Note to Self: Veil, Derrida’s (Almost ) Language Nihilism And Bernstein’s Language Poetry

If a speech could be purely present, unveiled, naked, offered up in person in its truth, without the detours of a signifier foreign to it, if at the limit an undeferred logos were possible, it would not seduce anyone. The boundary (between inside and outside, living and nonliving) separates not only speech from writing but also memory as an unveiling (re-)producing a presence from re-memoration as the mere repetition of a monument; truth as distinct from its sign, being as distinct from types.

The problem is that writing does not eclipse orality nor does the symbolic law supercede the amorphousness of the “semiotic,” any more than objectivity replaces subjectivity (or vice versa). We don’t return to anything – turning (tuning) is enough. The power of symbolic – of the ego or the alphabet – does not come in Faustian trade for the virtually Edenic space of undifferentiated connectivity. Moreover, this originary myth is literally delusional, for it leads us away from the concrete material situation of our connectivity through the alphabet, through aurality, through  the “symbolic.” Better than to speak of the preverbal, we might speak of the omniverbal. Rather than referring to the pre-symbolic, we might say asymbolic or heterosymbolic. Instead of projecting a preliterate stage we might say analphabetic or heteroliterate: for aren’t the petroglyphs and megaliths – those earliest human inscriptions made on or with rocks – already writing, already “symbolic.” As if the first human “babbling” were not already language, always social, a toll as well as a tool! We go “From amniotic fluid to / semiotic / fluidlessness,” where the semiotic is drenched in the symbolic and the symbolic absorbed within the semiotic. As Nick Piombino observes in his discussion of D. W. Winnicott inClose Listening, language is also a transitional object.

If “orality” or the “semiotic,” aurality or logic, are stages, they are stages not on a path toward or away from immanence or transcendence but rather stages for performance: modalities of reason; prisms notprisons. Or let me put this in a different way: Perhaps the first writing was not produced by humans but  rather recognized by humans. That is, it’s possible that the human inscriptions on the petroglyphs frame or acknowledge the glyphs already present on the rock face (Lock, 415-16). Then we might speak of the book of nature, which we read as we read geologic markers or the rings around a tree (“can’t see me!”).

The problem is being stuck in any one modality of language – not being able to move in, around, and about the precincts of language. I am not anti-symbolic any more than I am pro-“semiotic.” Rather I am interpolated in their folds, knowing one through the other, and hearing the echo of each in the next. This is what I mean to evoke by “a/orality” – sound language, language grounded in its embodiments: the Mime, the hymen, the virgin, the occult, the penetration and the envelope, the theater, the hymn, the “folds of a tissue,” the touch that transforms nothing, the “song, spurting out of a fusion of these disparate forms of pleasure.”

Convolute E: Sparkling Colors, The Truth in Painting

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Still from The Society of the Spectacle (directed by Guy Debord, 1973)

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Quote from Derrida, The Truth in Painting:

In the Analytic of the Beautiful,  the note is appended to the

definition of the beautiful concluded from the third moment: the

judgment of taste examined as to the relation of finality. According

to the framework of categories imported from the Critique of Pure

Reason,  the Analytic  was constructed and bordered by the four categories:

quality and quantity (mathematical categories), relation and

modality (dynamic categories) . The problem of the parergon,  the

general and abyssal question of the frame, had arisen in the course

of the exposition of the category of relation (to finality) . The example

of the tulip is placed right at the very end of this exposition:

the last word of the last footnote, itself appended to the last word

of the main text.

Convolute D: Heidegger On Jewry, Simon Amstell on God and Nature

Open Culture wrote an article on Heidegger a while ago. There they quoted from his writings on jewry:

“One of the most secret forms of the gigantic, and perhaps the oldest, is the tenacious skillfulness in calculating, hustling, and intermingling through which the worldlessness of Jewry is grounded.”

The journalist commented:

«In this short passage alone, Heidegger invokes lazy stereotypes of Jews as “calculating” and “hustling.” He also, more importantly, describes the Jewish people as “worldless.” As Critical Theory writes, “Being-in-the-world (In-der-Welt-sein) is the basic activity of human existing. To say that the Jews are ‘worldless’… is more than a confused stereotype.” It is Heidegger’s way of casting Jews out of Dasein, his most important category, a word that means something like “being-there” or “presence.” Jews, he writes, are “historyless” and “are not being, but merely ‘calculate with being.’”»

They also quoted this paragraph from Heidegger:

«What is happening now is the end of the history of the great inception of Occidental humanity, in which inception humanity was called to the guardianship of be-ing, only to transform this calling right away into the pretension to re-present beings in their machinational unessence…»

At the BBC ‘Numb’ show jewish comedian Simon Amstell said this:

«What about when religious people fail to remember that God is nature, there’s nothing more all-encompassing or wise than mother nature and athiests forgot that science is the study of nature, and then they both remembered and had amazing sex by a tree.»