- Historicity as Metaphoricity in Early DerridaFrom the History of Being to Another Historiography
Wherever there is a horizon and where one sees something coming from out of a teleology and an ideal, eidetic horizon, that is, from out of the seeing or the knowing of an eidos, wherever an ideality will be possible (and there would be neither science nor language nor technique nor, and we must recognize this, experience in general, without the production of some ideality), everywhere this horizontal ideality, everywhere the horizon of this ideality will have neutralized in advance the event and thus that which, in a historicity worthy of this name, requires the eventfulness of the event.—Jacques Derrida1. [End Page 43]
Of Dates, Names, and Other Spectral Metaphors: "Derrida 1967"
How should we approach the nominal phrase "Derrida 1967?" Assuming that, no doubt under the joint pressures of grammar and context, we could bracket the equivocity of this phrase and read the digits "1967" not only as a date but more precisely as a date that, as the apposition suggests, stands in close proximity, if not even belongs to the last name "Derrida," then how could we begin to read this phrase in light of what Jacques Derrida himself wrote about dates and names, their intricate inscriptions and opaque legibilities?
Consider the following list of statements that Derrida makes about dates in "Shibboleth: For Paul Celan": (1) "A date is a specter" (Derrida 2005b, 18, emphasis mine). (2) "Like physis, a date loves to encrypt itself" (Derrida 2005b, 15). (3) "A date carries itself away, it transports itself, takes itself off—and thus effaces itself in its very legibility" (Derrida 2005b, 20, translation modified). (4) "There is certainly today the date of that holocaust that we know, the hell of our memory; but there is also a holocaust for each date, and somewhere in the world at every hour" Derrida 2005b, 83). (5) "The date lets itself be threatened in its due date, in its conservation and in its legibility, by them, in so far as it remains and gives itself to be read" (Derrida 2005b, 36, translation modified). (6) "Risking the annulment of what it saves from oblivion, it can always become the date of nothing and of no one, essence without essence of cinders, about which one no longer even knows what, one day, only once, under a proper name, consumed itself there" (Derrida 2005b, 36, translation modified). (7) "The name shares this destiny of cinders with the date" (Derrida 2005b, 36, translation modified). (8) "A date is mad, that is the truth" (Derrida 2005b, 37). And so on.
If the name and the date are alike in that they are both threatened with their own mad illegibility and with the concomitant obliteration of their reference by the very structures that are meant to secure their legibility and ensure their referentiality, how could we then read this date, this name, and their coming together in the phrase "Derrida 1967," in a way that may register the cindering—this structural, unavoidable, and almost imperceptible force of ruination—that remains encrypted in what this nominal phrase allows to [End Page 44] be read? How could our reading pretend to register what appears in the phrase "Derrida 1967" if this phrase encrypted itself—and its self—from itself and from ourselves and did so from the very moment in which it was written? Faced with these marks, we would have already been assigned the task of an in-finite reading, consigned to the unsettling certainty that we may only register the mad effacement, the impossible legibility of this name-date if our powers of decipherment bump against a limit when they stumble upon these ashes.
But isn't it the other way around? The cindering of the date and of the name have already taken place and will presumably continue to do so. And yet, it seems like something always offers itself to be read through the self-combustion of the name-date. We may even be authorized to say that the name-date offer themselves in a...