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General Editors Note

The aim of Derrida Today is to see Derridas work in its broadest possible context and to argue for its keen and enduring relevance to our present intellectual, cultural and political situations. Its aim is not to conceive of Derridas work as merely a major development in thinking about textuality, nor as simply belonging to the specic philosophical discussions in the name of which some philosophers have reclaimed it. Derrida Today attempts, therefore, to have the broadest possible reference, from the philosophical and theoretical through the most aesthetically innovative to the most urgently political. It seeks to consider work that is rigorous and provocative, exact and experimental. It will be prepared to consider any approach to the reading of Derridas work and the application of deconstruction, as long as it produces valuable and useful insights. It aims not to be narrowly pedantic about approach, topic or style, or to police the Derridean legacy for its orthodoxy or purported accuracy or delity to a specic set of conclusions. Given this, the journal is not only about what we as general editors decide it to be, its life and trajectory will also be determined, even perhaps, unpredictably, by the topics and styles contributors offer. In this sense, we hope the journal will promote the ethical commitment of deconstruction; to an openness to the event to come. Nicole Anderson and Nick Manseld

The future matters: apropos of Derridas touching on the technology of the senses to come in a post-global horizon: Part II

Martin McQuillan
The following solicitation was sent to eight of Derridas commentators in March 2007:
How shall we read Derridas Touching OnJean-Luc Nancy beyond the intimacy of the fraternal relation between Derrida and Nancy? Can this book initiate a thinking concerning the transformation, displacement and mutation of models of assumption and inheritance from the enlightenment and Abrahamic tradition regarding touch, haptology, materiality, the phenomenon and the political? As we enter into an epoch of new materialities for which we as yet have no theoretical vocabulary, and which deconstruction must address as its own future, is it possible to read the matters touched on by Derrida as indicative of a deconstruction-to-come? What is the future of this book and of the book in general, of writing, of the hand, of comprehension, of memory, of the machine, of the body, of the religious, of nature, and of the animal? How can we begin the deconstruction of the future and how can the corpus of Derrida point us towards the substance of this transformative critique?

Texts by J. Hillis Miller, Geoffrey Bennington, Christine Irizarry and Sean Gaston appeared in Derrida Today Vol. 1, Issue 2. The following texts by Stephen Barker, Tom Cohen, Claire Colebrook, and Marc Froment Meurice complete the responses. I am grateful to all the contributors for their innite patience and good humour. I would also like to thank Jo Nassor for everything she does. I should also say that in light of all the extraordinary work she has done to keep this edition on track, Nicole Anderson should be rightly credited as co-editor of these texts. My heartfelt thanks to her and Nick Manseld, their work is a light in the world.

Tactlessthe Severed Hand of J.D.

Tom Cohen
Abstract This article attempts to lean against the suffocating trend towards mourning, theological exegesis and close-circuit canonisation that has characterised Derrida studies in the wake of his death. On Touching is particularly brutal towards Nancys presumption of a postdeconstructive haptics in a manner that extends to a general discipleship (glossing Derridas remark, I am not of the family). Summarising the entire course of Derridean deconstruction (departing from phenomenology, recycling early studies), On Touching may be his most political monograph. Yet in cutting off Nancy, Derrida at once cuts off future extensions while turning aside from any projection of what lies beyond this then closed history except for complex references to memory machines. This essay then asks what teletechnic media already knows of the prosthetic hand and eye by turning to Hitchcocks Spellbound, where a propping-up of the senses by technics is allowed to exceed, or virtually suicide, itself. In refusing to address any beyond of a metaphysical haptics while cutting off his own future extenders (readers, progeny), Derrida raises (yet turns from) the question of what exceeds this closed history entering 21st -century horizons. * More than any other part of the body proper, the hand has imposed a detour leading through visibility and exposition to a surface, precisely when it was meant better to illustrate the pure psychic auto-affection of the touching-touched. Through this outlet, the hand has nally imposed the possibility of empathic appresentation, that is, ex-appropriation, the interminable appropriation of an irreducible nonproper, which conditions, constitutes, and limits every and any appropriation process at the same time. It has been an early threat to what it was meant to make possible. On Touching

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This hand, we might say, is at war with itself. There is a rhetorical moment no one but Derrida achieves so piercingly, present in the following serial riff from On Touching:
And this, I think, also opens onto organic articulation, techne, substitution, prosthetics, the place of taking the place, what is held to be taking the place of something from before man, before humans, well before and thus well beyond the humanualism of the-hand-of-man. (Derrrida 2005, 221)

This before and after a certain present, even were it a 5000 year or 30,000 year historial parenthesis, conjures a perspective from an outside of, yet speaking with, the humanualism of the hand-of-man. And it invites a thinking of such a program our own? as if from another site, differently wired, sophisticated enough to scan the historical settings and metaphoric webs the sensorium has mutated through: There is no longer any denial whatsoever about the bodys historicity, no assertion of an abstract historicity without a history of touch (Derrida 2005, 247). Translated into hard currency, it would think simultaneous outside the archive of humanualism, or indicates where that might be done, without indicating, perhaps, that it may imply being outside the one thing or medium one may not be able to when reading: an outside to alphabeticism, a certain grammaticisation, to the spell of spelling, to the era of the book (the monotheism of the alphabetic era as well), the hand of writing that already knows everything it produces on touch is a scriptive product, the anaesthetised replay of a mnemotechnic. There are several choices made in On Touching, more or less strategic: 1) the return to deconstruct phenomenology (as if again, and again); 2) the violent reinscription of Nancy as pretext, that is, the cutting off and absorption of a presumed heir amidst numbingly elaborate, tactful, and lethal effusions (Derrida will speak of this funny present of this book, putative kiss, virtual rape); and 3) the deferral of addressing the new magic writing pad of the machinal, of mnemonics as the underlying problematic of this review. These rhetorical choices disclose yet another voice at work in this book, which seems to resume in its course the entire Derridean trajectory, archive or intervention. The reading that interests me is that of a rogue moment in this work, which seems at times to lose control, to become darker than it wills even, to experience a trap it itself has set; that, with Nancy, of cutting off any prospective heir, lineage, or

Tactlessthe Severed Hand of J.D.

continuity with those assuming that role, any after to Derrida, in a specic sense, yet also to cut itself off from pursuing the very horizon everything in On Touching veers toward, sacrices itself before, and is at war with. I will examine, in passing, what might be called the Derridawars, silent or endless: that between Derrida and his own text; that between Derrida and the historial programs; that between Derrida and his own heirs; that between humanualism and itself, entering the twenty-rst century. In dedicating On Touching to a backglance, in being drawn into the response to the family (to correct, one more time), something is turned from which makes the closing benediction the more awkward. There is, around the ayed skins underpinning touch, a rare sort of ex-posure that telegraphs a different sort of murmuring to its futures.

Toward the close of On Touching as if, as he says, showing tact Derrida fast forwards:
Lets rush toward the ending and recapitulate. Im now sincerely asking that this book be forgotten or effaced, and Im asking this as I wouldnt have done with as much sincerity for any of my other books. Wipe it all away, and start or start again. (Derrida 2005, 301)

Why does On Touching plead for its own effacement, at the moment it claims to engulf and reabsorb Nancys? And can one be more sincere, speak with as much sincerity without sincerity itself defaulting (almost in mirth)? What does it mean to be more sincere, if not that sincerity is itself not sincere enough, or really at all: how is one more or less sincere? I am being tactless. Something in this work summarises, in its way, all of his trajectory, a quintessential agon of Derridas deconstruction, and is marked for me by an abyssal rift internal to its voices. I want to track an other voice, a ashing tone or transferential resistance as if to itself. This rogue voice, this other On Touching, performs an other series of erasures, which revels in circling back against itself, asking for its own erasure, in a feint of sacrice it is, nonetheless, held by. Its timbre opens the question of how to hear a remark in Derridas late interview more resonantly: I am at war with myself. There is a question as if of war; which, in so many open and invisible ways, marks the century opened with Derridas death. The latter appears marked by the totalising trope of a global war not against terror, its totalising facade, or even terra as such, that of and on a prosthetic earth, but by when the human of

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humanualism will be tied to mass extinction events, coastal inundations, water and oil wars, the very question of the animate (life as man knew it) and, in ways, or not, be compelled to address its several thousand years history of hands, in which the programming of the eyes and teeth and mouth and nger arguably prehistorically regimes set by huntergatherers have played a corresponding role. What in Derridas late twentieth century deconstruction is, all along, preparatory to a turn marked by the bursting of the anthropological machine (Agamben) in the twenty-rst century, before an era of climate change? Where does this book, perhaps Derridas most neurally political if not policial work, dissolve into, before a twenty-rst century horizon it does not openly address yet is apparently addressed as if to? What will Derridas readers do after the present generation, say, are gone, those claiming contact or touch still, extenders and disseminators and legatees (What could this history of touch have to do with inheritance? (Derrida 2005, 18)). Where will these future readers looking back from a very different set of horizons or protocols, exigencies and biotic mutations want to cut the circulation, produce new tangents, absorb and perhaps erase, strategically, On Touching, migrate or mutate, perhaps unrecognisably? And where might they have to try to go beyond what is here called humanualism, under the pretext of a bizarre seduction, the promise of a destroying kiss of the eyes? Can one forecast a late 21st century reader, if there are such, for whom On Touching will appear (perhaps too late) the most political of J.D.s monographs? One may imagine this tainted reader to come, from decades hence and at an advanced state in the mutation we have begun, who seeks new weapons, murmuring: Of course there is no general haptics. Of course there is not touch. Of course there is not only no the senses (Derrida is impatient regarding this rhetoric of Nancys no the and so on). She might be amusedly suspicious of the male-male rivalry that inundates this discourse of touch, the hand of man (what would touch written by woman be, a detour I defer?). Here would be where the Christological thread, ngered by J.D., emerges: a hand and especially a hand of esh, a hand of man, has always begun to resemble a mans hand, and thus a fatherly hand, and sometimes, more originarily, the hand of the merciful Father, which is to say his Son the hand that the Son is, according to the Logos or Word of Incarnation (Derrida 2005, 182). Our reader might draw back from a certain overused appeal to if not fetishisation of mourning itself (even if to declare mournings other and virtual closure as a secret weapon, a beyond of mourning, a mourning of mourning, an absolute mourning that is non-human and irrecoverable,

Tactlessthe Severed Hand of J.D.

of Life itself, and so on). And she may question a certain turn in the late Derrida: say, that toward the otherness of the other, ethics, the family more generally, the democracy to come. And yet, at the same time, she may regard On Touching as Derridas most political of monographs, at a time when the political has become the epistemological altogether, and humanualism has turned against itself. What mutation? There would be a certain abashedness in mentioning the obvious, were it not stricken by a certain Hamlet-effect, a cognitive split that is calculable in the hyperindustrialised world, a blindness in the artefact of the currently visible or its relation to different temporalities in naming the accelerations we will generally call climate change. I leave aside this list the coming inundation of coasts, biodiversity collapse, promised depletion of water tables (the Tibetan plateau), the mass generation of disposable humans (already culled for body parts), Earths sixth mass extinction event due mid-century by the hand of humanualism. The Derrida who would live to analyse 9/11 did not, nonetheless, directly engage this 21st century horizon in all its mutations, where the time . . . out of joint he took up as a spell would literalise itself in a set of material accelerations in geomorphic and geological logics in which the home as master-trope stood to be voided. One may call these effects and gathering feedbackloops, which recast temporalities broadly, the twentyrst century X-factors: what return as if from a prehistorial logic, even as oil recycles itself from dinosaur-epochs, stand outside of personication, operative tropologies, humanualism tout court. Now, this uninvited future reading (and is this not, in the end, what On Touching invokes?) is perhaps the secret other of the nonbenediction extended at the end. That which supersedes the kiss of the eyes; this touching pretense to penetration that is non-existent, exists solely on the page, and tactfully marks a rape of sorts: to touch, here, means to re-inscribe. And, overleaping Nancys post-deconstructive realism, Derrida describes the limit of this hyper-deconstruction, and attributes it to a Nancy supplemented by On Touching: He knows that this great transcendental-ontologisation of touch can be (in advance it will have been) reappropriated by all sorts of onto-theo-ideologies of immediacy except, except of the movement in hyper, if the leap of an innite upping-the-ante cuts off contact and amounts to taking this weapon away from all suspect manipulations (Derrida 2005, 307). One takes this weapon of the relapse away by cut(ting) off contact or the hand that would touch, by disarming. In the circular sweep of On Touching, Derrida is tempted to engage the guest of a futurity he seems to imply at the rim of the archive of humanualism but turns back, as

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it were, to correct, to instruct the family, once again.1 Reinscribing Nancy, he renders him anterior to himself, on behalf of a series of others, circularly pre-empting his own real guest of a future.

Thus the pretext of On Touching involves a hunt or chase, the tracking of a renegade off-spring, one who imagines himself to have surpassed deconstruction: For Nancy, touch remains the motif of a sort of absolute, irredentist, and post-deconstructive realism (Derrida 2005, 46). There it is: the putative target, a relapse, a supposed extension, or scion. Toward the end J.D. will pretend to show tact, only to proceed with the assertion of mastery and withheld recognition that the benediction mimes: what we have here is an irreducible thinking of transcendence. When one touches on the limit of self-touching-you, is there still any reason to decide between transcendence and immanence? Come now, show some tact. Lets leave it be (Derrida 2005, 298). He leaves the answer massively in place by this tactless tact, saying by not saying again, saying more by not (as if), touching again. Earlier this is openly marked as a lethal gift:
And in an aside you tell yourself: what a funny, admiring, and grateful salutation. . . . What a pecular way to pretend youre touching him while acting as if from now on you wanted to put his lexicon about touch out of service, or even banish it to the Index librorum prohibitorum. Or, as if you stubbornly kept reminding us that it should always have been out of service already. . . . What a funny present, indeed! (Derrida 2005, 107)

Who is the you speaking in an aside to yourself, which is this us that this third person you keeps reminding? Where does this intervention get put in play, morph in and against a twenty-rst century horizon, one whose timescape is already other than the last, even that of Derridas funny present? On Touching seems to me at times weary of its brilliant, necessary trajectory. It wants to begin beyond itself, to begin again, but holds back, is restrained: it carries a discrete voice for whom the entirety is written before it begins. (One will only add, that since this must be enacted as a reclamation, a male-to-male ritual, an eroticisation, it seems to bear no concern for the possible seduction to correct coming from Nancy, the lure to make this aggression: an inverse trap.) Despite appearances Derrida does not really adopt the position of male-male rivalry that structures the outing: that as if of father to son, of teacher to student or heir, in all its familiality, correcting, reinscribing,

Tactlessthe Severed Hand of J.D.

disarming (you, Nancy, pose as a post-deconstructive realism but, well, in fact, it is still Christological, still transcendental, this hand must be cut off). That is, he leaves an out. For there is an anteriority or pre-gural position he evokes discretely. That is not male yet is also that of a not-woman. J.D. reclaims Nancys text not just as an assertion of hypermastery: this is inevitable, exploiting the male-male, indeed, cryptoChristian narrative, including its not entirely desacralised benediction in closing, its putative kiss of the eyes (or of death: for, as Derrida asks of the body without organs, who has ever seen a kiss between eye-balls, where is its event, and so on?). JD here and there points at an other to this, outside the male-male rivalry he performs. He identies, from the start, with Psyche, with a she that does not acknowledge her non-site as that in any narrative or any mourning precisely, who is identied in turn with khora, and khora itself with a sort of sheer technics: What there would remain to think is the place, the placing of this replacing, or the neutral spacing (chora, I might say), that would still extend its hospitality to this virtual substitution, unless it should detain it forever as a hostage (Derrida 2005, 262). What does it mean to speak for and of khora here: who is for Derrida not maternal, not a she either? One cannot ask where she (no she) has been encountered, touched, interrogated, since she is dened by a total ban on such proximity, as anterior to all phanesthai, where preoriginary inscriptions would be set or erased. Thus mourning will be pivoted against its acceleration or seeming other, even where J.D. can seem to indulge this trope too much, showing itself caught in default mode: what is called an impossible mourning, an endless mourning (Derrida 2005, 35), or the mourning of Psyche as Life itself, which is mourning itself, absolute mourning . . . Mourning without work of mourning, mourning without mourning (Derrida 2005, 50). Or later, pre-originary mourning (Derrida 2005, 192), which resists interiorisation: Mourning as im-possible mourning and moreover, ahuman, more than human, prehuman, different from the human in the human of humanualism (Derrida 2005, 192). One marks, some voice does, an outer rim of humanualism, of its museum of haptics, and it clearly needs to be elsewhere than in mourning but is having some difculty in the absence of all reference, beyond mourning the human. But then, for khora, mourning is inconsequent, as we noted in opening: And this, I think, also opens onto organic articulation, techne, substitution, prosthetics, the place of taking the place, what is held to be taking the place of something from before man, before humans, well before and thus well beyond the humanualism of the-handof-man (Derrida 2005, 221).

8 Tom Cohen

So here is my future readers critique (if we can use this word), since she is not preoccupied with the theater of Nancys tutelage, the family scene, and hears in this text, in the play of tones, a vague tedium of rehearsal, a difference-from-itself wrestled with, which let JD say, in a late interview, he is at war with myself. And this, on behalf of humanualism as such, at war now with itself? Has this utterance (I am at war with myself) been excavated or exploited to date, I do not know; any more than his cold reection that within two months after his death he would be in effect erased or eclipsed, despite knowing the networks of extensions and friends, the predictable conferences or journal issues, the various escapades of mourning? Can one speak, like a Jameson does of late capitalism, of some sort of late humanualism or of its phantasmal outside? If On Touching corners itself a bit much in its rhetoric of friendship, in its deconstruction of programmed relapses; if it conceals out of tact its reclamations and scripto-erotic rape, it cannot altogether control this drive, or gives over to it, more and less sincerely, so that its tone betrays another. This rift asks of us, on behalf of what it evokes and puts on hold as Psyche or Khora, to read it by counter-extensions, tactlessly, perhaps upping the ante as he recommends, and accepting that gamble, our gamble, to curtail this circulation among intimates, probing this next move to which all is preparatory yet which is banned for one of these Derridas. That might involve testing what might come after, what could be in excess to an excess that is, for him, at this point, so familiar as to be almost a re-play, an eternal recurrence. This limit rubs against that of J.D.s own writing project when confronted with the situation called Nancy: emblematic scion, student, reader, heir, who would yet lunge too soon, literalise or will display a sort of absolute, irredentist, and post-deconstructive realism (that is, post-Derridean) and must be yanked back, reinscribed, exscribed, in a way, cut off and restituted, in a manner bearing on what might come after J.D.s writing. The century that opens alongside Derridas death appears marked by wars visible and invisible, some more or less programmed (water wars, oil wars to come). It can be said to involve a shift marked, by Derrida, as if from a concern with the otherness of the other, the ethical or human other to a wholly other not fully addressed. We can pretend to map this by two dissolving bookends in the mythographics of contemporary America on either side of Derridas death date: 9/11, the logic to

Tactlessthe Severed Hand of J.D.

which he diagnosed as a suicidal auto-immunitary process, and New Orleans. Where the rst would be appropriated for a still human-onhuman narrative, in which a faceless other might be given a poster face (Osama, Saddam), used to generate a so-called global war on terror without temporal or geographic borders, the latter represents a lateral acceleration of this suicidal auto-immunitary process, so to speak, as a black hole or tear in biophantic orders. The three day suspension of the denizens of the Big Easy, cut off from response or modernity, the house vacated, accessed other times than those of the mediacratic spells of a post-democratic era. This hole or suspension accessed other logics, as where the histories of oil and transport, climate change and war, opened as a hole within the homeland. If the previews of the twenty-rst century horizon seem to foretell a circling back that eviscerates, a turning back of the systems on, or against, itself, life itself (and the human), we may speak of the X-factors of this post-global moment; factors that artefact the present as a sort of time-bubble, one tied to the venture of humanualism, which is installed with and as its own threat, we are told. These factors condense, in a way, several thousand years of scriptive history to a parenthesis, a speciesist episode provoking a mutation not only of the archive (in any discrete sense) but the earth, aterra, a certain prosthetic planetary, which is less apocalyptic than prescripted and banal in its materiality. This torsion lies beyond any current systems, and poses as a radical discontinuity, an ecotechnic voiding. These X-factors compel a renegotiation of contracts to time, as futures are consumed by present accelerations in causal backloops, and prehistorial logics intervene: a caesura experienced in slow-motion, a Hamlet-effect. These factors lie outside the mediacratic gameboard, the anthropomorphic chiasmus or political screen. And they imply what one might call coming wars over pre-originary inscriptions. Here, we might say, the non-anthropomorphic and geological times intervene. And here one moves, as it were, beyond mourning.

Khora is not kind or unkind, and does not give kisses such as her agent JD promises himself. She or it, elding syncopes beyond mourning, cuts off (Nancy, say, designated as onto-theologically relapsed). Thus the tracts on phenomenology which are said to be restituted from early essays sound ever so inhabited by their return otherwise, by being caught in a revolving door, slipping into a performative voice

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that had already gone beyond, or before, prepared for an after-all-this, while denying that site to Nancys project explicitly. And On Touching does this, quite knowingly. It keeps at bay, in a sort of reserve (like that of Psyche) an alternate point of departure that it will not gamble or is for another time, another conceit of time, ahumanualist, tactless; and here, one could complain, to Jacques, that perhaps he was betrayed by a certain category of friendship after all, by the circle of intimates and protectors, the incrementing debts and family spirit, the us-versus-them circle, with its family intrigues and jealousies of closeness, wanting to be heir and ofcial extension, wanting to build a more or less ofcious deconstruction network and, of course, wield (for Jacques) the capital of family name. And one might trace this in the detour that led him into an overlong sojourn into so-called ethics, the supposed ethics of an otherness of the other, into the family, into the push and pulls of debt, of so-called love and all its transferential displacements, into the illusory rhetoric of delity and the messianic. So what does On Touching, as and at its beginning, keep on hold? Derrida makes reference to supplementary technics at key junctures (the ageless intrusion of technics (Derrida 2005, 113)) but defers that as a too specic topos of On Touching, rather than beginning there, as he also implies, which would in fact erase the book as a rhetorical journey, a detour on the history of the hand generally. JD keeps this in reserve, if on display almost throughout the work. It is the problematic called memory, that is, what he calls the heart, of the archival or khoratic mutation everywhere strained toward. He is not yet ready for that, is tied up, the family requires another backloop. What Derrida holds in abeyance is a supplementary memory as the prosthetic heart, the syncopic beat or blow that initiates (again) all guration, all so-called sensation, returns to a mutation on the horizon: The syncopated convulsion . . . Isnt the heart memory? Isnt it thinking of memory? Thinking as memory? We shall safeguard the recollection, the cardiogram of this cardio-logy from one end of this book to the other (Derrida 2005, 35). He addresses such literal technics as a throwaway reference. In a near off-handed way, he hastily lists a few institutions of prosthetic haptics as the digital horizon opening the last entry or chapter, Salve. It is the site of the machines which JDs computer already speculates on, implements, carves an alternate present and future of. Yet the machinal which Derrida elsewhere links to de Man, with whom a deferred agon seems to accelerate is linked to apsychism as such, a move Derrida sets aside. Thus he is back-handed in opening this revolving door still. For instance, in mocking a tomorrows Sigmund Freud with a new magic

Tactlessthe Severed Hand of J.D.

writing pad:


Tomorrows Sigmund Freud will have to rene his magic writing pad and the topography of bodies during the psychoanalytic sessions, not to mention erogenous distance touching, and amorous bodies wrestling in the sheets of the Internets web. (Derrida 2005, 301)

This new magic writing pad as a gure is, differently, already implied in the khoratic logics of the pregural. On Touching notes where the history of the hand includes the nger, the slash of the letter J even, where the digit or nger arrived as a number, as hand, that of the invented one (or even, one might extrapolate, zero), and as numbering, the prosthetics of the visual. I mention this for a reason, one I will return to briey in sketching a recapitulation in advance of where J.D. would, in concluding, as if begin. Except, to begin there, where he indicates one must but suppresses for narrative purposes, would erase On Touching, foreclose the rhetoric of mourning, preclude the operatic non-kiss (ever delayed in a classical seduction). He does not abandon this post, so to speak, of closing the ghosts of this now dire tradition, incensed and Christian, while indicating, nonetheless, an outside rim to this historical parenthesis, the era of man, of fratricide, of mens hands: this parenthesis linked to alphabeticism, spelling itself. But the machines mentioned as a certain banality are also called the site of a mutation: where the relation between thought, weight, language, and digital touch will have undergone an essential mutation of ex-scribing (Derrida 2005, 300). The electronic or digital archive can be reinscribed too easily as a techno-fetishism, and so on, as it tends to be. Yet for sure, any ahaptics to come, any nano-technics here, would depart from the male-male tradition of philosophic sense and touch and sight as such, would shed it after several thousand years or more. Even touch forgetting all the metonymic chains it launches in language will not be addressed as that of a nger, a penetration, a body, the body that is not, since even the human body is but one kind of body, compared to the variants available to life forms, is precisely humanualistic. It swarms back, as it were, through digitalised points, swarms of 0s and 1s, anesthetised in advance, at the point where the dividing lines are going to run (Derrida 2005, 224). Moreover, since the secret of this disquisition is also that all sense is already a mnemotechnic product, already subject to a backloop, already programmed by a backloop that depends on gural regimes, something else emerges. Let us say, for the moment, that the detour here, long, absorptive of everything, leads to a technicity without sense or model, without contact as such.

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So how does this battle between the haptical and the optical accelerate itself? Does one not need, or want, at least, to blind the eye that enforces this blindness, anaesthetise a broader anesthetisation: as before, in the name of, certain X-factors gestured to? The latter sabotage not one philosophic pulsion but a respeciesisation that is already, with its transposed organs if not brains (not yet, anyway, Derrida ruefully notes), entirely artefacted, even digitally shaped with memory implants of all sorts, including their own neutralisation? Where then does one begin where Derrida perhaps wanted to, almost, if he had not been pulled back by the family, his need to correct a post-deconstructive relapse, his sincerity, his love of this repeat and signature deconstruction? And this again, perhaps once too often, since it performs, ritually, the erasure of progeny in the very pretense of a benediction: like a benediction still unthinkable, an exasperated benediction . . . a benediction without any hope of salvation (Derrida 2005, 309). (The trope of benediction is allied, in the interview on Narcissism, to cinders, the forgetting of forgetting, of the forgetting of which nothing remains.) Why need this text deploy such violence beneath the constantly checked carress? Why does it choose mourning and pleasure as its cover, and where does a certain signature seem at war with itself, as if one were saying goodbye not to this or that person or beloved, but to the very history he, J.D., can (not) have nished with? What are the limits of this exscription, whose event implies, J.D. suggests, forgetting it itself? Derrida again describes what it would be like not to, and attributes this, en n, to an exscribed or rewritten Nancy (appearing now as J.D.):
He mistrusts himself. And precisely he mistrusts the perverse effects of a generalised haptics, even of some super-haptics. He knows that this great transcendental-ontologization of touch can be (in advance it will have been) reappropriated by all sorts of onto-theo-ideologies of immediacyexcept, except of the movement in hyper, if the leap of an innite upping-the-ante cuts off contact and amounts to taking this weapon away from all suspect manipulations. (Derrida 2005, 309)

Let us note: this taking away of weapons marks a site of war, a strategy of disarming as well as aggression in which a certain enemy is totalised and to be disarmed. One might remain vigilant, in this matter of family contacts and circles of friends and extenders, in the subtle opiate of proximity, where a certain counter-logic descends, the blindness of being too close perhaps.

Tactlessthe Severed Hand of J.D.


Perhaps one knows too intimately something, some voice one identies with or translates too much: a love one imagines one can restitute, a faux delity to an imaginary position. And, of course, if this happens, one is caught despite the best will in a labyrinth or circulation of literalisations real and ctional: that is, another sort of contact; familiality; touch, like that of close friends, perhaps. (Even J.D. says this, that he is intimidated by his real friends: (My real friends always intimidate me, as do my sons) (Derrida 2005, 301), though what does this spur, and what is intimidation or what are real friends here, if they are not inscribed with betrayal?) The risk is different than that of the will to betting which J.D. advances or wills to his legatees (here, Nancy): that of a desperate bettor, reecting a Christologic perdition frenzy (Derrida 2005, 309). You will gather I am not partial to the rhetoric of delity, so easy to convert or mishear, at least, if one is too close. Indeed: does not On Touching declare a discrete war on friends, intimates, continuers, scions, communities of those without communities, and so on, with a myself? Which is why, if anything, the benediction itself may be said to be to another, precisely where it is withheld, precisely to one not touching, not seeking recognition, not re-inscribed, who does not need to be told, tiresomely, it is without salvation: the one who gambles in fact. It is possible to see this work as a blow, a strike (terms Derrida favors), against a certain anesthesia, and this on behalf of an anesthesia doubled at the prosthetic heart. What is the relation, Derrida would ask, between the neutering of the political embedded in an onto-theological matrix, a mediacratic-Christological acceleration and death drive, and this anesthesia? Is our future reader to be excused such a tactless scan, as if shes winking to J.D. nonetheless, from a position, say, on the other side of the mutation? At question is something like advanced exteriorisation, the other side of ex-scription.

What then of these machines, that evoke both a darker agon with de Man, the threat of apyschism, and yet point toward a new magic writing pad and where the dividing lines are going to run? I will scan a moment, now, in the history of the hand, a disruptive non-moment that has not yet found its place, returning to where cinema performs this cut on psyche, the psyche, say, constructed for a certain psychoanalysis (one dated, marked, and tagged with reference to warpost-World War II America, say for the moment). And we will

14 Tom Cohen
see (or, precisely, not, blinded in this loop, marked, tagged as gone beyond, and this, in the faux messianic promise of the arrival of a new head, new cognitive orders and sense programming) where this has been touched on, reconguring historial markers in advance. This new head will be allied in its way with a sheer mnemotechnics, with a spellbound and globalising present, with the new magic writing pad perhaps handless that Derrida metonymically allies with mere computers, with digitalisation, with the mutation of the archive (and hence mnemotechnics), with his own writings, and by extension with an acceleration and faulting of humanualism, the Christian parenthesis or onto-theological relapse. I will turn briey to Hitchcocks Spellbound, where all of this is linked to the question of war and the animated debate around the animation of inanimate Psyche (Derrida 2005, 36). Such a reading of On Touching takes note of the following vibrations: that J.D.s strategy defers the one clarication that would collapse the entire history under review as if to a certain point, or repetition, that of a preoriginary technics, of course, whose prosthetic heart is that of mnemonics. In short, the rhetoric of touch always circumvents or banishes reference to its emergence from referential programs, which is also to say media, new and old; that, deferred to its last chapter in a throw away reference, an after-thought, and sanitised from all but a few pages (even if implied by a sort of evacuation of Psyche or khora from the start), Derrida nonetheless ends with a mutation, at once banal and invested, in which machines are evoked. One can excuse a different cut into this backloop, then, which is that of a kind of hypermedia or another new magic writing pad, in a sense, as the sheer prosthetics of a cinematics that dematerialises all backloops, precedes, coalesces, and projects any face, representation, citational mark. Or, of something precedent to the book, to alphabetic writing and letters, to hands (the image would be seen as immediate, mimetological, indexing the real, and so on). One could say, in fact, that part of the melancholy of On Touching is that it rehearses, again, as if endlessly, the closure of a male-male tradition of the Book, of a certain cultural spell or parenthesis in its entirety that seems, indeed, old, that recedes before the twenty-rst century horizons I mentioned. If I put Hitchcock as a cipher and event on the table, give a name to one site in which these very gures are being thought beyond gurality as such (tele-mnemonics, the hand, the image as a citational eld, the spell of the eyes conjured immediacy), in advance, at a site where the archive at once mutates and speculates on this mutation, my aim is to

Tactlessthe Severed Hand of J.D.


open a syncopic chain of metonymies (simultaneously revoked) around the cinematic as the event in which this new magic writing pad remarks itself, precedent to any letter, predisinhabited by a syncopic heart or heartbeat. I reserve for another time detailing why Hitchcock can be read as a cipher for where the prosthesis of celluloid, inscribed in advance of its funny present of phanesthai, as sheer mnemonics, of course, thinks itself entirely without designated contact, without model or origin, without hands or eyes quite, or conversely, as ngerprints alone. Or where, in terms of our programmatically blind and mediacratised present, it submits en mass to the images mutation and programs (that is, its streams of entertainment, video-games, neutralisation, identication with the televisual face, and so on). A split between two logics within this machine, which, if I hear correctly, is where J.D. points to as a problematic to come: where the dividing lines are going to run, I believe:
A technique, a mechanical technique (always but how much more manifestly so, henceforth, in present and future machines) is what can discriminate or perceive by functioning with the simulacrum of something sensible (with light, digital contact and odorous compounds, for example) but is not feeling, does not give in to the distribution or hierarchization of the ve senses, and above all does not feel itself feel and thus remains anesthetic in the very place where a machine supplies, and stands in for, sense. And there where a self-touching is missing, for example, be it in what we term our body proper, the place opens up for some machine, some prosthesis, some metonymic substitute, and some sense replacing some other sense. That is where the dividing lines are going to run, I believe. (Derrida 2005, 2234)

Here is evoked at least two new magic writing pads occupying the same non-site or space, that of a society of control or anaesthetised programming, and that of sheer, but non-humanualised resistance. And the latter includes, here, rst at least, resistance of and to psychoanalysis. Humanualism has left being manual, gone to automatic, the hands generalised mastery coinciding with its anestheticisation, its substitution. Now, one could do a catalog of where touch circulates in Hitchcock as a problem associated with the imprint, with the generation of reference as such (let us recall: JD left this out almost completely, except in a comment on Merleau-Ponty, where touch tropes and covers the generated reals of installed referential programs, preoriginary even to onto-theological gures), and not just the contact sheets, or the promise of the images deictic contact with a real (what underwrites the premise or promise of the mimetic index, and so on).

16 Tom Cohen

Derrida salvages from Nancy what the latter calls syncope: When [Nancy] was writing about the syncope . . . . this could point to a good way of consequently rereading everything (Derrida 2005, 111). In Hitchcock this becomes the signature of a new magic writing pad that involves cinematics. A marker inserted into every lm that performs its own pregural event, it is a series of parallel lines or bars (/ / / /), a sort of annotation of spacing, of strokes (traits) or blows or heartbeats, before any memory, before any coalescence of the visible, before face, before any spelling (or mimetic spell) is installed.2 (That is, one is as if before a logic of ex-scription, wielded as the prosthesis of auto-hetero-affection turned against itself.) I will use this to signal where, within the archive and in advance, let us say, of the archive of the non-Book, from our funny present and even funnier futures, those which will no doubt include wars we today barely want to consider, with oneself, autogenic, certainly not on something totalised as terror precisely. And perhaps these would be in the end archival wars, occuring over the humanualist programs of cognitive devising to come (Derrida speaks of this split as the one to watch). I have spoken elsewhere of coming wars of reinscription, or perhaps, to keep within this discourse, ex-scription. And these other wars may make what Derrida has called the so-called world war of the last (so-called) century seem, perhaps, at best preparatory. Given time, one could return to what JD calls a war too within the recalibration of the senses, also present in this battle between the haptical and the optical, an epistemo-political mutation that On Touching would speak at times as if from beyond and before. And this would be linked to a mediacratic and spellbound horizon, a war occuring within and over the world, as if at one limit of the Christo-monotheistic-alphabetical history? In Spellbound, Hitchcock will oppose his new magic writing pad to any psyche named or confabulated by the era of the Book, any psychologising. Fingerprints precede, in its forgetting, the mnemonic imprint from which touch is derived, remembered, forgotten as a technic; indeed, a preinscription. Even if the form that takes, its pattern so to speak, its graphic irreducibility, appears here as a vertiginous swirl of lines (a series of circles within circles that reappears, astonishingly, in the universal reading room of the British Museum, trope of the imagist assemblage or mausoleum of colonial time, of the world as artefacts, as assembled history so-called).3

Tactlessthe Severed Hand of J.D.


All of these logics are on display already in the 1929 lm Blackmail, Hitchcocks and Britains rst talkie, a site where the tele-archive mutates its technologies, where sound or voice recongures the mute graphics of silents that still blackmails it, where the prosthesis of voice is seen to coalesce from sounds specically between males (and this, in a policemans bathroom, washing hands, lled with homoerotic positions, between policemen precisely, detectives at that). Since in essence, JD indicates that everything convoked around the tropologies of touch (that is, everything) opens with an occlusion of ngerprints, that which, emulating a celluloid print, cinema is never in a position to forget. So, quickly, a gathering of nanological points: as like so many birds. Here animation appears and exteriorises or exscribes the archive as a phantomatics in which this battle between the haptical and the optical arrives at a suicide, that of the giant prosthetic hand, a perfect hand (as the lm calls it) shooting out the eye, and thus head, shooting into the screen and into the camera, in Spellbound.4 Suicide, recall, ashes up as a certain moment in On Touchings itinerary: What remains to be thought together is the rst kiss and suicide, the principle and the act of authentic philosophy, their youth and their discipline, the act and the action. The impossible task of a general haptology (Derrida 2005, 292). Thus I turn instead to the suiciding of the prosthetic eye by a giant, virtually severed and prosthetic hand: doubly prosthetic, as one sees near the end of Spellbound. It will be as proximate as Hitchcocks operation can come to Derridas destroying gure of kissing eyeballs, to penetrating the eye or the blind of its artice: a violation of the viewers optics. Spellbound is all about mediatric memory, the ChristoEnlightenment era of humanualism and, as it turns out, transepochal time war.

Derrida draws back from the machine as the end of psychism, yet elsewhere he wonders who is more psychologising (merely), Freud or Nancy: Is Freud more or less psychologizing than Nancy? (Derrida 2005, 43). There would be a psychism, then, a psychism of Psyche without psychologising, yet which is not apsychist. Hitchcock accepts, from the position of cinema, and in this like de Man perhaps, this end of psychism. Is there a counter-reading here? The word spellbound incorporates multiple variants on the trance of a mediacratised community, of a post-war trauma, of a fratricidal machine, of sensorial programming on automatic, of the blind eye. In

18 Tom Cohen
Spellbound, as in On Touching, cinema approaches the psyche of a coronated psychoanalysis as J.D. does that of Nancy (asking, as he does, who is more psychologising, in fact, Freud or Nancy). And there is a staged male-male contest that absorbs the Christological histories, together with those of war, of light, of ocularcentrism, of technics, or the archive of the book, of the eye and of the hand, each severed, as if some cinematic self-touching of sorts. This seems clear, when what spurs Pecks psychotic spells is the encounter, alone, with the pattern of lines, the syncopic agent that is the supposed trauma and site of generated mnemonics, of that inserted as any I (which is the signature of the cinematic as such, the rushing cells separated by invisible bars that construct movement, the visible, the hyper-haptics we will see turned against, almost, itself in a moment, if we can still use the verb see). It is associated with anteriority, artefacted visibility (or light) and repetition, generating spacing and temporal loops. A line or nger, it is preletteral and preinscriptive, inducing a formal amnesia that, contrary to the course of the narrative is already the imposter of a new head on arrival, a de-individuated site to be forgotten, erased, or assassinated with the recovery of the insipid identity of Gregory Pecks John Ballantine (or Gregory Peck). This is supposed to occur as at a ground zero of history, the suicide of old Europe and the transfer of the new head or Rome (Freuds trope for the archive in Beyond the Pleasure Principle) to the new global capital of New York, American mediacratic center of the televisual empire. In this, another fratricide, as cinema displaces psychoanalysis as the controller of memory; caricaturing and dismissing the latter, at its precise point of inauguration by Hollywood, as an Enlightenment project (Hitchcocks cameo appears, smoking a Freudian cigar in triumph, in an Empire State Hotel), and so on. So Hitchcock, also not quite male or sexed, will stab the new Caesar in the back, from behind, the anterior position of the camera, of control, of the perfect hand: the sheer technic of the asyncopic does not wear the accoutrement of metaphysical gures (the Unconscious, the Oedipal), or its pretense to being the king.5 Here there is no repression as such, but sheer exteriorisation, ex-scription as such. Hitchcock rapes psychoanalysis, a certain Freud again, like the recollected fratricide that impales the brother from behind on the sheer technics of the syncope. Hitchcock knows, scanning horizons back and forth, that it is not psychoanalysis that will suffuse and accelerate, shape and control the coming global order, but the mediatrics of Madison Avenue or the teletechnic empire his cinema, nonetheless, takes up a counter-position to. That of Peck, for instance, the imposter new

Tactlessthe Severed Hand of J.D.


head and total techno-amnesiac called the imminent Dr. X, whose pharmacological X names a certain chiasmic logic which knows the order of the visible itself to be artefacted from memory bands. Thus there is a nal annihilation Spellbound must perform after the fratricide: a suicide in this battle between the haptical and the optical, an ocular-suicide perhaps allied in its way with the kiss of two eyes of On Touching, and that as if by what the lms rst character the manhating nymphomaniac Mary Carmichael (Rhonda Fleming) calls, with reference to the cards shes holding, a perfect hand. Only this perfect mechanical hand, the crystallisation of the technicity, is no longer that of a more or less xed gambling site, a rigged game, whose outcome like On Touching is scripted in advance. It is a suicide uniquely and as if clumsily cinematic, executed into the eye by a giant prosthetic hand, a giant machinal hand absorbing the histories of humanualism, by way of a cinematic or spool-like revolver that atomises light itself or the visible into a burst of rays. This giant hand executes the eye in a gesture without end to its resonance, since it summarises all the histories it emerges from at this ground zero. That is, of a hand so artefactual, so much a bad special effect, that it must be marked and, detached as such, turn the cinematic against itself, or a certain residual phantom it generates, that of the visible as such, as the Hollywood or Madison Avenue production (post-Rovean America). You see, or not, that this shot is as if surreal, repeating Dalis scissors, as if from and into a past and future heads eye itself, the directors, but also into the camera, or again, the audiences eye, and so on. Note that this occurs with an atomisation of the visible, an atomisation of light into rays, but also the event of a technical mutation: here, the rst insertion of color into black and white cinema in Hitchcock, here blood red, an insertion simultaneous invisible (it returns to black and white) and one that, despite the performed rupture of the eyeball before any kiss, continues to record as the smoke, or fog, or hanging chiaroscuro of shaded light runs on. Does Spellbound perform a closure of the museum of haptics by a certain hyper-mediatised touching of itself: closing the unconscious, repression, the rhetoric of a certain psychoanalytic will to hermeneutic dominance by the scissor-cut of a non-human technic, one we may wish, today, to begin with, depart from, just as On Touching can seem a violent departure and repetition of a lesson, a diversion that restrained JD, here, from a next step everywhere implied? Does it break the spell of the body as such by being on the side of the anesthetic heart, the syncopic bar series, the non-human or other than humanualist epoch, which is that of writing, the book, the alphabet? Does the articed light ray,

20 Tom Cohen
shot into the eye, mime the closure of all Enlightenment tropologies, all senses as such, by preceding spelling, atomising the spell of spelling too?6 It apprehends where light is an artice, an effect of the syncope, is preceded by technics, waves, the bar-effect. The two enemy others of this fratricidal war-system in Hitchcock appear as doubles, two extremes of Enlightenment epistemology claiming light which are totalised in the new empire state of the mediatric capital, which are turned against by the nanological puncture of points, atomised slashes, in what the human perceptual apparatus then calls the bird war. That is, where the prehistorial avenging of technics and marks against an entire spellbound perceptual program linked to hyperconsumption (Bodega Bay) coincides with the evacuation of the house.

Todays readers and afliates shouldnt take too much succor in the spectacle of watching Nancy raised up, dismantled, reinscribed: Nancy would be but a stand in for others. The reading of On Touching may have to wait for those not blocking that by seeking, still, a reading of proximity, or a domestication dovetailing with a certain misappropriation, more or less welcomed, of the turn toward ethics. At war with itself, On Touching solicits and simultaneously cuts off such a reading, and one is left to speculate not on where deconstruction stands to be gathered, the name re-imprinted, constituted as one of its ghosts best left behind (say, the revolutionary promise of the 80s, American deconstruction or its baroque echo in the British variant), but where the transition spoken in On Touching is addressed, as it would be in that work, from elsewhere. One may wonder whether, for a certain Derrida, the present generation, supposed extenders, were not vessels to a reader to come. As with the imagined reader decades hence with whom a dialogue is already opened, the hinge decades of contemporary modernity will, by their inscriptions and drives, close out many of those futures and pasts. One could rather predict that, like the trace, it, the work of deconstruction, would turn up in other names, in unrecognisable pieces and styles not seeking the family moniker. But then, as our reader to come would say, of course there is no touch. Come now, lets show some tact, particularly where mourning is concerned. But then, is it not tactful to point out, nonetheless, that this programmatic betrayal is written into the pretext of delity, and it is not yet time, for some, to read the I am not of the family in all

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its logics. Does On Touching not generate its own maiming legacy, as if suicidally, and survive that as a magic writing pad of sorts, or the prospect of that at a site called khora? And in the process, does it not, with a Samsonian gesture, taking the temple with him, present the clearing to break with that? That is a generosity beyond the obvious. And it opens upon the curious horizon of the twenty-rst century, in which the political will have to do with mnemonics, with alternative inscriptions and programs in an ongoing history or post-history of the senses.

Derrida, Jacques (2005), On TouchingJean-Luc Nancy, trans. Christine Irizarry, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

1. When Peggy Kamuf notes on the books back leaet is a keystone work for Derrida (nothing less than a deconstruction of the phenomenological principle of principles) she dwells on the address of Nancy, speaking for Derrida: up to the work of his contemporary and beloved friend, Jean-Luc Nany, the epochal thinker of touch, seeming not to notice where that phrase (epochal thinker of touch), seems less than salutary after its numerous repetitions in On Touching, as if epochal, in fact, were already something like metaphysical, or pass. 2. Examples of these markers (/ / / /) in Hitchcock lms might include, the strokes or parallel lines on fabric; the parallel lines of metal bars that make up a fence, and so on. 3. The ngerprint in a Hitchcock still overlays the face of a man so that ngerprints or lines swirl with circles within circles. 4. In Spellbound a hand holding a gun slides into the frame in close up (the frame severing from view the hand from the arm). The hand appearing larger than life and pointing the gun into the eye of the viewer, who looks down the barrel at one point, spellbound. 5. Thus, for instance, the opening citation (edited) from Julius Caesar, about the fault not lying in the stars (the passive-aggressive Peck, for instance, who seems more psychotic when returned to his identity) but ourselves (or at least Selznick). With the opening homage to psychoanalysis that Selznick imposed, the coronation of psychoanalysis by cinema (and pop culture supposedly), Spellbound knifes Freud in the back, slits the eye, undoes the faux Caesar at or by praising him, essentially, as an Enlightenment project set to govern mass memory, replace religion, orchestrate ghosts, control the hermeneutic house of perception (Green Manors, a madhouse). That is, precisely what cinema or the tele-technics it birthed was in fact destined to do in the post-world war, global, America. 6. See Akira Mizuta Lippits Atomic Light (Shadow Optics) (University of Minnesota Press, 2005), in which the artefaction of light and its linkage to atomic atomisation (and the caesura) is denitively explored with reference to Japanese cinema.

DOI: 10.3366/E1754850009000359

Derrida, Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics

Claire Colebrook
Abstract In On Touching Derrida locates Jean-Luc Nancy (and, briey, Gilles Deleuze) within a tradition of haptic ethics and aesthetics that runs from Aristotle to the present. In his early work on Husserl, Derrida had already claimed that phenomenologys commitment to the genesis of sense and the sensible is at one and the same time a commitment to pure and rigorous philosophy at the same time as it threatens to over-turn the primacy of conceptuality and cognition.Whereas Nancy (and those other gures whom Derrida cites, such as Merleau-Ponty) express a faith in a return to the sensibility of esh, Derrida presents his own work as manifestly more cognisant of the necessary distance between esh and sense. Another approach to the haptic is suggested by Gilles Deleuze, whose work Derrida locates within phenomenological presence, despite Deleuze and Guattaris trenchant rejection of the lived and the human organism that inevitably subtends any discussion of the relation between sensibility and sense. Rather than decide for or against this border between esh and cognition, between post-deconstruction and deconstructive rigour, this essay examines this curious border of touch between philosophy and sensibility, and does so by referring to William Blakes problem of returning the signs of sense to the sensibility of the hand. * How do proper names operate in theory? I ask the question of theory, not philosophy, insofar as theory is both the invasion and disruption of literary studies that occurred on or about 1976 with certain threatening and enticing French authors, and the capacity of a distanced and critical view of a scene whose own relations are not immediately self-evident. Theory can at one and the same time be marked and dated as an event, as a style of thinking, writing and invoking proper names, at the same as

Derrida, Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics


it is also a potentiality that has always been one of thoughts tendencies. Nowhere is this more evident than in todays theory wars and theory encounters. Proper names, such as those of Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy and Gilles Deleuze can function as territorializing placards: the mention of a name places oneself in a territory, creates a body of thinkers and a position of enunciation (Deleuze and Guattari 1987). To use names as markers of an orientation in thinking to see Deleuze as offering a vitalism, or Derrida as offering a post-structuralism is at once the constitutive gesture of theory, which would place itself in a self-conscious terrain opposed to unthinking naivety; at the same time it is also a form of anti-theory, a consignment of the potentials of a corpus to a name within chronological time. In Deleuzes use of proper names and isms we can discern both these gestures of theory: Bergsonism and Cezanne-ism are, positively, ways of releasing problems from a corpus. To consider evolution creatively to really read Bergson is to take the problem of life beyond the problem of human spirit towards which it was directed by Bergson himself (Deleuze 1988). To truly see a Cezanne painting is to recognise the problem of gure and colour that is actualised in the canvases of Francis Bacon (and that in turn opens a virtual future of canvases that will sustain and radicalise the problem of the analogical, or the tracing of distinct gures from visual intensities) (Deleuze 2004). A proper name is both a territory, an orientation and stability that is required for thinking, and a de-territorialising potential or the opportunity to take a body of work beyond its actualised embodiment. Theory may, then, be the mention of proper names that will enclose thinking in a certain habitus. Theory may also be an imperative to deterritorialise a mode of thinking: the potential of taking the style of a problem beyond its actualised and historically contextualised form. When, today, we speak of the end of theory, the death of theory or existing in a state beyond or after theory, we use theory names in a territorializing and diagnostic sense: a proper name can mark a fall into unthinking rigidity (Docherty 1990, 2003). This occurs both with the sense of the invasion of theory, when we can see an otherwise benevolent literary and philosophical scene as corrupted by the intrusion of (usually foreign) names, and within theory itself, as when Deleuze and Guattari will appear to grant certain names Aristotle, Descrates, Hegel, Freud, Lacan a certain malevolence that a properly vital thinking ought to overcome. In Jacques Derridas On Touching Jean-Luc Nancy (2005) it is possible to see these two gestures of theory, which are quite distinct from philosophical gestures, for they do not concern the pure articulation of

24 Claire Colebrook
problems so much as thoughts capacity to fall back into isms. This can be positive, when Derrida will insist on not dismissing too quickly a text that might seem to be nothing more than one more instance of a tired naivety, but it can also have a sloganising quality, or at least it can be read in such a manner. Jean-Luc Nancy (and to a certain extent Deleuze, and the other thinkers who might have come closer to touch than Derrida himself) functions as a name that is at one and the same time a problem or potentiality that Derrida would applaud, as releasing a force that is in tune with his own work, and the marker for a stupidity that one might diagnose as not, yet, properly philosophical. Names are both historical markers and future potentials. Consider as an example here Derridas early work on Husserl, which is picked up once again in On Touching. Husserl is at once the limit of thoughts potentiality. Husserls problem of tracing circulating texts, signs and doxa back to genesis is required by the very sense, structure and possibility of truth: there is no question of remaining at a merely empirical level, where meaning could be reduced to a historical event within the world (Derrida 1978). The question of the emergence of sense is not a misguided, accidental or avoidable philosophical endeavour. Even so, that questions very urgency and essentiality is also its impossibility. Questions or problems what we might refer to as theoretical events that would strive not simply to live in pure immediacy but enquire into the possibility of the sensible, empirical, haptic or material must by their very nature fail. Theory fails: the look or distance that would intelligently differentiate itself from mere presence and naivety must also, in the very structure of its questioning, be other than the life from which it emerges. But theory can also be lived and institutionalised as the attribution of this nave failure to others. Before looking at how the names of Derrida, Deleuze, Nancy and others operate in Derridas own text, we might note how they function today, territorially. One could, from within a Deleuzian industry, regard Derrida as a pernicious linguisticism or transcendentalism that failed to approach life and the sensible (Protevi 2001). Similarly one could, from a more responsible attention to conditions, regard Deleuzianism as a ight from actuality (Badiou 2000, Hallward 2006), or as Derrida appears to do in On Touching regard Deleuze (like Nancy) as symptoms of a seduction by the haptic and sensible that a properly articulated philosophy would avoid. I would suggest, to add to Deleuze and Guattaris three styles of proper name names as they function in art, science and philosophy a fourth style of name, the names that operate in theory (Deleuze and

Derrida, Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics


Guattari 1994). Science names, such as Maxwells demon or Faradays law designate functions and impartial observers, ways of considering movements of matter independent of an embodied subject. Names in art occur in the manner of what Deleuze refers to as the northern line or what Deleuze and Guattari refer to as the feminine line: it is possible to call a landscape Turner-esque, or a sentence Joycean, or even perhaps to create a Pinter-like dialogue: we can view a work and see that it is a Pollock, even if we cannot yet discern what it says (and it may even not have emanated from the actual hand of a Turner, Joyce or Pinter but simply be recognisable as a style or mode of line). A proper name in art marks out a certain way of allowing matter to stand alone. A philosophical concept is, in contrast with scientic functions and arts affects and percepts, intensive. If we consider the haptic as an extensive concept (a non-philosophical concept or generalisation) it merely gathers, as so many proper names, all those writers who might try to overcome the cognitive relation between the sense and the world in order to arrive at something like touch itself. And these names would, necessarily, mark out errors or failures, for there cannot be an immediate grasp of touch itself; to think about touch is already to be in relation, to be distanced, to no longer be present. But an intensive concept, if there could be such a thing, would not gather together all the names and failures that have naively tried to return thinking to its genesis; it would strive to create an orientation for thinking. It may not be possible, actualisable, to arrive at touch itself, at an extensive concept of the haptic; but a concept of the haptic would direct thought beyond its cognitive, generalising or territorializing tendencies. An intensive concept of the haptic would not be the touch of this hand towards this tactility, or this eye towards this light, or even imaginable as organs and affects in general. An intensive concept would be an innitive: what occurs if we allow ourselves to think (if not know) what it might be to touch, but without the reduction of the sensible to being? What I would begin to suggest is that this concept of the haptic operates in a philosophical-theoretical manner in Of Touching that is not too distinct from Derridas own Kantian concepts, including the very concept of deconstruction. That is, we may not be able to point to instances of justice, democracy, forgiveness and so on; nor may we say that this or that is deconstruction, as some sort of method. Concepts signal the unthinkable in thought: I cannot know, intuit, grasp or give an ostensive denition of any of these undeconstructibles, but they do operate in thinking as disorientations, ways of awaking us from our literalist slumbers. The haptic, as a theoretical concept, signals that which must be thought but which is

26 Claire Colebrook
also unthinkable: that which represents the laziest of empiricisms a fall back into the lull of putative immediacy and that which should always be thought beyond categories, the actual, the human, the intentional, meaning and sense. Even so, in addition to this philosophical-theoretical tendency the haptic also functions in On Touching in a territorializing sense, and does so through a mention of proper names. If there is something like theory that is distinct from philosophy, it occurs less in the creation of pure problems and concepts, and more in the questions we ask about the textual, archival and historical genesis of those concepts. Whereas philosophy, presumably, would be the capacity to think and create concepts, theory is the location of those pure problems in conditions of textual emergence. Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari dene conceptual personae as crucial functions in philosophy: would it be possible to imagine modern philosophy without a doubting, mathematically oriented, solitary and meditative Descartes, or a critical Copernican turn without an overly-punctual and dutiful Kant? When philosophers create concepts they also effect certain personae, which are neither biographies nor general norms regarding selfhood. Personae attach to concepts because concepts are not ways of enumerating what might be taken to exist, but enable styles of existence. Descartes cogito, as Heidegger (1967) noted, begins from a relation to the world, where what is said to be will be that which can remain present, and where presence in turn is that which is extended in space. Heidegger already suggests that any understanding of existence presupposes a comportment to the world, but Deleuze and Guattaris concept of the persona argues for a relation not of presupposition but of attendant styles and forces. Concepts are creations that enable relations among terms and that also institute modes of life, productions of an image of thought (Deleuze 1994). Philosophical concepts are intensive because they do no merely name already assembled bodies into a collected set (as an extended gathering of entities) but create orientations and relations that effect a certain mode of time; but this means that the force of concepts is tied to sense, where sense is a mode of living, a drama (Deleuze 1983). The Cartesian conceptual persona is a drama of doubting, even ones own body and imaginings, in order to arrive at some beginning point of pure thought, while Kantian enlightenment proceeds by staging the abandonment of origins in order to recognise, responsibly, that one is already within relations. Creating a concept, or opening up a style of thinking, therefore requires a conceptual persona, or some image of one who thinks, of what it is to think. (Deleuze suggested in Difference and Repetition that thought might take place without an image, that it might

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be possible to create concepts without some attendant norm of good thinking. Would this mean that one no longer did philosophy, that there might not be a one who would love wisdom, and that one might have arrived at theory: a looking that was not preceded or grounded in some proper image of one who undertakes the force of thought?) If theory has its attendant personae, these are not conceptual persona, for theory as an institutional event has had less to do with the creation of concepts, with beginning thought again, and more to do with forms of territorialisation. Proper names create placards or refrains, ways in which one marks out ones terrain, distances oneself from any number of other bodies, and places a series of monumental markers around oneself to both enable, and perhaps forestall, encounters. What are the theoretical personae of Deleuze and Derrida? One could answer this question by attending both to the gestures within each names corpus that produce certain possibilities of recognition, and to the ways in which those gestures have produced territories. Thus it was always the case that the persona of Derridean deconstruction was created through gestures of critical effacement. In Of Touching the adoption of a voice or style that of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Nancy or Franck is taken on with a deferential commitment to the possibility of the other philosophers project, and then followed by a mournful recognition of impossibility. Derrida at once hails the bold gesture of Nancys meditation on the sensible, following the journey of Nancys voice towards a touch that might exceed sense and logic, and then from within that yearning logic recognises that such a pure touch would always have been philosophys desire and its impossibility. Perhaps we can begin to discern, here, the problem of this book, which is a problem of how one approaches the philosophical archive when one is archiving oneself. How will Derrida use the personae of the philosophers through whom he created concepts, and how will he create (in addition, and alongside) those concepts a series of theoretical personae? In order to approach this distinction between concepts and theoretical personae I will begin rather bluntly. We all know the Derridean theoretical persona, which was nowhere more evident than at the time of his death in the newspaper obituaries that mourned the passing of this scandalous Frenchman who doubted thinking, meaning, sense and reason.1 And perhaps, against this, we theorists have tried to rescue the philosopher or theorist in Derrida from such domesticating gestures, insisting on the rigour, excess, afrmation and legacy that could not be reduced or understood in such a manner.2 Against the caricatured persona of theory one might try to retrieve a Derridean persona that

28 Claire Colebrook
would once again take up a voice or proper name in order to open its potentiality, rather than recognise it as one more instance of an ism. It is just that theoretical persona a voice that defers to, and desires what an other voice would seek to nd beyond philosophy, while lamenting the impossibility of such a beyond that has enabled a certain Deleuzian theoretical persona to overtake what remains of theory. The notion of a death or end of theory, or a time after theory, has itself produced its theoretical personae: an ethically irresponsible textualism that is now ameliorated by a return to history, or as in the case of Deleuzism an overly linguistic or critical Derrida, now answered by a return to life. If Derrida functions as a personication for a critical failure of nerve, for a remaining within the conditions for the possibility of experience (with experience narrowly dened as meaningful experience), Deleuze stands for a release from critique and an afrmative, possibly literalist, project of genesis, emergence and vitalism. What I want to examine in the essay that follows is not so much the legitimacy or correctness of Derridean deconstruction versus the vitalism of Deleuze, but the ways in which these personae of a responsible linguistically-nuanced critique on the one hand and a postlinguistic afrmation of life on the other themselves replay certain rigidities in thinking. I want to approach these thought gures, or theoretical territories, through a particular motif gestured to in On Touching: the deconstruction of Christianity. That idea, so crucial to the forward movement of Nancys thought, is touched on in passing by Derrida, and this brevity of touch (I would suggest) has a certain force of its own, perhaps a resistance to thinking that we might so easily overcome piety. The very idea of a deconstruction of Christianity is at once an idea indebted to Derrida (as deconstruction) and, as an idea, a refusal or negation of everything that Derrida has come to stand for: would it be possible, so easily, for us to overcome transcendence, and would such a possibility have arrived, perhaps before or beyond Nancy, in Deleuze and Guattari? The very possibility of a deconstruction of Christianity is, as the relation among present and absent personae in On Touching demonstrates, at once the most inevitable and vital of ideas, and uncannily devoid of force. To telescope the idea of the deconstruction of Christianity as put forward by Nancy: once Christianity commits itself to monotheism, and once monotheism is, in turn, committed to the complete divinity of God, the idea of God destroys itself from within. If it is the case that God is absolutely and divinely creative, then all that exists must emanate

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from His being, but as divine emanation and creation there could not be a radical distinction between creator and created, between natura naturans and natura naturata. There is, then, an inevitable progression to Nancys position of sensible immanence that is offered (by Nancy) as philosophys and historys fullment. For Nancy the sensible is not an escape from philosophy and monotheism, a nave retreat to some beyond of sense; it is the fullment of sense. Insofar as I posit a God who would be the very genesis of all that is, I move from transcendence to immanence. It might be possible to begin the thinking of the sensible by attributing genesis to a transcendence, a God who authors this world. Like Deleuze and Guattari, Nancy suggests that the logic of transcendence arises from the sensible, that has always been thought as the sensible apprehension of being. Also, like Deleuze and Guattari, he suggests that transcendence will overcome itself. Once we try to think the origin of all that is, the very ground of being, then we arrive properly not at the origin of sensibility, but sensibility as origin. Once we think of God, not as a god who could be gured like any other being, but as the condition for all gures, then God is nothing other than this sensible, immanent, and never delimitable existence. There is not a nitude, beyond which we might posit or think an ungraspable innite; the nite as nite is always intimating what is not itself, and must remain nitely incomplete. Transcendence is impossible, and undoes itself. Thought destroys its self-immolation before an innite that would be other than this nite world; thought arrives naturally, properly at its own fragile singularity. Gilles Deleuze (2004) makes a similar argument about the becomingsecular of Christianity in his book on Francis Bacon. The very project of painting the divinity of Christs esh, the striving to present spirit in matter, ultimately arrives at the spirituality of matter, of paint become spirit. The enslavement to transcendence, so often gured today in the Deleuzian literature as an enslavement to the linguistic tradition or the signier, is not only presented as avoidable; it would be an act of unthinking stupidity, or life-denying malevolence to remain attached to transcendent gures beyond life. This is the force of Deleuze and Guattaris What is Philosophy? (1994) which charts its way through a series of names from Plato to Whitehead all of whom indicate a potentiality for immanence. Phenomenology, they suggest, comes close to arriving at immanence, but fails when it places immanence within the plane of the lived. Their philosophical task, similar to Nancys, would be to release and realise this positive potentiality of immanence that must, and should, arrive if thought is not to remain pious. Philosophy

30 Claire Colebrook
and its properly immanent trajectory is offered by Deleuze and Guattari, as directly revolutionary, as a release from transcendent piety. Now when Derrida cites Deleuze along with Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Aristotle and a series of others, he suggests that this supposed release from piety, or the inevitable deconstruction of Christianity, cannot take place. Indeed, it is the haptic or the return to life itself, touch itself, this nitude here and now, that allows Derrida to align a philosophical corpus with a not-properly-philosophical commitment to sensibility. So why, and how, we might ask, does Derrida pass quickly over this idea of Nancys this notion of the inevitability of immanence and instead focus on what does not undo itself: all those appeals in Nancy (and phenomenology before him) to esh, touch, the haptic and the lived? For Derrida, those moments in phenomenology, and in Nancy, are moments of unthinking piety, moments when thought appeals to some life itself that would be beyond, before or perhaps between the sense we speaking beings make of life. Or, to speak more simply, and in terms of the personications enabled by the industry of deconstruction, the appeal to esh and the lived, like Nancys seemingly deconstructive appeals to the immanence of the sensible, are unthinking lapses into the metaphysics of presence: the ideal of some in itself that then gives itself to be thought. Those referential moments in Nancy, like Husserls references to subjectivity, Merleau-Pontys invocations of the lived and Francks appeal to the esh, can be read as (perhaps inevitable) symptoms of a thinking that cannot but as thinking present itself as the expression of a more proper ground. To claim, as both Nancy and Deleuze will do, that Christianity deconstructs itself, and exposes its own impossibility, is no longer to behave as the unthinking and pious believer (no longer the vitalist afrmer of life), but to adopt the persona of the destroyer of piety. It is the possibility of this destruction that presents itself in a blunt form in an opposition between Deleuze and Derrida, but which needs to be thought as far more complex that a distinction between theories. We have two (inextricably intertwined) possibilities that confront us with the idea of the destruction of pious transcendence, and the power of proper names. And I want to demonstrate this by taking a simple literary example. In the preface to Milton, William Blake declares war on the received archive and the daughters of memory, and then proclaims: believe Christ & his apostles that there is a Class of Men whose delight is in Destroying (Blake 1966, plate 2). Setting aside the problem of naming and authority the invocation of Christ to sweep away the Stolen and Perverted Writings of the classics let us confront

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this appeal to destruction, for it has a double force. On the one hand Blake declares war on destruction, on all those writers who would dampen, deaden and impede the intellect, and he does so in the name of mental ght and spiritual war. On the other hand, in destroying destruction, Blake must believe in a spirit or force of war that could overcome the deadening piety of tradition. Such a double sense occurs in any act of self-archiving: to destroy and overcome the past requires both an identication of the way an archive can limit the imagination, at the same time as imagination it must in destroying take up some weapon, gure, force or piety of its own. Now, let us translate that double sense of war and self-archiving into the way names operate in On Touching: Deleuzes name is placed alongside Nancy as one who would believe in the haptic, and who would in the supposed war on transcendence and the innite once more subject thought to an unthinking naivety or piety. From a Deleuzo-Guattarian commitment not only to the haptic, but to the war machine that would destroy the force of law and transcendental conditions, the failure to arrive at the haptic is a failure to arrive at real conditions. So now I want to ask a stupid question: who is right? Is it possible to think beyond the linguistic paradigm and consider the life from which such systems emerge; would this amount to the nal abandonment of piety, with the absent god of language no longer being the great mediating condition that gures our subjection? Or is such a turn to life and genesis that would present itself as the overcoming of all piety the most unthinking of pieties, a vitalism that sacrices itself (and the responsibility of thinking) before a life and force that it must always gure as its own? I want to reiterate that this is a stupid question, indeed a malevolent question, in which thinking dramatises its own paralysis as an opposition between theoretical personae. Such a stupidity is, of course, no accident and is enabled (at the very same time as it is forestalled) in both Derridas and Deleuzes texts. By citing both Nancy and Deleuze as symptoms of a fall back into an appeal to the presence of the lived, Derrida creates a persona, but he is able to do so only because the possibilities of theoretical personae of transforming problems into proper names is one of the ways in which theory has always destroyed itself. The move to Deleuze in theory today is a move to life, an afrmation of the forces that generate gures, and a liberation from any body as such that might deprive thought of its immanent power. Deleuze can operate as a way of upping the anti-; however radical deconstruction might have been in the move beyond the mind of man to the signier,

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it failed to move beyond the signier to life. But one can also, after Deleuze, maintain a hold on deconstructive ethics. So, is it a question, as it might appear to be from a certain way of reading On Touching, that however desirable or seductive an approach to the sensible might be, we remain with a relation to the sensible? How might one decide on the responsibility of these warring proper names: is it responsible to recognise that a thought of the sensible is always a thought of the sensible, distanced and difcult? Or, is the imperative to go beyond the conditions of thinking to life and vitality itself, beyond all the human agonisings, the only genuine ethic of philosophy? In On Touching Derrida argues both that a certain privileging of the haptic is essential and necessary to Western metaphysics and that this essence and necessity can be discerned in the work of Deleuze. On the one hand such a denition and an inclusion might come as a surprise. Isnt Western metaphysics constituted by a originary privileging of pure ideality: that there can be a sense or eidos grasped in a pure act of apprehension without any medium of touch or affect? Isnt it this philosophical gesture par excellence which requires writing (or the body through which thought conveys itself) to be posited as secondary, parasitic and accidental? It is that logocentric notion of philosophy as thought thinking itself that might appear to be targeted by an emphasis on the body, matter, affect or the sensible.3 In his reading of Husserls reduction, which would bracket any factual or worldly being of the sign and instead turn back to its origin in constituting sense, Derrida insists that Husserl is the completion and apotheosis of metaphysics. What else is metaphysics if not the drive to incorporate, master and recognise as always already its own those dispersed fragments of history, writing, language and the body that would at rst glance seem to preclude thoughts self-mastery? In this regard we could place Derrida with Deleuze in the post-phenomenological tradition dedicated at one and the same time (following Husserl and Heidegger) to the destruction of received and constituted systems in favour of genesis and (against Husserl and Heidegger) to the demonstration that such a genesis is plural and anarchic, incapable of being grasped as thoughts own. One way of thinking about the relation between Deleuze and Derrida has been to argue that while both are similarly critical of the metaphysical privileging of foundational and constituting mind, Derrida will only demonstrate the limits of thought from within, while Deleuze will take that next postor anti-Kantian step and intuit the geneses that make up the subject of thought and life. So, Derridas inclusion of Deleuze within a haptic

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tradition running from Aristotle to Merleau-Ponty might not be an act of distancing, for we could see Derridas manoeuvre in On Touching to be one of acknowledging the haptic as a way beyond the metaphysical focus on the voice and the eye. The haptic is not the tactile, a touch taken by the commanding hand for the sake of the viewing eye and the speaking mouth; the haptic begins from the body without organs, not yet distributed or organised around the mind of man oriented toward cognition. On the other hand, Derridas inclusion of Deleuze within a metaphysics of hapto-manualism brings to the fore a critique of certain of Deleuzes non-phenomenological precursors who would step outside or beyond metaphysics without regard for any supposed necessary or essential metaphysical implications. In his early work on Bataille, Derrida (1978) demonstrates the ways in which the abandonment of mastery and the refusal of a relation to life, far from being a counterHegelianism plays into a metaphysics of presence. And the same applies to Derridas early essay on Artaud and the brief mention of Bergson in the essay on Heideggers note in Being and Time (Derrida 1982). Any appeal beyond the relations of the concept, any attempt to overcome the relation of mastery that would determine all that is other than the self through the selfs own system, must nevertheless grasp that radical alterity and otherness as its own outside. Or as Derrida argues in response to Bergsons attempt to overcome a vulgar and chronological clock time that reduces the ux of life to so many equivalent units: once we ask about the meaning of time we have already violated the pure difference of temporality a supposed time in its pure state and subjected time to the concept. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that Deleuzes emphasis on the emergence of thought and signication from ows of life might appear as one critical manoeuvre among others targeted by Derrida in order to consider the more critical approach to touch and the sensible in Jean-Luc Nancy. On the one hand, then, the haptic would be the violation of thoughts mastery of itself. On the other hand the appeal to the haptic would be the most nave of empiricist gestures, a too simple attempt to think the immediate, unself-conscious and not-yet-divided-from-itself being of life. So one could now parcel out the proper names as follows: either a becoming-Deleuzian in which we abandon the locations and points of view of human speech to becomeimperceptible, or we recognise that insofar as we write and speak we are always already within relations, and therefore always located as nite in relation to an innite that remains undeconstructible and never arrives.

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What, then, is the metaphysical opening to the innite, or the necessity and responsibility of thinking that would preclude us from remaining at the level of the haptic, tracing thoughts power and limit from touch alone? Such a question might allow us to think beyond a simple opposition between Deleuze and Derrida, beyond an opposition between a Bergsonian and vitalist appeal to life, and a Kantian recognition that life is always given to thought as this or that nite life. Perhaps the best way to approach this problem the question of the limits of metaphysics, or whether one can think life beyond the concepts we have of it is to begin with the structure of the question itself, and how that question functions today in the creation of oppositions. Is it the case that once we are asking the question of experience, trying to account for experience, we have already lost that supposedly pure and unmediated moment of presence in which life would not already be submitted to an order of sense or conceptuality not its own? Or is it the case that a focus on conditions, limits, inscription and a history of texts and names precludes us from attaining the proper level of vital ideas and problems? One thing is certain; as long as we approach the names of Deleuze and Derrida theologically as authorities whose texts might disclose the proper direction of theory we remain in a theoretical Manichaeism that opposes vital life to structuring text. In the terrain or territory of theory both these names, of Deleuze and Derrida, have been read not only as proper disclosures of the unfolding of existence, but as answers to the problem of lifes genesis. Either there is one vital life that offers itself through all the differences of existence, and can only be diminished by a consideration of its textual supports (Deleuze) or, we only know life as always already divided and dispersed through something like text (Derrida). To oppose Deleuze to Derrida, or writing to life, in this manner is to appeal once again to auto-affection: in the beginning is not a body or essence that comes into existence, for in the beginning is the event, act, difference or distance from which a body brings itself into being. So let us consider two possibilities. First, it is possible that the current sense of becoming-Deleuzian, having overcome Derridean limits and linguisticism, is a violation of both the problem of life and the problem of diffrance. To see Derrida as referring all experience, existence and events to one condition of dispersal from which terms would follow is to allow writing or text to function as yet one more self-productive but absent ground. But to see Deleuze as having successfully overcome a history of mediation to arrive at life itself time in its pure state is to reduce his work to a retrieval of Bergsonian vitalism, or materialism,

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while forgetting the ways in which life, for Deleuze, violates and perverts itself.4 Second, while one might want to say, then, that the opposition between Deleuze and Derrida is too simple and stupid, too lacking in nuanced and post-dialectical distinctions, the territorial readings of Deleuze and Derrida cannot be dismissed as mere accidents or parasitic excrescences. For there is a use of proper names by both authors that would assign the others body of work to a form of piety, a falling back into a belief in the haptic as such or writing as such. Deleuze and Guattaris minimal references to Derrida accuse him of just that fetishisation of writing and signication: as though one regime of signs could overcode or reterriotrialise all others. But Derrida, also, requires his symptomatic proper names, and this might indicate that something like philosophy or the creation of concepts and thinking as such cannot take place today, and can only operate as theory, as the reading through of other texts as symptoms. But if auto-affection is no longer possible, is the idea of a body that undoes itself so easily thought (whether that be a God who arrives at immanence, a text that destroys its own thesis, or a body that frees itself from organs)? In On Touching Derrida will make a number of deconstructive manoeuvres regarding the conditions for the possibility of autoaffection. First, that supposedly immediate touch before submission to the system of conscious concepts, before experience, is no longer ones own, discrete and singular, and is already invaded by and conditioned by what is not itself. To feel, to sense, or to live this here and now as ones own is to already mark it as bearing a relation to oneself, and to have this self that feels is already to be alien from oneself. To be or live in this pure presence of ipseity requires auto-affection; and one can only feel oneself touching the other if one has already placed oneself in relation. Relations cannot therefore unfold from the self, for selfhood or ipseity presupposes relationality. Second, auto-affection or the recognition of oneself as a self which would be required if one is to experience or take up a relation to what is not oneself has always required a normative image of the body. The body is the vehicle through which the self lives and orients its being. This is certainly the case for the phenomenology of the lived body that runs from Kant, for whom we do not need to prove a world of space and time outside me precisely because that inner me is already spatial, to Merleau-Ponty for whom the world is infolded from the I can. The body is therefore not a container for mind but active, orienting, synthesising not in the world but for the world. The body has always (received through the history of these proper names) been a body of auto-affection; all its responses and motilities are not acts of some

36 Claire Colebrook
distinct and housed mind but themselves intentional and life-oriented. Metaphysics is not undone by but presupposes the auto-affective body: the body that effects and knows itself through being in the world. There is a tendency now to read Derrida as a primarily linguistic philosopher, focussed on the conditions through which life is thought and lived. Deleuze, by contrast, is a vitalist, no longer concerned with linguistic mediation (or any other form of mediation) and even less concerned with ideality. Deleuzes virtual, according to those who would place him beyond Derrida, is material. The world cannot be reduced to its actualised conditions of relations, for there are also physical potentials that are not yet actualised and that allow us to think of matter in itself possessing virtual powers (De Landa 2002). Let us begin, though, by challenging this too simple polarity, so that we can think our way towards the more profound problem of life which exercises both philosophers and sets both apart from phenomenologys attention to the lived. First, for Derrida we need to note that it is not the case that writing, diffrance, the trace or text are relations or subjective conditions through which the world is lived; nor is it the case that such terms can be identied with language. Indeed, it is just that concept of language as a system of mediation that would somehow either befall or constitute life that Derridas thinking sets out to challenge. What Derridean thinking enables is both a critique of life and a new theory of life that is at an undermining of the philosopheme of theory. Theoria is the look or gaze we direct to the world. Critical theory becomes a question of how such a look is possible; as long as we think of Derrida and Deleuze as theorists whom we might apply to problems, we see them as tools for thinking, when perhaps it is just that notion of theory or thought looking to its own emergence and possibility that underpins the Kantianism and phenomenology whose names litter both the Derridean and Deleuzian corpus. For Kant theoretical knowledge is knowledge of the given, and so critical theory is an account of how the world can be given to a thinking subject. For phenomenology that question is insufciently theoretical, for what really needs to be accounted for is the genesis of the subject, the being to whom the world is given. In Merleau-Ponty that condition of the given will be esh, no longer a subject who must live towards the world, but a subject always already in the world. But we are always still in theory, turning back to touch our own emergence. And we might say that this is how the word theory functions today, as a distance taken from those who simply do or read literature by those who will ask how such doing or reading is possible. Certain forms of theory will,

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therefore, refer to the conditions and assumptions that are in play before reading; theory would be a turning back to the position of reading, an attention to the lens or context through or from which we read. But such a reference to conditions and such a notion of theory as selfreection and critique does not yet yield that positive and afrmative dimension upon which Derrida insists. One way of thinking about positivity and afrmation would be through the concept of life. If theoria is primarily the problem of the received, lived, intuited and given, where the given is given to some subject, then it might be possible to think beyond theory and beyond the lived to life. If, as Paul de Man argued, there can be no theory of narrative we can think about this negatively and critically: any attempt to offer an account of the emergence of narrative would itself take some narrative form a before and after and would therefore have presupposed what it tries to explain. This would mean that we would always already be within narrative, rhetoric and lived time, never capable of intuiting time in its pure state. But is there not a positive way of thinking theory and narrative, not as conditions within which we (as linguistic beings) move, but as the production or unfolding a space of relations? Here both theory and narrative (like writing, trace, text, diffrance) would have to lose their narrow critical sense. Writing would not be the condition within which we approach the lived, for before the lived as such there would have to be something like writing. This would require, in turn, that a certain notion of life would have to be re-thought. This is why a meditation on touch, esh and the body is not a consideration that comes to Derrida late in his philosophical career, through and with Nancy. If the normative understanding of self-affective life has allowed us to place writing and text after the immediacy and presence of touch, then only a different thought of the living being will allow us to move beyond the language of the linguistic turn. Vitalism, then, far from being the revolutionary post-Derridean and vibrantly post-human liberation that Deleuzians often claim it to be, would be the metaphysical gesture par excellence. Consider, before the vitalisms of Bergson, James and Husserl for despite his critique of Lebensphilosophie Husserl demanded that reied and technical systems be returned to their animating spirit the vitalism of William Blake:
The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could percieve. And particularly they studied the genius of each

38 Claire Colebrook
city & country. placing it under its mental deity. Till a system was formed, which some took ad-vantage of & enslavd the vulgar by attempting to realise or abstract the mental deities from their objects; thus began Priesthood. Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales. And at length they pronouncd that the Gods had orderd such things. Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast. (Blake 1966, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, plate 11)

In the beginning is the expansive and creative act, owing from enlarged and numerous senses. That originally living and animating force, through repetition, becomes systematised and reied until the instituting sense is forgotten. From an originally productive, active, spontaneous and creative poetry to the system of priesthood: this might seem like the rst step in overturning Platonism. But Platonism has never been a simple negation of life in favour of an ordering Idea, and the resistance to the Platonic distance of ideas from life goes back as far as Aristotle. (In Difference and Repetition Deleuze defends a radical and reversed Platonism, against Plato and Aristotelian naturalism). In Platos own texts the Idea is privileged because it is the genetic principle which gives being and life to matter, so that even as far back as Plato we can say that there has been a vitalist lament regarding the fall of thinking into inert systems, such as the thinking that would be devoted to rhetoric or semblance rather than the life of things. Not only does Blakes celebration of energy and animation anticipate Bergsons appeal to a creative life before the fall into the efciency of the intellect, and recall centuries of mourning regarding the loss of life and spirit in merely technical systems (including theory); it also brings to the fore the persistent vitalism of the normative body. Enlarged and numerous senses: the unfallen body is receptive to the ux of life, responsive and creative: giving to the world an animation that would be impossible if the body were one thing among others. The condition for the possibility of the lived is the lived and living body. There has always been a grounding of the genesis of the world in a vital body in a tradition, as Derrida notes, that runs from the proper potentiality of Aristotle, for whom the human body is oriented to perceiving the reason of the world, to phenomenology. There is always in the return of systems to life, a normative image of life, which is also a normative image of the body, and thereby a normative image of touch, of the haptic. The properly living being from which the question of philosophy ought to begin can never be the body within the world, but must be that body that can recognise itself as the ground from

Derrida, Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics


which something like a lived world is possible. Touch, in order to be the touch or sense of some being, must be other than the self. The selfs being to itself, though, requires an original auto-affection: mine-ness is given through the mouth that in speaking departs from itself only to recognise itself, a hand that in touching its own body relates to and remarks its own sensible being. Thus there is always a being of the sensible: to be sensed requires an intentional relation, and the relation must depart from, be felt by, and returned to, one who feels. Derridas notions of writing, trace, diffrance or text are not cognitive or linguistic conditions but ways of thinking the non-self-ownness of auto-affection. And perhaps we can think this through most radically in his critique of the haptic. In its nave and celebratory form we will say that the haptic is the afrmation of a sensibility, affect, encounter or sensibility not yet subjected to the reied systems of the intellect. Before there is a subject who feels there is this inux or explosion of sensation. Before it is thought, conceptualised, lived as this or that distinct and differentiated being, there is the absolute immanence of the lived. Before a world mastered and distributed in extension for an I who thinks, or a world to be received, there is intensity and inux, only subsequently, belatedly and after the fact taken as the world of res extensa. Is Derridas response merely the Kantian objection that any appeal to that world of pure non-relations is itself only grasped from some relation, some I who would seek to overcome in apocalyptic manner its enclosure within the norms of thinking? Is his thought a rejection of an appeal to the body, to sensation, to the haptic in favour of thinking? This might appear to be the case at rst and would reinforce that simple opposition between a critical Derrida focused on responsibility, conditions and intentionality and a vitalist Deleuze focused on emergence. But if we look now at Deleuzes consideration of the haptic this can help us see what is at stake in the long-running Derridean meditation on a certain normativity of the body in philosophy. To begin with, just as Derrida is critical of Bergsons appeal to a pure intuition before a fall into clock time and the dispersion of temporality into technical units, so Deleuze is critical of Bergsons refusal of intensive quantities. Both Derridas and Deleuzes objections to Bergsons vital intuitionism concern the positivity of the non-relational. Time is not a pure owing forth that can always remain in touch with itself, related to all its subsequent moments, available always as an animating and retrievable force. The condition for living on, for times maintenance, is a certain punctuality or separation. Lived time is the time of this being,

40 Claire Colebrook
which must therefore be marked or syncopated from one moment to the next. Time in its pure state would not be the continuous ow at one with itself, but would have to be a carrying over of a no-longer and an anticipation of a not yet. This leads us then to Deleuzes objection to Bergons refusal of intensive quantities; there is not a pure quality, Deleuze insists, that then falls into measure. It is always a question of certain thresholds being reached, a certain quantity, that will allow for the unfolding of a quality. In both cases we need to go beyond a certain notion of the haptic as the pure event of force, quality, ux or sensible that would be felt in itself without the system and difference of the intellect, a haptic that would indeed imply a body that would be nothing more than its open and responsive affectation without loss or remainder, to a more radical notion. That radical before or beyond of the haptic would not be an originary condition say, the life from which all particular sensations emerge or unfold but what Deleuze refers to as smooth space. Deleuzes concept of smooth space and the haptic are dened with reference both to Riemanns smooth multiplicities and Worringers (1953) Abstraction and Empathy. While the mathematical background refers to a topology and not to metric space to the creation of orientations or distances that cannot be measured by a common unit the notion of smooth space is given aesthetically by reference to the Northern Line. According to Worringer, primitive art is not yet the subjects orientation to a body recognised as enlivened like ones own, but is a pure abstract form laid over the chaos encountered. By contrast, modern art is empathetic: an enjoyment taken in the vital spirit of another organism. Primitive art according to Worringer is therefore a haptic art of close-range and does not have any depth or perspective. For Deleuze these two aesthetic modes the pure abstraction of at geometric forms and the naturalistic and representative empathy that uses line to trace the vitality in an other body have as their condition a more radical potentiality of line that can be thought of neither as the organisation of space, nor as the drawing out of a non-spatial inner life of another organism. This line thought from the possibility of a smooth space that has no proper orientation or geometry yields a more radically haptic aesthetic. Not the sense or pure force of matter to body without the intervention of conceptuality, but the movement from which all bodies or matters are unfolded. There has been much work done on Deleuzes concept of the spatium and its relation both to mathematical topologies drawn from Riemann and to physical concepts of phase space. To dene the intense spatium in this way would both

Derrida, Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics


increase the divide between a literalist-naturalist Deleuze and a critical/Kantian Derrida, and would preclude us from appreciating the ways in which both Derrida and Deleuze move beyond phenomenological notions of the lived and physical notions of the vital in order to think movements, connections, syntheses and lines that are not the product of active or embodied intentions certainly not expressions of a distributed corporeal cognition for what such lines reveal is that there is no sense in general. There is no lifeworld or horizon which is, though not present to any single subject, nevertheless constituted in and through some intersubjective community. Marking this distinction requires thinking of the line neither as the act of a subject who differentiates his world (so not as the linguistic construction of reality) nor a line which would be the pure and abstract force of a subject who had kicked himself free from all notions of the vital; not, therefore, a pure avant-garde return of the line to absolute liberty. Instead the line would be at once vital (bearing its own tendencies, producing its own connections, unfolding its own worlds) and destructive of the lived. We could not return the line to some preceding intent of which it would be the actualisation. The line would be haptic, sensible, corporeal and vital only in its break from the body proper. Here, at this point, it makes sense to return to Blake. For no poet stressed more vehemently the act of line and difference against the nightmare world of the undifferentiated. At the same time no poet revealed the life of line; for in his most prophetic moments of poetry and visual achievement, the reading and seeing of Blake disturbs a voice that would read to disclose a sense that that eye would recognise. Blakes is a haptic aesthetic: the eye feels the struggle of the hand, the resistance of the material, the matter that bears its own tendency for relations that would not be grounded in some prior intent. The voice that reads Blake at once adopts the apocalyptic tone of declaration, accusation, judgment and distance from communication at the same time as the eye that hears Blake struggles to sustain the coherence of the poetic object. This is neither abstraction from the lived nor a representation of the lived so much as a line, which in presenting living form, and in aiming to destroy priestly system and return to inspiration, is always poised between sense and nonsense, between the living body and the line that would bring the being of the body to ideal presence. The example of Blake is, I would suggest, telling. This is not only because we can think of the ways in which Derridean literary criticism, through the Yale school, helped us to dene a Romanticism that was always already concerned with questions of the genesis of sense. It is

42 Claire Colebrook
also because to read Blake through or after Deleuze and Derrida is not to apply theory. Rather the question of life, touch, the difference between the text and the bodies it touches has always been the spirit of poetry. The Christian tradition of visual art and poetry within which Blake is writing, precisely because it is a tradition concerned with the incarnation, sets itself the task of presenting matter as spirit, of allowing matter itself to vibrate. Thus Blakes work is at one and the same time Christian, for everything that lives is holy and therefore always expressive of some spirit beyond the body; at the same time it is the deconstruction of Christianity, for the holy life in everything that lives can never be grounded in a single act of genesis or creation. The truly holy, truly spiritual and truly living could never be limited to the borders of a body.

Badiou, Alain (2000), Deleuze: The Clamor of Being, trans. Louise Burchill, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Blake, William (1966), The Complete Writings of William Blake, ed. Geoffrey Keynes, Oxford: Oxford University Press, plate 2. Blake, William (1966), The Complete Writings of William Blake, ed. Geoffrey Keynes, Oxford: Oxford University Press, plate 11. Clough, Patricia Ticineto and Jean Halley, eds. (2007), The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social, Durham: Duke University Press. Deleuze, Gilles (1994), Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton, New York: Columbia University Press. Deleuze, Gilles (1983), Nietzsche and Philosophy, trans. Hugh Tomlinson, New York: Columbia University Press. Deleuze, Gilles (1988), Bergsonism, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam, New York: Zone Books. Deleuze, Gilles (2004), Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation, trans. Daniel W. Smith, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Deleuze, Gilles and Flix Guattari (1987), A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Deleuze, Gilles and Flix Guattari (1994), What is Philosophy?, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell, New York: Columbia University Press. Derrida, Jacques (1978), Edmund Husserls Origin of Geometry: An Introduction, trans. John P. Leavey, Jr., Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Derrida, Jacques (1978), Writing and Difference, trans. Alan Bass, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Derrida, Jacques (1982), Ousia and Gramme: A Note on a Note in Being and Time, in Margins of Philosophy, trans. Alan Bass, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Derrida, Jacques (2005), On Touching Jean-Luc Nancy, trans. Christine Irizarry, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Docherty, Thomas (1990), After Theory: Postmodernism/Postmarxism, London: Routledge. Docherty, Thomas (2003), After Theory, New York: Basic Books.

Derrida, Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics


Hallward, Peter (2006), Out of this World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation, London: Verso. Heidegger, Martin (1967), What is a thing? trans. W. B. Barton, Jr. and Vera Deutsch, Lanham: University Press of America. Protevi, John (2001), Political Physics: Deleuze, Derrida, and the Body Politic, New Brunswick, NJ: Athlone Press. Worringer, Wilhelm (1953), Abstraction and Empathy, New York: International Universities Press.

1. As an example: Mr. Derrida was known as the father of deconstruction, the method of inquiry that asserted that all writing was full of confusion and contradiction, and that the authors intent could not overcome the inherent contradictions of language itself, robbing texts whether literature, history or philosophy of truthfulness, absolute meaning and permanence. Jonathan Kandell, Jacques Derrida, Abstruse Theorist, Dies at 74, The New York Times, 10 October 2004. 2. An obituary authored by Derridean scholars, Derek Attridge and Thomas Baldwin, was published in The Guardian on 11 October 2004: Imitations of the Derridean style seldom succeed, and it is not surprising that a caricature version of Derrida emerged. But this amboyantly self-regarding gure, dismissing the search for truth, declaring historical knowledge to be impossible, denying that there is anything beyond language and doing all this in a relentless series of puns and neologisms bore no resemblance to the person himself. The caption below the picture of a somewhat startled Derrida read, Jacques Derrida: deep thinker or truth thief? 3. See the introduction by Patricia Ticinento Clough to The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social, ed. Patricia Ticineto Clough, with Jean Halley (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007). 4. For Deleuze and Guattari, That is the only way Nature operates against itself. A Thousand Plateaus, p. 242.

DOI: 10.3366/E1754850009000360

Threshold (pro-)positions: Touch, Techn, Technics1

Stephen Barker
Abstract Touching on Nancy and Derrida offers a glimpse not only into the thesis both of Jean-Luc Nancys critique of touch and of Derridas Le Toucher, but also into the threshold of a technology of (the) sense to come. This glimpse is an interrogation, and one that is both historic and historical, in the sense that Derrida, in addressing Jean-Luc Nancys work, has presented us with an encyclopedic history of touch in the philosophic tradition from Aristotle to Nancy, one in which what Derrida calls transcendental archifacticity is accorded its proper value, and within which any seeming anthropological privilege, as an inherent aspect of the Phenomenological Reduction is, as Derrida says, overshadowed. Such an overshadowing is both strategic, in terms of a historical phenomenological project, and tactical, in Derridas investigative sense: tactical in terms of implementation, manifestation, manipulation (i.e. through the application of the hand, manus) and in terms of tact, tactility; to which must be tacked on, la Nancy, con-tact, with touch, a with-touch in which a bance, a gash or dash, opens out in-between, at the very point to use Derridas repeated specication, of bifurcation and of con-tact, at the junction point of the spacing out of a laminated diffrance con-noting more than it has or had ever done in Derridas work itself. * At the very point where a certain historicity of transcendental archefacticity is taken seriously, [the anthropological] privilege tends to overshadow the historicity that produces-human-beingsand-technics, always in a prosthetical waywhat I have more than once, using common words, termed hominization or the emergence of the hand of man. Derrida 2005, 243

Threshold (pro-)positions


There is no art that is not the art of a clear touch on the obscure threshold. Nancy 1998, 83

Parergon Again
Touching these two citations together offers a succinct glimpse not only into the thesis both of Jean-Luc Nancys critique of touch and of Derridas Le Toucher, but also into, or onto, the threshold of a technology of (the) sense to come. This glimpse is an interrogation, and one that is both historic and historical, in the sense that Derrida, in addressing Jean-Luc Nancys work, has presented us with an encyclopedic history of touch in the philosophic tradition from Aristotle to Nancy, one in which what Derrida calls transcendental archefacticity is accorded its proper value, and within which any seeming anthropological privilege, as an inherenteven immanent aspect of the (of any?) phenomenological reduction is, as Derrida says, overshadowed. Such an overshadowing is both strategic, in terms of a historical phenomenological project, and tactical, in Derridas investigative sense: tactical in terms of implementation, manifestation, manipulation (i.e. through the application of the hand, manus) and tactical in terms of tact, tactility; to which must be tacked on, la Nancy, con-tact, with touch, a with-touch in which a bance, a gash or dash, opens out in-between, at the very point,2 to use Derridas repeated specication, of bifurcation and of con-tact, at the junction point of the spacing out of a laminated diffrance con-noting more than it has or had ever done in Derridas work; here, exploring Nancys sense of touch by touching Nancy, for Derrida the gap in con-tact is a compounded diffrance that produces human beings and technics; that is, in a phenomenological sense, both the hand of man and hominization. In Le Toucher, the point is for Nancy the point of touch, and for Derrida the pointprecisely the pointof touching on Nancy; the point is both the possibility and the impossibility of touching; that is, of the tangential: the un-point, the paradox of the hypothetical point, as (touch) point. Derrida, aprs Nancy, is centrally concerned with the sense of touch (there is no the sense of touch), thus constituting another in an innite set of breaches, les bances. Derridas and Nancys language will begin to shift at this bance from the sense of touch into something like the art e, as it was for the Greeks, of touch,3 since with regard to art as tekhn to touch on the technology of the senses, sensis also the point.

46 Stephen Barker
Derridas reference to touch, through Nancy, is in this general sense a grammatological per-formance not just of the sense of touch, nor just of sense, but of sens, a per-formance constituting the linguistic and semiotic case for two homonyms of sens, s-a-n-g, as a life-blood, literal and gurative, owing through the hand of man, fueling theindeed any hand, and any phenomenological hand (especially Heideggers), and s-a-n-s, (the without, sans, returning us to the parergon, to painting and perception/conception; to Kant, the sublime, and le sans (not the sens . . . ) de la coupure pure. But beyond those direct references in The Truth in Painting, sens is already multiply valenced for Nancy and Derrida, and has many echoing senses, three of which are perfectly to the point here:

sens as sense: le sens de lorientation (ahopefully goodsense of direction), sens commun (common sense); this sense of sens will orient the last section here; sens as meaning: porteur de sens (meaningful), vide de sens (meaningless) sens as direction: dans tous les sens in all directions), on va dans le mauvais sens were going in the wrong direction

Looking further into Derridas sense of Nancy in Le Toucher, JeanLuc Nancy (2000) (On Touching-Jean-Luc Nancy [2005]), one must confront in a work such as Le sens du monde (The Sense of the World [1993] 1998) Nancys lamination of all these sens; such a lamination manifestly interrogates both the historical and the historic, within the context of a historicity itself constituted of the laminations of past, future, and (the a-historical) presenttheoretical and esh-and-blood strategically incorporating multiple vectors of sens, at once linear and circular, bounded and innite. If we take as our direction Derridas notion of touching on the technology of the senses to come, with its echoes of khra, as new materialities for which we as yet have no theoretical vocabulary, in order to explore how Derridas corpus can point us toward the substance of a transformative critique, then the task is clearand yet we must still search for a sensas directiontoward what Nancy calls the obscure threshold, through Derridas notion of archefacticity as it intersects with Nancys threshold interrogation where touch takes place.

Threshold (pro-)positions


Derrida and Nancy work on each others work across thresholds of touch as concept, image, syntax. Derridas traitement of Nancy in Le Toucher, because it is at once process, processing, and treatment, maintaining a suspended sense of the trait as both mark and margin, is an interrogation on and of a conceptual but hypothetical threshold, if there is one. Since for both Nancy and Derrida a deconstruction of touch must be aporetic in the Aristotelian sense, a problematizing discourse, in Derridas treatment of Nancy this problematic is pointed out with exactitude as Derrida repeats frequently in Le Toucher; exactitude marks a particular kind of limit, in this case the problematic threshold of a con-junction, the literal conjunction or in the phrase hominization or the emergence of the hand of man (Derrida 2005, 243). In this phrase, the conclusion to the epigraph from Derrida above, in that con-, or non-junction one reaches for and across a threshold that in Nancy takes visual form rather than literal: Nancy addresses this or as a tableau, indeed a specic tableau on which he has, with exactitude and prescience, enacted his traitement in Corpuss Sur le seuil, On the Threshold. This section of Corpus (2006) is then centrally and repeatedly cited in the This is My Body section of Le Toucher. The bodies of these texts treat one another in a multiplying set of echoes, each new incorporation adding an element to the threshold investigation in which both Derrida and Nancy engage and which drives their related but by no means identical (mutual) deconstruction. In This is My Body, Derrida doubles his own doubling, excavating Nancys double deconstruction, of Catholicism and of art. The tableau on which Nancy focuses in Corpus is itself replete with thresholds. Indeed The Death of the Virgin is Caravaggios own protodeconstruction: his decidedly anti-transcendental image of the death of the Virgin is seen by both Nancy and Derrida as an allegory of touch-asthreshold. Nancys explication links the Caravaggio to touch in Aristotle and (thus) in Freud, positing that Caravaggios Mary, caught by the tableau in death, and Aristotles Psyche, are identical, echoes of each other, and that thus Freuds Psyche ist ausgedehnt, weiss nichts davon [Psyche is extended, knows nothing of it], Freuds own (penultimate) dying note, which Caravaggio renders visually, demonstrates the threshold condition of touch itself. In Caravaggios tableau, says Nancy, one clearly sees the way in which there is no art that is not the art of a clear touch on the obscure threshold (Nancy 1998, 83). The tableau is, as Derrida points out, a zoographia, or tableau vivant, a painting of the

48 Stephen Barker
living (Derrida 2005, 48), but here the tableau vivant is of (a) death; it is a threshold tableau, an image of Derridas sense of an immanence, a sensation that has crossed the border of touch and become a function of interiority. Derrida models the immanence he references through his own threshold interrogation, referring to Nancys complex web of triangulation only in echoing Nancys interrogation of the painting, which is not a parergon in the form of an ekphrasis but an immanence in its own right. Derrida introduces Nancys threshold interrogation of the Caravaggio through the circuitous strategy of speculating on Aristotles Psyche-and-touch and Nancys Psyche-as-Mary-and-touch. The ghostly connection Derrida forges in Nancys work here is one in which one should no longer dissociate two apparitions, two visions, (Derrida 2005, 49) Psyche (Nancys essay of 1978) and Sur le seuil, but see them as touching, contiguous if not thematic doubles. What is more, this doubling in Nancy leads Derrida to a further sense of corpus. At the site of the bance of Nancy two readings, Derridean immanence emerges as active sense, presenting itself as being as spectral the unbreathing Virgin. Breathing, for Derrida, the threshold of life and death, is the measure of Nancys insight; the effect Nancys threshold has on the reader is a bodily one, centered on respiration. Entering into and reading Nancys Sur le seuil, Derrida claims, is so inspiring, so beautiful it leaves one breathless, as breathless as the expired Virgin in Caravaggios image. This is so because it, like the Caravaggio, is about breath-as-spirit, inspiration as the momentary and eeting termination and renewal that takes place with every breath. Derrida is touched by Sur le seuil, his spectral reference passing from the conundrum of touching to that of immanence. This is indeed Derridas parergon for This is My Body (it isnt) and its treatment of Nancy. And across the threshold, Nancy begins Sur le seuil with the most subjunctive of threshold conclusions: so, he starts out, we have entered there where we will never enter (Nancy 2001, 103. Translation my own4 ). One has entered a breathless non-place when one has begun to read Sur le seuil, its beauty is in signicant part its chimerical relation with place and with breathing/space. In Nancys conundrum, beginning as conclusionas-paradox, one has entered whereand whatone can never enter: a threshold has (not) been crossed, if there is or was one. Indeed, Nancy points out that in viewing Caravaggios tableau5 one has in his sense touched on immanence, in a threshold crossing one can never cross and has already crossed. This is the problem with touch, of and not of the body. Through Caravaggios depiction of death and life, and Nancys re-framing of it, the fuller mystery of Freuds Psyche and of the

Threshold (pro-)positions


impossible threshold of touching unfolds: as Derrida shows, Nancy conjures up a sign whose sens, as meaning and direction, exceeds and supplements its absence. For Derrida, this indetermination of movement and stasis, proximity and withdrawal, which he calls mouvance,6 is the threshold of every aesthetic encounter by which we are touched: mouvance echoes Nancys there is no art that is not the art of a clear touch on the obscure threshold, since such a confrontation occurs at the very point, the always-hypothetical point of con-tact, the impossible non-point of originary diffrance pointing us toindeed intothe unknown and unchartable, toward inspiration and expiration as the enigma of corpus, so perfectly framed in the image/gure, the nature morte of the dead Virgin. In Sur le seuil Nancy lays out the way in which Caravaggio divests Psyche/Mary of any suggestion of the sacred, reminding us that as doxological gure she is precisely the temporo-spatial threshold between divine and mortal, her role often being doubly depicted in showing her praying at the threshold of houses or churches as a corrective or antidotal other to that archetypal, transgressive threshold-gure, Eve. Caravaggio pointedly depicts the other side of that redemptive, corrective theme, aggressively showing both the Virgins visible rigor mortis, most notable in the feet, and in the backstory of the prostitute pulled from the river, chosen to be the live model for the dead Virgin. Caravaggios laminations, deepened by the rigidity of the old men caught before the commencement of their lamentations, insist on an evershifting sense of reverence and irreverence. In fact, of the numerous strata of deaths immanence here, Nancy claims, the central one is not Mary:
If it is a question here of death, it is more on the side of these men. The most visible among them are very old. The light harshly isolates three bald skulls. The group they form barely leaves the shadow; it remains immobile, a stranger to the rhythm of the two women, of their bodies and the red cloths. The group of men sustains the shadow; rather than extracting itself from the darkness, the group is the plural form of the shadow. The men form the other threshold; they are inside what we are outside. (Nancy 2001, 61; emphasis added. Translation my own)

But here the dead, frozen in inanimate stasis both in the tableaus medium and in its narrative of inarticulable grief, are old men overshadowed, as Derrida says in invoking his notion of immanence, by hominization to-come, the futurity embodied in the dead/undead Virgin, the metaphysical gure who at the same time makes the old men (and

50 Stephen Barker
the viewer, according to Nancy) hold their breath. Nancy formulates the many-layered conundrum Caravaggios depiction catalyzes at the conclusion of Sur le seuiI as a question: What if, Nancy asks, ventriloquizing Caravaggio, art were never anything but the necessary plural, singular art of consenting to death . . . ? (Nancy 2001, 55) This plural, singular, in which death is a gure of the obscure thresholds other side, locates art the very point of a threshold of immanence, adumbrating an unchartable transformation through what Ovid calls unknown arts, simultaneously consenting to death, in the senses, les sens, in which we also strive to come to some understanding of it. What if art were never anything but the necessary . . . art of consenting to death . . . ?, but as impossible threshold, as Derridas possibility of the impossible? For Nancy, the conundrum keeps on giving: he nishes his interrogative sentence the necessary . . . art of consenting to death . . . with . . . of consenting to existence (Nancy 2001, 55). The visual metaphor characteristic of Nancys approach to threshold reverts to Derridean textuality as death and existence transmute into appositives, plural, singular, in which like death ex-istence emerges as event, as dplacement.7

The event of (Caravaggios rendering of) the Virgins death provides Nancy and Derrida with the emblem of catastrophe, and one that is clearly not directly, nor directed at, the metaphysical but rather a rendering of the aporia of place and placement. Event, as dplacement, is catastrophe, unforeseen and unforeseeable alterity, in the Greek tragic sense. Derrida begins On Touching with an evocation of Aristotles very question on this aporia, when our eyes touch, at once metaphor and synaesthesia, a palimpsest of thresholds, and more formally a question regarding not only fate but death. Thus Derridas exploration of Aristotles Psyche and Nancys Mary as thresholdof touch, corpus, a sense of the future, of the endis radically complicated by his ailleurs, the ghostly, ubiquitous elsewhere of diffrance, endemic not just to corpus but to ex-istence, and in or of which here has already encompassed any and every there. For Derrida, threshold must always be distinguished from limit: deconstruction as a strategy of incursion, for both Derrida and Nancy, consists tactically of the explication and interrogation of limit discourses, and through the dynamic tension linking a Sur le seuil to a Le Toucher, of limit semiosis in a larger sense, offering us a key, as

Threshold (pro-)positions


Derrida puts it in Le Toucher discussing Nancys sensitivity to Husserls phenomenology, to an opening of the possibility of being sensitive to the strangeaporeticrelation that any limit discourse has with its own limit, and with its (impossible and necessary) transgression. In addressing Nancys aporetics, Derrida applies a specic sense to Aristotles aporia as the limit of the limit: the limit of limit discourses touches and transgresses: the aporia here consists in touching, attaining, reaching, and meeting a limit that bars any passage . . . but also . . . in getting embroiled in the contradiction that consists in passing the limit that one should not cross at the moment one touches it (Derrida 2005, 226). Should not or cannot cross: for Derrida and Nancy, to touch the limit becomes a limit discourse; this is the limit semiosis of the Caravaggio image. Derrida addresses this aporia, con-tact at the limit, as what he calls discernment, directly in commenting on Nancys Une pense nie. He begins by quoting Nancy:
to touch language: to touch the trace, and to touch its effacement. To touch what moves and vibrates. . . . To touch the ellipsis itselfand to touch ellipsis inasmuch as it touches, as an orbit touches the edges of a system, whether cosmological or ocular. A strange, orbital touch: touching the eye, the tongue, language, and the world. . . . to discern is to see and to trace. . . . Discerning is where touching and vision touch. It is the limit of visionand the limit of touch. To discern is to see what differs in touching (Nancy qtd in Derrida 2005, 271),8

then immediately translating Nancys discernment of limit discourse by way of response:

From the rst pages of Une pense nie . . . Nancy laid out his drama of contact at the limit, which is to say an act without act, the affected act of touching, like this thinking that touches on the limit. But it is a limit that also becomes its own limit, in a frighteningly enigmatic sense. It is a limit that such thinking touches without appropriating it for itself. Such would be the sense of the word nite [nie] in nite thinking. (Derrida 2005, 2712)

Such would be the sense, the vector, of the word nite. Derridas point here is that nite thought, as Nancy lays it out, is a limit discourse as self-relation, which introduces itself (coming within its own orbit) as what Derrida calls efforcement, exertion or striving.9 The aporia of exertion at the point at which, as Derrida indicates, a limit comes to insist, to resist, to oppose (itself) to the effort that this limit literally determines. I chose the word . . . [efforcement], Derrida says, because it bespeaks the effort as well as the limit next to which the tendency, the tension, the intensity of a nite force stops (itself), exhausts itself, retracts

52 Stephen Barker
or retreats . . . at the moment, the instant, when the force of the effort touches upon this limit . . . . Every thinking of effort comprises at least a phenomenology of nitude (Derrida 2005, 139), as limit discourse. It is exactly at this point, once again, that one touches on the threshold, experienced as limit. Threshold interrogations, then, within the context of a thinking of future matters, set themselves over against limit discourses. This distinction is the point of what Nancy and Derrida have exerted themselves to do. And yet, perhaps inevitably, they then nd themselves, as Derrida confesses in the epigraph here, at the very point where a certain historicity of transcendental artefacticity tends to overshadow the historicity that produces-human-being-and-technics. This is what Richard Beardsworth explicates in Thinking Technicity:
Continental thought can be seen to situate itself on the aporia of thought qua the other of thought, thereby wishing to get behind metaphysics and open up what lies prior to oppositional thinking. This mourning of metaphysics has been pursued since at least Nietzsche and marks philosophy from Martin Heidegger to Jacques Derrida. (Beardsworth 2000, 238)

The implicit question for Beardsworth, relating directly to the central question here, is whether this mourning thought, which is still in thrall to metaphysics, is a limit discourse or a threshold interrogation. It seemed to be the latter in Heidegger, and was not. The mythic status of anamnesis that lies behind, as it were, the logic of Being and of Dasein institutes metaphysics as such: indeed as Beardsworth points out, that Heideggers anamnesis is nothing but the forgetting of the aporia as the logic of opposition itself (Beardsworth 2000, 237). Until the 1990s it appeared to be the latter for Derrida, though it may not have been thereafter: aporia for the Derrida of Disseminations The rst session (early 70s) is not the aporia of Aporias (early 90s). In any case, the ne but vital distinction between, and indeed the aporia of, limit and threshold is one of consequence, one of positionality and positionability, and therefore of khra. The question of position pervades Le Toucher in a series of permutations, from proposition to position, position to exposition, exposition to disposition. Derrida signs the question of the book, an aporia from Aristotle as a proposition, the question of the day. The question of the day has to do with the touching of the eyes, in terms of eyes, gazes, blindnessseeing, blindness, blind touch. The proposition, then, is to investigate (as a deconstruction) Aristotles question of the day, through Nancys work on touch. The positing of the proposition as a question, in French in the feminine, la question,

Threshold (pro-)positions


genders the proposition and transmutes into the positionof Psyche, a threshold, as Derrida says, a stake between Aristotle and Nancy, in and on the margin, in a circumspect and circumferential approach to the soul such as Jean-Luc Nancys De lme [On the Soul], corresponding and responding to, replying to without naming it, Aristotles De anima (or Peri psuch es) (Derrida 2005, 11). Nancy, Derrida points out, has also written a Psyche, in a series of what Derrida calls paralyzed textual jolts always beginning by freezing, by gathering together his body, like a runner at the starting block (Derrida 2005, 11). It is a question of positions, for Nancy and for Psyche who, according to the starting point of Nancys series of texts, Freuds short note on Psyche, is unknowingly extended. Thus Psyche is the positioned, enigmatic gure of aporia: an undecidable point or position. This enigma (much more complex than a dichotomy or paradox) then, for both Nancy and Derrida, becomes an exposition; certainly a great proportion of what is to come in Le Toucher is just that exposition, through Psyche in her Freudian extension, as the gure not only of the aporia of touch, but of the central question implicated in the re-evaluation of hominization in terms of the technology of the senses to come, venir. Ex-position, in this hyphenated form, becomes the concretization of touchs enigma in Nancy in the section of his Corpus he entitles Expeausitionbeing out-of-ones-skin. The notion of exposition, as exposure, out-of-body experience, then leads to Nancys investigation of the conditions under which a notion might be possible: a question of the body as such, a this is my body, hoc est enim corpus meum, during which not only is Psyche ex-posed, but so is her link to Caravaggios Mary, as Nancys own personal or subjective extension and exposure; heart transplant and its implications. Exposition, through Kants assumption that the ding-an-sich is un-knowable, but rather only the skin, and which in Nancy contains strong echoes of Kants sense of le peau des choses (the skin of things), leads Derrida through skin, as the peau of expeausition, to tangibility, touchability, skin-ability itself (Derrida 2005, 45), tangibility as extension, as spacing, as spacingout; and from spacing-out to what Nancy calls sharing out, which is aimed in a different direction, not as tangibility (touching-as-such) but tangency (the hypothetical touching of/at one point, which must always remain hypothetical). Derridas map of this progression proceeds thus: sharing out rst of all means participation, indisputable proximity, afnities, crossings, crossovers and crossbreedingsa sort of community or contemporaneity of thinking, language, and discourse.

54 Stephen Barker
I summarise this under the heading tangency (Derrida 2005, 218). This rubric, tangency, appears in the fourth of Derridas tangents, which he appropriately calls exemplary stories of the esh.10 Derridas exemplary tactics, indeed the tact (as opposes to the tactility) he shows in these ve glances, since a tangent is indeed a glance, a glancing blow or a coup doeil, a touch that, since it makes con-tact with a single point, exactly the point, is therefore hypothetical or theoretical in its very nature, is never corporeal. It is entirely appropriate that these tangents on which Derrida concentrates his thoughts focus on future matters and their (or its) relation to a technology of the senses venir. At the outset of Tangent IV, on The question of technics and the aporias of Flesh (Derrida 2005, 216), Derrida confesses that he will here, at this precise point, attempt to re-orient himself inside a kind of movementor rather mouvance (as disturbance): Derrida will attempt to re-orient himself, in this section, within a particular kind of instability. He is, in fact, quite concerned about this unsettledness, following immediately with the cautionary note that [w]hen the ground shifts, it tends to produce solidarities, afnities, liations, attractions, mirages, at least, of magnetic elds; together with its divergences, its lines of fracture, which may be virtual, its ssures or its dislocations (Derrida 2005, 216). Without doubt, something fundamental is at work here; in fact, two fundamental things: rst, Derridas attempt to free himself from the esh, the Heideggerian esh in the form of the hand of man; second, that his tactic is to re-think the forgotten metaphysics of the problem of the senses, from Aristotle to Nancy. In Tangent IV Derrida lays out this notion, in so doing shifting from exposition to a fourth positionality; as he says: We know that tactics does not point toward anything tactile but toward order, arrangement, a more or less calculated disposition [la disposition plus ou moins calcule] (Derrida 2005, 219). In this dispositionone might be tempted to say de-position in both of its sensesas non-position and as testimonyin this dis-position Derrida declares that his re-orientation will respond directly to the aporia of our epigraph on the historicity of transcendental artefacticity, as he notes that Nancys tangency is an opening (Derridas word), onto the history of animalities and hominization, the latter reach, at a stroke, beyond the anthropological, anthropotheological, or even ontotheological limits within which phenomenology stands, in spite of so many reductions and denials (Derrida 2005, 220). The strong suggestion here is that Nancys discourse on the corpus has provided a tangential glance at a new way of thinking the body, the senses,

Threshold (pro-)positions


extension, materiality itself. Derrida does all of this within the context of what is not future matters but future matter, the philosophic future of materiality itself. Derridas re-orientation, as he hints at it here, a true de-position, might remind us of a reply he made to Jean-Louis Houdebine more than thirty-ve years ago, appropriately in Positions, with regard to the same issues of materiality and orientation:
If I have not very often used the word matter, it is not, as you know, because of some idealist or spiritualist kind of reservation. It is that the logic of the phase of overturning this concept has been too often reinvested with logocentric values, values associated with those of thing, reality, presence in general, sensible presence, for example, substantial plenitude, content, referent, etc. Realism or sensualism empiricism are modications of logocentrism. . . . the signier matter appears to me problematical only at the moment when its reinscription cannot avoid making of it a new fundamental principle which . . . would be reconstituted into a transcendental signied. . . It then becomes an ultimate referent, according to the classic logic . . . or it becomes an objective reality absolutely anterior to any work of the mark. (Derrida 1982, 645)

At precisely this point in the text, Derrida inserts a footnote into the transcribed interview, further concretizing the subversive point he wishes to make by citing the great questioner of materialitys signicance and its relationship to deconstruction:
To summarise that which marks it [matter] within the deconstructed eld, again I will cite Nietzsche: Let us renounce the notions of subject and object,, and then the notion of substance, and consequently all of its diverse modications, for example, matter, spirit, and the other hypothetical beings, eternity, and the immutability of matter, etc. Thus we also get rid of materiality. (Derrida 2005, 105, fn. 34)

It is thus through multiple textual layers and across the time-span of his work, in which materiality has been a con-text or passe partout, that in Le Toucher Derrida offers up the aporia of hominization or the emergence of the hand of man. The pro-position, as deposition, to which Derrida refers in Tangent IV is nothing less than a re-thinkingin the sense of thinking through againnot just of Flesh but of materiality, and particularly of matter to come.

56 Stephen Barker

Because this is such a fundamental matter, one both Derrida and Nancy challenge us to think through, it is important to work through a certain trajectory of quasi-tangents, hypothetical points of con-tact with and within Derridas glance at getting rid of materiality. This will involve rst, working through some transitional questions of touch which Nancy catalyzes from Derrida; second, glancing at tekhn e, both of bodies ( la Nancy) and third, speculating on how Derridas orchestration of technics leads to the threshold of Bernard Stieglers work on a hypothetical non-phenomenological sense of technics, that other meaning for a historicity that produces-human-beings-and-technics, always in a prosthetic way, human beings as characterised by the emergence of the hand of man, technics by a threshold sense of hominization. We began here in Derridas comments on Nancys non-Aristotelian thinking of touch in the multiply-enigmatic Corpus, among which Derrida, glancing off of Heidegger, asserts that what our world touches in itself is nothing else but this rejection, labjection de limmonde, the abjection of un-world (Derrida 2005, 54). Selfexpulsion is what our world produces. According to Nancy, there is no longer any world: no longer a mundus, a cosmos; what Nancy calls the threshold between intactness and touching in Sense of the World (Nancy 1998, 81), the discourse orienting Corpus, concerns itself with rejection, abjection, expulsion (Derrida 2005, 54). In this notion of the immonde, the fact is that Heideggers very sense of presence is access, access to world which, ipso facto, is only accessible to consciousness and indeed to self-consciousness, that is, to those rich in world, to the human, to Dasein. Zuhandensein is not touch but access to consciousness of the touch of world. In Sense of the World (1998), Nancy works through a critique of Heideggers handson experiencing of touch (Heidegger focuses on the surface invoked at the heart of touching, a physicalization that acts as yet another reduction), then moves to Deleuzes critique, in which the becoming mineral of the touching hand reverts to a nature like that of both the lizard and the stone of Heideggers paradigmatic example: for Nancy, only philosophy can redeem touch, through what he calls an impalpable reticulation of contiguities and tangential contacts (Nancy 1998, 61). But here we face a problem with the very nature (or renaturing) of matter. In the beginning of The Inoperative Community Nancy, seeming to echo Lucretius quasi-materiality, says that one

Threshold (pro-)positions


cannot make a world with simple atoms; there must be clinamen, an inclination or inclining from one toward another. A natural tendency toward a community of atoms, at a truly essential level (Nancy 1991, 4). Of course, in De Rerum Natura Lucretius is not theorizing the foundation of community but the forming of matter per se, out of what he refers to as a causeless swerve of atoms, a mouvance in the sense of instability.11 In that light, Nancy begins the Expeausition section of Corpus with bodies always ready to go, on the brink of a movement, a fall, a change, a dislocation . . . . its place simultaneously absolutely intact and absolutely abandoned. Hoc est enim absentia corporis et tamen corpus ipse [This is absent body and yet body itself] (Nancy 2006, 31). His parodic glance at the declaration of the metaphysical body in the Mass ex-poses the non-positionality of body, and not of the body but of body-ness. Nancy calls this body-ness fracturation and matter as freedom, which he denes poetically as two traces of mica, millions of dissimilar shells, and the indenite extension of a principium individuationis . . . never to be confused with substances without substance, before the nothing-to-support, neither self nor other, has suddenly been exposed here: in the world (Nancy 2006, 34). Thus, body begins in a state of contingencies and tangents, the absent body as body itself, absent matter as the aporia of matter itself. In its extension, Nancy claims, the body exposes a pure aseity (as opposed to ipseity) which exists only as distance and departure (Nancy 2006, 32). The contingent state of the corpus occupies Nancy throughout Muses (1996) and Corpus (2006), continuing a ubiquitous earlier theme. Yet so much of Derridas thinking of Nancys thinking of touch (thus of the body, and thus not of the body) is oriented toward a seity, whether a- or ip-, a subjective sense that does not account for that other element we have seen addressed in Derrida, mouvance, instability: the bodys (i.e. matters) very instability. But even this instability, as Derrida warns us in Le Toucher, comes with baggage: with what he calls neo-Heideggerian or pre-technical connotations, now, at the very point [his words] where . . . the techn e of bodies, or ecotechnics may deliver to us a criterion for certain discrepancies between the different motifs of this trend [mouvance] (Derrida 2005, 216). His point is that as we enter a time of what after Nancy he calls the absolute contingency of the body, body and touch must cross-permutate, literally and guratively. The discrepant, different motifs of . . . [mouvance] (Derrida 2005, 216) point us through tekhn e to, among other unforeseen motifs, technics.

58 Stephen Barker
At the outset of this threshold interrogation, Derrida points out that none of the disparate motifs contributing to a tekhn e of bodies can be dissociated (his word); there are at least three of these motifs: the motif of the tekhn e of bodies that deconstruct the system of ends, there where we are in the tekhn e of the [prochain], which can be read either as the next one, perfectly good Frenchthe one next to you; or as the next, the promise of a promise, the next, the to come. Derrida does not dissociate them. the motif of tekhn e that, as Derrida says, decenters the hand the motif establishing the connection between Nancys interrupting of spacing out of con-tact and technics (Derrida 2005, 223)

Nancy gives us insight into the nature of the tekhn e of bodies in the Alter section of Corpus, where he says that the ego forms the absolute obstacle to the body; . . . this is why there is no body-proper: the body is a re-construction (what Heidegger calls a de-cision) (Nancy 2006, 28). Like gender, ethnicity, race, etc., then, the body is constructed, a function of tekhn e. In Derridas terms, the tekhn e of the body means that it is always too early or too late, embedded in contrariety (Nancy 2006, 28). The body is open to tekhn e, we are told in Tangent IV, indeed without this tekhn e [as construction or re-construction] the body is not even born to itself as human body, caught in a hominization process exceeding the human as its past and future (Derrida 2005, 219). Derrida is so close here to thinking an entirely new kind of body, through the disadherence, the dsadhrence, the diffrance of haptics and, Derrida adds importantly, of aisth esis in general (Derrida 2005, 229). Here Derrida echoes Nancys call to tekhn e.

And yet, it is here that we confront another kind of threshold discourse. It is one in which a certain Derrida comes up against the limit discourse of the occludedthe un-emergenthand, and thereby of the grounding questions of body and its (meta-)materiality. We need to return to tekhn e of bodies in Corpus again and again, Derrida advises, since this question of the hand . . . remains . . . impossible to dissociate from the history of technics and its interpretation, as well as from all the problems that link the history of the hand with a hominizing process (Derrida 2005, 154). It is difcult at rst to realise the enormous implications of this advice. The hominizing process has about it a technical aura, and yet its implications emerge

Threshold (pro-)positions


rapidly, gravitating around notions of contingency, materiality, and phenomenology. For all the promissory hints in Derrida of an venir for philosophy (and art, if we follow Nancys elision of the two)a to come distinguished from any future, the hints Derrida gives in his Eating Well essay of 1988 have haunted his later work, are indeed more clearly remembered there in the form of a reserve of phenomenological weight and a reservation about letting it go: those hints clearly seem to speculate that, as he says, humanism is constitutive of all philosophy; that is, for philosophy, Derrida maintains, hominization is a tekhn e of the emergent hand, and it seems increasingly unavoidable that even in his earlier, more radical work it can and should be seen as a Heideggerian hand. Though Derrida states that the question of hominization can only be addressed au-del, in a suspension of the phenomenological . . . from the threshold of its possibility onward (Derrida 2005, 229; emphasis added), it is syntactically impossible to determine whether the its of its possibility onward refers to hominization, phenomenology, or suspension. This ambiguity is a cardinal one in that it prevents us from orienting ourselves relative to the core vector of Derridas dynamic. If the threshold of possibility refers to hominization or the phenomenological, it becomes a kind of messianic phenomenology; if that threshold refers to suspension, then hominizations constitutive process already occurs within a phenomenological context. Derridas relation to the Heideggerian hand, not to mention Husserlian presence, hinges on this orientation, an orientation that is abme. Nancys case regarding this issue of orientation, on the other hand, is that deconstruction consists of a dismantling of the essence of the proper [and thus of the apparently emergent hand] by means of grammatology. Nancy is as true to grammatological dis-orientation as is Derrida; indeed, though a good deal of Nancys work addresses the political in the broader sense, it is his touching on art, and on art as tekhn e, informed by his grammatology, that provides us our best insight into his threshold interrogations. In fact, Nancys notion is that a tekhn e of the body (hominization) can free itself of the hand and enter a new dimension. All evidence seems to corroborate Derridas notion that the hand of man, such as Heideggers to-hand-ness, is inherent to philosophy, and as such is the originary threshold between human and non-human. For Nancy, art and sense are identities, as in the following passage:
There is no Art in general: each one indicates the threshold by being itself also the threshold of another art . . . . there is properly speaking no art of

60 Stephen Barker
touching (. . . ), for touching is sense as threshold, the sensing/sensed apportioning of the aesthetic entelechy [execution, putting into action] . . . touching on the untouchable. (Nancy 1993, 823)

Only in light of this double sense of tekhn e, and of the tekhn e of bodies, that we can arrive as Nancy does at his extension of Freuds Psyche ist ausgedehnt, weiss nichts davon: Psyche is extended, partes extra partes; she is nothing but a dispersion of indenitely parceled out locations in places that divide themselves and never interpenetrate (Nancy 1993, 11). Here, Nancy articulates what he calls the obscure materiality of technics beyond the material; materiality withoutboth beyond or outside-ofmatter. Nancys thought of the dispersion of indenitely parceled out locations, placelessness, is his thought of the event: never a taking-place but rather the incommensurability of what he calls spacing and fraying: the obscure threshold. Here Nancys notion of le prochain is central:
here, the next would be what comes, what touches and distances, displacing touch. Neither natural nor articial (as it has always appeared to be), the next as tekhn e would be creation and the true art of our world. Accepting a revision of these words, creation and art, as in the highest sense the next. (Nancy 1993, 79)

Nancy leaves no doubt in his exposition (in both its senses) that he is thinking through the tekhn e of bodies to a new artfulness that like deconstruction (now and to come) is not and cannot be a philosophy. Just as there is no the sense of touch, there is no the sense of deconstruction (or philosophy) to come. This prochainmore accurately pro-chairis a threshold interrogation in which the tactile is radically in question. There is no intact matter, Nancy declares, if there were there would be nothing. On the contrary, there is tactility, posing and deposing . . . tact unbounded (Nancy 2006, 127). Tekhn e, then, is instantiation, a question of work and of works. And therefore for Derrida tekhn e remains a humanism: indeed, tekhn e is what Derrida calls a phenomenological necessity (Derrida 2005, 230). Nancys tekhn e, however, takes a further step toward le prochain. Our world, he says in Tekhn e of Bodies,
is the world of technics,12 the world of which cosmos, nature, gods, the entire system in its intimate jointure is exposed as technics; what it does is our bodies, our bodies that it creates being thus more visible, more proliferate, more polymorphous, more hurried, more in masses and zones than they had ever been. (Nancy 2006, 78)

Threshold (pro-)positions


Derrida explicates this passage in saying that this supplementarity of technical prosthetics originarily spaces out, defers, or expropriates all originary properness (Derrida 2005, 224). Approaching such a threshold, we confront a new set of (dis-)orientations. But technics too has a Heideggerian sense, to which Derrida, Nancy, and then Bernard Stiegler and others respond. For Heidegger technics is emplacement (Gestell), situatedness in relation to an unfolding of subjectivity, grounding the self in the Will not only to Power but to Will. For Heidegger, technics increasingly reduces any notion of objectivity, as any object, through the process of subjectivization, is increasingly considered as the raw material of goals and objectives. For Heidegger the technological, and the technologizing of objects, is the nal iteration of metaphysics. As Samuel Weber points out,
Like the Cartesian emphasis on certitude, technics according to Heidegger is both the highest form of rational consciousness (quoting Heidegger) and at the same time profoundly associated with a certain form of insensitivity (Besinnungslosigkeit), an incapacity, organised so as to be opaque to itself, of entering into a relation with what is both questionable and worthy of being questioned. (Weber 1996, 512)

This is why Heideggers technics is so difcult to shed: for him, the controlling essence of technics . . . resides precisely in the ability to dislodge and to re-place; that is, in its power [once again] of emplacement (Weber 1996, 52). And Derrida himself acknowledges not entirely leaving those Heideggerian technics behind: his repeated efforts at what he calls orientation in Le Toucher, typical of Derridean deconstruction, orients his work both toward and within the texts on which he focuses; this may perhaps be the aspect of deconstruction most disadvantageous to a deconstruction to come. Derridas notion of technics rst appears in Platos Pharmacy, explicitly introduced behind the transcendental logic of the Meno; rather than inscriptions reecting truth, its possibility is constitutive of truth as such. This arch e-writing, as an instance of technics, the condition of possibility of ideal objects, and thus of objectivity, is the constitutive nature of technics, an originary technicity of life in its attention to the supplementary nature of all living systems (Derrida 1972, 240). Nancy goes further. In his a-reality, Nancy works through a sense of world that is not Heideggers and not Derridas. For Nancy, world enigmatically comes before or after object and subject (Nancy 1998, 62): World is liable [i.e. linkable, as in liaison] to sense,13 it is this liability because it rst comes to be in accordance with thislet us

62 Stephen Barker
say atomisticdistancing . . . . a quantum discreteness . . . makes up the world as such (Nancy 1998, 62). Nancy calls this a quantum philosophy of nature which, he says, remains to be thought. For the diffrance of the toward-itself, in accordance with which sense opens, is inscribed along the edge of the in-itself (Nancy 1998, 63). Sense, for Nancy, is matter forming itself.

Hominization, enn
And here, precisely, future matters tremble; we come to the threshold at which we can be situated at another side of the limit discourse of touch, body, access. When in Res ipsa et ultima Nancy says that the world is nothing other than the touch of all things (Nancy [1990] 2003, 316), he is strategically understating the current state of sense. World is to be radically reconceived; the age-old abyss between object (matter) and philosophy (idea) has itself reached a threshold, the point at which physicality, the extended world, is in the process of being sutured, by philosophy and nano-technologies as well as by new artforms, to the point at which the objects non-living being crosses the threshold to world. In Bernard Stieglers Technics and Time (1998), a new kind of interrogation of hominization as the constitution of the human, occurs as what Stiegler calls the pursuit of the evolution of the living by other means than life (Stiegler 1998, 135). Following up on Agambens analysis of anthropological machines, passing through and beyond Heideggers famous distinctions (to which Nancy has posed such sharp questions), Stiegler shows that the site of the human is one of what he calls genetic drift occurring at the molecular level and manifesting itself as technics, from which hominization follows, as a secondary effect. Stiegler shows that Heideggers binaries, as the dialectics of a primordial temporality on the one hand, and as the worldly experience of time as a phantasm, not an anamnesis but an amnesia, a rejection of an originary technics, on the other, cannot account for this radical re-writing of the nature of hominization, a rejection of the humanist notion of man rst, resulting in the post-humanist notion of man after. Such a refusal, Stiegler asserts, is at the same time a refusal of another originary threshold liaison between human and nonhuman: as Richard Beardsworth so succinctly puts it, the telos of Dasein qua authentic Unheimlichkeit is predicated on the disavowal of technics which uproots Dasein in the rst place: this uprooting is phantasmatically displaced to the gure of the inauthenticity of das Man (Beardsworth 1996, 152). Stiegler further shows that only

Threshold (pro-)positions


through technics can the very experience of sense, and of time, be understood. In this regard, one might say that Stieglers technics is the dash in Heideggers onto-ontological, the threshold between Dasein the humanand being-as-such. At this threshold, according to Nancy and Stiegler, the threshold of access, the brute entelechy of sense takes place, with place as dis-location; as Nancy says, there are sites and places, distances: a possible world that is already a world. Stieglers interrogation of Heideggers categories incorporates non-living being into Dasein; just as Nancy takes exception to Heideggers stones worldlessness, allowing the con-tact of material substances to form world through distributed sense, Nancy and Stiegler conceive of a new kind of zone, an obscure threshold, in technics-as-matter. Thus the threshold of sense, and primarily the sense of touch, is outside of life, in what Stiegler calls the what rather than the who. This threshold interrogation rejects the subject/object dialectic in favor of a prior, originary technics. Le Toucher, thento touch it: the threshold of a technics to come, a re-scription of the trace and the trait as marks before the emergence of the hand, never ready-to-hand, radically un-handoriented. This is precisely the problem, as an aporia, of future matter as future deconstruction, what Beardsworth calls the contingency of technicization (Beardsworth 1996, 155), assigning to contingency a central role in the re-writing of technics and thus of experience as such. At another level, the quality of Nancys sense and Stieglers technics might be said to amount to an ontology of spectralization, and without doubt the increasing spectralization of the human is a given today, as our chromosomes are available for sale on the open market. Such a process of spectralization is inconceivable without a technics of time and space, of the human itself. Such a speculation requires disorientation. As Derrida says, awaiting without horizon of the wait . . . always in memory of the hopethis is the very place of spectrality (Derrida 1994, 65). Derrida has, comme toujours, pointed the way. Salut.

Beardsworth, Richard (1996), Derrida and the Political, London and New York: Routledge. Beardsworth, Richard (2000), Thinking Technicity, in Deconstruction: A Reader, ed. Martin McQuillan, Edinburgh University Press. Derrida, Jacques (1972), La Pharmacie de Platon, in La Dissmination, Paris: Editions du Seuil.

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Derrida, Jacques (1982), Positions, trans. Alan Bass, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Derrida, Jacques (1987), The Truth in Painting, trans. G. Bennington and I. McLeod, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. Derrida, Jacques (1991), Eating Well, or the Calculation of the Subject, in Who Comes After the Subject? Eds. Eduardo Cadava, Peter Connor, Jean-Luc Nancy, New York: Routledge. Derrida, Jacques (1993), Aporias, trans. Thomas Dutoit, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Derrida, Jacques (1994), Specters of Marx, trans. Peggy Kamuf, New York and London: Routledge. Derrida, Jacques (2000), Le Toucher, Jean-Luc Nancy, Paris: Galile. Derrida, Jacques (2005), On Touching Jean-Luc Nancy, trans. Christine Irizarry, Stanford, California: Stanford Univerity Press. Kristeva, Julia (1997), Modern Theatre Does Not Take (a) Place, in Mimesis, Masochism, and Mime: The Politics of Theatricality in Contemporary French Thought, ed. Timothy Murray, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Nancy, Jean-Luc (1978), Psyche, Premire livraison, no. 16. Nancy, Jean-Luc (1990), Une Pense nie, Paris: Galile. Nancy, Jean-Luc (1991), The Inoperative Community, trans. P. Connor, L. Garbus, M. Holland and S. Sawhney, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Nancy, Jean-Luc (1993), Le Sens du monde, Pais: Galile. Nancy, Jean-Luc (1996), The Muses, trans. Peggy Kamuf, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Nancy, Jean-Luc (1998), The Sense of the World, trans. Jeffrey S. Librett, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Nancy, Jean-Luc (2001), Les Muses, Paris: Galile Nancy, Jean-Luc (2003), A Finite Thinking, ed. Simon Sparks, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Nancy, Jean-Luc (2006), Corpus, Paris: ditions Mtaili. Nancy, Jean-Luc (2008), Corpus, trans. Richard Rand, NY: Fordham University Press. Stiegler, Bernard (1998), Technics and Time 1: The Fault of Epimetheus, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Weber, Samuel (1996), Mass Mediauras: Form, Technics, Media, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press

1. There is something about being perpetually in the energising turbulence of Derridas wake (it is tempting to say being perpetually at Derridas wake), of having been touched by Derridas thought; it is the very model of the revenant, a gentle but restless spirit that one does not want to rest. Derridas remember me echoes each time we approach a text, a work of art. A spectre of Derrida is afoot: spectres are threshold gures; perhaps all threshold gures are spectres, all thresholds spectral. This paper explores a spectral node toward which the corpus of Derrida might point. 2. The point, in mathematics and geometry, is purely hypothetical, precisely that which cannot be located nor dened; it is a conceptualisation that must always occur au-del de any denition or identity. Once again, Derrida is being absolutely specic in choosing the word with which to convey a sens of the entre.

Threshold (pro-)positions


3. Always remembering that this is originarily a redundancy, since touch, if we remember Heideggers notion of the hand, results in an idea of culture as the manipulation of Nature, and therefore of tekhn e as precisely that artful manipulation as metaphor: the embodying of culture through manipulation, artice, art. 4. Where titles of books and articles appear only in French, translation from the work is mine. 5. Nancy initially delivered this piece in 1993 as a lecture at the Louvre, at the painting. 6. In her translation of On TouchingJean-Luc Nancy, Christine Irizarry renders mouvance as trend. 7. Such a dplacement, as dis-placing (mouvance as khra), avoids the even more complex dynamics of a dpassement, whose going-beyond is co-opted by transcendence, which Caravaggio has assiduously avoided in his depiction of the Virgin. This is a semiotic problem as much as an aesthetic or doxological one, a radical shift in the direction or sens of a discourse; what the Greeks called peripeteia, a reversal marked by cata-strophe, the breaking of discourse and therefore of order itself. Within this framework, it is possible to see Derrida and Nancy touching on Kristevas suggestion, in a different context, of the need for a theory of catastrophe in which each specular-spectatorial identity is a passage, fold, threshold (Kristeva 1997, 280). 8. It is in this sense that Nancy entitles his tribute to Derrida in Le Toucher Salut to you, salut to the blind we become. 9. Efforcement is another of Le Touchers ex-scriptions, each an aporia touching on touch, this one recalling us to both the work of sense and its echo of Blanchotian out-of-the-work, dsouvre. 10. This is appropriate because the esh, chair, is consistently kept at the distance of diffrance, in Nancy and Derrida; it is a word and a concept about which Nancy has much to say in the book in terms of the very problematic relationship between body or corpus and esh, all of which contributes to the ironic sense of self-touching he does in the sections title itself. 11. This movement/mouvance of atoms has only an obscure agency in Lucretius. Clinamen occurs, and thus matter formsbut whether atoms move toward each other or merely into each other is not, and Lucretius suggests cannot be, known. 12. There is a the world of technics . . . . 13. We must remember the disparate senses of sens: once again Nancy points us to a non-place.

DOI: 10.3366/E1754850009000372

Habeas Corpus

Marc Froment Meurice

Abstract The rst part (Some Parts) deals with Corpus, by Nancy, in contrast with Artauds experience of his own death in the psychiatric hospital in Rodez. The second part, (A corpus is not a discourse . . . , and it is not a narrative) develops a quasi-narrative which points toward a greater corpus, at once mad and undeniably true. Interferon, Dragon Naturally Speaking, the (Egyptian) Book of the Dead, all of these names embody powerful techniques to alter the self and displace the limits of experience itself. Corpus is a writing without writing, or a writing from with/out. *

I had a dream (Is it day or is it night?)

3 am: I had a dream about Derrida. Derrida in esh, in esh and in bones, Derrida being there, da. Derridasein, as I said to myself. The place was an old building in bricks, located in a suburban Paris district where I used to live until I left for America. Since my apartment was at the second oor, I had to enter through the window of a room that was accessible after a perilous crossing of a glass roof. This roof belonged to a small bookbinding factory where you could smell the bitter fumes of industrial glues. At the moment I was entering like a robber into this at that once was mine, I heard voices coming from the stairway: guests were leaving but then they had found an unexpected obstacle to their exit: the door downstairs, the door opening onto the street, was locked and no one seemed to have a key. The hostess had completely disappeared and I was nothing but an intruder. I immediately found another exit in the backstage and through a corridor hidden in a closet I reached the ofce of the factory. I couldnt leave Derrida stuck like that,

Habeas Corpus


sandwiched between inside and outside, in a limbo; perhaps I felt guilty for having left home or having left D. at home? Im not sure these were my exact thoughts, for meanwhile I was confronted with the secretary of the factory, a young and rather alluring woman. In a sarcastic tone, she wondered whether I had forgotten how I had left for her a special copy of the Book of the Dead that was hollow inside and contained the precious double key for the outside door. Thanks to this double, I would be able to free Derrida. I knew that it would be the last time I would see him, for I had to leave for a new position in an entirely new continent, articially built at the North Pole, the last frontier before the complete extinction of life on earth. As for Derrida, he had already entered the open, public space, and lots of people, including camera-reporters and tabloid journalists were waiting to get him, begging to touch one of his piece of cloth, as if he had become transformed into a Saint, gifted with a shamanic power of healing by being touched or captured on images, videos, words, news and so on; suddenly he made a U-turn in the middle of the road, and turning against the crowd his back, he ran into me, in a grip, an embrace that I can only describe as extremely physical: I could barely understand how strong and resistant his body was compared to mine. For a limited and unlimited time, there were only our two bodies against each other, and no witness; then, giving way to his desire I let myself be pushed inside the house but in fact out of the dream. Derrida had awakened me. I. Some [one] Parts (quelque [un] part) . . . mon corps dfendant, against my will, notwithstanding, quite forced to . . . take the place of D., the Departed, who had given me such a gripping salut. But then perhaps nothing is so simple. I could have addressed this Habeas Corpus to () my body: to my glorious body, who defended the place with an heroic or at least incomprehensible tenacity, while I, the supposed placeholder (but instead lieu tenant of nothing) was ready to surrender.
In spite of thought: thought thinks only in spite of itself, or, I would say, son corps dfendant; it thinks only there where the counterweight of the other weighs enough so that it begins to think, that is, in spite of itself, when it touches or lets itself be touched against its will. That is why it will never think, it will never have begun to think by itself. (Derrida 2005, 299)

One (every-one) thinks against ones defending body. As if ones body was defending itself, guarding itself against any thought about it; a selfdefense, guarding its core encore untouched, but in turn such resistance to thought calls for thinking against thought. In a comparable way, in

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a short text entitled Aus der Erfahrung des Denkens, Heidegger warns about the most malicious, most bitter and biting danger that threatens thought: the risk of having to think against itself. Biting here translates mordant, a word in which you can hear dead or death (mort) inside, dans, which can also be heard as dent, tooth, as if a tooth had to be extracted from within: the mouth of thought. Since death has no tooth, it seems at the same time less and more than an obstacle. More, because there is no way to go beyond, and less, because what blocks the way is nothing exterior that opposes thought as an object or an obstacle: it is its very heart, this in spite of itself.
The one who speaks here presently has an experience of death, and therefore of the living body, that cannot be invoked by any of those who are like me and never stop thinking about death without having yet had a change of hearts and without knowing, without knowing within their bodies, within their my body, that a heart can be thrown off or rejected. Of course, they do know it, but isnt their knowledge so very poor, abstract, shameful, protected, and shamefully cozy, compared to his knowledgethat of the one who is able to put his signature to Corpus, who happened to be able to sign that Corpus? (Derrida 2005, 58)

He envies (en-vie: in life, alive) this knowing, this experience of death, within the living body, his or their my body. The repetition of without knowing and the quotation marks upon their my body, indicate a refusal to appropriate for oneself the living body, as if a doubt were still hanging: what authorises to assert that this body is mine to the same extent that Dasein is irreducibly mine? Is it because I am the only one to be (able to) die, therefore to have an experience of death as impossible (impossible experience of impossibility)? With comparison to Nancys experience going through a heart transplant Derridas own knowing seems to himself, he says, poor, abstract, shameful, protected, and shamefully cozy. But is the body a place of knowledge? What does it mean, a knowing within the my body? I would rather think with Artaud that bodies know nothing about death. Death is the only thing (no-thing) that bodies cannot and will never experience, which does not mean, contrary to the conclusion Artaud draws, that they are immortal. For only the mortal is immortal. Corps, usually translated as body, is either a living or a dead body (and either a singular or a plural). It depends.
I could no longer be my body, I did not want to be this breath that would deadly turn around it up to the extreme dissolution. (Artaud 1994, 125)

Habeas Corpus


I am dead at Rodez during an electroshock. I say dead. Legally and medically dead. In the preparatory notes to Histoire vcue dArtaudMm, we read an account about this real death, that is, seen from a medical and legal perspective. But such perspective merely embodies one side of the road, indeed a necessary one, otherwise there would be no longer any lived (hi)story. The one who used to live can report or account for his own death by the very fact that he constitutes an exception to the common law that he institutes by the same gesture. So, Too bad, Artaud goes on, that not a single other dead one could come back for in general the dead do not come back (Artaud 1994, 124). In general: but which generality can be invoked there? There where? In place of being there, some parts. Experience of self-repulsion, revulsion of experience: and the word is underlined a little further, the horrible pince (claw, grip) of this sphincter of revulsion and asphyxia, comes from having given away his own body; life is restituted only if the Dead one pays back by the complete and total abandonment of his remains (dpouille), for even his inert body, and especially his body, Being will not return it. Being keeps for itself the body and therefore leaves nobody for the self. Immediately afterward a question follows: And what the hell would the dead one do with a body inside the grave? Let me answer: the D. might need one (body or corpus) to get out of the grave; exactly as writing needs the solid letter.1 Artaud ends his piece about witnessing his own death in Rodez with an afrmation or perhaps a promise: It is the body that will remain, without the mind/spirit, for the mind/spirit is the one sick. It sounds as if Artaud had merely reversed the terms of the metaphysical difference: the body takes the place once devoted to the soul, and the mind or spirit takes the place of the Devil who as the fallen angel was associated with the bodily-earthly matter: Verwindung, healing, recovery from Metaphysics: but then to fall into what sort of material fantasmagory?
The sense of the world of bodies is the sans without-limit, without-reserve; it is the assured extreme of extra partes. (Nancy 1992 in Derrida 2005, 56)

Without having to do with one another, bodies are touching, extending themselves: without limit, he writes, there where yet one touches only on a limit, a bordure. The (so-called) Other should never be reduced and always is reduced to a limit, when there is no longer any shore. Without-limit in the sense of Anaximanders apeiron: such process without-origin-nor-end would come to characterise the gure of ecotechnics and its madness. Without possible totalization, it is yet the

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whole world and everybody, tout le monde, every body as the world, as creation of bodies extra partes, divided, shared and spaced out, always.
Thinking this makes one mad. This thinking, if it is a thought, or the thought that it behooves one to think thatand nothing else. This thought: Hoc est enim, here it is, the world is its own rejection, the rejection of the world is the world. Such is the world of bodies: it has in it this disarticulation, this inarticulation of corpusenunciating the whole, wide-ranging extension of sense. In-articulating utterance [nonciation]that is to say, signication no longer, but instead, a speaking-body that makes no sense, a bodyspeak that is not organized. At last, material sense, that is to say, madness indeed, the imminence of an intolerable convulsion in thought. One cannot think of less: its that or nothing. But thinking that, its still nothing. (Nancy 1992, in Derrida 2005, 589)

Thinking this makes you mad. Indeed, enim. Corpus enim: mine. Mine like folie (folly, madness); the infans, the inarticulate body-speak: corpus as in/articulation, a body speaking through borborygmes, for instance, or in hieroglyphs. A body made mad; a speech that does not make sense, speaking for the sake of speaking, so to speak, and to speak precisely so. So, such, tel, mort-tel, mortal, without sense and yet like this (comme a), in a so to speak material sense, which itself does not make sense: in an intolerable convulsion of thought (Nancy 1992, in Derrida 2005, 59). Such corpus in more than one aspect touches on the body without organs born out of Artauds corpus, and yet radically differs from it, if only because corpus differs from itself or is itself only by differing from the self (such as is traditionally represented as a non-extended substance preceding any body). In addition, so to speak, its self-rejection does not occur for the sake of reconstructing a totality without any aw, a whole in one piece, safe and sound: corpus shows no care for obsessive purication, but rather a kind of impossible ex-position that I would rather call deposition.
In truth, Gods body was the body of man himself; mans esh was the body that God had given himself (Man isabsolutelybody, or he is not. (Derrida 2005, 221)

If Being (is) means, according to this tautology, being-a-body, then what about beings that are not bodies? Are they non-beings? The tautology is the logos of the body: body = same. Body = auto. In short, I hold Nancys ontology of bodies to be, no more no less, a Christian victory, exactly as Dechristianization will be a Christian victory (Derrida 2005, 54). Such victory speaks through Nietzsches

Habeas Corpus


and Artauds metaphysics of the body more explicitly, and gives a strong credit to Heideggers deconstruction of Metaphysics. Corpus Christi, corpus Dionysii, corpus Momo: same. Ontology of the body = exscription of Being (Nancy 1992, 20.) But ontology of body, as long as body always means the body of God or God as body, the in place of . . . that takes place (or God the son without his Father, abandoned: which is why God is dead is the last word of Christianity: God is dead = we all are nothing but bodies) cannot not turn into a body of ontotheology: body as soma-sema, a sign that points toward the non-sensible. Incarnation is the way by which Christianity re-appropriates the body as left out (expropriated). The only manner of not falling back into a mystical re-appropriation of the body is to undermine the domination of Logos; the Word which makes sense out of an extension without sense; the interlacing (with/without) offers an impossible articulation: calling for a communication at the very point where there is no passage, between the insens (senseless or demented) of body-bodies and sense or truth: no passage, no mediation, as there is no synthesis, no totalisation. Corpus is in innite expansion, but it does not present or represent an ideology of the body, and especially not of the body-proper, as esh has been renamed to sound less Christian. Corpus does not even deal with the category of the living being in general. To a certain extent the difference living/non-living tends to blur, or living and dead are sharing a certain common condition, even if such being-incommon is something that cannot and refuses to be shared with. But any exclusion of a part by another part pretending to be the only one and therefore no longer a part is in fact constitutive of the process by which the One ensures its domination on the rest, rejected as only parts (body = parts). In any case, it would be a serious mistake to read Nancys Corpus too much on the side of Corpus Christi, even if it is unavoidable: at least, as for my body, the bad condition of my liver was detected by the hand of my doctor, but his touch merely located the problem, and did not solve it, not to mention healing by a miraculous contact. Most of the gures of On Touching are still dominated by this imposition, that is, in English, laying on of hands. A sort of magical touch characterised by immediacy, and therefore one that calls for a leap of faith, when the corpus as the plastic matter of a spacing out without form (Nancy 1992, in Derrida 2005, 222) is the exscribed, expansion/extension; which reminds us of the way Artaud describes thought as an extension or even a prosthesis born out of the bodies; the projection of a temporal structure onto a space without limit or form. Such indeconstructible and mad, insane,

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inorganic body merges into psyche as gisant, gt-sans: is it that, the creation without a creator? Ex nihilo? Yet, Heraclitus writes, this world (kosmos), the only one that one can speak of insofar as it is common to every-body, this world that is the same for everyone, was created neither by a god nor a man, but it lives for ever as long as the re animates it. II. A Corpus Is Not . . . (A corpus is not a discourse . . . , and it is not a narrative). The only remedy to madness, Artaud writes, is the innocence of facts (Artaud 1965, 16). The tangible, as they say. The rst evidence touches on a touch, more precisely on what is called an auscultation. But not that exactly: for auscultation comes from the Latin auscultare, to listen, and it was a hand, not an ear, that had touched my skin at the place of my liver. The hand of the doctor I went to consult for what I thought a banal u. A couple of days later, the results of my blood test revealed that it was infected with Hepatitis C virus. The virus was already in my blood, present but undetected for a so long time that it was difcult to ascertain the exact circumstances when it entered into my body for the rst time. Anyway, the fact was undeniable. And after all these years spent in complete oblivion of its Intruder, my body suddenly could no longer defend itself. Therefore, I had to do something to restore its self-hood. Intervening, not touching: interfering without touching it. For transplant (grafting) was out of question. Everything except (sauf) touching on my body! Perhaps I had unconsciously in mind the traumatising experience of a medical circumcision that had been imposed on the defenseless child I was at the age of six. But this was not a good reason, for precisely I had forgotten all about such trauma, and one of the major side-effects of the Treatment I chose in place of a transplant was to make me relive the scene, with a surprising intensity, to the point that I nearly felt the pain of the member, and the touch of bandage around the bruised and red penis.
The body is where ones foot gives way. Nonsense but neither absurd, or meaningless or having to do with meaning. No sense at all, or a sense that one may absolutely not approach under any category of sense or meaning. (Nancy 1992, 15)2

Like pain, the body is without any sense: as with/out; mad body, wholly mad, if not holy. Being the only one close to death but at the same time completely ignorant of it, not even in a relation of knowledge or ignorance, it takes body (as we say in French for taking shape) at its limit: in the same way as, according to Heraclitus, the living being

Habeas Corpus


touches on the dead one as the awake touches on the sleeper: touching on what interrupts the contact and, by the same strike, extends it on another dimension, so to speak: a diastole without systole, a difference without sublation.
et cest alors que jai fait tout clater parce qu mon corps on ne touche jamais. (Artaud 1994, 1652) and then I blew out everything because nobody will touch (tamper with) my body.3

If philosophy has touched the limit [my emphasisJ.D.] of the ontology of subjectivity, this is because it has been led to this limit . . . There is thus, apparently, a gure of touch there, for philosophy, literally, has never touched anything. Above all, nobody, no body, no body proper has ever touched with a hand or through skin contactsomething as abstract as a limit. Inversely, however, and that is the destiny of this gurality, all one ever does touch is a limit. To touch is to touch a limit, a surface, a border, an outline (Derrida 2005, 103).

Is the medical transplant the source or the proper meaning with respect to which textual grafting, for instance, would only be a trope, a metaphor? But what could be a metaphor if not a transportation, transference, translation? And what about the heart if it is not also the heart of all metaphoricity, the mtaphore vive par excellence? But then, why not take the liver; le foie as a metaphor of faith, la foi? My liver was dying from lack of faith. Faith in my body? Faith in a metaphor? Grafting as a metaphor? Of deconstruction, at its heart indeconstructible? For if grafting is nothing but a trope, even a hypertrope, exactly as Touching is a hypertrope for the sense of senses (by exscribing the untouchable on its touch, at its limit), then, any deconstruction is a trope. This is true, only on condition that we know what it turns about in a trope, whether one can ever identify a pure trope, or whether on the contrary the trope has not already surrounded and overturned the search for a metaphor-free zone here. And I remember how according to Derrida It is metaphor that Artaud wants to destroy (Derrida 1967, 184). Double Treatment, Interferon injected into my blood on the one hand to restore my physical immunity, and on the level of sense(s) transmission, I used a program of vocal recognition named Dragon Naturally Speaking capable of translating spoken words into written words, as if I had become illiterate. A writing without writing, a machine for undoing my writing block. As with the Memnon colossus, it was

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nothing more than a technical means to make my body believe that it will speak. Dragon transforms voice into letters inscribed on a page or a screen, but the text I was dictating was itself written in a voiceless, iconic form. Hieroglyphic writing is capable of making an image out of a sound. Analogically, my voice was a touching at distance, a virtual touching. Between expression and inscription, there was a slight hesitation, like in a poem between meaning and sound; a differ()nce: while passing from time to space, the text was also undergoing a number of transformations and alterations inicted by the poor and often malicious understanding of Dragon machine, so that I had constantly to correct, restore what my voice had initially said; I had to remember what I was not even sure of saying since after all the Book is almost completely incomprehensible, and this, from the outset. The scribes of the Book of the Dead were already lost in their corpus. Who was I for correcting even what I believed having said by myself? Upon what authority could I lay any claim? For example the rst sentence I uttered, just to test the program, was intentionally very simple and short; I just said what happened the very rst day I used the machine: Un chien ma mordu, A dog bit me. But Dragon wrote it down differently: Un chien ma mort due, A dog my due death. Thanks to a complex technology the scribe Ani (Ani-mort, ani-mal) could read his own book through my voice. Of course, there is no body in the Book; yet this nobody takes place through a body, mine. And in result another corpus is born, another Book of the Dead. Indeed, all we can do is doing as if we could truly be dead. Imagine: imagination does not consist of building a complex or fantastic scenario, for it starts at a more elementary or obscure level, in guring out the place or the scene: here is, hoc est enim the creation without a creator; the mad of the house who schematises in the unfathomable depths where Psyche lies: nearly dead. Then the rst side-effects appeared. At the very beginning, I had felt no differently, no better, no worse. The summer was unbearably hot. My car couldnt stand it and left me on a dirt road, watching for the last prairie dogs soon to be exterminated by ignorant human beings. When I came back from Colorado, I felt as if an obscure force from within my body had obscured the way back to myself, turning my own home into a hostile place, watching over my back to make sure that I felt unwelcome like an intruder. And inside the house, each of my gestures was touching on nothing, an empty space, even void of any space. I recall hurting myself against this dense wall of nothingness, hitting like a madman against the void exactly like in a bath tube curtain, a gummy

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veil that was on the verge of suffocating my mind. I was falling apart, therefore, in a way, without a body. Or in a without-relation with what was my body left without me. I felt completely robbed, and really mad at it. But then also strangely happy about it, as if my secret goal had been achieved: experiencing everything from the point of view of the dead. Transformed: since the dead alone can transform into whatever s/he wishes. I started dictating the chapters on July 23, 2005. The rst month was very productive. The Book was slowly opening its doors. But reading was hard, scary and above all extremely obscure if you were not satised with hollow generalities and approximations. I was also involved with a lot of other relevant materials, but my eyes stayed riveted to the Book as if to pierce it with a spin. Perhaps I needed to hear the Dead one reading through my voice a constellation of images, words, which were almost, with a minimal delay, retransferred into written signs by my malicious Dragon. I was almost lying dead on my chair, sometimes with no lights on, late in the night, with only the spectral glow from the street shaken by the invisible but brutal touch of the wind blown coming from Katrina, the ghost of my Disparue. Disappeared, vanished, washed out like New Orleans the Black City drowned under the putrid waters of the oil and chemical industry. More than 9/11 it sounded like the real end of the world. At the same time the side-effects of the Interferon were coming to the fore. At long last I was feeling something. I could barely walk. My whole body was shivering and burning at the same time. Or perhaps there was no longer any same time. No standard for continuity or even a sense of priority in time, no measurement with a before and an after. It was as if, always as if, New Orleans black drown corpses were oating in the middle of my living or rather dying room. Constantly on the verge of collapsing, I was crawling on my chair; the least move felt so painful, and writing was denitely out of question. I couldnt even touch the keyboard. Most of the time I had to stay in the complete dark: after all, I was entering the Hidden Land of the West, the Amenti which Homer called Hades (that is, according to a popular and wrong etymology, the Invisible). As if in a boat accompanying the dead man with my voice alone, I wandered into the Book, opening one gate after the other, just to realise that they were all alike, and nowhere any shore to rest upon. At this stage of my story you might wonder what sort of book my techno-somatic experience had to deal with. Going Forth By Day, here is the exact Title. The title given by the German archeologist Lepsius, Todtenbuch, Book of the Dead (BD), is misleading for a double reason: rst, the papyrus is not strictly speaking a book, unlike the Bible; second,

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the Dead are never mentioned as such, and in any case the word does not have the same negative connotation as in our Christianised societies. We have to leave this semantic space completely empty, indeed to let it space out as the starting point or rather the Neutral position, le point mort: there is the place of the god-D(ead) Osiris, with whom the blessed Departed one will seek to be identied. The D. is not only the only addressee of this BD, he is its performative agent. The major spell in the BD is the one to go forth by day, to get out, to exit or to exist, in the broad daylight, in the open dimension; open precisely by the magic of the Word. The Opening of the mouth is the most important rite accomplished on the body of the D. During this rite various objects are placed at or struck against the head of the cofn, thus magically opening and restoring power onto the mouth, the eyes, and the ears. It is a violent act done to the dead body, for which an incision is necessary since it no longer has the strength to open its mouth nor to pronounce the magic incantations required nor to begin through doing so to open the mouth. Exterior help is thus necessary, not from a vain God but from an instrument that is neither living nor dead. Certainly the mouth does not actually utter words but it (is) spoken and (timelessly) opened through the incantation of opening, and thus the interpret-performer is no more than an agent of the instrument, which in turn has become the principle actor in the scene. This was how Thoth (that is, Writing) had restored Osiris. Thus Ani would be able to respond condently with all the capabilities of a living man at the weighing of his heart and other necessities of life. A contrecoeur, against my will, against my heart, I continue in this narrative that isnt even one. More than one, such is the law of the onesame. Physical = metaphysical. Is it a mere metaphor? It is a risk to be taken. The risk of taking the one for the other, or even more acutely, the one for the same one; it is even all that Metaphysics secretly desires. A mistake, an overinvestment of meaning in the senses or the organs (always local): heart or liver, it will never fail to be doubled with some semantic or psychic supplement. Besides expressing all his disgust for the heart, Artaud did rather praise the liver as a kind of organic lter for the unconscious,4 but then it will come as no surprise if I tell you that my Treatment resulted in an organic psychosis, an uncommon phenomenon or rather a monster as there were no visible symptoms, no apparent trouble; except that sometimes I was completely lost in space, without any means to orientating myself. Lost body in a lost space. I felt as if my blood was running in the wrong way, against the ow, indeed re-volting as

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I thought. We say mal au coeur, literally pain in the heart for a kind of sickness that in fact relates to the liver. Liver is so close to live. I liver. But also I deliver. Delivery: birth. Birth as liber, libre and livre. In the end I the liver book was good for the asylum. My liver was making me lose faith [mon foie me faisait perdre la foi], but faith in what? The illusion that I was in control of a body of which I knew almost nothing, less even than what Egyptians knew 5000 years ago? Only the Dead one survives. In such experience: Dead or rather Departed, but precisely for that reason, because what remains is what does not remain, what does not rest but does rest sans. The rest is sans. Altering itself it rests in itself by being out of itself (metaballon anapauetai, Heraclitus). By rest I mean the corpus extended, laying down as written down or spaced out, extra partes, parting from itself and therefore resting in itself, staying such, tel, with this void and open identity that could be called Neuter (corpus is a neuter as well as corps is a singular plural): it is only without being, as this extension/expansion, distention of time up to the innite. An extension without limit other than that of sans. It takes place more than one time (fois: the word in French comes from vices, a turn) at the same time ( la fois): in only one time, there is more than one time; the one creates itself by way of the more than one, increasing itself, like psyches logos in Heraclitus, by dividing itself and therefore extending itself to the division of the division itself. In the end, is there any progress? No, but no loss either, since there is no end. The one that I call the Dead one for it never utters a word, could very well be the one who inhabits my home depot that I usually consider as my body. And so I, the so-called living, would be no more than the support, the matter for the Dead one who would then take my place and eject me inexorably from my provisional shelter? Is this not the most revolting thought that could only occur to a deranged . . . mind? Is it even a matter of mind, such thought? Does not it look rather like a monster? What sort of gure does the Dead one embody? Probably this is an impossible question. Sometimes I translate the Dead or D. into Dasein. No body. It is the Addressee and the One who has to repeat the spell for going out by day. There is not only one spell, of course, but the decisive one is that spell that calls for being-out, existing. Being with out. That is, to reach or to touch the point where the D. may leave his body in the grave and venture out, taking whatever form he wishes (often birds are the preferred ones but one may choose even so-called evil gures, like snakes). Touching this point is the goal and the real stake of the whole Book. I call it the point O, like Osiris-Dionysos, OD, but also like the

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point mort, which denes the empty space or spacing/out, the interval of zero time. In order to get to this point, one must rst abstain from touching it. This is the reason why, instead of looking forward into the future, the D. must turn backwards, and above all never head toward the rising sun. This Turning (analogous to a certain extent to the Kehre in Heidegger) constitutes the genuine strangeness of such experience, and this is one of the secrets of the BD, something I discovered after meditating on the direction of reading, which frequently reverses the usual way, which is the exact opposite of ours: naturally, a hieroglyphic text is supposed to be read from right to left, but in case of sacred texts, it is to be read from left to right, that is, toward the West, since the Egyptians looked at the South as our North. In short, reading toward the West is the proper way for the D., which constitutes us as the truer Dead as Westerners, inhabitants of these dark shores that Homer named Kimmeria. We are Kimmerians, in French Cimmriens, which can be read as si mais rien, yes but nothing.

Immune disorder is also in order

An intolerable convulsion, as if I had somehow succeeded in extirpating myself from my bunker or mastaba, that is, from my fortied corps, castle or safe, as if indeed I had been extracted from, ent- as they say in German, ent-schlossen, out of the castle where I had been put at secret for so long, it seemed, and taken by force, out into the Open, forced to see the day, voir le jour, a birth but not even to presence, for it had nothing to do [rien voir] with what we mean by seeing or even touching. No sense for it; none of the senses, but neither a sixth sense nor a metaphoric sense. No sense for it; sans sense. That is, also, by the same stroke still a sort of sense, that of sans. Without a sense as a distinct organ, like sight or hearing, and even touching, even if touch gets closer, brings close, in being that sense of the prochain (next and neighbor) and of proximity, therefore the sense of presence par excellence. And yet, in spite of this proximity or precisely because of it, and without giving any privilege to the lointain (far) which is no more than a construction by the prochain in order to better bring closer and appropriate the irreducible Intruder, something took place, something that I would describe as materially impossible, but also impossible to gure out or to represent in any way, so that the simple thought of this impossibility would itself become intolerably impossible to even think of. It appeared (not exactly a phenomenon, you would assume) as a pure instant of madness. Not only was it unthinkable, but in fact it was

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as if this unthinkability were the very core of thought, its unfathomable body. In this convulsion of thought, which may resolve into a laughter as with Bataille and Nancy, there . . . no, no, there is no There is, not even Es gibt, for nothing is thereby given, or else it is given away; There, I say, se tend, extends, at a loss of sight, perte de vue, and corps perdu, at a loss of a body, and in an insane jouissance, what Plato names the expansion of clearing (aletheia). Such jouissance is an ecstasy of sans and sense, one into the other, inextricably. Now youve entered into the corpus of thought, for now you have realised that Corpus is no body else than Psyche, about whom Aristotle said that she in some way is the beings, everything therefore. In the same way, Heraclitus asserts that psyches logos is so deep that you will never nd its limits, however far you dare venture. But why is it, asks Derrida, that Psyche, who lies almost dead over her cofn-corpus, wakes up as corpus disseminated, exscribed under the form of books such as Corpus, for instance? For Corpus is a writing of the dead and for the dead, that is, the existent for which the There, the There it takes place, is the very impossible. Corpus is a writing without writing, or a writing from with/out. The limits of a corpus extend beyond the limits of the volumes, exactly as Artaud could imagine projecting, creating, bodies out of his own body. Self-creation as the invention of the other: Psyche as the invention of a corpus which, logically, is mine only insofar as it belongs to no body. The continuation of this story, if only there could have been a story here, belongs to history. There is no history of bodies, lets remember. Corpus is neither a history nor a discourse. The coming out in the open takes place as corpus and nothing else; pure autobiography of Corpus-Psyche is/as impossible. For with the (impossible) experience of with/out, sense itself turns into sans, that is, sense (and image, and touch) is transformed to the point that its corpus can never be assembled; there only remain pieces, morsels (morceaux), but referring to no set, no collection, no organism, no order. These bodies parts, like those of Osiris body, meet to a certain extent, precisely at the extent of their extension, at their limit; which draws a techno-spectral Body, nothing mystical since it offers no communion, no fusion, no identication or idealisation. They meet precisely at the point where they part. They de-limit, for a while, a de-parting. They write without (&) in place of the body, and precisely insofar as the body, as the event of takingplace, is always in place of itself, and therefore always more than what it is. Not only a word too many, but a being too many and in the end without being at all. Such corpus signies nothing, even if in the end, and precisely in view of this end, it will end up always as a sign,

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sema, but then a sign of the same way as that the god uses to give through the illiterate virgin in Delphi. Neither revealing nor hiding, it semainei, makes sense, creates sense as this spacing/out that is inbetween, medium, but at the same time sans, without immediate sense, and what is a sense that would not be immediate? Should I name it passance?
Death is the absolute signied, the sealing off [bouclage] of sense. The noun is what it is (and even this proper name, Death), but the verb is bear, to be born [natre]. It is certainly neither false nor excessive to say that all production of sense of a sense making sense in this sense is a deathwork. The same goes for all ideals and works, and the same goes, remarkably, for all philosophies. Philosophy distinguishes itself by the unique way it prots from death [jouir de la mort] which is also a way of assuring its own perdurability. Philosophy is ignorant of true mourning. True mourning has nothing to do with the work of mourning: the work of mourning, an elaboration concerned with keeping at a distance the incorporation of the dead, is very much the work of philosophy; it is the very work of representation. In the end, the dead will be represented, thus held at bay. But mourning is without limits and without representation. It is tears and ashes. It is: to recuperate nothing, to represent nothing. And thus it is also: to be born to this nonrepresented of the dead, of death. To come forth and be born: to nd ourselves exposed, to ex-ist. Existence is an imminence of existence. This sets off a dream: what if Psyche also described the picture of an imminent being born? Of a coming into the world? What if the work of mourning, philosophy perhaps, philosophy precisely, far from only dealing with keeping at a distance the incorporation of the dead, were, by way of this, working on such an incorporation, on a denying avoidance, by way of the incorporation of the dead? (Derrida 2005, 5253).

The guile of philosophy (always dressed into the clothes of the other, everyone she thinks), its favorite technique is to make the two opposite work together so that philosophy wins on both sides. For what, if keeping at distance the incorporation of the dead constituted the best way to incorporate them without having to even touch them? I have to its a fact, the date of sortie (coming out: 1992) is undeniable relate Nancys Corpus to my mothers body, a body that I could not, did not want to see, much less to touch. What is it, touching a dead body? The body of the one from which your own body came out to the Day, into the world? But mourning is without limits and without representation. It is tears and ashes. Is it? Tears and ashes are still within limits and perfectly within representation. But if mourning is without limits it is

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not because it leaves nothing to work out, but because it touches on the without-limits and without-representation of the Dead. Is it here, at this place, a place of with/out, that the circulation of sense/blood is interrupted, suspended in an intolerable convulsion of thought (Nancy 1992 in Derrida 2005, 59). Jouissance, of sans: by throwing oneself into this innite mourning, corps perdu, one comes forth into the Day: birth, yes, but to this nonrepresented, limitless freedom of the Dead. At the same time, insofar as this experience takes place even as this experienced impossibility of being presented even once it has to be repeated, repeated as that which has not even been presented even once. It has to be repeated, and it cannot be repeated, for want of a rst time. Heraclitus, once again, shows the way: one cannot enter twice into the same river, because one cannot even enter once. It is already too late since the very beginning of time. Therefore there will have never been any (hi)story for that which can never be called an event; not in the proper sense (of Ereignis), of a body-proper (a body properly speaking, not a body-so-to-speak), a pure, immune body. The body sent (smells, feels) death, but it can never la sentir (tolerate it). So it feels what it cannot endure to feel. The body feels such cannot in the revulsion that turns it against its own sense, and thus makes it properly speaking without: as if no creation could take place without some immense catastrophe (the fractal dimension in Corpus). My story collides with the anarchy of complete disarray, or more exactly with a form of impossible disorganisation, which would make utterly impossible any sort of organisation, even a negative one. This would materially yield into what would logically be called an organic psychosis, or rather psy-chose, psy-thing. The secret of survival belongs indeed to the Dead one; it comes back to him as an income and a ghost, in a time difcult to measure out, but if once, more than once and therefore never even once. It passes over to the Dead one so that he can read his own Book. But his hand touching on nothing or else touching only by its voice; a voice that is no longer his (or hers). Into the mouth of Dragon I was injecting the blood of life and re but in turn Dragon consumed it into blocks of petried words. And then there was no longer my voice and its inscription, but a maddening reversal of places: it, the D., in truth, from my inner most invisible and untouchable for, took my voice with his hands, so to speak, and I was left completely speechless: who wouldnt have been speechless if put in my place? And thus left sans, without even being able to say I, I became a writing machine, completely automatic and programmed.

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The madness of Technik

We are the beginnings of a mutation: man recommences going innitely beyond man (this is what the death of god, in all its possible senses, has always meant). Man becomes what it is: the most terrifying and troubling technician, as Sophocles designated him 25 centuries ago. He who de-natures and re-fashions nature; he who re-creates creation; he who brings it out of nothing, and, perhaps, returns it to nothing. (Nancy 1992)

In short, man has taken the place of god. In a creation without creator, man is the place-holder of creation; as the most terrifying technician (a mad Demiurge), as said Nancy interpreting Sophocles, in a rather modern way would object Heidegger, since historically techne has nothing to do with modern technology, in the same way as physis is not nature. But above all he would not have left man at the center of this process of creative denaturation. Indeed, there is a certain risk of falling back into a sort of subjective-humanistic reappropriation of the Intruder, at the end of LIntrus: The intruder is no other than me, my self; none other than man himself. No other than the one, the same, always identical to itself and yet that is never done with altering itself. No other, and yet always altering itself: in a quasi-dialectical move, selfalteration in the sense, for example, of self-rejection (of the most intimate heart) can be possible only on the condition that self remains self-same while transforming into, for example, the living-dead or undead body. I am the virus and the treatment: pharmakon. What saves kills, and conversely what kills saves. Technique names the power of replacing just anything; of transforming into whatever works; and such is the force of self that it remains as what lies down (ci-gt or hypokeimenon), reclining on a cofn, nearly dead, at least unmoving, and untouched. If in the last resort, immunity is the only way to gure identity as problema, shield, protection, defense against any intruder, but if in the last instance I am this intruder, I turn my immunity against myself: I kill the Intruder, that is, I kill myself by the same way: by way of the Same. Such corpus deserves some respect, exactly like the Devil. I have to let it be free as if it were its last will; to let it be or rest in peace, safe, as untouched as possible, almost sacred but not because you never know, in case, in case it would happen to you, the resurrection of bodies. No, there is no resurrection, but it is precisely because the body has to be kept asylos; in the secret of a grave or a writing. We also say lasile, asylum, for the madhouse. In Greek, asulos means inviolable, immune, and especially hieron asulon or simply to asylon means an inviolable temple, a delimited place that is sacred and therefore safe (sauf), safe from any appropriation by violence.

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According to the legend, Heraclitus concealed his Book Peri Phuseos in the most sacred temple of Ephesis, the Artemision, one of the seven wonders of the (ancient) world, which ended being consumed by re, the deed of a pyromaniac lover of the re and therefore the only true disciple of the Obscure. Asulos is constructed exactly like aletheia (unconcealment, truth) with a negative alpha placed before another negative action. The verb sulao means to rob, to take away, to remove, and in particular to take away from someone his weapons. Here is how Nancy, in one of the most sublime page of Corpus, evokes the integral nudity of Aletheia, the divine goddess presiding over the madness of the Day: the only page I had underlined in the original rst edition of Corpus in 1992, another image of a vestale, that is, a daughter of re, lying out of access, offered and inaccessible, stretched out but out of touch as such: corpus-psyche.
Bodies are completely inviolable. Each one is a virgin, a vestale on her couch: and it is not by being closed that she is virgin, it is by being open. It is the open that is virgin, and stays so forever. (Nancy 1992, 52)

Artaud, Antonin (1965), Artaud Anthology, trans. Jack Hirschman, City Lights Books. Artaud, Antonin (1994), Histoire vcue dArtaud-Momo, in uvres compltes, vol. XXVI, Paris: Gallimard, p. 125. Artaud, Antonin (2004), Pour en nir avec le jugement de Dieu [1948], in uvres, Paris: Gallimard. Artaud, Antonin (2004), Les Tarahamaras in uvres, ed. Evelyne Grossman, Paris: Gallimard/quarto. Derrida, Jacques (2005), On TouchingJean-Luc Nancy, trans. Christine Irizarry, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Derrida, Jacques (1967), Lcriture et la diffrence, Paris: Editions du Seuil. Nancy, Jean-Luc (1992), Corpus, Paris: Mtaili. Nancy, Jean-Luc (2000), LIntrus, Paris: Galile.

1. Friedrich Hlderlin, Patmos. 2. Jean-Luc Nancy, Corpus (Paris: Mtaili, 1992), p. 15. My translation since this passage, as well as few others I will quote later on, is quoted or rather incorporated in Derridas Le Toucher. 3. Antonin Artaud, last words of Pour en nir avec le jugement de Dieu, 1948, in uvres (Paris: Gallimard, 2004), p. 1652. 4. Le foie semble donc tre le ltre organique de lInconscient, Antonin Artaud, Les Tarahamaras, in uvres, ed. Evelyne Grossman (Paris: Gallimard/quarto, 2004), p.1694.

DOI: 10.3366/E1754850009000384

Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself, Jean-Luc Nancy

Martin McQuillan
Abstract This text begins by considering the phrase digital haptology as suggested by the closing pages of Derridas Le Toucher. It suggests that this moment in telecommunications presents a model of tele-haptology. The text goes on to consider Jean-Luc Nancys Noli me tangere as a response to Le Toucher. In particular it is concerned with Nancys hypothesis on Modern literature and art as having an essential link to the gospel parables. Through a reading of Nancys text and the gospels, this hypothesis is placed in doubt. Notably, the argument is made that once again Nancys discourse on touching leads him to make a too hasty fore-closure of otherness within his intended deconstruction of reading and his account of Mary Magdalene. In response to Nancys formulation of literature as parable, an alternative consideration of literature as telehaptology is proposed. * I leave off therefore, Since in a net I seek to hold the wind - Thomas Wyatt, Egerton Manuscript1 People talking without speaking, People hearing without listening, ... And the signs said, the words of the prophets Are written on the subway walls And tenement halls. And whispered in the sounds of silence. - Simon and Garfunkel2

Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself, Jean-Luc Nancy 85

I Democracy At Your Fingertips

In a recent episode of the Simpsons, Homer attempts to vote for Obama in the 2008 election. In the polling booth he is confronted with a touch-screen voting machine, with one box for Obama and one box for McCain. He touches the Obama box and the McCain box lights up as an electronic voice says one vote for McCain. Homer, wishing to vote for Obama, presses the Obama box several times. The voice says six votes for President McCain. The scene concludes with the computer opening up to suck Homer into its murderous grip, as he is being dragged away he calls out this doesnt happen in America, maybe Ohio but not in America! This satirical vignette responds to genuine concern in the 2004 election that touch-screen technology recorded erroneous voting intentions and in the case of Sarasota County, Florida, did not record any choice of 18,000 voters in a keenly contested election. As a result the 2008 Presidential election was characterised by a return to paper ballots for two thirds of the electorate. The States of Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey and South Carolina all predominantly used touch-screen technology in 2008, despite its vulnerability to crashes that drop recorded votes and the absence of any paper record to verify accurately recorded choice.3 Following electoral irregularities in Florida in 2000 and, as Homer Simpson reminds us, Ohio in 2004, where the Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner sued the manufacturers of the touch-screen equipment, the question of democratic digital haptology is a vexed one. Digital Haptology is a phrase suggested to me by the opening paragraphs of the late pages, entitled Salve: Untimely Postscript, for Want of a Final Retouch, of Derridas book on Jean-Luc Nancy. Derrida has been concerned with digital touching before this but only in the sense of touching with the nger, he discusses the becoming-haptical of the optic as a theme in Deleuze and Guattari, assigning the eye a digital function (Derrida 2005, 123), digital manipulation in Husserl (Derrida 2005, 162), and Aristotles apparent silence concerning the tactile hand or digital touch [doigt] (Derrida 2005, 257). Touching with the nger is in fact the paradigm of all touching as far as the model of haptocentric intuitionism, which runs through western philosophy, is concerned. In the two paragraphs which open this closing chapter Derrida makes explicit reference to virtual technologies of touching that might begin to reinscribe in curious ways the problematic he has been elucidating through out the book. As a short commentary that points in another direction of study, and which is quickly curtailed in preference

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to a return to his relationship with Nancy, these paragraphs are indeed a salvo of sorts: a depth charge that rises to the surface within Derridas detailed genealogy of touch. As a closing chapter the rhetorical invocation here might be one of salving or smoothing the relationship with Nancy that has taken something of a beating in this book. However, it is also suggestive of what the reader of tomorrow might salvage from this extended account of the fraternal relation between Nancy and Derrida. With these pages our attention is hailed towards another idiom and another work of philosophy. He begins with a reference to his own book:
A supplementary touch or past retouch left stalled long ago, almost seven years ago, on my computer, that is, a place where the relation between thought, weight, language, and digital touch will have undergone an essential mutation of ex-scribing over the past ten years. (Derrida 2005, 300)

As Hillis Miller points out so much of this extraordinary book depends upon what we might call with a nod to obsolete technology, the word processor. The text of the book combines material cut and pasted from seminars and articles written over an extended period and rewritten or written-over on a computer. This is a book of the computer age, as such it might not be a book at all, at least not a book in the sense that this mode of production has been hitherto understood in literature and philosophy. It may also be, for the same reasons, the most exemplary of books, in which techn e makes possible the realisation of writerly projects previously beyond the means of scholarly labour or cost-effective publishing. However, Derrida is concerned here not so much with the digital technology of the computer as the act of typing on a keyboard. The etymology of the digital computer and the digit that touches are of course one and the same, the Latin digitus meaning nger or toe, and by extension giving rise to the mathematical digit as a discrete value or quantity (one after all counts on ones ngers and toes) and so referring to the digital computer which uses signals and information represented by such digits. The ngers that manipulate a keyboard are then not necessarily a physical adjunct to a virtual experience but are, as Derridas opening three words suggest, a supplementary touch, the form of physicality that appears to stand outside the digital experience but in fact determine it in the most decisive way. The converse is also true, and this would be the entire point of Derridas book, that touch is from the beginning a virtual experience. In the case of this book, of its reading and the responses to it, we are in the middle of a virtual reality, a network of virtual experience which we might call a word

Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself, Jean-Luc Nancy 87

process in which the relation between thought, weight [the touch of the nger on an icon tile] language, and digital touch all undergo their own essential mutations and ex-scriptions with Derridas text as the central processing unit. There is nothing more virtual than reading and writing, nothing more intimately connected to touch either, even in the cases of non-digital writing such as so-called voice-recognition software or the remarkable case of an author like Jean-Dominique Bauby who dictated Le Scaphandre et le Papillon by blinking his left eye following a stroke. Derridas commentary here concerns the need for a description of the surfaces, the volumes, and the limits of this new magic writing pad, which exscription touches in another way (Derrida 2005, 300). Digital writing is in no way exempt from the work of what Derrida calls here, after Nancy, exscription (writings placing of sense outside of what it inscribes4 ), rather it is a question of mapping a new terrain for exscription between so-called memory and hard discs. However, Derridas own situation is, he says:
A pretext to bring up another challenge, a supplementary one, of the technical supplement challenging the discreet, discrete, and calculable multiplicity of the sensesand the assurance that touch is on the side of the act or the actual, whereas the virtual partakes more of the visual, with the appearing of phainesthai, that is, with the phantasm, the spectral, and the revenant. One spontaneously has the tendency to believe that touching resists virtualization. And if (continuous and continuistic) haptocentric intuitionism is indeed a dominant tradition, which I have taken as my theme here, then philosophy, as such and constitutively, may be subjected to this very belief. To this credulity. How is one to believe that touch cannot be virtualised? And how can one fail to see that there is something like an origin of technics here? (Derrida 2005, 300)

This then is the challenge of Derridas book to the reader of tomorrow, the virtual horizon of the senses, the technology of the senses to come, this future matter, to paraphrase the title for this set of readings that Tom Cohen and I concocted over a late night telephone call. Let me also put down a marker here for the question of belief which is a considerable stake in all of this and which will later become a dominant theme for us. The remainder of Derridas paragraph goes on to cite some examples, quoting work done by the Integrated Media Systems Centre at the University of Southern California in which through remote touching one can experience the realistic sensation of touching works of art or be involved in medical simulations, through devices such as the CyberGrasp glove or the PHANTOM pen. We might call these virtual realities a form of tele-haptology, a touch without touching, a

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touch outside of itself, and so on. Derrida concludes this short excursion (or is it an after-thought he has cut and pasted into his text on Nancy) by suggesting:
All this leads to the archiving of data that are increasingly differentiated and overdetermined in their coding. Tomorrows Sigmund Freud will have to rene his magic writing pad and the topography of bodies during psychoanalytical sessions, not to mention erogenous distance touching and amorous bodies wrestling in the sheets of the Internets web. No doubt, this possibility hasnt waited for our century, but lets put these things under the heading facts of the day [questions dactualit], or artefactuality, for all the reasons just put forth. The artefactual haunts and works through both technics and desire. And work in general. Its the same labour, the same pleasure, the same torturetripalium, the suffering during the Sabbath. (Derrida 2005, 301)

A tripalium being a three-staked instrument of torture whose name gives rise to the English travail and travel and to the French word travailler, to work. Alongside the question of labour sits all gender relations (for travailler is also related to trabicula, a beam of wood also used in torture, giving rise to the Old French use of travailler to refer to both the pain of childbirth and by extension death, given the risk to the Mother of medieval childbirth). This virtual ambit touches on a good deal, from the tele-haptological sexual relation to the limit point of death itself, including all work in general, the dialectic of pleasure and pain, and torture as a crime of universal jurisdiction. This topography of the senses-to-come awaits before us to be mapped in an exacting and precise way. While the examples that Derrida cites here specically concern the interactive process of a virtual haptical experience of a particular kind, we might also cite the ways in which the touch-screen technology that confronts Homer Simpson is also in a more banal fashion (and therefore more determining way) redening the relations between touch and thought. For example, an entire generation of children are now completely at ease with the idiom of data processing provided by the screen on a Nintendo DS, touched either by a stylus or a nger nail. My childrens rst response to a computer screen in a library or museum is now to touch the screen rather than a keyboard. The same is true of users of touchscreen telephones such as I-Phones or the Blackberry Storm. Calling up the internet or google earth at the touch of a nger is surely a form of tele-haptology that changes the expectations one has concerning the immediate and the virtual. The contemporary commuter tele-haptically

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touches their destination on a ticket machine in railway station or airport terminal, while the American electorate are asked to touch their chosen one: election through tele-haptological conferment. Of course, such systems are merely (or perhaps accurately) the simulation of touch, using resistive, capacitive or surface acoustic waves to give the appearance of the touch of the screening effecting an act or outcome via an iconic representation of that action.5 It is as if your phone at home had a picture of your Mother on the button rather than numbers to be pressed in sequence. Such single-touch technology (for dialling a telephone number, at the touch of a button, is also tele-haptology, but so last century) is really a consequence of digital memory storage capability rather any essential relation to the sense of touch. Derridas gesture is interesting here. Throughout the book he has been at pains to demonstrate through the closest of textual explications the ways in which the texts of the western philosophical tradition (and those that we call phenomenology in particular) are repeatedly and consistently caught up in and caught out by the assumption of the immediate material presence of the sense of touch. This account in relation to Nancy and so many others takes him some three hundred pages. It is curious then that having done precisely this work, touching on all the canonical touchstones, that in these seemingly eeting paragraphs towards the end of the book he hails these facts of the day (as Christine Irizarry translates it) as a demonstration of the undeniable virtualization of touch. On the one hand, he says, this possibility hasnt waited for our century, and it would be true to say that for example the myth of Butades provides a version of the virtual work of telehaptology.6 These idioms being only exemplary cases of what is true of touch in general, namely both its technical origin and its phantasmatic non-immediacy. On the other hand, our present situation calls for a necessary re-examination of the parameters and conditions of touching as it has been traditionally thought. In another text on digital touching, the Envois section of La Carte Postale, Derrida makes a signicant claim with respect to virtuality and literature:
An entire epoch of so-called literature, if not all of it, cannot survive a certain technological regime of telecommunications (in this respect the political regime is secondary). Neither can philosophy, or psychoanalysis. Or love letters (Derrida 1987, 197).

Now, I have discussed this citation elsewhere7 , and will no doubt return to it again and again, but let me for the moment place it alongside Derridas discourse on tele-haptology to test how robust a formulation

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it might be. Let me sound some notes of caution to begin with, Derrida is not saying here that all literature cannot survive the regime of telecommunications. He says, precisely, an entire epoch of so-called literature cannot survive a certain technological regime, the limits he places around the literature in question (so-called literature at that, we cannot determine here whether the so-called refers to the literary quality or the idea of Literature as a Modern institution) and the type of technological regime (he is referring to only a certain regime) are no doubt very important to him.8 He does go on to include, seemingly, all philosophy, psychoanalysis and love letters in an undifferentiated way, so a good deal remains at stake here. If, as I have suggested above, there is nothing more virtual than reading and writing, and so by extension, little that is more virtual than literature, for example, then how might we begin to understand the literary in relation to this regime of the technology of the senses to come? Surely, the imminent virtualization of sensation would the very denition of literature rather than a threat to its survival? At this point I would like to turn to a text by Nancy. His Noli me tangere written in 2003 is a direct response, in so far as any writing is ever direct, to Derridas work of 2000, Le Toucher. He does not refer to Derridas text explicitly, rather he augments his work on the Deconstruction of Christianity through an extended essay on the representation in Western art (his examples are time and space limited to Renaissance and Reformation Europe) of John 20 (17), the so-called Noli me tangere. Accordingly, Nancy adds to the literature on touch, having the last word as it happened, by responding to Derrida with a touch me not. One might read this injunction in several ways with regard to the Nancy-Derrida relation. Following the ambiguous job Derrida does of saluting Nancy, the response might be hands off, do not lay your touch upon me, neither treat me as you treat others (that is, chastise me for not having been deconstructive enough) nor do I wish your attention or patronage (Derrida treats other philosophical friends with much less frankness than he does Nancy, e.g. Cixous or Blanchot). The title may also suggest that Nancy is untouchable, in two senses. He is either beyond the pale, as the English has it, beyond the reach of redemption, a deconstructive pariah, such is the extent of the criticism of his deconstructive endeavour Derrida lays at his door in Le Toucher.9 Alternatively, the opposite is true. Nancy is now untouchable in the sense that he is beyond criticism, both as a philosopher whose considerable body of work is of undeniable quality, and as a canonised, institutionalised saint of deconstruction, one who Derrida has laid his nger upon by writing about like Levinas

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or Benjamin. Either way, the bold declaration of noli me tangere in response to Le Toucher Jean Luc Nancy, compels our attention as a further elaboration of what Nancy has to say concerning touch.

II Faith in Jean-Luc Nancy

What particularly interests me about Nancys text, as a reply to Derrida, is the way in which it opens a space in the western model of haptocentric intuitionism for the tele-haptology of art and literature. As one might expect, this is a book concerned with representation and the relation between representation and revelation: the stakes of which will become apparent presently. For Nancy, revelation has a nonreligious, and nonbelieving structure, which puts into play what he calls an autodeconstruction of religion (Nancy 2008, 4). In this sense revelation, for Nancy, constitutes the identity of the revealable and so carries along with it the identity of the image and the original, thereby implying . . . the identity of the invisible and the visible (Nancy 2008, 45). This leads Nancy to offer an understanding of parables in scripture as at once offering a text to be interpreted and a true story, the truth and the interpretation being made identical to each other and by each other (Nancy 2008, 5). Nancy quickly notes that this truth is neither foundational [au fond] to interpretation nor the result of multiple readings but rather the identity of the truth and its gures needs to be understood otherwise, in a sense that is made manifest precisely by the thought of the parable (Nancy 2008, 5). Now, I would like to ag up the potentially bifurcating phrase the truth and its gures as I will have cause to return to this momentarily. However, to follow Nancy a little further, he suggests by quotation from Matthew 13 that parables are meant for those to whom it is not given . . . to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. Unlike the disciples who have been given this knowledge, those who listen to parables, says Nancy, are those who seeing, see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. Nancy says the parable might be expected to open their eyes, informing them of a proper meaning through its gurative system. But Jesus says nothing of the sort. To the contrary, he says that, for those who hear them, parables full the words of Isaac [sic]: By hearing, ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive (Nancy 2008, 5). This leads Nancy to conclude that thus the objective of the parable is rst to sustain the blindness of those who do not see. It does not proceed out of a pedagogy of guration (of allegory or illustration) but, to the contrary, out of a refusal or a denial of pedagogy

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(Nancy 2008, 5). Now, I would like to refute this assertion at quite a basic level, as Nancy is beginning to open up a lemmata in a wider thesis on art and literature. When one reads Matthew 13 it is not at all clear that Jesus is referring to the interpretation of parables by these words. Having told the parable of the sower and the seed to a large crowd, ending with the ourish he that hath ears to hear, let him hear, the disciples ask Jesus, why speakest thou to them in parables?10 He replies, because to you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven: but to them it is not given. For he that hath, to him shall be given, and he shall abound: but he that hath not, from him shall be taken away that also which he hath. Therefore do I speak to them in parables: because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. One possible reading of this is that of Nancy, namely, that the parable is deployed by Jesus precisely so that those who see not and hear not will not understand. However, given that the Jesus of the Gospels spends his time saying contradictory and arresting things, an alternative and opposite reading is also possible, namely that Jesus speaks in parables because unlike the disciples the crowd have not been witnesses to the miracles and life of Jesus (to them it is not given) and hitherto this crowd has listened to the word of God as preached by the Prophets and Pharisees and not listened to or understood. Therefore do I speak to them in parables because hearing other genres of communication they hear not. This can all be read as a consideration of pre-parable religion, or, revelation through clarity. This is the meaning of the words of Isaias (that is, Isaiah, not Isaac who was almost sacriced by his Father as a result of pre-parable revelation) concerning less gurative presentations of the good news. Jesus goes on to say of this particular locale, For the heart of this people is [i.e. has] grown gross, and with their ears they have been dull of hearing, and their eyes they have shut: lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. Nancys reading of this must be that the parables are designed to prevent the unblocking of ears and sight and to prevent conversion. However, one might also say that the important word in this sentence is lest, which can be read with Nancy to suggest so that they do not but equally as meaning unless, that is, that at some point they should hear the meaning of these parables and be healed. What then happens in Matthew 13 is that Jesus tells the disciples how fortunate they are to be witnesses to his presence rather than mere readers of his word, many prophets and just men have desired to see the things that you see, and have not seen them, and to hear the

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things that you hear and have not heard them. Thus, the prophets and just men are in the same position as the crowd who are waiting to see and hear, and in order to hear the word direct from the horses mouth have gone to hear Jesus speak (to touch the hem of his gown as crowds do in the gospels), forcing him to stand in a shing boat and speak to the crowd on the shore, ensuring a gulf of misunderstanding between them. The disciples have access to the authority of Jesus in person and he goes on for the next six verses to unpack the parable of the sower for the disciples, explaining it, as it were, in laymans terms. Hence, the disciples have not understood the parable as such either. Rather, Jesus has to explicate his text for them in a private tutorial. He goes on to offer them a string of other parables, including that of the grain of mustard seed, all suggestive of the same point and all paradigmatically similar. Pedagogically speaking, Jesus reinforces his own literal interpretation of himself through the extended use of parables generated out of this single point. Of course, what one might discern here is not so much a report of an extended conversation held by Jesus but a conation by Matthew of a run of similar parables in one continuous scene, as a screenwriter condenses the action of a novel for its representation on the screen, All these things Jesus spoke in parables to the multitudes: and without parables he did not speak to them. That it might be fullled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world. These words of Psalm 77 are suggestive of an entirely different understanding of the objective of the parable as a genre of religious knowledge. Accordingly, one might consider the text of Matthew as condensing and confusing a number of completely contradictory points concerning the meaning of the meaning of parables. This is why one struggles so much with verse 12 concerning he that hath being given excess but he that hath not having even the little that he has taken off of him. It might be a mistake to read this at all as a commentary on the parables, rather than as a random post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy generated by biblical editing. Either way it sits uncomfortably as a declaration of the ministry of Jesus, unless one accepts Nancys strong Calvinist reading of Jesus as a confounder and confuser of the ignorant. On this reading the parables work according to the redistributive logic of Republican tax policy. An alternative reading might say it very much depend upon the meaning of hath. As both Ernest Hemmingway and Jacques Derrida remind us, to have and to have not is a considerably complex thing: the moment we think we have the thing in the palm of our hand, so to speak, it has moved just

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beyond our grasp. Possession in this sense is not straight-forward. Those that hath, those that are in possession of property are rich indeed but elsewhere in the Gospels we are told how difcult it is for the rich to enter into the kingdom of heaven and how the poor in spirit are in fact the fortunate ones. So, one might read this text otherwise: for he that hath [i.e. the poor in spirit, i.e. those that have nothing, i.e. the crowd, i.e. those who do not understand], to him shall be given [understanding], and he shall abound: but he that hath not [i.e. not having poverty of spirit], from him shall be taken away that also which he hath [i.e. his understanding]. Now, one could spend a great deal of time drilling down through an explication of the contradictions within the Bible, after all such activity sustained western academics for centuries. My point here is that in offering a dramatic gesture concerning interpretation and revelation, Nancy is treating the text of the Gospels precisely as if they were revelatory of the reported speech of Jesus rather than a sophisticated textual object that gives rise to excessive and mutually exclusive meanings. Thus, Nancy demonstrates a universal truth of deconstruction, namely, that those who come to deconstruction from Philosophy departments are inclined to entirely misread literature. Something signicantly complex is at work in these elliptical and condensed verses and the text surrounding it, something that is irreducible to any denitive incomprehension. This is important for what follows because having introduced a vocabulary of gures and allegory, he goes on to open out his understanding of the parable as an intensication of blindness into a consideration of rstly art, then literature. Firstly, he suggests that the phrase those who seeing, see not is the same terminology to be found elsewhere in the bible as a condemnation of the cult of idols. By this reckoning, say Nancy, idolatry is condemned not because of the unworthiness of images as such but because the eyes that view them do not rst welcome sight into themselves prior to all that is visible, through which alone there can be divinity and adoration (Nancy 2008, 6). That is to say, one must already have the receptive disposition in order to receive and that this disposition itself can only have already been received (Nancy 2008, 6). This is the logic of the elect and why I am calling Nancy a Calvinist on this point. It is not clear how this disposition might be received prior to already having a receptive disposition itself. Nancy says this is not a religious mystery; it is the condition of receptivity itself, of sensibility and of sense in general. The words divine or sacred may never really have designated anything other than this passivity or this passion, initiator of

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every kind of sense: sensible, sensory, or sensual (Nancy 2008, 6). This includes touch, just in case we forget what we came in here for. However, this is a difcult point for me. How can we understand this originary receptive disposition that cannot be originary enough in order to receive itself, or, which must therefore at some point reveal itself in the act of receiving itself. If the same is true of all sense, touch for example, it is available only to those with a predisposition to touch, that disposition having been touched upon previously. This of course is merely the retreat of appearance in the absence of diffrance, but no less complex for that and what connects all sense and all sensation. It is also to say, that the Calvinist-Republican logic, along with the centre, does not hold because this abyssal structure is the initiator of every kind of sense, including nonsense and misunderstanding. One receives even if one does not understand. The disciples receive the parable of the sower just as the crowd does, it is only through a post-hoc, supplementary explanation that their eyes and ears are said to see and hear, that is understand correctly and according to an authoritative and xing interpretation at that, which itself requires the elaboration of further parables to rene it. One might say here that this parable of dissemination is a parable of all parables, it is in some way paradigmatic of the structural insufciency of all paradigms, a condensation of the problem of condensation and so on. This is not only how all parables work, it is how all sense works, the sensible in general and all sensation, and so all touch. As in the case of the digital haptology of the ticket machine, touch is only given with those who are already predisposed to touch, although the touch that is given, the tele-haptology, is only a simulation of touch, which is in fact what the toucher is predisposed towards in the rst place. Nancy goes on to reject both his own Calvinist interpretation that the truth is reserved for the chosen ones as well as a weaker reading of Matthew 13 that the parable offers a provisional and attenuated vision, one that prompts further search (Nancy 2008, 6). The text very clearly rules it out, he boldly states. He suggests that the parable and the spiritual are not immediately correlative. There are not several degrees of guration or literalness of sense; there is a single image and, facing it, a vision or a blindness (Nancy 2008, 7). He explains the supplementary interpretation of the parable by Jesus to the disciples as merely a restoration to the disciples of the sight they already had. Again this is difcult, since this must be a sight they had but did not know they had and so sight with which they could not see. What is the difference between not seeing and having a sight that sees but not being able to see with it? And once one can see with this sight is it the same sight or a new

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sight since it is a sight that now sees, seeing in this latter sense meaning a sight that now sees itself seeing? Jesus concludes his tutorial with the disciples by asking, Have ye understood all these things? They say to him: Yes. He said unto them: Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven, is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old. Even when understanding has been conrmed Jesus is compelled to offer an additional parable of that sight, which says this sight is like writing. The disciples (the seers) are trained scribes and the scripture of the scribe is a scribble, like the man of property, one who has, a miscellany on offer. Nancy has established his point by now. He wants to suggest that the parable is neither gurative nor proper, neither an appearance of reality nor reality itself, but rather partakes in seeing itself as an excess of visibility as the revelation of the identity of the visible and invisible, there is, says Nancy, a double excess of visibility and invisibility (Nancy 2008, 7). Accordingly, the parable for Nancy is not allegorical (that is, it never says more than itself, itself being excessive enough, a being more than a gure). Now, one of the reasons I chose to play with Matthew 13 a little above was to show how problematic Nancys hasty absolutisms are in this respect. He states that the parables are tautegorical as opposed to classical mythology which is allegorical, that is the parables only express themselves and not something else. This is a truly curious thing to say, surely it is the point of parables (the good Samaritan, the mustard seed and so on) that they precisely refer to something other than themselves (the need for good works, the rhizome and so on). Not only are parables literally allegorical, so to is the gurative text in which all the parables appear. They are doubly allegorical in the sense of referring to more than the mere metaphorical representation of the good Samaritan or the Sower, but to a textual production beyond itself. Paul de Man, who must remain close to our thought here, after all suggested a number of levels of allegory through which a text passes. For Nancy, classical mythology is a lesson without scared grandeur. That is, the sense it initiates is only disenchanted truth because the meaning of the myth is still always in excess of the meaning that provides it (Nancy 2008, 8). For Nancy, and here is the rub:
The Christian parable opens up another avenue, one to which all modern literature quite possibly bears some essential relation (perhaps also all modern art: in a sense, this little book is attempting to clear the way, however slightly, for this hypothesis). The excess of its truth does not have the indeterminate character of a general lesson that, in some way out of proportion with each particular case, would suggest a regulatory principle. Its excess is always

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primarily that of its provenance or of its address: Who hath ears to hear let him hear. There is no message without there rst beingor, more subtly, without there also being in the message itselfan address to a capacity or an aptitude for listening. It is not an exhortation (of the kind Pay attention! Listen to me!). It is a warning: if you do not understand, do not look for the reason in an obscurity of the text but only within yourself, in the obscurity of your heart. (Nancy 2008, 89)

At the risk of repeating Derridas gesture of chastisement in Le Toucher, as a teacher and a writer, I really cannot agree with this most undemocratic of positions. Two things here, rstly, modern literature and art (however we dene such epochality) is said not to be predicated on universal moral principles. What resources allow Nancy to make such a universal statement concerning the universal? Many counterexamples might be cited from Tolstoy on religion to Joseph Heller on war, just as no doubt counter-readings of these particular texts could be offered that both demonstrated the truth of Nancys assertion and its impossibility. Secondly, the structure of reading follows the injunction of Nancys interpretation of Matthew 13, namely that one must be predisposed towards reading in order to receive a text properly. Thus, the reader should not look for meaning in an obscurity of the text but within themselves. Up to a point I agree that every act of reading is an autobiographical counter-signature but equally that reading is part of a wider textual production generated out of the productive obscurities of texts. I am reminded here of Derridas account of the impossible touching of ones own heart in Le Toucher, reading the obscurities of Nancys Corpus. In training his disciples to read Jesus takes them through the obscurities of his text not their hearts. Blessed are the clean of heart, says Matthew 5, for they shall see God. No doubt obscurity is an obscure notion, and there is something doubly obscure about the obscurity of an inner organ that we can neither see nor touch but we know exists as a metaphorical repository as much as a physicality. Nancy goes on to describe the reader, the listener who knows how to listen, as he who has already entered into the proper listening of this text and has therefore entered into this text itself, into its most intimate movement of sense or of passing beyond sense and into its unworking (Nancy 2008, 9). This in itself is not an unreasonable characterisation of patient reading, or even the sort of good reading that Hillis Miller identies with deconstruction. One should say here, as Derrida does of the il ny a pas le , that we can characterise Nancys thought on this point, according to his own terminology, as a deconstruction. However, there is deconstruction

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and there is deconstruction (Derrida 2005, 60). What concerns me on this occasion is the idea of a reader who is fully-formed as a reader before acceding to a text, their receptive disposition being already given before they read. Surely, the reader who knows how to listen is also transformed and rened by the act of reading, their receptivity being presented in its collapse during the moment of reading, which is always a reading of the other and by the other. That is to say, to give reading a chance, there must be some doubt over the location and the circumstance of the reader. Nancys conguration seems entirely static to my ear, he writes of his reader-listener that: this demand also means that the parable waits for the ear that knows how to hear it and that only the parable can open the ear to its own ability to hear (Nancy 2008, 9). This is to say that the text itself is unchanged by its reading and that the effects of its reading are in some way predetermined, that is, only the parable can open the ear. This is not reading, this is the revelation of ontotheology, which might be what a parable thinks it is doing but surely is not what offers an essential link to all Modern art and literature. Nancy adds that in this set up an author must nd his own readers or, what amounts to the same thing, it is the author who creates his own readers (Nancy 2008, 9). Here I am compelled to move from questioning Nancy to refuting him. An author never chooses his readers, to do so would be to kill reading stone dead. On the contrary, one never knows who is to read or on which variety of ground the seed may fall. One is always surprised by ones readers and the things they think they have read in ones texts, which one can accept as a gift or not but which are entirely beyond the means of the author. It is the author who is transformed by an unexpected reader and their response, as for example Derrida was by his unforeseen reception in the United States and in the most obscure of places, such as Theology departments and Law Schools. There is indeed a sense in which Derrida taught his readers to read but this is a complex and iterative relation, in which like the monster in Frankenstein that which has been created returns to pursue the creator. Nancy offers a justication of this assertion, It is always a matter of the sudden appearance of sense or of beyond-sense: of a singular echo within which I hear myself addressing myself and responding to myself in the voice of the other, to the ear of the other as if to my own, more proper ear (Nancy 2008, 9). I nd this invocation of the other curious, if in a moment of sense beyond itself (which has to be every moment of sense) I hear a singular echo, in which my own words come back to me, then where is the other in this situation? I am said to address myself and respond to myself in the voice of the other which is also my own voice

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echoing back. Thus, I have taken the place of the other. I am not listening out for the other, rather I am talking to myself. I, of course, am multiple but this does not seem to be Nancys implication here. Rather, what Nancy suggests at this moment is the closure of sense not the beyond of sense. The ear of the other to which I address myself is said to be my own, more proper ear. This would be true if I listened to the response of the other as other in all its unforeseeable incomprehension, this would be the proper impropriety of a location for the reception of my address. But in Nancys formula the ear of the other is awaiting the correct text which will open it to its own ability to listen, that is, to receive the word of Nancy in all its clarity as if it were the ear of Nancy. Hence, the ear of the other has been substituted for the proper ear of Nancy. This is not listening, this is down-loading. At this point I feel that I am beginning to sound like the Derrida of Le Toucher who upbraids Nancys deconstructions for their too hasty foreclosure of the intervention of the other. It is not my intention to take sides for or against Nancy, this would also not be reading. Rather, let me attend to Nancys concluding remarks in his Prologue to Noli me tangere (for we have yet to move beyond these opening pages). He suggests that what distinguishes faith from belief is that while belief assumes a sameness of the other with which it identies itself, faith lets itself be addressed by a disconcerting appeal through the other, thrown into a listening that I myself do not know (Nancy 2008, 10). I will comment on this in a moment, it is a prelude to Nancys hypothesis:
What distinguishes belief from faith is identical to what distinguishes religion from literature and art, provided we hear these terms in all their truth. It is, in fact, a matter of hearing: of hearing our own ear listening, of seeing our eye looking, even at that which opens it and at that which is eclipsed in this opening. (Nancy 2008, 10, my emphasis)

So, by this reckoning, religion assumes the sameness of the other with which it identies itself, while literature and art let themselves be addressed by a disconcerting appeal through the other. On the face of it this seems like a supercially pleasing outcome to Nancys deliberations. However, there is much to mull over here. It may be the case that religion, like all onto-theologies, assumes a self-identity with the other but does not Nancys own labour in the deconstruction of Christianity demonstrate what he calls the auto-deconstruction or dis-enclosure of this position? Secondly, surely Nancy is confusing two dissimilar things here, the rst religion which is a mode of interpreting texts and art and literature which are texts. If he is referring to the institutions of art

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and literature, these entities, however we dene them, are quite capable of assuming (even believing in) the sameness of the other with the best of them. We are urged to hear these terms in all their truth but their ambiguity and elasticity (which is also their truth) seems to be interfering with my philosophical hearing aid. Thirdly, it is not clear to me that belief should be so readily tied to religion and faith not so. As we know from Derridas Faith and Knowledge essay, without the performative experience of this elementary act of faith, there would neither be social bond nor address of the other, nor any performativity in general: neither convention, nor institution, nor constitution, nor sovereign state, nor law, nor above all, here, that structural performativity of the productive performance that binds from its very inception the knowledge of the scientic community to doing, and science to technics (Derrida 2001, 80). Thus faith itself should not be confused with religion understood as a system of legitimations. On the other hand, Nancy seems to believe he knows what belief is. However, the belief he describes is surely only an inauthentic version of belief. For belief to demonstrate its value as true belief it must be open to the possibility of absolute doubt, true belief must be tested and so risked. It is in this moment of risk, between true belief and disproving that belief, that faith emerges as the performance of the structural remains of a belief at risk.11 Thus, faith and belief are not so easily distinguished or necessarily tied to religion. Who can say, authentically, I believe literature and art can be distinguished from religion? Are the images that Nancy addresses in this book art or are they religion? And why is it that Modern literature and art are said to be essentially linked to the parable, while art and literature in general are to be distinguished from religion? Nancy should hear himself, as the English idiom puts it. This would mean that either the parable is not religious (Nancy does contend that the parable should be separated from the spiritual, which is not necessarily the same thing) or that literature (and modern literature at that) is identical with religion. The structure of reading as the reception of pre-determined meaning outline by Nancy here is precisely religious, or at least shares with religion a profound determination as onto-theology. To see oneself looking is a famously Derridean contortion, but this nal sentence seems at odds with the confusion Nancy has offered up till now. The difculty Nancy has set up for himself by a gesture which simultaneously universalises religion and all art and literature (as if they were to be received in the same way) leads his text into a constant negotiation between its own contradictory impulses to philosophise and to deconstruct. At the end of it, what has

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been heard, what we have been listening to, and what has been eclipsed is still in considerable doubt.

III The Nancy Code

Let me conclude this text, and so make a return to the remit and ambit of touch, by accounting for Nancys reading of the noli me tangere to suggest that this very text and its numerous representations might present difculties for Nancys hypothesis concerning literature and art. In this way I hope to challenge this universalism through attention to the particular just as Nancy risks his assertion against the art he cites. Let us begin by reminding ourselves of the short scene, only to be found in the Gospel of John, to which Nancy and the many painters he cites are referring:
Jesus saith to her: Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, thinking it was the gardener, saith to him: Sir, if thou hast taken him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith to her: Mary. She turning, saith to him: Rabboni (which is to say, Master). Jesus saith to her: Do not touch me, for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren, and say to them: I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God.12

This is a scene of some gural complexity and one whose sense touches on the sensory and the sensual. On the one hand, for Nancy the prohibition of contact is at odds with Christianity as a religion of touch and seems in marked contrast to the appearance of Jesus to Thomas13 in which touch takes the place of believing (listening and hearing) from a distance. For Nancy the noli me tangere episode
Is precisely the point where touching does not touch and where it must not touch in order to carry out its touch (its art, its tact, its grace): the point or the space without dimension that separates what touching gathers together, the line that separates what touching gathers together, the line that separates the touching from the touched and thus the touch from itself. (Nancy 2008, 13)

It would seem that neither Nancy nor the risen Christ believe in touching, i.e. in the immediate presence of the present. Now, it has been o [M e mou haptou], is better noted that the original Greek, M o represented in translation as cease holding on to me or stop clinging to me rather than do not touch me.14 Nancy himself translates the verb haptein as to hold back, to stop (Nancy 2008, 15) and much of

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his reading revolves around the difference between the carnal body of the human Jesus and the glorious body of the resurrected Christ which is yet to ascend. There is a tradition in western art of the sensual noli me tangere in which Jesus and Mary Magdalene are indeed touching (Nancy cites examples by Alonso Cano and Jacopo da Pontormo in which Jesus hand brushes Marys breast). Nancy proposes that Noli me tangere does not simply say do not touch me; more literally, it says Do not wish to touch me. The verb nolo is the negative of volvo: it means Do not want. In that, too, the Latin translation displaces the Greek M e mou haptou (the literal transposition of which would be non me tange) (Nancy 2008, 37). The touch between Jesus and the Magdalene in these paintings is then one that holds touch at a distance, the tele-haptology that haunts all touch. The instruction for Mary not to touch the risen Christ is in contrast to John 12 when during his lifetime Mary anoints Jesus feet and wipes them with her hair:
Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was lled with the odour of the ointment. Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him, said: Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the purse, carried the things that were put therein. Jesus therefore said: Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of my burial. For the poor you have always with you; but me you have not always.

So Mary is used to touching Jesus during his life and accrues a credit balance on touching him, she is said to do this, against the day of my burial, after which she will no longer be able to touch him; the resurrected Christ, no longer fully human, will not partake of such sensuality. John 12 in which holy oil is replaced by sensuous perfume is not lost on Nancy who describes it as, anticipating his glorious body by conferring on it during its life the insane glory of being perfumed by an amorous woman (Nancy 2008, 40). Neither is this pre-emptive, carnal touch lost on male artists in the Renaissance and Post-Reformation tradition. As Nancy seems to suggest in a short text entitled Mary, Magdalene written to accompany the English-language translation of Noli me Tangere, the meaning of Mary as a gure in Christian culture has as much to do with her depiction in art and literature (from New Testament apocrypha to Hollywood) as it does her short appearance in the Gospels: They know that she is the answer to their desire to

Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself, Jean-Luc Nancy 103

paint . . . she has been since the beginning made for painting, since the beginning she has been a painting (Nancy 2008, 61). Every inscription of the Magdalene, every representation of the truth of Mary, including Nancys, is a desire to appropriate her, to hold her hair in ones own hands. The gure (I mean this in every sense of the word) of Mary Magdalene is then hyper-determined by her textual overspill and this is a situation that is not strictly reserved to Modern art and literature. She is also a gure whose interpretation varies greatly from Christian sect to Christian sect and within Islam. There are several moments in the Gospels in which an un-named woman anoints the feet of Jesus with her hair (Matthew 26:613; Mark 14:39; Luke 7:3650; John 12:18) and the identity of the woman is considerably contested amongst the Christian sects. One might say, following Nancy, there is no Mary Magdalene, or, as Derrida might have put it, Mary Magdalene, if she is one. For example, we might consider the Gnostic scriptures, which include the so-called Gospel of Mary Magdalene. It includes this notable moment of listening from Chapter 9 of the extant text when Mary has spoken to the disciples about the nature of the soul:
When Mary had said this, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her. But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas. Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things. He questioned them about the Savior: Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us? Then Mary wept and said to Peter, My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior? Levi answered and said to Peter, Peter you have always been hot tempered. Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries. But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why He loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect Man, and separate as He commanded us and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said. And when they heard this they began to go forth to proclaim and to preach.15

Here Andrew and Peter contest the Magdalenes report of the word of Jesus. Their belief (I at least do not believe that the Savior said this) is tested by the testimony of a woman based upon an intimacy with Jesus (Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us?). In this case it is not given to the disciples to know the mysteries

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of the kingdom of Heaven, rather like Thomas in John 20, they are asked to believe from a distance. Peter, the supposed founding rock of Christianity is listening and understands well the implications of this moment but in a contest over interpretative rights chooses to operate selective hearing, Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us? Mary insists that her obscure text (certainly these teachings are strange ideas, says Andrew) is an accurate account of the words spoken by Jesus to her as the sole witness, the only listener with ears to hear, Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior? As the sole witness the disciples must either take her word for it or entertain their doubts. Mary maintains that the meaning of the Gospel text (for this is a scene concerning who has the right to write the text of the Gospel) lies not in the obscurity of her own heart but in the obscurity of the textual complexity and contradiction offered by Jesus. The question for the disciples as trained readers of Jesus is one of the authenticity and authority of the transcription of Jesus words, Levi proposes preaching the Gospel on the basis of not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said. This is difcult enough but the scandal that this non-canonical gospel suggests is that Jesus imparted private knowledge to a woman whose report as woman and uncorroborated witness tests the beliefs of those who thought they were the elect. Like the schoolboy in Kafka that Derrida was so fond of quoting in his seminar, Peter (believing that he has heard his name called) has walked to the front of the class to receive his prize only to nd that the call was addressed to another. What if these verses from the Gnostic gospels were to be our parable of reading rather than those of Matthew 13? As an author Jesus legacy is contested by competing readers, he has inadvertently made. As soon as there is more than one reader (and there is always more than one reader for even as my own reader I am always more than one) there is a listening that is always a mishearing. For those with ears to hear there is always and only mishearing. Marys interpretative claim is based on intimacy, He loved her more than us, and her own readers are asked to believe in this touch from a distance; to take her word for it, as it were. Peter jealous of Marys contact with Christ enacts his own prohibition against Mary, telling the disciples not to touch her or her text. Like the Jesus of the noli me tangere he tells her to back off because she has already had her touch. The future wandering of Mary Magdalene, as an errant cultural sign, dates from this scandalous scene of appropriation and willful misreading.

Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself, Jean-Luc Nancy 105

Let me break from this sight of Mary and Peter to conclude by returning to Nancys marvelous, surprising and inspiring text. Having proposed his hypothesis concerning the parable and Modern art, he in fact fails to elaborate on it in the remainder of his essay, preferring to attend to it only through the illustrations of his examples. Following then an extended run through numerous paintings, Nancy suggests in his Epilogue, It is essential that painting not be touched. It is essential that the image in general not be touched (Nancy 2008, 49). I suppose Nancy means try touching one in an art gallery and see what will happen to you, but this is only one possible scene of reading and one constructed from a privileged ocular metaphysics. He suggests that sculpture is different in that even if sculpture in the museum is not to be touched, sculpture can be approached and walked around offering itself up to the eye in a seeing that is a deferred touch (Nancy 2008, 49). In this sense we might respond that painting is exactly the same as sculpture in that sight is a form of tele-haptology in which rays of light bounce off the surface of the object and touch the cones in our retinas, touch by proxy. Reading and listening too might be thought of as a material telehaptology in this sense. However, the detachment from the sculpture is everything for Nancy because without this distance their would be only reication, identication, xation, property, immobility (Nancy 2008, 50). The vertigo and scandal of the noli me tangere as the place of the intolerable at the same time as that of the impossible (Nancy 2008, 52) is, for Nancy, that do not hold me back amounts to saying Touch me with a real touch, one that is restrained, nonappropriating and nonidentifying. Caress me, dont touch me (Nancy 2008, 50). But caressing is still an idiom of touching like the caress bestowed by Mary on the feet of Jesus. How will we know when a caress is a liberation and not an appropriation? Such a caress is only possible when it does not touch because that which is touched is not really there, in a net I seek to hold the wind, as Thomas Wyatt puts it. I am reminded of the hilarious, competing brothers Jacob and Esau in Genesis 27, Jacob (the supplanter) having spent one birthright already, dresses himself, at his mothers instruction, in the skin of lambs, so that when his blind father feels his arms he will mistake him for the hairy Esau and so bestow a second inheritance upon him. Like the touchy Peter and the touched Mary there is often a thin line between caresses and blows. This is also true of Derrida and Nancy whose texts touch upon one another, exchanging blows even as they seem to caress each other as brothers. This iterative relationship is in no way an aberration, it is suggestive of the tele-haptology that is performed in every act of reading and every

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act of writing. One might say in every act of faith as well. Without the tele-haptological relation there would be, to paraphrase Derrida, neither social bond nor address of the other, nor any performativity in general: neither convention, nor institution, nor constitution, nor sovereign state, nor law, nor technics. I would also say in response to Nancys hypothesis on literature and listening, without constitutive incompleteness of this relation (which as a relation has no presence) there would be neither democracy nor reading. What was termed earlier digital haptology is only one form this relation takes but it is perhaps paradigmatic of it, the parable of parables. If it belongs to that certain technological regime of telecommunications that Derrida refers to in The Post Card, allow me to state my faith in the belief that it does not endanger literature.16 On the contrary, it is the very condition of everything that might appear to go by the name of literature, that which is wild for to hold, though it seem tame.

Derrida, Jacques (1987), The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond, trans. Alan Bass, Chicago: Chicago University Press. Derrida, Jacques (2001), Faith and Knowledge: The Two Sources of Religion at the Limits of Reason Alone, in Acts of Religion, ed. Gil Anidjar, London and New York: Routledge. Derrida, Jacques (2005), On TouchingJean-Luc Nancy, trans. Christine Irizarry, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Nancy, Jean-Luc (2008), Noli me tangere: On the Raising of the Body, trans. Sarah Clift, Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas, New York: Fordham University Press.

1. From the sonnet Whoso List to Hunt, which of course concludes: There is written her fair neck about/Noli me tangere, for Caesars I am,/And wild for to hold, though I seem tame. Said to be a reference to Anne Boleyn, the sonnet is a translation of poem 140 of Petrarchs Rime sparse. It is a masterpiece of the logic of touch, in which the injunction against contact presupposes both a past (I know were is), future (and wild for to hold), and impossible (to hold the wind) touching. Touch in this poem is as much sensual as it is sensory. 2. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, from The Sound of Silence, a parable about parables. 3. Reported in The New York Times, 2 November 2008, Ian Urbina, High Turnout May Add to Problem at Polling Places. 4. See Jean Luc Nancy, Le Poids dune pense translated as The Weight of a Thought in The Gravity of Thought, trans. Franois Raffoul and Gregory Recco (New York: Humanities Books, 1997). This text is discussed by Derrida at several points in his book (Derrida 2005: 11, 723, 2934).

Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself, Jean-Luc Nancy 107

5. In the resistive system a glass panel is covered with a conductive and a resistive metallic layer. These two layers are held apart while an electrical current runs through the two layers. When a user touches the screen, the two layers make contact. The change in the electrical eld is calculated by the computer and a special driver translates the touch into something that the operating system can understand, much as a computer mouse driver translates a mouses movements into a click. In the capacitive system, a layer that stores electrical charge is placed on the glass panel of the monitor. When a user touches the monitor some of the charge is transferred to the user, so the charge on the capacitive layer decreases. This decrease is measured and the computer calculates and then relays that information to the touch-screen driver software. The monitor of a surface acoustic wave system has no metallic layers, rather a system of transducers and reectors are able to tell if the wave has been disturbed by a touch and so send a translation to the operating system. 6. For a commentary on Butades as the origin of drawing see my The Rudiments of Deconstruction in The Origins of Deconstruction, eds. Martin McQuillan and Ika Willis (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2009). 7. For example, see my Tele-Techno-Theology in Deconstruction After 9/11 (New York: Routledge, 2008). 8. The assumption that is most often made concerning this quote (and it is one Hillis Miller makes in Will Literary Study Survive the Globalization of the University and the New Regime of Telecommunications? in Deconstruction, Reading, Politics, ed. Martin McQuillan [Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2008]) is that, following from what Derrida has to say elsewhere concerning literature (see This Strange Institution Called Literature, in Acts of Literature, ed. Derek Attridge [London: Routledge, 1992]) and epochs (see Sending: On Representation. Social Research 49.2 (1982): 294326) that Derrida is commenting upon what we call Literature as a product of Modernity and Modernity as the epoch which classies history in terms of the epochal. However, there is no precise indication of this in Derridas own text where he is actually discussing a Medieval Fortune-Telling book. It is not at all clear in this enigmatic formulation, one of the most concentrated that Derrida ever gives, that the so-called here refers to what is now anachronistically termed literature in a post-hoc way by Modernity, or, a certain strand of writing within Literature as such, which calls itself or is called literature but which is no way literary, or, whether it refers indeed to all Modern literature (if not all of it). The nature of the technological regime of telecommunications is equally ambiguous since it is only a certain technological regime and it is the regime that is said to be technological not necessarily the telecommunications. However, I would venture an understanding of this passage to be that totalitarian political regimes cannot destroy literature (even though they frequently attempt to do so) because the illimitable openness of writing and its unconditionality (to use a term from late Derrida) means that it can never be mastered by a closed or totalising sovereignty. However, the tele-technological ruins literature because as a displacement and opening of meaning and communication it renders literature obsolete. Now, this may only be true of certain types of literature, so-called literature, which like philosophy and psychoanalysis are caught in the doublebind of a desire for closed reading which undermines the very insights their texts give rise to in the rst place, as in the paradoxical phrase a science of the unconscious. Writing itself will survive tele-technology since writing itself is a form of tele-technology, or, telecommunication as the Derrida of the 1970s describes it here. Thus, the thing we call Literature or Philosophy is ruined (that is, rendered impossible, or endlessly opened) by writing. In this sense writing

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is nothing other than love letters, miscommunications sent out to others who cannot receive them or respond to them, which ruins the idea of Love Letters which presuppose a singular addressee and revelation of meaning. See my Toucher 1: The Problem With Self-Touching, in Derrida Today, 1(2), 2009. This and all biblical quotation taken from the Douay-Rhiems Bible, translated from the Latin Vulgate. I am grateful here to comments made by Derrida at the Other Testaments conference in Toronto in 2002. An audio recording of them can be heard at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3fScS2cnB0 John 20 (1517). Just as Derrida confesses to a secret name in Circonfession, so too I have a secret name. Thomas is my chosen conrmation nameI felt close to his doubt even at age 11. In fact the form of the verb used is not the aorist imperative, which would indicate momentary or point action, but the present, which indicates an action in progress. When, later in the same chapter, Jesus invites Thomas to touch his side, the aorist imperative is used to indicate the proposed momentary action (John 20:27). Complete text of this non-canonical gospel available at http://www.gnosis. org/library/marygosp.htm I am not tempted by an I-Phone but I am exceedingly desirous of an Amazon Kindle, a touch-screen e-book platform that can hold hundreds of textsif only the texts one really wanted to read were available in pdf format it would revolutionise the work of the itinerant scholar.

9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

15. 16.

DOI: 10.3366/E1754850009000396

Book Reviews

Jason Powell, Jacques Derrida: A Biography (London: Continuum, 2006), 262pp, 17.99, ISBN-10: 0826490026, ISBN-13: 9780826490025 There was always going to be a problem with Jacques Derrida and biography and, more specically, with a biography of Jacques Derrida, for the very obvious reason that Derridas work fundamentally unsettles the very concepts of both life and writing and, therefore, life-writing in general. Derrida himself accuses most thinkers of failing to sufciently challenge the dynamics of the borderline between the works and the life; between the system and the subject of the system. As a result, Jason Powells biography of Jacques Derrida provokes a number of contradictory responses, which is perhaps to be expected from a project which is itself full of contradictions. Some of these are noted by the author from the outset, though none are really confronted or explored in a satisfactory way; in fact, they are more or less ignored, so as not to interfere with the contingency of presenting a comprehensive and continuous narrative of Derridas life, an appraisal of his works and a summary of his philosophy (Powell 2006, ix). An ambitious task indeed, which Powell notes in his introduction is, in fact, beyond him, pointing out that a truly complete biography of Derrida would be a very big task indeed, requiring several volumes, especially if it were to accept Derridas own demanding standards of reading and commentary (Powell 2006, 7) and, I would add, particularly if it actually responded to the implications of Derridas work with regard to life-writing. A single volume of modest length (262 pages) was never going to be sufcient, given the sheer volume of Derridas still-growing corpus and the amount of activity he managed to cram into his seventy-four years. Biography has, of course, always been something of a problem for philosophers. In the eponymous biopic Derrida is seen at the Thinking Lives conference in New York in 1996, recounting Heideggers stance on the relevance of the life to the work: Aristotle was a philosopher; he was born, he thought and he died . . .

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everything else is pure anecdote. Of course, one of our responses may well be to ponder this anecdote in relation to Heidegger himself and the troubled debates that have centred around the relationship between his life and his philosophy; a debate with which Derrida attempts to deal in Of Spirit. Later in the lm, Derrida is asked what he would like to see in a similar lm on, say Freud or Nietzsche, to which he impishly responds their sex lives, because it is what they do not talk about. This same Derrida is equally reluctant to give up his own secrets to the camera. In many ways Powells task is a thankless one and he recognises this from the outset, noting that admirers, critics and deconstructionists alike would, perhaps, scoff at the idea of a biography of the philosopher of deconstruction (Powell 2006, 6). He is equally right to point out that he need not apologise overmuch for his contribution as it is the only extant attempt at a biography of Jacques Derrida. However, it is disappointing that a writer who has obviously spent so much time immersed in Derridas texts could then fail to account for the rather shattering implications those texts have for the whole business of biography. Geoffrey Bennington notes that one plausible way of reading Derridas work is as a different way of thinking about death (and therefore life), a multiplication or de-multiplication of death, so that nothing as grandiose as a Life has a chance of being constituted, and where the totalising prospect of biography seems remote indeed. However, he acknowledges also that there is nothing to prevent [a biography of Derrida] being of the most traditional kind. This is certainly the category into which Powells contribution falls. So, perhaps rst of all, it would be fair to consider this book by the standard generic conventions of biography, as it makes no pretension of trying to be anything different (in other words, when it encounters what Bennington identies as the fact that Derridas work should at least have disturbed its presuppositions it refuses to confront said fact). It is certainly an erudite biography: Powell has clearly read swathes of Derridas work and backs this up with a wealth of secondary research. The book does give the impression that he is far more familiar with and knowledgeable on the work of the 1960s and he seems most in his element when discussing Derridas work as a development of his early encounters with Husserl. This section of the book is of particular value to those of a literary critical persuasion who, as James K.A. Smith has noted in his excellent survey of Derrida (Jacques Derrida: Live Theory (2005)), often fail to recognise the heavily phenomenological milieu in which his work originates and thus misread him at a basic level.

Book Reviews


In terms of its engagement with Derridas work, the rst half of the book offers a comprehensive reading, culminating in a thoughtful chapter on Derridas reception by Anglo-American literary theory (which also contains some thought-provoking passages on the image of Derrida, in imitation of his father, as the travelling salesman). From that point onwards the chapters become briefer and veer slightly too far towards the level of summary. Powell has far less to say about Derridas later work and hardly touches upon some of his key texts of the 1990s such as Given Time, The Gift of Death, Archive Fever, Acts of Religion, and so on. Despite that, Powell does achieve, in the main, one of his aims: to provide a book-length, chronological summary of Derridas work. Whether or not you agree with his interpretation of that work (and to do so you need to read Derrida in much the same way as does Rorty) is another matter, perhaps. And, even this aspect of the work contains a number of internal contradictions, some of which are so obvious that I am surprised they were allowed to stand. A quick example of this can be found in the introduction. On the very rst page Powell denes Derridas works as being basically Heideggerian; eight pages later he insists that this short account of his life emphasises the continuity between himself and Nietzsche and, to a lesser extent, Heidegger. This lack of clarity persists throughout and makes the shape of the Derrida that Powell is trying to paint slightly unclear. In fact, if anything, the Derrida in this biography comes across as a fairly remote, ethereal gure, very much in the vein of Platos imagined philosopherkings (an image Powell cites on numerous occasions), rather than a esh and blood existence that wrote itself into the pages we know so well. And, if we are to continue to judge the book against a traditional conception of biography, this is where perhaps it might disappoint: though Powell provides a fairly comprehensive narrative of Derridas public life, it tells us very little about his private life. Powell has had access to no letters or diaries, has had no discussion with those who knew Derrida and from whom he could have gleaned those anecdotes thought by Heidegger to be so un-necessary (which, Bennington has already speculated would be probably mostly to do with cars and driving). Powell chooses to remain at the level beyond which Derrida refuses to go in the Kofman biopic, when he tells his interlocutor that he will offer them the facts and nothing more. There are even missing facts in the narrative, in which there is not a single mention of Derridas long extra-marital relationship with Sylviane Agacinski or the resulting

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child that she bore him. So if, as Derrida longed for details of Freud or Nietzsches private, inner, lives, you long for details of Derridas, you will be disappointed by this book; or, more seriously, if you are looking for an in-depth consideration of how the life and passions may have affected the thought, you will be left longing, for Powell is not willing to stray into this territory. So, to conclude, if we consider Powells work within the limits of traditional biography, though we may have some niggles, it is a useful offering. In particular it offers us a comprehensive overview of Derridas public life and published work in a continuous narrative form, which has not been done before. It also offers a particularly detailed consideration of Derrida in relation to Husserl and restates the importance of his early work in relation to everything that followed. It almost completely avoids the private Derrida but then never claimed that it would do otherwise. It offers its own reading of Derridas philosophical project, principally following Rorty in seeing him as a literary philosopher (Powell 2006, 226). Though there is not the space to conduct a rigorous analysis, I must say here that I have very strong reservations over Powells reading of Derridas philosophy as being a quest that turns aside from a material world of things into a shadow-world (Powell 2006, 227) in an impossible search for a more true, pure. . . burst of reality (Powell 2006, 230), effectively a purer form of purity (Powell 2006, 5), guided by the the light of diffrance (Powell 2006, 227). Powells interpretation of Derridean thought appears (I would say mistakenly) esoteric, to say the least. For me though, the biggest disappointment with Jacques Derrida: A Biography remains that it completely fails to account for the effect that Derridas writing must have on the business of biography. In short, it doesnt even begin to answer the two questions that Bennington posed over a decade ago: 1) what would a biography of Derrida look like? and 2) what would biography look like after Derrida?. It seems that Powell chose not to heed Benningtons call for an urgent rethink of the possibility of biography in light of the (ongoing) deconstruction of metaphysics; as a result, along with Bennington, we nd ourselves still waiting for that multiple, layered but not hierarchised, fractal biography of Derrida which he envisaged might one day be forthcoming.

GEORGE SELMER Anglia Ruskin University

DOI: 10.3366/E1754850009000402

Book Reviews


Joanna Hodge, Derrida on Time (London and New York: Routledge, 2007), 256pp, 57.00, ISBN-10: 0415430917, ISBN-13: 9780415430913 In criticizing classical metaphysics, phenomenology accomplishes the most profound project of metaphysics: this Derrida afrms referring to Husserls Cartesian Meditations in his Writing and Difference. The logic of this statement is pointed out by Rodolphe Gasch in the chapter Abbau, Destruction, Deconstruction of his fundamental The Tain of the Mirror where he sets in motion the double gesture of correlating the deconstructive search for ultimate foundations and Husserls (and Heideggers) critique of reection. As deconstruction is for Derrida what is always already at work as the irreducible self(-de-)constitution of being in general, Derridas signature is (un-)readable as a search for the traces of deconstruction. Therefore Derridas readings of phenomenology can be understood to tie together a certain epochality of the critique of metaphysics and, at the same time, its inability to let deconstruction come. Derrida on Time is an important contribution to the understanding of Derridas relation to phenomenology, which its author consciously inscribes within a set of indispensable studies (as those of Paola Marrati, Len Lawlor, Michael Naas). Hodge anticipates at the beginning a central thesis of her account of Derridas thinking of time taking up the call, made by Derrida in Genesis and Structure and Phenomenology, for a transcendental aesthetics dealing with the constitution of the other and time and leading phenomenology to a zone where its principle of principles is put into question. Derridas thinking of time is considered as a sophistication of Husserls rethinking of Kantian determinations of time and space, which brings them into the work of meaning as the dimensions of their arrival and the horizon where they are deployed. (I remark that sophistication recalls the movement of Heideggers conceptualisation of time, necessarily falling into metaphysics, as it is described by Derrida in Ousia and Gramme: Note on a Note from Being and Time). Therefore Hodge suggests a correlation between Derridas account of the paradoxical non-simultaneity of conceptual formation (writing) and conceptual formulation (letter) and Husserls notion of pre-predicative experience. In Speech and Phenomena: Introduction to the Problems of Sign in Husserl Phenomenology Derrida introduces that paradox referring to Freuds notion of the aprs coup of Nachtrglichkeit. Hodge proposes to invert Derridas move of interrupting Husserl with Freud, comparing Husserls analyses of the

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plural levels of psychic functioning, contributing to the constitution of consciousness and not necessarily reducible to it, to Derridas reading of the Freudian and Aristotelian notion of psich as disrupting Cartesian self-introspecting consciousness (and Husserlian living present). The irreducibility of Husserls name to a single consistent series of themes and arguments is taken as the context of the reading of Derridas commitment to question Husserlian key-distinctions (immediate presentation/mediated presentication, reduced time/cosmic time of wordly occurrences, static phenomenology/genetic phenomenology, transcendental meaning/expression in natural languages). So Husserls notion of the historical a priori is recalled to dispute Derridas claim made in Ousia and Gramme that there is only one concept of time and to elaborate his notion of diffrance as resulting from a retrieval and deepening of that Husserlian notion. Hodge outlines that Husserls phenomenological distinction between reduced and cosmic time is complicated by the disruption of the polarity between natural and phenomenological implied by the inscription in wordly time of the intuitions of meaning. Hodges reading of Derridas three works on Husserl unfolds an original perspective of investigation bringing into focus Derridas account of Husserls reference to the Kantian notion of Idea. In Genesis and Structure and Phenomenology Derrida synthesises this reference as the irruption of the innite into consciousness which permits unication and transition to the limits. In the case of Speech and Phenomena, Derridas analysis is understood to set up a link between the use of Idea and the occurrence of a not phenomenologically granted alterity. Hodge focuses on the key-passage from The Supplement of Origin where Derrida accounts for the delayed movement of temporalisation (and the substitution of the ideal for the non-ideal), emphasising the occurrence of Kantian Idea as the indeniteness of an ad innitum. Here Derrida formulates the hypothesis of the disruption of the absolute knowledge and of the irreducible work of diffrance within the constitution of sense and sign: phenomenology falls back into metaphysics as it conjures diffrance attempting to make it derivative. Hodges reading does not develop Derridas correlation of phenomenology and absolute knowledge, moving further towards the recognition of the multiple and not mutually reducible deployments of the notion of Idea in Husserl. Rodolphe Gasch has written memorable pages on that subject, thinking of diffrance as structural innity. In the second section of the part focusing on Derridas works on Husserl Hodge proposes a reading of diffrance taking into account the articulation of

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distinct temporalities. Her point is that the elaboration of diffrance in terms of articulation of space and time fails to do justice to the double side of the event of meaning taking place as a transcendental constitution and, at the same time, an empirical perception of externally given entities. If this reading aims to place Derridas thinking of diffrance within the possibilities of the slippage between the empirical and the transcendental opened by Husserls analyses, it leaves apart the fundamental question of the rlve of space as time (or sign) which brings back to Derridas reading of the Hegelian semiology. Derridas reading of Levinass conception of -dieu is introduced as an essential moment of the relationship between Derridas thinking of time and phenomenology. Hodge outlines that -dieu is a movement irreducible to any ontological (pre-)determination. It is compared to the call of the self to itself securing in Heidegger the self-afrmation of Dasein and to Blanchots notion of the time of disaster disrupting in a double gesture the Heideggerian attempt to pose the question of Being and to unify it in temporal ecstases or in the event. Hodge proposes to relate this notion to the possibilities disclosed by Kants third Critique and Husserls notion of horizon with respect to the taking place of the transcendental constitution in historical time. A-dieu is taken to double intentionality into a movement from the source of meaning to consciousness, developing its being already marked by a fundamental iteration, as the unfolding of time on itself or the being on time of intentionality, and its openness to the arrival of otherness, as passive synthesis. At the end of the book Hodge recalls Lvinass lectures God, Death, Time to single out his acceptance from Husserl and Heidegger of the notion of Zeitgang der Zeit (genesis, temporising of time), shifting phenomenology of time from thematisation to the account of auto-eterogenesis in passive syntheses. Derridas major contribution on time is identied as a renement of this notion of genesis. Hodge reads Derridas account of the Husserlian notion of horizon, as foreclosing the future as a protention founded on a retention, and his notion of -venir, within this reading of -dieu. While remarking the importance of the conception of a future arriving out of any possibility or conditionality, the author underscores Derridas attention to empty -venir from religious commitments. Hodges analysis of the question of the future is also concerned with Derridas account of Blanchots and Heideggers notions of death, determined as respectively coincident and radically different. The author discusses Blanchots reading of the Heideggerian possibility of impossibility as ones invocation of the right to death and to exert over oneself the power of death, which turns one against death

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as what does not happen and reverses itself as the impossibility of every possibility. However, the relevance for Derrida of Blanchots conception of death as an endless awaiting exposed to the arrival of the otherness, death, remains unaccounted for. The reading of the notion of the messianic without messianism deployed in Specters of Marx plays a central role in Hodges work for it ties together the conception of the arrival of the future (as ghost, democracy to come, promise, etc.) and a certain idea of phenomenology. To this purpose the author focuses on section 5 Apparition of the inapparent: the phenomenological conjuring trick, where Derrida suggests to rethink of phenomenology by assuming the phenomenal form as spectral, the phenomenological ego as spectre and phainesthai as the very possibility of spectres since it gives death/life, works at mourning. Hodge explains this passage taking up an extended footnote where Derrida places the radical possibility of spectrality in noema, the intentional but non-real component of the phenomenological lived experience or the thought content of the thinking noesis. Derrida remarks that the couple intentional/non-real prevents the full inclusion either in consciousness or in the world, so that noema acts as a part bigger than the whole: it inscribes the aporetical possibility of the other or of mourning within the phenomenality of phenomenon. Hodge brings this notion of phenomenon back to her reading of Derridas and Stieglers conception of originary technicity as the prosthetic moment (technical registration) occurring in advance of any formation of a thesis (natural series of effects), of any embodied actuality of thought taking place in the fullment of intuition. Here we note that noema might work as imagination, pointing at that zone where all the Kantian oppositions regularly criticized by Hegel are confused and negated, as Derrida suggests in The Pit and the Pyramid: Introduction to Hegels Semiology. Hodge investigates also Derridas reception of Benjamins notion of weak messianic force, that she reads as a potential redemption provided by the release of theology from religion and articulating the temporal modality of the interruption of history understood as progress. The author disputes Derridas reading of Benjamins messianism as too Heideggerian, messianico-marxist, archeo-escathological, remarking some specic moves of Benjamins elaboration of messianism but does not deal with Derridas concern with a different thinking of afrmation, promise or yes, as it is developed, for instance, in Memories for Paul de Man (see the aporia of true mourning).

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In the last part of the book Hodge proposes to conjoin the essays The Animal which therefore I am and Typrewriter Ribbon. Limited Ink 2 as a response to the question of the transcendental unity of apperception. The analysis focuses on the inquiry into the unconsciousness of the Cartesian cogito and the Kantian I accompanying all my representations, the layer of the other in me, and on the notion of autobiography resulting from the reading of de Mans notion of performative. Autobiography (signature, etc.) is read by Hodge as a transcendental unity of self-inscription replacing the transcendental unity of apperception. She understands this notion to hinge on Husserls rethinking of Kantian transcendental aesthetics, which undercuts the constitutive distinctions between the faculties of intuition, understanding and reason and between apriorism of sensation and apriorism of understanding and assumes a more basic a priori as primordial meaning intuitions. Therefore Derridas autobiography is determined as the movement described by a set of syntheses, each of them taking place singularly and delimiting a world within the world. The second analysis of this part presents Derridas notion of the aporetical juxtaposition between the writing of an autobiographical living animal and its continuation as a surviving machine, as a more original structure than Kantian antinomy between mechanism and nal causality. Hodge highlights Derridas reference to a conception of the event as an affection inscribed in an aesthetic manner on organic matter, and therefore to transcendental aesthetics as a set of possibilities for the inscription of affects. The author relates Derridas rethinking of Kantian formalism to the Husserlian notion of the ultimate intentionality (unconscious consciousness, consciousness of the internal time falling within time, etc.) and to the Kantian notion of purposiveness without purpose. This thread of thinking leads Hodge to dene Derridas thinking of autobiography as an ontology of the impermanence resulting from the tension between the work of repetition and the work of iteration. In other terms this ontology transposes intentionality into textuality, as an event of meaning suspended in texts indenitely self-generating as machine. Is, therefore, the end point of Hodges work the reduction of Derridas thinking of time to ontology, that is, to a further attempt to make diffrance derivative or to conceptualise time? MAURO SENATORE University of Leeds
DOI: 10.3366/E1754850009000414

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Simon Morgan Wortham, Counter-Institutions: Jacques Derrida and the Question of the University (Fordham: Fordham University Press, 2006), 164pp, 18.95, ISBN-10: 0823226662, ISBN-13: 978-0823226665 In Where a Teaching Body Begins and Ends from Whos Afraid of Philosophy, Jacques Derrida opens simply: Here, for example, is not an indifferent place (Derrida 2002, 68).1 Here in Derridas address signies on a fold, or two, or three. Here is the university in general, and the storied exigencies of the Ecole Normal Superieur in particular. Here is Paris, where long-clung to mores of the Napoleonic code are designed to produce a dedicated citoyen through a controlled reproduction of intellectual competencies, as entrusted to the particularly French university position of an agrg-rptiteur. Here is the teaching body: that of the institutions and its members which compose a place of high learning, instruction, and inquiry. Finally, here is the body and self of Jacques Derrida: the instructor at large. The I is never absent from Derridas mediations on philosophy, the university, and the position of one within the other, as much as this I always also exists beneath (suppressed perhaps) a sign of erasure. He states: The bodily effects upon which I am playingbut you understand perfectly well that when I say I, you already no longer know who is speaking and to whom I, an I, refers (Derrida 2002, 68). In Simon Morgan Worthams CounterInstitutions: Jacques Derrida and the Question of the University, the author is aware of Derridas autobiographical urge when it comes to the university, and of the here (in)variably at stake. By reframing these philosophical movements of repetition and difference in terms of the counter, or contre - and moreover, the counter-institution and by conditioning the constituent terminology, Wortham positions the body of work of Jacques Derrida on the subject of the University in relation to the position of the other, which both and is and is not the position of language, or the Humanities themselves. The university, the institution, to which the Humantiies and deconstructionist discourse, are both with and against, bearing but not turning their back. The position taken by Derrida, and according to which Wortham is attempting to ply his analysis, is the position of the University in a contemporary global context. What happens to the university and its role in society in the aftermath of the ideological nation-state? When the university both is and is not any longer charged with its Enlightenment era duty of the creation of good, and ideologically wellmannered citizens, when the context of the universitys raison dtre is now determined by a myriad of contradicting and cross intentions/forces

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the late capitalist labour market, globalisation, trans-nationalism, and so on what does/can it (we?) do? For Wortham, and for Derrida, this is the moment which gives occasion not for the university as institution, but the university and other bodies as dialectical exchange: the rise of the counter-institution. Markedly, of course, Derrida did commit himself to the development in a real-life such body: the GREPH, founded in Paris in the 1970s, dedicated to the extra-institutional teaching of philosophy, even and especially in an era where such teaching might be determined impossible. But what is of even greater interest to Wortham than the practical history of the GREPH are the larger theoretical and philosophical possibilities which the counter-institution and Derridas thinking on the University presents generally. What arises in the course of Worthams analysis however is not the desperately splintered transnational decontextualisation to which the author protests, but rather the degree to which education is always a local practice. We may live in a globalised era, but both the particular bureaucratic and cultural determinants of differing national contexts greatly inuence the nature and limits of Humanistic teachings today. Wortham nds a position of resistance, contre, of the with-against, important both in Derridas work and the position of Philosophy within bureaucratic academia. The term of counter is given special preference in Worthams analysis and is a salient intellectual observation by the author in relation to Derridas oeuvre. He admits, Until one delves a little deeper, counter does not appear to be an especially privileged term in what might be called Derridas classic deconstructive vocabulary (Wortham 2006, 28). The authors strategy, to which I cannot hope to do justice here, is both contextual and lexical. In the latter instance and unsurprisingly, Wortham turns to the dictionary denitions provided by the OED. Wortham explicates, Counter is rst of all principally to encounter, to meet, to engage in contact (Wortham 2006, 36). This countering does not immediately imply opposition: this only comes later, belated, and in relation to an undermined temporality intrinsic to contre. The assumption that this contact involves the opposition of wholly realized entities, utterly distinct and fully realised beforehand, occurs only afterward (Wortham 2006, 36). Here, we nd not only the divisional or confrontational aspect of Worthams investigation of the word counter, but also the temporal aspect of the terms appearance in Derridas oeuvre, declaring in both senses that the counter [. . . ] irreducibly entails this sort of disjunctive shuttling, back and forth at once (a delay, a detour, a pause [. . . ] waiting to come) (Wortham 2006, 34). And that nally, the to

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and fro gesture of the counter, as well as it temporal allegiance to deconstructions principle concept, difference, as both difference and delay, means, for Wortham, that ultimately all deconstruction is also and always already counter-deconstruction. At the beginning of chapter two, Wortham addresses the impossible position of Cultural Studies as a discipline with the Humanities, in relation to deconstruction as a eld which necessitates an unexamined homogenous un-deconstructed and depoliticized concept of culture which itself is dangerously erroneous in our age of transnationalistic hybridity. Cultural Studies posits a political centre where none exists, and will not abide to questioning; Wortham determines that this lack of a political centre, (in the nation-state, cultural studies, the world, and in relation to the former purview of the educational establishment) manifests an unteachable situation (Wortham 2006, 49) and that the only egress from this predicament is to turn not only to deconstruction, but to a Maussist Derrida in his interpretation of the gift. This seems undoubtedly overwrought. It presents too heavy a reliance on the position the dissolution of the nation-state (and its relation to the practice of education) as force of homogenous ideological belonging, and a lack of recognition of the force of sites of temporary, resistant, or subaltern social cohesion: the recalcitrantly local. However, what Wortham is correct about, is the position presented by Derrida offered in recompense for this impossible exchange: a re-politicisation of culture and its analysis in terms of the gift, whose primary modality is that of ethical responsibility. For Wortham, teaching deconstruction is the giving account which acts not as a determination or nal word on culture this is again seen as impossible but rather a response and responsibility (Wortham 2006, 53). A response demands a call, an exchange, an other. In response to the rigour of his subject, Wortham is aware of the possible perversions of his own project. In the last chapter of the book (excluding the interview at the end), Auditing Derrida Morgan Wortham states, In this context, one might even say that to write a book such as this one, which ostensibly wants to challenge or rethink the contemporary university in all its characteristic forms, is inevitably just a selfregarding exercise, merely adding a further dimension of self-reexivity to the production of academic content to which the system remains profoundly indifferent (Wortham 2006, 87). The question then arises: why and to what end produce such a work? It is not one that an author typically would want to hear. Wortham is the exception that proves the rule.

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Like the terminological examinations which accompany the rst chapter in an examination of the word counter so in this last chapter is the word audit audited, attended, listened to. Or in other words, attention is paid to the polysemic gamut of audit, auditory, auditorium putting us in the rst place [. . . ] in the lexical and etymological vicinity of a hearing (Wortham 2006, 89). He goes on to state that it is precisely this question of hearing (v), or even a hearing (n) which proves important to his project of the investigation of the non-insular, exteriorally grounded conception of the contemporary university, in terms which must always necessarily include or be directed towards an other. One must speak for the other to hear. An audit ultimately cannot suppose or uphold its own self-contained space of identity, and by extension, it cannot without a certain irony assert a constant principle [. . . ] Instead it must simply call for, address itself to, or take its cue from the other (Wortham 2006, 90). The audit, however, in this manifestation is not simply a condition for the production of a discourse, but, as an extension of its duty as censure, a framing device, a parergon. Wortham states, this audit, or hearing would therefore abbey the law of the parergon, whereby the delineation of the aesthetic form of the work, and by extension the identity of the object of cognition, turns out to depend upon the contour, border, or frame as its enabling condition (Wortham 2006, 90). Interestingly, Wortham maintains the importance of this hearing within his explication of the audit in relation to the University as a somewhat aspiration and highly theoretical desire. For later in this work, in a discussion with Christopher Fynsk (see below), Wortham admits that a culture of standards and excellence pervasive in the British system denies the necessity of the professors voice at all; wherein the audit in practice in the UK does not consist of a voice at all, but merely forms, acronyms, and boxes checked. Similar to any text worked in a Derridian manner, Worthams contains the trace of another text, the marginal announced in the very beginning of this study. Like Bill Readings The University in Ruins, Christopher Fynsks The Claim of Language serves to frame, in a parergonal motion the very terms and conditions of not just the content but also the form of the authors investigation. Fynsks analysis belated, or late, in its acknowledgement in Worthams text itself, nonetheless, draws upon and further extends the terms of discussion set out by Bill Readings and others over the past decade. Yet, of greatest use in the course of Worthams discussion with Fynsk, and of central importance to the latters case for the humanities in an age dened by the Humanist crisis of technological reproduction, auditory culture, globalisation,

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instrumental rationality, and late capitalism, is a passage which occurs as an anecdote. Fynsk is reecting on the missed opportunity of academic humanities in aftermath of 9/11:
It was the role of thinkers in the humanities [. . . ] to nd a language to bring the dread and confusion into language and some form of questioning, thinking response. My own university provost [. . . ] remarked to me only a day after the events that she had never felt that the humanities were needed as they were at that time, since so few knew even how to formulate the questions the event provoked, let alone deal with the massive presence of death, the sense of foreboding, the latent political and social crisis. (Wortham 2006, 133)

In the aftermath of September 11th in Los Angeles, where at the time, I was at the University of California, there were many reactions, some violent, some confused, all lled with dread, and all grappling with even the most intellectual of indignation and reactive vulnerability. It was then and is now the role of thinkers in the Humanities to answer the claim of language as the call of language, and which for Fynsk and Wortham, is a call of the human, but one concerned with utility rather than auto foundational heralds into being. It is for Fynsk a question of language as the position of use in the production of a Humanities suitable for the era of the inhuman. Importantly, the claim in and of language, is an assertion as a performative act, is not foundational, and very specically, is without condition. Language, that is, makes claims: speech acts whose verication is dependent on alterity, and an other, to hear, listen, react, agree, or refute. Says Fynsk, The notion of usage [taken from Heidegger] is important because it allows me to [. . . ] displace the tendency [. . . ] to turn language, surreptitiously into a kind of ground (Wortham 2006, 127): a medium which allows the humanities to address a real that exceeds the hold of the concept and any positive form of knowing (Wortham 2006, 128). Here we escape the potentially essentialist claims for the future of the humanities as a teleological founding of the human by a turn and appeal to the Derridian as if (as arrived from Kant), which in an appeal to supposition and pretend does not make the order of the masterable possible. Here we arrive nally at a dissolved and disordered body, a here which moves against, or contre to the traditional mode of the university itself as an arm of the state designed for the diligent reproduction of its citizenry. Here, if I may say so, we render the agrg-rptieur obsolete.

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And yet Fynsk, as Simon Morgan Wortham, leaves the question open: I havent changed my sense of the task of the humanities and the urgency of creating institutional spaces for them (Wortham 2006, 138). Derrida would agree. BROOKE LYNN MCGOWAN Cambridge University
DOI: 10.3366/E1754850009000426

Geoffrey Bennington, Other Analyses: Reading Philosophy (2004), 448pp, $12.00, ISBN-10: 0-9754996-1-0, ISBN-13: 978-0-9754996-1-0 Geoffrey Bennington, Deconstruction is Not What You Think, and other short pieces and interviews (2005), 273pp, $10.00, ISBN-10: 0-9754996-3-7, ISBN-13: 978-0-9754996-3-4 * Available for purchase from: http://bennington.zsoft.co.uk/ These searchable electronic books are rendered in PDF format. If you have questions about the purchasing process, please contact books@bennington.zsoft.co.uk Full price print versions are also available through amazon.com * Certainly for my generation, who came to Derrida in the late 1980s, Geoffrey Bennington is an exemplary gure. One must of course be attentive to the temptations, the traps and ruses, of casting Bennington as an exemplary gure. His work is something that we neither can nor should imitate, nor is he a singularity that somehow stands in for a general practice or common history in the reading of Derrida. Nonetheless, his genealogy is distinctive and his place in the histories of the reception of Derridas work assured. Part of the remarkable group of young readers at Oxford who found a place of resistance and experimentation in the Oxford Literary Review, Bennington rst met Derrida in 1979 and, an avowed Francophile, became an exceptionally articulate voice in mediating the reception of Derridas work and modern French thought in Britain. As a translator of La Verit en peinture and De lesprit and Derridas collaborator on Jacques Derrida, Benningtons perhaps unenviable position at Sussex as Derridas Man in Britain in the 1990s in part obscured his own valuable work in eighteenth century studies, exemplied by Sententiousness and the Novel (1985), Dudding:

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des noms de Rousseau (1991) and Frontires kantiennes (2000). The rigor and ambition of Benningtons response to Derrida has also been marked by his extensive work on Lyotard and an engagement with Wittengstein and other key gures in the so-called Anglo-American school of philosophy. It is perhaps difcult not to give way to the impression of an exemplary gure in view of a British trained academic writing in French on Derrida with Derrida in Jacques Derrida (1991), or from Derridas extraordinary footnote in Mal dArchive (1995) in which he responds to the intraitable lucidit of Bennington as he challenges an aspect of Derridas reading of Freud (125 n. 1). It is easy to project an exceptional proximity, an intimacy and friendship, or at least a politics of friendship, between Bennington and Derrida. However, Derridas footnote from Mal dArchive is striking in that it records a familiar and generous admiration and intellectual respect as well as the critical distance of Benningtons intraitable lucidit in reading Derrida. In contrast to the young enthusiasts, the ill-informed appropriators and the passionate viliers, Bennington presents us with a knowledgeable, dispassionate and rigorous analysis of the work of Jacques Derrida. Benningtons love of the French Language, his keen awareness of the general structure of translation, and his institutional afliation with French departments in Britain and America have perhaps given him a distinctive and difcult vantage point from which to respond to the reception of what he calls modern French thought (Bennington 2005, 139170: 163). In Frontiers: Of Literature and Philosophy, his professorial lecture from Sussex in 1996, Bennington remarks:
Teaching a language and a culture other than ones native one is an intrinsically rather odd thing to do, and generates a denite unease all round: teachers of subjects dened by foreign languages typically nd themselves on the wrong side of the frontier wherever they are In Britain Im out of place because French is my thing: but in France Im not quite at home because I am after all, like it or not and I havent always liked it, I dont always like it British. (Bennington 2004, 243)

The following year, in 1997, Bennington participated in the creation of The Centre for Modern French Thought at Sussex, and the CMFT Manifesto takes pains to distinguish itself from the work of Philosophy and English departments: Hitherto, French thought has been studied in Britain either as part of a supposedly homogenous Continental Philosophy, or else as a branch of theory, usually associated with English literature departments. In contrast to these approaches, the

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Centre will stress the specicity and singularity of French thought (Bennington 2005, 1712). An example perhaps of this distinctive approach is Benningtons 1988 paper Outside Language in which he traces the hostile reaction to the work of Derrida from Anglo-American or Analytical philosophy in the very Parisian texts of Vincent Descombes, highlighting the importance and complexity of the French reception of Derrida (Bennington 2004, 2962). Bennington not only refutes Descombes inadequate account of Derrida, but also identies the limitations of Descombes own argument: He thinks hes saving the possibility of reference from interiorisation in an experience already textualised (which he wrongly takes to be what Derrida is doing in the wake of phenomenology), and in fact he lands himself with a hopeless interiority (Bennington 2004, 44). One also gets a sense of the scope of the work of a Francophone who is always out of place and always translating in Benningtons 1992 paper La frontire Infranchissable, which was delivered at the opening of Cersiy-la-Salle gathering, Le passage des frontires, devoted to Derrida, and at which Derrida read Apories: Mourir-sattendre aux limites de la vrit. As Bennington notes in an interview from 2003, a critical point about Derridas thinking is that, as he says literally many times, no concept is metaphysical in itself. If you thought some concepts were metaphysical in themselves youd have to think that a concept had in itself that quality. Derrida doesnt think there is any such thing. He doesnt think any concept has the kind of identity that could lead it to be described as intrinsically or essentially or necessarily metaphysical (Bennington 2005, 220). In his 1992 paper, Bennington explores the question of the concept of the frontier and of the frontier of the concept. For Bennington, the frontier is le lieu de la contingence, de la violence, de la nature, de la hantise, de la littrature, et mme du mal radical (Bennington 2004, 269). Bennington begins his paper unexpectedly, but very appropriately, with Frege whom he translates into French and his argument that le concept doit tre nettement dlimit (Bennington 2004, 271). For a concept to be a concept, it must have a clear and sharp frontier. As Bennington points out, if one follows Frege the denition of a concept then relies on the frontier as la possibilit prconceptuelle de tout concept (Bennington 2004, 275). The frontier is already, necessarily, beyond the logic of the concept (Bennington 2004, 281). It is from this impasse in the logical philosophy of Frege that Bennington turns back to Kant and the political problem of the frontiers between states in the quest for the universal idea of perpetual peace. In this context, the frontier takes on the violent and contingent particularity

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of le lieu de la nature, which reverberate in the laws of the state (Bennington 2004, 28586). At the same time, Bennington argues, the Kantian notion of a universal perpetual peace cannot resolve the tension between a concept of peace that is always in violent contention and a concept of perpetuity. Bennington writes: Il se trouve que la paix ne peut tre perptuelle qu force de diffrer jamais sa propre perptuit: la paix perptuelle est donc sa propre diffrance, perptuellement (Bennington 2004, 293). Bennington then turns to Hegel and the frontier and traces the Aufhebung of contingency, and the attempt, which is ultimately unsuccessful, to put contingency to work in the name of necessity (Bennington 2004, 297; 300). After following une violence perdurante that neither Kant nor Hegel ne russit absorber, Bennington turns to Wittgensteins critique of Frege. One might expect that he would conclude with Wittgensteins afrmation that a blurred concept [un concept ou in Benningtons translation] is still a concept (Bennington 2004, 304; 306). But Bennington treats Wittgensteins transition dun langage de frontires vers un langage dindications, as an attempt, once and for all, to put an end to philosophy: to put up an assured frontier between philosophy and its other, the most metaphysical of gestures (Bennington 2004, 308; 31112). Bennington ends: Dans cette situation, on ne peut ni accepter lexigence de Frege, ni simplement la laisser tomber: dans tous les sens, il faut des frontires conceptuelles. Cest bien sr Jacques Derrida qui nous a donn penser cette situation dans laquelle on ne cesse de passer la frontire sans jamais arriver de lautre ct (Bennington 2004, 314). I have briey traced the movements of this 1992 paper in part to demonstrate the clarity of Benningtons reading of philosophy: internal contradiction (Frege), internal contradiction (Kant), internal contradiction (Hegel), exit that returns us to the centre (Wittgenstein), and the end without end or without rest of transgressing and never entirely escaping (Derrida). I have also in part followed this remarkable untranslated text that never stops translating to catch a little bit of the grit or idiom of Benningtons reading of philosophy. As Bennington observes in a 1999 lecture, when confronted with a residue of idiomaticity, it is tempting to describe deconstruction in general just as the attempt to think through this relationship between the singularity of the singular case and the generality or the universality of the structure which makes it (im)possible (Bennington 2004, 167; 163). There is perhaps something a bit gritty and scattered about this idiom because, as Bennington remarks in a 2003 interview, it communicates with a certain

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materialist tradition which Derrida is suspicious of, and I am much more inclined to be interested in (Bennington 2005, 22223). There is also something like a style, which is always more than a style, in Benningtons reading of philosophy (Bennington 2004, 74). When it comes to the use of parentheses, Bennington is not quite in the league of Lacoue-Labarthe, as Derrida notes in Dsistance, but comes close. For example, in his 1999 lecture on Derridas Le monolinguisme de lautre:
One of the hardest challenges Derrida throws down for us is no doubt this: to think together the economy of sameness and difference (that is, singularity). Here the claim is radical (and radically anti-Hegelian): making the opposite move from Derrida (who postulates, then, a dispersion of heterogenous singularities that are in some sense nonetheless the same), in the interests of establishing more marked differences (that is, by formulating them oppositionally), ends up, paradoxically enough, by homogenizing the heterogenous (so that the singularities on each side of the oppositionally construed difference becomes mere examples in the sense of samples of the category they now represent), and, just by dint of that oppositionality (the form of opposition itself), it also, perversely enough, tends to the homogensing of the very terms of the opposition itself, insofar as the oppositional form, in its rigorous Hegelian working out, just tends towards the overcoming of the opposition through the movement of sublation. (Bennington 2004, 179)

The rigor and care of this sentence seem quite exemplary to me, not least because of its precision, its length, its multiple parentheses and its many parenthetical clauses. These parenthetical additions are not so much interruptions, as in-text footnotes, pauses or asides of clarication, a measured tempo of abundant lucidity. In Mal dArchive, Derrida had written of an intraitable lucidit, an uncompromising lucidity. Bennington opens Other Analyses: Reading Philosophy with a short introduction that makes the case for the binding of disparate pieces or what he calls elsewhere an always relatively gathered dispersion or scatter of singularites through their common concern with the avoidance or repression of the issue of reading in philosophy (Bennington 2004, i; 180, 199). Theses pieces involve detailed philosophical argumentation, Bennington writes, but they are guided by an essentially non-philosophical understanding of reading (Bennington 2004, i). In a 2001 paper given at Emory, which can perhaps be taken as a second manifesto for Modern French Thought, Bennington argues, Modern French Thought addresses reading, addresses the addresses of reading, in a way that what I am calling philosophy does not, and in that address it calls for a thinking about time that also tends to

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exceed philosophical grasp (Bennington 2004, 4). Bennington traces what might be described as three stages or way stations in this readingtime beyond philosophy: a passing through philosophy, an opening up of philosophy, and philosophys experience of unreadability (Bennington 2004, 5). Of this rst way station, passing through philosophy, Bennington writes: it is arrived at not alongside or against philosophy (as simply another discipline, say), but by claiming to pass through philosophy (to read philosophy, precisely, in a sense that philosophy qua philosophy cannot quite conceptualise), to be as philosophical as possible in the interests of opening philosophy up to reading (Bennington 2004, 5). This is a persistent theme in Benningtons Derrida (much perhaps as one speaks of Boswells Johnson). In a 1988 paper, he writes: the rigour claimed by deconstruction consists in a passage through philosophy, and only in this way by being as philosophical as it can can it be the least philosophical of discourses, which is also what it claims to be (Bennington 2004, 33). Fifteen years later, in his interview from 2003, Bennington remarks: The kind of model that comes out of the Derridean reections on reading is one that tries to go through the traditional criteria, just as deconstruction in general tries to go through philosophy or metaphysics, to go right through, right through to the other side (Bennington 2005, 221). Benningtons abundant perhaps overly abundant, and even excessive lucidity in attempting to pass or go through philosophy is apparent in his 1999 paper, For the Sake of Argument (Up to a Point), in which he both challenges philosophys exclusive claim to argumentation and recognises that it is perfectly possible, up to a point, to nd and state arguments in Derrida (Bennington 2004, 678, 70). At the same time, he argues, Derridas work may look just like philosophy, but only up to a point (Bennington 2004, 71). For Bennington, this appears to be as much an argument about a sort of internal interruption or disruption of philosophical teleology as classifying a certain set of texts (from Plato to Heidegger and beyond) that contain a certain set of persistent themes and assumptions that one can always identify as philosophy (Bennington 2004, 77). One could argue, for example, that Derrida read and wrote texts beyond the traditional demarcations of philosophy, but also remained as his institutional titles suggested preoccupied with the history of philosophy as the history of the departures from totality (Violence and Metaphysics 117). In such a case, the future of the past always remains to be negotiated, and even to be surprising.

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There may be little difference here with Benningtons reading of Derrida, but it does perhaps highlight a motif: Benningtons reluctance to be called a philosopher. As one would expect, Bennington is acutely aware of this reluctance. In a paper from 1996, on biography and philosophy, he relates an apparent anecdote:
This gives rise to slightly paradoxical situations: for example, when questioned for a survey in the street once in Brighton, I quickly gave my profession as teacher: but the academic friend I was with said unhesitatingly that he was a philosopher, not at all as though he were describing his situation of employment, but clearly making an ontological claim. (Bennington 2004, 404)

One could make much of this primal scene. A stranger, a nameless other, comes up to our two protagonists and asks them to name their profession. Both answer right away, with alacrity: I quickly gave my profession as teacher, the academic friend I was with said unhesitatingly that he was a philosopher. It is striking that there is no hesitation here: both know what to say, both know how to name themselves. The difference is that, while Bennington runs to the modest, discipline, faculty, and even university, free name of teacher, the academic friend and one wonders if there can be academic friends, not least because of what follows rushes into a clear ontological culde-sac by naming himself a philosopher. On rst reading, the narrative suggests: Bennington escapes ontology! A second reading, however, suggests: Bennington displays the good conscience of knowing what he is not, while not only letting a friend fall into the ontological mire, but also dodging the question of the stranger, the interruption of the other that interrupts the ease with which readers of Derrida presume that they know what place is out of place. I think it is very likely that Bennington would have been aware of both of these readings. Reading Bennington reading philosophy, one is left with a sense of an abundant and uncompromising lucidity and also perhaps a certain anguish or hilarity. As Bennington remarks, reading confronts us with the unreadable and, with what might be the echo of an eighteenth century coupling, either hilarity or anguish, terror or jouissance, pain or enjoyment, joy or tragedy, hilarity or madness (Bennington 2004, 22; 25; 64; 250). An intraitable lucidit and anguish or hilarity: these are the chances and the parentheses of Benningtons texts. Finally, in honour both of eighteenth-century Britain, that old foe of eighteenth-century France, and of Jacques Derrida, who always remained interested in the

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inadmissible, I would like to end by calling Geoffrey Bennington what these two collections attest malgr lui: a frenchied philosopher. SEAN GASTON Brunel University
DOI: 10.3366/E1754850009000438

1. Jacques Derrida. Whos Afraid of Philosophy. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002).

Notes on Contributors

Stephen Barker is professor of theory and criticism and head of doctoral studies in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the University of California at Irvine. He has written extensively on Nietzsche, Derrida, Beckett, Artaud, and others. He has recently translated Bernard Stieglers Technics and Time 2: Disorientation and is embarking on Volume 3, The Time of Cinema and the Question of Discomfort, for Stanford University Press; he is currently working on a multi-media volume entitled Thresholds. Tom Cohen is the author of Anti-Mimesis from Plato to Hitchcock (Cambridge, 1994), Ideology and Inscription (Cambridge, 1998) and Hitchcocks Cryptonymies, vol. 1 & 2 (Minnesota, 2005). He is co-director of an initiative to examine 20th century critical conceptualization in the light of climate change (Institute of Critical Climate Change, IC3), and contributing co-editor of An Atlas of Critical Climate Change (Fordham UP, 2010). He is currently working on two monographs, Archival Wars Theory in the Era of Climate Change, and Catafalque Faulkner and the Suicide of Writing. Claire Colebrook teaches English Literature at the University of Edinburgh and Penn State University. She has written books on literary theory, feminist theory and contemporary European philosophy. Her most recent book is Milton, Evil and Literary History (2008). She is currently completing a book on William Blake and aesthetics. Marc Froment Meurice Born in Tokyo (1953), Ph.D. on John Cage (Paris X-Nanterre, 1979), Docteur s lettres on Heidegger (Universit de Nice, 1992), Professor of French at Vanderbilt University (1996), U.S. citizen (2006). In English he has published Solitudes, from Rimbaud to Heidegger (SUNY, 1995) and That Is To Say: Heideggers Poetics (Stanford, 1998). In French, his most recent book published is

132 Notes on Contributors

Incitations with a Preface (MFM) by Jean-Luc Nancy (Galile, 2002). Personal Website : http://mfromentmeurice.free.fr Martin McQuillan is Professor of Cultural Theory and Analysis at the University of Leeds, UK. His recent publications include Deconstruction after 9/11 (Routledge, 2008) as well as the twin volumes Deconstruction Reading Politics (Macmillan 2008) and The Politics of Deconstruction (Pluto Press, 2007).

DOI: 10.3366/E175485000900044X