On Arriving

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Catherine Malabou: arriving, deriving. Catastrophe, the parting. Derrida situates the possibility of a voyage within that spacing, or parting. From the Latin rivus, ‘stream,’ or ripa, ‘bank.’ To derive means literally to “leave the bank or shore,” in two contrary senses. (Linked to the ference.) The derivation, the ordered trajectory from origin to end, etymology. And the “leeway within which a sailboat is able to maintain its course against  opposing winds.” (Counterpath, 1.) Or it can designate deriving as drifting, as a loss of control, to deviation or skidding, to slip. A boat that is à la derive: “necessity and chance thus cohabit, in a paradoxically complicitous way, within the same word.”

The same double game is found in arriving. To reach the shore, reach the end of one’s voyage, yes, but always already as what happens, surprises, “falls from the event in general,” beyond and stranger to the very conception of horizon. According to Catherine Malabou, traveling with Derrida means discovering that everything that the West calls a “voyage,” has always had as its conditions of possibility, presupposition, an unshakable solidarity, “even a synonymy between the two terms. For a long time, arriving and deriving have been traveling together.”  “The logic of that solidarity presupposes that everything that arrives derives.” There is then a link between voyage and traveling and destination, event, and truth. Derrida therefore says that if the meaning of voyage is difficult, ‘traveling with’ is even more im-possible. “Derrida shows that this systematic locking-out of chance constitutes the metaphysics of the voyage and perhaps governs the metaphysics as a whole.” For Derrida, the way in which voyage relates to destination, event, and truth, today that is, corresponds to a certain way of…

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The Catastrophe of Derrida’s Science

treatment of the catastrophe. Greek, katastrophē, first: the end (the end of life, the dénouement of a dramatic plot, the end of the play), and second, a reversal or upset, “the tragic and unforeseeable event that brings about the ruin of the established order. Catastrophe, therefore, relates as much to trajectories of truth, the very accomplishment, as to the “accident whose surprise interrupts the teleological trajectory.”

Strephein gives strophe, “to come and go,” “to turn toward,” two senses: to sojourn, and swirling, wandering. But still the Odyssey of Ulysses, the first being the very form of an economy, the possibility of returning home. “Oikonomia would always follow the path of Ulysses.” He goes only in view of repatriating himself. Immune, the origin does not travel. Expatriation only lasts for a certain time, softened in advance; Penelope does everything to not “lose the thread.” “Phenomenology may no more be the absolute master of its house. Ontology may already be in its place.” (QD, p. 8.)

Apokaluptō, I uncover. The voyage would be given the phenomenological mission of permitting access to the presence of the other in general. Derrida says anyway that he dislikes the word ‘drift,’ since it is too continuous, too ordered, homogeneous, undifferentiated. “Now the shore is divided in its very outline, and there are effects of anchoring, collapsing at the edge, strategies of approaching and overflow, strictures of attachment or of mooring, places of reversion, strangulation, or double bind.” (“To Speculate—On Freud”)

Différance as derived—according to the ti esti?, ‘what is?,’ “on the basis of the point of a present being.” (See ‘point,’ Nancy, Deleuze.) Différance is travel, however, and vice versa. Travel takes the origin away with it. (”Ash.”)

René Thom, mathematician, speaks close to this. From topology, “the mathematical concept of catastrophe describes what one can call, in general terms, an ‘edge- or shoreline effect’.” “For me, any discontinuity at all occurring within phenomena is a catastrophe. The edge of this table, where the wood becomes lighter, is a surface of separation, a place of catastrophe. […] There is a catastrophe as soon as there is phenomenological discontinuity.” (Prédire n’est pas expliquer. There are threee fundamental types of catastrophe: the fold, the gather, the dovetail, the butterfly, and the three umbilici (24ff).)

The end of the possibility of deriving? Two equally imperative, but contradictory injunctions. Obey/disobey propagated to and in both. This is ‘stricture,’ to be compared with Deleuze’s rhizome. Striction, tightening, constriction, decrease of a partial fluid in flux. Panta Rei?

René Thom. So Platonian. The definition of phenomenological discontinuity as catastrophe, is as (if) written by Plato. René Thom knew this , of course. Still he said it. The last remnants of non-thought.

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So Many Graphies

All this autography is alright, but one should also be able to extrapolate this to nature, to a hetero-physiography. This is what language does to the auto of the human, but also to that of the phusis. As when Derrida says: “As Montaigne said, ‘I constantly disavow myself,’ it is impossible to follow my trace.” And: the “borderline” separating life and work “is most especially not a thin line, an invisible or indivisible trait lying between the enclosure of philosophemes, on the one hand, and the ‘life’ of an author already identifiable behind the name, on the other. This divisible borderline traverses two ‘bodies,’ the corpus and the body, in accordance with the laws that we are only beginning to catch sight of.”

Obviously nature does not actually need us to do the writing of its autobiography; nature abounds of catastrophes, all of which are, of course, irreversible in the sense that Derrida would like us to learn, but also irreversible in another sense, in another body, so to speak. Only during the past few decades we have seen a dawning recognition of the role geography and oceanography plays in Darwinian evolution theory. The way geos and okeanos incise the planet, the way of their gramming, cutting into-it, their grammachinating from which follows the wake of the ‘biography,’ is immense. Bios has its own graphematic structure.

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Anachrony of Time: A Transcendental Field Without a Subject

Being a Sephard or a Marrano is the personalized, politicized experience, the more immediate and local one. There is also this global, or better still perhaps, “mondeal,” “sephardicity.” This globalized split and double bind of writing, making no deriving possible anymore, this is what we see happens—derived/arrived—with nature. Some call it the anachrony of time itself, like Daniel Giovannangeli writes closing his “The Delay of Consciousness,” while calling to attention the fact that Derrida in the 1967 Introduction to the Origin of Geometry writes of a transcendental field without a subject, and that: “to the extent to which it virtualizes the dialogue, writing forges a sort of transcendental field which the subject can leave,” and so, in De la grammatologie of 1966, writing is declared a transcendental field without subject. Then La Voix et le phénomèn writes that:

Et il n’y a d’ailleurs aucune objection possible, à l’intérieur de la philosophie, à l’égard de ce privilège du maintenant-présent. Ce privilège définit l’élément même de la pensée philosophique, il est l’évidence même, la pensée consciente elle-même, il commande tout concept possible de la vérité et du sens. On ne peut le suspecter sans commencer à énucléer la conscience elle-même depuis un ailleurs de la philosophie qui ôte toute sécurité et tout fondement possibles au discours. Et c’est bien autour du privilège du présent actuel, du maintenant, que se joue, en dernière instance, ce débat, qui ne peut ressembler à aucun autre, entre la philosophie, qui est toujours philosophie de la présence, et une pensée de la non-présence, qui n’est pas forcément son contraire, ni nécessairement une méditation de l’absence négative, voire une théorie de la non-présence comme inconscient.

Moreover, there is not any possible objection within philosophy, concerning this privilege of the present-now. This privilege defines the element itself of philosophical thought, it is the evidence itself, the conscious thought itself. It commands all possible concepts of truth and sense. One cannot suspect it without beginning to enucleate the consciousness itself from a standpoint outside philosophy which deprives discourse of all security and all possible foundation. And it is the privilege of the actual present which is the pivot around which develops—in ultimate instance—this debate, which cannot resemble any other debate, between philosophy that is always the philosophy of the presence, and a thought of the non-presence, that is not inevitably its opposite, nor necessarily a mediation of the negative absence, nor even a theory of the non-presence qua unconscious. (VP, p. 70)

The shift from dialectic to difference is notable in the 1967 La voix et le phénomènon when Derrida speculates as to if temporality may be thought in terms of an “identity between the identity and non-identity,” and as “différance in auto-affection,” he asks if not this will “open the living to the différance.” The living is open to différance. Derrida is Darwin born anew. That’s one arrival, at least.

‘Enucleate’: “On ne peut le suspecter sans commencer à énucléer la conscience elle-même,” etc. Consciousness is destined for arriving as destinerrance. It takes a long time not to be a christian. But consciousness is destined for arriving as destinerrance. The empty grave of Jesus Christ is already arriving at this. And derived is all. But the all is riveted. Enucleate!

– What does it mean to ‘enucleate’ consciousness?

-Can one know what this means if one is not a philosopher?

-But we all know where literature ends.

-No, says destinerrance.

-Destinerrance keeps itself going by you saying ‘home!’

Thought of non-presence. What could it be, say? When presence is the highest court of consciousness? Without even knowing what the present is and means. Matter is very small, and thinking might just be the very big thing thinking is.

Writing constitutes a transcendental field without a subject. In fact, subjects are possible and can appear at all only after the intervention of something like writing, as an effect of writing. This makes writing dangerous for any phonocentric thought.  Supposing for the moment that science is not phonocentric—which is far from certain—writing constitutes the ideal milieu for science in general. But is science’s relation to writing unproblematic?

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Does Science Ever Arrive?

Arriving is of the event. The catastrophic arrival of the event—an event is always catastrophic—is what no pro-gram (the conception of the ‘program’ signals as if there was something prior to gramming, grammatography), what no procedure or method can neither shield itself from, immunize against, nor produce. The arrival of the event and the event of the arrival is what can violently strike science, as if from science’s exterior. But the catastrophic event of the arrival can also strike from the very interior of science. As it in fact always does, today overwhelmingly almost as if apocalyptic. The former accounts for the revolutions in science, the latter the blind sides that science tends to repress or, as in the best of cases, written off as temporary and accidental side-effects.

So what is the very arrival of science? How does it play out, in full? Thus not only, and so wishfully selectively, to be judged by the criteria of its stated program, but by criteria of the gramma in general. What are the relations between programmed ‘effects’ and the totality of grammed ‘effects’ as well as ‘side-effects’? Or: what are the relations between the calculus and the event, within science? Do these not call for an acute and critical deconstruction? A seismic sollicitation? Are we not here tracing the viral conditions of possibility of science in general?

Science builds itself by recourse through a certain virographematics. Science is always to come by way of writing; writing, or graphein, graphematics, constitutes the very sine qua non of science. And it pertains to the nature of the grapheme in general that it is viral, parasitic, auto-immunitary. Thus we shall stress the tautogram, for such is the need still: graphematics is always a virographematics. Graphematics is always of a viral nature. Only, and this will be our hypothesis, virographematics can account for the two sides of scientific efficiency, for the “split” in science, its uncanny “parallel” worlds of unheard-of successes and progressions and its equally unheard-of destructions and regressions. Science needs to see that there are structures of destinerrance that are inescapable, no matter what measures of strictures and methods. And the the insistence on being able, by way of clever procedures and instruments, to bypass destinerrance and the double bind of virographemtaics, will only further the ecodestruction all the more sure and serious. The arrival implied here is aporic. Science arrives its shore with certainty, but at the same time will what it arrives at be the very contrary of what science insists it is all about. The double bind here described is thus transferred from the linguistic and symbolic realms to nature itself.


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