Shaun’s response to his brother’s writing incorporates both his understanding of that writing and his expression of that understanding: it is a production based on an interpretation of another production. We should take seriously Shaun’s tone as part of the point that Joyce is making, since the vehemence with which Shaun puts forward his position can tell us a lot about what is at stake in reading and writing as Joyce understands it, especially in terms of affect. In particular, Shaun’s aggressiveness (what I will analyse as his anxiety) resonates with Finnegans Wake’s insistence that language operates without taking recourse to stabilising concepts of centrality and essence. When we also take into consideration the multiple filtering of one voice through another (Joyce’s through Shem’s, Shem’s through Shaun’s, Shaun’s through Joyce’s), I.7 emerges as one of Joyce’s most complex statements about what it means to read or write. At the end of chapter two, I also bring to bear on these considerations Shaun’s role in III.3, which in its own way takes up the motif of one voice reproducing another. Chapter three continues to examine plurality in absence of essence, mainly focusing on a short passage from I.1 about the loss of univocal clarity, but also relating this section to others that consider how the loss potentially opens up a space for a plurality of meaning. These include some of Joyce’s implementations of the philosophy of Giambattista Vico and of the biblical tales of Babel and Pentecost. Finally, chapter four explores the Wake’s staging of linguistic and cultural plurality by returning to III.3 and examining HCE’s city-building as an example of the formation of public, discursive space. HCE’s account of his city is frequently poised between creation and violence, an ambiguity that I relate to Derrida’s understanding of hospitality, which similarly suspends the idea of co- habitation between the beneficial and the problematic. I conclude that, for FinnegansWake, questioning the (linguistic) grounds on which we acquire knowledge also entails asking about our (ethical) response to the other.
What is the result of theory‘s engagement with FinnegansWake? Which categories of analysis and theoretical frameworks did it yield? The best trace- able marks that Joyce‘s last work has left in the field which we have become accustomed to refer to as ‗theory‘—not meant in its narrower sense of literary theory here but in the broader sense of theorizing about literary works—are to be found in Umberto Eco‘s and Jacques Lacan‘s work. Having said that, Joyce‘s work may have left its greatest imprint on the writings of Jacques Derrida; his statement ―deconstruction could not have been possible without Joyce‖ (Jones 77, 78) is a strong indication on his part. And yet, this imprint is rather covert, because, different from Eco and Lacan, Derrida does not to allow for the neatness of identification of Joycean inspiration in his work. The following discussion will be concerned with such theory-oriented work that does allow us to trace, in broad strokes, the theoretical response which the study of Joyce‘s oeuvre has prompted.
To Joyce, everything (including truth, etc.), is recurrently constructed and nothing exists substantially but is in a state of flux. The uncertainty that the reader of FinnegansWake experiences mirrors its author's uncertainties about the world. By writing his novel in a unique and at the same time strange language that encourages uncertainty and plurality, Joyce banishes certainty and monism from its world. Similar to Derrida coming after him, Joyce, in the structure of his last novel, questions Saussurian linguistics. Though différance is directly related to a Structuralist conception of meaning (Derrida, 1976, p. 39), in one crucial aspect it is beyond structuralism: Derrida explicitly denies the original character of structure itself saying that structure is "not a transcendental signified." In this manner, Derrida says that he does not want to question the truth of what Saussure says "On the level on which he says it" but does want to question the logocentric way in which Saussure says it (Derrida, 1976, p. 39, original emphasis). Derrida coins différance to articulate "the differential character of the origin of structure itself (Derrida, 1991, p. 272), and so does Joyce composing his last novel in circular structure.
Despite Žižek’s own reservations about the Irish writer, it is perhaps James Joyce who has best answered this call of nature in the poetry of his last major work, the ‘allincluding most farraginous chronicle’ of the night, FinnegansWake (Joyce, 1986, 345). 3 Žižek generally gives short shrift to Joyce in his critical writings, despite Joyce’s being a staple reference for the latter stages of the psychoanalytic theory of his master, Jacques Lacan. He has suggested that ‘there is effectively something fake in Lacan’s fascination with late Joyce’, opting instead to champion Samuel Beckett, at one time Joyce’s amanuensis, and in many ways his literary successor, as the true bearer of the Lacanian Word (2012a, 207). 4 However, there are many
Hegel (1770-1831) established dialectics as a mode of modern philosophical inquiry. Dialectics supposes all phenomena to be in the process of perpetual change, contradiction, and development. Hegel uses dialectics to investigate the conditions of thought (idealism). Later on, Marx and Engles develop a materialist form of it (McQuillan, 2001, p. 92). As a method, dialectics seeks to reconcile two contradictions into a third one, synthesis. Hegelian dialectics consists of three parts done in a series of three-fold movements: a "thesis" being confronted by a contradictory "antithesis", and both being combined in a "synthesis", which in its turn becomes "the starting-point for a new triadic movement" (Findley, 1958, p. 69). Hegelian dialectics is a progressive phenomenon done in the chronolo- gical concept of time. The "most fundamental, power- ful theme" in Hegel's philosophy is "the promise and fulfillment of reconciliation (versöhnunt)" (Spencer, 2001, p. 167). However, postmodernism celebrates "contingency, fragmentation, fissures, singularity, plurality, and ruptures" that defy reconciliation and achieving the perfect Hegelian synthesis. These gestures are "profoundly anti-Hegelian" (Spencer, 2001, p. 158).
“Dante…Bruno…Vico…Joyce”: “Poetry is essentially the antithesis of Metaphysics: Metaphysics purge the mind of the senses and cultivate the disembodiment of the spiritual; Poetry is all passion and feeling and animates the inanimate; Metaphysics are most perfect when concerned with universals; Poetry, when most concerned with particulars. Poets are the sense, philosophers the intelligence of humanity” (Beckett, Disjecta 24). With Platonism, the infinite, the essence, the general or the universal, is conflated with the “Form” or “Idea” which alone is considered eternal. “Anti- Platonism”, on the other hand, is a philosophy of existence rather than of Forms. It does not do away with essence; rather, it contends that essences cannot be disconnected from particulars as existence involves the play of differences (that which we understand as particular). This play of the general and the particular within an essence is sometimes called the “indefinite” in Deleuze (Negotiations 136).
to Session 9:
Wherever is lacking at least the presumption of knowledge on the subject of this so-called objective limit [between life and death], this end of life (which
Heidegger would make us believe is not the dying proper to Dasein), wherever this mastering calculation is no longer presumed accessible, possible, in our power, well then, one could no longer either speak of murder, suicide, and death penalty, or organize anything of the sort whatsoever in the law, in the legal code, in the social order, in its procedures and its techniques, and so forth (DP1b128). As Derrida refers here repeatedly to his deconstruction of Heidegger (and Levinas) in Apories and in Donner la mort, a full discussion would re-read these dense texts. We may begin by noting, however, that the point is not to simply equate suicide, murder, and the death penalty; different cultures and different histories of death, as Aporias says (Derrida 1993: 43) and the Seminar recalls, may come to set up distinctions that, however, remain deconstructible. Such deconstructions take as their object the “common sense”
Building on a priori difference, my readings of the quasi-transcendental also take a point of departure from contemporary readers of Derrida such as Leonard Lawlor, Rodolphe Gasche, and Paola Marrati. Leonard Lawlor argues that the quasi-transcendental is defined as immanence- “In Derrida, there is a double necessity between an indefinite series of opposites, such as presence and absence, genesis and structure, form and content, law and arbitrariness, thought and unthought, empirical and transcendental, origin and retreat, foundation and founded, and so on.” 3 Lawlor then pronounces “Immanence is complete”. I will argue that the relation between the transcendental and empirical is not immanence but paradoxical identity in non- identity, sameness in difference rather than an immanent relation that relates transcendental to empirical in a straightforward mutual implication as immanence implies. Paola Marrati defines the quasi-transcendental as the contamination of the transcendental and empirical- “In Derrida’s work, the confrontation with Husserl and Heidegger, with a thought of the transcendental and an ontology of temporality, takes the form of an irreducible contamination, a contamination, first of all, of
This raises the second danger of confusing Žižek with Lacan. Žižek qua Žižek can easily get lost. That is to say, Žižek, as the very existence of this journal suggests, is a thinker, a theorist who should be read, heard and understood in his own right. By thinking Žižek too close to Lacan, we run the risk of not only losing other ways of reading Lacan, but we run the risk of losing something of Žižek himself. To make one rather obvious point, Žižek is engaged in an overtly political project, aligning himself with a form of Marxism. Lacan, on the other hand, was keen to point out that he was “not a man of the left” (Lacan 2007: 114). How, then, ought we to understand Žižek’s project in relation to Lacan?
One of Althusser’s essential criticisms of Lacan is directed at his teleological idea that, once the reign of the symbolic law is established beyond the ambivalent effects of the imaginary, various kinds of social antagonisms can be brought under control in a necessary manner. From my point of view, this criticism of Lacan is hardly disputable, and it was actually accepted by Lacan himself in his own way during the later period of his life (more precisely, in Seminar XX). However, what is not clear to me is whether such a criticism produces only a theoretically positive effect. For it seems that, whether intended or not, this criticism can also generate a certain blind spot for us by bracketing an entire issue that Lacan for his own part regarded as essential: namely, the issue of violence. This is the question that Étienne Balibar raises in his book, Violence et civilité, though his focus is on Hegel rather than on Lacan:
I resume: when Jacques Derrida stages the drama of the unsolvable debt, therefore of forgiveness, of prayer, which rise higher than height itself, he weaves his immense philosophy of the bond by borrowing Shakespeare’s characters, by using the magical guide as a help, by sublating, seasoning [relevant] his thought with that of a predecessor who asks himself about the same evils in a language other than his, wondering at the very moment when he puts the scene into play, when he acts it, performs it (in the disguised form of a lecture), do you confess the bond?, asking the question in English, a language and a question to which he owes an irreducible, untranslatable debt, for the word ‘bond’, bond remains and resists. And the idiom ‘I do’ keeps its performative value, which has no equivalent in French.
Laruelle received (if he did not seize a theme) philosophers of difference from a large body of texts and their corresponding philosophers, who could, in turn, be given (or one could receive from the body) another name, namely, that of contemporary continental philosophers. These numerous texts by numerous philosophers were presented to him as a body of texts, grouped together by a dominant abstraction, for example, as contemporary philosophers. This was offered to him (presented to him, given to him), that is, if Laruelle had not seized upon this body of texts under the theme of contemporary philosophers. This body of texts enabled him (had the effect) to identify a theme and thereby to differentiate, cut from this body of texts via a decision, the philosophers of difference, that is, if he did not seize these texts in the name of the idea of philosophers of difference. Brassier (2003:27) in turn received, that is if he did not seize, from Laruelle’s interpretation of Derrida, or Laruelle’s reception of Derrida, if they both did not seize upon these texts, the idea that Derrida is a philosopher of difference, as according to Brasier, his thought is based on a non-relation-relation between language and the Other.
I think it is a mistake to focus on the place of religious reasoning in the public sphere: following Derrida, I aim to suggest that the debate over religion and politics hinges upon ethics rather than epistemology. Where secularism and theocracy both promise relief from unrest, Derrida describes an ethics of hope that acknowledges its insecurity but presses forward nonetheless. Derrida agrees with Lilla that religion destabilizes rational reflection by introducing something beyond immanent calculation; the difference is that Derrida sees such transcendence as politically indispensable. Lilla aims to contain the disruptive force of religion by excluding it from the public sphere, but Derrida indicates that one may endure instability for the sake of something more important than safety. On Derrida’s view, the cost of perfect security would be the closure of the unexpected, which includes the possibility of both trauma and transformation. Because religious traditions open imagination to a justice that transcends the status quo, Derrida suggests that politics would be impoverished without them.
monetary capital can only be met with the explosion of an endless series of crises, in a situation of general social instability that is becoming increasingly difficult to manage.
To conclude, let us summarise the two main points of Lacan’s reading of Marx. First, the centrality of surplus-value as the symptom where the historical dimension of the capitalist drive is anchored, together with the type of social reproduction it informs. Second, the specific pathology of contemporary capitalism as a finite socio- historical constellation, which I have defined as bulimic. Lacan’s cogitations on Marx achieve a degree of intellectual lucidity that is rarely paralleled even in the Marxist camp. This is because, as we have seen, they free the notion of surplus-value from conceptual cages that posit its quantification and calculability. A paradoxical entity that can only be given as lacking, surplus-value is the “blind spot” of capitalist accumulation. The fact that the capitalist drive by definition misses the crucial function of surplus-value as the intangible hinge of the whole valorisation process, can only have devastating consequences today, when the potential for the creation of surplus-value is rapidly vanishing. Lacan tells us that, in its deepest connotation, the enigmatic object in question, the capitalist symptom, is unconscious knowledge, the “unknown knowledge” that moves the progress of “known knowledge” as real creative activity; jouissance as fertile correlative to savoir-faire. The type of exploitation of the worker inaugurated by capitalism, functional to value accumulation, corresponds primarily to this spoliation of surplus- enjoyment as the unconscious side of knowledge. From that moment on, we witness a self-expansive process of accumulation whose truth resides in the “minimal difference” between surplus-value and surplus- enjoyment, mehrwert and mehrlust. Žižek’s lesson on the dialectical significance of the parallax view is crucial here: viewed from a slightly changed perspective, surplus-value appears as surplus-enjoyment, revealing the deadlock that bedevils any economic theory based on the
In Lacan the drive is not subservient to the symbolic order, language or desire but ‘skewers’ all levels of the human being. The latter can be visually represented as consisting of three layers which are homologous but not entirely overlapping. These are the layer of the living/dying organism, the layer of the gendered/sexual being and the layer of the speaking ‘I’. The drive reveals the tensions between the layers (Verhaeghe, 2001). For example, while the speaking subject tries not to think of its internal divisions and avoid anxiety, the drive does the opposite. And while the desiring/gendered subject seeks objects for its satisfaction, the drive follows a trajectory around a ‘missing object’ (known is lacanian psychoanalysis as the object a), a detour around a void which appears meaningless from the point of view of organised life (Lacan 1991, p.163). Attempting to further describe the disruptive/creative potential of the drive, Lacan compares it to the rearrangement of the elements of a surrealistic collage which produces yet another collage rather than a new definitive meaning (1991, p. 169). Below I will draw on that image when describing the subversive potential of the new versions of Antigone.