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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  2000

BRITISH-IRISH-POETS 2000

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Subject:

Re: a new issue

From:

[log in to unmask] (Ben Friedlander)

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask] (Ben Friedlander)

Date:

Sat, 11 Nov 2000 17:14:14 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (71 lines)

[log in to unmask],.Internet writes:
>Ben wrote:
>"I'm going out of my way here to avoid technical language. Derrida gives
>a technical account--or one technical account (and WITHOUT attributing
>volition to language, I might add)--in _Limited Inc_."

>Could you point me to this technical account in Limited Inc., Ben?
>I was pawing around in that book recently.  It is hard for me to
>imagine Derrida giving what I would consider a _technical_
>account of anything, for all his 'en toute rigueur'-ing, I must
>admit.

>I recommend the first 10 pages of Wittgenstein's Zettel as
>having more to say about these issues than the entirety of
>Limited Inc.  (And the style there is anything but 'technical'.)

Oh dear, I should have never opened my trap!

For those who don't know it, _Limited Inc_ is two related pieces: a
short essay by Derrida ("Signature Event Context"), followed by
Derrida's long response to a critique of that essay. The critique
(mounted by John Searle) was called "Reiterating the Differences," and
the book includes a summary of its main points. Derrida's response is
called "Limited Inc a b c . . ."). I say "technical," then, because the
particular tonality of this book derives from the clash of two
different accounts of language: speech act theory and deconstruction.

Here are a few sentences I underlined years ago in "Signature Event
Context" which speak to the point I was making to Henry:

"This is the possibility on which I want to insist: the possibility of
disengagement and citational graft which belongs to the structure of
every mark, spoken or written, and which constitutes every mark in
writing before and outside of every horizon of semio-linguistic
communication. . . . Every sign, linguistic or nonlinguistic, spoken or
written . . . , can be _cited_, put between quotation marks; in so
doing it can break with every given context, engendering an infinity of
new contexts in a manner which is absolutely illimitable."

In "Limited Inc a b c . . ." I find this:

"I have used the phrase 'functioning of the mark' rather than
'understanding' the 'written utterance.' In the absence of the presumed
author this function, which depends upon iterability, operates a
fortiori within the hypothesis that I fully understand what the author
meant to say, providing he said what he meant. But the function also
operates independently of such an hypothesis and without in itself
implying that I _fully_ understand what the other says, writes, meant
to say or write, or even that he intended to say or write _in full_
what remains to be read, or above all that any adequation need obtain
between what he consciously intended, what he did, and what I do while
'reading.'"

Well, that last passage is so wrenched from context itself that it
scarcely makes sense any more, but it does point to a "technical"
analysis of the fact that meaning overflows or contravenes intention
(what Derrida is here calling "adequation").

I haven't read the book in years and haven't time to reread it now, so
I'm waving a white flag before any anti-Derridean comes at me with a
rifle.

Wittgenstein is wonderful. I like de Tocqueville too. Shall I put aside
today's paper until I finish _Democracy in America_? :)

Ben F.



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