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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Infinite in the trace

In order to make clear the Levinasian character of Derrida's deconstruction today I started my class today on the inscription face/trace. Then I went on saying that there is an infinite in the trace, and therefore an infinite in the text that cannot be fully absorbed and appeals not to be turned into a concept. A text is there to be encountered, and each of these encounter occasions spell its infinity, its openness, its character as Other. To make a text say something specific - and we can turn to papers in a scientific tradition - it has to come with a curatorial device, a orientation that enforces one reading by trying to make sure only readers from a common set of practices will approach the text and read it. The set of practices brings about a canonic reading and text itself can collaborate in strengthening these practices. It would be like taking someone's face to belong somewhere - to be a natural woman, a member of an ethnic group, someone from a subculture - and then maybe also the person can help out reading herself as the such. Still, to see infinity in the face is to read it out as something that precedes and transcends every concept.

A topic that emerges from the constellation I draw in Excesses and Exceptions is that to position something in a space is stop caring for its singularity. In Die Gefahr, Heidegger contrasts Wahr and being neglected (neg-legere). Wahr is true and also care - something like being entrusted. This 'being entrusted' is crucial in deconstruction: a text is entrusted to someone who exercises the ingratitude of accepting it as a gift (the ingratitude is perhaps a transcendental violence) and to read it is to take care of it, to be close to its (infinite) truth. Very different from placing it in a topography where its truth is concealed as it is turned into a concept. To deconstruct is to extract text from a curatorial package - from a set of traditions that inscribe a reading, but don't feel entrusted by the infinite in its traces. Deconstruction is like entrusting texts to a library that engages different librarians everyday.

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