Experimental Systems, Graphematic Spaces
Hans-Jörg Rheinberger
Pp. 285-303
in
Inscribing Science: Scientific Texts and the Materiality of Communication
1998
Timothy Lenoir (ed.)
Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA

Translator's Preface
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Pp. ix - lxxxvii
in
Of Grammatology
1976
Jacques Derrida
Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD

Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences
Jacques Derrida
Pp. 278-294
in
Writing and Difference
19??
Jacques Derrida
Translator: Alan Bass
Routledge, New York, NY

"If, in the perspective of social construction, we have lost the illusion of an ultimate reference called "nature," what do we gain by trying to compensate for this loss with the mirror image of "society" as a new and insurmountable reference?" (Rheinberger, Pp. 286)

"those structures as hybrids that are recalcitrant to classification in either realm, the natural or the social, the theoretical or the practical." (Pp. 286)

"Experimental reasoning then? ... It is a kind of movement oriented and reoriented by generating its own boundary conditions, in which reasoning is swept off by tracing, a game of material entities." (Pp. 286)

"How, above all, does one recapture the sense of a maze with no way out, the incessant quest for a solution, without referring to what later proved to be the solution in all its dazzling obviousness? An experimental system can be compared to a labyrinth whose walls, in the course of being erected, simultaneously blind and guide the experimenter. The construction principle of a labyrinth consists in that the existing walls limit the space and the direction of the walls to be added. It cannot be planned. It forces once to move by means of checking out, of groping, of tâtonnement." (Pp. 291)

"With Derrida, we might also speak of a 'game' of difference. It is precisely the characteristic of 'fall(ing) prey to its own work' that brings the scientific enterprise to what Derrida calls 'the enterprise of deconsturction.' On the part of the experimenter, it requires acquired intuition (Erfahrenheit) in order to play the game. Experiencedness is not experience. Experience is an intellectual quality; experiencedness is a form of practice." (Pp. 291)

"Stabilization and destabilization imply each other. If a system becomes too rigitd, it is no longer a machine for making the future; it becomes a testing device, in the sense of producing standards or replicas. It loses its function as a research tool. It may, however, be integrated as a stable subsystem into another, still growing experimental system, and help to produce unprecedented events within a larger field." (Pp. 291)

"how does it organize what I have called, preliminarily, the 'tracing-game'? This is a question of representation. What does representation mean? If we speak of tracing, are we allowed to speak of representation at all? After all, the term representation implies the existence of a reference. But if we conceive of a scientific object investigated through an experimental system as deployed and articulated within a space of material representation - such as radioactive tracing and centrifugal fractionation - the traditional meaning of 'representation' is erased." (Pp. 295)

"Trace-articulations are what I call epistemic things." (Pp. 295)

"What goes on when the experimentalist produces a chromatogram, a protein sequence, an array of tubes, to which pieces of filter paper are correlated, on which, in turn, counts per minute of radioactive decay are superimposed? All these epistemic procedures are the objects of an ongoing process of materialized interpretation. They represent certain aspects of the scientific object in a form that is manipulable in the laboratory. The arrangement of these graphematic traces or graphemes and the possibility of their being articulated in a particular space of representation constitute the experimental 'writing-game.'" (Page 296)

"The process of 'inscriptions' is neither an arbitrary process in which anything goes, nor is it completely determined by the technical conditions and the instrumental equipment of the respective system. In the differential reproduction of experimental systems there is a permanent 'game of presentation/absentation' going on. For every grapheme is the suppression of another one. Trying to show or enhance a particular trace inevitably means trying to suppress another one. It is as in a game with wedges. If you drive in one, you drive out the other. ... So, at least for shorter spans of time, the game of presentation / absentation has to be conducted as reversibly as possible." (Pp. 297)

"Aufhebung is a relationship between two terms where the second at once annuls the first and lifts it up into a higher sphere of existence; it is a hierarchial concept generally translated 'sublation' and now sometimes translated 'sublimation.' A successful preface is aufgebhoben into the text it precedes, just as a word is aufgegoben into its meaning. It is as if, to use on of Derrida's structural metaphors, the son or seed (preface or word), caused or engendered by the father (text or meaning) is recovered by the father and thus justified." (Derrida, Pp. xi)

"And if the assumption of responsibility for one's discourse leads to the conclusion that all conclusions are genuinely provisional and therefore inconclusive, that all origins are similarly unoriginal, that responsibility itself must cohabit with frivolity, this need not be cause for gloom." (Pp. xiii)

"The anthropologist must tinker because, at least as Lévy-Strauss argues in Le cru et le cuit, it is in fact impossible for him to master the whole field. Derrida, by an important contrast, suggest that the field is theoretically, not merely empirically, unknowable." (Pp. xix)

"afflicted with nostalgia..." (Pp. xix)