Culler's analysis

proceeds as though Derrida were trying to explain phonologo-

centrism the better to codify it, and without any attempt to

"tamper" with this "centrism" or to "touch" it, to make it

deviate from (itself). The procession of (nonoriginary)

origins is not the most curious moment of the analysis.

That surely must be reserved for the way in which the

analysis presents the world as already written ("If a cave

man is successfully to inaugurate language by making a

special grunt signify 'food,' we must suppose that the world

has already been divided into the categories 'food' and

'nonfood'" [underlining mine]), along with the equation of

the "signifying element" with its material sound manifesta-

tion, an equation that ignores not only Saussure's defini-

tion (although Culler repeatedly acknowledges Saussure's

definition, he never alters his analysis to draw the conclu-

sions demanded), but perhaps more particularly by-passes

Derrida's reading of Saussure in the first part of Of

Grammatology. These two moments must surely rank as the

strangest in the whole book, for they advance the most

determined, classical understanding of the sign, only to
14
pose it as its own most formidable critique. Thus, in








spite of the fact that Saussure insists that the signifier

is not a material entity, not the sound, not identical to

what we ordinarily think of as the signifier in any classi-

cal sense, in Culler's hands, the whole system of language

made up of "sound sequences," of signifiers--defined as

heard, perceptual differences, their "contrasts"--once more

becomes the Signifier of the Signified, the totality of What

Is, i.e., concepts (to the already constituted and differen-

tiated, better, distinct--since we are dealing with positive

terms--meaningful categories of "food" and "nonfood" which

precede the sound system, we may simply add all the rest).

Like Saussure whom he frequently cites, Culler acknow-

ledges that sound cannot belong to the system ("Sound

itself, he [Saussure] argues convincingly, cannot belong to

the system" [1982:98]), but, like Saussure, Culler ignores

what he is saying. When it comes to a "speech act" the

whole problem of the signifier, its nonphenomenal character,

its negative and differential status, disappears to leave us

in the presence of meaning represented by sound or what

functions as its synonym: "noises." "Noises count as

language only when they serve to express or communicate

ideas" and sound only "permits the manifestation of the

system in acts of speech" (98). We are once more situated

within the most classical and conservative space of

Saussure's analysis: meaningful noise or sound, the unity

of sound and idea, of voice and concept. As Derrida points

out in his analysis of the conservative side of Saussure,








Now the word (vox) is already a unity of sense and
sound, of concept and voice, or, to speak a more
rigorously Saussurian language, of the signified
and the signifier. (1976:31)

It is precisely this ideal that will lead to a representa-

tion of writing as an image of speech. As Derrida states,

. there would be first a natural bond of sense
to the senses and it is this that passes from
sense to sound: "the natural bond," Saussure
says, "the only true bond of sound" . This
natural bond of the signified (concept or sense)
to the phonic signifier would condition the
natural relationship subordinating writing (visi-
ble language) to speech. (31)

This model of writing as written speech is the aim of

Derrida's attack. But it is only as this model that we can

make sense of Culler's description of writing.

Writing presents language as a series of physical
marks that operate in the absense of the speaker.
They may be highly ambiguous or organized in
artful rhetorical patterns. (Culler, 1982:91)

Again, Culler invokes the de facto/de jure opposition. In

fact, the speaker is absent, but in principle either he or

his voice is there. For the absence is determined classi-

cally, as a continuous, modified form of presence (meaning)

that extends the domain of the self-spoken word into what is

conceived as a field homogeneous with it, enabling speech to

represent itself more powerfully, for speech now leaps over

distance, over tall buildings and makes itself heard. In

what way other than as an image of the meaningful voice, as

the representation of the voice, can "physical marks" be

considered "highly ambiguous or organized in artful rhetor-

ical patterns" unless these marks are determined








teleologically as images of the Voice, the unity of sound

and sense, its meaningfulness?

Let us pause here for a moment and recall the classical

model of writing outlined by Derrida in "Signature Event

Context." It should demonstrate that Culler's concept of

writing fits the classical model and has very little in

common with what Derrida is attempting to delineate.



The Classical Model (We've "Grown Accustomed
To Its Face"--Almost!)

Writing, classically understood, is communication, a

means of extending speech, of transferring a content"

("meaning": within phenomenology, those created by the

speaker; within semiotics, those made available by the

language system). Speaking of this model, Derrida remarks,

If one takes the notion of writing in its usually
accepted sense . one indeed must see it as a
means of communication . which extends very
far, if not infinitely, the field of oral or
gestural communication. . When we say that
writing extends the field and powers of a locu-
tionary or gestural communication, are we not
presupposing a kind of homogeneous space of
communication? (Derrida, 1982d:310)

According to the classical model, when we write, we do so in

order to convey our "thought," "ideas," or "representa-

tions": we "express" ourselves. Certainly, a reading

guided by this model will always measure itself against what

it considers the truth expressed by writing and struggle for

a faithful interpretation of the consciousness that moti-

vates it. Or we might even treat the piece to a semiotic

analysis in order to discover the rules that govern the








production of its "message." Notice that once more, we are

within a circle. Meaning precedes what produces it; the

mark, the sign, both are submitted either to thought or

consciousness, or to the system itself, the Signified of

which language is merely the signifier.

How do iterability and absence function in this model?

Of course, in a very classical manner. Someone thinks some-

thing, and desiring to express it to a reader (who can just

as easily be the writer), commits it to writing. Whether we

conceive of the piece as a production of the consciousness

of the writer, or as a production made possible by the

language system itself really makes no difference as far as

the function of writing itself is concerned. For writing is

the extension, the image, reproduction, representation, or

protrait of either one. Now, having recorded or repeated

these thoughts or ideas using the necessary coding elements

that permit recognition, writing then functions in the

writer's absence, as the voice, and because it images the

voice, it can be read and is accessible to the reader at any

time. The richer the meaning of the writing, the richer the

devices through which a semantic transfer is effected, the

more respect and value the piece is accorded.

Thus, the two fundamental assumptions of this model are

the homogeneity between "voice" and writing (the one reduced

to a simple extension of the other), and the value of

absence in relation to writing that functions not as an

absence at all but as a continuous modification of the








presence of the Voice. The first leads us to think of

writing as the image or picture of speech; the second allows

this speech to operate, under the most varied conditions of

citation and context, as meaningful. No matter how we

reshape a written fragment by means of these operations,

because the fragment represents a meaningful voice, it

represents meaning itself.

But this model is precisely what Derrida questions. As

he points out in his essay, the relation between speech and

writing in this model is silently governed by the concept of

analogy, one that however refined throughout the history of

metaphysics, by virtue of the presence of meaningfulness in

the first instant and its homogeneity with the field of

writing--these first premises--always assumes a continuous

relationship of transfer (speculative borrowing from one

field to the next, the transfer of one presence to another

kind) between idea/sign, perception (presentation)/represen-

tation. Using Condillac as a general example of

. a philosophical discourse which like all
philosophy presupposes the simplicity of the
origin and the continuity of every derivation,
every production, every analysis, the homogeneity
of all order. . (1982d:311),

Derrida remarks that,

The philosophical operation that Condillac also
calls "to retrace" consists in traveling back, by
way of analysis and continuous decomposition,
along the movement of genetic derivation which
leads from simple sensation and present perception
to the complex edification of representation:
from original presence to the most formal language
of calculation. (314)








The founding moment always consists of a presence, a

transferable, transposable unit of meaning, or perception.

Within the field chosen to represent these presence, the

absence of that original form of presentation, as it is only

a simple modification, assumes the value of an "accident"

that exerts no real pressure or force of its own. Absence

exercises no real specificity on the structure of writing.

Hence, writing stands for the voice, the unity of sound and

sense, either of a particular subject or the anonymous one

of culture.

The value of absence, then, can be used either to

confirm the power of the voice, or disrupt it. If the

written mark has the power to function in the absence of the

sender, and we think of this absence as a simple problem of

non-proximity or distance, then it is an absence that is

always subject to recuperation. But if the absence in

question refers to an absence of a more radical kind, then

far from pertaining to a communication situation in terms of

sender and receiver, it pertains to the structure of the

mark itself. And what is of paramount importance concerning

this absence is not what the mark can "carry" or "transfer,"

but its relation to iterability.

. this absence is not a continuous modifi-
cation of presence; it is a break in presence,
"death," or the possibility of the "death" of the
addressee, inscribed in the structure of the mark
(and it is at this point . that the value or
effect of transcendentality is linked necessarily
to the possibility of writing and of
"death" . .). A perhaps paradoxical consequence
of the recourse I am taking to iteration and to
the code: the disruption in the last analysis,








of the authority of the code as a finite system of
rules; the radical destruction, by the same token,
of every context as a protocol of a code. (316)

When one considers the minimal requirements in order

for a mark to function as legible, one soon finds out that

it necessitates very little indeed. The mark can function

in the absence of the sender and in the absence of the

receiver: neither are a necessary part of its structure;

therefore, the value of absence cannot be thought in rela-

tion to them. Absence must be conceived in its relation to

the mark, then. The mark can also--and here, Derrida adds

Husserl's analysis to his own--function in the absence of a

referent.

If I say, while looking out the window, "The sky
is blue," the statement will be intelligible . .
even if the interlocutor does not see the sky;
even if I do not see it myself, if I see it
poorly, if I am mistaken, or if I wish to trick my
interlocutor. Not that it is always thus; but the
structure of possibility of this statement
includes the capability of being formed and of
functioning either as an empty reference, or cut
off from its referent. Without this possibility
which is also the general, generalizable, and
generalizing iteration of every mark, there would
be no statements. (318-19, underlining mine)

The mark can also function in the absence of a signified.

Derrida provides three examples of a readability without a

signified still conceivable within the classical model.

This is still the classical model because these instances

are thought of as the exception to the rule, the "accident,"

the variant trait.

I can manipulate symbols without in active and
current fashion animating them with my attention
and intention to signify. . Certain state-
ments can have a meaning, although they are









without objective signification. . "Square
circle" marks the absence of a referent . and
also the absence of a certain signified, but not
the absence of meaning . the crisis of meaning
(nonpresence in general, absence as the absence of
the referent--of perception--or of meaning--of the
actual intention to signify) is always linked to
the essential possibility of writing. . .
Finally, there is what Husserl calls Sinnlosigkeit
or agrammaticality . "green is or" or "abraca-
dabra." . it is only in a context determined
by a will to know, by an epistemic intention, by a
conscious relation to the object as an object of
knowledge within a horizon of truth--it is this
oriented contextual field that "green is or" is
unacceptable. But since "green is or" or "abra-
cadabra" do not constitute their context in them-
selves, nothing prevents their functioning in
another context as signifying marks. (319-320)

If we conceive of absence as incidental to the mark,

then we regard this absence as a simple variant function of

an invariant structure that for the most part (separate from

and in spite of these exceptions) does refer, does have a

signified and so forth. The absence of referent and signi-

fied is no more than the exception to the rule. Thus, if I

write "dog," however you go about reading or understanding

the word (i.e., referring to a determinable and classifiable

entity; or derived from a language system and meaningful

only within that system), the absence in question does not

seem to apply to this example.

That of course is the classical position. The assump-

tion upon which this position rests is that the absence in

question is necessary to each and every example. For

"necessity," however, one must substitute "must be able to,"

which is an entirely different matter. Once conceived as a

"must be able to," this absence can no longer be considered








as a simple exception because the structure of the mark

demands that the mark itself must always be able to function

in such a way.

. if one admits that writing (and the mark in
general) must be able to function in the absence
of the sender, the receiver, the context of
production etc., that implies that this power,
this being able, this possibility is always
inscribed, hence necessarily inscribed as pos-
sibility in the functioning or the functional
structure of the mark. Once the mark is able to
function, once it is possible for it to function,
once it is possible for it to function in case of
an absence etc., it follows that this possibility
is a necessary part of its structure, that the
latter must necessarily be such that this func-
tioning is possible; and hence, that this must be
taken into account in any attempt to analyze or to
describe, in terms of necessary laws, such a
structure. Even if it is sometimes the case that
the mark, in fact, functions in-the-presence-of,
this does not change the structural law in the
slightest. . Such iterability is inseparable
from the structural possibility in which it is
necessarily inscribed. To object by citing cases
where absence appears in fact not to be observable
is like objecting that a mark is not essentially
iterable because here and there it has not in fact
been repeated. (Derrida, 1977b:184)

To recognize that the mark must be able to function in such

a way renders the status of the mark, that is to say, the

status of all marks as undecidable. Undecidability has in

this sense no relation to cognition at all, since the marks

of cognition are included within this structure. It relates

to the structure itself. To comprehend this possibility of

the mark is to understand (but what possible meaning could

that word have here?) that there might--indeed must--always

be nothing to understand, and that there might--must--always

be no "one" to perform an act of understanding. Such a

statement, itself conveyed by means of the mark, can be








substituted for by any and every other mark, each of which

always and necessarily must be able to function in the same

way: "in the absence of." Here, there is no certain

"uncertainty," no determinate "indeterminacy." For the

"content," the "information," the "knowledge" the mark

pretends to offer is constantly undermined by the mark's own

requirements--that it must necessarily be able to function

in the absence of any reference, any meaning.

To insist that the value of absence be understood other

than as a modified form of presence involves four conse-

quences that alter the face of the classical model of

writing. I cite from Derrida's essay, "Signature Event

Context":

1) the break with the horizon of communication of
consciousness or presence, and as the linguistic
or semantic transport of meaning; 2) the subtrac-
tion of all writing from the semantic horizon or
the hermeneutic horizon which, at least as a
horizon of meaning, lets itself be punctured by
writing; 3) the necessity of, in a way, separating
the concept of polysemia from the concept I have
elsewhere named dissemination, which is also the
concept of writing; 4) the "linguistic" context,
whose theoretical determination or empirical
saturation are, strictly speaking, rendered
impossible or insufficient by writing. . ."
(Derrida, 1982d:316)

The requirements of the mark also pertain to all order of

signs. Absence: repeatability or iterability, but of

nothing that means, refers, signifies, transmits, or trans-

fers. Repetition as the repetition of "nothing":

It is because the unity of the signifying form is
constituted only by its iterability, by the possi-
bility of being repeated in the absence not only
of its referent, which goes without saying, but of
a determined signified or current intention of








signification, as of every present intention of
communication. This structural possibility of
being severed from its referent or signified (and
therefore from communication and its context)
seems to me to make of every mark, even if oral, a
grapheme in general, that is, as we have seen, the
nonpresent remaining of a differential mark cut
off from its alleged "production" or origin. And
I will extend this law even to all "experience" in
general, if it is granted that there is no exper-
ience of pure presence, but only chains of differ-
ential marks. (Derrida, 1982d:318)

It should be somewhat easier now to understand

Derrida's reservations concerning context. Context func-

tions in relation to presence, in relation to meaning. But

if the differential mark can always have nothing to do with

meaning, or a referent, must always be able to function in

its absence, then the value of the "concept" of context no

longer commands the field under consideration. Derrida

reinscribes the concept of context when he states that while

"no meaning can be determined out of context . no

context permits saturation" (Derrida, 1979a:81).

Culler interprets Derrida's comments on context in a

manner that misses the point.

Context is boundless in two senses. First, any
given context is open to further description.
There is no limit in principle to what might be
included in a given context, to what might be
shown to be relevant to the performance of a
particular speech act. This structural openness
of context is essential to all disciplines . .
Meaning is determined by context and for that very
reason is open to alternation when further possi-
bilities are mobilized. . Context is also
unmasterable in a second sense: any attempt to
codify context can always be grafted onto the
context it sought to describe, yielding a new
context which escapes the previous formulation.
Attempts to describe limits always make possible a
displacement of those limits. . (Culler,
1982:123-24, underlining mine)








The concept of context applies to meaning (presence; refer-

ent and/or signified). But meaning is teleologically

imposed on sounds of the voice, and context is then tele-

ologically imposed on meaning. In a sense, Culler is

presenting a very good case for the teleology we must

necessarily have recourse to in order to control the seman-

tic effect of the language of metaphysics. But if we were

to entertain the notion that context cannot saturate because

we are no longer concerned simply, only, and purely with

meaning, we might find ourselves traveling in an entirely

different direction.

Part of the problem with Culler's analysis of context

is that he assumes the occurrence of a meaning-event, a

meaning-event that Derrida questions. Meaning-events for

Culler can always be modified by another context in order to

produce another meaning event. For example,

This structural openness of context is essential
to all disciplines: the scientist discovers that
factors previously disregarded are relevant to the
behavior of certain objects; the historian brings
new or reinterpreted data to bear on a particular
event; the critic relates a passage or a text to a
context that makes it appear in a new light.
(124)

But, for a meaning event even to present itself--and I

include here provisional interpretations of that event ("it

could mean this"; "it could mean that") assumes complete

contextualization. It also assumes a linear model of time

(questioned by Derrida) and a linear model of reading

(questioned by Derrida).








Iterability undermines the concept of context. For to

assert that context is capable of saturating what it sur-

rounds or presents is to assert that the iterability conse-

quent upon the absence necessary to the structure of the

mark once more operates as an accident. Thus, it would not

pertain to a particular mark functioning within a particular

context (or, what I above called a meaning-event). Further-

more, iterability would then consist of the repetition of

something (e.g., the classical mark repeating itself), some

meaning, some referent, a determinate and present unit.

This would reduce the iterability of the mark, its nonpre-

sent remainder, to a component of the voice heard, the

writing seen, and thus once more to the field of conscious-

ness and/or perception.

The nonpresent remainder, however, is not a presence,

nor is it a modification of presence; it is not a material

element. Because of the remainder, it is no longer possible

to identify the mark or writing with its simple material

appearance.

The iterability of an element divides its own
identity a priori, even without taking into
account the fact that this identity can only
determine or delimit itself through differential
relations to other elements and that it hence
bears the mark of the difference. It is because
this iterability is differential, within each
individual "element" as well as between the
"elements," because it splits each element while
constituting it, because it marks it with an
articulatory break, that the remainder, although
indispensable is never that of a full or fulfil-
ling presence: it is a differential structure
escaping the logic of presence or the (simple or
dialectical) opposition of presence to absence.
(Derrida, 1977b:190)








This "difference" is neither the difference between sounds

of language nor between its written forms. To locate the

analysis on the level of such a materiality is to locate it

on the level of the Saussurian positive term. Difference

would then be derived from differences in sound, appearance,

or presence. But the remainder removes the mark from a

metaphysical structure.

Like the trace it is, the mark is neither present
nor absent. This is what is remarkable about it,
even if it is not remarked. This is why the
phrase of Sec [Derrida refers, here, to a previous
essay, "Signature Event Context," preoccupied with
the same concerns] speaks of the "nonpresent
remainder of a differential mark cut off from its
putative 'production' or origin." Where does this
break [coupure] take place? To situate it, it is
not necessary . to imagine the death of the
sender or the receiver [underlining mine] . .
The break intervenes from the moment that there is
a mark, at once [aussi sec]. And it is not nega-
tive, but rather the positive condition of the
emergence of the mark. It is iterability itself,
that which is remarkable in the mark, passing
between the re- of the repeated and the re- of the
repeating, traversing and transforming repetition.
Condition or effect--take your pick--of iterabil-
ity. As I have done elsewhere, I will say that it
cuts across [recoupe] iterability at once, recov-
ering it as though it were merging with it,
cutting the cut or break once again in the remark.
(190)

This little "nothing" of iterability frustrates an equiva-

lent, symmetrical repetition (identity of presence). It is

the death (no consciousness, no perception, nothing that the

dialectic can encompass) that, not being opposed to "life,"

but always already fracturing it, dividing and multiplying

it, creates the possibility of life, of meaning, of con-

sciousness, of perception. It gives all these a space.

Death, nothing, assymetrical repetition, iterability, the








hitch, the blink, the limp, the dance, rather than rigid-

ifying or petrifying the mark, destroys the stoniness of the

presence that erects itself in the form of an absolute

truth, knowledge, meaning, consciousness, perception,

derived presence as a phallic moment that feigns castration,

that is to say, pretends to be cut or severed from another

plentitude of presence.16 This "bit of nothing" allows the

mark to "live on," to "survive" survivevre", ("sur"

"vivre").17

The concept of context and code attempt to enclose or

incorporate without remainder. Context or code remain the

"ethical and teleological discourse of consciousness"

(Derrida, 1982d:327), and functions as a guard: police.

Both concepts aim to make present an intention or a meaning,

to actualize them. Thus we speak of a context which delim-

its or determines how something (intention, statement,

expression, description, systematic determination) is to be

understood; or of a code, a set of rules or system of axioms

which when applied to an object aims toward the presentation

specific to the object of its domain (e.g., literary code,

philosophical code, phychoanalytic code, mathematical code,

linguistic code, and so forth). Nonetheless, both context

and code, by virtue of the iterability that constitutes

them, are always already also other than what they mean (to

say).

Iterability alters, contaminating parasitically
what it identifies and enables to repeat "itself";
it leaves us no choice but to mean (to say)
something that is (already, always, also) other








than what we mean (to say), to say something other
than what we say and would have wanted to say, to
understand something other than . etc.
(1977b:200)

No meaning, no code, no context is adequate to itself, no

meaning, no code, no context can incorporate without remain-

der.

Limiting the very thing it authorizes, trans-
gressing the code or the law it constitutes, the
graphics of iterability inscribes alteration
irreducibly in repetition (or in identification):
a priori, always and already, without delay, at
once, aussi sec. . (200)

Iterability undoes the logic of opposition between "species

of repetitions"

. (for instance, serious/nonserious, literal/
metaphorical or sarcastic, ordinary/parasitical,
strict/ non-strict, etc.) Iterability blurs a
priori the dividing line that passes between these
opposed terms, "corrupting" it if you like,
contaminating it parasitically, qua limit. What
is remarkable about the mark includes the margin
within the mark. The line delineating the margin
can therefore never be determined rigorously, it
is never pure and simple. The mark is re-markable
in that it "is" also its margin. (209-210)

But again, this does not mean that iterability lends itself

to idealization, to perception, to a representation as what

is written on the page, as an ambiguity or equivocal

meaning, to essence, to substance.

. the unique character of this structure of
iterability, or rather of this chain, since
iterability can be supplemented by a variety of
terms (such as difference, grapheme, trace, etc.),
lies in the fact that, comprising identity and
difference, repetition and alteration, etc., it
renders the project of idealization possible
without lending "itself" to any pure, simple, and
idealizable conceptualization. No process
process ] or project of idealization is possible
without iterability, and yet iterability "itself"
cannot be idealized. For it comports an internal








and impure limit that prevents it from being
identified, synthesized, or reappropriated, just
as it excludes the reappropriation of that whose
iteration it nonetheless broaches and breaches
[entame]. (210)

We should now be in a position to appreciate the

considerable gap that separates Culler's deconstruction from

that of Derrida's, as it is theorized by Culler. Culler

continually equates the signifier with the material manifes-

tation of sound as he does the written word to its image.

The evanescence of the signifier in speech creates
the impression of the direct presence of a
thought, but however swiftly it vanishes, the
spoken word is still a material form which, like
the written form, works through its differences
from other forms. If the vocal signifier is
preserved for examination, as in a tape recording,
so that we can "hear ourselves speak" we find that
speech is a sequence of signifiers just as writing
is, similarly open to the process of interpreta-
tion. (Culler, 1982:108)

Thus, for Culler the signifier is the material form heard,

and writing is the material form seen, the form seen of the

spoken word.18 What Culler forgets is that the signifier

for Saussure is nothing that can be represented, nothing

that can be reduced to a presence (no matter how "evanes-

cent"). He also seems to forget that Derrida insists that

these negative, differential conditions, "the condition for

signification, this principle of difference affects the

whole sign, that is, both the signified and the signifying

aspects" (Derrida, 1973:139). To extend these conditions to

the whole sign is at once to make problematic the possibil-

ity of discussing "acts of signification." If, however, one

forgets that the statement "the signified is always in the








position of a signifier" indicates that the concept of

signification itself is threatened, one, like Culler,

interests oneself in meaning, the concept, the ideal object,

the signified, the "positive term," the pure signified of

the metaphysical tradition. Contradicted by Saussure's own

analysis yet, and nevertheless, imposed by logocentrism, the

proposition is then inverted to become "the signifier is

always in the position of a signified"; then, and only then,

does the possibility of interminable interpretation such as

is called for by Culler's analysis arise. Oddly enough,

Culler himself presents a good argument for an end to this

interminable speech (Culler, 1981:3-17).

There is no signifierr" in Culler's system. There is,

however, a reiteration of the classical sign with a metaphy-

sical concept of difference thrown in. Writing is yet the

sign of the voice, the signifier of an already unified

(voice/concept; sound/sense) sign, thus, the sign of a sign,

inescapably derived from thought, submitted to thought, to

consciousness, to meaning, to presence, to the concept, to

an origin. This explains why Culler has no difficulty

identifying self-reflexive criticism or the "negative

insights" of De Man with Derrida's work. His understanding

of Derrida is based on a rather loose reading of Derrida's

critique of Saussure and this reading allows Culler to

identify deconstruction with differential meaning, indeter-

minacy of meaning, or meanings undermining other meanings.

These strategies are all founded on a metaphysical








understanding of language. And all of the critics Culler

discusses (with the exception of Derrida) are, inadvertently

or not, working with the Saussurian positive term. So, con-

sciousness, itself, reappropriates Derrida's work for

itself, enriches itself, and its knowledge of itself by

means of deconstruction (or its version of deconstruction);

it adjusts the reflexive capacity to take Derrida into its

own account. Consciousness conquers itself, knows what it

does not know, but, at the same time, if there is something

that it thinks it does not know, that thing will not be long

in becomingn.

Derrida's reading of Saussure as a critique of logocen-

trism calls the sign into question, not in terms of sign

closure, but in terms of its possibility, its capacity to

re-presence, to represent. The signifier (inseparable from

the signified but never as a positive term) is neither the

spoken word that is heard, the written word seen (the image

of the union of the concept and voice that appears on the

page), nor the semiotic image that appears in the world; all

of these are representers of the representatives of repre-

senteds. All of these operate as signs of already unified

signs: in principle (if not in fact), the Voice.



Enter Husserl (Off Stage Directions:
He shakes hands with Saussure)

Let us review what, for Derrida, constitutes the

radical moments of the Saussurian critique. What Saussure








states concerning the signifier is at once generalizable to

the total sign, linguistic or otherwise.

The linguistic signifier . is not [in essence]
phonic but incorporeal--constituted not by its
material substance but the differences that separ-
ate its sound image from all others. (quoted in
Derrida, 1976:53, underlining mine)

With regard to language in its narrow sense, this "sound

image" or signifier, is not the sound heard; thus it is

reducible neither to "noise" nor to the phenomenological

voice. The "sound image" or "psychic imprint" as Saussure

calls it,

. is the structure of the appearing of the
sound [1'apparaitre du son] which is anything but
the sound appearing [le son apparaisant]. The
sound image is what is heard; not the sound heard
but the being-heard of the sound. Being-heard is
structurally phenomenal and belongs to an order
radically dissimilar to that of real sound in the
world. One can only divide this subtle but
absolutely decisive heterogeneity by a phenomen-
ological reduction (last sentence, underlining
mine). The latter is therefore indispensable to
all analyses of being heard, whether they be
inspired by linguistic, psychoanalytic, or other
preoccupations. (63)

Any analysis that derives from this "material" (the sound

heard in the world) level is classical, metaphysical; o/a,

for example, are phonemes that "paint" or "represent" the

sound heard in the world (the sound appearing), the sound of

the voice, or when committed to writing (which when confined

as a representational structure is always the "vulgar" and

classical concept) represents the sound of the voice. Thus,

its written notation functions as the sign of the voice--the

sign of the sign. Any signifier understood as a material

manifestation (the image of my mothers' face, for example,








or the representer that I use to recall her face when she is

removed from my visual field) belongs to that realm of the

world yet to be subjected to a phenomenological reduction,

that is to say, to the realm of consciousness and/or percep-

tion, that realm developed and supported by the metaphysics

of presence. When Derrida writes that "the phoneme is the

unimaginable itself, and no visibility can resemble it"

(45), he is detaching the phoneme from the way in which it

has been traditionally conceived, and it is not enough to

make use of this word to imply the distinction he is

insisting upon. The phoneme is neither represented by the

written o/a, nor their sounds; nor can it be used in a

material form of presence as a support for the metaphysical

structures erected on this basis. In order to refine the

analysis of the signifier (even to its smallest component),

Derrida all along has been joining Saussure with Husserl.

Thus,

The psychic image of which Saussure speaks must
not be an internal reality copying an external
one. Husserl . criticizes this concept of
"portrait" in Ideen I. . (64)

The psychic image, then, does not "exist"; it does not take

the shape or form of (a) presence. But we must be careful

here, not to simply invert this structure and turn it into a

negative moment, the simple absence of presence that could

in itself function as a ground, as a transcendental absence

which fully present in its negativity would provide the

founding instance or center from which all substitutions

follow. Again, play, the differences of forces, would only








be inscribed within the world, contained. Similarly, when

we import meaning into this structure, "acts of significa-

tion," we are no longer dealing with a negative and differ-

ential structure, but are once more within the traditional,

classical, metaphysical field that conceives of writing as

written speech, as the sign of the already constituted unity

of sense and sound, concept and voice: Saussure's "thought

sound." As Derrida insists, "The graphic image is not seen;

and the acoustic image is not heard" (65). What is seen and

heard (the materiality of what presents itself as presence)

must be bracketed.

The study and function of language, of its play
presupposes that the substance of meaning and,
among other possible substances, that of sound be
placed in parenthesis. The unity of sound and
sense is indeed here . the reassuring closing
of play. (57)

The substance of meaning belongs to the worldly region.

It is a function of perception/consciousness, mediated by

the conceptual, the appearance of phenomena determined by

interpretation. This is what justifies calling our response

to the world an activity of reading; but the reading is

derived and secondary, "preceded by a truth, or a meaning

already constituted by and with the element of the logos"

(1976:14). It is determined by a classical conception of

the sign as a representational structure, a stand-in. When

our eyes rest upon the written word, our ears register the

spoken one, what we read are classical signifieds (positive

terms), just as when our eyes gaze upon objects in the

world, in that we know, identify, and interpret what we are








gazing upon, we are reading classical signifieds. Hence,

reading language and observing the world as long as it is

governed by the classical model of the sign, the metaphysics

of presence, will remain activities oriented by and towards

the production of meaning. But in Saussurian terminology,

we are really dealing only with "positive terms," which are

not different, but only distinct. Once more,

When we compare signs--positive terms--with each
other, we can no longer speak of difference . .
two signs, each having a signified and signifier,
and are not different but only distinct.

This is why I stated earlier, that within the language of

metaphysics, there really is no "difference." Any differ-

ence would simply pertain to a semantic distinction having

to do with the concept or signified. For the concept of

distinction can only be maintained by the presence of a

presence. And even without taking into account the formi-

dable disruption introduced by the unheard, unseen, nega-

tive, differential character of the Saussurian signifier,

distinctions are contradicted by the requirements of the

sign as an iterable structure. These distinctions are

problematic because, as presence, as the self-identity of

concepts, they would not allow for repetition. First, the

repetition of an identity would not constitute a repetition;

second, repetition would be derived from what repetition

itself makes possible. Repetition would be governed by the

"first time." However, there is no "first time" that is not

immediately constituted by repetition.








. there is no word, nor in general a sign,
which is not constituted by the possibility of
repeating itself. A sign which does not repeat
itself, which is not already divided by repetition
in its "first time" is not a sign. (Derrida,
1978f:246)

Iterability dissolves the signified in its classical sense;

it disembeds what attempts to embed itself, and all that is

left is repetition, but of no thing, no meaning, no refer-

ent.

The signifying referal therefore must be ideal--
and ideality is but the assured power of repeti-
tion--in order to refer to the same thing each
time. (246)

To call any representation (the written word, the spoken

word, the visible gesture) that functions as the represen-

tative of a represented a signifier in the most rigorous

Saussurian sense is only to demonstrate the full force of

logocentrism. Certainly this is one explanation of why

Derrida has often expressed reservations towards the concept

of the signifierr." When Culler, for example, speaks of the

"structural redoubling of any signified as an interpretable

signifier," he has reduced the signifier to a meaning, to

the concept, to the signified in its most classical sense.

When Culler defines writing as presenting

. language as a series of physical marks that
operate in the absence of the speaker [that] may
be highly ambiguous or organized in artful rhetor-
ical patterns. (Culler, 1982:91)

he ignores Saussure's most radical gesture (as does Saussure

himself). Derrida says of this reduction,








If one erases the radical difference between the
signifier and signified, it is the word 'signi-
fier' itself which must be abandoned as a meta-
physical concept. (Derrida, 1979f:281)

With this reduction of the signifier to a signified ("inter-

pretable signifier"), once more

. the word [mot] is lived as the elementary
and undecomposable unity of the signified and the
voice, of the concept and a transparent substance
of expression. (Derrida, 1976a:20)

To conceive of the signifier in the Saussurian manner,

however, should lead us to other conclusions concerning the

possibility of a classical signified, a meaning, a concept,

a being, an entity, and so forth. If the difference between

the two is irreducible in a radical way, in a way that

challenges phonologocentrism, then the concept of the

signified, the concept of meaning, the conceptual itself,

all these must be rethought and resituated in a field that

they no longer command.

The signified face, to the extent that it is still
originarily distinguished from the signifying
face, is not a trace; by rights, it has no need of
the signifier to be what it is. It is at the
depth of this affirmation that the problem of
relationships between linguistics and semantics
must be posed. (73)

Thus, resistant to every possible manifestation of presence,

every possible medium made use of by signification, every

mode of perception--sensible or intelligible--the signifier

is to be found neither in the form of a linguistics nor in

the form of the "vulgar concept" of writing that Derrida has

subjected to deconstruction. Consequently,








That the signified is originally and essentially
(and not only for a finite and created spirit)
trace, that it is always already in the position
of the signifier

which is not an "interpretable signifier," for that would

really be the reverse of this proposition (the signifier in

the position of the classical signified),

is the apparently innocent proposition within
which the metaphysics of the logos, of presence,
of consciousness, must reflect upon writing as its
death and its resource. (73)

Where are we now? Has the classical reading model

demonstrated itself to be of any use? The question can be

answered in the affirmative. This reading model has enabled

us to discern how, at the theoretical level, Culler's theory

of deconstruction is still complicit with the metaphysics of

presence. Deconstruction as theorized by Culler works with

positive terms ("fictions"), asserting one, only to deny it

by means of another, an act of negation that affirms the

affirmative (the positive: presence) even as it speaks

against it. Deconstruction in Culler's hands is an analysis

of semantics by means of semantics or principles (events of

meaning) that are in themselves concepts. Deconstruction

borrows metaphysical principles in order to analyze metaphy-

sics; in other words, it borrows philosophical concepts in

order to analyze the philosophical concepts it presupposes

and imposes.

The classical reading model has also enabled us to

ascertain how American deconstruction (exemplified by

Culler), working with the empirical, perceptual, and








semantic elements of writing, still subordinates writing to

the Voice. Clearly, then, the classical reading model is

useful in its own right and good for something (some

"thing": presence, referent, signified, and so forth). Now

that we have examined American deconstruction at the theo-

retical level, it is time to turn to an example of its

application, to a critic whom Culler has characterized as

one of its "best practitioners." Again, I shall make use of

this same reading model which is, one might say, becoming

something like a crutch, a wooden leg, assisting me in my

movement from figure to figure, from place to place, posi-

tion to position. Another story, then!



Footprints

1. This is an observation that Jonathan Culler makes
in his book, Saussure (Culler, 1976). He then reasons in
this manner: "This is so, but the answer to this objection
is that there can be no production of meaning without
system. If one were able to escape from semiotic systems
entirely, if one could free oneself from their constraints,
then one would be free to assign meaning arbitrarily but
meaning would not be produced. Moreover, the meanings
assigned would have to come from somewhere and encountering
no resistance, they would generally be facile, uninter-
esting" (p. 113). Of course, as long as we are interested
in the metaphysics of presence, with its preoccupation with
meaning, the concept, the signified, this seems not only
quite probable, but indeed inevitable. But as far as this
relates to Derrida, it misses the point entirely. Further-
more, with reference to meaning functioning "arbitrarily,"
Derrida simply points out, . that person would have
understood nothing of the game who, at this [du coup], would
feel himself authorized merely to add on; that is, to add
any old thing. He would add nothing: the seam wouldn't
hold. Reciprocally, he who through "methodological pru-
dence," "norms of objectivity," or "safeguards of knowledge"
would refrain from committing anything of himself, would not
read at all. This same foolishness, the same sterility,
obtains in the "not serious" as in the "serious." The








reading or writing supplement must be rigorously prescribed,
but by the necessities of a game, by the logic of play,
signs to which the system of all textual powers must be
accorded and attuned" (Derrida, 1982b:64).

2. Derrida analyzes the concept of principle as a
regulatory ideal along with the problems of ideal objects in
Derrida, 1978b. Teleology produces and governs each. He
also satirizes the Kantian Idea unmercifully in Derrida,
1978c. This is not to say that we can do without these
constructions any more than we can do without the language
of metaphysics. But being based on presence, these concepts
are all targets of Derrida's attack.

3. Peirce's remarks can lead us to other consider-
ations. Instead of taking the signified as a point of
departure as Culler does, consider the effects of starting
with a signifier or representer. Meaning, the concept, the
signified should then arouse suspicion precisely because it
is constantly "on the move." The next question might ask
why is it that it has such difficulty "presenting" or
"representing" itself. (Notice also that in starting with
the signified, the structure of deferral and referral is
made derivative. Derrida continually warns against this.
See for example, "Differance" [Derrida, 1973]). Addition-
ally, there is an odd moment when Culler quotes Derrida on
the problem of meaning. "What if, Derrida suggests, the
meaning of meaning (in the most general sense of meaning and
not of indication) is infinite implication? If its force is
a certain pure and infinite equivocalness, which give
signified meaning no respite, no rest, but engages it within
its own economy to go on signifying and to differ/defer?"
(1982:133). Culler understands Derrida's question as a
statement of his position when a more careful reading of
this question shows that it is one he is posing for struc-
turalist theory. Derrida is demonstrating that structural-
ism is caught in an image of the language system as purely
spatial (structuralism falls for a metaphor and as he says
of metaphor in general, this "passage from one existent to
another, or from one signified meaning to another, author-
ized by the initial submission of Being to the existent, the
analogical displacement of Being, is the essential weight
which anchors discourse in metaphysics, irremediably repres-
sing discourse into its metaphysical state" (Derrida,
1978f:27). This purely spatial "order of coexistences"
is called into question by the infinite movement. It is
imperative in reading Derrida to separate the position he
criticizes from the way in which he either questions it or
rewrites it.

4. Culler quotes the "two interpretations of inter-
pretation," in "Structure Sign Play" (Derrida, 1982d),
identified with Levi-Strauss, the latter, with Nietzsche.








Whether or not he is aware of it, and in spite of his own
admonishment, Culler chooses the former.

5. See Derrida, 1976. Derrida discusses the impli-
cations of the negative and differential condition of the
signifier in Chapter 2, Part I. Saussure excludes sound
from the system along with material substances that present
themselves to either eye, ear, indeed, any sensory mode.
All that is essential are differences. But as these are not
differences of substance or presence, then both the voice
and the concept are initially ruled out. However, Saussure
continually overlooks the problem that his own "model"
introduces and thus invokes both the voice and the concept
continually. And for this reason (one among others, cer-
tainly) Derrida constantly reminds us that we must oppose
Saussure to himself.

6. Notice that "conceptual and phonic differences"
issue from (but are not the constituting elements of) an
already constituted system of differences that are neither
seen nor heard, are neither material nor substantial.

7. Here is an instance where we must oppose Saussure
to Saussure, and we may be sure that Derrida does. Why
don't these conditions effect the whole sign? Because the
tradition is governed by the Voice: meaning, the signified,
the concept. See "Differance" in Derrida, 1973:139. In
addition, Saussure's qualification of the sign as distinct
(and not different) should help us understand why Derrida
often argues that there are no differences within the
metaphysics of presence other than empiricistt and impres-
sionistic" ones, that is to say, "alleged differences"
(Derrida, 1982d:230).

8. Culler uses the "word," the material entity of the
dictionary, the total sign or positive term (voice/concept).
Notice also that for Culler, meaning is inherent, "inscribed
in the structure of language." The foundation of Culler's
argument is communication, the communication of meaning from
one subject to another. His understanding of Derrida's
arguments often has much in common with what Derrida
expressly criticizes, particularly in Positions with respect
to semiotics and communication. . communication . .
in effect implies a transmission charged with making pass,
from one subject to another, the identity of a signified
object, of a meaning, or of a concept rightfully separable
from the signifying operation. Communication presupposes
subjects (whose identity and presence are constituted before
the signifying operation) and objects (signified concepts, a
thought meaning that the passage of communication will have
neither to constitute, nor, by all rights, to transform). A
communicates B to C. Through the sign the emitter communi-
cates something to a receptor" (Derrida, 1981a:23-24).








Also, we might inquire if it is sheerly coincidental that
the examples of differences Culler offers all depend upon
sound?

9. See Derrida, 1978f for this essay. Elsewhere with
regard to the concept of structure, Derrida remarks, "Every-
thing depends upon how one sets it to work. Like the
concept of the sign . it can simultaneously confirm and
shake logocentric and ethnocentric assuredness" (Derrida,
1981a:24). To posit or assert this concept, as Culler does
in his analysis, and then deny it on the basis of another
concept, is to set in motion the mechanism of a traditional
discourse.

10. Since we are purportedly working with a critique
of the metaphysics of presence, shouldn't we ask ourselves,
"What event? The event itself?" We might then move on to
the problem of "signs" of an event. If we are dealing with
a sign, does an event take place? And when the sign itself
is paralyzed in its capacity for representing (an event or
anything else), then what nameable "presence" could possibly
be taking place? For a critique of the concept of event,
See Derrida, 1982d "Signature Event Context. Also cf.
1977b.

11. Derrida deconstructs the de facto/de jure opposi-
tion in his work on Husserl. For a good discussion of the
implications of his deconstruction, see Vincent Descombes,
1982:136-152. Culler assumes that the "nonoriginary origin"
is meaningful and it is this teleology that orients his
analysis. In order to operate within such an assumption,
one must posit the existence of an infinite being in order
to guarantee the truth of such an assumption. As Descombes
remarks, "If truth is identical with the true for myself, I
must then be the Cartesian God, creator of eternal truths,
as Sartre would have it, and perhaps also Husserl; other-
wise, truth is no more than a 'value' or a 'point of view,'
a 'perspective.' So that the identification of being with
meaning should not entail the relegation of the phenomenon
to simple appearance, I have to be God. However, this
divinity is postponed indefinitely. We know in advance that
fact and right will never coincide" (p. 144). See also
"Form and Meaning" in Derrida, 1973, in particular:126-128.

12. See Derrida, 1978e:12. Derrida is not simply
"extending" or radicalizingg" the tradition, its already
stated positions; he is resituating it.

13. See Searle, 1983. Searle calls this analysis a
"tissue of confusion" (p. 74) and rightly concludes that
"Derrida also emerges as much more superficial than he is"
(p. 77) in Culler's hands.




88


14. Perhaps this should remind us of how firmly rooted
phonologocentrism is. It should also serve as a warning to
the reader that my own analysis, far from being passively
accepted, must be carefully scrutinized.

15. See "White Mythology" in Derrida, 1982d, for a
discussion of the teleology that governs the transformation
of "noise" (meaningless sounds) into meaning or "saying what
is" (236).

16. Derrida joins the concepts of sexuality to the
metaphysics of presence and its language. It is worth
citing once more from Of Grammatology. "In as much as it
puts into play the presence of the present and the life of
the living, the movement of language does not, one suspects,
have only an analogical relationship with 'sexual' auto-
affection. It is totally indistinguishable from it even it
that totality is severely articulated and differentiated"
(Derrida, 1976a:16). Castration is the fiction of the
present presenting itself. "Castration--always at stake--
and the self-presence of the present. The pure present
would be the untouched fullness, the virgin continuity of
the nonscission, the volume that, not having exposed the
roll of its writing to the reader's letter-opener, would
therefore not yet be written on the eve of the start of the
game. But the pen, when you have followed it to the end,
will have turned into a knife. The present can only present
itself as such by relating back to itself: it can only aver
itself by severing itself, only reach itself if it breaches
itself, complyingg with itself in the angle, along a break
brisure (brisure: "crack" and "joint," created by a hinge,
in the work of a locksmith. Littre); in the release of the
latch or the trigger. Presence is never present. The
possibility--or the potency--of the present is but its own
limit, its inner fold, its impossibility--or its impotence.
Such will have been the relation between presence and
castration in play and at stake" (Derrida, 1982b:302-303).
Castration operates as a simulacrum of a simulacrum; both
castration and the self-presentation of the present are
feigned fictions.

17. For a discussion of the graphic play involved
here, see "Living On: Border Lines" (Derrida, 1979a).

18. See Derrida, 1981a. Derrida has expressed reser-
vations about "matter" and "materialism" for both are
metaphysical concepts and form the locus of metaphysical
values. "If I have not very often used the word 'matter,'
it is not, as you know, because of some idealist or spirit-
ualist kind of reservation. It is that in the logic of the
phase of overturning this concept has been too often rein-
vested with 'logocentric' values, values associated with
those of thing, reality, presence in general, sensible
presence, for example, substantial plenitude, content,




89



referent, etc. Realism or sensualism--"emlrpiricism"--are
modifications of logocentrism. (I have often insisted on
the fact that 'writing' or the 'text' are not reducible
either to the sensible or visible presence of the graphic or
the 'literal.') In short, the signifier 'matter' appears to
me problematical only at the moment when its reinscription
cannot avoid making of it a new fundamental principle which,
by means of theoretical regression, would be reconstituted
into a 'transcendental signified.' It is not only idealism
in the narrow sense that falls back upon the transcendental
signified. It can always come to reassure a metaphysical
materialism. It then becomes an ultimate referent,
according to the classical logic implied by the value of
referent, or it becomes an 'objective reality' absolutely
"anterior" to any work of the mark, the semantic content of
a form of presence which guarantees the movement of the text
in general from the outside" (1981a:64-65). The privileging
of rhetorical operations would also seem to function in this
manner.















CHAPTER 3
PROBLEMS WITH READING CLASSICALLY: THE
SELF-PRESENTATION OF REPRESENTATION



One of the most common words in the vocabulary of

American deconstruction is "difference." In the most

ordinary sense of the word, difference in the presence of a

conceptual space separating two stable differends or poles

either in the form of what Aristotle, for example, called a

contrariety (one, two), or that of contradiction (male/

female). Difference here is produced and stabilized between

two present moments. Notice that the spacing is created by

the two terms and that the two terms create the difference.

There is a second type of difference, slightly more

complicated, but still rooted in presence. I shall take as

an example the way in which Barbara Johnson employs differ-

ence in her very excellent book, The Critical Difference.

Such an analysis should enable us to distinguish between

difference and difference, the former being confined to and

operating on the level of the sign, and the latter which

. can no longer be understood according to the
concept "sign" which has always been taken to mean
the representation of a presence and has been
constituted in a system (of thought or language)
determined on the basis of and in view of pre-
sence. (Derrida, 1973:138)




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"SPECULATIONS — ON '(DERRI)DA By Barbara Fletcher A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GPJVDUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 1984

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Copyright 198 4 By Barbara Fletcher

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I wish to dedicate this dissertation to my sister, Mary Roth, whose love meant so much to me and my children; to my father, Robert J. Turnbach, who loved stories; to my mother, Mary E. Benjamin, whose faith in me is unflagging; to ray sons, John Lloyd, William Charles, and Tucker McKay, my future; and, finally to my good friend, John Leavey , whose humor and support were unfaltering.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I should like to thank various people on my corrariittee for their incalculable aid. First, my thanks to my director Professor Gregory Ulmer, whose enthusiasm for criticism served as an impetus for my own, and whose penetrating questions forced me to clarify my ov;n thought. My thanks to Professor Alistair Duckworth and Professor John Perletce v/hose reading expertise was always available to me and whose suggestions proved invaluable. To Professor Robert D'Airiico who encouraged me and who managed to keep a straight face as I "trampled" around in his discipline, I extend my thanks. My thanks to Professor John P. Leavey, Jr., whose sharp intelligence was always at my disposal and whose patience and kindness provea inexhaustible. Professor Leavey was kind enough to supply the English translation for La Carte postale . Finally, I should like to thank the people at Professional Typing whose help was as expert as it was gracious .

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PREFACE This dissertation is the result of a struggle to understand the work of Jacques Derrida, a French philosopher who attacks the metaphysics of presence. Part I, after briefly suminarizing a few of the contradictions generated by this metaphysics, turns to American deconstruction . This turn was prompted by a vague feeling that American deconstruction had little in common v/ith Derrida 's work. I chose for examination the work of Jonathan Culler who has written most comprehensively on deconstruction as it is practiced in America. Culler mistakenly identifies Derrida' s reinscription of "writing" v/ith the empirical mark, a (concept of) writing that represents the Voice (phonologocentrism) , and what he identifies with Derridean deconstruction turns out to be the "difference" between (what Gaussure called) "positive terms." The dissertation then turns for an example of a deconstructive reading strategy to the work of Barbara Johnson. Johnson's analysis of the rhetorical levels of Melville's Billy Budd serves as a m.odel for any kind of rhetorical analysis, but it in no way departs from the principles of a classical reading model. In fact, it serves as a demonstration of the problems that emerge from that model. Johnson attempts to divorce the performance

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level of Melville's text from its statements, but her analysis is caught in one of its own reading positions, as, consequently, is Melville. What I found is that the performative is totally dependent upon the position it criticizes (and to which all positions are reducible) , the literal-motivated, which the performative needs in order to proceed as such. Part II is more or less a rethinking of my own position. What does it mean to read Derrida with classical methods? What am I doing v/hen I read a philosopher for information, for a communication, for a thesis, a them^e and so forth, when these are the very things that he problematizes? I am not without a "hypothesis." Derrida reinscribes (relocates, dislocates) the self-reflexive classical reader (me) , a reader interested in the production of a thesis, who m.akes a mirror of the text, naming and identifying his ov/n images. Does this sound familiar? The classical reader plays the fort : da game, and has fun doing so. This is, at least, my hypothesis. Not one to be left entirely speechless, I then turn to the work of Paul de Man, specifically, his justly famous essay, "Semiology and Rhetoric," and use it to learn how the speculative game works. I then conclude v/ith a very brief passage on speculation and the Nietzschean fort: da game. VI

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TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS iv PREFACE V ABSTRACT ix PART I THE METAPHYSICS OF PRESENCE 2 CHAPTER 1 PROBLEMS WITHIN THE CLASSICAL FIELD 2 Problems Within the Metaphysics of Presence: Contradictories 5 Problems V7ithin the Metaphysics of Presence: Relations 11 Leaving Philosophy, "Philosophically" 16 Paleonomy 2 3 Footprints 30 CHAPTER 2 PROBLEMS WITH READING DERRIDA 34 Repetition 38 The Positive Term (The Positive "Turn") .... 41 The Classical Model (We've "Grown Accustomed" To Its Face — Almost!) 60 Enter Husserl (Off Stage Directions: He shakes hands v/ith Saussure) 75 Footprints 84 CHAPTER 3 PROBLEMS WITH READING CLASSICALLY: THE SELFPRESENTATION OF REPRESENTATION 9 Footprints 119 PART II THE METAPHYSICS OF PRESENCE REVISITED 124 CHAPTER 4 SPECULATIONS ON THE CLASSICAL READING MODEL . .124 The Fort:Da Game 131 The Athetic Mode of Speculation 154 Footprints 169 vii

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PAGE CHAPTER 5 SPECULATIONS ON THE "DA!" 177 War Games 179 Suspension Substitution In Other Words 187 Board Meeting 194 The Mock Fight 203 Station WPdM 206 Take Two 214 Madly In Love With Appearances 220 Footprints 236 CHAPTER 6 THE QUICK TURN 244 Deconstruction and Text: Prosthesis 245 Force: The Textual Dance 252 Footprints 253 WORKS CITED 256 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 260

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Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy "SPECULATIONS — ON ' (DERRI)DA"' By Barbara Fletcher August, 1984 Chairirian: Gregory Ulmer Major Department: English This dissertation is a study of the work of Jacques Derrida, a French philosopher who attacks the "meraphysics of presence." After a brief discussion of a few of the contradictions inherent to concepts centered on speech ("phonolcgocentrism") , the dissertation examines the reception of Derrida 's work in the United States. Jonathan Culler, a theoretician, mistakenly identifies Derrida' s reinscription of "writing" with the empirical mark, a (concept of) writing that represents the Voice itself; the unv;itting result is that Culler analyzes what Saussure calls "the positive term." Culler's work remains in a precritical relation to Derridean deccnstructicn. The dissertation then turns for an example of a deconstructive strategy of reading to Barbara Johnson's essay on Melville's Billy Budd . Johnson's analysis of the rhetorical levels of the text in

PAGE 10

no way departs from the principles of a classical reading model and in fact her analysis is caught in one of its own reading mechanisms. Johnson attempts to divorce the perform.ative level of Melville's text from its statements. But we find that the performative is totally dependent upon the position it criticizes (and to which all positions are reducible) in order to proceed as such. The dissertation then moves to a consideration of how Derrida reinscribes (relocates, dislocates) the self-reflexive classical reader, a reader interested in the production of a thesis, who makes a mirror of the text, naming and identifying his own images; the classical reader plays the Freudian fort : da game . The dissertation then uses the work of Paul de Man, specifically his essay "Semiology and Rhetoric," as an example of this speculative game. The dissertation then concludes with a brief gesture to the Nietzschean fort: da : rhythm.

PAGE 11

PART I THE METAPHYSICS OF PRESENCE

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CHAPTER 1 PROBLEMS VvITHIN THE CLASSICAL FIELD Perhaps no other figure on the contemporary intellectual scene has been the occasion of such heated debate as has Jacques Derrida. Best known for his v/ork of deconstruction , Derrida poses a formidable challenge to the assumptions of philosophy, synonymous for him with the metaphysics of presence. With a waggish gesture to its idolatry of voice, word, phallus, center (all substitutes in one way or another for presence), he, piling syllable upon syllable, mimiicking its attempt to incorporate without remainder, christens it "phonologcphallocentrism. " Now, when one considers that philosophy has elaborated our understanding of the world no less than of ourselves, that philosophy has supplied the structure and vocabulary of our knowledge (presence, essence, existence, experience, substance, subject, object, truth, consciousness, preception, reality, phenom.ena, categories of time and space--indeed the catalogue seems endless) , one soon becomes aware of the enormity of Derrida' s challenge and the importance of the debate. For philosophy is not simply one arcane, specialized domain of knowledge. Think for a moment of the various spheres of knowledge both open to humankind and opened up by humankind, disparate

PAGE 13

areas such as language, literature, psychology, physics, biology, and so forth. Not only has the content of these various disciplines itself originated within philosophy, but the very means by which their boundaries are drav/n come from it. Philosophy has given us our notion of truth, has given us a grammar of our language; it has supplied us with differing definitions and criteria for our intellectual activities. In short, philosophy, for better or worse, consciously or unconsciously, structures our conceptual apparatus and is the basis of our cultural form.ations. We have also taken philosophy as a formulation of universal truth: western rationality is rationality "itself." How else are we to understand Jonathan Culler's characterization of Derrida's work as showing us "that the exercise of language and thought involves us in intractable paradoxes, which we can not escape but only repress" (Culler, 156;1981), other than as an underwriting of this assumption. The unqualified acceptance of the nature of language and thought — its very "naturalness" — is what requires attention in this description along with the fatalistic promotion of the necessity for a particular kind of repression. Certainly, to consider as "paradoxical" ("seemingly" or "apparently" true, says the Random. House dictionary) the contradictions in "thought" that emerge under the pressure of Derrida's reading is m.uch more reassuring than to entertain the suspicion that perhaps what v/e have taken for "thouaht" ("itself") is simply the

PAGE 14

prescriptions of powerful forms of discourses united in a common project of protecting presence in all of its various forms, that is to say, prescriptions protecting themselves. This brings me immediately to the question of Derrida's relevance to the study of literature. In that literary critics utilize concepts or philosophical principles to exam.ine and coiriment upon literary texts, their reading is a philosophical or classical one, supported by the m.etaphysics of presence. In this sense, literary critics are "doing" philosophy and reading philosophically. Of course, this is not to be taken an a slur. We cannot do without the classical reading, and Derrida has made that clear over and over again. To be "guilty" of m.etaphysics, as one of m.y friends slyly puts it, is no terrible thing. Derrida's deconstructive strategies are not replacements of the classical style. Rather, they help resituate the philosophical. Deconstruction is a mieans of reading that is not simply a "spin off" from the classical kind. I am not trying to soft pedal the implications of Derrida's critique, implications that are, to my mind, political in the extreme. VJatching Derrida "solicit" or "shake" the foundations of the thought structures of our culture with what seems to be great ease is, if I may indulge in understatement, "unsettling." I suppose I am trying to say that, as readers, we should foster reading and not simply one particular kind of reading. At any rate, we might begin to approach Derrida's work by considering problems he finds vv'ithin the classical field

PAGE 15

and problems he finds with other philosophers who attempt to move beyond this field, but who fail precisely because they "borrcv;" from a philosophy they would criticize. After doing so, we will consider his strategy and why he deems such a strategy necessary. What should beccm.e evident, however, in the brief examples that follow is the way in which the classical reading model in the hands of a rigorous reader like Derrida can be used to point to its own problems . Problems Within the Metaphysics of Presence: Contradictories One of the most devastating dem.onstrations of the contradictory positions generated by the metaphysics of presence is Derrida ' s analysis of Saussure in Of Graminatology . Derrida delineates the way in which a theory of language maintains two coherent positions, each of which conflicts with the other. With regard to the metaphysics of presence and its capacity to generate contradictory positions, Derrida remarks. As in the dream, as Freud analyzes it, incompatibles are simultaneously admitted as soon as it is a matter of satisfying a desire, in spite of the principle of identity, or of the excluded third party — the logical time of consciousness. (Derrida, 1976:245) On the one hand, Saussure writes that "Language and writing are two distinct systemis of signs; the second exists for the sole purpose of representing the first" (Saussure in Derrida, 1976:30). Within the unity of the sign, the

PAGE 16

concept is termed the signified and the thought-sound is its signifier. Between sense and sound, meaning and the phone, there exists a "natural bond, the only true bond, the bond of sound" (Saussure in Derrida , 1976:35). So language is constituted solely by the spoken word, and writing is sim.ply a signifier of a sign, a sign's representation or "image." As a simple "im.age" of this thought-sound, writing is secondary, derivative, and external. On the other hand, since Saussure has declared sign systems to be arbitrary (language and writing as two distinct sign systems) , how writing might be supposed to "image" speech is unclear. One might yet object that in limiting his analysis to phonetic writing, Saussure is correct in claiming that the grapheme "images" — better, represents — the phoneme, that the written notation is simply a signifier of the v,'ord that is already a unity of the signifier/ signified. Nonetheless, Saussure himself maintains that "signs used in v/riring are arbitrary; there is no connection, for examiple, between the letter 't' and the sound it designates" (Saussure in Derrida 1976:326-27). He then strikes at the very heart of what he set out to protect: the privilege of sound in relation to sense. He ultimately denies the primacy of sound and grants it only secondary status: ". . . it is impossible for sound alone, a material element, to belong to language. It is only a secondary thing, substance to be put to use" (Saussure, 1966:118). More telling perhaps is his statement concerning the nature of the "sound image" or signifier.

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His description not only borrows from the very order that he is trying to e:cclude ("writing"), but eliminates any possibility of considering the signiiier in terms of a reflection or representation (substitute or stand-in) of the voice. Nor has the signifier a simple relation with the reception of its sound through the sense of hearing. As a matter of fact, the description comipletely undermines the relation of the signifier to an em.pirical model of perception: The linguistic sign unites, nor a thing and a name, but a concept and a sound image. The latter is net the material sound, a purely physical thing, but the psychological imprint of the sound, the impression that it makes on our senses. (Saussure, 1966:66) Hence the phoneme, as Derrida dryly concludes, "is the unimaginable itself and no visibility can resemble it" (Derrida: 1976:45) . This overly brief consideration of Derrida 's reading of Saussure to which I intend to return later (see Chapter II) serves here only as an example of contradictions within the m^etaphysics of presence. It should be noted, however, how firmly entrenched within this contradiction is the "belief" in speech as a self-evident truth or the obvious itself. A philosopher as astute as Nev/ton Carver writes an extremely sympathetic preface to the English edition of Speech and Phenom.ena that, v>7hile assimilating Derrida to Aristotle (in spite of the fact that "there can be no question of the originality of Derrida' s formulation . . . there is an interesting historical precedent for some of the m.ain points in Aristotle" [Carver in Derrida, 1973:xxv]), misses the

PAGE 18

point entirely. Carver's first statement signals, if nothing else, the extreme difficulty a voice-oriented culture experiences in understanding what Derrida calls "writing" or in thinking of it other than as a recording device for speech: "Like Derrida, Aristotle bases his theory of meaning on spoken language; but what is spoken becomes language only if it can also be v/ritten down" (xxv) . Aside from the misconstrual of the argument (not only the equation of writing with an empiric representation, not only the importation of Aristoltelian teleological determinations that ensure a difference between m.eaningless animal sounds and meaningful hum.an ones — see, for example, Derrida (1982g: 236) — but also a rather murky indication of the traditional alphabetic prejudice that overlooks other empiric forms of writing) , there is a rather touching repetition of a reading practice that runs throughout the culture, a practice Derrida criticizes incessantly: the constant recourse to teleology, the infinite impulse to exert mastery by erasing differences as quickly as possible. Nothing new here--we find the "seed" "already" in Aristotle (". . , as if everything was in everything and always ahead of the caravan . . . you can always pass off the preexistence of a word as the anteriority of a concept vvith which you then claim, to indebt or even im>pregnate everyone. You get your hands on a brand-name, and use it everywhere" [Derrida, 1978e:82]). From De Interpretatione , chapter two, Carver quotes: A name is a spoken sound significant by convention, without tim.e, none of whose parts is

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significant in separation ... I say "by convention" because no name is a name naturally but only when it has become a symbol. Even inarticulate [agrammatoi] noises (of beasts, for instance) do indeed reveal som.ething yet none of them is a name. (Garver in Derrida, 19 73 :xxv) The desire to inseminate Aristotle v/ith ecriture and differance, the desire to give Jacques a (Derri) "dada," to miake Jacques (as Freud assumed his little grandson Ernst was doing with himself) (Derri) "Da," emerges in the commentary: Here the key concept is that of being "articulated," that is, composed of segments or parts, for which Aristotle here uses the words grammata (elsewhere stoicheia ) and grammatoi . Now gramjnata are normally thought of as letters; but since a sound cannot literally have letters, they must be thought of here as phonemes--that is, as the parts of a sound that can be represented by letters [underlining mine] . The natural cries of animals do signify something, they are signs; but they are not symbols, and we know they are not conventional, because they are not composed of articulate parts and cannot faithfully be transcribed in v/riting [underlining mine] . So Aristotle held that what characterizes human speech and distinguishes it from natural cries is the possibility of writing ( ecriture ) and the internal segmentation or differentiation of even the simplest semantic elements ( differance ) . (xxv) In equating articulation (phonemes represented by letters) and differance (segmentation of the simplest semantic elements) with the phonemic structure of language, the whole of Carver's analysis reiterates the traditional understanding of writing with written speech. Garver also argues that "phonemic difference is a matter of differance rather than either actual acoustic difference as such or ideal difference as such," yet he recuperates differance to a phonology , to "patterns of vocalization"--segments of sound that writing "faithfully" transcribes. Carver's

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10 analysis misses Derrida's point (if I may use such an expression). Differance escapes the order of the voice, of being voiced, is neither phonic nor phoixemic. Articulation belongs neither to the visible nor audible order. Nor can writing ( " ecriture " ) be reduced to its "vulgar concept" (Derrida, 1976a:65). Far from, being available to any empiric sensibility, "the graphic image is not seen and the acoustic image is not heard" (65). When Derrida resorts to what he calls "v/riting," which becomes, in his words, a "tool of intervention," he does not "borrow" its metaphysical equivalent ("vulgar concept"). For the mietaphysics of presence has no concept of writing as such, only a concept of "written speech," or concepts of writing governed by speech. Take for example, the "problem of the picture-puzzle ( rebus a transfert ) " ; The problem of the picture-puzzle ( rebus a transfert ) brings together all the difficulties. As pictogram., a representation of the thing may find itself endov/ed with a phonetic value. This does not efface the "pictographic" reference which, moreover, has never been simply "realistic." The signifier is broken or constellated into a system: it refers at once, and at least, to a thing and to a sound. The thing is itself a collection of things or a chain of differences "in space;" the sound, which is also inscribed within a chain, m.ay be a word; the inscription is then ideogrammatical or synthetic, it cannot be decomposed; but the sound may also be an atomic element itself entering into the composition: we are dealing then with a script apparently pictographic and in fact phcnetico-analytical in the same way as the alphabet . (90) Thus, where we least expect speech, or its principles, we find it. Consequently, Derrida's refusal to "borrow" from the principles (also a "bankrupt" capital fund) of

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11 metaphysics, constitutes a good deal of the "credibility" of his "accouHu," Problems Within the Metaphysics of Presence: Relations Derrida deals with another problem within the m.etaphysics of presence in his Edmund Husserl's "Origin of Geom.etry" : An Introduction . Here, the exam.ple is not so much two conflicting positions being advanced simultaneously but rather the relational character of tv/o metaphysical concepts the tradition has conceived as mutually exclusive and opposed. Derrida tackles the categories of univocity and equivocity and shows how each, instead of being distinct from one another, repeats within itself what allows the other to be thought. What is univocity and why is it important to Husserl? Univocity is unambiguous language capable of carrying meaning not subjected to the corruption of time. For Husserl, univocity establishes what he calls "historicity" (as opposed to empirical history) --to which we gain access through the reduction. Historicity is a "pure" history concerned with "the transmission and recollection [ recueillement] of sense" (Derrida, 1978b: 102); available to us as a part of our common heritage, history must necessarily escape the confines of any particular language. Husserl distinguishes two types of equivocity; the first — homonymiy--he dismisses rather prematurely. The second type, that of " scdim.ented m.eaning" is perceived as

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12 more disturbing simply because the accuraulation of cultural experience allows the original meaning expressed by the language to "enter into unforseeable configurations" (Derrida, lS78b:101). In other words, the original intent of the statement, because it is expressed in a language that acquires new m.eanings and undergoes change through cultural experience and history, runs the risk of becoming just one possible intention relative to all others. This is the equivocity that science or philosophy must deal with. As Derrida notes, what is at stake in the preservation of this historicity is the m.eaning of the tradition itself: the collective knowledge and experience shared by people of all times. Husserl, through the reduction, wagers that he can restore this meaning to its original state. Because it brings everything to view within a present act of evidence, because nothing is hidden or announced in the penum.bra of potential intentions, because it has mastered all the dynamics of sense, univocal language rem^ains the same . It thus keeps its ideal identity throughout all cultural development. It is the condition that allows com.miunication among generations of investigators no matter how distant and assures the exactitude of translation and the purity of tradition. (Derrida, 1978b:102) The necessity of univocity becomes apparent when the effects cf equivocity are examined. If equivccity is admitted, its effects would restrict a culture to itself and would eliminate any possibility of a conur^on history by generating m.any possible histories; the "truth" of a culture would thus be irretrievable. And yet, too rigid a univocity would amount to the samte thing by miaking a history unique; it would

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13 "paralyze it in the indigence of an indefinite iteration" (Derrida, 1978b: 102) and thus reraove it from a ccrrji.on understanding. If the history of a specific culture were absolutely closed upon itself, unique, or if each were absolutely different, there would be no possibility of a common understanding, no translation (however broadly or narrowly conceived) of meaning. Faced with the Scylla and Charybdis nature of each position, how, Derrida asks, does one who in the Hegelian sense desires "to assume and interiorize the m.emory of a culture in a kind of recollection [ Errinnerung ] " (102) , go about such a precarious business? The first strategy Derrida examines is that of Joyce who wagers on equivocity. Since equivocity already "evidences a certain depth of development and concealment of a past" (102) , Joyce puts it to work to unveil the structural unity of all em.pirical cultures. His strategy would repeat and take responsibility for all equivocation itself, utilizing a language that could equalize the greatest possible synchrony with the greatest potential for buried, accumulated, and interwoven intentions v/ithin each simple proposition, in all worldly cultures and their most ingenious forms (mythology, religion, sciences, arts, literature, politics, philosophy, and so forth) . . . would try to make the structural unity of all empirical culture appear in the generalized equivocation of a writing that, no longer translating one language into another on the basis of their comonon cores of sense, circulates throughout all languages at once, accumulates their energies, actualizes their most secret consonances, discloses their furthermost common horizons, cultivates their associative syntheses instead of avoiding them, and rediscovers the poetic value of passivity. In short, rather than put it out of play with quotation m.arks, rather

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14 than "reduce" it, this writing resolutely settles itself vdthin the labyrinthian field of culture "bound" by its own equivocations, in order to travel through and explore the vastest possible historical distance that is now at all possible. (102) Husserl's strategy, a wager on univocity, v;ould seem to be the opposite, but in fact is not. Indeed, it is "the transcendental parallel to Joyce's" (103) and provides the theoretical ground for the validity of Joyce's structures. Thus, although parallel, the two are not symmetrical. Husserl's strategy: to reduce or impoverish empirical language m.ethodically to the point where its univocal and translatable elements are actually transparent, in order to reach back and grasp again at its pure source a historicity or traditionality that no de facto historical totality will yield of itself. This historicity or traditionality is always already presupposed by every Odyssean repetition of Joyce's type . . . (102) In other words, in making use of empirical and equivocal language in order to allow any comjnon univocal structure to emerge, Joyce's project either presupposes a given univocity or produces one of its own, else "the very text of its repetition would have been unintelligible; at least it would have remained so forever and for everyone" (103). Nonetheless, if equivocity presupposes univocity, univocity must recognize its complicity with equivocity. For "absolute univocity is imaginable only in two limiting cases" (103). Derrida's first exam.ple: an object not only "singular," "immutable," and "natural," but also of a kind "whose unity, identity, and Objectivity would in themselves be prior to all culture" (103) . Even if this unim.aginable precultural

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15 object were possible, Derrida remarks, the act of coding it linguistically would place it in a network of relations and oppositions, would load it "with intenuions or with lateral and virtual reminiscences" (1C3). It would be a questiori here of the linguistic burden carried by anything inscribed within the network of language. Second example: an object both ideal (removed from all contingency) and transcultural . But in this case what would come to frustrate its identity or univocity would be its own capacityfor future meaning, other possibilities of signification. Likewise, equivocity in language is unavoidable, indeed desirable. "The 'same' word is always 'other' according to the always different intentional acts which thereby make a word significative [ signifiant ] " (104). Consequently, equivocity and univocity must be understood, not oppositionally, but relatively. Univocity, Derrida explains, must name equivocity, determine the equivocal that, in its many possibilities within a series, is the condition for choosing one particular meaning over another. And Husserl formalizes the conditions under v;hich this is possible. In giving it the sense of an infinite task, Husserl does not m.ake univocity . . . the value for a language impoverished and thus rem.oved out of history's reach. Rather, univocity is both the a priori and the teleological condition for all historicity; it is that without which the very equivocations of an empirical culture and history would not be possible. (104-05) What are the consequences for the metaphysics of presence? Derrida is demonstrating that the concept of m.eaning ("univocal," "equivocal," "differential": let us

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16 suiTi all these up as the Voice) itself is an effect of the metaphysics of presence. The concept of meaning is both the a priori and the teleological condition ci "m.eaning." The principle (of meaning, in this case), as he will later say, is "there before being there" (Derrida, 1980b:427) , or, to put it differently, the principle (of mieaning, in this case, but this holds true of all principles) runs ahead (of itself) in order to produce what comes after (itself) . Hence, "its possibility is its impossibility." "Principles" are the (im) possibility of the metaphysics of presence as are all concepts . Does this m.ean that we should immediately abandon all conceptuality? Of course, the attemipt to do so might indeed provide an afternoon's worth of entertainiiient , but probably no more. Derrida is not arguing for "nirvana." The trick, then, is to situate conceptuality, to re-write it. We shall come to this shortly. But for now, let us examine the problem of attempting to leave mietaphysics by means of metaphysics, to criticize philosophy by means of philosophical concepts. Leaving Philosophy, "Philosophically " We have just reviewed analyses of two different kinds of "paradox" generated by our conceptual system. We must remind ourselves that we are dealing with a system of critical/philosophical concepts whose objective is to approximate more and more a condition of truth and lay bare

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17 a transparent order of knowledge. This system, structuring what we call thinking, appearing to us as "natural" and "universal," is impossible to attack and not without (if the pun will be forgiven) reason. Vincent Descombes has described Derrida's attempt to resituate this system as a "very close contest against a formidable Master, v/hom we night think certain to v/in at a gam.e with rules which he himself has fixed" (Descombes, 1982:138). Why? Without a strategic and delicate tool of intervention aimed at disturbing the very foundations of the discourse of philosophy, every objection one might bring against this system can only be expressed within the conceptual (philosophical) language of that system. Every "concept," every bit of knowledge v;e recognize as knowledge, every new model one night offer as replacement for a previous one, is already a part of and is prepared for by this system. Philosophy can incorporate the most radical kind of content, and yet because philosophyprovides the foundation for that knovvledge and structures it, philosophy remains impervious to that content. This is why trying to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps in order to leap out of this field with "both feet" is impossible. There is no sense in doing without the concepts cf metaphysics in order to shake metaphysics. We have no language--no syntax and no lexicon — which is foreign to this history; we can pronounce not a single destructive proposition which has not already had to slip into the form, the logic, and the implicit postulations of precisely what it seeks to contest. (Derrida, 1978 f: 280-81 ) The warning here is addressed to those who think they can turn the page of philosophy or simiply step outside of

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it, to "metaphysicians" of unbriddled optimismIn "The Supplement of Copula," Derrida demonstrates that Emile Benveniste's analysis of Aristotle--Ben£veniste argues that Aristotle, far from dealing with the categories of Being, "is sim.ply identifying certain fundamental categories of the language in which he thought" (Derrida, 1982d:180) — is not only inadequate philosophically but implicitly incorporates philosophical criticisms and m.ust resort to distinctions, i.e. thought/ language, provided by philosophy itself. In any attempt to turn its page, philosophy resurfaces all the m.ore cunningly; one now cannot even recognize its functioning. In the same article, Derrida reviews two philosophical bread jumps, those of Nietzsche and Heidegger, that fail precisely because they leave the philosophical ground untouched, or, perhaps equally as well, remain too firm.ly planted upon it. The Nietzschean gesture takes the form of an attack upon language and gramjn.ar, along with an analysis of truth that is declared to be nothing but arbitrary metaphors. As Derrida remarks. At a given moment, then, Nietzsche has to appeal to philosophical schemes (for example, the arbitrariness of the sign, or the emancipation of thought as concerns a language) , in his critical operation against metaphysics. (1982d:179) The distinction betv.'een thought and language (the exteriority of the signifier to the idea) , between che sensible (worn away to unwittingly yield) and the intelligible,"

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19 between the literal and the figurative, all of these cone from philosophy. To declare that truth is metaphor is once more to confirm the pcv/er of metaphysics. For Derrida, m.etaphor is one of the m.ore subtle yet important means that logocentrism 4 uses to cover its "tracks," so to speak. Metaphor in general, the passage from, one existent to another, or from one signified meaning to another, authorized by the initial submission of Being to the existent, the analogical displacement of Being, is the essential v;eight which anchors discourse in Metaphysics, irremediably repressing discourse into its metaphysical state. (Derrida, 1978f :27) For in securing for itself a tropical relationship with its beginnings or source, alluded to by means of (note the "metaphors" within the definition of metaphor, the presence of the defined within the definition: m.etaphor abysses itself ) resemblance, or correspondence, metaphor generates and secures an unlimited surplus value, an illimitable return on a capital investment, this security being guaranteed by its infinite capacity to reflect only itself. Deriving profit on its own loss (primordial meaning posited by means of m.etaphor) on its march to truth or absolute knowledge, philosophy can always declare its m.istakes, its stumblings to be "only metaphors" without impairing its profit, its spirituality, the gain produced by its derived "nonmetaphoric" concepts, without fear of losing authority or face. Nonetheless, metaphor's very wealth becom.es the occac sion of its poverty. This becomes m.ore immediately

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20 apparent when we exaiuine the status of such a statement as "truth is metaphor." On the one hand, the statement seems to cancel the value of truth by declaring it inetaphoric ; yet it does so by means of one m.ore m.etaphor. If truth is a metaphor, the truth becomes a m.etaphor for metaphor, an "extra" metaphor, at once both profit and loss. For this "extra metaphor" that "ey.tracts or abstracts itself from this field ... as a metaphor less" is "the missing turn of speech," missing from the system that appeals to it as its guarantee or ground. But since the ground can no longer be grounded, metaphysics can no longer capitalize on itself or make a profit (Derrida, 1982d:220). Derrida also refers to Heidegger's attempt to free the field of language from the domination of metaphysics (in the form of logic and grammar) that occupies it. Heidegger assigned this liberation to "thought and poetry." We might for the moment detour through "The Retrait of Metaphor" where Derrida deals with a classical reading of the Heideggerian texc and briefly summarize Derrida' s rem.arks in order to clarify what is at stake. When Heidegger turns to poetic thought, and from, determinate metaphors to the state of metaphcricity , this m.ove still underwrites metaphysics. I shall sim^ply snip out pieces of Derrida' s argum.ent in a somewhat grotesque fashion: in Heidegger, the metaphysical concept of m.etaphor corresponds to a withdrawal ("reserve, shelter, dissimulation, veiling, being hidden") of Being and

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21 this moiiicnt is indissociable froin the movement of presence or truth. Withdrawing in displaying itself or being determined a^ or under this mode of Being . . . Being is already subm.itted, autrement dit , sozusagen , so to speak , to a sort of metaphorico-metonymiic displacement. This v^hole of this aforesaid history of Western metaphysics would be a vast structural process where the epoche of Being withholding itself, holding itself in withdrawal, would take or rather would present an (interlaced) series of guises, of turns, of modes, that is to say, of figures or of tropical aspects ( allures ) which we could be tempted to describe with the aid of rhetorical conceptuality . Each of these words — formt, guise, turn, mode, figure — would already be in a tropical situation. To the extent of this temptation , "metaphysics" would not only be the enclosure in which the concept of metaphor itself would be produced and enclosed. Metaphysics itself . . , would itself be in a tropical position with respect to Being or the thought of Being. This metaphysics a^ a tropical system . . . would correspond to an essential withdrawal of Being: unable to reveal itself, to present itself except in dissim^ulating itself under the "species" of an epochal determination [underlining mine] , under the species of an as which obliterates its a_s such (Being as eidos, a_s subjectivity (sic), as will, a^ work, etc.). Being would only allow itself to be named in a metaphcricometonymical divergence (ecart) . (Derrida, 1978e:20-21) This last remark requires the most careful consideration. Derrida is underlining the difference between Being and a simple determination of it as a species of a particularized m.anifestation that, in its specific historical character, is no longer Being "as such," Being "qua Being," but now a being . As Derrida remarks, the "as" rips the "is" apart, unstitches it. This determinate "as" puts the totality of Being cut of the order of philosophy and philosophy can no longer order what exceeds its reach. To continue:

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22 One would then be tempted to say: the metaphysical, which corresponds in its discourse to the withdrav/al of Being, tends to reassemble, in resemblance, all its metonymic divergences in a great metaphor of Being or of the thought of Being. This bringing together is the language of metaphysics itself . (20-21) Metaphor, since it cannot encompass the "as such," can only deal v;ith the "as" (i.e., "the 'species' of an epochal determination"), with being, and not Being: . . . the relation of (ontotheological) metaphysics to the thought of Being, can no longer be named — literally -me taphoric as soon as the usage . . . [is] fixed by way of this couple of metaphysical opposition to describe relations among beings. Being being nothing, not being a being, it can not be expressed or named more metaphorico . And therefore it does not have, in such a context of the dominant metaphysical usage of the word "metaphor," a proper or literal meaning which could be alluded to (vise) metaphorically by metaphysics. Consequently, if we cannot speak metaphorically on its subject, neither can we speak properly or literally. (21) The turn to a trope inscribed within the field of classical rhetoric, to poetry as a way out of metaphysics, fails. Aspiring to produce a meta-metaphorics , such metaphysical discourse flounders on the shore of one more metaphor . Reminding us that Sein und Zeit was never com-pleted, Derrida cites a remark of Heidegger's commenring on the failure of his project. Here everything is reversed. The section in question was held back because thinking failed in the adequate saying of this turning and did not succeed with the help of the language of metaphysics. (Heidegger quoted in Derrida, 1982d:179) We have reviewed the attempt of two pre-eminent philosophers to dismiss m.etaphysics . Each project fails either because in reimporting philosophical schem.as, philosophy

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23 returns by way of the back door; or because in failing to formulate a strategy adequate to the task, philosophy declines the invitation to leave by way of the front one. The risks of attempting to leap outside of the province of philosophy, or of demanding ploys from it in the form of any of the particular sciences or regional ontologies (science, linguistics, rhetoric, science of literature and art, religion, psychoanalysis, history, politics, and sc forth) that philosophy controls, shoula now be apparent. The undoing or unstitching of metaphysics "cannot be achieved by means of a simply discursive or theoretical gesture" (Derrida, 1982G:xxi) and unless specific attention is paid to philosophy's powers of reappropriation, "the philosophical order will remain activated a tergo by misconstrued philosophical machines, according to denegation or precipitation, ignorance or stupidity" (xxii). Thus, this undoing or unstitching cannot be accomplished by means of more or different concepts, concepts being the province of philosophy and determined by presence. Paleonomy Metaphysics cannot be criticized by means of itself, by m.eans of its "principles." The 'mtetaphysical ' is a certain determination or direction taken by a sequence or 'chain.' It cannot as such be opposed by a concept but rather by a process of textual labor and a different sort of articulation. (Derrida, 1982b:6)

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24 Derrida outlines the thrust his strategy takes, the form of such "textual labor" (which must be done practically [3]) when he speaks of palecnomy, the "preservation of old names" (3) a style that provides ceconstruction a m^eans of intervening in the field it criticizes. It is the nicans by which the tradition, submitted to a certain kind of re-exam.ination, is "re-edited" (44), "re-published." Derrida inaugurates the plural style of a double science according to which every concept necessarily receives two similar marks — a repetition without identity — one mark inside and the other outside the deconstructed system and which should give rise to a double reading and a double writing. (1982b:4) This double system opens on to "a double understanding no longer forming a single system" and "delimits the space of a closure no longer analogous to what philosophy can represent for itself under this name" (Derrida, 1982d:xxiv) . It propagates the rhythm of a certain dance by which philosophical concepts, through the structure of this double mark, are made to "dance otherwise" (Derrida, 1982a:69). To dance : am.ong other things, "to bob up and down." Som.ewhat later we shall speak of this "bobbing up and down" when we discuss Derrida' s remarks concerning the Fort/Da game played by Freud's little grandson, Ernst. For the moment, and without benefit of the demonstration, let us think of this bobbing up and down, this Fort/Da, as the rhythmic appearance and disappearance of theses, them.es, meanings posed or imposeu, concepts or of a concept, their rhythmic presence and absence. To dance otherwise; paleonomy takes the

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concept and reedits or re-publishes it according to different rhythms, the rhythms of unheard and unseen iorces and differences; it takes a step which is not ( pas ) , which can never simply come to be. The paleonym dances to the 7 arrhythmic rhythmi of differance. Two dances, two rhythms, two repetitions. However, these two rhythms are neither in equilibrium nor are they symmetrical. The rhythm of the latter (Nietzsche) , which is neither positional nor oppositional, situates the rhythm of the former (Freud), is the condition of its possibility, its appearance and disappearance. It saves the form^er from destroying itself in the blast of a single note, from exhausting itself in a sole and undifferentiated bleat. Why is the labor of paleonomy necessary? Why, an imaginary interlocutor might demand, use old names? Why does Derrida insist on making of old concepts "little nothings" ("nothings" because no concepts are involved) , "nothing" for speculative thought to look at nor to ruminate upon; and thus, no way for the philosopher " to be able to say to himcself , again turning on his own hinge; I will have anticipated it, with absolute knowledge" (Derrida, 1982d:xxv) yet retain the old name? Why not, he might continue with an aggressive persistence, new names free of old memories which impose both weight and burden? And why, once warned of the existence of philosophical schemas that lie all too "ready at hand," of their treacherous methods of infiltration, why can we not avoid them? Why can't we draw

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26 up a complete list of such snares, catalogue their uses, trace their histories and modifications with all the thoroughness available to a conscientious obsessive, and simply remove then from the field of use? Why all this tedious remarking and why not new names, neologisms? Derrida's first objection to our interlocutor's optimism should surprise no one. For, as one might now suspect, our friend assumes once more that we might leap outside of philosophy (a step which philosophy is quite prepared to deal with dialectically) , the execution of such prancing always, unhappily, bringing us face to face with philosophy once more. For our friend musr presuppose "the signifier's simple exteriority to 'its' concept" (Derrida, 1982b:3), and has merely reintroduced an old philosopheme . Extending this objection, Derrida might note that it would further reduce the signifier to the merely circumstantial, conventional occurrence of the concept or as a concession without any specific effect. It would be an affirmation of the autonomy of meaning, of the ideal purity of an abstract, theoretical history of the concept. (5) One is reminded here of one of those little rubber "schmoos," an air-inflated little creature that one could bat about without fear of knocking over, so popular a figure during the '50s. No matter how sly the approach, no m^atter how baroquely executed the punch, the thing pops up without any discernible signs of exhaustion. Derrida's second objection is posed more in term.s of a political and institutional critique. To attem.pt to leap

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27 outside the classical system generated by these names/ concepts, structured by a hierarchy of oppositions, to do so simply by fiat, not only constitutes the intermmability of a negative theology, but more, it is to forget that these oppositions have never constituted a given system., a sort of ahistorical, thoroughly homogeneous table, but rather a dissymm.etric, hierarchically ordered space whose closure is constantly being traversed by the forces, and v/orked by the exteriority, that it repressed; that is, expells and, which amounts to the same thing, internalizes as one of its moments. (5) In other v/ords, these namies/concepts have their Achilles' heel that power m.echanisms such as institutions are interested in protecting. And as long as these concepts are ignored or repressed, a flatfooted, aggressive domination will continue to operate and ensure the perpetuation of the status quo, no matter what reform, may ultimately be instituted. Certainly this is one of the most formidable strengths of the dialectic, "always that which has finished us, because it is always that which takes into account our rejection of it. As it does our affirmation" (Derrida, 1978f :246) . This brings us directly to a consideration of Derrida' s work, the relation of paleonymy to the tradition. To think of his work in term.s of primary or secondary material is meaningless. These term.s derive from the order that he is busy putting out of order and thus are no longer adequate to his work. Even a brief excursion into the problem.s of such a classification based on the metaphysics of presence should immediately make the absurdities apparent. Secondary

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28 material concerns itself with the interpretation or explication of an "original" source and requires the reader to double the text, to represent, repeat and validate the text's self-representations by elucidating its themes, noting its theses, formalizing its assumptions and presuppositions, its meanings in all their richness and possibility. But the most cursory perusal of Derrida's work disabuses a reader of the hope of finding a content of this particular kind. Gn the other hand, primary material is — v/ell — "primary," considered the vehicle of the conscious intention of an author or, to choose a different model, a performance of the language itself. Yet the phenomenon of a self-conscious ego comitiunicating something, along with that of another self-conscious ego bent on understanding what is going on, is simply to Derrida (as Freud said of his primary and 9 secondary processes) a "theoretical fiction" : "these 'phenomena' are not phenomena: they never appear as such" and "cannot even be formulated ideally. Except, that is, under the heading of 'fiction' ..." (Derrida, 1979b: 217). Here we enter the heart of the difficulty and perhaps need to consider what Derrida is up to instead of v/orrying about what he is not. Derrida actively engages texts of the tradition yet re-works them in such a way that no adequation or correspondence with the classical field is possible. VJhat he writes of in, for example, "The Pharmacy of Plato," since it is not based on the metaphysics of presence, is inaccessible to the classical reading model, cannot be

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29 derived through it; indeed, the energy of his effort is very often directed towards undermining the rules that govern this model. Hence, the classical opposition primary/ secondary not only dees not apply to his work but, being based on presence, the opposition itself is called into question. Equally meaningless is the attempt to situate his work within the traditional categories of knowledge defined by academic institutions. Like a concept detached from a particular discipline and deconstructed--now a paleonym-that no longer simply belongs to the classical field, so it is with his work. Speaking specifically of hiis texts' relation to philosophy and literature, Derrida remarks: I v/ill say that my texts belong neither to the 'philosophical' nor to the 'literary' register. Thereby they communicate, or so I hope at least, with other texts that, having operated a certain rupture, can be called 'philosophical' or 'literary' only according to a kind of paleonom.y . . . (Derrida, 1981a:71) These "ruptures" that occur in all areas of knowledge, are named with reference to the field from which they are taken only paleonymically . And if we "know," ... we knov/ som.ething here which is no longer anything, with a knowledge whose form can no longer be recognized under this old name. The treatmient of paleonymy here is no longer a raising or a regaining of consciousness. (Derrida, 1982b:21) I began the discussion with a consideration of philosophy and recalled its power in structuring our thought. I will conclude these remarks with a statement of Derrida' s, the subject of which is not only "thought" but also the occasion of making it an old name, a paleonym for "nothing."

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30 ' In a certain way, 'thought' roeans nothing . ' " Thought " (quotation marks: the words 'thought' and what is called 'thought') means nothing: it is the substantified void of a highly derivative ideality, the effect of a dif ferance of forces, the illusory autonomy of a discourse or a consciousness whose hypostasis is to be deconstructed, whose 'causality' is to be analyzed, etc. First. Secondly, the sentence can be read thus: if there is thought — and there is, and it is just as suspect, for analogous critical reasons, to contest the authority of all 'thought' — then whatever will continue to be called thought, and which for example, will designate the deconstruction of logocentrism, means nothing, for in the last analysis it no longer derives from "meaning." Wherever it operates, ' thought' means nothing . (Derrida, 1981a:49) "Thought" "wants to say" ( vouloir dire ) "nothing" (rien) ; "thought" "means" ( vouloir dire ) "nothing" (rien) . I have been concentrating on brief exam.ples of the problems as elaborated by Derrida within the m.etaphysics of presence, and with the difficulties of what I shall call (for lack of a better phrase) "trying something else." American deconstruction has offered itself as just such an alternative. Is it? In order to attempt to answer this question, I should like to turn to the work of Jonathan Culler, which to my mind, best theorizes deconstruction as it is practiced in this country. Instead of taking a broad over-view of this work, however, I am going to analyze it in as minute a fashion as possible. Let's put nhe classical reading model to work. Footprints 1. John K. Sheriff similarly desires to inseminate only this tim.e the expectant parent is C.S. Peirce. (Sheriff, 1981:51-74). His equating of trace with sign.

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along with his vigorous aiTiputatior, of pertinent parts of material cited from Derrida underscores the "miscarriage, For a discussion of "the logic of pregnancy," along with Derrida 's gentle mocking of Barbara Johnson's attempt to make Lacan big v-'ith him, see Derrida, lS80b : 160-65 . 2. In "White Mythology" (Derrida, 1982d) , Derrida draws a "short dialogue" from Anatole France's The Garden of Epicurus "between Aristcs and Polyphilos . . . subtitled 'or the language of metaphysics'" (p. 210). In an attempt to criticize m.etaphysics , Polyphilos harangues his friend, "I think I have at last made you realize one thing, Aristos, that any expression of an abstract idea can only be an analogy. By an odd fate, the very m.etaphysicians v^ho think to escape the world of appearances are constrained to live perpetually in allegory. A sorry lot of poets, they dim. the colors of the ancient fables, and are themselves but gatherers of fables. They produce white mythology" (p. 213) . A certain hilarity ensues, for in borrowing one of metaphysics' concepts in order to criticize the m.etaphysicians, Polyphilos joins the m.etaphysicians as does his language. As Derrida remarks, "Parody of the translator, naivete of the metaphysician or of the pitiful peripatetic who dees not recognize his own figure and does not know where it has marched him to" (p. 213) . 3. With regard to the sublation of tlie sensible into the intelligible, Derrida remarks, "the whole of 'White Mythology' constantly puts in question the current and currently philosophical interpretation (in Heidegger as well) of metaphor as a transfer from the sensible to the intelligible, as v;ell as the privilege accorded this trope (by Heidegger as v/ell) in the deconstruction of metaphysical rhetoric" (Derrida, 1978e:13). 4. For a demionstration of the confusion on this subject see Ryan, 1982:20. One statem.ent in particular seems to be representative of the difficulty with his analysis of the v/ay Derrida regards metaphor. "Perhaps Derrida 's most famous text on this problem, is 'White Mythology,' in which he argues that because all language is metaphoric (a sign substituted for a thing) ..." Let us arrest this statemient here, for the mom.ent. Derrida does not argue that all language is mietaphoric ; this is specifically the position he attacks as the position of the metaphysical tradition. Anyone familiar with his work on "Rousseau" should regard such a reading as curious indeed. If anything at all is to be learned from this analysis in Of Grammatology (Derrida, 1976) , it is his re-writing of the tradition's naive substitutional or representational form.ulation of the sign. "Rousseau" declares the sign to be a supplement (an addition, but, at the same time, the replacement) . To describe language as mietaphoric is to argue for its identity and its origin or source . Metaphor and all its

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32 opposites are couples that belong to philosophical discourse. The concept of metaphor inasmuch as there is a concept (based on a presence substituted for) belongs to the field to be deconstructed. Let us continue Ryan's citction: "no metametaphoric description of language is possible that escapes infinite regress." Derrida's analysis of this position applies to more than the simple possibility of descripx:ion ; it extends to all of language itself, its power to say . He mocks its capitalization on itself in one of the subtitles of the essay, " Plus de metaphore " meaning both "more m.etaphor" and "no more metaphor" (see the translator's note, Derrida, 1982d:219). It points towards the tradition's willingness to overlook the preposterous nature of its own propositions when it suits its own needs: when, for example , it decides to write conceptual discourse. For in what way or to what extent does Ryan's analytic discourse derive from m.etaphor? 5. "Each time a rhetoric defines metaphor, it implies not only a philosophy but a conceptual network within which philosophy as such constitutes itself. Each thread, in this network, forms in addition a turn of speech, one might say a metaphor if this notion were not too derivative here. The defined is therefore imiplicated in the defining agent of the definition" (Derrida, 1978e:15). 6. See Derrida's remarks in "The Retrait of Metaphor" (Derrida, 1978e; on the philosophical schema of us or usure , that incorporates the motif of "wear and tear" (p. 15) along with that "of interest, of surplus value, of fiduciary calculus or of usury rate" (p. 17). As he says, referring to "White Mythology" (Derrida, 1982d), "The 'Exergue' announces clearly that it is not a question of accrediting the scheme of the u_s but of deconstructing a philosophical concept, a philosophical construction erecred on this schem.a of worn out metaphor or privileging, for significant reasons, the trope nam^ed metaphor" (p. 14). The schema of wear and surplus value, or loss and profit, will take on greater import in Part II of this study. 7. For a comparison between the Freudian Fort/Da , tlie rhythm of the appearance and disappearance of the text's seif-representation, and the Nietzschean Fort/D a, a rhythm neither oppositional nor contradictory, a rhythm, that does without consciousness, see Derrida, 1980b : 433-37 . 8. For example, see Derrida, 19&2a. Here, Derrida questions feminism^'s docile acceptance of a metaphysical concept, the "identity" of "woman" begun in Spurs (Derrida,. 1979b). 9. See Derrida's remarks in Derrida, 1979c: 219. Theoretical fictions are "regulatory ideals" and are controlled by a teleology within the metaphysics of presence.

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33 10. The reader needs to keep in mind the vouloir-dire coupled with rien in the French text, the implications of which are two that come immediately to mand. First, "thought" does not want to say any thing , to present a presence (m.eaning, signified, referent). Second, "thought" means "nothing"--a "bit of notlimg" ( rien , and not the neant of Sartre) .

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CHAPTER 2 PROBLEMS VJITH READING DERRIDA If thought means or wants (to say) "nothing" (rien and not Sartre's neant ) , hence "a bit of nothing," (Derrida, 1982b: 196) as it is re-written by Derridean deconstruction , in the American version of deconstruction thought engages in endless speeches about itself and the way it "means." I v,7ant to cite a statement of Derrida 's concerning the prcblen of meaning that unites what at first might be considered two strange bed-fellows: phenomenology and semiotics. Thus, whether or not it is "signified" or "expressed," whether or not it is "interwoven" with a process of signification, "meaning" is an intelligible or spiritual ideality which eventually can be united to the sensible aspect of a signifier that in itself it does not need. Its presence, meaning, or essence of meaning, is conceivable outside this interweaving as soon as the phenomenologist , like the semiotician, allegedly refers to a pure unity, a rigorously identifiable aspect of meaning or of the signified. (Derrida, 1981a:31) Within phenom.enology , meaning derives from the constitutive power of consciousness, and is maintained in its original sense giving act through concepts that, as idealites, can be repeated and reproduced, without alteration or loss, through language. For semiotics, meaning is a product of the language system itself. It m.ight conceivably be argued that because semiotics simply shifts the object of 34

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35 analysis--meaning (albeit defined in a somewhat broader sense of signification) from the "inside" (consciousness) to the "outside" (language system) — semiotics merely replaces consciousness with the language system as the locus of meaning, the varying possibilities of which the system itself generates. Thus, semiotics would constitute an inversion of the phenomenological model, exchanging one place of derivation for that of another. On the one hand, this is, of course a ghastly oversimplification, but, on the other, it points to the problem of "place," or "position," illustrates the way both place and position within the tradition can be changed without changing the place or position, without disturbing the ground. VJhatever substantial and important differences are involved in these two systems, along with the impressive and considerable insights each has achieved, one origin is exchanged for another. V7hy is it possible for one system to replace another without provoking any fundamental disruption? Since the concepts each makes use of draw from a "mutual fund," their grounds inevitably have something in common. Since these concepts are not elements or atoms taken from a syntax and a system, every particular borrowing brings along with it the whole of metaphysics. (Derrida, 1978f:280) Jonathan Culler's book. On Deconstruction (Culler, 1982) , is perhaps the most lucid and comprehensive work to date on American deconstruction. But what his work best shows is that American deconstruction is an analysis of "meaning," an analysis of a concept or principle of the

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36 metaphysics of presence by means of principles drawn from (or on the "account" of) the metaphysics of presence. 2 Principles, as was noted earlier, rush ahead m order to produce what comes after. Why is this problematic? First, the defined is already present in the definition; any definition of a principle is, in principle, a principle. Secondly, if they are "there before being there," they have neither meaning nor referent, signified nor object: they have no content. They are "ideal." "Principles" fall within the realm of the Kantian Idea. They regulate (and here is another problem), ideal objects. All of these are targets of deconstruction, which assigns them to the realm of hypotheses (prosthetic devices). As hypotheses, principles (undemonstrable "in principle") function like Plato's "beyond of all Being," fictions that work like "fathers" who inseminate and activate the philosophical machine a tergo . At times, Derrida reminds us that fictions cite the language of metaphysics and call those citations "fictions": they are "the language of metaphysics" (Derrida, 1975b: 52; Derrida, 1982d:210). As is, we must remind ourselves, the philosophical concept of fiction that is also presented to us with the label "fiction" attached. There is no point in using metaphysical principles if one wants to unsettle metaphysics. And analyses that utilize metaphysical principles, even to pit one against the other, can only generate more metaphysics.

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37 My examination of Culler's work attempts to explain most economically why those critical discourses in this country that aspire to the status of deconstruction (understood as a critique of the metaphysics of presence) fail. Culler's work fails at the theoretical level because it repeats one of the same contradictions that runs throughout Saussure's work. At the practical level, American deconstruction fails because each "deconstruction" labors within the space of meaning . And this brand of deconstruction, because it labors within that space of meaning --sometimes called "differential," sometimes "indeterminate," sometimes "negative" — is again a repetition of Saussure's contradictory gesture and shares in it. If I consider Culler, who has instituted theoretical statements on the basis of this contradiction, statements that encompass the work of those figures he describes, then I will indirectly be addressing my remarks to those same practitioners. While Culler's book is an important contribution to the field and contains extremely valuable insights into current literary concerns, its statements, constituted by a Saussurian contradiction, perpetuate that contradiction (but now, under the name of "deconstruction"). Let us see how the "logocentric repression of writing" is still in full force, at the level of theory. Afterwards, we shall turn to a work of a specific critic. I am going to begin with some of Culler's conclusions, and from them, work to their premises.

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Repetition For Culler, deconstruction leads to an indeterminacy of meaning that comes about as a result of the condition of the sign's possibility: replication or repetition. How does Culler understand the implications of repetition? Repetition leads to an indeterminacy of meaning because it is impossible for "final meanings to arrest the movement of signification" (1982:188) for the simple reason that "what we may at one point identify as a signified is also a signifier" (188). That it is impossible to separate the signifier and signified is, of course, one of the moments in Saussure's text that most radically challenges logocentrism. As Derrida states, Saussure insisted . . . against the tradition, that the signified is inseparable from the signifier, that the signified and the signifier are the two sides of one and the same production. (Derrida, 1981a: 18) Thus, for Culler, repetition sets in motion the ceaseless movement of the sign. It will be part of our project to determine as precisely as possible how the sign functions in his system. In order to clarify this interminable activity of the sign. Culler cites Peirce: . . . it follows from the purely differential, nonsubstantial nature of the sign that the difference between signifier and signified cannot be one of substance and that what we may at one point identify as a signified is also a signifier [underlining mine] . There are no final meanings that arrest the movement of signification. Charles Sanders Peirce makes this structure of deferral and referral an aspect of his definition: a sign is "anything which determines something else ( its interpretant ) to refer to an object to which itself [sic] refers (its object ) in the same way, the interpretant becoming in turn a sign, and

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39 so on ad infinitum . ... If the series of successive interpretants come to an end, the sign is thereby rendered imperfect at least. (1982:188) Why do we start with an identifiable signified that we may also then, after such a recognition, treat as a signifier. What necessity compels our starting with the signified? If 3 we were to start with the signifier (reverse the order ) , could we necessarily identify it with a signified? Under what conditions would this be possible? This question guides the reading that follows. The structure of "deferral and referral" is comprised of a "redoubling" — a signified that only as a signified becomes a signifier, but an "interpretable signifier." An interpretable signifier is a unit of meaning that, however provisional or indeterminate, is first and foremost a signified. If there are no "final" meanings, there are already in place signifieds that call for additional interpretations, additional meanings, additional signifieds. Thus, the process of substitution is grounded in a center or a meaning (that meaning that presents itself as the possibility of additional meanings, interpretations), a stable moment in this system from which the possibility of substitution arises, which itself cannot be substituted for without calling this system into question. Culler understands the problem of repetition starting from a first meaning, already the union of signif ier/signif led in its most conservative and classical sense. The sign calls for repetition (another interpretation) , and repetition always

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40 starts from an already constituted present signified, a meaning, an interpretation. Culler defines indeterminacy as the impossibility of checking this activity of the already meaningful sign. It is simply the problem of sign closure: the possibility of endless replication is not an accident that befalls the sign but a constitutive element of its structure, an incompletion without which the sign would be incomplete. (1982:188-89) Repetition, then, is subordinated to that first instance or meaning event that becomes the basis for repetition, repetition of another instance or meaning event; repetition both 4 sets the system m motion and grounds it at the same time. This is classical repetition. The rest of the passage cited above will help us appreciate Culler's position more clearly. However, literary critics should exercise caution in drawing inferences from this principle. While it does enjoin skepticism about possibilities of arresting meaning, of discovering a meaning that lies outside of and governs the play of signs in a text, it does not propose indeterminacy of meaning in the usual sense: the impossibility or unjustifiability of choosing one meaning over another. On the contrary, it is only because there may be excellent reasons for choosing one meaning rather than another that there is any point in insisting that the meaning chosen is itself also a signifier that can be interpreted in turn. The fact that any signified is also in the position of a signifier does not mean that there are no reasons to link a signifier with one signified rather than another; still less does it suggest, as both hostile and sympathetic critics have claimed, an absolute priority of the signifier or a definition of the text as a galaxy of signifiers. "The 'primacy' or 'priority' of the signifier," writes Derrida, "would be an absurd and untenable expression. . . . The signifier will never by rights precede the signified, since it would no longer be a signifier and the signifier 'signifier' would have no possible signified." . . . The structural redoubling of any signified an interpretable

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41 signifier does suggest that the realm of signifiers acquires a certain autonomy, but this does not mean signifiers without signifieds, only the failure of signifieds to produce closure. (1982:189) Let us note first of all that as soon as we situate the sign within the impossibility of arresting its movement, we are discussing what Umberto Eco calls "unlimited semiosis" ("continual shif tings which refer a sign back to another sign or string of signs" [Eco, 1976:71]). Second, recourse to "signifier" derives not from any specificity of its own but arises solely from the motivating instance of a particular meaning chosen initially. Third, what are we talking about when we introduce the possibility of meaning (signified, concept) ? Everything points to the word written on the page, the image of the spoken word. With its focus on the word, the material entity. Culler's analysis relies on the most conservative and classical gesture of Saussure and reintroduces precisely what Saussure himself should have problematized: positive terms. The Positive Term (The Positive "Turn") Speaking of Saussure, Culler states that he [Saussure] concludes that "in the linguistic system there are only differences, without positive terms . " . . . This is a radical formulation. The common view is doubtless that a language consists of words, positive entities, which are put together to form a system and thus acquire relations with one another, but Saussure 's analysis of the nature of linguistic units leads to the conclusion that, on the contrary, signs are the product of a system of differences; indeed, they are not positive entities at all but effects of differences. (120-21)

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42 This is not entirely accurate. As a matter of fact when Saussure develops the negative and differential relations of the language system (bracketing from it the facts of speech) , he states that these relations apply only to the signifier and the signified understood if "they are considered separately"; the word, or the union of sound and sense (the total sign) is indeed a positive term. Let us turn to Saussure for a moment. He has just finished elaborating on the negative and differential relations that are constitutive of the signifier and signified when considered apart. These negative, differential relations do not appear within experience, nor are they differences that can be apprehended by consciousness. He calls the signifier a "sound image" that is not a "material sound, a purely physical thing." (This is important to Derrida's analysis because this "sound image" cannot be understood with reference to any presence or perception.) Now, as soon as one begins to talk about a material manifestation , i.e., the union of signifier and signified as sign, one has a positive term. Let us review the passage and the reservations of Saussure that follow it. Everything that has been said up to this point boils down to this: in language there are only differences. Even more important: a difference generally implies positive terms between which the difference is set up; but in language there are only differences without positive terms . Whether we take the signified or the signifier, language has neither ideas nor sounds that existed before the linguistic system, but only conceptual and phonic differences that have issued from [my underlining] the system. The idea or phonic substance that a sign contains is of less importance than the other, signs that surround it. (Saussure, 1966:120)

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43 Notice that as Saussure refers to the effects exercised by differences, he is discussing, not the sign, but the signifier or signified . Here are the reservations and the logocentrism: But the statement that everything in language is negative is true only if the signified and the signifier are considered separately; when we consider the sign in its totality, we have something that is positive in its own class . . . Although both the signified and the signifier are purely differential and negative when considered separately, their combination is a positive fact. . . . When we compare signs--positive terms--with each other, we can no longer speak of difference; the expression would not be fitting, for it applies only to comparing two sound-images, eg. father and mother, or two ideas, the idea "father" and the idea "mother"; two signs, each having a signified and signifier, are not different but only distinct. (121) This is one point where Saussure ignores the whole import of his own analysis. He has analyzed the signifier in such a way that it exceeds or falls short of consciousness; it is nothing that can be subsumed under, by, or within presence. Nor is the signifier "linguistic," if by that we understand a phonic character. Indeed, it is made up of nothing, that is to say, of no presence; neither material, substantial, perceptual, nor phenomenal. At this point, neither is the signified . These conditions, however, do not affect the whole sign or positive terra, as he calls it; and the fact that they do not constitutes one of his logocentric gestures . For in the structure of the positive term, he reintroduced what in his most radical moment, he excludes: the Voice, the union of sound and sense, concept and voice, the "thought-sound" or "phonic and conceptual differences."

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44 . . . two signs, each having a signified and signifier, are not different but only distinct. Between them there is only opposition . The entire mechanism of language, with which we shall be concerned later, is based on oppositions of this kind and on the phonic and conceptual differences that they imply . [last part, underlining mine] (1966:121) "Difference" pertains only to the signifier and signified (considered separately) , not to the phonic and conceptual character of the sign which has only distinction (not difference) . Once phonic and conceptual characteristics come into consideration, we are dealing with the old metaphysical sign made up of the classically conceived signifier (material and substantial, the phonic and its written image) and signified (the concept, the idea: semantics); the signifier is simply the representative of the represented: presence, the voice. To assert, as Culler does, that "any signified is also in the position of a signifier," and then to determine the import of this statement as a problem of sign closure, of interpretation, of meaning (no matter how provisional or indeterminate) once more determines the sign classically. The sign is again a material manifestation, once more subordinated to thought, to meaning, to consciousness. Indeed, one might say that Culler's analysis, in spite of what he says, deals only with positive terms, the Voice itself. The pressure of the positive term runs throughout and affects the whole of Culler's analysis of "deconstruction" (while it applies inaccurately to Derrida's work, it applies

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45 quite accurately to the work of the others that Culler includes under this rubric and characterizes what they are doing quite precisely) . Let us examine the way writing for Culler is simply confirmed in its metaphysical, material, substantial meaning. Writing on the practice of American deconstructors, Rodolphe Gasche points out a very important distinction. The notion of writing (of text, and of literature, as well) as used by modern deconstructive criticism refers in general only to the phenomeno logical experience of writing as something present in all discourses and texts . . . Derrida's notion of writing and of the trace presupposes a phenomenological reduction of all the mundane regions of sensibility (but also of the intelligible) . Being anterior (yet not as an essence) to the distinctions between the regions of sensibility, and consequently to any experience of presence, the trace or writing is not something which can be said to be present in all discourses. The regions of sensibility and of presence are "only" the regions where writing as arch-writing appears as such, becomes present by occulting itself. Thus, the evidence in question, since it confuses and is unaware of distinctions as important as those between appearance and appearing, between appearance and signification, consists of a fall back into a phenomenological apprehension of writing as something readable, visible, and significant in an empirical medium open to experience. (Gasche, 1979:181) Richard Rorty, an analytic philosopher whom Culler quotes, similarly understands writing in its metaphysical representation. Let us begin here. Rorty puts himself in Derrida's shoes (always a dangerous "feat" as we shall see when we come to the lesson of the fort: da game) to pose what he considers Derrida's question and then supplies his own logocentric answer. If, Rorty asks, "philosophy is a kind

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46 of writing," why do philosophers resist this characterization? What is the threat of writing? Notice the definition of writing implied by the answer. For philosophers, Rorty states , Writing is an unfortunate necessity; what is really wanted is to show, to demonstrate, to point out, to exhibit, to make one's interlocutor stand and gaze before the world. ... In a mature science, the words in which the investigator "writes up" his results should be as few and as transparent as possible. Philosophical writing, for Heidegger as for the Kantians, is really aimed at putting an end to writing. For Derrida, writing always leads to more writing, and more, and still more. (Culler, 1982:90) I think the statement "speaks for itself"; it is quite clear that "writing," for Rorty, consists of (and is a somewhat lamentable need to) committing one's thoughts to paper, of writing them up, of "imaging" and "representing" them. Culler's understanding of writing belongs in the same empirical and experiential realm. Writing presents language as a series of physical marks that operate in the absence of the speaker. They may be highly ambiguous or organized in artful rhetorical patterns. (91) Evidently it does not occur to Culler to question how or why these "physical marks" can function in such a strange and ineluctable manner. It does not seem to occur to him that they can do so only if one assumes that these "physical marks" — and this is phonologocentrism itself — "paint" or "image" the voice, represent the voice, and are the signs of (already unified) signs: the Voice. Should we not be reminded here of why in (Derrida 's reading of) Rousseau, writing, the supplement, the "representative image" is

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47 "dangerous"? Might we not recall that it is so because the supplement "inake[s] one forget the vicariousness of its own function and make[s] itself pass for the plenitude of a speech whose deficiency and infirmity it nevertheless only supplements" (Derrida, 1976:144)? VJhen Culler directly addresses the metaphysics of presence, in order to demonstrate the flaws in the concept of presence, the real difficulty he seems to find is that it is composed primarily of its own modified forms. Thus, What is proposed as a given, an elementary constituent, proves to be a product, dependent on or derived in ways that deprive it of the authority of simple or pure presence. (Culler, 1982:94) Here is an example. It is one of Zeno's paradoxes that "illustrates more convincingly . . . the difficulties of a system based on presence" (94). Consider, for example, the flight of an arrow. If reality is v/hat is present at any given instant, the arrow produces a paradox. At any given moment it is in a particular spot; it is always in a particular spot and never in motion. We want to insist, quite justifiably, that the arrow _is in motion at every instant from the beginning to the end of its flight, yet its motion is never present at any moment of presence. The presence of motion is conceivable, it turns out, only insofar as every instant is already marked with traces of the past and future . Motion can be present, that is to say, only if the present instant is not something given but a product of the relations between past and future . Something can be happening at a given instant only if the instant is already divided within itself, inhabited by the nonpre sent . (94, underlining mine) Admittedly, this is only an example and used, one must suppose, for its heuristic value. But the example, at the very least, is confusing and misleading. It is confusing to

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48 use the v/ord "trace" with reference to the past and future, all simply modified forms of presence itself, moments of presence that are past, and moments of presence yet to come. Such use also places "trace" within what Gasche calls a mundane region of sensibility. Additionally, it is confusing to consider the present as simply divided, marked by the nonpresent when "nonpresent" is also determined as a modified form of presence. "Nonpresent" in Derrida's vocabulary refers to nothing that can be equated with the ordinary experience of time, with grammatical tenses, or the experience of consciousness; indeed "nonpresent" problematizes all of these. And it is equally confusing to talk about the present as a product when again the "product" is a product merely by virtue of its relation to past (one presence) and future (another presence) . Presence is problematic only on the basis of this infiltration of past and future. Thus, the present instant can serve as ground only insofar as it is not a pure and autonomous given. If motion is to be present, presence must already be marked by difference and deferral. (27) As the present is only marked by other presences, it is only marked by itself; hence no disturbance is produced in the field. Culler's analysis encourages us to conclude that Derrida argues that presence is suspect because it is derived from modified forms of presences. This model does not change appreciably when Culler turns to an analysis of language. He situates its discussion between (the concept of) structure and (the concept of)

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49 event. Again, the passage I cite is a long one, but quite instructive. Culler argues, The meaning of a word, it is plausible to claim, is what speakers mean by it. A word's meaning within the system of a language, what we find when we look a word up in a dictionary, is a result of the meaning speakers have given it in past acts of communication. And what is true of a word is true of language in general: the structure of a language, its system of norms and regularities, is a product of events, the result of prior speech acts. However, when we take this argument seriously and begin to look at the events which are said to determine structures, we find that every event is itself already determined and made possible by prior structures. The possibility of meaning something by an utterance is already inscribed in the structure of language. The structures themselves are always products, but however far back we try to push, even when we try to imagine the "birth" of language and describe an ordinary event that might have produced the first structure, we discover that we must assume prior organization, prior differentiation. As in the case of causality [he refers to an analysis preceding the section that I am discussing] , we find only nonoriginary origins. If a cave man is successfully to inaugurate language by making a special grunt signify "food," we must suppose that the grun-t is already distinguished from other grunts and that the world has already been divided into the categories "food" and "nonfood." Acts of signification depend on differences, such as the contrast between "food" and "nonfood" that allows food to be signified, or the contrast between signifying elements that allows a sequence to function as a signifier. The sound sequence bat is a signifier because it contrasts with pat , mat , bad, bet, etc. The noise that is "present" when one says bat is inhabited by the traces of a signifier only insofar as it consists of such traces. As in the case of motion, what is supposedly present is already complex and differential, marked by difference, a product of differences. An account of language, seeking solid foundation, will doubtless wish to treat meaning as something somewhere present — say, present to consciousness at the moment of a signifying event: but any presence it invokes turns out to be already inhabited by difference. However, if one tries instead to ground an account of meaning on

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50 difference, one fares no better, for differences are never given as such and are always products. A scrupulous theory must shift back and forth between these perspectives, of event and structure or parole and langue , which never lead to a synthesis. Each perspective shows the error of the other in an irresolvable alteration or aporia. (95-96)^^ First, I want to take the very last statement further. Each perspective (each full and present moment: structure itself , event itself) does not need its other in order for either to manifest its own error. Each demonstrates its own error by itself quite capably. Derrida has criticized the notion of structure in his essay, "Force and Significa9 tion." Borrowing from this essay, we might say that the whole notion of structure is a search for and an appeal to simultaneity. Simultaneity requires the articulation of events (as simultaneous) . But the very articulation of events dispels the possibility of simultaneity. Structure is the "myth of a total reading or description , promoted to the status of a regulatory ideal" (Derrida, 1979c: 24, underlining mine) . Similarly, the concept of pure event, in that it is, as Culler himself has demonstrated in the most metaphysical terms possible, compounded with other presences — past presences (inhabited by traces of forms one is not uttering but had uttered before, or will have uttered) — should be sufficient to begin to call itself into question. But there is another way that Culler's example of a "deconstruction" is equally confusing: "deconstruction" is founded on the difference between two presences, two positive terms: event and structure or parole and langue. If

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51 the two self-present meanings produce an aporia, then the aporia is derived from, dependent upon, and secondary to the two meanings . Inasmuch as the concepts of structure and event, in Culler's analysis, are oriented by the presence of meaning, the concept, intention, in short all the values of communication questioned by Derrida, it is not surprising that Culler should speak of language as an expression of ideas ("the meaning speakers have given it in past acts of communication") . Thus, it follows that the analysis remains caught in a circle of exchange, event for structure, structure for event, without ever questioning the individual status of each, or the assumption of their meaningfulness . Oriented by semantics, by meaning, instead of resituating the origin, his analysis in its infinite regress (maintained by the concept of presence itself) simply generates another concept of the origin, that of a nonoriginary origin, nonoriginary because the individual moments of presences are too many, too rich, too infinite to be arrested or simply located. The substitute can always be substituted for by another substitute, for example, another structure/event determined and itself preceded by one more. The whole analysis of the origin ("nonoriginary") is guided by teleology and smacks of the "infinite task" of phenomenology. For if in fact the recuperation of the origin is impossible, it is in principle available "at infinity."

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52 Let's take another example (this will take a little time but it is instructive) , one that Culler offers as "a compact instance of the general procedures we encounter in the work of Jacques Derrida" (1982:88). It is a good example of the assertion/denial structure in one of its various forms that runs throughout most American deconstruction. In this specific instance, (philosophical) concepts of experience are asserted and then denied by (philosophical) concepts of rhetoric. An individual experiences pain, and this pain motivates that person to search out the cause of the pain. Sure enough the culprit takes shape in the form of a pin. Now, by reversing the perceptual order, one establishes a causal sequence between pain and pin: pin, therefore pain. Culler then quotes Nietzsche whose analysis Culler expressly identifies with Derrida 's style (an identification that Derrida might criticize as a "continuist assimilation or setting into filiation," as though Derrida were attempting 12 no more than an "extension or a continuous radicalization" of the Nietzschean movement) : The fragment of the outside world of which we become conscious comes after the effect that has been produced on us and is projected a posteriori as its "cause." In the phenomenalism of the "inner world" we invert the chronology of cause and effect. The basic fact of "inner experience" is that the cause gets imagined after the effect has occurred. (86) The comment that follows these remarks sets up rhetoric as the controlling and constitutive category.

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53 The causal scheme is produced by a metonomy or metalepsis (substitution of cause for effect) ; it is not an indubitable foundation but the product of a tropological operation. (86-87) This is followed by a series of precautionary remarks concerning the nature of deconstruction , what it is up to, and what it isn't up to. It cannot and does not scrap the principle of causality since it relies upon the notion of cause itself, cause here being the experience of pain . To deconstruct causality one must operate with the notion of cause and apply it to causation itself. The deconstruction appeals to no higher logical principle or superior reason but uses the very principle it deconstructs. The concept of causation is not an error that philosophy could or should have avoided but is indispensable — to the argument of deconstruction as to other arguments. (87) Furthermore, Culler admonishes, this specific deconstruction is not to be confused with Humean skepticism, although there are affinities with it. Hume eliminates causality because it is unobservable within what upon examination simply presents itself as moments of "contiguity and temporal succession." Deconstruction will work with "contiguity and succession" in a similar manner, but at the same time, it will make use of the notion of cause in its ov/n argument. If "cause" is an interpretation of contiguity and succession, then pain can be the cause in that it may come first in the sequence of experience. This double procedure of systematically employing the concepts or premises one is undermining puts the critic in a position not of skeptical detachment but of unwarrantable involvement, asserting the indispensability of causation while denying it any rigorous justification. (87-88, underlining mine)

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54 We have now arrived at a point where we can determine what "deconstruction" is up to: the deconstruction reverses the hierarchical opposition of the causal scheme. The distinction between cause and effect makes the cause an origin, logically and temporally prior. The effect is derived, secondary, dependent upon the cause. Without exploring the reasons for or the implications of this hierarchization, let us note that, working within the opposition, the deconstruction upsets the hierarchy by producing an exchange of properties. If the effect is what causes the cause to become a cause, then the effect, not the cause, should be treated as the origin. By showing that the argument which elevates cause can be used to favor effect, one uncovers and undoes the rhetorical operation responsible for the hierarchization and one produces a significant displacement. If either cause or effect can occupy the position of origin, the origin is no longer originary; it loses its metaphysical privilege. A nonoriginary origin is a "concept" that cannot be comprehended by the former system and thus disrupts it. (88) Here is a wonderful example of "the philosophical order" being "reactivated a tergo by misconstrued philosophical machines, according to denegation ..." (Derrida, 1982d:xxii) . What is Culler saying here, and what does it have to do with denegation? Let me speak for a moment in the mode of denegation in order to show what is going on. "That meaning, that meaning right there, the meaning produced by those rhetorical operations that are also there , that meaning and those operations, they aren't there." Freud would have a picnic here. In that "rhetorical operations" organize distinctions (presence of cause, presence of ef f ect--better yet — presence of the principle of cause; presence of the principle of effect, both "there before being there") and found the

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55 ground of these categories (by means of which experience is comprehended) , rhetoric functions as a transcendental signified. Everything is referred to rhetoric, even as it itself is assumed and asserted in its metaphysical (conceptual) value. The conceptual value of these derived categories remains "untouchable." Thus, an explanation of "our" "experience" of "pain" merely shifts from perception/ consciousness to these operations, but "undoing" rhetorical operations simply proves one a good rhetorician. One system substitutes for another, just as one concept substitutes for another (cause, effect; effect, cause): "Either cause or effect can occupy the position of origin." Of what help is the concept of the "nonoriginary origin"? It would seem either to mask philosophy's oldest trick, the "infinite regress," or unwittingly appeal to the de facto/de jure opposition: in fact , we finite minds are unable to determine which comes first, but in principle (unless we are merely advancing simply opinion ) it is there. And indeed, rhetorical operations (and they are finally semantic operations) act as first principle and cause (cause of both cause and effect) . Does it matter a great deal to the metaphysics of presence if we describe the origin in terms of either cause or effect as long as we maintain causes, effects, and let us not forget, the concept of "experience," along with the "subject" who experiences? I am not arguing that these concepts must be denounced and renounced, but these "concepts" are not functional within a deconstruction .

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56 Deconstruction certainly deconstructs the metaphysics of presence, but it does not do so by means of the principles of metaphysics. As long as we change places without changing the place, no disruption of this system is effected. Furthermore, since experience itself has always been determined as a relation with presence (and there is no exception in Culler's analysis), I am not so sure that Derrida would accept the terms of the argument, and indeed, I am not so sure that upon further consideration, Culler might either. At least not as univocally as this exam.ple might itself suggest. For a little further on. Culler states that, "Among the familiar concepts that depend on the value of presence are: "the immediacy of sensation" (93). What then is the value of the above example that asserts the "experience of pain," that denies it as "experience," denies it as the rhetorical operation of cause/effect, only to assert it as the rhetorical operation of effect/cause. Experience (that is not ) is the effect of a rhetorical operation (that is ) ; experience (that is not ) is a product of rhetorical operations working on consciousness (which certainly is here) . What about the value of the "subject" who does not experience "experience," but experiences rhetorical operations? I think perhaps this "subject" is a little too unified, too self-present, too quickly names (and thereby masters) its experience. I suspect that one question a deconstruction might first ask would involve what is meant

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57 by "experience," in particular, an experience of "pain." Indeed, we need only march Freud on stage in order to complicate this question infinitely. Freud would certainly give the "consciousness" of this "subject" a bit more trouble than Culler does. With reference to Derrida's work. Culler's analysis proceeds as though Derrida were trying to explain phonologocentrism the better to codify it, and without any attempt to "tamper" with this "centrism" or to "touch" it, to make it deviate from (itself) . The procession of (nonoriginary) origins is not the most curious moment of the analysis. That surely must be reserved for the way in which the analysis presents the world as already written ("If a cave man is successfully to inaugurate language by making a special grunt signify 'food,' we must suppose that the world has already been divided into the categories 'food' and 'nonfood ' " [underlining mine] ) , along with the equation of the "signifying element" with its material sound manifestation, an equation that ignores not only Saussure's definition (although Culler repeatedly acknowledges Saussure's definition, he never alters his analysis to draw the conclusions demanded) , but perhaps more particularly by-passes Derrida's reading of Saussure in the first part of Of Grammatology . These two moments must surely rank as the strangest in the whole book, for they advance the most determined, classical understanding of the sign, only to 14 pose It as Its own most formidable critique. Thus, in

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spite of the fact that Saussure insists that the signifier is not a material entity, not the sound, not identical to what we ordinarily think of as the signifier in any classical sense, in Culler's hands, the whole system of language made up of "sound sequences," of signifiers — defined as heard, perceptual differences, their "contrasts" — once more becomes the Signifier of the Signified, the totality of What Is, i.e., concepts (to the already constituted and differentiated, better , distinct — since we are dealing with positive terms — meaningful categories of "food" and "nonfood" which precede the sound system, we may simply add all the rest) . Like Saussure whom he frequently cites. Culler acknowledges that sound cannot belong to the system ("Sound itself, he [Saussure] argues convincingly, cannot belong to the system" [1982:98]), but, like Saussure, Culler ignores what he is saying. When it comes to a "speech act" the whole problem of the signifier, its nonphenomenal character, its negative and differential status, disappears to leave us in the presence of meaning represented by sound or what functions as its synonym: "noises." "Noises count as language only when they serve to express or communicate ideas" and sound only "permits the manifestation of the system in acts of speech" (98) . We are once more situated within the most classical and conservative space of Saussure 's analysis: meaningful noise or sound, the unity of sound and idea, of voice and concept. As Derrida points out in his analysis of the conservative side of Saussure,

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59 Now the word ( vox ) is already a unity of sense and sound, of concept and voice, or, to speak a more rigorously Saussurian language, of the signified and the signifier. (1976:31) It is precisely this ideal that will lead to a representation of writing as an image of speech. As Derrida states, . . . there would be first a natural bond of sense to the senses and it is this that passes from sense to sound: "the natural bond," Saussure says, "the only true bond of sound" . . . This natural bond of the signified (concept or sense) to the phonic signifier would condition the natural relationship subordinating writing (visible language) to speech. (31) This model of writing as written speech is the aim of Derrida' s attack. But it is only as this model that we can make sense of Culler's description of writing. Writing presents language as a series of physical marks that operate in the absense of the speaker. They may be highly ambiguous or organized in artful rhetorical patterns. (Culler, 1982:91) Again, Culler invokes the de facto/de jure opposition. In fact , the speaker is absent, but in principle either he or his voice is there. For the absence is determined classically , as a continuous, modified form of presence (meaning) that extends the domain of the self-spoken word into what is conceived as a field homogeneous with it, enabling speech to represent itself more powerfully, for speech now leaps over distance, over tall buildings and makes itself heard. In what way other than as an image of the meaningful voice, as the representation of the voice, can "physical marks" be considered "highly ambiguous or organized in artful rhetorical patterns" unless these marks are determined

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60 teleologically as images of the Voice, the unity of sound and sense, its meaningfulness? Let us pause here for a moment and recall the classical model of writing outlined by Derrida in "Signature Event Context." It should demonstrate that Culler's concept of writing fits the classical model and has very little in common with what Derrida is attempting to delineate. The Classical Model (We've "Grown Accustomed To Its Face" — Almost!) Writing, classically understood, is communication, a means of extending speech, of transferring a content" ("meaning": within phenomenology, those created by the speaker; within semiotics, those made available by the language system). Speaking of this model, Derrida remarks, If one takes the notion of writing in its usually accepted sense . . . one indeed must see it as a means of communication . . . which extends very far, if not infinitely, the field of oral or gestural communication. . . . When we say that writing extends the field and powers of a locutionary or gestural communication, are we not presupposing a kind of homogeneous space of communication? (Derrida, 1982d:310) According to the classical model, when we write, we do so in order to convey our "thought," "ideas," or "representations": we "express" ourselves. Certainly, a reading guided by this model will always measure itself against what it considers the truth expressed by writing and struggle for a faithful interpretation of the consciousness that motivates it. Or we might even treat the piece to a semiotic analysis in order to discover the rules that govern the

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61 production of its "message." Notice that once more, we are within a circle. Meaning precedes what produces it; the mark, the sign, both are submitted either to thought or consciousness, or to the system itself, the Signified of which language is merely the signifier. How do iterability and absence function in this model? Of course, in a very classical manner. Someone thinks something, and desiring to express it to a reader (who can just as easily be the writer) , commits it to writing. Whether we conceive of the piece as a production of the consciousness of the writer, or as a production made possible by the language system itself really makes no difference as far as the function of writing itself is concerned. For writing is the extension, the image, reproduction, representation, or protrait of either one. Now, having recorded or repeated these thoughts or ideas using the necessary coding elements that permit recognition, writing then functions in the writer's absence, as the voice, and because it images the voice, it can be read and is accessible to the reader at any time. The richer the meaning of the writing, the richer the devices through which a semantic transfer is effected, the more respect and value the piece is accorded. Thus, the two fundamental assumptions of this model are the homogeneity between "voice" and writing (the one reduced to a simple extension of the other) , and the value of absence in relation to writing that functions not as an absence at all but as a continuous modification of the

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62 presence of the Voice . The first leads us to think of writing as the image or picture of speech; the second allows this speech to operate, under the most varied conditions of citation and context, as meaningful. No matter how we reshape a written fragment by means of these operations, because the fragment represents a meaningful voice, it represents meaning itself. But this model is precisely what Derrida questions. As he points out in his essay, the relation between speech and writing in this model is silently governed by the concept of analogy, one that however refined throughout the history of metaphysics, by virtue of the presence of meaningfulness in the first instant and its homogeneity with the field of writing--these first premises--always assumes a continuous relationship of transfer (speculative borrowing from one field to the next, the transfer of one presence to another kind) between idea/sign, perception (presentation) /representation. Using Condillac as a general example of . . . a philosophical discourse which like all philosophy presupposes the simplicity of the origin and the continuity of every derivation, every production, every analysis, the homogeneity of all order. . . . (1982d:311), Derrida remarks that. The philosophical operation that Condillac also calls "to retrace" consists in traveling back, by way of analysis and continuous decomposition, along the movement of genetic derivation which leads from simple sensation and present perception to the complex edification of representation: from original presence to the most formal language of calculation. (314)

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63 The founding moment always consists of a presence, a transferable, transposable unit of meaning, or perception. Within the field chosen to represent these presences, the absence of that original form of presentation, as it is only a simple modification, assumes the value of an "accident" that exerts no real pressure or force of its own. Absence exercises no real specificity on the structure of writing. Hence, writing stands for the voice, the unity of sound and sense, either of a particular subject or the anonymous one of culture. The value of absence, then, can be used either to confirm the power of the voice, or disrupt it. If the written mark has the power to function in the absence of the sender, and we think of this absence as a simple problem of non-proximity or distance, then it is an absence that is always subject to recuperation. But if the absence in question refers to an absence of a more radical kind, then far from pertaining to a communication situation in terms of sender and receiver, it pertains to the structure of the mark itself . And what is of paramount importance concerning this absence is not what the mark can "carry" or "transfer," but its relation to iterability. . . . this absence is not a continuous modification of presence; it is a break in presence, "death," or the possibility of the "death" of the addressee, inscribed in the structure of the mark (and it is at this point . . . that the value or effect of transcendentality is linked necessarily to the possibility of writing and of "death" . . .). A perhaps paradoxical consequence of the recourse I am taking to iteration and to the code: the disruption in the last analysis.

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64 of the authority of the code as a finite system of rules; the radical destruction, by the same token, of every context as a protocol of a code. (316) When one considers the minimal requirements in order for a mark to function as legible , one soon finds out that it necessitates very little indeed. The mark can function in the absence of the sender and in the absence of the receiver: neither are a necessary part of its structure; therefore, the value of absence cannot be thought in relation to them. Absence must be conceived in its relation to the mark, then. The mark can also — and here, Derrida adds Husserl's analysis to his own — function in the absence of a referent . If I say, while looking out the window, "The sky is blue," the statement will be intelligible . . . even if the interlocutor does not see the sky; even if I do not see it myself, if I see it poorly, if I am mistaken, or if I wish to trick my interlocutor. Not that it is always thus; but the structure of possibility of this statement includes the capability of being formed and of functioning either as an empty reference, or cut off from its referent. Without this possibility which is also the general, generalizable , and generalizing iteration of every mark, there would be no statements . (318-19, underlining mine) The mark can also function in the absence of a signified . Derrida provides three examples of a readability without a signified still conceivable within the classical model . This is still the classical model because these instances are thought of as the exception to the rule , the " accident , " the variant trait. I can manipulate symbols without in active and current fashion animating them with my attention and intention to signify. . . . Certain statements can have a meaning, although they are

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65 without objective signification. . . . "Square circle" marks the absence of a referent . . . and also the absence of a certain signified, but not the absence of meaning . . . the crisis of meaning (nonpresence in general, absence as the absence of the referent — of perception — or of meaning — of the actual intention to signify) is always linked to the essential possibility of writing. . . . Finally, there is what Husserl calls Sinnlosigkeit or agrammaticality . . . "green is or" or "abracadabra." ... it is only in a context determined by a will to know, by an epistemic intention, by a conscious relation to the object as an object of knowledge within a horizon of truth — it is this oriented contextual field that "green is or" is unacceptable. But since "green is or" or "abracadabra" do not constitute their context in themselves, nothing prevents their functioning in another context as signifying marks. (319-320) If we conceive of absence as incidental to the mark, then we regard this absence as a simple variant function of an invariant structure that for the most part (separate from and in spite of these exceptions) does refer, does have a signified and so forth. The absence of referent and signified is no more than the exception to the rule. Thus, if I write "dog," however you go about reading or understanding the word (i.e., referring to a determinable and classifiable entity; or derived from a language system and meaningful only within that system) , the absence in question does not seem to apply to this example . That of course is the classical position. The assumption upon which this position rests is that the absence in question is necessary to each and every example. For "necessity," however, one must substitute " must be able to ," which is an entirely different matter. Once conceived as a " must be able to , " this absence can no longer be considered

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66 as a simple exception because the structure of the mark demands that the mark itself must always be able to function in such a way. . . . if one admits that writing (and the mark in general) must be able to function in the absence of the sender, the receiver, the context of production etc., that implies that this power, this being able , this possibility is always inscribed, hence necessarily inscribed as pos sibility in the functioning or the functional structure of the mark. Once the mark is able to function, once it is possible for it to function, once it is possible for it to function in case of an absence etc., it follows that this possibility is a necessary part of its structure, that the latter must necessarily be such that this functioning is possible; and hence, that this must be taken into account in any attempt to analyze or to describe, in terms of necessary laws, such a structure. Even if it is sometimes the case that the mark, in fact, functions in-the-presence-of , this does not change the structural law in the slightest. . . . Such iterability is inseparable from the structural possibility in which it is necessarily inscribed. To object by citing cases where absence appears in fact not to be observable is like objecting that a mark is not essentially iterable because here and there it has not in fact been repeated. (Derrida, 1977b: 184) To recognize that the mark must be able to function in such a way renders the status of the mark, that is to say, the status of all marks as undecidable. Undecidability has in this sense no relation to cognition at all, since the marks of cognition are included within this structure. It relates to the structure itself. To comprehend this possibility of the mark is to understand (but what possible meaning could that word have here?) that there might — indeed must --always be nothing to understand, and that there might--must--always be no "one" to perform an act of understanding. Such a statement, itself conveyed by means of the mark, can be

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67 substituted for by any and every other mark, each of which always and necessarily must be able to function in the same way: "in the absence of." Here, there is no certain "uncertainty," no determinate "indeterminacy." For the "content," the "information," the "knowledge" the mark pretends to offer is constantly undermined by the mark's own requirements — that it must necessarily be able to function in the absence of any reference, any meaning. To insist that the value of absence be understood other than as a modified form of presence involves four consequences that alter the face of the classical model of writing. I cite from Derrida's essay, "Signature Event Context" : 1) the break with the horizon of communication of consciousness or presences, and as the linguistic or semantic transport of meaning; 2) the subtraction of all writing from the semantic horizon or the hermeneutic horizon which, at least as a horizon of meaning, lets itself be punctured by writing; 3) the necessity of, in a way, separating the concept of polysemia from the concept I have elsewhere named dissemination , which is also the concept of writing; 4) the "linguistic" context, whose theoretical determination or empirical saturation are, strictly speaking, rendered impossible or insufficient by writing. ..." (Derrida, 1982d:316) The requirements of the mark also pertain to all order of signs. Absence: repeatability or iterability, but of nothing that means, refers, signifies, transmits, or transfers. Repetition as the repetition of "nothing": It is because the unity of the signifying form is constituted only by its iterability, by the possibility of being repeated in the absence not only of its referent, which goes without saying, but of a determined signified or current intention of

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68 signification, as of every present intention of communication. This structural possibility of being severed from its referent or signified (and therefore from communication and its context) seems to me to make of every mark, even if oral, a grapheme in general, that is, as we have seen, the nonpresent remaining of a differential mark cut off from its alleged "production" or origin. And I will extend this law even to all "experience" in general, if it is granted that there is no experience of pure presence, but only chains of differential marks. (Derrida, 1982d:318) It should be somewhat easier now to understand Derrida 's reservations concerning context. Context functions in relation to presence, in relation to meaning. But if the differential mark can always have nothing to do with meaning, or a referent, must always be able to function in its absence, then the value of the "concept" of context no longer commands the field under consideration. Derrida reinscribes the concept of context when he states that while "no meaning can be determined out of context ... no context permits saturation" (Derrida, 1979a:81). Culler interprets Derrida 's comments on context in a manner that misses the point. Context is boundless in two senses. First, any given context is open to further description. There is no limit in principle to what might be included in a given context, to what might be shown to be relevant to the performance of a particular speech act. This structural openness of context is essential to all disciplines . . . Meaning is determined by context and for that very reason is open to alternation when further possibilities are mobilized. . . . Context is also unmasterable in a second sense: any attempt to codify context can always be grafted onto the context it sought to describe, yielding a new context which escapes the previous formulation. Attempts to describe limits always make possible a displacement of those limits. . . . (Culler, 1982:123-24, underlining mine)

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69 The concept of context applies to meaning (presence; referent and/or signified) . But meaning is teleologically imposed on sounds of the voice, and context is then teleologically imposed on meaning. In a sense, Culler is presenting a very good case for the teleology we must necessarily have recourse to in order to control the semantic effect of the language of metaphysics. But if we were to entertain the notion that context cannot saturate because we are no longer concerned simply, only, and purely with meaning , we might find ourselves traveling in an entirely different direction. Part of the problem with Culler's analysis of context is that he assumes the occurrence of a meaningevent , a meaningevent that Derrida questions. Meaning-events for Culler can always be modified by another context in order to produce another meaning event. For example, This structural openness of context is essential to all disciplines: the scientist discovers that factors previously disregarded are relevant to the behavior of certain objects; the historian brings new or reinterpreted data to bear on a particular event; the critic relates a passage or a text to a context that makes it appear in a new light. (124) But, for a meaning event even to present itself--and I include here provisional interpretations of that event ("it could mean this"; "it could mean that") assumes complete contextualization. It also assumes a linear model of time (questioned by Derrida) and a linear model of reading (questioned by Derrida) .

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70 Iterability undermines the concept of context. For to assert that context is capable of saturating v/hat it surrounds or presents is to assert that the iterability consequent upon the absence necessary to the structure of the mark once more operates as an accident. Thus, it would not pertain to a particular mark functioning within a particular context (or, what I above called a meaning-event). Furthermore, iterability would then consist of the repetition of something (e.g., the classical mark repeating itself), some m.eaning, some referent, a determinate and present unit. This would reduce the iterability of the mark, its nonpresent remainder , to a component of the voice heard, the writing seen, and thus once more to the field of consciousness and/or perception. The nonpresent remainder, however, is not a presence, nor is it a modification of presence; it is not a material element. Because of the remainder, it is no longer possible to identify the mark or writing with its simple material appearance . The iterability of an element divides its own identity a priori , even without taking into account the fact that this identity can only determine or delimit itself through differential relations to other elements and that it hence bears the mark of the difference. It is because this iterability is differential, within each individual "element" as well as between the "elements," because it splits each element while constituting it, because it marks it with an articulatory break, that the remainder, although indispensable is never that of a full or fulfilling presence: it is a differential structure escaping the logic of presence or the (simple or dialectical) opposition of presence to absence. (Derrida, 1977b:190)

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71 This "difference" is neither the difference between sounds of language nor between its written forms . To locate the analysis on the level of such a materiality is to locate it on the level of the Saussurian positive term. Differance would then be derived from differences in sound, appearance, or presence. But the remainder removes the mark from a metaphysical structure. Like the trace it is, the m.ark is neither present nor absent. This is what is remarkable about it, even if it is not remarked. This is why the phrase of Sec [Derrida refers, here, to a previous essay, "Signature Event Context," preoccupied with the same concerns] speaks of the "nonpresent remainder of a differential mark cut off from its putative 'production' or origin." Where does this break [ coupure ] take place? To situate it, it is not necessary ... to imagine the death of the sender or the receiver [underlining mine] .... The break intervenes from the moment that there is a mark, at once [ aussi sec ] . And it is not negative, but rather the positive condition of the emergence of the mark. It is iterability itself, that which is remarkable in the mark, passing between the re of the repeated and the reof the repeating, traversing and transforming repetition. Condition or effect — take your pick — of iterability. As I have done elsewhere, I will say that it cuts across [ recoupe ] iterability at once, recovering it as though it were merging with it, cutting the cut or break once again in the rem.ark. (190) This little "nothing" of iterability frustrates an equivalent, symmetrical repetition (identity of presence) . It is the death (no consciousness, no perception, nothing that the dialectic can encompass) that, not being opposed to "life," but always already fracturing it, dividing and multiplying it, creates the possibility of life, of meaning, of consciousness, of perception. It gives all these a space. Death, nothing, assymetrical repetition, iterability, the

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72 hitch, the blink, the limp, the dance, rather than rigidifying or petrifying the mark, destroys the stoniness of the presence that erects itself in the form of an absolute truth, knowledge, meaning, consciousness, perception, derived presence as a phallic moment that feigns castration, that is to say, pretends to be cut or severed from another 1 fi plentitude of presence. This "bit of nothing" allows the mark to "live on," to "survive" (" survivre " ) , ("sur" vivre ) . The concept of context and code attempt to enclose or incorporate without remainder. Context or code remain the "ethical and teleological discourse of consciousness" (Derrida, 1982d:327) , and functions as a guard: police. Both concepts aim to make present an intention or a meaning, to actualize them. Thus we speak of a context which delimits or determines how something (intention, statement, expression, description, systematic determination) is to be understood; or of a code, a set of rules or system of axioms which when applied to an object aims toward the presentation specific to the object of its domain (e.g., literary code, philosophical code, phychoanalytic code, m.athematical code, linguistic code, and so forth). Nonetheless, both context and code, by virtue of the iterability that constitutes them, are always already also other than what they mean (to say) . Iterability alters, contaminating parasitically what it identifies and enables to repeat "itself"; it leaves us no choice but to mean (to say) something that is (already, always, also) other

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73 than what we mean (to say) , to say something other than what we say and would have wanted to say, to understand something other than . . . etc. (1977b:200) No meaning, no code, no context is adequate to itself, no meaning, no code, no context can incorporate without remainder. Limdting the very thing it authorizes, transgressing the code or the law it constitutes, the graphics of iterability inscribes alteration irreducibly in repetition (or in identification) : a priori , always and already, without delay, at once , aussi sec . . . . (200) Iterability undoes the logic of opposition between "species of repetitions" . . . (for instance, serious/nonserious , literal/ metaphorical or sarcastic, ordinary/parasitical, strict/ non-strict, etc.) Iterability blurs a priori the dividing line that passes between these opposed terms, "corrupting" it if you like, contaminating it parasitically , qua limit. What is remarkable about the mark includes the margin within the mark. The line delineating the margin can therefore never be determined rigorously, it is never pure and simple. The mark is re-markable in that it "is" also its margin. (209-210) But again, this does not mean that iterability lends itself to idealization, to perception, to a representation as what is written on the page, as an ambiguity or equivocal meaning, to essence, to substance. . . . the unique character of this structure of iterability, or rather of this chain, since iterability can be supplemented by a variety of termis (such as differance, graphem^e , trace, etc.), lies in the fact that, comprising identity and difference, repetition and alteration, etc., it renders the project of idealization possible without lending " itself " to any pure, simple, and idealizable conceptualization. No process [ proces ] or project of idealization is possible without iterability, and yet iterability "itself" cannot be idealized. For it comports an internal

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74 and impure limit that prevents it from being identified, synthesized, or reappropriated, just as it excludes the reappropriation of that whose iteration it nonetheless broaches and breaches [entame] . (210) We should now be in a position to appreciate the considerable gap that separates Culler's deconstruction from that of Derrida's, as it is theorized by Culler. Culler continually equates the signifier v/ith the material manifestation of sound as he does the written word to its im.age. The evanescence of the signifier in speech creates the impression of the direct presence of a thought, but however swiftly it vanishes, the spoken word is still a material form which, like the written form, works through its differences from other forms. If the vocal signifier is preserved for examination, as in a tape recording, so that we can "hear ourselves speak" we find that speech is a sequence of signifiers just as writing is, similarly open to the process of interpretation. (Culler, 1982:108) Thus, for Culler the signifier is the material form heard, and writing is the material form seen, the form seen of the spoken word.'^^ What Culler forgets is that the signifier for Saussure is nothing that can be represented, nothing that can be reduced to a presence (no matter how "evanescent"). He also seems to forget that Derrida insists that these negative, differential conditions, "the condition for signification, this principle of difference affects the whole sign , that is, both the signified and the signifying aspects" (Derrida, 1973:139). To extend these conditions to the whole sign is at once to make problematic the possibility of discussing "acts of signification." If, however, one forgets that the statement "the signified is always in the

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75 position of a signifier" indicates that the concept of signification itself is threatened, one, like Culler, interests oneself in meaning, the concept, the ideal object, the signified, the "positive term," the pure signified of the metaphysical tradition. Contradicted by Saussure's own analysis yet, and nevertheless, imposed by logocentrism, the proposition is then inverted to become "the signifier is always in the position of a signified"; then, and only then, does the possibility of interminable interpretation such as is called for by Culler's analysis arise. Oddly enough. Culler himself presents a good argument for an end to this interminable speech (Culler, 1981:3-17). There is no "signifier" in Culler's system. There is, however, a reiteration of the classical sign with a metaphysical concept of difference thrown in. Writing is yet the sign of the voice, the signifier of an already unified (voice/concept; sound/sense) sign, thus, the sign of a sign, inescapably derived from thought, submitted to thought, to consciousness, to meaning, to presence, to the concept, to an origin. This explains why Culler has no difficulty identifying self-reflexive criticism or the "negative insights" of De Man with Derrida ' s work. His understanding of Derrida is based on a rather loose reading of Derrida 's critique of Saussure and this reading allows Culler to identify deconstruction with differential meaning, indeterminacy of meaning, or meanings undermining other meanings. These strategies are all founded on a metaphysical

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76 understanding of language. And all of the critics Culler discusses (with the exception of Derrida) are, inadvertently or not, working v/ith the Saussurian positive term. So, consciousness, itself, reappropriates Derrida ' s work for itself, enriches itself, and its knowledge of itself by means of deconstruction (or its version of deconstruction) ; it adjusts the reflexive capacity to take Derrida into its own account. Consciousness conquers itself, knows what it does not know, but, at the same time, if there is some thing that it thinks it does not know, that thing will not be long in (be) coming. Derrida 's reading of Saussure as a critique of logocentrism calls the sign into question, not in term.s of sign closure, but in terms of its possibility, its capacity to re-presence, to represent. The signifier (inseparable from the signified but never as a positive term) is neither the spoken word that is heard, the written word seen (the image of the union of the concept and voice that appears on the page) , nor the semiotic image that appears in the world; all of these are representers of the representatives of representees. All of these operate as signs of already unified signs: in principle (if not in fact), the Voice. Enter Husserl (Off Stage Directions: He shakes hands with Saussure) Let us review what, for Derrida, constitutes the radical moments of the Saussurian critique. Vvhat Saussure

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77 states concerning the signifier is at once generalizable to the total sign, linguistic or otherwise. The linguistic signifier ... is not [in essence] phonic but incorporeal — constituted not by its material substance but the differences that separate its sound image from all others. (quoted in Derrida, 1976:53, underlining mine) With regard to language in its narrow sense, this "sound image" or signifier, is not the sound heard; thus it is reducible neither to "noise" nor to the phenomenological voice. The "sound image" or "psychic imprint" as Saussure calls it, . . . is the structure of the appearing of the sound [ 1' apparaitre du son ] which is anything but the sound appearing [ le son apparaisant ] . The sound im.age is what is heard ; not the sound heard but the being-heard of the sound. Being-heard is structurally phenomenal and belongs to an order radically dissimilar to that of real sound in the world. One can only divide this subtle but absolutely decisive heterogeneity by a phenomenological reduction (last sentence, underlining mine) . The latter is therefore indispensible to all analyses of being heard, whether they be inspired by linguistic, psychoanalytic, or other preoccupations. (63) Any analysis that derives from this "material" (the sound heard in the world) level is classical, metaphysical; o/a, for example, are phonemes that "paint" or "represent" the sound heard in the world (the sound appearing) , the sound of the voice, or when committed to writing (which when confined as a representational structure is always the "vulgar" and classical concept) represents the sound of the voice. Thus, its written notation functions as the sign of the voice — the sign of the sign. Any signifier understood as a material manifestation (the image of my mothers' face, for example.

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or the representer that I use to recall her face when she is removed from my visual field) belongs to that realm of the world yet to be subjected to a phenomenological reduction, that is to say, to the realm of consciousness and/or perception, that realm developed and supported by the metaphysics of presence. When Derrida writes that "the phoneme is the unimaginable itself, and no visibility can resemble it" (45) , he is detaching the phoneme from the way in which it has been traditionally conceived, and it is not enough to make use of this word to imply the distinction he is insisting upon. The phoneme is neither represented by the written o/a, nor their sounds; nor can it be used in a material form of presence as a support for the metaphysical structures erected on this basis. In order to refine the analysis of the signifier (even to its smallest component) , Derrida all along has been joining Saussure with Husserl. Thus, The psychic image of which Saussure speaks must not be an internal reality copying an external one. Husserl . . . criticizes this concept of "portrait" in Ideen I . . . . (64) The psychic image, then, does not "exist"; it does not take the shape or form of (a) presence. But we must be careful here, not to simply invert this structure and turn it into a negative moment, the simple absence of presence that could in itself function as a ground, as a transcendental absence which fully present in its negativity would provide the founding instance or center from which all substitutions follow. Again, play, the differences of forces, would only

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79 be inscribed within the world, contained. Similarly, when we import meaning into this structure, "acts of signification," v/e are no longer dealing with a negative and differential structure, but are once more within the traditional, classical, metaphysical field that conceives of writing as written speech, as the sign of the already constituted unity of sense and sound, concept and voice: Saussure's "thought sound." As Derrida insists, "The graphic image is not seen; and the acoustic image is not heard" (65) . What is seen and heard (the materiality of what presents itself as presence) must be bracketed. The study and function of language, of its play presupposes that the substance of meaning and, among other possible substances, that of sound be placed in parenthesis. The unity of sound and sense is indeed here . . . the reassuring closing of play. (57) The substance of meaning belongs to the worldly region. It is a function of perception/consciousness, mediated by the conceptual, the appearance of phenomena determined by interpretation. This is what justifies calling our response to the world an activity of reading; but the reading is derived and secondary, "preceded by a truth, or a meaning already constituted by and with the elem.ent of the logos" (1976:14). It is determined by a classical conception of the sign as a representational structure, a stand-in. When our eyes rest upon the written word, our ears register the spoken one, what we read are classical signifieds (positive terms) , just as when our eyes gaze upon objects in the world, in that we know, identify, and interpret what we are

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80 gazing upon, we are reading classical signifieds. Hence, reading language and observing the world as long as it is governed by the classical model of the sign, the metaphysics of presence, will remain activities oriented by and tov/ards the production of meaning. But in Saussurian terminology, we are really dealing only with "positive terms," which are not different, but only distinct. Once more. When we compare signs — positive terms — with each other, we can no longer speak of difference . . . two signs, each having a signified and signifier, and are not different but only distinct. This is why I stated earlier, that within the language of metaphysics, there really is no "difference," Any difference would simply pertain to a semantic distinction having to do with the concept or signified. For the concept of distinction can only be maintained by the presence of a presence. And even without taking into account the formidable disruption introduced by the unheard, unseen, negative, differential character of the Saussurian signifier, distinctions are contradicted by the requirements of the sign as an iterable structure. These distinctions are problematic because, as presences, as the self-identity of concepts, they would not allow for repetition. First, the repetition of an identity would not constitute a repetition; second, repetition would be derived from what repetition itself makes possible. Repetition would be governed by the "first time." However, there is no "first time" that is not immediately constituted by repetition.

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, . . there is no word, nor in general a sign, which is not constituted by the possibility of repeating itself. A sign which does not repeat itself, which is not already divided by repetition in its "first time" is not a sign. (Derrida, 1978f :246) Iterability dissolves the signified in its classical sense; it disembeds what attempts to embed itself, and all that is left is repetition, but of no thing, no meaning, no referent. The signifying referal therefore must be ideal — and ideality is but the assured power of repetition — in order to refer to the same thing each time. (246) To call any representation (the written word, the spoken word, the visible gesture) that functions as the representative of a represented a signifier in the most rigorous Saussurian sense is only to demonstrate the full force of logocentrism. Certainly this is one explanation of why Derrida has often expressed reservations towards the concept of the "signifier." When Culler, for example, speaks of the "structural redoubling of any signified as an interpretable signifier," he has reduced the signifier to a meaning, to the concept, to the signified in its most classical sense. When Culler defines writing as presenting . . . language as a series of physical marks that operate in the absence of the speaker [that] may be highly ambiguous or organized in artful rhetorical patterns. (Culler, 1982:91) he ignores Saussure's most radical gesture (as does Saussure himself) . Derrida says of this reduction.

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82 If one erases the radical difference between the signifier and signified, it is the word 'signifier' itself which must be abandoned as a metaphysical concept. (Derrida, 1979f:281) VJith this reduction of the signifier to a signified ("interpretable signifier") , once more . . . the word [mot] is lived as the elementary and undecomposable unity of the signified and the voice, of the concept and a transparent substance of expression. (Derrida, 1976a:20) To conceive of the signifier in the Saussurian manner, however, should lead us to other conclusions concerning the possibility of a classical signified, a meaning, a concept, a being, an entity, and so forth. If the difference between the two is irreducible in a radical way, in a way that challenges phonologocentrism, then the concept of the signified, the concept of meaning, the conceptual itself, all these must be rethought and resituated in a field that they no longer command. The signified face, to the extent that it is still originarily distinguished from the signifying face, is not a trace; by rights, it has no need of the signifier to be what it is. It is at the depth of this affirmation that the problem of relationships between linguistics and semantics must be posed. (73) Thus, resistant to every possible manifestation of presence, every possible medium made use of by signification, every mode of perception — sensible or intelligible — the signifier is to be found neither in the form of a linguistics nor in the form of the "vulgar concept" of writing that Derrida has subjected to deconstruction. Consequently,

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83 That the signified is originally and essentially (and not only for a finite and created spirit) trace, that it is always already in the position of the signifier which is not an "interpretable signifier," for that would really be the reverse of this proposition (the signifier in the position of the classical signified) , is the apparently innocent proposition within which the metaphysics of the logos, of presence, of consciousness, must reflect upon writing as its death and its resource. (73) Where are we now? Has the classical reading model demonstrated itself to be of any use? The question can be answered in the affirmative. This reading model has enabled us to discern how, at the theoretical level. Culler's theory of deconstruction is still complicit with the metaphysics of presence. Deconstruction as theorized by Culler works with positive terms ("fictions"), asserting one, only to deny it by means of another, an act of negation that affirms the affirmative (the positive: presence) even as it speaks against it. Deconstruction in Culler's hands is an analysis of semantics by means of semantics or principles (events of meaning) that are in themselves concepts. Deconstruction borrows metaphysical principles in order to analyze metaphysics; in other words, it borrows philosophical concepts in order to analyze the philosophical concepts it presupposes and imposes. The classical reading model has also enabled us to ascertain how American deconstruction (exemplified by Culler), working with the empirical, perceptual, and

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84 semantic elements of writing, still subordinates writing to the Voice. Clearly, then, the classical reading model is useful in its own right and good for something (some "thing": presence, referent, signified, and so forth). Mow that we have examined American deconstruction at the theoretical level, it is time to turn to an example of its application, to a critic whom Culler has characterized as one of its "best practitioners." Again, I shall make use of this same reading model which is, one might say, becoming something like a crutch, a wooden leg, assisting me in my movement from figure to figure, from place to place, position to position. Another story, then! Footprints 1. This is an observation that Jonathan Culler makes in his book, Saussure (Culler, 1976) . He then reasons in this manner: "This is so, but the answer to this objection is that there can be no production of meaning without system. If one were able to escape from semiotic systems entirely, if one could free oneself from their constraints, then one would be free to assign meaning arbitrarily but meaning would not be produced . Moreover, the meanings assigned would have to come from somewhere and encountering no resistance, they would generally be facile, uninteresting" (p. 113). Of course, as long as we are interested in the metaphysics of presence, with its preoccupation with meaning, the concept, the signified, this seems not only quite probable, but indeed inevitable. But as far as this relates to Derrida, it misses the point entirely. Furthermore, with reference to meaning functioning "arbitrarily," Derrida simply points out, "... that person would have understood nothing of the game who, at this [du coup ] , would feel himself authorized m>erely to add on; that is, to add any old thing. He would add nothing: the seam wouldn't hold. Reciprocally, he who through "methodological prudence," "norms of objectivity," or "safeguards of knowledge" would refrain from committing anything of himself, would not read at all. This same foolishness, the same sterility, obtains in the "not serious" as in the "serious." The

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reading or writing supplement must be rigorously prescribed, but by the necessities of a game , by the logic of play , signs to which the system of all textual powers must be accorded and attuned" (Derrida, 1982b: 64). 2. Derrida analyzes the concept of principle as a regulatory ideal along with the problems of ideal objects in Derrida, 1978b. Teleology produces and governs each. He also satirizes the Kantian Idea unmercifully in Derrida, 1978c. This is not to say that we can do without these constructions any more than we can do without the language of metaphysics. But being based on presence, these concepts are all targets of Derrida 's attack. 3. Peirce's remarks can lead us to other considerations. Instead of taking the signified as a point of departure as Culler does, consider the effects of starting with a signifier or representer. Meaning, the concept, the signified should then arouse suspicion precisely because it is constantly "on the move." The next question might ask why is it that it has such difficulty "presenting" or "representing" itself. (Notice also that in starting with the signified, the structure of deferral and referral is made derivative. Derrida continually warns against this. See for example, "Differance" [Derrida, 1973]). Additionally, there is an odd moment when Culler quotes Derrida on the problem of meaning. "What if, Derrida suggests, the meaning of meaning (in the most general sense of meaning and not of indication) is infinite implication? If its force is a certain pure and infinite equivocalness , which give signified meaning no respite, no rest, but engages it within its own economy to go on signifying and to differ/defer?" (1982:133). Culler understands Derrida's question as a statement of his position when a more careful reading of this question shows that it is one he is posing for structuralist theory. Derrida is demonstrating that structuralism is caught in an image of the language system as purely spatial (structuralism falls for a metaphor and as he says of metaphor in general, this "passage from one existent to another, or from one signified meaning to another, authorized by the initial submission of Being to the existent, the analogical displacement of Being, is the essential weight which anchors discourse in metaphysics, irremediably repressing discourse into its metaphysical state" (Derrida, 1978f:27). This purely spatial "order of coexistences" is called into question by the infinite movement. It is imperative in reading Derrida to separate the position he criticizes from the way in which he either questions it or rewrites it. 4. Culler quotes the "two interpretations of interpretation," in "Structure Sign Play" (Derrida, 1982d) , identified with Levi-Strauss , the latter, with Nietzsche.

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86 Whether or not he is aware of it, and in spite of his own admonishment, Culler chooses the former. 5. See Derrida, 1976. Derrida discusses the implications of the negative and differential condition of the signifier in Chapter 2, Part I. Saussure excludes sound from the system along with material substances that present themselves to either eye, ear, indeed, any sensory mode. All that is essential are differences. But as these are not differences of substance or presence, then both the voice and the concept are initially ruled out. However, Saussure continually overlooks the problem that his own "model" introduces and thus invokes both the voice and the concept continually. And for this reason (one among others, certainly) Derrida constantly reminds us that we must oppose Saussure to himself. 6. Notice that "conceptual and phonic differences" issue from ( but are not the constituting elements of ) an already constituted system of differences that are neither seen nor heard, are neither material nor substantial. 7. Here is an instance where we must oppose Saussure to Saussure, and we may be sure that Derrida does. Why don't these conditions effect the whole sign? Because the tradition is governed by the Voice: meaning, the signified, the concept. See "Differance" in Derrida, 1973:139. In addition, Saussure 's qualification of the sign as distinct (and not different) should help us understand why Derrida often argues that there are no differences within the metaphysics of presence other than "empiricist and impressionistic" ones, that is to say, "alleged differences" (Derrida, 1982d:230). 8. Culler uses the "word," the material entity of the dictionary, the total sign or positive term (voice/concept) . Notice also that for Culler, meaning is inherent , "inscribed in the structure of language." The foundation of Culler's argument is communication, the communication of meaning from one subject to another. His understanding of Derrida 's arguments often has much in common with what Derrida expressly criticizes, particularly in Positions with respect to semiotics and communication. "... communication . . . in effect implies a transmission charged with making pass, from one subject to another , the identity of a signified object, of a meaning , or of a concept rightfully separable from the signifying operation. Communication presupposes subjects (whose identity and presence are constituted before the signifying operation) and objects (signified concepts, a thought meaning that the passage of communication will have neither to constitute, nor, by all rights, to transform). A communicates B to C. Through the sign the emitter communicates something to a receptor" (Derrida, 1981a: 23-24) .

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87 Also, we might inquire if it is sheerly coincidental that the examples of differences Culler offers all depend upon sound ? 9, See Derrida, 1978f for this essay. Elsewhere with regard to the concept of structure, Derrida remarks, "Everything depends upon how one sets it to work. Like the concept of the sign ... it can simultaneously confirm and shake logocentric and ethnocentric assuredness" (Derrida, 1981a:24). To posit or assert this concept, as Culler does in his analysis, and then deny it on the basis of another concept, is to set in motion the m.echanism of a traditional discourse. 10. Since we are purportedly working with a critique of the metaphysics of presence, shouldn't we ask ourselves, "What event? The event itself ?" We might then move on to the problem of "signs" of an event. If we are dealing with a sign, does an event take place? And when the sign itself is paralyzed in its capacity for representing (an event or anything else) , then what nameable "presence" could possibly be taking place? For a critique of the concept of event, See Derrida, 1982d "Signature Event Context. Also cf. 1977b. 11. Derrida deconstructs the de facto / de jure opposition in his work on Husserl. For a good discussion of the implications of his deconstruction, see Vincent Descombes, 1982:136-152. Culler assumes that the "nonoriginary origin" is meaning ful and it is this teleology that orients his analysis. In order to operate within such an assumption, one must posit the existence of an infinite being in order to guarantee the truth of such an assumption. As Descombes remarks, "If truth is identical with the true for myself , I must then be the Cartesian God, creator of eternal truths, as Sartre would have it, and perhaps also Husserl; otherwise, truth is no more than a 'value' or a 'point of view,' a 'perspective.' So that the identification of being with meaning should not entail the relegation of the phenomenon to simple appearance, I have to be God. However, this divinity is postponed indefinitely. We know in advance that fact and right will never coincide" (p. 144) . See also "Form and Meaning" in Derrida, 1973, in particular : 126-128 . 12. See Derrida, 1978e:12. Derrida is not simply "extending" or "radicalizing" the tradition, its already stated positions; he is resituating it. 13. See Searle, 1983. Searle calls this analysis a "tissue of confusion" (p. 74) and rightly concludes that "Derrida also emerges as much more superficial than he is" (p. 77) in Culler's hands.

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14. Perhaps this should remind us of how firmly rooted phonologocentrism is. It should also serve as a warning to the reader that my own analysis, far from being passively accepted, must be carefully scrutinized . 15. See "White Mythology" in Derrida, 1982d, for a discussion of the teleology that governs the transformation of "noise" (meaningless sounds) into meaning or " saying what is" (236). 16. Derrida joins the concepts of sexuality to the metaphysics of presence and its languageIt is worth citing once more from Of Grammatology . "In as much as it puts into play the presence of the present and the life of the living, the movement of language does not, one suspects, have only an analogical relationship with 'sexual' autoaffection. It is totally indistinguishable from it even if that totality is severely articulated and differentiated" (Derrida, 1976a:16). Castration is the fiction of the present presenting itself. "Castration — always at stake — and the self-presence of the present. The pure present would be the untouched fullness, the virgin continuity of the nonscission, the volume that, not having exposed the roll of its writing to the reader's letter-opener, would therefore not yet be written on the eve of the start of the game. But the pen, when you have followed it to the end, will have turned into a knife. The present can only present itself as such by relating back to itself: it can only aver itself by severing itself, only reach itself if it breaches itself, (com) plying with itself in the angle, along a break brisure (brisure: "crack" and "joint," created by a hinge, in the work of a locksm.ith. Littre) ; in the release of the latch or the trigger. Presence is never present. The possibility — or the potency — of the present is but its own limit, its inner fold, its impossibility — or its impotence. Such will have been the relation between presence and castration in play and at stake" (Derrida, 1982b: 302-303) . Castration operates as a simulacrum of a simulacrum; both castration and the self-presentation of the present are feigned fictions. 17. For a discussion of the graphic play involved here, see "Living On: Border Lines" (Derrida, 1979a) . 18. See Derrida, 1981a. Derrida has expressed reservations about "matter" and "materialism" for both are metaphysical concepts and form the locus of metaphysical values. "If I have not very often used the word 'matter,' it is not, as you know, because of som.e idealist or spiritualist kind of reservation. It is that in the logic of the phase of overturning this concept has been too often reinvested with ' logocentric' values, values associated with those of thing, reality, presence in general, sensible presence, for example, substantial plenitude, content.

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89 referent, etc. Realism or sensualism — "empiricism" — are modifications of logocentrism. (I have often insisted on the fact that 'writing' or the 'text' are not reducible either to the sensible or visible presence of the graphic or the 'literal.') In short, the signifier 'matter' appears to me problematical only at the moment when its remscription cannot avoid making of it a new fundamental principle which, by means of theoretical regression, would be reconstituted into a 'transcendental signified.' It is not only idealism in the narrow sense that falls back upon the transcendental signified. It can always come to reassure a metaphysical materialism. It then becomes an ultimate referent, according to the classical logic im^plied by the value of referent, or it becomes an 'objective reality' absolutely "anterior" to any work of the mark, the semantic content of a form of presence which guarantees the movement of the text in general from the outside" {1981a: 64-65) . The privileging of rhetorical operations would also seem to function in this manner.

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CHAPTER 3 PROBLEMS WITH READING CLASSICALLY: THE SELF-PRESENTATION OF REPRESENTATION One of the most coinmon words in the vocabulary of American deconstruction is "difference." In the most ordinary sense of the word, difference in the presence of a conceptual space separating two stable differends or poles either in the form of what Aristotle, for example, called a contrariety (one, two), or that of contradiction (male/ female) . Difference here is produced and stabilized between two present moments. Notice that the spacing is created by the two terms and that the two terms create the difference. There is a second type of difference, slightly more complicated, but still rooted in presence. I shall take as an example the way in which Barbara Johnson employs difference in her very excellent book. The Critical Difference . Such an analysis should enable us to distinguish between difference and differance, the former being confined to and operating on the level of the sign, and the latter which . . . can no longer be understood according to the concept "sign" which has always been taken to mean the representation of a presence and has been constituted in a system (of thought or language) determined on the basis of and in view of presence. (Derrida, 1973:138) 90

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91 Furthermore, the analysis should begin to remark the difference between Derridean deconstruction and deconstruction that is based on presence and meaning, a meaning that is often imprecise or ambiguous, nevertheless, meaningful in its very imprecision or ambiguity. As far as the literary text is concerned, this type of deconstruction still holds fiction captive to truth, and uses fiction to present truth. This type of deconstruction seems to forget that the "fiction" it analyzes is a philosophical concept of fiction. For this reason, I suppose, this brand of deconstruction in its most appealing form keeps coming up with what Rodolphe Gasche calls "negative knowledge" (Gasche, 1979; 1981), a form of truth that still tells us something metaphysical about metaphysical concepts. To my mind, however, what American deconstruction best shows is the problems that emerge as a result of the assumptions it is forced to rely on and the premises that found it. In other words, American deconstruction utilizes a classical reading model, analyzes the text in a classical fashion, makes classical critical decisions that are quite necessary to shore up the model, but in doing so exposes all sorts of classical difficulties. Here are a few that we are going to remark, specifically with reference to Barbara Johnson's work. First, Johnson's analysis depends upon an assertion/denial structure; different reading strategies are asserted only to be denied by other reading strategies; this mechanism finally governs the relation between the text's

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92 performance and its statements: the text denies performatively or dramatically what its positions or propositions advance. (The consequences of such a structure will become clear at the end of my analysis.) Second, her analysis 2 continually fluctuates between positive terms. Third, we shall see that there is only one reading position available to the classical reading model, and, indeed, only one reading position allowed by Johnson's analysis; all others will be shown to be dependent upon it. Let us begin with a simple example of difference in Johnson's book. One of the first illustrations Johnson uses to demonstrate the difference her readings engage concerns Rousseau. In the beginning of his Confessions , he makes a few remarks about himself that affirm difference. In the first, he seems to claim for himself a "uniqueness" that separates him from everyone and every other thing: I am unlike anyone I have ever met; I will venture to say that I am like no one in the whole world. I may be no better, but at least I am different. (Rousseau in Johnson, 1980:4) This remark exemplifies the first kind of difference, the "difference between" two differends, or, in this case, between self and other. Johnson is interested in resituating this "difference between" to "difference within" and indeed, as she points out, Rousseau's next remark does precisely that. There are times when I am so unlike myself that I might be taken for someone else of an entirely opposite character. ... In me are united two almost irreconcilable characteristics, though in what way I cannot imagine. (1980:4)

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93 Thus, this difference takes into account "differences within entities, ways in which one entity differs from itself" (1980:x-xi) . In other words, this story of the self's difference from others inevitably becomes the story of its own unbridgeable difference from itself. Difference is not engendered in the space between identities; it is what makes all totalization of the identity of a self or the meaning of a text impossible. It is this type of textual difference that informs the process of deconstructive criticism. (1980:4-5) Almost — or not quite. Unless of course one is developing another kind of "deconstruction, " which here seems to be the case. In elucidating the difference between Derridean deconstruction and the kind of reading practiced here, I am less concerned with making a fetish of the work or arguing 4 for a "restitution" to its "owner" than in trying to define the character of one in its relation to the other. It seems to me that the "self" or "text" in question merely involves conflicting self-representations that resist addition and so come to frustrate any sense of wholeness. Linguistically, this is a simple problem of sign closure. This "self" or "text" is a stable, present structure (a referential structure) from which deviations, differences, altered representations, emerge. Their difference presupposes a ground from which or in which something is differed and, moreover, the space or difference between is only relocated within — within the "self" or "text." The text is something that "differs" from itself . Difference here originates in a "who," or a "what," a classically

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94 constructed subject or object (self, text). In "Differance," Derrida reminds us that as soon as the question of differance falls within the province of the question of what or who differs, differance is derived, supervenient, controlled, and ordered from the starting point of a beingpresent, one capable of being something, a force, a state, or power in the world, to which we could give all kinds of names: a what , or being-present as a subject , a who . In the latter case, notably, we would implicitly admit that the being-present (for example, as a self-present being or consciousness) would eventually result in differing: in delaying or diverting the fulfillment of a "need" or "desire," or in differing from itself [underlining mine] . But in none of these cases would such a being-present be "constituted" by this differance. (Derrida, 1973:145) Deconstruction as it is being elaborated by Johnson does not question the function of meaning or communication (representation) in relation to language. Instead, it pits one kind of "signifying practice" against another. Whether one ascribes to a position that holds that meaning is before language or is produced by it (the one is a simple inversion of the other; classical thought simply relocates what was once inside to the outside, but the move is perfectly symmetrical, the mirror image of its other) , signification is meaning: Presence. This type of reading can only end in an indeterminacy of meaning which, as we shall see, will operate even more powerfully, but will never attempt to expose the fragility of meaning, its effect as a result of suppositions and impositions of classical thought. Let us examine how Johnson conceives of deconstruction and the method by which it operates. Johnson remarks.

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95 The de-construction of a text does not proceed by random doubt or arbitrary subversion, but by the careful teasing out of warring forces of signification within the text itself. If anything is destroyed, it is not the text, but the claim to unequivocal domination of one mode of signifying over another. (1980:5) Let's stop right here and examine this reading machine. What kind of presuppositions allow us to even identify "one mode of signifying" in order to differentiate it from another? Johnson's statement contains at least two assumptions that need to be made explicit, as they are quite questionable. When Johnson proposes to treat signification or language as differing modes, she is assuming that she can treat language as a representative structure that presents itself in a completely unproblematic fashion, in particular and identifiable forms--specif ically , what will be called reading positions in her analysis — which can then be classed and categorized. Thus, in the essay I am about to examine, characters and critics alike will be assimilated into these various "reading positions" or "conceptions of language" that will automatically function as transparent presentational statements. But it is precisely this concept of language that Derridean deconstruction questions. Within such a schema of language as Johnson's, Language . . . would be representative, a system of representatives, but the content represented, what is represented by this representation (a meaning, a thing and so on) would be a presence and not a representation. What is represented would not have the structure of representation, the representative structure of the representative. Language would be a system of representatives or also of signifiers, of place-holders (lieu-tenants) substituted for what they say.

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96 signify, or represent, and the equivocal diversity of the representatives would not affect the unity, the identity, indeed even the ultimate simplicity of the represented . (Derrida, 1982e:305, underlining mine) In other words (and whatever declaration to the contrary) , Johnson must presuppose the unvarying identity of a sense or meaning, totally transparent in its presence, regulating the language she proposes to treat. Thus, there is an ironic issue to her statement ("If anything is destroyed in a deconstructive reading, it is not the text, but the claim to unequivocal domination of one mode of signifying over another") . For her own discourse, operating within the model of language as representative of transparent presentations, must presuppose an absolutely univocal semantic space in order to name the positions she constructs artificially . But let us return to her analysis. One mode over another, one mode against another: the difference within (inside) can also shift to the difference between (outside) , indeed can occupy both places at once with the text as ground for both. Difference, in Johnson's analysis, operates as a "center" or centering moment of different signifying practices, and that is why it can operate both inside and outside: meaning — even as a war of meaning--becomes the origin of all substitution or repetition. Derrida' s remarks on such metaphysical "shiftiness" are instructive: . . . on the basis of what we call the center (and which, because it can be either inside or outside [underlining mine] , can also indifferently be called the origin or end, arche or telos) ,

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97 repetitions, substitutions, transformations, and permutations are always taken from a history of meaning [ sens ] --that is, in a word, a history-whose origin may always be reawakened or whose end may always be anticipated in the form of presence. (Derrida, 1978f:278) A very instructive example of the "warring forces of signification" occurs in the reading Johnson gives to Melville's Billy Budd . While I am going to limit my analysis to only part of this essay, it should be enough to clarify some of the issues being raised without undue distortion. Very briefly, instead of casting her reading within the traditional terms of the novel's critical debate — the problem of innocence or guilt--Johnson reworks her reading in terms of different kinds of readings governed by different concepts of language. Johnson refashions the struggle between Billy and Claggart, its theme, as a struggle "between two conceptions of language, or between two types of reading" (84). Billy takes language as literal and motivated: he assumes (or asserts) the adequation of the signif ier/signif led and ignores (or denies) the possibility of ambiguity and duplicity. "To deal in double meanings and insinuations of any sort," writes Melville, "was quite foreign to his nature." . . . Billy reads everything at face value, never questioning the meaning of appearances. ... As a reader, then, Billy is symbolically as well as factually illiterate. His literal-mindedness is represented by his illiteracy because, in assuming that language can be taken at face value, he excludes the very functioning of difference that makes the act of reading both indispensable and undecidable. (84)

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98 In opposition to Billy, Claggart represents (or asserts) language as arbitrary and unmotivated, duplicitous and ambiguous; for him, the relationship between the signifier/ signified is a discontinuous or distanced one. He is properly an ironic reader, who, assuming the sign to be arbitrary and unmotivated, reverses the value signs of appearances and takes a daisy [Billy] for a mantrap [Billy] and an unmotivated accidental spilling of soup for an intentional, sly escape of antipathy. (85) Yet, for Johnson, the blow Billy delivers Claggart reverses the assumptions of their reading models or "positions" and if we regard the structure of their positions as a chiasm, they exchange place or places. The chiasmatic step consists of moving from one site to the other. For in denying the intent of the blow he aims at Claggart, Billy denies the motivation of the sign he has hitherto represented or asserted (the reading position) , and now regards it as arbitrary ("I did not mean to kill him."). While on the other hand, Claggart meets his downfall . . . when he attempts to master the arbitrariness of the sign for his own ends by falsely (that is arbitrarily) accusing Billy of harboring arbitrariness, of hiding a mutineer beneath the appearance of a baby. (85) Thus, Claggart, struck dead, becomes an example of what he has denied: the possibility of an unambiguous and literal operation of the sign that can operate quite literally and unambiguously. If the struggle between Billy and Claggart represents the "warring forces of signification within the text itself," then the inability of the critic to make a critical

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99 decision in favor of one reading model over the other without inadvertently falling into contradiction and deliberately embracing the other reading model represents the impossibility of any claim "to unequivocal domination of one mode of signifying over the other." Like Billy, critics disdainful of am±)iguity who interpret the novel's end as a gesture of acceptance from Melville, take Billy's final blessing of Captain Vere as literal and sincere. But, just as Billy reverses his position, they must contradict or "differ" from themselves, deny their own interpretive model by declaring the blow unmotivated. Similarly, those critical champions of ambiguity, who ascribe to a reading model like Claggart's, read the novel and Billy's blessing as an ironic gesture on Melville's part, but in doing so must insist on the motivated nature of the blow and thus reverse, contradict, deny or "differ" from the model or position they espouse. Thus, The naive and the ironic readers are thus equally destructive, both of themselves and of each other . . . Both readings do violence to the plays of ambiguity and belief by forcing upon the text the applicability of a universal and absolute law. The one, obsessively intent on preserving peace and eliminating equivocation, murders the text; the other seeing nothing but universal war, becomes the spot on which aberrant premonitions of negativity become truth. (98) The question I would pose arises here. Are these characters indeed representative of "two conceptions of language, two types of reading." I think not. Let us start with the characters themselves. An opposition between these two can be maintained only by positing a psychology of

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100 character and not a representative conception of language or type of reading. (V7hile this goes against the expressed intention of Johnson's analysis [84], "the opposites that clash here are not two characters but two readings , " examination seems to bear my observation out.) After conceding that neither of the models are "rigorously upheld" in practice, Johnson localizes the difficulty — not, it seems to me, within the space of language at all — but within the psychological makeup of the character/reader. The operation of each model — its strength or fragility at any given moment--depends upon the degree of reality each character/ reader is willing to recognize or entertain. The naive reader is not naive enough to forget to edit out information too troubling to report. The instability of the space between sign and referent, normally denied by the naive reader, is called upon as an instrument whenever that same instability threatens to disturb the content of meaning itself. Billy takes every sign as transparently readable as long as what he reads is consistent with transparent peace, order, and authority. When this is not so, his reading clouds accordingly. And Claggart, for whom every sign can be read as its opposite, neglects to doubt the transparency of any sign that tends to confirm his own doubts. . . . The naive believer thus refuses to believe any evidence that subverts the transparency of his beliefs, while the ironic doubter forgets to suspect the reliability of anything confirming his own suspicions . (98, underlining mine) If Billy relies on a literal, motivated, and unambiguous reading and embraces univocity, while Claggart insists on the arbitrary, the duplicitous, the ambiguous, and depends upon equivocity ("The one, obsessively intent on preserving peace and eliminating equivocation, murders the

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101 text; the other, seeing nothing but universal war, becomes the spot on which abberant premonitions of negativity become truth") , then far from being opposed to one another, there is no essential difference between the two for they require each other. Each time the equivocal is understood, comprehended with respect to its meaning, it is univocal. These two are neither "symmetrical opposites" nor are they dialectical moments. The are, as Derrida has demonstrated (Derrida, 1978b), assymetrical and necessarily relational, for the latter (equivocity) is absolutely dependent on the former (the univocal) which must name the equivocal as g such. Why? In order for a reader to determine a sign as equivocal, duplicitous, or ambiguous, he or she must presuppose a univocal, literal, motivated or determinate and unambiguous instance from which he or she proceeds to define or differentiate, to enumerate the various possible or available meanings. Without equivocations of language, signs would be unavailable for the differing usages of language users. Since the same sign must be available for different users and usage, equivocation is the condition of language, the condition of the sign, but equivocation must be named univocally in each of its instances. But the problem here — and this is a problem of the classical reading model --is that univocity, the univocal or the instance of the equivocal, every comprehended instance or event of meaning, can only be determined teleologically .

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102 To oppose (binarily or dialectically) these two models would be to deprive each character/reader not only of language usage, but also all power of comprehension. This distinction can only be admitted as part of the psychological characteristics of the character/reader who, on the basis of some established univocal meaning, chooses or is impelled to read one way or the other. In any case, the decision cannot look to the structure of language for support or explanatory power as long as meaning is an issue. A case in point: unless Claggart (and anyone who ascribes to the reading position Claggart represents) assumes or asserts the very literality that Johnson argues that he opposes or denies, it would be impossible for him to treat Billy as a duplicitous or ambiguous sign and his insinuation about Billy to Captain Vere ("You have but noted his fair cheek. A mantrap may be under the ruddy-tipped daisies" [86]) would be incomprehensible, at least to himself (along with his type of reader) . Nor would it be possible for Claggart to interpret Billy's "accidental spilling of soup as an intentional, sly escape of antipathy" (8 5). He needs the literal understanding in order to even posit the possibility of a duplicity as a measurement without which there would be no duplicity at all. The same goes for Billy (and those who read as he does) . If he were as literal-minded as Johnson sometimes seems to believe, then when he demands (speaking of Claggart and using his "nickname") , "There now, who says Jeremy Legs is down on

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103 me?", whom would he think he was referring to? Without an understanding of the "conception" of language that he is said to oppose , what meaning could that name possibly hold for him? This explains why it is impossible for these reading positions to be "rigorously upheld." The same holds true for the distinction between the naive and the ironic reader. The one can only be named and understood with reference to the other and neither one without the existence of the other could be named as either one or the other. By this I mean that without the possibility of irony, there would be no such reading as a "naive" one, and without a "naive" understanding, "irony" would cease to exist. Clearly both instances depend upon (self-) consciousness and intention; when one position or the other "speaks," it means what it intends. Any differentiation (two interpretations of the same sign, i.e., the blow) relies on semantics. When Johnson states that The naive or literal reader takes language at face value and treats signs as motivated; the ironic reader assumes that the relation between sign and meaning can be arbitrary and that appearances are made to be reversed. (100) in the very act of naming the two types of readers, the absolute privilege of the literal and motivated position necessary to classical thought emerges. It is this position 9 that makes such identification or naming possible. And notice that the naming is a repetition of the "naive" position. Every other position depends upon it, gains

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104 authority and intelligibility from it, even as it simply (and quite classically) substitutes for it. Johnson's analysis relies on classical categories (naive/ironic) . She soon dismisses these two (but they are not two) as "destructive, both of themselves and of each other," as merely "symmetrical opposites" (they are not "symmetrical" as the one is the condition of the other) "blinded by their incapacity to see anything but symmetry." For each position does "violence to the plays of ambiguity and belief by forcing upon the text the applicability of a universal law" (98) . But we are going to see that as long as we are dealing with meaning , with describing and naming, every reading position articulated by this analysis presupposes an instance of the "naive": literal and motivated. Consequently, if either a character or reader embraces one reading in favor of another and then falls into contradiction or begins to "differ" from him, her, or itself (text), we should hardly be taken aback. Contradiction only arises within the desire for presence; presence always contradicts (itself) . Undoubtedly, this explains why Johnson, in due time, pronounces the naive and ironic readers "metaphysical." She then "opposes" them to the psychoanalytic reader. These readers will deny what the other two assert, or, what amounts to the same thing, assert what is denied. Can the naive and ironic reader, those ornery metaphysicians, be dismissed so easily? Can one "oppose" them to the

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105 psychoanalytic reader? No. These two cannot so easily be shown the door. Why? Essentially, the psychoanalytic reading is a repetition of Claggart's position and comes to the same impasse. Interpreting Billy ' s innocence as the repression of a destructive impulse, his goodness as unconscious hate; or reading Claggart ' s evil (since his persecution of Billy carries with it homosexual overtones) as a repressed form of love, the analyst interprets language as duplicitous (love masks hate) as does Claggart . And when the analyst insists on the motivation of the blow as a literal and unambiguous expression of Billy's unconscious desire, he, like Claggart , attempts to master the arbitrary character of the sign and thus reverses, contradicts, or "differs" from his reading position. The only difference between the psychoanalyst's position and that of Claggart's is a difference of content, of semantics. Structurally, they are the same, and in that they are named, again they repeat Billy's: they mean what they say and are thus literal and motivated. Let us stop for a moment to consider the reversal or chiasmatic "step" again. Notice that the classical reading model — whatever its virtues (and it has many, as we have already seen) — is paralyzed within the space of the literal/ motivated position. The psychoanalytic reading repeats Claggart's reading which is a repetition of Billy's (univocal) that must be imposed teleologically . It progresses without any progression or progress. To borrow Derrida's

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106 language (Derrida, 1978d:84), its step "mimes walking, it walks without ceasing, but does not advance; it regularly traces out one more step but does not allow the gain of an inch of ground. It is a lame devil ..." Shall we "move" on? What about Captain Vere? All of these issues to a reader like Vere are "irrelevant"; he is concerned neither with innocence nor guilt (as Billy or Claggart and the reading positions they represent) , nor is Vere concerned with the motivation of the blow (accidental or unconsciously deliberate, i.e., the psychoanalytic interest). Instead, Vere ' s function is to read the relation between Billy and Claggart ("between naivete and paranoia, acceptance and irony, murder and error" [98] — note the "positive terms"). As opposed to "being," Vere will represent "doing"; instead of concern with "cause," Vere's reading will occupy itself with "consequence," and rather than ground the function of language in either "literal/motivated," or "arbitrary/ unmotivated," Vere regards it as "fixed by socially determined convention" (100) . It is Vere who must judge the struggle between Billy and Claggart, read their relation, but he must do so as a representative of martial law, "a function neither of individual conscience nor of absolute justice" (100). Vere, who "sees his actions and being as meaningful only within the context of a contractual allegiance" (100) begins more and more to take on the characteristics of the good, oedipalized son, who submits and reads

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107 according to the authority of the Father, in the name of his Law, not linguistically, but psychologically. As a matter of fact, psychologism surfaces once more within the faculty of memory in the following description of readers. While Billy and Claggart read spontaneously and directly, Vere's reading often makes use of precedent (historical facts, childhood memories), allusions (to the Bible, to various ancient and modern authors) , and analogies (Billy is like Adam, Claggart is like Ananias) . Just as both Billy and Claggart have no known past, they read without memory; just as their lives end with their reading, they read without foresight. Vere , on the other hand, interrogates both past and future for interpretative guidance. (100) To comment upon the most obviously perplexing statements: without memory, one neither reads nor speaks, indeed, one does very little at all. And interrogating the past and the future, one interprets hypothetically , imaginatively, that is to say "fictionally," and this backward and forward movement involves all sorts of "projection. " Nevertheless, to move on, just as psychoanalysis was opposed to the metaphysics of the naive and ironic, it is now "history" that opposes or denies the "metaphysical Budd/Claggart conflict" (100) . The fundamental factor that underlies the opposition between the metaphysical Budd/Claggart conflict on the one hand and the reading of Captain Vere on the other can be summed up in a single word: history. While the naive and the ironic readers attempt to impose upon language the functioning of an absolute, timeless, universal law (the sign as either motivated or arbitrary) , the question of martial law arises within the story precisely to reveal the law as a contextual mutability in the conditions of any act of reading. Arbitrariness and motivation, irony and

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108 literality, are parameters between which language constantly fluctuates, but only historical context determines which proportion of each is perceptible to each reader. (100-01) It is not irrelevant to our reading to recall that history is and still is the history of presence and the history of meaning. A reading governed by historical context, by any context — context is a teleological concept — can hardly be opposed to metaphysics. Perhaps what should be questioned is precisely if irony and literality are indeed "parameters," boundary states (presences) "between which language constantly fluctuates," sometimes one presenting itself, sometimes the other, but each only able to become present within a context that must be determined and controlled in advance of the signification each creates. It is no accident that the ironic as well as the naive reader can incorporate Vere ' s reading. For the ironists, Vere is misusing history for his own self-preservation or for the preservation of a world safe for aristocracy. For those who accent Vere ' s verdict as tragic but necessary, it is Melville who has stacked the historical cards in Vere's favor. (101) Once more, the return of those irrepressible reading positions is signalled. What Johnson adds under the dimension of history is the role played by the social body, its conventions, in shaping the reader's consciousness and determining how each individual will react as a reader. ("Arbitrariness and motivation, irony and literality, are parameters between which language constantly fluctuates, but only historical context determines which proportion of each

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109 is perceptible to each reader,") The reading produced by this position — and in that it means what it says, it is literal and motivated — belongs to a social psychology or a sociology of knowledge. Meaning (the proportion perceptible to each reader) precedes the signifying practice that produces it, or, as a principle, the concept of meaning rushes ahead in order to produce what comes after. Moreover, as long as language is governed by meaning, it will remain susceptible to a psychologism of one sort or another. These are all problems of a classical reading model. However, we must be careful here, for according to Johnson history is precisely what is being called into question. In both cases, the conception of history as an interpretive instrument remains the same: it is its use that is being judged. (101) According to Johnson, while Melville is not directly concerned with history itself, his text, as a matter of fact, situates it, circumscribes it and exposes its limits. Melville indeed shows history to be a story not only of events but also of fluctuations in the very functioning of irony and belief. . . . And the very directions of Billy Budd criticism itself, historically moving from acceptance to irony, is no doubt itself interpretable in the same historical terms. (101) Melville is thus the possessor of Truth. And his fiction, operating in the service of this greater and larger truth (a truth which always runs ahead of itself so that we perpetually will have come upon it) , this fiction demystifies history, unveils (while veiling) it as a fiction, shows us

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110 what it really is ^ emerges in the form of time as an ordered procession of full, present moments, of the presence of the present, of the present "now" structuring the presence of the past and the presence of the future, fluctuating here and there, now and after as sometimes "acceptance," sometimes "irony." This is a metaphysical concept of fiction, a metaphysical concept of history, and a metaphysical concept of time. To be fair to the analysis, however, this is not, according to Johnson, Melville's chief interest, his overriding, paramount, essential or primary concern, his " central preoccupation" (101, underlining mine). Rather, since the text both questions and supports (denies and asserts) , provides evidence both against and for (denies and asserts) Vere's judgment, what the text asks us to examine is the act of judgment itself , an act that since it involves power is not simply an historical one but a political act as well. The effect of these explicit oscillations of judgment within the text is to underline the importance of the act of judgment while rendering its outcome undecidable. (101) If this were simply a matter of arguing no more than that it is impossible to determine the reception of any recorded act (or any act, written or otherwise for that matter) given the fact that the interpretative contexts of the language of metaphysics change according to its own needs, its own teleological desires or ends, we should be forced to smile--for who among us would be so precipitous as to claim otherwise? But, according to Johnson, there is

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Ill more "at stake" here than that. As a reader who must mediate between Billy and Claggart, between the literal/ ironic opposition (but as we have seen, these are not oppositions or symmetries, hence, there is no mediation) Vere, as a representative of the law, functions as a force "for the conversion of polarity into ambiguity and back again" (105). Thus it falls to Vere to bring the "innocent" Billy into contact with the "guilty" Claggart in an attempt to judge the truth of Claggart 's charges, yet in so doing Vere not only fails to effect a clarification of the issue at hand, but provides the occasion for a reversal between the two (but, again, if there is no opposition between the two, there is no reversal) . It is Vere who brings together the "innocent" Billy and the "guilty" Claggart in order to test the validity of Claggart' s accusation, but he does so in such a way as to effect not a clarification but a reversal of places between guilt and innocence. (105) Clearly cognizant of the moral dilemma that must now be judged, Vere has no choice but to reduce an ambiguous matter to a binary condition, as do all critics who attempt to judge Billy and Claggart. Readers who judge between the two repeat Vere. Just as Melville's readers, faced with the ambiguity they themselves recognize as being provided by Vere, are quick to pronounce the captain vicious or virtuous, evil or just; so, too, Vere, who clearly perceives the "mystery" in the "moral dilemma" confronting him, must nevertheless reduce the situation to a binary opposition. (105) First of all, Vere must choose a context for his act of judgment; he chooses a legal one over an essentializing one.

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112 In a legal view the apparent victim of the tragedy was he who had sought to victimize a man blameless; and the indisputable deed of the latter, navally regarded , constituted the most heinous of military crimes. Yet more. The essential right and wrong involved in the matter, the clearer that might be, so much the worse for the responsibility of a loyal sea commander, inasmuch as he was not authorized to determine the matter on that primitive basis. (Melville in 1980:103) In choosing the legal context, Vere must "reduce the situation to a binary opposition" ; but he must also opt for one of its terms (guilty, not guilty). Thus, in attending "to the blow's consequence , which justly is to be deemed not otherwise than the striker's deed" (Melville, 99), Vere must inevitably judge the act as literal and motivated. Billy's fist indeed kills Claggart and there is no distance between the blow and the death it carries. Vere may be a "reader" who reads relations and juggles more material than either Billy or Claggart; undoubtedly the context and content (history, the consequences of the blow as an act instead of Billy's character and its motivating function) differ semantically from the naive reader, but the reading position used is the same: literal, motivated, naive. Notice the text still struggles to move. But again as far as reading positions are concerned, the text is still immobilized; it limps within the literal/motivated space. We might describe this unconscious lack of movement , this stepless step, with a quotation from Freud which, Derrida remarks, "evinces all the traits of Writing and literature: 'Scripture says that to limp is not a sin'" (Derrida, 1978e:84) .

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113 However, Johnson is not concerned with Vere's reading model as much as the problematic aspect of the act of judgment and the uneasy alliance it forms between knowledge and politics. It would seem, then, that the function of judgment is to convert an ambiguous situation into a decidable one. But it does so by converting a difference within (Billy as divided between conscious submissiveness and unconscious hostility. Vera as divided between understanding father and military authority) into a difference (between Claggart and Billy, between Nature and the King, between authority and criminality) . A difference between opposing forces presupposes that the entities in conflict be knowable. A difference within one of the entities in question is precisely what problematizes the very idea of an entity in the first place, rendering the "legal point of view" inapplicable. In studying the plays of both ambiguity and binarity, Melville's story situates its critical difference neither within nor between, but in the relation between the two as the fundamental question of all human politics. (105-06) Political acts, then, seek to regulate differences through an appeal to cognition or knowledge, yet the knowledge required by the act of judgment is never complete, never absolute and thus operates as a "locus of violence" that changes ambiguity into decidability: "differences within" are subordinated to "differences between." But, Johnson argues, differences within subvert the very possibility of determining differences between. Vere , according to Johnson, articulates the difficulty. He describes how "the drawing of a line between opposing entities does violence to the irreducible ambiguities that subvert the very possibility of determining the limits of what an 'entity' is" (106) .

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114 Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the first blendingly enter into the other. So with sanity and insanity. In pronounced cases there is no question about them. But in some supposed cases, in various degrees supposedly less pronounced, to draw the exact line of demarcation few will undertake, though for a fee becoming considerate some professional experts will. There is nothing nameable but that some men will, or undertake to, do it for pay. (Melville in 1980:106) 1 2 But is ambiguity opposed to decidability, the "within" to the "between?" Close examination shows that the formal structure of each is made up of differences based on presence; in each case the difference arises from two poles or differends or two positive terms (conscious submissiveness/ unconscious hostility; Claggart/Billy; Nature/Kind; violet/ orange; sanity/insanity; between/within, and so forth) . Indeed, with the exception perhaps of violet/orange, these differences are what we usually call "binary" (particularly "between/within") . But let us recall that the whole notion of an opposition (any opposition) is specular and that the only difference between binarity and simple difference is semantic. Specularity, language as a "putting on view," governs all of these distinctions. And if there is "ambiguity" it has less to do with the structure of language than with simple empirical approximation (how crazy is he? how hostile is he? how violet or purple is that?) . Thus the arbitrary line between the two entities is, as Johnson acknowledges, "inexact and violent" not simply because it is subverted by difference within, but because all of the

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115 differences elaborated here are distinguishable only on the basis of a semantics. Ultimately, the difference Johnson works with, in relation to the text, is really one of simple addition, a process that simply remains open-ended. Far from constituting the text's unique identity, its difference is that which subverts the very idea of identity, infinitely deferring the possibility of adding up the sum of a text's parts or meanings and reaching a totalized, integrated whole. (1980:4) The textual space outlined here is decidely a metaphysical one. Johnson's analysis plays with the vocabulary of Derridean deconstruction . Difference is difference and not differance. It is merely another name for the many identities (at times, difficult to approximate, empirically or semantically) within an identity or "entity," or, if you prefer, its "differences." And while Johnson denies the attempt of any "metalinguistic authority to confer finality and intelligibility upon all that precedes it" (80) , as a matter of fact this function is accorded to Melville himself, his text; his metastatements have been operating as standards all along. Melville's privilege as a reader is problematized by Johnson herself, but as she does not seem to recognize this, it is expressed as contradictorily as the logic of the dream. . . . every judge is in the impossible position of having to include the effects of his own act of judging within the cognitive context of his decision. . . . But Melville shows [underlining mine] in Billy Budd that authority consists precisely in the impossibility of containing the effects of its own application. (1980:108)

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116 Thus, Melville shows, paints, illustrates, unveils, discloses, and so forth. And he does this as an "expert." Consequently, when Johnson discusses the "problem" of the "expert," we must also include "Melville," something she omits to do. What we are also going to see is how the text's "performance" is confounded with one of its own positions, or statements issuing from this position: the performance is thus dependent upon this position which it cannot do without, for it is this position that makes the performance possible. One might say that this position acts as the "mouthpiece" of the performance. (As an aside, if we are to understand the performative in the Derridean sense, we shall have to understand it differently, as a performance without presence. But this is the subject of Part II.) What, then, are the problems the "expert" encounters? What every act of judgment manifests is not the value of the object but the position of the judge within a structure of exchange. There is, in other words, no position from which to judge what would be outside the lines of force involved in the object judged. (107) Indeed. But what are Melville's problems? Let us examine the "restitution" made to father Melville, but this time the consequences of the restitution will not go with (out) saying. As a political allegory, Melville's Billy Budd is thus much more than a study of good and evil, justice and injustice. It is a dramatization of the twisted relations between knowing and doing, speaking and killing, reading and judging, which make political understanding and action so problematic. In the subtle creation of Claggart's "evil" out of a series of spaces in knowledge, Melville shows that gaps in cognition, far from

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117 being mere absences, take on the performative power of true acts. The "deadly space" or "difference" that runs through Billy Budd is not located between knowing and action, performance and cognition. It is that which, within action, prevents us from ever knowing whether what we hit coincides with what we understand. And this is what makes the meaning of Melville's last work so striking. (108-09) When Johnson argues that Melville's "political allegory" dramatizes "twisted relations," and "shows that gaps in cognition . . . take on the performative power of true acts," she presents a case for the separation of the performance of Melville's text from its statements. Thus, she would draw a frame to differentiate the two, a border or boundary that would guarantee the integrity of each space. In a certain sense, the allegory would yield a profit or surplus value, capitalizing on statements (propositions or positions) it negates as worthless. But what makes the meaning of Melville's work, his "political allegory" so "striking" for me is that even as Melville or his allegory demonstrates or performs this, denies its asserted positions, he and his allegory are dependent upon, "interlaced," if you will, with the text's acts, prepositional statements that the allegory cannot do without, prepositional statements that "prop up" the allegory. And they do so in a language that is all reducible to the literal/motivated ("naive") position: Billy's. Even the metastatements that guide Johnson's analysis are and must be read in this fashion, do and must turn "Melville" into such a reader. Cast in "the position of a judge within

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118 a structure of exchange," "Melville" is indeed in a "deadly space," for he must constantly return (without ever going forth) to this position and "lean" upon it like a "prosthetic device." But this prosthetic device (literal/ motivated language, the only position available to and allowed by the classical text) , we must ask very dryly (" sec " : sound it out), is it "there?" It can only be there if we agree that language is a system of presentations : the "thing": "itself." If we were to cast this difficulty with the language of the "step" of the text (I am almost tempted to change the word to "stutter," but I will resist the temptation) — the "step" that I have referred to — we might say that in order to step at all, the allegory must depend upon this step (the step of the prosthesis) , for the allegory cannot do without it. The allegory borrows from this step, but it is this step that causes difficulty for the allegory; thus, the allegory cannot stand alone, nor step very well. The specular, speculative, spectacular frame that Johnson tries 14 to impose can no longer be maintained. The linguistic "accounts" are neither "open nor closed" (Derrida, 1980b:419)This is why Derrida remarks of the speculative "march" of the classical text that must lean on one of its own "objects" that, "ca boite et ca ferme mal" (418). "It limps and closes badly." Thus, it is the real contribution of American "deconstruction" to have inadvertently revealed some of the

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119 difficulties of the classical reading model even though it never questions that model. And American deconstruction , however inadvertently, has also revealed the "deadly space" of the performative, a performative captured by (the metaphysics of) presence, and "ventriloquized" by it loquacious "props . " The classical text "limps badly" in the hands of American deconstruction. Can we make it limp "well?" Can we make it "dance?" Another story, then? But perhaps this story, the one "I" am about to tell "you," will have been an entirely different kind? This time, we'll get "me" into the "action." But, as "you" shall see, "I" have, in a manner of speaking been there all along. But, if it is a matter of speech, will "I" have been "there?" Footprints 1. Fiction is indeed framed within the metaphysics of presence. As readers, we insist on positioning ourselves outside of its frame, or at best, conceive of it (the frame) in a linear fashion. See Derrida's "The Purveyor of Truth" where he laughs at Lacan for analyzing fiction without taking into account the fictional nature of what he is analyzing and the frame he forgets, which is no longer simply conceivable in linear, meaning-event oriented ways, like picture frames that enclose one event and then can be framed by another meaning-event. Derrida comments, "Without breathing a word, Lacan excludes the textual fiction within which he isolates 'general narration.' Such an operation is facilitated, too obviously facilitated, by the fact that the narration contains the entire fiction entitled "The Purloined Letter." But that is the fiction" [52]. 2. These are two of the problems that we found in Culler's analysis of deconstruction (Culler, 1982), which is why I remark that he explains very well what is going on in American deconstruction but is not accurate with respect to Derrida.

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120 3. Notice that the "difference" Johnson refers to is always difference with respect to an already constituted "entity" or "meaning" and is a cognitive problem. Moreover, the problem of the "remainder" ( " restance " or " reste " ) is excluded by the terms in which her operations are cast. Keeping in mind that what Derrida calls "undecidability" is named so only "by analogy" (Derrida, 1982b: 219) which means that it can not simply be understood with reference to its opposite, let us read one of Johnson's statements concerning it. "If we could be sure of the difference between the determinable and the undeterminable , the undeterminable would be comprehended within the determinable. What is undecidable is whether a thing is decidable or not" (Johnson, 1980:146). This analysis ricochets from one term (definable, constituted, hence undisturbed) to another, and both derive from the question of the "thing" which is already assumed as a possibility, even if it is ultimately negated. Also notice that the final statement concerning the "decidability or not" of the "thing" yanks the analysis back into an ontology. Undecidability, in its Derridean sense, is not a simple problem of cognition. 4. See Jonathan Culler, 1982. Culler expresses grave reservations with respect to the attempts of readers to distinguish between various works that claim the force of deconstruction and Derrida 's work. He locates the problem at the level of difference between an "original" (Derrida) and the "copy" (the "imitator"). However, rigor has always been claimed by and for classical thought, and instead of relegating the issue to the physicians as Culler does ("The convergence of opponents and supporters in this intense concern to distinguish the original from the derivative is an intriguing symptom of the play and forces within critical institutions" [228, note 1]), we might do well to remind ourselves that deconstruction (as employed by Derrida) is a critique of metaphysics, of presence, of the sign, of consciousness, of philosophy, of rhetoric, in short, of classical thought and its assumptions. If after a rigorous reading, one concludes that the critical text in question does not disturb classical thought (this is not as difficult a task as Culler would have it; classical readers, myself included, were more than aware of Derrida 's disturbance of the classical field) then while we may call it anything we so desire, including "deconstruction" I suppose, we shall not call it a text that problematizes metaphysics without sacrificing the rigor we have always claimed. Analyses of the rhetorical operations of the text should be of value and interest in themselves, and one should not feel compelled to attach the word "deconstruction" in order to guarantee (if such is even the case) intellectual respect; however, we should not be bullied into thinking that any critical text that adorns itself with the name is "deconstructive" in the Derridean sense (with the use of such threats as "repetitions, deviations, disfigurations" or "imitation, citation,

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121 distortion, parody" [228] all terms which exist quite comfortably within the tradition) . 5. With respect to "meaning" or "signification," both Phenomenology and Semiotics exemplify this shift quite clearly; what the former locates inside the subject, the latter kicks outside and locates in system. 6. Not only either inside or outside, but the center is able to be "within the structure and outside it" (Derrida, 1978f:278) . 7. Thus, the material generated by thematic reading becomes the basis for language problems; the old critical terrain is trans lated which explains why we are continually coming upon it . If there is an advance here, it is only an apparent one. The thematic presences that Johnson analyzes in terms of language conceptions are "speculations": specular and speculative. 8. Derrida analyzes the "opposition" between these two metaphysical concepts in his work on Husserl (Derrida, 1978b: 100-105) and shows how the two are neither opposition nor symmetrical. Within the terms of the tradition, on its own "ground," they are relational and bound to one another intimately. Equivocity is absolutely dependent upon univocity that must name it in each of its instances. But, as Derrida argues, the univocal is only possible on the basis of a teleology that always is a return, but a strange kind of a return for it never involves an initial setting out or going forth. Teleology is one of the principle prosthetic devices that metaphysical, speculative thought must lean upon. 9. Both are united in a common telos (i.e., meaningfulness) . Literality or naivete is the absolute limit towards which irony moves in its desire for intelligibility. Notice, however, how very amenable the definition of these two positions as "symmetrical opposites," while problematic within a language model, acquire intelligibility in terms of a psychology. But this, of course, throws the whole analysis into an ontology. 10. Again, this commentary underscores the idealizations of psychological types of readers; with respect to Billy and Claggart, these idealizations are truly and in a very classical way, fictional . 11. For a discussion of context and teleology, see "Signature Event Context" in Derrida, 1982d.

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122 12. Notice how "undecidability " always occurs between two positive terms and thus is involved as a semantic difference. 13. Every statement taken from Melville (wherein he comments on or describes) is taken as literal and motivated: Billy's position. 14. Thus, the performance of the text can no longer be distinguished from its acts. See Derrida, 1980b: 417-18 ; the border which would guarantee a distinction "invaginates . "

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PART II THE METAPHYSICS OF PRESENCE REVISITED

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CHAPTER 4 SPECULATIONS ON THE CLASSICAL READING MODEL The following is an attempt to explain the classical reading model from a deconstructive vantage. I make no claims for the truth value of this exercise, and only require that my "account," my "story," be related. In its very nature, the enterprise is a "curious" one. The first challenge to such a project comes from the diacritical character of language itself: it prevents a thesis, a theme, a decidable content or event of meaning, a semantic fullness from taking place. . . . diacriticity already prevents a theme from being a theme, that is, a nuclear unit of meaning, posed there before the eye, present outside of its signifier and referring only to itself, in the last analysis, even though its identity as a signified is carved out of the horizon of an infinite perspective. Either diacriticity revolves around a nucleus and in that case any recourse to it remains superficial enough not to put thematicism as such into question; or else diacriticity traverses the text through and through and there is no such thing as a thematic nucleus, only theme effects that give themselves out to be the very thing or meaning of the text. If there is a textual system, a theme does not exist. (Derrida, 1982b:250) Another challenge issues from . . . a certain inexhaustibility which cannot be classed in the categories of richness, intentionality, or a horizon, and whose form would not be simply foreign to the order of mathematics. (250) 124

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125 To make (as I am about to) of "text," to make of the "mark" written speech, and then to attempt a thesis, to derive thematic elements for the purposes of explication is to assume the possibility of a final summation and a determinate perspective, and to insist on essentializing , substantializing, and petrifying writing: the "medusa effect." Yet, as every good classical reader knows, such a summation or totalization is impossible. There is always more to be said about a given work, more to be discussed, explained, described, interpreted, and a reader soon runs out of breath. But this resistance to totalization and rigidif ication, this resistance, or what passes for the inexhaustibility of writing, stems neither from a semantic richness nor from the inaccessibility of a secret, but from a certain limit announced . . . through the angle and the intersection of a remark that folds the text back upon itself without any possibility of its fitting back over or into itself, without any reduction of its spacing. (251) Thus, the "fold" of the text prevents my representation of the text "from folding back upon itself or reproducing itself within itself in perfect self-correspondence ..." (Derrida, 1979a:105). In a sense, then, I am narrating; I am answering the demand of narrative for narrative, a narrative of deconstruction as deconstruction. But this narration is a double one and can be read in two different ways, using two different kinds of ears. In

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126 the first species of narrative, the reader will read classically, attempt to discover a thesis, a theme, attend to signifiers and so forth. Reading in this manner, the reader listens with a classical ear attuned to what Blanchot calls "the narratorial voice" (Derrida, 1979a: 104). The narratorial voice is the voice of a subject recounting something, remembering an event or a historical sequence, knowing who he is, where he is, and what he is talking about. It responds to some "police," a force of order or law ("What 'exactly' are you talking about?": the truth of equivalence). In this sense, all organized narration is "a matter for the police," even before its genre (mystery novel, cop story) has been determined. (104-05) Reading classically, I turn "text" into a "book" and impose "fundamentally classical limits upon generalized textuality" (Derrida, 1982b:316). I make the text function as a double of myself. In re-calling and re-collecting the text, I play with it as though it were a mirror wherein my own images — theses, themes, structures, names and identities, and so forth-return like toys attached to a string. I make of "writing" a simple externalization of the meaning I (or, if you prefer, the linguistic system that allows me to speak) confer on (or derive from) the marks on the page (old and "vulgar" concept of writing) — "false identity of the mark" (45) . Classically speaking, I treat writing as "written speech"--sign of a sign. Now the other species of narration is of an entirely different kind. In reading it, the reader will re-situate the classical model of reading, and use it to read repetition, not the repetition of some thing, some information.

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127 communication, a thesis, a theme, but their "dissemination," their "nonpresence . " The reader will read the "re-" of repetition, its "rhythm," its rhythmic "dance." Reading in a certain way, the reader listens, not with the classical ear, but with an ear attuned to the unheard differences of what Derrida, again drawing on Blanchot, calls "the narrative voice" (Derrida, 1979a:105). The narrative voice . . . would surpass police investigation, if that were possible . . . Now, the narrative voice ("I" or "he," a third person that is neither a third person nor the simple cover of impersonality") has fixed [arr£te] place. It takes place placelessly, being both atopical , mad extravagant, and hypertopical , both placeless and over-placed . . . The neuter _il, "it," of the narrative voice, is not an "I," not an ego, even if it is represented in the narrative by "I," "he," or "she." (10 5) "I," then, write (s) with two hands. I am about to tell a story, to indulge in a narrative. But how will it be read? Let me talk about the story that I am about to relate. I am going to tell a story, a speculative story, one speculating on the classical reader who reads — this is my "thesis" — the text as though it were a mirror, and who plays a charming game, tries to "come into his/her own." But the story will not conclude without a certain surprise. How do I know that I playing with the text as though it were a mirror of mine? What evidence can I muster for such a thesis? Or, in other words, where is my prosthesis, that artificial structure of assistance and support? I would like to say that I have gotten this notion from "Derrida,"

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128 and that he derives the paradigm for this playful activity from his reading of Freud's great speculative text, Beyond the Pleasure Principle , that I am simply going to recount it here, to repeat and reflect or represent his reading, identify and name the signifieds that Derrida identifies and names, all the while citing Derrida 's text as an authority and referring to his Proper Name. Surely this is a very simple and self-evident operation. Through the devices of re-calling and re-collecting, through the mechanism of naming and of identification ("to identify and to identify with," transitive and reflexive) , I simply recall a theme, a semantic content, a thesis, a structure: signifieds. I look at or perceive these signs that make present an absence (writing as the sign of a verbal sign) : indeed, are they not perfect in their repetition of the "thing" (let this word hold the place of meaning and reference)? If you, the reader, already recognize in the description of my project a certain kind of narcissism displaying itself, you will understand why, in every sense of the word, these appeals to "Derrida" are ludicrous. Ludic (rous) : causing laughter: provoking or deserving derision: amusingly absurd: ridiculous; comical; laughable. L ludicrus , sportive, equiv. to ludicr (urn) , a show, public games ( ludi, s. of ludere to play + -crum n. suffix of instrument or result -us -ous ) . My "public game," playful and laughable as it is, providing great "sport" or "pleasure," is simply a "show," an attempt at "putting on

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129 view": spectacle. For the attempt will not, nor can it, take place; it will not have taken (a) place. Too many of the assumptions that found the possibility of such a reading of Derrida are "speculative" and depend upon the logic of philosophy; philosophy--conceptuality itself — assumes that Derrida 's text has the value of a "thing," that it — his text — can be submitted to the values of presence, evidence, experience, that its meaning is there. This position is based on the classical hypothesis of repetition. "Dans I'hypothese classique, la repetition en general serait secondaire et derivee" (Derrida, 1980b:373). ("In the classical hypothesis, repetition in general would be secondary and derived.") Repetition repeats an origin, a meaning, a reference; in this case I repeat Derrida. But what happens when there is no longer an origin or a meaning (operations of philosophy) to guarantee these representations? And what happens when representations resist becoming presentations? What happens if repetition is, not secondary and derived, but primordial. Whose show is this? Can we even call it a "show?" Who and where is its director? Perhaps the show and the director are simply the effects of a language that, although we cannot do without it, is becoming increasingly questionable; and its "speculative" value, the surplus without which it can no longer accumulate the necessary capital, a result of its bankruptcy?

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130 In order to attempt to answer these questions, I am about to offer a partial reading of " Speculer--Sur 'Freud'" in La Carte postale where Derrida writes (such, at least, is my hypothesis ) of the reader (subject) in relation to the text (object) . But i_f I insist on observing Derrida observe Freud who among other things observes Ernst (Freud's grandson) playing his "game" (the pronoun "his" is deliberately ambiguous in its reference) , the "game" according to Freud that allows him (another ambiguous reference) to achieve a pleasurable mastery over experience, a mastery of symbolism; in that I read, I make use of the function of memory. Thus, in reading, in that I recall these representations that I repeat, that indeed are already repeatable, iterable, then I am no longer a simple observer external to this activity; I am also a participant. But what role do "I" play? Can it be determined? If "I" disappear ( fortl ) in order that Derrida and his text return ( da! ) , does he indeed return? But do "I" indeed disappear? Since, in the very act of recollection (After all, these recollections and reflections are "mine," at least they seem to be "mine." But who am "I?") , "I" can occupy all of the positions in the text (Derrida' s, Freud's, Sophie's, Ernst's — even yours as I try to anticipate your questions ! --you will see how this comes about) , have "I" ever left? But who or what is this "I" that seems to be everyone and everyone else? And who or what "returns?" Remember, if you read this classically, and since you are utilizing the function of memory, recalling

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131 and recollecting, you are here too. DA! All of these difficulties have a bearing on what you are about to "read." Everything that "I" write (s) about Freud, the reader of Ernst's "activity," applies to me reading Derrida, and it applies to you. But who are "you?" The Fort: Da Game The fort ; da game of Ernst, the grandson of Freud, is undoubtedly one of the most famous of all of the anecdotes reported in the accounts of psychoanalysis. When Freud first observes this "game," he initially regards it as a "puzzling activity," an activity that, Derrida remarks, "like every puzzle calls for a story" (Derrida, 1978a: 117). Notice that a silent hypothesis founds Freud's characterization. The "puzzling activity" is immediately endowed with meaning by this good grandfather, even if its meaning might be that it is finally meaningless — hence, the call for a story, for an "account." Is it a game then? We cannot be sure, but we do know that Freud names it so. And we know that after the passage of some time, Freud finally "discovers" its meaning. At first, however, this "game" irritates Freud and causes him displeasure," for he considers it the "disturbing habit" of an otherwise well-behaved child. Here is what Freud says. Now, this good little boy had on occasion a disturbing habit of taking any small objects he could get hold of and throwing them far away from him into a corner, under the bed, and so on, so that hunting for his toys and picking them up again [ das Zusammensuchen seines Spielzeuges ] was

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132 often no easy chore. (Freud in Derrida, 1978a:124-125) However, the noises made by the child manage to attract Freud's interest and stir his "curiosity." As Ernst threw the toys, he gave vent to a loud, long-drawn-out "o-o-o-o," accompanied by an expression of interest and satisfaction. His mother and the observer were agreed in thinking that [ nach dem ubereinstimmenden Urteil ] this was not a mere interjection but represented the German word " fort " [" gone " ] . I eventually realized that it was a game and that the only use he made of any of his toys was to play "gone" [ fortsein ] with them. (Freud in 1978a:126) The child's behavior now makes sense; it is a game. And we may suspect that what Freud speculates about Ernst also applies to himself; what v/as first experienced "passively" as a source of irritation ("puzzling activity"), is now mastered actively: the activity of mastery is indeed a game and it is a game of meaning: naming and identifying. Indeed, Freud offers additional observations to validate his interpretation. One day I made an observation which confirmed my view. The child had a wooden reel [ Holzspule ; French, bobine en bois ] with a piece of string tied round it. It never occurred to him to pull it along the floor behind him, for instance, and play at its being a carriage [ Wagon mit ihr zu spielen ] . What he did was to hold the reel by the edge of his little curtained [or "veiled"] bed, so that it disappeared into it, at the same time uttering his meaningful "o-o-o-o." He then pulled the reel out of the bed again by the string and hailed its reappearance with a joyful "da" ("there"]. This, then, was the complete game — disappearance and return. As a rule one witnessed only its first act, which was repeated untiringly as a game in itself, though there is no doubt that the greater pleasure was attached to the second act. (Freud in 1978a:128)

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133 It is important to note the teleological character of Freud's analysis. Not only the fact that Freud posits Ernst's acts as already meaningful ("puzzling activity"), but also that Ernst's activity becomes meaningful and gains significance as a "game" of mastery through the apparatus of psychoanalysis. Freud's own principles guide the analysis. Thus, we are already involved in a contradiction. The analysis is a return by means of these principles (which the analysis must utilize) to those principles. Already we are learning something of the nature of the principles involved in all analyses. They are produced after the fact, but they rush ahead so that they may then be (re) discovered. In other words, Freud's principles will have anticipated Ernst's activities. Thus, Freud will attempt to receive his own message, see his own face. Da! As Derrida reminds us, "Narcissism is the law" of the metaphysics of presence (1982b: 45). But as Derrida has pockets or "folds" full of surprises for metaphysics, perhaps that message will not take place. Freud is about to speculate on what will later be called the fort: da game. But in speculating on this game, he is going to play that game. As Derrida remarks, . . . the story that he reports seems to place the writing of the report into an abyss structure: what is reported has a bearing on the one who reports it. (1978a:120) For example, Freud will discuss Ernst's proclivity to throw away his toys, toys that he keeps attached by means of a string in order to draw them back to himself (fort! da!).

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134 The speculator himself will mirror this activity in his own writing, its "performance." Examining this famous chapter wherein the game is recounted, Derrida remarks, What obviously repeats itself in this chapter is the movement of the speculator to reject, set aside, make disappear ( fort ) , defer everything that calls the PP [Pleasure Principle, but also in its sound, pepe , or grandfather — BF] into question. He notes that it is not enough, that he must postpone the question. Then he summons back the hypothesis of something beyond the pleasure principle only to dismiss it again. (1978a: 115) What Ernst will do with the mirror, Freud does without it; the one is the abyss of the other. Freud names and identifies: he begins with the "ooo," "aaa" sounds of the grandson and makes them his own, in effect, takes Ernst's place through the act of naming and identifying. Thus Derrida detects a Proper Name effect in Freud's operation Freud never stops to wonder about the language into which he translates the o/a. To recognize in those sounds a semantic content linked to a specific language (a certain opposition to German words) and from there a semantic content that goes beyond that language (the interpretation of the child's behavior) is a process that requires complex theoretical procedures. We may suspect that the o/a is not restricted merely to a formal opposition of values, the content of which may vary freely. If this variation is restricted . . . then we can state the following hypothesis: there is a proper name involved in those sounds, whether we mean this figuratively (every signified whose signifier can neither vary nor be translated into another signifier without loss of significance, suggests a proper-name effect) or literally. (1978a:127) This game, complete as it is in "its first act" keeps piling on supplements, as do the observations Freud adds. For there is, it seems, another act, one which comes to

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135 supplement those that preceded it and this time provides full confirmation. A further observation subsequently confirmed this interpretation fully. One day the child's mother had been away for several hours and on her return was met with the words "Baby o-o-o-o!" which was at first incomprehensible ["puzzling" again! — BF] . It soon turned out, however, that during this long period of solitude the child had found a method of making himself disappear. He had discovered his reflection in a full-length mirror which did not quite reach the ground, so that by crouching down he could make his mirror-image "gone" [fort] . (Freud in 1978a:132) Ernst's "puzzling activity" has finally become comprehensible: it is a game. But this game is not simply "fun and games" and in this sense, once more the game of the grandfather and the game of the grandson mirror each other. Derrida remarks, . . . the game means playing usefully with oneself as with one's own object. This confirms the abysslike relationship that I was proposing . . . between on the one hand the object or the content of Beyond the Pleasure Principle , what Freud is supposedly writing, describing, analyzing, examining, treating, and so forth, and on the other hand the system of his writing acts, the writing scene that he stages or that is played out. This is the "complete game" of the fort :da . With (out) the object of his text, Freud does exactly what Ernst does with (out) his bobine ... He [Freud] writes that he writes; he describes what he describes, which, however, is also what he is doing; he is doing what he describes, i.e., what Ernst does: he goes fort : da with his bobine. (133) Both Freud and Ernst are playing the "game" and "the game means playing usefully with oneself as with one's own object" (133). Thus, as we remarked before, the game is not simply "fun and games"; rather, the game represents learning how to master symbolically. In short, the activity

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136 illustrates the acquisition of the capacity for selfrepresentation. But, and this is a big but , for we must ask an important question: can representation present (itself) (a) (self)? Freud names and identifies, but his naming implicate him as a participant as well as an observer. Why? "Freud recalls — his memories and himself" (125). We might think of this statement as a challenge to the following paradigm. The classical model differentiates between immediate experience (as for example, Freud watching Ernst, looking at him, and exercising himself with regard to what he is observing) and mediate experience or language. Thus, the classical model would argue that Freud is distinct and separate from the object of his study, the game itself, or little Ernst. What Freud is involved with here seems, on the basis of immediate perception, to be an "objective" experience, one conceivable apart from himself. Clinically, we speak of this as "direct observation," empirical observation of "the facts" or "gathering data." We can even carry this model a bit further and argue that the observer is always a participant, that the tools of the analysis always implicate the "subject" with the "object" of analysis. It is a commonplace that if I, as a stranger, arrange to visit a group of children in order to observe them, my presence will cause them to alter their actions accordingly. In fact, one need not be a stranger. We all know that children act one way with their peers, and

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137 another v/ith their parents. To return this model to the realm of science itself, we need only recall Heisenberg's "principle of indeterminacy." But this is not exactly what Derrida points to here. Let's begin with the distinction between image (event of perception) and name (word) . When Derrida remarks that "L' image et le nom sont les meme" (Derrida, 1980b:33) ("The image and the name are the same,"), he reminds us just as he reminded Husserl (Derrida, 1973) , that a presentation (event of perception) is already a representation, is already a repetition, and it is this repetition or repeatability that allows recognition. In that both image and word depend upon memory, upon repeatability, both are representations or 2 signs. Hence, he remarks in Writing and Difference , . . . there is no word, nor in general a sign which is not constituted by the possibility of repeating itself. A sign which does not repeat itself, which is not already divided by repetition in its "first time," is not a sign. The signifying referral therefore must be ideal — and ideality is but the assured power of repetition — in order to refer to the same thing each time. (Derrida, 1979c:246) Thus, we are no longer dealing with the repetition (the reof representation) of some thing or some one but rather the reof repetition. We tend to understand this in terms of either a beginning (everything begins in repetition) that isn't really a beginning, or in terms of an impossible resolution, the impossibility of an ultimate signified. Everything "in the middle," between origin and end, somehow escapes the effects

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138 of repetition. However, inasmuch as there is an instance (or instant) , it is contaminated, divided, multiplied by the effects of repetition. The former model discussed, empiric observation, or the more radical version, alteration of event by observation, requires a distinction between subject and object (in the latter, something is modified, even if I have slim access to it) along with a distinction between events. But in order to maintain such distinctions, each must be accorded the status of a presentation . Repetition, within this model, is always a repetition of some one or some thing, and each is separated from the other by means of an ideal frame or margin. Something presents itself: da! In person! Even when we read language, although we pay lip-service to "representation", we treat it as a representation of a presentation. For as soon as we so much as point to a meaning, a signified, a concept, an event of presence, or as soon as we start analyzing any of them, we are dealing with presentations . This is precisely what Derrida is attacking. If both subject and object, event, are repetitions, but repetitions of no thing, no one (otherwise an origin is assumed) , then repetition repeats repetition and one can no longer distinguish between or among repetitions. In insisting that there is no such thing as pure presentation, Derrida breaks down all these distinctions (based on presence) ; repetitions are indistinguishable because there cannot be a presence or

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139 "content" to them. Thus, there is only, as he remarks, "a differential network, a fabric of traces referring endlessly to something other than itself, " not simply other "things," but referring "to other differential traces" (1979a:84). And without the ideal frame or margin that delineates presence, "the text overruns all the limits assigned to it so far (not submerging or drowning them in an undifferentiated homogeneity, but rather making them more complex, dividing and multiplying strokes and lines" (84). Thus, content, meaning, appearance, signified, referent, concept, are all effects of the language of m.etaphysics . And all analyses that analyze these events are themselves events of the metaphysics of presence . This, superficially at least, seems to constitute what is often referred to as "the bad news." But the bad news, as with the jokes of this kind, is not without good news. If we push the model of classical repetition to its limit, we shall find that what we took for its good news is not good at all; for the price for "being there," for being able to say, "da!," is indeed exorbitant. In classical repetition, the self or subject is treated as a privileged presentation (in order to differentiate itself from its objects) that serves as an origin for the self as object. In other words, I "re-presence" myself to myself; a presentation presents itself as one of its own representations which, because they are transparent to the self function as (perfectly transparent) presentations. The structure of the self as object is then repeated as the

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140 self takes the "other" for an object (represences it) . One learns to repeat oneself and the other (the object, image, or name). But, and here is the impasse reached by classical thought, the objects (self-repetitions of selfpresentations, transparent) are always objects of the self since the self is the ground or origin. The self can only repeat (its) self. Because it is always there ( da! ) , it never really leaves ( fort! ) . Speculation would like to present itself as separate from the objects it analyzes; but in mastering absence symbolically, in identifying and identifying with the objects whose disappearance speculation stages and directs, the speculating speculator never leaves. Freud recalls and masters absence (like any good classical reader) through recollection; but he keeps himself on a 3 "string." The classical subject may begin with a mirror but the language of metaphysics internalizes it. Ernst (and all the rest of us) . . . makes himself disappear, he masters himself symbolically, and he makes himself reappear from then on without the mirror, in his very disappearance, keeping himself (like his mother) on a string, on the wire. He makes himself re-. (Derrida, 1978a: 132-33) Thus, the self-recalling does not exist apart from the objects recalled; in psychoanalytic terms, the ego's objects, the objects of consciousness, are not external to it but are part and parcel of it. As a consequence of this involvement of subject with object, the classical subject occupies all of the positions it engenders or constructs (whether one puts this in terms of consciousness, or in

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141 terras of the linguistic self, its imperialistic subjectivity) . Classically conceived, recollection, remembrance, repetition, all these ensure that we ourselves are part of our "playthings [ Spielzeuges ] . " Thus, we should now be in a better position to understand the classical consequences of Derrida's remark, "Freud recalls — his memories and himself" (Derrida, 1978a: 125) and appreciate how Freud participates in this recollection and in what he recalls and recollects. What are these consequences? Since all of my "representations" are my own — hence, presentations ("idiomatic" Freud will say in a bit) — I cannot, so to speak, get outside of them. Nor, since they are presentations, can I communicate them to anyone else; they are peculiar to me. Thus, there is no relation possible to anything outside myself. Generally speaking, this includes everything. Specifically, in the act of reading, insofar as recollection is subordinated to presence, I am not really reading at all. I am (seeing) myself, my object, in the text, recalling, recollecting and reciting (myself, my object) ; the text becomes my own, nothing but me. Theses and themes are mine, produced by the mirror of (self-) presentation. I repeat and recall but only repeat and recall my own. Thus, I inseminate, engender, father myself as I produce (my) themes, (my) theses, (my) speculations. "Speculation" is etymologically linked to the gaze and the mirror; one of its meanings is a questioning "curiosity," and sure enough, as

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142 Derrida points out, Freud says that speculation obeys not the laws of science, but the law of "curiosity," and its curiosity is provoked by what it posits as "puzzling activity," already a speculation . As the origin of repetition, I repeat myself, keep myself "on a string, on a wire." Telephonies: I (re)cAll (myself), over the telephone, over the teletype: I contrAct (with) myself through speculation and make a return to myself just as Freud "made a return to Freud by the mediation of his grandson" (Derrida, 1978a: 120), his object . "His" "object." The teleology that underwrites speculation emerges from the classical hypothesis of repetition. We have seen how classical repetition works with the mirror image (presentation) that I substitute for myself and internalize as my identity; I treat this "visual" image — better this empiric perceptual moment — as me a "sign of me". Yet, "the property of the sign is not to be an image" (Derrida, 1976:45). So the visual effect that is privileged here, its substantive property, is as much an effect of the language of metaphysics as is the substantive effect of the spoken word. Classical repetition also governs the formation of identity within the linguistic structure. The moment of identity is signaled by my ability to "oppose phonemes." When an individual acquires subjectivity and the capacity

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143 for symbolic substitution, he or she can now appropriate the grammatical category of the "I" (the last skill in a progressive development that begins with him or her designating itself by its first name which is then replaced by the third person pronoun. Entry into language is the prerequisite of singularity and identity (linguistic) and allows the individual to be represented (even if a bit bloodlessly) in language. Pronoun shifters permit differentiated relations among subjects to emerge. Yet the same teleology, the same " in-place-of " structure of the sign operates here. Such pronoun differentiation depends initially upon sound (I hear the word and learn its appropriate use) and, in reading, for the most part, sight. "Braille" would of course utilize a sensitive touch. But none of these, if we recall Saussure, are 5 necessary to language. Only differences, but differences that do not belong to the empiric world. A small example might clarify the teleology that directs the distinctions that allow subjectivity to emerge. I remember one of the first times I had occasion to look at the Russian script whose characters are totally unfamiliar to me. Find yourself in there, I thought. Well, of course, I argued, I don't know this language. Markers that permit me to differentiate my own subjectivity both intrapersonally and interpersonally need to be singled out. They must be taught. But that is precisely the point. Unfamiliar with the "principles" of the language, I v/as unable to discover

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144 them, unable to "return" to them, to "myself" by means of them.. We shall return to this subject in a bit. We should be in a position now, however, to see that these two models (subjective identity initiated through identification of and with the self-image; objective identity initiated by means of linguistic structures) are basically the same. One may go from toy, to reel, to the mirror (as does Ernst), and finally to the "phone," but ultimately, one never moves an inch. We can invert the first system or model and argue that the object of perception is simply a sign, is already a sign, and that this model is in reality structured by language, but as long as the language model is governed by classical repetition (substitution or repetition of some thing), by presence, and teleology, all we accomplish is an inversion. We can argue that meaning is not prior to language, but is produced by it, and all we have is yet another inversion. To say that meaning comes from the subject is no different in the last analysis than to argue that meaning comes from the object or system of language. One simply changes (the) place without changing places. We remarked above that Derrida attacks the model of empiric observation, along with its more radical version, alteration of event by observation. Ke also attacks the autism that structures the classical model and emerges when it is driven to its ultimate ("logical") absurdity. Let us

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145 see hov/ Derrida performs a minute displacement of the classical reader, the player of the fort: da game. In order to introduce a little "space" within this "prisonhouse, " Derrida will question what I am tempted to call two "monuments": position and agent. When we left the Fort : Da game, it seemed that there was no "fort," inasmuch as all absent objects, since they belong to the self, were really modified form.s of presence: "I am always there. DA!" But now, we are going to see how Derrida introduces a radical absence, one that can no longer be conceived in terms of the classical absence/presence structure. I am only going to deal with one example of his; but I will then try to draw its ramifications for spoken discourse. V'7e left Freud "recalling" and in the very act of recollection occupying all of the positions in the game, playing all of the parts, returning and "coming into" his own. Derrida begins by tinkering with classical repetition, by emphasizing the reof the return. Focus on the two kinds of return, the "self-returning of returning" and the "in other words" here. What's involved in the rein general, returning in general, and disappearance/reappearance; not some object that goes out and comes back [underlining mine] but the very going and returning, in other words [underlining mine] the selfpresentation of re-presentation, the selfreturning of returning. This happens to the object that becomes the subject of the fort: da , the disappearance and reappearance of oneself, the object coming back into his own, himself. (Derrida, 1978a:132)

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146 The "self-returning of returning": here we encounter the problem of distinguishing between repetitions. The (self-) return is already a return: the reis a re-, a re"in other words" that is only " re" : the " re" eliminates meaning, which means that it eliminates presence, event, subject, object, thesis, theme, analyses of these objects and so forth. There is of course a "certain legibility that is operative . . . the recognition of a certain semantic content and syntactic code" in all language use, in the " in other words," but "none of all this either constitutes or requires a full understanding of its meaningfulness" (Derrida, 1977b:201). Only the "re-" is necessary to language and that is what Derrida reads. In reading this "re-" Derrida makes it quite difficult for us to locate the game in terms of who is playing it, in terms of what specific individual in the following citation is being referred to, or who is being positioned and differentiated by means of pronouns. And if there is no identifiable player, will there have been a game? Derrida remarks, . . . in recalling what happens to/on the subject (of) Ernst, Freud re-calls that this happens to him ... he recalls that Ernst recalls his mother — he recalls Sophie. He recalls that Ernst recalls his daughter in recalling his m.cther. The ambiguity of the possessive [underlining mine, B.F.] here is not due solely to grammar. Ernst and his grandfather are in a genealogical situation such that the more possessive [which one?] of the two can always go through the other [which one?]. Thus the scene immediately opens up the possibility of a perm.utation of places and genitives , in the strongest sense of the word: the mother of the one is not only the other's mother but also his daughter [underlining mine, B.F.], and so forth. When the scene was taking place and

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147 even before Freud had undertaken to report it, he was already in a position to identify, as we say a bit too readily, with his grandson and, playing it both ways, to recall his mother in recalling his daughter. (1978a:136) We are in for a tedious analysis but it is required. Let us keep in mind that "The fort: da scene, whatever its exemplary content, is always in the process of describing, in advance, the scene of its own description" (1978a:134). Freud, to repeat, plays as he describes, does what Ernst does, even as he does it. Thus, "the story that he reports seems to place the writing of the report in an abyss structure: what is reported has a bearing on the one who reports it (120). The scene and its description operate as a kind of " a priori " but with the " a priori " of an "after-effect" [ apres-coup ] or " a posteriori " (Derrida, 1980b:342). Let us begin with the first part of the first sentence: "in recalling what happens ro/on the subject (of) Ernst, Freud re-calls that it happens to him." Within the recollection (memory, order of signs), we cannot determine whether the reference is to Ernst or to Ernst's game; moreover, the pronoun used ("this happens to him") becomes unreadable in terms of a determinate presence or simple place. The (place or position of the) "him" splits, divides, and multiplies. Where and who is this him? Is it Freud? Or is it Ernst? To continue: "he recalls that Ernst recalls his" (again, the problem of the pronoun, "his": Ernst? Freud?) "mother" (Freud's "mother"? Ernst's mother?). Furthermore, "he" (Ernst or Freud?) recalls

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148 Sophie. "He recalls that Ernst recalls his daughter in recalling his mother (whose daughter? whose mother; who is the "he" recalling "his" mother"). Moreover, when Derrida remarks, "the mother of the one" (which mother and which one) is not only the other's mother (which other, and which mother?) , that "other" — its place--is fractured, confounded, divided. Nor can that "other" (in terms of place, or identity of subjectivity) take place or take a place. This is not simply a problem of uncertainty as, for instance, when we are not quite sure of a specific location or a specific referent; it is a problem of constitution and substitution. For one can no longer determine what or who is being substituted; since everything can substitute for everything and everyone else, the language is undecidable. How does this analysis effect the intim.ate connection between language and subjectivity within spoken discourse whereby the subject is able to position itself with regard to the other through mastery of the pronoun system and thereby gain access to its subjectivity? Emile Benveniste argues that pronouns (shifters) entertain a particular privilege within language in that they are "linguistic forms appropriate to the expression of subjectivity" (Benveniste in Silverman: 45) . They are "'empty' forms which each speaker, in the exercise of discourse, appropriates to himself and which he relates to his 'person'" (45) . One of the unique traits of the "I" is that it has no concept in the way that the word "dog" has, and that refers to all

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149 usage of the word "dog." Thus, Benveniste concludes, "language is marked so deeply by the expression of subjectivity that one might ask if it could still function and be called language if it were constructed otherwise" (45). While shifters lack a conventional signified, they do, however, entertain a unique relation to reference. Silverman explains the implications of Benveniste 's argument in an incisive fashion. In any discursive or linguistic act, she argues, "two sorts of subject are involved." One is called "the speaking subject, or the 'referent,'" the other, "the subject of speech, or the 'referee'" (45). The first of these subjects is the individual who participates in discourse, which in the case of language would be the speaker or writer. The second consists of the discursive element v/ith which that discoursing individual identifies, and in so doing finds his or her subjectivity. In the case of language that discursive element would be the pronoun "I." (45-46) Silverman then proceeds to cite Benveniste 's elaboration of the distinction between "referent" (subjectivity) and the "referee" (linguistic signifier that the subject appropriates as its own), with regard to the subject's relation to the "I." The subject (I) is identifiable within the discursive moment of the "I." Silverman explains the implications of this "double instance." Although these two subjects can only be apprehended in relation to each other, they can never be collapsed into one unit. They remain forever irreducible to each other, separated by the barrier between reality and signification, or what Lacan would call "being" and "meaning." The speaking subject enjoys the status of the referent, whereas the subject of speech functions instead as a signifier. (46, underlining mine)

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150 As with all "enjoyment" of any subject, this subject's, I am afraid, is shortlived. What Benveniste, Silverman, and r Lacan fail to notice is that the "referent," the "reality" of the "referent," the I is already an "I," an iterable, repeatable, re-citable element, a citation from the English language, and it never goes without quotation marks, even if they are invisible. Mow, where is the referent: "I" or "I"? Where is the subjectivity? Differentiate "subjectivity" from "subjectivity." Let's put the "I" within mem^ory, the order of signs: "'j'" is indistinguishable from "'I'". All that is necessary to the functioning of this mark is the "re-" of "repeatability." No subjectivity, no meaning, no 7 being need be there (dal) at all. These, then, are some of the things Derrida points out. The I is simply an (after) effect of the "I," that itself is never "I." Vve are in a domain where "linguistic context," speech and its teleological determ.inations no longer function as "currency . " The classical agent, here Freud, along with the classical reader can no longer name or identify itself, or determine any position. There is no position that is not already a "re-" of "reposition." What role does Freud play? We could ask here if Derrida 's analysis pertains to the man ("thing") or to pleasure (word and object of Freud's analysis) which in the German language are the same, but as this is already complicated enough, let us confine ourselves to the name. Derrida is about to expose the false "mirror" of

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151 speculation, of what it sees or (re) calls. What happens when speculation attempts to return to its "own." Freud's speculative writing also recalls — something else and itself. And above all, what mirrors seem to offer is not, as is often believed, merely getting back what is one's own, any more than in the case of the da. (1978a: 135) Can Freud constitute himself or can he be constituted, named, or identified? Derrida remarks, there are at least three agencies or personae of the same "subject": the speculator-narrator, the observer, and the grandfather, who is never identified with the other two by the other two and so forth. . . (126) In recounting the game, Freud is quite a cast of characters: the speculator-narrator, the observer, the father of psychoanalysis, the grandfather of the grandson, the father-in-law of the father, the father of the mother; but he (these are his recollections) is also Ernst, the grandson of the grandfather, the son of the daughter; and Sophie, his daughter, Ernst's mother. But all of these should be presented in quotation marks: "the speculator-narrator," "the observer," "the father of psychoanalysis," "the grandfather of the grandson," "the father-in-law of the father," "the father of the mother," but he — "HE" (only one empty difference among others, one mark among others) --is also Ernst, "Ernst," "the grandson of the grandfather," "the son of the daughter," "Sophie," "his daughter," "Ernst's mother." Thus within "his" "own" "recollections" "he" (but which one) recalls and recollects, but there is no one that is not already a "one" (iterable mark) to collect. The "he" is dispossessed.

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152 The speculator recalls himself, but we cannot know whether this "himself" can say "I, me, myself": even if he said "myself," what self or ego would then assume the authority of speech. (100) What "returns" are representations that no longer function as self-presentations: "personae," Derrida calls them. Masks, marks that neither present themselves (they are re-presentations , not presentations) nor anyone or anything. They mime everyone and everything; never presenting themselves "in person," nowhere do they appear "as such." "What's involved is the rein general . . ." (132), just a "bit of nothing." Derrida 's question has pushed the issue of identity and authority, its limits, in the recall so far, that the whole problematic seems about to collapse under the burden of its o own weight. Yet we know that he is not a destroyer, does not believe in destruction, but in re-situation, re inscription. Hence, we might ask, what would whatever is mining and undermining the "ground" here look like from 9 another angle?" For help, we might turn again, for a moment, to Derrida 's work on Blanchot, to the distinction that Blanchot drav/s between the "narrative voice," "phantomlike," "ghostly," that cannot be situated either within or without the classical system that it "haunts," and the "narratorial voice" of the classical subject. The narrative voice is "voice-less voice," "place-less place," "I-less I." A long quotation is necessary. The narratorial voice is the voice of a subject recounting something, remembering an event or a historical sequence, knowing who he is, where he

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153 is, and what he is talking abcut. It responds to some "police," a force of order or law. ... In this sense, all organized narration is "a matter for the police" . . . The narrative voice, on the other hand, would surpass police investigation. . . . Now, the narrative voice . . . has no fixed [arr^te] place. It takes place placelessly, being both atopical , mad, extravagant, and hypertopical , both placeless and over-placed . . . The neuter il, "it," of the narrative voice, is not an "I," not an ego, even if it is represented in the narrative by "I," "he," or "she." . . . Atopia, hypertopia, place less place [ lieu sans lieu ] , this narrative voice calls out to this "-less" [ sans , without] syntax, which in Blanchot's text so often comes to neutralize (without positing, without negating) a word, a concept, a term (x-less x) : "-less" or "without" without privation or negativity or lack ("without" v/ithout without , less -less "-less"). . . . The neutral and not neutrality, the neutral beyond dialectical contradiction and all opposition. . . . The neutral cannot be governed by any of the terms involved in an opposition within philosophical language and natural language. And yet it is not outside of language; it is, for example, narrative voice. Despite the negative form that it takes en in grammar ( ne uter , neither-nor) and that betrays it, it surpasses negativity. It is linked rather to the double affirmation (yes, yes, come, come) that re-quotes [ re-cite ] itself and becomes involved in the recit. (1979a: 104-07 ) In a (cultural) narrative, the attempt of anything (either a function of consciousness or a function of language, linguistics, the voice) to dominate the recall , order of memory, order of signs, order of memory as signs , to occupy it as an authority, to speak for it, within it, would not only be surpassed by this "I-less I" ("I" less me, without subjectivity, without consciousness, without referent/ signified/meaning, without presence) but by the demands of (re-) citationality . No thing, nothing of presence and no one, is the master of citationality.

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154 The Athetic Mode of Speculation There is, then, no "speculator" in speculation. What then are we to make of speculation? What does "Freud" say of it? Let us return for the moment to Derrida's reading and examine the character of self-ref lexivity (auto-affection, speculation), not within the fort :da game, but in relation to the rest of Freud's text. What conditions must speculation or self-ref lexivity meet and what motivates the speculative impulse (that obeys the law of "curiosity")? The first condition and requirement of speculation are empirical data used to construct hypotheses. The data protect the "objectivity of the object," constitute the evidence, and distinguish theoretical statements from sheer desire or wish. This is also the condition of reading a text; when I read, I observe as best I can what is going on so that, in attempting to form a satisfactory account or theory concerning it, I have some reasonable and natural support (notice the word that I have inadvertently used: "support," a prosthetic device) to draw or "lean" upon. This evidence must then be transferred or translated ("trans" : the movement will be akin to metaphor) from observation, to description and then to theoretical language. Freud makes a few unusual remarks concerning the nature of his speculative project, remarks that Derrida does not fail to bring to the attention of the reader. Freud says that when one speculates on "ultimate things"

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155 (pleasure, death, life, all these would certainly qualify for this category; within the realm of any art form, we need only trot out the critical vocabulary and derive its aim, motive, object, and so forth, to discern the same moment), the impartiality of the intellect is seldom to be taken for granted. Oddly enough, while Freud admits to these difficulties, he ignores their import for his own thought. However, he manages to say enough. Keep in mind that Freud had always expressed grave reservations towards speculation, for he regarded it as a manifestation of the narcissistic ego's desire for a complete and comprehensive explanation, a unified system that essentially would be nothing other than a mirror image of its apprehension of itself: complete and whole. What then does Freud recognize without recognizing in his own speculative project? He confesses that each indi12 vidual speculator has his own " idiomatic strategy" (underlining mine), dominated by his own "preferences," and "predilections," He also warns that if the processes he attempts to reveal remain obscure, it is the result of the translation process he must utilize in order to name his object. For in transporting observation into description and then to theory, one encounters a difficulty in the very fabric of language itself. Language, the language of theory, "scientific" language is problematic because it is figurative; it is a "language of images ( Bildersprache ) ." He is "obliged to work with this language of images proper

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156 to psychology ( mit der eigen Bildersprach der Psycholoqie ) , more precisely, to depth psychology" (Freud in Derrida, 1980b:408) . Derrida points cut two consequences: The first is that because of the need to "borrov>/" figures from the language of science, to transfer from one domain to the other one will never name properly . The operation of the language is defective; its possibility is its impossibility; the problem of metaphor brings in all of the surplus that at the same time is a deficiency, the credit and debit, profit and loss of the speculative code that "gains as it loses," and "loses as it gains" (427) . Hence the postponem.ent of the "thing" or the properly named object is indefinite and absolute . The second consequence destroys the objectivity of the object and thus destroys the value of the theory; speculation, so rich in its interest, is an empty, bankrupt account because of its own excess wealth again 1 For there seems to be nothing to observe that is not already conditioned ahead of time . As Freud says, "Without it [without the help of the language of images] we would be unable to describe in general the corresponding process, indeed, we could not even have perceived them" (408). The limit betv/een observation of the "facts" and the language of images is not only effaced, but this "improper" language determines and 14 conditions the "perception": assisting the self in returning to itself, it is tele-ology, tele-phonics, teletyping, tele-vision.

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157 Le transfert speculatif oriente, destine , calcule le "premier pas" le plus originaire et le plus passif sur le seuil meme de la perception. Et cette perception, son desir or son concept, appartient a ce sujet. Comme tout discours tenu a ce sujet. (409) The speculative transfer (ence) orients, destines , calculates the "first step," the most primordial and passive pas [step, not] on the very threshold of perception. And this perception, its desire or its concept, belongs to the destiny of this calculus. Just as all discourse held on this subject. Speculation, the object of speculation, motivated by individual "predilections," "preferences," formed by the "idiomatic strategy" of the individual speculator, obeying the law of "curiosity," recalled by consciousness whose desire forms and summons it, is not an object at all, nor for that matter is the "ego." The irony? To modify an old adage, those who live by metaphor die by metaphor, for their speculations are effects of a language (the language of metaphysics) that constructs them — an "improper" language, unable to name properly. Nor, according to Freud, is this fatality ever likely to be remedied, the enterprise ever to be "guaranteed in the last instance" (410) . For the speculative flaw is exacerbated by the need to "borrow" from the language of biology in particular, and its possible developments are unlimited--inf inite . And the surprising information that mdght ultimately emerge from it could "Blow away the whole of our artificial hypothesis" (410). Derrida reminds us that the French translation of Freud's remark reads, "Comme un chateau de cartes" (410) , a "house of cards," that it indicates the ludic character of speculation

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158 ( fort ! da!) , its playfulness in constructing games ( construction : artificial , not natural: so the "game" was not free play) . All of this applies to my language when I write or speak about a text. All of my description, my theories concerning it are motivated by the desire for presence, self-presence. What do readers borrow from in interpreting art? " Principles " from all realms of course, from all of the disciplines language makes possible, and even from the realm of art itself. We have, then, the same problem. These realms — particularly the realm of art — are also open and sure to be full of surprises. And in "borrowing" ("trans": translating, transferring, speculating financially) from them, in utilizing the translation process, the same gains and losses (the gain is a loss, the loss is a gain; surplus value equals bankruptcy) are incurred, the same paralysis induced. Derrida explains: Irresolution et insolvabilite, ces mots ne resonnent peut-Stre pas seulement dans le registre du probleme theorique a resoudre. Peut-Stre faut-il entendre aussi le clavier lexical de la speculation: un investissement d'emprunt viendrait a soutenir une speculation sans pouvoir s'amortir. Des dettes insolvables auraient ete contractees, des engagements pris dont personne ne pourrait plus s'acquitter or repondre . Le debiteur, alors, et d'abord le theoricien qui aura promis plus qu'il ne peut tenir, se sait insolvable. Le speculateur serait en faillite. . . . Une dette impayable aurait ete contractee. Pourquoi irapayable, au fond? Peut-6tre parce que I'econcmie elle-m^me y a ete transgressee , non pas 1 ' economic en general mais une economie dans laquelle on aurait force le principe d' equivalence . Tous les mouvements en trans auraient viole ce principe, et avec lui tout ce qui peut assurer un paiement, un remboursement , un amortissement , un

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159 acquittement : la monnaie, les signes et leur telos , 1 ' adequation du signifie au signifiant. Cette effraction, a savoir le transfert speculatif, aurait rendu la dette a la fois infinie ou insolvable, et done nulla. C'est I'espace economique de la dette qui se trouve bouleverse, immensement agrandi et du mSirLe coup neutralise . . . Insolvabilite et irresolution. . . . (415) Irresolution and insolvency, perhaps these words do not resonate only on the register of the theoretical problem to be resolved. Perhaps the lexical keyboard of speculation must also be heard: an investment of borrowing would come to support a speculation without the power to amortize itself. Insolvent debts would have been contracted, engagements taken that no one could any longer pay off or be responsible for. The debtor, then, and first of all the theoretician who will have promised more than can be honored, knows s/he is insolvent. The speculator would be bankrupt. ... An unpayable debt will have been contracted. Why unpayable, fundamentally? Perhaps because the economy itself has been transgressed, not the economy in general, but an economy in which the principle of equivalence would be forcefully (over) worked. All the movements in trans will have violated this principle, and with it everything that can insure payment, reimbursement, paying off, settlement: the currency, the signs and their telos, the adequation of the signified to the signifier. This break-in, to wit the speculative transfer (ence) , will have rendered the debt at once infinite or insolvent, and so null. The economic space of debt is what finds itself disrupted, immensely expanded, and at the same time neutralized . . . Insolvency and irresolution. . . . With respect to the theses I set forth, any and all of them, concerning the text are artificial, and constructed: prosthesis, impossible prosthetic devices. The prosthesis, the problem of the name (the position required in order to nam.e , the object as an presentation, impossibility itself!) that provokes the interminable march of classical thought in its struggle to name

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160 n'est pas accidentel, il ne vient pas, comme du dehors, marquer 1 ' inachevement et 1 ' inf irmite . La repetition et le transfert speculatifs ouvrent la marche. (410) is not accidental, does not come, as it were from the outside, to mark incompletion and infirmity. Speculative repetition and transfer (ence) open the march. How then, are the self-reflexive structures of the text, its speculative mechanisms, related to the structures, the positions the text analyzes. These structures have lately come to enjoy a privilege in literary analysis. They endow the text with a complete and exclusive authority over the material it presents and through the dominance of these structures seem to anticipate any of the possible critical responses or positions taken with regard to the text. Notice the inversion that operates by means of this position. Instead of the critic mastering the text, the text muscles the critic, puts him in his (its) place, "demystifies" him, by inscribing him in advance in its own material. In that the text can reflect on the material it presents, it is "thus said to stand free as a self-contained, selfexplanatory aesthetic object that enacts what it asserts" and can be shown to attain "a presentational coherence and transparency" (Culler, 1982:139). This is the difficulty we encountered earlier in Johnson's analysis. If one were to examine a critical reading of Beyond the Pleasure Principle from this position, one would risk finding that a critic could only compulsively repeat m.oves or positions already anticipated and analyzed by the

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161 original text in its self-reflexive statements. The necessary requirement of such a position is that the description or theoretical statements concerning the text's positions must not be confounded with the positions themselves. Derrida asks, Que se passe-t-il quand des actes ou des performances (disours ou ecriture, analyse ou description, etc) font partie des objects qu'ils designent? Quand ils peuvent se donner en exemple de cela m€me dont ils parlent ou ecrivent? (Derrida, 1980b:417) What happens when acts or performances (discourse or writing, analysis or description, and so on) are part of the objects they designate? When they can give themselves as an example of just what they speak or write of? Since they are included in the text analyzed, the border between the self-reflexive statement and the example blurs. On n'y gagne certainement pas une transparence auto-reflexive, au contraire. Le compte n'est plus possible, ni le compte rendu, et les bords de 1' ensemble ne sont alors ni fermes ni ouverts. Leur trait se divise et des entrelacs ne se defont plus. La se trouve peut-Stre ultime resistance a la solution, et pour la faire mieux apparalt jamais, il faut mettre en rapport la demarche de Au-dela . . . et la structure de ses objects, 1' irresolution de ses problemes (dans sa demarche) et ce que le livre dit de la solution des problemes en general (dans ses objects) . Sa demarche est 1 ' un de ses objects, d ' ou I'allure, et c'est pourquoi ca ne peut pas aller tres bien ni marcher tout seul. Un de ses objects parmi d'autres mais aussi celui pour lequel il y a des objects avec lesquels faire des trans et speculer. Get object parmi d'autres n'est pas n'importe lequel. Alors ca boite et ca ferme mal. (417-18) On the contrary, one certainly does not gain any auto-reflexive transparency thereThe account is no longer possible, nor the compte rendu , and the borders of the ensembile are thus neither closed nor open. Their trait divides itself, and the interlacings can no longer be undone. There, perhaps, is found the ultimate resistance to the

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162 solution, and in order to make that solution better appear, or rather in order to infer it better, for it never appears, the bearing [ demarche ] of the Bevond . . . and the structure of its objects, the irresolution of its problems (in its bearing) and what the book says of the solution of the problems in general (in its objects) must be brought in contact. Its bearing, its step, is one of its objects, whence the wa^ of walking, and that is why it (ca) cannot go very well, nor run [marcher] all by itself. One of its objects among others, but also the one for v/hich there are objects with v/hich to make the trans and speculate. This object among others is not just any object whatsoever. Thus it (ca) limps, hobbles, and closes badly. How are we to understand this or relate it to Freud's text? We have already taken into account the fact that P'reud cannot constitute himself (or be constituted) as an identity. With regard to the anecdote (the "example" of the "game"), both the self-reflexive position of the narrator (which one? who or what returns? who or what assumes the authority of speech?) along with the "identities" developed within the "game" (the point being that since they are "Freud's" (self-) representations , they are not only not separate identities but suffer from the same — for lack of a better word — incoherence; actually, we would be hard pressed to apply a name here at all) are dispersed, have never been anything but a dispersal. If one were to contrast Freud with the narrator of Blanchot's "La Folie du Jour" who likewise is unable to constitute himself as a narrator, one might say that just as Blanchot's character cannot recall enough, that is, he is unable "to remember himself well enough to gather the story and the recit that are demanded of him" (Derrida, 1980a:215), perhaps Freud's difficulty is

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163 that he recalls too much; for in that he recalls at all we can never be sure of who or what it is that returns or if it can say "I." What we need to address now is how this dispersion operates on the level of the (again, for lack of a better word) "whole" text of Beyond the Pleasure Principle . The project Freud sets for himself in Beyond the Pleasure Principle is to analyze the phenomenon of the repetition compulsion, and by means of speculation, to arrive at its meaning; this would constitute its psychoanalytic theme or import and would ultimately lead to a thesis as to the nature of repetition. The examples chosen by Freud, one of which is the fort: da game, make up the interior of the analysis as a whole. But the Fort: Da game is a part that exceeds this whole (the whole of the text) ; "whatever its exemplary content, it is always in the process of describing, in advance, the scene of its own description" (Derrida, 1980b:117). The game's most distinctive trait as it is observed is repetition: a single trait characterizes the object of observation, the action of the game: repetition, repeated repetition . . . the self engendering of self-repetition: the heterotautology (the definition of the speculative in Hegel) of repeated repetition, of self-repetition, in its pure form. . . . (117) The same trait characterizes exactly what Freud does in the "whole" of his analysis. Unable to arrive at a thesis--the text only generates "hypotheses" and is according to Derrida "athetic" — Freud (which one?) compulsively repeats, repeats himself, he holds himself on a string and goes nowhere.

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164 Instead, he returns again and again to the identical place (which one?) where "fresh starts" must be made and new material must be considered, new interpretations offered, the same ground reconsidered. All the effects of a very classical logic . The entire text has a diabolical movem.ent, it mimes walking, it walks without ceasing, but does not advance; it regularly traces out one more step but does not allow the gain of an inch of ground. It is a lame devil, like everything that transgresses the pleasure principle without ever letting us conclude that it has crossed it. It is lame, but absolved (yet from what debt does absolution still need to be given?) by him who at a certain point makes himself the "advocatus diaboli" of the death-drive and concludes with a quotation which evinces all the traits of Writing and of literature: 'Scripture says that to limp is not a sin . ' (Derrida, 1978d:84, underlining mine) Freud (which one?) continually returns to the point of his own departure in order to begin again; the movem.ent of the text repeats the action of Ernst's game. The trait of repetition, the self-repetition of repetition, characterizes both the example (the object analyzed by the text) and the performance of the text (in its analysis) . The trait divides (itself) . . . . superpose what he says that his grandson does earnestly on what he is doing himself in saying so, in writing Beyond the Pleasure Principle , in playing so earnestly (in speculating) at writing it. For the speculative heterotautology of the thing is that that "beyond" is lodged in the repetition of repetition of the PP. Superpose: he (the grandson of his grandfather, the grandfather of his grandson) repeats repetition compulsively, but it all never goes anywhere, never advances by a single step. He repeats an operation that consists of pretending to dispatch pleasure, the object of pleasure or the pleasure principle, represented here by the wooden reel

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165 that is supposed to represent the mother (and/or . . . the father, in place of the son-in-law, the father as son-in-law [ le pere en gendre ] , the other family name) , to bring it back again and again. He pretends to dispatch the PP in order to make it return endlessly, in order to note that it comes back of its own accord and to conclude: it is alv/ays there — I am always there. Da. The PP retains total authority, has never been away. (Derrida, 1978a: 118-19) This is classical repetition, the rhythmic alternating, symmetrical return of the self (with or without the mirror) in its representation, "presentations" that it names, defines, describes, designates, all attempts at theses or themes that are only hypotheses, speculations."''^ This is the classical subject (reader, thinker, speculator) attempting to master its "objects" that are only its "own," whose analyses will never be exhaustive, not, however, because the "object" (the "subject") so "powerful," so "rich" (as is usually claimed) but because it is defi1 8 cient. The classical reader, recalling and repeating it (self) as (it) self, subjects writing to the order of knowing and remembering, subjects writing to the order of 1 9 the sign or the "signifier," and thus deprives writing of its pathbreaking power. Self-repetition, reflection, reflexivity, speculation characterizes both the fort: da game and the text that analyzes the game; the repetition in the one is the other of the other's repetition. (The impossible here is the same as the im.possible that ends "The Pharmacy of Plato": how to distinguish between two repetitions [Derrida, 1982b]). Repetition is staged and figured as one of the objects.

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166 themes of the text. But repetition is also staged and figured as the larger text that repeats (itself). When the larger text ("whole") repeats in the manner of the smaller (the part or "example"), the smaller (part) goes outside the larger, encompasses it: the part is greater than the whole. But the smaller also circumscribes the larger (what was once the smaller and is now the larger, once the part, now greater than the whole) because it repeats the other as an example of itself. Each then is part of the other and makes the other a part (of itself) , each ... is at once larger and smialler than itself, included itself without including (or comprehending) itself, identifies itself with itself even as it remains utterly different from its homonym. (Derrida, 1979a: 99-100) This is the structure of the double invagination, the overrun of the borders, and the erasure of the effect of interiority. Its effect on the text is such that the upper edge on its outer face ... is folded back "inside" to form a pocket and an inner edge and comes to extend beyond (or encroach on) the invagination of the lower edge, on its inner face . . . which is folded back "inside" to form a pocket and an outer edge. (98) Double invagination tampers with language and with its law. What the institution cannot bear, is for anyone to tamper with [toucher]; also "touch," "change," "concern himself with" language. ... It can bear more readily the most apparently revolutionary ideological sorts of "content," if only that content does not touch the borders of language [la langue] and of all the juridico-political contracts that it guarantees. (94) In tampering v/ith the law of language, with speculation, specularity, v/ith consciousness, with the whole of the

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167 s ' entendre-parler circuit, one does not destroy it (an impossibility) , but one seduces it, leads the law astray, wins it over. This does not fail to come about in Freud's text. There should be speculation and there should be the example or object ("presentation") about which one speculates. But the trait divides, overruns the border between the two; speculation remains irresolute. Si la speculation reste necessairement irresolu parce qu'elle joue sur deux tableaux, bande centre bande, perdant a gagner et gagnant a perdre , comment s'etonner que ca marche mal? Mais il faut que ca marche mal pour que ca marche; s'il faut, s'il faut que ca marche, ca doit mal marcher. Ca boite bien, n'est-ce pas? (Derrida, 1980b:433) If speculation remains necessarily irresolute, because it plays on two accounts, band contra band, losing by winning and v/inning by losing, how surprising is it that it (ca) runs badly? But it (ca) must run badly in order to run; if necessary, if it must run, it must run badly. It (ca) limps well, doesn't it? Writing, marching, resists the petrification of my gaze and my will to name [(B)O-O-O-O! (B) A-A-A-A! ] , the narcissistic impulse to make the text my "own," to freeze or frighten it into an image of myself, in short, to annihilate the text, to rigidify it, to turn it into a dead monument; full presence, fully mieaningful, quite dead. To limp well. It involves a certain rhythm, a hitch in the step, in the march, guarding against the absolute death, that (self-) consciousness desires to bring about. This is the limping movement of differance; not the alternating rhythm of disappearance and return, absence and presence, but the differantial rhythm of differance without

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168 distinction, without the difference of differends, without presence; it is the force of an unmasterable repetition, of automaticity; deformed, dissymetrical unequal, repetition repeats (nothing, no thing ) repetition: the " re" " re' s " the " re-'s " : " Fort : da" : II faut que le pas le plus normal comporte le desequilibre, en lui-ra6me, pour se porter en avant, pour se faire suivre d'un autre, le mSme encore, qui soit pas, et que 1 ' autre revienne , au m^me, mais comme autre. II faut que le boitement soit avant tout le rhthme mSme de la raarche, unterweqs . Avant toute aggravation accidentelle qui pourrait venir faire clocher le boitmement m&me. C'est le rythme. (433) Fort: da . The most normal pas [step, not] has to involve imbalance, within itself, in order to carry itself forward, in order to make another step follow, the same one still, which is not [ pas ] , and the other has to return, to the same, but as other. Limping must be, before all, the very rhythm of the walk [marche] , unterweqs . Before every accidental aggravation that could come to make the limping itself limp. That is rhythm. No "things," only detours without presence. This death is a death given to (self-) consciousness; it is a death that gives life and protects life from itself (life as itself would be death) . Consciousness has always conceived death as an evil that would befall it, as opposed to it, outside of it, the absence of its presence, and thus its proper death. But this rhythmic death of difference disconcerts the proper, traverses it and prevents the proper from being proper (absolutely deadly) . This death, this "little nothing," that we can never get our hands on, never "grasp," is not given to perception of any kind, is not perceptible. Derrida quotes Nietzsche:

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169 . . . aber in plOtzlichen Fallen korrjnt , wenn man genau beo bach tet, die Gegenbewegung ersichtlich frtiher als die Schmerzempf indung . Es stUnde schlimm um mich, wenn ich bei einem Fehltritt zu warten hatte, bis das Faktum an die Glocke des Bewusstseins schlUge und ein Wink, was zu tun ist, zurtlcktelegraphiert wtlrde. Vielmehr unterscheide ich so deutlich als mOglich, dass erst die Gegenbewegung des Fusses, um den Fall zu verhUten, folgt und dann . . . (436-37) , underlining mine) . . . in cases of sudden pain the reflex comes noticeably earlier than the sensation of pain. It would go ill with me if, when I stumbled, I had to wait for the fact to ring the bell of consciousness and for instructions how to act to be telegraphed back. What I notice with the greatest possible clarity is rather that the reflex of my foot follows first to prevent my falling . . . (Nietzsche, 1967:372) The contermovement of the foot, the reflex, textual repetition, will not be heard as a voice, the presence of a voice, or represented by "written speech." It is "inaudible," and "written in silence" (Derrida, 1978d:97). Footprints 1. For a discussion of the in-place-of structure of the sign, a classical formulation still quite active, that Derrida challenges with "supplement," see Derrida, 1973. In particular, see the section "The Supplement of Origin," pp. 88-104. 2. Thus the classical "outside" gets caught in the classical "inside." See Derrida, 1973:78-79 for a discussion of auto-affection. Classically considered, "The operation of 'hearing oneself speak' is an auto-affection of a unique kind" and privileged because the signifieds that consciousness uses are formulated as idealities , while its signifiers need not pass through the world, the sphere of what is not its 'own.' Every other form of auto-affection must either pass through what is outside the sphere of 'owness' or forego any claim to universality." Thus, "When I see myself, either because I gaze upon a limited region of my body or because it is reflected in a mirror what is outside the sphere of 'my own' has already entered the field of this auto-affection, with the result that it is no longer pure." Ultimately, Derrida will show that what is sauce for

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170 the goose is also sauce for the gander, i.e., that "hearing oneself speak" (the voice) is just as irremediably contaminated by the outside, by the sign , and thus he exposes the arbitrary privilege given to the voice, its pure inside. Derrida often mocks the tradition and its categories, has great fun formulating its feats of virtuosity that lead to (categorical) absurdities such as, the outside inside the inside, and the like. 3. Derrida discusses the mirror play, a "nonempirical error," "a transcendental illusion," "necessary for perception" inherent in the very structure of sensible presentation" the effects of which it "is not enough to become aware of ... in order for them to cease to function." (see Derrida, 1982b: 297ff. ) This is very different from the Lacanian mirror. 4. La Carte Postale , Derrida, 1980b:366. Concerning "speculation": "C'est sans loi, surtout sans loi scientifique." ("It is without law, above all, without scientific law.") And further down, "La demarche est done curieuse. Elle obeit a la loi de curiosite." ("Its step is therefore curious. It obeys the law of curiosity.") 5. Derrida, 1976:65. This is one of the "critical movements" to be conserved, i.e., the distinction between "the appearing" and "appearance." The latter designates empiricist, positivistic, or metaphysical discourses on perception (for example) , its "materiality" (a metaphysical concept to be divorced from the matter/ spirit opposition — the "appearance" of matter) , while the former is "absolutely and by rights "anterior" to all physiological problem.atics concerning the nature of the engramme [the unit of engraving] ... it is a fortiori anterior to the distinction between regions of sensibility, anterior to sound as much as to light ..." This must be thought "anterior" to the perceptual apparatus and not within any one of its (metaphysical, always) regions. Writing is not available to perception; it is its condition. See also Gasche, 1979, for a very helpful discussion of the distinction involved. At this point, we might also understand why all of the distinctions made by classical rhetoric, its tools, concepts, categories, are inadequate since they presuppose as well as shape classical thought. See Derrida (1982d) , for a critique of classical rhetoric as well as its continuation in Derrida (1978e) . 6. Silverman , 1983 analyzes the similarities between Lacan and Pierce in the first chapter of her book and quotes a passage of Pierce's quite reminscent of Lacan' s. "A sign . . . is something which stands to somebody for something is some respect or capacity. It addresses somebody, that is, creates in the mind of that person an equivalent sign, or perhaps a more developed sign. That sign which it creates I

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171 call the interpretant of the first sign. The sign stands for something, its object . It stands for that object, not in all respects, but in reference to a sort of idea, which I have sometimes called the ground . . . (14)." What most interests me here is the displacement of an ontology to a linguistics, i.e., the functions previously accorded to consciousness as the locus of meaning are now recast in terms of language ("man" no longer speaks, "language" speaks; not I, but "I"; the meaning fulness of consciousness is exchanded for the meaning fulness of language; one kind of presence for another kind of presence, often called difference) . The fragility of such a change (that really isn't a change but an inversion) is rather humorously exposed in a story, the source of which I am unable to trace but will recount anyway. If the reader will simply recast it in terms of a language problem instead of an existential one, the affinity between ontology and linguistics should become clearer. Here is the story. It seems that Morris R. Cohen, a very eminent philosopher and student of its history, after a rather challenging and, as it turns out, disturbing discussion of the Cartesian "I" in which he had quite successfully underm.ined its certainty concerning its own existence, was the next day confronted by an unshaven, dishevelled, haggard, and severely rumpled graduate student. The young man, obviously shaken by Cohen's determined assault, had evidently spent the night greatly exercising himself over the loss of assurance of his own existence. Rushing to Cohen, he demanded that the issue be settled at once. "I must know," he beseeched, "do I exist or not?" To which Cohen in one of those moments so characteristic of sharp minds that manage to expose the assumptions implicit in a question and help to determine the answer in advance, simply inquired, "Who wants to know?" It is no accident that certain "signifiers" (e.g., I, you, he, she, it) are and must be privileged. 7. Or "name" and "place." The following statement is a good example of the specular and speculative nature of the Lacanian Sym.bolic. "Accession to the symbolic order of the family (Alliance and Kinship) alone allows everyone to know who he or she is, what his or her exact position is, what limits are placed upon his or her rights in the light of respect for others; in total promiscuity and in the absence of a minimal organization of the group life, no one can situate himself or herself in relation to everyone else. Name and place are signs of recognition . [DAI , BF] . They give the subject his individuality, his place and his role in the systme" (Lemaire. 1983:84 underlining mine). Aside from the general value of this passage — its police state mentality — I find the word "promiscuity" in designating the forms of (symbolic) "deviations" fascinating. How can one fail to be reminded of Derrida's interrogation of Saussure's diatribe against the "perversions" of writing? Someone ought to consider research into "sexual" rhetoric.

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172 Undoubtedly, it will tell us more about the defense mechanisms of our tradition with regard to the fragility of its concepts than about sexuality. One might make use of Derrida's treatment of masterbation in Rousseau as a guide here, keeping this in mind: "In as much as it puts into play the presence of the present and the life of the living, the movement of language does not, one suspects, have only an analogical relationship with "sexual" auto-affection. It is totally indistinguishable from it even if that totality is severely articulated and differentiated" (Derrida, 1976:167) . 8. The impasse, we must not forget, is the result of a classical logic that, strangely enough, if pushed far enough, often ends up (for a change) speechless, unable to absolve itself of its own double binds. With respect to this difficulty, consider (my mutilation of) Derrida's statement on "grace": "... grace in the work: . . . grace would perhaps be when the writing of the other absolves you, at times, from the infinite double bind . And first of all (such is the condition of the gift) when it absolves itself from, unbinds itself from, unburdens or clears itself of this double bind — it, the language of v;riting and what it represents, a given trace that always comes from some other even if not (or some) one. To clear oneself of the gift, of the given gift, of giving itself, that is the grace ... I wish for you." (Derrida, 1982c:64). VJe might also discuss this impasse brought by the severity of the question as "apocalyptic" but the catastrophe of the apocalypse is that it is "an apocalypse without apocalypse, an apocalypse without vision, without truth, without revelation, of dispatches [ des envois ] . . . of addresses without message and without destination, without sender or decidable address ..." (94). This "apocalypse without apocalypse" comes about when "We do not know (for it is no longer of the order of knowing) to whom the apocalyptic dispatch [ envoi ] returns; it leaps [saute] from one place of emission to the other (and a place is always determined starting from the presumed emdssion) ; it goes from one destination, one name, and one tone to the other; it always refers to [renvoi a] the name and to the tone of the other that is there but as having been there and before yet coming, no longer being or not yet there in the present of the recit . And there is no certainty that man is the exchange [le central] of these telephone lines or the terminal of this computer without end. No longer do we know very well who loans his voice and his tone to the other in the Apocalypse; no longer do we know very well who addresses what to whom. But by a catastrophic overturning here more necessary than ever, we can as well think this: as soon as we no longer know very well who speaks or who writes, the text becomes apocalyptic . . . This is one of the suggestions I wanted to submit for your discussion: v/ouldn't the apocalyptic be a transcendental condition of all discourse,

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173 of all experience itself, of every mark or every trace?" (87). 9. Engaging in a little speculation on "styles," and expressing the difference quite classically, one might understand one style of deconstruction as beginning with a textuality that challenges the tradition (and traditional readings), whereas, another style begins with the tradition and reads the textuality that makes the tradition (im) possible. Thus, with respect to the first style metaphysics derives from the fund of the pharmakon and its strategies are all pharmaka; so writes Plato before (becoming) "Plato"; whereas, with respect to the second style, "Husserl" continually encounters difficulty when he takes "writing" into account. Or again, in the second style, one examines the system of predicates that attach to the hierarchical terms of the tradition in order to reinscribe the devalued term; in the first style, one might " imagine " and thus "yield for a short time to the temptation of a fiction" (Derrida. 1982c: 83) what a primal scene of metaphysics look like linguistically and then show through a reading of its signs that there is (only) textuality: "differences and differences from differences." (Derrida, 1982b:98). The two styles, however, cannot be separated and indeed, one might say they are citations of one another. They are not, however, identities. 10. See Derrida, 1980b: 408 for a summary of the difficulty posed by the "Uber . " "Tous ces trajets — transitionnels, transcriptif s , transpositionnels et transgressif s , transferentials — ouvrent le champ meme de la speculation. C'est la qu'elle trouve sa possibilite et son interet. La, c'est-a-dire dans le trans — ou I'Uber — de la traduction ( Ubersetzung ) , de la sureveluation (Uberschatzung) , de la metaphore ou du transfert ( Ubertragung ) . (All these paths — transitional, transcriptive , transpositional and transgressive, transferential--open the very field of speculation. There is where speculation finds its possibility and its interest. There, that is, in the trans — or ( Uberschatzung ) , of metaphor or transfer (ence) ( Uberschatzung ) . ) 11. See Weber , 1982 for a consideration of Freud's location of the speculative impulse within the narcissistic ego. Weber discusses Freud's statements and then goes on to apply them to Freud and the project of psychoanalysis in general not without some interesting consequences and surprises . 12. "Idiomatic," hence not communicable. Derrida shows that "motives" are simply "motivations" of the sign whose signer is undecidable ("Who signs?). Thus the concept of desire is perhaps "fort." See Derrida, 1977a: 64-116 . For a similar conclusion, see Culler, 1982:191ff.

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174 13. Again, a trap produced by classical thought in which it catches itself. With respect to theory or speculation: "L'emprunt est la loi . A 1 ' interieur de toute langue , puisqu'une figure est tou jours un langage d'emprunt, mais aussi d ' un domaine discursif a 1' autre. Sans emprunt, rien ne commence, il n'y a pas de fonds propre. Tout commence par le transfert de funds, et il y a interet a emprunter, c'est meme le premier interet. L'emprunt rap porte , il produit de la plus-value, il est le premier moteur de tout investissem.ent . On commence ainsi par speculer, en pariant sur une valeur a produire comme a partir de rien. Et toutes ces 'metaphores' confirment, a titre de metaphores, la necessite de ce qu'elles disent" (Derrida, 1980b:410). ( Borrowing is the law. Within every language [ langage ] of borrowing, but also from one discursive domain to the other, or from one science to the other. Without borrowing, nothing begins, there are no proper funds. Everything begins with the gransfer of funds, and there is interest in borrowing , that is even the first interest. Borrowing relates, yields a good return , produces surplus value, is the prime mover of all investment. One thus begins with speculating, in betting on a value to produce as it were on the basis of nothing. All of these "metaphors" confirm, by way of metaphors, the necessity of what they say.) "What" is borrowed? And by "Whom"? 14. See Derrida, 1980b: 408. "... la limite oppositionnelle entre la perception et son autre s'est-elle effacee." (" . . . the oppositional limit between perception and its other is effaced.") Perception, any kind of "perception" ("the 'five senses' considered as so many apparatuses at the disposal of the speaker or writer," Derrida, 1976:82) is an effect of the language of metaphysics, metaphysics' language. Since it has always been conceived in relation to presence, the whole concept of perception must be re-evaluated. Derrida 's critique of perception (1973) should be reread. 15. Once we posit language as metaphor we might as well all remain silent. A theoretical discourse starting from such a position has nothing to say that would be of value on its own ground and would forever remain beyond our literal comprehension. Isn't this the irony that Derrida shows to be at work when the tradition attempts to capitalize by means of metaphor in the interest of the discourse of truth? Within the tradition, writing, paradoxically, takes on value only when it becomes a metaphor for the truth of the transcendental order of truth. "As was the case with the Platonic writing of the truth in the soul, in the Middle Ages too it is a writing understood in the metaphoric sense, that is to say a natural , eternal, and universal writing, the system of signified truth, which is recognized in its dignity. As in Phaedrus , a certain fallen writing continues to be opposed to it" (Derrida, 1976:15) . In a strange

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175 inversion, the order of truth, the Platonic inscription in the soul, the "natural or divine" writing of the Middle Ages, "is thus named by metaphor" (15) . "... all that functions as metaphor in these discourses confirms the privilege of the logos and founds the "literal" meaning then given to writing: a sign signifying a signifier itself signifying an eternal verity, externally thought and spoken in the proximity of a present logos . . . Of course, this metaphor remains enigmatic and refers to a "literal" meaning of writing as the first metaphor. This "literal" meaning is yet unthought by the adherents of this discourse" (15). That literal writing becomes a metaphor for a metaphoric writing, thus a metaphor of a metaphor, poses difficulties of an extreme king, it being impossible to arrive at a literal meaning that could not immediately be designated as metaphoric once more. And if the possibility of ever approaching a literal m.eaning appears remote (because of the metaphoricity of the first instance ) , what would one mean within these parameters when one speaks of metaphor? Is the very name-concept (look at the problems right here within such a terminology) to be taken metaphorically? Here again, we encounter another classical double bind. Derrida deals with this problematic (1978e). I touch on his remarks in my introductory chapter. 16. See Derrida, 1980b:411. "Mais il n'y a pas de chateau de cartes dans la litteralite du texte original. II y a ' . . . unser ganzer kunstilicher Bau von Hypothesen,' autre metaphore, non moins interessante, non moins interessee: elle dit 1 ' art ou 1' artifice, qui n'est pas loin du jeu; elle dit aussi la construction (de I'ingenieur ou de 1' artiste, du joueru, du narrateur ou de 1' enfant) qui, dans sa fragilite d'artefact, peut etre "soufflee" (um.geblasen) d'un seul coup ..." (But there is no house of cards literally in the original text. There is " . . . unser ganzer ki^nstlicher Bau von Hypothesen," another metaphor, no less interesting, no less interested: it says art or artifice, which is not far from play; it also says construction (the engineer's or the artist's, the player's the gambler's, the narrator's or the child's) that, in its fragility as artefact, can be "blown down ( umgeblasen ) " in one breath. . . . ) . 17. As to their "truth," their conclusive value, Derrida points out that when Freud asks whether and to what degree me mimself is convinced of their truth, Freud says, "Plus precisement ( Richtiger ) , je ne sais pas jusqu'a quel point j'y crois (ich weiss nicht, wie weit ich an sie glaube) " But nor does he say he does not believe them [the hypotheses] . He does not reject them. The suspense goes further still. One might think he, Freud, knows he is suspended between belief and nonbelief. No, not even that step. His knowledge concerning this suspension is what is suspended: "More precisely (Richtiger) , I do not know up to

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176 what point I believe them ( ich weiss nicht, wie weit ich an sie glaube ) . " Derrida remarks, "Question de mesure sur laquelle j_e se divise. A certain j_e ne sait pas dans quelle measure j_e, le meme mais du coup un autre, y croit. Ce n'est pas seulement la croyance mais le rapport a la croyance qui se trouve suspendu le rapport de science ou de conscience" (404). (A question of the measure according to which I^ divides itself. A certain I does not know in what measure I, the same but suddenly an other, believes that. Not only belief, but also the relation to belief is found suspended, the relation of science or consciousness.) 18. See Derrida, 1979c. "... instead of being an inexhaustible field, as in the classical hypothesis, instead of being too large, there is something missing from it ... " (289) . 19. "... the signification 'sign' has always been understood and determined, in its meaining, as sign-of a signifier referring to a signified, a signifier different from its signified. If one erases the radical difference between signifier and signified, it is the word 'signifier' itself which must be abandoned as a metaphysical concept " (1979c:281). In order to clarify the issue let us note what Derrida says of his own usage of the word. "... since everything that (becomes) traces owes this to the propagation-structure of the hymen, a text is never truly m.ade up of 'signs' or ' signif iers . ' (This, of course, has not prevented us from using the word 'signifier' for the sake of convenience, in order to designate, within the former code, that facet of the trace that cuts itself off from meaning or fr om the signified .) (Derrida, 1982b: 261-62 , underlining mine)

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CHAPTER 5 SPECULATIONS ON THE Da Now that I have discussed the fort ; da game, I should like to present an example or version of it as it occurs in the work of Paul de Man. I choose for purposes of demonstration, his justly famous essay, "Semiology and Rhetoric" (de Man, 1979). In order to demonstrate the game, I am going to "beg," "borrow," and "steal" from Derrida. I am going to make use of his analysis, his language, anything at all that seems helpful to me. But in describing the game, I am going to play it. Of course, by now the reader is probably aware of the fact that I have been playing it all along, from word one of the whole of this project (to say nothing of the whole of m^y life!) . Not that it is "my" game, or even "yours" as you read this. "I," "you," and "he" are all "effects" of language, of a language that itself seems to play the fort : da game, playing with itself as one of its own objects, naming and identifying itself as language. But, we should perhaps put quotation marks around that word, represent it as "language," just one more repeatable, iterable mark that, without the metaphysics of presence (an impossible dream) is only a "bit of nothing": no meaning, no subjectivity, therefore no objectivity, no 177

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178 position, no place. Only (again) repeatable, iterable marks. The fort :da game, remember, is also a series of those marks, and so retains no special privilege. We shall return to this after our discussion, but for nov;, it's time for "fun and games." Since we are, in a certain way, about to watch a stage play, a play of substitution, let me first comment on substitution itself. It is a very important "action." As Derrida remarks, "Since the objects of the fort: da can be substituted for one another [i.e., toys, reel, bobbin, "noggin"] so as to lay bare the substitutional structure, the formal structure becomes readable ..." (Derrida, 1978a: 134). This effect of substitution is what we must attend to. Now, allow me to repeat myself and provide a "program.." Vve are going to watch the player (But v/ho is the player? We are all in here.) play the game, name, identify, attempt a thesis, attempt to "step" from a point of departure in order to arrive som^ewhere else, just as, if you recall, Barbara Johnson attempted to "step" from one reading position to another one (Part I, Chapter III). In recollecting, in naming and identifying, the player will occupy all the positions he constructs "artificially"; thus, he will try to "come into his own." "Dal I am always here!" But the game is not without a surprise. The player's account is derived from a kind of "capital," a "principal fund" made up of "principles" (idealizations) produced after the fact but which then rush ahead in

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179 order to command (their own abyss) . The player borrows from the principle (principal) in order to produce a surplus, to accumulate "interest." Thus, the player speculates, is a speculator. But the capital is counterfeit (language of metaphysics of presence borrowing from itself m order to produce itself; again, the abyss) , and thus, the player (a principal of principle or a principle of principal--we could have fun with the subjective/objective genitive here!) goes broke; the system bankrupts itself. Every gain is a loss, every loss is a gain. Profit and loss: profit is loss, loss is profit. They are equivalent therefore there is no difference. "Nothing" really happens and the "step" is not ( pas ) . "Shall we play?" War Games De Man's writing, its acts and performances, its content and "step," is primarily preoccupied, not as was Freud with repetition, but with the repetition of a suspension of knowledge in an allegory of reading. But we must qualify this carefully. All knowledge is suspended except the knowledge of being suspended; the critic knows that he is in the state of "suspended ignorance" (19) , he knows that he doesn't know. We shall see, however, that the suspension, the knowledge of the suspension, must ultimately be itself suspended and in a manner that de Man does not suspect.

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180 De Man recalls ; he recalls that Allegories of Reading started out as "a historical reflection on Romanticism" that, in encountering certain problem.s of interpretation, resulted in paralysis, and consequently he was forced to substitute or "shift" from history to a "problematics" of reading: "I . . . found myself unable to progress" (ix) . Any judgment based on historical reflection had to be suspended. No conclusion, no thesis until the problems of reading itself are examined. What can be gained? It has to do v;ith a certain "beyond." Such a "shift" or substitution of intent . . . could, in principle, lead to a rhetoric of reading reaching beyond the canonical principles of literary history which still serve, in this book, as the starting point of their own displacement, (ix) Borrowing from canonical principles (a capital sum. or principal placed at interest as a fund which the speculator draws upon to finance the venture) does not occur without the risk of debt. De Man recognizes this. Commenting on his work on various figures, he remarks, The principles underlying the thematic diversity of Rousseau, the chronology of Rilke and Nietzsche, the rhetoric of Proust, are not left intact by the reading, but this critical yesult remains dependent on the initial position of these very principles . (ix, underlining mine) This is my problem as well. What is the position of the initial position, the fund borrowed from, and the consequences of such a borrowing? With such hesitations in mind, vacillating between confidence and tentativeness , de Man begins "Semiology and

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181 Rhetoric." Initially comirienting upon the present state of literacy criticism, he recalls a repetitive tendency of theorists to replace (substitute) formalist and intrinsic criticism with preoccupations with referentiality , the "nonverbal 'outside' to which language refers, by v^hich it is conditioned and upon which it acts" (3) . Presuming that the issues important to intrinsic concerns have been satisfactorily resolved — "the techniques of structural analysis refined to near-perfection"--these critics can now suspend the necessity of more austere analyses. But the limit recedes as fast as one approaches it and leaves an excess or remainder that never presents itself as such, yet this excess invites repetition and substitution. It is precisely "this tendency" as "moral imperative" to substitute constitutes a history of replacement and substitution, of repetition, com.pulsive as it is automatic, within the house of literary criticism, that de Man desires to investigate, "briefly," . . . without regard for its truth or falseness or for its value as desirable or pernicious. It is a fact that this sort of thing [substitution] happens, again and again, in literary studies. (3-4) Again and again, repeatedly in fact, the claims of each model recur only to be suspended. However, each model, extrinsic/intrinsic, reference/ form, seems to be bound to the other in a curious way for neither can constitute itself without ultimately making way for its other, and giving way before its other, repeatedly.

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182 De Man recalls and reassen-ibles these models of extrinsic/intrinsic, reference/ form, noting hew they recall and repeat each other, cause the other to be repeated. The obstacle to the mastery of either category revolves around the problem of "residue" (referentiality) and "reduction" (formalism) . Attention to referentiality inevitably points to the necessity to concentrate on the code itself, for "literature cannot be decoded without leaving a residue" (4). Referentiality, unable to saturate its object, leaves a residue that invites a formalist repetition. Yet when formalism attempts to master the literary object, that formalism is decried as "reductive." For de Man, both residue and reduction work in the same or equivalent manner; each prompts the repetition of the other system, not only temporally but spatially. Each category is able to occupy the place of the other. When form is considered to be the external trappings of literary meaning or content, it seems superficial ana expendable. The development of intrinsic, formalist criticism in the twentieth century has changed this model: form is now a solipsistic category of self-reflection, and the referential meaning is said to be extrinsic. The polarities of inside and outside have been reversed, but they are still the same polarities that are at play: internal meaning has become outside reference, and outer formi has become the intrinsic structure. A new version of reductiveness at once follows this reversal; formalism nowadays is mostly described in an im.agery of imprisonment and claustrophobia: the "prison house of language," "impasse of formalist criticism," etc. . . . Thus, with the structure of the code so opaque, but the meaning so anxious to blot out the obstacle of form, no wonder that the reconciliation of form and meaning would be so attractive. (4-5)

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183 There is, then, an infinite metamorphosis, a whirling, giddy, aberrant movement. Form can just as easily refer to literature's "external trappings" as to its self-reflexive layer. Meaning refers both to the extrinsic but also to the internal. What seems to be going on here to use Derrida's language (Derrida, 1980b: 426-27) is that there is a principle ( arche , telos principal) of the outside making war on the (hypothetical) outside in order to delimit it, as there is a principle ( arche , telos principal) of the (hypothetical) inside making war on the inside for the same purposes, principles themselves instituted in order to delimit, constrict, restrict, "stricture" either outside or inside, to make each appear. The critic must form these principles of reading which both produce and limit the outside/inside polarity. But the principles themselves in their attempt to master the literary object are doomed to failure from the start. Each principle loses the possibility of mastery because the one cannot be mastered without the other; for example, form cannot be mastered without mastering the excesses of reference (which, as we have seen, would extend its domLain at will) , nor can reference be mastered without form for the same reason. Thus one suspends reference according to a principle, as one must suspend form. In other words, reference suspends form as form suspends reference , in principle . Thus the (concept) principle abysses itself. One must presuppose the principle in order to produce its referent (reference or form) , but the

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184 referent (reference or form) presupposes the principle. The defined is present in the definition. Where we have principles, we use them to produce referents, but within every occasion of referent (or referents) , principles have already begun. But now we enter into the paradoxical economy of speculation and its principles ("principal"), its economy of profit/ loss. The principle subjects and exhausts in order to command (Derrida, 1980b:427). Thus, there is neither inside or outside, nor form or reference; each is lost to the extent that each is accessible only in its principle which necessarily is there before being there (427). That is to say, there is neither outside nor inside, neither form nor reference, only their "principles," and these principles are emjnissaries of the reader/critic trying to read them in the literary text. These principles (principal) work to produce a surplus value (outside, inside; form, reference) which never presents itself. Thus, their results "remain dependent on the initial position of these principles" artificially constructed: the profit or gain is a loss; their theses are prosthesis. De Man himself does not comment upon this inexhaustible account that exhausts without exhausting and thus guarantees a constant supply. Instead, after remarking upon the desire to reconcile formi and meaning, he suspends the debate, but not before cautioning against the impulse for reconciliation. The desire for reconciliation risks becom.ing a

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185 . . . breeding-ground of false models and raetaphors; it accounts for the metaphorical model of literature as a kind of box that separates an inside from an outside, and the reader or critic as the person who opens the lid in order to release in the open what was secreted but inaccessible inside. (4) (De Man raises an interesting question here that he does not pursue, the problem of the "false" metaphor. Metaphor — or at least the false metaphor — threatens to ruin an account, its money is counterfeit, and leaves the financier in the lurch, holding a bag or a box, insolvent, bankrupt, unable to cover a debt. And elsewhere in Allegories of Reading , he warns that, "To the extent that metaphor can be thought of as the language of desire and as a means to recover what is absent, it is primarily anti-poetic" (47) . Not simply "un-" poetic, but "anti-": hostile to poetry. Let us keep this in mind. ) At any rate, de Man suspends his discussion of the reference/ form with a remark that, for reasons the reader can now appreciate, I agree with wholeheartedly. The recurrent debate opposing intrinsic to extrinsic criticism stands under the aegis of an inside/ outside metaphor that is never being seriously questioned. (5) In fact, de Man at this point isn't interested in seriously questioning them. He remarks Metaphors are much more tenacious than facts, and I certainly don't expect to dislodge this age-old model in one short try. (5) For, as we have seen, there is more of a problem than simply not expecting to dislodge the model and the referents of its terms, to make them go fort 1 , for they never presented

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186 themselves in the first place, v/ere , indeed, never there: da! Instead, there were only representers that represented nothing, "principles" whose "principal" functioned as false currency. Thus, there "is" no " fort ; da " but only its effect: an artificial construction. When de Man suspends or halts this discussion, he intends or desires to do something else. Undiscouraged, he is willing to engage in a wager. He wishes to speculate, to suspend and hold up for examination different terms. I merely wish to speculate on a different set of terms, perhaps less simple in their differential relationships than the strictly polar, binary oppositions between inside and outside and therefore less likely to enter into the easy play of chiasmic reversals. (5) Before this speculation "begins," however, I have, not a thesis, but a "hypothesis" borrowed from Derrida (1980b) concerning speculation. Speculation, pure thought, will 3 neither begin nor end. It will never arrive at a thesis. Since speculation remains "dependent" on initial "principles," idealizations borrowed from the very field it desires to step or "reach beyond," speculation will never depart from that field. Nor will it conclude. I must beg the reader to be patient, to indulge me just a bit. My hypothesis is that de Man's text will not only fail to attain the status of a pure performative of a "self-contained, selfexplanatory aesthetic object that enacts what it asserts," thereby attaining "a presentational coherence and transparency," (Culler, 1982:139), but indeed, that the text's performance will neither enact nor assert anything at all.

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187 Suspension Substitution In Other Words Now, instead of the traditional terininology of the argument, de Han substitutes, replaces, recalls, reasseinbles, regards others. Paradoxically, his terms are both old and new, derived from "observation" of current critical trends, "pragmatically." I derive these terms (which are as old as the hills) pragmatically from observation in recent critical methodology. (5) Why pragmatic observation? Observation usually concerns the gathering of information by noting facts and occurrences. Coupled with the adjective "pragmatically," which indicates a concern for practical consequences of actions or beliefs, de Man's argum.ent seems to indicate a desire to stay within a realm of certainty, guarding against the excesses all 4 speculative thought risks. Thus, de Man first turns to a science , the science of semiology, for there are several innovations within this field that he finds fruitful for the suspension of reference. Because, and this is the first innovation, semiology studies "signs as signifiers" ("it does not ask what words mean but how they mean" [5] and is cognizant (this is the second innovation) of the arbitrariness of the sign, the problem^ of meaning no longer threatens to exhaust the critic with "the debilitating burden of paraphrase" (5). For de Man, French semiology best shows . . . that the perception of the literary dimensions of language is largely obscured if one submits uncritically to the authority of reference. It also reveals how tenaciously this authority continues to assert itself in a variety of disguises. . . . (5)

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Yet both of these innovations seem to me to be problematic. Let us start with the latter, the "awareness" of the arbitrary nature of the sign. Unless arbitrariness is elaborately displaced and reinscribed, the concept of the arbitrary nature of the sign imports, transfers, and translates an old principle which itself would prevent any "step," for this concept of the sign is itself a "philosophical scheme" (Derrida, 1982d:179). Deduced from the inference of a closed and self-contained linguistic "system," this concept of the sign is a model and a metaphor that is already problematic. The notion of a linguistic system , even if opposed to the notions of logical system, or system of categories, and even if one attem^pted to reduce the latter to the former, would never have been possible outside the history (and) of the concepts of metaphysics as theory, episteme , etc. Whatever the displacements, breaks, and secondary discontinuities of every kind, (and they surely have to be taken very strictly into account) , this filiation has never been absolutely interrupted. (180) Since de Man simply imports this notion wholesale from the tradition, vie must suspect that a certain "historicity" already invades the "problematics" of reading, since the concept of the arbitrary nature of the sign is itself an historical idea. One could, for example find this philosophical thesis of the arbitrary in Aristotle and in Nietzsche. Obviously, the problem of reference cannot be so easily suspended; as de Man himself rem.arks, reference "continues to assert itself in a variety of disguises," returns like a ghost to its favorite haunts repeatedly. We must suspect that the concept of arbitrariness, particularly

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189 as it is understood within French semiology, is an insufficient one. Moreover, de Man himself recognizes this step as somewhat false and artificial: "the notion of a language entirely freed of referential constraints is properly inconceivable" (49) . The other innovation is semiology's method of studying "signs as signifiers." Because "it does not ask what words mean but how they mean," once m.ore there is a possibility of the suspension of reference. By an awareness of the arbitrariness of the sign (Saussure) and of literature as an autotelic statement "focused on the way it is expressed" (Jakobson) the entire question of meaning can be bracketed, thus freeing the critical discourse fromc the debilitating burden of paraphrase. (5) Thus, the problem of meaning no longer threatens to exhaust the critic, to complicate his task. Is this so? Is it possible to determine the function ("how") of a sign without presupposing what it means? In order to know "how" something is expressed, mustn't we assume "what" it means? In its most general sense, the function or "how" of a sign is determined on the basis of its value within any given system, which, in turn, depends on its relation to other signs, their values. But "value" itself is a concept drawn from the field of economics. Both the sciences of economics and linguistics are in need of a system for equating things of different orders. The exchange between the two sciences, of the transfer of method from one to the other, is organized by means of analogy. The function of a system of equivalences in one resembles the function in the other:

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190 similar things can be exchanged for similar things, and in the same way something can be exchanged for soraething dissimilar. But notice how the process whereby one substitutes one thing for another, a thing for a word, a signified for a signifier, a sign for a sign, is controlled ahead of time, for one must be cognizant of their meaning or worth, their similarity or dissimilarity, in order to determine their value. In short, the defined is present in the definition, for one m.ust presuppose similarity and difference in order to produce value (worth or meaning) , but value presupposes similarity and difference. Each time there is valuation, there are similarities and differences, but each time there are similarities and differences, valuation has already begun. Semiology abysses itself. At the moment, however, none of the difficulties involved with these concepts seem to worry de Man as they will later. He has his own interests and his own investments. Perhaps they are most clearly indicated by the way in which he conceives literature, borrowing the concept or metaphor from Jakobson, as an "autotelic statement 'focused on the way it is expressed'." It is an interesting and interested metaphor. For it persuades us that if literature "speaks," it speaks about itself. Thus literature is available for examination and interrogation. VJe may question xt and demand an account from it: "Tell us exactly

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191 what is going on." The recourse to such a metaphor is as necessary as it is interesting and interested. We need to understand this metaphor in its most general sense. In speaking about itself, in communicating on the way in which it expresses itself, literature is oriented to meaning and reference. It does not matter whether its meaning is false, or contradictory, or inconsistent, or if it argues or fights with itself. None of these interfere with coiTimunication which communicates itself. It would seem that de Man's analysis begins with the most assuredly neutral observations, the most pragmatic, all aiming to facilitate "the perception of the literary dimensions of language" (5) . But the thesis of "the literary dimensions of language" also has a long philosophical/critical history. All of the "aporias" that de Man will soon begin to deduce from his "pragm.atism" of literature are already part of philosophy's speculation. Speculation opens up the field of the analysis and constructs its first step (but will it take a step?). For in order to finance the "step beyond," de Han borrows all of his schemas, his terms from speech, the Voice. From the domain of the empirical eye and ear (the realm of the referential or perception in general) , de Man will borrow images and sounds and translate or transfer them to literature. Just as economy and linguistics are equated through "value," ordinary language and literary language are 9 brought together, made equivalent through speech. It is

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192 speech, the spoken word, with all its possibilities and difficulties, that organizes the analogical transfer. But the model of speech, the Voice, is also a "principle" ("principal") and an artificial construction. This returns us once more to the problem of value, of equivalence whether similar or dissimilar. In his attempt to "step beyond" de Man borrows from a realm (the Voice) whose status is far from certain these days. He then, and we will v;atch him do this, transfers linguistic structures to their (hypothesized) literary "equivalents." But in doing this he violates the only economy he already presupposes. The possibility of the transfer or the step implies difference (otherwise no transfer occurs, no step is taken). Yet, since within this economy of identity, what is transferred is already understood as equivalent, no difference is possible, no transfer occurs, no step takes place. It is this forced application of — not equivalence itself--but the principle of equivalence that v/ill ultimately paralyze 11 de Man and his text. This m.achine or principle for constructing equivalences is perhaps one of the most fascinating but paradoxical aspects of de Man's "theory" of reading. Equivalence allows us to understand the concept of paraphrase in a slightly different sense. Far from "freeing the critical discourse from the debilitating burden of paraphrase," equivalence sets the whole process in motion. For everything becomes everything else in other words . Paraphrase paraphrases

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193 either similarly or dissimilarly, differently. Thus in its infinite repetition, paraphrase induces paralysis; it guarantees an infinite production of possibilities or potentialities, only to reduce them intentionally to a restatement of the same — id-entity — because it is itself committed to the principle of equivalence which itself is equivalent to paraphrase. But paraphrase accomplishes nothing and takes us nov/here. ^ Let me put it this way to see if I can make the issue clearer. When we paraphrase, we attempt to "come into our ov/n," to name and identify (always by means of recollection or memory) the meaning, to pretend the representation is a pure presentation (idealization) . But each presentation is already a representation, so we simply substitute one set of representations (repeatable, iterable marks) for another. All we get back are words, representations, not meanings or idealizations. But it is important to note how "undecidability " functions when de Man himself starts engaging in paraphrase (as he will do in the Archie Bunker example) . De Man posits two readings (two different possibilities of meaning) that result in "aporia," because the two readings cancel each other. (Note the same assertion/denial structure functions here as it did in our analysis of Johnson's work.) But he cannot produce the aporia without those two readings. This is why the performative level cannot detach itself from its statements that prop up the performance just as they propped up Melville's allegory in Johnson's analysis (see

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194 Part I, Chapter 3). Thus, the ideal frame that separates the two collapses. Speculation cannot proceed without an object, performance cannot proceed without the statements. But it is impossible to decide the difference between the speculation (and the performance) and its object (and the statement). The border " invaginates . " This is what Derrida refers to as the text's "limping" movement. The text "limps and hardly closes at all" {1980b:418). Let's return to de Man's text and take up the threads of the debate once m.ore. Vie left him, busy borrowing. De Man now begins a debate with Speech Acts, but in order to conduct his business, he must resort to borrov/ing some of its "principal." Let's watch the interaction between the 14 critic and his mam backer and banker. Board Meeting Through recall and reassembly, de Man represents himself and his bankers at this meeting, constructing "their" positions — these are, after all, his representations — along with one for himself. Like all board meetings, this one too has its moments of internal wrangling. De Man begins a mild quarrel with the/his bankers, with their/his accounts concerning a direction or development of semiotic analyses that he finds som.ewhat premature. It is a disagreement about (the function of) rhetoric, presented rhetorically (the discussion aims to persuade, to induce belief) , and works by means of the rhetorical operation of substitution (one model

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.95 will be proposed as a substitution or replacement for another) . De iMan's confrontation v/ith "Barthes, Genette, Todorov, Greimas, and their disciples" arises over a question that will never be answered: can rhetoric be reduced to a function of grammar. De Man's debate with these theoreticians concerns their over hasty assimilation of rhetorical to grammatical (in particular, syntactic) structures "without apparent awareness of a possible discrepancy between them." Such a model is based on a principle of continuity and as far as de Man is concerned constitutes a regression from a step taken by Jakobson. Paraphrasing Ducrot and Todorov, de Man summarizes this position given in their Dictionnaire encyclopedique des sciences du langage : . . . rhetoric has always been satisfied with a paradigmatic view over words (words substituting for each other) , without questioning their syntagmatic relationship (the contiguity of words to each other) . (6) This is a passage of great curiosity. Rhetoric, an operation of substitution, ought to substitute (for substitution) an operation of combination. And for metaphor, usually defined as a substitution, one might substitute a definition that takes combination into account. Thus a recent study, now printed in Figures II I and entitled Metaphor and Metonymy in Proust , shows the combined presence, in a wide and astute selection of passages, of paradigmatic, metaphorical figures with syntagmatic, m.etonymic structures. (7) However, the value of such a substitution is as yet tentative. As de Man remarks,

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196 Research inspired by linguistics or, more narrowly, by syntactical studies, has begun to reveal this possibility--but it remains to be explored. (6) Thus, de Man suspends this model whose progress is uncertain. In its place, he substitutes one based on a relation of discontinuity. Let us follow the argument which allows him to prepare a place to hang or suspend his own. His argument revolves around the question of legitimacy; is it legitimate to reduce rhetoric to grammar: "The question remains if and how figures of rhetoric can be included in such a taxonom.y" (7) . This question will never be resolved. It will neither be confirmed nor invalidated. I attribute this difficulty to the nature of specu1 7 lative thought itself, its athetic mode. De Man, however, has other explanations that need to be taken into account. For de Man, the question itself — that concerning the relation of grammar to rhetoric — poses both practical and theoretical problems. Practically, it is difficult to deal with — and this is reminiscent of the question of reference and meaning, and the inside, outside polarity, it presents itself in a wide variety of disguises and "in a wide variety of forms." Questions of grammar and questions of rhetoric are not only "mixed in" together but can even get "mixed up" v/ith each other, not only within particular theoretical movements, but even within the work of a single author and "without apparent contradiction." Not only are these questions mixed in and mixed up within particular groups or local trends , but they

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197 are often co-present, v/ithout apparent contradiction, v/ithin the v/ork of a single author. (7) Something seems to subvert the possibility of the question. I suspect it is a general problem within the language of metaphysics: the problem of two "coherent but 1 8 contradictory" positions or possibilities of meaning. This is one of the global difficulties that Derrida is fond of pointing out. However, let's suspend this for the moment and move on to the second problem. The second difficulty introduced by the question is that it is not amienable to "quick expository treatm.ent" in that it entails distinguishing betv;een two epistemologies , that of grammar and that of rhetoric. Undoubtedly this is why de Man calls the task a "redoubtable" one. For it is reasonable to propose that neither epistemologies (that of grammar or rhetoric) is free of grammaticality or rhetoricity (along with the fact that the rules and principles of each are quite open to future development) ; and the account whereby one could clearly separate it from itself (gramir^ar or rhetoric) in order to define and delimit itself a_s itself and apart from its other would be swept away in its own interminable narrative, a narrative that could do nothing but begin over and over again, interminably and repeatedly. Pure grammar and pure rhetoric are ideal limits, that is to say, "fictions," "myths," "theories." To distinguish between these two "epistemologies," then, would be similar to Plato's attempt (see the end of "Plato's Pharmacy" in Derrida 's Disseminations ) to distinguish between two

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198 repetitions. A "redoubtable task" indeed, and no solution or thesis is likely to be forthcoming from this sector. De Man suspends or halts this question and moves on to what he calls a "naive" model of grammiar that governs the assimilation of rhetoric, a model that he wishes to attack. On the entirely naive level, we tend to conceive of grammatical systems as tending towards universality and as simply generative , i.e., as capable of deriving an infinity of versions from a single model (that may govern transformations as well as derivations ) without the intervention of another model that would upset the first. (7, underlining mine) The constitution of such another model might well enact a step, engender a thesis. Yet, one might well wonder here how and why the introduction of "another model" escapes being simply considered as one of the possible transformations produced by a single one. It is a question I will later pose when we come to the problem introduced by the syntactical structure of a question that manages to generate two transformations (yet, as we shall see, the transformations will never amount to more than hypotheses) derived from a single grammatical structure. To continue with the passage. We therefore think of the relationship between grammar and logic, the passage from grammar to propositions, as being relatively unproblematic: no true propositions are conceivable in the absence of grammatical consistency or of controlled deviation from a system of consistency no matter how complex. Grammar and logic stand to each other in a dyadic relationship of unsubverted support. (7) The main target of de Man's attack here is Austin's theory of Speech Acts since it too assimilates rhetoric to

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199 grammar without difficulty. Thus illocutionary acts of ordering, questioning, denying, assuming, etc., are congruent with or correspond to the syntactical structures of language equivalent to the imperative, interrogative, negative, and optative sentences. De Man quotes Ohman : "The rules for illocutionary acts," writes Richard Ohman in a recent paper, "determine whether performance of a given act is well-executed in just the same way as grairjnatical rules determine whether the product of a locutionary act — a sentence — is well formed . . . But whereas the rules of grammar concern the relationships among sound, syntax, and meaning, the rules of illocutionary acts concern relationships among people. (8) His disagreement with Ohman stems from the restricted role accorded to rhetoric. And since rhetoric is then conceived exclusively as persuasion, as actual action upon others (and not as an intralinguistic figure or trope) , the continuity between the illocutionary realm of grammar and the perlocutionary realm of rhetoric is self-evident. It becomes the basis for a new rhetoric that, exactly as in the case for Todorov and Genette, would also be a new grammar. (8) De Man suspends Speech Acts theory, its model of continuity. But his own model of discontinuity is an inversion. V^fill it help him take a "step beyond"? The founding concepts are taken from the history of theory. First, he borrows from Kenneth Burke. . . . without having to go beyond recent and American examples, and without calling upon the strength of an age-old tradition . . . the continuity here assumed between grammar and rhetoric is not borne out by theoretical and philosophical speculation. Kenneth Burke mentions deflection (which he compares structurally with Freudian displacement) , defined as "any slight bias or even unintended error," as the rhetorical basis of language, and deflection is then conceived as a

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iOO dialectical subversion of the consistent link between sign and meaning that operates within grammatical patterns; hence Burke's well-known insistence on the distinction between grarairiar and rhetoric. (8) The passage raises many questions. What is a slight bias or unintended error? At what point do we recognize either to be at work and what then is the status of such an observation? What guarantees that the observation is not itself another slight bias or unintended error? Can we ever be certain of it? And v;hy does what is presented as a fact of language offer itself in the form of a metaphor, "deflection"? (De Man himself has reminded us that "Metaphors are much more tenacious than facts ..." [5]). What does deflection deflect from, or, in other words, how does it reflect itself? Are v/e certain that we are not dealing with another "false metaphor"? In order to answer these questions, one must be able to calculate the deflection. This is possible only on the condition that we know what the deflection deflects from in order to measure the distance or difference between the two. In order for the consistent link between a sign and its meaning to be subverted, for that meaning to manifest itself as a subversion, absolute readability--ef f ect of a proper name for the one who determines, reads and signs--is required. In order to further elaborate his argument, de Man borrows from Charles Sanders Peirce. The argument, the terms it makes use of, and the distinctions each draws

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201 operate like a compensatory system, with one attempting to counterbalance the force of the other yet at the same time nullifying its fragile equilibrium. De Man begins with Peirce's distinction between grammar and rhetoric in his definition of the sign. Charles Sanders Peirce . . . insists, as is well known, on the necessary presence of a third element, called the interpretant , within any relationship that the sign entertains with its object. The sign is to be interpreted if we are to understand the idea it is to convey. (8) But, if the sign "conveys" an "idea," isn't this already an interpretation, that is, the idea or idealization? How do we know this? The answer returns us to an origin, a primal 19 scene. Note the thinking through negation or denial, a mode of thought that acknowledges and reproduces the very thing it tries to eliminate. . . . this is so because the sign is not the thing but a m.eaning derived from the thing by a process here called representation that is not sim.ply generative, i.e., dependent on a univocal origin. (8-9) The stability of this system or argument is maintained through these three distinctions or "principles": sign, meaning, object. They are designed to calculate, bind, and identify repetitions, to enable one to distinguish between or among repetitions. But all of these distinctions are nullified by memory which functions through signs and repeatability or iterability. In the very act of recalling these three distinctions, one proves their differences prove 20 false: all are signs. The capital of such idealizations is counterfeit.

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:02 The three distinctions repeat themselves on a larger register in what follows; no longer sign, meaning, and object, but translations based on equivalences: grammar, rhetoric, logic. The interpretation of the sign is not, for Peirce, a meaning but another sign; it is a reading, not a decodage, and this reading has, in its turn, to be interpreted into another sign, and so on ad infinitum . Peirce calls this process by means of which "one sign gives birth to another" pure rhetoric, as distinguished from pure grammar, which postulates the possibility of unproblematic , dyadic meaning, and pure logic, which postulates the possibility of the universal truth of meanings. (9) How is the distinction between rhetoric and grammar maintained here? By means of "principles," idealizations that once more rush ahead to produce what comes after the fact. Again we are within the abyss. For the defined is presupposed by the definition. One must have principles in order to produce these distinctions, but again, these distinctions already presuppose their principles. Or, to put it yet another way, language makes principles (more language) possible, but principles produce and order language. No wonder Derrida relates "principles" tc the Kantian Idea which is akin to Plato's "beyond all being" (Derrida, 1978b) . Both function as ideal capital. Once more, de Man has need of principles, he needs to stop the movement of the sign, turn it into a signified the better to "inspect" it, to produce his own (self-funded) account. But the "definition" of the unarrestable sign eliminates the possibility of all definition, of any distinction or

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203 suspension of the three, of any naming that might parcel out their respective realms, and control their borders, because "one sign gives birth to another." De Man would like the names of "grammar," "rhetoric," "logic" to function as proper names, proper nouns, but the discourse proper to each v/ould have to escape the sign's unarrestable movement, to function as a decodage. Even as Peirce himself makes the distinctions, he must rely on his grammatical-logical definitions to support these names. All three names or signs entertain unproblematic and dyadic meaning with their objects, and their conditions are systematically "true." But the names as well as their definitions are swept away by what they cannot encompass; the language of theory here cannot saturate its theory of language. As we have seen, in his reading of Beyond The Pleasure Principle , Derrida {1980b) characterizes speculation as "ludic." I suspect that, like all speculators, de Man is having fun, playing with his own constructions and attributing them to textuality. Constructions: "artificial," the word recalls the art, or artifice of a performer. The Mock Fight Why do I suspect an element of showmanship here? Because de Man stages a mock battle that he can't win. Neither "gramjnar" nor "logic" nor "rhetoric" (as de Man v/ill 22 use It) escape the structure of the sign. Since to name this process only repeats the def inition--menace of the abyss--and thereby adds nothing to our understanding, I will

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204 refrain from doing so. But neither grammar, logic, nor rhetoric can control by means of a metalanguage what makes each possible. No metalanguage can suspend this movement and no name can offer itself as anything other than a new edition: more words. Let's look at the language of de Man's argument. First of all, the notion of "pure" applied to grammar, then to "logic" would set each in opposition to the other and to rhetoric in a relation of exclusion. What de Man really wants to do is to assert these differences so that he can then deny them. He borrows from the principles of metaphysics in order to refute metaphysics, but the very borrowing from metaphysics returns the account to metaphysics. Metaphysics always collects — on itself. It collects on its own accounts. Once more de Man is playing with ideal limits, with theoretical fictions. The origin of his account is already a speculation; perhaps this is why he uses the verb "postulates" with reference to grammar and logic. (Postulate: demand; claim; a hypothesis advanced as an essential presupposition, condition or premise of a train of reasoning. Something like the "choo-choo" of speculative thought.) Yet, neither grammar nor logic fundamental to the semiotic movement of the sign; indeed, logic itself, according to Peirce, is only a semiotic. The most basic function of both logic and grammar — and this is where they are akin to one another--is to simply elaborate the formal conditions any discourse must meet in order to make sense or

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:o5 to mean, and it matters not whether its sense or meaning is false or even contradictory. But the structure of that 23 meaning is quite independent of the logic of truth, De Man himself, however, does not believe in this hypothesis of exclusion and denies what it asserts. The couple grammar/ rhetoric [is] certainly not a binary opposition since they in no way exclude each other. (12) But, of course, there is a certain sense in which they do exclude each other, which is why de Man must turn "rhetoric" into rhetorical "principles." Grammar is not a result of any analysis of the sign system within which we are caught; rather, it is a requirement. Grammar is already a system, of imposed principles. And in order to examine the unarrestable sign, for "rhetoric" to suspend either meaning or the referent, rhetoric (as defined by Peirce) must first be suspended itself. In order to demonstrate the "logical tension" between grammar and rhetoric, de Man draws an example from that medium of images par excellence: television. The title of the program.--avoided in the essay--draws attention to itself all the more insistently by virtue of its omission: "All In The Family." The "law of the oikos , " the law of "one's own," its household economy (see Derrida, 1980b: 314-57 ) , is about to unfold. And while the "couple grammar/rhetoric • . . disrupts and confuses the neat antithesis of the 24 25 inside/outside pattern" (12), de Man's ov/n discussion, far from disrupting and confusing the inside/outside

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:o6 polarity will overrun their Units and make them more complex by multiplying and dividing them. Station WPdJNl Let's create a scene of our ov;n to set the stage for the scene de Man is about to play, where he will act ail the characters' parts, speak their lines, and interpret them.. He is busy searching for an example, an illustration of . . . what is perhaps the most commonly known instance of an apparent symbiosis between a grammatical and a rhetorical structure, the so-called rhetorical question, in which the figure is conveyed directly by means of a syntactical device. (9) I see him momentarily backing away from the desk over v/hich he bends, gazing to the side, frowning slightly. Suddenly, a small smile interrupts the concentrated expression on his face; he begins to chuckle. De Man recalls, recollects, remembers. And in recalling and recollecting, he begins to write what he recalls and recollects: his own story, drawn from "popular fictions deliberately aimed towards social and psychological gratification ..." (3). It is a family scene; its two characters are Archie and Edith Bunker. Generous soul that she is, Edith asks her husband, Archie, whether he wants his bowling shoes "laced over or laced under," to which Archie responds, "What's the difference?" Edith immediately proceeds to explain "the difference between lacing over and lacing under." De Man's comments on the difference between lacing over and under, "whatever that

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207 may be," he remarks, already puts him in a position to identify with Archie a bit too quickly. The observer or player o^ this scene through recall and identification becomes a participant in the scene. But where is he--which one? Whose face is being televised, broadcast? Is a face identifiable? The name "Archie" divides and multiplies, becomes anonymous; just as does the border between reader and text. Hence the notion of ownership or possession of the text, of the one who signs, becom.es problematic. Identifying with Archie, de Man substitutes for Archie — but as Archie is one of de Man's "own," he belongs to his (whose?) own household. VJatch what happens when v/e eliminate the proper names. He (which one?) substitutes for him 27 (self) (which one?). He (which one?) borrov/s from him (self) (which one?) . He (which one?) speaks for him (self) (which one?). One "comes into one's own," "returns to one's own," but what? where? who? The "voice effects" or, better perhaps, the "identity effect" is unassignable and unlocatable. The referent is really fort 1 but not in any form of modified absence. De Man wants to speak for Archie. He wants to televise his own message to himself in order to read it there--da! Thus, he knows exactly what Archie means by "What's the difference?" And because he knows what Archie means, he knows that Edith's response can only "provoke ire." (Whose "ire"?) Because de Man is also Edith, he knows that her

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208 answer is a literal response to Archie's rhetorical question. S/he (which one? the other one) takes his/his question seriously and answers it in a like manner. Edith played by de Man could never be capable of pulling his/his leg. Identification within recollection ensures the transparency of the statement and agreem.ent (between Archie/ de Man, Edith/de Man; but who's who here?) concerning meaning: now, watch the necessary recourse to the "debilitating burden of paraphrase." "'What's the difference' did not ask for a difference but means instead 'I don't give a damn what the difference is'" (9). De Man comB"ients and advances a thesis. The same grammatical pattern engenders two meanings that are mutually exclusive: the literal meaning asks for the concept (difference) whose existence is denied by the figurative meaning. (9, underlining mine) Let's suspend the program and turn off this set for a m>oment. The metaphor ("engendered") here is very interesting and interested. It underwrites the unlimited production of capital (not two meanings, but two "principles," the "principal" of meaning) , of funds to finance speculation, to prolong its pleasures. The metaphor ("engender") promises that something will be born, present itself interminably, disappearing and returning: "new m.aterial and fresh considerations," as Freud would say; "the question rem.ains," as de Man puts it. It seems to me that we have returned to a conception of grammar that de Man himself calls "naive," a "simple

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209 generative" system, "capable of deriving an infinity of versions from a single model (that may govern transformations as well as derivations) ..." (7). Why naive? And why does de Man find it necessary to repeat his point; why does he feel it must be explained, clarified? Perhaps it is not as clear as he would wish? Since the explanation itself is so fascinating in its apparent effortlessness, let us repeat it too. The point is as follows. A perfectly clear syntactical paradigm (the question) engenders a sentence that has at least two meanings, of which the one asserts and the other denies its own illocutionary mode. It is not so that there are simply two meanings, one literal and the other figural, and that we have to decide which one of these meanings is the right one in this particular situation. The confusion can only be cleared up by the intervention of an extra-textual intention, such as Archie putting his wife straight [remember the permutation of places we discussed] ; but the very anger he [which one?] displays is indicative of more than impatience when confronted with a structure of linguistic meaning that he [who?] cannot control. . . . (10) De Man is trying here to make apparent what he calls the "rhetorization of grammar, a "semiological enigma": The grammatical model of the question becomes rhetorical not when we have, on the one hand, a literal meaning and on the other hand a figural meaning, but when it is impossible to decide which of the two meanings (that can be entirely incompatible) prevails. (10) Part of the problem here, I think, is that de Man overextends his credit, overdraws the account. He insists on the adequation of the signifiers first to one set of signifieds, but then destroys the adequation by insisting that the sam.e set of signifiers be adequate to another set of signifieds.

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210 But let's examine the argument on its own grounds. First of all, where are these two meanings? Confronted with the question, "What's the difference?" we are unable to decide "how" the sentence means at all until de Man/Archie intervenes "extra-textually" himself and projects or broadcasts his own intention in order to animate the differences. Yet they never appear as such. Perhaps this can be more easily appreciated if I ask the reader to identify the difference (figural, "rhetorical;" literal, "grammatical") in the following: "What's the difference?" or "What's the difference?" Neither figuration ("rhetorical") nor literal ("grammatical") presents itself; either can be read in either way but only as a result of a critical decision, incision, identification. Thus, the "extra-textual" intention, which de Man mentions only with reference to clearing up the "confusion, " is necessary in order to make any decision as to who means what, or what means which. Extratextual intention — but it is already of a singular kind here — creates the confusion, and gives rise to it. But since de Man is determined to play this "name game," let's play it too. Only differently. It will give us an opportunity to see how one doesn't get back "one's own"; the text is not a mirror any more than is the "da!" Distinctions such as those between "enunciation" and "statement" that are concerned with events of meaning; distinctions such as "context," a teleological concept--all these are of no help here. The metaphysics of presence is the metaphysics

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211 of meaning: all Being is oriented to sense to semantics. In order to play the game differently, these distinctions cannot be assumed. Let's play v/ith it. Let's assume the "debilitating burden of paraphrase"; let's take it on and see what it has succeeded in producing. V7e will begin with the literal and figural meanings, "of which the one asserts and the other denies its own illocutionary mode." First, the literal statement that asks for difference: we can phrase it any way we like since de Man assumes that we know what form it would take (notice that he assumes this). Speculating a little ourselves, we might state it like this. "Tell me what the difference is?" or "Please, explain the difference to me." But are these literal ("grammatical")? Are we certain? Can we determine the seriousness of this "meaning" or question, its absolute literality? Could they not be used sarcastically, rhetorically? And as for the "figural," "I don't give a damn what the difference is," don't we encounter the same difficulty. Can't this statement imply that the speaker indeed cares very much what the difference is, and is simply pretending not to, hoping to hear the very thing he feigns disinterest in? "The point is as follows": neither of these meanings, figural or literal ever appear as such. "What's the difference?" neither asserts nor denies its own illocutionary mode, because that mode is itself indeterminate; the code itself is subject to iterability. "What's the difference," already a citation (but we cannot be sure that it is a

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212 question) , simply recites, but it is impossible to say which one quotes the other. And this is why we must conclude against de Man when he remarks. Confronted with the question of the difference between grammar and rhetoric, grammar allows us to ask the question, but the sentence by means of which we ask it may deny the very possibility of asking. For what is the use of asking, I ask, when we cannot even authoritatively decide whether a question asks or doesn't ask? (10) For there is indeed, to begin with, a question . And the meaning has been prepared in advance. It is just that we don't know if this question that is there asks a question or doesn't ask a question. De Man begins his analysis with a semantic instance; grammar functions semantically from the moment one determines grammatical structures of syntax to be imperatives, interrogatives , negatives, or optatives. A semantic principle organizes the initial instance and functions as a signified, even though we cannot make up our minds whether that semantic instance functions effectively 2 8 or ineffectively. But we are never in doubt as to the initial meaning: a question. De Man pits grammatical principles against rhetorical principles so that he can deny the grammatical ones. He pits signifieds against signifieds. His effort to make grammar and rhetoric discontinuous presupposes that these two "entities" function as a priori and privileged terms. It is only under this condition that any syntactical paradigm can be determined as "perfectly clear." De Man would eliminate here all possibility for the paradigm to be corrupted by the ills of

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213 repetition in advance. Syntax is once more subordinated to semantics. The analysis is oriented from the start to produce or engender its own impasse, to institute a "discouraging prospect of an infinity of similar future confusion . . ." (10). If a semantic interpretation of the grammatical paradigm is presupposed by the whole of the analysis, such an orientation should alert us to the force of a desire. De Man desires to protect what is already a "theory" of literature, a very traditional yet impossible "vision" of it. . . . although it would perhaps be somewhat more remote from common usage, I would not hesitate to equate the rhetorical, figural potentiality of language with literature itself. I could point to a great number of antecedents to this equation of literature with figure; the most recent reference would be to Monroe Beardsley's insistence in his contribution to the Essays to honor William Wimsatt, that literary language is characterized by being "distinctly above the norm in ratio of implicit [or, I could say rhetorical] to explicit meaning." (10, brackets are de Man's) It seems to me at least two consequences follow for de Man's theory of reading. First, the rhetorical is recaptured by the grammatical/logical definition: "grammar postulates the possibility of unproblematic , dyadic meaning" (9); the definition of the rhetorical as equivalent to "implicit" meaning (the ratio of implicit to explicit) is a grammatical definition. And since this definition is given the value of "universal truth," it is logical. But the whole of this model of literature founders on the distinction between "implicit," and "explicit," neither of which presents

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214 itself, or refers to any presence at all. Thus when de Man defines "literature" as a linguistic object that has a higher ration of implicit to explicit meaning, literature really goes fort ! There is no literary object in de Man's model. His own logic destroys it. Thus, in a sense, I agree with de Man's conclusion concerning the nature of "rhetoric." Rhetoric radically suspends logic and opens up vertiginous possibilities of referential aberration. (10) But a "rider" needs to be added to this clause: the "referential aberrations" stem from a critical desire or suspension that can no more present itself than can what its desire or suspension seeks to produce. Take Two Let us "pursue the matter of the rhetorical question through one more example." It is a well-known poem of Yeats, "Among School Children." Again the choice is an interesting one. Once more, de Man wishes to demonstrate the "tension" between grammar and rhetoric, between novel repetitions produced by a narrative. The title, in light of what de Man requires of the poem, seems faintly ironic. Children, we remember from Freud, are notoriously fond of consistency in story-telling and often correct the narrator for the slightest deviation in its repetition, v/hereas adults usually find variation pleasurable. Here, the positions seem reversed, for it is the adult-reader who is

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215 distressed and takes comfort in the fact that the deviation he hears is an "error" that demands undoing. The line de Man wishes to focus on, "How can we know the dancer from the dance?", has usually been interpreted as denying any difference between the sign and its referent, asserting instead "the potential unity between form and experience, between creator and creation." This traditional reading depends upon "the imagery and the dramatic development of the poem" (11) , all of which determine that the last line posing the question be read figuratively or rhetorically. Thus, it states that we cannot tell the one from the other, that no distinct difference between the two — the dancer or the dance — is possible. De Man, however, remarks, "It is equally possible ... to read the last line literally rather than figuratively . . ." (11). The two readings share and depend upon something curious; both readings, both interpretations of sign and meaning (continuous, discontinuous) are based on "imagined 'presence.'" De Man attributes these imagined presences to "the poem," yet it is he who, recalling, remembering, identifies them and produces them, names them. Thus, the last line can be read literally ...as asking with some urgency the question we asked earlier within the context of contemporary criticism: not that sign and referent are so exquisitely fitted to each other that all difference between them is at times blotted out but, rather, since the two are so intricately intertwined in the imagined "presence" that the poem addresses, how can we possibly make the distinctions that would shelter us from the error of identifying what cannot be identified? (13)

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216 But it isn't simply that de Man is dealing with what cannot be identified. He is dealing with what isn't there: either figural or literal. To resort once more to the "debilitating burden of paraphrase" he must have recourse to in order to produce a crisis: the literal interpretation demands an account of the difference, whereas the figural dismisses it in its usual off-handed fashion. Once more, de Man must translate and transmit messages. Yet the figural/literal distinction he must maintain encounters the same difficulties as in the first example. He must attempt to totally contextualize the literal in order to force its appearance. . . . since the dancer and the dance are not the same, it might be useful, perhaps even desperately necessary — for the question can be given a ring of urgency, "Please tell me, how can I know the dancer from the dance" — to tell them apart. (12) But where are the literal/f igural distinctions? Are we certain that the question, "Please tell me, how can I know the dancer from the dance," is a literal one? If one were asked this question, could one be certain that the question does not engage in a bit of "leg pulling"? Can I pull de Man's leg a bit? Instead of reading "How can we know the dancer from the dance," as "How can we know the dancer from the dance," de Man wants us to read the question as, "How can we know the dancer from the dance." Nevertheless, de Man goes on to remark, . . . two entirely coherent but entirely incompatible readings can be made to hinge on one line, whose grammatical structure is devoid of ambiguity, but whose rhetorical mode turns the mood as

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217 well as the mode of the entire poem upside down. Neither can we say, as was already the case in the first example, that the poem simply has two meanings that exist side by side. The two readings have to engage each other in direct confrontation, for the one reading is precisely the error denounced by the other and has to be undone by it. (12) And once more a critical impasse is induced, for we cannot . . . make a valid decision as to which of the readings can be given priority over the other; none can exist in the other's absence. There can be no dance without a dancer, no sign without a referent. On the other hand, the authority of the meaning engendered by the grammatical structure is fully obscured by the duplicity of a figure that cries out for the differentiation that it conceals. (12) Shall I speculate a little on how de Man engenders this impasse? Here is another hypothesis: de Man requires the question "What is the difference (between grammar and rhetoric) for it already presupposes that there are differences that one might either assert or deny; the question predetermines and presupposes the debate ahead of time, presupposes that there are differences either that one wants to know or that one doesn't give a damn about, either that one can dismiss as impossible, or that one "urgently" needs to be cognizant of. The question "what is" already oriented towards meaning and sense, concerning distinctions between the literal/figural already assumes a literal/ figural distinction that de Man questions both literally and figuratively. Yet each time he proposes the distinctions all he gets are (not hxs "own" but) words and more words, ' for the

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21i distinctions or meanings never appear — only their "principles" (there, before being there) . Each paraphrase ("debilitating" and we now understand why) he resorts to is again a reassembly of more words which are neither figural nor literal without the decision of a critical "suspension." "Suspension" is an interesting and interested metaphor which like all metaphors, as de Kan reminds us, is "essentially anti-poetic — "anti" — hostile to poetry, to literature, although not hostile to his principles of literature whose laws are — he legislates them — his own. All of de Man's principles lead to his "principle of principles" (principal of capital; capital of idealization) , allegory. Allegory is perhaps another word or "principle" that is explained by another interesting and no less interested metaphor: "deflection." Deflection is necessary to this system of "engenderment , " for it ensures and insures the interminability of this perpetual motion machine and the debate it reconstructs, repeats "endlessly," in a "language of pathos" (186), whose "mode of discourse fails to achieve a concluding exchange that would resolve the tension of the original dejection" (187) or "to escape from the categories it claims to deconstruct ..." (187). Allegory in turn engenders, gives birth to irony which "is no longer a trope but the undoing of the deconstructive allegory of all tropological cognitions, the systematic undoing, in other words, of understanding" (underlining mine): more words.

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219 Before proceeding with the rest of the essay, we might pause or suspend the discussion to consider (at least) two fascinating aspects of this argument that relate it to the beginning of the essay. First, just as form and meaning, as intrinsic and extrinsic structures were able to change places, each occupying the place of the other, so too can the grammatical and rhetorical, the literal or figural, the "explicit," and "implicit." And just as without the teleology of a definition, decision, incision, a name , a "suspension" of a signifier by a signified, the reader is hard pressed to decide which is which in the first case (which form, which meaning) , so it is in the second. This is equally true of the paraphrases de Man utilizes — unsuccessfully — in an attempt to pin down what he equates with "literary language": "implicit meaning." What are the consequences for his theory of "literary language" if that meaning is neither "there" nor elsewhere before being suspended, before being decided. The suspension is an operation that consists of garroting, binding to produce a double bind — but of what? We do not know what is there before being suspended, bound, hung, represented by representers , emissaries on missions of the communication of messages. But do these messages arrive? Second, just as " principles " of inside/outside, form/ meaning, intrinsic/extrinsic were utilized in order to 3 2 delimit, constrict, restrict, "stricture" the inside, outside, form, meaning, intrinsic, extrinsic, to make each

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220 appear, so too are " principles " of grammar (the "question": already a structure contaminated by semantics) , " principles " of rhetoric (not the unarrestable movement of the sign which would threaten every signified, every structure, everv "name") , " principles " of the "literal" and "figural" along with, not literature, but " principles " of "literature" (ratio of implicit to explicit meaning) utilized in order to stage (effect of the theater) hypothetical presences, artificial constructions. Yet it all returns to the same: "the question remains." As for literature (not its "principles" now) , we can no longer be certain what this is at all. Madly In Love With Appearances Just as de Man stages a fake fight between "grammar" 33 and "rhetoric" — or what he calls the "rhetorization of grammar," he now stages, lest rhetoric be given the upper hand, a fight between "rhetoric" and "grammar" — what he calls the "grammatization of rhetoric." Just as a paralysis has been induced in the first (it "end[s] up in indetermination, in a suspended uncertainty . . . unable to choose between two modes of reading . , ." (16), so too will one be induced in the second. Nothing must challenge "literature" that for de Man will always retain a privileged status. But first he asserts that the couple grammar/rhetoric, since they "in no way exclude each other," have overcome the inside/outside antithesis which "the poem puts into question," even as he admits that

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221 Yeats' poem is not explicitly "about" rhetorical questions but about images or metaphors, and about the possibility of convergence between experiences of consciousness such as memory or emotions--what the poem calls passion, piety and affection — and entities accessible to the senses such as bodies, persons, or icons. (12) In other words, one of his readings (e.g., "the possibility of convergence between experiences of consciousness" which maintains the inside/outside opposition) asserts what the other (e.g., "the inside/outside model from which we started out and which the poem puts into question by means of a syntactical device . . . "[12]) denies. We are wondering, since both of these are de Man's own readings, recollections, if the inside/outside polarity has not already, not simply broken down, but become more complex, divided, and multiplied, but to the benefit of neither what we traditionally call the "poem" nor the "reader." For it seems to me that one can no longer be sure which is which or who is what.^^ Nevertheless, de Man wants to "transfer this scheme to the act of reading and interpretation" (12). Once more he poses a challenge to Speech Acts; once more he substitutes: discontinuity for continuity. By reading we get, as we say, inside a text that was first something alien to us and which we now make our own by an act of understanding. But this understanding becomes at once the representation of an extra-textual meaning; in Austin's terms, the illocutionary speech act becomes a perlocutionary actual act — in Frege ' s terms, Bedeutung becomes Sinn . Our recurrent question is whether this transformation is semantically controlled along grammatical or rhetorical lines.

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222 De Man will now challenge one act of understanding — "our own" with another act of understanding — "our own"; as he admits that by reading "we get . . . inside a text" — "we"--he and Proust — are going to agree about how one reading "deconstructs" another, of the same text. Thus, the critic is no longer demystified by the text but unites in an agreement or contract with himself; telecommunication, between the "author" and himself: "we." But which one is which? Whose "who" are we taking about here? The example summoned to appear is different from the two former ones. Here, . . . we are not dealing with a grammatical structure that also functions rhetorically but have instead the representation, the dramatization, in terms of the experience of a subject, of a rhetorical structure — just as, in many other passages, Proust dramatizes tropes by means of landscapes or descriptions of objects. (13) De Man chooses the dramatization of a scene of reading from Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu . The narration, the passage is now a famous one, narrates a scene of reading utilizing metaphors and metonymies v/herein the author/Marcel recaptures past time, indulges in the pleasures of reading, recollects and remembers what was . But that is the fiction . De Man, however, does not read it as a fiction. Instead, he interrogates it for truth. Thus, his complete discussion is not as we were first led to believe, entirely "without regard for . , . truth or falseness" At any rate, de Man remarks that "the figure here dramatized is that of metaphor, an inside/outside

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:23 correspondence as represented by the act of reading" (13), What de Man finds interesting about this passage is its "juxtaposition of figural and metafigural language." Thus, his remark above — "we are not dealing with a grammatical structure"--is not quite accurate. The "rhetorical" structure he analyzes, its "dram.atization, " is already produced, structured and controlled by the model of grammar he has called "naive." For these distinctions or principles presuppose the possibility of "unproblematic , dyadic meaning" between the figural and its meaning as well as between the metafigural and its meaning. The passage is figural because "it contains seductive metaphors" (14) and metafigural because "it comments normatively on the best way to achieve such effects; in this sense, it is metafigural; it writes figuratively about figures" (15) . As in the case of the first two examples where we saw that grammar was already a rhetoric (the syntactical paradigm or "sign" already animated by "meaning": the "question"), so now it seems to be the case that rhetoric is already a grammar The languages de Man analyzes, the figural and metafigural passages, each entertains "unproblematic, dyadic meaning" with its signs, metaphor and metonomy. Hypothesizing, we might say this explains why or how the questions of grammar and rhetoric are "mixed in and mixed up within particular groups or local trends" and "are often co-present, without apparent contradiction, within the work of a single author" (7). Diction, contra-diction; diction, contradiction.

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224 Speech/speech: again the problem of distinguishing between repetitions. De Kan comments on the language of the passage . It contrasts two ways of evoking the natural experience of summer and unambiguously states its preference for one of these ways over the other . . . The preference is expressed by means of a distinction that corresponds to the difference between metaphor and metonymy . . . The passage is about the aesthetic superiority of metaphor over metonymy. . . . (14) De Man questions this "preference": Yet, it takes little perspicacity to shov/ that the text does not practice what it preaches. A rhetorical reading of the passage reveals that the figural praxis and the m.etafigural theory do not converge and that the assertion of the mastery of metaphor over metonymy owes its persuasive power to the use of metonymic structures. (15) In a moment, he will worry a bit about this statement along with its implications for the "position" of the reader. But before doing so, he attempts to summarize the thrust of his argument and the distinctions or principles he has employed. Our first examples dealing with the rhetorical questions were rhetorizations of grammar, figures generated by syntactical paradigms, whereas the Proust example could be better described as a grammatization of rhetoric. (15) Rhetoric is grammatized in the passage from paradigmatic structures to syntagmatic ones. By passing from a paradigmatic structure based on substitution, such as metaphor, to a syntagmatic structure based on contingent association such as metonymy, the mechanical, repetitive aspect of grammatical forms is shown to be operative in a passage that seemed at first sight to celebrate the self-willed and autonomous inventiveness of a subject. . . . Yet, our reading of the Proust passage shows that precisely when the highest claims are being made for the unifying power of metaphor, these very images rely in fact on the

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225 deceptive use of semi-automatic gramm.atical patterns. (16) In a moment, de Man will return,, not only to his question ("the question remains") , but to the initial point of departure of his essay, the subject of grammar. But before returning with him, let us question the above. Both metaphor and metonymy, tropes of "resemblance" and tropes of "contingent association," are similar or equivalent in that both are tropes of substitution; their only difference, their oppositional character, is constituted by sem.antics and in order to maintain the difference, once more the reader must have recourse to the "debilitating burden of paraphrase" or translation which is essentially an operation of metaphor, of equivalence based on resemblance or correspondence. For Derrida, substitution simply substitutes substitution; but this substitution does not involve a thing, a meaning, a presence, a name, an identity. But the metaphysics of presence substitutes one thing for another, one meaning for another, one name for another, and so forth. Perhaps we should say that the metaphysics of presence substitutes one principle for another principle, a principle which again is "there before being there" (Derrida, 1980:427). But the substitution engaged in by the metaphysics of presence is simply an effect of its own language. It is easy to forget that there is no "grammar" or "rhetoric," no "literal" or "figural," no "metaphor" or "metonymy," only their "principles" (concepts) and the "principal" each generates, determinations constructed after

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226 the fact but then imposed ahead of time. De Man uses these constructions like a lace, passes his principles over and under, from outside in, from inside out, making the principles appear, disappear ( fort/da ) , to reassem.ble the text as "thing" in order to analyze it, to identify it. But the text as "thing" is produced by the reader; it is a product constructed by means of these determinations. If one demands a thing or product in order to determine or identify it, but the determinations (grammatical, rhetorical) are necessary, constructed ahead of time ("principles" and "principal") in order to produce the thing, to stricture and erect it, to compel it to present itself, then the whole of the debate is oriented and presupposed by the tools of the analysis: a stepless step. In order to produce these determinations, definitions, names, de Man again and again must resort to "unproblematic dyadic meaning"; this, therefore, cannot be limited strictly to the definition of grammar as he defines it because the definition exceeds the grammatical and produces every name, i.e., the rhetorical, the literal, figural, metaphorical, metonymical, and so forth. Each name, in order to name its function, imposes the principle of equivalence. In "Resistance To Theory," de Man defines the literary use of language in contradistinction to its use in the phenomenal world: Literature is fiction not because it somehow refuses to acknowledge 'reality,' but because it is not a priori certain that language functions

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227 according to principles which are those, or which are like those, of the phenomenal world. (11) This statement presupposes an entirely classical opposition and divides or separates a general textuality into two fields of absolute differences (the phenomenal world/the literary; ordinary language/literary language) . And indeed, de Man borrows all of his categories from the phenomenal 37 world, translates them (operation of metaphor) into linguistic events, creates equivalences (but, again, since they are equivalent, no transfer is possible: irresolution and insolvency ensue). Thus, to take two small examples, the subjectivity and cognitive processes of the author 3 8 become the "voice" of the "text," the grammatical "I" becomes the rhetorical "voice": these are all equivalents, and all of them are constructions. This is how speculation creates a surplus value for itself, enriches itself, and extends its mastery by means of its constructed principles more and more. But in borrowing from its constructions or "accounts," speculation violates its principle of equivalence; the possibility of transfer (translation) implies difference, otherwise no transfer occurs. But since what is transferred is constructed by means of equivalence, no real difference is possible. In a sense, speculation destroys its own "currency." It bankrupts all the necessary adequation of signifier to signified (that it needs) once the equivalence is transferred (translated) and thus its "accounts" are insolvent. And insolvency and irresolution go hand in hand.

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228 De Man's considerations of the "deconstruction of metaphor" in Proust's passage bring him back to the issue which opened his debate; it "takes us back to the impersonal precision of grammar and of a semiology derived from grammatical patterns" (1979:16). He is not quite finished; . . there seems to be a difference . . . betv/een what I called the rhetorization of grammar . . . and the grammatization of rhetoric . . . The former end up in indetermination, in a suspended uncertainty that was unable to choose between two modes of reading, whereas the latter seems to reach a truth, albeit by a negative road of exposing an error. (16) It is the latter question that preoccupies de Man initially. To answer it in the affirmative implies that criticism deconstructs literature, an operation which de Man identifies here as "the reduction to the rigors of grammar of rhetorical mystifications" (17). But this would pit the critic and the philosopher against the poet and would divide "Criticism and literature . . . around the epistemological axis that distinguishes grammar from rhetoric" (17). Was the epistemological axis distinguishing these two ever established? Were their differences established even pragmatically and practically? Can they be? Was it for naught that de Man himself called it a "redoubtable task"? De Man has little trouble dismissing or vacating this position. It it easy enough to see that this apparent glorification of the critic-philosopher in the name of truth is in fact a glorification of the poet as the primary source of this truth; if truth is the recognition of the systematic character of a certain kind of error, then it would be fully dependent on the prior existence of this error.

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229 Philosophers of science . . . are notoriously dependent on the aberrations of the poets. We are back at our unanswered question; does the grammatization of rhetoric end up in negative certainty or does it, like the rhetorization of grammar, remain suspended in the ignorance of its own truth or falsehood? (17) The "aberrations of the poets" upon which critics and philosophers alike depend are not solely "theirs," nor is this "truth" of which they are a primary source. We have seen how the reader occupies all of the "positions" that s/he constructs and identifies within the text as s/he recalls, recollects and reassembles; these are de Man's and he acknowledges "their" complicity: "the distinction between author and reader is one of the false distinctions that the reading makes evident" (17). Which perhaps explains why de Man now defends "Proust's text": . . . it is not true that Proust's text can simply be reduced to the mystified assertion (the superiority of metaphor over metonymy) that our reading deconstructs . . . since it uses only the linguistic elements provided by the text itself, (17) In other words ("linguistic elements" are the simplest principles of a subject of study) : construction and constitution. The deconstruction is not something we have added to the text but it constituted the text in the first place. (17) If it were not for this "we" of the reader and author, we would simply note that the inside/outside polarity de Man began with and hoped to reduce through the couple, grammar and rhetoric, still functions — the reader "outside" the

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230 text, on its border, trying to discover "grairanaticalrhetorical" landmarks or principles within it. But de Man quite earnestly admits to identification although it is quite different from the kind being considered here. For de Man, the identification more or less approximates a question of "intent" (which he will momentarily label as an "absurd," "false" question). The declaration of intent is preceded by what at first glance seems to be a thesis. A literary text simultaneously asserts and denies the authority of its own rhetorical mode, and by reading the text as we did we v/ere only trying to come closer to being as rigorous a reader as the author had to be in order to write the sentence in the first place. (17)"^^ But who is this author, this reader, whose identification is such that it splits each in two — the reader/the author, the reader/the author — each miming and doubling the other without either presenting himself /himself in any determinable or decidable manner. Who reads? Who writes? Who signs? What is being said? Has anything been spoken of at all? Have v/e a thesis? If Poetic writing is the most advanced and refined mode of deconstruction; it may differ from critical or discursive writing in the econom.y of its articulation, but not in kind. (17) and, on the other hand. Literature as well as criticism — the difference being delusive--is condemned (or privileged) to be forever the most rigorous and, consequently, the most unreliable language in terms of which man names and transforms himself. (19) then we must examine the status of de Man's own discourse, the status of his "assertions" concerning the "literary

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231 text." The question of the assertion ("literature asserts") arises at the moment de Man realizes that the concept of the "author" makes his/his analysis problematic. . . . if we recognize the existence of such a moment as constitutive of all literary language, we have surreptitiously reintroduced the categories that this deconstruction was supposed to eliminate and that have merely been displaced. We have, for example, displaced the question of the self form the referent into the figure of the narrator, who then becomies the signifie [who? which one?] of the passage. It becomes again possible to ask such naive questions as what Proust's ["Proust's"? (which one)] or Marcel's ["Marcel's"? (which one?)], motives may have been in thus manipulating language: was he [which one?] fooling himself and fooling us ["us"?] into believing that fiction and action are as easy to unite, by reading, as the passage asserts? . . . They are absurd questions, of course, since the reconciliation of fact and fiction occurs itself as a mere assertion made in a text, and is thus productive of more text at the moment when it asserts its decision to escape from textual confinement. (18) What is the "position" from which de Man speaks when, erasing the difference between literature and criticism ("delusive") , he asserts in the declarative mode that "literature asserts and denies," when, analyzing a fiction, the fiction of the "reconciliation of fact and fiction," he offers in its stead the estrangement of the two. This statement,, de Man's "theory," is itself "a mere assertion made in a text, and is thus productive of more text at the moment when it asserts its decision to escape from textual confinement." When de Man reconciles a criticism of estrangement constructed by means of "facts," facts of language, its actualities and events ("principles" of grammar-rhetoric) with "fiction," or his "theory of reading"

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232 with "literature," we must regard this reconciliation too as a mere assertion. "The pathos of the entire section . . . the constant vacillation of the narrator between guilt and well-being, invites such questions. They are absurd questions ..." (18). The problem of the "absurd" question which will momentarily be called a "false question," like the problem of the "false metaphor," should remind us that we are not dealing with a "neutral" reading. For once falsity is admitted on to the premises (or into the premise) , how can one determine the "true" question, the "good" metaphor? At what point are either guaranteed as anything other than a critical decision? De Man himself vacillates on the question of "intent." But even if we free ourselves of all false questions of intent and rightfully reduce the narrator to the status of a mere grammatical pronoun [to whom does this pronoun "refer"], without which the narrative could not come into being . . . Once more, the "naive" understanding of grammar: "simply generative, i.e., as capable of deriving an infinity of versions from a single model (that may govern transformations as well as derivations)" — we are returning again to the initial point of departure. The passage continues: . . . this subject [which one? what referent?] remains endowed with a function that is not grammatical but rhetorical, in that it [what? who?] gives voice, so to speak, to a grammatical syntagm [who speaks?]. [18]) The initial definition of literature: an "autotelic statement," an interesting and, again, an interested metaphor. It makes apparent the borrowing of categories, their

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233 translation from the phenomenal to the fictional. The metaphor of the voice is constructed artificially by means of analogy ("a metaphor inferring by analogy the intent of the subject from the structure of the predicate" (18) which the critic attempts to come "close" to (but whose voice?) , to make it "da," is a prosthetic device used to shore or prop up his own speculations. This reintroduction of the "author," concept or category, "metaphor" (translated from the phenomenal to the literary) creates, as de Man notes, a "distinctive complication." In the case of the deconstructive discourse that we call literary, or rhetorical, or poetic, this creates a distinctive complication illustrated by the Proust passage. (18) Before this "voice" "speaks" (but whose voice?) there is nothing to be "heard." But when it speaks, as metaphor, what it names, what it transfers and translates through its speech, can never be named or spoken properly, only fictionally, metaphorically, by an analogy that can never be reduced simply to "speech." Every gain is a loss, each advance is a retreat; every certainty ends in irresolution: insolvency. De Man again "vacillates" like the "narrator" or "author" he attempts to come close to, to make "da." The analysis becomes interminable. De Man began with speculation, with the desire "to speculate on a different set of terms." Has it as yet begun? Has it taken him anywhere? What does he think concerning the fruits of its results? What does he know?

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234 The reading revealed a first paradox: the passage valorizes metaphor as being the "right" literary figure, but then proceeds to constitute itself by means of the epistemologically incompatible figure of metonymy. (18) Incompatible semantically , that is. The critical discourse reveals the presence of this delusion [whose?] and affirms it as the irreversible mode of its truth. It cannot pause there however. For if we then ask the obvious and simple next question, whether the rhetorical mode of the text in question is that of metaphor or metonymy, it is impossible to give an answer. (18) Irresolution. Insolvency. It is the borrowing that destroys the equivalences; all adequation of signifier to signified upon which the economy depends is destroyed. All money or currency which would come to guarantee the transfer of accounts is false coin. Individual metaphors . . . are shown to be subordinate figures in a general clause whose syntax is metonymic; from this point of view, it seems that rhetoric is superseded by a grammar that deconstructs it. But this metonymic clause has as its subject a voice whose relationship to this clause is again metaphorical. The narrator [what narrator?] who tells us about the impossibility of metaphor is himself [who? there is no decidable referent here], or itself, a metaphor, the metaphor of a grammatical syntagm [there is no decidable referent for the syntagm either] whose meaning is the denial of metaphor stated, by antiphrases, as its priority. And this subjectmetaphor [no referent], is in its turn, open to the kind of deconstruction to the second degree . . . (18-19) Like the form/reference distinction that opened the essay, neither metaphor nor metonymy can constitute themselves without making way for the other of each, substituting and repeating each. Metaphor returns to metonymy; metonymy returns to metaphor as do the "couple" grammar-rhetoric.

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235 But all that is accomplished is substitution. Substitution of a substitution for a substitution whose presence is neither da nor fort, substitution that substitutes for nothing that precedes it: substitution "effect." What has speculations said, spoken of, told us? Has anything been resolved? Where do we end up? Have we begun to speculate? We end up therefore, in the case of the rhetorical grammatization of semiology, just as in the grammatical rhetorization of illocutionary phrases, in the same state of suspended ignorance. Any question about the rhetorical mode of a literary text is always a rhetorical question which does not even know whether it is really questioning. (19, underlining mine) We might surmise that we know that "any question about the rhetorical mode of a literary text is alv/ays a rhetorical question which does not even know whether it is really questioning." This is certainly knowledge and seems to constitute a thesis: we know that the question doesn't know if it is a question. The text has enacted this assertion, many times over. But will it have? Let us examine the slight phrase, "the state of suspended ignorance." Ignorance suspends all knowledge, but in order to suspend knowledge, the suspension must also suspend all knowledge of the ignorance and the suspension itself. All of these are gone: Fort ! Has anything taken place? Has anything, then, been said if ignorance suspends knowledge, suspends all knowledge of ignorance, suspends the knowledge of suspension along vrith the suspension itself? If we return to the Preface of Allegories of Reading de Man himself articulates the reasons for his hesitations, suspensions, emphasizes his

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236 own irresolute convictions concerning the possibility of a "further step," one leading "beyond" the hermeneutic model. The difficulty, we recall, is the problem of borrowing, borrowing "principles," artificial constructions (leaning upon them as one leans upon a wooden leg, a prosthetic device) , which in a certain way lodge the "beyond" within that model, and deconstruct it. The principles underlying the thematic diversity of Rousseau, the chronology of Rilke and Nietzsche, the rhetoric of Proust, are not left intact by the reading, but this critical result remains dependent on the initial position of these very principles. Whether a further step, which would leave this hermeneutic model behind, can be taken should not a priori or naively be taken for granted. The question. Remains . "Re-" (mains) . The "re-" of "re-" — can you hear it dance? "Ca boite bien, n'est-ce pas?" (Derrida, 1980b:433). ("It limps well, doesn't it?") Footprints 1. De Man's readings generate "negative knowledge." "This negative knowledge _is deconstructive . . . deconstruction is, according to de Man, the 'negative insight' into the misleading assumptions and and effects of metaphor and concept. Deconstruction utters these negative insights about the unifying instances. Therefore it is an act of understanding, of judging, (and as such an operation of totalization) . Consequently, deconstruction belongs to the cognitive strata of a text . . . deconstruction is a knowledge, but a knowledge nevertheless (Gasche, 1981:45). Thus, de Man's brand of deconstruction never challenges the metaphysics of presence. The text "communicates," and communicates, speaks by Means of concepts . Derrida attacks concepts (idealizations). Compare Derrida's remarks of the effects of his re-editing the concept: "We know . . . but we know something here which can no longer be recognized under this old name [knowledge]" (Derrida, 1981:21). De Man reads the "narratorial voice" of the text that "responds to some 'police investigation,' a force of order or law"

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237 (Derrida, 1979a: 194). He listens to a classical voice with a classical ear. 2. De Man makes a comment on the problem of any initial "position" ( setzen ) in his essay on Nietzsche that is worth recalling here: "... all "setzen" has been discredited as unable to control the epistemological rigor of its own rhetoric . . ." (135). Thus, the position he borrows from, and which his own principles depend upon are already problematic. 3. For a discussion of the "athetic mode" of speculative thought, see Derrida, 1980:275-437 4. There is a parallel between Freud's concern {Derrida, 1980b) v/ith wild speculation and de Man's. 5. See Jacques Derrida, 1976, in particular. Part I, Chapter 2. As Derrida re-writes or reinscribes the Saussurian signifier (the "sound-image" or "psychic imprint) , he criticizes its implicit psychologism by means of the "Husserlian corrective," effectively removing the signifier — whether word or image — from lived experience or the real world. Derrida remarks, "Here the Husserlian correction is indispensable and transform.s even the premises of the debate. Real ( Reell and not real) component of lived experience, the hyle/morphe is not a reality ( Realitat ) . As to the intentional object, for example, the content of the image, it does not really (real) belong either to the world or to lived experience: the nonreal component of lived experience" (64) . "Arche-writing" reinscribes the Saussurian signifier: "This arche-writing, although its concept is invoked by the themes of "the arbitrariness of the sign" and difference cannot and can never be recognized as the 'object of a science.' It is that very thing which cannot let itself be reduced to the form of presence " (75) . The concept of arbitrariness utilized by American "deconstruction" involves a "denial" of the sign's empirical, visible image, presence of the word — relation with the referent, as "non-referential. Thus, "the sign is not the thing." Derrida handles the problem of reference within the classical field somewhat differently. Iterability draw the name into a "graphematic drift" "that excludes any decision as to whether" the thing "is more than the name" "whether the name" refers to the thing or the name, "whether it signifies 'normally' or 'cites,' etc." (Derrida, 1977b:225). 6. For Derrida 's comments on the concept of arbitrariness in Aristotle, see "White Mythology" and in Nietzsche, "The Supplement of Copula" both in 1982d. 7. For a discussion of the problem of value in Saussure which "ensure [s] the metaphoric or analogic transition, by similarity or proportionality, from one order to

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238 another" (218) , see Derrida, 1982d. As far as exchange value goes, both similarity and difference work in the same way. See also 217-218. 8. For a discussion of the "demand for narrative," see Jacques Derrida, 1979a. 9. For a discussion of the substitution of "the law of hearing" for that of the law "of sight," see Derrida, 1980b, particularly 336-37. 10. This is another strange moment in de Man's theory of literature. De Man insists on a difference between literary language and ordinary language, yet he borrows the schemas of the latter, inverts them, and then imposes them on the former. See Gasche, 1981. Similarly, his denial of the field of reference, presupposes that field. Derrida problematizes the referential function by making the difference between the thing and the name of the thing undecidable (Derrida 1977b) . 11. Derrida comments on the bankruptcy that results when the principle of equivalence is forced (1980b:415). The citation is included in my section on Freud. 12. The problem as I see it is, what does the paraphrase (words — effect of speech) stand-in-for or represent, what meaning or intention (signified or referent) . Even if we resort to the more general category of "sense" in terms of the "sense" language makes systematically (note the metaphor of the voice that enters here — language "speaks" — the borrowing and transfer of a principle and a "hypothesis"), we are still confined within the classical solution and its propensity for inversions. We can also simply exchange for the author, the one who paraphrases (the " trans lator" or reader) , a simple shift of origin. The notion of the supplement is helpful here, the "representative image" that adds/replaces nothing that precedes it (but keep in mind that the supplement is not an empirical pre sence ) . The supplement does not function as an origin or point of stability for reading because the supplement supplements (adds/replaces more) supplem.ents Let me put this in terms of "linear" readings. Each reading, each translation would always only supplement (add/replace nothing that preceded it) without ever coming to be . For a deconstruction of the concept of linear time, see "Ousia and Gramme: Note on a Note from Being and Time in Derrida, 1982d. 13. The ultimate ideality that structures and produces de Man's aporia is that of the opposition between "unreadability," and "readability." Unreadability is completely dependent upon readability and emerges from it. Meaning is asserted only to be denied. De Man remarks, "A text such as

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239 the Profession de foi can literally be called "unreadable" in that it leads to a set of assertions that radically exclude each other. Nor are these assertions mere neutral constations; they are exhortative performatives that require the passage from sheer enunciation to action. They compel us to choose while destroying the foundations of any choice (1979:245). Unreadability cannot cancel readability, because it is totally dependent upon it. Readability allows the "unreadability" to be "named" and "identified." * Note also that we are dealing here with two positive terms ("unreadability," "readability"). 14. What follows is not an argument for Speech Acts. Speech Acts, following Derrida's critique (see "Signature Event Context," and "Limited Inc.," [Derrida, 1982d; 1977b]) has enough problems on its hands. But I am trying to work out the consequences of de Man's inversion of it here. Rodolphe Gasche writing on de Man in "'Setzung' and 'Ubersetzung' : Notes on Paul de Man" (1981) assimilates de Man to deconstruction and argues that de Man constructs a "disruptive" thesis. Gasche 's analysis does not take de Man's own position into account. Suzanne Gearhart criticizes Gasche 's assimilation in "Philosophy Before Literature: Deconstruction, Historicity, and the World of Paul De Man " (1983). Her summary of the role of rhetoric and metaphor in de Man's work is significant. "De Man consistently argues as if Derrida essentially agrees with him on the question of the exteriority of metaphor to "metaphysics. In fact, both in Derrida's reading of the third chapter of the Essai [Rousseau's in Of Grammatology , cited above] and elsewhere in his work, it is clear that this is not the case. The assertion that any theory of language which holds that language originates in metaphor and that metaphor is in essence a pure signifier 'does not belong to the logocentric period' is flatly contradicted by 'La Mythologie Blanche,' which, with ' Le Retrait de la Metaphore,' constitutes the most detailed treatment of the problem of metaphor in Derrida's work to date. This essay confirms the argument of the section of Of Grammatology on the origin of metaphor in Rousseau by showing the role of rhetoric as the more or less naive instrument of a philosophy which furnishes it with all of its fundamental concepts. 'La Mythologie Blanch' also analyzes the conception of metaphor as a pure signifier that puts into question the existence of any prior signified. This conception of metaphor, according to Derrida, is also a philosopheme and to treat it as if it were not is to naively assume that rhetoric comes before philosophy, when, in fact, all of its organizing concepts — literature, language, the signifier — are furnished by philosophy. Thus the critique of logocentrism does not constitute a fortiori a defense of metaphor or of literature: under certain circumstances and in certain contexts a critique of both may be its most urgent

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240 task" (p. 77). Rhetoric's denial (of belonging to philosophy) reminds me of Freud's rejection of any philosophical debt as analyzed in Derrida, 1980b 15. Like the player within the fort/da game, de Man occupies or represents all of the positions in the debate; such an occupation involves borrowing and translating the models, concepts — principles and principal — he discusses. 16. What goes on here very closely approximates Derrida 's discussion of value in Saussure. Speech Acts argues that in comparing the two, grammar and rhetoric function similarly; when de Man compares the two they function differently or dissimilarly, "differentially." Correspondence or equivalence for Speech Acts occurs between the illocutionary and perlocutionary realm. De Man relocates the perlocutionary, and persuasion becom.es the effect of an intralinguistic trope. Tropes can substitute for grammatical functions because they are equivalent for de Man, "equivalent" to them (e.g., the "grammatical 'I'" is equivalent or corresponds to a "metaphor") . At the end of his essay, the problem of this equivalence and translation paralyzes his discussion of the author or narrator in Proust. 17. See Derrida, 1980b for his comments on this mode of thought so congenital to speculation. 18. Note, again, the attempt to cancel a reading to produce the aporia, as well as the oscillation between two "positive terms." "Rhetoric is a text in that it allows for two incompatible, mutually self-destructive points of viev/, and therefore puts an insurmountable obstacle in the way of any reading or understanding. The aporia between performative and constative language is merely a version of the aporia between trope and persuasion that both generates and paralyzes rhetoric and thus gives it the appearance of a history" (1979:131, underlining mine) . 19. Corngold points out an interesting consequence of this assertion/denial mode that structures de Man's procedures. "De Man's demolition of metaphor as a vehicle for mistaken substantive implications cannot defend against the persistence of the extended metaphor as an inverted figure of his own thought. A 'rhetorical analysis' of the kind de Man involves discloses the peculiar tenacity of structures he calls 'mistakes.' These are supposed to lack any speculative interest, any dimension of potential unfolding or usurpatory energy, and must ... be distinguished from error. Yet it is this simultaneous persistence at tentative unspoken levels of the text which is precisely supposed to mark the character of error . In the very vehemence of de Man's repudiation of this 'mistake,' we perceive ... a helpless relfex of the tenacity with which the mistake par

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241 excellence — the postulate of continuity — inheres in his text ... as error. In the very motion of eliminating the structure of the extended metaphor, he confesses to it: we have this structure repeatedly in a movement of thought which adduces distinctions, disturbs their difference, and makes this abolition prove the void of indetermination — a void we remember, which in early versions stands explicitly as a substantive ontological assertion; de Man 'needs' this void as the self-defining experience of the ontological subject" (1983:102) . 20. I am thinking here of Derrida ' s critique of Husserl's distinctions (primary, secondary memory, presentation and representation, and so forth) in Derrida, 1973. See in particular Chapter 5, "Signs and the Blink of an Eye." The capacity to recall, of course, precedes the possibility of any of these distinctions, or for that matter, of anything at all; the sign — iterability — precedes "consciousness of." 21. On de Man's impulse to "inspect," cf. Wlad Godzich: 1983 . Godzich makes a cogent remark on philosophical thought which if we read as though it refers to "principle" should make the problem clearer. "Philosophical thought arises historically, but, from the moment of its emergence, it seeks to define itself as a form of cognition which would be based on a first principle understood as the foundation of all forms of being and thought. Philosophical thought is thus in a quandry from its inception: It must grant the status of philosophical question to the very circumstances which gave rise to it while formulating the mode of philosophical questioning as independent of any contingent considerations (36) . Principles attempt to inseminate — themselves . 22. The rhetorician "equivocates." De Man arrests or "suspends" the language (speech) of the text, reads it in order to study principles of its rhetorical structures — the allegory of the narrative — which then becomes ("will have been" — the future perfect) the narrative of the text's "unreadability. " In a certain way his readings remind me of Blanchots;s story, "The Madness of the Day" which is "uncoiled by" Derrida in "The Law of Genre" (1980a). De Man's own narrative, the narration of the text and its allegorical undoing, function like Blanchot's narrator's ritual repetition of "'An account? I began': ..." "An account? No, no account, nevermore ..." In Derrida ' s hands, these speech acts sweep their own events, words, language away through the effect of the double invagination. 23. Derrida, 1976:48-49. I am paraphrasing Derrida ' s remarks here. Also, it is helpful to keep in mind that formal conditions of truth in classical logic are systematic and have to do with the proper form of the syllogism not its

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242 semantic content which can be quite ridiculous. If I remember correctly, Lewis Carroll has a wonderful book on logic that makes use of truly fantastic content expresses in perfectly correct form. 24. Grammar-rhetoric ultimately leave the inside/ outside polarity intact. There is still, for example, the subject (reader who is "outside" ) /object (text, in opposition to the reader who "gets inside" the truth. 25. De Man "frames" literature with an ideal frame that maintains the subject (reader) object (text) opposition. He also displaces the cognitive function of the subject to language (object) and thus simply inverts the old model. His Blindness/Insight structure (1979) operates in a linear manner; meaning is there (DAI) awaiting the critic's investigation. The critic deman(ds) an account! 26. This is the problem of the participant/observer within the fort: da game who constructs and occupies all of the artificial positions which are neither fort nor da, neither present nor absent. There is an "effect." This should become even clearer towards the end of the discussion where we'll see the "referent" within a general textuality for Proust/de Man becomes undecidable in terms of any possible substitution, what is apparent here more immediately is that when "one's own" returns, there are only words (hypothesis par excellence ; the Voice) — but who or what do they substitute for? 27I should apologize for all of these parentheses, but I am trying to indicate how the referent (or presence refered to) is problematic in a way other than a simple sense of mimesis. Even the sense of a "shifter" is inadequate here. What is fascinating to watch here is the reader as he constructs the positions and occupies all of them successively or simultaneously. Thus, there is really only one position in the classical text, but it itself isn't there. There are only words (hypothesis of speech) , speech, meaningful sound produced and controlled by teleology. Even the reader (or player) is an artificial construction, another hypothesis. His "identity" is an "effect" of auto-affection, and he is dispossessed and depresented by what would represent him. 28. Notice how de Man must posit two readings, two different meaning events that result in aporia because the two readings cancel each other. But he can't produce the aporia without those two readings. The aporia depends upon them. 29. Or, to paraphrase Peirce ' s definition of rhetoric, signs giving birth to more signs, but if we carry this to its logical conclusion, no signified.

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243 30. See Derrida's comments of the madness of the law that claims to see the "light" of day, akin to seeing the visibility of vision, or the mechanism of sight in 1980a. 31. "Literary language," then, has neither referent nor signified here. Notice the difference here between this kind of reference problem and the kind that relies on the referential/nonreferential opposition. 32. See Derrida, 1980b for a description of the "logic of the stricture." 33. De Man's attempt to keep grammar and rhetoric apart remind me of the relationship of the narrator and the two women in (once more) Blanchot's Death Sentence as discussed by Derrida, 1979a. See especially Derrida's "mad hypothesis" (169) concerning the three. 34. For a discussion of the double invagination of speculative thought and the object speculated upon (or reader and text), see Derrida, 1980b: 417-418 , See also my earlier discussion of it in relation to Freud and the object of his analysis. 35. Jacques Derrida, 1982b. "The opposition between metaphor and metonymy ... is an entirely semantic opposition . . ." (281, footnote 77). 36. "Unproblematic, dyadic meaning" nicely suggests the natural bond between voice and meaning, between the Saussurian signifier (sound-image) and signified (concept) of the spoken word. Perhaps this is why de Man calls the grammatical model "naive," even though he is compelled to resort to it. 37. See Rodolphe Gasche, 1981. Gasche discusses de Man's penchant for translation. But he fails to question the "principle" and "principal" being translated along with the problem of the transfer. 38. For a discussion of the "voice" literary criticism listens to and interrogates, see Derrida, 1979a. 39. Note the equivalence between writing and reading here; both are understood in the very same classical manner. 40. To coin a (para) phrase , "Where's the referent?" 41. No body is there, only an inscription on a monument: to be read.

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CHAPTER 6 THE QUICK TURN The classical reader reads for meaning, analyzes meaning, or effects of meaning, starts with meaning, a principle borrowed from the metaphysics of presence. In de Man's work, there is , for example, the rhetorical question that addresses itself to literature, refers (itself) to literature: it asks, "V7hat's the difference?" But it can't decide whether it really wants to know the difference or doesn't give a damn. Can we, not simply analyze this question as an effect of meaning, but displace it thoroughly? We have already demonstrated how de Man's "literary object" absents itself. He defines literature as having a higher ratio of implicit to explicit meaning; but we were unable to locate either kind of meaning, unable to pin it down or anchor it. Thus, "literature" is not "there." No "dA!" We did however note the operation of substitution, words for other words in other words, words substituting for words: repeatable marks repeating repeatable marks. But what about the rhetorical question. Can we displace it, relieve it of its weight, its leaden foot? Is there nothing between it and the earth? Perhaps just "a bit of nothing"? Is there a rhetorical question (referent)? 244

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245 The designation (or name) "rhetorical question" is net itself "rhetorical," is not of the rhetorical genre. . . • it does not, in whole or in part, take part in the corpus whose denomination it nonetheless imparts. Nor is it simply extraneous to the corpus ... It gathers together the corpus and, at the same time, in the same blinking of an eye, keeps it from closing, from identifying itself with itself . . . This inclusion and this exclusion do not remain exterior to one another; they do not exclude each other. But neither are they immanent or identical to each other. They are neither one nor two. (Derrida, 1980a:212) Surrounded by quotation marks, the question is not a "simple" question. The quotation marks (and they are always there even when they are invisible) erase any effect of interiority or "substantiality." The border that would permit differentiation invaginates, and no vision can identify or sight which is which: name or referent. The code itself, subject to iterability, is itself an iterable mark. Between the heavy foot and the earth, then, there is an invisible margin made up of "nothing," "a bit of nothing" that prevents that foot from stopping its dance, its good limp. To stop is to petrify, to turn to stone. Deconstruction and Text; Prosthesis Deconstruction reads unseen and unheard forces and differences; the text it deciphers cannot be captured by perception in any of its determinate forms. Text is not an authored book or artifact whose content is open to inspection by means of the glance of either reader or spectator.

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246 A text is not a text unless it hides from the first comer, from the first glance, the law of its composition and the rules of its game. A text remains, moreover, forever imperceptible. Its law and its rules are not, however, harbored in the inaccessibility of a secret; it is simply that they can never be booked, in the present , into anything that could rigorously be called a perception. (Derrida, 1982b: 63) Thus, the following response based on a classical (metaphysical) interpretation of the above will be of no help to us. To say that the text's textual intention and integrity are invisible is to say that the text hides something, that the text implies, perhaps also states, embodies represents, but does not immediately disclose something. At bottom, this is a gnostic doctrine of the text to which, in quite different ways, Foucault and Derrida both assent. (Said, 1978:675) An assessment of the validity of this statement with reference to Foucault lies beyond the score of my project. However, in relation to Derrida, the above statement insists with a curious kind of stubbornness that we are still dealing with something like a "library book," an "object," a determinate being or "entity or thing" that we might approach from the outside. "Law of composition" and "rules of its game" are replaced with "the text's textual intention," a function analogous to what we call, with reference to ourselves, the "cognitive system." Text is simply and safely reduced to "nothing but the worldly representation of [our] own operation" (Derrida, 1976:50). This commentary, this "gnostic" " understanding " already determines the text as. . . play in the world , as it has always been defined, for the purposes of containing it . . . (Derrida, 1976:50)

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247 Moreover, in its classical insistence, the statement interprets Derrida in terms of categories and oppositions that his own writing works constantly to undermine (e.g., the "imperceptible" immediately becomes the "hidden" instead of a challenge to the whole concept of perception) . Text, in Derrida 's "vocabulary," is not something "in the world" (Gasche, 1979), a manifestation, appearance, phenomenon, or product of consciousness; therefore, the notion of a textual intention is as meaningless as the notion of text as a representation of something hidden. Rewritten by Derrida, text . . . is. . . no longer a finished corpus of writing, some content enclosed in a book or its margins, but a differential network, a fabric of traces referring endlessly to something other than itself, to other differential traces. Thus the text overruns all the limits assigned to it so far (not submerging or drowning them in an undifferentiated homogeneity, but rather making them more complex, dividing and multiplying strokes and lines) — all the limits, everything that was to be set up in opposition to writing (speech, life, the world, the real, history, and what not, every field of reference — to body or mind, consciousness or unconscious, politics, economics, and so forth.) (Derrida, 1979a: 84) Text: "A differential network, a fabric of traces referring endlessly to something other than itself, to other differential traces . " Traces, referring to other traces; "nothing" referring to "nothing." Notice that "sign" is not used here; text is not a network of signs referring to other textual signs, nor signifiers referring to signifieds. Care must be taken not to reintroduce a metaphysical concept of intertextuality , the relation of one discourse (signified) to another, for "a text is never truly made up of 'signs' or

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248 ' signifiers'" (Derrida, 1982b: 261). When Derrida uses the term "signifier," it is only . . . for the sake of convenience, in order to designate within the former code, that facet of the trace that cuts itself off from meaning or from the signified. (261062) Text, as a network of differential forces, is the play of the world. Of the world, and not "in" the world (phenomena) . Now, the "play of" cannot be thought in terms of an opposition. Opposition defines a relationship of exclusion, of absolute differences, two full plenitudes standing in toe to toe, or face to face, so to speak. Play in the world is an effect. It is therefore the game of the world that must be first thought; before attempting to understand all the forms of play in the world. (Derrida, 1976:50) Text, play, does not exist. It has no existence, no essence. It cannot be comprehended by an ontology, a linguistic objectivity or subjectivity; it is not a being, an entity, a concept; it is not presence or a presence or one presence among others. Since we "live" within the space of what Derrida calls text, among its effects, and as one effect among others, there will be no place outside of it that we can choose the better to master it. V7riting on Philippe Sellers' Numbers (comprised of four parts, four voices, four tenses, four blows), Derrida remarks the play of the text's forces, the dislocation effected on the operation of mastery, the speculative gam.e. The text is remarkable in that the reader . . . can never choose his own place in it, nor can the spectator. There is at any rate no tenable place for him opposite the text, outside the text, no

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249 spot in other words where he would stand before an already written text. (Derrida, 1982b:290) "I," then, to wind up this story, will not have speculated, is not a speculator. Speculation is reflection, a turning around in order to look backwards. Has "I" accomplished this? No, for . . . while pretending to turn around and look backwards, one is also in fact starting over again, adding an extra text, complicating the scene, opening up within the labyrinth a supplementary digression, which is also a false mirror that pushes the labyrinth's infinity back forever in mimed — that is endless — =speculation. (Derrida, 1982b:27) Thus, the Freudian fort; da will not have taken place. The game is an effect, not an effort of meaning but an effect of the mark. Self-ref lexivity or speculation is only mimed because there is no one, or thing, being, entity, presence there able to refer to itself in the fullness of self-presence. In this play of "false mirrors" there is no point of origin, no discernable source that is itself not already the double of a double that nothing precedes: hence, there are only 4 simulacra. This theater, like Mallarme's, does not manifest, produce, or unveil any presence; nor does it constitute any conformity, resemblance, or adequation between a presence and a representation. And yet this operation is not a unified entity but the manifold play of a scene that, illustrates nothing ... It is a dramatization which illustrates nothing , which illustrates the nothing . . . (Derrida, 1982b: 208) Thus the theater cannot be exhausted or exorcised by analysis, or any discourse of speech; what arises within this

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2 50 theatrical space is incapable of dominating it. The effect of the theater . . . does not arise as an aberrant error, an uncontrollable disorientation, or a capricious contingency of desire. On the contrary, it has to belong to a necessity inscribed in situ , within the overall organization and calculable functioning of the topography, so that the theater can finally succeed in being cruelly generalized, so that no nonplace whatsoever is left out of it, so that no pure origin (of creation, of the world, of the word, of experience, of all that is present in general) can stand guard over the stage as if derived from the intactness of some absolute opening. (297) If no guard stands or watches over the stage, neither the "first comer," nor the next, indeed any at all, can explain or com.prehend what comprehends them, what inscribes them only as functions. These functions are not linguistic ones, functions of the voice which, in its incessant chattering, its sheer verbosity, feigns the role of the master, passing itself off under other names, under other images which derive from it and would substitute for it. But these . . . old phantoms called the author, the reader, the director, the stage manager, the machinist, the actor, the characters, the spectator, etc., have no single, unique, fixed place (stage, wings, house, etc.) assigned to themselves by themselves, except in the representation they make of it to themselves. . . . (296) If I close my eyes and recall myself, it is not an I of "being" that appears. This I of being, eager to make its way into the spotlight, jealous of being upstaged, does not "exist." I is an "I," a repeatable, iterable mark, a re-citation, an effect of citationality , already split.

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151 divided, multiplied, without substance (effect of the metaphysics of presence) . Text exceeds as it traverses the conscious, present representation of experience, of meaning, either that of its author, or that of its reader (either of "whom you will not be in a position to name," [296]). Text is a space of forces and differences, of assymetrical and unmasterable rhythm. These forces and differences dislocate consciousness, and prevent meaningfulness (the (em) bedding of the concept) from taking place even as it produces the medium (fictional, theatrical) by which it is effected. To think forces and differences as appearance, presence, existence, the representation of presence, would imply that they 5 originate from , or originate in , and hence are derived. Forces and differences cannot bo appropriated by presence. Speaking of force, Derrida says. Now force itself is never present; it is only a play of differences and quantities. There would be no force in general without the difference between forces; and here the difference in quantity counts more than the content of quantity, more than the absolute magnitude itself. (Derrida, 1973:148, underlining mine) Derrida goes on to quote Deleuze. Quantity itself therefore is not separable from the difference in quantity. The difference in quantity is the essence of force, the relation of force with force. To fancy two equal forces, even if we grant them opposing directions, is an approximate and crude illusion, a statistical dream in which life is immersed, but which chemistry dispels. (148)

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252 Force: the differences between forces, "the force of repetition, and therefore of automaticity and exportation" (Derrida, ]981a:85) . Force; The Textual Dance The textual da, the fort; da of Neitzsche, "it is rhythm" (Derrida, 1980b:433). Rhythm saves speculation from stoning itself, from turning its foot to stone. I remarked at the beginning of this essay that Derrida does not "borrow" principles (principal) from the metaphysics of presence. "Writing." Do we know what writing is? Reading Plato, Derrida argues for Plato, and indeed for all of philosophy ("philosophy") that there is no such thing as writing, for . . . what is written down is speech ( logos gegrammenos ) . As a living thing, logos issues from a father. There is thus for Plato no such thing as a written thing. Writing is not an independent order of signification; it is v/eakened speech, something not completely dead: a living-dead, a reprieved corpse, a deferred life, a semblance of breath. (Derrida, 1982b; 142) But what is written speech, that "phonic spell" exercised upon the reader? Pharmakon . The "written image" is pharmakon ; mimesis is pharmakon (139). Eidos is pharmakon ; truth is pharmakon ; law is pharmakon ; episteme is pharmakon ; dialectics is pharmakon ; philosophy is pharmakon . Pharmakon, like Thoth, "is never present. Nowhere does it appear in person. No being-there can properly be its own (93) . Like Thoth, the pharmakon is opposed to its other.

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253 . . . but as that which at once supplements and supplants it . . . [it] extends or opposes by repeating and replacing . . . but [it] takes shape and takes its shape from the very thing it resists and substitutes for. But it thereby opposes itself , passes into its other ... In distinguishing [itself] from [its] opposite [it] also imitates it, becomes its sign and representative, obeys it and conforms to it, replaces it by violence if need by . . , Always taking a place not [its] own ... it has neither a proper place nor a proper name. (93) Pharmakon: this ( pharmakon ) is ( pharmakon ) what ( pharmakon ) you ( pharmakon ) have ( pharmakon ) read ( pharmakon ) . So many pharmaka. Derrida ( pharmakon ) Barbara Fletcher ( pharmakon ) . Can you read the dance? Can you hear its rhythm? Footprints 1. See for example, Jonathan Culler, 19 82. "Mimetic relations can be regarded as intertextual: relations between one representation and another rather than between a textual imitation and a nontextual original. Texts that assert the plenitude of an origin, the uniqueness of an original, the dependency of a manifestation or derivation of an imitation, may reveal that the original is already an imitation and that everything begins with reproduction" (187). In eliminating an outside referent and substituting a "textual" representation for it. Culler simply relocates the value of presence and origin in representation itself. This relocation does not question (as does Derrida) the capacity of the sign to present (in this case, to represent another sign which precedes it and which it now represents) . Since the sign is still regarded as an "in-place-of " structure ("between one representation and another"), the intertextuality in question remains classical; the original/copy is simply kicked inside. Notice also that "reproduction" or repetition is substantialized and essentialized , made present as the presence of the reproduction itself . 2. We must be careful how v/e understand this word and avoid understanding it as it has been traditionally conceived. Concerning "effect," Derrida remarks, "We thus come to posit presence — and in particular, consciousness, the being-next-to-itself of consciousness — no longer as the absolutely matrical form of being but as a 'determination' and an 'effect.' Presence is a determination and effect within a system which is no longer that of presence but that

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254 of differance; it no more allows the opposition between activi ty and passivity than that between cause and effect or in-determination and determination, etc . This system is of such a kind that even to designate consciousness as an effect or determination — for strategic reasons, reasons that can be more or less clearly considered and systematically ascertained — is to continue to operate according to the vocabulary of that very thing to be de-limited" (1973:147) Additionally, "We also would have to make room for a systematic analysis of the word "effect" which is used so frequently today — not an insignificant fact — and for the new concept which it marks in still rather undecided fashion. The frequency of this usage multiplies by virtue of this active indetermination. A concept in the process of constituting itself first produces a kind of localizable effervenescence in the work of nomination. This "new" concept of effect borrows its characteristics from both the opposition cause/effect and from the opposition essence /appearance — effect, reflect — without nevertheless being reduced to them . If is this fringe of irreducibility that is to be analyzed" (1981a:66-67) . 3. Speculation, the specular function is founded on narcissism. "Narcissism is the law, is on par with the law" (Derrida, 1982b:45). But, as Gasche remarks, "reflection recuperates everything except itself as an effort of recuperation" (1979 : 186) ; it can no longer command the space it pretends to dominate. As a narcissistic gesture, it is simply a playful repetition of the Freudian fort: da game. But when this function erects itself as law, when it claims "to see the day," to "see vision" then it is mad. Derrida (1979a; 1980a) elaborates on the madness of the law. He remarks, "What was perhaps seen, in the blink of time's eye, is a madness of law — and, therefore, of order, reason, sense and meaning, of day . . . The law is mad. The law is mad, is madness; but madness is not the predicate of law. There is no madness without the law; madness cannot be conceived before its relation to law. Madness is law, the law is madness" (228) . 4. See Rodolphe Gasche (1983). Using "hymen" as an instance of the textual remark, Gasche writes, "... two heterogeneous marks (the simulacrum and the simulacrum of the simulacrum) . . . reflect each other without ever penetrating, without ever coinciding with each other . . . The double mark that constitutes the textual instance does not only no longer refer to any referent . . . but it also no longer belongs to the order of the sign, to the order of the signifier and the signified . . . the textual mark discards at the same time all semiotic function (underlining mine) '. '. ; Yet this does not mean that the textual instance would refer to itself (reflexive pronoun) . Precisely because the re-mark maintains the Platonic differential structure of mimesis, it does not mark itself, but

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255 another mark [underlining mine] . The remark, as well as the folding back of reference upon the text itself, undermines the text's reference to itself as to an ultimate referent" (167) . 5. Derrida works with Nietzschean force rather than Hegelian. For an appreciation of the difference, see Giles Deleuze (1983) , particularly section two; and J.H. Findlay (1976:201-08) .

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V70RKS CITED Corngold, Stanley 1983 Culler, Jonathan 1976 1981 1982 Deleuze, Giles 1983 De Man, Paul 1971 1979 1982 Derrida, Jacques 1973 1975 1976 1977a 1977b "Error in Paul de Man." In The Yale Critics: Deconstruction in America , ed. Jonathan Arc, V7lad Godzich, Wallace Martin, 90-108. Minneapolis University of Minnesota Press. Saussure . London: Font ana. The Pursuit of Signs. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. On Deconstruction . Ithaca: University Press. Cornell Nietzsche and Philosophy . Tr. Hugh Tomlinson. New York: Columbia University Press. Blindness and Insight . New York: Oxford University Press. Allegories of Reading . New Haven: Yale University Press. "The Resistance to Literary Theory. Yale French Studies, no. 63:3-20. Speech and Phenomena . Tr. David B. Allison. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. "The Purveyor of Truth." Tr. Willis Domingo, James Hulbert, Moshe Ron, and Marie-Rose Logan. Yale French Studies , no. 52:31-113. Of Grammatology . Tr . Gayatri Spivak. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press . "Fors." Tr. Barbara Johnson. The Georgia Review 31:64-116. "Limited Inc." Tr. Samuel Weber. Glyph , no. 2:162-254. 256

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257 19 78a "Coming Into One's Own." Tr. James Hulbert. In Psychoanalysis and the Question of the Text , ed. Geoffrey Hartman, 114-48. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1978b Edmund Husserl's "Origin of Geometry "; An Introduction . Tr. John P. Leavey, Jr. New York: Nicholas Hays. 1978c La Verite en peninture . Paris: Flammarion. 1978d "Speculations — On 'Freud.'" Tr. Ian McLeod. Oxford Literary Review , 3 (2) :78-97. 1978e "The Retrait of Metaphor." Tr. Frieda Gardner, Biodun Iginla, Richard Madden, William West. Enclitic 2(2): 5-34. 1978f Writing and Difference . Tr. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1979a "Living on: Border Lines." In Bloom, de Man, Derrida, Hartman, Miller, Deconstruction and Criticism , 75-175. New York: Seabury Press. Spurs . Tr. Barbara Harlow. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. "The Law of Genre." Tr. Avital Ronnel. Glyph , no. 7:202-29. La Carte postale . Paris: Flammarion. Positions . Tr. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. "Title (to be specified)." Tr. Tom Conley. Sub-Stance , no. 31:5-22. "Choreographies." Tr. Christie V. McDonald. Diacritics , no. 12(2): 66-77. Disseminations . Tr. Barbara Johnson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. "Of An Apocalyptic Tone Recently Adopted in Philosophy." Tr. John P. Leavey, Jr. Semeia , no. 23:63-97. Margins of Philosophy . Tr. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. " Sending: On Representation ." Tr. Peter and Mary Ann Caws. Social Research 49:294-326. Descombes, Vincent 1982 Modern French Philosophy . Tr. L. Scott-Fox and J.M. Harding. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press . 1979b

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25i Eco, Umberto. 1976 Findlay, J.N, 1976 Gasche, Rodolphe 1979 1981 1983 Gerhart, Suzanne 1983 A Theory of Semiotics . Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Hegel; A Reexamination . New York; Oxford University Press. Glyph , Notes 11(4) : "Deconstruction as Criticism. no. 6:177-215. "'Setzung' and ' Ubersetzung' : on Paul de Man." Diacritics , 36-37. "Joining the Text." In The Yale Critics : Deconstruction in America , ed. Jonathan Arc, Wlad Godzich, Wallace Martin, 156-75. Minneapolis; University of Minnesota Press. "Philosophy Before Literature: Deconstruction, Historicity, and the work of Paul de Man." Diacritics 13(4):63-81. Godzich, Wlad 1983 "The Domestication of Derrida." In The Yale Critics : Deconstruction in America , ed. Jonathan Arc, Wlad Godzich, Wallace Martin, 20-40. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press . Johnson, Barbara 1980 Nietzsche, Friedrich 1967 Ryan, Michael 1982 The Critical Difference . Baltimore; John Hopkins Press. The Will To Power . Tr. Walter Kaufman and R.J. Hollingdale. New York: Vintage Books. Marxism and Deconstruction , Baltimore Press . Johns Hopkins University Said, Edward 1978 "The Problem of Textuality: Two Exemplary Positions" Critical Inquiry 4:673-714.

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259 Saussure, Ferdinand de 1966 Course in George Linguistics . Tr . Wade Baskins. New York: McGraw-Hill, Searle, John R, 1983 "The Work Turned Upside Down." The New York Review of Books 30(16), (Oct. 27) : 74-79. Sheriff, John K, 1981 "Charles S. Peirce and the Semiotics of Literature." In Semiotic Themes , ed. Richard T. DeGeorge , 51-74. Lawrence: University of Kansas Publications. Silverman, Kaja 1983 The Subject of Semiotics . New York: Oxford University Press. Weber, Samuel, 1982 The Legend of Freud . Minneapolis; University of Minnesota Press.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Barbara Fletcher was born in Pennsylvania and educated in various schools throughout the Northeast and the South. She has three lovely sons, likes to read, and go to the movies. She is currently residing in Gainesville and waiting for Godot. 260

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I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. ^C..:. CV^^^^C Gregory Ulraer, Chairman Associate Professor of English I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Alistair Duckworth Professor of English I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. John P . Le'avey , Jr , Associate— PxofesSor of English

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I certify that I have read this study and that in ray opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. \ ) ^^y ;|/ . John Perlette | Associate Professor of English I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Rooert C^Amico t^sociate Professor Oj Philosophy This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate School, and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. August 1984 Dean for Graduate Studies and Research

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UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 3 1262 08553 0953