Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Suppose I'll Fly As I Fall

I just remarked to myself of the self-indulgence of this undertaking. I turned to it to alleviate the pressure, to release my anxiety by mastering it, by enframing myself in a reading (or a writing--Derrida would say, "In a word..."). Derrida would ask after my double-gesture, my acknowledgement that, while enframed, the frame is not totalizing. He does this by looking to the text, rather than, as Sartre did in Being and Nothingness and look to the subject (of Humanism), because, as with Heidegger, Derrida recognizes that Humanism is, itself, just another ideology, a totalizing erasure of differance, the margin(alized subjects) that is/who are deferred/different, that give the lie to (belie) the ideological text, the gramme. Sartre participates in this, after all, when he positions a "being" and a "nothingness". Though "nothingness" cannot be "enframed"--and thus, this is what makes the "nothingness" every subject already is the site of freedom--it still is not. Sartre, in thereby positing an "outside," "freedom," he misses that he subverts his own desire for freedom (authenticity) by making it a "nothingness." (Lacan in the same way posits jouissance as the site of freedom--from the reifying strictures of the Symbolic--in the "nothingness" of Woman, in the desire for reconciliation between the lost, desired Object and the always already castrated Law of the Father: the "oceanic" dream of knowledge of the Absolute Truth (in the Hegelian sense) that having the penis means being the phallus--(a truth mediated by, but "subsumed" "over-against," the Mother.) Heidegger's charge against Sartre, which is also Derrida's against Lacan, is to be found in the insistence that Humanism, no matter how knowing, remains a foreclosure, an inappropriate propriation of, Being on the one hand, and multiplicity on the other. For Heidegger, Being is elusive: it comes to us. Thus, to claim that one has "discovered the inherent greatness" of any appropriation of the communal world, one inauthentically denies the courage to confront the communal world on one's own, which also means confronting one's place within it: individuation; the glimpse of Being in the angsty response to the call of conscience, "Here I am!" For Heidegger, this call elicits an acknowledgement that, in fact, one is never "properly" "Here," but always a "being-there": between two poles, the past and the future, divided by that most lonely of loneliness: the moment a daimon issued a call of conscience. Derrida, however, inverts the insistence Heidegger makes on a singular "Being of beings" and emphasizes the multiplicity of possibilities that always already are deferred/different (differance) from the "enframing" of the world picture: the very metaphoricity of language denies the absolute truth of a text: within the text, itself, there are slippages, parapraxes, puns, plays on words--but most importantly, metaphor. The truth is only to the extent that it is like this or that as well. These metaphors, in traditional metaphysics, however, are "subsumed" into the logic of meaning being "present," self-evident in the text itself: metaphors only "present" the Truth, like a gift, but the Truth is distinguishable from the metaphors. In this sense, the critics of deconstruction wish to claim that the passenger is distinguished from the carriage. Perhaps--though, doesn't the quality of her petticoat speak volumes of her carriage. It is necessary to add to this account that differance is not "contained" to the text itself: the "nothingness" of Sartrean freedom and Lacanian jouissance is, in fact, "there". I say "there" so as to avoid the temptation to revert to metaphysically laden conceptual schemes, but to also imply that the margins are not pregiven empty spaces, "nothingness," but erased text, foreclosed text: they are "populated" with the traces of what metaphor "subsumes". This is the Freudian unconscious, the 'well-spring' of imagination, and of the necessity for repression. But repression, symbolically enforced through phallogocentric Law, is just that: a repression, a compulsory denial. Thus, if Lacan imagines the impossibility of a reconciliation between the Symbolic and the Imaginary, it is because he implicitly accepts, and thereby perpetuates, a radical, insurmountable binary--one which his own reading, ironically, lends itself to the project of exposing as hegemonic rather than essential such a binary. That is, if Lacan goes "back to Freud" (like Husserl went "back to the things themselves"), he regresses too far: he elides Freud's insights into the contingency of any given psycho-sexual enframing, or, in a words, scripting, and insists on a radical and decisive rending of the sexes, of the symbolic from the imaginary, of, that is, love itself: the subject is always already a "barred" subject from the subject of desire (oneself, the other, et cetera). Derridean differance is a reminder of the remains of the unconscious, of imagination, its impossibly erased, but hegemonically marginalized, possibilities that can still write (on a subject "not yet").

So where is my "double-gesture"? Where is my acknowledgement of the tension which "always makes this dual gesture, apparently contradictory, which consists in accepting, within certain limits--which is to say never entirely accepting it--the given-ness of context and its stubbornness." Derrida immediately adds: "But how without this apparent contradiction would anything ever be done?" I'd like to point out the literary Derrida himself makes with this turn of phrase "anything ever be done?": it calls to mind both Freudian "termination of treatment" and Nietzsche's ubermensch, "adyspeptic": it is the contradictions that enable civilizations and their pleasures: the space of multiplicity, of a proliferation of "there's," a Dionysian excess. Isn't this moment, this writing (which is always already ahead of itself) of self-indulgence the moment of excess that exceeds the enframing of my "intent" (which was to "confess" my anxiety over "starting" classes tomorrow, meeting my cohort, professors, and so on...): enframed as I was (as I am) in my anxiety, this, too, is de-limited, not Fated: "the structure thus described supposes both that there are only contexts, that nothing exists outside context, as I have often said, but also that the limit of the frame or the border of the context always entails a clause of non-closure."

J. is asleep in my bed. I'm in at my desk typing. It is crazy, this: I can "relax" with him when I am at his place--going to his place meaning only that I don't have to do anything in the morning... When he's at my place I've always something else on my mind.... I can't just fall asleep... This, too, will need to change.

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