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Derrida Plato's Pharmacy

Derrida Plato's Pharmacy

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Published by senafernando
This essay by Jacques Derrida could be seen as a reading of Finnegans Wake.
This essay by Jacques Derrida could be seen as a reading of Finnegans Wake.

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Published by: senafernando on Feb 03, 2010
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01/13/2015

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Plato's Pharmacy
Jacques Derrida(from
Dissemination
Chicago, U Chicago P, 1981 trans. by BarbaraJohnson)[Note to the student: footnotes are designated by bold numbers inparentheses and have been moved to the end of the text instead ofat the bottom of each page.]
Kolaphos:
 
(1)
blow to the cheek, knock, slap . . .
(kolapto). Kolapto: 1. to
go into, penetrate,
esp., said of birds, to
peck . . . hence, to slash open with the beak . ..
by anal., said of a horse striking the ground with hishoof. 2. by extension, to
notch, engrave:
gramma eisaigeiron
[poplar] Anrh. 9, 341, or
kata phloiou
[bark],Call. fr. 101, an inscription on a poplar or on the bark ofa tree (R.
Klaph;
cf. R.
Gluph, to
hollow out, scratch).A text is not a text unless it hides from the first comer, fromthe first glance, the law of its composition and the rules ofits game. A text remains, moreover, forever imperceptible. Itslaw and its rules are not, however, harbored in theinaccessibility of a secret; it is simply that they can never bebooked, in the
 present,
into anything that could rigorously becalled a perception .And hence, perpetually and essentially, they run the risk ofbeing definitively lost. Who will ever know of suchdisappearances?The dissimulation of the woven texture can in any case takecenturies to undo its web: a web that envelops a web, undoingthe web for centuries; reconstituting it too as an organism,indefinitely regenerating its own tissue behind the cuttingtrace, the decision of each reading . There is always a surprisein store for the anatomy or physiology of any criticism thatmight think it had mastered the game, surveyed all the threadsat once, deluding itself, too, in wanting to look at the textwithout touching it, without laying a hand on the "object,"without risking--which is the only chance of entering into thegame, by getting a few fingers caught--the addition of some newthread. Adding, here, is nothing other than giving to read. Onemust manage to think this out: that it is not a question ofembroidering upon a text, unless one considers that to know howto embroider still means to have the ability to follow the giventhread. That is, if you follow me, the hidden thread. If readingand writing are one, as is easily thought these days, if reading
is
writing, this oneness designates neither undifferentiated
 
64 PLATO’S PHARMACY(con)fusion nor identity at perfect rest; the
is
that couplesreading with writing must rip apart.One must then, in a single gesture, but doubled, read andwrite. And that person would have understood nothing of the gamewho, at this
[du coup],
would feel himself authorized merely toadd on; that is, to add any old thing. He would add nothing: theseam wouldn't hold. Reciprocally, he who through "methodologicalprudence," "norms of objectivity," or "safeguards of knowledge"would refrain from committing anything of himself, would notread at all. The same foolishness, the same sterility, obtainsin the "not serious" as in the "serious." The reading or writingsupplement must be rigorously prescribed, but by the necessitiesof a
game,
by the logic of
play,
signs to which the system ofall textual powers must be accorded and attuned.
 
PHARMACIA 65To a considerable degree, we have already said all we
meant tosay.
Our lexicon at any rate is not far from being exhausted.With the exception of this or that supplement, our questionswill have nothing more to name but the texture of the text,reading and writing, mastery and play, the paradoxes ofsupplementarity, and the graphic relations between the livingand the dead: within the textual, the textile, and thehistological. We will keep within the limits of this
tissue:
between the metaphor of the
histos
(2)
 
and the question of the
histos
of metaphor.Since we have already said everything, the reader must bearwith us if we continue on awhile. If we extend ourselves byforce of play. If we then
write
a bit: on Plato, who alreadysaid in the
Phaedrus
that writing can only repeat (itself), thatit "always signifies
(semainei)
the same" and that it is a"game"
(paidia).
1. PharmaciaLet us begin again. Therefore the dissimulation of the woventexture can in any case take centuries to undo its web. Theexample we shall propose of this will not, seeing that we aredealing with Plato, be the
Statesman,
which will have come tomind first, no doubt because of the paradigm of the weaver, andespecially because of the paradigm of the paradigm, the exampleof the example writing--which immediately precedes it.
(3)
Wewill come back to that only after a long detour.

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