Derrida defines deconstruction more by what it is not than what it is. A summary of this negative determination would include the following list as a minimal outline or sketch of the field we intend to analyze here: (Deconstruction is not) (a) metaphysics, as per the Western tradition; (b) “philosophizing with a hammer,” as per Nietzsche; (c) “the destruction of metaphysics,” as per Heidegger; (d) dialectics, as per Hegel; (e) semiology, as per Saussure; (f) structuralism, as per Lévi-Strauss; (g) archaeology, as per Foucault; (h) textual psychoanalysis, as per Freud; (i) literary criticism, as per the “New Critics”; (j) philosophy or epistemology, as per Plato and Socrates; (k) a theory/logic/science of textuality, as per Barthes; (I) hermeneutics, as per Gadamer; (m) “Un Coup des Dès,” as per Mallarmé; (n) transcendental phenomenology, as per Husserl; (o) a critique of pure reason, as per Kant; (p) an empiricism, as per Locke and Condillac; (q) a “theatre of cruelty,” as per Artaud; (r) a commentary, as per Hyppolite; (s) a translation, as per Benjamin; (t) a signature, as per Ponge; (u) a corrective reading, as per Lacan; (v) a book of questions, as per Jabès; (w) an infinity exceeding all totality, as per Levinas; (x) a painting, as per Adami; (y) a journey to the castle, as per Kafka; nor (z) the celebration of a Wake, as per Joyce.
We now seem to be no closer to understanding what deconstruction is, although we know what it is not. This is only true if we exclude is not from is, or not-Being from Being, absence from presence; in short, if we think in terms of classical Western metaphysics. The question of what is proper to deconstruction, formulated in this way, excludes the other, negative, reversed side. The interdependence of these oppositions is therein denied. To ask “what is ...” anything, therefore, is to install the response, indeed the possibility of a response, within metaphysics. It is precisely this formulation, as organized by and organizing (therein sustaining) metaphysics, that Derrida wishes to draw to our attention. It is not surprising therefore that when asked what deconstruction is, he responds with a neither this nor that (ni/ni) formulation. From within metaphysics one is denied meaning by this. The organization of thought by metaphysics is such that one asks: “which one?” to each pair of binary oppositions. The structure is either/or, not both/and, and thus to say neither seems to invoke an abdication of responsibility and an unwillingness to be committed to a position. This leads to the false conclusion that deconstruction must therefore claim a neutrality and a certain non-allegiance to anything (except perhaps itself). This criticism has been thrust at Derrida, and his response is the following: “I insist that deconstruction is not neutral. It intervenes.”1 Once again we have a negative determination of the issue and seem to be no better off. We propose the following explanation of the problem. To claim either one side or the other of metaphysical oppositions is incorrect for Derrida because of the radical exteriority this presupposes and sustains between one “side” and the “other.” In saying that deconstruction is not neutral, he seems to us to be saying that it is not in the middle “between” this pair of oppositions but neither is it outside or inside metaphysics absolutely. The key is “absolutely” here. In some respects deconstruction is what he claims it is not, but not totally. Thus it is not metaphysics, for example, although it depends on and borrows its tools from metaphysics. Indeed it copies metaphysics. More of this specific method later. For now we wish only to suspend the question of le propre of deconstruction by showing its illegitimacy here. The paradox of course is the following: If deconstruction both is and is not metaphysics, or is both inside and outside it (which is the same thing), then there must indeed be a level or aspect or stage of deconstruction that can be described within metaphysical determinations; i.e., answer to the question “what is?” This is in fact the case, and we shall be addressing precisely this level; but we insist that: (a) this is not the essence of deconstruction; (b) it is an incomplete determination; and yet (c) these aspects we propose to explicate here are essential as components of deconstruction. What is missing here or exceeds this formulation are the relations of deconstruction to metaphysics and to différance. These are questions of economy, however, and will be treated there.
(a) “Le Fil Conducteur”
We must begin wherever we are and the thought of the trace, which cannot not take the scent into account, has already taught us that it was impossible to justify a point of departure absolutely.2
“Le fil conducteur” is always Derrida’s point of departure for his deconstructive projects. It should be translated into English in at least the following diverse manners: (a) guiding line; (b) transmitting wire; (c) main stream; and (d) leading thread. These four systems of metaphors should not be forgotten as we proceed here since they will become the key to hidden presuppositions about the nature of textuality for Derrida. But we must begin at the beginning: that is, the opening of deconstruction.
As deconstruction moves towards the text of its choice, it approaches armed with certain goals or intentions. Derrida himself makes these explicit in the following manners: (a) as the deconstruction of metaphysics; (b) to “produce the law of the relationship between metaphysics and non-metaphysics”; (c) “to reveal the economy of a written text”; (d) to undo onto-theology”; (e) “to leave a track in the text it analyses”; and (f) “to aim at a certain relationship, unperceived by the writer, between what he commands and what he does not command of the patterns of language that he uses.”3
Our first question must be: Are these all the same thing essentially or do they form a multitude of projects and hence directions for deconstruction? Our second question concerns the possibility of fulfillment; that is, as intentions are they to be considered as Ideas in the Kantian sense and therefore infinite and unreachable goals or as intentions as Husserl uses the term such that their fulfillment is intrinsically possible, especially as concerns the project of the epistème, science, or truth? This initiates the problem of the relation of deconstruction to truth. Is it submitted and thus committed to a project of truth? Or does this question make any sense? That is, are we already outside of the opposition of truth and falsity? Are we approaching an ontology? or is deconstruction a sort of play with its object that changes nothing? This would involve the distinction between work and play as utilized by Hegel. If deconstruction is aiming to alter metaphysics or if this is what “intervene” means for Derrida, then it must be considered work and not play. Its “presence” will therefore be expected to make a difference. Indeed Derrida substitutes the term “le travail textuel” for deconstruction throughout his discussion of the same in Positions. We suspend any final judgment on this for the present, however.
Let us begin by presupposing a certain identity of deconstruction as a project that is unified, systematic, identifiable, and hence also repeatable. This would mean that the seemingly disparate claims listed above that Derrida makes regarding the aims of deconstruction should be unifiable or capable of synthesis into a systematic totality. The first two claims involve: (a) the deconstruction of metaphysics and (b) the production of the law of the relationship between metaphysics and non-metaphysics. This means, when united, that in deconstructing metaphysics two other phenomena must appear: a law and non-metaphysics. Since deconstruction claims to produce this law, one might imagine that it did not exist prior to the action of deconstruction. Derrida insists, however, that the active-productive relation here must be tempered with a passive-revelatory one such that deconstruction participates in this production but is in a certain sense not totally responsible for it. Specific historical conditions have allowed for the possibility of deconstruction and thus for this shift that it seems to inaugurate in the infinite dominance of metaphysics. We will examine this later in terms of the presuppositions of deconstruction as exposed by Derrida and also beyond this. For now we wish to point out that in the deconstruction of metaphysics it seems that non-metaphysics emerges and does so in a particular fixed relation to metaphysics. This relation will be described by deconstruction.
The third aspect, “to reveal the economy of a written text,” will shed some light on the structure we are building. The written text is presumably the locus of this deconstructive activity (in this context) wherein deconstruction finds metaphysics, non-metaphysics, and the law of their relation. This law is explained here as an economy. We now know, or at least can anticipate, the relation of metaphysics to non-metaphysics: an economy. This entails an exchange, but what is exchanged? Power also seems implied here and perhaps signs, but more than this we cannot yet foresee.
Deconstruction also promises us the “undoing of onto-theology.” Is this reducible or identifiable with metaphysics? Derrida says yes and also that this is “the age of the sign.” We now have the problem of presence emerging as the “guiding line” of metaphysics and hence as the “archenemy” of deconstruction. Onto-theology maintains a God of presence; indeed the presence of God is just this and suspends death infinitely. In addition, history and life and man become “mere signs,” and indeed the sign becomes “mere” in this system. Thus deconstruction seems to be after the death of God and the life of man, but nothing could be further from its intent. In fact it intends to limit metaphysics, not kill it, to limit “God” and therein liberate the notion of the sacred (decenter it), and further to recognize death as essential, and man as not inessential but not the center of the world. Indeed to substitute a world without a center. We are already ahead of ourselves and beyond deconstruction. We must return to its intentions and deal with its accomplishments and abortions later.
Deconstruction claims in its process, or the wake of its movement, to leave a track in the text. Is this what is meant by “deconstructing metaphysics”? Presumably so. What sort of track must this be, and what effect must this have on the text and hence on metaphysics? The track is a memory in a certain sense; a difference that is inserted in the heart of presence. Yet Derrida would deny such a formulation. His wording might be instead that the track has always already been there but is only revealed by deconstruction. He emphasizes the passive yet also denies the eidetic sphere. We must include portions of both, therefore, in order to understand this. The results of this track seem to have an effect all their own, as if deconstruction is a preliminary tracking procedure (more like trapping) which after its activity produces an effect in philosophy. This seems consistent with the schema for the new series of texts entitled “Philosophie en Effet,” for which Derrida is a founding member. Thus deconstruction itself seems to be a preparation for something else. It indeed is this—both for an explosion in philosophy and the opening which will found Grammatology (although perhaps under a different name). This is perhaps the “crevice” that Derrida speaks of through which one can only “catch a glimpse of the as yet unnameable.”
The final aspect of our synthesis involves the “aiming towards a certain relationship, unperceived by the writer, between what he commands and what he does not command of the patterns of language that he uses.” It would be too simple to suppose that “what he commands” is metaphysics and “what he does not command” is not metaphysics. Deconstruction is much more subtle, since what the writer seems to command is only one level of that which he does not. Thus metaphysical control of textuality is an implicit process and not generally one wielded by a writer. It is this controlling system that deconstruction attempts to reveal initially and secondly to deconstruct (assuming that revelation is distinct from this). We seem to have a level of unconscious textual production in occurrence here and one that deconstruction aims to reveal. Indeed deconstruction searches for “symptoms” of this underlying level in order to locate and track it. The track does not wander aimlessly through the textual world, however. Once again we find a delimitation of the relation of the known to the unknown, or a law, as Derrida announced earlier, and one which takes us from one level to the other. On the one hand, this law is “available” to us after the revelation and recognition of what was formerly invisible. Thus the problem emerges as to how one moves from the known to the unknown in order to initiate the process of deconstruction. Since this law is available only after, from whence does the “fil conducteur” originate? Although Derrida confesses to no absolute justification for this beginning, we wish to illustrate the process by which deconstruction intends to achieve these goals. But first several issues remain to be clarified.
The synthesis of the various descriptions given by Derrida seems, given the above explication, to be not only plausible but also consistent with Derrida’s “intentions” as a whole. But are these goals or Ideas in the Kantian sense? That is, is it possible to actually deconstruct metaphysics? Not once and for all, Derrida will answer. Metaphysics, as we have shown, is not to be killed but only limited. Indeed it is already limited, more precisely speaking, but this is not yet recognized. In addition to this limitation however, metaphysics seems to have a tendency to resurge and to return with its infinitizing project. Thus the work of deconstruction is never to be accomplished as such. This relation, as an economy, will be treated in greater detail later but we wish here to at least pose the issue as a limit. This seems to answer our second query regarding the fulfillment of these intentions of deconstruction. But if they are intrinsically nonfulfillable, then the issue of truth, science and the epistème must be faced. What is the relationship of deconstruction to truth? Derrida aims to free the notions of science and truth from the logocentrism of metaphysics and to establish them elsewhere, or at least also elsewhere. Thus it seems that deconstruction hopes to found a new possibility for truth and the meaning of science, indeed to extend the limits of meaningfulness itself. If this is so, as it seems to us, it is impossible to ask whether deconstruction is true or not, since it does not and cannot respond to such a question. It intends to inaugurate a new meaning for truth and thus exceeds the question. This excess is not however an ontology despite the seemingly infinite distance deconstruction may appear from its goal. The act of deconstruction, once the track is made, can never be undone and makes a difference that remains unforgettable within metaphysics. This procedure as such must now be examined.
(b) Castration and Mimesis
... the most general title of the problem would be: castration and mimesis.4
This “problem” is the actual work of deconstruction. We already know that this work is empirical in a certain sense. That is, it is a textual practice more than a theory, although it presupposes and aims towards the latter. But what is castrated and what is mimed? Is this the same thing? Are these actions directed towards the same thing? Do they have a temporal order or relation—simultaneous or sequential? And finally, why castration and mimesis? Does not one undo the possibility of the other? Is this double movement coherent with itself? How can these opposing propositions be united within the term ‘deconstruction’? We shall attempt first to answer these questions according to Derrida and secondly to point out some areas of insoluable enigmas that seem to be lurking within this “method.” It is again worthy of note that for Derrida the question of method is in itself an ‘exorbitant’ one. This means it extends outside of the ‘orbit’ of classical metaphysics of the Logos. In short, there can be no adequate reasons given, if one determines adequacy by Reason itself. However, this “exorbitancy” extends only to the “fil conducteur,” to the opening line, and although leaving a trace throughout the textual work of deconstruction, it does so only as an uneasy horizon, not in each detail. What this means is that deconstruction, as a process that is repeatable and not totally idiomatic or determined by the text it aims to analyze, resists the self-effacement that is so characteristic of the treatment of the sign in classical metaphysics. It is this residue that we must examine presently.
In general terms “castration and mimesis” describes the double register or double reading that deconstruction conducts simultaneously. On the one hand, the text analyzed is to be borrowed from, to be reproduced as if deconstruction were merely a doubling commentary. But on the other hand, in this process certain spaces are made in the text, certain questions are asked, certain re-marks are produced, a certain “track” is left in the “original” text which leaves it not dissimilar from its state prior to deconstruction, but nonetheless, not the same. These re-marks are cuts in the text, Derrida does not hesitate to point out, and as such perform the work of castration. In a certain sense then it is Logos itself, as phallocentric, that is being clipped as deconstruction works its way through the text. But these generalities leave one wondering nevertheless about the “actual” method of deconstruction. Where does one cut? What is borrowed? What is copied and what is cut? Where does the doubling stop and the re-mark over and above this begin?
As to the question of borrowing, Derrida claims, although we disagree, that deconstruction borrows all its resources from the text it analyzes:
The movements of deconstruction do not destroy structures from the outside. They are not possible nor can they take accurate aim except by inhabiting those structures. Inhabiting them in a certain way ... operating necessarily from the inside, borrowing all the strategic and economic resources of subversion from the old structure, borrowing them structurally that is to say without being able to isolate their elements and atoms, the enterprise of deconstruction always in a certain way falls prey to its own work [my emphasis].5
He qualifies the borrowing as structural however and not atomistic. What this entails is a general strategy, a general style with general principles that cross-cut particular places and times in a text and link, at a certain level, one region to another. We insist that the borrowing is not total, however, for the following reasons: (a) there are qualities that are proper to deconstruction alone and distinguish it irreducibly from the text it analyzes, in each case and in general; (b) the act of borrowing is itself not borrowed from the structure under analysis; and (c) without something proper to deconstruction it could leave no trace in the text, and would therefore be invisible after its work was completed, in a particular case, therein not making even the slightest difference.
But what does it mean to inhabit those structures? To work from the inside of a text without attacking it externally? Derrida’s usage of biological metaphors here must be noted since later he claims the work of deconstruction is “parasitic”—not symbiotic, but parasitic. The metaphors of living organisms are significant since there is a certain life and thus death, a certain finitude introduced here. What this entails is not properly the domain of methodology and will be treated later in terms of the presuppositions of deconstruction when we arrive there. For the present it is worthy of note that there is something lurking behind Derrida’s explicit claims, something that orients the style of deconstruction itself. In addition the self-effacing claim that all the resources are borrowed will reappear in terms of Derrida’s portrayal of metaphysics itself, also deconstruction’s target we should recall.
The first step in deconstruction, once the borrowing is done, although this is never an accomplished, completed task, is “to exhaust the resources of the concept [borrowed] ... before attaining and in order to obtain by deconstruction, its ultimate foundation.” To “exhaust the resources of a concept” must mean to use it and indeed to use it up. However, the nature of the concept is such that it claims an infinite range—indeed one that can go on forever. It is not a “material” that has the quality, weakness or potential of being exhausted. It has intrinsically an infinite capacity or is infinitely inexhaustible. However, Derrida insists that this is not the case. It s difficult to say whether he presupposes conceptual exhaustiveness or actually finds it and then draws his conclusion from the findings, scientifically, as it were. But what is the sign for this exhaustion? Indeed, what is the limit of the concept? It is meaningfulness. It is the very possibility of meaning. When the concept no longer makes any sense its resources have been exhausted. More precisely we will have reached the limits of its usefulness. It is this limit that Derrida wishes to approach and point out, therein transgressing it at the same instant. It is the usage of the concept within and until its limits present themselves (as it were) that entails mimesis or repetition (without representation), and it is the crossing of the boundary, asking the nonsensical, meaningless question, according to the rules of questionability, that entails a certain castration. It is precisely this boundary crossing that illumines the limits of logocentric metaphysics. The “backward glance” is also a forward thrust, and what it reveals are limits which have no “legitimate right” to be there. That is, as we mentioned above, the concept is defined in its essence as infinite, yet we reach a space where its “infinite range” does not apply. These are the places that Derrida will mark in his “textual work” or deconstruction. These are the places where the trace of the work makes itself felt in metaphysics itself. This contradiction will need to be integrated, to itself be overcome within metaphysics itself since it is based on non-contradiction. The struggle is only in its infancy here however.
It is still unclear how deconstruction borrows and what it borrows from the old structure. How is the selection made and indeed what is selected? Derrida claims that certain terms in a text, or certain structures, more precisely, must be treated as symptoms or signs which if followed throughout the text will reveal an underlying system of constraints operating in the text and indeed that this almost totally invisible structure is that which governs, commands, and organizes the textual production itself. What we read is a result, an effect, and what we must seek is how the text as such, as given, came and comes to be constituted as such. The presuppositions here that allow for deconstruction’s work will be examined shortly, but first the symptoms:
... as the primordial and indispensable phase, in fact and in principle, of the development of this problematic, consists in questioning the internal structure of these texts as symptoms; as that is the only condition for determining these symptoms themselves in the totality of their metaphysical appurtenance. I draw my argument from them in order to isolate, in Rousseau [for example] and in Rousseauism the theory of writing [my emphasis].6
At present we are not concerned with the results and the implications of deconstruction but rather with how it is that those results are obtained, be they productions or revelations or both, as Derrida claims. Now we are instructed to question the internal structure as a symptom. This can only mean to treat it as a sign—indeed a sign in the classical sense—for something else. It is now a signifying structure but not in the sense of having a referent elsewhere. Thus we remain within the text itself in deconstruction, albeit treating the same as a sign. There is no proper place for that which deconstruction finds in a sense, since if there were it would be in the text explicitly. Instead what Derrida seeks is that which allows for the text to be produced as such: “the law of the relation between what the writer commands and what he does not command of the patterns of language that he uses.” Thus the relation of the given text to its “other side” must have a certain consistency. It is this that deconstruction hopes to uncover and indeed requires in order to work at all. The “symptom,” to use Derrida’s system of metaphors, must point us towards a disease but must therefore be a system or collection of symptoms. One is never enough to define a disease. Rather the interrelation of various ones together is essential. Assuming for a moment that this medical terminology underlies Derrida’s “treatment” of textuality in the form of deconstruction, we can now understand better how deconstruction manifests itself. More specifically, one could show that Derrida tends to select for the “fil conducteur” a term or a system of terms which are linked either directly or indirectly to that “other side” of classical metaphysical oppositions which have been excluded from the realm of the Good, the True, and the Reasonable; in short, the meaningful. These terms are not difficult to spot. For instance we have the supplement, metaphor, women, poesis, mimesis, writing, the sign, the empirical, history, finitude, limit, impurity, non-simplicity. The list, although not infinite, seems to go on forever. We will examine in detail the actual work of deconstruction in practice with respect to the works of Husserl and Saussure in the second section of this work, where the meaning of the method here expounded necessarily more as a theory than a practice will become more clear. At present we are attempting only to lay out general propositions of style in order that an outline as a whole of “the textual work” can be glimpsed in the distance, albeit within the crevice, albeit still essentially unnameable.
Before leaving the interweaving of castration and mimesis we wish to add a few remarks on the trace. In following the thread or symptom in a text, what one finds is a certain pattern that emerges. This is indicative of a rupture within metaphysics itself, for Derrida, and thus the “places of rupture” must be localized. Deconstruction thus remarks or points out these places found in the text yet in some respects made almost invisible there. The negligible, or the footnote, or that which is held suspended in brackets tends also to be a good bet for the locus of a symptom. This irruption or blemish on the face of metaphysics is paradoxically what allows deconstruction to: (a) displace the seeming coherence of the text; (b) juxtapose the incoherencies one against the other—face to face, as it were; and (c) to do nothing. Metaphysics itself will take care of the rest. The active passivity or passive activity, although reproductive, respectful, and faithful to its borrowed text, nonetheless undermines it by virtue of its own principles. The results are described by Derrida in terms of a law, a logic, a play, and a primordiality which only metaphysics itself can authorize. It is precisely this authorization as absolute and limitless that deconstruction focuses on and aims to deconstruct. That is, to reveal its foundation as non-metaphysical. This is only contradictory if one absolutizes: (a) the terms of the opposition and (b) the opposition itself. Deconstruction presupposes that this is not done in order to grasp even a trace of its “textual work.” Thus the risks of its operation begin to be felt.
(c) “... ne veut rien dire.”7
The most obvious risks of deconstruction are twofold: (i) that it merely mimics, imitates or reproduces its “parent text” and leaves no trace of its work, and (ii) that it becomes its own enemy; that is, reified and absolutized into a sort of strategic metaphysics of detextualization. The first danger is perhaps more serious. Derrida has himself stated that deconstruction “ne veut rien dire,” and indeed this claim has returned to haunt him, notably in the interviews of Positions. To understand what he means by this, one must understand the theory of intentionality proposed by Husserl and how this forms the culmination of the history of philosophy with respect to the metaphysics of presence. We will not propose to short-circuit that essential work. However, we wish to point out that the “vouloir-dire” of Husserl, indeed of metaphysics in general (the presupposition of Husserl’s phenomenology being within the latter will be taken up later in greater detail) has always, according to Derrida, been the determination and circumscription, indeed the condition of the possibility of meaning in general. It is not without consequence that meaning and intention are linked here and that they are constituted only in relation to an object. The point is that for Derrida to claim that deconstruction does not want to say anything, or more precisely has nothing to say—to speak of the nothing—is to say that he intends to exceed this preformulation that prescribes meaning according to metaphysics. He is well aware of the danger of such playfulness, given the continued predominance of metaphysical presuppositions in language and thought today. Thus he subjects his work to radical misinterpretation by this refusal to explicate again the meaning of meaning, and how metaphysical predeterminations of the same can be overcome. This is his project, as a whole, in a certain sense, and when asked what deconstruction means—he must say “nothing.” We do not defend or attack this position he has taken but wish here only to explicate: (a) the possibilities of misunderstanding and nonrecognition; (b) why these are intrinsic and meaningful; and (c) why Derrida’s claims are to be taken seriously, in a certain sense, as a rigorous attempt to understand the foundations of scientificity and the formation of form itself, and thus why the notion of “serious” as metaphysically engendered must be discarded. This means, as Derrida has responded to Searle—“Let’s be serious!” In order to understand this danger of deconstruction falling back into metaphysics as merely a “copy,” indeed as a “bad” copy at that, we must suspend or bracket out metaphysical determinations of meaning at the very instant that they appear and seem to make everything “perfectly clear.” It is this clarity itself as a univocalization of the world that must be suspected. As Derrida says, regarding his project as a whole: (his intention (vouloir dire))
To make enigmatic what one thinks one understands by the words ‘proximity’, ‘immediacy’, ‘presence’ (the immediate (proche)) the own (propre) and the pre- of presence is my final intention of this work (Of Grammatology). This deconstruction of presence accomplishes itself through the deconstruction of consciousness, and therefore through the irreducible notion of the trace (spur), as it appears in both Nietzschean and Freudian discourse.8
To make enigmatic is to make resound, to make something oscillate, or vibrate, or ring between two poles of opposition. What this means is that a certain irreducible duplicity must appear, indeed is already latent or immanent within classical metaphysics itself, but is as yet unheard within most of the tradition. In a certain sense, if one is not listening for it, it will not be heard. Thus a preparation for this resounding “Glas!” is essential; a certain readiness or a certain distrust of the infinity that metaphysics promises us. The clarity and distinctness, and the readiness-to-hand of immediate understanding in its full presence will become problematized for and by deconstruction. What is found by this will be described later, since it exceeds the bounds of the principles of deconstruction.
This intention of Derrida’s, however, as an intention, is also a unified project, albeit divided from within as we have tried to illustrate. In falling short of recognition as such, what seems to occur is a blinding attempt to synthesize these two poles, to unite the double register that is essential to the movement of deconstruction. To tie the two shoes together instead of lacing each one individually, albeit in a parallel fashion. As Derrida says, “one cannot walk in such a manner.” Instead one will only trip and fall at the first attempt. We therefore propose that there be a double sense sustained in the understanding of Derrida, such that his terms, phrases, and texts be considered, on the one hand, inside metaphysics and, on the other, outside of metaphysics. In doing this the reading becomes a parody. It becomes the acting out of the castration and mimesis with each concept, as one moves at one moment with one foot, then with the other; each step of the way leading back again to the other side. Deconstruction, as we have seen, is this very oscillating movement that is not, as some have claimed, a simple shifting from one side (foot) to the other. Instead, deconstruction, if properly understood, walks through the text and, if improperly understood, leaves its tracks behind it. We will examine them shortly.
The second way of reducing Derrida’s deconstruction is to grasp it as a theory in itself, as such, as it were, that contains a certain eidos or essentiality within its own proper bounds. This would be a machine-like robot that walks, indeed marches, over textuality, destroying the ground as a whole in its wake. What this entails is the making of deconstruction into a metaphysical concept. The idea of asking Derrida about his “thought” in general would entail such a maneuver. More specifically, this reification would deny the essentiality of the other that is not deconstruction for deconstruction’s process itself. This other as other is metaphysics. To reduce deconstruction to metaphysics is to misunderstand both at the same time. The very difference that sustains the work of deconstruction would be lost in the collapse and metaphysics as such would sustain its infinitizing process. This is clearly an inexcusable violence and violation of the work of Derrida and misunderstands him totally. The sustenance of deconstruction is drawn from its relation to metaphysics, it is true, and indeed its tools of operation are borrowed from the same; but within this process the work of castration, of cutting into the text, of uncovering hidden laws, and of revealing a fracture within metaphysics that allows for its operation is a secondary yet essential aspect. The very secondariness is another problem of understanding that Derrida aims to deconstruct. Temporality itself is under fire here, as linear and as an effervescent Now that has always known its own past and forgets nothing. We shall treat the Now X with respect to the findings of deconstruction and will not pursue this further at present. The point here is simply that deconstruction: (a) is not nothing and (b) is not metaphysical, yet (c) it is not something and (d) is somewhat metaphysical. From a metaphysical standpoint, in claiming “A” and “-A” as coexistant properties of the same thing, one arrives at zero and knows nothing more of that object. From a deconstructive standpoint, if we can balance here for a moment, one must consider that in some respects, on some levels, in some styles, and at particular times “A” is the case, whereas at others, “-A” is the case. The unity of the object is thus sustained and yet shattered at the same time. The problem is certainly the localization of meaning inside the closure of the “object” whatever sort of “thing” that might be. In order, therefore, to catch the drift or scent of deconstruction more fully, we propose an examination beyond these limits (although a proper explanation was required and its resources exhausted as a preliminary phase of operation) and into a realm of relations that can only be described within the framework of an economy.