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Jacques Derrida Derrida Dissemination Translated, with an Introduction and Additional Notes, by Barbara Johnson The University of Chicago Press Plato's Pharmacy Firs version published ia Tel Quel, nos 32 and 33, 1968. Kap blow ro the cheek, koock, slap lee) Kola: 110 g0iato, penente, ap, side bids, ro peck... b,c sash open veh he bene. ama sed of bars string tb groand wit is sf. 2- by esoson, 0 notch, engrve: grape i apse [pope] ‘Anth. 9,341, oct phir (bark, Cal fe. 101, an insertion on 1 poplar or on the ack ofa ee (Klee. R Gla, ea halo out, scratch) Avexcis not a text unles it ides from the first comer, from the fist glance, the law of its composition and the rules of its game. A text remains, morcover, forever imperceptible. Its law and its rales are not, however, harbored in ehe inaccessibility ofa secter; iis simply that they can never be booked, in the pret, ineo anything that could rigorously be called a Ppa hace, perpetaly and stencil, they run ehe ik of being definitively lost. Who will ever know of such disappearances? ‘The dissimulation ofthe woven texture can in any case take centusies to ‘undo its web: a web that envelops a web, undoing the web for centuries; reconstituting it £00 as an organism, indefinitely regenerating its own tissue behind che cutting race, the decision ofeach reading. There is always «a surpese in store forthe anatomy or physiology of eny criticism that might think ie had mastered the game, surveyed all the threads ac once, deluding itself, too, ia wanting to look at the text without touching it, without laying a hand on the “object,” without rsking—which ithe only chance of ‘entering into the game, by getting 2 few fingers caught—the addition of some new thread. Adding, here, is nothing other than giving to read. One -must manage to think this out: that itis not a question of embroidering ‘upona texc, unless one considers that to know how to embroider still means ohave the ability to follow the given thread. That is, ifyou follow me, the hidden thread. If reading and writing are one, as is easily chought these days, ifteading is writing, this oneness designates neither undifferentiated 1. TN. leshoud be noted that the Gres word koAagos, which here begint che ay ‘on Plato che Inve word pinta in Lite long definition ofthe Freach word ep, with ‘which ehe Heri has ese playflly lef of 63 64 PLATO'S PHARMACY (con)fusion nor identity at perfect rest; the is chat couples reading. with ‘writing muse rip spar. ‘One must then, in a single gesture, but doubled, read and write. And that person would have understood nothing of the game who, at cis [dh coup}, would feel himself authorized merely toadd on; that i, toadd any old thing. He would add noching: the seam wouldn't hold. Reciprocally, be ‘who through “methodological prudence,” “aorms of objectivity,” oF “sefe- guards of knowledge” would refrain from committing anything of himself, ‘would not read at all. The same foolishness, the same sterility, obtains in the “not serious” as in the “serious.” The reading of writing supplement must be rigorously prescribed, bur by the necessities ofa game, by che logic of play, signs to which the system of ll eextual powers must be accorded and aveuned To a considerable degree, we have already said all we meant to say. Our lexicon at any sate isnot far from being exhausted, With the exception of this or that supplement, our questions will have nothing more to name but the cexture of the text, reading and writing, mastery end play, the paci- ddoxes of supplementarity, and the graphic relations between the living and the dead: withia the textual, the cexcile, and che histological. We will keep within the limits ofthis ise: beween the metaphor of ee bizar? and the question of the histor of metaphor. Since we have already seid everything, the reader must bear with ws if we continue on awhile, Ifwe extend ourselves by force ofplay. IF we then writea bir: on Plato, who aleeady said in che Phaadra chat writing can only repeat Girsef), thac ic “always signifies maine) che same” and tha eis 2 "game" aida) 1. Pharmacia Lec us begin again, Therefore the dissimulation ofthe woven texture can in any case take centuries to undo its web. The example we shall propose of this will not, sesing thac we are dealing with Plato, be che Stauntan, which will have come to mind first, no doubt because of the paradigm of the weaver, and especially because of the paradigm of the paradigm, the ‘example of the example—writing—which immediately precedes it.) We will come back to that only after a long derour. 2 "His aything pig ac: mal. bm lo, which x08 via ‘ona of ying hoists in oar looms except inthe wesvng methods wed by the ‘Gatics and inf o which he endo the warp ae sachet Hees sar fd mb lm, hence, ie, lye of ana By ap ot Iam fb reds end, sith 1V. by ana inde,” 3. Sangria, my der Soca ro demenstete sayhiag ofr mportance wrth the use of examples. Every on oo i ike a man who stings ia dea sa 6s 66 PLATO'S PHARMACY We will cake offhere from the Phaedra Weare speaking of the Phacdras ha was obliged to wait almost ewenty-five conturies before anyone geve up the idea tacit was a badly composed dialogue. Ie was a ist believed that Plato was too young to do the thing right, to construct a well-made object. Diogenes Laertius records this “ehey say” logos [s. ei, egtad) according cowhich the Pheedras was Plato's fist artempe and thus manifested a certain juvenile quality (meirekibds 1), Schleiermacker thinks this legend can be coeroborated by means of 2 Indicrous argument: en aging writer would not have condemned writing as Plato does in the Phaadras. This argument is not _metely suspect in itself: it lends credit co the Laertian legend by basing itself ‘Bias care knows hem precy andshen wakes, ai wef Sather ocching Yee Soot: Wr do you rca by cs? Sragr have mae ea lo rye by hooting thimoment dace or ngs hun ight whee the wining fowl is concerned. Young Set: What do you ment Senge Brame, my good fend, hes Been eoreque an cumple. Yong Suter What thi? Sey on endo mahestate oe thy eke, Sanger william, sce you ae rend ro fllow, When young Chen te ony ut ened celeste grommet np iit (rte, es, Skemp). And the desion ofthe ietowening ampli) in wing eines ro ie pang i rate erperece, and then roel ied othe we of his poedae i ts “king” form st the ep 0 pein of “LEN. The bic Englshngunge of Pa algae to which Lal ef he ated Dietge of Pao. Bath Halon und Hsningon Car), Bollingen Ses IXXI @rnceton, Jc Poco Univetey Pro, 1961) The alge hae ben ttasated bythe flowing: Hugh Trlennck Ali, Cri, Phe) Beran Jowett ‘Comite, Lack, Meno, Lae iis, Cras, Fins, Grate ipa}. ine tian, tne Gos pire, to), W'. Woenl agians WE. Geshe (Prune Mow) W. Hi. Rouse (xthdonn), Re Hackoh Pad, Pia Michal Joyce Gymru; Peal Sey Rubi Cosford (Thaton, Pari, Suphiy} B.Skersp Sttaman) AB, Taplor Ci, Lay, pmo LA Ps ata 1 bare alo conled and sometimes petal edopeed the reitons given in te flowing: Phat cts. W. C Halbolt and WG, dabinowtsUndaepai Bobb: Merl Edenton Pllhag, The Lary of Ler Ars 1950) Gar, cus, W. nsiton Balmer: Peaguln Boos, 1960; Apis, Cri, Phd, Spo, Repel tte, Benji Jowett, in Dicliatof Pln New rk Washington Square res, 1951 Boab, ans, Fe Cnr Rew Yok caer; OnfordUniesiy Pet, 1940, The {ue cams Tes J. Saunders Mew Yor Penguin Books, 1970) Teadditon, hav ccasonaly modied the wording or word ore ofthe Panes sn oner co sng thm ino line nth te peated Gee inser. Same minor ‘djatmets havea ota made when teem nceay ahi clove parle the French econ th which Dede working “The protec! numbers itn afer te quoi athe sade eeencs othe Seeptanueiton of Paros ney edna reproduced nail tnlons 5. On theta nrespeatons of he Phe andthe probleme scorpion, + sich dad econ can be nd nL Robin's La Tilton de Pana, 24 (Pac Pres Univer de Frc, 1980s in th re author orto he Bude edion ofthe Plo. PHARMACIA 6 ‘onasecond legend. Only blind or grossly insensitive reading could indeed Ihave spread the romor that Plato was simply condemning, che writer's activity. Nothing here is of single piece and the Phzedrus als, in its own writing, plays at saving writing—which also means causing it co be Jost—as the bes, che noblest game. As fr the seunning hand Plato has thus dealt himself, we will be able to follow its incidence and its payoff later on In 1905, the tradition of Diogenes Laercius was reversed, not inorder to bring about « recognition ofthe excellent composition ofthe Phaedras but in order to attribute its faults this time to the senile impotence of the author: “The Phaedras is badly composed. This defect is all the more surprising since itis precisely there that Socrates defines the work of art as & living being. Bue the inability to accomplish what has been well conceived is precisely a proof of old age.”* ‘We are no longer ar thar poine. The hypothesis ofa rigorous, sure, end subd form is naturally more fertile. It discovers new chords, new concor- ances; it surprises them in minutely fashioned counterpoint, within a _more secret organization of themes, of names, of words, It unties a whole samploké patiently interlacing the arguments. What is magisterial about the lemonstration afirms itself and effaces iself at once, with suppleness, irony, and discretion, This is, in particular, the case—and this will be our supplementary theead—with the whole last section (2740 f.), devored, as everyone knows, to the origin, history, and value of writing. That entire hearing ofthe ial af writing should some day cease to appear #8 an extraneous mythological fantasy, an appendix the organism could easily, with no loss, have done ‘without, In eruth, itis igorously called for from one end of the Phaedra to the other. “Always with irony. But what can be said of irony here? What is its majoc sign? The dialogue contains che only “rigorously original Platonic myths: te fable of ee cicadas in the Phasdras, and che story of Theuth inthe same dialogue.”” Interestingly, Socrates’ fist words, in che opening lines of the conversation, had concerned “not bothering about” mythologemes (29> 2304). Not in order to reject them absolutely, but, on the one hand, not bothering them, leaving them alone, making room for them, in order to fire them from the heavy serious naiveré ofthe scientific “rationalists,” and (6, H, Racder, Platon palais Enavicllag(eipag, 1905). A crcqueof hisview, “Sue compotvion da Phin,” by B. Bourguer, appeazed ia tho Rene de Mphsign ede Morale, 1919, p. 333. "7. B. Brtige, Ler Moshe de Plater (Pais: Akan, 1930). | 68 PLATO'S PHARMACY ‘on the other, not bothering with them, in onder to free onef forthe relation swith oneself and the pursue of self-knowledge. To give myths a send-off: a salute, a vacation, a dismissal; this ine resolution of the bairein, which means all that at once, will be ewice interrupted in order to welcome these “ewo Platonic myths,” s0 “igorously original.” Both of these myths arse, moreover, in che opening of a question about the status of writing. This is undoubtedly less obvious—has anyone ever picked up on it?—in the case of the cicada story. Bue it is no less certain. Both myths follow upon the same question, and chey are only separated by a short space, just time enough for e detour. The first, of course, does not answer che question; on the contrary it leaves it hanging, smatks time fore rest, and makes us wait forthe reprise chat will lead us 0 the second. Let us read this more closely. At the precisely calculated center of the dilogue—che reader ean count che lines—the question of Jagography is raised (2579. Phaedrus reminds Socrates that the citizens of greatest influence and dignity, the men who are the most feee, feel eshamed iskbunoniai)ac “speechwricing” and at leaving sungranmata behind them. ‘They fear che judamene of posterity, which mighe consider them “sophists"” (257d). The logogcapher, in the strict sense, is ghast writer who composes speeches for use by litigants, speeches which he himself does noe pro- rnounce, which he does not attend, 0 t0 speak, in person, and which produce their effecesin his absence. In writing what he does not speck, what he would never say snd, in eruth, would probably never even think, the author of che written speech is already entrenched in the posture of the sophist: the man of non-presence and of non-trath. Writing i thus already om the scene, The incompatibility beeween the written and the trae is clearly announced at che moment Socrates starts to recount the way in which mea se carried out of themselves by pleasure, become absent from themselves, forge themselves and die in the thrill of song (2590. ‘But che issue is delayed. Socrates still has a neucral attitude: weiting is not in itself a shameful, indecent, infamous (eiskben) activity. One is dishonored only if one writes in a dishonorable manner. Bue whae does it ‘meen to write ina dishonorable manner? and, Phacdras also wants 9 know, ‘whet does ie mean eo write beausfilly (Aas)? This question skecches out the central nervure, the great fold that divides the dialogue. Between chis ‘question and the answer that takes up its terms in ee last section ("But there remains the question of propriety and impropriety in writing, thacis to say the conditions which make i proper or improper, Isn't that $0? PHARMACIA 69, 2740), che thread remains soli, if not easily visible, all through the fable of the cicades and the themes of psychegogy, rhetoric, and dialectics. Thus Socrates begins by sending myths off; and then, ewice stopped before che question of writing, he invents two of chem-—not, as we shall see, entirely from scratch, but more feeely and spontaneously than any- where else in his work. Now, the Ahairein, in the Phaedras’ opening pages, tahes place in th name of truth, We will reflece upon the face thae the mychs come back from vacation at the time and in the name of writing. ‘The thaircn cakes place in the mame of ruth: chat is, in the name of Knowledge of truth and, more precisely, of truth in the knowledge of the self. This is whac Socrates explains (2302). But this imperative of seif Knowledge is noe frse fele or dictated by any transparent immediacy of self-presence. It is not pesceived. Only interpreted, read, deciphered. A hermeneutics assigns intuition. An inscription, the Delpbiton granma, which is anything but an oracle, prescribes through its silent cipher; it signifies as one signifies an order—eutoseopy and aurognosis. The very activities that Socrates thinlss can be contrasted to the hermeneutic adven- ture of myths, which he leaves to the sophists (2294), ‘And che kbaiein takes plaein the name of teuth. The spi of the dialogue are never indifferent. The themes, the topics, the (common-)places, in a shecorical sense, are strictly inscribed, comprehended each rime within a significant site. They are dramatically staged, and in this theatrical geogen- phy, unity of place corresponds to an infallible calculation or necessity. For ‘example, the fable ofthe cicadas would not have taken place, would not have been recounted, Soerates would not have bees incited to tell it, ifche hea, which weighs over che whole dialogue, had nor driven the ewo fiends ‘out of the city, into the countryside, along the river Ilisus, Well before decsiling che genealogy of che genus cicada, Socrates hed exclaimed, “How ‘welcome and sweet the fresh airs, resounding with the summer chirping of the cicada chorus” (2306). But this is nor che only councerpoint-cffect required by the space of che dialogue. The myth that serves as a pretext for the bhairein end for the retreat into autoscopy can iccelf only arise, during the ise steps of this excursion, atthe sightof the Ilissus. Isn't this the spot, asks Phasdrus, where Boreas, ccording to tradition, cattied off Orichyia? ‘This riverbank, the diaphanous purity of chese waters, must have welcomed the young virgins, or even drewn chem like a spell, inciting them to play here. Socrates chen mockingly proposes@ learned explanation of the myth in the eationalistic, physicalise style ofthe ophai it was while she was playing swith Pharmacia (un Pharmaksiai paizousen) that the boreal wind (pnevaa 70 PLATO'S PHARMACY Boreou) caught Oriehyia up and blew her into the abyss, “down from the socks hard by,” “and having thus met her death was said to have been seized by Boress... For my part, Phaedeus, I regard such theories as attractive no oubs, buts che iavention ofclever, industrious people who are not exactly to be envied” (2294) ‘This brief evocation of Pharmacia a the beginning ofthe Phaedras—is it an aceidene? An horsd'cewvre? A fountain, “perhaps with curative powers,” notes Robi, was dedicated to Pharmacia nea the Ilissus. Let us in any case seca this: chav alittle spor, a litle stitch or mesh (macula) woven ico the bck of the canvas, marks out for the entire dialogue the scene where that tirgin was cast into the abyss, surprised by death while playing with Pharma cla, Pharmacia Pharmakeia)is also common noun signifying the adminis- tration of the pharmakon, che drug: the medicine and/or poison, “Poison- ing” was not the leas usual meaning of “pharmacia.” Anciphon has left u the logogram of an “accusation of poisoning aginst « mother-in-lew (Pharmabeias hata 1 nitryias). Through her games, Pharmacia has dragged down to death a virginal purity and an unpenetrated interior. Only a tele further on, Socrates compares the written texts Phaedrus has brought along toa drug (pharmakon). This pharmakon, this"’medicine,” this pphileer, which acts as both remedy and poison, already introduces itself into the body of the discourse with all its ambivalence, This charm, this spellbinding viewe, his power of fascinetion, can be—altetnately or jltaneously—beneficent or maleficent. The pharmakon would be a.sub- stance—with all that thae word can connote in terms of matter with occult virtues, cryptic depths refusing to submit theit ambivalence to analysis, already paving the way for alchemy —if we didn't have eventually to come 10 recognize it as antisubscance itself: chat which resists any philosopheme, indefinitely exceeding its bounds as nonidentity, nonessence, nonstb- seance; granting philosophy by that very fact the inexhaustible adversity of ‘what funds ic and che infinite absence of what founds ie. ‘Operating through seduction, che pharmakon makes one stray from one’s ‘general, natural, habitual paths and laws, Here, i takes Socrates out of his proper place and off his customary track, The latter had always kept him inside the city. The leaves of writing act os « pharmator to push or attract ‘out of the city che one who never wanced to get out, even at the end, 0 ‘escape che hemlock. They take him out of himself and draw him ontoa path thar is properly an exodes: Phaedrus: Anyone would take you, 28 you say, for a foreigner being shown the country by @ guide, and not a netive—you never leave PHARMACIA ™ own to cross che frontier nor even, I believe, so much as set foot oucside the walls. Scorats: You must forgive me, dear friend; I'm alover of earning, and ‘trees and open country won't teach me anything, whereas men in the towado, Yee you seem to have discovered a drug for getting me owe (dabeis mai 1 emts exacen t0 pharmakon biarékenai). A tangy animal can be deiven by dengling 2 cacrot ora bie of greenstuf in front of i; similarly if you proffer me speeches bound in books (er Jiblvis) 1 don'c doubt you cen cart me all roand Attica, and anywhere else you please. Anyhow, now that we've gor here I ‘propose for the time being to lie down, and you can choose whatever posture you think most convenient for reading, and proceed (2304), Icis ar this poine, when Socrates has finally stretched out on the ground and Phaedrus has taken the most comfortable position for handling the text ot, if you will, the pharmakon, tha che discussion actually gets off the ‘ground. A spoken speech—whether by Lysias or by Phaedrus in person—e speech proffered inthe present, in te presence of Socrates, would not have had the same effece. Only the loge’ on biblivis, only words that are deferred, reserved, caveloped, rolled up, words thet force one to wait for therm in the form end undercover ofa solid object, letting themselves be desired for the space ofa walk, only hidden letcers can thus get Socrates moving. Ifa speech could be purely present, unveiled, naked, offered up in person in its truth, withour ce decours of signifce foreign to it, ifat the limit on undeferred egos were possible, i¢ would not seduce anyone. It would not draw Socrates, as if under the effects of « pharmakor, out of his way. Let us get ahead of ‘ourselves. Already: writing, the plarmakon, the going of leading astray. In our discussion of this eexe we have been using an authoritative French translation of Plato, the one published by Guillaume Budé. In the case of the Phaedras, the translation s by Léon Robin. We will continue to refer to it, inserting the Greek text in parentheses, however, whenever it seems opportune or pertinent to ous point. Hence, for example, the word pharnia- dan. In this way we hope todisplay in the most striking manner the regular, ordered polysemy that has, through skewing, indetermination, ot overde- termination, bue without mistranslation, permitted the rendering of the same word by "remedy," “tecipe,” “poison,” “drug,” “philter,” etc. Iwill also be seen to what extent the malleable unity ofthis concept, or rather its rules and che strange logic chae links it with its signifier, has been dis- 8. TN. Hackiorh canslaes"cecipe";Helmbold & Rabinowie, “remedy.” p PLATO'S PHARMACY persed, masked, oblicersted, and rendered almost unceadsble not only by ‘the imprudence or empiricism ofthe tanslators but frst and foremost by the redoubtable, irreducible diffculey of cranslation. Tt is a difficulty inherent in its vety principe, situated les in the passage ftom one language toanother, from one philosophical language to another, than already, es we shall se, in the cradition between Greek and Greek; a violent difficulty in the transference of a nonphilosopheme into a philosopheme. Wich this problem of translation we will chus be dealing with nothing les than the problem of the very passage into philosophy. ‘The iblia that will draw Soceaces out of is eserve and out ofthe space in which he is wont co learn, to teach, to speak, to dialogue—the sheltered ‘enclosure of the city—these Jiblia contain a text written by “the sblest writer of our day” (deinotator on tin mun graphein). His name is Lysias Phaedrus is keeping che text or, if you will, the phermaon, hidden uoder his cloak. He needs it because he has not earned the speech by heart. This point is important for whet follows, the problem of writing being closely linked tothe problem of “knowing by heat.” Before Socrates had stretched ‘out on the ground and invited Phasdrus eo take che most comfortable position, the later had offered to reconsticute, without the help ofthe text, ‘the reasoning, argument, end design of Lysias' speech, its dian, Socrates stops him short: "Very well, my dear fellow, but you must fre show me what ic is that you have in your lef hand under you clos, for I surmise that it is the accual discourse (ion logon axton)” (228d). Between the invitation and the start of the reading. while the phermaton is wandering about under Phaedrus' cloak, there occuts che evocation of Pharmacia and the send-off oF myths. Is ic after all by chance or by hazmonies thet, even before the overt presentation of writing asa pharmakon arises inthe middle of the myth of Theuth, the connection between Siblia and pharmaba should already be ‘mentioned in a malevolent or suspicious vein? As opposed to the true practice of medicine, founded on science, we find indeed, listed in a single stcoke, empirical practice, creatmenes based on recipes learned by heart, ‘mete bookish knowledge, and the blind usage of drugs. All thet, we are (old, springs out of mania: “I expece they would say, ‘the man is mad; he thinks he has made himnselfa doctor by picking up someching out of book (ek biblon), of coming across a couple of ordinary drugs (sharmabia:), without any real knowledge of medicine’ " (2680, ‘This association beeween writing and the pharmuakon still seems external; it could be judged artificial or purely coincidental. But she intention and intonation are recognizably the same: one and the same suspicion envclops PHARMACIA B in. single embrace che book and the drug, writing and whatever works in sn occult, ambiguous manner open to empiricism and chance, governed by she ways of magic and not the laws of necessity. Books, the dead and rigid knowledge shut up in bblic, piles of histories, nomenclatures, recipes and formulas learned by heart, all this is as foreign co living knowledge and dialectics asthe pharmakon isto medical science. And myth to teve knowl- edge. In dealing with Plato, who knew so well on occasion how to treat ‘myth in its acheo-logical or paleo-logical capacity, one can glimpse the immensity and difficulty of cis ast opposition. The extent ofthe difficulty is marked out—this is, among # hundred others, the example that retains us here—in that che truth—the original truth—about writing as 2 pharma- on will at frst be left up toa myth. The myth of Theuth, to which we now ‘uso, Up to chi point in the dialogue, one can say thae the pharma and the sgrapheme have been beckoning to each other ftom afar, inditectly sending back’ to each other, and, as if by chance, appearing and disappearing together on the same line, for yet uncertain ceasons, with an efectivencss that is quite discrete and perhaps aferall unincentional. Buc in order to lift ‘his doubt and on the supposition thac the categories of the voluntary and the iavoluntary still have some absolute pertinence in a reading—which we don't fora minuce believe, a least not on the textual level on which we are now advanciag—let us proceed 0 the last phase of the dialogue, to the poinc where Theuth appears on the scene. ‘This time itis without indirection, without hidden mediation, without sectet argumentation, chat writing is proposed, presenced, and asserted as pharmakon (2740), In acertain sense, one can see how this section could have been set apert san appendis, a superadded supplement. And despite all thar calls for icin the preceding steps, it is eeue that Plato offers ie somewhat as an amuse- ‘ment, an hors d'oruvre or rather a desserc. All the subjects of the dialogue, both themes and speakers, seem exhausted st the moment the supplement, writing, or the phermackon, are introduced: “Then we may feel that we have said enough both 2bout the are of speaking and about the lack ofa (20 men sebbnis chai atekbmias legen)” (2748). And yeti isat this moment of general ‘exhaustion that the question of writing is set out.® And, as was foreshad- 9. Mere, mhen i is «question of lay, Robin eanslaces wba by “ae.” Lae in the ‘course of th inictmene, che same werd, chi ime pertain eo weiing, wil be rendered by “echoical knowledge” fovenasen tbnigu. 10, White Seussue, in is Conse Goma Lint, excludes oe sete the question of writing ina sore of preliminary exurss ehorsd eure, the chapees Roaseandevoes to " PLATO'S PHARMACY owed earlier by the use of the word aiskbron (or the adverb aishiné), che ‘question of writing opens asa question of morality. Ie is truly morality that is at stake, both in the sense of the opposition between good and evil, or ‘good and bad, and in the sense of mores, public morals nd social conven- tions. It is @ question of knowing what is done and what is not done. This moral disquiet is ia no way +0 be distinguished from questions of eruth, memory, and dialectics. This later question, which will quickly be en- ‘gaged as the question of writing, is closely associated with che morality ‘theme, and indeed develops icby afinicy of essence and not by superimposi- tion. Bus within a debace rendered very eal by the political development of| the city, the propagation of writing and the activity of the sophists and speechwriters, che primary accent is naeurally placed upon political and social proprieties. The type of arbitration proposed by Socrates plays within the opposition between the values of seemliness and unseemliness (spree! aprepeia). "But there remains the question of propriety and impropriety in ‘writing, that is to say the conditions which make ie proper or improper. Ise ehac 50?” (2748). Is writing seemly? Does the writer cuca respectable figure? Isic proper co swrite? Is it done? OF course not. Bue che answer is not so simple, and Socrates does nie immediately off it on his own account in a rational discourse or logo. He lees ie be heard by delegating it to an aboi, to a well-known rumor, 0 hearsay evidence, to a fable transmited from ear to ear: “I can tell you what ou forefathers have said about it, but the truth of i is only known by tradition. However, if we could discover thac truch for ourselves, should we still be concerned with the fancies of mankind?” (2740). ‘The cruth of writing, that is, as we shal se, (che) noneruch, cannot be discovered in ourselves by ourselves. And ic is noc the object of science, only of history that is recited, a feble that is repeated, The link between ‘writing and myth becomes clearer, as does its opposition to knowledge, notably the knowledge one seeks in oneself, by oneself. And at the same time, through writing or through mych, che genealogical break and the estrangement from the origin are sounded. One should note most especially chat what weiting will later be accused of repeating without knowing— here defines the very approach that Jeeds co che statement and determina- ‘Witag nee Eta onthe Origin of Language is abso pesened, despite acral imporcance, 1 a sort of somewhat contingent supplement, a makeup citron, “another means of comparing languages end of judging thie eaiveaniquity." The sare operzion is fund a Hegels Enpeia, cf. "Le Puis ele pyramide,” (1-1968) in gl apodeme, (aris Peses Univesizaes de France, 1970, cll. “Epimahée) ‘THE FATHER OF LOGOS 8 sion ofits status. One thus begins by repeating without kaowing—through a myth—the definition of weiting, which is repeat without knowing. ‘This kinship of writing and myth, both of them distinguished from logs and dialectics, will oly become more precise a the text concludes. Having juse repeared without knowing chet writing consists of repeating without knowing, Socrates goes on to base the demonstration of his indicement, of his les, upon the premises of the akof, upon scractures that are readable ‘through a fabulous genealogy of writing. Assoon asthe myth has struck the first blow, the loge of Socrates will demolish the accused. 2. The Father of Logos ‘The story begins like this: Socrares: Very well. T heard, chen, that at Naucratis in Egypt there lived one ofthe old gods ofthat country, the one whose sacred bird {scaled the ibis; and the name of the divinity was Theuth, ie was he who firs invented numbers and calculation, geometry and astron- ‘omy, not to speak of draughts and dice, and above all writing (grammaia). Now the King, of all Egypt at that time was Thamus who lived in the great city ofthe upper region which the Greeks call the Egyptian Thebes; the god himself they call Ammon. Theuth ‘came to him and exhibited his arts and declared thet they ought to be imparted tothe ocher Egyptians. And Thamus questioned him about the usefulness of each one; and as Theuch enumerated, the King blamed or praised what he thought were the good or bad ‘points in the explanation. Now Thamus is seid to have hac a good deal co remark on both sides ofthe question aboue every single ext Ge would take too long to repeat it here}; but when it came to writing, Theuth said, “This discipline (o mathina), my King, will make the Egyptians wiser and will improve theit memories “ophiterous kati mnémonikiteros): my invention is a recipe (pharm on) for both memory and wisdom.” But the King said . . . ete 27402), Let us cut the King off here. Hie is faced with the pharmakon. His reply will be incisive Tet us freeze the scene and che characters and cake a look at them. Writing (or, if you will, che phermaton) is thus presented to the King. Presented: like a kind of present offered up in homage by vassal to his lord 76 PLATO'S PHARMACY (Theuth is a demigod speaking to the king of the gods), but above all as 2 finished work submicced co his appreciation. And chis work isieselfan are, 2 capacity for work, power of operation. This artefactum is an art, But the value of chis gift i still uncertain, The value of writing—or of che ‘Pharmakon—has of course been spelled out co the King,'but itis che King ‘who will give ie its value, who will set che price of what, in the act of receiving, he constitutes or institutes, The king or god (Thamus represents" Ammon, the king of ehe gods, the king of kings, ehe god of gods. Theuth says to him: 0 Basile) s thus the other name for the origin of value. The value of writing will not be itself, writing will have no value, unless and to the extent chat god-che-king approves ofc. Bur god-the-king nonetheless experiences the pharmakor asa product, en ergo, which is not his ows, which comes to him from outside but also from below, and which waits his condescending judgment in order to be consecrated in its being and value. God the king does not know how to write, but thar igaorance or incapacity only testifies to his sovereign independence. He bas no need to ‘write, He speaks, he says, he dictates, and his word suffices, Whether « scribe from his secretarial staff chen adds the supplement of a transcription fr not, that consigament is always in essence secondary. FFeom this position, without rejecting the homage, che god-king will depreciate it, pointing out not only its uselessness but its menace and its sischief, Another way of not receiving the offering of writing. In so doing, god-the-king-tha-speaks is acting like a father. The pharmakon is here presented to the father and is by him rejected, belitted, sbandoned, disparaged. The father is always suspicious and watchful roward writing. Even if we did not want to give in here to the easy passage uniting the figures of the king, the god, and the father, ie would suffice to pay systematic attention—which to our knowledge has never been done—to the permanence of a Platonic schema thet assigns the origia and power of speech, precisely of gos, to the paternal position. Not that this happens especially and exclusively in Plato. Everyone knows this or can easily imagine it. Bue che fact chat “Platonism,” which sets up the whole of ‘Western metaphysics ia its conceptuality, should nor escape the generality of this structural constraint, and even illustrates it with incomparable subelety and force, stands out as all che more significant 11, Foe Pat, Thamusis doubles another ame for Aramon, whote gsc (tha of he sun king and ofthe aero the gods) we sll sketch oat ater or i own sake, On this ‘question ad he debe vo which eas genres Prati Myla, p. 233, n- 2, and tovably Fier, “Plato und ds dgypnce Alpha,” Archi ir Gabe der ipo, 1922; Pauly -Wisows, Real-Enoebhe de dasnhen Aletemsvisenchat (re. AMO): Roscher, Lexikon de viciston and riches Myth. Thar). ‘THE FATHER OF LOGOS n [Not that logos é the father, either. But the origin of logos is it fatber. One could say anachronously that the “speaking subject” is the father of his speecla. And one would quickly realize that this is no metaphor, a¢ least not in che sense of any common, conventional effect of rhetoric, Logas isa son, then, ason that would be destroyed in is very preence without che present attendance of his father, His father who answers. His father who speaks for hhim and enswers for him. Without his father, he would be nothing but, in face, writing. At least chat is what is stid by the one who says: it is the father’s thesis. The specificity of writing would thus be intimately bound to the absence of che father. Such an absence can of couse exist along very diverse modalices, distinctly or confusedly, successively or simultaneously: to have lost one's father, through nacaral or violent death, through random violence or pacricde; and then to solicc che aid and attendance, possible or impossible, of the paternal presence, to solice it directly or to claim to be getting along without ic, etc. The reader will have noted Socrats’ insis- tence oa the misery, whether pitifel or arrogant, ofa fas committed t0 ‘writing: "...Iealways needs is father to attend to t, being quite unable to defend itself or attend to its own needs" (2756). “This misery is ambiguous: itis the distress ofthe orphan, of course, who needs not only an attending, presence but also a presence that will attend to ies nceds; but in pitying the orphan, one also makes en accusation against him, along with writing, for claiming to do eway with the father, for achieving emancipation with complacent self-sufficiency. From the posi- tion of the holder of the scepter, che desire of writing is indicated, designated, and denounced as a desire for orphanhood and patricidal subversion. 1sn' this phermabin then 2 criminal thing, a poisoned present? ‘The status of this orphan, whose welfare cannot be assured by any sctendance of assistance, coincides with chat of a graphein which, being nobody's son at ee instant ie reaches inscription, scarcely remains a son at all and no longer recognize its origins, whether legally or morally. In contrat :o writing, living /ogeris alive in chac ic has living father (whereas the orphan is already half desd), a father that is present, sending neee it, behind it, within ie, sustaining it wich his recrirude, attending it in person in his own name. Living lags, for its part, recognizes its debt, lives off that recognition, and forbids itself, thinks it cen forbid itself patricide. But prohibition and patricide, like che relations between speech and writing, are seructures surprising enough to require us later on to articulate Plato's text between a patricide prohibited and a patricide proclaimed. The de- ferred murder of the father and rector. “The Phaedrus would slecady be sufficient co prove thae the responsibil icy 8 PLATO'S PHARMACY for logos, for ies meaning and effects, goes co those who ettend it, co those ‘who are present with the presence of «father. These “metaphors” must be tirelessly questioned. Witness Socrates, addressing Eros: “If in our former speech Phaedrus of I said anything harsh against you, blame Lysias, the father ofthe subject (rn iu logon pasera)” (2756). Logor—"discoursc’—has the meaning here of argument, line of reasoning, guiding thread animating the spoken discussion (the Logos), To translate it by “subject” [aye], as Robin does, is not merely anachronistic. The whole intention and the organic unity of signification is destroyed. For only ehe “living discousse, only a spoken word (and nota speech’s theme, object, or subject) can have @ father; and, according to a necessity that will oe cease to become clearer to us from now on, the /agoi are the children. Alive enough to protest on ‘occasion and to lee themselves be questioned; capable, 200, in contrast t0 ‘written ehings, of responding when their father is there. They are their father’s responsible presence. Some of them, for example, descend from Phaedeus, who is sometimes called upon to sustain chem. Let us efer again to Robin, who translates /gos this cime not by “subject” but by “argument,” and dissuptsin aspaceof cen lines the play on the sebbné 16 logén, (What is in question is the febbné the sophists and thecors had or pretended to have at their disposal, which wasat fonce an are and an instrument, a recipe, an occult but transmissible “eeeatse,” etc. Socrates considers che then clssical problem in terms ofthe ‘opposition between persuasion (peithi] and ruth (alétheia} {260 a).) Socrates: agree—if, chats, the arguments (logo) that come forward to speak for oratory should give testimony that it is an art (ebm. ‘Now I seem, as it were, o hear some arguments advancing to give their evidence that i¢ tlls lies, that it is not en art at all, but en arcless routine. “Without grip on truth," says the Spartan, “here can be no genuine art of speaking (ior de legen) either now or in the fueure.” Phaedra: Socrates, we need these arguments (Tautbn de sin logén, 6 Sékrat). Bring ehe witnesses here and let's find out what they have co say and how they'll say it (i Bai pat legousin) Suerates: Come here, then, noble brood (genni), and convince Phee- dus, father of such fine children (Eallipaide te Phaidron), chat if he doesn’t give enough attention to philosophy, he will never become competent speaker on any subject. Now let Phaedrus answer (2606-2614). ‘THE FATHER OF LOGOS 9 I isagaia Phacdros, but chis time in che Sympasim, who must speak fst because he is both “head of the cable” and “father of our subject” (baiér tra degen) (ATTA). ‘What we are provisionally and for the sake of convenience continuing to call ¢ metaphor thus in eny event belongs co a whole system, If ogo has a facher, if is a logar only when attended by its facher, this is because itis always a being (on) and even a certain species of being (the Sephist, 2602), more precisely ving being. Logis axa. An animal that is bora, grows, belongs to the phuss. Linguistics, logic, dielectics, and zoology ere all in the same camp. In describing dagar as a 2éon, Plato is following certain rhetors and sophists before him who, asa contrast to the cadaverous rigidity of writing, hhad held up the living spoken word, which infallibly conforms to the necessities ofthe situation at hand, to the expectations and demands ofthe ineerlocutors present, and which snifls out the spots where ic ought to produce itself, feigning co bend and adapt at the moment it is actually achieving maximum persuasiveness and control.” Logos, a living, animace creature, is thus also an organism that has been engendered. An organism: a differentiated body proper, with a center ancl extremities, joints, « head, and feet. In order to be “ptoper,” a written discourse ought to submie ro the laws of life just asa living discourse does. Logographical necessity (anaugld logegrapbik®) ought co be analogous «0 biological, or racher zoological, necessity. Otherwise, obviously, it would have neither head nor tail, Boch sractre and constitution are in question the risk run by /ogusof losing through writing both its tail and its head: Socrates: And what sbout the rest? Don't you think the different parts ofthe speech tata lgoe are tossed inhi or miss? Oris cher really f cogent reason for starting his second point in the second place? ‘And is cht che case withthe ees of che speech? As for myself, in my ignorance, 1 thoughe that the writer boldly set down whatever Iheppened to come into his head. Can you explain his arrangement of the topics in the order he has adopted as the result of some principle of composition, some logographic necessity? 12, Theassociation lgu-aion appears inthe discourse of Locraes Again the Spb and in hac of Alicars On te Sophias CE. also W iss, wo compares these eo discourse line byline withthe Pedra, i Ee: Studi aar aren princes Rburib Leipzig, 1910), pp. 34 Mand A, Dit, “Philosophie e sfsorque,” in Autor de Paton (Pais: Garbriel Beaucbesne, 1927) 1,103, 80. PLATO'S PHARMACY Phacdras: e's very kind of you to think me capable of such an sceurate insight into his methods. Sorater: Bue this you will surely agree: every discourse (ogo), like a living creacure per 2m), sbould be so pur together (sunstana) that ithas its own body and lacks neither head nor foot, middle not cexcrerities, all composed in such a way thas they suit both each, other and the whole 2646-0). ‘The orgenism thus engendered must be well botn, of noble blood: “gennaia'," we recall, is what Socrates called the loge, those “noble crea~ tutes.” This implies that the organism, having been engendeed, must have 1 beginning and an end. Here, Socrates’ standards become precise and insiseent: a speech must have a beginning and an end, it must begin with the beginning and end with the end: “It certainly seemsas though Lysias, at lease, was fer from setisfying our demands: i's from the end, not the beginning, that he tries to swim (on his back!) upstream through the current of his discourse. He sears out with what the lover ough ro say at the very end to his beloved!” (2642). The implications and consequences of such a norm are immense, but they are obvious enough for us not to have to belabor them. Ie follows that the spoken discourse behaves like someone aceended in origin and present in person. Logos "Sermo tanqusms persona ise nguens," 2 one Platonic Lexicon puts it.® Like any person, the loges-afon has a father, Bt what is a father? Should we cousider this known, and with this term—che kaown— classify the other term within what one would hasten to classify as metaphor? One would then say that che origin ar cause of Joga is being compared to what we know to be the couse of living son, his father. One ‘would understand of imagine che beth and development of lage from the standpoint of a domain foreign to it, the transmission of life or the generative relation. Bue the father i aot the generator or procreator in any “eal” sense prior £0 oF outside all relation co language. In what way, indeed, is the father/son relation distinguishable from a mere ceuscleffet or _generatorlengendered relation, ifnoe by che inscance of logos? Only a power ‘of speech can have a father. ‘The father is always fether toa speaking/living being. In other words, itis precisely Jus that enables us co perceive and investigate something like paternity. Ifthere were a simple metaphor in the 13, Fe, Asc, Lege plain, Cf lo B. Pacin, Esta tal lags platen Pais: Gallenard, 1942), p. 211; and P. Lois, Lr Miaplos de Paton (Pais Les Belles Letes, 194, pp. 43-44, ‘THE FATHER OF Locos ar expression “father of logos,” the fist word, which seemed che more familiar, would nevertheless receive more meaning from the second than it ‘would transmits it. The first familiarity is always involved in a relation of cohabitation with logs. Living-beings, father and son, ate announced to us snd related to each other within the household of gt. From which one does rot escape, in spite of appearances, when one is transported, by “metaphor,” co a foreiga cerritory where one meets fathers, sons, living creatures, all sore of beings that come in handy for explaining co anyone that doesn'e know, by comparison, what /agss, chat strange thing, is all about. Even though chis hearth isthe heare ofall metaphoriciey, “father of Jogos" is nota simple metaphor. To have simple metaphoricity, one would shave ro make the statement thee some living creature incapable of language, ifanyone still wished to believe in such a thing, has a father. One rouse thus proceed ro undertake a general reversal of all metephorical directions, no longer asking whether Jogs can have a father but understanding that what the father claims co be the father of cannot go without che essential possibilty of ger 'A loos indebied to a father, what does that mean? At Jeast how can ie be read within che strarum of the Platonic text that interests us here? “The figure of the fachez, of course, is also thac of the good (agathon). Logos represen what itis indebted to: the father who is also chief, capital, and ‘g00d(s). Or rather be chief, she capital, tbe goods). Pasir in Greek means all that at once. Neither eranslators nor commentators of Placo seem to have accounted for the play of these schemas. Ie is extremely difficult, we must recognize, co respect this play in a translation, and the face can at least be explained in thac no one has ever raised che question. Thus, st che point in the Republic where Socrates backs away from speaking of the good in itself (WI, 5060), be immediately suggests replacing it with its ehgone, its son, its offspring: «Jet us dismiss forthe time being the nature of che good in itself, for ‘oattain to my present surmise of chat seemsa pitch above the impulse thar wings my flight today. Bue whet seems ro be the offspring (ctgona) ofthe good and most nearly evade in its likeness Tam willing to speak if you too wish i, and otherwise to let the matter drop. ‘Well, speak on, he ssid, for you will daly pay me the cle ofthe parent another time. 1 could wish, I suid, that T were able ro make and you to receive the peyment, and not merely as now che interest vou), But ac any rare receive this incerest and the offspring of the good (tkin ai ebgonon scuton tou agatha). 8 PLATO'S PHARMACY Tokar, which is here associated with ebgonsr, signifies production and the product, birth and the child, tc. This word functions with chis meaning in the domains ofagriculture, ofkinship lations and of fiduciary operations None of these domains, as we shall see, lies ouside the investment and possibility of «Jogos. ‘As product, the fos is the child, the human oe animal brood, as well as the fruits of the seed sown in the field, and ehe interest on a capital investment: ic is areera or evene. The distribution ofall these meanings can be followed in Plato's text. The meaning of pati is sometimes even inflected in che exclusive sense of financial capital, In che Republicieself, and not far from the passage we have just quoted. One of the drawbacks of ‘democracy lies in the role that capital is often allowed to play in it: “Bue these money-makers with down-bent heads, pretending not even to see the oor, but inserting the sting oftheir money into any ofthe cemainder who do not resist, and harvesting from them in incerest as it were a manifold progeny of the parent sum (ow patrsebgonons roknespllaplariu), foster the drone and pauper element in the state” (5550). Now, about this father, this capital, this good, this origin ofvalueand of appearing beings, it is aot possible co speak simply or dicectly. First ofall because itis no more possible co look chem in che face thaa eo state ae che sun, On the subject of this bedazalement before the face of the sun, a rereading of the famous passage of the Republic (VIL, 515¢ 8) is serongly recommended here. ‘Thus will Socrates evoke only the visible sua, the son that resembles the father, the analogen of the intelligible sun: “Ie was che sun, then, hat I -meent when T spoke of that offspring of the Good (2m tow agathuu ekgonon), ‘which the Good has created in its own image (box tagazhoncgenienanalegon ‘anti, and which stands in the visible world in the seme relation to vision and visible things as thac which che good itself bears in the ineelligible ‘world to intelligence and to intelligible objects” (5089). How does Logos intercede in this analogy between the father and the son, the neoumena and the horimena? ‘The Good, inthe visible-invisible gure ofthe father, the sun, or capital, is the origin of all once, responsible for cheie appearing and thei coming, into “oga, which both assembles and distinguishes chem: “We predicate to be’ of many beautiful things and many good things, saying of them severally chat they ar, and so define chem in ovr speech (einai phamen te ai Aiorizomen $6 lei” (507 8. ‘The good (fcher, sun, capital is thus che hidden illuminating, blinding source of gas. And since one cannot speak of thae which enables one to ‘THE FATHER OF LOGOS 83 speak (being forbidden to speal: of tor to speak to it face to face), one will speak only ofthat which speaks and of things that, witha single exception, one is constantly speaking of. And since an account or reason cannot be sven of wha gs (acount or reason: rata) is accountable orowing f, since the capital cannot be counted nor the chief looked in the eye, i¢ will be necessary, by means of discriminative, diacticical operation, to count up the pluclity ofiacerests, reeurns, products, and offspring: "Well, speak on (lege, he said, for you will duly pay me the tale of the parent another time—I could wish, I sid, that I were able eo make and you to receive the payment, and not metely as now the interest, But at any rate receive this incerest end the offopring ofthe good. Have a caze, however, lest I deceive you unintentionally with false reckoning (or logon) of tne interest (nu satan)" (507). Trom the foregoing passage we should also retain the fact chet, along with the account (gu) of the supplements (to the father-good-capical- origin, ec.), along with what comes above and beyond the One in the very movement chrough which ie absents itself and becomes invisible, thus requiting that its place be supplied, slong with difference and diaccticty, Socrates introduces or discovers the ever open possiblity of the Aibdlon, thac which is falsified, adulterated, mendecious, deceptive, equivocal Hevea cate, he says, lest I deceive you with false reckoning of the interest (Giblton apedido ton logon tau thet). Kibdeleaa is fracient merchandise. ‘The corresponding verb (kibdélew) signifies “to temper with money ot merchandise, and, by extension, to be of bad faith.” “This recourse to lop, from fear of being blinded by any direct intuition of the face of che father, of good, of capital, ofthe origin of being in ise, of ‘the form of forms, et., his recourse to logos as that which pots frm the sm, protects us under it and from it, is proposed by Socrates elsewhere, ia the snalogens order ofthe sensible or the visible. We shall quoce at length fiom char cox In addition to its inceinsic interes, the text, i its official Robin translation, manifests a series of sidings, asi were, that are highly signiicane." The passage in question is che critique, in che Phaad, of “ physicals" Socrates proceeded:—I thought that as I had failed inthe contempla- tion of tue existence (ta onr4), Loughe to be careful thac I did not lose the eye of my soul as people may injure their bodily eye by observing 14, 1am indebeod tothe friendship and alertness of Feancine Markoves for Saving brought chi 0 my aetention, This tex ould ofcourse be place alongside those of books Vinod Vil of the Repu. 84 PLATO'S PHARMACY ‘and gazing on the sun duting an eclipse, unless they take the precau- tion of only looking at the image (ifona) reflected in the water, 0 some analogous medium. So in my own case, Iwas afraid ehat my soul ‘ight be blinded altogether if looked at chings wich my eyes or tried ‘o apprehend them with the help ofthe senses. And I thought that 1 hnad better have recourse to the world of idse er logos) and seek there the truth of things. . . . So, basing myself in each case on the ides logon) that I judged to be the strongest . . .” (994-1004). Loges is thus source. One must urs 9, and noe merely whea the solar source is present and risks burning the eyes if stared at; one has aso to ura away coward gor when che sun seems to withdeaw during its eclipse. Dead, ‘extinguished, or hidéen, ehar star is more dangerous than ever ‘We will et chese yarns of suns and sons spi on for awhile, Up to now we shave only followed this line soos to move fom lgo tothe father, soas 0 tie speech roche duriay, the master, the lord, another name given in the Republic tothe good-