Read After Burning, I pray You, or la carte posthume

Things to Do with Derrida When You’re Dead

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Things to Do with Derrida When You’re Dead

Having unfolded the cruxes above, we are now in a position to route the question of what it means to read Derrida after Derrida’s death, a question that has informed our glossing of Derrida’s attention to the future of a reading Lacanian discourse in “Love Lacan,” to a question of the effacement of the title and of the proper name. Before turning to the next crux let me point out that Derrida several times excuses himself in “Love Lacan ”from rereading passages or summarizing what he said in the Post . . . in one case on the grounds that he has already “formalized readability” in general: “I have already sufficiently formalized readability under erasure and the logic of the event as graphematic event—notably as event of the proper name, in which the little devil arrives only to erase itself / by erasing itself—to be spared having to add anything here for the moment” (48).97 I turn now now to very last crux, there always being a last gloss after the last, to the very, very last crux I will gloss before returning to the one with which I began, namely the letter “X” in “X-ian.”98 In “For the Love of Lacan,” Derrida comments on a condition made on his giving a lecture at a colloquium on “Lacan avec les philosophes”: “they put forward the pretext of a rule according to which only the dead could be spoken about here and therefore, if one insisted on speaking of me, one could so only under the pretext that I play dead, even before the fact, and that I be given a helping hand when the occasion arose”(47).99 In an anecdote Derrida relays or relates about meeting Lacan, Derrida says Lacan said something very similar to Derrida: “At our second and last encounter, during dinner offered by his in-laws, he insisted on publicly archiving in his own way, with regard to something I had told him, the disregard of the Other that I had supposedly attempted ‘by playing dead’”(61). Although Lacan made his comment about playing dead to Derrida before the conference at which Derrida is speaking happened, but Derrida tells that anecdote about what Lacan said only after Derrida states the condition unnamed colloquium conference organizers put on his speaking only if he played dead: “That is (was enough just to think of it) to make me disappear nominally as a live person—because I am alive—to me disappear for life” (“Love Lacan,” 47). Derrida adds that he would not allow himself to be offended or discouraged by the “lamentable and indecent incident of the barring of my proper name from the program and that he was “shocked” by the “symptomatic and compulsive violence” of forcing to act as if he were dead in order to speak at the conference, but refers the reader in an endnote to the appendices of Lacan avec les philosophes and does not make anything of the way Lacan’s words “playing dead” repeat those Derrida used when speaking of the colloquium.100

Things to Do with Derrida When You’re Dead

Having glossed these cruxes, we are ready to return to “Love Lacan” and gloss Derrida’s use of “X-ian” to stand for any proper name that would modify the noun “psychoanalysis.” Let me begin this gloss with a gloss from another text by Derria related to the letter “X.” It is getting late, I know, to introduce another text. Please follow along. You’re almost not there. The degree to which Derrida’s sentence about “X-ian” psychoanalysis and deconstruction, let us consider the investment Derrida has in psychoanalysis with relation to “X” in the title by turning to an endnote to “Marx & Sons,” that is, in Derrida’s response to a group of academic readers commenting on Derrida’s Specters of Marx. Derrida glosses the phrase “X without X,” a phrase in which X may stand either for a noun or a name in a title. Derrida writes—rather scathingly—of Terry Eagleton’s adoption of the phrase “X without X” in the title of contribution to the volume:

Eagleton is undoubtedly convinced that, with the finesse, grace and elegance he is universally acknowledged to possess, he has hit upon a title (‘Marxism without Marxism’) which is a flash of wit, an ironic dart, a witheringly sarcastic critique, aimed at me or, for example, Blanchot, who often says –I have discussed this at length elsewhere—‘X without X.’ Every ‘good Marxist’ knows , however, that noting is closer to Marx, more faithful to Marx, than this Marxism without Marxism was, to begin with, the Marxism of Marx himself, if that name still means anything.101 In citing from a text related to Specters of Marx, I mean to move us closer, nor further, to the question of reading Derrida reading Lacan after Lacan’s death amd our reading The Post Card and “Love Lacan” after Derrida’s death by using “X wihtout X” to link even more strongly these questions to the way deconstruction turn on the displacement of the question of psychoanlaysis having a proper name, any proper name, in front of it. Derrida introduces the phantasm in Specters of Marx via psychoanalysis. As Derrida writes in “Marx & Sons,” “the motifs of mourning, inheritance, and promise are, in Specters of Marx, anything but ‘metaphors’ in the ordinary sense of the word . . . They also allow me to introduce questions of a psychoanalytic type (those of the specter or phantasma—which also means specter in Greek) . . . All this presupposes a transformation of psychoanalytic logic itself . . . I have elsewhere, tried to discuss how the transformation might be brought about, and discuss this at length here” (235). In “Marx & Sons,” then, Derrida once again raises the question he had raised in “Love Lacan,” citing Resistances of Psychoanalysis and The Post Card as two of five texts he lists in endnote 32 (265) as those in which he does the transformation of psychoanalytic logic itself.” In the endnotes, in a relatively exterior paratextual space, Derrida makes the letter “X” a mathematical variable of a title. An unreadable letter stands for a word composed of readable letters in a title is central to the question of quasi-methodological status of deconstruction and what Derrida calls the transformation of psychoanalytic logic itself.
Mort” to Say

In turning now to the crux, “X-ian,” with which we began, we are considering as part of it the sentence that follows it, “What I will not have said today!” We will gloss the “X” in relation to what Derrida did not say, to the way he collapses what he will have said or would have said into the negative, the not said: “ What I will not have said today!” (68). That’s what Derrida said. Yet what Derrida said, the way he limits himself to the negative, becomes something “to be glossed” because he introduces an asymmetry between what he says and what about what Lacan will have said and won’t have said. Turning his text into an archive, Derrida “says” that consists only of what he will “not have said,” not, as was the case with Lacan also what he will or would have said. Of course, Derrida doesn’t say that. At least not exactly. And that is precisely my point. The question I raising here concerns not only what Derrida did not say, but what the limits of not saying are: where does the opposition between saying and not saying deconstruct? Why does Derrida “destruct” it rather than deconstruction?

Let us begin glossing the crux of the “X-ian.” What is it that Derrida has not said in “Love Lacan” about the name and the title that bears on his erasure of any proper name that might modify psychoanalysis, on “X-ian?” Derrida has not said that he wrote one of the postscripts of Lacan avec les philosophes to which he directs the reader in the headnote and the third endnote of “Love Lacan.” The post-script is entitled “Après Tout: Les Chance du College.”102 What does Derrida say in this postscript? What he says bears directly on the “adjective” “X-ian”: in the postscript Derrida talks about the erasure of his name, in the form of an adjective, from the original colloquium title, “Is there a Derridean Psychoanalaysis?,” and its replacement with the colloquium and book’s title Lacan avec les philosophes. By not citing his postscript to Lacan avec avec les philosophes in the paratexts—headnote and endnote--of “Love Lacan,” Derrida effectively writes about the erasure of his name from the original title in invisible ink, as it were. “X-ian” marks the spot . . . less, the invisible ink, or, in Derrida’s words, “the history that in France and especially in Eastern France, has been written, so to speak, not in ink but in the effacement of the name”103

Sayve My Name, Sayve My Name

And with the effacement of the name goes the effacement of the title. Derrida has already given the reader everything he or she would need to find the dossier regarding the changed title Lacan avec les pilosophes in his headnote and endotes to “Love Lacan.” I leave some of the materials relevant to a glossing to come filed away in the footnote below, materials to which refers in his post-script as a “dossier” and as “archived.”104 I wll point only that Derrida mentions his shock at the change made to the title of the colloquium and insists that the absence of his name makes no difference to him at all. Yet he nowhere comments on the condition that he play dead if he is to participate in the confernece. Alone among all of the contributors to the appendices, Alain Badiou, who was the person who demanded that no proper names other than Lacan’s appear in the colloquium title, only Badiou mentions the condition of playing dead, and he brings it up only to say he is not guilty as charged: “D’autres, ou les memes, ont jugé exorbitant, stalinien, et relevant du desire de mort, que je demande qu’un nom proper, parce qu’il était le seul d’un contemporain à être mis en balance avec celui de Lacan, soit ou éfface, ou équilibré par d’autres.”105 To have allowed the colloquium title to include Derrida’s name or any name, Badiou adds, would have been to betrayal [trahison] of Lacan.106 The question I am interested is less about what the contributors of the appendices said about the change to the conference title than in the way Derrida reserves a texutal and archival space in “Love Lacan” to say what he as to say. Derrida says he will not insist on “silencing what he thinks of all of this, but only at the end, ‘off the record,’ as one says in English.”107 Derrida then glosses this English phrase in relation to the archive: “Off the record” means not recorded, outside the archive. We are thus brought back to the difficult question of the record, history, and the archive. Is there an “outside-the-archive”? Impossible, but the impossible is deconstruction’s affair.”108 (48). Whatever Derrida says he will say “only at the end” (48) will be in a paratextual “off the record” space Derrida calls a “post-scriptum, in parentheses” (48).109 Only “only at the end” (48) never arrives. There is no post-scriptum in “Love Lacan,” as there is in Derrida’s “Force of Law,” among many other texts, no postscript as there is in Archive Fever, among many other texts, and no parentheses either. When Derrida exlaims “what will I not have said today!” is he saying that he has not said anything? Or that someone else---no one else?—will not have heard him say what he said, that any hearing will have been a non-hearing? Whether Derrida is saying anytng or not saying it or syaing it by not saying it, and so on, makes no difference insofar as the question would be the same: where does Derrida say / not say what he will not have said? At a number of moments in “For the Love of Lacan,” Derrida goes out of his way to say that he has nothing to say or that he need not say again what he said before: “It is certainly not because I think I have something more or irreplaceable to say on these matters; the discussion of what I ventured almost twenty years ago around those questions would demand a microscopic examination for which neither you nor I have the time or the patience; as I have already said . . . “; “I attempted to show this in “Le facteur de la vérité” and elsewhere; I would be unable to reconstitute all this here in so little time.”110 Is Derrida ever speaking on the record? It would appear that there is no record of what Derrida said against which one could empirically show was later retated in an accurate or inaccurate way.

Even “Mort” to say

What is the relation in “Love Lacan” between speaking of Lacan after his death and Derrida’s X-ing out any name in relation to pyschoanlaysis at the end? Derrida erases the proper name says “perhaps we step beyond psychoanalysis” by attending to the “radical destruction of the archive, in ashes” (45). As I said earlier, Derrida’s “last point” (69) in “Love Lacan” involves the priority of deconstruction over psychoanalysis, “the degree” to which “the analytic situation, the analytic institution, is deconstructed, as if by itself, without deconstruction or deconstructive project” (69). Derrida here divorces deconstruction from psychonalysis by erasing without erasing, at least not in this text, his name, or any name from deconstruction. If deconstruction subsumes pyschoanalysis through the archive and recasts it, in effect as “so-called psychoanalysis,” a psychoanalysis that is to some degree without psychoanalysis, why does Derrida turn to psychoanalysis in order to make his argument about the archive, its “radical destruction, as ashes” (44)? If the problem of the archivization does If Lacan is just an example of the larger problem of the archive, why does Derrida choose Lacan as his example?111 Similarly, when Derrida writes a book on the archive entitled Archive Fever, why it also a book about Freud? Why does Freud’s name turn up as an adjective in the book’s subtitle, “A Freudian Impression?” Why is the last paragraph of Archive Fever about Freud burning? We will always wonder what, in this mal d’archive, he [Freud] may have burned. We will always wonder, sharing with compassion in this archive fever, what have burned of his secret passions, of his correspondence, or of his “life.” Burned without limit, without remains, and without knowledge. With no possible response, be it spectral or not, short of or beyond suppression, on the other edge of repression, originary or secondary, without a name, without the least symptom, and without even an ash.

Naples, 22-28 May 1994112When writing on the archive, Derrida does not return to psychoanaysis in general but to specific texts by Freud and Lacan.

In “Love Lacan,” Derrida returns to Lacan’s “Seminar on The Purloined Letter” and Derrida’s own reading of it in “Facteur.” In Archive Fever, Derrida goes back to Beyond the Pleasure Principle, the same text that Derrida says in “Love Lacan” he attempted “a reading of Beyond the Pleasure Principle. . . (in ‘To Speculate--on Freud”’),” rereading in Freud’s text in Archive Fever in relation to the archive and the death drive, to the archive oriented toward the future, not the past, in which anarchival repetition is, if not without without repetition, at least repetiton without compulsion. 113 The importance of psychoanlaysis no longer lies only in the ways it contributes to a deconstructive account of the problem of the archive through its interests in “inscription, erasure, blanks, the non-said, memory storage, and new techniques of archivization” (40) or what would might more commonly be called the symptomatic reading.

Ghlossed Protocol

We may now say what these glossings, glossing of “configurations” that are not as stable as those of any “reading” because they have no limits and for which there are no “protocols,” as there are even for a history of the archive that may never be possible to write.114 More radically, glossing canonot be limited to the reading of a single version of a text, a single edition, as Derrida does in “Love Lacan” with respect to the Ecrits, which he calls a “stabilized configuration of a discourse at the time of the collection and binding of Écrits, in other words, in 1966.”115 Can deconstruction write off psychoanalysis, as Derrida apparently does in “Love Lacan” (1991)? Can deconstruction transform the logic of psychoanalysis, as Derrida says it can in Specters of Marx?116 Or does the gesture of writing pyschoanalysis off depend on pyschonalysis having to call itself something, on its having a name that modifies it? Is deconstruction nameless, that is not dependent on Derrida’s name? Or does it involve archiving of Derrida’s name from the original the title of the collouqium erased, even as Derrida erases all proper names that could modify pychoanlysis with the letter “X?” Or is there a Freudian deconstruction? A Lacanian deconstruction? I cannot answer these questions—can anyone?—nor canI say that the last two questions haven’t already put us on the wrong track in bringing back the proper name as an adjective in a way that assumes that we already know what a Freudian or Lacanian psychoanalysis is.

La carte posthume

I do not have answers to these questions. I can only make them more audible—leave you with them ringing in your ears –by extending the question of reading after death (Derrida’s, Lacan’s, X’s, yours, mine, ours, and so on) with which we began to the one time Derrida’s explicitly engages with posthumous publication but does so without reference to psychoanalysis even though it is under the heading of the phantasm. Glossing only renders, and hence rends any distinction between glossing and reading.

Earn Burial

Here I quote Derrida quoting Guerrier:

“A few days after the death of Monsieur Pascal . . . a servant of the house noticed by chance an area in the lining of the doublet of the illustrious deceased that appeared thicker than the rest, and having removed the stitching . . . found there a little folded parchment . . . and in the parchment of a paper written in the same hand: the one was a faithful copy of the other. . . . All agreed there was no doubt that this parchment, written with so much care and with such remarkable characters, was a type of memorial that he kept very carefully to preserve the memory of a thing that he wanted to have always present to his eyes and mind, since for eight years he had taken care to stitch and unstitch it from his clothes, as his wardrobe changed. The parchment is lost; but at the beginning of the manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale, one can find the paper that reproduced it, written in the hand of Pascal, the authenticity of which was confirmed by a note signed by the Abbé [Étienne] Périer, Pascal’s nephew. At the top was a cross, surrounded by a ray of light.117 The material support of Pascal’s note has been lost; the copy has survived; it has been archived; it has been published; Derrida takes a father’s word for its authenticity.

Screen captures of Pascal’s Pensees, stored in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris from Alain Resnais’s documentary film Toute la memoire du monde (1956).

Feu la cindre, Derrida might have said, citing the title of a text in which Derrida’s many references to a holocaust in The Post Card become recast as references to the Holocaust, an event Derrida recalls in his coments on Pascal’s note by glossing it in relation to Paul Celan’s poem, Aschenglorie, one of many Celan’s poems Derrida also finds difficult to read.118 However the note might be read, it is not to be read, as Pascal’s elder sister, Gilberte Pascal Périer who published her dead brother’s “little paper” in her Life of Blaise Pascal, in her preface introducing the posthumous writing in which she narrates the circumstances of its discovery--Pascal had sewn the paper into his doublet, Derrida tells us, and a servant found it after Pascal died—the note is not to be read as Pascal’s “last word,” as a master text that would govern the meaning of all of Pascal’s other writings.119 She justifies its posthumous publication in her Life of Blaise Pascal by stating that she does not wish to solicit a desire for an a reading of the words on the paper as a last word, “for I am no ultimate end of any body.”120 Even as what I call “sur-viv-ablity” or perhaps better, “survivance-ability” and “publish-ability” reach a limit point of the conditions of what can be read (and of what Derrida is sure he can read). Yet that limit is not an aporia or an impase; rather, it seem--surprisingly--to be underwritten by the (rigorous?) subcategory of strictly posthumous publication which is in turn underwritten by a very Heideggerian sounding of destiny and poetry.

Posthumography raises arguably psychoanalytic as well as deconstructive questions about how Derrida’s archive mis/management Derrida is “to be” read, about what has been left to be read and about how reading is a practice to be, unlimited, the definition of the unreadable always to be reopened.121 These questions about what remains to be read and the decease of reading Derrida’s writings are also biopolitical questions, or, more precisely, biobibliopolitical questions concerning the archival operations by which performed all the time by editors and translators on all of Derrida’s publications, unpublished materials, and posthumous publications, a question that extends to the archiving and self-archiving operations Derrida performed on the writings he wrote about, including his own works, from which he sometimes quoted, sometimes including handwritten notebooks as well as published works.122 [See also Derrida on his own reading—impatient, impertient; an don the good reader and the bad reader] These bibliographic protections are themselves self-corroding, I maintain, and the effects of their corrosion, corrosion produced by bibliographical logic that limits, forgets, neglects, consigns to oblivion data, effects that are structurally excluded from whatever is said, assumed, or taken to survive through publication. Editing and translating often produce the same kinds of corrision effects, often paraadoxically in an effort to repair a text. Derrida’s works into English sometimes supply as much information about each version of a text while others think that the most recent renders others obsolete, the last version being the supposedly definitive version.123 This bibliographic, editorial, and translative logic glosses over—renders unreadable and even impossible to mourn, as in “you need not have read that so I don’t need to tell you about what you’re missing”--Derrida’s own self-corroding (re)publication practices and his idosyncratic bibliographic practices, his frequent omissions of bibliographic information both in the body of his text and in his footnotes, omissions which are sometimes filled in by his English translators, sometimes not, as well as his attention to the titles of published works (Parages) and the corruption of titles, or use of “faux-titres,” perhaps better called “feu-titres” or even “fou-titres.”124 “The title has been proposed by the editors. For reasons that will become clear in the reading, this text did not present itself under any title. “The Double Session” in Dissemination Trans Barbara Johnson University of Chicago Press, 1983),173.

In Dissemination, Derrida retains the title the editors gave his two part article.

Moreover, this logic glosses over Derrida’s notes which promise future publications, promises that Derrida sometimes fulfilled and sometimes did not.

What I am calling the reshelving or archival operations of posthumography delimit a given text as a single text, an unpublished, published, or republished text in order to render it readable as text signed off and sent off under a signature and a proper name, thereby permitting what Derrida often called an “internal reading” or the demarcation of a scene of reading of effects, whether noticed or not, to be deconstructed that stores the not yet read and appears to guarantee that what is “to be” read has always already been sent.125 These biobibliopolitical questions are also psychoanalytic questions as they are irreducible in advance to a so-called ethics of reading, however, as if one could decide what reading carefully was and what carelessly was, as one could ever do justice by reading everything. Posthumographic reading, like all reading, is necessarily a politics of reading that is “err-responsible.” Since it is an archival or reshelving operation according to bibliographical norms publication, posthumographic reading, involves omissions of information, not limited to “editorial data,”126 that do not default to the staus of a clue, evidence, symptom, detail and do not have the significance Derrida accords Freud’s omission, in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, of Socrates (Post Card, 344), Lacan’s omission of stories by Poe other or Lacan’s omission of Marie Bonaparte, Paul de Man’s omission of two words from a quotation from Rousseau that Derrida discusses in “Typewriter Ribbon, Ink (2),” and so on on.”127 The kinds of omissions, or self-corroding effects of publication and what surives to be read, normally or otherwise, I attend to in Derrida’s works are idiosyncratic because they are errors, self-cremations that do not amount to self-incriminations, but are more like quasi-illegal driving that sometimes crosses the line.128 These omissions involve the ways in which Derrida preps a published work for reading, and hence shelves what is not to be read, what can be skipped, what is insignificant, what is effectively invisible; these omissions of information related translations and publications may be likened to wounds, perhaps just scratches, that have been covered up, bandaged, hence repressed. But even if they have been repressed, the do not necessarily fall in line with repetition compulsion, the death drive, the uncanny fort-da, chance, destiny, and so on, not that any of those terms is unified or definable. Thus, I will not be writing a Psychopathology of Derrida’s Everyday Life.As an archiving operation, posthumography is conerned not only with posthumous publication or thanatography but with what is “to be” read, what suruvives rests on how the boundaries of publication are drawn, what counts as published or unpublished. Publication is a question of surviv-ability, of what publication renders not to be read of whatever survives. A given text’s survival is subject to the conditions and structures of of publish-ability, a neologism that may be divided and recombined into a cluster of others, including unpublish-ability, republish-ablility, and pre-publishability, all of which, as we shall see, are related, to binding and unbinding.129 Un/Publish-ability determines of the limits of readability and is a question about the justice of reading what remains to be read, of any reading “to come.” An orientation to a future rathh erhtan pastfrom a mess to a strucutre, from private to public, or from one kind of mess to another, publication not necessarily having a strucutre—how do you rad the structure? Not genetic criticism. 130 In H.C., For Life, Derrida links just reading to reading everthing: “one must read everything, of course, letter by letter: I ill-treat everything by thus selecting and chopping with unforgivable violence. Unable to do justice to this book, as to the fifty others . . . H.C., For Life, 119.131 But the limits of what survive, the possibility of being in tact, left aside for a reading to come, are not reducible to the finitude of a given material support that makde publication possible and the infinity of reading whatever ahs been published. Publish-ability concerns the limits of “everything” that is to be read: is “everything” what has been published, republished? Whatever falls under the category of “internal” is not limited to what Derrida calls the “normal category of readability” Parages, 187 or “normal reading,” but neither does “unreadability” (Living On,” Parages, 188) amount to the text’s overruning of the protective legal aspects of publication—“protective measure [structures de garde] and institutions as the registering of copyright, the Library of Congress or the Bibliotheque Nationale, or something like a flyleaf,” Parages, 114-115.132

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