File spoon-archives/postanarchism.archive/postanarchism_2003/postanarchism.0307, message 46

Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 16:10:05 -0400
Subject: Re: [postanarchism] Always leaving the party early? Part 3

Tom Blancato wrote:

> shawn: A "politics of aporia," oriented towards
> "justice" as the experience of the possibility of the impossible, may not
> seem desirable to some, but if *poststructuralism* is our concern, this is
> probably as close to a poststructuralist politics as we have seen - and,
> arguably, it is a form of politics resonant in many ways with the concerns
> of the anarchist tradition.
> --- How are we to understand justice in this sense here: as some
> experience of the possibility of the impossible? Is this in fact a decent
> understanding of justice?

I would say, "yes." It's an exciting formulation in many ways, one of the most
appealing elements of Derrida's "hauntological" work. It is, of course, a
displacement of justice in some ways. There is no question of saying,
according to this formulation, "i am just," or "this, here and now, is
justice." There is not even any certain way to *address our actions to
justice* - but when was there such a way?

> Perhaps you will not do that, and I apologize if
> I am being presumptuous in wondering if that is what you will do. But I do
> not think justice can or should be summed up in these terms. On the one
> hand, the broaching of the impossible has a very good aspect in its
> question to power, to hierarchy, to determinations and limits, etc. Yet
> ultimately to take this *as justice*, just as Derrida says that
> *deconstruction IS justice* appears to me to go way too far, in a form,
> moreoever, that strangely does not admit of any real question.

I would have thought you thought it went "not far enough," particularly if it
"does not admit of any real question." Derrida's response is, as i understand
it, that without opening onto the possibility of the impossible, justice can
hardly be anything by a "technological" question, which admits of no question
and only one solution. If we accept other aspects of the poststructuralist, or
specifically Derridean, accounts of the world, that sort of certainty in the
realm of justice probably strikes us as problematic.

For Derrida, there is no point in talking about "ethics," "responsibility," or
"justice" unless something important is really at stake - unless we are open
to a radical range of possibilities, even (and here's the poison in the gift)
to "the worst." Rather than closing off every question, i would have said that
this approach makes every analysis in some sense "interminable."

> Once you get
> with Derridas program, there is simply *no formulating anything else* in a
> certain way. Of course, one is free to formulate all one wishes. Yes, I
> realize that. But there is something else at work that is truly problematic
> and I believe dominating in this brilliant, powerful philosophers work.
> If one works in particular to open the enporaic, this appears to have
> consequences for Derridas work, which in a way appears to take a certain
> flight and at the same time have a great deal of stake in keeping a certain
> status quo regardingwhat to call ita certain western positivism and
> failure. Not in the direction of alternativity, but precisely of aporia,
> tacked on but strangely in the position of replicating at the same time
> (reading and inhabiting other texts, and thereby reinstantiating them and
> creating openings only in a negative sense that is somehow beyond the text,
> of all things).

Probably because i'm having trouble making a meaningful distinction between
the aporia and the enporia, i'm having trouble following the critique here.
However, the notion that "reading and inhabiting other texts" is only a
"negative" operation "with a great deal of stake in keeping a certain status
quo" strikes me as off the mark. The politics of inheritance and memory which
brings Derrida back to the old texts and old names is driven by a commitment
to the continuing "it happens" of deconstruction. One can certainly question
the appropriateness and grounds of that commitment. But if forty years of work
demonstates anything, it appears there is a good case that "it happens."

> shawn: Derrida has spoken of one of the conditions of being the call to
> respond to two very different sorts of exigency, operating at two very
> different "speeds." On the one hand, we simply cannot be careful enough,
> thorough enough, or defer judgment enough. "There is nothing outside the
> text" in a very material sense -not because "everything becomes text" but
> because the text is already material and has exceedingly porous boundaries.
> On the other hand, we cannot act swiftly enough, with enough urgency and
> respect for all that is already so in need of repair, with enough
> acknowledgment of our own implications in all of that. Two calls - and a
> dilemma from which no calculation can extricate us. Still, we must act and
> calculate, and, at some level, attempt to justify, if only to ourselves,
> our response. With regard to Newman's post anarchism, some of us have
> already asked questions about the care and thoroughness with which the
> anarchist tradition has been engaged. In these last few posts, i've been
> asking the same sort of question with regard to poststructuralism. It seems
> to *me* that poststructuralism as the bridge "from Bakunin to Lacan" is
> rather ill-used, both because some of its defining positions (like that on
> "the agency of the letter") are ignored, and because its project is
> declared closed, or at its limits, without any serious examination of

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