Tom Cohen's Throbbing Ingenuity

"Might a mutant or properly anarch(ival)ist deconstructive meme find its opportunities and relevance endless in this environs'? It need only, for the moment, sacrifice' the proper name, the brand, the pretense that more exegesis on Derrida is, or was ever, deconstruction' " (253)
"Nonetheless, a certain other J.D. seems to some missing as a warrior effect before these high-stakes spells of the anthropocene, these entirely new aporia, and it may be time to waken the living dead. Occupy Deconstruction." (Cohen 2012: 256)

Is it not the case that Tom Cohen wants to summon Derrida's ghost from beyond the grave? Destroy the golden calf the Derrideans are milking and really tap the spirit of the old master? That revolutionary Derrida. That Other Derrida, not this clay-footed, academic wheezer. That good old time Derrida, not the "later Derrida," some guy who was coopted by the academics to write (like some machine) on the typical lineup of philosophical meandering, ethics, politics, and the like. That early Derrida, when he was still deconstructing Western metaphysics. You know, like wild, mind-bending, taking-apart-the-structure-of-the-signs-in-your-field-of-consciousness-and-your-consciousness-along-with-them-type psychedelic [mind-writing] breakdowns of Enlightenment metaphysics of presence. That Derrida.
It's kind of like a Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde kind of thing. One is struggling to keep hold over the other -- or rather since he's dead -- one author effect is bad and produces inauthentic readings of Derrida; the other is good and produces deconstruction worthy of the name.
"This other reading to come is at war with the first, the auto-immune capsule of late Derrida,' presented as warm milk to the kids, withdrawing the tequila shots of the (not yet) early' Derrida not trusting that it was time' for that, or whether that path would not lead to a pre-emption of the brand (the example of de Man')." (247)
Isn't Tom's Other Derrida a rallying cry for the kids now? His pitch couldn't be more cinematic--or cinanthropic? I think we've seen this one before. The scene: the Others have taken over the temple and they are defiling the Master's name, this time by practicing their Deconstruction Light. DeconLight must be eradicated! The closer you were to the Master--the more suspect!!:

"One cannot but be struck that being close' to Derrida the individual seems today less a mark of initiation, of genealogical pedigree or translatorial identification, than a guarantee of a submissive limit which J.D. discounted in advance (really, Derrideans'?)." They are bad people doing bad readings. And Derrida disowned you in the Last Interview. So there.
We can't sit here just talking about how goddamn great Derrida was--and he was great don't get me wrong I wanna write like him too one day--but dammit, the Occupation is on! We need some revolutionary idols out there. Too bad the goddamn Temple of Derrida Zombies is too busy sorting out their lineage and generally being irrelevant! Too goddamn bad that Derrida didn't write about anything relevant to kids these days either! The "irony here" is that "nothing would have guaranteed J.D.'s survival and relevance to the 21st century more than contrary to his expectations or strategy having addressed the very zones that he occluded: ecocide, the mnemonic machine, cinema, an other materiality than humanists or phenomenology would recognize." (?) Maybe it's his own fault his legacy has already devolved into a recursive biographical auto-effacement--he just didn't write about things people care about. Deconstructing Western metaphysics wasn't enough for people like these.
Derrida was at war with himself, he says. Tom reads that as proof that Derrida hated his followers, the cult that grew up around himself. He didn't see any heirs. No one there to carry the torch after he was gone. We haven't even begin to read him!
Isn't Tom pulling the reactionary move here? By reading Derrida such that Derrida refuses to be read and refuses all his readers, isn't he really reading himself in here? Derrida dismisses all others, while Tom Cohen dismisses Derrida, pointing out the things he forgot to write about--then making it look like Derrida planned it! Isn't he just stepping up to say, "I'm the real heir! And I disinherit the throne!" Derrida ignored film? Tom wants cinanthropics! Derrida didn't do global warming? Tom critiques movies about the stuff!

And so, the Occupy Movement well over--and the opportunity to Deconstruct Occupy well over--I unearth my copy of Derrida's Greatest Hits; tequila shots tonight, one after another, until not a goddamn thing remains of metaphysics.

This is the task? Did old, fake Derrida have this young man in mind when he said no one has begun to read him?

Listen to this warmup...

"The constitution of a science or a philosophy of writing is a necessary and difficult task. But, a thought of the trace, of differance or of reserve, having arrived at these limits and repeating them ceaselessly, must also point beyond the field of the episteme. Outside of the economic and stategic regerence to the name that Heidegger justifies himself in giving to an analogous but not identical transgression of all philsophemes, thought is here for me a perfectly neutral name, the blank part of the text, the necessary indeterminate index of a future epoch of difference. In a certain sense, "thought" means nothing. Like all openings, this index belongs within a past epoch by the face that is open to view. This thought has no weight. It is, in the play of the system, that very thing which never has weight. Thinking is what we already know we have not yet begun; measured against the shape of writing, it is broached only in the episteme.
Grammatology, this thought, would still be walled-in within presence."

Now this.... this is the extended jam. Derrida on liberation:

"These precautions taken, it should be recognized that it is in the specific zone of this imprint and this trace, in the temporalization of a lived experience which is neither in the world nor in "another world," which is not more sonorous than luminous, not more in time than in space, that differences appear among the elements or rather produce them, make them emerge as such and constitute the tests, the chains, and the systems of traces. These chains and systems cannot be outlined except in the fabric of this trace or imprint. The unheard difference between the appearing and the appearance (between the "world" and "lived experience") is the condition of all other differences, of all other traces, and it is already a trace. This last concept is thus absolutely and by rights "anterior" to all physiological problematics concerning the nature of the engramme [the unit of engraving], or metaphysical problematics concerning the meaning of absolute presence whose trace is thus opened to deciphering. The trace is in fact the absolute origin of sense in general. Which amounts to saying once again that there is no absolute origin of sense in general. The trace is the difference which opens appearance and signification. Articulating the living upon the nonliving in general, origin of all repetition, origin of ideality, the trace is not more ideal than real, not more intelligible than sensible, not more a transparent signification than an opaque energy and no concept of metaphysics can describe it. And as it is a forteriori anterior to the distinction between regions of sensibility, anterior to sound as much as to light, is there a sense in establishing a "natural" hierarchy between the sound-imprint, for example, and the visual (graphic) imprint? The graphic image is not seen; and the acoustic image is not not heard. The difference between the full unities of the voice remains unheard. And, the difference in the body of the inscription is also invisible."


"To make enigmatic what one thinks one understands by the words "proximity," "immediacy," "presence" (the proximate [proche], the own [propre], and the pre- of presence), is my final intention in this book. This deconstruction of presence accomplishes itself through the irreducible notion of the trace (Spur), as it appears in both Nietzschean and Freudian discourse. And finally, in all scientific fields, notably in biology, this notion seems currently to be dominant and irreducible.
If the trace, arche-phenomenon of "memory," which must be thought before the opposition of nature and culture, animality and humanity, etc., belongs to the very movement of signification, then signification is a priori written, whether inscribed or not, in one form or another, in a "sensible" and "spatial" element that is called "exterior." Arche-writing, at first the possiblity of the spoken word, then of the "graphie" in the narrow sense, the birthplace of "usurpation," denounced from Plato to Saussure, this trace is the opening of the first exteriority in general, the enigmatic relationship of the living to its other and of an inside to an outside: spacing. The outside, "spatial" and "objective" exteriority which we believe we know as the most familiar thing in the world, as familiarity itself, would not appear without the gramme, without differance as temporalization, without the nonpresence of the other inscribed within the snese of the present, without the relationship with death as the concrete structure of the living present. Metaphor would be forbidden. The presence-absence of the trace, which one should not even call its ambiguity butrather its play (for the word "ambiguity" requires the logic of presence, even when it begins to disobey that logic), carries in itself the problems of the letter and the spirit, of body and soul, and of all the problems whose primary affinity I have recalled. All dualisms, all theories of the immortality of the soul or of the spirit, as well as all monisms, spiritualist or materialist, dialectical or vulgar, are the unique theme of a metaphysics whose entire history was complelled to strive toward the reduction of the trace.
The subordination of the trace to the full presence summed up in the logos, the humbling of writing beneath a speech dreaming its plenitude, such are the gestures required by an onto-theology determining the archeological and eschatological meaning of being as presence, as parousia, as life without differance: another name for death, historical metonymy where God's name holds death in check. That is why, if this movement begins its era in the form of Platonism, it ends in infinitist metaphysics. Only infinite being can reduce the difference in presence. In that sense, the name of God, at least as it is pronounced within classical rationalism, is the name of indifference itself. Only a positive infinity can life the trace, "sublimate" it (it has recently been proposed that the Hegelian Aufhebung be translated as sublimation; this translation may be of dubious worth as translation, but the juxtaposition is of interest here). We must not therefore speak of a "theological prejudice," functioning sporadically when it is a question of the plenitude of the logos; the logos as the sublimation of the trace is theological. Infinitist theologies are always logocentrisms, whether they are creationisms or not. Spinoza himself said of the divine substance, even calling it its eternal son in the Short Treatise. It is also to this epoch, "reaching completion" with Hegel, with a theology of the absolute concept as logos, that all the noncritical concepts accredited by linguistics belong, at least to the extent that linguistics must confirm--and how can a science avoid it?--the Saussurian decree marking out the "internal system of language."

By now "there is nothing outside the text" should be your mantra before bed!

Ultimately though, I think Derrida and all other philosophers are unworthy models for liberation. Here's why:
"As for the phrase you just cited ("learning to live finally [apprendre a vivre enfin]"), it came to me once the book was finished. It plays first of all, though in a serious way, on its everyday meaning. Apprendre a vivre means to mature, but also to educate: to teach someone else and especially oneself. When you address someone and say "je vais t'apprendre a vivre," it sometimes has a threatening tone, meaning not only "I am going to teach you how to live" but "I'm going to teach you a lesson," "I'm going to get you to shape up or whip you into shape." From thereand the ambiguity of this play is even more important to methis sigh leads to a more difficult question: is living something that can be learned?, or taughti Can one learn, through discipline or apprenticeship, through experience or experimentation, to accept or, better, to affirm life? This concern for legacy and death resonates throughout the entire book. It is also something that torments parents and their children: "When will you become responsible? How will you answer or finally take responsibility for your life and for your name?" So, to finally answer your question, no, I never learned-to-live. In fact not at all! Learning to live should mean learning to die, learning to take into account, so as to accept, absolute mortality (that is, without salvation, resurrection, or redemption neither for oneself nor for the other). That's been the old philosophical injunction since Plato: to philosophize is to learn to die. I believe in this truth without being able to resign myself to it. And less and less so. I have never learned to accept it, to accept death, that is.
We are all survivors who have been granted a temporary reprieve [en sursis] (and, from the geopolitical perspective of Specters of Marx, this is especially true, in a world that is more inegalitarian than ever, for the millions and millions of living beingshuman or notwho are denied not only their basic "human rights," which date back two centuries and are constantly being refined, but first of all the right to a life worthy of being lived). But I remain uneducable when it comes to any kind of wisdom about knowing-how-to-die or, if you prefer, knowing-how-to-live. I still have not learned or picked up anything on this subject. The time of the reprieve is rapidly running out. Not just because I am, along with others, the heir of so many things, some good, some quite terrible: but since most of the thinkers with whom I have been associated are now dead, I am referred to more and more often as a survivorthe last, the final representative of a "generation," that is, roughly speaking, the sixties generation. Without being strictly speaking true, this provokes in me not only objections but feelings of a somewhat melancholic revolt. In addition, since certain health problems have become, as we were saying, so urgent, the question of survival [la survie] or of reprieve [le sursis], a question that has always haunted me, literally every instant of my life, in a concrete and unrelenting fashion, has come to have a different resonance today. I have always been interested in this theme of survival, the meaning of which is not to be added on to living and dying. It is originary: life is living on, life is survival [la vie est survie]. To survive in the usual sense of the term means to continue to live, but also to live after death. When it comes to translating such a notion, Benjamin emphasizes the distinction between uberleben, on the one hand, surviving death, like a book that survives the death of its author, or a child the death of his or her parents, and, on the other hand, fortleben, living on, continuing to live. All the concepts that have helped me in my work, and notably that of the trace or of the spectral, were related to this "surviving" as a structural and rigorously originary dimension. It is not derived from either living or dying. No more than what I call "originary mourning," that is, a mourning that does not wait for the so-called "actual" death."