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What Is Affect?

The Essential Moodiness of Deconstructive Modalization:

We have been concerned with questioning the necessity of a certain language of violence, otherness, disruption and pathos saturating Derrida's texts. Our method in this inquiry has thus far been to establish a connection between such tendencies and the assumed ideal structurality attributed to the origination of experience. In furtherance of this aim, we have characterized Derrida's account of the ethical vissicitudes of culture as a play between the totalitarianism of the Same and the traumatic jolt of the Absolute Other.

Our re-thinking shows the event-to-event modulation of experience to be of an intricate and intimate character which cannot be justified as necessarily conflictual and disturbing, even by the anti-authoritarian, post-phenomenological standards of deconstruction.

Even if we imagined Derrida to support the radicalization of his approach offered by us in the previous chapter, there remains a certain implied substantiveness and power attributed to the movement of experience which needs to be addressed, and to be questioned. What further alteration would we want to make in our understanding of the systematics of experience in order to address this remaining dissatisfaction? In order to go further in this investigation, we now need to make use of a more refined level of analysis than has thus far been available to us. We want to bring to the fore a feature of meaning which determines in a most basic way the consequentiality of experience but whose origin till now has been allowed to remain partially invisible, not just within our present analysis, but across the larger expanse of philosophical-ethico-poltico-aesthetic inquiry. Rather than examining the affective implications of tinkering with structural architectonics of a philosophy of experience, we have now to examine the question of affectivity intensely, from within its own resources. If deconstructive avenues of thought were guided in part by Heidegger's transformation of `to be' from a given to a question, it is time now to consider what has been left unexamined within terms like mood, affect, emotion.

At issue now is the relative moodiness the modalization of experience is allowed to carry in its functioning as play of traces. When we say moodiness, we are referring to the supposed palpable tension which determines meaning in its aspects as content and form, presence and absence. The importance of terms such as tension, paradox, alterity, resistance is that they deem my relation to a world, that is, meaning's relation to itself, as a play or duality which always is invested with a particular affectivity, a particular irreducibility of feel, mood, text, tension. From moment to moment, experience as the repetition of differance modalizes itself potentially and variously as joyful, bored, suffering, angry, mournful. To the extent that the iterative origin of experience carries with it this spacing of sense, the modalization of meaning is intrinsically `moodalizing'.

To say that Derridean differance (as well as our radicalized version of it) moodalizes itself is to be able to show that there would be an unexamined `thickness' to the space of self-dividing eventness. There would be a certain irreducible `fatness' inhering in the dynamic which comprises the double movement of Derridean dissemination. Even our radicalized account of deconstruction, which questioned and unravelled the depiction of relational experience as an opposition between redundant sameness and disturbing otherness, had nothing further to say and uncover beneath its own assumptions of a `gentle' thickness of mood adhering in the instancing of experience.

We are ready now to question from a more fundamental vantage the justification of being-with as minimally sensible, moody, affective, so as to reveal deconstructive thinking, even in the radicalized reading we have presented, as clinging to a too-substantive notion of experience via its embrace of an irreducible substrate of affect. How do we reconcile this claim of a fatness of content-difference with comments from Derrida which would seem to argue the contrary? He has said differance would be an "imperceptible difference. This exit from the identical into the same remains very slight, weighs nothing itself, thinks and weighs the book AS SUCH (WD, p.295)." Derrida has offered that the disseminative trace of meaning is a mark with so little force or consequence that it is scarcely enough to allow the iteration of a world as same-other, presence-absence. Differance would be "very gentle, foreign to threats and wars" (PY61). Nevertheless, there would be a way to reveal the insignificant play of traces as retaining a certain consequentiality, a guilty-mourning-joyful tension. Even as a presence-absence which is not simply present or absent to itself, differance retains enough of a substance, power, effect, in order to imply a minimal faith in suffering and blame. Even as it invests meaning's self-divided edge with a gentler because more insignificant effect than that which would be hypostatized as intentional epoche or the gathering of Dasein, differance retains a certain substantiveness or neuroticism; the `alterity' of the play of the trace implies a subtle, irreducible ambivalence, anxiety, violence, anger as well as a playful laughter. Derrida writes

"... writing [differance] cannot be thought outside of the horizon of intersubjective violence" (P49). His diatribe against his critics in `Biodegradables'(B812-873) evinces the use of deconstruction as a weapon of blame and anger. It admits to being bitter, resentful, angry, shocked (as it accuses its accusers of being abusive, arrogant, murderous, indecent, dishonest, aberrant, obscene, venomous).

Deconstruction sees these moody othernesses in the texts it unravels because, most fundamentally, it sees them in itself.

"I have had in the history of humanity no idea of anyone, wait, wait, anyone who has been happier than I, and luckier, euphoric, this is a priori true, isn't it?, drunk with uninterrupted enjoyment,...but that if, beyond any comparison, I have remained, me the counterexample of myself, as constantly sad, deprived, destitute, disappointed, impatient, jealous, desperate, negative and neurotic, and that if in the end the two certainties do not exclude one another for I am sure they are as true as each other, simultaneously and from every angle, then I do not know how still to risk the slightest sentence without letting it fall to the ground in silence..."(JD270).

The different moods of deconstructive writing emanate from the vissicitudes of the modalization of experience inventing itself, singular event to singular event, into and between condensations and gatherings. Differance is surprised, disappointed and saddened by the texts it encounters which attempt to slow the play of eventness by repressing and paralyzing otherness within their various conceptual programmatics; it is angry in its resistance to such repressive thinking as it forces an exhausted hegemony back to work. It enjoys the thematic momentum of the inventing and re-inventing of its own implications (Derrida remarks:"By means of this simultaneously faithful and violent circulation between the inside and the outside of philosophy...there is produced a textual work that gives great pleasure"(PT6)). Finally, underlying all these momenta of movement of experience (disappointing, hostile, pleasurable) is the minimally violent, guilty mourning (and euphoria) intrinsic to each duplicitous event in its performativity as self-inadequacy.

To read through and beyond-within Derrida is to explore the further implications of a thinking of utter insignificance of eventness, wherein the particularity of experience is of so little importance as to no longer justify a vocabulary of moody sense which perceives itself as tension, guilt, hostility.
It is not the articulation of a restive, passionate, anxious or disseminative otherness lurking at what would be the `heart' of knowing which we want to reveal. We want to slip underneath such a moody limit so as to begin to think a more (differently) rigorously insubstantial, non-foundational notion of `more' than would be overtly discernible by those who understand terms like anger, guilt, blame, and suffering within a circle of alterity. To proceed in this way is to experience a world in which, however their particular senses are unravelled, guilt and blameful justice (in fact, as we will see, all notions of justice can be revealed as blameful and guilty in a certain way) are terms which, in a most extraordinary manner, are now with almost no resonance left in them. It is to know that the gesture which projects a world of differences invokes a peculiarly radical, and not yet positive, sense of intimacy, intricacy and gentleness arising from a most profound insubstantiality of content-difference, whose ethical implications are of the most peaceful (because inconsequential) order.

To re-think and reduce the playful force of absence and presence within the trace is to alter the landscape of experience even before we take the radical step (which will happen later in this book) of putting into question a distinction between the split within the trace and the split between traces which supposedly justifies a language of gatherings and concentrations, dispersions and breaks. Even if we allow ourselves to remain for a while within the thinking of variations in momentum or density of novelty, we can detect an important effect of questioning the emotive meatiness of a modalizing trace. Instead of a contentful more and less that litters the playing field of deconstructive experience with shifting concatenations (from one singular to the next) of suffering, guilty, mourning, violent, joyful heterogeneities, there would be a more-and-less with (almost) no content beyond an ability to be more or less. There would be a momentum just barely beyond the phantasy of a self-identicality of numeric acceleration-deceleration. The force of eventness would be (almost) entirely exhausted in its effect as this variable more or less, leaving any notion of otherness with profoundly little basis and power. Rather than being a sterile exercise, this dynamic expresses a fundamental (gentle) shift in the experience of a world.

To move after-within Derrida is to question from meaning's originary dissymmetry. Before there would be such a thing as `a' meaning, there would first be a bivalence; to be is to enact a boundary, an edge, to be two. It would seem to be inescapable that the structural-genetic dynamic which repeats itself as meaning's diacritical edge demands negation simultaneous with affirmation, absence as well as presence. Could there be a world, a thinking, a history, a text without a disappearance to announce an appearance, an end to mark a beginning?

If the space of meaning always implies a twoness, an irreducible bivalence implicating both the basis of sameness and difference, continuity and discontinuity, the subjective and the objective, affirmation and negation, to rethink meaning's double site of difference is to be become aware of a more gentle (because imbecilic) play WITHIN the supposedly irreducible thickness, the palpable tension and mystery of a blameful alterity (to the extent that notions of otherness are intrinsically notions of blame). It is of paramount importance to us to think an origin of the possibility of difference as a gesture which is SIMULTANEOUSLY the gentlest sort of surpassing or negation of presence and the most unformidable notion of presence. This most infinitesimally-finite measure or sense of dissymmetry would simultaneously hold the relationship between entities, the split within meaning itself, as an impossibly close bond and would register the eventing of the event as impossibly devoid of effect. Meaning's gesture of subliminal moreness or transit, as the condition of names such as presence and absence, has its effect WITHIN that which is irreducible in the affirmational-negational structure of differance. Recognizing this quasi-developmental gesture as the hidden implication of the multiplication of differences, it locates itself as a gentler, because less consequential, double origin inside differance. Alterity, the Other, is subordinate to a peculiar notion of the similar not opposed to the dis-similar but preceding such an opposition, a notion of the similar as meaning's impossibly insignificant self-dissymmetry.

Memory and Past as Negation:

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We should add at this point that, without going into a detailed analysis of the function of absence and presence in Derrida's account of differance, we would reverse the relation of these terms to notions of memory and novelty as Derrida assigns them. He says deconstruction is made of "...the tension between memory, fidelity, the preservation of something that has been given to us, and, at the same time, heterogeneity, something absolutely new, and a break"(DN6). According to this order, the basis of memory, past and tradition originates a gesture of formalism, presence, the transcendental, affirmation. Instead, we want to implicate recollection and memory as the negational pole of an event of meaning, as expressions of change, loss, effacement, absence, dislocation. To return to that which is the basis of what we call memory or inheritance is most immediately to experience the loss or effacement of the now, a dislocation of meaning's aspect as `present'.

The `now' as `new' would be the affirmation, presence, proximity pole or aspect of a trace of meaning (what in Derrida's analyses would be determined as the origin of a gesture of empiricism and negation). In fact, the presence pole would evoke less than novelty. Novelty implies both loss and presence. Presence, affirmation, proximity doesn't know or do anything in and of itself; it is an imbecilic sense. its only claim to existence in any `form', as any effect, is that it is the other or partner of absence. Desire as the instant of eventness is our simultaneous having of negation and presence in the most impossibly insignificant way in which there could be anything like a notion of absence or presence. This is all we can offer as far as addressing either of these inseparable figures or poles, that existence is always their co-existence, and always as a same-new way of instantiating themselves.

The momenting of experience as the simultaneous invocation of absence and presence (but never either of these alone) can otherwise be considered as the simultaneous marking of dislocation, distance, separation, loss, negation, in the guise of the too-substantial regressive past, as well as peace, affirmation, proximity in the guise of the present, the `bettering' of this past. This bettering has nothing to do with whether we seem to retrieve a fond or unpleasant memory; all memory, as one of the two poles mutually effecting the transist of a moment of meaning, is the decadence of separation and interruption before it is any other affectivity we can attempt to claim for it. Before we know that memory is a presumed `going back to something' or preservation of something, we know it as interruption and dislocation, as the vanishing or `passing' of a present. In a minimal sense, it is always foul before it is fond.

Our difference with Derrida here is subtle but important. Our intent is to emphasize that what is joyful in experience is allied not simply with the familiar but, more fundamentally, with the freshness and passivity of presentness which is at the heart of familiar-as-fond. Intimacy is correlated with love not because it is the link with a past, a nostalgia, but because love in its `affirmative' moment or pole is a moment without the smell of decay-absence-distance that initially marks both `good' and `bad' memory AS memory before it is perceived as either pleasing or displeasing. If the gesture of the transcendental is connected with tradition, formality, normativity, this cannot most fundamentally be due to the origin of the transcendent in the `what was' of past and memory, but rather in a `freshness' that is the other of the decadence and redundancy of pastness.

The transcendental moment is not in the decadence of recovery and preservation but in the freshness of discovery. By the same token, the moment of the empirical as the other of transcendentalism would most fundamentally be located not in the pleasing freshness of discovery but in a minimally disturbing interruption or dislocation of this fresh quietism of the now. This quietism `feels' like unity, but of course it has no existence and cannot be thought apart from its other, the moment of the empirical as the feel of disunity and absence. Perhaps the most important implication of thinking past and memory as gestures of absencing is that it emphasizes the utter novelty of both the transcendental and the empirical poles of an event. If remembrance, the very thing that would seem to act as a repository of stability and continuity, is that device which tears us from the peace of the `now', then perhaps it is time to rethink terms like intimacy, stability, bonding and continuity. The basis of these terms which delight and satisfy us ethically, aesthetically, intellectually, religiously may now locate nothing which resists or counters the new. These affirmational terms and their negational counterparts would both manifest absolute novelty, albeit in different guises.

We could not say that either one of these poles (presence and absence) which co-determine an event of meaning was `newer' than the other, only that they point to irreducible and irreducibly distinct senses of novelty. The bivalent basis of a moment of sense would thus be seen as the play of these two figures of novelty. We mispoke in earlier claiming to reverse the determinations of memory and otherness in Derrida's account. We have not simply maintained the slots `fidelity' and `otherness' and re-defined their referents. What we have done is to question the need and the justification for any idea of a preservation of meaning. No sense is ever actually returned to even once, except as the redundancy of return is understood as a dislocation. Universality, transcendence, memory: these terms now lose all ability to conjure even an instant of duplication. They are of what has never been before in their seeming conservatism. The affective hallmark of return is the incipience of boredom. Boredom's seeming alliance with stasis is a subterfuge. Boredom's feel is the dawning of incoherence and disruption. A situation only bores us to the extent that its comfortable meaning has begun to fall away from us.

The Future:

(NOTE:The freshness of the moment of the transcendental is the origin of the sense that awareness is anticipatory. But what is it we are understanding when we refer to a notion like the future , the not yet, possibility, choice, will, striving, the may be? The future seems always anxious, but isn't this anxiety, before anything else, the disappointment of returning to a present that doesn't clarify the images conjured in the future vision? Before a future may not happen, it already happens, and only the 'not yet' experience of returning from image to the so-called present muddies the waters. This return makes one want to go to that future again to improve clarity. The image of a dog biting may be painful and anxious, but that future could also be of winning the lotto, so before that image is of joy or pain, it's of a discovery that only becomes confused with the 'return' to a new present that has no answers. The so-called return to the present is really a change of subject, a kind of forgetting. The future is fond before it is foul(or anything else).

Phenomenologists would agree that the future is a mode of the present, but they would see it as an irreducible protentional component of the specious present, alongside retention and the now. For instance, Gallagher adopts Husserl's concept of protention, which assumes that an experienced event projects into the future, that is, generates in addition to a presently experienced sense of meaning a projection or estimation of what is to follow, which may or may not be validated by what actually follows next in the temporal flow. In other words, Gallagher posits a primal impression of the now as an `inside' accompanied by a protentional moment serving as its `outside'. According to this thinking, the BEING of a meaning and the CHANGE from one meaning to another can be articulated separately.

To believe in the idea of intrinsic quality inhering in objects is to have an inside and an outside, a before and an after, stasis and change, space and time. This is irreducibly tripartate: past quality, change, present quality. Non transcendental qualities are real but fleeting; transcendental(or quasi-transcendental) categories like retention, present and protention(and negation and affirmation) have an infinity of ways of being themselves, but are categorically irreducible.

As we have seen, Past is real for phenomenologists not just because it sits alongside present but because it can be referred 'back' to. An order of before and after is presumed to have transcendent meaning due to the presumed qualitiative inherence and simple unity of meanings. And this 'before' and 'after' , being dimensions of change rather than inhering quality, are perhaps the origins of the affective(and the temporal) for phenomenologists , while the moment of the past and the moment of the present may be the origin of the concept(and the spatial) for phenomenologists. So, the specious present is a conceptual-affective spatial-temporal complex of contentful presentings(past and present) and affective changes(before and after).

Future is the affective moment of 'after'. That's why the future tense uses affective terms like 'will'. The notion of future is the feeling of willing, striving, changing or finding oneself changed. Protention has to be structurally slightly different from the 'after' between past and present besides simply offering a new variation of the affect of 'after'. Otherwise it couldn't be claimed as an irreducible component of the specious present. But if there is no such thing as status, stasis, state, space; if there is no intrinsic quality inhering in objects, then the phenomenological distinction between inside and outside, being and change, space and time, concept and affect, becomes incoherent.

To the extent that we can say that a present event is anticipatory, this is because it is already in ITSELF transformation or movement. If it seems that experience is anticipatory, it is not because an incipient sense of a new presencing precedes a fully-formed realization (or invalidation) of that prior specular gaze. It is the radical intimacy that links one moment to the next, regardless of situation, which secures the impression that awareness has built into it some special capability called anticipation or protention, which allows a glimpse into what, within this circle of mutually determined terms , is dubbed the �future�. The sense of anticipatory movement is not ADDED to the experience of now, but IS the experience of now as intimate change from there to here. There is never a sense or object of meaning which is simply and immediately present (inside) in the way that is defined by Husserl via its coupling with his notion of an anticipatory protention(outside).)

The self of the self-exceeding trace that returns transformed is no consciousness reaching out to what exceeds it. This self is no more substantial than the most insignificant notion of presenting, which we have said is close to that which Derrida would maintain as a pole of the equivocal gesture of differance, the yes which is never simply itself without also being the no, the affirmation which is at the same time the negation, the identity which is also difference in the double instant of play as the marking and remarking of world as text.
The `self' that we trace as that pole of meaning's instant is always to be thought at the `same moment' with a pole of exceeding, and thus `self-transformation' is not a sequence or process, not first a here and then a not-here. We don't know, nor need know, what same and other mean other than that they are inextricably two and that the whole world of possible experience must then be realized as having always been the effect of the repetition of the play of this two. We have in mind a trace which, as Derrida says,

"comes to take the place of everything that disappears without leaving an identifiable trace. The difference between the trace `cinder' and other traces is that the body of which cinders is the trace has totally disappeared, it has totally lost its contours, its form, its colors, its natural determination. Non-identifiable."

We who experience a world momenting itself in this peculiar way

"are witnesses who do not know what they are witnessing.... They witness an experience in the course of which someone says:"il y a la cendre," but they do not know what that means, finally, or who says it, cinders of what, and so forth"(P391-392).

The double single gesture of self-transformation is less (differently) substantial than the Derridean self-other double trope, however, in that deconstructive differance is redolent of mood, albeit as an affective universe which returns no positivity other than as concentrations or gatherings of `new-same' moody-modalizing tracings. Unlike Derrida, we find no resources to conceive same and other via the minimal neurotic weight of suffering and loss, prayers and tears, as an alterity which intrinsically invents itself as guilty and angry. Anything more than a most insignificant and peaceful (because imbecilic) effect that would be claimed for this repeat double fails to justify itself, and instead only belongs unknowingly to momenting's furthering-return. How would the thinking of a radically insubstantial, inconsequential, unformidable structure-genesis of meaning invoke an ethic of the most exquisite empathy and peace?

A world whose instant-to-instant experience would be simultaneously of the closest proximity or similarity, in a most peculiar sense of proximity and similarity, and having little import or content, would be a world which does not require the moody language of qualitative distance, surprise, loss, and separation which terms like blame, guilt, anger, justice and forgiveness imply, terms which still weave their way, in destabilized forms, through poststructuralist and deconstructive accounts. To analyze Derrida's thinking from within its own resources is to think a basis of moreness, of difference, less (and differently) violent than the otherness of differance with its already radically insubstantial anger, suffering and guilt.

Preliminarily, we can say that meaning's edge is almost no dissymmetry and thus almost no history-presence-absence-mood. The moment of signification is (almost) content and context-less, less than any alterity or differance. It is a notion of simultaneously finite-infinite smallness or insignificance not deducible from any tradition of infinitessence. To be is less than to strive, to need or desire. It is not the fat anxiety of homelessness, or even of travel. It moves subtly, richly, within these notions, as barely asymmetric with itself, a tiny trace of more-and-less, a most impossible relation of proximity-spacing.

The infinitesimal asymmetry which is meaning's edge is from the `beginning' without the power to effect suffering because this `duality' lacks both the sense of distance and content that its terms would need to possess in order to have the power of `alterity'. What would otherwise be thought as suffering and negation would be complicitous with terms like pleasure and affirmation in a most extraordinarily desubstantializing way, such that suffering is drained of its terrible solidity even as that which would be thought as joy now holds impossibly little weight.

How would such an edge manifest itself as history, as a text? To be itself as the sort of moreness that moves within Derrida's terms, meaning's history would repeat as variable regions of gathering and dispersion characterized within themselves and between themselves , always from one singular event to the next, as expansions and contractions, accelerations and decelerations, condensations and dispersions, coherences and incoherences. But what is crucial to understand here is that WHAT returns or repeats itself, as the always singularly experienced instances that invent and re-invent these compressions and spacings, is a double or split trace whose poles do not have the capacity of emotive alterity and would in fact be barely differentiable from each other in their impossible lack of affect-effect. The presencing-effacing trace needs to be construed closer to the sense of a more-less rather than same-other. This more-less play, announcing an event as the passing of the `what was' simultaneously with the coming of the new, would mark this transit as a most impossibly delicate and inconsequential self-overcoming.

One is always referring to something `else' in an experience, but it is crucial to understand that this `elseness' at the heart of meaning represents an infinitesimal-finite separation so insubstantial that its affective play, its possibilities of sense, are of a profoundly gentle inconsequentiality hidden beneath the anxiety, desire and suffering of a Derridean trace. Until one understands this radically inconsequential effect and feel of meaning, one cannot experience it anywhere in the world. Having grasped its implications, one finds it everywhere, always. Whereas for Derrida, the deconstructive play of the trace marks the basis of meaning, we find within this deconstructive edge a more insubstantial, more elegant, more blissfully stupid double edge, implied but not overtly recognized by deconstruction's mark.

Experience as Quasi-Density:

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The double structural-genesis of meaning would have to manifest a sense of division or internal spacing in order to have a world at all; to make presence and absence one would be to eliminate the basis of experience as texture. But the origin of signification need allow itself only the most infinitessimally insignificant notion of dissymmetry, mystery , deviance in order that the trace-ness of history may be effected.
History as the repetition of a practically senseless, because almost edgeless, double, can go nowhere but within an exquisitely narrow range of variation. The minimally decentering possibilities of a history spin out a dance of variations in quasi-density. This notion of sense as almost pure density gives us a flavor of the effect of meaning's gesture as that which has almost no generativity of sense-effect. It would be to experience the `what' of an event as close to a `how much', an exquisite order of proximity so thin as to be barely there as inscription.

A world would be projected in this way as an infinitesimal thickness of space-time. But when we say a relation from one event to another would effect something akin to a `more or less dense', it may seem that we would need to know `more of what', else the question becomes simply incoherent. How can we think a trace of meaning as quasi-quantitative density? If we want to characterize meaning's self-exceeding as a gesture of closer to or farther from, we may ask the question closer to or farther from WHAT? We cannot and need not identify a feature or quality which is being accelerated or decelerated. To exist as eventness is not to be a qualitative `way' of being more or less. All that could be intrinsic to a meaning is (almost) swallowed up in a quasi-quantitative gesture. `What it is' cannot have any sense outside of `how much it is' as momentum. But this `how dense', as we will soon see, cannot count instances of itself, as if it amounted to no more than a self-identical accumulation of instances of a theme. The `how much' finds itself returning to an infinitesimally-finitely altered notion of itself when it attempts to recollect itself into a concept.

Let us examine more closely how an experience of condensation can be said to express particular arrays of events in the world. We could look around at any and all events and seem to be able to arrange and order what happens in a subsumingly developmental fashion, with any particular event as either furthering a particular developmental order or disappointing it in an exquisitely precise manner, manifesting itself as a specific regression or anachronism with respect to that order. Whether it is a biographical, cultural, cosmological or any other supposed mode of history we analyze, such a subsuming-regressive order would seem to be available to us once we have begun to think the trace of meaning as radically devoid of otherness. We should immediately explain that what we have just described fails decisively to justify itself as a cumulative or dialectic order, but that is not what is essential and peculiar to the sort of `illusion' that may be produced as an initial consequence of a radically insignificant notion of eventness. We need to carefully demonstrate what is left of what we could call a post-deconstructive `developmental illusion' after we have shown why it cannot maintain itself as dialectic. As we will see, what is left of the illusion contributes an exquisite sense of precision, order and intimacy to our relationships unavailable to deconstructive thought.

First, let us investigate this developmental illusion more closely. Why should it appear at all? The too simplistic answer is that once we have removed from the origin of meaning its ability to justify itself as a fat sensuality of self-alterity, all that is left for it to generate is a world of modes and gatherings which have the character of anticipations of the greatest familiarity and proximity, as if each event belonged almost numerically to what preceded and followed it either acceleratively or deceleratively, WITHOUT REALLY DOING SO. My biographical history or a cultural history would project a world as akin to a variably accelerating acceleration, a thread of impossibly gentle and inconsequential invagination, a variable `speeding up' or `slowing' of time, whose time represents a post-Heideggerian temporality of a nature which we will need to explicate. Meaning's self-exceeding could not preserve itself as any privileged term of valuation such as `better and better' or a de-powering `closer to', or any in-itself sense of direction or magnitude that would fix itself as a recuperable measure as if there were a dominating arche-end to which all else was dialectically destined, a recoverable origin which repeated its thematic self-identicality as a developmental vector.

The vocabulary of this `closer to' or `farther from' points to meaning's dance as allowing the world at times to array itself as a subsuming unfolding, each new event having the possibility of seeming closer to the previous, within a more intimate structure, a relation of less separation from that which would simultaneously always lose more of its power of presence. As a furthering of a quasi-acceleration, each new place where meaning's same-other duality would be found would strike one as a place where there is less power-spacing given to each. Each furthering of such a development would be akin to a less substantial notion of presence differing in a less substantial way from absence.

Let's use Derrida's work as an example. What would be the difference between a thinking which needs to be deconstructed, and the text that intervenes in order to perform or effect that deconstruction? As we have argued, it would not be as though there were no disseminative movement being exemplified by the terms of the pre-deconstructed text, since any and all events are intrinsically in-motion, whether or not an author `believes' them to be. Rather, the way in which we might describe the manner of self-transforming repetition setting each term, each new event of thought, in relation to other events, would be as an ineffective sort of dissemination. What does ineffective mean? Derrida has used words like `inactive', `paralyzed', `exhausted',`resistant' to refer to the kind of movement which typifies a text in need of deconstruction.

...any assumption of assurance and of non-contradiction...is an optimistic gesticulation, an act of good conscience and irresponsibility-and thus it is indecision, profound inactivity beneath the appearance of activism or resolution(PT361).

In contrast, the activity of deconstructive reading is spoken of as `putting the text back to work'. It energizes, or precipitates a thinking which has been, if not arrested, then in some sense slowed or handicapped. How, then, is one to refer to this effect of deconstruction if not as a sort of condensation or acceleration of movement (Derrida refers to "more or less novel or repetitive, clarifying or impoverished content..."(PT50))? It is also important to notice that the undeconstructed text is considered harsh and violent in relation to what disseminates it. Its violence can in fact be understood as correlated or even synonymous with the supposed ineffectiveness of its movement. Why is programmatic, historicizing, exhausted thinking also violent thinking? Because the ploddingness of authoritarian faith implies a DISTANCING, a polarization, separating regions of meaning from each other. I hate the other who is seen as alien, irreconcilable, incommensurable with me, who violates my ethical faith.

Deconstruction can only say its reading of authoritarian texts of various kinds puts them back to work by assuming that the violence intrinsic to them is `real'. That is to say, even if a discourse basing itself on conceptual essences is considered as the dallying with phantasms and illusions masking or repressing a disseminative double origin at play always already in all thinking, such phantasms have an effect; they emanate from something structurally immanent within the discourse, some sort of failure or inadequacy which needs to be resisted or relieved. What is structurally immanent in a foundationalistic text, but always re-invented singularly and contextually from one event to another, is what we have characterized as a certain slowness, ploddingness, a relative distancing evinced in the relation of one event to another. And if the distance from one event to another is at issue here, then so must the notion of event in its supposed presence. Deconstruction would not simply be a condensation, a movement bringing the self-divided moments of a thinking `closer together'. It would effect a desubstantializing condensation; there would be simultaneously a certain thickness or fatness of absencing distance and a certain thickness of substantial presencing which, event to event, would distinguish a discourse in need of deconstruction from that which attempts, at the same time, to accelerate its movement and unfatten its moments, to put it to work.

While it may seem as though a text which insists on the foundationalistic constancy of its semantics, politics and ethics manages to stubbornly refuse change, the very stubbornness of its refusal reflects its basis in a profound self-doubting co-intrinsic with its faith in the correctness of truth. It finds itself constantly violating what it presents to itself as its proper destiny. Thus, it is not a matter of any such authoritarian discourse actually achieving protection from change, but of seeing the nature of its naive self-deconstruction as a peculiarly pungent play of stability and dislocation.

For the orientation which claims to intervene BEFORE the concept presumed to be self-identical over time, and having its effect BEFORE the contingently, temporarily self-present form, what does this BEFORE accomplish? Does it not each time move itself to a space of greater intimacy or proximity within the terms of those texts it would question? And does not the meaning of this intimacy and proximity depend on a notion of condensation acting both on absence and on presence? The activity of deconstruction would not be a privileging of presence over absence, the transcendent over the empirical, as if it were merely the bringing of OBJECTS closer together in a violent attempt at forcing an identity. It would act to reduce the qualitative basis of both disunity (spacing) and unity (formal objectness). Deconstruction would generate a gentler, because less thick, notion of both presence and absence in a moment of text. This act of uncovering would be invention as invagination, dissemination as condensing desubstantialization.

The version of desubstantialization operating within the shifting momentum of differance has to be seen as weak due to Derrida's rendering of the trace as qualitatively more than a figure of density. Moment to moment experience for him is irreducibly, affectively other, above and beyond its being more-or-less. This sets a limit to the thematic intimacy with which we would be able to think the unfolding of a history. If there would be something like a condensing desubstantialization at work in the deconstructive reading of a text, it would at every moment be a different, wholly other, sense of `condense' that returns to itself, fatally compromising any dream of a developmental trajectory. One could consider the instant of the application of deconstructive reading to a text as developmental in the sense that it condenses-desubstantializes what it re-thinks otherwise, and perhaps for the same reason we should also consider the course of a writer's career as potentially developmental in a non-self-identical sense, whether that writer be Derrida or any other.

After all, what would be this continuity-in-difference that characterizes an author's sustained re-reading of her previous thinking if not a self-deconstruction? And what of the thread linking names such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Derrida? Is there a sense in which each of these writers deconstructs and de-empowers the work of a previous author, thus suggesting the outlines of a philosophical development as an ethical movement of the de-empowerment of violence? This is an enormously complex question. Apart from the problematic implication of historical progress as a datable continuum, a schematic of self-containing epochs or epistemes, there is for Derrida another problem, this time arising out of the limitations of his work. This shortcoming in his thinking can be seen in his determination of any progress that might potentially be seen as ethical invagination or condensation as so overwhelmed by its force as qualitative otherness as to be barely unrecognizable as development. Probably for this reason one finds only occasional explicit references to development and progress in his writing.

While we agree that the basis of eventness as the iteration of a subliminal dyssymetry prevents any experience from generating a self-repeating theme, we do not see this originary dyssymetry as having the sensuous thickness that it has for Derrida. A history would exceed itself as always a (barely) new name of more. Each new furthering of something that we might want to become a development would re-invent the very basis of the development, but via such a minuscule shift of sense that it could seem at a glance as though there were almost a numeric structure being accumulated (or dispersed in the case of a regressive movement). If there are no ways of gathering-concentrating or being dispersed, if momentum of condensation (almost) entirely exhausts the possibilities of having a `way' of being, development suddenly stands out as the central feature of a history. This allows us to study something like a cultural history, for example, and see, instead of Foucault's arbitrary story of succession of modes of power/knowledge, a radically and utterly insignificant non-historicizing self-similar movement ordered such as to just barely miss justifying itself as a progressively condensing desubstantialization of meaning.

We must not be afraid to begin with the conclusion that development, conceived singular event to singular event as non-self-identical invagination or precipitation, must be intrinsic to experience. Only when we have done so can we then move to a more important understanding concerning experience which puts into question what any notion of development, including Derrida's and ours, could possibly mean to say. Such a vantage of thinking, in the same instant that it unravelled the basis of a word like development, would offer a world that development always thought it aimed at, a world always rendered of an intense non-existence of violence.

We will reveal the significance of meaning's gesture not in a preferential canonization of one value, trajectory, or non-self-identical movement over others, but in the insubstantiality and intimacy that characterizes the dichotomous space of the world as always a same-new particularity of difference. This not-being-able to name or define would work in support of gentle (because imbecilic) intricacy, especially at the point where we question what would be the basis for understanding even terms such as intricate and gentle. Acceleration, condensation, development, progress, or reduction of moody substantiality would hint at the effect of a subliminal dissymmetry, spacing, difference, which is less substantial in its effect than that which these or any other terms would locate. The infinitesimal dissymmetry, the split sense as the es-sence of an event of meaning, would not lend itself to any stable adjectives, even the disseminative stability of quasi-transcendence, whether they be progress and regress, presence and absence, affirmation and negation, disappearance and return, any particular or general (or equivocally particular and general) notion of proportionality, direction or mood.

A history would be a `more and more' too insignificant to know what `better and better' or `worse and worse' could mean; its motive would be expressed in all possible gestures of mood and valuation, but seen now within an extraordinarily constricted, or, more precisely, desubstantialized, economy. Within this economy, development would lose its meaning as a stable, prioritized ethical trajectory. Put another way, it would be a notion of progress which is itself as all possible vicissitudes of mood, momentum, as a transvaluation of value. This gesture of transit would be a vehicle so insignificant as to bleed the concept of particularity of sense of everything it would want to proclaim about itself aesthetically, ethically, politically, everything but the reminder of a moreness which stands for so little as to no longer recognize what an aesthetics, ethics, or any other term would mean apart from its repetition of `moreness'. The source of this instability would not be the affirmation of a not-knowing, a self-distancing or otherness at meaning's origin, but the affirmation of a notion of difference so devoid of effect and self-distancing otherness as to no longer need the thickness of a stable appellation, even that of the transcendental and the empirical themselves as quasi gestures. But we have a ways to go to demonstrate what it is we are up to in making this assertion of a moreness beyond-beneath any positivity.

We introduce the device of more-and-less as an ultimately inadequate but nevertheless useful introductory means of conveying the peculiarly radical thread of intimacy, gentleness, and insubstantiality of difference (and ultimately we will show even these terms to be without basis) underlying the possibility of signification. How is this seen in an analysis of such realms as the unfolding of an author's text, or the journey of a cultural history?

Acceleration of Time and Measurement:

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A post-deconstructive history, whether cultural, biographical or other, could be seen at a glance as though it re-invents itself as vissicitudes or rhythms of condensation-dispersion projecting a peculiarly inconsequential subsuming desubstantialization of moreness. This developmental history could parody something like an acceleration beyond acceleration, something akin to the vissicitudes of a speeding up of time. A speeding up of time? What sort of `speeding' and what sort of `time' would we be thinking of?

Is the temporality we have in mind as an acceleration echoed by scientific descriptions of an empirical world in which the formation of a universe, galaxies, stars and planets takes place over billions of years, the generation of living forms spans just millions of years, and cultural progression occupies only thousands of years? Can we look at narratives offered by scientific disciplines and claim that the time scales of subsequent levels of development define shorter and shorter cycles? We are told that the present universe is 10 billion years old and will last a few billion more. We hear that our solar system and planet are 4.6 and 4 billion years old, and will last until the sun dies in 4.5 billion years. Biologists inform us that cellular-genetic evolution began 2.5 billion years ago, and cultural evolution a few hundred thousand years ago.

When we study the unfolding of a history of philosophy from a certain naive perspective, we might be tempted to discern peaks and valleys interrupting and dividing an otherwise undifferentiable spectrum of endeavor into epochal boundaries. There would be renaissances and denouements defining groupings of authors as members of philosophic eras. The vicissitudes of these eras display what, from a glance, could appear as something like an accelerative dynamic. The temporal intervals separating the eras within which notable authors lived, if defined in such a way as to produce groupings such as Egypto-Mesopotamian (5000-2000 B.C.), Classical (700-200 b.c.), Medieval(800-1200 A.D.), Enlightenment(1600-1750) and Postmodern (1900-), could then be said to comprise a temporal compression of cultural transformation, from the artistic to the scientific, the philosophic to the political. According to this thinking, whereas significant cultural development in a pre-hellenistic world played out over millennia, by the time we reach the age of medieval Europe we can capture such transformations in terms of centuries, and milestones of development in a 20th century world take place over the course of decades. Could we then argue that the time frame from one cosmological epoche to the next, from one biological period to the next, from one philosophical era to the next, evinces a pattern of temporal compression of activity?

The more relevant question for us is what it would mean to characterize time as measured, framed, compressed, accelerated. The utter valuational contingency of history must explode the dream of conceptual epochs, of a logical operator as metaphysical cause-effect asserting its totalistic self-presence under the heading of one or another of the natural sciences mentioned above. Any presumed scale of measurement under which would be collected an ontological history would itself be answerable to and decentered by the contingencies of that history, which is nothing but our own local, decentering moment-to-moment experience. A notion of history as rational theme could not possibly justify itself except by ignoring all that has been learned at least since Nietzsche's confrontation with the heritage of Hegel's grand project.

The hidden implication of something like a mathematical counting would be that a process which generates the counting of this continuum is always the `same' moreness throughout the continuum, taking the form of the addition of one member to the growing chain of relation. And to attempt to force history into a deductive schematic historicism would be to tarry with assumptions of meaning's development which presumes a stability which cannot justify itself. A quasi-developmental history as something like a condensation would be less than the substantiality of a formula of moreness (a counting which claims to preserve itself as a commodity accumulating meaninglessly), less than a dialectical or probabilistic (Merleau-Ponty, Lyotard, Rorty) progress. It is not according to a dominating telos or origin that we make reference to such a dynamic. Meaning's repetition is not the spinning out of the moments of a totality's self-realization, but always (barely) a new sense or philosophy of itself, in the infinitesimal way in which a differing, a newness, a moreness transpires.

A proper name like Mathematics would be no more protected than any other presumed mode from the radical contingency that meaning's subliminal invagination projects. Terms like `time' and `number' are contingent events of language like any other, and this is more fundamentally to say that they are events of sense. As such, they do not protect themselves from their own transformation in the instant that they are invoked. To count a number is to always imply a particular and non-recallable way of thinking about numerical relation, logical order and precision. Any so-called mathematical description, and in fact any repeated invocation of that or any description, manifests a new and particular philosophy of the mathematical or any other presumed nomination. The measure of a day, a year, a number is never `the same' when we seem to return to it after thinking of something else. It names a new vantage, a new sense of what it would mean to be a day, a year, a number. To watch days go by, or to watch years go by, is in each case to move through a `new' philosophy of day or year.

It is never the `same' notion of number and counting that we return to from moment to moment, even in the repeated thinking of the same number. There is nothing within some imagined abstractive capacity of thought which remains `exactly the same' about the meaning of an interval as we attempt to extend a first accounting to the counting of a plurality. A supposed counting from one to ten is, at each point in the counting, a re-birth of the meaning of interval. If the thinking of something like the number two or three is intrinsically `two of this' or `three of this', then the meaning of these and all other numbers depends on the self-identity, the common denominator of cumulative reference. The operational relation between two and three must be assumed to be `exactly the same' as the relation between nine and ten. As soon as a thinking of moreness as pure difference of degree, the accumulation of identical instances, is destabilized, number is seen as having already transgressed the authority of self-identical accumulation before it can enumerate. Calculation reaches the limit of its totalization before it can simply count. As soon as there is a counting of one, we are thrown back into the origin, differently, so that there is never a counting past one (as bifurcated singular). The one, the first and only one, is also the last one as doubled origin and its repetition. The instant of experience returns to the same magnitude differently, which is less than the simple coherence of number.

If we cannot say that we ever actually duplicate the sense of 'equal increments' in counting beyond a first instance, what does this say about the myriad situations in which we seemingly depend on the usefulness of numeric measurement? For all practical intents and purposes this realization of the instability of the concept of numeric interval has little effect on our ability to do things like measure the dimensions of a chair or rocket that we are wanting to construct. What our knowledge of the transformative experiential basis of a logic of counting does is allow us to understand why it is that the things we build are fallible, not simply because of `mistakes' in calculation. The reason events and objects we apparently encounter escape mathematic countability has to do with the inseparability and insignificance of subject and object. There is no constituted, structured, countable object to the same extent that there is no constituting, structuring, counting subject. I don't exist first and then expose myself to, attain or encounter an object. The `I' exists simultaneously as `not I', a presencing-absencing interval. This internally divided ipseity is not yet either subject nor object. Instead it locates the origin of these terms in the barest hint of transcendence (presencing) and empiricism (effacement).

Because this interval of meaning only repeats itself by transforming itself, the fallibity of machines, and of counting in general, is not a question of 2 plus 2 not always adding up to 4, but of the purpose or intent of our counting shifting itself incrementally in the very act of repeating the iteration. 2 plus 2=4 is a truism, like saying `a cat is a cat'. To get the `right' answer is to identify with a particular concept of additive calculation, and it is this concept which shifts ever so subtly, without seeming to show any traces of its movement, as we attempt to return to it each moment. We could promise that 2 plus 2 will always equal 4, but if in the process of adding these figures together the second figure of `2' already finds its valuative coloration altered ever so slightly with respect that figure of 2 it is being added to, then we violate the formula in the very act of being absolutely faithful to it. Each recovery of the idea of number, like the recovery of any word-sense-mood, is an exceeding which is always a new sense, a new philosophy of the meaning of operator, scheme of relation, arithmetic counting or dimensionality (a novelty in the extraordinarily insubstantial, inconsequential, infinitesimal way in which meaning renews itself, already is itself, as a self-exceeding). Any name-sense-mood returns to itself instant to instant only as an impossibly self-similar new discovery.

We would be tempted to imagine a history as amenable to a development order akin to an ontological acceleration, but what we are after is a notion quite subliminally different than that of a Cartesian idea of time and number, more (differently) intricate than a post-structuralism that would deconstruct these terms. What we see in the expression `speeding up of time' that helps us to articulate the effect of a desubstantializing `closer to' is that the undulations of a history would express a regularity and a directionality of sorts, which at a glance appears as vicissitudes of acceleration-deceleration, but a regularity which need be rediscovered at each moment and a directionality which exceeds any formal or positive description. Meaning's time would be a measure with no stability other than as a thread of impossibly imbecilic self-proximity. The only rhythm that regulates the organization of a history is that which links a development's moments of meaning as an extraordinarily insubstantial chain of relation. The meaning of more is always a (barely) different order of transcendence that we are left to discover anew each time we return to it moment to moment, and in returning to it, we return to ourselves anew.

What value to us are terms like moreness or condensation if they do not mark a device of measurement along the lines of a logical or dialectical scheme? What kind of precision is brought by a tool which allows us a window of comparison whose proportionality we have to rediscover each time we return to its furthering, as a new philosophy of proportionality, and a new philosophy of ourselves? Its precision is marked by the infinitesimal weight of mystery represented by that which to we must always return to reveal in events the barest hint of detectable dissymmetry. We say that in a certain sense the less-than-alterity we wish to articulate as meaning's edge acts like the most precise relation of a mathematics, but only to the extent that we think of this precision as a reductive impetus, as the most powerless and featureless kind of relation imaginable. It would be a nonprioristic, non self-presencing notion of relation expressing `less' than any notion of relation could, a relation so insignificant and unformidable that it knows and feels (know-feel-act-perceive mean the `same' thing, nothing more than the iteration of an impossibly insignificant play) almost nothing, almost no dissymmetry. Meaning's gesture is such that to be is to always already exceed oneself (the `one' is already two in its own sin-gular instant) in a peculiarly intimate contingency which is at the same time non-recuperable, non-recallable.

The Unaccountable Intimacy of Mathematics:

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The sort of precision and directionality which is the gesture of desubstantialization can be illustrated via the reading of a cultural development of mathematical concepts. One could locate within something like a mathematical project the wandering of an implied philosophy concerning a relative and peculiar `distance' dividing meaning from itself. It would always be a (barely) different philosophy of logic, number, measurement that returns to itself as a history of calculation, always a more (differently) integral and insubstantial justification of relationality. In the historical movement from Aristotelian logic through the advent of algebra, from the introduction of analytic geometry to the calculus, from the origination of symbolic logic to a post-foundational thinking which moves within the self-presencing language of formal axiomatic systems, it would always be a more-differently intimate and insubstantial origin of logic, complicit with a more insignificant basis of languaging in other domains of culture, which operates at each point in this development. A thread of desubstantializing `closer to' would underlie the momentum of this history, implying and echoing the progression from Classical to Medieval to Rationalist to Post-Idealist metaphysical accounts of meaning.

As we said, such a thread operates not simply at the level of `system', as if there were a self-same entity titled `worldview', `philosophy' or `concept' which would carry itself stably through a genesis. It is always a new worldview, concept, philosophy that we return to every time we think of the meaning of such terms as logic, quantity, proof, deduction and simple number. The only sense in which a meaning is a system, worldview, philosophy, or concept lies in the extraordinarily infinitesimal manner in which meaning is more than itself as the double instant of the eventing of experience. This is all that is left of the content, the import and power of such terms, and in fact is all that was ever to be found within a name, a word, a trace.

When we speak of a history of mathematics as something like a desubstantializing condensation, it is always an entirely different philosophy of proportion that `returns' locally, contingently, historically, to itself (in the impossibly inconsequential way that difference repeats itself as contingent, local history). It is the extraordinary insubstantiality of the structure of relation-difference which defines meaning's self-split, rather than the reifying powers of some logical scheme. To count, to temporalize, is always to land in a same-new place, a same-new absolute beginning. To follow a development, to trace a movement by any name within a development, is always to begin history anew from a unique, non-returning perspective, a unique expanse of moreness, which is always the only expanse of moreness.

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