deconstruction, derrida, Levi-Strauss, Nietzsche, structuralism, Uncategorized

Notes on Derrida’s “Structure, Sign and Play in the Human Sciences”

Derrida: “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences”

From Writing and Difference, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978): 278-93.

“We need to interpret interpretations more than to interpret things” (Montaigne).

Derrida refers to the history of the concept of structure and an “event” in that history (it should be noted that in this opening paragraph, Derrida himself highlights the bracketing of the term event in quotation marks to serve as a precaution). Even here, the choice of the word “event” is “loaded” with a “meaning” that structural or structuralist thought seems to preclude. Thus we would have to say this word “event” as though it were crossed out or sous rature (under erasure). And so, with these precautions and noting structuralism’s potential objections, Derrida chooses to speak of an event whose “exterior form would be that of a rupture and a redoubling” (278).

This rupture perhaps brings to mind what Althusser normally calls an “epistemic break”, insofar as Derrida notes how the concept and word “structure” are as old as the episteme of Western philosophy and intertwines deeply with the “soil of ordinary language”. In fact the word and concept of structure are metaphorically displaced by the “deepest recesses” of the episteme. Of course, Althusser attributes epistemological breaks specifically to Marx and the way in which ideological conceptions are replaced by scientific ones. Here, what concerns the notion of an “event” in the history of the “structurality of structure” is the way in which it has always already been at work and “neutralized or reduced” due to its spontaneous attribution of a center or point of presence, “a fixed origin”. The goal of attributing a fixed center to structure is in order to “limit what we might call the play of structure”. It is not to eliminate play but to limit it according to the “total form” of structure that the episteme has succeeded in warding off “the notion of a structure lacking any center”, which would represent “the unthinkable itself”. (279).

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acceleration, becoming, control, Deleuze, machine, Nietzsche, subjectivity, virtual

Technoscience and Expressionism

Alfred Muller -- Plaza Juarez, Mexico City 2006

Alfred Muller — Plaza Juarez, Mexico City 2006

Technology and Control

The technocrat is the natural friend of the dictator—computers and dictatorship; but the revolutionary lives in the gap which separates technical progress from social totality, and inscribed there his dream of permanent revolution. This dream, therefore, is itself action, reality, and an effective menace to all established order; it renders possible what it dreams about (Gilles Deleuze, Logic of Sense)

Gilles Deleuze’s indication of a certain affinity between technocrats and dictators seems prescient. By Postscript on Control Societies the new realities resonating between society and its machines, in the middle of technological acceleration and social upheaval, have become so intense that every interior is in crisis, and the entirety of society has to be organized to resist the eruption of these dreams into reality.

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becoming, Deleuze, language, Nietzsche, ontology, Politics

Theory 1: Epigrams and Involutions

Theory 1: Epigrams and Involutions

“When I’m dreaming back like that I begins to see we’re only all telescopes.” Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake

“We have to learn to think differently — in order at last, perhaps very late on, to attain even more: to feel differently.” Nietzsche, Daybreak, II.103

“The greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar.” Montaigne

Preface. These collected epigrams, my thoughts of the morning — and occasionally late evening — this collection of azure and gleaming obsidian birds, I give to you today. If only you could have seen these terrible thoughts, these wicked birds in life, in joyful flight! I give this gift also to mark a break from this work, this first theory, this Theory 1 — for some of it is now alien to me. We are still becoming. Another theory, to refocus and amplify the first; incipit the second!

With infinite love,

Joseph Weissman, July 22, 2012 C.E.

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acceleration, Deleuze, machine, metaphysics, motion, Nietzsche, ontology, Serres, sign


In the duplicity of beauty there is the strange trope of a presence which is the shadow of itself, of a being which, anachronously, lurks in its own trace. (Levinas, Otherwise than Being)

Loyalty to Earth! There is a primordial immanence of the body, a primacy of lived experience; natural-and-spiritual forces are firstly constellations of singular point-signs, assembling lines of flight or death, and merely falsified (explicated at best) through signifying abstractions incapable of unleashing — and in fact devoted to nullifying — their chaoid variability. The Earth, whose infernal and howling depths unground the transcendence of organic representation, purifies the living death of abstraction through oblivion.

Consider the transcendent death-carrying agency transmitted by the sign, its inherent duplicity and danger. Signals hide virulent spiritual and natural forces beneath their opaque transparency, imperceptible and uncanny agencies strategically and fiercely engaged in combat against the tyranny of heaven.

The speech of angels would be the unvoice of the Godhead, the planetary annunciation of a regime of point-signals (logospheres) ungrounding or self-awakening. Desertification indexes fiery pathways to aridity, holey spaces desiccated by an eternal fire. Consider Heraclitus’ paradox of the inescapable proximity of  warmth and dryness: “[h]ow, from a fire that never sinks or sets, would you escape?”

For the destiny of matter is to be swept up and conjoined to a differential field of explosions, overturnings — to be thrown into a combat zone. Continue reading

assemblage, becoming, code, differentiation, disorder, escape, grammar, heresy, language, Nietzsche, structure, virus


Hypermediation. What is a statement? But the problem is already determining the singular projection of the statement onto life: both to identify the variously formed matters contained within it, with each of their constituent speeds and trajectories; but also the strata which capture and isolate (or ramify and merge) these intensities through one another. A statement is attached to productive networks which run throughout society; it is an auto-projection of the truth of society onto itself, which is perhaps to say the power of the false characteristic of a time.

Power induces, but also overflows and overdetermines the statement. The formations of power are composed of segmented, modular processes resembling and indeed modeled on the ‘rational ordered liberty’ which statements engender. The  statement surveys power itself as the structuring concept for philosophy, science and politics. Yet the productive networks negotiate the statement via a complex assemblage of enunciations in an asignifying and seamless process to which no subject may be attributed. The revolutionary potential of a statement can never be said to have been completely annihilated. Furthermore, this constituent impossibility of attribution which characterizes the statement can also be seen in the way it forms a projection of the social landscape as if from any position whatsoever — or from no position at all.
Eternal Return, Nietzsche, women


Valentin Bazarov, Flowers

I mean to say that the world is full of beautiful things but nevertheless poor, very poor when it comes to beautiful moments and unveilings of these things. But perhaps this is the powerful magic of life: it is covered by a veil interwoven with gold, a veil of beautiful possibilities, sparkling with promise, resistance, bashfulness, mockery, pity, and seduction. Yes, life is a woman.

Friedrich Nietzsche

machine, Nietzsche, ontology, philosophy, truth


Nietzsche. That joy and vision should be brought to bear even in the darkest corner of the human soul — and especially upon that within it which surges upwards and beyond the human species entirely; above the world, and so finally able to see, from a vision born of flight. –To “survey” reality as though from an impossible distance, an incommensurate height.


Joyful wisdom. Science is such that it can only truly be said to exist once many powerful and warring social and psychic desires have been tamed, coerced into accord, allowed to achieve their fragile pact. (A difficult enough thing; and, indeed, the conditions for a joyful science are still far from ripe!) The result being that a scientist, insofar as he or she is a scientist, is precisely the one who is unconcerned about whether another agrees to the “truth” of this or that proposition; in every instance it is rather the force or real function which counts, which is to say: the manner in which a given idea alters, amplifies, and re-assembles already existing systems of ideas. The production of a new semiotic system is always coupled to a wide variety of psychic and social machines, together forming a new regime of ideas along with an appropriate “pragmatics” of desire. This “image of thought,” for our purposes here, can be considered simply as a series of collective practices interwoven with a multiplicity of signifying systems, the coupling of productive processes with anti-productive processes, a conjoining of systems of pure affects with order-words. A pragmatic then is precisely a ‘process’ which can be said to function ‘structurally’ only in a heuristic and reductive sense. Indeed, the reality of thought is not a stasis or immanent emptiness but rather (or more fundamentally) a transfinite process of conception, first and fundamentally a flight into new pragmatic regimes. This a conceiving of new practices  may be realized or constituted in any particular case, but only insofar as it tends to produce novel and singular functions. It is not true that the repetition of a similar effect is the origin of thinking; rather it is precisely a difference, in the last instance a shift in perspective, sometimes infinitesimal, which is required.

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