General Editors’ Note

The aim of Derrida Today is to see Derrida’s 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 Derrida’s work as merely a major development in thinking about textuality, nor as simply belonging to the specific 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 Derrida’s 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 fidelity to a specific 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 Mansfield

‘The future matters: apropos of Derrida’s 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 Derrida’s commentators in March 2007:
How shall we read Derrida’s Touching On—Jean-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 infinite 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 Mansfield, their work is a light in the world.

Tactless—the 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 Nancy’s presumption of a ‘postdeconstructive’ haptics in a manner that extends to a general discipleship (glossing Derrida’s 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 Hitchcock’s 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 finally 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

the anaesthetised replay of a mnemotechnic. present in the following serial riff from On Touching: And this. to the era of the ‘book’ (the monotheism of the alphabetic era as well). of mnemonics as the underlying problematic of this review. to experience a trap it itself has set. is at war with itself. with Nancy. And it invites a thinking of such a program – our own? – as if from another site. to the spell of spelling. prosthetics. the hand of writing that already knows everything it produces on ‘touch’ is a scriptive product. a certain grammaticisation. 247). This hand. 221) This before and after a certain ‘present’. There are several choices made in On Touching. of cutting off any prospective heir. which seems to resume in its course the entire Derridean trajectory. which seems at times to lose control. There is a rhetorical moment no one but Derrida achieves so piercingly. we might say. the ‘humanualism of the hand-of-man’. no assertion of an abstract historicity without a history of touch’ (Derrida 2005. 2) the violent reinscription of ‘Nancy’ as pretext. more or less strategic: 1) the return to deconstruct phenomenology (as if again. and lethal effusions (Derrida will speak of this ‘funny present’ of this book. virtual rape). conjures a perspective from an outside of. sophisticated enough to scan the historical settings and metaphoric webs the ‘sensorium’ has mutated through: ‘There is no longer any denial whatsoever about the body’s historicity. substitution. techne. it would think simultaneous outside the archive of humanualism. without indicating. before humans. lineage. These rhetorical choices disclose yet another voice at work in this book.000 year historial parenthesis. that is. the cutting off and absorption of a presumed heir amidst numbingly elaborate. even were it a 5000 year or 30. that. I think. Translated into hard currency. or indicates where that might be done. archive or intervention. that it may imply being outside the one thing or medium one may not be able to when reading: an outside to alphabeticism. what is held to be taking the place of something – from before man. well before and thus well beyond the humanualism of the-hand-of-man. also opens onto organic articulation. differently wired. or . The reading that interests me is that of a rogue moment in this work. yet speaking with. the place of taking the place. to become darker than it wills even. tactful. and again). (Derrrida 2005. putative kiss.2 Tom Cohen 1. and 3) the deferral of addressing the ‘new magic writing pad’ of the machinal. perhaps.

a flashing tone or transferential resistance as if to itself. as he says. in so many open and invisible ways. There is. a quintessential agon of Derrida’s ‘deconstruction’. I want to track an other voice.Tactless—the Severed Hand of J. around the flayed skins underpinning touch. entering the twenty-first century. at the moment it claims to engulf and reabsorb Nancy’s? And can one be more ‘sincere’. if not that sincerity is itself not sincere enough.D. one more time). its totalising facade. Wipe it all away. performs an other series of erasures. showing ‘tact’ – Derrida fast forwards: Let’s rush toward the ending and recapitulate. in being drawn into the response to the family (to correct. a rare sort of ex-posure that telegraphs a different sort of murmuring to its ‘futures’. something is turned from which makes the closing ‘benediction’ the more awkward. that between Derrida and his own ‘heirs’. (Derrida 2005. in passing. which revels in circling back against itself. I will examine. and is marked for me by an abyssal rift internal to its voices. 301) Why does On Touching plead for its own effacement. in a feint of sacrifice it is. and is at war with. In dedicating On Touching to a backglance. this other On Touching. and I’m asking this as I wouldn’t have done – with as much sincerity – for any of my other books. and start or start again. asking for its own erasure. This rogue voice. all of his trajectory. nonetheless. that between Derrida and the historial programs. Something in this work summarises. that of and on a prosthetic earth. or really at all: how is one more or less sincere? I am being tactless. I’m now sincerely asking that this book be forgotten or effaced. in its way. The latter appears marked by the totalising trope of a ‘global’ war not against terror. or even terra as such. held by. Its timbre opens the question of how to hear a remark in Derrida’s late interview more resonantly: ‘I am at war with myself’. that between humanualism and itself. any ‘after’ to Derrida. sacrifices itself before. 2. what might be called the Derridawars. but by when the ‘human’ of . in a specific sense. Toward the close of On Touching – as if. yet also to cut itself off from pursuing the very horizon everything in On Touching veers toward. There is a question as if of war. marks the century opened with Derrida’s death. speak with ‘as much sincerity’ without sincerity itself defaulting (almost in mirth)? What does it mean to be ‘more sincere’. 3 continuity with those assuming that role. silent or endless: that between Derrida and his own text. which.

according to the Logos or Word of Incarnation’ (Derrida 2005. fingered by J. and thus a fatherly hand.. Of course there is not ‘touch’. dissolve into. or not. are gone. all along. an absolute mourning that is non-human and irrecoverable. who seeks new weapons.D. water and oil wars. extenders and disseminators and legatees (‘What could this history of touch have to do with inheritance?’ (Derrida 2005. a mourning of mourning. Our reader might draw back from a certain overused appeal to if not fetishisation of mourning itself (even if to declare mourning’s other and virtual closure as a secret weapon. which is to say his Son – the hand that the Son is. a beyond of mourning. Where will these future readers – looking back from a very different set of horizons or protocols. for whom On Touching will appear (perhaps too late) the most political of J. has always begun to resemble a man’s hand. perhaps Derrida’s most neurally political if not policial work. and sometimes. She might be amusedly suspicious of the male-male rivalry that inundates this discourse of touch. On Touching. be compelled to address its several thousand years history of hands. What in Derrida’s late twentieth century ‘deconstruction’ is. from decades hence and at an advanced state in the ‘mutation’ we have begun. perhaps unrecognisably? And where might they have to try to go beyond what is here called humanualism. preparatory to a turn marked by the bursting of the ‘anthropological machine’ (Agamben) in the twenty-first century. produce new tangents. Of course there is not only no ‘the’ senses (Derrida is impatient regarding this rhetoric of Nancy’s no ‘the’ and so on). say.’ the hand of the merciful Father. in ways. before an era of climate change? Where does this book. if there are such.D. more ‘originarily. the very question of the animate (‘life’ as man knew it) and. emerges: ‘a hand and especially a hand of “flesh”. coastal inundations. Here would be where the ‘Christological’ thread. migrate or mutate. in which the programming of the eyes and teeth and mouth and finger – arguably prehistorically regimes set by huntergatherers – have played a corresponding role. those claiming contact or touch still. exigencies and biotic mutations – want to cut the circulation. 182). the ‘hand of man’ (what would ‘touch’ written by woman be. a hand of man. the promise of a destroying kiss of the eyes? Can one forecast a late 21st century reader. 18)). strategically.4 Tom Cohen humanualism will be tied to mass extinction events. under the pretext of a bizarre seduction. absorb and perhaps erase. before a twenty-first century horizon it does not openly address yet is apparently addressed as if to? What will Derrida’s readers do after the present generation. a detour I defer?). murmuring: Of course there is no general ‘haptics’. .’s monographs? One may imagine this tainted reader to come.

and tactfully marks a rape of sorts: to touch. nonetheless. and so on). And she may question a certain turn in the late Derrida: say. the mass generation of ‘disposable humans’ (already culled for body parts). this touching pretense to penetration that is non-existent.Tactless—the Severed Hand of J. what On Touching invokes?) is perhaps the secret other of the nonbenediction extended at the end. by disarming. One may call these effects and gathering feedbackloops. she may regard On Touching as Derrida’s most political of monographs. ‘ethics’. What mutation? There would be a certain abashedness in mentioning the obvious. One takes this weapon of the relapse away by ‘cut(ting) off’ contact or the hand that would touch. and ‘humanualism’ has turned against itself. I leave aside this list – the coming inundation of coasts. And. 5 of ‘Life’ itself. overleaping Nancy’s ‘post-deconstructive realism’. even as oil recycles itself from dinosaur-epochs. the twentyfirst century X-factors: what return as if from a prehistorial logic. Now. Derrida describes the limit of this hyper-deconstruction. That which supersedes the kiss of the eyes. here. the family more generally.” if the leap of an infinite upping-the-ante cuts off contact and amounts to taking this weapon away from all suspect manipulations’ (Derrida 2005. the ‘democracy to come’. stand outside of personification. except of the movement in “hyper. at a time when the political has become the epistemological altogether. directly engage this 21st century horizon in all its mutations. at the same time.D. that toward the otherness of the other. 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. 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’. 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. which recast temporalities broadly. operative tropologies. 307). humanualism tout court. Earth’s sixth mass extinction event due mid-century by the hand of humanualism. And yet. means to re-inscribe. exists solely on the page. were it not stricken by a certain Hamlet-effect. The Derrida who would live to analyse ‘9/11’ did not. 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. where the ‘time . promised depletion of water tables (the Tibetan plateau). as . . biodiversity collapse. . in the end. a cognitive split that is calculable in the hyperindustrialised world. In the circular sweep of On Touching. this uninvited ‘future’ reading (and is this not.

of teacher to student or heir. Let’s leave it be’ (Derrida 2005. . Or. reinscribing. indeed! (Derrida 2005. . What a funny present. and post-deconstructive realism’ (Derrida 2005. . he renders him anterior to himself. the tracking of a renegade off-spring. saying more by not (as if). . necessary trajectory. saying by not saying again. When one touches on the limit of self-touching-you. He leaves the answer massively in place by this tactless ‘tact’. is there still any reason to decide between transcendence and immanence? Come now. a male-to-male ritual. and grateful salutation. Earlier this is openly marked as a lethal gift: And in an aside you tell yourself: what a funny. What a pecular way to pretend you’re touching him while acting as if from now on you wanted to put his lexicon about touch out of service. 3. It wants to begin beyond itself. (One will only add. There it is: the putative target. once again. 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. a supposed extension. or scion. an eroticisation. morph in and against a twenty-first century horizon. correcting. touching again. or even banish it to the Index librorum prohibitorum. even that of Derrida’s ‘funny present’? On Touching seems to me at times weary of its brilliant. one whose timescape is already other than the last. touch remains the motif of a sort of absolute. Toward the end J. 46). . 107) Who is the ‘you’ speaking in an aside to ‘yourself’.) Despite appearances Derrida does not really adopt the position of male-male rivalry that structures the outing: that as if of ‘father’ to ‘son’. to correct.6 Tom Cohen it were.1 Reinscribing ‘Nancy’. Thus the pretext of On Touching involves a hunt or chase. which is this ‘us’ that this third person ‘you’ keeps ‘reminding’? Where does this intervention get put in play. irredentist. it seems to bear no concern for the possible seduction to correct coming from Nancy. is restrained: it carries a discrete voice for whom the entirety is written before it begins. . show some tact. circularly pre-empting his own real guest of a future. in all its familiality.D. admiring. will pretend to show tact. one who imagines himself to have surpassed deconstruction: ‘For Nancy. on behalf of a series of others. to begin again. the lure to make this aggression: an inverse trap. a relapse. as if you stubbornly kept reminding us that it should always have been out of service already. but holds back. that since this must be enacted as a reclamation. . 298). to instruct the ‘family’.

with Psyche. ahuman. what is held to be taking the place of something – from before man. What does it mean to speak for and of khora here: who is for Derrida not maternal. where preoriginary inscriptions would be set or erased. ‘pre-originary mourning’ (Derrida 2005. He identifies. the place of taking the place. indeed. But then. for khora. 35). of its museum of haptics. an endless mourning’ (Derrida 2005. One marks. and khora itself with a sort of sheer technics: ‘What there would remain to think is the place. more than human. reclaims Nancy’s text not just as an assertion of hypermastery: this is inevitable. the placing of this replacing. well. as Derrida asks of the ‘body without organs’. ‘absolute mourning . 7 disarming (you. mourning without mourning’ (Derrida 2005. I might say). interrogated. who has ever seen a kiss between eye-balls. or the mourning of Psyche as ‘Life itself’. including its not entirely desacralised ‘benediction’ in closing. outside the male-male rivalry he performs. he leaves an out. even where J. and so on?). beyond mourning the human. Mourning without work of mourning. as we noted in opening: ‘And this.D. also opens onto organic articulation. JD here and there points at an other to this. where is its event.D. before humans. techne. showing itself caught in default mode: what is called ‘an impossible mourning. from the start. still transcendental. That is. which resists interiorisation: ‘Mourning as im-possible mourning – and moreover. it is still Christological. well before and thus well beyond the humanualism of the-handof-man’ (Derrida 2005. exploiting the male-male. 192). an outer rim of humanualism.D. some voice does. with a ‘she’ that does not acknowledge her non-site as that in any narrative or any mourning precisely. 221). . pose as a ‘post-deconstructive realism’ but. unless it should detain it forever as a hostage’ (Derrida 2005. That is not male yet is also that of a not-woman. or the neutral spacing (chora.Tactless—the Severed Hand of J. that would still extend its hospitality to this virtual substitution. who is identified in turn with khora. its putative kiss of the eyes (or of death: for. which is ‘mourning itself’. prehuman. Thus mourning will be pivoted against its acceleration or seeming other. . touched. I think. . 50). and it clearly needs to be elsewhere than in mourning but is having some difficulty in the absence of all reference. Or later. For there is an anteriority or pre-figural position he evokes discretely. as anterior to all phanesthai. can seem to indulge this trope too much. substitution. 262). since ‘she’ is defined by a total ban on such proximity. cryptoChristian narrative. Nancy. in fact. J. prosthetics. different from the human ‘in’ the human of humanualism’ (Derrida 2005. this hand must be cut off). mourning is inconsequent. 192). not a she either? One cannot ask where ‘she’ (no she) has been encountered.

post-Derridean) and must be yanked back. a vague tedium of rehearsal. in its ‘deconstruction’ of programmed relapses. if it conceals out of tact its reclamations and scripto-erotic rape. This limit rubs against that of J. who would yet lunge too soon. at war now with itself? Has this utterance (‘I am at war with myself’) been excavated or exploited to date. since she is not preoccupied with the theater of Nancy’s tutelage. he is at ‘war with myself’. like a Jameson does of ‘late capitalism’. to read it by counter-extensions. which let JD say. tactlessly.’s writing. literalise or will display a ‘sort of absolute. of some sort of ‘late humanualism’ or of its phantasmal outside? If On Touching corners itself a bit much in its rhetoric of friendship. reader. student. on behalf of humanualism as such. heir. And this. what could be in excess to an excess that is. and accepting that gamble. at this point. as if from a concern with the ‘otherness of the other’. so that its tone betrays another. It can be said to involve a shift marked. in a late interview. any more than his cold reflection that within two months after his death he would be in effect erased or eclipsed. by Derrida. in a way. oil wars to come). cut off and restituted. irredentist. We can pretend to map this by two dissolving bookends in the mythographics of contemporary ‘America’ on either side of Derrida’s death date: ‘9/11’.D. perhaps upping the ante as he recommends. to curtail this circulation among intimates. or gives over to it. an eternal recurrence. in the play of tones. This rift asks of us. despite knowing the networks of extensions and ‘friends’. on behalf of what it evokes and puts on hold as Psyche or Khora. some more or less programmed (water wars. so familiar as to be almost a re-play. probing this next move to which all is preparatory yet which is banned for one of these Derridas. in a manner bearing on what might come ‘after’ J. the ethical or human other to a ‘wholly other’ not fully addressed. and post-deconstructive realism’ (that is. reinscribed. exscribed. and hears in this text. for him. I do not know. The ‘century’ that opens alongside Derrida’s death appears marked by wars visible and invisible.D. more and less sincerely.’s own writing project when confronted with the situation called Nancy: emblematic scion. the logic to . That might involve testing what might come ‘after’. our gamble. the various escapades of mourning? Can one speak. it cannot altogether control this drive. a difference-from-itself wrestled with. the family scene. So here is my future reader’s critique (if we can use this word).8 Tom Cohen 4. the predictable conferences or journal issues.

the house vacated. a certain prosthetic ‘planetary’. or against. as futures are consumed by present accelerations in causal backloops. Here. designated as onto-theologically relapsed). 9 which he diagnosed as a ‘suicidal auto-immunitary process’. ‘life’ itself (and the human). the non-anthropomorphic and geological times intervene. And they imply what one might call coming wars over ‘pre-originary’ inscriptions. cuts off (Nancy. as where the histories of oil and transport. we might say. and poses as a radical discontinuity. Thus the tracts on phenomenology – which are said to be restituted from early essays – sound ever so inhabited by their return otherwise. one tied to the venture of humanualism. an ecotechnic voiding. cut off from response or ‘modernity’. and prehistorial logics intervene: a caesura ‘experienced’ in slow-motion. and New Orleans. These X-factors compel a renegotiation of contracts to time. These factors lie outside the mediacratic gameboard. and does not give kisses such as her agent ‘JD’ promises himself. The three day suspension of the denizens of the Big Easy. a speciesist episode provoking a mutation not only of the archive (in any discrete sense) but the earth. fielding syncopes beyond mourning. several thousand years of scriptive history to a parenthesis. which is less apocalyptic than prescripted and banal in its materiality. the latter represents a lateral acceleration of this ‘suicidal auto-immunitary process’. Where the first would be appropriated for a still human-onhuman narrative. Khora is not kind or unkind. in a way. used to generate a so-called ‘global war on terror’ without temporal or geographic borders. as it were. aterra. This hole or suspension accessed other logics. Saddam). If the previews of the twenty-first century horizon seem to foretell a circling back that eviscerates.Tactless—the Severed Hand of J. 5. a Hamlet-effect. the anthropomorphic chiasmus or political screen. beyond mourning. opened as a hole within the homeland. She or it.D. accessed other times than those of the mediacratic spells of a post-democratic era. say. This torsion lies beyond any current systems. factors that artefact the present as a sort of ‘time-bubble’. a turning back of the systems on. itself. climate change and war. which is installed with and as its own threat. And here one moves. we are told. by being caught in a revolving door. in which a faceless other might be given a poster face (Osama. slipping into a performative voice . so to speak. we may speak of the X-factors of this post-‘global’ moment. as a black hole or tear in biophantic orders. These factors condense.

It is the problematic called memory. to Jacques. JD keeps this in reserve. which would in fact erase the book as a rhetorical journey. he hastily lists a few institutions of prosthetic haptics as the ‘digital’ horizon opening the last entry or chapter. returns to a mutation on the horizon: ‘The syncopated convulsion . Thus he is back-handed in opening this revolving door still. carves an alternate present and future of. a detour on the ‘history of the hand’ generally. the incrementing debts and family spirit. . one could complain. of so-called ‘love’ and all its transferential displacements. rather than beginning there. It keeps at bay. is tied up. the supposed ethics of an ‘otherness of the other’. In a near off-handed way. the syncopic beat or blow that initiates (again) all figuration. what he calls the ‘heart’. as and at its beginning. of the archival or khoratic mutation everywhere strained toward. prepared for an after-all-this. that perhaps he was betrayed by a certain category of friendship after all. keep on hold? Derrida makes reference to supplementary technics at key junctures (‘the ageless intrusion of technics’ (Derrida 2005. the family requires another backloop. What Derrida holds in abeyance is a supplementary memory as the prosthetic heart. if on display almost throughout the work. And one might trace this in the detour that led him into an overlong sojourn into so-called ‘ethics’. that is. tactless. into the push and pulls of debt. all so-called sensation. wield (‘for’ Jacques) the capital of family name. 35). while denying that site to Nancy’s project explicitly. . in mocking a ‘tomorrow’s Sigmund Freud’ with a ‘new magic . with its family intrigues and jealousies of closeness. Isn’t the heart memory? Isn’t it thinking of memory? Thinking as memory? We shall safeguard the recollection. wanting to be heir and official extension. of course. wanting to build a more or less officious ‘deconstruction’ network and. by the circle of intimates and protectors. as he also implies. He addresses such literal technics as a throwaway reference. For instance. the cardiogram of this cardio-logy from one end of this book to the other’ (Derrida 2005. 113)) but defers that as a too specific topos of On Touching. So what does On Touching. It is the site of the machines which JD’s computer already speculates on. with whom a deferred agon seems to accelerate – is linked to apsychism as such. in a sort of reserve (like that of ‘Psyche’) an alternate point of departure that it will not gamble or is for another time. quite knowingly. Yet the machinal – which Derrida elsewhere links to de Man. ahumanualist. And On Touching does this.10 Tom Cohen that had already gone beyond. or before. and here. the us-versus-them circle. another conceit of time. into the illusory rhetoric of ‘fidelity’ and the messianic. ‘Salve’. implements. a move Derrida sets aside. into the family. He is not yet ready for that.

any ‘ahaptics’ to come. writing pad’: 11 Tomorrow’s Sigmund Freud will have to refine his magic writing pad and the topography of bodies during the psychoanalytic sessions. since the secret of this disquisition is also that all ‘sense’ is already a mnemotechnic product. (Derrida 2005. zero). not to mention erogenous ‘distance touching’. But the machines mentioned as a certain banality are also called the site of a mutation: ‘where the relation between thought. compared to the variants available to life forms. and so on. foreclose the rhetoric of mourning. On Touching notes where the history of the hand includes the finger. 224). where he indicates one must but suppresses for narrative purposes. It swarms back. so to speak. an outside rim to this historical parenthesis. would depart from the male-male tradition of philosophic sense and touch and sight as such. of men’s hands: this parenthesis linked to alphabeticism. as if ‘begin’. without contact as such. The electronic or digital archive can be reinscribed too easily as a techno-fetishism. where the digit or finger arrived as a number. 301) This ‘new magic writing pad’ as a figure is. to begin there.D. . swarms of 0’s and 1’s. while indicating. long. in concluding.D. and as numbering. and digital touch will have undergone an essential mutation of ex-scribing’ (Derrida 2005. Except. one I will return to briefly in sketching a recapitulation in advance of where J. of closing the ghosts of this now dire tradition. ‘the’ body that is not. already implied in the khoratic logics of the prefigural. Yet for sure. would shed it after several thousand years or more. leads to a technicity without sense or model. something else emerges. since even the human body is but one kind of body. anesthetised in advance. Moreover. He does not abandon this post. would erase On Touching. nonetheless. through digitalised points. incensed and Christian. that the detour here. language. weight. that of the invented one (or even.Tactless—the Severed Hand of J. as hand. the prosthetics of the visual. would. a body. for the moment. already programmed by a backloop that depends on figural regimes. as it tends to be. any nano-technics here. at the point ‘where the dividing lines are going to run’ (Derrida 2005. the era of ‘man’. the slash of the letter J even. one might extrapolate. 300). and amorous bodies wrestling in the sheets of the Internet’s web. of fratricide. Even ‘touch’ – forgetting all the metonymic chains it launches in language – will not be addressed as that of a finger. spelling itself. as it were. I mention this for a reason. a penetration. absorptive of everything. Let us say. is precisely humanualistic. already subject to a backloop. differently. preclude the operatic non-kiss (ever delayed in a classical seduction).

in the interview on ‘Narcissism’.12 Tom Cohen 6. an exasperated benediction .D.) Why need this text deploy such violence beneath the constantly checked carress? Why does it choose mourning and pleasure as its cover. even of some super-haptics.D.” if the leap of an infinite upping-the-ante cuts off contact and amounts to taking this weapon away from all suspect manipulations. J.D. his ‘sincerity’. 309). whose event implies. And precisely he mistrusts the perverse effects of a generalised haptics. J. and attributes this. the blindness of being too close perhaps. his love of this repeat and signature deconstruction? And this again.): He mistrusts himself. even digitally shaped with memory implants of all sorts. of the forgetting of which nothing remains’. perhaps once too often. the erasure of progeny in the very pretense of a ‘benediction’: ‘like a benediction still unthinkable. in the subtle opiate of proximity. can (not) have finished with? What are the limits of this exscription. . a benediction without any hope of salvation’ (Derrida 2005. and where does a certain signature seem at ‘war’ with itself. except of the movement in “hyper. or want. en fin. his need to correct a ‘post-deconstructive’ relapse. ritually. (Derrida 2005. entirely artefacted. So how does ‘this battle between the haptical and the optical’ accelerate itself? Does one not need. . in this matter of family contacts and circles of friends and extenders. to cinders. including their own neutralisation? Where then does one ‘begin’ where Derrida perhaps wanted to.. where a certain counter-logic descends. suggests. . (The trope of benediction is allied. in the name of. but to the very history he. One might remain vigilant. certain X-factors gestured to? The latter sabotage not one philosophic pulsion but a respeciesisation that is already. ‘the forgetting of forgetting. 309) Let us note: this taking away of ‘weapons’ marks a site of war. anyway. anaesthetise a broader anesthetisation: as before. 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 immediacy—except. to an exscribed or rewritten Nancy (appearing now as J. almost. if he had not been pulled back by the family. as if one were saying goodbye not to this or that person or beloved. since it performs. with its transposed organs if not brains (not yet. to blind the eye that enforces this blindness. at least. a strategy of disarming as well as aggression in which a certain enemy is totalised and to be disarmed. forgetting it itself? Derrida again describes what it would be like not to. Derrida ruefully notes).

of course. and what is ‘intimidation’ or what are ‘real friends’ here. familiality. precisely to one not touching. another sort of ‘contact’. And. perhaps. communities of those without communities. as do my sons)’ (Derrida 2005. (Even J. the threat of apyschism. advances or wills to his legatees (here.D. and tagged with reference to war–post-World War II America. between the neutering of the political embedded in an onto-theological matrix. says this. at least. a disruptive non-moment that has not yet found its place. a faux fidelity to an imaginary position. who does not need to be told. It is possible to see this work as a blow. and so on. so easy to convert or mishear. if they are not inscribed with betrayal?) The risk is different than that of the will to betting which J. Derrida would ask. marked. if this happens.D. some voice one identifies with or translates too much: a love one imagines one can restitute. You will gather I am not partial to the rhetoric of ‘fidelity’. like that of close friends. What then of these machines. in the ‘history of the hand’. Nancy): that of a ‘desperate bettor’. a mediacratic-Christological acceleration and death drive. not re-inscribed. say for the moment). and yet point toward a ‘new magic writing pad’ and ‘where the dividing lines are going to run’? I will scan a moment. with a ‘myself’? Which is why.Tactless—the Severed Hand of J. 7. 301). a strike (terms Derrida favors). if anything. if one is too close. from a position. on the other side of the mutation? At question is something like advanced exteriorisation. scions. though what does this spur. now. it is without ‘salvation’: the one who gambles in fact. say. the ‘benediction’ itself may be said to be to another. say. intimates. the psyche. reflecting a Christologic ‘perdition frenzy’ (Derrida 2005. the other side of ex-scription. as if she’s winking to J. continuers. touch.D. and this on behalf of an anesthesia doubled at the prosthetic ‘heart’. that evoke both a darker agon with de Man. returning to where cinema performs this cut on psyche.D. 13 Perhaps one knows too intimately something. not seeking recognition. one is caught despite the best will in a labyrinth or circulation of literalisations real and fictional: that is. What is the relation. And we will . against a certain anesthesia. and this anesthesia? Is our future reader to be excused such a tactless scan. Indeed: does not On Touching declare a discrete war on ‘friends’. nonetheless. constructed for a certain psychoanalysis (one dated. that he is ‘intimidated’ by his ‘real friends’: ‘(My real friends always intimidate me. tiresomely. 309). precisely where it is withheld.

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

“digital” contact and odorous compounds. for example. and some sense replacing some other sense. be it in what we term our “body proper. or the promise of the image’s deictic contact with a real (what underwrites the premise or promise of the mimetic index.D. one could do a catalog of where ‘touch’ circulates in Hitchcock as a problem associated with the imprint. a mechanical technique (always – but how much more manifestly so. some prosthesis. video-games. where ‘touch’ tropes and covers the generated ‘reals’ of installed referential programs. for example) but is not “feeling. resistance of and to ‘psychoanalysis’. as sheer mnemonics. in terms of our programmatically blind and mediacratised present. 15 open a syncopic chain of metonymies (simultaneously revoked) around the cinematic as the event in which this ‘new magic writing pad’ remarks itself. That is where the dividing lines are going to run. Or where. thinks itself entirely without designated contact.Tactless—the Severed Hand of J. I believe’: A technique. and that of sheer. of course. in present and future machines) is what can discriminate or “perceive” by functioning with the simulacrum of something “sensible” (with light. the hand’s generalised mastery coinciding with its anestheticisation. I believe. without hands or eyes quite. without model or origin. its substitution.D. (Derrida 2005. except in a comment on Merleau-Ponty. here. it submits en mass to the ‘image’s’ mutation and programs (that is. and so on). A split between two logics within this machine.” and above all does not feel itself feel – and thus remains anesthetic in the very place where a machine supplies. sense. and so on). henceforth. And the latter includes. And there where a “self-touching” is missing. which. but non-humanualised resistance.” does not give in to the distribution or hierarchization of the “five senses. is where J. first at least. or conversely. points to as a problematic to come: ‘where the dividing lines are going to run. 223–4) Here is evoked at least two new magic writing pads occupying the same non-site or space. its streams of entertainment. if I hear correctly. gone to automatic. inscribed in advance of its ‘funny present’ of phanesthai. that of a ‘society of control’ or anaesthetised programming. with the generation of reference as such (let us recall: JD left this out almost completely. and stands in for. preoriginary even to onto-theological figures).” the place opens up for some machine. as fingerprints alone. precedent to any letter. neutralisation. I reserve for another time detailing why Hitchcock can be read as a cipher for where the prosthesis of celluloid. predisinhabited by a syncopic ‘heart’ or heartbeat. some metonymic substitute. and not just the contact sheets. identification with the televisual face. . Humanualism has left being manual. Now.

111). Derrida salvages from Nancy what the latter calls syncope: ‘When [Nancy] was writing about the syncope . I have spoken elsewhere of ‘coming wars of reinscription’.2 (That is. of the archive of the non-Book. wielded as the prosthesis of auto-hetero-affection turned against itself. a preinscription. one is as if before a logic of ex-scription.3 . with oneself. it is a series of parallel lines or bars (/ / / /). . perhaps. occuring over the humanualist programs of cognitive devising to come (Derrida speaks of this split as the one to watch). autogenic. its graphic irreducibility. before any memory. before face. the mnemonic imprint from which touch is derived. those which will no doubt include wars we today barely want to consider. . before any coalescence of the visible. And perhaps these would be in the end archival wars. one could return to what JD calls a war too within the recalibration of the senses. of strokes (traits) or blows or heartbeats. And this would be linked to a mediacratic and spellbound horizon. also present in ‘this battle between the haptical and the optical’.) I will use this to signal where. as if at one limit of the Christo-monotheistic-alphabetical history? In Spellbound. indeed. from our funny present and even funnier ‘futures’. any psychologising. a war occuring within and over the ‘world’. in its forgetting. Given time. in the universal reading room of the British Museum. a sort of annotation of spacing. And these other wars may make what Derrida has called the ‘so-called’ world war of the last (so-called) century seem. let us say. or perhaps. forgotten as a technic. to keep within this discourse. within the archive and in advance. of the ‘world’ as artefacts. Even if the form that takes. as assembled ‘history’ so-called). A marker inserted into every film that performs its own prefigural event. astonishingly. appears here as a vertiginous swirl of lines (a series of circles within circles that reappears. ex-scription. remembered. Fingerprints precede. its pattern so to speak. an epistemo-political mutation that On Touching would speak at times as if from beyond and before. before any spelling (or mimetic spell) is installed. at best preparatory. certainly not on something totalised as ‘terror’ precisely. trope of the imagist assemblage or mausoleum of colonial time.16 Tom Cohen 8. Hitchcock will oppose his ‘new magic writing pad’ to any psyche named or confabulated by the era of the Book. . In Hitchcock this becomes the signature of a ‘new magic writing pad’ that involves cinematics. this could point to a good way of consequently rereading everything’ (Derrida 2005.

yet elsewhere he wonders who is more psychologising (merely). of a post-war trauma. Derrida draws back from the machine as the end of psychism. recall. Thus I turn instead to the suiciding of the prosthetic eye by a giant.Tactless—the Severed Hand of J. to penetrating the eye or the blind of its artifice: a violation of the viewer’s optics.4 ‘Suicide’. from the position of cinema. In . Hitchcock’s and Britain’s first ‘talkie’. It will be as proximate as Hitchcock’s operation can come to Derrida’s destroying figure of kissing eyeballs. Hitchcock accepts. flashes up as a certain moment in On Touching’s itinerary: ‘What remains to be thought together is the first kiss and suicide. a psychism of Psyche without psychologising. in Spellbound. the principle and the act of authentic philosophy. Since in essence. emulating a celluloid print. that which. a ‘perfect hand’ (as the film calls it) shooting out the eye. where sound or ‘voice’ reconfigures the mute graphics of silents that still blackmails it. the act and the action. where the prosthesis of voice is seen to coalesce from sounds specifically between males (and this. The impossible task of a general haptology’ (Derrida 2005. the ChristoEnlightenment era of humanualism and. cinema is never in a position to ‘forget’. of a fratricidal machine. So. 9. yet which is not apsychist. 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. 17 All of these logics are on display already in the 1929 film Blackmail. between policemen precisely. Freud or Nancy: ‘Is Freud more or less psychologizing than Nancy?’ (Derrida 2005. detectives at that). in a policeman’s bathroom. JD indicates that everything convoked around the tropologies of ‘touch’ (that is. There would be a psychism. Spellbound is all about mediatric memory. that of the giant prosthetic hand. filled with homoerotic positions. as it turns out. a site where the tele-archive mutates its technologies. as one sees near the end of Spellbound. everything) opens with an occlusion of fingerprints. of the blind eye. a gathering of nanological points: as like so many birds. and thus head. 43). their youth and their discipline. Is there a counter-reading here? The word ‘spellbound’ incorporates multiple variants on the trance of a mediacratised community. virtually severed and prosthetic hand: doubly prosthetic. this end of psychism. 292). of sensorial programming on automatic. shooting into the screen and into the camera. quickly. then. and in this like de Man perhaps. transepochal time war. washing hands.D.

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

since it summarises all the histories it emerges from at this ground zero. 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. here blood red. an ocular-suicide perhaps allied in its way with the ‘kiss’ of two eyes of On Touching. This giant hand executes the eye in a gesture without end to its resonance. the rhetoric of a certain psychoanalytic will to hermeneutic dominance by the scissor-cut of a non-human technic. an insertion simultaneous invisible (it returns to black and white) and one that. or hanging chiaroscuro of shaded light runs on. Thus there is a final annihilation Spellbound must perform after the fratricide: a suicide in ‘this battle between the haptical and the optical’. the syncopic bar series. with reference to the cards she’s holding. whose outcome like On Touching is scripted in advance. the first insertion of ‘color’ into black and white cinema in Hitchcock. . whose pharmacological ‘X’ names a certain chiasmic logic which knows the order of the visible itself to be artefacted from memory bands. the book. the audience’s eye. despite the performed rupture of the eyeball before any kiss. It is a suicide uniquely and as if clumsily cinematic. detached as such. Note that this occurs with an atomisation of the visible. by way of a cinematic or spool-like revolver that atomises ‘light’ itself or the visible into a burst of rays. just as On Touching can seem a violent departure and repetition of a ‘lesson’. is no longer that of a more or less fixed gambling site. but also the event of a technical mutation: here. of a hand so artefactual. executed into the eye by a giant prosthetic hand. continues to record as the smoke. repeating Dali’s scissors. so much a bad special effect. Only this perfect mechanical hand. today.D. X’.Tactless—the Severed Hand of J. that it must be marked and. ‘repression’. or fog. here. or not. that of the ‘visible’ as such. and so on. a ‘perfect hand’. as the Hollywood or Madison Avenue production (post-Rovean ‘America’). a diversion that restrained JD. You see. depart from. That is. or again. the crystallisation of the technicity. which is that of writing. one we may wish. as if from and into a past and future ‘head’s’ eye itself. and that as if by what the film’s first character – the manhating nymphomaniac Mary Carmichael (Rhonda Fleming) – calls. the non-human or other than humanualist epoch. that this ‘shot’ is as if surreal. a giant machinal hand absorbing the histories of humanualism. the director’s. a rigged game. but also into the camera. to begin with. Does Spellbound perform a closure of the ‘museum of haptics’ by a certain hyper-mediatised touching of itself: closing the ‘unconscious’. 19 head’ and total techno-amnesiac called the ‘imminent Dr. the alphabet? Does the artificed light ray. an atomisation of ‘light’ into rays. or a certain residual phantom it generates. turn the cinematic against itself.

One may wonder whether. but where the transition spoken in On Touching is addressed. which are turned against by the nanological puncture of points. and one is left to speculate not on where ‘deconstruction’ stands to be gathered. of the turn toward ethics. for some. the hinge decades of contemporary modernity will. were not vessels to a reader to come. let’s show some tact. mime the closure of all ‘Enlightenment’ tropologies. an effect of the syncope. by their inscriptions and drives. Come now. But then. American ‘deconstruction’ or its baroque echo in the ‘British’ variant). of course there is no touch. That is. is preceded by technics. in unrecognisable pieces and styles not seeking the family moniker. constituted as one of its ghosts best left behind (say. the revolutionary promise of the 80s. the present generation. On Touching solicits and simultaneously cuts off such a reading. as it would be in that work.20 Tom Cohen shot into the eye. reinscribed: ‘Nancy’ would be but a stand in for others. would turn up in other names. still. the bar-effect. supposed extenders. At war with itself. like the trace. But then. and it is not yet time. a reading of proximity. it. or a domestication dovetailing with a certain misappropriation. As with the imagined reader decades hence with whom a dialogue is already opened. in what the human perceptual apparatus then calls the ‘bird war’. for a certain Derrida. is it not tactful to point out. as our reader to come would say. the work of deconstruction. from elsewhere. One could rather predict that. dismantled. atomising the spell of spelling too?6 It apprehends where ‘light’ is an artifice. close out many of those ‘futures’ and ‘pasts’. to read the ‘I am not of the family’ in all . The two enemy others of this fratricidal war-system in Hitchcock appear as doubles. Today’s readers and affiliates shouldn’t take too much succor in the spectacle of watching Nancy raised up. that this programmatic betrayal is written into the pretext of ‘fidelity’. more or less welcomed. 10. all ‘senses’ as such. waves. atomised slashes. the name re-imprinted. 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. nonetheless. particularly where mourning is concerned. by preceding spelling. two extremes of Enlightenment epistemology claiming ‘light’ – which are totalised in the new empire state of the mediatric capital. The reading of On Touching may have to wait for those not blocking that by seeking.

who seems more psychotic when returned to his identity) but ‘ourselves’ (or at least Selznick). seeming not to notice where that phrase (‘epochal thinker of touch’). taking the temple with him. essentially. speaking for Derrida: ‘up to the work of his contemporary and beloved friend. a madhouse). in which the political will have to do with mnemonics. trans. and survive that as a ‘magic writing pad’ of sorts. for instance. America. 3. does it not. the parallel lines of metal bars that make up a fence. The hand appearing larger than life and pointing the gun into the eye of the viewer. seems less than salutary after its numerous repetitions in On Touching. 21 its logics. the epochal thinker of touch’. Jacques (2005). 2. were already something like metaphysical. 5. CA: Stanford University Press. present the clearing to break with that? That is a generosity beyond the obvious. the coronation of psychoanalysis by cinema (and pop culture supposedly). ‘global’. with alternative inscriptions and programs in an ongoing ‘history’ or post-history of the ‘senses’. Reference Derrida. Thus. 2005). the opening citation (edited) from Julius Caesar. with a Samsonian gesture. Notes 1. 6. That is. or passé.D. Christine Irizarry.3366/E1754850009000359 . And it opens upon the curious horizon of the twenty-first century. as if ‘suicidally’. Does On Touching not generate its own maiming legacy. The fingerprint in a Hitchcock still overlays the face of a man so that fingerprints or ‘lines’ swirl with circles within circles. precisely what cinema or the tele-technics it birthed was in fact destined to do in the post-world war. Jean-Luc Nany. as if ‘epochal’. On Touching—Jean-Luc Nancy. In Spellbound a hand holding a gun slides into the frame in close up (the frame severing from view the hand from the arm). and so on.Tactless—the Severed Hand of J. Spellbound knifes Freud in the back. in which the artefaction of ‘light’ and its linkage to atomic atomisation (and the caesura) is definitively explored with reference to Japanese cinema. in fact. When Peggy Kamuf notes on the book’s back leaflet is a keystone work for Derrida (‘nothing less than a deconstruction of the phenomenological principle of principles’) she dwells on the address of Nancy. as an Enlightenment project set to govern mass memory. Stanford. or the prospect of that at a site called khora? And in the process. spellbound. See Akira Mizuta Lippit’s Atomic Light (Shadow Optics) (University of Minnesota Press. the strokes or parallel lines on fabric. DOI: 10. for instance. Examples of these markers (/ / / /) in Hitchcock film’s might include. control the hermeneutic house of perception (Green Manors. slits the eye. replace religion. undoes the faux Caesar at – or by – praising him. 4. orchestrate ghosts. With the opening ‘homage’ to psychoanalysis that Selznick imposed. about ‘the fault’ not lying in ‘the stars’ (the passive-aggressive Peck. who looks down the barrel at one point.

In his early work on Husserl. between post-deconstruction and deconstructive rigour. such as Merleau-Ponty) express a faith in a return to the sensibility of flesh. this essay examines this curious border of touch between philosophy and sensibility. briefly. Another ‘approach’ to the haptic is suggested by Gilles Deleuze. Rather than decide for or against this border between flesh and cognition. Gilles Deleuze) within a tradition of haptic ethics and aesthetics that runs from Aristotle to the present. Theory can at one and the same time be marked and dated as an event. Derrida had already claimed that phenomenology’s 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. despite Deleuze and Guattari’s trenchant rejection of ‘the lived’ and the human organism that inevitably subtends any discussion of the relation between sensibility and sense. 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. Derrida presents his own work as manifestly more cognisant of the necessary distance between flesh and sense. and the capacity of a distanced and critical view of a scene whose own relations are not immediately self-evident. as a style of thinking. not philosophy. * How do proper names operate in theory? I ask the question of theory.Whereas Nancy (and those other figures whom Derrida cites. whose work Derrida locates within phenomenological presence.Derrida. writing and invoking proper names. Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics Claire Colebrook Abstract In On Touching Derrida locates Jean-Luc Nancy (and. at the same as . and does so by referring to William Blake’s problem of returning the signs of sense to the sensibility of the hand.

and a de-territorialising potential or the opportunity to take a body of work beyond its actualised embodiment. 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. such as those of Jacques Derrida. 2003). positively. A proper name is both a territory. Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics 23 it is also a potentiality that has always been one of thought’s tendencies. This occurs both with the sense of the invasion of theory. as when Deleuze and Guattari will appear to grant certain names – Aristotle. today. for they do not concern the pure articulation of . be the mention of proper names that will enclose thinking in a certain habitus. which would place itself in a self-conscious terrain opposed to unthinking naivety. In Jacques Derrida’s On Touching – Jean-Luc Nancy (2005) it is possible to see these two gestures of theory. Jean-Luc Nancy and Gilles Deleuze can function as territorializing ‘placards’: the mention of a name places oneself in a territory. Proper names. an orientation and stability that is required for thinking. creates a body of thinkers and a position of enunciation (Deleuze and Guattari 1987). we use theory names in a territorializing and diagnostic sense: a proper name can mark a fall into unthinking rigidity (Docherty 1990. Freud. we speak of the end of theory. Nowhere is this more evident than in today’s theory wars and theory encounters. and within theory itself. To use names as markers of an orientation in thinking – to see Deleuze as offering a vitalism. ways of releasing problems from a corpus.Derrida. or Derrida as offering a post-structuralism – is at once the constitutive gesture of theory. To truly see a Cezanne painting is to recognise the problem of figure 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. when we can see an otherwise benevolent literary and philosophical scene as corrupted by the intrusion of (usually foreign) names. Hegel. When. then. 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). or the tracing of distinct figures from visual intensities) (Deleuze 2004). Descrates. at the same time it is also a form of anti-theory. In Deleuze’s use of proper names and ‘isms’ we can discern both these gestures of theory: Bergsonism and Cezanne-ism are. a consignment of the potentials of a corpus to a name within chronological time. which are quite distinct from philosophical gestures. the death of theory or existing in a state beyond or after theory. Lacan – a certain malevolence that a properly vital thinking ought to overcome. Theory may.

which is picked up once again in On Touching. regard Deleuzianism as a flight from actuality (Badiou 2000. that question’s very urgency and essentiality is also its impossibility. I would suggest. signs and doxa back to genesis is required by the very sense. Theory fails: the look or distance that would intelligently differentiate itself from mere presence and naivety must also.’ This can be positive. Husserl is at once the limit of thought’s potentiality. structure and possibility of truth: there is no question of remaining at a merely empirical level. regard ‘Derrida’ as a pernicious linguisticism or transcendentalism that failed to approach life and the sensible (Protevi 2001). ‘Jean-Luc Nancy’ (and to a certain extent ‘Deleuze. But theory can also be lived and institutionalised as the attribution of this naïve failure to others. Names are both historical markers and future potentials. Husserl’s problem of tracing circulating texts. Consider as an example here Derrida’s early work on Husserl. 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. be other than the life from which it emerges. 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. the names that operate in theory (Deleuze and . or at least it can be read in such a manner. Hallward 2006). 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. Nancy and others operate in Derrida’s own text. The question of the emergence of sense is not a misguided. Even so. territorially. and the marker for a stupidity that one might diagnose as not.’ 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. to add to Deleuze and Guattari’s three styles of proper name – names as they function in art.24 Claire Colebrook problems so much as thought’s capacity to fall back into ‘isms. empirical. we might note how they function today. from a more responsible attention to conditions. but it can also have a sloganising quality. as releasing a force that is in tune with his own work. Before looking at how the names of Derrida. One could. yet. in the very structure of its questioning. from within a Deleuzian industry. accidental or avoidable philosophical endeavour. science and philosophy – a fourth style of name. where meaning could be reduced to a historical event within the world (Derrida 1978). properly philosophical. Similarly one could. Deleuze. haptic or material must by their very nature fail.

to be distanced. to think about touch is already to be in relation. but a concept of the haptic would direct thought beyond its cognitive. grasp or give an ostensive definition of any of these undeconstructibles. democracy. but they do operate in thinking as disorientations. or even perhaps to create a Pinter-like dialogue: we can view a work and see that it is a Pollock. such as ‘Maxwell’s demon’ or ‘Faraday’s law’ designate functions and impartial observers. actualisable. for there cannot be an immediate grasp of touch itself. That is. we may not be able to point to instances of justice. generalising or territorializing tendencies. nor may we say that this or that is deconstruction. or a sentence Joycean. An intensive concept would be an infinitive: 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 Derrida’s own Kantian concepts. including the very concept of deconstruction. as a theoretical concept. intensive. forgiveness and so on. would not gather together all the names and failures that have naively tried to return thinking to its genesis. Concepts signal the unthinkable in thought: I cannot know. It may not be possible. necessarily. or this eye towards this light. Science names. if there could be such a thing. Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics 25 Guattari 1994). or even imaginable as organs and affects in general. An intensive concept of the haptic would not be the touch of this hand towards this tactility. as so many proper names. And these names would. signals that which must be thought but which is . If we consider the haptic as an extensive concept (a non-philosophical concept or generalisation) it merely gathers.Derrida. as some sort of method. in contrast with scientific functions and art’s affects and percepts. The haptic. it would strive to create an orientation for thinking. 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. A proper name in art marks out a certain way of allowing matter to stand alone. at an extensive concept of the haptic. to arrive at touch itself. 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. mark out errors or failures. ways of awaking us from our literalist slumbers. to no longer be present. But an intensive concept. 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). ways of considering movements of matter independent of an embodied subject. intuit. A philosophical concept is.

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. Personae attach to concepts because concepts are not ways of enumerating what might be taken to exist. meaning and sense. therefore requires a conceptual persona. but this means that the force of concepts is tied to sense. begins from a relation to the world. Descartes’ cogito. and where presence in turn is that which is extended in space. and does so through a mention of proper names. as Heidegger (1967) noted. or opening up a style of thinking. in addition to this philosophical-theoretical tendency the ‘haptic’ also functions in On Touching in a territorializing sense. archival and historical genesis of those concepts. Creating a concept. Even so. in order to arrive at some beginning point of pure thought. solitary and meditative Descartes. mathematically oriented. while Kantian enlightenment proceeds by staging the abandonment of origins in order to recognise. If there is something like theory that is distinct from philosophy. where what is said to be will be that which can remain present. theory is the location of those pure problems in conditions of textual emergence. even one’s own body and imaginings. Whereas philosophy. and more in the questions we ask about the textual. but Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the persona argues for a relation not of presupposition but of attendant styles and forces. productions of an ‘image of thought’ (Deleuze 1994). where sense is a mode of living. the intentional. Concepts are creations that enable relations among terms and that also institute modes of life. of what it is to think. or a critical Copernican turn without an overly-punctual and dutiful Kant? When philosophers create concepts they also effect certain personae. responsibly. but enable styles of existence. the human. would be the capacity to think and create concepts. a drama (Deleuze 1983). that it might . it occurs less in the creation of pure problems and concepts. that one is already within relations. which are neither biographies nor general norms regarding selfhood. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari define ‘conceptual personae’ as crucial functions in philosophy: would it be possible to imagine modern philosophy without a doubting. (Deleuze suggested in Difference and Repetition that thought might take place without an image. presumably. The Cartesian conceptual persona is a drama of doubting. Heidegger already suggests that any understanding of existence presupposes a comportment to the world.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. or some image of one who thinks. the actual.

What are the theoretical personae of Deleuze and Derrida? One could answer this question by attending both to the gestures within each name’s corpus that produce certain possibilities of recognition. 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. Merleau-Ponty. excess. We all know the Derridean theoretical persona. and how will he create (in addition.Derrida. Perhaps we can begin to discern. Derrida at once hails the bold gesture of Nancy’s meditation on the sensible. Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics 27 be possible to create concepts without some attendant norm of good thinking. which is a problem of how one approaches the philosophical archive when one is archiving oneself. encounters. and then – from within that yearning logic – recognises that such a pure touch would always have been philosophy’s desire and its impossibility. ways in which one marks out one’s terrain. affirmation and legacy that could not be reduced or understood in such a manner. Would this mean that one no longer did philosophy. the problem of this book. with beginning thought again. these are not conceptual persona. How will Derrida use the personae of the philosophers through whom he created concepts. sense and reason. and to the ways in which those gestures have produced territories. and more to do with forms of territorialisation. Thus it was always the case that the persona of Derridean deconstruction was created through gestures of critical effacement. Nancy or Franck – is taken on with a deferential commitment to the possibility of the other philosopher’s project. against this.2 Against the caricatured persona of ‘theory’ one might try to retrieve a Derridean persona that . Proper names create placards or refrains. meaning. insisting on the rigour. and then followed by a mournful recognition of impossibility. 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. for theory as an institutional event has had less to do with the creation of concepts. distances oneself from any number of other bodies. In Of Touching the adoption of a voice or style – that of Husserl. that there might not be a ‘one’ who would love wisdom. and perhaps forestall. following the journey of Nancy’s voice towards a touch that might exceed sense and logic. and places a series of monumental markers around oneself to both enable. 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.1 And perhaps. ‘we’ theorists have tried to rescue the philosopher or theorist in Derrida from such domesticating gestures. here.

and desires what an other voice would seek to find beyond philosophy. 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. as the relation among present and absent personae in On Touching demonstrates. possibly literalist. and this brevity of touch (I would suggest) has a certain force of its own. but the ways in which these personae – of a responsible linguistically-nuanced critique on the one hand and a postlinguistic affirmation of life on the other – themselves replay certain rigidities in thinking. the idea of God destroys itself from within. I want to approach these thought figures. It is just that theoretical persona – a voice that defers to. project of genesis. as an idea. is touched on in passing by Derrida. ‘Deleuze’ stands for a release from critique and an affirmative. so crucial to the forward movement of Nancy’s thought. or theoretical territories.28 Claire Colebrook would once again take up a voice or proper name in order to open its potentiality. for a remaining within the conditions for the possibility of experience (with experience narrowly defined as meaningful experience). To telescope the idea of the deconstruction of Christianity as put forward by Nancy: once Christianity commits itself to monotheism. rather than recognise it as one more instance of an ‘ism’. then all that exists must emanate . That idea. or – as in the case of Deleuzism – an overly linguistic or critical Derrida. now answered by a return to life. emergence and vitalism. or a time after theory. and once monotheism is. committed to the complete divinity of God. a refusal or negation of everything that ‘Derrida’ has come to stand for: would it be possible. has itself produced its theoretical personae: an ethically irresponsible textualism that is now ameliorated by a return to history. and uncannily devoid of force. through a particular motif gestured to in On Touching: the deconstruction of Christianity. The very idea of a deconstruction of Christianity is at once an idea indebted to Derrida (as deconstruction) and.’ The notion of a death or end of theory. so easily. perhaps a resistance to thinking that we might so easily overcome piety. If it is the case that God is absolutely and divinely creative. in Deleuze and Guattari? The very possibility of a deconstruction of Christianity is. while lamenting the impossibility of such a ‘beyond’ – that has enabled a certain Deleuzian theoretical persona to overtake what remains of ‘theory. and would such a possibility have arrived. in turn. at once the most inevitable and vital of ideas. perhaps before or beyond Nancy. for us to overcome transcendence. If ‘Derrida’ functions as a personification for a critical failure of nerve.

it would be an act of unthinking stupidity. it is the fulfilment of sense. Once we think of God. similar to Nancy’s. then. but fails when it places immanence within the plane of ‘the lived. but as divine emanation and creation there could not be a radical distinction between creator and created. between natura naturans and natura naturata.’ is not only presented as avoidable. he suggests that transcendence will overcome itself. so often figured today in the Deleuzian literature as an enslavement to the linguistic tradition or the ‘signifier. the very ground of being. a naïve retreat to some beyond of sense. but sensibility as origin. I move from transcendence to immanence. Once we try to think the origin of all that is. then God is nothing other than this sensible. This is the force of Deleuze and Guattari’s 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. or life-denying malevolence to remain attached to transcendent figures beyond life. Insofar as I posit a God who would be the very genesis of all that is. Gilles Deleuze (2004) makes a similar argument about the becomingsecular of Christianity in his book on Francis Bacon. It might be possible to begin the thinking of ‘the sensible’ by attributing genesis to a transcendence. and must remain finitely incomplete. Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics 29 from His being. The very project of painting the divinity of Christ’s flesh. but as the condition for all figures. Phenomenology. Thought destroys its self-immolation before an infinite that would be other than this finite world. and never delimitable existence. and undoes itself. then we arrive properly not at the origin of sensibility. the striving to present spirit in matter. of paint become spirit. an inevitable progression to Nancy’s position of sensible immanence that is offered (by Nancy) as philosophy’s and history’s fulfilment. Nancy suggests that the logic of transcendence arises from the sensible. The enslavement to transcendence. the finite as finite is always intimating what is not itself. Transcendence is impossible. thought arrives – naturally. Like Deleuze and Guattari. they suggest. not as a god who could be figured like any other being. arrive if thought is not to remain pious. beyond which we might posit or think an ungraspable infinite. There is not a finitude.Derrida. Also. comes close to arriving at immanence.’ Their philosophical task. ultimately arrives at the spirituality of matter. For Nancy the sensible is not an escape from philosophy and monotheism. properly – at its own fragile singularity. and should. would be to release and realise this positive potentiality of immanence that must. like Deleuze and Guattari. that has always been thought as the sensible apprehension of being. Philosophy . There is. a God ‘who’ authors this world. immanent.

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

Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics 31 this appeal to destruction. Such a double sense occurs in any act of self-archiving: to destroy and overcome the past requires both an identification of the way an archive can limit the imagination. however radical deconstruction might have been in the move beyond the mind of man to the signifier. but to the ‘war machine’ that would destroy the force of law and transcendental conditions. of course. at the same time as imagination it must – in destroying – take up some weapon. let us translate that double sense of war and self-archiving into the way names operate in On Touching: Deleuze’s name is placed alongside Nancy as one who would believe in the haptic. 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. with the absent god of language no longer being the great mediating condition that figures 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. and a liberation from any body as such that might deprive thought of its immanent power. deaden and impede the intellect. .Derrida. and he does so in the name of ‘mental fight’ and ‘spiritual war. in destroying destruction. an affirmation of the forces that generate figures. By citing both Nancy and Deleuze as symptoms of a fall back into an appeal to the presence of the lived. in which thinking dramatises its own paralysis as an opposition between theoretical personae. From a Deleuzo-Guattarian commitment not only to the haptic. Such a stupidity is. Derrida creates a persona. figure. Now. a vitalism that sacrifices itself (and the responsibility of thinking) before a life and force that it must always figure as its own? I want to reiterate that this is a stupid question. on all those writers who would dampen. would this amount to the final abandonment of piety. the failure to arrive at the haptic is a failure to arrive at real conditions. no accident and is enabled (at the very same time as it is forestalled) in both Derrida’s and Deleuze’s texts. 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. indeed a malevolent question.’ On the other hand. and who would – in the supposed war on transcendence and the infinite – once more subject thought to an unthinking naivety or piety. Blake must believe in a spirit or force of war that could overcome the deadening piety of tradition. Deleuze can operate as a way of upping the anti-. On the one hand Blake declares war on destruction. The move to Deleuze in theory today is a move to life. for it has a double force. force or piety of its own.

But one can also. 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. after Deleuze. Isn’t 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? Isn’t it this philosophical gesture par excellence which requires writing (or the body through which thought conveys itself) to be posited as secondary.3 In his reading of Husserl’s reduction. 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. maintain a hold on deconstructive ethics. 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. master and recognise as always already its own those dispersed fragments of history. writing. beyond all the human agonisings. Derrida will only demonstrate the limits of thought from within. incapable of being grasped as thought’s own.32 Claire Colebrook it failed to move beyond the signifier to life. distanced and difficult? Or. is it a question. as it might appear to be from a certain way of reading On Touching. So. while Deleuze will take that next postor anti-Kantian step and intuit the geneses that make up the subject of thought and life. which would bracket any factual or worldly being of the sign and instead turn back to its origin in constituting sense. is the imperative to go beyond the conditions of thinking to life and vitality itself. language and the body that would at first glance seem to preclude thought’s 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. Derrida’s inclusion of Deleuze within a haptic . What else is metaphysics if not the drive to incorporate. that however desirable or seductive an approach to the sensible might be. 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. So. On the one hand such a definition and an inclusion might come as a surprise. matter. Derrida insists that Husserl is the completion and apotheosis of metaphysics. affect or the sensible.

that Deleuze’s emphasis on the emergence of thought and signification from flows 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. .Derrida. On the one hand. far from being a counterHegelianism plays into a metaphysics of presence. On the other hand the appeal to the haptic would be the most naïve of empiricist gestures. Derrida (1978) demonstrates the ways in which the abandonment of mastery and the refusal of a relation to 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. must nevertheless grasp that radical alterity and otherness as its own outside. not yet distributed or organised around the mind of man oriented toward cognition. On the other hand. a too simple attempt to think the immediate. The haptic is not the tactile. then. unself-conscious and not-yet-divided-from-itself being of life. then. Any appeal beyond the relations of the concept. the haptic begins from the body without organs. It is perhaps no surprise. Or as Derrida argues in response to Bergson’s attempt to overcome a vulgar and chronological clock time that reduces the flux 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. a touch taken by the commanding hand for the sake of the viewing eye and the speaking mouth. Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics 33 tradition running from Aristotle to Merleau-Ponty might not be an act of distancing. for we could see Derrida’s manoeuvre in On Touching to be one of acknowledging the haptic as a way beyond the metaphysical focus on the voice and the eye. any attempt to overcome the relation of mastery that would determine all that is other than the self through the self’s own system. And the same applies to Derrida’s early essay on Artaud and the brief mention of Bergson in the essay on Heidegger’s note in Being and Time (Derrida 1982). Derrida’s inclusion of Deleuze within a metaphysics of ‘hapto-manualism’ brings to the fore a critique of certain of Deleuze’s non-phenomenological precursors who would step outside or beyond metaphysics without regard for any supposed necessary or essential metaphysical implications. the haptic would be the violation of thought’s mastery of itself. In his early work on Bataille. and therefore always located as finite in relation to an infinite that remains undeconstructible and never arrives. or we recognise that insofar as we write and speak we are always already within relations.

or materialism. but as answers to the problem of life’s genesis. limits. 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. or whether one can think life beyond the concepts we have of it – is to begin with the structure of the question itself. have been read not only as proper disclosures of the unfolding of existence. of Deleuze and Derrida. . and can only be diminished by a consideration of its textual supports (Deleuze) or. trying to account for experience. First. 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. then. and a Kantian recognition that life is always given to thought as this or that finite life. difference or distance from which a body brings itself into being. inscription and a history of texts and names precludes us from attaining the proper level of vital ideas and problems? One thing is certain. To oppose Deleuze to Derrida. So let us consider two possibilities. To see Derrida as referring all experience. tracing thought’s power and limit from touch alone? Such a question might allow us to think beyond a simple opposition between Deleuze and Derrida. is a violation of both the problem of life and the problem of différance. for in the beginning is the event. it is possible that the current sense of becoming-Deleuzian. 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. we only know life as always already divided and dispersed through something like text (Derrida). having overcome Derridean limits and linguisticism. In the terrain or territory of theory both these names. and how that question functions today in the creation of oppositions. or the necessity and responsibility of thinking that would preclude us from remaining at the level of the haptic. 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. in this manner is to appeal once again to auto-affection: in the beginning is not a body or essence that comes into existence. Either there is one vital life that offers itself through all the differences of existence. beyond an opposition between a Bergsonian and vitalist appeal to life. act. Is it the case that once we are asking the question of experience. or writing to life.34 Claire Colebrook What. is the metaphysical opening to the infinite. Perhaps the best way to approach this problem – the question of the limits of metaphysics.

as the reading through of other texts as symptoms. the territorial readings of Deleuze and Derrida cannot be dismissed as mere accidents or parasitic excrescences. This is certainly the case for the phenomenology of the lived body that runs from Kant. also. Deleuze and Guattari’s minimal references to Derrida accuse him of just that fetishisation of writing and signification: as though one regime of signs could overcode or reterriotrialise all others. 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. 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. is the idea of a body that undoes itself so easily thought (whether that be a God who arrives at immanence. violates and perverts itself. for whom we do not need to prove a world of space and time outside ‘me’ precisely because that ‘inner’ me is already spatial. The body has always (received through the history of these proper names) been a body of auto-affection. and is already invaded by and conditioned by what is not itself.Derrida. For there is a use of proper names by both authors that would assign the other’s body of work to a form of piety. then. and can only operate as theory. a falling back into a belief in the haptic as such or writing as such. To feel. and one can only feel oneself touching the other if one has already placed oneself in relation. But if auto-affection is no longer possible.4 Second. First. The body is therefore not a container for mind but active. for Deleuze. requires his symptomatic proper names. for selfhood or ipseity presupposes relationality. before experience. orienting. Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics 35 while forgetting the ways in which life. or to live this here and now as one’s own is to already mark it as bearing a relation to oneself. to Merleau-Ponty for whom the world is infolded from the ‘I can’. Relations cannot therefore unfold from the self. is no longer one’s own. synthesising – not in the world but for the world. To be or live in this pure presence of ipseity requires auto-affection. while one might want to say. and this might indicate that something like philosophy – or the creation of concepts and thinking as such – cannot take place today. that the opposition between Deleuze and Derrida is too simple and stupid. to sense. a text that destroys its own thesis. all its responses and motilities are not acts of some . discrete and singular. too lacking in nuanced and post-dialectical distinctions. that supposedly immediate touch before submission to the system of conscious concepts. Second. But Derrida. and to have this self that feels is already to be alien from oneself.

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

far from being the revolutionary post-Derridean and vibrantly post-human liberation that Deleuzians often claim it to be. and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could percieve. Vitalism. flesh and the body is not a consideration that comes to Derrida late in his philosophical career. Consider. rivers. 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. through and with Nancy. would be the metaphysical gesture par excellence. cities. then only a different thought of the living being will allow us to move beyond the language of the ‘linguistic turn’. rhetoric and lived time. where the given is given to some subject. for before the lived as such there would have to be something like writing. This would mean that we would always already be within narrative. before the vitalisms of Bergson. lakes. then. not as conditions within which ‘we’ (as linguistic beings) move. trace. nations. an attention to the lens or context through or from which we read. James and Husserl – for despite his critique of Lebensphilosophie Husserl demanded that reified 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. If the normative understanding of self-affective life has allowed us to place writing and text after the immediacy and presence of touch. This is why a meditation on touch. that a certain notion of life would have to be re-thought. But is there not a positive way of thinking theory and narrative. mountains. then it might be possible to think beyond theory and beyond the lived to life. never capable of intuiting time in its pure state. One way of thinking about positivity and affirmation would be through the concept of life. lived. This would require. If theoria is primarily the problem of the received. intuited and given. but as the production or unfolding a space of relations? Here both theory and narrative (like writing. Writing would not be the condition within which we approach the lived. in turn. And particularly they studied the genius of each . But such a reference to conditions and such a notion of theory as selfreflection and critique does not yet yield that positive and affirmative dimension upon which Derrida insists. as Paul de Man argued. text. calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods. If. refer to the conditions and assumptions that are in play before reading.Derrida. theory would be a turning back to the position of reading. Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics 37 therefore. différance) would have to lose their narrow critical sense.

The condition for the possibility of the lived is the lived and living body. Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast. becomes systematised and reified until the instituting sense is forgotten. The properly living being from which the question of philosophy ought to begin can never be the body within the world. responsive and creative: giving to the world an animation that would be impossible if the body were one thing among others. flowing from ‘enlarged and numerous senses. to phenomenology. and the resistance to the Platonic distance of ideas from life goes back as far as Aristotle. placing it under its mental deity. (In Difference and Repetition Deleuze defends a radical and reversed Platonism. spontaneous and creative poetry to the system of priesthood: this might seem like the first step in overturning Platonism. plate 11) In the beginning is the expansive and creative act. and recall centuries of mourning regarding the loss of life and spirit in merely technical systems (including theory). such as the thinking that would be devoted to rhetoric or semblance rather than the life of things. of the haptic. 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. a normative image of life. but must be that body that can recognise itself as the ground from . that runs from the proper potentiality of Aristotle. for whom the human body is oriented to perceiving the reason of the world. There is always in the return of systems to life. thus began Priesthood. active. Not only does Blake’s celebration of energy and animation anticipate Bergson’s appeal to a creative life before the fall into the efficiency of the intellect. From an originally productive.’ That originally living and animating force. But Platonism has never been a simple negation of life in favour of an ordering Idea. There has always been a grounding of the genesis of the world in a vital body in a tradition. ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’. And at length they pronouncd that the Gods had orderd such things. which some took ad-vantage of & enslav’d the vulgar by attempting to realise or abstract the mental deities from their objects. Till a system was formed. In Plato’s own texts the Idea is privileged because it is the genetic principle which gives being and life to matter. Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales. and thereby a normative image of touch. Enlarged and numerous senses: the unfallen body is receptive to the flux of life. through repetition.38 Claire Colebrook city & country. it also brings to the fore the persistent vitalism of the normative body. as Derrida notes. which is also a normative image of the body. (Blake 1966. against Plato and Aristotelian naturalism).

to sensation. there is intensity and influx. différance or text are not cognitive or linguistic conditions but ways of thinking the non-self-ownness of auto-affection. Before a world mastered and distributed in extension for an ‘I’ who thinks. and the relation must depart from. belatedly and after the fact taken as the world of res extensa. Is Derrida’s response merely the Kantian objection that any appeal to that world of pure non-relations is itself only grasped from some relation. Time is not a pure flowing forth that can always remain in touch with itself. so Deleuze is critical of Bergson’s refusal of intensive quantities. Lived time is the time of this being. Touch. affect. Before it is thought. The condition for living on. only subsequently. In its naïve and celebratory form we will say that the haptic is the affirmation of a sensibility. for time’s maintenance. But if we look now at Deleuze’s 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.Derrida. related to all its subsequent moments. conditions and intentionality and a vitalist Deleuze focused on emergence. conceptualised. be felt by. available always as an animating and retrievable force. Both Derrida’s and Deleuze’s objections to Bergson’s vital intuitionism concern the positivity of the non-relational. is a certain punctuality or separation. though. lived as this or that distinct and differentiated being. Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics 39 which something like a lived world is possible. encounter or sensibility not yet subjected to the reified systems of the intellect. or a world to be received. must be other than the self. a hand that in touching its own body relates to and remarks its own sensible being. just as Derrida is critical of Bergson’s appeal to a pure intuition before a fall into clock time and the dispersion of temporality into technical units. Before there is a subject who feels there is this influx or explosion of sensation. To begin with. Derrida’s notions of writing. in order to be the touch or sense of some being. to the haptic in favour of thinking? This might appear to be the case at first and would reinforce that simple opposition between a critical Derrida focused on responsibility. And perhaps we can think this through most radically in his critique of the haptic. 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. trace. . The self’s being to itself. requires an original auto-affection: mine-ness is given through the mouth that in speaking departs from itself only to recognise itself. and returned to. there is the absolute immanence of the lived. Thus there is always a being of the sensible: to be sensed requires an intentional relation. one who feels.

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 flow 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 Deleuze’s objection to Bergon’s 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, flux 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. Deleuze’s concept of smooth space and the haptic are defined with reference both to Riemann’s smooth multiplicities and Worringer’s (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 subject’s orientation to a body recognised as enlivened like one’s 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 flat 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 Deleuze’s concept of the spatium and its relation both to mathematical topologies drawn from Riemann and to physical concepts of phase space. To define the intense spatium in this way would both

Derrida, Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics

41

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. Blake’s 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 define 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 Blake’s 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.

References
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 Félix Guattari (1987), A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari (1994), What is Philosophy?, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell, New York: Columbia University Press. Derrida, Jacques (1978), Edmund Husserl’s 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.

Political Physics: Deleuze.Derrida. 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. Wilhelm (1953).’ Jonathan Kandell. John (2001). and that the author’s intent could not overcome the inherent contradictions of language itself. declaring historical knowledge to be impossible.’ The caption below the picture of a somewhat startled Derrida read. 2007). Heidegger. Jr.’ The New York Times. history or philosophy – of truthfulness. An obituary authored by Derridean scholars.3366/E1754850009000360 . the method of inquiry that asserted that all writing was full of confusion and contradiction. with Jean Halley (Durham: Duke University Press.’ A Thousand Plateaus. NJ: Athlone Press. 242. Abstraction and Empathy. Out of this World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation. was published in The Guardian on 11 October 2004: ‘Imitations of the Derridean style seldom succeed. ed. and Vera Deutsch. Derrida. Derrida was known as the father of deconstruction. Barton. Patricia Ticineto Clough. dismissing the search for truth. Lanham: University Press of America. and the Body Politic. Peter (2006). New York: International Universities Press. robbing texts – whether literature. What is a thing? trans. and it is not surprising that a caricature version of Derrida emerged. 2. Worringer. ‘Jacques Derrida. London: Verso. But this flamboyantly self-regarding figure. See the introduction by Patricia Ticinento Clough to The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social. 4. ‘That is the only way Nature operates – against itself. DOI: 10. Abstruse Theorist. W. Martin (1967). Notes 1. 10 October 2004. absolute meaning and permanence. ‘Jacques Derrida: deep thinker or truth thief?’ 3. As an example: ‘Mr. New Brunswick. Protevi. Dies at 74. B. p. For Deleuze and Guattari. Deleuze and Haptic Aesthetics 43 Hallward. Derek Attridge and Thomas Baldwin.

in the sense that Derrida. and one that is both historic and historical. à la Nancy. using common words. a gash or dash. [the anthropological] privilege tends to overshadow the historicity that produces-human-beingsand-technics.’ a ‘with-touch’ in which a béance. and within which any seeming anthropological privilege. tactility. in Derrida’s investigative sense: tactical in terms of implementation. as an inherent aspect of the Phenomenological Reduction is. one in which what Derrida calls “transcendental archifacticity” is accorded its proper value. opens out in-between. ‘with touch. through the application of the hand. ‘at the very point’ to use Derrida’s repeated specification. manipulation (i. in terms of a historical phenomenological project. termed hominization or the emergence of “the hand of man”. and tactical. has presented us with an encyclopedic history of touch in the philosophic tradition from Aristotle to Nancy. Techné. Technics1 Stephen Barker Abstract Touching on Nancy and Derrida offers a glimpse not only into the thesis both of Jean-Luc Nancy’s critique of touch and of Derrida’s Le Toucher. —Derrida 2005. always in a prosthetical way—what I have more than once. to which must be tacked on.Threshold (pro-)positions: Touch. at the junction point of the ‘spacing out’ of a laminated différance con-noting more than it has or had ever done in Derrida’s work itself. manus) and in terms of tact.’ Such an overshadowing is both strategic.e. as Derrida says. in addressing Jean-Luc Nancy’s work. 243 . manifestation. ‘overshadowed. This glimpse is an interrogation. con-tact. of bifurcation and of con-tact. * At the very point where a certain historicity of transcendental archefacticity is taken seriously. but also into the threshold of a technology of (the) sense to come.

après Nancy. the point is both the possibility and the impossibility of touching.2 to use Derrida’s repeated specification.Threshold (pro-)positions 45 There is no art that is not the art of a clear touch on the obscure threshold. one in which what Derrida calls “transcendental archefacticity” is accorded its proper value. that is. as an inherent—even immanent— aspect of the (of any?) phenomenological reduction is. and for Derrida the point—precisely the point—of touching on Nancy. sens—is also ‘the point’. that is. les béances. exploring Nancy’s sense of touch by touching Nancy. con-tact. and one that is both historic and historical. has presented us with an encyclopedic history of touch in the philosophic tradition from Aristotle to Nancy. in addressing Jean-Luc Nancy’s work. in the sense that Derrida. in terms of a historical phenomenological project. tactility. to which must be tacked on. opens out in-between. In Le Toucher. —Nancy 1998. thus constituting another in an infinite set of breaches. . the paradox of the hypothetical point. ‘with touch. Derrida. as it was for the Greeks.e. à la Nancy. This glimpse is an interrogation.’ Such an overshadowing is both strategic. manipulation (i. at the junction point of the ‘spacing out’ of a laminated différance con-noting more than it has or had ever done in Derrida’s work. ‘at the very point’. the threshold of a technology of (the) sense to come. a gash or dash. of touch. but also into. as (touch) point. here. in a phenomenological sense. and within which any seeming anthropological privilege.’ a ‘with-touch’ in which a béance. both ‘the hand of man’ and hominization. through the application of the hand. ‘the point’ is for Nancy the point of touch. in Derrida’s investigative sense: tactical in terms of implementation. as Derrida says. manifestation. is centrally concerned with the ‘sense of touch’ (there is no the sense of touch). for Derrida the gap in ‘con-tact’ is a compounded différance that ‘produces human beings and technics’. 83 Parergon Again Touching these two citations together offers a succinct glimpse not only into the thesis both of Jean-Luc Nancy’s critique of touch and of Derrida’s Le Toucher. or onto.3 since with regard to art as tekhn¯ ‘to touch on the technology of the senses. of bifurcation and of con-tact. Derrida’s and Nancy’s language will begin to shift at this béance from the ‘sense’ of touch into something like the ‘art’ e. ‘overshadowed. of the tangential: the un-point. manus) and tactical in terms of tact. and tactical.

vide de sens (‘meaningless’) sens as ‘direction’: dans tous les sens ‘in all directions’). . and ‘le sans (not the sens . in order to explore how Derrida’s corpus can point us toward the substance of a transformative critique. flowing through ‘the hand of man’. sens commun (‘common sense’). such a lamination manifestly interrogates both the historical and the historic. . and ‘s-a-n-s’. through Nancy. sens is already multiply valenced for Nancy and Derrida. as ‘new materialities for which we as yet have no theoretical vocabulary’. a per-formance constituting the linguistic and semiotic case for two homonyms of sens. within the context of a historicity itself constituted of the laminations of past. to Kant. the sublime. three of which are perfectly ‘to the point’ here: • • • sens as ‘sense’: le sens de l’orientation (‘a—hopefully good—sense of direction’). ‘s-a-n-g’. If we take as our direction Derrida’s notion of touching ‘on the technology of the senses to come’. is in this general sense a grammatological per-formance not just of the sense of touch. (the ‘without. as a life-blood. .’ sans. sens as ‘meaning’: porteur de sens (‘meaningful’). returning us to the parergon. with its echoes of khôra. and has many echoing senses. and (the a-historical) present—theoretical and flesh-and-blood— strategically incorporating multiple vectors of sens. bounded and infinite. But beyond those direct references in The Truth in Painting. this sense of sens will ‘orient’ the last section here.46 Stephen Barker Derrida’s reference to touch. JeanLuc Nancy (2000) (On Touching-Jean-Luc Nancy [2005]). fueling the—indeed any— hand. future. literal and figurative. and any phenomenological ‘hand’ (especially Heidegger’s). at once linear and circular. nor just of sense. but of sens. to painting and perception/conception. through Derrida’s notion of archefacticity as it intersects with Nancy’s ‘threshold interrogation’ where touch ‘takes place’. on va dans le mauvais sens ‘we’re going in the wrong direction’ Looking further into Derrida’s sense of Nancy in Le Toucher. ) de la coupure pure’. then the task is clear—and yet we must still search for a sens—as ‘direction’—toward what Nancy calls the ‘obscure threshold’. one must confront in a work such as Le sens du monde (The Sense of the World [1993] 1998) Nancy’s lamination of all these sens.

’ Derrida doubles his own doubling. Freud’s own (penultimate) dying note. because it is at once process. weiss nichts davon [Psyche is extended.Threshold (pro-)positions 47 Threshold Derrida and Nancy work on each other’s work across thresholds of touch as concept. and treatment. 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. Nancy’s explication links the Caravaggio to touch in Aristotle and (thus) in Freud. 83). echoes of each other. and that thus Freud’s ‘Psyche ist ausgedehnt. processing. In this phrase. The tableau is. This section of Corpus (2006) is then centrally and repeatedly cited in the ‘This is My Body’ section of Le Toucher. In ‘This is My Body. a ‘zoographia. image. enacted his traitement in Corpus’s ‘Sur le seuil’. ‘On the Threshold’. with exactitude and prescience. positing that Caravaggio’s Mary. says Nancy. indeed a specific tableau on which he has. and Aristotle’s Psyche. ‘caught’ by the tableau in death. knows nothing of it]’. exactitude marks a particular kind of limit. 243). which Caravaggio renders visually. excavating Nancy’s double deconstruction. the conclusion to the epigraph from Derrida above. in Derrida’s treatment of Nancy this problematic is pointed out with exactitude as Derrida repeats frequently in Le Toucher. syntax. a problematizing discourse. 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. the literal conjunction ‘or’ in the phrase ‘hominization or the emergence of “the hand of man”’ (Derrida 2005. are identical. ‘if there is one’. Since for both Nancy and Derrida a deconstruction of touch must be aporetic in the Aristotelian sense. Indeed The Death of the Virgin is Caravaggio’s 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. 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. demonstrates the threshold condition of touch itself. Derrida’s traitement of Nancy in Le Toucher. maintaining a suspended sense of the trait as both mark and margin. as Derrida points out. In Caravaggio’s tableau. of Catholicism and of art. in this case the problematic threshold of a con-junction. The tableau on which Nancy focuses in Corpus is itself replete with thresholds. or tableau vivant. is an interrogation on and of a conceptual but hypothetical threshold. in that con-. a “painting of the .

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

(Nancy 2001. corrective theme.Threshold (pro-)positions 49 impossible threshold of touching unfolds: as Derrida shows. of their bodies and the red cloths. Translation my own) But here the ‘dead’.6 is the threshold of every aesthetic encounter by which we are touched: mouvance echoes Nancy’s ‘there is no art that is not the art of a clear touch on the obscure threshold’. the group is the plural form of the shadow. The men form the other threshold. 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 figure she is precisely the temporo-spatial threshold between divine and mortal. frozen in inanimate stasis both in the tableau’s medium and in its narrative of inarticulable grief. since such a confrontation occurs ‘at the very point’. toward inspiration and expiration as the enigma of corpus. deepened by the rigidity of the old men caught before the commencement of their lamentations. The group they form barely leaves the shadow. Nancy conjures up a sign whose sens. Caravaggio pointedly depicts the other side of that redemptive. of the numerous strata of death’s immanence here. the always-hypothetical point of con-tact. so perfectly framed in the image/figure. The most visible among them are very old. insist on an evershifting sense of reverence and irreverence. which he calls mouvance. The light harshly isolates three bald skulls. it remains immobile. most notable in the feet. they are inside what we are outside. the impossible non-point of originary différance pointing us to—indeed into—the unknown and unchartable. transgressive threshold-figure. exceeds and supplements its absence. as meaning and direction. the futurity embodied in the dead/undead Virgin. 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. emphasis added. as Derrida says in invoking his notion of immanence. Caravaggio’s laminations. the metaphysical figure who at the same time makes the old men (and . Eve. chosen to be the ‘live model’ for the dead Virgin. In fact. 61. the central one is not Mary: If it is a question here of death. proximity and withdrawal. aggressively showing both the Virgin’s visible rigor mortis. and in the backstory of the prostitute pulled from the river. this indetermination of movement and stasis. rather than extracting itself from the darkness. are old men ‘overshadowed’. For Derrida. by hominization to-come. it is more on the side of these men. Nancy claims. a stranger to the rhythm of the two women. The group of men sustains the shadow. the nature morte of the dead Virgin.

unforeseen and unforeseeable alterity. . . singular’. consists tactically of the explication and interrogation of limit discourses. . in the Greek tragic sense. in which like death ex-istence emerges as event. art of consenting to death . is catastrophe. the conundrum keeps on giving: he finishes his interrogative sentence ‘the necessary . . ‘plural. Thus Derrida’s exploration of Aristotle’s Psyche and Nancy’s Mary as ‘threshold’—of touch. ?’ (Nancy 2001. singular art of consenting to death . the metaphysical but rather a rendering of the aporia of place and placement. Nancy asks. 55) This ‘plural. . and through the dynamic tension linking a ‘Sur le seuil’ to a Le Toucher. as . nor directed at. . for both Derrida and Nancy. . in which we also strive to come to some understanding of it. at once metaphor and synaesthesia. ?’. ubiquitous ‘elsewhere’ of différance. and in or of which ‘here’ has already encompassed any and every ‘there’. as déplacement. as Derrida’s possibility of the impossible? For Nancy. locates art the very point of a threshold of immanence. 55). as déplacement. . ‘art were never anything but the necessary plural. but as impossible threshold. of consenting to existence’ (Nancy 2001. in the senses. ‘when our eyes touch’. The visual metaphor characteristic of Nancy’s approach to threshold reverts to Derridean textuality as ‘death’ and ‘existence’ transmute into appositives. singular’.50 Stephen Barker the viewer. adumbrating an unchartable transformation through what Ovid calls ‘unknown arts’. .7 Catastrophe The event of (Caravaggio’s rendering of) the Virgin’s death provides Nancy and Derrida with the emblem of catastrophe. . Nancy formulates the many-layered conundrum Caravaggio’s depiction catalyzes at the conclusion of ‘Sur le seuiI’ as a question: ‘What if’. the ghostly. art of consenting to death . of ‘limit semiosis’ in a larger sense. a palimpsest of thresholds. For Derrida. and one that is clearly not directly. les sens. ‘threshold’ must always be distinguished from ‘limit’: deconstruction as a strategy of incursion. and more formally a question regarding not only fate but death. ventriloquizing Caravaggio. ‘What if art were never anything but the necessary . endemic not just to corpus but to ex-istence. of the end—is radically complicated by his ‘ailleurs’. ’ with ‘ . in which ‘death’ is a figure of the obscure threshold’s ‘other side’. . offering us a ‘key’. according to Nancy) hold their breath. Event. Derrida begins On Touching with an evocation of Aristotle’s very question on this aporia. simultaneously consenting ‘to death’. a sense of the future. ‘corpus’. .

reaching. To touch the ellipsis itself—and to touch ellipsis inasmuch as it touches. . In addressing Nancy’s aporetics. but also . ‘exertion’ or ‘striving’. ‘to touch the limit’ becomes a limit discourse. . But it is a limit that also becomes its own limit. . language. . . Nancy laid out his drama of contact at the limit. the affected act of touching. directly in commenting on Nancy’s Une pensée finie. 271). which introduces itself (coming within its own orbit) as what Derrida calls ‘efforcement’.Threshold (pro-)positions 51 Derrida puts it in Le Toucher discussing Nancy’s sensitivity to Husserl’s phenomenology. orbital touch: touching the eye. the intensity of a finite force stops (itself). Derrida’s point here is that finite thought. to an opening of the possibility of being ‘sensitive to the strange—aporetic—relation’ that any limit discourse has with its own limit. . ‘because it bespeaks the effort as well as the limit next to which the tendency. Derrida addresses this aporia. as Nancy lays it out. to resist. ‘a limit comes to insist. like this thinking that touches on the limit. . . Such would be the sense of the word “finite” [finie] in “finite thinking”. this is the ‘limit semiosis’ of the Caravaggio image. Derrida applies a specific sense to Aristotle’s aporia as the limit of the limit: the limit of limit discourses “‘touches” and “transgresses”’: ‘the aporia here consists in touching. attaining. and to touch its effacement. exhausts itself. which is to say an act without act. to oppose (itself) to the effort that this limit literally determines. (Derrida 2005.8 then immediately translating Nancy’s discernment of limit discourse by way of response: From the first pages of Une pensée finie . 271–2) Such would be the sense. and meeting a limit that bars any passage . . He begins by quoting Nancy: to touch language: to touch the trace. as an orbit touches the edges of a system. the tension. con-tact at the limit. It is a limit that such thinking touches without appropriating it for itself. in a frighteningly enigmatic sense. . as what he calls ‘discernment’. and the world. . A strange. To touch what moves and vibrates. Should not or cannot cross: for Derrida and Nancy. Discerning is where touching and vision touch. 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. . . I chose the word . whether cosmological or ocular. as Derrida indicates. . the ‘vector’. . To discern is to see what differs in touching (Nancy qtd in Derrida 2005.9 The aporia of ‘exertion’ at the point at which. of the word ‘finite’. Derrida says. [efforcement]’. . to discern is to see and to trace. 226). retracts . . the tongue. is a limit discourse as ‘self-relation’. It is the limit of vision—and the limit of touch. and with its (impossible and necessary) transgression.

It is exactly at this point. then. experienced as limit. when the force of the effort touches upon this limit . the instant. though it may not have been thereafter: ‘aporia’ for the Derrida of Dissemination’s ‘The first session’ (early 70’s) is not the aporia of Aporias (early 90’s). perhaps inevitably. 237). is whether this mourning thought. exposition to disposition. is a limit discourse or a threshold interrogation. relating directly to the central question here. blindness. Until the 1990’s it appeared to be the latter for Derrida. In any case. is to investigate (as a deconstruction) Aristotle’s question of the day. The positing of the proposition as a question. . . ‘at the very point where a certain historicity of transcendental artefacticity’ ‘tends to overshadow the historicity that produces-human-being-and-technics’. that Heidegger’s anamnesis is ‘nothing but the forgetting of the aporia as the logic of opposition itself’ (Beardsworth 2000. position to exposition. 238) The implicit question for Beardsworth. 139). gazes. and was not. . blind touch. This distinction is the point of what Nancy and Derrida have exerted themselves to do. The proposition. The question of ‘position’ pervades Le Toucher in a series of permutations. . (Beardsworth 2000. 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. ‘the question of the day’. It seemed to be the latter in Heidegger. .52 Stephen Barker or retreats . thereby wishing to get behind metaphysics and open up what lies prior to oppositional thinking. Every thinking of effort comprises at least a phenomenology of finitude’ (Derrida 2005. as limit discourse. la question. from proposition to position. Threshold interrogations. and indeed the aporia of. in terms of eyes. an aporia ‘from Aristotle’ as a proposition. The question of the day has to do with the touching of the eyes. The mythic status of anamnesis that lies behind. in French in the feminine. through Nancy’s work on touch. Derrida ‘signs the question’ of the book. set themselves over against limit discourses. that one touches on the threshold. once again. And yet. This mourning of metaphysics has been pursued since at least Nietzsche and marks philosophy from Martin Heidegger to Jacques Derrida. blindness—seeing. . the fine but vital distinction between. as it were. at the moment. which is still in thrall to metaphysics. and therefore of khôra. as Derrida confesses in the epigraph here. they then find themselves. one of positionality and positionability. then. limit and threshold is one of consequence. within the context of a thinking of ‘future matters’. the logic of Being and of Dasein institutes metaphysics as such: indeed as Beardsworth points out.

Threshold (pro-)positions 53 genders the proposition and transmutes into the position—of Psyche. then leads to Nancy’s investigation of the conditions under which a notion might be possible: a question of the body as such. for both Nancy and Derrida. as the figure not only of the aporia of touch. but rather only the skin. as spacingout. and from spacing-out to what Nancy calls ‘sharing out’. affinities. but so is her link to Caravaggio’s Mary. ‘Ex-position’. in and on the margin. Aristotle’s De anima (or Peri psuch¯ es)’ (Derrida 2005. has also written a Psyche. during which not only is Psyche ‘ex-posed’. as spacing. Nancy. corresponding and responding to. which is aimed in a different direction.’ as exposure. through Psyche in her Freudian extension. tangibility as extension. which must always remain hypothetical). crossings. enigmatic figure of aporia: an undecidable point or position. 11). crossovers and crossbreedings—a sort of community or contemporaneity of thinking. Thus Psyche is the positioned. skin-ability itself (Derrida 2005. in a series of what Derrida calls ‘paralyzed’ textual jolts ‘always beginning by freezing. Exposition. to tangibility. in a circumspect and circumferential approach to the soul such as Jean-Luc Nancy’s “De l’âme” [On the Soul]. replying to without naming it. touchability. 45). like a runner at the starting block’ (Derrida 2005. out-of-body experience. à venir. and discourse. for Nancy and for Psyche who. and which in Nancy contains strong echoes of Kant’s sense of le peau des choses (the skin of things). heart transplant and its implications. as Nancy’s own personal or subjective extension and ‘exposure’. as the peau of ‘expeausition’. but of the central question implicated in the re-evaluation of hominization in terms of the technology of the senses to come. as Derrida says. . indisputable proximity. a ‘this is my body’. Derrida’s map of this progression proceeds thus: ‘ “sharing out” first of all means participation. a threshold. by gathering together his body. ‘hoc est enim corpus meum’. Derrida points out. 11). It is a question of positions. certainly a great proportion of what is to come in Le Toucher is just that exposition. not as tangibility (touching-as-such) but tangency (the hypothetical touching of/at one point. according to the ‘starting point’ of Nancy’s series of texts. Freud’s short note on Psyche. becomes an exposition. ‘a stake between Aristotle and Nancy. language. is unknowingly ‘extended’. in this hyphenated form. This enigma (much more complex than a dichotomy or paradox) then. The notion of ‘exposition. becomes the concretization of touch’s enigma in Nancy in the section of his Corpus he entitles ‘Expeausition’—being out-of-one’s-skin. through Kant’s assumption that the ding-an-sich is un-knowable. leads Derrida through skin.

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

and particularly of matter to come. . because of some idealist or spiritualist kind of reservation. to which Derrida refers in ‘Tangent IV’ is nothing less than a re-thinking—in the sense of thinking through again—not just of ‘Flesh’ but of materiality. The pro-position. in which materiality has been a con-text or passe partout. reality. as you know. further concretizing the subversive point he wishes to make by citing the great questioner of materiality’s significance and its relationship to deconstruction: To summarise that which marks it [“matter”] within the deconstructed field. it is not. substantial plenitude. . a true de-position. . materiality itself. and then the notion of ‘substance’. 105. values associated with those of thing. . It then becomes an ultimate referent. again I will cite Nietzsche: “Let us renounce the notions of ‘subject’ and ‘object. Derrida’s re-orientation. and consequently all of its diverse modifications. . the philosophic ‘future’ of materiality itself. Derrida inserts a footnote into the transcribed interview. and the other hypothetical beings. . with regard to the same issues of materiality and orientation: If I have not very often used the word “matter”. etc. appropriately in Positions. . referent. Thus we also get rid of materiality. ‘eternity. presence in general.’ and the ‘immutability of matter’.Threshold (pro-)positions 55 extension. Derrida does all of this within the context of what is not ‘future matters’ but ‘future matter’. fn. that in Le Toucher Derrida offers up the aporia of ‘hominization or the emergence of “the hand of man”’.” (Derrida 2005. 34) It is thus through multiple textual layers and across the time-span of his work.’. . as deposition. might remind us of a reply he made to Jean-Louis Houdebine more than thirty-five years ago. . Realism or sensualism – “empiricism” – are modifications of logocentrism. sensible presence. content. 64–5) At precisely this point in the text. as he hints at it here. for example. according to the classic logic . . would be reconstituted into a “transcendental signified”. (Derrida 1982. ‘spirit’. for example. ‘matter’. the signifier “matter” appears to me problematical only at the moment when its reinscription cannot avoid making of it a new fundamental principle which . etc. or it becomes an “objective reality” absolutely “anterior” to any work of the mark. It is that the logic of the phase of overturning this concept has been too often reinvested with “logocentric” values.

second. 61). a cosmos’. to Dasein. ‘l’abjection de l’immonde’. ‘technics’ by a threshold sense of ‘hominization’. 54). Zuhandensein is not touch but access to consciousness of the touch of world. among which Derrida. We began here in Derrida’s comments on Nancy’s non-Aristotelian thinking of touch in the multiply-enigmatic Corpus. one both Derrida and Nancy challenge us to think through. a physicalization that acts as yet another reduction). hypothetical ‘points of con-tact’ with and within Derrida’s glance at ‘getting rid of materiality’. to those rich in world. says that ‘one . always in a prosthetic way’. Selfexpulsion is what ‘our world’ produces. that is. is only accessible to consciousness and indeed to self-consciousness. seeming to echo Lucretius’ quasi-materiality. then moves to Deleuze’s critique. what Nancy calls ‘the threshold between intactness and touching’ in Sense of the World (Nancy 1998. that other meaning for a ‘historicity that produces-human-beings-and-technics. ipso facto. through what he calls an ‘impalpable reticulation of contiguities and tangential contacts’ (Nancy 1998. abjection. concerns itself with ‘rejection. ‘there is no longer any world: no longer a mundus. This will involve first. According to Nancy. glancing off of Heidegger. in which the ‘becoming mineral’ of the touching hand reverts to a ‘nature’ like that of both the lizard and the stone of Heidegger’s paradigmatic example: for Nancy. In Sense of the World (1998). the discourse orienting Corpus. both of bodies (à la Nancy) and third. to the human. But here we face a problem with the very nature (or renaturing) of matter.56 Stephen Barker Immonde Because this is such a fundamental matter. In the beginning of The Inoperative Community Nancy. speculating on how Derrida’s orchestration of ‘technics’ leads to the threshold of Bernard Stiegler’s work on ‘a hypothetical non-phenomenological sense’ of technics. it is important to work through a certain trajectory of quasi-tangents. 54). ‘human beings’ as characterised by ‘the emergence of “the hand of man”’. expulsion’ (Derrida 2005. In this notion of the immonde. the fact is that Heidegger’s very sense of presence is ‘access.’ access to world which. working through some transitional questions of touch which Nancy catalyzes from Derrida. ‘the abjection of un-world’ (Derrida 2005. only philosophy can redeem touch. asserts that ‘what “our world” touches in itself is nothing else but this rejection’. 81). glancing at tekhn¯ e. Nancy works through a critique of Heidegger’s ‘handson’ experiencing of touch (Heidegger focuses on the ‘surface’ invoked at the heart of touching.

at a truly essential level’ (Nancy 1991. a mouvance in the sense of instability. the body ‘exposes a pure aseity’ (as opposed to ‘ipseity’) which ‘exists only as distance and departure’ (Nancy 2006. literally and figuratively. never to be confused with substances without substance. 34). continuing a ubiquitous earlier theme. His point is that as we enter a time of what after Nancy he calls the ‘absolute contingency’ of the body. 32). the absent body as body itself. whether ‘a-’ or ‘ip-’. . [mouvance]’ (Derrida 2005. mouvance. or ecotechnics may deliver to us a criterion for certain discrepancies between the different motifs of this trend [mouvance]’ (Derrida 2005. which he defines poetically as ‘two traces of mica. . Thus. Nancy begins the ‘Expeausition’ section of Corpus with ‘bodies always ready to go. millions of dissimilar shells. instability: the body’s (i. Of course. matter’s) very instability. 4).11 In that light. The ‘discrepant’. His parodic glance at the declaration of the metaphysical body in the Mass ex-poses the non-positionality of body. body and touch must cross-permutate. the techn¯ e of bodies. absent matter as the aporia of matter itself. . . . as Derrida warns us in Le Toucher. 216) point us through tekhn¯ e to.e. . technics. Nancy calls this ‘body-ness’ ‘fracturation’ and ‘matter as freedom’. a subjective sense that does not account for that other element we have seen addressed in Derrida. on the brink of a movement. its place simultaneously absolutely intact and absolutely abandoned. comes with baggage: with what he calls ‘neo-Heideggerian or pre-technical connotations. has suddenly been exposed here: in the world’ (Nancy 2006. there must be clinamen. But even this instability. Yet so much of Derrida’s thinking of Nancy’s thinking of touch (thus of the body. A natural tendency toward a ‘community of atoms’. a dislocation . . now. and the indefinite extension of a principium individuationis . ‘different motifs of . a change. . body begins in a state of contingencies and tangents. and thus not of the body) is ‘oriented’ toward a ‘seity’. . among other unforeseen motifs. neither self nor other. and not of ‘the body’ but of ‘body-ness’. a fall. an inclination or inclining from one toward another. at the very point [his words] where . out of what he refers to as ‘a causeless swerve’ of atoms. Nancy claims. before the nothing-to-support. in De Rerum Natura Lucretius is not theorizing the foundation of community but the forming of matter per se. 216). . 31).Threshold (pro-)positions 57 cannot make a world with simple atoms. The contingent state of the corpus occupies Nancy throughout Muses (1996) and Corpus (2006). Hoc est enim absentia corporis et tamen corpus ipse [This is absent body and yet body itself]’ (Nancy 2006. In its extension.

. . we are told in Tangent IV. then. remains . 223) • • Nancy gives us insight into the nature of the tekhn¯ e of bodies in the ‘Alter’ section of Corpus. the désadhérence. It is one in which a certain Derrida comes up against the limit discourse of the occluded—the un-emergent—hand. Here Derrida echoes Nancy’s call to tekhn¯ e. Derrida does not dissociate them. 229). the promise of a promise. . ‘decenters the hand’ the motif establishing the connection between Nancy’s interrupting of ‘spacing out of con-tact’ and technics (Derrida 2005. 154). ‘embedded in contrariety’ (Nancy 2006. . there are at least three of these motifs: • the motif of the tekhn¯ e of bodies that “‘deconstruct the system of ends”. 28). or as ‘the next’. Reduction And yet. through the disadherence.’ Derrida advises. which can be read either as ‘the next one’. impossible to dissociate from the history of technics and its interpretation. In Derrida’s terms. as Derrida says. this is why there is no body-proper: the body is a re-construction (what Heidegger calls a de-cision)’ (Nancy 2006.58 Stephen Barker At the outset of this threshold interrogation. ‘We need to return to “tekhn¯ e of bodies” in Corpus again and again. race. indeed ‘without this tekhn¯ e [as construction or re-construction] the body is not even born to itself as “human” body. it is here that we confront another kind of threshold discourse. caught in a hominization process exceeding the human as its past and future’ (Derrida 2005. Derrida is so close here to thinking an entirely new kind of body. It is difficult at first to realise the enormous implications of this advice. ethnicity. the tekhn¯ e of the body means that it is always ‘too early or too late’. etc. . perfectly good French—‘the one next to you’. the next. ‘The hominizing process’ has about it a technical aura. Derrida adds importantly. Derrida points out that none of the disparate motifs contributing to a tekhn¯ e of bodies can be ‘dissociated’ (his word). The body is ‘open to tekhn¯ e’. as well as from all the problems that link the history of the hand with a hominizing process’ (Derrida 2005. the ‘to come’. 28). ‘since this “question of the hand” . a function of tekhn¯ e. and yet its implications emerge . 219). the différance of haptics and. there where we are in “the tekhn¯ e of the [prochain]”. of ‘aisth¯ esis in general’ (Derrida 2005. . .. the body is constructed. Like gender. where he says that ‘the ego forms the absolute obstacle to the body. and thereby of the grounding questions of body and its (meta-)materiality. the motif of tekhn¯ e that.

If the threshold of possibility refers to ‘hominization’ or ‘the phenomenological’. as he says. All evidence seems to corroborate Derrida’s notion that ‘the hand of man’. . though a good deal of Nancy’s work addresses the political in the broader sense. it becomes a kind of messianic phenomenology. . informed by his grammatology. Though Derrida states that the question of hominization ‘can only be addressed au-delà.Threshold (pro-)positions 59 rapidly. that is. an orientation that is abîmée. Nancy’s notion is that a tekhn¯ e of the body (hominization) can free itself of the hand and enter a new dimension. For Nancy. the hints Derrida gives in his ‘Eating Well’ essay of 1988 have haunted his later work. materiality. or ‘suspension’. for philosophy. such as Heidegger’s to-hand-ness. 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. that provides us our best insight into his threshold interrogations. it is his touching on art. . ‘phenomenology’. . indeed. Nancy is as ‘true’ to grammatological dis-orientation as is Derrida. then hominization’s constitutive ‘process’ already occurs within a phenomenological context. not to mention Husserlian presence. Derrida’s relation to the Heideggerian hand. and on art as tekhn¯ e. there is properly speaking no art of . is inherent to philosophy. This ambiguity is a cardinal one in that it prevents us from orienting ourselves relative to the core vector of Derrida’s dynamic. it is syntactically impossible to determine whether the its of ‘its possibility onward’ refers to ‘hominization’. and phenomenology. ‘humanism is constitutive of all philosophy’. hominization is a tekhn¯ e of the emergent hand. hinges on this orientation. gravitating around notions of contingency. For all the promissory hints in Derrida of an à venir for philosophy (and art. Nancy’s case regarding this issue of orientation. and as such is the originary threshold between human and non-human. Derrida maintains. more radical work it can and should be seen as a Heideggerian hand. In fact. 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 . if that threshold refers to ‘suspension’. on the other hand. from the threshold of its possibility onward”’ (Derrida 2005. if we follow Nancy’s elision of the two)—a ‘to come’ distinguished from any ‘future’. emphasis added). 229. ‘art’ and ‘sense’ are identities. .’ in ‘a suspension of the phenomenological . is that deconstruction consists of ‘a dismantling of the essence of the proper [and thus of the apparently emergent hand] by means of grammatology’. and it seems increasingly unavoidable that even in his earlier.

tekhn¯ e is what Derrida calls a ‘phenomenological necessity’ (Derrida 2005. however. ‘she is nothing but a dispersion of indefinitely parceled out locations in places that divide themselves and never interpenetrate’ (Nancy 1993. (Nancy 1993.’ Nancy declares. ). more hurried. more proliferate. there is tactility. Nancy articulates what he calls the ‘obscure materiality’ of technics beyond the material. tact unbounded’ (Nancy 2006. our bodies that it creates being thus more visible. Neither natural nor artificial (as it has always appeared to be). more polymorphous. as in the highest sense the “next”.60 Stephen Barker touching (. 230). weiss nichts davon: ‘Psyche is extended. for touching is sense as threshold. Tekhn¯ e. Here. . is his thought of the event: never a ‘taking-place’ but rather the incommensurability of what he calls ‘spacing and fraying’: the ‘obscure threshold’. the sensing/sensed apportioning of the aesthetic entelechy [execution. the next would be what comes. then. nature. partes extra partes’. 127).’ he says in ‘Tekhn¯ e of Bodies. posing and deposing . more in “masses” and “zones” than they had ever been. And therefore for Derrida tekhn¯ e remains a humanism: indeed. that we can arrive as Nancy does at his extension of Freud’s Psyche ist ausgedehnt. ‘if there were there would be nothing. “creation” and “art”. Nancy’s tekhn¯ e. 11).’ is the world of technics. Just as there is no ‘the’ sense of touch. the “next” as tekhn¯ e would be “creation” and the true “art” of our world. Accepting a revision of these words. . materiality without—both beyond or outside-of—matter. . the entire system in its intimate jointure is exposed as “technics”. displacing touch. (Nancy 2006. putting into action] . what it does is our bodies.12 the world of which cosmos. 82–3) Only in light of this double sense of tekhn¯ e. This prochain—more accurately pro-chair—is a threshold interrogation in which the tactile is radically in question. 78) . gods. 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. . is instantiation. there is no ‘the’ sense of deconstruction (or philosophy) to come. ‘There is no intact matter. touching on the untouchable. (Nancy 1993. Here Nancy’s notion of le prochain is central: here. ‘Our world. takes a further step toward le prochain. Nancy’s thought of the ‘dispersion of indefinitely parceled out locations’. placelessness. . and of the tekhn¯ e of bodies. a question of work and of works. On the contrary. . what touches and distances.

through the process of subjectivization. is increasingly considered as the raw material of goals and objectives. 52). technics increasingly reduces any notion of objectivity. the condition of possibility of ideal objects. Derrida’s notion of technics first appears in ‘Plato’s Pharmacy’. Nancy goes further. an ‘ “originary technicity” of life in its attention to the supplementary nature of all living systems’ (Derrida 1972. grounding the self in the Will not only to Power but to Will. explicitly introduced behind the transcendental logic of the Meno. and then Bernard Stiegler and others respond. of entering into a relation with what is both questionable and worthy of being questioned. we confront a new set of (dis-)orientations. Like the Cartesian emphasis on certitude. orients his work both toward and within the texts on which he focuses. in its power [once again] of emplacement’ (Weber 1996. . and thus of objectivity. For Heidegger technics is ‘emplacement’ (Gestell). to which Derrida. Nancy works through a sense of ‘world’ that is not Heidegger’s and not Derrida’s. its possibility is constitutive of truth as such. typical of Derridean deconstruction. as any object. . ‘the controlling essence of technics . 240). (Weber 1996. organised so as to be opaque to itself. defers. Approaching such a threshold. as in liaison] to sense. rather than inscription’s reflecting truth. For Heidegger the technological. 62): ‘World is liable [i. Nancy. 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). For Nancy. And Derrida himself acknowledges not entirely leaving those Heideggerian technics behind: his repeated efforts at what he calls ‘orientation’ in Le Toucher. 224). an incapacity.13 it is this liability because it first comes to be in accordance with this—let us . linkable. is the ‘constitutive nature of technics’.Threshold (pro-)positions 61 Derrida explicates this passage in saying that ‘this supplementarity of technical prosthetics originarily spaces out. For Heidegger. is the final iteration of metaphysics. or expropriates all originary properness’ (Derrida 2005. this may perhaps be the aspect of deconstruction most disadvantageous to a deconstruction to come.e. ‘world’ enigmatically ‘comes before or after object and subject’ (Nancy 1998. But ‘technics’ too has a Heideggerian sense. resides precisely in the ability to dislodge and to re-place. that is. and the technologizing of objects. as an instance of technics. As Samuel Weber points out. situatedness in relation to an unfolding of subjectivity. 51–2) This is why Heidegger’s technics is so difficult to shed: for him. This arch¯ e-writing. In his ‘a-reality’.

passing through and beyond Heidegger’s famous distinctions (to which Nancy has posed such sharp questions). occurs as what Stiegler calls ‘the pursuit of the evolution of the living by other means than life’ (Stiegler 1998. 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. ‘remains to be thought. not an anamnesis but an amnesia. 135). . . and as the ‘worldly’ experience of time as a phantasm. 62). in accordance with which sense opens. a new kind of interrogation of hominization as the constitution of the human. Nancy calls this a ‘quantum philosophy of nature’ which. the age-old abyss between object (matter) and philosophy (idea) has itself reached a threshold. he is strategically understating the current state of ‘sense’.’ When in ‘Res ipsa et ultima’ Nancy says that ‘the world is nothing other than the touch of all things’ (Nancy [1990] 2003. 152). Stiegler shows that Heidegger’s binaries. Following up on Agamben’s analysis of anthropological machines. a quantum discreteness . as a secondary effect. a rejection of an originary technics. . For the différance of the toward-itself. 63). 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. ‘the telos of Dasein qua authentic Unheimlichkeit is predicated on the disavowal of technics which uproots Dasein in the first place: this uprooting is phantasmatically displaced to the figure of the “inauthenticity” of das Man’ (Beardsworth 1996. is in the process of being sutured. Stiegler further shows that only . cannot account for this radical re-writing of the nature of hominization.’ Such a refusal. is inscribed along the edge of the “in-itself”’ (Nancy 1998. 316). . ‘future matters’ tremble.62 Stephen Barker say “atomistic”—distancing . to the point at which the object’s non-living being crosses the threshold to world. the point at which physicality. we come to the threshold at which we can be situated at ‘another side’ of the limit discourse of touch. precisely. by philosophy and nano-technologies as well as by new artforms. . body.’ Hominization. In Bernard Stiegler’s Technics and Time (1998). enfin And here. resulting in the post-humanist notion of ‘man after. ‘access. from which hominization follows. a rejection of the humanist notion of ‘man first’. Sense. ‘World’ is to be radically reconceived. he says. as the dialectics of a primordial temporality on the one hand. makes up the world as such’ (Nancy 1998. is ‘matter forming itself. the extended world. on the other. for Nancy.

This threshold interrogation rejects the subject/object dialectic in favor of a prior. allowing the con-tact of material substances to form world through distributed sense. as our chromosomes are available for sale on the open market. in technics-as-matter. 65). Le Toucher. Jacques (1972). the quality of Nancy’s ‘sense’ and Stiegler’s ‘technics’ might be said to amount to an ontology of spectralization. ‘there are sites and places. References Beardsworth. Such a process of spectralization is inconceivable without a technics of time and space. distances: a possible world that is already a world’. . Nancy and Stiegler conceive of a new kind of ‘zone’. At another level. Paris: Editions du Seuil. as an aporia. a re-scription of the trace and the trait as marks before the emergence of the hand.Threshold (pro-)positions 63 through technics can the very experience of sense. Edinburgh University Press. Derrida has. Salut. ‘La Pharmacie de Platon’. what Beardsworth calls ‘the contingency of technicization’ (Beardsworth 1996. just as Nancy takes exception to Heidegger’s stone’s ‘worldlessness’. pointed the way. then—‘to touch it’: the threshold of a technics to come. in Deconstruction: A Reader. comme toujours. of the ‘human’ itself. radically ‘un-handoriented’. In this regard. with ‘place’ as dis-location. Derrida. originary technics. Richard (1996). never ready-to-hand. the ‘threshold of access’. At this threshold. Such a speculation requires disorientation. in La Dissémination. the threshold between Dasein— the human—and being-as-such. ‘Thinking Technicity’. Martin McQuillan. Richard (2000). of future matter as future deconstruction. As Derrida says. . always in memory of the hope—this is the very place of spectrality’ (Derrida 1994. as Nancy says. This is precisely the problem. 155). and without doubt the increasing spectralization of ‘the human’ is a given today. ed. Stiegler’s interrogation of Heidegger’s categories incorporates non-living being into Dasein. . assigning to contingency a central role in the re-writing of technics and thus of experience as such. ‘awaiting without horizon of the wait . ‘the brute entelechy of sense’ takes place. in what Stiegler calls the ‘what’ rather than the ‘who’. Derrida and the Political. is outside of ‘life’. according to Nancy and Stiegler. one might say that Stiegler’s technics is the dash in Heidegger’s ‘onto-ontological’. and of time. Thus the threshold of sense. London and New York: Routledge. an ‘obscure threshold’. Beardsworth. be understood. and primarily the sense of touch.

Jean-Luc (2008). New York: Routledge. Stanford. Pais: Galilée. Sawhney. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. a work of art. Derrida. Jean-Luc (2006). Derrida. Jacques (1991). Jean-Luc (1991). Nancy. ‘Psyche’. Paris: Éditions Métailié. This paper explores a spectral node toward which the ‘corpus of Derrida’ might point. CA: Stanford University Press. Specters of Marx. Connor. trans. and Mime: The Politics of Theatricality in Contemporary French Thought. M. G. The Inoperative Community. a gentle but restless spirit that one does not want to rest. Samuel (1996). CA: Stanford University Press. ‘Modern Theatre Does Not Take (a) Place’. Timothy Murray. CA: Stanford University Press. Paris: Galilée. Jean-Luc (1996). Richard Rand. Jacques (1993). in Who Comes After the Subject? Eds. Le Sens du monde. NY: Fordham University Press. Aporias. Paris: Galilée Nancy. Jacques (1982). Jacques (1987). Derrida. L. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. There is something about being perpetually in the energising turbulence of Derrida’s wake (it is tempting to say “being perpetually at Derrida’s wake’). it is a conceptualisation that must always occur au-delà de any definition or identity. is purely hypothetical. Positions. trans. “‘Eating Well. A Finite Thinking. Corpus. Bennington and I. Peggy Kamuf. Jacques (1994). CA: Stanford University Press. The Sense of the World. A spectre of Derrida is afoot: spectres are threshold figures. Nancy. Jacques (2000). trans. Une Pensée finie. Jean-Luc (1993).64 Stephen Barker Derrida. Peter Connor. California: Stanford Univerity Press. all thresholds spectral. precisely that which cannot be located nor defined. perhaps all threshold figures are spectres. Jean-Luc (2001). Nancy. Nancy. Eduardo Cadava. ‘The point’. Jean-Luc (1998). Media. Jacques (2005). of having been touched by Derrida’s thought. Nancy. Derrida. trans. Mass Mediauras: Form. Technics. Julia (1997). Kristeva. Alan Bass.” or the Calculation of the Subject’. Holland and S. 16. Jean-Luc Nancy. Nancy. ed. Peggy Kamuf. Stanford. trans. it is the very model of the revenant. Paris: Galilée. trans. New York and London: Routledge. Nancy. Garbus. in mathematics and geometry. trans. Jean-Luc (1990). 2. P. Jean-Luc Nancy. Les Muses. Stiegler. Weber. Le Toucher. Jean-Luc (2003). Stanford. Derrida. Stanford. Masochism. Stanford. Technics and Time 1: The Fault of Epimetheus. trans. Christine Irizarry. Jeffrey S. The Muses. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. in Mimesis. Simon Sparks. Nancy. Once again. McLeod. Derrida’s ‘remember me’ echoes each time we approach a text. Jean-Luc (1978). Première livraison. . CA: Stanford University Press Notes 1. Nancy. Corpus. trans. Derrida is being absolutely specific in choosing the word with which to convey a sens of the entre. Librett. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. On Touching – Jean-Luc Nancy. Bernard (1998). Stanford. ed. The Truth in Painting. Thomas Dutoit. no. Derrida.

13. in Nancy and Derrida. this one recalling us to both the work of sense and its echo of Blanchotian ‘out-of-the-work’.’ is consistently kept at the distance of différance. ‘chair. Clinamen occurs. This is a semiotic problem as much as an aesthetic or doxological one. . in a different context. Within this framework. There is a the world of technics . a reversal marked by cata-strophe. threshold’ (Kristeva 1997. 5. DOI: 10. the breaking of discourse and therefore of order itself. Such a déplacement. translation from the work is mine. Always remembering that this is originarily a redundancy. We must remember the disparate senses of sens: once again Nancy points us to a non-place. 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 ‘flesh’. known. It is in this sense that Nancy entitles his tribute to Derrida in Le Toucher ‘Salut to you. désouvrée. 7. avoids the even more complex dynamics of a dépassement. Christine Irizarry renders mouvance as ‘trend’. 12. of the need for a ‘theory of catastrophe’ in which ‘each specular-spectatorial identity is a passage. whose going-beyond is co-opted by ‘transcendence’. and therefore of tekhn¯ e as precisely that artful manipulation as metaphor: the embodying of culture through manipulation. a radical shift in the direction or sens of a discourse. 11. 280). This movement/mouvance of atoms has only an obscure agency in Lucretius. fold. . each an aporia touching on touch. 9. 4. and thus matter forms—but whether atoms move toward each other or merely into each other is not. salut to the blind we become’. artifice. all of which contributes to the ironic sense of self-touching he does in the section’s title itself. ‘art’. since ‘touch’. This is appropriate because the flesh. and Lucretius suggests cannot be. results in an idea of ‘culture’ as the manipulation of Nature. 6. ‘Efforcement’ is another of Le Toucher’s ‘ex-scriptions’. as dis-placing (mouvance as khôra). Where titles of books and articles appear only in French. 10. if we remember Heidegger’s notion of the hand. what the Greeks called peripeteia. which Caravaggio has assiduously avoided in his depiction of the Virgin.Threshold (pro-)positions 65 3. at the painting. 8.3366/E1754850009000372 . In her translation of On Touching—Jean-Luc Nancy. . Nancy initially delivered this piece in 1993 as a lecture at the Louvre. it is possible to see Derrida and Nancy touching on Kristeva’s suggestion.

(‘A corpus is not a discourse . . ‘Interferon’. . in contrast with Artaud’s experience of his ‘own’ death in the psychiatric hospital in Rodez. * I had a dream (Is it day or is it night?) 3 am: I had a dream about Derrida. da. was locked and no one seemed to have a key. as I said to myself. This roof belonged to a small bookbinding factory where you could smell the bitter fumes of industrial glues. at once ‘mad’ and undeniably true. I immediately found another exit in the backstage and through a corridor hidden in a closet I reached the office of the factory. The second part. . The hostess had completely disappeared and I was nothing but an intruder. ‘Dragon Naturally Speaking’. or a writing from with/out. At the moment I was entering like a robber into this flat 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. I had to enter through the window of a room that was accessible after a perilous crossing of a glass roof. and it is not a narrative’) develops a quasi-narrative which points toward a greater corpus. by Nancy. the (Egyptian) ‘Book of the Dead’. Corpus ‘is’ a writing without writing. Derrida being there. all of these names embody powerful techniques to alter the self and displace the limits of experience ‘itself’. the door opening onto the street. . Derrida in flesh. The place was an old building in bricks. Derridasein.Habeas Corpus Marc Froment Meurice Abstract The first part (‘Some Parts’) deals with Corpus. I couldn’t leave Derrida stuck like that. located in a suburban Paris district where I used to live until I left for America. in flesh and in bones. Since my apartment was at the second floor.

when it touches or lets itself be touched against its will. then. notwithstanding. the last frontier before the complete extinction of life on earth. Thanks to this double.. ‘at home’? I’m not sure these were my exact thoughts. public space. but in turn such resistance to thought calls for thinking against thought. à son corps défendant. In a sarcastic tone. words. guarding its core encore untouched. I would be able to free Derrida. 299) One (every-one) thinks against one’s defending body. perhaps I felt guilty for having left ‘home’ or having left D. he had already entered the open. and turning against the crowd his back. in spite of itself. for meanwhile I was confronted with the secretary of the factory. it will never have begun to think by itself. As if one’s body was defending itself. But then perhaps nothing is so simple. For a limited and unlimited time. Some [one] Parts (quelque [un] part) . guarding itself against any thought about it. as if he had become transformed into a Saint. who defended the place with an heroic or at least incomprehensible tenacity. I could have addressed this Habeas Corpus to (à) my body: to my glorious body. suddenly he made a U-turn in the middle of the road. the Departed. As for Derrida. that is. including camera-reporters and tabloid journalists were waiting to get him. a young and rather alluring woman. in . the supposed placeholder (but instead lieu tenant of nothing) was ready to surrender. Derrida had awakened me. begging to touch one of his piece of cloth. take the place of D. (Derrida 2005. That is why it will never think. I would say. and no witness. 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. . it thinks only there where the counterweight of the other weighs enough so that it begins to think. artificially built at the North Pole. a selfdefense. I. à mon corps défendant. for I had to leave for a new position in an entirely new continent. In a comparable way. an embrace that I can only describe as extremely physical: I could barely understand how strong and resistant his body was compared to mine.Habeas Corpus 67 sandwiched between inside and outside. gifted with a shamanic power of healing by being touched or captured on images. in a limbo. I knew that it would be the last time I would see him. . there were only our two bodies against each other. In spite of thought: thought thinks only in spite of itself. against my will. or. . news and so on. giving way to his desire I let myself be pushed inside the house but in fact out of the dream. and lots of people. quite forced to . videos. who had given me such a gripping salut. while I. . in a grip. he ran into me.

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. and less. protected. Death “is” the only “thing” (no-thing) that bodies cannot and will never experience. and shamefully cozy. this ‘in spite of itself’. “Corps. 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. 125) . but isn’t their knowledge so very poor. ‘Biting’ here translates ‘mordant’. compared to his knowledge—that of the one who is able to put his signature to Corpus. 58) He envies (en-vie: in life. shameful. his or their ‘my body’. protected. I did not want to be this breath that would deadly turn around it up to the extreme dissolution. contrary to the conclusion Artaud draws. and shamefully cozy’. indicate a refusal to appropriate for oneself the living body. they do know it. which does not mean. that they are immortal. Heidegger warns about the most malicious. a knowing “within the ‘my body”’? I would rather think with Artaud that bodies know nothing about death. a word in which you can hear «dead» or «death» (mort) inside. Of course. But is the body a place of knowledge? What does it mean. within the living body.” is either a living or a dead body (and either a singular or a plural). alive) this knowing.” usually translated as “body. ‘poor.68 Marc Froment Meurice a short text entitled ‘Aus der Erfahrung des Denkens’. because what blocks the way is nothing exterior that opposes thought as an object or an obstacle: it is its very heart. and therefore of the living body. without knowing within their bodies. which can also be heard as ‘dent’. who happened to be able to sign that Corpus? (Derrida 2005. within their “my body. therefore to have an experience of death as impossible (impossible experience of impossibility)? With comparison to Nancy’s experience – going through a heart transplant – Derrida’s own knowing seems to himself. Since death has no tooth. tooth. this experience of death. ‘dans’.” that a heart can be thrown off or rejected. shameful. most bitter and biting danger that threatens thought: the risk of having to think against itself. he says. The one who speaks here presently has an experience of death. as if a tooth had to be extracted from within: the mouth of thought. abstract. More. abstract. because there is no way to go beyond. The repetition of ‘without knowing’ and the quotation marks upon ‘their «my body»’. I could no longer be my body. It depends. (Artaud 1994. it seems at the same time less and more than an obstacle. For only the mortal “is” immortal.

for the mind/spirit is the one sick’. without-reserve. when there is no longer any shore. Experience of self-repulsion. (Nancy 1992 in Derrida 2005. grip) of this sphincter of revulsion and asphyxia’. Legally and medically dead’. might need one (body or corpus) to get out of the grave. Artaud goes on. 56) Without having to do with one another. some parts. Without-limit in the sense of Anaximander’s apeiron: such process without-origin-nor-end would come to characterise ‘the figure of ecotechnics’ and its madness. and the mind or spirit takes the place of the Devil who as the fallen angel was associated with the bodily-earthly matter: Verwindung. and especially his body. we read an account about this “real” death. In the preparatory notes to Histoire vécue d’ArtaudMômô. without the mind/spirit. life is restituted only if the Dead one pays back by the ‘complete and total abandonment of his remains (dépouille). 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. 124). ‘In general’: but which generality can be invoked there? There – where? In place of being there. it is yet the . bodies are touching. it is the assured extreme of extra partes.1 Artaud ends his piece about witnessing his own death in Rodez with an affirmation or perhaps a promise: ‘It is the body that will remain. seen from a medical and legal perspective. otherwise there would be no longer any “lived” (hi)story. he writes. revulsion of experience: and the word is underlined a little further. healing. 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. that is. Being will not return it’. ‘Without possible totalization’. ‘Too bad’. I say dead. extending themselves: without limit. exactly as writing needs the ‘solid letter’. comes from having given away his own body. But such perspective merely embodies one side of the road. The (so-called) Other should never be reduced and always is reduced to a limit. It sounds as if Artaud had merely reversed the terms of the metaphysical difference: the body takes the place once devoted to the soul.” 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. there where yet one touches only on a limit. ‘that not a single other dead one could come back for in general the dead do not come back’ (Artaud 1994. So. ‘the horrible pince (claw. for even his inert body. indeed a necessary one. a bordure.Habeas Corpus 69 ‘I am dead at Rodez during an electroshock. Being keeps for itself the body and therefore leaves nobody for the “self.

in Derrida 2005. as creation of bodies extra partes. being-a-body. 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). wide-ranging extension of sense.” here it is. so to speak. such. and to speak precisely so. But thinking that. the world is its own rejection. divided. then what about beings that are not bodies? Are they non-beings? The tautology is the logos of the body: body = same. every body as the world. (Derrida 2005. In short. and yet radically differs from it. but instead. it’s still nothing. Such victory speaks through Nietzsche’s . tout le monde. the rejection of the world is the world. At last. God’s body was the body of man himself. that is to say. the imminence of an intolerable convulsion in thought. without sense and yet like this (comme ça). the inarticulate body-‘speak’: corpus ‘as’ in/articulation. its self-rejection does not occur for the sake of reconstructing a totality without any flaw. according to this tautology. safe and sound: corpus shows no care for obsessive purification. so to speak. no more no less. Thinking this makes one mad. or the thought that it behooves one to think that—and nothing else. In-articulating utterance [énonciation]—that is to say. exactly as ‘Dechristianization will be a Christian victory’ (Derrida 2005. One cannot think of less: it’s that or nothing. in a so to speak ‘material sense’. Such is the world of bodies: it has in it this disarticulation. 59). 54). In truth. This thought: “Hoc est enim. or in hieroglyphs. Indeed. or he is not.” a body“speak” that is not organized. material sense. if it is a thought. A body made mad. in Derrida 2005. This thinking. speaking for the sake of speaking. man’s flesh was the body that God had given himself (Man is—absolutely—body. Corpus enim: mine. 221) If Being («is») means. a Christian victory. but rather a kind of impossible ex-position that I would rather call deposition. always. So. this inarticulation of corpus—enunciating the whole. tel.70 Marc Froment Meurice whole world and everybody. madness indeed. madness). Body = auto. 58–9) Thinking this makes you mad. a speech that does not make sense. the infans. which itself does not make sense: in an intolerable ‘convulsion of thought’ (Nancy 1992. shared and spaced out. mort-tel. a body speaking through borborygmes. I hold Nancy’s ontology of bodies to be. for instance. Such corpus in more than one aspect touches on the body without organs born out of Artaud’s corpus. (Nancy 1992. a whole in one piece. signification no longer. a “speaking”-body that makes no “sense. In addition. Mine like ‘folie’ (folly. mortal. enim.

In any case. that is. as there is no synthesis. even if it is unavoidable: at least. but it does not present or represent an ideology of the body. no mediation. . no totalisation. and did not solve it. the ‘in place of . corpus Dionysii. as long as ‘body’ always means the body of God or God as body.Habeas Corpus 71 and Artaud’s metaphysics of the body more explicitly. 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. corpus Momo: same. Corpus Christi. a sign that points toward the non-sensible. in Derrida 2005. the projection of a temporal structure onto a space without limit or form. insane. Incarnation is the way by which Christianity re-appropriates the body as left out (expropriated). when the corpus as ‘the plastic matter of a spacing out without form’ (Nancy 1992. Corpus is in infinite expansion. in English. To a certain extent the difference living/non-living tends to blur. Ontology of the body = ‘exscription of Being’ (Nancy 1992. Most of the figures of On Touching are still dominated by this ‘imposition’. A sort of magical touch characterised by immediacy. which reminds us of the way Artaud describes thought as an extension or even a prosthesis born out of the bodies. Corpus does not even deal with the category of the living being in general. Such indeconstructible and mad. 222) is the exscribed.) But ontology of body. the interlacing (with/without) offers an impossible articulation: calling for a communication at the very point where there is no passage. ’ that takes place (or God the son without his Father. or living and dead are sharing a certain common condition. and therefore one that calls for a leap of faith. . not to mention healing by a miraculous contact. The only manner of not falling back into a mystical re-appropriation of the body is to undermine the domination of Logos. laying on of hands. even if such being-incommon is something that cannot and refuses to be shared with. the bad condition of my liver was detected by the hand of my doctor. it would be a serious mistake to read Nancy’s Corpus too much on the side of Corpus Christi. 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. expansion/extension. and especially not of the body-proper. rejected as only parts (body = parts). and gives a strong credit to Heidegger’s deconstruction of Metaphysics. between the insensé (senseless or demented) of body-bodies and sense or truth: no passage. as flesh has been renamed to sound less Christian. 20. the Word which makes sense out of an extension without sense. . as for my body. but his touch merely located the problem.

the fact was undeniable. Heraclitus writes. mad body. this world that is the same for everyone. present but undetected for a so long time that it was difficult to ascertain the exact circumstances when it entered into my body for the first time. the only one that one can speak of insofar as it is common to every-body. The tangible. No sense at all. that had touched my skin at the place of my liver. Artaud writes. (‘A corpus is not a discourse . but it lives for ever as long as the fire animates it. the results of my blood test revealed that it was infected with Hepatitis C virus. to the point that I nearly felt the pain of the member. and it is not a narrative’). and it was a hand. Anyway. . I had to do something to restore its self-hood. “The body” is where one’s foot gives way. or a sense that one may absolutely not approach under any category of “sense” or “meaning”. Therefore. 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. was created neither by a god nor a man. But this was not a good reason. The virus was already in my blood. not an ear. . and one of the major ‘side-effects’ of the Treatment I chose in place of a transplant was to make me relive the scene. . or meaningless or having to do with meaning. it ‘takes’ body (as we say in French for ‘taking shape’) at its limit: in the same way as. wholly mad. II. gît-sans: is it that. not touching: interfering without touching it.72 Marc Froment Meurice inorganic body merges into psyche as gisant. . for precisely I had forgotten all about such trauma. ‘is the innocence of facts’ (Artaud 1965. And after all these years spent in complete oblivion of its Intruder. according to Heraclitus. this world (kosmos). A Corpus Is Not . Being the only one close to death but at the same time completely ignorant of it. with a surprising intensity. as they say. . The hand of the doctor I went to consult for what I thought a banal flu. the creation without a creator? Ex nihilo? Yet. For transplant (grafting) was out of question. more precisely on what is called an auscultation. Nonsense but neither absurd. 15)2 Like pain. ‘to listen’. A couple of days later. (Nancy 1992. Intervening. and the touch of bandage around the bruised and red penis. The first evidence touches on a touch. my body suddenly could no longer defend itself. ‘The only remedy to madness’. But not that exactly: for ‘auscultation’ comes from the Latin auscultare. the living being . 16). not even in a relation of knowledge or ignorance. if not holy. the body ‘is’ without any sense: as with/out.

Habeas Corpus 73 touches on the dead one as the awake touches on the sleeper: touching on what interrupts the contact and. 184). however. as if I had become illiterate. apparently. this is because it has been led to this limit” . le foie as a metaphor of faith. a machine for undoing my writing block. A writing without writing. la foi? My liver was dying from lack of faith. and on the level of sense(s) transmission. nobody. exactly as Touching is a hypertrope for the sense of senses (by exscribing the untouchable on its touch. any deconstruction is a trope. literally. And I remember how according to Derrida ‘It is metaphor that Artaud wants to destroy’ (Derrida 1967. a border. whether one can ever identify a pure trope. et c’est alors que j’ai fait tout éclater parce qu’à mon corps on ne touche jamais. even a hypertrope. the «métaphore vive» par excellence? But then. only on condition that we know what it turns about in a trope. Is the medical transplant the source or the proper meaning with respect to which textual grafting. all one ever does touch is a limit. has never touched anything. no body proper has ever touched— with a hand or through skin contact—something as abstract as a limit. translation? And what about the heart if it is not also the heart of all metaphoricity. As with the Memnon colossus.D. 1652) and then I blew out everything because nobody will touch (tamper with) my body. . To touch is to touch a limit. no body. (Artaud 1994. then. or whether on the contrary the trope has not already surrounded and overturned the search for a metaphor-free zone here. Above all. by the same strike. at its heart indeconstructible? For if grafting is nothing but a trope. an outline (Derrida 2005. transference.3 “If philosophy has touched the limit [my emphasis—J. for instance. for philosophy. it was . This is true. Interferon injected into my blood on the one hand to restore my physical immunity. I used a program of vocal recognition named Dragon Naturally Speaking capable of translating spoken words into written words. .] of the ontology of subjectivity. at its limit). There is thus. a difference without sublation. would only be a trope. why not take the liver. extends it on another dimension. a surface. Inversely. and that is the destiny of this figurality. a figure of touch there. Faith in my body? Faith in a metaphor? Grafting as a metaphor? Of deconstruction. Double Treatment. 103). so to speak: a diastole without systole. a metaphor? But what could be a metaphor if not a transportation.

no worse.74 Marc Froment Meurice nothing more than a technical means to make «my body» believe that «it» will speak. just to test the program. Dragon transforms voice into letters inscribed on a page or a screen. Indeed. And inside the house. The scribes of the Book of the Dead were already lost in their corpus. iconic form. I just said what happened the very first day I used the machine: ‘Un chien m’a mordu’. and this. each of my gestures was touching on nothing. I felt as if an obscure force from within my body had obscured the way back to myself. And in result another corpus is born. Who was I for correcting even what I believed having said by myself? Upon what authority could I lay any claim? For example the first sentence I uttered. At the very beginning. even void of any space. in figuring out the place or the scene: here is. hitting like a madman against the void exactly like in a bath tube curtain. I had felt no differently. watching over my back to make sure that I felt unwelcome like an intruder. all we can do is doing as if we could ‘truly’ be dead. watching for the last prairie dogs soon to be exterminated by ignorant human beings. yet this nobody takes place through a body. a differ()nce: while passing from time to space. Analogically. restore what my voice had initially said. there is no body ‘in’ the Book. for it starts at a more elementary or obscure level. Then the first side-effects appeared. ani-mal) could read his own book through my voice. But Dragon wrote it down differently: ‘Un chien ma mort due’. there was a slight hesitation. hoc est enim the ‘creation’ without a creator. another Book of the Dead. a virtual touching. I recall hurting myself against this dense wall of nothingness. the text was also undergoing a number of transformations and alterations inflicted by the poor and often malicious understanding of Dragon machine. The summer was unbearably hot. Between expression and inscription. but the text I was dictating was itself written in a voiceless. Hieroglyphic writing is capable of making an image out of a sound. mine. ‘A dog my due death’. like in a poem between meaning and sound. Imagine: imagination does not consist of building a complex or fantastic scenario. ‘A dog bit me’. from the outset. Of course. my voice was a touching at distance. turning my own home into a hostile place. an empty space. I had to remember what I was not even sure of saying since after all the Book is almost completely incomprehensible. When I came back from Colorado. so that I had constantly to correct. Thanks to a complex technology the scribe Ani (Ani-mort. no better. a gummy . My car couldn’t stand it and left me on a dirt road. the mad of the house who schematises in the unfathomable depths where Psyche lies: nearly dead. was intentionally very simple and short.

I couldn’t even touch the keyboard. New Orleans’ black drown corpses were floating in the middle of my living or rather dying room. in a way. I was falling apart. scary and above all extremely obscure if you were not satisfied with hollow generalities and approximations. second. Going Forth By Day. I was almost lying dead on my chair. as if my secret goal had been achieved: experiencing everything from the point of view of the dead. The title given by the German archeologist Lepsius. the least move felt so painful. At long last I was feeling something. retransferred into written signs by my malicious Dragon. No standard for continuity or even a sense of priority in time. Or perhaps there was no longer any same time. At the same time the side-effects of the Interferon were coming to the fore. It was as if. But then also strangely happy about it. Most of the time I had to stay in the complete dark: after all. . which were almost. opening one gate after the other. I started dictating the chapters on July 23. I could barely walk. Perhaps I needed to hear the Dead one reading through my voice a constellation of images. the Amenti which Homer called Hades (that is. Todtenbuch. and really mad at ‘it’. I was crawling on my chair. here is the exact Title.Habeas Corpus 75 veil that was on the verge of suffocating my mind. the Invisible). washed out like New Orleans the Black City drowned under the putrid waters of the oil and chemical industry. just to realise that they were all alike. As if in a boat accompanying the dead man with my voice alone. Constantly on the verge of collapsing. is misleading for a double reason: first. therefore. the papyrus is not strictly speaking a book. I wandered into the Book. I felt completely robbed. with a minimal delay. The first month was very productive. no measurement with a before and an after. I was entering the Hidden Land of the West. unlike the Bible. words. without a body. always as if. and writing was definitely out of question. I was also involved with a lot of other ‘relevant’ materials. More than 9/11 it sounded like the real end of the world. and nowhere any shore to rest upon. sometimes with no lights on. vanished. the ghost of my Disparue. Or in a without-relation with what was my body left without me. 2005. according to a popular and wrong etymology. but my eyes stayed riveted to the Book as if to pierce it with a spin. The Book was slowly opening its doors. At this stage of my ‘story’ you might wonder what sort of book my techno-somatic experience had to deal with. Book of the Dead (BD). late in the night. My whole body was shivering and burning at the same time. with only the spectral glow from the street shaken by the invisible but brutal touch of the wind blown coming from Katrina. But reading was hard. Disappeared. Transformed: since the dead alone can transform into whatever s/he wishes.

Is it a mere metaphor? It is a risk – to be taken. against my will. and in any case the word does not have the same negative connotation as in our Christianised societies. thus magically opening and restoring power onto the mouth. More than one. except that sometimes I was completely lost in space. Exterior help is thus necessary. 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. it will never fail to be doubled with some semantic or psychic supplement. It is a violent act done to the dead body. indeed re-volting as . The Opening of the mouth is the most important rite accomplished on the body of the D. it is even all that Metaphysics secretly desires. not from a vain God but from an instrument that is neither living nor dead. or even more acutely. The risk of taking the one for the other. which in turn has become the principle actor in the scene. and thus the interpret-performer is no more than an agent of the instrument. Besides expressing all his disgust for the heart. A contrecoeur. in the broad daylight. Lost body in a lost space. This was how Thoth (that is.76 Marc Froment Meurice the Dead are never mentioned ‘as such’.4 but then it will come as no surprise if I tell you that my Treatment resulted in an organic psychosis. the one for the same one. is not only the only addressee of this BD. without any means to ‘orientating’ myself. against my heart. indeed to let it space out as the starting point or rather the Neutral position. I continue in this narrative that isn’t even one. in the open dimension. ‘le point mort’: there is the place of the god-D(ead) Osiris. Writing) had restored Osiris. We have to leave this semantic space completely empty. with whom the blessed Departed one will seek to be identified. Certainly the mouth does not actually utter words but it (is) spoken and (timelessly) opened through the incantation of opening. an uncommon phenomenon or rather a monster as there were no visible symptoms. A mistake. The major spell in the BD is the one to go forth by day. During this rite various objects are placed at or struck against the head of the coffin. to get out. against the flow. to exit or to exist. Physical = metaphysical. no apparent trouble. Artaud did rather praise the liver as a kind of organic filter for the unconscious. he is its performative agent. and the ears. open precisely by the magic of the Word. the eyes. I felt as if my blood was running in the wrong way. an overinvestment of meaning in the senses or the organs (always local): heart or liver. The D. such is the law of the onesame. Thus Ani would be able to respond confidently with all the capabilities of a living man at the weighing of his heart and other necessities of life.

My liver was making me lose faith [mon foie me faisait perdre la foi]. Touching this point is the goal and the real stake of the whole Book. the so-called living. And so I. tel. Altering itself it rests in itself by being out of itself (metaballon anapauetai. but precisely for that reason. libre and livre. taking whatever form he wishes (often birds are the preferred ones but one may choose even so-called evil figures. I call it the point O. There is not only one spell. But also I deliver. . 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 . is there any progress? No. would be no more than the support. since there is no end. Birth as liber. Delivery: birth. a turn) at the same time (à la fois): in only one time. I liver. increasing itself. That is. existing. by dividing itself and therefore extending itself to the division of the division itself. like psyche’s logos in Heraclitus. By rest I mean the corpus extended. as this extension/expansion. into Dasein. but also like the . staying such.Habeas Corpus 77 I thought. In the end. Being with out. Heraclitus). of course. but no loss either. It takes place more than one time (fois: the word in French comes from vices. distention of time up to the infinite. In the end I the liver book was good for the asylum. extra partes. what does not rest but does rest sans. parting from itself and therefore resting in itself. but the decisive one is that spell that calls for being-out. The one that I call the Dead one for it never utters a word. No body. ‘It’ is the Addressee and the One who has to repeat the spell for going out by day. but faith in what? The illusion that I was in control of a body of which I knew almost nothing. like Osiris-Dionysos. may leave his body in the grave and venture out. Liver is so close to ‘live’. such thought? Does not it look rather like a monster? What sort of figure does the Dead one embody? Probably this is an impossible question. laying down as written down or spaced out. The rest is sans. OD. In such experience: Dead or rather Departed. the one creates itself by way of the more than one. 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. We say ‘mal au coeur’. because what remains is what does not remain. to reach or to touch the point where the D. literally ‘pain in the heart’ for a kind of sickness that in fact relates to the liver. could very well be the one who inhabits my home depot that I usually consider as ‘my body’. . An extension without limit other than that of sans. less even than what Egyptians knew 5000 years ago? Only the Dead one survives. mind? Is it even a matter of mind. Sometimes I translate the Dead or D. there is more than one time. like snakes).

toward the West. something took place. in being that sense of the prochain (next and neighbor) and of proximity. something that I would describe as materially impossible. ent-schlossen. you would assume) as a pure instant of madness.78 Marc Froment Meurice ‘point mort’. as if I had somehow succeeded in extirpating myself from my bunker or mastaba. in spite of this proximity or precisely because of it. ‘yes but nothing’. which is the exact opposite of ours: naturally. and above all never head toward the rising sun. ‘Immune disorder is also in order’ An intolerable convulsion. that of sans. for it had nothing to do [rien à voir] with what we mean by seeing or even touching. something I discovered after meditating on the direction of reading. a hieroglyphic text is supposed to be read from right to left. In short. by the same stroke still a sort of sense. It appeared (not exactly a phenomenon. and this is one of the secrets of the BD. so that the simple thought of this impossibility would itself become intolerably impossible to even think of. which defines the empty space or spacing/out. That is. none of the senses. it seemed. No sense for it. sans sense. forced to ‘see the day’. which constitutes us as the ‘truer’ Dead as Westerners. reading toward the West is the proper way for the D. which can be read as ‘si mais rien’. which frequently reverses the usual way. from ‘my’ fortified corps. ent. and even touching. that is. therefore the sense of presence par excellence. This Turning (analogous to a certain extent to the Kehre in Heidegger) constitutes the genuine strangeness of such experience. even if touch gets closer. We are Kimmerians. out of the castle where I had been put at secret for so long. and taken by force. No sense for it. like sight or hearing. the interval of zero time. but in fact it was . the D. Not only was it unthinkable. inhabitants of these dark shores that Homer named Kimmeria. And yet. out into the Open. In order to get to this point. one must first abstain from touching it. but neither a sixth sense nor a metaphoric sense. in French Cimmériens. but also impossible to figure out or to represent in any way. it is to be read from left to right. instead of looking forward into the future. Without a sense as a distinct organ. also.as they say in German. 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. brings close. since the Egyptians looked at the South as our North. This is the reason why. that is. castle or safe. voir le jour. must turn backwards. but in case of sacred texts. a birth but not even to presence. as if indeed I had been extracted from..

But why is it. asks Derrida. . no fusion. its unfathomable body. there . no. there is no ‘There is’. about whom Aristotle said that she ‘in some way’ is the beings. and therefore always more than what it is. exscribed under the form of books such as Corpus. bodies out of his own body. the existent for which the There. for a while. Heraclitus asserts that psyche’s logos is so deep that you will never find its limits. let’s remember. They de-limit. I say. Such jouissance is an ecstasy of sans and sense. it will end up always as a sign. for nothing is thereby given. se tend. nothing mystical since it offers no communion. creating. no order. In the same way. They meet precisely at the point where they part. and precisely in view of this end. The continuation of this story. Corpus is neither a history nor a discourse. In this convulsion of thought. For with the (impossible) experience of with/out. one into the other. belongs to history. precisely at the extent of their extension. These bodies’ parts. a de-parting. pure autobiography of Corpus-Psyche is/as impossible. is always in place of itself. extends. exactly as Artaud could imagine projecting. and touch) is transformed to the point that its corpus can never be assembled. everything therefore. even if in the end. . Such corpus signifies nothing. There is no history of bodies. à perte de vue. logically. and in an insane jouissance. that is.Habeas Corpus 79 as if this unthinkability were the very core of thought. which may resolve into a laughter as with Bataille and Nancy. which draws a techno-spectral Body. but a being too many and in the end without being at all. not even Es gibt. Self-creation as the invention of the other: Psyche as the invention of a corpus which. no. There. who lies almost dead over her coffin-corpus. no identification or idealisation. and à corps perdu. no organism. what Plato names ‘the expansion of clearing’ (aletheia). and precisely insofar as the body. if only there could have been a story here. at a loss of sight. that is. The limits of a corpus extend beyond the limits of the volumes. inextricably. is the very impossible. that Psyche. Corpus ‘is’ a writing without writing. the ‘There it takes place’. meet to a certain extent. is mine only insofar as it belongs to no body. no collection. sense (and image. They write without (&) in place of the body. for now you have realised that Corpus is no body else than Psyche. there only remain pieces. or else it is given away. wakes up as corpus disseminated. . for instance? For Corpus is a writing of the dead and for the dead. like those of Osiris’ body. Now you’ve entered into the corpus of thought. morsels (morceaux). The coming out in the open takes place as corpus and nothing else. at their limit. but referring to no set. Not only a word too many. as the event of takingplace. or a writing from with/out. however far you dare venture. sense itself turns into sans. at a loss of a body.

True mourning has nothing to do with the “work of mourning”: the “work of mourning. The guile of philosophy (always dressed into the clothes of the other. 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 – it’s a fact. but at the same time sans. everyone she thinks).” an elaboration concerned with keeping at a distance the incorporation of the dead. touching a dead body? The body of the one from which your own body came out ‘to the Day’. Philosophy distinguishes itself by the unique way it profits from death [jouir de la mort] – which is also a way of assuring its own perdurability. makes sense.” 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. it semainei. far from only dealing with “keeping at a distance the incorporation of the dead. into the world? ‘But mourning is without limits and without representation. “Death”). In the end. of death. Existence is an imminence of existence. What is it. creates sense as this spacing/out that is inbetween. a body that I could not. its favorite technique is to make the two opposite work together so that philosophy wins on both sides.” were. the date of ‘sortie’ (coming out: 1992) is undeniable – relate Nancy’s Corpus to my mother’s body. much less to touch. philosophy perhaps.80 Marc Froment Meurice sema. To come forth and be born: to find ourselves exposed. did not want to see. thus held at bay. by way of the incorporation of the dead? (Derrida 2005. For what. is very much the work of philosophy. remarkably. And thus it is also: to be born to this nonrepresented of the dead. 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. medium. to represent nothing. Neither revealing nor hiding. But if mourning is without limits it is . 52–53). but then a sign of the same way as that the god uses to give through the illiterate virgin in Delphi. the sealing off [bouclage] of sense. but the verb is “bear.” and the same goes. and what is a sense that would not be immediate? Should I name it ‘passance’? Death is the absolute signified. It is: to recuperate nothing. The same goes for all “ideals” and “works. philosophy precisely. The noun is what it is (and even this proper name. without immediate sense. by way of this. on a denying avoidance. working on such an incorporation. to ex-ist. the dead will be represented. It is tears and ashes’. Philosophy is ignorant of true mourning.” to be born [naître]. Is it? Tears and ashes are still within limits and perfectly within representation. it is the very work of representation. It is tears and ashes. But mourning is without limits and without representation. for all philosophies.

that the circulation of sense/blood is interrupted. a place of with/out. without even being able to say I. because one cannot even enter once. in a time difficult to measure out. of sans: by throwing oneself into this infinite mourning. once again. 59). This would materially yield into what would logically be called an organic psychosis. not a body-so-to-speak). Heraclitus. ‘I’ became a writing machine. or more exactly with a form of impossible disorganisation. repeated as that which has not even been presented even once. which would make utterly impossible any sort of organisation. but a maddening reversal of places: it. yes. Is it here. Into the mouth of Dragon I was injecting the blood of life and fire but in turn Dragon consumed it into blocks of petrified words. for want of a first time. And then there was no longer my voice and its inscription. The body sent (smells. The body feels such ‘cannot’ in the revulsion that turns it against its own sense. At the same time. psy-thing. the D. but to this nonrepresented. so to speak. or rather psy-chose. Jouissance. It is already too late since the very beginning of time. but because it touches on the without-limits and without-representation of the Dead. à corps perdu. My story collides with the anarchy of complete disarray. It has to be repeated.Habeas Corpus 81 not because it leaves nothing to work out. and it cannot be repeated. completely automatic and programmed. insofar as this experience takes place – even as this experienced impossibility of being presented even once – it has to be repeated. it comes back to him as an income and a ghost. But his hand touching on nothing or else touching only by its voice. shows the way: one cannot enter twice into the same river. feels) death. limitless freedom of the Dead. not in the proper sense (of Ereignis). from my inner most invisible and untouchable for. a voice that is no longer his (or hers). The secret of survival belongs indeed to the Dead one. Therefore there will have never been any (hi)story for that which can never be called an event. one comes forth into the Day: birth. took my voice with his hands. but if once. So it feels what it cannot endure to feel. in truth.. and I was left completely speechless: who wouldn’t have been speechless if put in my place? And thus left sans. immune body. at this place. more than once and therefore never even once. of a body-proper (a body properly speaking. suspended in ‘an intolerable convulsion of thought’ (Nancy 1992 in Derrida 2005. a pure. It passes over to the Dead one so that he can read his own Book. but it can never la sentir (tolerate it). . and thus makes it properly speaking without: as if no creation could take place without some immense catastrophe (the fractal dimension in Corpus). even a negative one.

In Greek. selfalteration in the sense. as untouched as possible. perhaps. and untouched. I am the virus and the treatment: pharmakon. If in the last resort. as said Nancy interpreting Sophocles. the same. but it is precisely because the body has to be kept asylos. In a creation without creator. there is no resurrection. (Nancy 1992) In short. the living-dead or undead body. and conversely what kills saves. asulos means ‘inviolable’. man has taken the place of god. What saves kills. No other than the one. We also say l’asile. to let it ‘be’ or rest in peace. he who brings it out of nothing. a delimited place that is sacred and therefore safe (sauf). Such corpus deserves some respect. since historically techne has nothing to do with modern technology. none other than man himself. No. in a rather modern way would object Heidegger. I kill myself by the same way: by way of the Same. has always meant). and. defense against any intruder. almost sacred but not because you never know. in the secret of a grave or a writing. No other. for example. man is the place-holder of creation. in case. Man becomes what it is: the most terrifying and troubling technician. as the ‘most terrifying technician’ (a mad Demiurge). there is a certain risk of falling back into a sort of subjective-humanistic reappropriation of the Intruder. Indeed. I have to let it be free as if it were its last will. Technique names the power of replacing just anything. protection. reclining on a coffin. shield. my self. But above all he would not have left ‘man’ at the center of this process of creative denaturation. always identical to itself and yet that is never done with altering itself’. I turn my immunity against myself: I kill the Intruder. the resurrection of bodies. he who re-creates creation. nearly dead. but if in the last instance I am this intruder. . for the madhouse. in the same way as physis is not nature.” in all its possible senses. of self-rejection (of the most intimate ‘heart’) can be possible only on the condition that self remains self-same while transforming into. exactly like the Devil. and yet always altering itself: in a quasi-dialectical move. He who de-natures and re-fashions nature. for example. safe from any appropriation by violence. and such is the force of self that it remains as what lies down (ci-gît or hypokeimenon). at the end of L’Intrus: ‘The intruder is no other than me. that is. in case it would happen to you. safe. and especially hieron asulon or simply to asylon means an inviolable temple. ‘asylum’. at least unmoving.82 Marc Froment Meurice The madness of Technik We are the beginnings of a mutation: man recommences going infinitely beyond man (this is what “the death of god. of transforming into whatever works. returns it to nothing. immunity is the only way to ‘figure’ identity as problema. as Sophocles designated him 25 centuries ago. ‘immune’.

1992). Corpus (Paris: Métailié. Nancy. a vestale on her couch: and it is not by being closed that she is virgin. Jean-Luc (1992). Nancy. ‘Pour en finir avec le jugement de Dieu’ [1948]. Jean-Luc Nancy. Friedrich Hölderlin. Evelyne Grossman. stretched out but out of touch as such: corpus-psyche. (Nancy 1992. one of the seven wonders of the (ancient) world. to take away. is quoted or rather incorporated in Derrida’s Le Toucher. 3. Stanford. Paris: Gallimard. p. Heraclitus concealed his Book Peri Phuseos in the most sacred temple of Ephesis. My translation since this passage. Antonin (1965). 2. and in particular to take away from someone his weapons. trans. 125. last words of ‘Pour en finir avec le jugement de Dieu’. It is the “open” that is virgin. Artaud. Patmos. Les Tarahamaras. offered and inaccessible. On Touching—Jean-Luc Nancy. Notes 1. 2004). p. L’Intrus. Paris: Editions du Seuil. CA: Stanford University Press. Paris: Galilée. Christine Irizarry. p. Derrida. a daughter of fire. City Lights Books. DOI: 10. the Artemision. Artaud Anthology. Jacques (2005). Jacques (1967). vol. Asulos is constructed exactly like aletheia (unconcealment. p. the deed of a pyromaniac lover of the fire and therefore the only true disciple of the ‘Obscure’. Antonin (1994). another image of a vestale. Paris: Gallimard/quarto. 1652. Antonin (2004). Antonin Artaud. Paris: Métailié. as well as few others I will quote later on. which ended being consumed by fire. ‘Histoire vécue d’Artaud-Momo’. Here is how Nancy. 52) References Artaud. in Œuvres. Artaud. Antonin (2004). Antonin Artaud. 15. Derrida. to remove. in Œuvres (Paris: Gallimard. it is by being open. that is. L’écriture et la différence. XXVI. Bodies are completely inviolable. ed. Paris: Gallimard. 2004). evokes the integral nudity of Aletheia. ed. in Œuvres.Habeas Corpus 83 According to the legend. ‘Le foie semble donc être le filtre organique de l’Inconscient’. the divine goddess presiding over the madness of the Day: the only page I had underlined in the original first edition of Corpus in 1992. Artaud. ‘Les Tarahamaras’ in Œuvres.1694. 1948. Jean-Luc (2000). lying out of access. in one of the most sublime page of Corpus. 4. Evelyne Grossman (Paris: Gallimard/quarto. Jack Hirschman. Each one is a virgin. in Œuvres complètes. Corpus. The verb sulao means to rob. trans. and stays so forever. truth) with a negative alpha placed before another ‘negative’ action.3366/E1754850009000384 .

an alternative consideration of literature as telehaptology is proposed. Since in a net I seek to hold the wind’ .. Through a reading of Nancy’s text and the gospels..Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself. . And the signs said. In response to Nancy’s formulation of literature as parable. Notably. It suggests that this moment in telecommunications presents a model of ‘tele-haptology’. the words of the prophets Are written on the subway walls And tenement halls. In particular it is concerned with Nancy’s hypothesis on Modern literature and art as having an essential link to the gospel parables. Egerton Manuscript1 People talking without speaking. this hypothesis is placed in doubt. People hearing without listening. The text goes on to consider Jean-Luc Nancy’s ‘Noli me tangere’ as a response to Le Toucher.Thomas Wyatt. . * ‘I leave off therefore. the argument is made that once again Nancy’s 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.Simon and Garfunkel2 . Jean-Luc Nancy Martin McQuillan Abstract This text begins by considering the phrase ‘digital haptology’ as suggested by the closing pages of Derrida’s Le Toucher. And whispered in the sounds of silence.

000 voters in a keenly contested election. the question of democratic ‘digital haptology’ is a vexed one. 123). The States of Indiana. Homer attempts to vote for Obama in the 2008 election. ‘Digital Haptology’ is a phrase suggested to me by the opening paragraphs of the late pages. The voice says ‘six votes for President McCain’. Pennsylvania.Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself. The scene concludes with the computer opening up to suck Homer into its murderous grip. and which is quickly curtailed in preference . 257). is concerned. he discusses the ‘becoming-haptical’ of the optic as a theme in Deleuze and Guattari. As a result the 2008 Presidential election was characterised by a return to paper ballots for two thirds of the electorate. Derrida has been concerned with ‘digital’ touching before this but only in the sense of touching with the finger. despite its vulnerability to crashes that drop recorded votes and the absence of any paper record to verify accurately recorded choice. 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. where the Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner sued the manufacturers of the touch-screen equipment. Touching with the finger is in fact the paradigm of all touching as far as the model of haptocentric intuitionism. 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. did not record any choice of 18. Georgia. assigning ‘the eye a digital function’ (Derrida 2005. as he is being dragged away he calls out ‘this doesn’t happen in America. which runs through western philosophy. Texas. with one box for Obama and one box for McCain. Jean-Luc Nancy 85 I Democracy At Your Fingertips In a recent episode of the Simpsons. In the polling booth he is confronted with a touch-screen voting machine. for Want of a Final Retouch’. entitled ‘Salve: Untimely Postscript. Ohio in 2004. and Aristotle’s apparent silence concerning the ‘tactile hand’ or ‘digital touch [doigté]’ (Derrida 2005. Florida. wishing to vote for Obama. As a short commentary that points in another direction of study. as Homer Simpson reminds us. presses the Obama box several times. Homer. New Jersey and South Carolina all predominantly used touch-screen technology in 2008. Tennessee. 162). ‘digital manipulation’ in Husserl (Derrida 2005. of Derrida’s book on Jean-Luc Nancy. Kentucky.3 Following electoral irregularities in Florida in 2000 and. Maryland. He touches the Obama box and the McCain box lights up as an electronic voice says ‘one vote for McCain’.

almost seven years ago. and this would be the entire point of Derrida’s book. However. the word processor. language. in which techn¯ e makes possible the realisation of writerly projects previously beyond the means of scholarly labour or cost-effective publishing. we are in the middle of a virtual reality. that is. on my computer. and digital touch will have undergone an essential mutation of ex-scribing over the past ten years. 300) As Hillis Miller points out so much of this extraordinary book depends upon what we might call with a nod to obsolete technology. He begins with a reference to his own book: A supplementary touch or past retouch left stalled long ago. This is a book of the computer age. The converse is also true. In the case of this book. Derrida is concerned here not so much with the ‘digital technology’ of the computer as the act of typing on a keyboard. the form of physicality that appears to stand outside the ‘digital experience’ but in fact determine it in the most decisive way.86 Martin McQuillan to a return to his relationship with Nancy. 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. that touch is from the beginning a virtual experience. for the same reasons. the most exemplary of books. It may also be. The etymology of the ‘digital’ computer and the digit that touches are of course one and the same. these paragraphs are indeed a ‘salvo’ of sorts: a depth charge that rises to the surface within Derrida’s detailed genealogy of touch. With these pages our attention is hailed towards another idiom and another work of philosophy. a place where the relation between thought. the Latin ‘digitus’ meaning finger or toe. a network of virtual experience which we might call a ‘word . ‘a supplementary touch’. and by extension giving rise to the mathematical ‘digit’ as a discrete value or quantity (one after all counts on one’s fingers and toes) and so referring to the digital computer which uses signals and information represented by such digits. at least not a book in the sense that this mode of production has been hitherto understood in literature and philosophy. as Derrida’s opening three words suggest. The fingers that manipulate a keyboard are then not necessarily a physical adjunct to a virtual experience but are. However. weight. it is also suggestive of what the reader of tomorrow might ‘salvage’ from this extended account of the fraternal relation between Nancy and Derrida. (Derrida 2005. 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. of its reading and the responses to it. as such it might not be a book at all.

‘exscription’ (writing’s placing of sense outside of what it inscribes4 ). whereas the virtual partakes more of the visual. Jean-Luc Nancy 87 process’ in which the relation between ‘thought. Digital writing is in no way exempt from the work of what Derrida calls here. There is nothing more virtual than reading and writing. weight [the touch of the finger on an icon tile] language. To this credulity. The remainder of Derrida’s paragraph goes on to cite some examples. 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. as such and constitutively. ‘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. may be subjected to this very belief. And if (continuous and continuistic) haptocentric intuitionism is indeed a dominant tradition. that is. then philosophy. 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 virtual horizon of the senses. One spontaneously has the tendency to believe that touching resists virtualization. 300). with the appearing of phainesthai. of the technical supplement challenging the discreet. he says: A pretext to bring up another challenge. We might call these ‘virtual realities’ a form of tele-haptology. the spectral. a touch without touching. and calculable multiplicity of the senses—and the assurance that touch is on the side of the act or the actual. 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. However. to paraphrase the title for this set of readings that Tom Cohen and I concocted over a late night telephone call. with the phantasm. and digital touch’ all undergo their own essential mutations and ex-scriptions with Derrida’s text as the ‘central processing unit’. this future matter. Derrida’s commentary here concerns the need for a description ‘of the surfaces. and the revenant. after Nancy.Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself. 300) This then is the ‘challenge’ of Derrida’s book to the reader of tomorrow. discrete. which exscription touches in another way’ (Derrida 2005. ‘the technology of the senses to come’. a . the volumes. a supplementary one. which I have taken as my theme here. and the limits of this new magic writing pad. Derrida’s own situation is. rather it is a question of mapping a new terrain for exscription between so-called ‘memory’ and ‘hard discs’. nothing more intimately connected to touch either.

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) redefining the relations between touch and thought. this possibility hasn’t waited for our century. the same pleasure. for all the reasons just put forth. an entire generation of children are now completely at ease with the idiom of data processing provided by the screen on a Nintendo DS. given the risk to the Mother of medieval childbirth). but let’s put these things under the heading ‘facts of the day’ [questions d’actualité]. 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. touched either by a stylus or a finger nail. the same torture—tripalium.88 Martin McQuillan touch outside of itself. not to mention erogenous ‘distance touching’ and amorous bodies wrestling in the sheets of the Internet’s web. and torture as a crime of universal jurisdiction. The artefactual haunts and works through both technics and desire. (Derrida 2005. or artefactuality. to work. Tomorrow’s Sigmund Freud will have to refine his magic writing pad and the topography of bodies during psychoanalytical sessions. This topography of the senses-to-come awaits before us to be mapped in an exacting and precise way. a beam of wood also used in torture. The contemporary commuter tele-haptically . My children’s first response to a computer screen in a library or museum is now to touch the screen rather than a keyboard. Calling up the internet or ‘google earth’ at the touch of a finger is surely a form of tele-haptology that changes the expectations one has concerning the immediate and the virtual. This virtual ambit touches on a good deal. giving rise to the Old French use of ‘travailler’ to refer to both the pain of childbirth and by extension death. and so on. 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’. And work in general. While the examples that Derrida cites here specifically concern the interactive process of a virtual haptical experience of a particular kind. The same is true of users of touchscreen telephones such as I-Phones or the Blackberry Storm™. including all work in general. the suffering during the Sabbath. the dialectic of pleasure and pain. It’s the same labour. Alongside the question of labour sits all gender relations (for ‘travailler’ is also related to ‘trabicula’. For example. from the tele-haptological sexual relation to the limit point of death itself. No doubt.

but let me for the moment place it alongside Derrida’s discourse on tele-haptology to test how robust a formulation . our present situation calls for a necessary re-examination of the parameters and conditions of touching as it has been traditionally thought. Jean-Luc Nancy 89 touches their destination on a ticket machine in railway station or airport terminal. Or love letters (Derrida 1987. while the American electorate are asked to touch their chosen one: election through tele-haptological conferment. On the other hand. is also tele-haptology. if not all of it. such systems are merely (or perhaps accurately) the simulation of touch. On the one hand. In another text on digital touching. I have discussed this citation elsewhere7 . ‘this possibility hasn’t waited for our century’. that in these seemingly fleeting 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. he says. but so last century) is really a consequence of digital memory storage capability rather any essential relation to the sense of touch. Derrida makes a significant claim with respect to virtuality and literature: An entire epoch of so-called literature.Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself. 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. or psychoanalysis. Derrida’s gesture is interesting here. ‘at the touch of a button’.6 These idioms being only exemplary cases of what is true of touch in general. Neither can philosophy. Of course. namely both its technical origin and its phantasmatic non-immediacy.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. and it would be true to say that for example the myth of Butades provides a version of the virtual work of telehaptology. 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. using resistive. touching on all the canonical touchstones. It is curious then that having done precisely this ‘work’. This account in relation to Nancy and so many others takes him some three hundred pages. cannot survive a certain technological regime of telecommunications (in this respect the political regime is secondary). and will no doubt return to it again and again. Now. the ‘Envois’ section of La Carte Postale. 197).

Derrida is not saying here that all literature cannot survive the regime of telecommunications. He says. the imminent virtualization of sensation would the very definition of literature rather than a threat to its survival? At this point I would like to turn to a text by Nancy. One might read this injunction in several ways with regard to the Nancy-Derrida relation. both as a philosopher whose considerable body of work is of undeniable quality.90 Martin McQuillan it might be. one who Derrida has laid his finger upon by writing about like Levinas . to Derrida’s work of 2000. a deconstructive pariah. His Noli me tangere written in 2003 is a direct response.g. Let me sound some notes of caution to begin with. ‘an entire epoch of so-called literature’ cannot survive a ‘certain technological regime’. 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). precisely. He does not refer to Derrida’s text explicitly. little that is more virtual than ‘literature’. Accordingly. such is the extent of the criticism of his ‘deconstructive’ endeavour Derrida lays at his door in Le Toucher. e. the response might be ‘hands off’. in so far as any writing is ever direct. as the English has it. and as a ‘canonised’. Cixous or Blanchot). Nancy adds to the literature on touch. He is either beyond the pale. Nancy is now ‘untouchable’ in the sense that he is beyond criticism. seemingly. then how might we begin to understand the literary in relation to this regime of the technology of the senses to come? Surely. psychoanalysis and love letters in an undifferentiated way. beyond the reach of redemption. as I have suggested above. the opposite is true.9 Alternatively. for example. in two senses.8 He does go on to include. 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. 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. having the last word as it happened. Le Toucher. institutionalised saint of deconstruction. and so by extension. The title may also suggest that Nancy is untouchable. the limits he places around the ‘literature’ in question (‘so-called literature’ at that. Following the ambiguous job Derrida does of saluting Nancy. there is nothing more virtual than reading and writing. so a good deal remains at stake here. If. by responding to Derrida with a ‘touch me not’. the so-called Noli me tangere. do not lay your touch upon me. all philosophy.

It does not proceed out of a pedagogy of figuration (of allegory or illustration) but. in a sense that is made manifest precisely by the thought of the parable’ (Nancy 2008. constitutes the identity of the revealable and so ‘carries along with it the identity of the image and the original. As one might expect. 5). In this sense revelation. and nonbelieving structure’. for Nancy. he suggests by quotation from Matthew 13 that parables are meant for those to whom it is not ‘given .Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself. ye shall hear. to follow Nancy a little further. Jean-Luc Nancy 91 or Benjamin. Nancy says ‘the parable might be expected to open their eyes. . the bold declaration of ‘noli me tangere’ in response to Le Toucher – Jean Luc Nancy. out of a refusal or a denial of pedagogy’ . see not. revelation has a ‘nonreligious. 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 a reply to Derrida. and shall not perceive’ (Nancy 2008. But Jesus says nothing of the sort. This leads Nancy to offer an understanding of parables in scripture as at once offering a text to be interpreted and ‘a true story. to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven’. informing them of a proper meaning through its figurative system. to the contrary. and hearing they hear not. 5). compels our attention as a further elaboration of what Nancy has to say concerning touch. I would like to flag up the potentially bifurcating phrase ‘the truth and its figures’ as I will have cause to return to this momentarily. neither do they understand’. for those who hear them. and shall not understand. Now. the truth and the interpretation being made identical to each other and by each other’ (Nancy 2008. However. thereby implying . which puts into play what he calls an ‘autodeconstruction of religion’ (Nancy 2008. Unlike the disciples who have been given this knowledge. 5). This leads Nancy to conclude that ‘thus the objective of the parable is first to sustain the blindness of those who do not see. says Nancy. 4–5). . 4). the identity of the invisible and the visible’ (Nancy 2008. Either way. . 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 figures needs to be understood otherwise. and seeing ye shall see. this is a book concerned with representation and the relation between representation and revelation: the stakes of which will become apparent presently. those who listen to parables. For Nancy. . are those who ‘seeing. II Faith in Jean-Luc Nancy What particularly interests me about Nancy’s text. parables fulfil the words of Isaac [sic]: ‘By hearing. he says that. To the contrary.

ending with the flourish ‘he that hath ears to hear. I would like to refute this assertion at quite a basic level. has] grown gross. neither do they understand’. not Isaac who was almost sacrificed by his Father as a result of pre-parable revelation) concerning less figurative presentations of the good news. ‘many prophets and just men have desired to see the things that you see. or. given that the Jesus of the Gospels spends his time saying contradictory and arresting things. Nancy’s reading of this must be that the parables are designed to prevent the unblocking of ears and sight and to prevent conversion. that at some point they should hear the meaning of these parables and be healed. let him hear’. 5). and with their ears they have been dull of hearing. ‘why speakest thou to them in parables?’10 He replies. and understand with their heart. Now. Isaiah. and be converted. However. This is the meaning of the words of Isaias (that is. ‘For the heart of this people is [i. Having told the parable of the sower and the seed to a large crowd. and I should heal them’. namely. and to hear the . from him shall be taken away that also which he hath. the disciples ask Jesus. For he that hath.e.92 Martin McQuillan (Nancy 2008. which can be read with Nancy to suggest ‘so that they do not’ but equally as meaning ‘unless’. ‘Therefore do I speak to them in parables’ because hearing other genres of communication they hear not. 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. and have not seen them. ‘because to you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven: but to them it is not given. One possible reading of this is that of Nancy. 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. Jesus goes on to say of this particular locale. to him shall be given. This can all be read as a consideration of pre-parable religion. one might also say that the important word in this sentence is ‘lest’. and hearing they hear not. 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. that is. and their eyes they have shut: lest at any time they should see with their eyes. However. revelation through clarity. that the parable is deployed by Jesus precisely so that those who see not and hear not will not understand. and he shall abound: but he that hath not. and hear with their ears. an alternative and opposite reading is also possible. Therefore do I speak to them in parables: because seeing they see not.

the disciples have not understood the parable as such either. Hence. rather than as a random post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy generated by biblical editing. Jesus reinforces his own literal interpretation of himself through the extended use of parables generated out of this single point. These words of Psalm 77 are suggestive of an entirely different understanding of the objective of the parable as a genre of religious knowledge. so to speak. Thus. ‘All these things Jesus spoke in parables to the multitudes: and without parables he did not speak to them. Accordingly.Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself. As both Ernest Hemmingway and Jacques Derrida remind us. as it were. Pedagogically speaking. forcing him to stand in a fishing boat and speak to the crowd on the shore. it has moved just . I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world’. 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. On this reading the parables work according to the redistributive logic of Republican tax policy. Rather. the prophets and just men are in the same position as the crowd who are waiting to see and hear. 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. all suggestive of the same point and all paradigmatically similar. He goes on to offer them a string of other parables. in layman’s terms. explaining it. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet. 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. and in order to hear the word direct from the horse’s mouth have gone to hear Jesus speak (to touch the hem of his gown as crowds do in the gospels). including that of the grain of mustard seed. 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. what one might discern here is not so much a report of an extended conversation held by Jesus but a conflation by Matthew of a run of similar parables in one continuous scene. Jean-Luc Nancy 93 things that you hear and have not heard them’. as a screenwriter condenses the action of a novel for its representation on the screen. An alternative reading might say it very much depend upon the meaning of ‘hath’. unless one accepts Nancy’s strong Calvinist reading of Jesus as a confounder and confuser of the ignorant. Jesus has to explicate his text for them in a private tutorial. saying: I will open my mouth in parables. Of course. ensuring a gulf of misunderstanding between them. Either way it sits uncomfortably as a declaration of the ministry of Jesus.

the crowd. i. It is not clear how this disposition might be received prior to already having a receptive disposition itself. one must already have ‘the receptive disposition’ in order to receive and that ‘this disposition itself can only have already been received’ (Nancy 2008. of sensibility and of sense in general.e. Firstly. That is to say. those who do not understand]. Thus. This is important for what follows because having introduced a vocabulary of ‘figures’ and ‘allegory’. from him shall be taken away that also which he hath [i. This is the logic of the elect and why I am calling Nancy a Calvinist on this point. he suggests that the phrase ‘those who seeing. The words divine or sacred may never really have designated anything other than this passivity or this passion. By this reckoning. So. then literature. through which alone there can be divinity and adoration’ (Nancy 2008. Nancy says ‘this is not a religious mystery. see not’ is the same terminology to be found elsewhere in the bible as a condemnation of the cult of idols. Those that ‘hath’. and he shall abound: but he that hath not [i.e. 6). to him shall be given [understanding]. 6). he goes on to open out his understanding of the parable as an intensification of blindness into a consideration of firstly art. idolatry is condemned not because of the unworthiness of images as such but because the eyes that view them ‘do not first welcome sight into themselves prior to all that is visible. that those who come to deconstruction from Philosophy departments are inclined to entirely misread literature. the poor in spirit. i. initiator of . Possession in this sense is not straight-forward. Nancy demonstrates a universal truth of deconstruction.94 Martin McQuillan beyond our grasp.e. one could spend a great deal of time drilling down through an explication of the contradictions within the Bible. it is the condition of receptivity itself. 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. say Nancy. those that are in possession of property are rich indeed but elsewhere in the Gospels we are told how difficult it is for the rich to enter into the kingdom of heaven and how the poor in spirit are in fact the fortunate ones. My point here is that in offering a dramatic gesture concerning interpretation and revelation.e. i. Now. those that have nothing. something that is irreducible to any definitive incomprehension. after all such activity sustained western academics for centuries.e.e. his understanding]’. namely. one might read this text otherwise: ‘for he that hath [i. not having poverty of spirit]. Something significantly complex is at work in these elliptical and condensed verses and the text surrounding it.

including nonsense and misunderstanding. a condensation of the problem of condensation and so on. or sensual’ (Nancy 2008. there is a single ‘image’ and. since this must be a sight they had but did not know they had and so sight with which they could not see. supplementary explanation that their eyes and ears are said to see and hear. There are not several degrees of figuration or literalness of sense. one that prompts further search’ (Nancy 2008. 7). just in case we forget what we came in here for. does not hold because this abyssal structure is the initiator of every kind of sense. it is in some way paradigmatic of the structural insufficiency of all paradigms. One receives even if one does not understand. that is ‘understand correctly’ and according to an authoritative and fixing interpretation at that. sensory. This of course is merely the retreat of appearance in the absence of différance. or. 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 . but no less complex for that and what connects all sense and all sensation. He suggests that the parable and the spiritual are not ‘immediately correlative. 6). which itself requires the elaboration of further parables to refine it. This is not only how all parables work. 6). One might say here that this parable of dissemination is a parable of all parables. Jean-Luc Nancy 95 every kind of sense: sensible. it is how all sense works. touch is only given with those who are already predisposed to touch. 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. and so all touch. which is in fact what the toucher is predisposed towards in the first place. If the same is true of all sense. the tele-haptology. although the touch that is given. along with the centre. it is available only to those with a predisposition to touch. that the Calvinist-Republican logic. facing it. this is a difficult point for me. a vision or a blindness’ (Nancy 2008. touch for example. 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’. that disposition having been touched upon previously. The disciples receive the parable of the sower just as the crowd does. Again this is difficult. is only a simulation of touch. it is only through a post-hoc. It is also to say. ‘The text very clearly rules it out’. As in the case of the digital haptology of the ticket machine. However. How can we understand this originary receptive disposition that cannot be originary enough in order to receive itself. which must therefore at some point reveal itself in the act of receiving itself. he boldly states. the sensible in general and all sensation. This includes ‘touch’.Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself.

‘a double excess of visibility and invisibility’ (Nancy 2008. after all suggested a number of levels of allegory through which a text passes. ‘seeing’ in this latter sense meaning a sight that now sees itself seeing? Jesus concludes his tutorial with the disciples by asking. neither an appearance of reality nor reality itself. a miscellany on offer. so to is the figurative text in which all the parables appear. Its excess is always . classical mythology is ‘a lesson without scared grandeur’. Not only are parables literally allegorical. This is a truly curious thing to say. but to a textual production beyond itself. 7). one who has. who must remain close to our thought here. this little book is attempting to clear the way. Even when understanding has been confirmed Jesus is compelled to offer an additional parable of that sight. says Nancy. the parable for Nancy is not allegorical (that is. They are doubly allegorical in the sense of referring to more than the mere ‘metaphorical’ representation of the good Samaritan or the Sower. itself being excessive enough. He said unto them: Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven. 8). The excess of its truth does not have the indeterminate character of a general lesson that. would suggest a regulatory principle. Paul de Man. in some way out of proportion with each particular case. but rather partakes in seeing itself as an excess of visibility as the revelation of the identity of the visible and invisible. 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. That is. a being ‘more than a “figure”’). it never says more than itself. for this hypothesis). He states that the parables are ‘tautegorical’ as opposed to classical mythology which is ‘allegorical’. who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old’.96 Martin McQuillan sight since it is a sight that now sees. For Nancy. ‘there is’. one of the reasons I chose to play with Matthew 13 a little above was to show how problematic Nancy’s hasty absolutisms are in this respect. the rhizome and so on). and here is the rub: The Christian parable opens up another avenue. For Nancy. surely it is the point of parables (the good Samaritan. that is the parables only express themselves and not something else. Now. like the man of property. ‘Have ye understood all these things? They say to him: Yes. however slightly. The disciples (the seers) are trained scribes and the scripture of the scribe is a scribble. Accordingly. is like to a man that is a householder. He wants to suggest that the parable is neither figurative nor proper. the mustard seed and so on) that they precisely refer to something other than themselves (the need for good works. Nancy has established his point by now. which says this sight is like writing. one to which all modern literature quite possibly bears some essential relation (perhaps also all modern art: in a sense.

as a deconstruction. One should say here. or even the sort of ‘good reading’ that Hillis Miller identifies with deconstruction. as a teacher and a writer. reading the obscurities of Nancy’s Corpus. No doubt obscurity is an obscure notion. It is not an exhortation (of the kind ‘Pay attention! Listen to me!’). modern literature and art (however we define such epochality) is said not to be predicated on universal moral principles. firstly. ‘Blessed are the clean of heart’. just as no doubt counter-readings of these particular texts could be offered that both demonstrated the truth of Nancy’s assertion and its impossibility. as Derrida does of the ‘il n’y a pas “le” ’. more subtly. In training his disciples to read Jesus takes them through the obscurities of his text not their hearts. that we can characterise Nancy’s thought on this point. I really cannot agree with this most undemocratic of positions. Thus. Jean-Luc Nancy 97 primarily that of its provenance or of its address: ‘Who hath ears to hear let him hear’. However. There is no ‘message’ without there first being—or. Nancy goes on to describe the reader. into its most intimate movement of sense or of passing beyond sense and into its unworking’ (Nancy 2008. 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. It is a warning: if you do not understand. namely that one must be predisposed towards reading in order to receive a text properly. says Matthew 5. do not look for the reason in an obscurity of the text but only within yourself. 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. without there also being in the message itself—an address to a capacity or an aptitude for listening. ‘for they shall see God’. I am reminded here of Derrida’s account of the impossible touching of one’s own heart in Le Toucher. 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. Secondly. Two things here. the structure of reading follows the injunction of Nancy’s interpretation of Matthew 13. the listener who knows how to listen. according to his own terminology. the reader should not look for meaning in ‘an obscurity of the text’ but within themselves. ‘there is deconstruction . as ‘he who has already entered into the proper listening of this text and has therefore entered into this text itself. in the obscurity of your heart. This in itself is not an unreasonable characterisation of patient reading. 8–9) At the risk of repeating Derrida’s gesture of chastisement in Le Toucher. (Nancy 2008.Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself. 9).

in which my own words come back to me. only the parable can open the ear. 9). Surely. What concerns me on this occasion is the idea of a reader who is fully-formed as a reader before acceding to a text. the reader who knows how to listen is also transformed and refined by the act of reading. to give reading a chance. That is to say. more proper ear’ (Nancy 2008. This is not reading. it is the author who creates his own readers’ (Nancy 2008. There is indeed a sense in which Derrida taught his readers to read but this is a complex and iterative relation. what amounts to the same thing. that is.98 Martin McQuillan and there is deconstruction’ (Derrida 2005. one never knows who is to read or on which variety of ground the seed may fall. their receptive disposition being already given before they read. 9). there must be some doubt over the location and the circumstance of the reader. if in a moment of sense beyond itself (which has to be every moment of sense) I hear a ‘singular’ echo. to the ear of the other as if to my own. On the contrary. as for example Derrida was by his unforeseen reception in the United States and in the most ‘obscure’ of places. One is always surprised by one’s readers and the things they think they have read in one’s texts. 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. which one can accept as a gift or not but which are entirely beyond the means of the author. 60). Here I am compelled to move from questioning Nancy to refuting him. Nancy offers a justification of this assertion. this is the revelation of ontotheology. in which like the monster in Frankenstein that which has been created returns to pursue the creator. Nancy’s configuration seems entirely static to my ear. 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. It is the author who is transformed by an unexpected reader and their response. 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 . I find this invocation of the other curious. 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. Nancy adds that in this set up ‘an author must find his own readers or. which is always a reading of the other and by the other. such as Theology departments and Law Schools. ‘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. their ‘receptivity’ being presented in its collapse during the moment of reading. An author never chooses his readers. to do so would be to kill reading stone dead.

He suggests that what distinguishes faith from belief is that while belief ‘assumes a sameness of the other with which it identifies itself’. rather I am talking to myself. 10). there is much to mull over here. But in Nancy’s formula the ear of the other is awaiting the correct text which will open it to its own ability to listen. in fact. it is a prelude to Nancy’s hypothesis: What distinguishes belief from faith is identical to what distinguishes religion from literature and art. I have taken the place of the other. It is not my intention to take sides for or against Nancy. This is not listening. provided we hear these terms in all their truth. religion assumes the sameness of the other with which it identifies itself. this is down-loading. This would be true if I listened to the response of the other as other in all its unforeseeable incomprehension.Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself. However. faith ‘lets itself be addressed by a disconcerting appeal through the other. my emphasis) So. I am not listening out for the other. more proper ear’. I. (Nancy 2008. of seeing our eye looking. a matter of hearing: of hearing our own ear listening. while literature and art let themselves be addressed by a disconcerting appeal through the other. this would also not be reading. to receive the word of Nancy in all its clarity as if it were the ear of Nancy. 10. On the face of it this seems like a superficially pleasing outcome to Nancy’s deliberations. Thus. Rather. thrown into a listening that I myself do not know’ (Nancy 2008. let me attend to Nancy’s concluding remarks in his ‘Prologue’ to ‘Noli me tangere’ (for we have yet to move beyond these opening pages). of course. am multiple but this does not seem to be Nancy’s implication here. Rather. like all onto-theologies. the first ‘religion’ which is a mode of interpreting texts and ‘art and literature’ which are texts. Jean-Luc Nancy 99 echoing back. the ear of the other has been substituted for the proper ear of Nancy. assumes a self-identity with the other but does not Nancy’s 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. by this reckoning. what Nancy suggests at this moment is the closure of sense not the beyond of sense. It may be the case that religion. that is. even at that which opens it and at that which is eclipsed in this opening. The ear of the other to which I address myself is said to be ‘my own. It is. If he is referring to the institutions of art . Hence. this would be the ‘proper’ impropriety of a location for the reception of my address. I will comment on this in a moment. At this point I feel that I am beginning to sound like the Derrida of Le Toucher who upbraids Nancy’s ‘deconstructions’ for their too hasty foreclosure of the intervention of the other.

these entities. On the other hand. 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. and science to technics’ (Derrida 2001. For belief to demonstrate its value as true belief it must be open to the possibility of absolute doubt. it is not clear to me that ‘belief’ should be so readily tied to religion and ‘faith’ not so. ‘without the performative experience of this elementary act of faith. Thirdly. which is not necessarily the same thing) or that literature (and ‘modern’ literature at that) is identical with religion. The difficulty 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.100 Martin McQuillan and literature. that faith emerges as the performance of the structural remains of a belief at risk. true belief must be tested and so risked. the belief he describes is surely only an inauthentic version of belief. ‘To see oneself looking’ is a famously Derridean contortion. Thus faith itself should not be confused with religion understood as a system of legitimations. as the English idiom puts it. what has . while art and literature in general are to be distinguished from religion? Nancy should hear himself. faith and belief are not so easily distinguished or necessarily tied to religion. 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. However. It is in this moment of risk. nor any performativity in general: neither convention. there would neither be “social bond” nor address of the other. 80). nor law. that structural performativity of the productive performance that binds from its very inception the knowledge of the scientific community to doing. nor institution. nor above all. or at least shares with religion a profound determination as onto-theology. Nancy seems to believe he knows what belief is. At the end of it. nor constitution. however we define them. here.11 Thus. between true belief and disproving that belief. nor sovereign state. authentically. Who can say. but this final sentence seems at odds with the confusion Nancy has offered up till now. This would mean that either the parable is not religious (Nancy does contend that the parable should be separated from the spiritual. As we know from Derrida’s ‘Faith and Knowledge’ essay. are quite capable of assuming (even believing in) the sameness of the other with the best of them. The structure of reading as the reception of pre-determined meaning outline by Nancy here is precisely religious.

Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself, Jean-Luc Nancy 101
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 Nancy’s reading of the ‘noli me tangere’ to suggest that this very text and its numerous representations might present difficulties for Nancy’s 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 figural 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 Mary’s 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 filled 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 figure 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 Nancy’s, is a desire to appropriate her, to hold her hair in one’s own hands. The figure (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 figure 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 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9; Luke 7:36–50; John 12:1–8) 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 Magdalene’s 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

Mary’s interpretative claim is based on intimacy. says Andrew) is an accurate account of the words spoken by Jesus to her as the sole witness. dates from this scandalous scene of appropriation and willful misreading. he has inadvertently ‘made’. Like the Jesus of the ‘noli me tangere’ he tells her to back off because she has already had her touch.104 Martin McQuillan of the kingdom of Heaven. 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. the only listener with ears to hear. ‘Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart. The question for the disciples as trained readers of Jesus is one of the authenticity and authority of the transcription of Jesus’ words. Peter (believing that he has heard his name called) has walked to the front of the class to receive his prize only to find that the call was addressed to another. . and her own readers are asked to believe in this touch from a distance. as it were. ‘He loved her more than us’. telling the disciples not to touch her or her text. 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. as an errant cultural sign. they are asked to believe from a distance. For those with ears to hear there is always and only mishearing. to take her word for it. Peter jealous of Mary’s contact with Christ enacts his own prohibition against Mary. Levi proposes preaching the Gospel on the basis of ‘not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said’. 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. 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. Like the schoolboy in Kafka that Derrida was so fond of quoting in his seminar. rather like Thomas in John 20. Peter. The future wandering of Mary Magdalene. This is difficult 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. 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’.

Like the touchy Peter and the touched Mary there is often a thin line between caresses and blows. property. 50). in the skin of lambs. dresses himself. It is essential that the image in general not be touched’ (Nancy 2008. the detachment from the sculpture is everything for Nancy because without this distance their would be only reification. don’t touch me’ (Nancy 2008. ‘in a net I seek to hold the wind’. nonappropriating and nonidentifying. 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. Reading and listening too might be thought of as a material telehaptology in this sense. for Nancy. I am reminded of the hilarious. preferring to attend to it only through the illustrations of his examples. exchanging blows even as they seem to caress each other as brothers. touch by proxy. 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. that ‘do not hold me back’ amounts to saying ‘Touch me with a real touch. But caressing is still an idiom of touching like the caress bestowed by Mary on the feet of Jesus. ‘It is essential that painting not be touched. 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. as Thomas Wyatt puts it. sculpture can be approached and walked around offering itself up to the eye in a seeing that is a ‘deferred touch’ (Nancy 2008. However. Nancy suggests in his ‘Epilogue’. surprising and inspiring text. fixation. it is suggestive of the tele-haptology that is performed in every act of reading and every . He suggests that sculpture is different in that even if sculpture in the museum is not to be touched. at his mother’s instruction. one that is restrained. immobility’ (Nancy 2008. Following then an extended run through numerous paintings. competing brothers Jacob and Esau in Genesis 27. but this is only one possible scene of reading and one constructed from a privileged ocular metaphysics. 49). Having proposed his hypothesis concerning the parable and Modern art. I suppose Nancy means try touching one in an art gallery and see what will happen to you.Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself. This iterative relationship is in no way an aberration. 50). 52) is. Jacob (the supplanter) having spent one birthright already. This is also true of Derrida and Nancy whose texts touch upon one another. Caress me. he in fact fails to elaborate on it in the remainder of his essay. Jean-Luc Nancy 105 Let me break from this sight of Mary and Peter to conclude by returning to Nancy’s marvelous. ‘identification. 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.

François Raffoul and Gregory Recco (New York: Humanities Books. trans. without constitutive incompleteness of this relation (which as a relation has no presence) there would be neither democracy nor reading. in which the injunction against contact presupposes both a past (‘I know were is’). I would also say in response to Nancy’s hypothesis on literature and listening. From the sonnet ‘Whoso List to Hunt’. it is the very condition of everything that might appear to go by the name of literature. References Derrida. trans. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas. future (‘and wild for to hold’). Touch in this poem is as much sensual as it is sensory. nor any performativity in general: neither convention. to paraphrase Derrida. ed.16 On the contrary. which of course concludes: ‘There is written her fair neck about/“Noli me tangere. though it seem tame. Nancy. Jacques (1987). a parable about parables. Jacques (2005). The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. Noli me tangere: On the Raising of the Body. One might say in every act of faith as well. nor law. 72–3. Jean-Luc (2008). On Touching—Jean-Luc Nancy. 4. Gil Anidjar. Jacques (2001). that which is wild for to hold. Chicago: Chicago University Press. This text is discussed by Derrida at several points in his book (Derrida 2005: 11. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. 1997). allow me to state my faith in the belief that it does not endanger literature. London and New York: Routledge. nor sovereign state./And wild for to hold. neither “social bond” nor address of the other. Ian Urbina. and impossible (‘to hold the wind’) touching. trans. though I seem tame”’. Christine Irizarry. See Jean Luc Nancy. the parable of parables. nor constitution. for Caesar’s I am. . nor technics. nor institution.106 Martin McQuillan act of writing. 293–4). 3. Derrida. in Acts of Religion. ‘Le Poids d’une pensée’ translated as ‘The Weight of a Thought’ in The Gravity of Thought. trans. 2. Said to be a reference to Anne Boleyn. It is a masterpiece of the logic of touch. If it belongs to that ‘certain technological regime of telecommunications’ that Derrida refers to in The Post Card. ‘High Turnout May Add to Problem at Polling Places’. Stanford. from ‘The Sound of Silence’. New York: Fordham University Press. Reported in The New York Times. Without the tele-haptological relation there would be. CA: Stanford University Press. Sarah Clift. the sonnet is a translation of poem 140 of Petrarch’s Rime sparse. Alan Bass. 2 November 2008. What was termed earlier ‘digital haptology’ is only one form this relation takes but it is perhaps paradigmatic of it. ‘Faith and Knowledge: The Two Sources of “Religion” at the Limits of Reason Alone’. Derrida. Notes 1.

In the resistive system a glass panel is covered with a conductive and a resistive metallic layer. 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. However. the two layers make contact. one of the most concentrated that Derrida ever gives. Jean-Luc Nancy 107 5. 2008]) is that. or endlessly opened) by writing. This decrease is measured and the computer calculates and then relays that information to the touch-screen driver software. that the ‘so-called’ here refers to what is now anachronistically termed literature in a post-hoc way by Modernity. following from what Derrida has to say elsewhere concerning literature (see ‘This Strange Institution Called Literature’.2 (1982): 294–326) that Derrida is commenting upon what we call ‘Literature’ as a product of Modernity and Modernity as the epoch which classifies history in terms of the epochal. However. a certain strand of writing within Literature as such. Derek Attridge [London: Routledge. Martin McQuillan and Ika Willis (Basingstoke: Macmillan. which calls itself or is called ‘literature’ but which is no way literary. there is no precise indication of this in Derrida’s own text where he is actually discussing a Medieval Fortune-Telling book. rather a system of transducers and reflectors are able to tell if the wave has been disturbed by a touch and so send a translation to the operating system. 1992]) and epochs (see ‘Sending: On Representation. in Acts of Literature. 8. 2009). For a commentary on Butades as the origin of drawing see my ‘The Rudiments of Deconstruction’ in The Origins of Deconstruction. or. ‘so-called literature’. as in the paradoxical phrase ‘a science of the unconscious’.Toucher II: Keep Your Hands to Yourself. 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. 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 first place. ed. These two layers are held apart while an electrical current runs through the two layers. The change in the electrical field is calculated by the computer and a special driver translates the touch into something that the operating system can understand. or. It is not at all clear in this enigmatic formulation. ed. For example. The monitor of a surface acoustic wave system has no metallic layers. In this sense writing . Now. Thus. 7. this may only be true of certain types of literature. the thing we call Literature or Philosophy is ruined (that is. much as a computer mouse driver translates a mouse’s movements into a click. Politics. Martin McQuillan [Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan. However. a layer that stores electrical charge is placed on the glass panel of the monitor. or. 2008). eds. see my ‘Tele-Techno-Theology’ in Deconstruction After 9/11 (New York: Routledge. 6. Reading. In the capacitive system. When a user touches the screen. the tele-technological ruins literature because as a displacement and opening of meaning and communication it renders literature obsolete. so the charge on the capacitive layer decreases. ‘telecommunication’ as the Derrida of the 1970s describes it here. rendered impossible. When a user touches the monitor some of the charge is transferred to the user. Writing itself will survive tele-technology since writing itself is a form of tele-technology. 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. whether it refers indeed to all Modern literature (‘if not all of it’).’ Social Research 49.

In fact the form of the verb used is not the aorist imperative. I am grateful here to comments made by Derrida at the ‘Other Testaments’ conference in Toronto in 2002. which ruins the idea of Love Letters which presuppose a singular addressee and revelation of meaning. 13. the aorist imperative is used to indicate the proposed momentary action (John 20:27). Just as Derrida confesses to a secret name in ‘Circonfession’.youtube. This and all biblical quotation taken from the Douay-Rhiems Bible.htm I am not tempted by an I-Phone but I am exceedingly desirous of an Amazon Kindle.gnosis. 15. 11. 2009. but the present. 16. When. Jesus invites Thomas to touch his side. An audio recording of them can be heard at http://www. a touch-screen e-book platform that can hold hundreds of texts—if only the texts one really wanted to read were available in pdf format it would revolutionise the work of the itinerant scholar. later in the same chapter. org/library/marygosp. miscommunications sent out to others who cannot receive them or respond to them. See my ‘Toucher 1: The Problem With Self-Touching’. which indicates an action in progress. 9.108 Martin McQuillan is nothing other than love letters. so too I have a ‘secret’ name. Thomas is my chosen confirmation name—I felt close to his doubt even at age 11.com/watch?v=r3fScS2cnB0 John 20 (15–17). 10. 1(2). translated from the Latin Vulgate. in Derrida Today. 12. DOI: 10.3366/E1754850009000396 . which would indicate momentary or point action. 14. Complete text of this non-canonical gospel available at http://www.

which Powell notes in his introduction is. Some of these are noted by the author from the outset. which is perhaps to be expected from a project which is itself full of contradictions. Jacques Derrida: A Biography (London: Continuum. though none are really confronted or explored in a satisfactory way. therefore. 262pp. Biography has. more specifically. . ISBN-10: 0826490026. ISBN-13: 9780826490025 There was always going to be a problem with Jacques Derrida and biography and. so as not to interfere with the contingency of presenting a ‘comprehensive and continuous narrative of Derrida’s life. Derrida himself accuses most thinkers of failing to sufficiently challenge ‘the dynamics of the borderline between the works and the life. particularly if it actually responded to the implications of Derrida’s work with regard to ‘life-writing’.Book Reviews Jason Powell. 7) and. . 2006).99. ix). they are more or less ignored. an appraisal of his works and a summary of his philosophy’ (Powell 2006. I would add. . As a result. in fact. for the very obvious reason that Derrida’s work fundamentally unsettles the very concepts of both ‘life’ and ‘writing’ and. he thought and he died . ‘life-writing’ in general. pointing out that a ‘truly complete biography of Derrida would be a very big task indeed. requiring several volumes. A single volume of modest length (262 pages) was never going to be sufficient. Jason Powell’s biography of Jacques Derrida provokes a number of contradictory responses. always been something of a problem for philosophers. of course. £17. with a biography of Jacques Derrida. he was born. in fact. especially if it were to accept Derrida’s own demanding standards of reading and commentary’ (Powell 2006. In the eponymous biopic Derrida is seen at the ‘Thinking Lives’ conference in New York in 1996. given the sheer volume of Derrida’s still-growing corpus and the amount of activity he managed to cram into his seventy-four years. An ambitious task indeed. between the system and the subject of the system’. recounting Heidegger’s stance on the relevance of the ‘life’ to the ‘work’: ‘Aristotle was a philosopher. beyond him.

A. he acknowledges also that there is ‘nothing to prevent [a biography of Derrida] being of the most traditional kind’. Derrida is asked what he would like to see in a similar film on. critics and ‘deconstructionists’ alike would. Of course. Later in the film. say Freud or Nietzsche. Smith has noted in his excellent survey of Derrida (Jacques Derrida: Live Theory (2005)). 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. However. to which he impishly responds ‘their sex lives. 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. as it makes no pretension of trying to be anything different (in other words. It is certainly an erudite biography: Powell has clearly read swathes of Derrida’s work and backs this up with a wealth of secondary research. In many ways Powell’s task is a thankless one and he recognises this from the outset. perhaps first of all. So. This is certainly the category into which Powell’s contribution falls. so that nothing as grandiose as a Life has a chance of being constituted. as James K. because it is what they do not talk about’. . 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 Derrida’s work as a development of his early encounters with Husserl. 6). This same Derrida is equally reluctant to give up his own secrets to the camera. often fail to recognise the heavily phenomenological milieu in which his work originates and thus misread him at a basic level. However. when it encounters what Bennington identifies as ‘the fact that Derrida’s work should at least have disturbed its presuppositions’ it refuses to confront said fact). scoff at the idea of a biography of the philosopher of deconstruction’ (Powell 2006. it would be fair to consider this book by the standard generic conventions of biography. and where the totalising prospect of biography seems remote indeed’. This section of the book is of particular value to those of a literary critical persuasion who. noting that ‘admirers. Geoffrey Bennington notes that ‘one plausible way of reading Derrida’s work is as a different way of thinking about death (and therefore life). it is disappointing that a writer who has obviously spent so much time immersed in Derrida’s texts could then fail to account for the rather shattering implications those texts have for the whole business of biography. perhaps. a debate with which Derrida attempts to deal in Of Spirit.110 Book Reviews everything else is pure anecdote’. a multiplication or de-multiplication of death.

in imitation of his father. From that point onwards the chapters become briefer and veer slightly too far towards the level of summary. This lack of clarity persists throughout and makes the shape of the Derrida that Powell is trying to paint slightly unclear. Acts of Religion. eight pages later he insists that ‘this short account of his life emphasises the continuity between himself and Nietzsche and. ethereal figure. Powell does achieve. In fact.Book Reviews 111 In terms of its engagement with Derrida’s ‘work’. chronological summary of Derrida’s work. the first half of the book offers a comprehensive reading. Heidegger’. as the travelling salesman). 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. in the main. And. to a lesser extent. rather than a flesh and blood existence that wrote itself into the pages we know so well. The Gift of Death. in which there is not a single mention of Derrida’s long extra-marital relationship with Sylviane Agacinski or the resulting . if anything. Bennington has already speculated would be ‘probably mostly to do with cars and driving’). Powell has far less to say about Derrida’s later work and hardly touches upon some of his key texts of the 1990s such as Given Time. it tells us very little about his private life. 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. the Derrida in this biography comes across as a fairly remote. On the very first page Powell defines Derrida’s works as being ‘basically Heideggerian’. There are even missing ‘facts’ in the narrative. even this aspect of the work contains a number of internal contradictions. very much in the vein of Plato’s imagined philosopherkings (an image Powell cites on numerous occasions). some of which are so obvious that I am surprised they were allowed to stand. culminating in a thoughtful chapter on Derrida’s reception by Anglo-American literary theory (which also contains some thought-provoking passages on the image of Derrida. this is where perhaps it might disappoint: though Powell provides a fairly comprehensive narrative of Derrida’s public life. Despite that. Archive Fever. 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. A quick example of this can be found in the introduction. and so on. one of his aims: to provide a book-length. if we are to continue to judge the book against a traditional conception of biography. Powell has had access to no letters or diaries. perhaps. And.

fractal biography’ of Derrida which he envisaged might one day be forthcoming. as Derrida longed for details of Freud or Nietzsche’s private. layered but not hierarchised. In particular it offers us a comprehensive overview of Derrida’s public life and published work in a continuous narrative form. GEORGE SELMER Anglia Ruskin University DOI: 10. though we may have some niggles. So if. as a result. you will be disappointed by this book. Though there is not the space to conduct a rigorous analysis.3366/E1754850009000402 . it doesn’t 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?’. principally following Rorty in seeing him as a ‘literary philosopher’ (Powell 2006. which has not been done before. In short. It seems that Powell chose not to heed Bennington’s call for an ‘urgent rethink of the possibility of biography in light of the (ongoing) deconstruction of metaphysics’. 227). 226). I must say here that I have very strong reservations over Powell’s reading of Derrida’s philosophy as being a quest that turns aside from a material world of things into a ‘shadow-world’ (Powell 2006. For me though. if we consider Powell’s work within the limits of traditional biography. . It almost completely avoids the ‘private’ Derrida but then never claimed that it would do otherwise. lives. burst of reality’ (Powell 2006. it is a useful offering. So. 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. more seriously. effectively a ‘purer’ form of purity (Powell 2006. along with Bennington. It offers its own reading of Derrida’s philosophical project. Powell’s interpretation of Derridean thought appears (I would say mistakenly) esoteric. we find ourselves still waiting for that ‘multiple. or. to say the least. for Powell is not willing to stray into this territory. 227) in an ‘impossible’ search for a ‘more true. if you are looking for an in-depth consideration of how the life and passions may have affected the thought. guided by the ‘the light of différance’ (Powell 2006. 5). you long for details of Derrida’s. you will be left longing. pure.112 Book Reviews child that she bore him. inner. the biggest disappointment with Jacques Derrida: A Biography remains that it completely fails to account for the effect that Derrida’s writing must have on the business of biography. to conclude. . 230).

Therefore Hodge suggests a correlation between Derrida’s account of the paradoxical non-simultaneity of conceptual formation (writing) and conceptual formulation (letter) and Husserl’s notion of pre-predicative experience. 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. Destruction. Therefore Derrida’s readings of phenomenology can be understood to tie together a certain epochality of the critique of metaphysics and. Hodge proposes to invert Derrida’s move of interrupting Husserl with Freud. ISBN-13: 9780415430913 ‘In criticizing classical metaphysics. £57. ISBN-10: 0415430917. Derrida’s signature is (un-)readable as a search for the traces of deconstruction. Michael Naas). In Speech and Phenomena: Introduction to the Problems of Sign in Husserl Phenomenology Derrida introduces that paradox referring to Freud’s notion of the après coup of Nachträglichkeit. The logic of this statement is pointed out by Rodolphe Gasché in the chapter ‘Abbau. necessarily falling into metaphysics. as it is described by Derrida in ‘Ousia and Gramme: Note on a Note from Being and Time’). 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 Husserl’s (and Heidegger’s) critique of reflection.00. Derrida on Time (London and New York: Routledge.Book Reviews 113 Joanna Hodge. comparing Husserl’s analyses of the . Derrida on Time is an important contribution to the understanding of Derrida’s relation to phenomenology. made by Derrida in ‘ “Genesis and Structure” and Phenomenology’. Len Lawlor. its inability to let deconstruction come. As deconstruction is for Derrida what is always already at work as the irreducible self(-de-)constitution of being in general. Derrida’s thinking of time is considered as a sophistication of Husserl’s rethinking of Kantian determinations of time and space. phenomenology accomplishes the most profound project of metaphysics’: this Derrida affirms referring to Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations in his Writing and Difference. 2007). 256pp. (I remark that sophistication recalls the movement of Heidegger’s conceptualisation of time. at the same time. which its author consciously inscribes within a set of indispensable studies (as those of Paola Marrati. which brings them into the work of meaning as the dimensions of their arrival and the horizon where they are deployed. Hodge anticipates at the beginning a central thesis of her account of Derrida’s thinking of time taking up the call.

moving further towards the recognition of the multiple and not mutually reducible deployments of the notion of Idea in Husserl. 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). In ‘ “Genesis and Structure” and Phenomenology’ Derrida synthesises this reference as the irruption of the infinite into consciousness which permits unification and transition to the limits. In the second section of the part focusing on Derrida’s works on Husserl Hodge proposes a reading of différance taking into account the articulation of . So Husserl’s notion of the historical a priori is recalled to dispute Derrida’s claim made in ‘Ousia and Gramme’ that there is only one concept of time and to elaborate his notion of différance as resulting from a retrieval and deepening of that Husserlian notion. Hodge outlines that Husserl’s 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. static phenomenology/genetic phenomenology. contributing to the constitution of consciousness and not necessarily reducible to it. thinking of différance as structural infinity.114 Book Reviews plural levels of psychic functioning. Here Derrida formulates the hypothesis of the disruption of the absolute knowledge and of the irreducible work of différance within the constitution of sense and sign: phenomenology falls back into metaphysics as it conjures différance attempting to make it derivative. Rodolphe Gasché has written memorable pages on that subject. Hodge’s reading does not develop Derrida’s correlation of phenomenology and absolute knowledge. Hodge’s reading of Derrida’s three works on Husserl unfolds an original perspective of investigation bringing into focus Derrida’s account of Husserl’s reference to the Kantian notion of Idea. The irreducibility of Husserl’s name to a single consistent series of themes and arguments is taken as the context of the reading of Derrida’s commitment to question Husserlian key-distinctions (immediate presentation/mediated presentification. In the case of Speech and Phenomena. emphasising the occurrence of Kantian Idea as the indefiniteness of an ad infinitum. reduced time/cosmic time of wordly occurrences. Derrida’s analysis is understood to set up a link between the use of Idea and the occurrence of a not phenomenologically granted alterity. to Derrida’s reading of the Freudian and Aristotelian notion of psiché as disrupting Cartesian self-introspecting consciousness (and Husserlian living present). transcendental meaning/expression in natural languages).

as the unfolding of time on itself or the being on time of intentionality. within this reading of à-dieu. If this reading aims to place Derrida’s thinking of différance within the possibilities of the slippage between the empirical and the transcendental opened by Husserl’s analyses. which turns one against death . Death. and his notion of à-venir. and its openness to the arrival of otherness. an empirical perception of externally given entities. temporising of time). A-dieu is taken to double intentionality into a movement from the source of meaning to consciousness. at the same time. Hodge outlines that à-dieu is a movement irreducible to any ontological (pre-)determination. determined as respectively coincident and radically different. Derrida’s reading of Levinas’s conception of à-dieu is introduced as an essential moment of the relationship between Derrida’s thinking of time and phenomenology. Her point is that the elaboration of différance 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. as foreclosing the future as a protention founded on a retention. it leaves apart the fundamental question of the rélève of space as time (or sign) which brings back to Derrida’s reading of the Hegelian semiology. The author discusses Blanchot’s reading of the Heideggerian possibility of impossibility as one’s invocation of the right to death and to exert over oneself the power of death. developing its being already marked by a fundamental iteration. It is compared to the call of the self to itself securing in Heidegger the self-affirmation of Dasein and to Blanchot’s 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.Book Reviews 115 distinct temporalities. While remarking the importance of the conception of a future arriving out of any possibility or conditionality. Derrida’s major contribution on time is identified as a refinement of this notion of genesis. Time to single out his acceptance from Husserl and Heidegger of the notion of Zeitgang der Zeit (genesis. as passive synthesis. Hodge’s analysis of the question of the future is also concerned with Derrida’s account of Blanchot’s and Heidegger’s notions of death. Hodge proposes to relate this notion to the possibilities disclosed by Kant’s third Critique and Husserl’s notion of horizon with respect to the taking place of the transcendental constitution in historical time. At the end of the book Hodge recalls Lévinas’s lectures God. shifting phenomenology of time from thematisation to the account of auto-eterogenesis in passive syntheses. the author underscores Derrida’s attention to empty à-venir from religious commitments. Hodge reads Derrida’s account of the Husserlian notion of horizon.

for instance. in Memories for Paul de Man (see the aporia of true mourning). the phenomenological ego as spectre and phainesthai as the very possibility of spectres since it gives death/life. Hodge brings this notion of phenomenon back to her reading of Derrida’s and Stiegler’s conception of originary technicity as the prosthetic moment (technical registration) occurring in advance of any formation of a thesis (natural series of effects). To this purpose the author focuses on section 5 ‘Apparition of the inapparent: the phenomenological conjuring trick’. remarking some specific moves of Benjamin’s elaboration of messianism but does not deal with Derrida’s concern with a different thinking of affirmation. The author disputes Derrida’s reading of Benjamin’s messianism as too Heideggerian. pointing at that zone where ‘all the Kantian oppositions regularly criticized by Hegel are confused and negated’. messianico-marxist. . of any embodied actuality of thought taking place in the fulfilment of intuition. promise or yes. Hodge investigates also Derrida’s reception of Benjamin’s notion of weak messianic force.) and a certain idea of phenomenology. where Derrida suggests to rethink of phenomenology by assuming the phenomenal form as spectral. Derrida remarks that the couple intentional/non-real prevents the full inclusion either in consciousness or in the world. 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. However. archeo-escathological. democracy to come. remains unaccounted for. the intentional but non-real component of the phenomenological lived experience or the thought content of the thinking noesis. Hodge explains this passage taking up an extended footnote where Derrida places the radical possibility of spectrality in noema. The reading of the notion of the messianic without messianism deployed in Specters of Marx plays a central role in Hodge’s work for it ties together the conception of the arrival of the future (as ghost. the relevance for Derrida of Blanchot’s conception of death as an endless awaiting exposed to the arrival of the otherness. works at mourning. promise.116 Book Reviews as what does not happen and reverses itself as the impossibility of every possibility. etc. Here we note that noema might work as imagination. as Derrida suggests in ‘The Pit and the Pyramid: Introduction to Hegel’s Semiology’. as it is developed. 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. death.

The analysis focuses on the inquiry into the unconsciousness of the Cartesian cogito and the Kantian I accompanying all my representations. Hodge highlights Derrida’s reference to a conception of the event as an affection inscribed in an aesthetic manner on organic matter. the layer of the other in me. therefore.Book Reviews 117 In the last part of the book Hodge proposes to conjoin the essays ‘The Animal which therefore I am’ and ‘Typrewriter Ribbon. Therefore Derrida’s autobiography is determined as the movement described by a set of syntheses. Autobiography (signature. consciousness of the internal time falling within time. In other terms this ontology transposes intentionality into textuality. Is. each of them taking place singularly and delimiting a world within the world. Limited Ink 2’ as a response to the question of the transcendental unity of apperception. to a further attempt to make différance derivative or to conceptualise time? MAURO SENATORE University of Leeds DOI: 10. etc. and on the notion of autobiography resulting from the reading of de Man’s notion of performative. etc. This thread of thinking leads Hodge to define Derrida’s thinking of autobiography as an ontology of the impermanence resulting from the tension between the work of repetition and the work of iteration.) and to the Kantian notion of purposiveness without purpose. understanding and reason and between apriorism of sensation and apriorism of understanding and assumes a more basic a priori as primordial meaning intuitions. The second analysis of this part presents Derrida’s notion of the aporetical juxtaposition between the writing of an autobiographical living animal and its continuation as a surviving machine. that is.3366/E1754850009000414 . She understands this notion to hinge on Husserl’s rethinking of Kantian transcendental aesthetics.) is read by Hodge as a transcendental unity of self-inscription replacing the transcendental unity of apperception. as an event of meaning suspended in texts indefinitely self-generating as machine. which undercuts the constitutive distinctions between the faculties of intuition. and therefore to transcendental aesthetics as a set of possibilities for the inscription of affects. The author relates Derrida’s rethinking of Kantian formalism to the Husserlian notion of the ultimate intentionality (unconscious consciousness. as a more original structure than Kantian antinomy between mechanism and final causality. the end point of Hodge’s work the reduction of Derrida’s thinking of time to ontology.

In Simon Morgan Wortham’s CounterInstitutions: Jacques Derrida and the Question of the University. Wortham positions the body of work of Jacques Derrida on the subject of the University in relation to the position of the other. 68). here is the body and self of Jacques Derrida: the instructor at large. By reframing these philosophical movements of repetition and difference in terms of the counter. Counter-Institutions: Jacques Derrida and the Question of the University (Fordham: Fordham University Press. ISBN-10: 0823226662.118 Book Reviews Simon Morgan Wortham. refers’ (Derrida 2002. Here is the ‘teaching body’: that of the institutions and its members which compose a place of high learning. ISBN-13: 978-0823226665 In ‘Where a Teaching Body Begins and Ends’ from Who’s Afraid of Philosophy. is the position of the University in a contemporary global context. as much as this I always also exists beneath (suppressed perhaps) a sign of erasure. The university. and according to which Wortham is attempting to ply his analysis. to which the Humantiies and deconstructionist discourse. you already no longer know who is speaking and to whom I. which both and is and is not the position of language.and moreover. the counter-institution – and by conditioning the constituent terminology. or contre . 164pp. or the Humanities themselves. The position taken by Derrida. the institution. 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. 2006). Here is the university in general. for example. and inquiry. Finally. 68). the university. as entrusted to the particularly French university position of an agrégé-répétiteur. where long-clung to mores of the Napoleonic code are designed to produce a dedicated citoyen through a controlled reproduction of intellectual competencies. and of the ‘here’ (in)variably at stake. and the storied exigencies of the Ecole Normal Superieur in particular. when the context of the university’s raison d’être is now determined by a myriad of contradicting and cross intentions/forces . He states: ‘The bodily effects upon which I am playing—but you understand perfectly well that when I say I. Here is Paris. and ideologically wellmannered citizens. The I is never absent from Derrida’s mediations on philosophy. the author is aware of Derrida’s autobiographical urge when it comes to the university. instruction. bearing but not turning their back. Jacques Derrida opens simply: ‘Here.95. or three. and the position of one within the other. is not an indifferent place’ (Derrida 2002. an I.1 ‘Here’ in Derrida’s address signifies on a fold. £18. are both with and against. or two.

important both in Derrida’s work and the position of Philosophy within bureaucratic academia. contre. a pause [. 34). Wortham explicates. back and forth at once (a delay. What arises in the course of Wortham’s analysis however is not the desperately splintered transnational decontextualisation to which the author protests. belated. ‘ “Counter” is first of all principally to encounter. of the with-against. utterly distinct and fully realised beforehand. Derrida did commit himself to the development in a real-life such body: the GREPH. declaring in both senses that ‘the “counter” [. ] irreducibly entails this sort of disjunctive shuttling. this is the moment which gives occasion not for the university as institution. a detour. but both the particular bureaucratic and cultural determinants of differing national contexts greatly influence the nature and limits of Humanistic teachings today. ‘Until one delves a little deeper. the to . and in relation to an undermined temporality intrinsic to contre. to engage in contact’ (Wortham 2006. but also the temporal aspect of the term’s appearance in Derrida’s oeuvre. . . trans-nationalism. The term of ‘counter’ is given special preference in Wortham’s analysis and is a salient intellectual observation by the author in relation to Derrida’s oeuvre. . 36). He admits. is both contextual and lexical. globalisation. Wortham turns to the dictionary definitions provided by the OED. to meet. of course. we find not only the divisional or confrontational aspect of Wortham’s investigation of the word counter. founded in Paris in the 1970s. ‘The assumption that this “contact” involves the opposition of wholly realized entities. ] waiting to come)’ (Wortham 2006. 28). The author’s strategy. We may live in a globalised era. In the latter instance and unsurprisingly. to which I cannot hope to do justice here. “counter” does not appear to be an especially privileged term in what might be called Derrida’s “classic” deconstructive vocabulary’ (Wortham 2006. Here. but the university and other bodies as dialectical exchange: the rise of the counter-institution. 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 Derrida’s thinking on the University presents generally.Book Reviews 119 – the late capitalist labour market. Wortham finds a position of resistance. . 36). even and especially in an era where such teaching might be determined ‘impossible’. This countering does not immediately imply opposition: this only comes later. and so on – what does/can it (we?) do? For Wortham. occurs only afterward’ (Wortham 2006. dedicated to the extra-institutional teaching of philosophy. Markedly. And that finally. but rather the degree to which education is always a local practice. and for Derrida.

and in relation to the former purview of the educational establishment) manifests an ‘unteachable situation’ (Wortham 2006. that ultimately all deconstruction is also and always already counter-deconstruction. 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. which ostensibly wants to challenge or rethink the contemporary university in all its characteristic forms. as well as it temporal allegiance to deconstruction’s principle concept. In the last ‘chapter’ of the book (excluding the interview at the end). . and will not abide to questioning. ‘In this context. or ‘subaltern’ social cohesion: the recalcitrantly local. what Wortham is correct about. (in the nation-state. This seems undoubtedly overwrought. Wortham is aware of the possible perversions of his own project. is inevitably just a selfregarding exercise. the world. However. ‘Auditing Derrida’ Morgan Wortham states. in relation to deconstruction as a field which necessitates an unexamined homogenous – un-deconstructed – and depoliticized concept of ‘culture’ which itself is dangerously erroneous in our age of transnationalistic hybridity. 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. For Wortham. 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. for Wortham. At the beginning of chapter two. but to a Maussist Derrida in his interpretation of the ‘gift’. 49) and that the only egress from this predicament is to turn not only to deconstruction. merely adding a further dimension of self-reflexivity to the production of “academic” content to which the system remains profoundly indifferent’ (Wortham 2006. Wortham determines that this lack of a political centre. Wortham addresses the impossible position of Cultural Studies as a discipline with the Humanities. means. 53). 87). whose primary modality is that of ethical responsibility. difference. an exchange. A response demands a call. In response to the rigour of his subject. and a lack of recognition of the force of sites of temporary. resistant. teaching deconstruction is the giving account which acts not as a determination or ‘final word’ on culture – this is again seen as impossible – but rather a ‘response and responsibility’ (Wortham 2006. cultural studies. as both difference and delay. Wortham is the exception that proves the rule. an other. Cultural Studies posits a political centre where none exists.120 Book Reviews and fro gesture of the counter. one might even say that to write a book such as this one.

border. or even a hearing (n) which proves important to his project of the investigation of the non-insular. and by extension. . ‘draws upon and further extends the terms of discussion set out by Bill Readings and others over the past decade’. in a discussion with Christopher Fynsk (see below). or hearing ‘would therefore abbey the law of the parergon. 90). “auditory”. a framing device. acronyms. and of central importance to the latter’s ‘case’ for the humanities in an age defined by the Humanist crisis of technological reproduction. . Wortham admits that a culture of standards and excellence pervasive in the British system denies the necessity of the professor’s voice at all. listened to. One must speak for the other to hear. Or in other words. globalisation. but. this audit. nonetheless. He goes on to state that it is precisely this question of hearing (v). and boxes checked. or frame as its enabling condition’ (Wortham 2006. wherein the audit in practice in the UK does not consist of a voice at all. in terms which must always necessarily include or be directed towards an other. a parergon. The audit. the ‘marginal’ announced in the very beginning of this study. but merely forms. For later in this work. in its acknowledgement in Wortham’s text itself. of greatest use in the course of Wortham’s discussion with Fynsk. attended. . Fynsk’s analysis belated. Similar to any text worked in a Derridian manner. or take its cue from the other’ (Wortham 2006. . auditory culture. Wortham states. however. turns out to depend upon the contour. exteriorally grounded conception of the contemporary university. Like Bill Reading’s The University in Ruins. Christopher Fynsk’s The Claim of Language serves to frame. Wortham’s contains the trace of another text. attention is paid to the ‘polysemic gamut’ of ‘ “audit”.Book Reviews 121 Like the terminological examinations which accompany the first chapter in an examination of the word ‘counter’ so in this last chapter is the word ‘audit’ audited. whereby the delineation of the aesthetic form of the work. ‘An audit ultimately cannot suppose or uphold its own self-contained space of identity. 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. and by extension the identity of the object of cognition. . Interestingly. it cannot without a certain irony assert a constant principle [. in a parergonal motion the very terms and conditions of not just the content but also the form of the author’s investigation. in this manifestation is not simply a condition for the production of a discourse. 89). ] in the lexical and etymological vicinity of a hearing’ (Wortham 2006. ] Instead it must simply call for. 90). or late. Yet. address itself to. “auditorium”’ putting us ‘in the first place [. as an extension of its duty as censure.

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instrumental rationality, and late capitalism, is a passage which occurs as an anecdote. Fynsk is reflecting on the ‘missed opportunity’ of academic humanities in aftermath of 9/11:
It was the role of thinkers in the humanities [. . . ] to find 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 filled 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 specifically, is without condition. Language, that is, makes claims: speech acts whose verification 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 finally 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 agrégé-répétieur obsolete.

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And yet Fynsk, as Simon Morgan Wortham, leaves the question open: ‘I haven’t 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 figure. One must of course be attentive to the temptations, the traps and ruses, of casting Bennington as an exemplary figure. 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 Derrida’s 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 first met Derrida in 1979 and, an avowed Francophile, became an exceptionally articulate voice in mediating the reception of Derrida’s work and modern French thought in Britain. As a translator of La Verité en peinture and De l’esprit and Derrida’s collaborator on Jacques Derrida, Bennington’s perhaps unenviable position at Sussex as Derrida’s ‘Man in Britain’ in the 1990s in part obscured his own valuable work in eighteenth century studies, exemplified by Sententiousness and the Novel (1985), Dudding:

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des noms de Rousseau (1991) and Frontières kantiennes (2000). The rigor and ambition of Bennington’s response to Derrida has also been marked by his extensive work on Lyotard and an engagement with Wittengstein and other key figures in the so-called Anglo-American school of philosophy. It is perhaps difficult not to give way to the impression of an exemplary figure in view of a British trained academic writing in French on Derrida with Derrida in Jacques Derrida (1991), or from Derrida’s extraordinary footnote in Mal d’Archive (1995) in which he responds to the ‘intraitable lucidité’ of Bennington as he challenges an aspect of Derrida’s 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, Derrida’s footnote from Mal d’Archive is striking in that it records a familiar and generous admiration and intellectual respect as well as the critical distance of Bennington’s ‘intraitable lucidité’ in reading Derrida. In contrast to the young enthusiasts, the ill-informed appropriators and the passionate vilifiers, Bennington presents us with a knowledgeable, dispassionate and rigorous analysis of the work of Jacques Derrida. Bennington’s love of the French Language, his keen awareness of ‘the general structure of translation’, and his institutional affiliation with French departments in Britain and America have perhaps given him a distinctive and difficult vantage point from which to respond to the reception of what he calls ‘modern French thought’ (Bennington 2005, 139–170: 163). In ‘Frontiers: Of Literature and Philosophy’, his professorial lecture from Sussex in 1996, Bennington remarks:
Teaching a language and a culture other than one’s native one is an intrinsically rather odd thing to do, and generates a definite unease all round: teachers of subjects defined by foreign languages typically find themselves on the wrong side of the frontier wherever they are – In Britain I’m out of place because French is my thing: but in France I’m not quite at home because I am after all, like it or not – and I haven’t always liked it, I don’t 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

In his 1992 paper. For a concept to be a concept. 171–2). as he says literally many times. 271). de la littérature. For Bennington. the frontier takes on the violent and contingent particularity . An example perhaps of this distinctive approach is Bennington’s 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. de la hantise. if one follows Frege the definition of a concept then relies on the frontier as ‘la possibilité préconceptuelle de tout concept’ (Bennington 2004.Book Reviews 125 Centre will stress the specificity and singularity of French thought’ (Bennington 2005. and at which Derrida read ‘Apories: Mourir-s’attendre aux limites de la vérité’. 275). Derrida doesn’t think there is any such thing. 281). the frontier is ‘le lieu de la contingence. Bennington explores the question of the concept of the frontier and of the frontier of the concept. ‘a critical point about Derrida’s thinking is that. beyond the logic of the concept (Bennington 2004. Bennington begins his paper unexpectedly. As Bennington notes in an interview from 2003. Bennington not only refutes Descombes’ inadequate account of Derrida. The frontier is already. 269). 44). no concept is metaphysical in itself. with Frege – whom he translates into French – and his argument that ‘le concept doit être nettement délimité’ (Bennington 2004. 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. He doesn’t think any concept has the kind of identity that could lead it to be described as intrinsically or essentially or necessarily metaphysical’ (Bennington 2005. de la violence. but very appropriately. which was delivered at the opening of Cersiy-la-Salle gathering. One also gets a sense of the scope of the work of a Francophone who is always out of place and always translating in Bennington’s 1992 paper ‘La frontière Infranchissable’. it must have a clear and sharp frontier. In this context. 220). ‘Le passage des frontières’. If you thought some concepts were metaphysical in themselves you’d have to think that a concept had in itself that quality. de la nature. highlighting the importance and complexity of the French reception of Derrida (Bennington 2004. et même du mal radical’ (Bennington 2004. but also identifies the limitations of Descombes’ own argument: ‘He thinks he’s 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. As Bennington points out. devoted to Derrida. necessarily. 29–62).

on ne peut ni accepter l’exigence de Frege. C’est bien sûr Jacques Derrida qui nous a donné à penser cette situation dans laquelle on ne cesse de passer la frontière sans jamais arriver de l’autre côté’ (Bennington 2004. At the same time. One might expect that he would conclude with Wittgenstein’s affirmation that a blurred concept [un concept flou in Bennington’s translation] is still a concept (Bennington 2004. 293). Bennington ends: ‘Dans cette situation. 314). as an attempt. After following ‘une violence perdurante’ that neither Kant nor Hegel ‘ne réussit à absorber’. 306). 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. and the attempt. Bennington argues. 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 Bennington’s reading of philosophy. which is ultimately unsuccessful. 163). when confronted with ‘a residue of idiomaticity’. and the end – without end or without rest – of transgressing and never entirely escaping (Derrida). Bennington writes: ‘Il se trouve que la paix ne peut être perpétuelle qu’à force de différer à jamais sa propre perpétuité: la paix perpétuelle est donc sa propre différance. ‘it communicates with a certain . to put contingency to work in the name of necessity (Bennington 2004. exit that returns us to the centre (Wittgenstein). Bennington turns to Wittgenstein’s critique of Frege. once and for all. Bennington then turns to Hegel and the frontier and traces the Aufhebung of contingency. 311–12). 167. 300). which reverberate in the laws of the state (Bennington 2004. I have briefly traced the movements of this 1992 paper in part to demonstrate the clarity of Bennington’s reading of philosophy: internal contradiction (Frege). 308. But Bennington treats Wittgenstein’s ‘transition d’un langage de frontières vers un langage d’indications’. 304. internal contradiction (Hegel). 297. As Bennington observes in a 1999 lecture.126 Book Reviews of ‘le lieu de la nature’. the most metaphysical of gestures (Bennington 2004. perpétuellement’ (Bennington 2004. il faut des frontières conceptuelles. as Bennington remarks in a 2003 interview. 285–86). There is perhaps something a bit gritty and scattered about this idiom because. to put an end to philosophy: to put up an assured frontier between philosophy and its other. internal contradiction (Kant). ni simplement la laisser tomber: dans tous les sens. 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.

just tends towards the overcoming of the opposition through the movement of sublation. 179) The rigor and care of this sentence seem quite exemplary to me. in Bennington’s reading of philosophy (Bennington 2004. and I am much more inclined to be interested in’ (Bennington 2005. in the interests of establishing more marked differences (that is. a measured tempo of abundant lucidity. insofar as the oppositional form. Derrida had written of an ‘intraitable lucidité’. Bennington writes. In Mal d’Archive. i. tends to the homogensing of the very terms of the opposition itself. as Derrida notes in ‘Désistance’. 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). its multiple parentheses and its many parenthetical clauses. i). and. by formulating them oppositionally). addresses the addresses of reading. singularity). perversely enough. but they are guided by ‘an essentially non-philosophical understanding of reading’ (Bennington 2004. in its rigorous Hegelian working out. In a 2001 paper given at Emory. 199). then. Bennington is not quite in the league of Lacoue-Labarthe. These parenthetical additions are not so much interruptions. 180. an uncompromising lucidity. in a way that what I am calling ‘philosophy’ does not.Book Reviews 127 materialist tradition which Derrida is suspicious of. pauses or asides of clarification. 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. When it comes to the use of parentheses. Bennington argues. 222–23). not least because of its precision. as in-text footnotes. which can perhaps be taken as a second manifesto for ‘Modern French Thought’. in his 1999 lecture on Derrida’s Le monolinguisme de l’autre: 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. There is also something like a style. ‘Modern French Thought addresses reading. its length. For example. but comes close. ends up. which is always more than a style. paradoxically enough. a dispersion of heterogenous singularities that are in some sense nonetheless ‘the same’). Theses pieces involve detailed philosophical argumentation. 74). it also. (Bennington 2004. and in that address it calls for a thinking about time that also tends to . just by dint of that oppositionality (the form of opposition itself). Here the claim is radical (and radically anti-Hegelian): making the opposite move from Derrida (who postulates.

for example. and only in this way – by being as philosophical as it can – can it be the least philosophical of discourses. to be as philosophical as possible in the interests of opening philosophy up to reading’ (Bennington 2004. 67–8. Fifteen years later. Derrida’s work may look ‘just like philosophy’. ‘For the Sake of Argument (Up to a Point)’. which is also what it claims to be’ (Bennington 2004. to go right through. Bennington’s abundant – perhaps overly abundant. but only up to a point (Bennington 2004. Bennington remarks: ‘The kind of model that comes out of the Derridean reflections on reading is one that tries to go through the traditional criteria. 5). 33). the future of the past always remains to be negotiated. and even excessive – lucidity in attempting to pass or go through philosophy is apparent in his 1999 paper. 5). 70). that Derrida read and wrote texts beyond the traditional demarcations of philosophy. 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. in which he both challenges philosophy’s exclusive claim to argumentation and recognises ‘that it is perfectly possible. right through to the other side’ (Bennington 2005. 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). say). One could argue. in a sense that philosophy qua philosophy cannot quite conceptualise). just as deconstruction in general tries to go through philosophy or metaphysics. In such a case. he writes: ‘the rigour claimed by deconstruction consists in a passage through philosophy. This is a persistent theme in Bennington’s Derrida (much perhaps as one speaks of Boswell’s Johnson). in his interview from 2003. he argues. passing through philosophy. 71). 77).128 Book Reviews exceed philosophical grasp’ (Bennington 2004. and even to be surprising. 4). up to a point. Of this first way station. . 221). Bennington writes: ‘it is arrived at not alongside or against philosophy (as simply another discipline. At the same time. precisely. In a 1988 paper. Bennington traces what might be described as three stages or way stations in this readingtime beyond philosophy: a passing through philosophy. but by claiming to pass through philosophy (to read philosophy. and philosophy’s experience of unreadability (Bennington 2004. to find and state arguments in Derrida’ (Bennington 2004. an opening up of philosophy. For Bennington.

while Bennington runs to the modest. reading confronts us with ‘the unreadable’ and. It is striking that there is no hesitation here: both know what to say. 22. one is left with a sense of an abundant and uncompromising lucidity and also perhaps a certain ‘anguish or hilarity’. on biography and philosophy. either hilarity or anguish. terror or jouissance. Both answer right away. that old foe of eighteenth-century France. A stranger. in honour both of eighteenth-century Britain. while not only letting a friend fall into the ontological mire. (Bennington 2004. not least because of what follows – rushes into a clear ontological culde-sac by naming himself a ‘philosopher’. I quickly gave my profession as ‘teacher’: but the academic friend I was with said unhesitatingly that he was a philosopher. Bennington is acutely aware of this reluctance. 64. the narrative suggests: Bennington escapes ontology! A second reading. discipline. but it does perhaps highlight a motif: Bennington’s reluctance to be called a philosopher. Reading Bennington reading philosophy. the interruption of the other that interrupts the ease with which readers of Derrida presume that they know what place is out of place. he relates an apparent anecdote: This gives rise to slightly paradoxical situations: for example. 404) One could make much of this primal scene. who always remained interested in the . ‘the academic friend I was with said unhesitatingly that he was a philosopher’. pain or enjoyment. 25. joy or tragedy. As one would expect. when questioned for a survey in the street once in Brighton. On first reading. and of Jacques Derrida. however. An intraitable lucidité and anguish or hilarity: these are the chances and the parentheses of Bennington’s texts. a nameless other. I think it is very likely that Bennington would have been aware of both of these readings. The difference is that. comes up to our two protagonists and asks them to name their profession. with what might be the echo of an eighteenth century coupling. Finally. hilarity or madness (Bennington 2004. but also dodging the question of the stranger. 250). with alacrity: ‘I quickly gave my profession as “teacher”’.Book Reviews 129 There may be little difference here with Bennington’s reading of Derrida. As Bennington remarks. suggests: Bennington displays the good conscience of knowing what he is not. In a paper from 1996. free name of ‘teacher’. faculty. ‘the academic friend’ – and one wonders if there can be ‘academic friends’. but clearly making an ontological claim. both know how to name themselves. not at all as though he were describing his situation of employment. and even university.

130 Book Reviews inadmissible. (Stanford: Stanford University Press. SEAN GASTON Brunel University DOI: 10. Jacques Derrida. Who’s Afraid of Philosophy.3366/E1754850009000438 Note 1. I would like to end by calling Geoffrey Bennington what these two collections attest malgré lui: a frenchified philosopher. 2002). .

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

2002).free. 2008) as well as the twin volumes Deconstruction Reading Politics (Macmillan 2008) and The Politics of Deconstruction (Pluto Press.3366/E175485000900044X . His recent publications include Deconstruction after 9/11 (Routledge. Personal Website : http://mfromentmeurice. UK.132 Notes on Contributors Incitations with a Preface (“MFM”) by Jean-Luc Nancy (Galilée.fr Martin McQuillan is Professor of Cultural Theory and Analysis at the University of Leeds. 2007). DOI: 10.