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  • Scatter—Freedom!
  • Matías Bascuñán (bio)

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This fundamental experience where there is a certain madness that alone makes reading possible.

—Geoffrey Bennington, "Le Temps de la lecture," in Géographie et autres lectures

Philosophy will in fact remain unable to respond to the challenge of deconstruction until it can do better with the question of reading, which is one place in which Derrida's legacy will inevitably be played out in the years to come.

—Geoffrey Bennington, "Beginnings and Ends," in Not Half No End

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Scatter 1: The Politics of Politics in Foucault, Heidegger, and Derrida is, in more than one way, the inscription of an interruption. For one thing, this book grew out of a digression from what now stands as the yet-to-be-published Scatter 2, which, Geoffrey Bennington tells us, will be an explicit deconstructive engagement with the tradition of political philosophy "from Plato to Rawls and beyond."1 For another, through patient readings of Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault, Søren Kierkegaard, and Jacques Derrida, Scatter 1 accounts for how "teleological" understandings of decision, truth, and rhetoric inform a sustained effort in political philosophy to bring politics to an end by reducing what Bennington calls "the politics of politics." Scatter 1 thus registers the scatter at stake in the interruption of teleological narratives that aim at leaving politics behind by "speaking the truth" of politics. This is what Bennington's book announces and deploys through its six chapters that stage an originary and endless scatter as interrupted teleology. Perhaps, then, this book is not so much the inscription but the scattering of interruptions.

In a crucial moment, Bennington argues that "'the politics of politics' is primordial and interminable," and that "there is no politics before, after, or outside the politics of politics. Politics begins with this doubling up." He continues:

As opposed to metaphysical thinking, for which the end of politics is the end of politics, the putting down of politics in the interest of some redemptive future after the big trumpet moment of the Last Judgment, a deconstructive thinking of politics "discerns eschatology from teleology" and tries to think the future not as a horizon that both conceals and opens onto death as redemption, nor … as more modestly guided by an Idea in the Kantian sense (the more sober and apparently secular form of redemption), but as a "to-come," an à-venir that does not gather up the Moment even in a Heideggerian way but projects a scatter of moments, of eskhata without telos, of kairoi that do not add up to any grand design of history.


In reading this passage, one should not hastily assume that what Bennington calls the "politics of politics" yields some kind of totalization of the political because of its primordiality and interminability. Scatter 1 does not have any pretension, in fact, to fulfill any political teleology, but to think politics as interrupted teleology and thereby avoid a metaphysical stance with respect to politics ("for which the end of politics is the end of politics"). In this passage, the interruption of teleology—"a deconstructive thinking of politics"—becomes legible in the distinction between teleology and eschatology, which [End Page 5] leads Bennington to a reconsideration of the very notions of origins and ends beyond any kind of "archeo-teleology." This reconsideration of beginnings and ends—the primordiality and interminability of the politics of politics—is enabled by a thinking of the event that is contingent on what he names the "necessarily-possibly-not." Accordingly, politics resists (precisely because of the irreducible "distortion and deceit" [4] produced by its politics; i.e., precisely because of what is political in politics) the reduction of the necessary possibility of not living up to the truth of politics found in philosophy books. In Interrupting Derrida, Bennington already suggested as much while commenting on the primordiality of the "economy of violence" in Derrida's "Violence and Metaphysics":

Positing a primordial "violence" in this way upsets all traditional political philosophies, which are bound up in...