Just Reading

Every authentic form of thought contains at its core an undeconstructible point. For Derrida, this is the point where it attains or yearns for justice, or where it dwells in contact with an opening to the other that no single utterance could represent or contain.

Everything that swirls around that point in terms of dualities and networks of signification that can be deconstructed, words whose meanings can be debated and multiplied, metaphysical biases that can be diagnosed, good or bad readings of the tradition, etc.–all of that is extrinsic. Helpful to a degree, these considerations risk degrading a reading into a scholarly exercise, willfully overlooking the key point. It goes so far as to deny even the existence of such a point, whereupon the worth of the work is easily dissolved into a simulacra.

At the same time, to approach or grasp the undeconstructible, one has to pass through the deconstructible—words and their arrangements, concepts and their heritages, rhetorical strategies, references, in sum the entire level of the text which is subject to technique, repetition, reproduction, common language and convention, etc. One passes through all this earnestly, trustingly, in order to experience what cannot be reduced in it, what is singular and cannot be decomposed into these elements, in other words, what is undeconstructible and escapes knowing and objectivity. The temptation is to get stuck on one of the decomposed elements and to use it as the lens through which to judge the work as a whole; this inevitably induces a myopia that prides itself on being all-seeing. But the undeconstructible inhibits such judgments, and whoever has a nose for it will hold back from making them.

Obviously, it is much easier to comment based on decomposed elements, from partial or outside perspectives which want to know nothing about the undeconstructible and thus justify without trouble a global judgment on the whole, foreclosing its otherness, its resistance, its excess. A commentary that does the opposite—which keys in on the one key thing that cannot be located or indicated and that in some sense lies underneath all deconstructible elements—such a commentary is immediately thrust into the imperative of justice itself. It is tasked not with exposing an author’s shortcomings but with preserving the singularity of their thought. That alone communicates the hope they had and struggled to encode through a thousand compromising repetitions. It is respect.

Accessing this point and getting a feel for its singularity means going a very long road with an author, slowly digesting this one point by meticulously comprehending and experimenting with the apparatus they construct to conduct the undeconstructible, gradually discarding any impression of strictness or limitation in the deconstructible structures they present. The longer that path, the more enjoyable. The greater the breadth it grants to experimentation, the more it gives to think. For the more it leads us to our own singularities, the more just it will be.

But to get there, one must credit the author with having a genuine concern for all this, since without that trust the key point won’t be found or even allowed to appear. It depends on the reader to see underneath, to slip into the structures that can only undo themselves and disappear for the sake of being thought. A work is the presentation of its thinking of this point, which cannot be said to exist, and yet guides the entire construction, point by point. Reading follows the trail, faithfully, but only to get lost in what, for reasons of justice, must remain unpresented.

―August 2, 2017

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