Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Make a distinction . . .

Derrida speaks of difference, of distinction between this and that, and somewhere that the sacred and the profane are distinguished as of between clean and unclean, which reminds us of the original act of separation between light and darkness, but why meaningless separations such as those demanded in Leviticus?

Or has Derrida said nothing of the sort?

Wittgenstein said that in the presence of that before which we cannot speak, we usst remmust werg emsinrem . . .


At 10:42 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

I see something of Derrida in what you write here. My understanding is that his deliberately misspelled concept of différance plays on how the French verb différer can mean both "to differ" and "to defer" (in the sense of "to put off until later"). So something like the letter "c" in both French and English manifests différance by representing two different sounds: \s\ and \k\ (hence differing), and by not having a definite sound until we see the letter couched in context (hence deferring). Derrida did indeed evoke words internally capable of opposite meanings, especially contranyms (a.k.a. auto-antonyms or Janus words) like the Greek (h)agios (sacred, unholy) and pharmakon (medicine, poison). Derrida riffed off Saussure in his fascination with pairs of opposites.

Part of me likes to think he may have been on to something, but the part of me that's interested in Buddhist nondualism finds Derrida's constant vibration between opposites to be superficial and lacking in a certain settled quality: the "thusness" or "suchness" of reality that Buddhism points to as a deeper truth. Derrida remains stuck in his field of dualism, eternally pingponging and unable to settle anywhere, trapped in semantics and thus unable to appreciate reality en tant que telle, which, though simple, is beyond language.

At 11:03 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Kevin, for the mini-lecture. I always learn a lot from you.

Jeff Hodges



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