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Destruction/Deconstruction in the Text of Nietzsche
David B. Allison
The paper I'd like to present-"Destruction/Deconstruction in the Text of Nietzsche"-is composed of two parts, two quite different parts. The first and shorter part deals with the issue of a deconstructive style within the text of Nietzsche, and the second is concerned with such an operation as performed upon Nietzsche's text-i.e., by someone else and from without. The second part, then, concerns a stylistic fold or doublingup of interpretation: the example or model I have chosen for this is a text with which most of you are no doubt familiar, Derrida's recent work on Nietzsche, entitled Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles. 1 For the earlier account of an immanent deconstruction, I have turned to the analyses of Paul de Man. To what extent is my presentation phenomenological? Perhaps only etymologically-to the extent in which one can "lay out" or "say" something about the phenomenon of a text. This certainly seems to be the sense that both Derrida and Heidegger accord the term. Indeed, Heidegger himself remarks in one of his last works, The age of phenomenological philosophy seems to be over. It is already taken as something past which is only 197
indeterminacy or undecidibility. he tells us. How does this lead us to the issue of deconstruction in and upon the text of Nietzsche? I If the recent literature is at all indicative. By 1922 the problematic issue of aItheia had already provoked him to question the adequacy of phenomenological method: how could a phenomenon be fully presented.2 Now. for want of a better word. if concealment itself was found to be enigmatic. Heidegger conceived this project. If Heidegger. alterity. And. Moreover. have not constituted the history of metaphysics as such." So much by way of a nominal introduction. a laying-out of the possibilities already implicit in Greek thought.3 Let me simply 198 . and. Heidegger claimed. phenomenology is not a school . telos. it was precisely with this in mind that Heidegger began what he called the Destruktion of Western thought. much less grasped by consciousness. possibilities that have not developed into. was not the history of metaphysics as such. where Heidegger renounced the very concept of ground as being perhaps the most conventional of all metaphysical categories. it seems practically impossible for a contemporary reader of Nietzsche not to encounter Nietzsche's texts except by way of Heidegger and Derrida. by instituting the thought of differance.. thence to enter into and give rise to its own possibilities. perhaps more positively. namely. so does Derrida perform this in his analysis of Husserl's Origin of Geometry and the Logical Investigations by deconstructing the concepts of arch. sign. But in what is most its own. We should note that Derrida follows a similar itinerary: what Derrida addressed. and by the thought of Ereignis and poetic thinking. by a process of "remembrance" and "retrieve. was itself concealed? It was the set of possibilities opened up by this concept of truth as al/theia that guided Heidegger's project of Destruktion from its initial formulation in Being and Time until the final texts of On Time and Being and The End of Philosophy. its . essential character does not consist in being actual as a philosophical school.recorded historically along with other schools of philosophy. if its very appearing was grounded in concealment? Indeed. he does this as Heidegger did-by deconstructing the metaphysics of "presence. And it is only at this point. and phenomenological intuition.. .. and thus. during the period in which he served as Husserl's assistant. that thinking could be freed from the history of metaphysics. nor the thought of the presocratics. Higher than actuality stands possibility. . but rather their axiomatic condensation in the work of Husserl. however." finally questioned tradition through the Destruktion of (its) ground.
subjecting the text in a supervenient way to these techniques). something becomes strikingly obvious about previous Nietzsche criticism: with few exceptions. which. theses. epistemological. Thus. in two extremely important and well-known articles. Sarah Kofman. one had to modify if not sacrifice what they considered to be the stylistic excess of his writing. The range of these interpretations. Georges Bataille. and to all appearances conclusive. Phillipe LacoueLabarthe. The foremost representative of this movement in the United States is no doubt Paul de Man. While he acknowledges his own indebtedness to Derrida and to what I would call the rhapsodic school (e. and ontological theses. moreover. no position that might not easily be replaced by any other.g. and hierarchical. Nietzsche was variously held by his early critics to be anything from a neo-positivist to a transcendental esthete.. we are invariably told. and Jean-Michel Rey). And it is largely to him that we owe a renewed and vigorous reading of Nietzsche.4 These two levels operate in such a way that (for Nietzsche. a more recent school has ventured the other extreme-and has become lost in an exclusive. then." he makes the claim that deconstruction is an immanent operation-performed in and by the text on at least two levels. Bernard Pautrat. the earlier analyses resulted in a systematized Nietzsche-one that had positive and well-defined ethical. One concern however.advance this as a claim. and both reduce Nietzsche's text to a series of theses or non-theses. was vast. Much as in contemporary Plato criticism. At one time or another. is in any case invalid and wrong-headed. for instance. "Genesis and Genealogy in Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy" and "Nietzsche's Theory of Rhetoric. one at best pays lip-service to the style or dramatic construction of the dialogues-in order better to find a system of logical argumentation and demonstration. was held in common by most of these "philosophical" interpreters: to make sense of Nietzsche. if not rhapsodic concern with style alone. the explicitly narrative and the metalinguistic levels. needless to say. But if the conventional systematic reading of Nietzsche chose to dispense with the complex issues of his style. But if you accept this claim. The outcome of this method is the attempt to establish the nature of textual authority and the permissible range or extent of its semantic assertions. The outcome of this kind of tortured reflection is the claim that Nietzsche had no doctrines. Both the systematic and rhapsodic readings perform their own kind of violence. Perhaps as a response to the rhapsodic reading. What is perhaps most important in de Man's reading of Nietzsche is that he anchors the Derridean project of deconstruction firmly within the stylistic mechanics of the text itself (rather than. which were codified. at 199 . one which explicitly calls itself a "deconstructionist" reading. his work is distinctly his own. consistent. rigorously argued for. a newer orientation has emerged.
as he says. the "deconstruction" of the Dionysian authority finds its arguments within the text itself. a rhetorical praxis that puts these statements into question." What is this residue of meaning? It is surely not systematic. the deconstruction does not occur between statements. for." Indeed. When de Man discusses The Birth of Tragedy in his earlier article. of illusion and non-illusion? To decide these issues. The narrator who argues against the subjectivity of the lyric and against representational realism destroys the credibility of the other narrator. de Man continues. this would seem to be the claim he has to defend. on the other hand. he shows that the truthful narrative (which can knowingly distinguish the reliability of what it represents) is orchestrated against the narrative of an unmediated representation of will. as in a logical refutation or in a dialectic. .. it acquires two incompatible narrators.. metalinguistic statements about the rhetorical nature of language and. p. of Apollonian and Dionysian. (GG. The Birth of Tragedy does more than just retract its own assertions about the genetic structure of literary history. for whom Dionysian insight is the tragic perception of original truth. Moreover. but happens instead between. he argues. It is at this point that de Man turns from the discourse and narrative to its genetic foundation: Have we merely been saying that The Birth of Tragedy is self-contradictory and that it hides its contradictions by means of "bad" rhetoric? By no means. which can then no longer be called simply blind or mystified. first of all. Thus. about the limitations of textual authority. (GG. p. the text "has to run the risk of having to decree the loss of its own claim to truth." 200 . Nietzsche's narrative falls into two parts. it "remains beyond the reach of the text's own logic and compels the reader to enter into an endless process of deconstruction. . It leaves a residue of meaning. 51) What would follow from this opposition of truth and non-truth.least) the narrative teaching is undermined by the rhetorical dynamics of the text-both on the level of the narrative itself and by the ground of its own genesis. on the one hand. 52) This residue of meaning presents itself in such a way that it can be translated into what he calls "a secondary statement . or what amounts to the same thing. The outcome of this interplay is not mere negation.
metaphor loses its authority to make any claim." it can no longer give an account of itself as a self. that " 'No such thing as an unrhetorical. The problem here is that the Dionysian narrator is only a metaphorical representation of the natural will. in genetic terms. this dependence on the discontinuous ground of metaphoric and aphoristic formulations "turns out to be a recurrent structural principle of Nietzsche's from the start. The metalinguistic reflection on rhetoric is even more pointed in de Man's later article. p. then. De Man concludes that such a model is not unique to The Birth of Tragedy. as is the language he speaks and the music he plays. a pattern of dissonance that contaminates the very source of the will. The genetic model of discourse is founded squarely on the metaphorical transfer which inaugurates the Dionysian and Apollonian narrative in the first place. 'natural' language exists that could be used as a point of reference. At the genetic level. cannot survive this original translation into metaphor. if genetic models are only one instance of rhetorical mystification among others. language is itself the result of purely rhetorical tricks and devices" (TR. p. in his lectures on rhetoric dating from 1872-73." Ultimately. p. Thus the pretended fullness of the Dionysian language appears as the "absence of meaning and the play of [an] endless tension of a non-identity. precisely on the level of meaningful statements. and synecdoche). As de Man argues. we are already subject to the ironic characterization of the tragic statement-which irony leaves a "hollow" where the significant values in question were to have arisen. then metaphor becomes a blind metonymy and the entire set of values that figures so prominently in The Birth of Tragedy-a melocentric theory of language. 201 . that very little of the vaunted "semantic residue" surfaces at all within Nietzsche's text. in this residue. save for our own awareness that we are condemned to a continual series of cancellations. there can be no natural claim to his authority in language or music. the pantragic consciousness of the self and the genetic vision of history-are made to appear hollow when they are exposed to the clarity of a new ironic light. What in the text of The Birth of Tragedy can be made as a statement about nature. Thus. that is. "Nietzsche's Theory of Rhetoric"-where he convincingly shows that "the linguistic paradigm par excellence" is the trope. as a truth claim about the essence or nature of things. (GG. are formulations "in which every word is ambivalent and enigmatic. 35). then. and if the relationship between the figural and proper meaning of a metaphor is conceived. as in this text. the will as source" (GG.What the reader finds. Indeed. 52). Nietzsche himself claimed. metonymy." Why is this? Because their source in the "will has been discredited as a self. the figure of speech (especially metaphor. 53) It seems. Rather.
de Man has gone both too far and not far enough: it seems as if the text deconstructs itself right out of existence. . A threat of immediate destruction. 43. . In de Man's words.. philosophical reflection would be bound to the literary and rhetorical "deceit" it traditionally labors to discredit (TR. staves off the Nietzschean text from total self-destruction. The proposed deconstruction. The deconstructive character of the Nietzschean text consists ultimately in a rhetorical process of endless reversals and substitutions. 45) All of which is to say: the text of Nietzsche is at once true and neither true nor false. successively true and false. which is variously introduced and invoked by de Man as will. pp. illusion. he concludes in an odd way that but this The wisdom of the text is self-destructive . by analogy. from total cancellation... thus becomes the permanent repetition . I have shown how it was the purpose of the Nietzschean discourse to bring this ontotheological ground into question. of this threat . can be reversed at will. error. but all the while only on the supposition of a precedent ground. What then. keep it suspended between truth and the death of this truth.Such a conception of language clearly forbids the possibility of a literal truth. by the endless repetition of the same figure. Thus de Man insists that we are further and further driven "into the complications of rhetorical delusion. pp." From the very outset. stating itself as a figure of speech. or art. to the metamorphic nature of Will to Power. only survives to the extent it does by virtue of implicitly postulating a non-figurative ground of truth and being-even if the discourse itself can neither attain to nor express this transcendent ground. self. from being a "hollow"devoid of any significance at all? De Man is sorely pressed to answer this. therefore." And this is an irremediable situation from which we cannot extricate ourselves. nature. Curiously enough. presence. of at- . any proposition or part of a proposition results in what he calls "an exchange of properties that allows for their mutual persistence at the expense of their literal truth. (TR. It follows that the entire system of valorization at work tributes involving the categories of truth and appearance deprives the two poles of their authority. self-destruction is infinitely displaced in a series of successive rhetorical reversals which. then. . 40-43). truth. precisely by employing a metaphorical conception of language that would be framed. Elsewhere.5 The articulation of each would be understood according to its diacritical or differential character. . "one more 'turn' or trope added to a series of earlier reversals will not stop the turn towards error. This exchange ." In the end. false. one might ask. The advantage of this view would be to preserve the 202 S. self-consciousness.
this most Yes-saying of all spirits. mutually cancelling one another? Indeed. homelessness. in Ecce Homo. Zarathustra is often considered to be just that: a standing contradiction between the exuberant affirmation of the first three books and the sobering denial. The most powerful capacity for metaphors that has existed so far is poor and mere child's play compared with this return of language to the nature of imagery.. sun. In every .. in him all opposites are blended into a new unity.. yet far from resulting in a cancellation of the narrative or in an evacuation of its teachings. It is in this sense that he can say. He who can will the prospect of an Eternal Recurrence of all things will redeem the earth. etc. snake. Three and one-half years after its completion. non-figurative language. and I have never been more serious. word he contradicts. written some two years later. the one that stands above and apart from all others. he writes to von Gersdorff: "Don't be put off by the mythic style of the book: my entire philosophy is behind these homey and unusual words. During the period of Zarathustra's composition. bred from the most extreme opposites. in Ecce Homo. child. ring.. ."6 Nietzsche thus seems to be fully aware of the stylistic and rhetorical resources of Zarathustra. Surely. But what would be the result? Another "hollow"? Another voyage into the metaphorical subversion of every thematic or "philosophical" teaching? Another series of narrative feints. metaphorical expression in so many images throughout the text: wheel. the nay-saying of the final book. he continues to call Zarathustra his greatest inspiration. arrow. cave. however fractured. But what is most important about this concentration is that each image. To be fair. after all. this would be the work to examine.. is the very definition of the Overman: the Overman is the meaning of the earth.possibility of a meaningful and coherent thematic. these stylistic resources intensify and unify both the narrative and the teaching.7 Perhaps Zarathustra is exemplary in that Nietzsche concentrates his contradictory. sea. journey. Let anyone add up the spirit and good nature of all great souls: all of them together would not be capable of producing even one of Zarathustra's discourses . wave. without basing it on the simple referential character of a proper. And what is this Eternal Recurrence but the most complete expression of the Will to Power? 203 . At the end of his paper on "Nietzsche's Theory of Rhetoric. mountain. points to a unity or unifying process. But Nietzsche himself is consistently clear about the seriousness of this text and its overall positive character. de Man himself tends towards this direction in the later essay. animal." de Man announces that his reading should best be seen as a preparation for examining the text of Thus Spake Zarathustra. The unity. one that finds its highest instance in Zarathustra's own teaching.
Such paths often terminate abruptly. On the contrary. He begins his account with what he calls an erratic exergue. take us back to the metalinguistic genesis of the narrative train. deconstruction should do precisely the opposite: it should. or. this brief and erratic exergue explains nothing. But this is not an analytical or deconstructive terminus ad quem. there is no master sense.8 But for both Nietzsche and Derrida. it is arguably the most pointed and instructive example in the entire course of his work. for Derrida the text now becomes a positive receptacle. nor does it result in the cancellation of significant statements at the level of the explicit narrative teaching.nor istHiere a discrete or transcendent ground-above or beneath. but also traversed by what Heidegger referred to as paths of thought which often lead nowhere: Holzwege. not only furrowed out by an ever-changing and ampliative series of codes. one set. just as the metamorphic circulation of force constitutes the sum of relations as Will to Power. none of what de Man terms a "zero degree of figurality" (GG. Indeed. and Will to Power are themselves metaphors in each of Nietzsche's published works. Interestingly enough. this is the normal state of affairs. no non-figural meaning. By following out his own programme of a "supplementary form of interpretation. There. In the case of the Nietzschean text. Derrida performs-and "performs" is perhaps too weak a word-what he calls an "affirmative" and "contemporary" kind of deconstruction. in its eternal process of transformation. as de Man suggests. p. Since there is no "immaculate perception" there can be no simple return "to the texts themselves. they can generate their own axes of development and continuity from within. If de Man's immanent deconstruction had emptied the text and shown it to be a hollow vessel. The deconstructive operations within Nietzsche's text do. and defines this very "moment itself" as one configuration. In his Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles. II The kind of deconstruction practiced by Derrida is far more of an operation upon the text. this in fact occurs: the metaphorical circulation of signs constitutes this value.In all this. Eternal Return. 204 . fill in the suspected hollow with all the resources that lend significant value to any one statement." Derrida affirms what Nietzsche had long ago claimed: that the text finally disappears beneath its interpretation. he radically extends what in his earlier work he called a "decentering" of the text. if at all possible. as de Man seems to think." which would consist in pursuing the "genetic indetermination" or the "seminal adventure of the trace. he saw fit not to publish these analyses. 52). But inasmuch as one can talk about the kind of deconstructive operation that Derrida performs upon a text. Feldwege." to some immaculate or original edition. When they were provisionally analyzed as non-figural concepts by Nietzsche. Overman. Derrida suggests just such an entrance into the text of Nietzsche.
one must perforce be attentive to the edge. Nietzsche mentions six things: (1) A wrapped package-an envelope or gift-whose contents are not mentioned...e. i. and at last you hear from me again. [We] could have celebrated a reunion like that of the Council of Basel. You see. It suggests wandering away from the truth. (4) Wagner will shortly arrive in Basel... into error." to whom I own a debt of thanks. intending to touch on every main theater in Germany." In this snippet of a letter. p. 1872]. which I recall with warm memories. and Derrida often invokes it. after it must have seemed I had sunk into a dead silence. It is a term for the necessary deviance that accompanies any reflection about truth or Being: if one seeks to open up or to follow a path of thought.. which defines the path and sustains its very directionality. Nietzsche's letter [to Malwida von Meysenbug. He is one to whom 205 . The term "erratic" comes from Heidegger (die Irre). and for eight days. I shall snip out the bits and pieces of an erratic exergue. (2) That he has been silent of late-he has not written Malwida von Meysenbug for some time. outside the printed message of a coin. (3) He would like to reconvene a meeting.' Wagner and wife. a reunion. we wanderers. They are on the grand tour. November 7. ... For the third week in November. to defend whom could be a true marvel of courage. in the space of this brief exergue. on this occasion including the famous Basel "DENTIST.. one that wanders. ". At last my little bundle is ready for you. for everyone is of a mind to condemn me. or. (5) The visit will include the attendance of a famous Basel "dentist"-the term "dentist" is in double quotes. in Basel-in the near future.The text of Spurs begins with an exergue-then. a glorious visit has been announced-here in Basel! The 'visit in itself. with a space which is below the inscription.. the outside margin of that path. The term is also reminiscent of Nietzsche's own description of himself and his kind: "we nomads. 31) Several questions are immediately suggested here. Derrida calls it an "erratic" exergue-that is. However-it is woman who will be my subject. Let me quote this: From this... my Birth of Tragedy has made me the most offensive philologist of the present day." Then the text begins: The title for this lecture was to have been the question of style. (S.
Derrida projects or imputes one or several values of woman into the tapestry of Nietzsche's own text. once again. and the defensive posture he must assume. his silence. And.Nietzsche owes a debt of thanks. its indebtedness. Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles. he also writes. he speaks of the poor reception given to his Birth of Tragedy. Such a concept of woman may appear to describe a heterogeneous or a homogeneous quantity. This has to be qualified. This is interesting. (6) Finally. about his many-voiced and polyvalent style. an unmentioned yet apparently important dentist.e. are not. its excess. Derrida writes and he writes about writing. an erratic exergue. We could say that this text is simply meant to be an explication of the three themes just mentioned. Especially to Derrida's own operation. of gratitude. i. If horizon is 206 . perhaps of presentiment and expectation. or the motivations for a polyvalent interpretation-which may well devolve to a decidable or undecidable resolution about woman (and this either for Nietzsche's text or for Derrida's text)-all this requires our attention. a meeting. what Nietzsche's text may well admit Derrida's will force upon it. what emerges will be Derrida's valuation of woman. That which is does not seem to be present. Fine. this text which speaks about six things. Some things have happened-and these are unclear. Derrida has already constructed a Heideggerian text out of Nietzsche. But it is also a text about Nietzsche. as well as about the Heideggerian concept of Being (as Ereignis).. Six things. and its wanderings. To determine the interpretation. then: a package. six events in the distance. Perhaps.e. These three topics will be the concern of Derrida's text. and his defensiveness. Other events are yet to happen-and these are also unclear. horizonality) is forever being introduced into the text and its subject matter. According to such a view as this. to the extent that marginality becomes central. distancing is the very operation inscribed in this text. Let us say. The event or happening of Being resonates throughout this brief text. the letter is addressed to Malwida von Meysenbug). about its control. Derrida everywhere claims that the text exceeds the author. by a judicious or injudicious editing of Nietzsche's remarks concerning women. i. But what of Derrida's own operation so far? Several possibilities of interpretation already present themselves to us. Wagner's arrival. or out. that marginality (or in more Heideggerian terms. that which takes place. presumably with a second order claim of control.. of a letter by Nietzsche-let us say that this snippet conveys a sense of mystery or enigma. because it takes place in the distance-and. Or. when we think ahead to the larger text en bloc. All of which is to say that the events of the letter. Let us say that Derrida's snippet-which is a cutting up. we could say that this text may well be an imputation. Knowing this. one interpretation. Wandering. and it is an effective way of opening a discourse about woman (indeed. Or. that this is a justification of Nietzsche's complex attitudes towards women. but at a distance (in die Ferne). of course. the happenings spoken of. Woman-style-Being.
"If style were a man (much as the penis. across his letters and a variety of texts. When we examine the content of this excision. And what is it that remains after an excision? Two things: that which is cut off. being. Especially when addressed to Malwida von Meysenbug. of this oblique character of the text: (1) Derrida writes across Nietzsche. We already have a rather precise notion about what is said in that exergue. Derrida snips: "Je d6coupe." That Nietzsche the philologist or Derrida the grammalogue fails to note the alliterative latin term for testicles is not clear. does the space of the exergue suggest a kind of castration. But by doing this.e. Thus. a space outside the text. the subject matter becomes woman. Derrida tells us: "The title for this lecture was to have been the question of style. But what is altered in and by this exergue? Derrida is attentive enough to insert a series of ellipses into the exergue-to stand in for what was taken out. Nietzsche writes. Let me cite what Derrida omits or cuts off in his transcription of this letter. At once. here corresponds to exergue: and what is excised by the exergue results in the question of woman.simply exchanged for figure. Indeed. Not only. Indeed. 47). Derrida suggests that he is castrating the text of Nietzsche.9 we find some surprising indications. Derrida also fails to note the name of this famous dentist-his 207 .. etc. As Derrida remarks later on in the text. made from the past participle of the verb "to respect. However-it is woman who will be my subject. Immediately after the so-called exergue. The subject was to have been style. according to Freud. then writing would be woman" (S. the title of Derrida's text still remains that: "Nietzsche's Styles. already. he excises a part of the original text-and in the first instance. it is inevitable that his own discourse must be an oblique one. that is. remarks that would appear to have a strong bearing on any analysis of sexuality or style in Nietzsche. it becomes figure." It should have been style-however-it is woman who will be my subject. this is the text of a letter. a pre-face. A margin. style. and about what that might lead to. by comparing the exergue with Nietzsche's original letter. He performs a kind of violence to it. about what is presented to us." I cut up. However. Derrida at the same time privileges what remains. I cut out. which serves as a kind of preface. will be of central concern to Derrida. (2) He introduces what he wants to discuss without really mentioning it: in an exergue. Two indications. But let us not forget that the exergue itself is in Nietzsche's own hand. i. the spinster author of Memoirs of an Idealist. already in the exergue. while the marginality of woman. namely." By wielding the knife upon Nietzsche's text. p. then. I cut off-I also make a sort of collage with what remains. it performs one. about its positive content. The first ellipsis is practically negligible: "Respected Fraulein"that is. the political activist and ardent feminist. Verehrtestes Fraulein-a common form of address. and that from which something is cut off. is the 'normal prototype of fetishes'). it no longer operates as horizon: rather. in the distance. I make a decoupage..
acting at a distance. that is. apologetic. social being. outside Derrida's text. and pen: all this.e. And here I think of you and am heartily glad to have met with you. Warlike. of course. primary nature) and a conventional origin or identity (second nature. exchange. as pen it is a defense-or the reverse. then. distant. "You will certainly not yet know the apologia by professor Rohde of Kiel. Following the sentence about the celebrated dentist. from Kiel. as is the excised fragment? Is this excised fragment silent by its absence? Or. the martyr. which in German means torture or torment. which term.. peaceful. who are a lonely fighter for the " right . vita femina. there follows another ellipsis.Nietzsche. Marter. yet which is orchestrated by him. by saying. Nietzsche closes this letter. and is the root word for the tortured believer. It is to this dentist (in double quotes) that Nietzsche owes a debt of gratitude. incidentally. whatever it is. the value and the very identity of woman will also be a conventional moral or social issue. which he has written with sword as well as pen. due precisely to their Derridean cast: how does it stand. veiled and obscured. Nietzsche says. Why does Derrida excise what he does from this letter? Why does he not comment on what he could well draw out of this text? Does what he snip off constitute an axis of interpretation? One less favorable to Derrida's explicit interpretation? Or. circulation. all the while at a distance." Such a sword or pen wields superiority over his opponents. sword." This will not only point up the questions of debt. Yet none of this is cited here in the exergue. is this removal the very operation of interpretation? Troubling questions. reinforces the economic and numismatic character of this "exergue. of extirpation. but also those of sexual identity and conventional moral value. Thus.. As sword. which stands at the margin. with these 208 . if it were a preface or pre-text. excision.. or both. "Dearest Fraulein von Who knows how much like your life mine may beMeysenbug. by Derrida. The debt. Aristotle himself established the etymology: nomos comes from numis. Christian and bourgeois moral evaluation). i. univocal. figures in the very title of Derrida's text. and with great superiority over his opponents. etc.. The name of the dentist in question was Dr. pro. dearest Fraulein von Meysenbug.. it is a parrying threat. yet stands in as an apologia-it speaks for Nietzsche. So far. or is it heterogeneous? Is Derrida's interpretation. A defense for Nietzsche.. especially since Derrida makes so much of the dentist figure-that is. we have examined a snippet of some 20 lines or so. castration. apoNietzsche. whatever it is... come? . Derrida argues.. will constitute the issue of woman.name itself is curious. and this will be caught up in the classical dispute between a natural origin or identity (homo natura. does this excised fragment itself direct and guide Derrida's interpretation? And is this interpretation pointed. where Nietzsche himself introduces the agency of the spur.
dissimulating. to come to pass. away from concealment. as a general process of nature. As Nietzsche had already suggested. shows itself forth. permits what is to appear as such. There.. as the immediate certitude of subjective Being. i. that will find its strongest formulation in Descartes. what he claims or argues for. endurance. More or less. growth. to the view of beings.e. it is precisely what is obscured by the emergence of truth. such a discussion is somewhat obscure itself. to wake up from sleep.e. that is. its sleep. the negative.e. Thus Heidegger argues that the presocratic Greeks understood Being according to the process of nature-physis-of coming-to-be. It owes what coherence it has to Heidegger's interpretation of the Greek concept of truth as aIetheia. will be the principal axiom for understanding Being as reality or objectivity. truth as the process of unconcealment. presentation. By a complementary process. the term "woman" is the name for a dimension of truth. let me review what Derrida advances. to shed its veil. then. to come out of forgetfulness. Thus Being manifests itself. in turn. insofar as it presents itself to us and sustains itself in itself. un-veil. is for Being to reveal itself. non-truth conditions that which emerges as truth.. Derrida is ostensibly concerned with the figure or appearance of woman in the text of Nietzsche. to present itself to us. we could say that Derrida defends or discusses three topics: The first topic occupies the first third of the text (pp. to un-cover. of self-presence or parousia. it gets interpreted as simple presence. He argues that for Nietzsche.marginal. The truth of Being. it signifies the non-truth of truth. and their mysterious agency in the distance? Ill First. means to understand that which is. Once Being is reduced to the image. To speak of Being. i. this notion of non-presence. it must be at work. necessarily obscures something else. to e-merge. and passing. and becomes understood as idea or ousia. in the present. To come to be. with his assertion that the cogito or consciousness is the ground of our 209 . Such a notion of truth is bound to the Greek naturalist understanding of Being as a process of growth. Granted. 31-59). of absence. that which is removed or concealed. What comes into sight.. it must stand forth. then. Here. And that something else. Specifically. reserved aspect of truth. or difference-which initially belonged to the truth of Being-this becomes forgotten by the metaphysical tradition. or. etc. then.. i. to come forth. it must come out of its cover. or un-conceal itself. It is the latter conception. Thus the negative aspect of truth is already inscribed at the start of the Western tradition of understanding: a-I4theia. subsistence. And this. in his text. silent non-inscriptions. self-presence. and as Heidegger will develop it. standing-forth. and passing-away.
will henceforth admit the unclear. There is no master sense to such concepts as style. or. 59-95). woman. For Nietzsche and Derrida. truth. "the heterogeneity of Nietzsche's text"-and his style. of woman. This is why Derrida will argue that woman or truth escapes and confounds the logic of castration. Being. Derrida argues. since it cannot assign a discrete value to such a concept as woman. the distant. dissimulating. it is just such a heterogeneous concept of woman which escapes this kind of classification. The meanings of these terms. text. In discussing the evolution of the concept of truth. No master sense: this means. what is true. Consequently. Such a state of affairs will not divulge itself to the clear and distinct inspection or to the simple register of intuitive certainty. the hermeneutic interpretation which claims to speak about the meaning of Being encounters its limits at the point where its categories are transgressed. and this occupies the second third of the text (pp. It is because philosophy is already taken up in the historical project ("The History of an Error") which Nietzsche describes. 210 . where Nietzsche makes the explicit identification of woman and truth. discrete counter-term. of metaphysical subsumption and valuation. "it [the idea] becomes female-it becomes Christian. namely. subject to the binary oppositions of conventional metaphysics itself. This tradition of subjective and objective idealism extends through Hegel and is finally brought into question by Nietzsche. testifies to the very limits of Heidegger's project of interpretation. no single truth of Being."10 This omission. it is Nietzsche (followed by Marx and Freud) who will assault this privilege of presence. whether as objective Being or as truth. "Hence. The second issue Derrida concerns himself with is Heidegger's interpretation of Nietzsche. there is no simple. and complex. and his women. Thus. What is. Such a hermeneutic analysis is precisely caught up in an argument pro and contra. however. the subconscious.knowledge of Being: what is real and true must present itself as clear and distinct to the intuiting cogito. Heidegger is led to condemn Nietzsche as a metaphysical thinker. and because Heidegger's project to uncover philosophical truth within this movement is likewise bound to this epoch-it is for these two reasons that Derrida claims that such a philosophic-hermeneutic decoding of this or any stage of historical development is necessarily incomplete and inadequate. in short. the non-verifiable. Derrida points to an omission on Heidegger's part. his failure to analyze a section from Twilight of the Idols. Nietzsche states. as the last metaphysical thinker. by reversing or inverting its doctrines and operations. he who brings the traditional metaphysics of presence to a close. In an extremely forceful reading of Heidegger's Nietzsche volume. It will continually defer and distance itself-as woman. the meaning of the text. and not merely inverted. indeed. of hermeneutics. Thus. By failing to take the heterogeneity of Nietzsche's text seriously. no single meaning of Being-much less." as Derrida claims.
This. once Heidegger comes to understand Being in terms of appropriation (of Ereignis). of truth. In which case. The fragment is brief. with the appearance of Time and Being. The question of woman suspends the decidable opposition of true and non-true and inaugurates the epochal regime of quotation marks which is to be enforced for every concept belonging to the system of philosophical decidability. was conventionally metaphysical-that it could be submitted to the question of Being. The hermeneutic project which postulates a true sense of the text is disqualified under this regime. An apparently trivial fragment such as this would at best evoke a smile of knowing recognition from the archivist or chronicler. 83-85. Whereupon the question of style is immediately unloosed as a question of writing. ultimately. that is. Only some twenty-two years later. Derrida sees the later account of Ereignis precisely as the feminine operation itself. That kind of analysis perforce remains metaphysical. What then is Derrida's issue with Heidegger? At the time of the Nietzsche volume (1940 is the date for the section in question). Thus. is it a piece of coded writing." Is this but a shard or scrap? Or. (S. and thus significant? Derrida argues that it is structurally impossible to resolve this question. For Derrida. emphases added) Derrida goes on to excuse himself by saying matters are not quite so simple with any invocation of Heidegger. to the hermeneutical analysis of Being which establishes the truth and meaning of Being. he has by that token advanced beyond the hermeneutic analysis: beyond the analysis which limits itself to the truth and thus. The third and final discussion (pp. did Heidegger realize the importance of Ereignis-of the happening. Thus Derrida will argue. pp. is it a fragment of an initial draft? Or. which his editors have dated as belonging to the period of The Gay Science. this scrap or fragment stands as a model for any text. the event of Being. he claimed that the Nietzschean doctrine as a whole. the entire reading of Heidegger's Nietzsche work has to be completely rethought. Thus.all this overflows the conceptual and categorial control of the philosophichermeneutic code: for such a code is itself caught up in the logic of castration. of the giving and the abyss of Being. dictates and thus subverts the very truth of Being. liberated from the values of the product's production or the present's presence. that is. to the circumscribed history of Being. in turn. Which 211 . 95-110) concerns a specific posthumous fragment of Nietzsche's. that is. It simply states: "I have forgotten my umbrella. of appropriation. in the discourse of presence. Heidegger failed to see the necessarily indeterminate character of woman. Reading is freed from the horizon of the meaning or truth of Being.
or. Thus. sword. I mean that Derrida will at once deny a simple-or following the numismatic metaphor-a reverse essence to woman. Second. its given concept or reference. It may or may not take account of its audience-unlike speech. no text is ever fully comprehended. used. it may not. and what does the question of woman have to do with truth? And how does the issue of truth bear on the style or styles of Nietzsche's writing? Finally. What conceptual unity or identity is to be found here. Or. Nietzsche himself. abused. veil. prow. pointed object. What is the value. It may mean more. it may mean less. unintelligible. By Derrida's operation. etc. yet he will find these two senses as well as a multitude of significant tracings within the nominal unity of this term." He tells us that his reading of woman-style-Nietzsche belongs to an affirmative and contemporary project of deconstruction. word. tongue. In the simplest terms. mark. how woman has been understood. by identifying the question of woman with that of truth. as a topic or agency in Nietzsche's thought. the weather: " C'est une question du temps"). the term "woman" explodes under Derrida's pen. circumstance. the operation follows the late Heidegger's account of Ereignis. By the folding-back of each of these models upon the other. according to the dynamic model of psychoanalytic interaction. elytron. Let us pursue this relationship by raising one or two manageable issues. we can construct a metonymic chain to carry the plural values of woman: woman.. Three motifs which inter-penetrate as do the three figures of Nietzsche-HeideggerDerrida. sail.is to say. spur. in this Musterrolle of designations? What essence? What whatness? By overdetermining the signifier-"woman" can point to practically anything-Derrida has cut off a word from its natural meaning. trace. Une femme est une femme: plus jamais. indication. which we all know. headwall. style. or the events of the time in which it was written or read (or. according to Derrida's concept of the sign. Third. woman now becomes transitivized. When I say that woman is overdetermined. the question of "woman" becomes irrecuperable. Derrida effectively removes woman from the truth of 212 . pen. of woman. IV We find ourselves cast back to the initial framing of the subject matter which we saw in the exergue: woman-truth-style. what comprehension does such a text-Nietzsche's text-admit of? One thing is clear: Derrida begins his analysis by immediately overdetermining the term "woman. It may be intentionally subversive. we shall find out what it is that has come to be known as woman. indeed. umbrella. language. It may depend on context. wake. and this according to at least three models other than Nietzsche's own: First. is quite simply one gender of the human species. divisive. or does it ever fully express the intentions of the author. Consequently. Within the course of the first three pages alone. for example.
Thus. Hence Derrida's overdetermination of woman: woman. 121n): How about this convincingly justified and candidly posed question: What is Appropriation [Ereignis] ? The question asks for whatness. What is Appropriation? demands information about the Being of Appropriation. who escapes the trap of metaphysical discourse. determines also the sense of what is here called "lying" [i. classification. Our seemingly innocent question. hence. Or. and ordination. then the question we have advanced takes us back to what first of all demands its own determination: Being in terms of time. of essence. the peculiar property of Appropriation. In Time and Being. that is. it asks how Appropriation becomes present. p. "Woman" is neither an essence. nor a being. At every turn Derrida will avoid the fetishizing discourse of logocentrism when it comes to submit woman to its imperious and imperializing logic of nomination. how it presences. We should be aware that this is precisely Heidegger's operation at the moment he tries to thematize the post-metaphysical doctrine of Ereignis. What we have said now allows and in a way even compels us to say how Appropriation must not be thought. p. But if Being itself proves to be such that it belongs to Appropriation and from there receives its determination as presence. however.e. looked through the interjoined modes of giving: sending and extending. in Appropriating. Sending of Being lies in the extending. lies [or rests] in one and the same with sending. nor simple Being itself or truth itself (herself).woman. (T&B. of Being and the truth of Being. reposing] . What the name "event of Appropriation" names can no longer be represented by means of the current meaning of the word: for in that meaning "event of Appropriation" is understood in the sense of [an] occurence and happening-not in terms of Appropriating as the extending and sending which opens and preserves. resting. or whatness. the nature of woman precedes the metaphysical discourse of logos. in other words: the question of woman precedes the metaphysical discourse of nature itself. quiddity. This determination showed itself as we looked ahead to the "it" that gives [es gibt Sein]. Extending. opening and concealing of manifold presence into the open realm of time-space. This.. we read the following passage-the passage which precedes Derrida's own citation of the same text (S. emphases added) 213 . 20. for the essence.
She constitutes its gift and its reserve: she is its giving and its withholding. 2122. In this sense. Moreover. presentation. If Husserl failed to reflect on "the essence" of signs in general. and this is included in Derrida's citation. What is decisive in any case is that Derrida finds a model for stating the privilege of woman in Heidegger's text about Ereignis. precisely in order to give them any claim to truth at all. we read: Appropriation is not the encompassing general concept under which Being and time could be subsumed.-and once again. She operates at a distance from things. and concealing their realm. The closest Husseri came in ascribing an essence or unity to the sign was in saying that "signs are always of something" (or for something: fur Etwas). before the Being of beings. like Ereignis. Like Ereignis. For as we think Being itself and follow what is its own. Derrida found that Husserl had submitted the order of signification-of signs-to the order of truth and Being. one could pursue Heidegger's labored account of Ereignis at great length. suggesting. speech.e. "can no longer be represented by means of the current meaning of the word.." the Ab-grund of Being and hence. ostensive reference. Ecriture et difference. indication. Derrida was able to show the conventional metaphysics of presence at work in determining Husserl's distinction between two kinds of sign: indication and expression. There. reiteration. In Speech and Phenomena. something we could perhaps be spared. Logical classifications mean nothing here. precisely by opening. The second stage in Derrida's critique of the sign (which he carries out in Grammatology. expression.. depicting." The second model for the question of woman stems from Derrida's analysis of Husserl. Derrida went to great lengths to show how the very notion of sign has to precede the truths of any metaphysics or ontology. pp. representation. writing. this suggested their priority over essence and objectivity-where essence and objectivity at least require the being of a reiterable identity. escape essentialization or categorial identity.] the gift granted by the giving of time.A few lines further. and elsewhere) was to revise Saussure's concept by denying the essential opposition between the signifier and signified. Woman. of truth. for the moment. 121n) Granted. she is conceived before the advent of metaphysics. S. iteration. identification. The important thing is to see the system of language 214 . pointing. p. she is her own giving and her own withholding. tracing. etc. gesturing. [But] the gift of presence is the property [Eigentum] of Appropriating [Ereignens]. [i. extending. woman will be the "abyss. Being proves to be destiny's gift of presence. Yet this is enough for Derrida: such a generalized and functional notion of the sign could embrace an extraordinary variety of operations-e.g.. (T&B.
absence/presence. let us call this signifier "sign"-quite simply).e. then. i. Freud recognized that sexuality achieves its significant stages and determinations only through the dynamics of circulation and interaction.1 1 Like Heidegger. Yet. and between active and 215 . there is total silence. the Logical Investigations.. the phallic stage is preceded by the earlier forms of organization. or what he calls the "economic-dynamic system. Henceforth. by crossing over the line. once one performs a deconstructive analysis on these texts.. of the phallus and its castration. however. with regard to others and their bodies. body/soul. the strategic necessity for Derrida to invoke the third model." Hence Derrida's repeated stress on the psychoanalytic sense of the term "position": my libidinal impulses attain their progressive psycho-sexual stages of organization only by taking up a position with regard to myself and my body. namely. the significance of a term-a term such as "woman"-derives from its circulation. The ontological consequences for such a view are immense. say the same for any term. where masculine and feminine are differentiated at the onset of puberty. Thus. i. which are in turn set off from the rest. etc. it is only through a resolution of the Oedipal complex that one can fully attain the final stage of psycho-sexual organization. precisely. the genital stage-whereby the individual can resolve his or her sexuality. but by crossing out the line between them. Neither Being and Time. for any term other than "woman. Yet the phallic stage takes place and is resolved within the Oedipal complex. we would say Derrida turns the signified into a signifier. a certain kind of liberation does emerge: precisely a liberation from the hierarchical oppositions which constitute the very Being of metaphysics-signifier/signified.and to recognize the differential or diacritical value each term possessed. the discrete concept or meaning-the signified-is replaced with a coherent set of signifiers. Indeed. Also. empirical/ideal. does Freud play in Derrida's text? Surely the question of woman is elaborated across the central metaphor of castration.e. by the oral and anal stages. by eating and being eaten. The rigid metaphysical distinction between empirical signifier and ideal signified becomes obliterated in a generalized circulation of signs. which are respectively characterized in the Freudian schema by the oppositions between biting and being bitten-or. in the play of signifiers (-and were we to retain the value which separates signifier and signified. What role. from its active employment as well as from its negative distance of phonic and semantic differentiation. the most universal of complexes for Freud. that is. as a feminine or feminist tract. and with regard to the external forms of prohibition and approbation. both Husserl and Saussure are to all appearances silent about woman. We could. the Freudian psychoanalytic model. nor A General Introduction to Linguistics could be viewed. Indeed." Hence.
it seems as if we have compounded our difficulties. Where do I turn? What use.passive. end. Therefore. But. Consequently. the schema active-passive is reproduced within the Oedipal complex to structure the opposed values phalliccastrated. with flight and wandering. there would be a natural bond between the penis and the phallus-and. There seems to be an abundance of textual evidence to support this. The only positive term. we know that Freud disallowed any positive value to the vagina or to its specifically sexual sensations-this need not be commented on. Again. Let us follow our assumption and conclude that it is on the basis of an anatomical parity that the real issue arises: not castration. It seems as if the problem of logocentrism were in fact compounded by phallocentrism. with gifts. but that it finds its equivalent at the oral stage with the breast of the mother. to borrow a Derridean neologism. Thus. If Derrida castrates the text of Nietzsche and Heidegger. a natural foundation for the genesis of sexual identity. they are not-except to herself. significant of sexual and bodily identity. the differential value of the terms. no simple phallus so naturally defined. passive-castrated-feminine is the reverse of active-phallic-masculine. Hence. There is no master meaning. with teeth. of a fixed meaning to all sexual identity. of the silent ship with its billowing sails. and not the substance of any single term. all these terms designate the progressive evolution of sexuality per se. Indeed. there is no natural hierarchy. 216 . with the umbrella-as detachable objects. the penis-the only positive anatomical term. namely. or at the anal stage with the feces. Her pleasure and knowledge need not be manifest. that he follows her analysis: that the penis is a partial object. the penis. at least for Freud. is phallus. masculine-feminine. even in the brief exergue. however. This in turn anticipates the final resolution. But by advancing to the Freudian analysis. of the mother. what is important is the exchange value. the only master sense here. there would seem to be. Let us assume that he follows Melanie Klein here. ultimately. but the castration complex. or as he would say to Lacan. it seems that the question of woman is trapped within what he calls "phallogocentrism. no simple meaning of sexual being. Also. he also does this to the text of Freud. Thus." How does this most conventional of sexual logics work? For Freud. Derrida reads Freud in the same fashion as he reads Saussure. function must I make of my phallus in order to properly retain it? For it to be. This is the apotropaic anguish or anxiety that Derrida continually speaks of and that he finds everywhere in the text of Nietzsche. Melanie Klein suggests that woman can afford to be modest in this respect. Or. and me as well? What position must I assume in order to resolve it? Here. no transcendental signifier. the term which designates masculine sexual identity and mastery by pointing to a positive anatomical term. with the beckoning and call at a distance. the dream imagery sown throughout Nietzsche's texts-of the father. as elsewhere.
in which he dreams the death of his young brother-who was to die At this time. up rose a tombstone. all his life. and no doubt. this perhaps distinguishes me. if anything were ever able. In it took place at the age of six. And out of the tomb came my father. in 1861. I am still alive and growing older. perhaps its unity or uniqueness (Einzigkeit). carrying an infant in his arms. he twice substitutes..1 2 The second passage was unlucky and troublesome he recounts a dream that of his dead father and of the very next day: written in 1858. was tortured by. the onset of puberty.Perhaps Nietzsche himself had such an anxiety complex. dwells in its fatality: to express this in the form of an enigma: "As my father. from his father. in place of his father. little Joseph suddenly fell ill with cramps and died within several hours. suddenly.13 When Nietzsche recounts this dream three years later. who is alive. To make matters worse. Our grief was immense. He anticipates the death of his infant brother. a dream. The grave opened up. he descended into it. my free impartiality in relation to the whole problem of my life. Two citations from Nietzsche might suggest such an Oedipal path. make a conventional psychoanalytic reading of Nietzsche's writing. explains my neutrality. The next day. was inherited. wearing his funeral shrouds. extends to the highest and lowest level of life-at once decadence and beginning-this. As I sought to see what the cause of this was. ruthlessly traumatic. during a funeral. Immediately. My dream was completely fulfilled. the small cadaver was placed in the arms of my father. when Nietzsche attained the age of thirteen-i. he identifies himself with his father. who is already dead. he thought. as my mother. Yet the means of transfiguration and overcoming stem from his mother. as Derrida suggests at the end of his text. The first passage was written in 1888. The ill health and decadence Nietzsche suffered from. I am already dead. Hence. I dreamed I heard the sounds of organ music coming from the church. One could. who he is and who is yet alive. the term "a white form. the organ groaning stopped and I awakened. and the headstone once again closed over the opening. He hurried into the church and quickly came back out. and with his mother.e. and it opens up the first chapter of Ecce Homo: The happiness of my existence." A premonition. 217 ." This double origin which so to speak.
Which is to say. and in the course of his toast. Nietzsche knew this and felt this in direct proportion to his humiliation. She may take up any attitude towards this: castration. all the traces of psychosexual development are to be found here. the language of the ship: sailing over its apotropaic anguish. that is. and this can be expressed as an enigma. urged his physician to make a toast to the young Nietzsche. Wagner (who many critics perhaps too easily see as a father figure for Nietzsche at this period) recommended his own physician. she may withdraw. There is an apocryphal story told about Nietzsche that might-if true-lend confirmation to the neutral. beckon from a 218 . But all this is only a perhaps-as is the umbrella. As Nietzsche remarked in the first passage." its Einzigkeit. has her own erogenous narcissism. the intensity of this valuation is a manifest form of narcissism. Nietzsche was of course mortified. seen such a miniscule penis. a double origin. his own fetishistic narcissism. Once more. neutral. woman answers or resolves man's castration complex by allowing herself to replace the Oedipal mother-which role or function she may or may not choose to assume. perhaps. I too am taken out of the church. of satisfaction and sexual fulfillment. In an extremely rude form of humor. A neutral fatalism. The overvaluation of the phallus results from a misplaced importance attributed to the penis. or. Some weeks later. by which she resolves the decision of sexuality. penis-envy. in his professional experience. The physician did so.we might say. I am decadence and beginning! And. brought about to his own mind. that little cadaver. too. an enigmatic sexuality would henceforth characterize his texts. this explains my neutrality. He fled Triebschen and Wagner. they are confounded in their conventional. her own intense sexual sensations-and is thus loath to concede to herself the value of sexual negativity. Wagner's estate on Lake Geneva. Nietzsche fell somewhat ill. Woman knows this because she is told. I have a double origin: and this distinguishes me. again perhaps. he recounted the event of Nietzsche's physical examination to the assembled guests. He realized afterwards. never to return: an action that. if not neuter character of this resolution. It seems that on one of his frequent visits to Triebschen. cackling. and impartial. their purported authority. the death of a second father. as my brother. the physician pronounced that he had never. Or. in these two citations: their stages and their characterizations-and this from both a masculine and feminine viewpoint. again at Triebschen. Woman knows this but does not believe it-for she. I can now be free. and Wagner. dwells in its fatality. the excess of narcissism. the allure. childbirth. As in the letter to Malwida von Meysenbug. Nietzsche undergoes a masculine and feminine resolution of the Oedipal complex. "the unity of my existence. a banquet was held. that led to this humiliation. the promise of completion. Nonetheless. of a kind of reverse or merely receptive identity.
it is the present spacing between wish and fulfillment. maintains itself between the inside and the outside of woman-hence between the wish and its fulfillment... of marriage. of bursting. from La Dissemination: Hymen signifies first of all the fusion.and the fulfillment of presence. . the identification or confusion between two. or thrust without mark. differents. . Between two. . Hymen. we are brought back to the issue of truth. continuity and confusion of coitus. when someone is made to die of laughter or happiness.. thin and invisible veil that. an identity. when nothing really happens. It is neither the desire nor the pleasure but between the two. the giving and withholding of resolution-so 219 . Thus she escapes subsumption. all the while confounding the logic of phallogocentrism. there is no longer any distance between desire . Not only is the difference abolished . truth is in double quotes: "truth"-so-called. If the one or the other had taken place.14 Finally. In that fusion. between perpetration and memory . etc. as the truth of sexuality is suspended by the exchanges of the "feminine operation"-which operation is the exchange. But now. there would still be no hymen. Derrida calls her logic. for example. It is the hymen that the desire dreams of piercing. the difference. rather. vaginal partition.. there is no longer any difference. casket of virginity. when there is consummation without violence or violence without thrust. or consummation. As the truth of Being is suspended in Ereignis. the distance. act at a distance-all the while knowingly enigmatic. marriage-becomes confused with what seems to be its place of derivation: hymen as protective screen. her silent logic. "has taken place" in the between. hymen. confusion between the present and non.. between distance and nondistance. Hymen-consummation of . tempting.but the difference between difference and nondifference equally The . no more difference between desire and its satisfaction. that of the hymen. hasn't happened except when it has not happened. classification. Let me cite a brief discussion of this. for the hysteric.distance. playful. there would be no hymen-but even if they had not occurred. mark without mark (margin).. with a violence that is (either both or between) love and murder. with its completely undecidable meaning. by Nietzsche.. when the veil is torn without being torn.
incomprehensible-it is just as much as it is not. this is the epoch. nor to a simple affirmation or negation. the world has become "infinite" for us all over again. . Its value is undecided and undecidable. the pharmakon. incomprehensible-It becomes female. whether. on the other hand. one should not wish to divest existence of its rich ambiguity. actively engaged in interpretation-that cannot be decided. Rather." does not become "nonsense". all existence (itself) is not essentially. more insidious. one always finds "a more comprehensive.' "1 7 SUNY-Stony Brook 220 .. Nietzsche says. under every attempt to furnish 'grounds. "becomes more subtle. She is the suspension of the quotation marks.. or. That Derrida finds a threefold operation of woman within Nietzsche's text. 16 By the same token. inasmuch as we cannot reject the possibility that it may include infinite interpretations. Rather. that the operations are neither assimilable to a generic concept. nor is it any longer a question of simple presence. without "sense. of truth. This is perhaps what Nietzsche already knew when he wrote: If anything signifies our humanization-a genuine and actual progress-it is the fact that we no longer require excessive oppositions. . Likewise with the text of Nietzsche. for Nietzsche's text. nor to a dialectical resolution. of differance. or woman to truth-for it is not that kind of veil. . stranger. The veil can no longer be simply lifted to expose woman-truth." Such truth becomes traced out as Derrida finds it. whenever one attempts to interpret and definitively resolve the written text. in the graphics of the hymen. truth belongs to woman as hymen: subtle. Truth. insidious.15 A "world of truth" that can be mastered completely and forever with the aid of our square little reason.woman is also suspended. an abysmally deep ground behind every ground. richer world beyond the surface. the epoche the parenthesis er suspension of truth from its simple origin and simple possession. indeed no opposites at all. Specifically. Whether existence without inter- pretation. What? Do we really want to permit existence to be degraded for us like this-reduced to a mere exercise for a calculator and an indoor diversion for mathematicians? Above all.
No. 1971). 1970). 1969). in On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo. 33-51 (hereafter cited as TR). and trans. Barbara Harlow (Venice: Corbo e Fiore. 1978). 5 (1976). Allison (New York: Delta. 1070. pp. English trans. 107-09. "Thus Spoke Zarathustra. ed. p. Martin Heidegger. (Munich: Carl Hanser. p. pp. Press. Christopher Middleton (Chicago: Univ. 44-53 (hereafter cited as GG). Richard Macksey and Eugenio Donato (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Univ. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books. and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences. 74. trans. p. See the "Introduction" to The New Nietzsche. ed. 3. and trans. and has been partially reproduced in The New Nietzsche. See Schlechta. ed. 1976). 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 221 . "How the 'True World' Finally Became a Fable (The History of an Error). Eperons: les styles de Nietzsche (Paris: Flammarion. 1883. Press. 1969). and "Nietzsche's Theory of Rhetoric. Peter Fuss and Henry Shapiro (Cambridge: HarvardUniv. pp." November 7. Cited in Nietzsche: A SelfPortrait from his Letters. and trans. Werke in drei Banden.NOTES 1 Jacques Derrida. of Chicago Press. 247-65. 128-37. (Hereafter cited as S. II. "Derrida and Wittgenstein: Playing the Game.. in Friedrich Nietzsche. Friedrich Nietzsche. 1 (1978). III. 1077-79. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Viking. 304-05. 1954). ed. Jacques Derrida." in The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man: the Structuralist Controversy. 2 (Winter 1972). 8 (1978). "Genesis and Genealogy in Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy. XI-XXVII. 485. 263-88. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper & Row. Kuenzli. Friedrich Nietzsche. "Letter to Carl von Gersdorff." Symposium. ed. pp. Forthcoming. 82 (hereafter cited as T&B). Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles. My translation. "Structure." in Research in Phenomenology." Diacritics. pp. pp. see R.) This text originally appeared in Nietzsche aujourd'hui (Paris: Union Generale d'Editions. For an important analysis of recent Nietzsche criticism. 3 vols." ?6. ed. as has also a new French version. On Time and Being. 1977). ed. Karl Schlecta. "Letter to Malwidavon Meysenbug." June 28. Ecce Homo. 28 (Spring 1974). Paul de Man." in Nietzsche-Studien. p. 19541956). in The Portable Nietzsche. 1872. see David Allison. David B. Werke. ed. 1973). and trans." Twilight of the Idols. "Nietzsche und die Semiologie: Neue Ansatze in der franzosischen NietzscheInterpretation. Sign. A shorter version ("Becoming Woman") has since appeared in Semiotext(e). in Selected Letters of Friedrich Nietzsche. 1972). For an extended discussion of the concepts of "game" or "play" in language. trans.
'j. Nietzsche. 335-36. z~ii . p. trans. Werke. Walter Kaufmann.Iv... 17. J. ?115. in Allison. pp. La Dissemination (Paris: Editions du Seuil. Teuben Berezdivin. My translation.. i~iiiiiii M!. 14 15 16 17 iiiiiiiiiii!!if Ii ON!!i 4o tM iiiiiiii•iil f M c jav?*ju•jqm 'r iiiii?o iiiiiiiiiiiiii04 'TTii •!!!i~q. ~iiiiiiiiiiiiiii .?? 373-74. pt A --kj v 4w fvmiwjrij • it 40. Trans.. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books. p.UO. 255 ff. 1972). 1974). p. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books. 1969). The New Nietzsche. Beyond Good and Evil. 1968). 70. "Aus meinem Leben (Die Jugendjahre 1844 bis 1858). III. 229.13 Friedrich Nietzsche. pp. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage Books.. The Will to Power. The passage in question is discussed by Pierre Klossowski in his Nietzsche et le cercle vicieux (Paris: Mercure. Kaufmann and R. trans. ed. 1966). trans. pp. 188-89n. Nietzsche. ed. pp. Jacques Derrida." in Schlechta. 23741. The Gay Science. Nietzsche.
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