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The following provides an exploration of intertextuality, 'meaning slips' and deconstruction within a theoretical debate underlying Jill Schostak's Doctoral Thesis (2003). The thesis itself - volume 1 - is experimental as a form of writing and can be found at Imaginative Spaces companion site to ELU that is in the process of being developed.
Tracing the Self In Significant Slips: Shadow Dancing.
Intertextuality: the birth of a term.
Kristeva to Barthes.
Author after Barthes.
Reading after Barthes.
From Kristeva, Barthes to Derrida.
Deferral – différance.
Différance and écriture.
‘Effects’ of différance.
‘Determination’ of différance.
Of two: of a and e before they are two.
Addendum reviews the literature on “intertextuality” and “meaning-slips” with, beside and against Jacques Derrida’s notion of “écriture” to open up a space to address the doing, the theorising and the effects of the performativity of ‘intertextuality’ and “meaning-slips”. It thus elaborates one of a number of exploratory resources for the reading and re-writing of Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips that constitute the experiment in writing. However, this elaboration is not at all to suggest a) a preface/pre-figuration function of Addendum, nor that b) a review of intertextuality and meaning-slips is the only approach – others will be alluded to as appropriate and picked up again in the concluding discussion of Addendum and finally nor is it c) to suggest it is the Lastword on the experiment in writing. Like Derrida ‘I absolutely refuse a discourse that would assign me a single code, a single language game, a single context, a single situation; and I claim this right not simply out of caprice or because it is to my taste, but for ethical and political reasons’ (Derrida. 1996: 81).
Firstly then, an initial brief look at écriture is helpful before turning to review and discuss intertextuality and meaning-slips. Écriture is writing in a broader sense than the script produced on paper by whatever means, hand or other. It is a metaphor, a figure for ‘an entire structure of investigation, not merely “writing in the narrow sense,” graphic notation on a tangible material’ (Spivak. 1976: ix-lxxxix). Rather it is ‘the constitution of a thick space where the play of hiding/revealing may take place’ (Lyotard. 1971: 75) , the space of the secret and the imperceptible. Neither irreducible to a series of rules on the investigations of graphic systems nor a simple opposition to speech in order to invert a binary opposition, it announces a rhetoric of identity situated in some physical context (Wolfreys, 1998). Not only does the notion of writing refer to speech and thought as forms of writing, but it is also expanded along further horizons to include the writing, the written-ness, of the subject’s identity (Wolfreys. 1998).
Applying this the academic/writer has to distance her/himself and others not just from a language, a particular discourse, but from the language itself, as a pre-existing classification of the world. Thus to intervene in the world through writing is not to just add to the existing mass of linguistic production. Rather a working-over of language will detach it from prevailing codes and stop it from reproducing a pre-given structuring of the world, and thereby set going a certain indirectedness, since the world is intervened in only through an intervention in language itself. Thus, Barthes views the intertext as
What comes to me, not what I summon up; not an “authority,” simply a circular memory. Which is what the inter-text is: the impossibility of living outside the infinite text.
Barthes. 1976: 36
The issue then is not that of “authority”, but rather that of ‘a circular memory’ and of ‘the impossibility of living outside’ of context. Instantly within this ‘infinite text’, echoes between Barthes’s comments in the citation above and Derrida’s ‘il n’y a pas de hors de texte’ [see Addendum: 67] are set circulating. What-is-more, the English Oxford Reference Dictionary interestingly ascribes to the word ‘cite’ meanings of ‘frequent’ and ‘set moving’. Barthes himself employs a phrase incorporating a notion of set moving [see Endnote 15] and I deploy this as a Kristevan-like minimal textual unit [see Addendum: 13] to mark the iterability of Barthes’s circular memory in Derridean fashion: as inter-text, no less and the impossibility of ‘living outside’ of context. Thus Barthes’s statement provides a kind of ‘preface’, a parergon as Derrida might call it, a Lyotard-like thick space for the work of Addendum which focuses on four key “primary” authors, namely, Roland Barthes, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Derrida and Michael Riffaterre. Some additional reference is made to the work of Jean-François Lyotard as a resource for discussing issues of meaning-slippage and to further explore what is at stake in the debates within the review. Each author is the occasion of a circular reading, as Barthes’s ‘circular memory’ comes into force illustrating the circularity, in the sense of circulation/set going rather than circling, involved in reading and hence in writing.
Various organising themes for the review of intertextuality and meaning-slips are possible. The particular framework chosen here will take its cue from those historians of ideas who have recently thrown light on the contexts within which such concepts as 'intertextuality', (Worton & Stills [eds] (1990); Clayton & Rothstein [eds] (1991); Plett [ed] (1991); Oliver (1997); Allen (2000); Orr (2003); McAfee (2004)), 'post-structuralism', Foucault (1970); (Bouchard [ed] (1977); Deleuze (1977); Foucault (1977); Descombes (1980); Young [ed] (1981); Lavers (1982); Foucault (1983); Rabinow (1984); Lacan (1985); Carroll (1987); Waters & Godzich [ed] (1989); Readings (1991); Haber (1994); Komesaroff [ed] (1995); Cixous (1998); Rodowick (2001); Malpas (2003)) ‘postmodernism’, (Hutcheon (1988); Hutcheon (1989); Grimshaw (2001); Diprose (2002)), and ‘deconstruction’ (Macksey & Donato [eds] (1970); Spivak (1976); Norris (1982); Culler (1983); Eagleton (1983); Kearney [ed] (1984); Lecercle (1985); Ulmer (1985); Gasché (1986); Llewelyn (1986); Melville (1986); Norris (1987); Dasenbrock [ed] (1989); Lacoue-Labarthe (1989); Silverman [ed] (1989); Silverman & Aylesworth [eds] (1990); Johnson (1993); Madison (1993); Gasché (1994); Royle (1995); Mouffe [ed] (1996); de Nooy (1997); Hobson (1998); Wolfreys (1998); Bennington (2000); McQuillan [ed] (2000); Dunkelsbuhler (2002); Patton & Protevi [eds] (2003); Rapaport (2003); Royle (2003)) have emerged.
Moreover, it is also informed by the works of Roth (1988), (Buchanon, (2000), Rabaté, (2002), Baugh, (2003) and Davis, (2004), who point out that, for the most part, the work of French post-structuralists can be viewed as a response or reaction to Hegel, and also to structuralism which eschewed Hegelianism in its search for a scientific model. In referring to Hegel within the context of Addendum, I speak of a “French Hegel” who emerged from the interpretations given to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit by Kojève in his famous lectures and also by Hyppolite, both of whom, incidentally, might be described as primary “authors” for the career trajectories of many of the French post-structuralists (for Foucault, Lacan, and Derrida, to name but three). These post-structuralists respond and react by reading with, beside and against a) the works of Hegel, and also b) that of structuralism and scientism both of which are totalizing systems.
Despite the diversity of the projects of the various post-structuralists, commonly held purposes and strategies can be identified. Their collective avant-garde intention was to undermine and disturb Authority and to challenge any form of totalizing system that might give rise to Absolute Knowledge and Absolute Reason or Science. They set out to develop revolutionary ways of thinking that would keep systems open-ended, heterogeneous and dynamic, thus clearing the way to alternative playful interpretations, alternative ways of seeing, being and working. This led to notions of reading/writing undergoing significant changes. Traditional notions of the Author, of the reader, and of the Text, and thus by implication of truth and body, were called into question. For example, Kristeva comments in Oliver’s The Portable Kristeva,
For us, structuralism … was already accepted knowledge. […] From the outset, however, our task was to take this acquired knowledge and immediately do something else.
Oliver. 1997: 9
Setting out to ‘do something else’ led to strategies involving
- Desire/ intent to disturb, disrupt, destabilize, unsettle, to shock
- Desire/ intent to create and maintain the fluently elusive and/or the fluidly ephemeral
- Desire/ intent for open and dynamic systems
This challenge, this doing of something else, in whatever form it took and by whomsoever, was viewed as essential to counter the tendency through which theory becomes institutionalized as “Theory” (Roth, 1988; Rabaté, 2002, Davis, 2004), or undergoes ‘domestication’ (Norris, 1987). ‘[A] Doxa (a popular opinion) is posited, intolerable; to free myself of it, I postulate a paradox; then this paradox turns bad, becomes a new concretion, itself becomes a new Doxa, and I must seek further for a new paradox’ (Barthes. 1977: 71). The danger Kristeva, Barthes, Derrida and others sought to avoid was that of “interiorizing” conflict in order to reduce it and stabilize it, which in turn, thus effectively opposed and resisted change. In other words, all three set out to do something other than sign up to following the model of a Hegelian strategy which led to Absolute Reason. It is thus within this set of concerns that the key terms of this Addendum take their significance. Intertextuality is one way of thinking how to undermine the totalitarian grip of Reason.
In Barthes’s words, every text holds the intertextual, itself being ‘the text-between’ of another text, quite different to its “sources”, but nevertheless, marking the “influences”, falling in with ‘the myth of filiation’, even whilst of and in citations that are ‘anonymous, untraceable and yet already read: they are quotations without inverted commas’ (Barthes. 1977: 160). Earlier echoes between Barthes and Derrida were made [Addendum: 3]. Similarly with Riffaterre who posits a hidden inter-text which gives meaning to the (poetic) text currently being read, as will be discussed in detail later [Addendum: 73-81]. The ‘circular memory’ is already at play (Barthes. 1976: 36). But first, a distinction is required in order to describe further what is at stake in intertextuality.
Is intertextuality distinct from source studies and from influence studies? Traditionally, in literary studies, the scholar had continued to search after the ‘reliable text’ despite knowing that there is no fixed meaning since the historical appropriation of meaning cannot be halted. Indeed, the drive for ‘actual’ meaning remains over-ridingly powerful and insistent (Mai, 1991). Kristeva, however, envisioned a ‘new kind of hermeneutics’ (Mai. 1991: 43), one which propogated numerous conceptual frameworks and models (Ruprecht, 1991), through the juxta-position of its intertexts, which create forces of tension and conflict between the “source” and the new (Muller, 1991). Kristeva is adamant that intertextuality is distinct and does not elide/compete with influence or sources, not by imitation nor by quotation. In fact, so keen is she to avoid the reduction of intertextuality to the traditional notions of influence, source-study and simple ‘context’ that, for these very reasons, she introduced the term ‘transposition’ (Kristeva. 1984).
Thus relationality is at the heart of intertextuality with its many interactive networks, none able to dominate the others as Master signifier. As a ‘galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds’, it has no beginning. Reversible and accessible through several entrances, none surpassing the other, ‘the codes it mobilizes extend as far as the eye can reach, [they] are indeterminable’ (Barthes. 1979: 5-6). Neither comparison of one text with others through mere juxta-position, nor mere ‘static phenomenological accountancy’ (Plett. 1991: 4), intertextuality, Kristeva argues is quite another ‘positionality’,
The term inter-textuality denotes the transposition of one (or several) sign system[s] into another; but since this term has often been understood in the banal sense of “study of sources”, we prefer the term transposition because it specifies that the passage from one signifying system to another demands a new articulation of the thetic – of enunciative and denotative positionality.
Kristeva. 1984: 59-60
It is during transposition that slipways [catwalks] open up for meaning-slips to emerge. That said, for this review, for the most part I will continue to use the term ‘intertextuality’ but I will employ the term ‘transposition’ after Kristeva wherever I intend to stress the trans-postionality function of the concept of intertextuality/transposition.
Intertextuality: the birth of a term.
Julia Kristeva coined the critical term ‘intertextualité’ in 1967, (Kristeva, 1984; Stills and Worton, 1990; Plett, 1991; Mai, 1991; Allen, 2000; Orr, 2003).
Accepting that we are unable to live ‘outside the infinite text’, from whence did the term emerge (Barthes. 1975: 36)? Kristeva’s 1966 doctoral thesis introduced Bakhtin’s work on dialogism to the French intellectual scene. Her Bulgarian heritage was a veritable god-send in overcoming the Russian/ French language bar and Bakhtin’s work on literary theory, formerly inaccessible, was soon opened up to this particular intellectual scene. Focusing on the ‘social significance’ and the ‘historical’ ‘performance’ of language and linguistic interaction ‘utterance’ was a critical term for Bakhtin, (Bakhtin/Medvedev 1978: 120 as cited in Allen. 2000: 17). Not one to engage in ‘the static hewing out of texts’ Bakhtin visualizes a literary structure that ‘does not simply exist, but one that is generated in relation to another structure’ (Kristeva. 1980: 64). He thus arrives at a concept of ‘the “literary word” as an intersection of textual surfaces rather than a point (a fixed meaning), as a dialogue among several writings’ (Kristeva. 1980: 65).
Bakhtin’s emphasis on the historical and the social aspects of the utterance opens up a space for the reader/writer and stands in stark contrast to the sign system of Saussure’s structural linguistics. Saussurean structuralism effaces the writer/reader through a system of arbitrary signs that are also differential ‘without positive terms’ (Saussure, 1974: 120 cited in Allen, 2000). This linguistic system pre-exists any speaker signalling that the social focus of language simply does not exist for Saussure, for whom words are only relational with respect to their position within abstract systems.
For Kristeva, a speaking being is crucial for ‘understanding oral and written literature, politics, national identity, sexuality, culture and nature’ (McAfee. 2004: 1). Thus it is crucial for a Kristevan understanding of intertextuality. Far from being separate domains, ‘the speaking being is a “strange fold” between them all’, where inner drives interject with language, sexuality plays with thought, where body and culture meet, (McAfee. 2004: 1). Kristeva calls this speaking being the “speaking subject”. It is split between the conscious and the unconscious, reason and desire, the communicable and the incommunicable. Such a positioning begins to open up that magical milieu, invoking that mystical space wherein ‘a fact is narrated no longer with a view to acting directly on reality but intransitively’ (Barthes. 1977: 142). This milieu, this sudden transformative space, wherein writing does not act directly on reality, since it is ‘the very practice of the symbol itself’, sets going a disconnection, voice loses its origin, and ‘intertextuality’ later emerges (Barthes. 1977: 142). Saussurean language after Kristeva is ‘as a system’ that is ‘articulated through the signifier which exceeds the consciousness (and therefore systematization) of the speaking subject’ (Kristeva. 1985: 210).
Wherever ‘the subject is implicated, whether body or history, or symbolic order, reason, intelligibility’, desire arises (Kristeva. 1980: 116). Kristeva borrows the symbolic order from Lacan, but then turns aside from the Lacanian Imaginary, looking instead to Freud’s work on ‘primary process’ and the pre-symbolic stage of the child. A notion ‘of the semiotic emerges, characterized by pre-symbolic drives, impulses, bodily ‘pulsions’ (rhythms and movements). Kristeva’s semiotic is ‘an articulation of unconscious processes which fracture the common idealisation of those images and signs which secure the status quo, and guarantee the establishment’ (Smith. 1998: 16). It constantly and subversively threatens ‘the symbolic order of things which Kristeva herself stresses’, in case we should have assumed otherwise, ‘is no monolithic structure, but an illusion of stability’ (Smith. 1998: 16). Although Kristeva’s semiotic is inextricably linked to the body it is at the point of the thetic phase that the human subject enters the social world/the real/the symbolic/father/ phallus.
Already the theoretical and practical space is more complex and intricate than the classic definition of intertextuality (Mai, 1986; Orr, 2003) as a ‘mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another’ (Kristeva. 1980: 66), [as cited In-Between Slips: Fig 2: 247]. Absorption and transformation occur in ways that implicate a speaking, desiring subject. Moreover, transposing utterance and the significance of society and culture on the notion of ‘linguistic dialogue’, after reading Bakhtin and after reading the Russian Formalists, word, for Kristeva, comes to occupy a significant place within the space of texts and with reference to the subject [see ‘subject-on-trial’ below].
Bakhtin locates the logic of the literary word in what was called ‘carnivalesque discourse’ (Kristeva. 1980: 65). The carnival, with both a serious side and a kind of parody side, unsettles the law of language with its grammatical and semantic rules and disturbs the social and political status quo. Furthermore, it involves a dream-like logic, plus, I would suggest, a hystericization and a signifiance, [see Addendum: 28], adamantly refusing existing hierarchies be they social and/or political. The effect is of ‘drama in three dimensions’ but yet located in language’ where drama is of a different order to the staged or the theatrical, enveloping ‘life, game and dream, discourse and spectacle’ (Kristeva. 1980: 79) as is played out both in the personal narrative and ‘Primitive Streak’ of Figs 1, 2 and 3 of In-Between Slips.
The picture is a complex one that weaves intertext with, beside and against subject, utterance, word and discourse. One way of looking at it is to define ‘word’ as a signifier for different modes of (literary) ‘intellection’, locating ‘poetic analysis as the sensitive center of contemporary “human” sciences’ emerging at ‘the intersection of language with space’ (Kristeva. 1980: 65) and intimately linked with the speaking subject.
And it is here at this very intersection that I anacoluthonally locate the parerga-figural [see Endnotes 1, 5, 6] of a) the ‘Fig’ with, beside and against the other ‘Figs’ of In-Between Slips, b) Covers – in the de-signer space with, beside and against In-Between Slips and c) In-Between Slips with, beside and against Covers – in the de-signer space and therein/of set going an “oblique translation”, a SlanTr a poetic analysis – an enmeshing, the experiment in writing, no less. Hence poetic analysis and its relation to intertextuality and meaning-slips is central to Addendum in its function as one of a number of exploratory resources reading with, beside and against Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips.
Poetic language then forms a dynamic intersection of textual surfaces, a force for dialogue between several writings that would include those of the writer and of the addressee, implicating word as the minimal textual unit. For Kristeva, within this very intersection, word thus comes to occupy ‘the status of mediator’ (Kristeva. 1980: 66) there by opening up ‘space for her own concept of intertextuality’ (Moi. 1986: 37). As mediator word opens up the dialogical, semic elements, and as regulator, it opens up ambivalent elements ‘within the dialogical space of texts’ (Kristeva. 1980: 66).
With Kristevan semiotics and her subject split between two signifying fields, (the semiotic and the symbolic [to be elaborated below]) the mediation at work here through the dynamic and through heterogeneity transforms and transposes, opening up rather than forcing closure. The semiotic is likened to pre-speech infant babble that continues with us even though on another level we [apparently] lose [sight of] it when we enter the symbolic signifying field. A central focus of the semiotic is the chora, and through it, our ‘infant’ pre-speech fluidity of self and poetic language bubble up to ceaselessly disturb the monologic order of the symbolic. Poetic language whilst sited in the symbolic thus remains forever shot through with traces of the semiotic. Kristeva argues for more than grammar, syntax, or vocabulary, since ‘sensation will leave its indelible stamp and that this imprint of the body in language is readable’ (Smith. 1998: 14). What might such an event look like? A brief recourse to Lyotard’s notion of a reading event is helpful here.
Reading as event for Lyotard raises up/[ad]dresses ‘the figure against discourse, the libidinal skin against the organic body’ invoking a materiality of an in-betweeen~ness of tensions between reading and seeing (Readings. 1991: xx). This notion of reading which incorporates the figural force thus goes beyond the flat ‘textual space’ - that ‘space of pure opposition’ of structural linguistics, to one of ‘depth and opacity’ as required by the introduction of ‘motivation and continuity between the linguistic elements’ (Readings. 1991: 18). Analogies between Kristeva’s notion of word-joining and Lyotard’s of phrase-linking lead both to conceptualise reading/writing with, beside and against the materiality of bodies. But each takes a different approach. Kristeva turns to psychoanalysis whereas, in his early work, Lyotard turns to phenomenology à la Merleau-Ponty.
The semiotic, Kristeva insists, is not an extension of the language system but transversal to and coextensive with it. It is through the semiotic that we can connect language as a formal system to something outside this, in the realm of the psycho-somatic, to a body and a bodily subject structuring and de-structuring identity’ (Smith. 1998: 18).
In other words, notions of inside/outside are unsettled as slippage and meaning-slips may pass, or traverse or transform. But are there times when they may crash? Are meaning-slips now trapped in performing closure or are they keeping the system open? What about the imprint of language in body? Aware that her theory of semiotics is a paradox, an aporia, as is her notion of the speaking subject, I turn now to Kristeva’s notion of the subject on trial/in process - the sujet-en-procès - in order to explore further the possible implications for the effects of such slippages.
Since discourse, for Kristeva, is a practice between speaking subjects and a system (language), ‘the field of sense and signification beyond linguistics’ is opened up towards the sociological and the psychological such that systems of meaning emerge based on the socio-historical and the intersubjective (Kristeva. 1985: 211). For the most part, we are locked into a semiotics of “ideologies” – as myths, rituals, and moral codes become sign systems comprising the law governing any social practice. Every social practice is therefore embedded in an order of language and thus has a double articulation (signifier/signified), a duality which stands in an arbitrary relation to the referent (R) such that ‘all social functioning is marked by the split between the referent and the symbolic and by the shift from signified to signified coextensive with that’ (Kristeva. 1985: 212). In other words, the speaking subject is now a process, ‘simultaneously a unity and the transition to zero of this unity’ (Kristeva. 1985: 213). Moreover, for Kristeva, the speaking subject is always already in a state of crisis as this ‘is a permanent state of functioning’ (Kristeva. 1989: 37). Not as anarchist in a negative or pejorative sense as it seems at first glance, Kristeva explains that, for her, the word ‘anarchy’ can have creative possibilities and that is exactly what is in play here.
This state of crisis between unity and zero of that unity then, is inherent in the speaking subject and necessary to postulate that the position of conscious mastery of meaning by the subject constitutes and guarantees the subject’s unity, not so much as a fixed totalizing totality but rather an ‘if only’ for the moment. The notion of mastery pre-supposes a relativity between various types of signifying experiences and the limit of this is the zero state. However, the relationship between the referent (R) as object/situation and the signifiable ‘is never a relation of identity, but rather one of displacement’, of ‘contradiction’ (Kristeva. 1985: 214). Indeed, this is a ‘relationship of emptiness, of the unnameable, of non-sense and of opaque experience which we would designate by the word increasingly haunting semiological theories – the body’ (Kristeva. 1985: 214). Inevitably some-thing falls out, remains, is left over as remnant from the processes of signification and enunciation, and this is the body. Nevertheless, since we have seen that the sign and the predicate synthesis guarantee the unity of the speaking subject, it follows that any attack against either sign or syntax marks a re-evaluation process vis-à-vis the speaking subject’s unity. Kristeva thus insists that ‘the particularities of poetic language designate a sujet-en-procès (Kristeva. 1985: 215). Poetic language, operating ‘at the margins’, where ‘syntactic chains are disturbed by ellipses or indefinite embeddings of grammatical categories’, ‘best affects the never-ending process of the rapprochement between the signifiable and the referent (R)’ (Kristeva. 1985: 215). In somewhat similar fashion the subject in Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips fades in and out of sight in an impossible rapprochement between language and the unspeakable real.
Since all these loose threads fall together as ‘symptoms’ [in the Greek etymological sense of the word: Endnote 1] in Kristeva’s work, as circulating inter-texts, they are very pertinent to the discussion in this review on ‘intertextuality’ after Kristeva. Symptomatic, then, for transposition, the chora, closely associated with the [maternal] body, sets going that which is ‘not yet a position that represents something for someone (i.e., it is not a sign)’ nor ‘a position that that represents someone for another position (i.e., it is not yet a signifier either)’, ‘it is, however, generated in order to attain to this signifying position. The chora therefore precedes and underlies figuration and thus specularization, not as model nor as copy but rather as analogous only to vocal or kinetic rhythm’ (Kristeva. 1984: 26). It is an essentially mobile and extremely provisional articulation constituted by movements and their ephemeral stases and thus informs the doing and the theorising of intertextuality.
Intertextuality, understood as ‘the passage from one sign system to another’, thus involves ‘an altering of the thetic position – the destruction of the old position and the formation of a new one’, forever in flux, (Kristeva. 1984: 59). Whether it is a word or a sentence, all enunciation is thetic. An identification has to occur as the subject separates from and through his/her image, from and through his/her objects, which is to say image and objects are posited in a space which becomes symbolic in that it connects the two separated positions. These positions are either recorded or they are redistributed in an open combinatorial system with the semiotic force (the genotext) disrupting communication. The genotext, which stems from the ‘drive energy’ emanating from the unconscious is one of two neologisms that Kristeva introduces to mark the split nature of texts. Phenotext is the other and relates to the language of communication.
Thus intertextuality is not just a recognition that one text informs another text, rather it is an acknowledgement that one text transforms another text; a transposition whereby
If one grants that every signifying practice is a field of transpositions of various signifying systems (an inter-textuality), then one understands that its “place” of enunciation and its denoted “object” are never single, complete, and identical to themselves, but always plural, shattered, capable of being tabulated.
Kristeva. 1984: 60
Significantly, once ‘word’ as intersecting textual surfaces emerges, ‘word’ as Master signifier breaks down.
Thus the Kristevan speaking subject is a traversal beyond both the bounds of the Saussurean abstract system, and those aspects of Bakhtin/Volosinov, which privilege the social specificity of language and thus view it ‘always in a ‘ceaseless flow of becoming’, (Allen. 2000: 18). Invested with poetic language, Kristevan intertextuality embodies otherness and thus situates itself against monologism, rejoicing in the poetic.
However, given the discussion so far, it is clearly evident that intertextuality/ transposition raises three issues around the conceptualisation of the role and nature of: i) the author; ii) the reader; iii) the text. If one person’s work ends and another’s begins, where and when does that author[ity] of the text drift away from the one to the other, if it does at all? What are the elements of the reader domain? What part in the reading and writing process does the text play, and vice versa? Due to limited space in Addendum, I intend to respond to these issues with some taster excerpts from an interview conducted by Margaret Waller with Julia Kristeva in 1985 since they throw an interesting light on such questions.
In this Waller-Kristeva interview the notion of signature and of identity as impure, as already discussed in the introduction of Addendum returns as ‘circular memory’ thus continuing to haunt us unsettling notions of Proper and of author[ity] (Barthes. 1976: 36).
Beginning her story of coining ‘intertextualité’ Kristeva explains that she was at the beginning of her research, writing a commentary on Bakhtin, commenting that ‘his notions of dialogism and carnival’ provided a crossroads, or rather an ‘intersection’ for ‘moving beyond structuralism’ (Waller. 1985: web-site: 19 Dec 2003). Adopting a broad sweep application to the Kristevan notion of word as minimal text unit to these web-site excerpts I focus in on pronouns and the tenses of the verbs being used. It thus foregrounds Kristeva’s use of ‘he’/’his’ rather than ‘I’, and also the use of the past tense all pointing to her view of Bakhtin as author[ity] at this point in the interview, although, of course author as seen through her own eyes.
When she discussed her reading with Roland Barthes, her supervisor, he was ‘quite fascinated’ and invited her to do a seminar on Bakhtin in 1966, (Waller. 1985: web-site: 19 Dec 2003). Thus Bakhtin is eliding gradually but ineluctably into a Kristevan Bakhtin. Which is not the same as saying the meaning slips have reached monumental proportions, whatever that might mean, rather it is to say that Bakhtin-as-reading/writing undergoes a transposition. Stating she believes she remains ‘faithful’, Kristeva moves the story on to her ‘attempts to elaborate and enlarge’ upon Bakhtin’s ‘ideas’ such that ‘the concept of intertextuality’ emerged (Waller. 1985: web-site: 19 Dec. 2003). Kristeva’s use of the subjective pronoun ‘I’ and of ‘my’ is seen to be more frequent in this excerpt, illustrating that Bakhtin is losing his Author[ity] status, thereby becoming an author[ity] to whom she is still ‘faithful’ and from whose work she has ‘with as much intellectual honesty as possible’ deduced her concept of intertextuality, whilst being able to underscore its difference from dialogism. The question then for Addendum is, given that the semiotic bubbles up and disturbs the symbolic, given Kristeva’s propensity towards poetic analysis, given the transposition from Bakhtin’s writing to her own, given the meaning-slips inherent in the transposition, what is the nature of this being ‘faithful’? It can not be a faithful copy, but rather of the ilk of one of Dunkelsbuhler’s SlanTrs and/or ‘wandering translation[s] [traduction errante]’ (Dunkelsbuhler. 2002: 59), constituting a parergon as creating a framing - boundaries of honouring and paying homage to a master, whose work is worthy of being elevated to a position deserving of due care and attention. Yet also within this ilk is Derrida’s ‘la tournette d’une derive interne’ – the letter which does not always arrive at its destination and the fact that it holds to this possibility as part of its structure afflicts it with an internal misdirection (Derrida 1987) or destinerrance (see In-Between Slips: Fig 2: 286). And yet, as seen already above, intertextuality problematizes the notion of Author and of origin.
The boundaries continue to blur. Thus, after Bakhtin, and located now in the ‘otherness of language’ how does his work on ‘dialogism’ flow becoming[ly] into Kristeva’s concept of intertextuality? Au fait with the ‘accepted knowledge of structuralism’ (Kristeva. 1997: 9), recognizing the potential, yet secret body of signifiers within the hidden corpus of Bakhtin’s text, what was the something else that Kristeva could do? Kristeva warms to her theme. Although Bakhtin’s work exhibits two axes, ‘dialogue and ambivalence’, these are not ‘clearly distinguished’ (Kristeva. 1980: 66). The horizontal axis, dialogue, refers to the subject-addressee; the vertical axis, ambivalence, to the text-context, and it is here that the intersection for transposition opens up to a Kristevan poetic analysis. The tensions of author-reader/reader-writer remain clearly evident.
Kristeva begins to further draw out the distinctions between what she sees as her transpositions. From her change to talking in the present tense, it would appear that she recognizes the margins between Bakhtin as author as seen in her eyes, and herself as author, are muddied, at least in the context of this interview as represented on this web-site. Her use of the pronoun ‘I’ is restricted and whilst she categorically says ‘I think that what is new’ is ‘at the level of syntax and phonics too’ (Waller. 1985: web-site: 19 Dec. 2003), her seeming reluctance to engage with the personal pronoun still hints strongly at the tensions that exist between the author and the addressee. The question for Addendum still remains hauntingly, now rephrased as who is/are being raised up, elevated, to taking a stand/utter[st]ance/stutter[st]ance in all the flows, transformations and transpositions?
However, Kristeva would maintain that what she brings to the reading of Bakhtin is psychoanalysis. Indeed, she confirms that psychoanalysis – ‘the only continent that we had never left’ (Oliver. 1997: 19) - remains at the heart of her project. Thus, in the Waller interview, Kristeva comments that ‘the notion’, her notion that is, ‘that the participation of different texts at different levels reveals a particular mental activity’ was ‘unique’ (Waller. 1985: web-site: 19 Dec. 2003).
Picking up the loose thread of the carnival à la poetic word, the ‘carnival participant is both actor and spectator’ passing ‘through a zero point of carnivalesque activity’ and splitting into ‘a subject of the spectacle and an object of the game’, and ‘sees itself created as self and other, as man and mask’ (Kristeva. 1980: 78). Signifiers refer to signifiers in the Saussurean system of language, such that ‘this empty and yet significant place called the zero degree of the sign’ (Kristeva. 2000: 214) where writing has become ‘absence’ is called ‘the zero degree of writing’ (Barthes. 1967: 11). However, in the process of signification, as if in a game of chess, signifier checks signified to zero point, and the body falls out as a remainder – the letter kills. Via flows and transformative forces the game/play unfolds where-in/of designs form the basis of evoked self/other relationships. Or to take a Barthesian slant ‘the pleasure of writing’ makes its debut mediated by the body that desires thereby opening up ‘the infinite pleasure of the text’ as discussed later in Addendum (Kristeva. 2000: 215).
The transition to zero and thus ‘loss of identity, afflux of drive and a return of symbolic capacities’ marks the collapse of the unified “Transcendental ego” (Kristeva. 1985: 217). This shift allows the speaking subject the capacity to renew the order in which s/he is trapped and for the subject this constitutes the capacity of enjoyment.
Hence Kristeva views a text not as ‘a vehicle of information (‘the that which it signifies’), but rather as so many forms of reflexive (and hence ‘poetic’) language (including science) in a dynamics of cooperation’ (Orr. 2003: 30). Thus, it follows that analysis should not limit itself simply to an identification process of citation, influence or source, but ‘should understand that what is being dealt with is a specific dynamics of the subject of the utterance’ (Waller. 1985: web-site: 19 Dec. 2003). Such an individual is not an identity-cum-individual in the etymological sense therefore. Rather, intertextuality announces ‘an intrapsychic or psychoanalytic finding’, ‘concerning the status of the “creator,” the one who produces a text by placing himself or herself at the intersection of this plurality of texts on their very different levels’ (Waller. 1985: web-site: 19 Dec. 2003). Kristeva has moved from recognising Bakhtin as author[ity] to Bakhtin-reader to Bakhtin-rewriter. But is she reader-rewriter-cum-author[ity] of her own conceptualisation?
Continuing her story, she explains, ‘I myself speak of a “subject-in-process” which makes possible my attempt to articulate’ ‘a logic’ ‘between identity and unity’ mediated through ‘its reduction to zero’, that ‘moment of crisis, of emptiness’ that is the pre-lude to ‘the reconstitution of a new plural identity’ – this dynamic holds for both writer and reader (Waller. 1985: web-site: 19 Dec. 2003) [my italics].
Kristeva’s citation of an ‘intrapsychic’ or the ‘psychoanalytic’ clearly resonates resoundingly with her notion of the “subject-in-process”, with its ‘moment of crisis’, that ‘zero’, that ‘emptiness’ yet-not-void, all of which stem from the hystericization of the taken-for-granted tradition, of expertise. Resoundingly, it reverberates to the interlacing of the telling space of words, in its many guises, as celebrated in Covers – in the designer space and In-Between Slips as ‘sequinned becomings of me/you-selves’ ‘both-or-[h]and’ ‘if only’s’ where allure-with-alongside-intrigue elided into the Barthesian ‘erotic’ of extravagant repetition and/or unexpected succulent newness to ‘glisten’ and susurrate ephemerally (Barthes. 1976: 42).
The intertextual intersection sets in motion (‘open[s] [it] up, set[s] [it] going’ à la Barthes (Barthes. 1977: 163)) a sense of the dynamic, the ephemeral and elusive, the invoking-ing, the becoming other, becoming nomad. ‘[A]ll the while implying an idea of rupture (of opposition and analogy) as a modality of transformation’ (Kristeva. 1980: 89) and a focus of productivity, the concept of relation announces itself always already, juxta-posed with, beside and against in-citing the solidified, the fixed, the communicating, the subjugated Proper[ty]. This traversal of the dynamics of zero, that moment of crisis puts-in-place extravagant repetition and succulent newness gesturing toward erotic indirectedness and does ‘something else’ (Oliver. 1997: 9) whereby my notion of the telling space glistens with sparkling sequins. Her reference to ‘reconstitution of a new plurality’ resonates with the pluralities of my thesis intertextually resisting closure under Addendum as “Lastword”.
Intertextuality is not simply a decoding activity. It is a condition of the text – semantically, linguistically and structurally (Wood, 1991; Allen, 2000; Orr, 2003) and thus, as ‘readers of intertextuality, we must be capable of the same putting-into-process of our identities’, and thus able to face ‘a reduction to zero’, and that ‘state of crisis’, even to ‘the point of speechlessness’ à la Freud and ‘loss of meaning’, indeed, perhaps as a necessary pre-condition of ‘a process of free association, reconstitution of diverse meanings’ to what is ‘almost undefinable – a process that is a re-creation of the poetic war’ (Waller. 1985: web-site: 19 Dec. 2003). Thus ‘[i]t goes without saying that subjects, addresses and exterior texts are all very alive in Kristeva’s Bakhtin’ (Moi. 1986: 37). Addresses were an integral feature of Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips too. Here, in the experiment in writing, they both embody and theorise poesis – the French verb ‘dresser’ intriguingly translates into ‘to set up’, ‘to raise up’, ‘to erect’ indicating a Riffaterrean-like hidden inter-text to my motif of [ad]dressing up.
Thus along with Kristeva, I cannot ignore the implications of intertextuality/ meaning slips and as she, whether reader-writer and/or writer-reader I celebrate ‘the complexity of the text’ with its ‘formal aspects’ and its intrapsychic dimensions. However, the experiment in writing goes beyond Kristeva’s speaking subject in the fashioning of the telling space with its sur-faces and embody-ings and revels in the play - not so much on both levels at once, but rather thinking the two before they become two. Think then, of the self born of ‘inter-est’ (Wolfreys. 1998: 12) and of self self-ing – i.e., me- and you-selves in Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips.
Reference to Freud’s speechlessness constitutes the very heart of Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips, with the emphasis on reading, on writing, on the written mark rather than the phonetic mark, tracing a sensate shadow dancing in its undecidability both-or-and as-open[ing]. ‘Open’, its link to the Barthesian body and/or desire is palpable. Kristeva writes of how ‘Barthes threw himself into interpretative writing’, ‘with a sense of going against the natural’ thereby revealing ‘the body beneath meaning’ which, for him, ‘always shimmered on the horizon’ as glistening ‘mirage’ (Kristeva. 2000: 190). In a society driven by capitalist notions, production and consumption are separated, hence author and reader became divided. But Barthes adamantly proclaims bodies desire to write, and in particular they desire to write the scriptible, not least because the ensuing nausea from the reading of lisible scripts shows one how things could be otherwise. Closed, ‘oppressed in the order of sign itself’, vomit spews forth (Barthes. 1975: 139). Nevertheless, the body is not unproblematic, since as will be discussed later a notion of warfare in language is a central motif for Barthes. The relation of the body to culture is thus highly complex. To desire or to be desired is always to be trapped in a process of repetition and quotation – ‘[w]ithout Book, without the Code … no desire’ (Barthes. 1975: 73). Desire is always already compromised. Desire where dictated by culture as doxa results in nothing but a strangulating process of repetition, suffocation by the stereotype. The body collapses the anti-thesis of the symbolic, divorces desire from culture, but in so doing pays the price of death of the subject – ghost-like, it falls out as remainder as in Kristeva’s game-play.
Such an account also clarifies how intertextuality differs from the historically traditional stable model of ‘text’ and ‘context’. Kristeva accounts for this through stressing that there is no end to the text’s signifiance - meaning produced through the semiotic in conjunction with the symbolic, that inside and outside are just products of any particular reading of the text, which of course can proceed further or not arbitrarily, ‘woven entirely with citations, references, echoes, cultural languages (what language is not?) antecedent or contemporary, which cut across it through and through in a vast stereophony’ (Barthes. 1977: 160).
Kristeva’s work, whether it is located in psychoanalysis, semiology, writing novels, in intertextuality, or whether she is speaking publicly, cannot be considered apart from this concept of the psychological/psychoanalytical. It both permeates and constitutes all her thinking. As a key Kristevan concept it cannot be ignored from any critical enquiry into intertextuality. Once brought into play the sophistication and rich complexity of the concept emerges in ever-unfolding intricacy. Its necessary inclusion leads unerringly to the conclusion that the definition of intertextuality as ‘a mosaic of quotations’ remains but a gloss and no gloss-ary can thus lick a text into a final shape or impose an authoritative meaning/ Lastword.
Hence in Kristeva’s eyes, the intellectual revolution was aimed at infusing theory with the dynamics of change, of doing something different; and, for her, the “speaking subject” is indispensable to such a project. Intent on challenging ‘God, authority, and social law’ (Kristeva. 1980: 79) Kristeva and others within Tel Quel take Bakhtin’s polyphony of each utterance and his carnivalesque profanization of all that is sacred and possessed of an authority further to the edge of Absolute Reason. They engage intertextuality as a ‘linguistic and semiotic lever to unhinge all bourgeois notions of an autonomous subject’ thus deconstructing subject and text (Pfister. 1991: 212). And in so doing, they deconstruct Authority, thereby calling into question the notion of a canon that can be reviewed as a basis for defending one’s academic position. Tensions arise immediately of course. How can one justify seeking legitimation of one’s work through referencing canons when one is problematizing the very nature of author and authority, of subjectivity, of insidedness and outsidedness? One can thus only write differently and also read differently – Barthes and others were thus passionate in refusing a reduction in reading that renders it of the order of mass-consumption that would result in boredom, located in the trap of the Lastword, no less. Rather they aspired to an open system in order to produce the text, open it out, set it going’ (Barthes. 1977: 163). Furthermore, in order to keep open the dynamic heterogeneities of texts, Barthes and others were united in the viewpoint that ‘nowadays only the critic executes the work (accepting the play on the words)’ (Barthes. 1977: 163), firing off the final bullet/word as Lastword. Criticism is reading ‘in cross-section’, discovering within the work some intelligibility that is both decipherable and interpretable, but it ‘cannot reveal a signified [signifié] (for this signified retreats endlessly right up to the void of the subject), but only chains of symbols, homologies of relations’ and thus a ‘new flowering of symbols [that] constitute the work’ (Barthes. 1987: 86-7).
Circular memories and ‘the impossibility of living outside the infinite text’ (Barthes. 1976: 36) in play, Kristevan intertextuality thus opens the space both for struggling against and for attempting to subvert Absolute Reason, Truth and unity of meaning and privileges belief in the human subject, countering reduction to “any-one” as well as to my notion of no-body. It is therefore anti-thetical to all ideas of the logic of binaries and of the unquestionable gesturing towards Lacanian hystericization, and as such resonates to anti-thesis as used in Covers – in the de-signer space: xxxi.
Kristeva to Barthes.
In fact Barthes as Kristeva’s doctoral supervisor in the mid 1960’s and fellow member of Tel Quel, strongly agrees with the anti-thetical traits of intertextuality as discussed above, as I now intend to show. Using a psychoanalytic discourse, he comments that ‘Julia Kristeva changes the place of things’ always destroying ‘the last prejudice, the one you thought you could be reassured by’, displacing ‘the already-said […], i.e., the instance of the signified, i.e., stupidity’, and thereby subverting ‘the authority of the monologic science, of filiation’, always forcefully (Barthes. 1986: 168).
Stable meanings or concepts (Barthes’s ‘signified’) so beloved of authority are under siege, threatened by the pluralities of sumptuous ‘if only’s’ of In-Between Slips set going for the reader’s delectation, or as an ‘hors d’oeuvre’. Any stable relationship between signifier and signified bolsters the power of the dominant ideology and represses unorthodox thinking frameworks. Challenges to author[ity], reassurance, pride, knowledge and meaning seem to be explicitly on the agenda and worthy of praise by Barthes as already discussed above in Addendum.
Given ‘the impossibility of living outside the infinite text’ (Barthes. 1976: 36) Barthes writes one reads the text ‘not in its ‘truth’ but in its ‘production’ – which is not its ‘determination’ (Barthes. 1977: 129), such that ‘the rustle of language forms a utopia’ (Barthes. 1986: 77).
Sidelining “communication” because of its reductionist (Moriarty, 1991) overtones, Barthes envisages a utopia ‘of a music of meaning’ (Barthes. 1986: 77), where language forms ‘a vast auditory fabric’ wherein ‘the phonic, metric, vocal signifier would be deployed in all its sumptuosity’ yet in such a way ‘without meaning being brutally dismissed’ and ‘dogmatically foreclosed’ (Barthes. 1986: 77). I refer you to the textual delectation of the orchestrated choreography of sequinned “bodies” shadow dancing both and/or of the exquisite [ad]dress of Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips wherein words glisten sumptuously within a sensate fabric[a[c]tion]. The visual, the auditory and the sensual are celebrated therein, interlaced with, beside and against ever-opening horizons of slippages of meaning, my ‘if only’s’.
Given that ‘intellectuals are themselves agents of this system of power’ since ‘the idea of their responsibility for “consciousness” forms part of the system’, the intellectual should no longer be expressing ‘the stifled truth of the collectivity’, Foucault writes, lending his support to the above Barthesian avant-garde act (Foucault. 1977: 208). Rather, s/he should be struggling against ‘the forms of power that transform him into its object and instrument in its sphere of “knowledge”, “truth”, “consciousness” (Foucault. 1977: 209). Continuing the Foucauldian slant here, some might read that Barthes is doubly generous in his support of Kristeva, given the imbalance of power between his Hegelian transcendental supervisory ego as the one who knows and the supervisee as the one who is yet to know within traditional frameworks, that is.
Nevertheless, the citation signals what is at stake in undertaking a critical review of the literature of the primary authors presumed to legitimate the ‘method’ of foreclosing and castrating intertextuality. ‘What can it mean today to ‘practice intertextuality’’ (Mai. 1991: 30). What is pertinent here is that given Barthes’s eloquent account of how Kristeva’s work unsettles, the words ‘method’ and ‘practice’ become instantly problematized. Indeed, Kristeva and Barthes thus can be read in terms of Lacan’s discourse of the hysteric setting out to perturb and disrupt the Name of the Father, the Law, the Institution, the status quo, and the taken-for-granted which constitute Lacan’s concept of the master discourse.
Continuing this tracking after a master discourse, although Kristeva coined the term intertextuality, Barthes, and not she, produced the entry ‘Texte (théorie du)’ for, what must be considered one of the most ‘authoritative’ sites, the Encyclopédie universalis. Barthes writes, [note I refer here to Orr’s translation (2003)], and thus with, beside and against Dunkelsbuhler’s ‘SlanTr’, ‘the text is a productivity’, it is ‘the very theatre of a production where the producer of the text and the reader come together’, where ‘every text is an intertext’, ‘a new tissue of recycled citations’ (Orr. 2003: 33).
How ironic that the author[itative] producer of the author[itarian] textual site for ‘Texte (théorie du)’ is other than the author/coiner of the critical term, namely intertextuality, whose name, in fact, fails to receive even a token reference. Set this in apposition and opposition to the fact that one major contributory factor to Barthes’s notoriety can be traced back to a seminal text entitled The Death of the Author and the irony stakes are significantly doubled. Notions of author seem to be an ideal starting point to set [us] going in the middle of the review.
Author after Barthes.
An author is somebody who writes, (which is not to say that anyone who writes is an author), and so any notion of author is inextricably interwoven with notions of writing. ‘Writing is that neutral, composite, oblique space where our subject slips away, where all identity is lost, starting with the very identity of the body writing’ (Barthes. 1977: 142). Kristeva’s notion of zero and loss of identity are echoed here, as is Dunkelsbuhler’s notion of ‘SlanTr’ (Dunkelsbuhler, 2002) whilst, as will be seen later [Addendum: 59], this particular minimal textual unit of ‘oblique’ gestures towards possible links with Derrida’s tympanum. And the ‘circular memory’ (Barthes. 1976: 36) keeps circulating as without too much stretch of the imagination Bloom’s ‘poetic images’ and Riffaterre’s matrix [see Addendum: 40] are haunted by notions of the oblique.
Signification and communication depend upon a concept of the sign (signifier and signified). Its traversal through the Text promotes a secure authentic meaning completely in contradiction to the struggles over interpretation where ‘each jargon (each fiction) fights for hegemony’, and that with ‘power on its side’ becomes ‘doxa’ such that language is always already ‘a warrior topos’ (Barthes. 1976: 28). Circling in the ‘impossibility of living outside that infinite text’ (Barthes. 1976: 36), the spectres of the poetic warfare of Kristeva, Derrida and Bloom appear.
Since Barthes sees communication riddled with the commercial exchange of ideas and doxa, war, - often in quite a literal sense - is declared (Barthes. 1981: 33-4). ‘The signified is the sinew of war, war is the very structure of meaning’, Barthes writes (Barthes. 1977: 127). Barthes’s strike and counter-strike strategy, then, and, already, we have witnessed ghostly inklings of it, is to set going a pattern of contrasts and thereby ‘do something else’.
Text is not so much a concept as a process of writing, to be approached through a process of writing. Defining it in the normal sense of the word, would put it at the mercy of a metalanguage, putting an end to the process, filtering out all its voices, except the one that the selected metalanguage is equipped to register. To re-turn to the above entry into Encyclopédie, Text, being productive works on language, disrupting and unsettling the perception of communication/ expression. At the level of the signified contests for position are set up between a single signifier and different and incompatible signifieds, thus leading to undecidability. Text can work on the signifier directly as in neologisms such as ‘if only’s’ and ‘sequinned me-selves’ for instance, illuminating productivity through exploiting the elements that comprise verbal signs. And yet reading is an act of violence – given the contests for position, any one judgement ties a single signifier, rightly or wrongly, properly or improperly, to a particular [set of] signified[s]. No wonder Barthes advocates read slowly and with patience (Barthes. 1976).
Yet as seen already in Addendum, binaries, polarities, opposites all traditionally hint at ‘a point (a fixed meaning)’ (Kristeva. 1980: 65). Yet, as ‘plaything’ in Barthes’s hands, these jargon points operate as ‘an intersection of textual surfaces’ (Barthes. 1976: 65). In reading/writing/textual analysis Barthes uses a heterogeneous (thus non-structuralist) symbolic code notation in order to keep meaning and interpretation circulating. Barthes’s codes are not closed sets of oppositions, not a system or langue operating in the parole of the text but rather they are perspectives opened up by the text. Barthes is concerned to ‘not manifest a structure but to produce a structuration’ (Barthes. 1975: 20). One such structuration involves dynamics between the seme, the proairetic, the hermeneutic and the symbolic (Barthes, 1975). The symbolic is the one to resist classification, the rebel, ‘adrift, he is the joker in the pack’ (Barthes. 1975: 35). It is ‘a space of desire (or repulsion), power, meaning, exchange, substitution’ and typically structured in antithetical form’ (Moriarty. 1991: 124). ‘Symbolic power relationships are unstable: the partners change places and the form of the relationship alters’ (Moriarty. 1991: 125). ‘Each line is a snare, a misuse, and each misuse is justified by a code’, such that ‘codes are hurled back and forth’ to create the “scene” (Barthes. 1975: 154). Recalling his entry in the Encyclopédie universalis, for Barthes the ‘Text is that space where no language has a hold over any other, where languages circulate (keeping the circular sense of the term)’ (Barthes. 1977: 164). It is precisely in this way the text is not reduced to ‘a signifier, whatever it might be (historical, economic,)’ but rather its signifiance is held ‘fully open’ (Barthes. 1977: 141). Signifiance is thus not work in the sense of mastering a language, of style for example, rather its that radical process, that point zero, that loss of identity, worked by language such that is ‘is ‘the without-end-ness of the possible operations in a given field of language’’ (Barthes. 1981: 38).
In other words, signifiance announces the opening up of vast horizons with no end in sight. Barthes’s riposte is subtle: possibilities are endless too. Thus Barthes’s term ‘without-end-ness’ has a double-edged point to make but one that opens up to point zero and is thus not communication, nor representation, nor expression; rather ‘it puts the (writing or reading) subject into the text, not as a projection, not even a fanstasmic one (there is no ‘transport’ of a constituted subject), but as a ‘loss’’ as if one finds the text erotic even though it is not representing any erotic scenes (Barthes. 1981: 38).
Without doubt this ‘loss’ problematizes traditionally held concepts of author and reader. We now turn ‘to graze, to browse scrupulously, to rediscover’, and thus to read the words from the defining entry on ‘Texte, (théorie du)’ in Encyclopédie universalis, particularly, from the perspective that any text keeps on working and producing, not merely existing but elaborating itself in relationship to another structure (Barthes. 1976: 13). We will consider the notion of author first.
If the writing subject enters the text as ‘loss’ it follows that traditional notions of Author are no longer tenable. Since writing is ‘the very practice of the symbol itself’ a disconnection occurs, ‘the voice loses its origin, the author enters into his own death, writing begins’ (Barthes. 1977: 142). Is this even possible for such an authoritatative site as the Encyclopédie universalis?
In fact, the seismic change for the author is set going twice over, in a doubling stemming from enunciation and from the arbitrary since ‘language knows a ‘subject’, not a ‘person’’; it is this subject that ‘suffices to make language ‘hold together’, which is to say ‘exhausts it’ (Barthes. 1977: 145).
Latterly, the Barthesian author, a modern scriptor’, is ‘born simultaneously with the text’, not ‘the subject with the book as predicate’ since ‘there is no other time than that of the enunciation and every text is eternally written here and now’ (Barthes. 1977: 145). The scriptor, who succeeds the Author bears within him an ‘immense dictionary’ from which s/he draws a without-end-ness writing (Barthes. 1977: 147).
No ‘single ‘theological’ meaning’ is given/handed down by the ‘Author-God’, and thus no ‘limit’ is imposed on it in the form of ‘a final signified’ which would therefore close ‘the writing’ (Barthes. 1977: 147). Rather a multi-dimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash’ opens up (Barthes. 1977: 146).
As already argued above in Addendum the problematization of author and author[ity] renders the position of the critic untennable. Traditionally criticism allots ‘itself the important task of discovering the Author (or its hypostases: society, history, psyché, liberty) beneath the work’ (Barthes. 1977: 147). With the Author dead, the act of deciphering a text is ‘futile’ (Barthes. 1977: 147). ‘[T]he space of writing’ now is ‘to be ranged over, not pierced’, it ‘ceaselessly posits meaning to evaporate it’; decipherment is no longer required, rather a disentanglement is called for (Barthes. 1977: 147). Thus, casting aside ‘a play of normative predicates’, which foreclose and castrate, the Barthesian critic has elided into reader, a reader of multiple readings, no less, no one of which is “superior”. Given that there is always another reading criticism has lost its traditional hold.
Reading after Barthes.
We read with different intensities, establishing ‘a rhythm’, ‘unconcerned with the integrity of the text’ (Barthes. 1976: 11).
What is not read and what is read in this ‘warrior topos’, where readings contest with readings, sets up a rhythm forming the pleasure of reading. Anxious to reach the warmer spots in order to find one’s secure footing, we hasten the ritual of reading to get to the point, to foreclose on savouring and to limit the lived experience of the sumptuous. Exploiting the potential gaps in the text, the reader disentangles the hermeneutic from the rest of the text. If this is to discard the other strands, the reading flouts the integrity of the text, the reader’s pleasure focusing on the part rather than the whole is fetishistic and perverse (Barthes, 1976). The ‘work of reading: a slow motion, so to speak, neither wholly image nor wholly analysis; it is, finally, in the very writing of the commentary’ ‘of necessity a renewal of the entrances to the text’, and thereby ‘avoids structuring the text excessively’, and thus ‘instead of assembling it’ ‘it stars the text’ (Barthes. 1975: 12-3). This sets beating the very heart of the ‘circular memory’, and ‘the impossibility of living outside the infinite text’ (Barthes. 1976: 36). Therefore no external position, no full/complete judgement can be made. Hence, each decision point within the thesis is ‘incomplete’ by its very position inside the infinite text’ and, thus by keeping the master signifiers at bay, resists a single reading.
The act of reading is one of consuming, but it ‘is far from playing with the text’; ‘the reader plays twice over’, once as if playing a game, and secondly in the musical sense’, whilst ‘the text itself plays’ (Barthes. 1977: 162).
Not a ‘plaything’, not a ‘writer’, the ‘reader’ ‘transcribes’ (Barthes. 1975: 190). Barthes likens this notion of reading-transcription to contemporary music where one often becomes some sort of co-author of the score, since here what is needed from the reader is ‘a practical collaboration’ (Barthes. 1977: 163). An interesting slant-‘SlanTr’ occurs once the word ‘transcription’ is read with, beside and against translation setting going notions of the Barthesian scriptor and the vast auditory fabric of Text that emerge through the experience of an ‘iridescent exchange’ mediated through multiple voices (Barthes. 1975: 41). The Barthesian ‘reading eye’ and ‘tonal ear’ assume a vanguard position in the anti-totalitarian stakes (Barthes. 1975: 30).
Thus reading a modern text, if there is such a thing – given this critical discussion in Addendum - is not about receiving, knowing or feeling that text, but ‘writing it anew, in crossing its writing with a fresh inscription’ (Barthes. 1977: 153). The Barthesian reader is a strange and sophisticated complex, wherein s/he is the ‘destination’, ‘the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost’, not ‘person’ but rather ‘that someone who holds together’ ‘all the traces’ of writing (Barthes. 1977: 148) – a kind of [ad]dress.
Once again, as if on an anti-totalitarian war footing, privileging one reading over the other is ‘to silence one of the voices of the text, thus betraying its constitutive plurality and sacrificing to the homogenizing influences of mass culture’ (Moriarty. 1991: 134). Here is the realm of doxa, of domestication and interiorization that turn “theory” into “Theory”. Like Kristeva, Barthes fully intends to ‘do something else’ (Oliver. 1997: 9).
Barthes talks of ‘a sudden dissolve’ such that the ‘utterance’ shifts from one point of view to another, without warning’, thereby creating a ‘tonal instability’ fashioning ‘a glistening texture of ephemeral origins’ (Barthes. 1975: 42). ‘The Text is that space where no language has a hold over any other, where languages circulate (keeping the circular sense of the term)’ (Barthes. 1977: 164). Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips goes beyond, announcing the flows and dynamic forces through the poetics and poetic analysis of the Figs – the Figs as a Lyotardian-like figural both-or-[h]and Derridean-like différance and parerga, not to mention the enmeshing of a Riffaterrean-like matrix nor even the notion of anacoluthon. Thus the Text, and I include Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips here, is plural - multi-voiced, multi-tonal - not because of ‘the ambiguities of its contents’ but rather ‘because of the stereographic plurality of its weave of signifiers’ (Barthes. 1977: 159).
Hence now I turn to conceptualisations of the social space of the Text. As seen already, the Barthesian ‘text’ comprises that which can be potentially released within a ‘work’ together with that which exists in-between that text and other texts. Barthes’s notion of ‘connotation’, (not to be confused with ‘association of ideas’) (Barthes. 1975: 8) therefore requires some consideration. Thus Barthes proposes that analytically speaking, ‘connotation is determined by two spaces’ (Barthes. 1975: 8). One space is sequential and herein ‘meaning proliferates by layering’; and the other is ‘an agglomerative space’ whereby certain parts of the text relate to other texts for their meanings, thus ‘forming “nebulae” of signifieds’ (Barthes. 1975: 8). Echoes of Kristeva’s phenotext and genotext could well be at work here. Meanings are thereby disseminated, ‘spread like gold dust on the apparent surface of the text (meaning is golden)’, (Barthes. 1975: 9). However, the double space of connotation produces ‘a deliberate “static”’ ‘in short, a countercommunication’ (Barthes. 1975: 9).
For Barthes, therefore, connotation together with denotation comprise ‘two supposedly different systems’ and thereby each in concert with the other enable the text to function like a game, each establishing the other, albeit in an illusory sort of way. Already in Addendum we have seen Barthes refer to an author as language’s ‘plaything’, whilst the reader plays the text like a game, as well as orchestrating it in the musical sense, becoming a producer of the text, in a sense. The Text itself plays too. In this ‘warrior topos’of Text or rather ‘Tissue’, ‘an hyphology’ in fact, worked out in ‘a perpetual interweaving’, whose ‘texture’ is such that the subject unmakes himself’ (Barthes. 1976: 64), determination plays with production, boredom with jouissance as already discussed. A brief look at the lisible text and the scriptible text is thus helpful here.
The lisible text leads the reader towards a meaning, whilst creating the illusion that it is itself produced by a singular voice, and thereby significantly backgrounds intertextual forces and positions the reader/reading as relatively passive. ‘This path brings narrative very close to the rite of initiation’ by implying a ‘return to order’ (Barthes. 1975: 76). Determination is the order of the day as ‘access to the magic of the signifier’ is denied’ (Barthes. 1986: 4). However, that is not to say that there are clear-cut distinctions between lisible and scriptible texts, rather it is to say any one text will contain a mixture of each and this is the variable, and the reason why the text is not totalizable. There are apparent lisible-like subject positions in the ‘Figs’ of In-Between Slips are always already undermined by the absence of a ‘centre’ from which to ‘master’ the text [see Endnote 6].
I turn now to Barthes’s S/Z since it illustrates two modalities of this particular opposition. Firstly, writing [in] S/Z to mark his reading of Balzac’s Sarrasine, Barthes “performs” his concept of a reader who consumes the readerly lisible text as well as illuminating the active reading which is required of a reader of a partially scriptible text, in this instance, Barthes reads Balzac. Secondly, in writing S/Z Barthes “performs” his concept of writing a text which is partially lisible and partially scriptible, i.e., Barthes writes S/Z. The choreographed fabric that is the ‘language of S/Z evades categorization in respect of any one written norm: too ‘literary’ to be ‘academic’, drawing attention to its figures of speech (metaphor, rhetorical question, antithesis, maxim), too academic with its ‘ugly’ neologisms and technical terms to be literary’ (Moriarty. 1991: 141).
Its stylistic procedures, unlike those of the classical text, unsettle the establishment of a continuous and apparently natural frame of reference. Barthes’s S/Z does not seek to describe the structure of Sarrasine. Nor is it claiming the status of a metalanguage standing outside and above the language of the Balzac text. Moriarty claims that it veers between treating Sarrasine as example and an allegory of realism. A tension is set going to unsettle framing/framed, playing the resulting score of undecidability exquisitely in that vast ‘stereographic space’ that is a scriptible text (Barthes. 1975: 15). Furthermore, he [Moriarty] suggests Barthes’s strategy was deliberate such that S/Z would occupy ‘an unstable position between a theoretical discussion (the problem of realism) and the critical interpretation of an individual text’ (Moriarty. 1991: 138). Yet criticism is problematic in view of the Barthesian position vis-à-vis the author’s demise, and the plurality of meaning for any Text, which is to say those spaces uncontaminated by doxa. Of necessity these factors must be taken into account and thus the dynamics between a mimetic representation and its critique are further destabilized. In actual fact, S/Z is not delivering an argument, but seeking precisely to avoid being placed within the domain of argument. A radical undecidability as to its own discursive status is thereby effectively produced. I call this ‘an experiment in writing’. Similarly in Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips - see for instance Slipping into Beginnings: 8-9 on what I will call here the four “R’s”, where I write about undertaking an experiment as follows:- ’: ‘the revealing body that constitutes data’; ‘the ravishing body of methodology comprising the manipulated and provisionally possessed […], a body of argument […], a body of rhetorical discourse vibrant with spins on running metaphors […]’; ‘a radiant body of stylish presentation in the form of: collage […], calligraphy […]’; and ‘a resplendent body of razzle-dazzle analysis interwoven in methodology’s bodily embrace, shadow dancing, intent on becoming something other’). Rather like Barthes – after Moriarty (1991) – eschewing the use of expositions of arguments, I typically interweave motifs in order to set meaning ‘trembling’, ‘becoming double’ and ‘wandering’, shadow dancing, no less (Barthes. 1981: 33).
Barthes’s S/Z thus eloquently illustrates that reading is not the junction between text and self, each an independent entity. The reading self is a plurality of other texts or codes, a ‘someone at a loose end’ who ‘strolls’ through and in the Text’ encountering its de-centred pluralities (Barthes. 1977: 159). So it is for the text, ‘fragment’ rather than ‘unitary’, ‘shards’ rather than ‘architectonic’, with its ‘movements and inflections a vast “dissolve”’ (Barthes. 1975: 20), ‘an overcrossing’ answering not to an interpretation/decipherment, but to ‘an explosion, a dissemination’ (Barthes. 1977: 159).
Thus after Barthes, in an attempt to avoid solidifying the text as a determinate object, despite the fact that Addendum is quite a different animal from Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips, I am trying to deploy the signifier to set going [a] space[s] wherein ‘the Text often dramatically argues with the signified’, ‘the recrudescence’ of the signified is avoided and text is therefore set going as Text (Barthes. 1976: 18).
In these spaces thus uncontaminated by doxa, Barthes introduces his notion of the ‘third meaning’ (Barthes. 1977: 52-4). That is to say, it is ‘the one ‘too many’, the supplement’ that fails to be absorbed in total, that is ‘at once persistent and fleeting, smooth and elusive’ that he proposes to call ‘the obtuse meaning’ (Barthes. 1977: 54). Split up in and of itself, it stands in opposition to what he calls ‘the obvious meaning’ (Barthes. 1977: 54) and causes meaning-slips in reading since it ‘seems to open the field of meaning totally, that is infinitely’ (Barthes. 1977: 55). Split up in and of itself yet again, Barthes revels in ‘obtuse’ with its pejorative connotations of ‘analytically’ having ‘something derisory’ about it, coming ‘through as limited in the eyes of analytic reason’, being on the ‘side of the carnival’ (Barthes. 1977: 55). Echoes of Bakhtinian/ Kristevan carnivalesque and of Derrida’s tympanum (to be discussed later in Addendum) mediated by Dunkelsbuhler’s ‘SlanTr’ and wandering translation are implicated here.
However, this is no image sustained through a ‘pictorial ‘rendering’ of words’, no mere painting with words. That would be impossible since it transgresses by virtue of the condition whereby it ‘does not represent anything’ (Barthes. 1977: 61). Thus we can only agree on a meaning ‘over the shoulder’ or ‘on the back’ of articulated language’ (Barthes. 1977: 61).
As such it can never enter the critic’s metalanguage, ‘in short, what the obtuse meaning disturbs, sterilizes, is metalanguage (criticism)’ (Barthes. 1977: 61). ‘[N]ot directed towards meaning (as in hysteria)’ nor theatricalizing, ‘it outplays meaning – subverts not the content but the whole practice of meaning’ (Barthes. 1977: 62). Elusive, ephemeral, flee[t]ing, ‘obtuse meaning can only come and go, seemingly appearing – disappearing’ (Barthes. 1977: 63), doing something different.
Thus as ‘a production of signifiance’ it is not a ‘philological object’ (Barthes. 1976: 64). No ‘ready-made veil’ of ‘meaning (truth)’ (Barthes. 1976: 64), it is not a ‘custodian of the Letter’ (Barthes. 1977: 126). Rather ‘the Text is plural’, accomplishing ‘the very plural of meaning: an irreducible (and not merely an acceptable) plural’, and, since it is ‘not a co-existence of meanings but a passage, an overcrossing’, ‘it answers not to an interpretation, even a liberal one’, but to an explosive dissemination (Barthes. 1977: 159). It is thus a positionality ‘spoken from a politically and ideologically uninhabitable place’, that is ‘interstitial’, ‘oblique’ and ‘traverses’, ‘panoramizes, and offends’ (Barthes. 1986: 171).
Such Text ‘reads without the inscription of the Father’ (Barthes. 1977: 161), its signifiance ‘meaning in its potential voluptuousness’ (Barthes. 1977: 184). And yet even so, once more I am violating the text in the critical process of writing about its radical undecidability as to its own discursive status. I am jeopardising a fall to doxa, to ‘the word repeated without any magic, as if it were ‘the solidification of old metaphor of Nietzschean “truth”, ‘the canonical, constraining form of the signified’ (Barthes. 1976: 42-3).
No ‘repetition that comes from the body’, then, but rather ‘dead repetition because it comes from no one’s body – except perhaps, indeed, from the body of the Dead’ (Barthes. 1977:71). Inevitably, boredom results vis-à-vis the ‘conformism and disgust with repetition that establishes’ the lisible texts (Barthes. 1975: 139). Hence this is not the Derridean repetition/iterability, with its Latin “iter” (again) and its Sanskrit “itera” (other) (Derrida. 1981: 7) and notion of the third way, but a mimeticism stemming from an inner language (logorrhoea) which Zen disciplines strive to dry up, in order to set going inner forces/ spirit/soul (Moriarty, 1991) along the lines of the spirited ‘r’/Ah of Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips. Words fail to ‘glisten’, do not distract, pleasure is absent, boredom and nausea prevail (Barthes. 1976: 42). But where the floating signifier drifts – a frayage gesturing towards a space of pleasure - that is quite another realm. Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips shadow dance there.
Textual pleasure circulates around signifiance and jouissance. Jouissance is violent, orgasmic pleasure and appears when consciousness is interrupted, when the mirror world of the Imaginary shatters, when our internal monologue jams. An erotic text is one which, whatever the nature of its subject-matter, has an effect comparable to an erotic experience, namely, the ‘Ah’/spirited ‘r’ of the inter-course [see In-Between Slips: Fig 3: 387-8] invoked by reading/writing under the Covers between the spell-binding sheets of In-Between Slips shadow dancing. The Text, like the erotic, decentres us, confronted as we are with never-ending possibilities of the production of signifiance exploding in a vast stereophony for Barthes, (Barthes, 1977), choreographed ‘if only’s’ of the ephemeral shadow dance for Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips.
And in this explosion, Barthes’s choice of the word ‘plaisir’ is a deliberate one. It means both plaisir and jouissance and thus prevents the opposition becoming rigid. Meanwhile, split up in and of itself yet again, the deliberate exploiting of its ambiguity marks [out] – to use a Derridean-like phraseology - the instability of the plaisir/jouissance opposition. Think of the ‘grain’ as the body in the voice as it sings, the hand as it writes, the eye as it reads, the limb as it performs, think not of signification but rather of the signifiance of the Text[ual], think of the pleasure pertaining to jouissance – is this not to feel alive?
From Kristeva, Barthes to Derrida.
Barthes has a notion of ‘a mobile play of signifiers with no possible reference to one or several fixed signifieds’ (Barthes. 1981: 37). On the verge of ‘irregular action’ the form of the distinction is what counts, not the position of the text on one side or the other of the dividing line (Barthes. 1986: 171). Yet this is not the same as merely registering a multiplicity of signifieds, as Rabaté points out explaining American students can mimic the canons in their written assignments but they cannot surprise (Rabaté. 2002: 100) [see Endnote 77]. Indeed, language after Barthes embraces ‘the ‘surprises’ of meaning’ (Barthes. 1977: 47). Resonances with Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips are intertextually implicit given the motifs, such as my notion of the imperceptible and of indirectedness and so on [see Endnote 6]. Deprived of explicit connective [t]issues [see Riffaterre section: Addendum: 73-81] in order to disturb the narrative logic and the doxai on which narrative expectations-cum-assumptions are based, subtle ‘edges’ are created, to surprise meaning in the body where the [ad]dress gapes.Derrida’s écriture.
As already discussed, the intentions of Kristeva and Barthes, is to unsettle the totalizing closure of systems, and to surprise and shock. Derrida is no different in this respect – what is different is how he orchestrates this. His work provides a further array of terms as resources for interrogating texts, reading and writing and the implications of these will now be discussed.
I [re]turn now to Derrida’s notion of écriture, and that figure/metaphor which names ‘an entire structure of investigation’ as outlined at the beginning of Addendum. There I discussed how speech becomes a writing and how Derrida expands the notion of writing to include the writing, the written-ness, of the subject’s identity (Wolfreys. 1998: 68). Explication of the principle of identity as it is traced by difference is set going. Identity is not conceived of in pure abstract terms, rather it is always and only to be identified as identity of some one or some thing. Writing, as already discussed in Addendum, suggests absence, delay, deferral, by the fact that its mark is both iterable and not the sign of presence – it slips from one’s grasp, elusive and ephemeral, fluently fluid. Identity, whatever it is, is only recognized through the play of writing, text différance – by a Lyotardian-like hiding/revealing thick space: by the telling space of Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips, no less. I turn now to Derrida’s neographism of différance in order to re-view “play”, “identity”, intertextuality and meaning-slips.
Deferral – différance.
Firstly, though, an explorative detour of différance is necessary. Although différance is not a word or concept, an 'attempt [at] a simple and approximate semantic analysis' will reveal what is at stake (Derrida. 1982: 7). Has criticism been quietly upstaged by deploying a notion of what is at stake – is that what is going on here? Barthes certainly suggested it was in decline. Does this also explain why Derrida, Bennington, Royle, Wolfreys and others present a case for deconstruction as political stance? Bennington corroborates this, referring to ‘an irreducible conceptual politics’ since deconstruction ‘generalizes the concept of politics so that it includes all conceptual dealings whatsoever’ (Bennington. 2001: 206-207). Indeed the political theorist Laclau draws on Derridean deconstruction for his project of plural democracy (Laclau, 1996). So, rather than a traditional critical exercise to construct the true meaning of a text, the stakes are political and ethical in that a decision for one reading suppresses other possible readings. Nevertheless, two questions still need to be asked, haunted by criticism as we are – who is revealing the stakes and for what purpose[s]? In other words, a closer look at the ‘composition’ of difference is required as it slips towards or away from différer creating the conditions for both the possibility and the impossibility of decision making and thus of a ‘stake’ that impacts politically and ethically.
The French verb différer has two meanings. Firstly, it means 'temporization' itself a bifurcation of becoming-time of space and becoming-space of time. Thus the accomplishment or fulfilment of "desire" or "will" is suspended by a detour, spatially and/or temporally (Derrida. 1982: 8). Secondly, and more commonly, it is taken to mean “not to be identical”, “to be other”, to be “discernible”. The experiment in writing – Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips – re-weaves the relations and spaces between philosophy and literature, between notions of the physical body and textual bodies, making and unmaking the traditional distinctions between the real and the fiction/imag[in]ing, the historical and the political. The Figs of In-Between Slips embody and [ad]dress various forms of undecidability in that each Fig suspends, deferring a final judgement even though local judgements are possible and may be expressed. Furthermore, inasmuch as each judgement is only ever ironic in its stance/dance step, no totalization of meaning for the totality/Lastword of [Ad]dressing Methodologies. Tracing the Self In Significant Slips: Shadow Dancing is possible. Thus the Figs of In-Between Slips both-or-[h]and embody and [ad]dress undecidability. That is a spacing must be produced, and it must be repeatable, the element's other, '[t]he noun différance suspends itself between two senses of différant - deferring, differing.. Moreover, the verb ending of -ance splits in and of itself yet again to remain undecided, between the active and passive’ (Derrida. 1982: 9). Thus différance 'recalls something like the middle voice' (Derrida. 1982: 9), thereby, in some part, echoing Barthes’s ‘third meaning’ (Barthes. 1977: 54).
Like signifiance, whether “Kristevan” or “Barthesian” , différance ‘governs nothing, reigns over nothing, nowhere exercises any authority (Derrida. 1982: 22). It is impossible: 'the trace beyond that which profoundly links fundamental ontology and phenomenology. Always differing and deferring, the trace is never as it is in the presentation of itself. It erases itself in presenting itself, muffles itself in resonating’ like the a writing itself, inscribing its pyramid ‘in différance’ (Derrida. 1982: 23). However, this is not the erasure of negativity, but one that ‘makes it disappear in its appearance’ (Derrida. 1982: 24), rather than negativity it puts ‘affirmation into play’, Nietzchean-like with ‘a certain laughter and a certain step of the dance’ (Derrida. 1982: 27). In other words, ‘erasure belongs to its structure’ (Derrida. 1982: 24).
However, différance is not unnameable because our language has not found/received this name; or because we are required to look in another language outside this system. Rather there is 'no name for it at all, […] not even that of "différance", which is not a name, which is not a pure nominal unity, and unceasingly dislocates itself in a chain of differing and deferring substitutions' (Derrida. 1982: 26). Any notion of “identity” then is always paradoxical, fraught with contradictions which render its unity ‘a certain experience of the impossible: that is, […] of the other’ (Derrida. 1989: 36). Derrida interests himself repeatedly with how the illusion of unity/univocity comes to be constructed showing how it is always already divided in and of itself, self and other. That said, I can now turn to look at how différance relates to écriture and to decision making.
Différance and écriture.
The act of writing, reading and thinking is ‘always in some sense a response’, to the other (Wolfreys. 1998: 5). The otherness of non-correspondence, of the manifestation of the other in the same, haunts identity and thereby splits it, bringing about a transformation between a certain act of looking or gazing and a certain event in writing. For instance, when interviewed by Henri Ronse, speaking as “reader-writer”, Derrida speaking as “writer-reader”, calls into question the ‘unity of the book’ gesturing towards anti-totalitarianism, shattering the sense of there being a single book that would exhaust its meanings. The identity of his book is now transformed between a particular act of looking/gazing and a particular event in writing. No longer a given unity, where there was one, now there are two, and so on in deferral.
Traditional concepts of unity, of origin, of beginnings, of middles, of endings, and of author[ity], of sources in fact, are all called into question. This lack of single authoritative meaning derived from an author’s intention opens the text up to interpretation and resonates with previous discussions pertaining to the writings of Kristeva and Barthes.
Thus one can choose to call the stakes differently and do something else. Consider instead, then, sources ‘set aside’, glimpsed ‘only on the bias’ as if in a foreshortened mirroring, an about-face almost (Derrida. 1982: 275). To avoid putting things into boxes – coffins (Derrida, 1987) - ‘[i]t is necessary to defer, to take one’s distance, to tarry; but also to rush in precipitately’ Derrida explains in an interview (Derrida. 2000: 533), speaking of the nature of decision-making, and of experiencing the undecidable. He carefully distinguishes between ‘undecidability’ and ‘indeterminacy’, arguing that the latter is a ‘negativity’ or ‘nothingness’ (Derrida. 1988: 149). However, that is not to say that undecidability is pure. Impure and always incomplete undecidability haunts decision making endlessly. ‘The moment in which the decision is made is heterogeneous to knowing’ – it thus remains forever an enigma (Derrida. 2001: 61). ‘Because the structure is undecidable, because there is no possibility of algorithmic closure, the decision cannot be ultimately grounded in anything external to itself’ (Laclau. 1996: 52). On this very point Derrida writes that ‘the undecidable is not merely the oscillation or the tension between two decisions, it is the experience of that which, though heterogeneous, foreign to the order of the calculable and the rule, is still obliged – it is of obligation that we must speak – to give itself up to the impossible decision, while taking account of law and rules. A decision that didn’t go through the ordeal of the undecidable would not be a free decision, it would only be the programmable application or unfolding of a calculable process’ (Derrida. 1992: 24) – an Intentional System à la algorithmic system in other words. In fact, Derrida’s articulation of this is succinct – ‘the moment of decision, as such, always remains a finite moment of urgency and precipitation, since it must be the consequence or the effect of this theoretical or historical moment, of this reflection or this deliberation, since it always marks the interruption of the juridico- or ethico- or politico-cognitive deliberation that precedes it, that must precede it. The instance of the decision is a madness, says Kierkegaard’ (Derrida. 1992: 26).
‘Effects’ of différance.
Already it is clear that Derrida’s notion of ‘text’ does not equate to any conventional one; texts are the ‘chains, the systems of traces emerging out of and constituted by differences’ (Derrida. 1976: 65). Lacking ‘a master-word’ ‘différance finds itself enmeshed in the work that pulls it through a chain of other “concepts” […] other textual configurations (Derrida. 1981: 40). Thus Derrida’s texts uncover chains of signifiers such as ‘deconstruction,’ ‘trace,’ ‘arche-writing,’ ‘text,’ ‘spacing,’ ‘supplement,’ ‘dissemination,’ ‘undecidability,’ ‘hymen,’ ‘pharmakon,’ ‘iterability’ and so on. Despite their surface appearances, these are not terms in the sense of something final, self-enclosing, teleological, rather they are what Derrida calls an open ‘chain of substitutions’ (Derrida. 1981: 14).
These chains/writing are constructed and articulated by both temporal and spatial deferment and by differentiation as will be discussed later in Addendum. ‘In the face of a textual energy that sets itself against congealment’, ‘Derrida’s vocabulary is forever on the move’ (Spivak. 1976: lxxi). Forever in a vocabulary on the move, and weaving in the movement of supplementarity of Derrida’s identity with the Saussure of differences without positive terms, for Derrida ‘[s]pacing designates nothing,’ but yet ‘of a movement, a displacement that indicates an irreducible alterity’ (Derrida. 1981: 81).
‘[F]eet on a tight-rope’ (Cixous. 1998: 57), well aware of running the risk of “mastering” ‘deconstruction’ and/or différance and/or spacing and others in the nonsynonomous chain of substitution Derrida suggests the ‘concept of spacing by itself thus cannot account for anything, any more than any other concept’ (Derrida. 1981: 81). Thus through the play of writing and of différance, Derrida’s dividing line splits and splits again; strands spin apart and then together, and weave in other threads; threads of other binaries such as presence/absence, inside/outside, same/other, us/them are called into question. ‘Forever unable to saturate a context, what reading will ever master the “on” of living on?’ (Derrida. 1979: 76-7). ‘This is not word play, not on your life’ (Derrida. 1979: 77). A choreography of presencing/absencing, of spell-binding spaces and lace-ings shadow dancing - splitting, spinning apart, spinning together, self-ing - enmeshes the telling spaces of Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips – ‘“I” hold life in my hands’, I write in Slipping into Beginnings: 38.
Derrida has thus disturbed what formerly seemed a simple opposition: same/other, known/unknown, inside/outside, us/them. The other is marked ours, it reflects us, but also calls us into question. And in that momentary instant there is just a chance that the other is heard fleetingly, before we lose it, assimilating it into thought-as-language. The other emerges from the play of other in the same. However, these are the stakes that shatter and rewrite our identities in challenging, non-traditional ways. A ‘circular memory’ (Barthes. 1976: 36) of a Kristevan inter-text surfaces immediately. Although we are still “same” and “self” as previously, suddenly, apparently same and self are uncertain, foreign and other, inaccessible to ourselves. How are we now positioned in relating to the other when, in fact, we discover we are foreign to ourselves?
Derrida suggests lending an ear and listening to the other such that one is taught/attempts ‘“to hear with [one’s] eyes” too’ (Derrida. 1982: xiii). Physiologically speaking, the tympanic membrane, that ‘figure of the oblique’, positioned between the outer and middle ear functions as both limit and passage for transmission of vibrations (Derrida. 1982: xiv). The fact that it is oblique significantly increases the surface area for drumming thereby facilitating the act of listening. The effect is to render one available-yet-vulnerable since the other’s drumming will resonate within us or fall on deaf ears.
Ultimately any binary opposition, irrespective of how ‘apparently rigorous and irreducible’ is seen as a ‘theoretical fiction’ (Derrida. 1982: 18). ‘At the point at which the concept of différance’ interrupts, ‘all the conceptual oppositions of metaphysics’ ‘become nonpertinent’ (Derrida. 1981: 29). A play between it is some “thing” that does not exist, (i.e., not a present-being), and of ‘every thing that it is not, that is everything’ (i.e., ‘it has neither existence nor essence’) choreographs the dance of différance in all its special effects (Derrida. 1982: 6). Effects that may be viewed as an impression of the magical, an illusion of the mystical in an invoking of self self-ing, no more, no less.
Habitually repetition is thought to be more of the same, but no longer is this tenable. Différance sets going an unsettling of sameness; and sameness becomes as an effect of the play of différance, which is not to say that repetition is unable to now make a difference. Repetition, in fact, signals an exit from identical to the same through ‘imperceptible difference’ (Derrida. 1978: 295). It announces 'the structure of the double mark: (caught - both seized and entangled - in a binary opposition': ‘one mark inside and the other outside the deconstructed system’ (Derrida. 1981: 4).
The former unified system, now equivocal, suggestive of hierarchical configurations, undergoing incessant struggle, gives rise to a double reading and a double writing, thus a-voiding any fencing-in dialectically constructed synthesis as “One”. Pirouetting, it ‘turns around the points of a ballerina, analyzes “the syntax of point [none] and step [not] [la syntaxe du point et du pas]’ to tell ‘how “each pair, in this circuit will always have referred to some other, signifying too the operation of signifying”’ (Derrida. 1987: 264).
‘Determination’ of différance.
I turn now to set différance working to illustrate its ‘determination’. Différance, neither word nor concept ‘is not, does not exist’ having ‘neither existence nor essence’ (Derrida. 1982: 6), being ‘neither simply active nor simply passive’ (Derrida. 1982: 12), ‘is no more an effect than it has a cause’ (Derrida. 1982: 12). Différance thus announces itself as ‘unthinkable’ (Derrida. 1982: 19), and ‘unnameable’ (Derrida. 1982: 26) since any words which could conceivably describe it already involve concepts such as being and presence, and these are the very concepts it seeks to undermine. ‘[A]rchi-themes’ (Culler. 1983: 212), that are not so much a structure of a theme, but rather pertain to a textual structure/process/ a structurality emerge parergonally. Thus a theme of supplementarity cannot itself be substituted because ‘it happens that this theme describes the chain itself, the being-chain of a textual chain, the structure of substitution’ (Derrida. 1976: 163; underlined in the original). Elevation to totalization is thus impossible – différance lacks a ‘master-word’ as previously discussed (Derrida. 1981: 40) being a middle but no halfway house (Llewelyn, 1986, Gasché, 1986).
Gasché (1986) refers to the chain of substitutions as an ‘infrastructure’ as well as to différance, supplement, arche-writing and so on. However, the term ‘infrastructure’ has connotations of ‘hierarchy [which] detract[s] from its pertinence’ (Hobson. 1998: 239n: 31). Gasché, himself, (1986, 1995) notes the difficulties that follow from his choice of term. Yet other words such as ‘quasi-transcendentals (Derrida, 1988, 1991, 1996; Gasché, 1986) and ‘lexemes’ (Hobson, 1998) also seem inappropriate. In Addendum, however, I am continuing to use the word ‘infrastructure’ keeping to its sense of ‘structurality of structure’ rather than its sense of ‘basic’ structure. Infrastructures are ‘instances of an intermediary discourse concerned with a middle in which the differends are suspended and preserved’ (Gasché. 1986: 151). This signifying structure, structure signifiante (Derrida. 1976: 158), knots together the discrepancies and differences in question toward their synthesizing infrastructure that is intrinsic to the text, whatever that might be. Thus there is ‘an interlacing, a weaving, or a web, which would allow the different threads and different lines of sense or force to separate again, as being ready to bind others together’ (Derrida. 1973: 132).
Infrastructurally, Derrida’s dividing lines then, divide, deferring, differentiating spatially and temporally. ‘To each his Other, which is his Same. Or the I is two: by definition’ (Derrida. 1982: 288). Deferring, differentiating, rather like an ekphrastic impulse, a rhythm drives Derrida’s thoughts, textual through and through, ‘the figure is never one. Not only is it the Other, but there is no unity or stability of the figural’, the ‘subject desists’ and ‘its only chance of ‘grasping itself’ lies in introducing itself and oscillating between figure and figure’ (Lacoue-Labarthe. 1998: 175), appearing/disappearing, hiding/revealing.
A textual system then is always already contaminated by the traces of other discourses and languages. Already the discourse resonates with previous discussion in this review of intertextuality and this resonance continues to build in strength. The system is one of difference rather than one of presence. Infrastructurally, différance makes possible not only binary opposition and the double but also determines oneness since ‘the subject is constituted only in being divided from itself’ (Derrida. 1981:29). For instance, let us take as our subject the present moment, which is neither present to itself, but related to a past or a future. For the present to be present to itself, an interval must separate present from itself dividing it in and of itself (Derrida, 1982). This interval of différance is the singular moment of presence; thus the supposedly singular is always already divided. The movement which produces seeming unity is the same movement as that effecting binary oppositions. Différance works repeatedly to count as the same. It also receives the double mark becoming différance of différance, the ‘trace of the trace’ (Derrida. 1982: 24).
Thus in order for a meaning to emerge there must be the movement of difference or rather différance within the linguistic system, as has been argued here. The presentation of self to self, and to others, is always that representation marked by the movement of difference. The truth or presence of the subject is not revealed at all. What comes to be revealed is the writing which marks and is traced in textuality, speech, the subject. The notions of presence, truth or meaning thus rely on structures of concealment and the concealing of their written structures.
At this point it can be recalled that Derrida draws on the Saussure of the linguistic system of differences, (Bennington, 2000; Baugh, 2003), rather than following the more traditional route of adopting the model of the Saussure of the sign. Derrida believes that no comprehensible communication is possible unless it can be repeated or cited: the graphic mark needs neither author/ audience: ‘by definition’ ‘a written signature implies the actual or empirical non-presence of the signer’ (Derrida. 1988: 20). Take the signature for instance. Despite being unique, my signature must be repeatable to function, to be readable. The signature functions in a way particular to all forms of writing (this functioning erases its singularity) and all acts of signification. Thus the act of citation, in and of iterability and alterity, which involves detaching an utterance from its context, is a characteristic of any sign and not an aberrant use of language. In other words, the act of citation is neither parasitic nor unusual but rather an explication, in the sense of explication de texte, that any text is inevitably quoting and quotable, a criss-crossing intersection. Echoes of Kristeva’s and Barthes’s emphases on the ‘intersection as crossroads’, of ‘crossovers’ and of ‘circulating memories’ as intertexts are evident here. This is also mirrored in the ‘fig’ of the chi/?, as figure, and what-is-more it is a ‘figure of the double gesture, its intersection’ that which ‘interests’ Derrida ‘a great deal’ (Derrida, 1981: 70). This site of transposition/ intertextuality raises issues of univocity/plurivocity, of sameness/difference and of presence/absence to name but three binaries that always already haunt Derrida’s writing, and whose contours are disturbed by reading from the margins, the textual scars, the blanks, the between [entre], glimpsed on the bias, about-face.
Such issues are critical in addressing the stakes for identity and otherness. Otherness is inaccessible – ‘an experience which would not be lived as my own’ is ‘impossible and unthinkable’ (Derrida. 1978: 131). To relate to it, to understand it, we are obliged to give it our form. Realising that we are hampered by the language of reason, which is all that we have with which to think and describe the opening towards the other, Derrida turns to follow in the footsteps after Levinas for notions of the other. ‘[E]very reduction of the other to a real moment of my life, its reduction to the state of empirical alter-ego, is an empirical possibility, or rather eventuality, which is called violence’ (Derrida. 1978: 128). The need therefore arises to ‘gain access to the meaning of the other on the basis of its “face”’, on the basis of ‘its appearing-for-me-as-what-it-is’ (Derrida. 1978: 128). The language of reason struggles indeed. ‘Incoherent’ ‘without systematically resigning ourselves to incoherence’ (Derrida. 1978: 84) the ‘questions of language’ (Derrida. 1978: 109) close down our thinking to an other of present that is ‘impossible-unthinkable-unstatable’ (Derrida. 1978: 132). Experiencing the other lies somewhere between language and silence. Thus meaning-slippage is not just that words are unstable and open to ambiguities, but rather that the fixing of a meaning is at this point impossible and any attempt to make it stick is a violence. The dilemma, then revolves around language which tends to explain the other in terms of sameness and silence. Such sameness, however, perpetrates a violence towards the other, whilst the silence, that nonrelation, does little other than suppress alterity. If one is limited by language and limited by silence what remains?
Derrida recommends examining possible courses of action from within. He argues for receptivity rather than an attempt to achieve a balance between activity and passivity. Receptivity requires opening our thoughts to as yet unformulated questions. Rather than explaining away the other one could perhaps allow one’s vulnerability to emerge aiming for reciprocity. Close to breaking outside the questioning circling around the philosophy of otherness as we are ‘can make us tremble’ (Derrida. 1978: 82) because here we are ‘designating a space or hollow within naked experience’ where what is beyond traditional philosophical concepts ‘must resonate’ (Derrida. 1978: 83). Of course this is alterity without the presence of the other, the other as traces – or almost - left in the form of echoes. Vibrations of the other resonate within sameness in such reciprocity, transmitted from one space or body to another. These sympathetic vibrations reproduce otherness, doubling it. This re-calls the drumming of the tympanum, ‘if only’ the reading of it above in Addendum has not fallen on deaf ears.
Meaning and value are therefore never intrinsic or imminent in the written sign; they only become possible by the chance of their representation in ways that allow a glimmer of the other. Inscription precedes meaning (Wolfreys, 1998). That is to say that thoughts, ideas and concepts are all impure, haunted, contaminated and infected. ‘Il n’y a pas de hors-texte’ (Derrida. 1976: 158). Or rather ‘there is no outside-the-text’ or ‘nothing outside context’ (Derrida. 1988: 136) or even ‘there are only contexts without centre or absolute meaning’ (Derrida. 1988: 32). Meaning appears as an effect of text relating to text without reference to an external real unlike mimesis. Thus all readings are circumstantial for Derrida (de Nooy, 1998; Bennington, 2000). Identities of ‘we’, of ‘text’ and of ‘Derrida’ are constructed for ourselves and others through the structures of rhetoric that we use (Wolfreys, 1998). Each can and is only constructed out of, or contaminated by, groups of other thoughts, ideas and concepts. No idea exists which is not textual through and through. It is this very textuality that enables the deconstructive strategy of disturbing the assumptions of binaries, such as presence/absence, identity/sameness and univocity/plurivocity and so forth, upon which Reason is founded and thus allows the glimpse of Otherness.
In particular, glimpsed on the bias, boundaries between reading/writing we saw previously are not at all clear and that is still the case. That which I name ‘my discourse’ is being read by you, this places ‘me’ in the position of the other. ‘I’ is placed in a position I do not know. My identity is thereby doubled already, anticipated and performed in the act of writing which always acknowledges my absence, my otherness, and my eventual disappearance, a disappearance named by Barthes as the death of the Author. In acknowledging such a structural relationship it dismantles notions of unity and presence through the possibility of repetition, which itself is the figure of structure and articulation. This repetition opens the space for translation and interpretation.
‘Writing is read; it is not the site in the “last instance” of […] the decoding of a meaning or truth’ (Derrida. 1988: 21). Which is not to say, one can interpret the text in any way one wishes. ‘Undecidability’ is distinct from ‘indeterminancy’. The text then is not open to a ‘notion of “freeplay”’ which Derrida maintains is ‘an inadequate translation of the lexical network connected to the word jeu’ (Derrida. 1988: 115-6).
In other words, writing troubles the search for origins since it is already at a double remove from whatever is being signified. Derrida comments ‘writing is the supplement par excellence since it marks the point where the supplement proposes itself as supplement of supplement, sign of sign’ (Derrida. 1976: 281). Thus écriture as put into play by Derrida is radically open, i.e., antitotalitarian and anti-closure. Its radical stakes are that it conceives of play as preceding opposition of making it possible, as effect announcing ‘the unity of chance and necessity’ (Derrida. 1982: 7).
Any strategy ‘without finality’ ‘grounded’ in the concept of play which announces ‘the unity of chance and necessity in calculations without end’ cannot be other than adventurous, and thus a highly risky endeavour (Derrida. 1982: 7). 'In the delineation of différance everything is strategic and adventurous'; it is play - in other words (Derrida. 1982: 7). I turn now to a closer deconstructive look at the play of ‘a’ and ‘e’ in différance in order to further explore the ways in which meaning-slips occur.
Of two: of a and e before they are two.
Take ‘the graphic difference (a instead of e), this marked difference between two apparently vocal notations, between vowels, [it] remains purely graphic: it is read, or it is written, but it cannot be heard' (Derrida. 1982: 3). Not heard in speech it also 'bypasses the order of apprehension in general' (Derrida. 1982: 4). '[M]ute mark, tacit monument’, the a of différance is not heard, it 'remains silent, secret and discreet as a tomb' (Derrida. 1982: 4). Thus, unheard, it cannot be made to resonate in speech, but haunts it parergonally.
‘The difference marked in the "diff( )nce" between the e and the a eludes both vision and hearing' and perhaps we therefore refer to 'an order which no longer belongs to sensibility' (Derrida. 1982: 5). Interestingly, of course, one of the founding oppositions of philosophy is between the sensible and the intelligible opposed here in the movement of différance. This movement of différance belongs neither to the voice nor to the writing in the usual sense but between speech and writing. Derrida announces his difficulty. How can he speak of the a of différance since 'it cannot be exposed' (Derrida. 1982: 5). One can only expose that which becomes present at a certain moment. This is the difficulty of the thesis, it is trying to speak of that which cannot be announced as such. Thus ‘[o]ne of the main challenges’ of this work ‘is to find the way of thinking about differences without falling back into the oppositional pattern that it attempts to address’ (Dunkelsbuhler. 2002: 56). Thus, like Dunkelsbuhler, I ‘attempt to say what actually (“properly”) cannot be said’, ‘that is, precisely, what can be said non-properly’, ‘but only by means of and with resistance’ (Dunkelsbuhler. 2002: 57).
Hence the limit of between barely exists, does ‘not even give time to think its time’ (Derrida. 1986: 220). ‘No act, then is perpetrated’ – or almost. ‘[W]hat takes place is only the between [entre], the place, the spacing, which is nothing’, diaphanous and yet membranous-like, pertaining to the virginal and yet of the marriage bed, the hymen (Derrida. 1981: 214). Neither place nor moment, a hovering, a fleeting, a gasp, it takes up the impossible space of contradiction traceable only through its effects: it is both perceptible and imperceptible, both hymen and entre.
Indeterminate, no, undecidable, yes, - ah, if only it were possible to dot the “i’s”. Un-dotted however, ‘the ‘i’ continually pricks and rips through – or almost – the veil, reaches a decision – or almost – about the text’ (Derrida. 1981: 237). Similarly, the dancer’s pointed toe in the pirouette is always poised almost ‘piercing with a sign, with a sharp bit of nothing, the page of a book or the virginal intimacy of the vellum’ (Derrida. 1981: 240). Twirling and swirling, ‘the cipher moves away from its “here and now,” as if it were endlessly falling’, from one intertext to another, ‘moving about as silhouettes’, ‘sketches forever presented askew’ (Derrida. 1981: 241).
There is that ‘[g]lance of the figure, figure of the glance, [as] the source is always divided, carried away outside itself’, no longer belonging to itself (Derrida. 1982: 285). Derrida’s writing thus responds to the other by offering a transformative paraphrase and/or transformed citation, where Derrida’s writing gives way to a tracing of the other’s text, and the other of the text being written as trace of the other – where the reader is critical.
The reader, any reader, takes on a new identity to that of a traditional reader. So whilst ‘Derrida is first and foremost a reader, [he is] a reader who constantly reflects on and transforms the very nature of the act of reading’, (Johnson. 1981: x). Derrida, himself, speaks of this matter in an interview with Henri Ronse, explaining, ‘that above all it is necessary to read and reread those in whose wake I write’ (Derrida. 1981: 4). Thus any reading involves other readings, the ‘ground’ of reading is always already intertextual, trans-positioning a reader as writer when reading.
Whether writer-reader and/or reader-writer, one reads by opening oneself to the desire of language. In so doing one searches ‘for that which remains absent and other than oneself’ (Derrida. 1984: 126). Furthermore, in ‘every reading there is a corps-à-corps between reader and text, an incorporation of the reader’s desire into the text’ (Derrida. 1984: 126). Think of the other of writing. Think of the other of reading. Think of two ways at once or think [the two] before they become two. This becomes the space of ‘writer-reader/ reader-writer’. This is the space of Derrida’s catachreses which Llewelyn (1986) suggests are to be located on the threshold of sense.
I place now in a catachretical relationship Derrida and Riffaterre, and the latter’s notion of intertextuality, before discussing some criteria for writing/reading and thereafter finally concluding Addendum. A passing reference to his notion of the matrix has already frequently punctuated the review. In one sense Riffaterre is more of a conventional reader, and yet, in another sense, he opens up new parerga that when read with, beside and against the works of the others provides further exploratory resources for reading/writing in general, and, in particular, for Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips.
For Riffaterre there is one stable singular meaning whereas for Derrida there is deferral and différance. Hence reading them with, beside and against is a kind of catachresis, where the very process by which Riffaterre seeks a stable reading, unpacks what is at stake for a reading following Derrida that is both intertextual and open, and is thus extremely useful in identifying the textual stakes in relation to intertextuality and meaning-slippages.Intertextuality after Riffaterre.
Riffaterre’s work is grounded in the belief that a stable and accurate account of textual meaning and intertextual relations is possible. Hence he believes that literary texts are not mimetic [i.e., literal] but rather that their meaning is grounded in the semiotic structures that link up their syntax, key images, themes and rhetorical devices. The reading goes through two stages. The first is the heuristic reading on a mimetic level that relates signs to external referents and tends towards the linear. The second is a retroactive reading which is the truly hermeneutic reading which attempts to uncover the underlying semiotic units and structures which produce the text’s non-referential significance. Thus in the second stage the reader is able ‘to surmount the mimesis hurdle’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 5-6) as ‘the semiosis triumphs completely over mimesis’ in a poetic reading rather than a literal one (1978: 10). In other words, texts and signs refer to other texts and signs; they do not refer to the world or even to concepts. The words in a text signify by pre-supposing other texts, which is to say, each word, or indeed element of a text, is an intertext.
Riffaterre insists on intertextuality and on the texts self-sufficient uniqueness and grounds this insistence in a theory of reading and of textuality. For him there is a right and proper reading. But, as seen above, a sort of puzzle awaits the reader. It is this production of the puzzle that provides an interesting dimension to the question of intertextuality, and also to the notion of fixing meaning. The puzzle disturbs, and, in this sense, it relates to Derrida’s play at disturbing and surprising – but only up to a point. Riffaterre posits a resolution point of fixed meaning, Derrida posits différance and undecidability.
The puzzle is produced by semantic indirection which resides within the Riffaterrean text, produced ‘by displacing, distorting, or creating meaning’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 2). In other words, they all menace the literal meaning, the representation of reality, mimesis in fact . They appear, for instance, like ‘a series of inappropriate, twisted wordings’ so that the text may be regarded as ‘a generalized, all-encompassing, all contaminating catachresis’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 21). These “ungrammaticalities” force the reader to take a step [pas] from a mimetic to semiotic [poetic] interpretation of the text. Moreover catachresis and ‘overdetermination’ go hand in hand (Riffaterre. 1978: 21); the reader is literally facing a maze of meaning-slips on several system levels, such as phonetic, semantic, tropic, psychoanalytic and so on. Thus, however strange the text appears to be, ‘its deviant phraseology’ holds the reader’s attention, not gratuitously but rather motivationally’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 21).
The reader, as modelled after Riffaterre’s concept of what it means to read a poetic text, senses ‘empirically’ that the overall significance is less dependant on referentiality and more dependant on the ‘ relation between form and content, or even a subordination of content to form’ (Riffaterre. 1990: 56). This empirical sense is not related to, nor explained by linguistic structures, nor by ‘tropology, rhetoric or any corpus of conventional forms whose objects are already found at sentence level’ (Riffaterre. 1990: 56). Understanding must be ‘sought at the level where texts combine or signify by referring to other texts rather than to lesser sign systems’ (Riffaterre. 1990: 56). When read referentially these aspects of the text appear contradictory, gaps open up but resolve when the text is reread from the perspective of its underlying structure – the intertext. Hence intertext as ‘form’ appears to have the upper hand over ‘content’ in that it is the form that allows or brings together alternative contents.
Alerted to the existence of a hidden, latent intertext[s] the reader realises s/he needs to actively uncover its secrets by carefully teasing out the clues residing in the textuality of the work in order that the gaps can be filled and references made to an as yet unknown referent. Riffaterre holds to the view that ‘only specific, specialised signs can at once stand for the intertext, point to its locus, and uncover its identity’ (Riffaterre. 1990: 58). These ‘signposts’ or ‘indices’ have a dual nature, a locus which is not one is the phraseology I use frequently in Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips to refer to this notion of two indissolubly two. They are both the problem when seen from the text, and yet also the solution to that problem when their other intertextually poetic face is revealed. These Riffaterrean[-like] ‘signposts’ cannot be simply opposed as prosthetic surrogates but rather they are strangely of the essence of that which is being signposted. Thus, for these signposts it is misleading to separate form and content into an either/or.
The signposts/indices belong equivocally in text and poetic intertext linking the two, and signal in each the presence of their mutually complementary traits. Riffaterre calls them ‘connectives’ (Riffaterre. 1990: 58), and as will be seen from the proceeding discussion they seem to bear some affinity parergonally and figurally with my ‘both-or-[h]and’ structurality and to what Gasché calls Derrida’s infrastructures. The connectives actually combine the sign systems of text and intertext into new semiotic clusters, ‘imag[in]ings’ I call them, and thus the text is freed from its dependency on usage and existing conventions, whilst its descriptive and narrative devices are subordinated to a signifying strategy unique to the text. This places an emphasis upon strategies of reading. Riffaterre, himself ‘a superb close reader of texts’ is concerned with what it is to read and with what it is to produce a text (Allen. 2000: 120).
In order to solve the puzzles of the texts the reader must recognize the ungrammaticalities and set them going with, beside and against what Riffaterre calls the ‘matrix’, which is a word or phrase or sentence unit not necessarily to be found within the text but which nonetheless represents the kernal upon which the text’s semiotic system is based. The ‘matrix is hypothetical’ and it is ‘always actualized in successive variants’ known as ‘the model’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 19). To explain this Riffaterre chooses to use an example ‘of limited relevance to poetry’ because its mechanics best facilitate preliminary definitions (Riffaterre. 1978: 20). The example in question is an echoing sequence from a Latin verse by the seventeenth century Jesuit, Athanasius Kircher:
Tibi vero gratias agam quo clamore? Amore more ore re.
How shall I cry out my thanks to Thee? [the question being addressed to the Almighty, who replies] with thy love, thy wont, thy words, thy deeds.
Riffaterre. 1978: 20
As can be seen, ‘[e]ach word in the answer accords with the model provided by the preceding word’ such that ‘every component is repeated several times over’ – ‘the question clamore’ serves as a model for ‘the reply amore’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 20). Moreover, ‘amore’ serves as a model for the entire sequence’, being ‘the seed of the text’, summarizing it in advance (Riffaterre. 1978: 20).
Thanksgiving, Riffaterre says, is the matrix here. It presupposes a divinity as benefactor, a believer as beneficiary, and the gratitude of the latter to the former. The model is of the literary genre of an outcry, a spontaneous outburst, both of which suggest sincerity and open-heartedness in a moralistic text, and point particularly to meditations and essays on prayer. ‘The model generates the text by formal derivation affecting both syntax and morphology: every word of the text is in the same case, the ablative; every word of it is contained in the first variant of the model (clamore)’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 20). Both matrix and model are necessary to effect textual derivation mediated by the special language ‘expressed in love code’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 21).
Matrix and model together go a long way towards explaining textual derivation. The greater the ‘indirection’ [my indirectedness further includes a sense of deferral] the harder it is to lead the reader step by step through the ‘distortion’ [my distortion/ contortion but without the sense of there being a final non-contorted state] away from mimesis, thus ‘the longer the detour must be and the more developed the text’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 19) [my indirectedness involves long de-tours such that the text is developed to enable dance steps to become familiar, while ensuring that no final resting place exists]. However, this is not the same as saying the text is ambiguous.
Riffaterre resists traditional concepts of “ambiguity”, preferring to substitute alternative figures and explanatory concepts to emphasize the move from initial ambiguity or ungrammaticality on a mimetic level to final decidability on a semiotic level. Not ‘ambiguity’ rather the rhetorical term ‘syllepsis’, ‘ a word that has two mutually incompatible meanings’, one specific to this particular context in which it is being read, and the other ‘valid’ only in the intertext to which the word also belongs’ (Riffaterre. 1990: 71). Syllepsis as a connective ‘is therefore empty’ and thus ‘vastly more powerful than a metaphor’ (Riffaterre. 1990: 71).
The text ‘functions something like a neurosis: as the matrix is repressed, the displacement produces variants all through the text, just as symptoms break out somewhere else in the body’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 19). An instability, an unpredictable patterning are all symptomatic of a deferral of meaning through ‘the detour the text makes as it runs the gauntlet of mimesis, moving from representation to representation ‘with the aim of exhausting the paradigm of all possible variations on the matrix’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 19). A temporary instability is thus produced until recovery of the one singular reading is accomplished.
Two different semiotic operations are distinguished. Firstly mimetic signs are transformed into words and phrases relevant to significance, and, secondly, the matrix is transformed to text. Another link in Riffaterre’s concept of intertextuality comes into play here, namely, the hypogram which poeticizes through hypogrammatic derivations of a pre-existent word group. It comprises reference and inter-relations with other texts outside of the text itself. This may include translation across language and discourses: professional, academic, personal, ethical, and so on, to find a text that resolves a contradiction. The hypogram is closely linked to the text’s matrix being a variant of it – its function no mere ‘stylistically marked lexeme or syntagm’, but rather that of a poetic sign (Riffaterre. 1978: 23). This patterning effect upon a pre-existent word group emphasises form. It is ‘formed out of a word’s semes and/or its presuppositions’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 25). ‘The actualization brings about the effect of saturating the derivative verbal sequence with that meaning’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 26).
Saturation, for instance, can transform a matrix and its supporting cast into ‘a sentence that is about the word, and is made entirely out of the stuff of the word’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 25). Like the stuff of life ‘in poetic discourse, the abstract geometry of meaning is fleshed out, so to speak, with figurative words’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 36). However it is achieved, the activation is a sort of shift, a transformation in fact, remarkable and rather like Lacoue-Labarthes’s reference to the oscillation between figure and figure in an attempt at ‘grasping itself’ (Lacoue-Labarthe. 1998: 175) [see my notion of self-ing in Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips]. Thus saturation and over-determination in a space of undecidability, all hint at the vivid-ness of dreams and return us to Kristeva’s intertext of Freud’s Dream-work, and the logic of her poetic analysis, as well as to the importance of SlanTr, that is the ‘wandering’ translation to “intertextuality” and “meaning-slips”, as has already been discussed.
The ‘stability of intertexts, and the reader’s ability to compensate for their losses, should not lead us to assume that intertexts are just themes and motifs’ but ‘by contrast, intertextuality exists only when two texts interact’ and ‘there cannot be an intertext without our awareness of it’ (Riffaterre. 1990: 75). Our awareness, as discussed above, comes from the lure of the syllepsis or the opaqueness of a substitution. ‘The question arises as to whether intertextuality ceases to work if the reader is unfamiliar with the intertexts involved’ (Riffaterre. 1990: 73).
In [Ad]dressing Methodologies. Tracing the Self In Significant Slips: Shadow Dancing syllepsis is employed not to create a hidden text that can finally be resolved, but rather as a trope of undecidability. Without a final stable matrix-model-hypogram acting as a key to the secret, the stakes for the reader/writer is continually to run the gauntlet of undecidability in order to make a decision (Derrida, 1992), as well as the Riffaterrean gauntlet of mimesis (Riffaterre, 1978). Summary and Implications.
Riffaterre’s work, both about his understanding of intertextuality and the performance of that intertextuality, straddles structuralism, post-structuralism, semiotics, psychoanalytic theories of literature and various other theories of reading. The onus is upon the reader to ‘perceive (but not necessarily to describe) the interplay, both relatedness and conflict’ between the literal and the figurative (Riffaterre. 1978: 124). From this perspective Riffaterre is close to Barthes’s notion of ‘scriptor’ and in fact he actually positions himself there, (Riffaterre. 1978: 124).
However, reading Riffaterre with, beside and against Kristeva, Barthes and Derrida poses a final critical question and dilemma or perhaps aporia. If one accepts such views as ‘death of the Author’ and the anti-totalitarian strategies of the post-structuralists, are Riffaterre’s notions of a single final reading intended by the author to be rejected? Or is there a reading where the views can be reconciled?
This question, with its oppositional stance, is similar to the issues raised by Derrida’s deconstructive strategies deployed in relation to ‘traditional’ philosophy and metaphysics, which rest upon key binaries such as presence/ absence, sameness/difference, inside/outside.
Derrida is at pains not simply to annul such oppositions, rather he seeks the conditions of their possibility, a ground of sorts, but not a ground in the conventional philosophical sense (Gasché. 1986: 154-163), thus
… one could reconsider all the pairs of opposites on which philosophy is constructed and on which our discourse lives, not in order to see opposition erase itself but to see what indicates that each of the terms must appear as the différance of the other, as the other different and deferred in the economy of the same (the intelligible as differing-deferring the sensible, as the sensible different and deferred; the concept as different and deferred, differing-deferring intuition; culture as nature different and deferred, differing-deferring …
Derrida. 1982: 17
After Derrida, the Riffaterrean matrix as a source of resolution is thus infinitely deferred. The focus is thus on différance and its ‘eternal return’ (Derrida. 1982: 17). Another way of saying this is that each of the key authors are read with, beside and against the other in order to generate the resource, the infrastructure as Gasché calls it, by which a reading/writing takes place. It is thus the condition of possibility for a reading like that proposed by Riffaterre as well as reading strategies different from Riffaterre’s. Furthermore, it is within this infrastructural chain of differences and deferrals, of what in Addendum is called – as in a chain of subsititutions [see Endnote 102] - the matrix/parergonal/ figural, that I propose to locate the ‘criteria’ by which a reading/writing can be “evaluated” and “assessed”. However, firstly, a brief comment on Barthes’s notion of criticism acts as a prelude.‘Criteria’ for writing/reading to emerge.
In 1964 Barthes published Essais critiques which, in part, devoted itself to trying to explore a notion of criticism, which is to say how one critiques a work. This provides a starting point for thinking about the criteria, if indeed these are possible, appropriate to the kind of writing/reading approach that has been implicit in this Addendum. Barthes distinguishes between interpretative (new) criticism and traditional/ university criticism. His translator writes, ‘[u]niversity criticism, says Barthes, seeks to establish the facts surrounding the work but does not establish an interpretative framework for the work itself; it is based on an outdated positivist psychology of character; and it derives its explanation of the word from the (false) postulate of analogy – which always seeks to explain the work by reference to an ‘elsewhere’ of literature (another work, a historical circumstance, a passion experienced by the author)’ (Keuneman. 1987: 15-6). Barthes himself writes ‘[s]o long as criticism had the traditional function of judging, it could not but be conformist, that is to say in conformity with the interests of the judges’ (Barthes. 1987: 33). Traditionally, “evaluation” and “assessment” are all irreducibly tied to a binary of success/failure embedded within the prevailing Western Metaphysics views concerning “identity” and “truth value”. However, following after Kristeva, Barthes, Derrida and others, in the knowledge that the Author is dead, the criteria of writing/reading will not be based on traditional authorial intentions, life-history and so on, as the stakes have changed dramatically. It is within this context of a non-traditional reading that the sense of ‘criteria’ will be read/written. Thus these non-traditional ‘criteria’ follow the logic of what Gasché describes as infrastructures or quasi-transcendentals. As such they knot or [k]not together functions whose effects can be noted in a text. Following the logic of différance a ‘criterion’ as criterion is itself undecidable since it is marked by the trace of its other. The other – as text – is also marked by its other[s], the criteria. Hence it follows that ‘criteria’ based reading/ writing runs the gauntlet of undecidability in each of its reading/writing decisions. This is the condition of its repeatability or ‘generalisation’ as criterion.
In listing below such criteria I also briefly indicate how each one relates to the experiment in writing. Under traditional approaches the list would typically aspire to be exhaustive with each criterion absolutely distinct from the others. Addendum, however, argues for an anti-thetical positionality and thus the list cannot be exhaustive, nor can it be hierarchical, (and this applies to both the list itself and to the ways in which the list is related to the experiment in writing). The list is constructed to call attention to a range of aspects or features and functions of infrastructures discussed in the preceding sections.
The last ‘criterion’ leads to the problematic that there is no language, no text, no discourse that is fully ‘external’ to Western Metaphysics that can ‘successfully’ avoid being drawn back into its totalitarian binaries.
This circle is unique. It describes the form of the relation between the history of metaphysics and the destruction of the history of metaphysics. There is no sense in doing without the concepts of metaphysics in order to shake metaphysics. We have no language – no syntax and no lexicon – which is foreign to this history …
Derrida. 1978: 280
Thus, since writing is always within the circle, there is no single final external point from which a proclamation of ‘success’ or ‘failure’ can be made. A decision of ‘success’ thus cannot be based on a Truth value calculus, or upon some simple empirical judgement of correspondence beweeen a representation and a referent but is an ethical one in a Derrida sense of taking on an infinite responsibility, and a political one in a Laclau sense of the privileging of a vested interest. In other words, there is a double bind.
If ‘success’ is to be defined as exhibiting the above emergent criteria, then it is arguable that the experiment in writing has been successful. However, any value judgement, such as ‘successful’, is a totalitarian move, and thus anti-thetical to my practices of writing/reading (unless stated ironically, of course, and Addendum is not the context for that particular ploy). Thus one is reduced to referring ‘to the empirical endeavor of either a subject or a finite richness which it can never master’ (Derrida. 1978: 289). But if ‘a concept of finitude’ is no longer relegated to ‘the empirical’ but ‘determined’ ‘from the standpoint of the concept of play’ (Derrida. 1978: 289), then
… totalization no longer has any meaning, [it is] not because the infiniteness of a field cannot be covered by a finite glance or a finite discourse, but because the nature of the field – that is, language and a finite language – excludes totalization. This field is in effect that of play, that is to say, a field of infinite substitutions only because it is finite, that is to say, because instead of being an inexhaustible field, as in the classical hypothesis, instead of being too large, there is something missing from it: a center which arrests and grounds the play of substitutions ...
Derrida. 1978: 289
A corollary is thus required. The experiment in writing is not so much an experiment in writing with a single clear and distinct object, nor is it ‘ended’ in the sense of ‘closed’ in some necessary way. Therefore, there is no centre to the thesis. This point is indicated when, in Sortie, I ‘conclude’ with the words ‘[b]ut one thing is certain it is time to let go’, having immediately beforehand pointed to a ‘fluid fluency going beyond its instance in time and space resonating to “if only’s”’. Not only that but I “conclude” Fig 3 with ‘[d]ance on’; I “complete” Fig 2 with ‘[s]uggestively in sinuating [that] shadow dancing dreams on’ and I “finalise” Fig 1 by writing about the ‘if only’ of becoming ‘transfigured’. That is to say, the experiment in writing proclaims its articulatory subject position as opening up a space of future experimental readings and writings inasmuch as ‘a meaning is always what it will have become through the reader inter-acting with the text’ (Covers – in the de-signer space: xvii).
Intertextuality, as we have seen, unsettles by de-totalizing and de-unifying. It is a violence. It decentres and problematizes notions of identity by moving boundaries. Whilst it still “frames”, it does so in a most perturbing manner. It still creates margins/verges/edges/frayings but in unpredictable ways that constantly surprise. Has it, in fact, rendered traditional criticism a thing of the past? Barthes thinks so. Certainly notions of Authorship, of origin, of unity and of identity, and of traditional critique are all challenged and unsettled. Hence the examples of ‘criteria’ for writing/ reading that emerged from Addendum as outlined in the preceding section. These explored the basis for ‘assessing’ the ‘success’ of the experiment in writing.
Such criteria for ‘judgement’ then open up a space for a reading/writing to the effect that there exists a horizon of potential readings that transcends mimesis/literality but only if the text itself opens up in-between spaces that thus provide a set of indefinite positions in a matrix where readers can jostle for making a reading and an ‘assessment’ theirs as against the readings and ‘assessments’ of others. The telling space of the experiment in writing is the place where these potential meanings emerge as speaking subjects or as face to face positions. It is the space where what counts as a successful ‘reading/writing’ can be contested.
In short, any given reading/writing is ‘an interplay between the reader’s claim to read and the text’s claim to mastery over that reading’ (Melville. 1986: 66). Nevetheless, the act of reading inevitably results in fixing meaning for the moment that the act occurs at that point a claim for its ‘success’ or its failure may be made by a given reader/writer.
There are many ways of generating readings – reviewing issues of performativity after Butler (1997); applying a greater focus upon the divided subject by adopting and adapting the multiplicity of Lacanian informed readings as exemplified for example by someone like Zizek (2004); exploring hegemonic structures in line with Laclau (1987). But these only scratch the surface of the ever expanding library of possibilities.
Different ways of seeing and of writing/reading fall out of this. Thus different ways of judging success and making judgements as to its success will be made. For myself I consider this issue of undecidability, alongside the provoking of alternative readings, is itself what constitutes the success of the experiment in writing, but I write this with, beside and against, knowing of ‘an oblique and perilous movement’, of the constant risk of ‘falling back within what is being deconstructed’, yet knowing that deconstruction may ‘designate the crevice through which the yet unnameable glimmer beyond the closure can be glimpsed’ (Derrida. 1976: 14).
Glimmer or no, the reader/writer is that impossible but necessary combination of interiority and exteriority. There is something narcissistic about the act of reading, something be-witching. Rather like watching a film where the eye perceives a continuum but is in point of fact actually ‘seeing’ a set of still frames/point capiton whilst the brain over-rides the gaps between the frames suturing it in hymen-like fashion to give a continuity without visible or noticeable scar tissue.
1 Throughout Addendum, I am using the words ‘with, beside and against’ following the logic of the par-ergon where an against and a beside exist alongside each other plus collapse into one another and this constitutes what the Greeks would have called ‘a symptom’- [to fall together] (Dunkelsbuhler. 2002: 42); whilst ‘that which must effect a friction, the zone – or limit – between two fronts […] between “alongside” and “against,” is termed par(a) in Greek – as paralogos of logos itself. Symptomatic itself, let alone the ergon that follows the prefix par-’ (Dunkelsbuhler. 2002: 42). The Figs, In-Between Slips and Covers – in the de-signer space, each alone and together, enmesh the logic of the parergon.
2 Derrida writes: ‘[a]nd cannot one say of the preface [Addendum: my addition] – which also remains outside the work [hors d’oeuvre], at the edge of the work [au bord de l’oeuvre], simultaneously exergue and parergon – what one says of translation?’ (Derrida. 2002: 32). Any ‘outwork’ – introduction, post-script, review and so on – poses the threat as Bill Readings writes of being ‘descriptive rather than performative’ in that their function to introduce ‘may cover over the particularity of their subject-matter by offering a far too easily accessible representation of it’ (Readings. 1991: xvii). A hauntology is thus at work in prefaces, introductions, outworks and so on as Addendum will illustrate.
3 Addendum as Lastword risks unifying Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips. Two aspects require consideration here: a) the parergon; and b) Lacan’s notion of the Master signifier. Aspect a) the parergon works paradoxically: ‘[t]he logic of this framing structure creates “a unity” of a system as an identity – what I will call here the institutionalizing framework. In effecting this work, it becomes “marginal,” “borderline,” “hors d’oeuvre,” “foreign,” “frame”. The paradox does not consist in the fact that the “other is used as “unessential,” “secondary,” and so forth although it essentially participates in the constitution of the self. Instead, this logic is paradoxical in that the “other” obtains the status of a foreign body and is excluded precisely because it constitutes the identity of the self’ (Dunkelsbuhler. 2002: 46). A logic exists whereby 1 = identity and 0 or 2 = difference. Literally speaking then, it occupies ‘something like a “para-site,” a site as what is alongside a site, but also – parallel to the prefix of para-dox – against’ (Dunkelsbuhler. 2002: 68). However, this situated in-between[~ness – see experiment in writing] cannot but be double-sided. The double-sidedness arises as it gives something a place by enframing it. Its effects are the setting of limits but also the lifting of the limits off their hinges, i.e., the set of setting is undone – or rather the ‘seize’ of the experiment in writing is undone becoming ‘svelte’ to use the words of Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips as Kristevan-like minimal textual units [see details later in Addendum]. Not properly a part of, yet creating a dependency through enclosing and thus bestowing identity, in a sense, it intervenes/interrupts/ interpellates/interlaces, functioning as a supplement for a certain lack/deficiency. In making the enframed nameable and conceptulizable and thereby granting identity, parergon supplements a lack without itself possessing a proper place, and it does this, not by replacing the lack but rather initially reconstituting it. The paregon, however, provides one of a number of methodological resources for the experimental creative poesis of the thesis. Aspect b): in Lacan’s terminology ‘word’ of Lastword is rendered as the Master signifier, naming and delimiting a territory. And, in so doing, the danger is that it stabilises, totalizes and hence violates what went before by its last-blow creating an ‘event’, drawing together the aporetic spaces in and of Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips under the ‘event-as-thesis’.
4 Écriture refers to Derrida’s double concept of writing – actual writing in the form of marks, script, of texts and material symbols; yet also the notion that the existence of texts, scripts and marks can only come about through the possibility of more general writing whereby we are able to think or imagine other systems, other languages, other contexts because we hold the concept that writing is not reducible to this or to that instance of writing.
5 Lyotard comments on écriture: ‘[i]t must be seen that the arche-writing invoked […] is not a writing in the strict sense, the inscription of arbitrary signs on a neutral space, but is on the contrary the constitution of a thick space, where the play of hiding/revealing may take place. Difference is not opposition, the former constitutes the opacity which opens the order of reference, the latter supports the system of invariances at the level of the signified’ (Lyotard. 1971: 75 as cited in Readings. 1991: 6 [no English translation of Lyotard’s Discours, figure in its entirety is available]). The ‘Figs’ of In-Between Slips, for instance, constitute such a thick space – not so much of the n-dimensional but rather of the disturbing-dimensional – an in-between~ness/telling space of the parergon/figural.
6 The imperceptible in the experiment in writing pertains to the secret of mystique and to a milieu of indirectedness of illusion, allusion and the magical and it takes the form of a parergon-like/matrix-like/figural-like structurality following in the trace of Gasché’s ‘infrastructures’ [see Addendum: 61; Endnote 102]. It gestures towards traces of Merleau-Ponty’s notion of the invisible and the visible, and opens up spacings between philosophical notions of intuition and touching (Derrida, 2001). The most obvious example is the calligraphy in the right-hand margin, employed to keep the Master signifier at bay by readily assuming an expressive and indicative [my evocative] stance, in that it does ‘not mean’ (Rodowick. 2001: 8) since it privileges the ‘level of expression’, entailing ‘the totality of signifiers’ rather than emphasizing ‘the level of content’ through ‘the interplay of signifieds’ (Zima. 2002: 2).
7 Derrida posits that Western Metaphysics seeks out and privileges the ‘value of presence with a ‘supreme value’ (Bennington. 2000: 8) and it is on this that the grounding for all its binaries is constituted. This superior presence can be modulated across a wide spectrum of inflexions, e.g., absence: whether in the form of a yet to come or arche and/or telos. Thus there exists significant circumstantial evidence to account for the privileging of binary oppositions. Derrida argues that even where binary oppositional structures are presented as neutral and descriptive, they remain ‘violently (i.e., dogmatically) hierarchical’. ‘[W]hat has become famous as ‘deconstruction’ involves less an operation on than a demonstration about such hierarchised boundaries in the history of Western thought’ (Bennington. 2000: 8).
8 Note the use of “scare quotes” in order to indicate that the term “primary” when used in the context of a review on “intertextuality” and “meaning-slips” is deeply problematic as Addendum will show.
9 My desire/intent to ‘do something else’ involves an experiment in writing – Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips - which explores and celebrates undecidability/slippage of meaning, embracing a reflexivity about a writing process, situated in relation to constructs of self. Thus I write, for instance, in Covers – in the de-signer space; Sortie: lvii:- ‘[e]xperimenting with the act of writing a thesis, in ‘In-Between – Slips’, I write to disturb. Rather than pushing at boundaries I unsettle them. The thesis engenders notions of traces, essences, emergence, uniqueness, singularity, and individuality’. These then are major stakes for the experiment in writing.
10 Derrida too has something to say on this point. Singularité translates into English by taking on meanings of ‘unique’ and also meanings of being ‘a little bit disquieting, disturbing, eccentric. This lies at the heart of the singularity of setting out to do something else. Who appears singular? Whoever has the courage not to resemble, thus running the risk of shocking’ (Derrida. 2002: 32).
11 Barthes comments: every society develops various techniques ‘intended to fix the floating chain of signifieds in such a way as to counter the terror of uncertain signs; the linguistic message is one of these techniques’ (Barthes. 1977: 39).
12 Not merely distinct from “source studies” and from “influence studies”, intertextuality also does not include the study of “Bibliographies” and/or “References”. (See Plett [ed], 1990, Worton & Stills [eds], 1991) for further discussion and elaboration of this topic).
13 I am using the word ‘after’ in Addendum in the following way: in After Post-Structuralism Davis devises an explicit framework for his book based around deconstructing the word ‘after’. For instance, he begins with a reading of ‘after’ in the sense of it pertaining to a predator-like intention to single-mindedly hunt his theme down, going in for the kill so to speak. Another approach focuses on the thrill of the chase after his theme, such as taking part in the trappings of a drama-cum-threatre’. Here, for example, one would follow after the experts, whose works then begin to haunt one’s own in supplementary and intertextual ways. I am following after Davis, using his ploy/play to haunt Addendum. I will continue to follow ‘after’ Davis’s footsteps throughout Addendum, and thus I will now alert the reader to this play by hereafter placing ‘after’ in italics. Throughout this review, three other motifs [‘Lastword’ and ‘set going’ functioning as a Kristevan-like minimal textual unit and a Barthesian circular memory: inter-text] will at the appropriate time and space interweave with after in order to inform and illustrate the discussion within Addendum. Also note that the French phrase ‘à la’ functions as other to after.
14 Although I use the word ‘god-send’ this is not intended to suggest I am referring to Barthes’s ‘Author-God’ and applying it to Kristeva here.
15 The term Bakhtin/Medvedev signifies clearly that the authorship of this work is disputed.
16 I am deploying the basic units ‘set’ and ‘going’ of a citation from Barthes: – boredom from reading results when one cannot ‘set it [the text] going’ (Barthes. 1977: 163).
17 For Kristeva, ‘intertextual relations are passionate ones’ and thus intricately linked to desire (Worton & Still. 1990: 18).
18 The citation of intertextuality as a ‘mosaic of quotations’ – In-Between Slips: Fig 2: 247 – is not intended to suggest that I condone a gloss of intertextuality. Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips is an experiment in writing that enmeshes intertextuality as one of a number of resources in a play of hiding/revealing.
19 For both Bakhtin and Kristeva, there is ‘a deeply serious side to the carnivalesque challenge to official linguistic codes, which is to be contrasted with the kind of parody which upholds what it mocks or attempts to exist without any kind of law’ (Stills & Worton. 1990: 17).
20 Dream-like logic/poetic logic holds to a logic of the interval of 0 – 2 unlike symbolic logic which holds to a 0 – 1 interval.
21 Hystericization: following after Lacan, the hysteric undermines the “knowledge of the one who is suppose to know” by continually asking questions. This continuous practice of questioning thus disturbs notions of the Master, Authority, Expert.
22 Anacoluthon is that which fails to follow (Royle, 2003). Thus, by not following slavishly after any model of master[ery], the experiment in writing unsettles notions of explicit/implicit, proper/improper, inside/outside, foreground/background and so forth.
23 Dunkelsbuhler’s ‘traduction errante (a wandering translation)’ Dunkelsbuhler. 2002: 61) and/or ‘translanting-Verfahren’ (Dunkelsbuhler. 2002: 81) is/are translated as an ‘oblique translation’ – as ‘a SlanTr’ by the translator (Statkiewicz. 2002: 18). In Addendum I adopt Dunkelsbuhler’s particular style of writing the term as SlanTr.
24 Thus the dynamics is rather one where a ‘horizontal axis (subject-addressee) and vertical axis (text-context) coincide, bringing to light an important fact: each word (text) is an intersection of word (texts) where at least one other word (text) can be read’ (Kristeva. 1980: 66).
25 Kristeva continues to maintain a double focus. Her semiotics [la sémiotique] is not just the “semiotics” that is a general science of signs, but it, “the semiotic” [le sémiotique] is also more specific; in concert with the symbolic, it comprises the two components of the signifying process.
26 Lyotard’s earlier work on the figural engages with Merleau-Ponty’s notion of ‘surreflexion’, i.e., the methods by which the philosopher develops ways ‘to draw and paint with and in words’ (Lyotard. 1971: 55 as cited in Carroll. 1987: 33). The calligraphy bodies of the experiment in writing are the most obvious examples of the tensions that thus emerge between seeing and reading.
27 After Saussure, language is located in virtual two-dimensional space. Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of the visible posits the seeing eye as participating in the visible world it views: it moves in order to see. Moreover, the world paints itself on the rods and cones and this is not a mere mechanical description of what is taking place, but rather a ‘bruising’ which Merleau-Ponty calls the ‘chiasmatic imbrication of subject and object in perception’ (Readings. 1991: 11).
28 Individuals are separate ‘speaking beings’ and thus ‘need to bridge the gap between their solitude and the social structures which might alleviate it, between the body as need, the imagination as desire, and the social corpus’ (Smith. 1998: 17). Kristeva’s pen-strokes thus add psycho-analytical dimensions to Bakhtin’s analysis of double-voiced discourse giving a sensate yet radical plurality to intertextuality.
29 Any social/institutional discourse also similarly acts as ‘a formal system to something outside of the semiotic, in the realm of the psycho-somatic, to the professional body and a bodily subject structuring and de-structuring identity’ (Smith. 1998: 18).
30 Kristeva explains the thetic by distinguishing ‘the semiotic (drives and their articulations) from the realm of signification, which is always that of a proposition of judgement, in other words, a realm of positions. This positionality, which Husserlian phenomenology orchestrates through the concepts of doxa, position, and thesis, is structured as a break in the signifying process, establishing the identification of the subject and its object as preconditions of prepositionality. We shall call this break, which produces the positioning of signification, a thetic phase’ (Kristeva. 1984: 60).
31 Would it be too far-fetched to suggest an inter-text between Kristeva’s semiotic bubbling over with drives, pulses and rhythms and Lyotard’s figural of the space of the visible, of energy flows and of the libidinal forces and of energetics? Looking further at the forces of energetics, ‘the figure presents itself as an incoherent trace that defies reading, that is not a letter, and that can only be understood in energetic terms. The figure is supported by displacements, condensations, and deformations’ (Lyotard. 1971: 146 as cited in Carroll. 1987: 38). Given such parergonal circumstances it would appear not far-fetched at all.
32 Bakhtin/Volosinov - the couplet once again emphasizes the disputed authorship of this work being cited.
33 Kristeva’s notion of the poetic embraces revolutionary potential, being born of the plural, the ambiguous, the heterogeneous, the biological rather than symbolic; all of which is to say that it originates from what Kristeva calls ‘drives’, a concept she has adapted after tracing it in Freud’s Dream-Works.
34 Davis writes: ‘[a] life is a life in as far as it is a life story, with a pattern that emerges as it is told by and to others’ (Davis. 2004: 134). Kristeva’s ‘interest in stories derives in large measure from the insight that they are difficult to recount, on the very edge of sense and effability, and their relationship to our experience and lives can never be taken for granted’ (Davis. 2004: 135). The hauntology of the foreignness to ourselves is in play.
35 Here in Addendum I am citing from web-sites in the following way: The date reference corresponds to the date I down-loaded the text from the web-site. I have omitted page numbers as these refer to print-outs rather than on-line sites. The Kristeva – Waller interview of 1985 is also published in ‘Intertextuality and Literary Interpretations’ in Julia Kristeva Interviews edited by Ross Mitchell Guberman. (1996) Columbia University Press: Columbia, USA, but since the web-site was my primary source I continue to reference that text.
36 Carnival plays with faithful/faithless in order to disrupt the faith, promote transgression – of readers/readings – to set going a kind of bleeding of sense from the Masters.
37 Barthes writes: ‘[t]he reader of the Text may be compared to someone at a loose end’ (Barthes. 1977: 159).
38 Kristeva explains that the ‘carnival participant is both actor and spectator; he loses his sense of individuality, passes through a zero point of carnivalesque activity and splits into a subject of the spectacle and an object of the game. Within the carnival, the subject is reduced to nothingness, while the structure of the author emerges as anonymity that creates and sees itself created as self and other, as man and mask’ (Kristeva. 1980: 78).
39 Derrida writes: ‘[w]riting in the common sense is the dead letter, it is the carrier of death. It exhausts life’ (Derrida. 1976: 17).
40 Hence the experiment in writing constituted by Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips has as its ‘stakes’ not the transmission of meanings intact from a-b, the illusion of monologic transfer but rather the creativity/ invocation emerging in a process of reading/writing at the crossroads of intersection.
41 Rabaté uses ‘hystericization’ to mean continual questioning of theory and theorization (Rabaté. 2002: 1-20, 91) and thus uses Lacan’s notion of the hysteric as model.
42 The telling space is an alluring mystical place which is imperceptible – not one but rather both-or-[h]and two before “it” becomes two.
43 Barthes writes: ‘[i]n short, the word[s] can be erotic on two opposing conditions, both excessive: if it is extravagantly repeated, or on the contrary, if it is unexpected, succulent in its newness (in certain texts, words glisten, they are distracting, incongruous apparitions – it matters little if they are pedantic’ (Barthes. 1976: 42).
44 Wolfreys uses the term “inter-est” with regard to Derrida in order to accentuate quite graphically Derrida’s passion for writing intertextually – ‘est’ translates from the French to ‘is’ in English and thus indicates that Derrida’s very being incorporates the ‘inter’ of inter-text (Wolfreys. 1998: 12). I follow after Wolfreys, following after Davis following after Kristeva, after Derrida and so on in a vast weave of interlace-ing substance self-ing that is the experiment in writing.
45 With reference to Freud’s speechlessness see Covers – in the de-signer space: xxv which explains how sentences are taken to their limits, to veritable non-sense, in fact, and then re[s]-cued.
46 Kristeva writes of Barthes throwing himself into interpretative writing like ‘others throw themselves into music’, to avoid ‘what seemed false to him or seemed to conceal the deceitful unsaid’, thus making ‘(ultra-or infralinguistic laws more fully his own, laws he considered indispensable to the human condition, linguistic rules conveying not only the laws of meaning but also the body beneath meaning. This mirage of the body always shimmered on the horizon of Barthes’s theory, like a secret that was not apparent but audible, signifiable, that the interpreter had to acknowledge in his voyage through the laws of language and writing’ (Kristeva. 2000: 190).
47 To this end, Kristeva, Barthes and other post-structuralists display a reluctance in defining the ‘texte’. Thus texte became ‘a basic ideological weapon which can contribute directly to a revolutionary change in society’ (Mai. 1991: 37). Members of Tel Quel, for instance, were united in their aversion to communication, because they saw it as an agent of cohesion feeding consensus. A radical overhaul leading to a seismic change to traditional notions of reading/writing got underway in the project of doing something else.
48 Barthes writes graphically on this very issue citing an intertext: ‘‘In Papua, says the geographer Baron, ‘language is very impoverished; each tribe has its language and its vocabulary grows ever smaller because after each death several words are eliminated as a sign of mourning’. On this point we outdo the Papuans: we respectfully embalm the language of dead writers and reject the words and new meanings which appear as the world of ideas’ (Barthes. 1987: 48).
49 The act of reading ‘is a relationship based on desire, which lies outside the code of language’ (Keuneman. 1987: 24).
50 Barthes writes: ‘[t]o go from reading to criticism is to change desires, it is no longer to desire the work but to desire one’s own language’ (Barthes. 1987: 94). However, to do so is to ‘send the work back to the desire from which it arose. And so discourse circulates around the book: reading writing: all literature goes from one desire to another’ (Barthes. 1987: 94). The critic/writer then ‘confronts an object which is not the work but his[her] own language’ (Barthes. 1987: 85).
51 With reference to the void of the subject Barthes writes that the subject of post-structuralism is not a ‘solid whole’, nor is the relationship between subject and language that of content to expression, rather the subject is ‘a void around which the writer weaves a discourse’ and the symbol is carried along by ‘the necessity of endlessly designating the nothing of the I that I am’ (Barthes. 1987: 85-6).
52 By using the word ‘any-one’ I am referring to some implications of Hegel’s notion of subsuming all conflicts under the Absolute Reason at the ‘End of History’ whereof individuals cease to be individuals, rather they become subsumed as any-one or “any-body”, a mere cipher in a mass (Baugh, 2003).
53 See In-Between Slips: Fig 1: 108 for my notion of ‘no-body’. It relates to being a mere cipher within a system. Systems act ‘algorithmically’ (Laclau. 1996: 52), that is only the ‘programmable application or unfolding of a calculable process’ takes place (Derrida. 1992: 24). To take a decision, however, is to run the gauntlet of uncertainty. Therefore in the dramatized personal narrative, the System, algorithmically renders me a cipher, that is a ‘no-body’. I describe this ‘programmable application’ (Derrida, 1992: 24) as ‘acting up’. Thus my notion of ‘no-body’ is not the crisis of identity and reduction to zero of Kristeva’s speaking subject, which is not at all to say that Kristeva’s speaking subject is not in play in my experience of being relegated a cipher. Neither is it ‘any-body’.
54 As Kristeva’s supervisor Barthes could be considered well placed to comment on her work.
55 Barthes’s use of the word ‘force’ is intended to be predominantly read from a psychoanalytic perspective as he himself makes clear: ‘[f]orce here means displacement’ (Barthes. 1986: 168).
56 Barthes writes of language as being ‘denatured to the point of forming a vast auditory fabric in which the semantic apparatus would be made unreal; the phonic, metric, vocal signifier would be deployed in all its sumptuosity, without a sign ever becoming detached from it (ever naturalizing this pure layer of delectation), but also – and this is what is difficult – without meaning being brutally dismissed, dogmatically foreclosed, in short castrated’ (Barthes. 1986: 77).
57 Orr writes, having translated the French text into English, that Barthes wrote: ‘The text is a productivity. Not in the sense that it is a production of being worked (as narrative technique and the mastery of style would demand), but as the very theatre of a production where the producer of the text and the reader come together: the text ‘works’ whenever and however it is taken up; even in written fixed form, the text does not stop working, or undertaking a process of production. The text deconstructs the language of communication, representation or expression […] and reconstructs another language. […] Every text is an intertext; other texts are present within it to varying degrees and in more or less recognisable forms. […] Every text is a new tissue of recycled citations. Fragments of codes, formulae, model rhythms, bits of social discourse pass into the text and are redistributed within it. […] The intertext is a field of anonymous formulae whose origin is rarely recoverable, of unconscious or automatic citations without speech marks’ (Orr. 2003: 33)
58 Note that “our” subject of Kristeva, if I may so appropriate ‘her corpus’, certainly slipped entirely away in the entry for ‘Texte (théorie du)’ written for the Encyclopédie universalis. This particular citation on ‘writing’ is taken from Image Music Text and in point of fact refers to Sarrasine in Barthes’s S/Z. But, as inter-text, it easily transposes from S/Z to the text from the Encyclopédie universalis although, naturally, given the content and context of all that has been written so far, and that which yet remains to be written, I cannot guarantee that meaning-slips in the reading/writing do not manage to creep in.
59 Bloom locates his writing in a poetic and psychoanalytic discourse where tropes and defenses are viewed as ‘turning operations’ [the turns and pirouettes of the experiment in writing] and ‘in language tropes and defenses crowd together in an entity rather obscurely called poetic images’ (Bloom. 1979: 20) [the imag[in]ings of the experiment in writing].
60 Barthes writes: ‘As a creature of language, the writer is always caught up in the war of fictions (jargons), but he is never anything but a plaything in it, since the language that constitutes him (writing) is always outside of place (atopic); by the simple effect of polysemy’ (Barthes. 1976: 34).
61On that point zero Barthes comments that it leaves nothing intact through which the subject explores how language works him and undoes him as soon as he stops observing it and enters it.
62 Barthes writes, as we have seen already, that ‘the (writing or reading) subject’ is put into the text, not as projection, but as a ‘loss’ (Barthes. 1981: 38). Yet given that the context here is a definition in the Encyclopédie universalis what can such a ‘loss’ mean? The context cannot be regarded as anything other than a strongly authoritative site. Thus any author within Encyclopédie universalis cannot be other than Author. Is it possible for Barthes’s voice to lose its origin on such ‘a point (a fixed meaning)’? Can an authoritative definition emerge from ‘an intersection of textual surfaces’ (Kristeva. 1980: 65)? Inasmuch as, Kristeva as author-coiner of the critical term of intertextuality is utterly invisible despite the fact that Barthes writes about ‘inter-text’, is Barthes a speaking subject à la Kristeva? In other words, is there any evidence that Barthes the reader/writer of Kristeva’s explanation of ‘intertextuality/transposition is himself as reader able to face up to ‘the challenge to [his] identity’ through the ‘logic between identity and unity’, and even ‘its reduction to zero, the moment of crisis, of emptiness, and then the reconstitution of a new, more plural identity’ (Waller. 1985: web-site: 19 Dec. 2003)? Without referencing Kristeva, whose voice is thus unarticulated, the death of the author for the section on ‘inter-text’ takes on a whole new meaning. The death of Barthes as Author (Barthes) of ‘Texte: théorie de’ can not but remain in question.
63 Barthes claims: ‘Linguistically, the author is never more than the instance writing, just as I is nothing other than the instance saying I: language knows a subject’, not a ‘person’, and this subject, empty outside of the very enunciation which defines it, suffices to make language ‘hold together’, suffices, that is to say, exhausts it’ (Barthes. 1977: 145).
64 Barthes writes: ‘In the multiplicity of writing, everything is to be disentangled, nothing deciphered; the structure can be followed, ‘run’ (like the thread of a stocking) at every point and at every level, but there is nothing beneath: the space of writing is to be ranged over, not pierced; writing ceaselessly posits meaning ceaselessly to evaporate it, carrying out a systematic exemption of meaning’ (Barthes. 1977: 147).
65 Barthes comments on how we read with different intensities: ‘a rhythm is established, casual, unconcerned with the integrity of the text; our very avidity for knowledge impels us to skim or to skip certain passages (anticipated as “boring”) in order to get more quickly to the warmer parts of the anecdote (which are always its articulations: whatever furthers the solution of the riddle, the revelation of fate): we boldly skip (no one is watching) descriptions, explanations, analyses, conversations; doing so, we resemble a spectator in a nightclub who climbs onto the stage and speeds up the dancer’s strip-tease, tearing off her clothing, but in the same order, that is: on the one hand respecting and on the other hastening the episodes of the ritual (like the priest gulping down his Mass)’ (Barthes. 1976: 11).
66 Barthes suggests: ‘[a] ‘Code’ as ‘a perspective of quotations, a mirage of structures’ plays within the text like ‘footprints marking the escape of the text’ (Barthes. 1975: 20).
67 Barthes writes: ‘objectivity and subjectivity are of course forces which can take over the text but they are forces that have no affinity with it’ (Barthes. 1975: 10).
68 Barthes explains: ‘Functionally, connotation, releasing the double meaning on principle, corrupts the purity of communication: it is a deliberate “static,” painstakingly elaborated, introduced into the fictive dialogue between author and reader, in short, a countercommunication’ (Barthes. 1975: 9).
69 In Barthes’s view capitalist society with its pervasive culture of consumerism separates the processes of production and consumption. Barthes challenges this division by turning the reader her/himself into a producer of the text, thereby investing in ‘a difference of which each text is the return’ (Barthes. 1975: 3).
70 Comparisons can perhaps be drawn here between the mixture of lisible and scriptible texts of Barthes and the poetic texts of Riffaterre but it must be remembered that Barthes posits that there is no single over-riding meaning to a text – there are always the tensions at play in the ‘warrior topos’, whilst Riffaterre posits the existence of a single meaning once the clues residing in the matrix and hypogram have been fully worked out as will be discussed later in Addendum.
71 Barthes as a reader of Balzac: Balzac’s writing of Sarrasine is ‘traditional’; he delivered meaning and the reader arrives at this meaning as s/he progresses through the work. Mostly lisible, it nevertheless still exhibits a political edge, demonstrating the nothingness at the heart of French bourgeois society of the nineteenth century. Barthes as reader-writer picks up the loose thread of Balzac’s bourgeois realism and inter-weaves other pluralities thus writing the more heavily scriptible text of S/Z.
72 Barthes as writer of S/Z blurs the boundaries between his own discourse and that of Balzac’s, so that the relation to truth and to origin become uncertain, distancing any one answer to Jean Hyppolite’s question ‘Qui parle?’ Thus several times Barthes ‘spoils’ the story by releasing part of the secret, thereby shifting the question from Balzac’s ‘What will happen?’ to his own of ‘How will it happen?’ For example, Barthes ‘accentuate[s] the tragic dimension of the narrative’ (Moriarty. 1991: 140). Poetic captions such as ‘Blancheur du manque’ (Whiteness of lack) are often provided for each act of reading such that further drama is added through the magic of their signifier as ‘the atonality and glistening texture of ephemeral origins’ begin to emerge (Barthes. 1975: 42). Layering still further, Barthes complicates the textual style with a complex rhyme-scheme that sets musical connotations going through a ‘deliberate static’ choreographing it with his ‘“nebulae” of the signifieds’ (Barthes. 1975: 8).
73 S/Z orchestrates intertextuality and meaning-slips unsettling concepts of framing/framed and thus constitutes what I would call ‘an experiment in writing’ but that is not to say it constitutes the ‘Model’ for Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips.
74 In keeping with Barthes’s notion of the ‘circular memory’ (Barthes. 1976: 36), it is worth noting that Derrida also writes of marks set ‘trembling’, of traces ‘becoming double’ and ‘wandering’ (Derrida, 1978, 1982 and 1993 for example).
75 Barthes writes of reading: the Text is not an independent entity but plays as the ‘blanks and looseness of the analysis will be like footprints marking the escape of the text; for if the text is subject to some form, this form is not unitary, architectonic, finite: it is the fragment, the shards, the broken or obliterated network – all the movements and inflections of a vast “dissolve,” which permits both overlapping and loss of messages’ (Barthes. 1975: 20).
76 Barthes writes: ‘analytically it has something derisory about it: opening out into the infinity of language, it can come through as limited in the eyes of analytic reason; it belongs to the family of pun, buffoonery, useless expenditure. Indifferent to moral or aesthetic categories (the trivial, the futile, the false, the pastiche), it is on the side of the carnival’ (Barthes. 1977: 55).
77 Rabaté writes of students trapped in Theory ‘who crave clear certainties and love nothing like protocols, cool tools, handy handles or even better, “power tools.” How can we tell them something like: “do whatever you please, just avoid boring me!” when they want to go home with a power drill preferably accompanied by its instruction manual? Boredom is indeed the reaction triggered by imitative discourses, and boredom was massively institutionalized in American universities when Theory gave birth to endless copy-cat readings killing any sense of the “new” in texts’ (Rabaté. 2002: 100). Given the prevailing global culture at this time, non-American universities should not feel complacent: - boredom arises when the reader cannot set the text going and open it out (Barthes, 1977). The experiment in writing embodies and performs an anacoluthonal hystericization as well as a ‘signifiance’ of Theory [going beyond meaning therefore to a without-endness horizon of ‘if only’s’], of obtuse and oblique meaning. The ‘endless regurgitations of Derrida, Lacan, or Cixous, in frustratingly competent but unenlightened mimetic readings’ from ‘dead texts, dead signs, dead writers’ (Rabaté. 2000: 100) of doxai are not foregrounded, but rather in the experimental spirit are displaced [I am using a psychological SlanTr to my discourse here] by indirectedness, the use of the imperceptible, and by the anacoluthonal matrix/parergon/figural.
78 Is there an imperceptible move from ‘meaning’, whatever that may mean, to ‘stakes’ suggesting the doing of some “thing”, of being able to position some “thing” invoking shadows of meaning dancing? Bodies wager, bet on the stakes, raise stakes, are staked out and so on. And that being so, where does that leave the body – as ghost haunting écriture?
79 Beardsworth writes ‘through his emphasis on écriture Derrida [has] both reinvented the relations and spaces between philosophy and literature and opened up a new field of enquiry into textual processes, these processes exceeding traditional distinctions between the real and the fictional, the historical and the imaginary’ (Beardsworth. 1996: 2).
80 On this point we might say that it defers differing, and differs from deferring, in and of itself’ (Derrida. 1982: 8, translator’s note 10, translator Alan Bass).
81 This is an example of Derrida’s notion of the effect of doubling.
82 Scare quotes are being used once again to emphasize the problematization of tracing origins and authors in a review on ‘intertextuality’ and ‘meaning-slips’.
83 To emphasize I re-cite Derrida: ‘It is not announced by any capital letter’ (Derrida. 1982: 22) as otherwise that would give it ‘authority’. Already from the section on Barthes in Addendum the reader will be familiar with the importance of the capital letter as signifier of Authority, Master, God, Absolute and so on.
84 In other words, there is a ghost of a link in the form of a connective [t]issue between what ‘is’, its appearance and how this is ‘captured’ in philosophical words such as ‘ontology’ and ‘phenomenology’. Is the ‘seizing’ a sleight of hand – the shuffling of the text faster than the eye perhaps – or some “thing” else?
85 See my recurring motifs of ‘both-or-[h]and’, of ‘PhD-body/corps both-or-[h]and thesis-de-signer [ad]dress’ and the choreography of the plenitude of sub-motifs that express the notion that to figure something out inevitably covers something up. The figured-out plus the covered-up are re-marked into the motifs.
86 This is at the heart of the issue of naming and of viewing identity as fixed. Hence Derrida’s strategy is an important one here. For this very reason, and others besides as discussed in Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips and in Addendum, the ‘Figs’ are not names, but rather deferrers, neither-nor structures, the place/site/cite that enables [in a Cixous-like Gift/dream sense: see In-Between Slips: Fig 2: 261] and defers slips and margins. Thus they follow in anacoluthonal footsteps after Derrida, where, for example, they can be also said to ‘defer differing and [to] differ[s] from deferring’ (Derrida. 1982: 8 translator’s note 10, translator Alan Bass).
87 See my motif of look/gaze in all its plenitude: personal narrative with its number of perspectives on self and other, such as the tension between Intentional Systems and personhood/algorithmic and open dynamic systems, on reading texts such as Foucault’s Birth of the Clinic and the ‘Primitive Streak’ article accompanied by the dawning realisation that an Appendix is required for the latter, with, beside and against other “accessory” texts such as Cartright’s Screening the Body and articles such as ‘Dolly Mixture’ and ‘Pegs’.
88 The external reality securely anchoring signs no longer holds, whilst the formerly perceived central transcendental signified – Being as presence – becomes an element within a system of differences. There is no author governing the centre of meaning as is the case in traditional forms of literary criticism and philosophy and so on. Unity, what is that? - ‘[s]uch a thing exists’ no ‘more than a unicorn’ exists (Derrida. 1986: 275).
89 Derrida writes that one can choose to ‘chatter on about heritages, readings, borrowings, biographical inner springs’, all of which ‘flow into the text from outside’ (Derrida. 1982: 275), and the implication is that this is all it is – empty chatter. The views of Kristeva and Barthes on source and influence studies and on the critic in the light of the death of the author and the birth of the reader have already been discussed in Addendum and, as seen here, Derrida’s view is of the same order.
90 Like the unicorn, that magical beast of myths and fairy-tales, or to use a Barthesian phrase – that ‘imaginary tail of the Text’ (Barthes. 1977: 157) – Covers – in the de-signer space sets going the performancing of the possibility of making a decision of interpretation insofar as this is an impossibility which nevertheless must take place, one can make decisions in and of the moment [somewhat like Derrida’s notion of time-spaced/spaced-time (Derrida, 1982)], and for that ‘seized’ moment one can act as if deferral could be deferred. However, it should be noted that authors, such as Riffaterre, have a notion of a ‘right’ i.e., fixed, final interpretation as Addendum will later show.
91 See, for instance, my motifs of de-signing a thesis-[ad]dress on the bias, of mirror images such as ‘S’ mirrored and super-imposed on itself to form a double helix blue-print of ‘life’/DNA (deoxy-ribose nucleic acid) and, which, when turned, horizontally transforms into the symbol ‘∞’ for infinity – an infinity of ‘if only’s’ in fact -, of working out in the margins, of hems fraying, of thresholds, of the sensuous living lived experience, of calligraphy bodies (both greyscale and coloured) to the right/write ‘set aside’ as sortie/foray/exit themselves, ‘enmeshed, carried off, reinscribed, just as a false entry or a false exit is still part of the game, a function of the system’ (Derrida. 1982: 27). Enmeshed in the imperceptible, in the mystique of indirectedness, for example - the grand annotated calligraphy body [that enigmatic and evocative ‘S’ that continuously eludes the Master signifier], with its susurrating hidden texts, gestures towards a glimpse on the bias, towards ‘seize’ that grasps at foreshortened mirroring of thesis-de-signer [ad]dress reflecting thereof/in, in a sort of svelte about-face almost, as surface relation transposes to us face elation in the choreographed shadow dance of ‘if only’s’.
92 Decisions are taken on the bias – there is always the Kierkegaardian moment of madness to making a decision, as Derrida remarks (Derrida, 1992), and this act of deciding on the bias gives quite a different spin. Taken on the bias no frame will begin to gel. A ‘versus’, ‘a vertiginous’ (Dunkelsbuhler. 2002: 43) autodynamic to the logic of decision making is thus set going in an engagement in parergonal fashion to provide some sort of content to what may be considered an empty signified.
93 This notion of there being a never-ending enigma to keep the Master signifier at bay is at the heart of Covers- in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips – whether pertaining to textual bodies or to material bodies as enmeshed in the both-or-[h]and of PhD-body/thesis-[ad]dress, for instance.
94 Derrida continues: ‘[a] decision has to be prepared by reflection and knowledge … One has to calculate as far as possible, but the incalculable happens’ (Derrida. 2001: 61).
95 Spivak, for instance, cautions that Derrida typically ‘does not hold on to a single conceptual master-word very long … such important words … do not remain consistently important conceptual master words in subsequent texts’ (Spivak. 1976: lxxi). Derrida himself writes of the movement of a fan – ‘the very movement and structure of the fan-as-text, the deployment and retraction of all its valences; the spacing, fold, and hymen between all these meaning-effects, with writing setting them up in relations of difference and resemblance’ (Derrida. 1981: 251).
96 Slippage of meaning, intonation, rhythm, pulse, life/death, presence/absence, edge/frame [and here inter-texts with Kristeva’s semiotic are apparent] produces ‘a regular submerging the shore’ of the text (Derrida. 1979: 81) – when a text is ‘written on the brink, you start, or indeed have already started to lose your footing. You lose sight of any line of demarcation between a text and what is outside of it’ (Derrida. 1979: 81-2). We are on the borderline between ‘a fantasy and a “reality”, an event and a non-event, a fiction and a reality, one corpus and another and so forth’ (Derrida. 1979: 83). Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips shadow dance here.
97 With beginnings and ends, titles, margins, signatures, unity of a corpus, the referential realm outside a frame all muddied, there is ‘a sort of overrun [débordement] at work’ (Derrida. 1979: 83). This is no submerging/drowning of ‘overrun limits in an undifferentiated homogeneity’ rather it makes them more complex, dividing and multiplying strokes and lines’ (Derrida. 1979: 84). Such débordement shocks and is met with ‘endless efforts to dam up, resist, rebuild the old partitions, to blame what could no longer be thought without confusion, to blame difference as wrongful confusion’ (Derrida. 1979: 84).
98 For instance, in “Violence and Metaphysics,” the other that is beyond reason hovers ephemerally in the impossible space between reason and its shadow, between two point instants of identity, ‘it is there, but out there, beyond, within repetition, but eluding us there’ (Derrida. 1978: 300). Once again, we re-turn to look for that elusive unicorn. Yet again, we hope for a glimpse on the bias. In remaining close to sameness, we may best escape it into the other, impossible, as such; the other which, (rationally speaking), is not the opposite of sameness since that would merely negate sameness, but the shadow, its double of sameness, perhaps: shadow dance, no less.
99 Like the a of différance certain articulations within Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips cannot be spoken and/or heard, rather they announce themselves in reading/writing. See In-Between Slips: Fig 3: 416, where I explicitly write:- ‘[t]his thesis body is quite definitely not a [s]peaking corps by any stretch marks of sheer imag[in]ings, as its spark[l]ing [s]pine wrapped in deconstruction, sometimes somewhat impish and devious, although, in other rapt spaces deviating on to pro-found perhaps, spellbinds into reticulated [b]reaches into articulations through re-markings born of reading’. This is not to say that Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips cannot be verbally discussed, but rather that it requires the physical act of turning to the appropriate page[s] to set the discussion going, through seeing the mark of difference, that is to say of différance.
100 Différance produces ‘determinations’ or ‘effects’ (Derrida. 1982: 16) hence my reference to ‘special effects’.
101 In the experiment in writing step steps out into the French word ‘pas’ which sets going a SlanTr of Deridean-like parerga of chiasmic constructs which, in the case of the Greek character chi, appear to spread their weight in such a way that one leg is extended slightly further than the other (see the significance for Derrida in Derrida. 1981: 70). Furthermore, ‘[p]as is both the pas of negativity, and the pas of transgression, the pas de marche, and marche is step as well as stop or limit […] de-marcation’ (Llewelyn. 1986: 97).
102 According to Gasché, Derrida’s infrastructures are syntheses that ‘combine heterogeneous predicates’ (Gasché. 1986: 240). Furthermore, ‘[s]imilar to syncategoremata such as and, or, not, if, every, some, only, in between, expressions that cannot be used by themselves but only in conjunction with other terms, infrastructures are essentially used together with predicates, categoremata, or concepts with respect to which they exercise a specific organizational function’ (Gasché. 1986: 244). They are undecidable, and ‘[a]s “originary” syntheses, or economic arrangements of traits, the undecidables constitute both the medium or the element between the binary philosophical oppositions and between philosophy and its Other, as well as the medium that encompasses these coupled terms’ (Gasché. 1986: 241). Gasché examines in detail five such infrastructures: arche-trace, différance, supplementarity, iterability, and the re-mark (Gasché. 1986: 186-224). Each infrastructure can combine as a chain of substitutions thus providing an infrastructural chain. Indeed, ‘[a] text in the infrastructural sense is a fabric of traces, a system of linking of traces, in other words a network of textual referrals (renvois textuels)’ (Gasché. 1986: 289). Addendum has discussed the work of difference in a text where ‘different kinds of differences [are] drawn synthetically together in the term differance: difference as temporalizing, difference as spacing, difference as the result of opening a polemical rift between conceptual poles, difference as diacritical differentiality, difference as ontico-ontological difference, and so on’ (Gasché. 1986: 204). Similarly, terms from Covers – in the de-signer space and In-Between Slips such as both-or-[h]and synthesize the syncategoremata of ‘both’, ‘or’, ‘and’ together with ‘hand’ as a metonym recalling ‘body’, ‘work’, ‘reach’ and so on. It is an infrastructure of infinite gathering, a bringing together by the metonymic structure of and, and, and …. It thus combines the binaries as ‘both’ and as ‘both-or’. It is a structure that when combined with predicates builds worlds or ‘realms’ from ‘reams’ of activity upon ‘reams’ of material to fashion them whether as worlds, objects or as ‘persons’ (see, for example, In-Between Slips: Fig 3: 429). As a ‘building infrastructure’ it is not thereby a totalizing structure. It is not dialectical since the ‘and …. and ….’ structure is incompletable. Similarly, the term is unutterable. Its very ‘utterability’ is deferred. To try to do so would result in a stuttering of ‘[h]’ and ‘[h]and’ … ‘[h]and’. It thus slips towards another infrastructural term the ‘[st]utterstance’ that combines the Kristevan-like echolalia [see Endnote 124] of the stutter-babble, the move towards meaning, the uttering of a speaking subject that is not yet one until a stance emerges, a stance always displaced, deferred by the stuttering. Such infrastructures link up with or substitute for other such ‘inventions’/ ‘de-signs’ that synthesize intertexts and keep the text on the move. It is not the purpose of Addendum, however, to develop a discussion of these further.
103 The New Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines ‘ecphrasis’ as: a lucid self-contained explanation/description; the Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘ecphrasis’ as a plain declaration of a thing and ‘ecphractic’ as the removal of obstructions/purging.
104 The question for Addendum then is what kind of ‘repetition’ and ‘citation’ is this? It is evidently of those kinds that are permeated with ‘deferral’ and ‘différance’ in order that they and the ‘communication’ do not lead to closure around some unity of meaning.
105 This also implies the possibility of a ‘fake’ and one only has to think of having a credit card stolen to realise the import of this statement.
106 All citation is a transposition à la Kristeva. The cited text can be considered as one frame-parergon and the citing text as another and the space-in-between as the wandering translation/the mis-taken, and the parergonal (Dunkelsbuhler, 2002). These spaces-in-between set going irony, glimpses on the bias, invoke the erotic rather than a traditional critique grounded in Reason.
107 See, for instance, the personal narrative - In-Between Slips: Fig 1: 86 - where I write ‘whatever he [the consultant] does as far as my biological body is concerned he remains forever an Other’.
108 See In-Between Slips: Fig 3: 364 - where I cite Elaine Scarry on pain as follows:- ‘Pain and imagining are the framing events within whose boundaries all other perceptual, somatic, and emotional events occur; thus, between the two extremes can be mapped the whole terrain of the human psyche’ (Scarry. 1985: 165).
109 Derrida’s notion of reading ‘announces both the structured (‘written’) condition of all forms of text, including human identity’ alongside the notion that all such writings are ‘marked or traced’ by ‘otherness’ (Wolfreys. 1988: 66).
110 Although play (in the sense of game) has rules and requires decisions, [here difference turns into a stratagem], (its propositions double back on themselves) which enmeshes ‘itself in a chain that in truth it never will have governed’ (Derrida. 1982: 7).
111 In capital form, a as A a pyramid is formed – a pyramid that is a tomb that stands as silent monument marking the burial places of the Egyptian rulers of long ago. Its very structure and size – ‘A’ - remains a lasting testament to a previous historical age, culture and tradition both in the honour awarded the ruler, and in the achievement of designing and building the pyramid. All these texts are hidden – Riffaterrean like - within this one sentence cited.
112 Derrida writes: ‘[e]ach pirouette is then, in its twirling, only the mark of another pirouette, totally other and yet the same. [The] cipher of pirouettes prolonged toward another motif thus suggest the line – which unites but also divides – between two “words” or “signifiers” …’ (Derrida. 1981: 241). It is also worth noting that the hieroglyph for Derrida, according to Abraham and Torok, is no dead symbol to be deciphered, but ‘the figure of the process of writing rather than of static script, and this process is, properly speaking, invisible’ (Johnson. 1993: 91). See the experiment in writing where ‘the figure of the process of writing’ shadow dances in-the-between~ness of the Figs, for example.
113 Derrida explains: ‘You know, in fact, that above all it is necessary to read and reread those in whose wake I write, the “books” in whose margins and between whose lines I mark out and read a text simultaneously almost identical and entirely other’ (Derrida. 1981: 4). The list of those others in whose wake he writes is a long one, but includes Plato, Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Freud, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Rousseau, Mallarmé, Condillac and Austin. There is thus ‘wake’ and intertextuality which seems to denote not so much a faithful following, but rather a disturbing, an ‘ana’-‘coluthon’.
114 Catachresis is defined in the Penguin Dictionary of Critical Theory as: in grammar, the improper use of a term or the application of a term to a thing to which it is inappropriate. In rhetoric, the term can apply to the improper use or inversion of a figure or trope, but it is also used to describe a violent or unexpected metaphor. Its rhetorical function is to inspire ironic doubts about either what is being characterized or the mode of its characterization.
115 Riffaterre associates ‘meaning’ with mimesis and associates ‘significance’ with the poetic text (Riffaterre. 1978:2).
116 Riffaterre’s use of the word ‘contaminated’ here resonates with Derrida’s notion of texts that are contaminated, para-sites, infected and haunted.
117 These ‘signposts’ or ‘indices’ directing readers towards the specific and relevant intertexts are: ‘words and phrases indicating, on the one hand, a difficulty – an obscure or incomplete utterance in the text – that only an intertext can remedy; and on the other hand, pointing the way to where the solution must be sought’ (Riffaterre. 1990: 58).
118 Riffaterre writes in further detail: ‘The conformity of the text to the generating model makes it a unique artifact, in terms of language, since the associative chain issuing from clamore does not work as do normal associations, playing out a string of semantically related words. Instead it functions as if it were creating a special lexicon of cognates of clamor. The linguistic anomaly is thus the means of transforming the semantic unity of the statement into a formal unity, of transforming a string of words into a network of related and unified shapes, into a “monument” of verbal art. This formal monumentality entails changes of meaning (Riffaterre. 1978: 20).
119 The New Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines syllepsis as: taking together. A figure of speech in which a word, or a particular form/inflection of a word, is made to cover two or more functions in the same sentence. Riffaterre, himself. explains syllepsis as: ‘a word that has two mutually incompatible meanings, one acceptable in the context in which the word appears, the other valid only in the intertext to which the word also belongs and that it represents at the surface of the text, as the tip of an iceberg’ (Riffaterre. 1990: 71).
120 As a word, the syllepsis has two meanings, each of which generates its own derivation in its separate text; yet as a connective, it has no meaning of its own. The connective is therefore empty, since it is a mere phonetic shape which can be filled in turn by two otherwise alien universes of representation. As such it is vastly more powerful than a metaphor, which needs some semes common to both its tenor and its vehicle for the tropological substitution to work. The syllepsis, on the contrary, resting as it does on homophony, is a connective in the abstract, a mere sign of equivalency’ (Riffaterre. 1990: 71).
121 Riffaterre writes on the connective: ‘[t]he combinatory nature of the connectives accounts, it seems to me, at one fell swoop for three aspects of intertextuality. It explains the fact that intertextuality enables the text to represent, at one and the same time, the following pairs of opposites (within each of which the first item corresponds to the intertext): convention and departures from it, tradition and novelty, sociolect and idiolect, the already said and its negation or transformation. It explains also that intertextuality should be the one trope that modifies a whole text rather than sentence of phrase, as for the disappearance of the repressed intertext, and at the same time to transfer to that text, (i.e., to the periphrastic derivations of the repressed item) a significance issuing from the intertext’. He continues: ‘[i]t explains above all that the most important component of the literary work of art, and indeed the key to the interpretation of its significance, should be found outside that work, beyond its margins, in the intertext’. Furthermore, ‘[i]n conclusion, the concept of combinatory connectives explains why the recover of the intertext is an imperative and inevitable process’ (Riffaterre. 1990: 76).
122 Riffaterre writes: ‘[t]he prose poem therefore demands considerable participation on the reader’s part. (It fits Barthes’s definition of real, live literature: the kind that requires a “scriptor” rather than a passive reader)’ (Riffaterre. 1978: 124).
123 The title of a text constitutes a “signpost” in Genette’s ‘paratextuality’ (Genette: see Allan. 2000: 97-115), setting going echoes with Derrida’s notion that the title is both a promise and an aphorism of what is to follow. Thus the thesis title indicates a fashioning of a lace-work of in-between~ness that incorporates a connective tissue-ing to flesh out a matrix-like/parergonal/figural-like body of text.
124 echolalia refers to the babblings of babies, imitating sounds and tones and so on.
125 Lacan refers to this as point capiton
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