Derrida’s Hedgehog

In the previous post I wrote about light. The metaphor is for Derrida the way language use to link reality to words. The light is maybe the most important metaphor in that matter, as described by Plato. In a text about poetry Derrida writes not directly about his subject, but describes a hedgehog. This small creature becomes the metaphor that links Derridas language and his subject, the poetry. And like a metaphor a hedgehog curls up in itself with the spikes out if you rush into it. And it dies if you drive over it.

Reconsdering what Derrida wrote about light in Violence and Metaphysics one can steal a rearrangement from a poet named Lars Saabye Christensen where he writes about a hedgehog sun:

“and then it went / where it had to go / down to the sky / where a hedgehog sun always shines”

And what is this? A light that curls up if you stare into it?

The Bright Side of Deconstruction

Derrida meme

In the previous post I wrote about what I find to be some uncanny parts of deconstruction. In this post I’ll quote from one of the most inspiring essays by Derrida that I’ve read so far, and a much brighter one, as I see it. Here he writes about Levinas’ philosophy, and the ethical respect for the otherness of the other, and the otherness of the origin of the trace that is outside being, before any human questioning about being, the turning towards light and clarity through the difference of shades of brightness, with references to i.e. Plato. The essay is titled Violence And Metaphysics from the book Writing and Difference (from 1967, the year deconstruction broke). I’ll comment on the quote later. In this essay there’s also some beautiful quotes on metaphors and language, a more beautiful and poetic way to put deconstruction as I see it. But here’s the first quote:

“Without intermediary and without communion, absolute proximity and absolute distance: “eros in which, within the proximity to the other, distance is integrally maintained; eros whose pathos is made simultaneously of this proximity and this duality.” A community of nonpresence, and therefore of nonphenomenality. Not a community without light, not a blindfolded synagogue, but a community anterior to Platonic light. A light before neutral light, before the truth which arrives as a third party, the truth “which we look toward together,” the judgmental arbitrator’s truth. Only the other, the totally other, can be manifested as what it is before the shared truth, within a certain nonmanifestation and a certain absence. It can be said only of the other that its phenomenon is a certain nonphenomenon, its presence (is ) a certain absence. Not pure and simple absence, for there logic could make its claim, but a certain  absence. Such a formulation shows clearly that within this experience of the other the logic of noncontradiction, that is, everything which Levinas designates as “formal logic,” is contested in its root. This root would be not only the root of our language, but the root of all of Western philosophy,20  particularly phenomenology and ontology. This naïveté would prevent them from thinking the other (that is from thinking; and this would indeed be the reason why, although Levinas, “the enemy of thought,” does not say so), and from aligning their discourse with the other. The consequence would be double. (a) Because they do not think the other, they do not have time. Without time, they do not have history. The absolute alterity of each instant, without which there would be no time, cannot be produced—constituted—within the identity of the subject or the existent. It comes into time through the Other. Bergson and Heidegger would have overlooked this (De l’existence à l’existent  [hereafter EE ]), and Husserl even more so. (b) More seriously, to renounce the other (not by being weaned from it, but by detaching oneself from it, which is actually to be in relation to it, to respect it while nevertheless overlooking it, that is, while knowing it, identifying it, assimilating it), to renounce the other is to enclose oneself within solitude (the bad solitude of solidity and self-identity) and to repress ethical transcendence.”

Writing and Difference, pages 112-113

Spiritual Antimetaphysics With Derrida #2

Okay, here’s the quote from Dissemination again, with comments by me: “In the Notes and Documents that follow the chapter entitled Toward a Dialectics of Totality, Richard fans out the array of feathers (including the fan) in a series of pages of great beauty, moving from their angelic (seraphic) value to their “Luciferian, or at least Promethean, signification” (p. 445).

(Comment: It’s the reference to Prometheus and all of it’s filmic connotations that started to scare me here with this deconstructive play with meaning in Derrida’s text on the poem by Mallarmé called A Throw of Dice.

the lost manoeuvre with the age
rose
implying that formerly he grasped the helm
of this conflagration of the concerted
horizon at his feet

that readies itself
moves and merges
with the blow that grips it
as one threatens fate and the winds
the unique Number which cannot be another
Spirit
to hurl it

By deconstructing the limits of human intelligence through language, one searches for a meaning older than mankind, and deconstruction is not a religion nor a theology, in that case a negative one, which leads nowhere but to the abyss (Mallarmé: “by the same neutrality of abyss”). And that reminds me in a harrowing way of an evil older than mankind which is one of the most important ingredients in lots of horror stories.)

Near the end of this extensive note (which is almost four pages long), following a parenthetical remark concerning the “phallic allusion” that Robert Greer Cohn “sees in the feather,” Richard expresses some mistrust of a certain extension of polythematicism. Here is his justification: “For the word pillme {feather} has also been understood to be the plume [pen} of the writer, and it is particularly upon this analogy that R. G. Cohn has founded his whole exegesis.

(Comment: So it goes, one of Mallarmés lines with plums (feathers:

a solitary plume overwhelmed

untouched that a cap of midnight grazes or encounters
and fixes
in crumpled velvet with a sombre burst of laughter

I started thinking about the fold, which Derrida elsewhere writes about in Dissemination, a fold that never unfolds anything but a new fold, like the plums being only pens with ink, writing nothing but new words without logocentric meaning.
)

This relation, which is certainly possible, appears to us, however, to remain unproven: the analogy seems excessively conceptual, both in its origin and especially in the details of its consequences. It seems to me difficult, and contrary to the genius of Mallarme, to read A Throw of Dice as a literal allegory (even if, as Cohn would have it, that allegory is charged with spontaneous echoes and more or less conscious ambiguities).”

Yeah, that’s one way to sum it up, Derrida doesn’t agree with this criticism, to decipher what he thinks about it, read Dissemination.

Feathers Again

I come home, she lifted up her wings
Full of feathers that were pens
I guess that this must be the place
Turning black and blue with ink
I can’t tell one from the other
1+0+0
One plus NO ONE
I find you, or you find me?

Read more: Talking Heads – This Must Be The Place Lyrics | MetroLyrics

I wrote this after seeing a graffiti with the text “This Must Be The Place”. Got the mind link to the feathers again, but I’ll come back to the Derrida text about feathers and pens more than I do here.

Interlude

I know i should write something about Mallarmé, feathers (pens (of Prometheus or Lucifer) and writing in Derrida’s Dissemination, but I just couldn’t help getting touched by Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff’s new lyrics for their song Out of the Woods.

You took a Polaroid of us
Then discovered
The rest of the world was black and white
But we were in screaming color

I walked out, I said “I’m setting you free”
But the monsters turned out to be just trees
When the sun came up
You were looking at me.

I wrote a quote on twitter to Swift yesterday (because I was touched by her iHeart Radio version of Love Story), it goes like this:

the joy doesn’t need to cheer, it’s so big, lays next to the ❤ (poem by Siri Oftestad).

Thank you TS 1989 (I'm proud to say that this is also my year of birth)

(Why did I put the Al Pacino clip here? Because that inspired me today too:-))

Spiritual Anitmetaphysics With Derrida

Quote from Dissemination: “In the Notes and Documents that follow the chapter entitled Toward a
Dialectics of Totality, Richard fans out the array of feathers (including the
fan) in a series of pages of great beauty, moving from their angelic (seraphic)
value to their “Luciferian, or at least Promethean, signification” (p. 445).
Near the end of this extensive note (which is almost four pages long),
following a parenthetical remark concerning the “phallic allusion” that
Robert Greer Cohn “sees in the feather,” Richard expresses some mistrust
of a certain extension of polythematicism. Here is his justification: “For the
word pillme {feather} has also been understood to be the plume [pen} of the
writer, and it is particularly upon this analogy that R. G. Cohn has founded
his whole exegesis. This relation, which is certainly possible, appears to us,
however, to remain unproven: the analogy seems excessively conceptual,
both in its origin and especially in the details of its consequences. It seems
to me difficult, and contrary to the genius of Mallarme, to read A Throw of
Dice as a literal allegory (even if, as Cohn would have it, that allegory is
charged with spontaneous echoes and more or less conscious ambiguities).”

More on this later