- Continuous Script: “Immanent” Theory and Its Supplement
1. The difference between the borderline of creativity and the borderline of psychological splitting, projective fantasies, exploitative behavior, apparent but superficial affability, and so on, is in many cases and under many conditions difficult to discern. But we can say this: the integration of the incommensurate tends to generate writing, as Derrida articulates it; whereas the existential traces of the borderline, in radical splitting, cold manipulativeness, and the like, void writing and its possibilities. As a marginal, interstitial medium, writing thrives at the frontiers between incommensurate thoughts, phenomena, and conditions. The splitting that has been a feature of subjectivity since the inception of the broader Modernity and that is accentuated in the borderline personality achieves a high level of fragmentation, whether as described as between “self-fragments” or as situated in the field of cognition. Radical splitting in effect quells the communication between fragments whose most comprehensive medium is writing. “Integration,” whether transpiring in psychoanalysis or creative work, is not a devolution to the point of banal homogeneity; it is, rather, the always fragile and tenuous communication between differends. 1
2. The middle ground between the (relatively) singular and mediated spheres is in fact a free-trade zone, a locus of negotiation, barter, exchange. In an age of depleted space and resources, it becomes increasingly crucial to define and elaborate this middle ground. At certain moments in history, e.g., the nineteenth century, the middle ground is equated with a difference-levelling mediocrity, and comes to be seen as a cultural and ethical travesty. 2 At other [End Page 63] moments, and I think here of Postmodernism, the middle ground in fact devours any other possible extremes, and there appears to be nothing outside. There is, in other words, the conservative attitude toward the middle ground, and the liberal one.
It can be argued that a continuum consists only of a middle ground. The present essay can be read in one sense as an argument in defense of continua (as opposed to binary terms or their blanket rejection). Continua may not offer definitive results, but they provide for ranges of possibility and activity. The notions of “privacy” and “publicity” in language may be utter fictions, but the continuum between them may have a lot of light to shed on how people invoke language and behave.
Continua do provide for extremes of thought and behavior; they just place those extremes in relation to the more “moderate” forms. Continua are the conceptual models that do the work of integration as it takes place in the psychoanalytical sphere. Much of the cultural work being done today, e.g., Judith Butler’s work on gender, inserts a spectrum-model where previously there had been a binary opposition, e.g., female-male. And work on postcolonial theory (and in the teaching of “World Civilizations”) places national and ethnic groupings in one vast arena in questioning earlier ideological constructs of differentiation. Continua do not by their very nature solve all problems located within their spheres. But their deployment is an implicit vote for integration, as opposed to pat ideology-based hierarchy, in the attempt to address and solve problems.
3. In a world of sublime overcrowding and tenuous supply, how human beings do as a species is integrally linked to how well they inhabit the middle ground. The interval between what has been known as “private” territory and the public sphere is, conceptually speaking, one of the continua whose exploration can be most fruitful. The self-sustaining, endlessly self-correcting discourse of postmodern literature (e.g., Beckett, the late Kafka and Joyce, Blanchot, Bernhard) and psychoanalysis (in different ways, Lacan, Kernberg) may in part be understood as an adaptation to the need of inhabiting the middle ground. Within this middle ground, we will need to learn to tolerate and understand each other, to integrate our own skewed tendencies and interests, even as the world has to accommodate more of us, with a corresponding diminution of individuated “private” space “around” us.
4. The Philosophy of Writing is the discursive space inhabited by the middle ground. The Philosophy of Writing is the interface linking the philosophical discourse that...