Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gonna Go OUT! (to see my man, cuz i'm nothing but this movement, my orbital existence)

I'd like to try to once again to delimit my discomfort regarding the aspiration to glean meaning from the scrupulous establishment of an historical context.

I'm taking my lead from Derrida's deconstruction of Marx(ism), especially the insistence on an historical present structured by schismatic heterogeneity: time is literally out of joint.
Riffing on Blanchot's "Marx's Three Voices," Derrida writes,
"With the sober brilliance of an incomparable density, in a manner that is at once discreet and dazzling, their utterances [i.e., Marx's 3 voices] are less the full response to a question than the measure of that to which we must respond today, inheritors that we are of more than one form of speech, as well as of an injunction that is itself disjointed." (Specters of Marx).

I think this passage, while admittedly dense, still resonates with a number of concerns that were raised in class, namely, and as Derrida puts it in _Spurs_ (the text Skinner takes as representative of deconstruction), namely: " is always possible that the <> detached as it is, not only from the milieu that produced it, but also from any intention or meaning on Nietzsche's part, should remain so, whole and intact, once and for all, without any other context. The meaning and the signature that appropriates it remain in principle inaccessible." (Spurs, 125)

...inaccessible to one another--the meaning and the signature which attempts appropriation, through a stylus = Björk's hands (loving one another) v. Christ's hands (not knowing one another)--but also to a 3rd party observer (why the desire for appropriation? why this manner? why this undermining ambivalence, this auto-erasure?)... all of this leading to a deconstructionist affirmation of the fungibility of language as an economy of the failed appropriation of meaning. Which is to say, and anticipating Strauss's methodological commitments a bit as well, one will never derive a Real sense of the context from the content of a text, nor content from context--the being-with structuring the text is precisely that which is denied--the 'style/us' of the West, i.e., aspirations to sovereignty! (cf. Of Grammatology)

By this I take Derrida to mean language is always already structured through such dis-joining, and this is the second moment of the operation of disavowal, the 'double gesture,' if you will: "The signature and the text fall out with each other. No sooner are they iterated than they are secreted, separated, excreted. They are formed from the enormous cleavage that decapitates them, into the scaffolding of a headless trunk. Their iteration is the expropriation that initiates them. And what it erects, it also marks with the structure of an _etron_. " (Spurs, note 21)

Thus, I take every utterance to be something of a spectral remainder which haunts ideologically closed systems of meaning through its inaccessibility, what becomes, therefore, the persistently different. Derrida acknowledges that Nietzsche's utterance is perhaps a "misfired" illocutionary speech act, but as argued in the essay "Signature, Context, Event," speaking in the language of "successful" speech acts presupposes language to be confined to an ontological functionalism which swiftly makes sense of itself (hears itself speak) only by silencing non-serious language (aesthetic utterances) while simultaneously excluding what else language may be doing while it 'simply' 'functions.'

Perhaps, then, it is suspect to take Derrida 'at his word' (perhaps this betrays a desire to hold him to 'the letter of the law') but still, I find it crucial that Derrida avows _Spurs_ to address the questions of STYLE and WOMAN, which is to say: in the face of the arbitrary appropriation of meaning through phallogocentric speech, a certain style which can be called "Western" in its most fundamental sense, woman stands as the remainder of a system, refusing its assignment of proper place--the lack, the 'sheath' of meaning, which is filled-in/up like/with an empty signifier--by, as Derrida argues in "Choreographies," affirming a certain style of performative innovation. This (sexual) skin of _Spurs_ is barely grazed--let alone penetrated--with the considering dalliance of Skinner's 'umbrella', or, in technical terms: his style/us-of-Being, or pen-is; or: Derrida's text on the question of sexual difference is castrated by consecrating this (sexual) dimension of the corpus of an(y) author to an (virginal) absence or disappearance, an archive/tomb which will, by it excessive emptiness harbor, or sheath, the canon, the 'pillars' of civilization: these flaccid texts.

This profound failure to attend to the context of Derrida's attention to the seemingly 'non-serious' or 'marginal' concern of sexuality and sexual difference is perhaps telling. What it _does not_ tell, however, is that I KNOW what Derrida really wanted to say in _Spurs_. Nor does it suggest that I know what Skinner wanted to convey through his amplification of certain moments in _Spurs_ at the expense of others. Rather, and to pick up the trace of Prof. Pitts's suggestion that a skeptical or 'negating' posture towards the interpretation of (the) history (of political thought), I can signal the overdetermination of certain dimensions of Derrida in Skinner's reading, which is to look at what is _not_ being paid attention to, and to ask after what remains.

Ok: so I wish now to register three complimentary complaints or cautions. I find that the desire to hermetically seal the illocutionary act from its perlocutionary effects smacks of a desire for presence to oneself. The conceit of this posture is the self-actualized, sovereign subject whose speech acts may "misfire" but not due of failure of intention (a sort of Kantian moment). The other side of this impulse is the elision of the horizon against which, into which, and through which any speech act is itself always responsible to, a veritable erasure of the polyvalence of of the necessary co-terminal operation, namely differance, or the self-negating "other side of the coin"--the psychoanalytic death-drive, the entanglements of power and desire, or quite simply: other people with whom we 'act out'. Relatedly, 3) Skinner cannot imagine the non-oppositional third term, the imaginary or the unconscious, which is the logic of differance, or of specters (namely, an original which is a repetition--as in Communism, which is to say: a time when every property is divested of itself as property).

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