From Future To Us

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From Future To Us

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A Thousand Causalities

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The pure futurity offered in Derridaean temporization and spacing makes any instructive or pedagogical choosing wherefrom to quote an impossible destinerrance between ontological chance or necessity, authorial indifference, and deliberate and delicate necessity. All his writings write on the acute structural inescapability of precisely having to make decisions on such structural destinerrance, politically acute for all times and spaces, relative all khōras: that strange share of iter/itar as signifying both iterability-and-other. We could have ourselves picked picking by chance or by necessity or by a play between the two, or, have ourselves indiscriminately pick from everywhere, or, try being wise about it. Nonetheless, such predicament here never bespeaks indifference; more critical, affirmative sense: a renewed criticity. These are, then, the quotes, to have us begin, from future to us:

Sense, being temporal in nature, as Husserl recognized, is never simply present; it is always already engaged in the “movement” of the trace, that is, in the order of “signification.” It has always already issued forth from itself into the “expressive stratum” of lived experience. Since the trace is the intimate relation of the living present to its outside, the opening to exteriority in general, to the nonproper, etc., the temporalization of sense is, from the outset, aspacing.” As soon as we admit spacing both as “interval” or difference and as opening to the outside, there can no longer be any absolute inside, for the “outside” has insinuated itself into the movement by which the inside of the nonspatial, which is called “time,” appears, is constituted, is “presented.” Space is “in” time; it is time’s pure leaving-itself; it is the “outside-itself” as the self-relation of time. The exteriority of space, exteriority as space, does not overtake time; rather, it opens as pure “outside” “within” the movement of temporalization. (Speech and Phenomena)

Or:

The necessary, originary, and irreducible dissimulation of the meaning of being, its occultation within the very blossoming forth of presence, that retreat without which there would be no history of being which was completely history and history of being, Heidegger’s insistence on noting that being is produced as history only through the logos and is nothing outside of it, the difference between being and entity—all this clearly indicates that fundamentally nothing escapes the movement of the signifier and that, in the last instance, the difference between signified and signifier is nothing. (Of Grammatology)

Or:

First consequence: différance is not. It is not a present being, however excellent, unique, principal, or transcendent. It governs nothing, reigns over nothing, and nowhere exercises any authority. It is not announced by any capital letter. Not only is there no kingdom of différance, but différance instigates the subversion of every kingdom. Which makes it obviously threatening and infallibly dreaded by everything within us that desires a kingdom, the past or future presence of kingdom. […] The a of différance marks the movement of this unfolding [the historical and epochal unfolding of Being or of the ontological difference]. (“différance” [sic, the d])

Or:

end. What end? We would perhaps have preferred to enumerate the quotations? Have the whole oeuvre quoted put into a single space, shot through with sets of rules of deciphering, to fill it even more, complete its closure? This makes me think of Heideggerian proximity and gathering and sheltering, since undoubtedly the world-wide-web-machine certainly approaches what the human being is incapable of: a real-time present gathering and sheltering of vast amounts texts constituted as effectively and crudely binary. This is where the human mind bent on presencist ontology, be it of Heidegger or otherwise, seems to entrust itself: what started as a general and common condemnation of writing ends up in a (writing-)machine(-writing) practically extending its networks all over the planet.

Now could such a thing catch up with the course of writings, annul its age-old lag? Is not the very act of writing its prosthesis? Now the proliferation of prosthetic writings is in the process of being gathered, sheltered, kept in one place, real-time accessible whenever wherever; the human mind as a planetary vast house of indifferent information? Writing proliferates but is sheltered by the shepherd. Let us end here—if destinerrance grants us, and it never does as it gives—, just say that even if the WWW inspires to a hysterical global management of everything from distribution and use of energy resources till making your own opinion for you “for free,” “for you,” writing will only proliferate and disseminate and slip away even more, and so attest to the acute political significance of Derrida’s writings, his acute sense of the acute the political.

Our thesis: when grafted onto discourses of import for epistemology and philosophy of science Derrida has so far been leveled out:  neutralized, trivialized, and naturalized. He is made fit so well, so easily visible, legible, and responsibly defendable that he ends up being indiscernible, constituting conform mass, an amoeba, ending being an exemplary eaten exemplar of Nietzsche’s gleichmachen. “Only a ghost of himself?” Such naturalization and neutralization is, however, not unambiguously warded off by Derrida, as can be seen in a recent text as ‘As if it were Possible, “within such limits”…,’[1] where he seems to affirm, even celebrate, what this study sees itself justified to call ‘the epistemic naturalization, trivialization, and neutralization of Derrida.’

But do not already his first writings—three of which from whom we quoted—speak against such—in general? – Against any trivial naturalization and natural trivialization, for something else altogether, against all “naturalizisms”? – Against having sworn disciples write him right into the text of current epistemic-scientific research as if without any friction, resistance, impossibility, absence, dissemination, death, archival fever, différance, destinerrance and so many other anys of his, for something else altogether? But only on a certain naïve plane there is such an exercise in neutralization and naturalization; on another plane, which reveals naivety to be rather ugly and non-innocent, such performances conditions something else, equally untenable: implicitly affirming—by its very performative structure, however otherwise assuring it first seems to be—a buying into an all too well known rhetoric accusing Derrida of the monstrously worst?

As—to give an pedagogical example of the rhetorical logic involved here—when by parental instruction and wisdom parent and child together go look under the bed to assure that there are no bogeys under there. Performatively, however, it is clearly and distinctly said: there might indeed be those things under there if not tonight sweetie. A well of well intentions seldom effectuates what it intends, intends what it effectuates. The child gets its relief for that night granted but only to the price of always fearing, and such immediately from the performative statement on, inside that statement, performed and assured and witnessed to it, performed most effectively by that very performative speech act that is believed to prevent it most effectively.

Our thesis, therefore, implies that Derrida must be read otherwise than such, if he is not simply to be engulfed into an indeterminate incognito of general communal consensus, into a dream of death whose deconstruction demonstrates it to be oversimplified, but still effective. Our thesis, however, does not by way of the rhetorico-logical example given imply that Derrida, even if he tonight is not a monster under a bed, actually threats to be such an under-the-bed-monster in need of repeated nightly exorcising—of course.

Our example was intended, and hopefully successfully performed, otherwise, such: besides of the rather simple performative point made—that of inversion of semantic and performative levels—there is a more complex point at which Derrida is monstrous but never under beds. What current epistemic relevant readings actually do with Derrida’s texts, besides of affirming the possible existence of Derrida as under the bed, thereby affirming the presupposed need to exorcise his monstrous ghostly appearances, reverences, is—perhaps, and I stress the perhaps—to counteract the expressed intentions, which, we presume, is to have him read well.

Who is making who a ghost here? Substituting hauntology for ontology Derrida suggests that the spectral comprises that common resource of both life and death from which is opened the very possibility of distinguishing life and death. There is neither life nor death nor life-or-death without specters haunting. The thesis therefore also implies a critique of pure spectrality, of how one reads ghosts in Derrida’s texts. Derrida’s textual ghosts, both theoretically treated and otherwise performatively there, textually, and the ghosts of his death proper, and the ghosts living his post mortem texts, is in effect put under a kid’s bed to have it looked for in pedagogical anguish.

The seemingly naïve discovery of Derrida as already there, already fitting, already present in current epistemic matters, is, besides of naivety’s strict impossibility in general, its strict impossibility in special, and its ugly flipside where it is all but innocent, also telling in the sense of the very concept of the naïve: the daily belief in the daily re-birth, the belief in being born anew, daily, answers its “responsibility” well towards the daily belief in having to “corroborate” ones nightly re-exorcisms. One could not be born again in a bed with monsters sub-stance. Looking for them only makes them stronger. Derrida: proclaiming something dead, not present, done away with, not anymore there anymore, gives the specters un-heard of powers.

To this date it is certain that we have not in the slightest degree recognized the essentially uneasy and problematical affirmation he signs. In this context it is a most salient fact that the most prominently published writers and philosophers today do not in the least import the critical states of contemporary and historical ecology into their work. Their work is essentially conditioned by this blind spot—under the bed, never seen. A Deleuze or a Guattari or a Negri or a Nancy or an Agamben or a Badiou or a De Landa or a whomever of academic prominence today would not be textually possible if so much as a sheet of serious treatment of our acute ecology were incorporated; in this specific sense these writers are highly anachronistic and atopic, still naïve Kantians so to speak—even how much they otherwise distance themselves from Kant. In terms of ecological contemporaneity their epistemic and philosophico-scientific imports are fundamentally Kantian. The first writer post Kant to effectively intervene in this certain ecological naivety is Derrida.

Before I explain the unheard-of ecological import of Derrida’s work, I will have read some of the most prominent and recent epistemic readings of him, readers in close proximity to Derrida, commented upon by Derrida. Further before I do this let me just quote from Of Grammatology again, where he writes of a certain “closure of the epistēmē”—an “unnamable movement of différance-itself” that he strategically nicknames “trace, reserve, or  différance”—which is to be understood as signifying an “incompetence” of science and philosophy alike, and which “could be called writing only within the historical closure, that is to say within the limits of science and philosophy”:

The constitution of a science or a philosophy of writing is a necessary and difficult task. But, a thought of the trace, of differance or of reserve, having arrived at these limits and repeating them ceaselessly, must also point beyond the field of the epistēmē. [T]hought is here for me a perfectly neutral name, the blank part of the text, the necessarily indeterminate index of a future epoch of differance. In a certain sense, “thought means nothing. Like all openings, this index belongs within a past epoch by the face that is open to view. This thought has no weight. It is, in the play of the system, that very thing which never has weight. Thinking is what we already know we have not yet begun; measured against the shape of writing, it is broached only in the epistēmē.

There is a beyond the epistēmē but only from within a historico-epistemic system of writing solely against which that thought is broached. This thought is said to mean nothing, have no weight, to be the blank part of the text, belonging to a past epoch to be what we already know we have not yet begun as much as it is an “indeterminate index of a future epoch of differance.” Thought is broached only in the epistēmē, and only in this way it points, playing in the system, beyond the epoch of epistēmē. The nothing of thought, weightless, perfectly neutral, plays the blanks in the text, and effects epistēmē and its beyond as soon as it thinks trace, différance or reserve.

To be continued…


[1] Michel Meyer, ed., Questioning Derrida: With his replies on philosophy (Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2001). ‘As if it were Possible, “within these limits”…’ is also published in XXX.

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