an other thing

I try to keep myself from playing the Derrida apologist too often, as I realize there are those who just aren’t going to go along with what he was up to (and that they have their perfectly valid reasons for it). But, I do want to offer just a quick response to this by Graham Harman:

… relationality between any two entities stumbles over the incommensurability between reality and representation. The stone in its own right can never be the stone as encountered by another stone. It has nothing to do with specifically human finitude, but is a paradox built into the difference between object and relation.

So no, you don’t get to say: “Derrida doesn’t reduce the world to a text, because he cares about the other of the text.” The question is: what the hell are texts doing in a basic ontological proposition to begin with? They don’t belong there any more than cotton balls or meteors do.

First of all, while I understand (without endorsing) the argument against Derrida’s treatment of the world in terms of the text, I don’t think it’s accurate to say that he “reduces the world to a text.” (I would instead say that Derrida expands the notion of textuality beyond the sphere of human language to include the world, thus obviating the distinction between human and world).

But Harman is certainly correct in saying that the defense he cites doesn’t work. This doesn’t mean, however, that Derrida wouldn’t endorse the first part of the quotation above, viz. that “relationality between any two entities stumbles over the incommensurability between reality and representation” and that this “has nothing to do with specifically human finitude.” In Positions (p. 81-2), for instance, he discusses the concept of spacing precisely as it operates outside the linguistic field, saying that its operation is ubiquitous but that it operates differently each time so that it can’t be used as “an explicating principle of all determined spaces.” The differences in the operations of spacing (which do preclude its inclusion in any “basic ontological proposition”) are not results of human finitude but of the differences in the fields in which it operates.

Does this make Derrida an “object-oriented thinkers avant la lettre”? No. But I continue to think it does make him a potentially useful resource for object-oriented thinking.


Posted on August 6, 2010, in Derrida and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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