Sunday, March 13, 2005

From behind 1.18

Dear Diary,
today, for the first time -and although I have lived here for many years- Jacques Derrida waved a greeting to me as I went past. Leaning on his low driveway gate, his shirtsleeves folded up to the elbows he rested there, strangely tanned, and catching his breath I imagine, as the heat echoed up from the pavement.
Due to an excessive shyness that governs my every social movement I have never dared to approach him, and I must admit that it strikes me as extraordinary that never yet have I observed the endless stream of obsequious graduate students, fellow prosletyzers, and indeed the curious public at large drawn by rumour of the unbounded influence wielded by De la Grammatologie and Glass upon the humanities, one would expect from the great philosopher's residence (surely he would not believe to have gone unnoticed!?) in our but humble street.
That is to say that many a time I have found myself in silent cogitation and discussion with the reverred sir, albeit at the most extreme dissent: -Sir! I wish to speak to him, surely you will recognise that your notion of differance (the eradication of difference (a-e) in speech over the visibility of difference in writing) merely follows the hegemonic claim of the vowel over the consonant ?
- Sir, I imagine him reply, pray elaborate.
- The origin of language as contained in the vowel (as opposed to the consonant), I state, is but expression of the vowel-o-centric imagination that indeed represses the import of the consonant. The division of labour in language between vowel and consonant is as ungrateful an affair as that between speech and writing itself, indeed! as that between work and leisure. Yet, difference is eradicated upon the work of the vowel, too! Take but the name Stephan or Stefan. Clearly you will observe the impossibility of speech to convey the distinction, yet the vowels do their work, indeed! work but against the consonantal heterogeneity by aiding the semblance of sameness against the blatant fact of alterity!
- How, Sir!, do you propose the hegemonic domination of vowel over consonant came to pass?, I imagine myself now close to shrieking pitch.
But the philosopher has lost interest - ah! rotten forcefulness of my diatribe-, and, as I imagine him, shifts from right elbow to his left elbow resting on the gate, follows with some interest the mobilisation of an ant colony as it makes way into his flower beds, and I understand that our exchange is all but terminated before it every truly began.


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