Thursday, August 31, 2006

reading [or i miss grad school.] or both.

(Derrida investigates the Mallarméan moment as non-event and this stems from, as well as leads to, the question of whether or not Mallarmé can have/ has had / takes place [is an event] in French literature. The question of whether or not Mallarmé has a place in French literature is complicated by roughly three interrelated and linked issues: the value and meaning of event, undecidability of text, and Mallarmé’s own aversion to author signature. )

[“nothing will have taken place but the place” Mallarmé (115, quoted by Derrida)]

According to Derrida the Mallarméan moment is a moment of crisis. This crisis is defined as “the moment when simple decision is no longer possible, where the choice between opposing paths is suspend (113).” Judgment is rendered not-possible. The fact that one cannot use judgment makes the texts of Mallarmé something that rhetoric is unable address because the very object of rhetoric is to decode: to make meaning. How is Mallarmé, or “what passes through him, what traverses him (112),” able to dismantle rhetoric? Is this dismantling merely a withholding of information? An ambiguity? Clearly it is not an issue of polysemy, not an issue of mere confusion or an opening up of possibilities so wide that there can be no absolute, it is a suspension, but does this suspension take place?

Derrida first locates “the value of event on the one hand (presence, singularity without possible repetition, temporality, historicity)…. and, on the other hand, the value of meaning: Mallarmé never stopped tracking down signification wherever loss of meaning arose (112).”

[what does it mean to stop tracking down signification? wherever loss of meaning arises? what has taken place? I mean to say, does the polysemic text take place? places? I think yes.]

With Mallarmé, or I should say, with the text of Mallarmé, there is an untranslatability. Not only from French to English, but from signification to meaning. Derrida points out that this is not the opening up of signification and referent into multiple meanings, but paralysis of meaning. the impossibility of meaning. this impossibility of decision [because one must make a decision to make meaning] makes the place of Mallarmé in literature ‘questionable,’ in that “rhetoric or criticism [has] to have something to see or to do before a text, a meaning has to be determinable (114).”
[is Derrida arguing that Mallarmé’s indeterminability makes him unplaceable? which Mallarmé is not taking place in French literature? the Mallarmé that is Stéphen Mallarmé did, in his time, very much take place in the event of French literature by way of figure: his salon’s and correspondences. this seems to me a very different question, then.]

The main idea of Mallarmé’s texts and Derrida’s essay entitled “Mallarmé” is to state that the word disappears the moment it appears. that the attraction to these texts are in the unknowing of these texts: how Mallarmé suspends meaning. how the meaning of words is [always?] a crisis. If rhetoricians are unable to read Mallarmé as understanding is impossible, and polysemy is collapsed, how then can Mallarmé be placed? “Here the undecidability is no longer attached to a multiplicity of meanings, to a metaphorical richness, to a system of correspondences (115).”
[no meaning. disintegration. liberated energy. (116)]

The place for Mallarmé has no place because Mallarmé himself believed in the absence of the author, the death of the author, as Derrida quotes in his essay: “The organization of a book of poems appears innate or everywhere, eliminating chance; and yet it is necessary, in order to omit the author…” and “The right to accomplish anything exceptional or different from the ordinary, is always paid for by the omission of the author and, as it were, by his death as such (113).”
[is the inclusion by Derrida of these quotations from Mallarmé a violation of what is meant by these quotations by Mallarmé and not by what Derrida necessarily intends their meaning to be?]

[Mallarmé’s texts do not take place, except by taking space, but do they not cause event? What then is Derrida’s essay?]

Mallarmé also writes in English, has a relationship with the English language, and uses it in his works, thereby making it not entirely French and “[f]or this reason alone, “Mallarmé does not belong completely to “French literature (125).”

Places to go :

word identity vanishes while the word itself remains.

emphasis on ‘written work’ ?

writing and death lie down in bed…. the eternal absence of the bed

is this significant? is there then no bed and is that really important at all? there is no book? what is the not-book? is the not-book “Mallarmé” ?

“role to poetic opportunity” 121

the role of the syllable in the effect of the disappearing word 115

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