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Singularities: on a motif in Derrida and Romantic thought (Kant's aesthetics, Rousseau's autobiography).

let thy tongue tang with arguments of state; put thyself into the trick of singularity ...--Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

CAN ONE WRITE OR THINK WHAT IS ONE AND ONLY ONE, WHAT IS MERELY single or singular. One might say that Derrida s thinking has tirelessly engaged the idea and the actualities of difference and would not the most different of differences, as it were, be that which is only one? Not nothing, not two or three, and not anything else. Only one.

In Derrida's writing on thinkers and writers of the Romantic era--broadly conceived, that is, as an historical period of the late 18th and early 19th centuries rather than as a movement typified by the most "Romantic" of thinkers, poets, and artists--the matter of what is singular is particularly resonant, notably in his readings of Kant and Rousseau. (1) In what follows I try to tease out what is at stake in the problematic of singularity, principally by considering certain aspects of Rousseau, in the Confessions, and Kant, in The Critique of Judgment, with attention to how Derrida addresses Rousseau in Of Grammatology as well as in the long essay "Typewriter Ribbon" and how he analyzes Kant in the "Parergon" essay, all of them works on the subject of the subject. (I follow a tangent or two not so explicitly treated by Derrida or addressed in detailed fashion, though I would like to think that even those remarks are in the spirit of Derrida and indeed my own thinking in these matters is likely more massively indebted to him than I know.)

The singular is in some sense a decidedly unphilosophical topic. Does not philosophy move in the realm of the general and the universal, the domain of logic and what is susceptible to logic, the universe of thought that is by definition or in principle able to be formulated in language and made available to all in that medium? To be sure, philosophy has to come to terms with particulars but does it not tend to operate in a mode that resolves those particulars, as in the natural sciences, into some higher or more inclusive category or class? The sheer particular or the sheer singular, if there is such a thing, could be said to be that which most successfully resists philosophical discourse--and it resists philosophy in part because it is resistant to language, period.

The fate of the singular in the history of Western philosophy surely took a significant turn when, almost all of a sudden, in Descartes, a certain philosophy turned things on their head or turned things "to" the head, one might say, shifting from the object to the subject as its starting point and its ground, in the formulation of the cogito ergo sum. (2) Descartes' path of thought, his meth-odos, led back to and then out again from the thinking subject, an itinerary recounted, not incidentally, in the strikingly autobiographical account that is The Discourse on Method. (3) And when Locke subsequently undertook to investigate the workings of the human understanding, he advocated nothing other than turning into oneself, examining in painstaking fashion what went on in one's "own breast." Empiricism, then, began at home in the solitude of the single self, the new source, in Locke and his progeny, of property and the proper. (4) Thus the so-called Copernican revolution of Kant's critical philosophy--dedicated not just to knowing but to examining the conditions of knowing and their very possibility in the human subject--had actually begun to "revolve" before him, even if Kant's protocols were more radical than his great predecessors and with him the "revolution" would be complete. So the challenge for this phase of philosophy--and we have not simply left this "phase" behind in the past--was to construct, beginning with "the subject," consequential frameworks of knowledge and thought that would have a purchase on the objective, the truth, and what could be shared, in principle, by everyone, by every one.

Let us begin by considering how singularity figures in Derrida's most general characterization of the project of the Critique of Judgment and its mechanisms:
 The third Critique is not just one critique among others. Its
 specific object has the form of a certain type of judgment--the
 reflective judgment--which works (on) the example in a very
 singular way. The distinction between reflective and determinant
 judgment, a distinction that is both familiar and obscure, watches
 over all the internal divisions of the book. I recall it in its
 poorest generality. The faculty of judgment in general allows one
 to think the particular as contained under the general (rule,
 principle, law). When the generality is given first, the operation
 of judgment subsumes and determines the particular. It is
 determinant (bestimmend), it specifies, narrows down, comprehends,
 tightens. In the contrary hypothesis, the reflective judgment
 (reflektierend) has only the particular at its disposal and must
 climb back up to, return toward generality: the example (this is
 what matters to us here) is here given prior to the law and, in its
 very uniqueness as example, allows one to discover. Common
 scientific or logical discourse proceeds by determinant judgments,
 and the example follows in order to determine or, with a
 pedagogical intention, to illustrate. In art and in life, where one
 must, according to Kant, proceed to reflective judgments and assume
 (by analogy with art: we shall come to this rule further on) a
 finality the concept of which we do not have, the example precedes.
 There follows a singular historicity and (counting the
 simulacrum-time) a certain (regulated, relative) ficture [sic] of
 the theoretical ... (51, 59-60; Derrida's emphases) (5)

First things first, then, when it comes to the aesthetic in Kant's Critique of Judgment, a critique which is not, Derrida underscores, "one among others," not just any critique. It emerges, in this general account of generality and particularity ("I recall it in its poorest generality"), that this will be a singular critique not least because singularity will turn out to be the very structure of the aesthetic and in such a way as potentially to disallow the importation of a pre-existing conceptual framework appropriate to realms outside of the aesthetic. As if to emphasize hyperbolically the situation of the singular in reflective judgment, Derrida refers to it working (on) the example "in a very singular way." A thing or a situation should either be singular or not but here reflective judgment's relation to the classical status of the example (itself always in some sense singular and not) is said to be "very singular" [tres singuliere], an impossible but strangely apt formulation. In the discourse of particularity and generality in the natural sciences, at least, the particular is always, in principle, resolved into some "higher" genus or species that includes any number of examples, each of which, in principle, has exactly the same status. Yet this latter sort of example obtains in a world in which one can know the law, rule, or principle to which the example relates: a single crustacean (to take one of Kant's unexpected examples of the beautiful) can belong, unproblematically, to its larger class of crustaceans, all of which are, at a certain level of abstraction, indifferently alike, with all non-pertinent differences obliterated or suspended. One factor that makes the third Critique singular, so very singular, is that it is by no means self-evident that one can simply translate a conceptual schema appropriate to understanding nature, that of logical judgments (as in The Critique of Pure Reason) to a realm of purely singular feelings. It is a question of the conceptual schema doing justice to the matters at hand, even if those "matters" are feelings.

What might authorize Derrida's otherwise illogical formulation, "very singular," is that if Kant is correct--and even if not "correct," we should take seriously what he posits--aesthetic experience entails the experience of something singular whose possibly pertinent larger group is not given, certainly not given in advance. It is, in the first instance, only singular and the relation to a larger genus or species is, at least momentarily, an open question. Such is the structure of reflective judgment and all aesthetic judgments (of the beautiful, the sublime) are of this order. In aesthetic judgment then, for Kant, there is a certain temporal and "conceptual" priority to the example, to the single, singular judgment. "The example precedes," as Derrida stresses. And prior to the aesthetic judgment proper, there is something even more singular, if that expression can be allowed: the feeling that prompts the judgment. For prior to the priority of the aesthetic judgment lies the sheer feeling of the beautiful or the sublime or any other aesthetic experience. The judgment takes place, as it were, silently but it is "less silent" than feeling itself. Feeling is non- or pre-linguistic, in the sense that one can have any number of feelings that are not accompanied by a use of language. (6) This is the case even if our feelings are also or in part formed and informed discursively. The feeling of aesthetic experience does not--or not yet--take the form of language.

Philosophy has almost always had its problems with feelings. With the determination, in Plato, of philosophy as the discourse of logos, feeling poses something of a threat, an unruly, irrational or a-rational force resistant to its being mastered by its supposed counterpart or opposite: reason. True, even some of the most "rationalistic" of thinkers give feeling its due, such as Descartes, with his attention to the "passions" of the soul or Hume, even though few would go so far as he in describing reason as the "slave of the passions," much less in thinking that such a dynamic were somehow a proper state of affairs. (7) And if Hegel could maintain that "nothing great was ever accomplished without passion," (8) that dictum seems not nearly as characteristic of his thought than the far more often quoted slogan, "the rational is the real." Feelings resist philosophy, even if, in the wake of the development of psychoanalysis and psychology, one can sometimes discern a "logic" in those feelings, that is, even if they, in some sense, make "sense." Feelings are generally thought primarily to be of the order of the sensibility, which seems closer, as the very word suggests, to the realm of the sensible than that of the intellectual. For Kant, aesthetic experience, prior to aesthetic judgment, is a matter of feelings, "nothing more than ... feelings." (9) Indeed, any given pure aesthetic experience is a matter of a feeling of pleasure, unadulterated by any admixture of mere charm or agreeable feeling, to say nothing of the over-determinations of commercial culture or any economies of means and ends: a single feeling of pleasure in a single subject responding to a single object, a tulip, say, and preferably, for Kant, a wild one. Even if we hastily might think that flowers or tulips or wild tulips are in general beautiful, we would be making, according to Kant, a category mistake as far as the aesthetic is concerned just by providing a category, for it is always a matter, at the outset, of sheer singularity. As Derrida remarks:
 The tulip is not beautiful inasmuch as it belongs to a class,
 corresponding to such-and-such a concept of the veritable tulip,
 the perfect tulip. This tulip here, this one alone is beautiful ("a
 flower, for example, a tulip"), it, the tulip of which I speak, of
 which I am saying here and now that it is beautiful, in front of
 me, unique, beautiful in any case in its singularity. Beauty is
 always beautiful once [une fois], even if judgment classifies it
 and drags that once [la fois] into the series or into the objective
 generality of the concept. This is the paradox (the class
 which--immediately--sounds the death knell of uniqueness in beauty)
 of the third Critique and of any discourse on the beautiful: it
 must deal only with singularities which must give rise to the
 universalizable judgments. Whence the parergon, the importation of
 the frames in general, those of the first Critique in particular.
 (93, 105-60; Derrida's emphases)

At the end of the paragraph Derrida veers out to the organizing principle of the essay as a whole, the motif of the parergon, that which stands "outside" but adjacent to the work, to the ergon itself that is the work of art. The frame of a painting is a paradigmatic example of that which somehow pertains to the work of art, framing the painting as a work of art--and yet is patently or apparently distinct from the painted canvas. The frame is the non- or quasi-work of art that marks out the work of art as such. Derrida shows, characteristically, that the neat separation of the outside and inside of the work is not so easily maintained. Furthermore, he demonstrates how the problematic of the flame in a discursive sense is also crucial to the elaboration of the third Critique insofar as it is no small matter to decide what sort of conceptual "framework" should be brought to bear on the aesthetic when the subject matter, so to speak, of the aesthetic is so categorically different from the objects of logical judgments (things of nature, say) as laid out in the Critique of Pure Reason. (Derrida rightly queries a sensitive point in Kant's argumentation: why should one think that the feelings of aesthetic experience should correspond to aesthetic judgments in the same or strictly analogous fashion as objects of nature correspond to logical judgments? Why should the frame of categories appropriate to the knowledge of nature [as, for example, the grid of quality, quantity, modality and relation] correspond to those appropriate to sheer feelings of sheer pleasure?) But the principal burden of this paragraph is to show what is at work and at play in the aesthetic experience per se and how it leads to the aesthetic judgment that follows it "as the night follows the day," only faster: almost immediately or, in effect, immediately. Derrida's gloss here underscores the immense role language plays in constructing the "bridge" toward--and against all or most odds--the universal. (Kant describes the architectonic function of the third Critique as a "bridge" between the first and second Critiques.) For the subject, it appears, is not content simply to register the unadulterated pleasure a tulip affords. Rather, for one reason or another--perhaps ultimately for the sake of reason itself--one finds oneself saying something on the order of "this tulip is beautiful." The feeling is translated into a judgment, a passage from the sheer subjective feeling to a judgment seemingly not subjective in the least. What lies behind the proposition is the mere subjective feeling, yet what it prompts does not take the form of a subjective proposition. Kant maintains in The Critique of Pure Reason that the phrase "I think" [Ich denke] could accompany any proposition and we might in our turn, glossing the stock scenario in The Critique of Judgment, say that the phrase "Ich fuhle," [I feel] could accompany any aesthetic judgment. Yet the virtual "I feel" is effaced and the resulting judgment has, to all appearances, the look of a logical judgment, as if it were an objective statement characterizing the ontological status of an object: "this tulip is beautiful." This is the linguistic turn from feeling to judgment, whereby the singularity of the experience of aesthetic pleasure gets transformed into something apparently other and more than singular.

Derrida also emphasizes, via his calling attention to the word once (beauty is always beautiful once) that the aesthetic judgment is an event: it is not just that one is looking at and taking pleasure from a single, singular (preferably wild) tulip. It is a one-time gaze at the tulip, a singular encounter with a singular object in the case of the beautiful or something--not necessarily a "thing"--that triggers a feeling of the sublime. Thus, doubly or triply singular: the one-time experience by a single subject of a single "object." Even if one were repeatedly to derive such pleasure from a series of wild tulips, there would be no pertinent relation between one beautiful event and the next. "Einmal ist keinmal," runs the German proverb (sometimes invoked by Walter Benjamin), literally "one time is no time." But the "one time" is the only possible time of the aesthetic, as far as experience is concerned, and the aesthetic is nothing but a matter of experience, in the first instance, as posited by Kant.

Is there a language adequate to this multiply singular experience of the aesthetic? Derrida intimates that the turn to language, the seemingly inexorable movement in Kant's account, is itself violent, in subsuming the singular to the universal. What is the general voice (allgemeine Stimme) to which Kant appeals? Can one pass so easily and so assuredly in the real of aesthetic judgment from the subjective feeling to the (demanded) assent of, in principle, absolutely everyone? The desire to make sense of the singular in terms that are not themselves singular is understandable, indeed inevitable, to the extent that language cannot possibly be of the order of the sheer singular and still be intelligible: there cannot be a discourse of single terms for every single object or experience, as if it were a vast network of absolutely proper names.

Elsewhere Derrida underscores, in a somewhat different mode, how the work of art, especially the visual work of art, is at odds with language:
 As for painting, any discourse on it, beside it or above, always
 strikes me as silly, both didactic and incantatory, programmatic,
 worked by the compulsion of mastery, be it poetical or
 philosophical, always, and the more so when it is pertinent, in the
 position of chitchat, unequal and unproductive in the sight of
 what, at a stroke [d'un trait] does without or goes beyond this
 language, remaining heterogeneous to it or denying any overview.

And then, with more particular reference to some works by Valerio Adami:
 And then if I must simplify shamelessly, it is as if there had
 been, for me, two paintings in painting, one, taking the breath
 away, a stranger to any discourse, doomed to the presumed "mutism"
 of the thing-itself, restores, in authoritative silence, an order
 of presence. It motivates or deploys, then, a poem or philosopheme
 whose code seems to me to be exhausted. The other, therefore the
 same, voluble, inexhaustible, reproduces virtually an old language
 belated with respect to the thrusting point of a text which
 interests me. (155-56)

It is not simply that the visual work of art is in some obvious way "silent": indeed, the "scare quotes" indicate Derrida is suspicious of the easy presumption of the "mutism" of the work of art. But he does see language as, in an important way, "heterogeneous" to the artwork and vice versa. (10) The singularity of the visual work of art, then, would be an even more pronounced version of the resistance characteristic of artworks in general. But Kant, against some odds, so builds into aesthetic experience the turn to language and thus to a certain objectivity that what risks resisting philosophy altogether--the sheer feeling or pleasure or (in the case of the sublime) negative pleasure--turns out to constitute, retroactively, the bridge between knowing and acting, understanding and reason, with the imagination articulating itself with the understanding (beautiful) or the reason (sublime). Thus the singularity of aesthetic experience bears an extraordinary burden for the whole project of the critical philosophy, (11)

If the irreducibly singular experience of the aesthetic poses something of a threat to philosophy, might not the "subject" writ large or at large present a similar obstacle, as the locus of feelings, desires, ideas and a body, and thus the locus of something other than thought proper, the putatively proper domain of philosophy?

The insistence on singularity takes a different, though not unrelated, form in the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and in Derrida's reading of them, not least regarding the singularity of Rousseau's person or persona as inscribed in his texts. Derrida's tracing of Rousseau extends from his early, ground-breaking Of Grammatology to a late, lengthy essay entitled "Typewriter Ribbon: Limited Ink (2)" focused on the Confessions. The topic of the subject, of the "I," in Rousseau is not "one among others." That double-edged phrase, however, so often favored by Derrida, might stand as an apt title gesturing towards the extraordinarily complicated relations between self and other in Rousseau as well as toward Rousseau's divided "exemplarity" in the two not easily compatible senses of the term: one among many others, with no particular differences among them, and one as the example to or for others. In this regard Derrida has occasion to cite, in his "Typewriter Ribbon," the opening rhetorical gambit of the once scandalous Confessions, featuring perhaps the most extravagant claim to singularity on record:
 I have resolved on an enterprise which has no precedent [exemple],
 and which, once complete, will have no imitator. My purpose is to
 display to my kind [rues semblables] a portrait in every way true
 to nature, and the man I shall portray will be myself.

 Myself alone [moi seul]. I know my own heart and understand my
 fellow man [les hommes]. But I am made unlike any one [comme aucun]
 I have ever seen; I will even venture to say that I am unlike any
 of those in existence. I may be no better but at least I am
 different [je suis autre]. Whether nature did well or ill in
 breaking the mould in which she formed me, is a matter that can
 only be judged after one has read me.

 Let the last trump sound when it will, I shall come forward with
 this work in my hand, to present myself before my Sovereign Judge,
 and proclaim aloud: "Here is what I have done. What I have thought,
 what I have been." I have said the good and the bad with the same
 frankness. (12)

The proximate occasion for Derrida's "Typewriter Ribbon" was Paul de Man's essay, "Excuses," devoted to the Confessions and focused on the performative character of Rousseau's text. Derrida expands on de Man's concerns by attending to, among other things, swearing, promising, excusing, and the like, along the lines of the first installment of "Limited Inc," a response to John Searle regarding aspects of Derrida's still earlier essay, "Signature Event Context" that had engaged J. L. Austin's theory of speech acts. We shall follow elements of Derrida's argument, dwelling on some of the enigmatic complexity of this passage from Rousseau in terms of the figure of singularity. Upon citing the opening of the Confessions Derrida remarks:
 Commitment to the future, toward the future, promise, sworn faith
 (at the risk of perjury, promising never to commit perjury), all
 these gestures are exemplary. The signatory wants to be, he
 declares himself to be at once singular, unique and exemplary, in a
 manner analogous to what Augustine did in a more explicitly
 Christian gesture.... But taken for myself (moi seul: Rousseau
 insists on both his solitude and his isolation, forever, without
 example, without precedent or sequel, without imitator), the same
 oath also commits, beginning at the origin, all others yet to come.
 It is a "without example" that, as always, aims to be exemplary and
 therefore repeatable. (140)

Not only is the enterprise of this autobiography utterly singular (no precedent, no future imitation), its subject or subject matter (which here amounts to the same thing) is also absolutely singular. In crafting this portrait true to nature, Rousseau finds that nature, in its wisdom, has broken the mould of its creation, even though it apparently was used only once: a "one-off" production, a hapax legomenon in the realm of people. The claim for this singularity is then doubled or re-doubled by the similar claim for the uniqueness of the text, a singular accounting for the singular life. Autobiography as a genre is, to a point, always predicated on the irreducible singularity of the individual subject but Rousseau's "enterprise" seems all the more singular in its pretensions. Yet the opening passage complicates some of its own claims to singularity: on the one hand, Rousseau insists that there is no one like him [fair comme aucun], neither among those he has seen nor even in all of existence; on the other hand, the passage invokes his "semblables," those who resemble him. Which is it? Resemblance or no resemblance? Rousseau addresses his kind to say that he is not of their kind, that he is sui generis. Perhaps the claim to singularity lies in the difference between what is similar and what is the same? Others might be similar to Rousseau but no one is the same. Still, there is something more than faintly paradoxical about the utterly singular Jean-Jacques Rousseau addressing his story to his semblables, with a claim to individuality that goes far beyond the common-garden-variety ones of modern bourgeois culture with its prevailing ethos of individualism. (13)

At some level, the fact that Rousseau's autobiography is addressed to the similar ones, les semblables, makes sense in terms of the genre, which tends to imply a certain substitutability of writer and reader. Not only is autobiography structured as the performance of a self reading a prior version or versions of itself but implicitly or sometimes explicitly the text of autobiography holds open the possibility of the reader putting herself or himself in the position of the writer, despite possible and considerable differences of race, class, sex, language, and/or historical period. Some of this is legible in the extravagant writings of Gertrude Stein, who takes it upon herself not only to write The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas--how exactly does one write the autobiography of another person?--but also the even more impossibly entitled text Everybody's Autobiography. Surely few people could completely identify with so singular a figure as Malcolm X, not able fully to substitute the one 'T' for another, and yet it is in keeping with the logic and rhetoric of autobiography that, for example, Spike Lee's film, Malcolm X, could have a whole slew of young schoolchildren proclaim, one after another, in the film's coda: "I am Malcolm X." The history of autobiography is riddled with such exemplary "I"s, however much the genre might also and at the same time appeal to its subject's singularity. How did this "I," this I more or less substitutable "I," come to be what it is? Here is the virtual opening of Derrida's "Typewriter Ribbon" referring to a certain "they" before any proper names have been divulged:
 Here, they told us, is what happened to them before coming down to
 us. Both of them are sixteen years old. Several centuries, more
 than a millennium apart. Both of them happened, later, to confess
 their respective misdeed, the theft committed when each was
 sixteen. In the course of both the theft and the confession, there
 was at work what we could call in Greek a mechane, at once an
 ingenious theatrical machine or a war machine, thus a machine and a
 machination, something both mechanical and strategic. (71)

Only in the next paragraph do we learn who exactly is involved in this double scenario of somewhat mechanical theft and confession: "Augustine and Rousseau not only wrote or confessed what thus happened to them. They confided in us or let us understand that if what had happened had not happened that day when they were sixteen years old, if they had not stolen, they would probably never have written--or signed--these Confessions" (71). Derrida then glosses this scenario thus:
 As if I, as if someone saying I got around to addressing you to
 say, and you would still be hearing it today: "Here is the most
 unjustifiable, if not the most unjust, thing that I ever happened
 to do, at once actively and passively, mechanically, and in such a
 way that not only was I able thus to let myself do it but also
 thanks to it, or because of it, I was able finally to say and to
 sign I.

This event of the theft in itself and in conjunction with the latter-day narration of it is so crucial that it comes to be the main event in the formation of the "I," the subject of the autobiography to come, virtually the condition of its possibility. Derrida draws our attention to a striking conjunction in the autobiographies of Augustine and Rousseau, texts that bear the identical title of Confessions, stressing once again the determinant role of the theft in the constitution of the "I":
 Has anyone ever noticed, in this immense archive, that Augustine
 and Rousseau both confess a theft? And that both do so in Book 2 of
 their Confessions, in a decisive or even determining and
 paradigmatic place? This is not all: in this archive that is also a
 confession, both of them confess that, although it was objectively
 trifling, this theft had the greatest psychic repercussions on
 their whole lives. (80)

The overlap is indeed uncanny, though if we did not confine our "search" to protagonists aged sixteen, we could add Wordsworth to the list of autobiographical thieves (his two thefts occur in Book z of The Prelude), as well as Malcolm X and Jean Genet, among others. Why might theft be so peculiarly formational for these exemplary subjects, these model autobiographers? Though Derrida does not explain it in quite these terms, one might say that theft, more than most events, more than most transgressions, helps delineate what belongs to the "I" and what does not. And it tends to conjure up the other or others rather more dramatically than other events, because whatever is stolen tends to belong to someone. Few things settle and unsettle the subject so much as stealing.

The occasion of de Man's essay--among other things--prompts Derrida to ask if one can think "the event and the machine" at one and the same time. The most particular focus of de Man's essay is the epoch-making event in Rousseau's life when, as young man (or is it an old boy? Rousseau claims to have been old since he was young and still boyish when old (14)) he steals a ribbon and upon being questioned about it, he lies--or, in effect, lies--and blames the young girl in the household named Marion, who is subsequently dismissed from her job. The misdeed, cast by Rousseau and underscored by de Man as decidedly mechanical, haunts Rousseau, for decades and decades. It is arguably the major turning point in Rousseau's early life and in the Confessions, as Derrida seems to contend.

Rousseau's account of the event in the Confessions begs many questions, not least because his self-accusation assumes the form of an excuse, with a number of phrases seeming calculated to distance Rousseau from his responsibility in the matter. "Marion" emerges as "the first object that presented itself" [le premier objet qui s'offrit], which de Man takes to mean that he would have blamed the first person (or thing, were it possible) that presented itself: it just happened that Marion was the first. We are asked to believe that Rousseau had no ill will, no intention of harming or even blaming Marion for the theft--though he unambiguously did both blame and harm her. Rousseau's more or less contorted account issues in the hope or prayer or entreaty: "May I never have to speak of it again."

Yet he does just that, returning to the scene of the crime decades later in the Fourth Promenade of the Reveries. (15) If the phrasing in the Confessions already tried to absolve Rousseau of some or all of the responsibility for his misdeed (but it haunts him as if he were responsible!) he is arguably even more off the hook, in his own view, when he returns to the episode in the Reveries. Twice, as Derrida makes clear (following de Man), Rousseau has recourse to the figure of the machine in his account of his (verbal) actions: "My heart followed these rules mechanically before my reason had adopted them" and "Thus it is certain that neither my judgment nor my will detailed my reply, but that it was the mechanical effect [l'effect machinal] of my embarrassment" (51; 1032, 1034). Already at the heart of the self--the heart of all places--one notes the effect of the machine. This figure of the machine is no mere figure, not one among others, since, for de Man and Derrida, the machine operates in and through the text whether or not it is thematized as such. Derrida quotes de Man as follows: "There can be no use of language which is not, within a certain perspective thus radically formal, i.e. mechanical, no matter how deeply this aspect may be concealed by aesthetic, formalistic delusions," a mechanicity de Man usually associates with grammar. (16) More specifically, de Man sees the sequence of guilt, excuse, more guilt (for having excused, for writing the excuse, for making the crime the matter of a confession that one publishes in more or less self-serving fashion) as a mechanical and inexorable one, even if the precise texture of the reflections (and some of their content) are undeniably Rousseau's own.

De Man's analysis of the singular and yet exemplary crime and its singular yet exemplary textual elaboration helps prompt Derrida to ask in a more general way:
 How, then, is one to reconcile, on the one hand, a thinking of the
 event, which I propose withdrawing, despite the apparent paradox,
 from an ontology or a metaphysics of presence (it would be a matter
 of thinking an event that is undeniable but without pure presence)
 and, on the other hand, a certain concept of machineness
 [machinalite']? The latter would imply at least the following
 predicates: a certain materiality, which is not necessarily a
 corporeality, a certain technicity, programming, repetition or
 iterability, a cutting off from or independence from any living
 subject--the psychological, sociological, transcendental, or even
 human subject, and so forth. In two words. How is one to think
 together the event and the machine, the event with the machine,
 this here event with this here machine? In a word, and repeating
 myself in quasi-machinelike fashion, how is one to think together
 the machine and the event, a machinelike repetition and that which
 happens/arrives [arrive]. (136)

The event and the machine should be mutually exclusive. The event would entail an "insistence on the arbitrary, fortuitous, contingent, aleatory, unforeseeable. An event that one held to be necessary and thus programmed, foreseeable, and so forth, that would be an event" (158). The event, then, would also be of the order of the singular, whereas the machine produces, by definition, what is not singular: the (necessarily) repeated, the general, and the not-at-all individual. But the analysis of events as they come to us in texts suggests the mutual implication of text and event such that the task is, Derrida suggests, to think both at once. Even a reading focused on the event-character of the event would need to account for any effects of the machine, the non-singular and the singular at the same time.

Some of this dynamic might be inscribed in the seemingly innocuous title: "Typewriter Ribbon." What is a typewriter? It suggests, at a minimum, a machine that enables writing or a mechanical writing, a machine that produces the same letter in the same form every time the same key is struck. Derrida, following de Man, raises the suspicion that the writer is, to a limited extent but also by definition, a kind of typewriter. When asked his opinion of Jack Kerouac's On The Road, Truman Capote caustically remarked: "That's not writing, that's typing." That is to say: merely mechanical writing. Yet there is a more neutral and not at all dismissive sense in which all writing is typing, in two ways: I) insofar as writing cannot transcend or circumvent its mechanical character and 2) insofar as what appears to be singular and particular emerges rather as not so singular, a kind of "type," rather as when, in analyzing comedies, Aristotle contends that the characters, with apparently proper names, only appear to be individuals (Poetics 1451b). Poetry, Aristotle claims generally, "aims at generality," as "has long been obvious in the case of comedy." The individual is not (so) individual, the seemingly singular not (so) singular. All writing is typewriting, because one cannot write what is only one, what is merely particular. The merely "one" cannot quite exist in writing, no matter how determined or over-determined the text might be. This has, once again, consequences for the writing of autobiography, the genre with perhaps the greatest claim to being the textual mode of the singular subject. (17)

If one were to look for the likeliest formal marker of the identity, selfsameness and continuity of the human subject, and thus the ability to sign "I," it might well be the proper name. The body and the face change, as does the mind, but the name remains--or tends to remain--the same. Even if language in general hardly operates with the perfection of a divinely authorized Adamic naming of things (or people or animals), the proper name seems to hold out the possibility of unambiguous, unique naming and indeed in a good many instances of daily (or other) life, the name does function perfectly well. And yet one and the same proper name could always refer to more than one person: "Jane Doe" or "Kwame Appiah" does not necessarily name one and only one person.

Some of what is at stake in the proper name emerges powerfully in Derrida's reading of Levi-Strauss and his Tristes Tropiques, a text in which the modern-day anthropologist pays tribute to Rousseau as the founder of anthropology and a model still to be emulated. Levi-Strauss studies there "the lost world" of the Nambikwara, a people apparently innocent of or free from writing. One is perhaps astonished to learn that this people have no proper names, or, more precisely, no proper names on first acquaintance. The anthropologist learns from young girls in the tribe that beyond the "nicknames" for everyone, people do have "secret" proper names. The elders prohibit the use of such names, an extraordinary state of affairs that (nonetheless) prompts Derrida to comment:
 This prohibition is necessarily derivative with regard to the
 constitutive erasure of what I have called arche-writing, within,
 that is, the play of difference. It is because the proper names are
 already no longer proper names, because their production is their
 obliteration, because the erasure and the imposition of the letter
 are originary, because they do not supervene upon a proper
 inscription; it is because the proper name has never been, as the
 unique appellation reserved for the presence of a unique being,
 anything but the original myth of a transparent legibility present
 under the obliteration; it is because the proper name was never
 possible except through its functioning within a classification and
 therefore within a system of differences, within a writing
 retaining the traces of difference, that the interdict was
 possible, could come into play, and, when the time came, as we
 shall see, could be transgressed, transgressed, that is to say
 restored to the obliteration and non-self-sameness [the
 ira-propriety, non-propriete'] at the origin. (109)

Thus what appears to be so unusual--the example of a tribe that "has" but also prohibits proper names--occasions an insight into the fundamental impropriety of the seemingly "proper" name. Derrida can show how, in Levi-Strauss' own terms, drawn from the latter's The Savage Mind: "one never names ... one classes." (18) Names have to function in a system, have to be legible, repeatable and thus always potentially or actually not quite as proper as they appear. Derrida "concludes": "The death of absolutely proper naming, recognizing in a language the other as pure other, invoking it as what it is, is the death of the pure idiom reserved for the unique" (110). Or as he summarizes bluntly: "the proper name is improper" (111). (19)

A stable proper name, however, or the stability of the entity to which the proper name refers, would seem to be one condition of possibility of autobiography. In this regard it is not a matter of indifference that Rousseau sometimes adopted and was addressed by numerous other proper names: the anagrammatic Vaussore (Confessions, Bk. 4) or the more improbable Dudding (Confessions, Bk. 6). The former he adopted at a time when he noted he was "not really himself" and the latter when he did not wish to be recognized for who he really was (but rather an English Jacobite!). Rousseau seems to oscillate between the two poles staked out by Descartes and Montaigne, two of his great autobiographical predecessors: Descartes, who thought that our thoughts were "entirely within our power" (Discourse on Method) and Montaigne, who maintained that "we are never at home with ourselves" [nous sommes jamais chez nous]. (20) Rousseau does seem, from virtually the outset of his Confessions and elsewhere, already divided against himself. The opening page's formula "je suis autre" [I am different, I am other] might be less radical than Rimbaud's later proclamation: "je est un autre" [I is an other]. (21) But Rousseau is so eminently capable of multiplying his uneasily co-existing selves that the "I" does indeed seem at least something of an other--even to itself--from the very start, rather along the lines of how Rousseau would, contemporaneous with the Confessions, write a series of dialogues under the rubric Rousseau, Juge de Jean-Jacques, premised on a split in the self that allows for the distance of judgment, including judgment of oneself. (22) The text presents a distanced, divided account of a subject divided and distanced from himself. But this division--given even the precarious unity of consciousness over (a long) time--is still felt and thought as if contained by some more encompassing and still somehow unified subject to the extent that the signature, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, would be referential.

Rousseau's multiple names would be one index of this self-division, though Derrida's Of Grammatology suggests that writing itself is arguably the pre-eminent medium of Rousseau's alienation from himself. It is one of the great achievements of Derrida's text to have analyzed with such profundity and tenacity what is at stake for Western thought in the idea and the fact(s) of writing. Derrida accords Rousseau a singular place in the history of the thinking of writing, poised "between Plato's Phaedrus and Hegel's Encyclopedia" (97), constituting a kind of intensification of the "modification," as Derrida terms it, from object to subject associated with the name of Descartes. Within this more circumscribed epoch, that between Descartes and Hegel, Rousseau, according to Derrida, "is undoubtedly the only one or the first one to make a theme or a system of the reduction of writing profoundly implied in the entire age" (98). At once typical and singular, Rousseau makes legible what is at stake in the subject of writing. And he does this in both theory and practice, that is, in general reflections on writings, as in the Second Discourse and the Essay on the Origin of Languages, where he laments the loss of immediacy and indeed even the loss of a possibility of the public in an age in which the voice of orators can no longer even be heard and in which one is reduced to viewing placards saying "Give Money," (23) as well as in his more or less purely autobiographical writings.

Derrida's general account of the subject of writing draws on, among others, his great predecessors Saussure and Freud, who argued variously that language "is not a function of the speaker" (Of Grammatology 68) and posited a fundamental "unconsciousness of language," such that Derrida, after them, can write:
 With or without these propositions the complicity of their authors,
 all these propositions must be understood as more than the simple
 reversals of a metaphysics of presence or of conscious
 subjectivity. Constituting it and dislocating it at the same time,
 writing is other than the subject, in whatever sense this latter is
 understood. Writing can never be thought under the category of the
 subject; however it is modified, however it is endowed with
 consciousness or unconsciousness, it will refer, by the entire
 thread of its history, to the substantiality of a presence
 unperturbed by accidents, or to the identity of the selfsame
 [le propre] in the presence of self-relationship. (68-69)

Subject to the relentless sway of difference, the subject cannot master the language of its own utterances, as writing always exceeds them. The subject cannot be simply and wholly subject, if we understand that term to entail a more or less popularized version of the Cartesian "I," transparent to itself and master of its own certainty.

The consequences for the writing subject are nowhere more legible than in the genre of autobiography, to say nothing of the autobiography with the most explicit claims to singularity and exemplarity. If the opening of the Confessions announces a self-assured subject in command of just what it takes to write his own autobiography (e.g. "I know my own heart"), any number of subsequent passages come to complicate the self-same identity of that subject on which the success and integrity of the text seem to depend. To judge from Rousseau's own account, the best presentation or representation of his self would be one that corresponded to his most "pedestrian" thoughts:
 In thinking over the details of my life which are lost to my memory
 what I most regret is that I do not keep diaries of my travels.
 Never did I think so much, exist so vividly, and experience so
 much, never have I been so myself (tant ete moi)--if I may use that
 expression--as in the journeys I have taken alone and on foot.
 There is something about walking which stimulates and enlivens my
 thoughts. When I stay in one place I can hardly think at all. My
 body has to be on the move to set my mind going [il faut que mon
 corps soit en branle pour y mettre mon esprit]. (157-58; 162)

This is bad news for the project of Rousseau's autobiography, since it is so very difficult to walk and write at the same time. The writing of the Confessions is necessarily the product of conditions (being sedentary or stationary) that are not at all conducive to thought. Staying in one place, or especially sitting at his desk, means that Rousseau, in writing, can hardly get his mind "going." Moreover, one might assume that one is always oneself (how could it be otherwise?) but Rousseau posits a kind of sliding scale of being (at one with) oneself, with walking being the condition that best allows one to be oneself and to think (about, among other things, oneself and being oneself). The diary form would stand as a better account-though still not immediate--than the belated, retrospective confession, given the shorter interval between the experience of thought and feeling while walking and its being written down.

The brief "forward" to the Confessions, to which Derrida draws our attention, a strange page without any heading (such as "Avant-Propos") and often printed without a page number that faced the first page of the Geneva manuscript (24) is almost redundant (though coming first) in the light of the final opening of the Confessions. It presents a similar sort of claim to exemplarity but here the phrasing stresses the motif of totality: promises a portrait "in all its truth" [dam route sa verite], one of the many claims to totality: "Here is the only portrait of a man, painted exactly according to nature and in all its truth, which exists and which probably ever will exist" (3). It corresponds to another famous passage, made paradigmatic by Starobinski, stressing totality and the desire to make that totality known:
 I should like in some ways to make my soul transparent to the
 reader's eye, and for that purpose I am trying to present it from
 all points of view, to show it in all lights, and to contrive that
 more of its movements shall escape his notice ... (169; my

If totality and truth form the goal of the Confessions, it is not so fortuitous that Rousseau, almost always writing retrospectively, has so wildly differing accounts of his own capacity for remembering events, things, words. Rousseau claims to have "no verbal memory"--by which he means principally the aptitude for remembering oral or written passages. The larger passage, however, seems to invoke a less circumscribed mode of memory, linked with the difficulty of writing down his thoughts in general:
 I have never been able to do anything with a pen in my hand, and my
 desk and paper before me; it is on my walks, among the rocks and
 trees, it is at night in my bed when I lie awake, that I compose in
 my head; and you can imagine how slowly, for I am completely
 without verbal memory and have never been able to memorize half a
 dozen verses in my life. (113-14; 114)

The very next paragraph, however, underscores the vivacity of his memory in a larger sense:
 I have studied men, and I think I am a fairly good observer. But
 all the same I do not know how to see what is before my eyes; I can
 only see clearly in retrospect, it is only in memories that my mind
 can work. I have neither feeling nor understanding for anything
 that is said or done or that happens before my eyes, All that
 strikes me is the external manifestation. But afterwards all comes
 back to me, I remember the place and the time, the tone of voice
 and look, the gesture and situation; nothing escapes me. (114; 1
 14; my emphasis)

And yet this is the same Rousseau (or is it?) who says a little earlier " man has ever passed the sponge so rapidly and so completely over the past as I" (103; 102). One witnesses an almost systematic oscillation between the claims to total memory and the total or near total absence of it. (25)

If Rousseau has "neither feeling nor understanding for anything said or done or that happens before [his] eyes" can he be said to experience anything at all, anything other than memory? Because it all comes back, even if not experience as such in its immediacy. All experience is only experienced latterly, in the mode of Nachtraglichkeit. And "it is only in memories" that Rousseau's mind can work." Paradoxically or not, memory gets in the way of experience--or experience is always suspended, deferred to its future memory. One might think that the occasional claim to total memory ("nothing escapes me") would be an ideal condition for self-presence and yet at the outset of the very next paragraph (following the claim that "nothing escapes me") Rousseau notes, "Seeing that I am so little master of myself when I am alone, imagine what I am like in conversation...." Thus the Confessions, whose project is to tell the story "in all its truth" (including the truth about lying, stealing and other "faults"), seems to careen wildly between accounts that suggest authoritative truthful renditions girded by total memory and self-presence, a singularly successful presentation of self, over against something like its opposite. No memory, no verbal representation would correspond to the lively thoughts when his mind is "going" somewhere, preferably while walking. Is it any wonder, then, that this subject of writing, this written life of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is precarious from the start and throughout?

If the subject, the desiring subject, who is same and other, other even to himself, is remarkably divided from the first, one might think that the other, the other other, so to speak, would be more unified and able to be experienced in his or her singularity, not least because it is so much easier to render the other, discursively, as homogeneous in more or less reductive fashion. To be sure, any number of others are first presented in their various singularities through the Confessions only to give way to a certain sense of substitutability. One of the most remarkable dynamics of Rousseau's life lies in his engagements with women. They tend to take place under the sign of the mother, not least, perhaps, because Rousseau's mother died within days of giving birth to him. With the absence of his actual mother--and Rousseau meditated a good deal on the role of the mother in the upbringing of the child, including the importance of breast-feeding--Rousseau's life is marked by any number of substitutes for the lost maternal presence, most spectacularly in his relation to Madame de Warens whom he came to call "Mama" before consummating a romance with her. Can there be a mother in quotation marks, a mother that is not a mother, but the citation of a mother, a woman not the mother but called by the mother's name, not a proper but a generic name that nonetheless should, in principle, only ever be applied to one person--to one's mother by a son or daughter? (26) In any event, the force of Rousseau calling Madame de Warens "Mama" can hardly be overestimated, given that when the sexual relationship was initiated, Rousseau recognized: "I felt as if I had committed incest" (189; 197). It feels like incest because this is one forceful instance when, "the irreplaceable is replaced" (Of Grammatology 145-46). Madame de Warens is the closest of all the female figures to the mother and yet they all seem to be, at one level or another, substitutes for her, a "chain of supplements," as Derrida terms it, resembling each other by their position without resembling each other, blurring the distinction between metaphor and metonymy. And the mother would be only the extreme of these substitutions or almost the most extreme: for were something or someone to provide absolute pleasure (which perhaps entails a return to the origin) that would mean death, as Rousseau explicitly hypothesizes.

I do not want to leave readers with the impression that singularity, so crucial in Derrida's readings of the Romantic era, is confined to the period. Derrida's invocations of singularity tend to cluster in his treatment of justice, death, especially the death of a friend, the event, the work of art, and the subject. He has argued, for example, in his suggestive but enigmatic essay "Force of Law" that justice is always of the order of the singular. Any "general" application of the law would treat the specific case as, precisely, general. Justice requires a judgment that is not simply mechanical or given in advance, otherwise a machine or computer could do a perfectly good job at it. Justice is always and only singular. Indeed the phrase "doing justice" to something often means respecting the singularity of the matter at hand: a text, an event, a person.

Derrida, like a lot good of teachers (Socrates, Jesus, Lao Tzu, Nietzsche), is fond of a good paradox, and he takes a not-so-secret pleasure in arguing that even an event which would seem to have an air-tight claim to singularity could, against all odds, come again and again. His great essay on Paul Celan, "Shibboleth," opens with the seemingly self-evident claim, "One time only: circumcision takes place only once," (27) only to have the essay go on to trouble--via analysis of the date, the anniversary, the necessarily repetitive or iterative character of inscription--the one-timeness of even that event, and only partly thanks to the figurative character of circumcision.

Thus often what appears to be singular is revealed to be crossed by any number of forces that are something other than singular and often indeed generic, as with the partly transgressable "law of genre." In eulogizing the death of a friend, so often and so eloquently performed by Derrida, one feels the law of genre operating (and indeed Derrida "respects" the law of the eulogy, the epitaph, the obituary) even as there is no doubt as to the irreducible singularity of the person lost, the singularity of the loss, and the unique protracted event of individual and group mourning. But even here the pathos of the individual loss of the individual can pan out to the "pan," to the "all" or at least the imagined form of the collective, as in the final moment of his tribute to his colleague and friend Louis Althusser. In closing what cannot easily be closed, Derrida cedes the final word to Althusser, from the latter's early "Bertolazzi and Brecht":
 Yes, we are united by an institution--the performance--but, more
 deeply, by the same myths, the same themes, that govern us without
 our consent, by the same spontaneously lived ideology.... we eat of
 the same bread, we have the same rages, the same rebellions, the
 same madness (at least in memory, where this ever-immanent
 possibility haunts us), if not the same prostration before a time
 unmoved by any History. Yes, like Mother Courage, we have the same
 war at our gates, and a handsbreath from us, if not in us, the same
 horrible blindness, the same dust in our eyes, the same earth in
 our mouths. We have even the same dawn and night, we skirt the same
 abysses: our unconsciousness. We even share the same history--and
 that is how it all started. (28)

In one quoting the other, not just any other, Derrida's singular voice gives way to Althusser's in a memorable formulation of how the singular is tra versed by any number of forces, historical, linguistic, discursive. Language and text in the broadest senses that Derrida helped give to those words--by no means reducible to language and text literally so called--sustain, and undercut the self, the singular self that language in part, but only in part, made possible in the first place.

York University, Canada

(1.) Though I am not concerned in this essay to read Rousseau and Kant in relation to each other, one might note that "Rousseau and Kant" are not just any couple. The former greatly influenced the latter, of which the anecdotal evidence of Kant's daily walks only ever being interrupted by the publication of certain works by Rousseau is only one striking index.

(2.) For a trenchant account of this process, see Theodor W. Adomo "On Subject and Object," in Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords, trans. Henry W. Pickford (New York: Columbia UP, 1998) 245-58. Heidegger comments on the switch in orientation and terminology with regard to "subject" and "object" in his "Modem Science, Metaphysics, and Mathematics," in Basic Writings, ed. David Farrell Krell (New York: Harper Collins, 1993) 303 If.

(3.) For Derrida's reflections on method and related matters in Descartes, see the first two chapters (but especially the second) in Eyes of the University, ed. Jan Plug (Stanford: Stanford UP) 1-42.

(4.) See the classic if still debated analysis by C. B. Macpherson, Possessive Individualism: The Political Theory of Individualism (London, Oxford and New York: Oxford UP, 1962).

(5.) The English word ficture is indicated as "rare" in the Oxford English Dictionary. It means, in English, a feigning. It corresponds to the almost equally rare French word ficture.

(6.) On the status of "feeling" in Kantian aesthetics, especially of the sublime, see Jean-Francois Lyotard, Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime, trans. Elizabeth Rottenberg (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1994).

(7.) For an excellent account of the stakes in these matters from the vantage of contemporary theory, see Rei Terada, Feeling in Theory: Emotion after the Death of the Subject (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2001), especially Chapter One, "Cogito and the History of the Passions."

(8.) G. W. F. Hegel, Vorlesungen uber die Philosophie der Geschichte, Theorie-Werkausgabe, Vol. 12 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1970), 38; my translation.

(9.) I am here rehearsing (including recalling once again, irresistibly, the Barbara Streisand song behind this phrase, quoting it without quotation marks) a number of points about the Kantian aesthetic in relation to Romantic poetry made in my essay: "Subjecticity: Kant and the Texture of Aesthetics," Romantic Praxis, ed. Forrest Pyle, February 2005. <http://>

(10.) Derrida is often accused of fetishizing language when, on the contrary, he argued explicitly and tirelessly against it. This is in part based on a misunderstanding of his pronouncement--turned into a slogan--"il n'y a pas de hors-texte," usually translated, not so precisely, as "there is nothing outside the text." Derrida is, of course, scrupulous in his attention to the workings of language but he is at least as interested in what resists language and thus in the violence language imposes.

(11.) On the structural burden of the aesthetic in the architectonics of the system, see Paul de Man, "Phenomenality and Materiality in Kant," in his Aesthetic Ideology (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996) 70-90, Gilles Deleuze, Kant's Critical Philosophy: The Doctrine of the Faculties, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam, and David Martyn, Sublime Failures: The Ethics of Kant and Sade (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 2003).

(12.) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Confessions, trans. J. M. Cohen (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1953) 17. (Translation modified here and elsewhere.) The French original is Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Oeuvres Completes, Vol. I, ed. Bernard Gagnebin and Marcel Raymond (Paris: Pleiade, 1959) 5. Relevant page numbers will be given in the body of the text, first to the English, then to the French.

(13.) The Reveries du promeneur solitaire opens with a similarly paradoxical positioning of the self as its own society in the absence of society proper, singular in himself but to such an extent that his identity is a question mark: "Me voici done seul sur la terre, n'ayant plus de frere, de prochain, d'ami, de societe que moi-meme. Le plus sociable et le plus aimant des humains en a ete proscrit par un accord unanime.... Mais moi, detache d'eux et de tout, que suis-je moi-meme? (Oeuvres Completes 1: 995). [Here I am then alone on the earth, no longer having any brother, acquaintance, friend, or society other than myself. The most sociable and loving of humans has been proscribed by a unanimous accord ... But me, detached from them and from everything, what am I, myself?] (my translation).

(14.) "These long details of my early youth may well seem extremely childish, and I am sorry for it. Although in certain respects I have been a man since birth, I was for a long time, and still am, a child in many others" (Confessions 169, 174).

(15.) One notices that the category of the "promenade" sounds here like an established literary genre, one whose dream, in Rousseau's case, would be to do justice, in writing, to what one thinks and feels while walking.

(16.) The passage Derrida cites comes from Allegories of Reading (New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1979) 294. It is cited in "Typewriter Ribbon" 105. On a related matter in Wittgenstein, see Michael N. Forster, Wittgenstein on the Arbitrariness of Grammar (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2005), especially Chapters 2 and 3.

(17.) As we take leave of the subject of typewriting, one might note that Rousseau himself was variously employed as an engraver and a copier of music, a kind of typewriter.

(18.) Claude Levi-Strauss, The Savage Mind (Chicago and London: U of Chicago P, 1966) 181.

(19.) On the problematic of the proper name and the signature, see the following authoritative studies: Peggy Kamuf, Signature Pieces: On the Institution of Authorship (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1988) and Geoff Bennington, Dudding: des noms de Rousseau (Paris: Galilee, 1991).

(20.) Descartes maintains in the Discourse on Method that "My third maxim was to try always to conquer myself rather than fortune, and to alter my desires rather than change the order of the world, and generally to accustom myself to believe that there is nothing entirely within our power but our own thoughts.... " The Philosophical Works of Descartes, Volume I, trans. Elizabeth S. Haldane and G. R. T. Ross (no place of publication: Dover, 1931) 96-97. [Ma troisieme maxime etoit de tacher toujours plutot me vaincre que la fortune, et a changer mes desirs que l'ordre du monde, et generalement de m'accoutumer a croire qu'il n'y a rien qui soit entierement en notre pouvoir que nos pensees....] The passage from Montaigne is from The Complete Essays, trans. M. A. Screech (London: Penguin, 199I) II (from essay no. 3 in Book I, "Our emotions get carried away beyond us).

(21.) As it happens, Gilles Deleuze invokes this slogan from Rimbaud in his "On Four Poetic Formulas That Might Summarize the Kantian Philosophy," in Essays Critical and Clinical, trans. Daniel W. Smith and Michael A. Greco (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1997) 27-35.

(22.) Levi-Strauss stresses not the vainglory of the Rousseauean exemplary, self-divided subject but its humility: "In truth, I am not 'I,' but the feeblest and humblest of 'others.' Such is the discovery of Confessions. Does the anthropologist write anything other than confessions? First in his own name, as I have shown, since it is the moving force of his vocation and his work; and in that very work, in the name of the society, which, through the activities of its emissary, the anthropologist, chooses for itself other societies, other civilizations, and precisely the weakest and most humble; but only to verify to what extent that first society is itself 'unacceptable'" (as quoted by Derrida, Of Grammatology 114).

(23.) I am summarizing brutally here a more complex and ambivalent position. Derrida conducts the most painstaking analysis of the relevant works by Rousseau throughout Of Grammatology.

(24.) Numerous editions and translations opt not to print this page as prefacing the Confessions.

(25.) Witness also this passage that calls attention to gaps in the record only to assert that nothing essential is missing: "There are some events in my life that are as vivid as if they had just occurred. But there are gaps and blanks that I cannot fill except by means of a narrative as muddled as the memory I preserve of the events. I may therefore have made mistakes at times, and I may still make some over trifles, till I come to the days when I have more certain information concerning myself. But over anything that is really relevant to the subject I am certain of being exact and faithful, as I shall always endeavour to be in everything" (128, 130).

(26.) I am voicing a tradition here, not my opinion. There are often perfectly good reasons (as in adoption) for the term "mama" or its variants being applied to more than one person. On the curiously pervasive form--across many languages--of the term in question here, see Roman Jacobson "Why Mama And Papa?" in On Language, ed. Linda R. Waugh and Monique Monville-Bursten (Cambridge MA: Harvard UP, 1990) 305-11.

(27.) Jacques Derrida, Sovereignties in Question: The Poetics of Paul Celan, trans. Thomas Dutoit and Outi Pasanen (New York: Fordham UP, 2006) I.

(28.) Jacques Derrida, The Work of Mourning, ed. Pascale Anne-Braut and Michael Naas (Chicago and London: U of Chicago P, 2001) 118.
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Title Annotation:Jacques Derrida, Immanuel Kant and Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Author:Balfour, Ian
Publication:Studies in Romanticism
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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