4 C I T A T I O N S : “Par le mot par commence donc ce texte”


In his 1972 La dissémination Derrida disseminates a plethora of contaminating poisonous folds that recollects, re-treats, and repeats the meaning of the decentering of sollicitation. For now let it suffice with one single cited fold.

The passage in question, worked performatively as if in flou, reiterates our tracing the neograph sollicitation, but it also indexes a supplement to the grids of four other citations through which a possible sollicitation of science will flou.

I cite:

And since nothing has preceded the mirror, since everything begins in the folds of citation (you will later learn how to read this word), the inside of the text will always have been outside it, in what seems to be serving as the “means” toward the “work.” This “reciprocal contamination of the work and the means” poisons the inside, the body proper of what was once called the “work,” just as it poisons the texts which are cited to appear and which one would have liked to keep safe from this violent expatriation, this uprooting abstraction that wrenches them out of the security of their original context […] To try to resist the removal of a textual member from its context is to want to remain protected against this writing poison. It is to want at all costs to maintain the boundary line between the inside and the outside of a context. It is to recognize the legitimacy of the relative specificity of each text, but it is also to believe that any system of writing exists in itself, as the relation of an inside to itself, particularly when it is “true.” This amounts above all to an imposition of fundamentally classical limits upon generalized textuality. It is a kind of discontinuity prompted by resistance and protectionism[1]

Neither this nor that, everything begins in the folds of citation; nothing proceeds the mirror. This beginning is not that of arkhē, and thus is without command and commences, without prince and principle, thus de facto and de jure irrelative sovereignty in general. We think we know what to cite is. But do we? “But do we?”

To cite: to disseminatively and indefinitely machinate mirror effects of difference and repetition. To cite is citare, to shake and make tremble, and it affects it all, thus sollus: to sollicitate. It is the mirror of the citation that sollicitates, fissuring along all planes of the mirror-cite making the text imperceptible. The mirroring effect of disseminatively machinated differences and repetitions en abyme, however, is not that of a mimesis; there is no hidden and accessible proper and unique meaning, therefore, beneath some layer sub-ject to archaeological de-sedimentation. The text “implique que quelque part l’être d’un êtant soit imité.” Text is never comparable to an absolutely faithful imitation of a truth always already reproducible and repeatable by the text. “Il n’y a pas de hors-texte.”

The text is texture, texere: cloth, tissue, canvas. It is a fabric that no act of reading can suspend as it disseminates itself endlessly. The text is, rather, a four. There are four sides, a square, to the text, three of which are imperfect, the fourth being presence written to us: “l’ouverture découpée, pratiquée en forme de scène actuellement visible et parlante pour le spectateur-lecteur.” It is on the surface of this fourth that something like presence can present itself to us in the texere.

But the fourth is the illusion of presence. The plupresent, neither the squarely imperfect nor the double or dialogic present of a fourth interpellation, will have laid the groundwork for both these—through a future anterior that have lodged itself in the one and the other, or rather in the very economy of an exchange re-marking each other, such a future anterior or future perfect always makes one text circulate inside another excludes any eschatologism merely by dint of being the future anterior of an innumerable imperfect whose indefinite past will never have been present.

All too often and just as classically—but not here among these four citations sollicitated by a cite on fold that will have folded the coming citations—the future anterior could turn out to resemble, irreducibly, the time of Hegelian teleology with which the dominant interpretation of language conflates its representation. Rather, here it designates within language “that which remains most irreducible to the economy of Hegelian teleology and to the dominant interpretation of language,”[2] towards a past that always already in its past interior never will have been a modification of a presentist temporality. But leaving a trace: the promiscuous re-treat of effacement.

The history of the presence—claiming to be originary, wild, and irreducible like the incessant, ever-virginal arising of the world—is plunged into a limitlessless, omnitemporality, time that is neither a present nor a history, as onto a stage of the old representative theater. This surface of the fourth of the presence is therefore a “dead surface.” Consciousness reduces to a standing spectator consuming the represented present or meaning: “you.”

But will this fourth surface of the quadruple of textuality ever produce anything but an illusion, a dissimulation, of being freed from the textual machine (history, numbers, topology, dissemination, sollicitation, différance, etc.)? Presence or production is but a product, a function of an arithmetic operation.

The three other imperfect sides are not an other present, past present, the past of what once at least was present, modified, codified, derived. Derrida cites Sollers’ Nombres as to say that this imperfect “provides the motion and the unreachable double bottom.” A presentless time, the total account depriving the square of its ground, leaving it suspended in the air. Castration is always at stake; the present is never present.

The pen—or what the gramma does with it—turns into a knife. Thus it is that presence can only aver itself by severing itself.

Why, then, simultaneously state that text precisely demonstrates the lack of presence, that it, de facto and de jure, is marked and re-marked by an absence that is irrelative any modification of presence? An originary absence that never was, never is, never will be, present. Text grafts, transplants. But the transplant did not occur to something that would have been present, as if eventually receiving the implant of a second text. Text “is”—sous rature—death.

Transplantation is the propensity to regenerate the text, to reproduce the gesture behind the cut and the incision of the gramma—thus beyond any subjective or transcendental mastery or monarchy of a process of copying and pasting the produce. Any such two texts, to being with, because text is the supernumerary, will incessantly contaminate each other, as in a flou of teratological mirrors. “Chaque texte greffé continue d’irradier vers le lieu de son prélèvement, le transforme en affectant le nouveau terrain,” writes Derrida. Sollicitation is re-marked as seismography.

“There is no metalanguage, the first line repeats; there is only that, says the echo, or Narcissus.” Referring:

Mais si (ce n’est pour nous qu’une hypothèse) on appelle judaïsme cette expérience de l’infiniment autre, il faut réfléchir à cette nécessité où il se trouve, à cette injonction qui lui est faite de se produire comme logos et de réveiller le Grec dans la syntaxe autistique de son propre rêve. Nécessité d’éviter la pire violence qui menace quand on se livre silencieusement à l’autre dans la nuit. Nécessité d’emprunter les voies de l’unique logos philosophique qui ne peut que renverser la « courbure de l’espace » au profit du même. D’un même qui n’est pas l’identique et qui ne renferme pas l’autre.

Archives are haunted by archive fever; it is possessed by a death drive: “the death drive is above all anarchivic, one could say, or archiviolothic.” Just as there is nothing outside the text can guarantee meaning, il n’y a pas de hors-texte, there is no “meta-archive,” that can prevent this fever. Alas, at the heart of the arkheion, an official house of records, sits an ex-house or, better, an out-house.

Jacques Derrida’s sollicitation of philosophy made the very to-come and future of philosophy and all of its philosophemes trembling. The seismic shock waves of Derrida’s sollicitation are in-definite, in-finite: the undecidable is the infinite in the finite. His counter-violent intervention left philosophy forever on an essentially unstable ground, as its fundamental operators was deconstructed. He made conspicuous what always already nevertheless takes place, what always already is deconstructable, what always already is in the process of a certain auto-deconstruction, in the deep interior of the conditions of possibility of philosophy. Sollicitation lays bare also the conditions of impossibility of philosophy and epistēmē in general.

But having made the very future of philosophy tremble, Derrida also gave philosophy new opportunities, new chances: sollicitate the horizon, hospitalize the event. The whole of philosophy being shaken in its totality, philosophy was given new chances and a new singular plural future.  As is predictable, however, and as Derrida himself incessantly dreaded, philosophy by and large has continued as if the demonstration of the sollicitation of philosophy was surmountable. But the entirety of textuality in general—i.e. graphematics as a whole, the whole new field of a grammatography—is affected structurally and is thus always already irreducible to some yet to be discovered deep layer of diaphanousness. There is no ulterior depth of semantics “beneath” or “beyond” grammatography; what pertains to the graphematic pertains a fortiori to any sign and any semeion.

Sollicitation unchains series of interruptions, hiatuses, and chiasmata, as if as series of enchained erasures—which Derrida dubs seriasure, sererasure, or sériature[3]—from sero, to bind, but with the echoes of the homonymous sero, which means to sow or disseminate, noting also that raturer and erasure means to obliterate or uproot, or irradicalize—with all the connotations of seismography, spectrography, and transpar(t)ition. The ghostly drift, or arrivant, of sériature operates such that “the known is related to the unknown, meaning to nonmeaning,”[4] on whose basis philosophy and science can be made to submit “to a radical alteration: without losing any of its proper norms, it is made to tremble, simply by being placed in relation to an absolute unknowledge,” which can be written “science plus,” “science + L,” or simply “silence.”[5]

Thus philosophy in its denegation of the event of sollicitation only breeds its already formidable unconscious, thus producing ever new and viler forms of violence, forms of violence whose consequences will only propagate. The event of sollicitation of philosophy is one of affirmation, and this is what philosophy continues to tautly repress. It is no secret that everywhere in academic philosophy, deconstruction is vehemently repressed.

Before I try to explain what a sollicitation of science might imply and effect, I will cite 4 grafts from Derrida that read together will suggest a general framework for understanding the significance of the possibility of a sollicitation of science. First from the 1967 De la grammatologie:

Cette inflation du signe « langage » est l’inflation du signe lui-même, l’inflation absolue, l’inflation elle-même. Pourtant, par une face ou une ombre d’elle-même, elle fait encore signe : cette crise est aussi un symptôme. Elle indique comme malgré elle qu’une époque historico-métaphysique doit déterminer enfin comme langage la totalité de son horizon problématique. Elle le doit non seulement parce que tout ce que le désir avait voulu arracher au jeu du langage s’y trouve repris mais aussi parce que du même coup, le langage lui-même s’en trouve menacé dans sa vie, désemparé, désamarré de n’avoir plus de limites, renvoyé à sa propre finitude au moment même où ses limites semblent s’effacer, au moment même où il cesse d’être rassuré sur soi, contenu et bordé par le signifié infini qui semblait l’excéder.

From a conversation held in 1994:

All I have done […] is dominated by the thought of a virus, what could be called a parasitology, a virology, the virus being many things. […] The virus is in part a parasite that destroys, that introduces disorder into communication. Even from the biological standpoint, this is what happens with a virus; it derails a mechanism of the communicational type, its coding and decoding. On the other hand, it is something that is neither living nor non-living; the virus is not a microbe. And if you follow these two threads, that of a parasite which disrupts destination from the communicative point of view—disrupting writing, inscription, and the coding and decoding of inscription—and which on the other hand is neither alive nor dead, you have the matrix of all that I have done since I began writing.[6]

In Derrida’s “No Apocalypse, Not Now (Full Speed Ahead, Seven Missiles, Seven Missives),” one reads of a certain hypothesis of “total destruction,” asking:

Who can swear that our unconscious is not expecting this? dreaming of it? desiring it?

Then declaring:

The hypothesis of this total destruction watches over deconstruction, it guides its footsteps; it becomes possible to recognize, in the light, so to speak, of that hypothesis, of that fantasy, or phantasm, the characteristic structures and historicity of the discourses, strategies, texts, or institutions to be deconstructed.[7]

In his Vienna Lecture, from 1935, published in Crisis, Husserl declares:

inevitability of a transcendental pathology. As a sickness of reason.

Medical model thus employed from the outset, Gesundheit: “it becomes a question of what “sauver” means, in one of its senses, namely, the safe, the sound, the healthy, the unharmed or the immune (heilig), salvation (Rettung) itself, right up to and including the expression “to save the honor.” Husserl, Crisis, 270: ”Die europäischen Nationen sind krank, Europa selbst ist, sagt man, in einer Krisis. 17

Before the irruption in spiritual Greece of the infinite telos of scientific and philosophical rationality there was a spekulative Wissen serving man and his life in the world (Weltleben). Then, here, Derrida says he wants to risk speaking, ”in the wake of Husserl, of a transcendental pathology and even a transcendental auto-immunity.” Transcendality is auto-immunity. The copula, the ‘is,’ “is” autoimmunity.

Notwithstanding that Derrida speaks here, in“No Apocalypse, Not Now (Full Speed Ahead, Seven Missiles, Seven Missives),” of nuclear war, and a nuclear war whose “absolute weapon,” whose “apocalyptic missiles,” will leave no trace of its destruction, thus a hypothesis of total destruction, leaving no remains, a traceless event, it will here guide a reading of Derrida’s oeuvre which contends another version of the hypothesis of total destruction, thus proliferating the meaning of the hypothesis, watching over and guiding what here is soon to be deconstructed. The hypothesis no longer being simply and uniquely one of nuclear total destruction; there are other missiles and missives as well. Total destruction lurks in other planes of science, not sudden and violent as nuclear total destruction, to be sure, but all the more stealthy and tortured: ecodestruction, a physical violence just as much as the nuclear total war is. Science forages on nature in general while the quest for certain knowledge excavates. Knowledge preys on the conditions of itself: knowledge as autoimmunity. We will come back to the torture wheel of the autoimmunity of epistēmē.

This possibility of total destruction—known of since first explosion on, and thus no longer a mad apocalyptic fantasy—watches and guides the very footsteps of deconstruction, and provides that light through which deconstruction recognizes what is to be deconstructed. Anyway an intrigued statement since elsewhere, and earlier, Derrida repeatedly contends that what has come to be known as ‘deconstruction’ is not a philosophical or otherwise invention. It is structural to all things textual. And things textual are far from being exhausted by in the colloquial sense. Thus “La différance” clearly states, in 1968: deconstruction, or what thus named, is not an invention, but resides in the things themselves, in their graphematic structure, its perhaps first notable articulations traceable being a Luther’s Destruktion or a Heidegger’s Abbau. The graphematic structure of things, be they textual in the narrow sense or otherwise, instantiates différance into the things, a différance that can only disseminate itself infinitely. If no one or no thing can freeze or bring to a halt the work of auto-deconstruction—since it is to be always already underway and always to come as soon as there are anything reminiscent of the graphematic structure so salient in writing in the narrower sense—one can certainly help formalize it, demonstrate it, pro-duce it to consciousness.

Before “No Apocalypse, Not Now” he will thus demarcate, from a great variety of angles and sides, and for great many years, the very logic of deconstruction, but with no mention of this hypothesis of total destruction being made. Whence the transition from Derrida’s earlier technical, almost arid and neutral formalization of deconstruction as such, to the later hypothesis of its apocalyptic ambit? And is it implied, by Derrida and Derrida’s hypothesis of total destruction, that “total destruction”—beyond any Luther, Nietzsche, Heidegger, or Derrida, beyond any thematization of deconstruction—would still and nonetheless guide the auto-deconstruction that does its work irrespective of our doings? Is it total destruction that is our horizon? This question opens up a host of other questions. We must mark the hypothesis from at least two vantage points: from the ontological and ontical deconstruction inherent in being and in all ontical things even only remotely reminiscent of graphematicity, and from the anthropogenic accomplice where ontological deconstruction is simply brought to consciousness, and whose aim apparently is a doubling and a simulation adding speed.

What does the hypothesis say as soon as we inscribe it simultaneously in geodeconstruction and homodeconstruction, keeping in mind, undoubtedly, that also the human version of deconstruction is nature’s own?

Already in his early texts, Derrida explicitly references a viral lexicon of contamination, dissemination, destinerrance, grafting, parasitology, auto-affection, general iterability, parergon, différance, auto-immunity, etc. There is thus a linking of deconstruction to matters of the textuality of the total destruction of manifold nuclear missiles. A broader application made, then. A gradual revelation.

These four cites will serve our purpose. Language as inflation and parasite, its hypothesis being a transcendental auto-immunity serving total destruction. The scientific import is palpable. Even Derrida thinks science abdicated; a pure, indeconstructable language is reserved science. Science is free. And he repeats Plato.

Inflation of a language helpless adrift in the threat of limitlessness, parasitic and viral, is what Derrida sees as constituting the necessary theorization of autoimmunitary functions that plausibly justifies the hypothesis of absolute destruction. The sollicitation of science here proposed would, therefore, reveal all the more ‘real’ effects in reality than did Derrida’s philosophical sollicitations. In fact, it strikes as naïve the Derridaean conception according to which science somehow has freed itself from sollicitable metaphysical remnants; one could easily make a case that such a hypothesis is strictly untenable.

[1] Jacques Derrida, La dissémination p. 316.

[2] Jacques Derrida, “At this very moment in this work where I am,” in A Derrida Reader: Between the Blinds, ed. Peggy Kamuf (New York: Colombia University Press, 1991), 425.

[3] Jacques Derrida, “At this very moment in this work where I am,” in R. Bernasconi & s. Critchley, Rereading Levinas (Indiana Universoty Press, 1991).Sériature is originally connected to the ”reduction” of ontology resourced by Derrida’s formulation of Levinas’ later writing style as involving a sériature: serial and heterogeneous interruptions of the said. But it has general application: “a series (a stringed series of enlaced erasures), an interrupted series, a series of interlaced interruptions, a series of hiatuses (gaping mouth, mouth opened out to the cut-off word, or to the gift of the other and to the bread-in-his-mouth) that I shall henceforth call, in order to formalize in economical fashion and so as not to dissociate what is not dissociable within this fabric, the seriasure [sériature]” (p. 36).

[4] Jacques Derrida, “At this very moment in this work where I am,” 270-71.

[5] Jacques Derrida, “At this very moment in this work where I am,” 268.

[6] Brunette & Wills, ed., Deconstruction and the Visual Arts, (Cambridge University Press, 1994), 12.

[7] Derrida, Jacques, NC, 27 / NA, 377

One Response to “4 C I T A T I O N S : “Par le mot par commence donc ce texte””
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