PAPER OF DR. DIMITIRIS SDROLIAS ANNOUNCED AT THE “DERRIDA TODAY CONFERENCE” AT CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY, CANADA, ON THE 25th OF MAY 2018
Derrida against Derrida or What does Derrida want: Jacque Derrida’s “post-deconstructive” desideratum in his interview to Jean-Luc Nancy
Abstract: Starting by observing how Jacques Derrida, in his interview to Jean-Luc Nancy (published in the volume Who comes after the subject by Cadava, Nancy and Connor), comes to offer us an overview not only of the basic drive behind his whole philosophical craving, but also a glimpse into his later concern regarding the deconstruction of his deconstruction as well, the present paper will come to highlight the way in which his desideratum towards a post-deconstructive subjectivity comes to be articulated and expressed. Subsequently, de-re-constructing this interview in terms of its logic of sequence and articulation, circling and exposing its “khôra”, we will show how this post-deconstructive desideratum concerns an “après coup quasi-heideggerian return”, and how this return might intertwine the early Heidegger, (Heidegger Ι) and the later one (Heidegger II) towards an ideally longed-for Heidegger III by Derrida until then, a Heidegger paradoxically, -and ironically regarding Derrida-, discovered literally later on, since a large part of the heideggerian oeuvre during Derrida’s lifetime remained unpublished. Keeping up, consequently, with this “impossible encounter” between Derrida and Heidegger, we will finally try to show how the post-deconstructive latent desideratum on Derrida’s behalf in its khôra-like “neither same, nor other, both same and other” double-negative-double-positive fashion, could enrich and be enriched mutually by the heideggerian concept of the “Pain of the experience” in the way it combines the notions of “Εreignis” and “Enteignis” in a novel fashion, and this in a text which remained unpublished till 2009 in German, and till 2013 in English, namely Das Ereignis, the sixth essay (out of seven) regarding his Beitraege zur Philisophie, (the seminal text behind his “Turn”). Could the “Pain of the experience” as a concept, complemented mutually in a retro-pro-spective like, non-linear untimely fashion by Derrida and Heidegger lead to the revelation of a new face of being and of the ontological difference in the 21st century? Could it highlight the continuance of the making of philosophy beyond post-modernism against the current, in regards to that, proclamation?
Keywords: post-metamodernism, post-deconstructive subject, thrownness, Zusage, Ereignis, Enteignis, “Pain of the Experience”, neither same-nor other-both-same-and other, Instinct, Wound, ontological difference
There is a certain special value inherent in the attempts of every philosopher to condense his theory orally, being interrogated (or to be put more kindly, interviewed) by an interlocutor. Of course there is a touch of violence in that –maybe even more than a touch-, and maybe of the worst kind, consisting in the violence of having to strip, remaining intellectually naked before someone else, but it is exactly therein that this special value finds its meaning and place: Because it is exactly there and then that an “unconcealment” of the most interesting kind can take place . It is there and then that a philosopher gives keys –even unintentionally- towards the decoding of his “Urdoxa”, behind its subsequent, and often complicated, surface articulations, and it is there and then, even more interestingly, under this pressure, that he/she potentially can transcend himself/herself and his/her restricting ruminations, saying more than he/she says and thinking more than he/she has ever reflected, opening to what lies ahead . And even though Jacques Derrida was always suspicious and highly critical of the value given to “oral discourse”, due to the illusions of “presence” that it entails, his is not a typical oral discourse (considering that his written discourse is not a typical one, either!). It is as if he is writing via speaking, and speaking via writing, retaining in all his written discourse the ambiguities and absences of the oral one, and in his oral one all the deconstructive and analytic properties of the written one. And all the more so here, where this blending takes place under the most “pressurized” circumstances, in terms of the condensation, and the high velocities, that are developed in an interview.
It is for all the aforementioned reasons that we will treat the Derridian text, in the form of this interview he gives to Jean-Luc Nancy, as an extensive flux of associations, but not in order to find, as a psychoanalyst would aim at, its points of presence in terms of a “petit obj.a”, that is the revelation of the way a subject attaches to its object, in the junction of their “jouissance”, but in order to dig out the way the subject tries to speak about the subject, and in particular, its “who comes after it”, since this is the initial question to which all thinkers in Cadava’s, Connor’s and Nancy’s volume had to respond. Towards the aforementioned aim we will try to unlock this interview’s text in terms of its main Event, (that is the “cog” that makes Derrida’s thought evolve itself throughout this article, giving it a firing impetus, and simultaneously reveals its ultimate desideratum, remaining per se unnamable as it coils around his “secret, non-realized garden”, which we could view as its khôra3), paving, thus, the way for the answer to the first question that the present article poses: 1) In what way does Derrida, in this interview to Nancy, deconstruct his own deconstruction? This will namely form its first section, and immediately after we deal with that, a second question will follow, entailing two parts, only to culminate in a final third one: 2a) In what exactly does Derrida’s Heideggerian critique consist? 2b) Can it be answered by Heidegger himself through his own unpublished oeuvre with which Derrida wasn’t familiar, and 3) Where, in terms of the future research on the post-deconstructive subject, and of the face of being in its post-metamodern era, does this mutual pro-retrospective complementation of minds point at?
Let’s attempt an answer to the first question head on: Derrida’s agonizing striving, throughout his whole interview, is to provide us with a “positive” substance of a “what” or a “who” on the ground of the trace, or in other words, of a “destinerrance”, a “dehiscence”, a “signature”, or a “difference”, in their ex-appropriating, “Enteignis-like” effect , something that would posit a limit to deconstruction as the “what” or “who” that remains having undergone its experience , according to his own words. He has already started working towards this direction via his elaborations on the concept of the “subjectile” , whose underlying metonymic chain throughout this interview’s text we will try to follow faithfully, if we wish to witness the exact way in which he tantalizingly strives to deconstruct his own deconstruction, realizing the leap towards the future of philosophical research on the post-deconstructive subject and the revelation of the new face of being.
Derrida starts his post-deconstructive venture with a simple “Yes, yes” , (one that he founds on Heideggerian grounds: Those of the “Zusage” ), later supplementing it by that of a “Come” , which is a response before a question, that is also before an answer. Let’s watch its metonymic sliding throughout the text: This response, in terms of an “en-gaging”, an “engagement” , and in the form of a “non-autonomy before and in view of being autonomous , forms a responsibility , and this responsibility a singularity , one that answers to the “call of the Other” and by no means can reduce itself to that of “the grammatical subject in language” , something that forces Derrida to be always cautious of the use of the term “subject” in terms of post-deconstructive subjectivity, preferring the term “subjectile” that is tantamount to a “subject effect” . At this point and in support of the feasibility, -in spite of its enormity-, of this project, he invokes Freud, complementing him through Husserl and the unexploited possibilities that his phenomenology opens us to , never failing to warn us against presence , but also against absence and finding the solution in the further metonymization of the responsive singularity of the “yes, yes” into the “Call of the Other” in an entity that would not be human , particularly that of the “animal” , that forms the common ground between the human and the non-human, and on which something like a “subject effect” could explode, characteristic of the living, (a very obscure notion indeed) and not only a privilege of “das Man” . The animal is the only guarantee against this “who”, which is out of the metaphysically restricted notion of language , and this leads to its subsequent metonymic incarnation in terms of the “throwing/being thrown” , (the infamous heideggerian “Geworfenheit” ), regarding which Derrida accuses Heidegger of having marginalized it in his oeuvre , together with the question of the “animal” that it entails, treating the latter somewhat awkwardly . Trying to link “Geworfenheit” with the Call, by saying that “Geworfenheit” can signify “a manner of being delivered, exposed to the ‘Call (Ruf)” , Derrida is trying to ponder on whether this call is an indeterminate one, or one that is concrete and particular in its ever-recurring “here and now” urgency, trying, thus, to attribute it to a calculability through the uncalculable and the undecidable , that is an excess , which opens it to the ethics of “another democracy , so as for “the worst” , (fascism), to be avoided. A fold takes place at this point. The “who” is suddenly seen as an active respondent, not a passive one (as was the case till now), from the perspective of the “throwing”, not only the “being thrown” , the emphasis being now on that “come” , besides the “yes, yes”, making space for the introduction of the “who’s” “sacrificial structure” , in all its monstrosity , its carnivorous vitality in terms of ingestion, introjection, incorporation , and its carno-phallogocentrism , (revealing its “hostage-like” structure to work in a two way fashion, beyond its levinasian context, as en-gaging in holding a hostage, together with being held as one), opening up to responsive “en-gagements” like the “interiorization of the phallus and the necessity of its passage through the mouth, whether it is a matter of words or things, of sentences , of daily bread or wine, of the tongue, the lips, or the breast of the other’” . Of course, in terms of all that, the “metonymy of ‘bien manger’ would always be the rule” , and that is Derrida’s concern towards the formulation of the post-deconstructive subject, consisting in finding the point on which to “cut” it , this right limit so as for the “Other” to remain non re-appropriable in its inevitable eating and being eaten. The “who’s” metonymic incarnation has reached now the point of a good eater in his being eaten, since “one must eat in any case and since it is and tastes good to eat” , thus evoking “a law of need or desire, orexis, hunger or thirst” to be found in the “respect for the other at the very moment when, in experience (…) one must begin to identify with the other, who is to be assimilated, interiorized” . Of course this limit, this law, which will stem organically après coup from a future determination of this post-deconstructive “who”, cannot be granted inside the metaphysical restrictions of language, which is responsible for all current “differences, ruptures and wars” , but does not reside in silence either, since how can one remain silent before an “Auschwitz” in all its metonymy ? Derrida thus concludes by implying that one shouldn’t nevertheless rush towards the impression that this task is infeasible, due to one’s entrapment in the metaphysical restrictions of language, since it is not at all certain whether human language is restricted to only being “human” . After all, it is impregnated, like that of the animal’s, with the same stigmas of the “mark”, the “trace”, of “iterability”, of “differance”. So let us all grant to “in-humanity”, the dignity of the Animal. This, according to Derrida, is our post-deconstructive task
But how to follow Derrida towards that task? Where in this dense interview of his to Nancy, under the title: “Eating well or the calculation of the subject” are we to find the keys towards the securing of a limit that would serve as a guarantee for the non-reappropriable of the other in the same per se, which could feature ideally as the “who” that comes after the Subject? The first and the most auspicious place to search would be of course the exact points in his interview’s text, where he unravels his critique against Heidegger. Let us, then, throw a lens on those passages, bringing them together in a quasi-collage, and proceed to the second question our article poses, namely: In what exactly does Derrida’s Heideggerian critique consist?
“The ‘logic’ of the trace or of differance determines this re appropriation as an ex-appropriation. Re-appropriation necessarily produces the opposite of what it apparently aims for. Ex-appropriation is not what is proper to man (…) What would link the analytic of Dasein with the heritage of the subject would perhaps be more the determination of Dasein as Geworfenheit, its primordial being thrown, rather than the determination of a subject that would come to be thrown, but a being-thrown that would be more primordial than subjectivity and therefore [more primordial] than objectivity as well. A passivity that would be more primordial than traditional passivity and than Gegenstand (Gegenwurf, the old German word for object, keeps this reference to throwing, without stabilizing it into the stance of a “stehen”) (…) I am trying to think through this experience of the throwing/being-thrown of the subjectile beyond the Heideggerian protocols about which I was just speaking and to link it to another thinking of destination, of chance and of destinerrance (…) Starting at ‘birth’ and possibly even prior to it, being-thrown reappropriates itself or rather ex-appropriates itself in forms that are not yet those of the subject or the project. The question “who” then becomes: Who (is) thrown? Who becomes ‘who’ from out of the destinerrance of the being-thrown? That it is still a matter here of the trace, but also of iterability (…) means that this ex- appropriation cannot be absolutely stabilized in the form of the subject. The subject assumes presence, that is to say sub-stance, stasis, stance. Not to be able to stabilize itself absolutely would mean to be able only to be stabilizing itself. Ex-appropriation no longer closes itself; it never totalizes itself. One should not take these figures for metaphors (metaphoricity implies ex-appropriation), nor determine them according to the grammatical opposition of active/passive. Between the thrown and the falling (Verfallen) there is also a possible point of passage. Why is Geworfenheit, while never put into question, subsequently given to marginalization in Heidegger’s thinking? This is what, it seems to me, we must continue to ask. And ex-appropriation does not form a boundary, if one understands by this word a closure or a negativity. It implies the irreducibility of the relation to the other. The other resists all subjectivation, even to the point of the interiorization-idealization of what one calls the work of mourning (…) The “logic” of the trace or of differance determines this re- appropriation as an ex-appropriation. Re-appropriation necessarily produces the opposite of what it apparently aims for. Ex-appropriation is not what is proper to man . The experience or the opening of the as such in the onto phenomenological sense does not merely consist in that which is lacking in the stone or the animal; it equally involves that to which one cannot and should not submit the other in general, in other words the ‘who’ of the other that could only appear absolutely as such by disappearing as other ” (…)”.
What does Derrida want to complement the Heideggerian thought with, through his own radicalization of “Geworfenheit”, in order for him to reach his so difficult-to-articulate, most longed-for, post-metamodern desideratum? Since he speaks of appropriation and ex-appropriation in regard to “Geworfenheit”, what he is truly aiming at, is to show that 1) the Heideggerian Ereignis in its appropriation is not “Same enough”, in its relation to a “who”-constant, or, in other words, “present” enough, while 2) at the same time the Heideggerian Enteignis in its ex-appropriation is not sufficiently “absent” or “Other”. Here are the excerpts from the above cited collage that more particularly serve as a proof to those two points equivalently:
1) (…) A passivity that would be more primordial than traditional passivity and than Gegenstand (Gegenwuif, the old German word for object, keeps this reference to throwing (…) .
2) (…) The other resists all subjectivation, even to the point of the interiorization-idealization of what one calls the work of mourning (…) The “logic” of the trace or of differance determines this reappropriation as an ex-appropriation. Re-appropriation necessarily produces the opposite of what it apparently aims for (…) that to which one cannot and should not submit the other in general, in other words the “who” of the other that could only appear absolutely as such by disappearing as other (…)
Derrida at this point cannot provide us with an a concept that would condense the above mentioned polarities, that’s for sure, given the way his interview ends. But could maybe Heidegger, in the most unexpected and paradoxical of ways, provide us with one? He, the recipient of Derrida’s polemic himself? Isn’t he at least entitled to defend himself in this unjust trial, held against him after his death? Where else, but in his unpublished oeuvre, the one with which Derrida couldn’t have possibly been familiar, since it got published after his death, should one search for a possible defense, since Jacques Derrida was “notorious” for his scrupulous study of every thinker with whom he engaged himself? Heidegger’s answer is to be found indeed unexpectedly in an unpublished, until 2009 in German, and until 2013 in English, essay of his, namely Das Ereignis, his sixth (out of seven) essay regarding his Contributions. Let us at this point take a step back and give him the stand, allowing him to insert a patch, more of a strut, on Derrida’s thought, something that Derrida himself was so fond of doing, (always open to “parasites” and their “mélange”). And let’s see if this untimely addendum can not only promote the Derridian venture in a pro-retro-spective manner, but also, in the same exact way, help Heidegger compensate, at least up to a certain extent, for his own “failures” and traps. There follows a dense collage from his Das Ereignis, where he speaks of a concept that could feature, according to our view, as this “both-same-and-other, neither-same-nor other” “chorian” ground that Derrida seeks for desperately as a way to give his “Enteignis” a phenomenologically positive sign.
“Pain is the inceptual sharpness of fulfilled knowledge. Pain is the forbearance, which, in withstanding, has originally gathered together the horror of what threatens and the bliss of what entices. In this withstanding in the time-space of the turning (the truth of beyng as the beyng of truth –essentially occurring as the nearest ring of the twisting free of the inceptuality) pain is stedfastness in the experience of appropriation. Only in the pain of the enduring is beyng illuminated for the human being of the history of beyng. Only the preservation (preserving custody of that event) preserves inceptual ‘pure presence’, in case this should ever be spoken of. Pain is the inceptual (replying to the beginning and thus corresponding to it) transformation of unique knowledge. The horror of the abyss in the beginning and the bliss of the departure into the appropriation, are inceptual and are not of such a kind that ‘feelings’ could ever reach them. In the withstanding-steadfast essence of pain, there rests the experience of the event, an experience which constantly brings the difference to knowledge in its history. This experience is the essence of the thinking of the history of beyng. That thinking, in turn, grounds the experience in which the human essence in the history of beyng preserves the foreignness constituting the inhabited place of the abyss for the human being (…) We surmise nothing of the ground of pain in death, a pain that is not ‘’one” pain among others, but is the essentially occurring abyss of path, taking pain as the essence of the experience of being (…) “to see” – to have an eye for “being” –destiny- the truth of beings. This seeing is the sight of the pain of experience. That capacity to suffer, up to the affliction of the complete concealment of going away (…) Experience is the pain of the departure, a pain that belongs to the twisting free of beings. This pain, insofar as we twist free of it, first unfolds the bliss together with the horror (…)
What does this Heideggerian collage manifest, in the most intense of ways, if not an attempt on Heidegger’s behalf to throw a bridge between his early and late phase, trying to suture his “Failure” , giving an “affirmation” to his Enteignis (the Other), but not making of it another kind of transcendental subject as he has previously done with his “Dasein” (condemning it to the Same)? Isn’t that, in fact, what Derrida also strives for, as is proven indisputably throughout the entirety of his interview, the finding of a guarantee towards the non-reappropriable of the Other in the Same per se? The only thing now left to be seen is if this could be found in the concept of “Pain” also in the case of Derrida.
In order to test that, let’s for a moment dive back again into his metonymic chain, as we presented it earlier. If one takes a final step back, in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the whole Derridian picture in his interview to Nancy, one can eventually conclude that this whole chain of metonymies, in Derrida’s attempt to articulate his ultimate post-deconstructive desideratum and to give a positive final limit to his project of deconstruction, trying to demolish and transcend himself towards the future, coils around a sole word, namely the verb to “respond”. In the first half of his interview he views it in its passive connotation, as the “responsivity” of the “being thrown”, in its passive hospitality of its “being eaten”, its being let to be eaten, whereas in the second half of his interview he views it in its active connotation, as the “responsibility” of the “throwing”, that is in its “eating” active-toxic engagement. What could hence serve as the binding thread between these two experiences, that of the eating, and that of the being eaten in all their “responding” nature, which phenomenon would condense in a phenomenological nature the structural moments of “eating” and “being eaten”, in their toxic-sacrificial connotations, if not the experience of “Pain” in all its “Pain of the experience”? What could best come to catch the essence of this parasite-host relation, that is here being drawn irreducibly by Derrida, in terms of this relation of the “ego” to an “Other”, to which one is always held hostage, and which one always holds as his hostage, if not the concept of “Pain”, in all its “Cry” on the brink of language, exactly at the point where something like an “Ego” responds to something like a “World”? What could best vindicate the etymological meaning of the verb “to re-spond”, which stems from the Greek word “σπονδή/spondee”, meaning “pledge”, “Zusage”, in this devilish happy meeting of meaning between three languages, the German, the English, and the Greek, saying “yes” to the inevitable “yes” of Pain, if not the biggest proof of a pledge that the living can leave on being and can receive from being, namely “Pain”? Isn’t this the biggest proof that it is alive? And that it is somewhat already dead? That it is a being? Isn’t this the point, therefore, where something like a subject, could emerge? Isn’t “Pain” exactly that place Jean-Luc Nancy and Jacques Derrida are so desperately searching for, common to all living beings, beyond the distinction “human-non human”, where this appropriation of an ex-appropriation and this ex-appropriating of appropriation could take place, vindicating Derrida’s enormous cautions against “pure presence” and against ‘pure absence”, against the falsifying of the Other, but also its appearing as alter –ego only on the ground of the Same, there where the Other can reach its climax only “disappearing as other” ? Furthermore what else, if not “Pain”, in its form also as “com-passion”, as the common ground of Pain between living beings, could serve as a “law of need and desire, of orexis, thirst, hunger”, leading to an ethics of a “good eater”? What could best serve, in terms of a most most-longed-for post-deconstructive agency by the state-of-the-art research in contemporary continental philosophy regarding the “control of a letting” and the “letting of a control” that a post-metamodern notion of an “agency” would entail, other than this “yes, yes”, that is the coming to terms, (in all its “Come”, the acceptance, in all its calculation) with the Pain that the subject inflicts on the object, and with which it is inflicted by the Object, in all their asymmetry, their non-complementarity, their non-satiability? Isn’t there that a subject of a discrepant “retard originaire”, an “originary delay” could emerge, the subject of a deference, of a difference, that is of a différance?
The totality of Derrida’s metonymic chain, enlightened additionally by its underlying “impetus” as residing in the the Heideggerian “Pain of the experience”, brings the latter to the fore of philosophical research in such an urgent manner, that we are left astounded as to why the concept of “Pain” has remained until now uninvestigated in the philosophical realms. Isn’t “Pain” the best link to our dignified “animality”, in all its glory, which, in all its non-humanity could safeguard us from the traps of “das Man”? And where does this pain of the animal, inherent in a non-human fashion in all of us, lead in terms of future research, if not towards an onto-phenomenology of the Instinct , in all its uninvestigated dignity regarding its ontology, one that would not hastily escape from its “Pain” via a psychoanalytic discourse, restricted to viewing it only in terms and through the lenses of the “sexual structure” and most recently “jouissance”, but that would remain immanent on the “souffrance”, the “sufferance”, the Pain prior to “jouissance” itself? It is only through the most serious development of an existential analytic based on the hidden existential ontology of the instinct and its Pain in all its “Death” –which would de-re-construct the Heiddggerian one preparing Being and Time for the 21st century , totally reformulating the Heideggerian categories of “thrownness” “co-being/falling” and “projection”- that a new conceptualization of the “ontological difference” in the history of being could take place. And that is because the “Parasite-Host” complex, in its mutually interchanging-interchangeable Pain, (in all its “eating and being eaten”) reveals the relation between beings and being to be one in which the Host and its Parasite are being bled and bleed each other constantly in their indefatigable Pain. They neither just co-exist, as was thought of till now in the realms of the Heideggerian paradigm, being “adopted” by being, nor escape from each other in an eternally returning, -that is also eternally escaping- “mutating” (in terms of Deleuze), “residual” (in terms of Lacan) or “deconstructive” (in terms of Derrida) fashion, as in the realms of the meta-modern one. They irreversibly castrate each other, pointing, thus, towards the existential analytic of an ontologically archi-castrated (before being sexually castrated) Dasein . It is, thus, exclusively on the locus of the “Instinct” and its hitherto unheard of existential analytic, that the future philosophical game must be played, if philosophy is to take itself seriously, remaining faithful to its primary duty, namely the observation of the most elementary of phenomena, since the Instinct in all its “Pain of the experience” is the most elementary one of all. It is high time philosophy repealed its embargo on the Instinct, as a non-able-to-produce-thought phenomenon, thus moving past the partial knowledge it has until now summoned regarding the human condition. This would be our only hope towards an authentic opening to an ontology of Love, the most mysterious human phenomenon, which we haven’t, not even by chance, even started to imagine.