I just finished Counterpath today, a tandem work between Jacques Derrida and Catharine Malabou, in which Malabou gives an overview of Derrida’s work along 3 “pathways” that while carrying on a conversation with him as he travels for a year.
The pathways seems to signify Derrida’s concept of retrait and Malabou gives a well-rounded view of Derrida’s work, allowing the concepts to flow lucidly into each using quotes from Derrida’s texts to help elucidate the ideas. To begin with the concept of the retrait forming the backbone of the idea of the pathway in a book based around travel is great.
Retrait is a response by Derrida to Heidegger’s trait from his concept of Destruktion. Derrida states that Heidegger through Destruktion is attempting to overcome metaphysics and do away with the concept of being. Through dismantling or destroying metaphysics Heidegger also believes he is doing away with the metaphor as well. One of Derrida’s concepts however is that within communication, spoken language, there is nothing but metaphor. We can not speak with one another without conveying metaphor since we are not the other. We not only are different people with different but we have separate origins which are always changing, through unfixed realities of time and space. This inability to to speak without metaphor means that we can not own our language; it is uninhabitable. Language takes us from ourselves. We can not possess it and through that we end up possessing nothing. This leaves an overarching metaphor that runs between the “thing” and the entire environment.
So Heidegger’s trait, the cutting of being, slicing through and steeping through it simply folds back in itself since what he states is simply a metaphor for something someone else will have to do in a different way or even for his own experience. One should think of the trait as leaving the “pathway” of being and forging a new alternative route. (I’m loathe to say pathway because the pathway is open to the past and the future along many different dimensions of space and other factors I can not speak of for lack of knowledge or time. One could say infinite except that there are boundaries of law and ethics which must be taken into account.) The retrait is the metaphor that folds the trait back in on itself. The trait is no longer just a separation but it is THE path interweaving itself along the strands of other paths. One should think that there is the ability to move between each of these paths at will depending upon their actions.
What comes into paly here, though I’m not sure how, is the trace. The trace runs the line between the “thing” and its boundary. What could be called Khora, not the boundary but everything. In fact trace could be that which runs the boundary between the known and the Other. Trace runs the borders of differance forever in the presence of imminence or l’avenir. It is this presence within imminence that is the condition of messianicity without a messiah that Derrida speaks of. A foretold coming that is constantly on the horizon.
Malabou also fleshed out Derrida’s concepts of aporia and hospitality for me. The aporia is that which is believed to be impossible, therefore it is the only event (perhaps catastrophe but I’m not sure whether that has a solely negative meaning). It is within the aporia that invention truly happens for if something were known to be possible then it would not be invented.From the aporia also comes the greatest task of hospitality, the waiting for and acceptance of the other without knowing from where or what his/her/its arrival will look like. This waiting gives no time or indication of its features.
There’s much more but I’ll consign myself to this for now.