When we quoted Jacques Derrida in our post the other day about the media’s double audience, our far flung correspondent T. in NYC raised an eyebrow. Mr. T. likes the idea of this blog never mentioning Derrida in the same way that Georges Perec never uses the letter ‘e’ in La Disparition. The referential absence eventually calls attention to itself by the force of its tremendous silence. And we understand Mr. T.’s point. Actually, we got the same idea from Derrida himself. Somewhere, perhaps in the lectures on Ponge, perhaps in an interview, Derrida claims that one of his essays on Hegel is really all about Ponge. If memory serves. Now, the cool thing about that claim is that Ponge is not mentioned in the essay. Of course, this is the kind of gesture that drives Derrida’s enemies just up the wall. And there is something obviously facile in saying, oh, I wrote x and I was thinking of y. To make the claim non-facile, you have to work with obsessions and themes that would make it meaningful as a compositional principle. I consider it a form of l'envoûtement – a seduction/abduction, a possession through charms. The devil, of course, used to practice l'envoûtement. Often the magician takes an effigy that is connected in some way with the victim – for instance, a follicle of the victims hair is mixed in with the dough or clay from which one creates the effigy – and by this means gains control over the victim. It is a metaphysical kidnapping. Artaud returns to the term in his last writings, and literally considers those writings a form of contre-l'envoûtement. For Artaud, it was the drugs and electroshock and conceptual schema of the psychiatrists that was winding him in, and against which he had to protect himself:
« Le même personnage revient chaque matin accomplir sa révoltante criminelle et assassine sinistre fonction qui est de maintenir l’envoûtement sur moi, de continuer à faire de moi cet envoûté éternel …”
(the same person returns each morning to perform his revolting criminal and murder- sinister function, which is to maintain the spell they have on me, to continue to make of me that eternal victim of enchantment.)
To perform the contre-l'envoûtement, that piece of magic, one must inverse the spell – one must operate on the hazardous path of the negation of the negation.
Now, to my mind, this conflict between these regimes of spells gives us the musical structure of Derrida’s work. A lot of philosophers ignore, or are ignorant of the fact that a text has a musical structure. Not J.D. This is why Derrida uses blanks and silences in the way he does – there is always some abduction or elopement going on there, out of the seraglio of Western metaphysics and into the streets!
Anyway, in that spirit, I like the idea that I am abducting Derrida from the professional deconstructionists and the spiderweb of a by now canonical language and I do it partly by using his things without referencing the name. It isn’t sorcery anymore – it is called sampling, kids. Standard DJ stuff. But I’m not clever enough to do this with complete consistency. If I was, would I have written this post?