Notes on Limited Inc.

Signature Event Context (Sec)
(p3) “Is there a rigorous and scientific concept of context? Or Does the notion of context not conceal … philosophical presuppositions of a very determinate nature?” The philosophical presupposition… a la Nietzsche’s ‘will to ignorance.’ I’m getting ahead of myself, but Searle’s “improbable” was to presume that very philosophical presupposition.

(p3) (lack of context) would necessitate a certain generalization and a certain displacement of the concept of writing … the effects of semantic communication can be determined as effects that are particular, secondary, inscribed and supplementary.” I’m still hung up on displacement… and if the effects of communication are secondary, does this make the communicative act (the signature?) the primary? Or is it something… too nebulous to be signed for.

(p5) Condillac’s supplant: MW has an obsolete definition of supplant being to uproot. Later in the paragraph – tracing and retracing. Very unrhizomatic. From what I gather, supplementation is the tradition signified/signifier dichotomy. JD emphasizes it is exhibited as “a continuous and homogeneous reparation and modification of presence in the representation”, as contrasted to a “break in presence.”

Maybe the signature event is something like… so if Limited Inc and A Thousand Plateaus are discussing (at least some) related material, JD’s signature is one of absence, differance and signature event. In signing, he is creating new concepts (a la TP) by a selection from the stream (if you will). It is not the presence of Husserl and Austin, but the absence of the signatures of everybody else. The printed text, the event, the moment of JD’s signature is not a becoming (TP) in and of itself, rather it is given that quality when it is read. Because no context can be known and no pure intent can be understood (“abandoned it to its essential drift” p9), a given signature is a river (the text itself has drift due to the above) within a river (the body from which the text emerges… also drifting). But back to absence… that’s just it. The text is a form of that river… it is the absence of all of it. A miniature (a la Levi Strauss). If “that something bigger” is pure blackness, the absence is what forms the mark, the signature… but that mark has freeplay within its form… … … I’ll come back to this.

(p12) “Every sign can be cited … engendering an infinity of new contexts in a manner which is absolutely illimitable. This does not imply the mark is valid outside of a context, but on the contrary that there are only contexts without any center or absolute anchoring.” JD later puts this use when discussing Austin’s parasitic speech acts, but for now… I’m getting a feeling that all signatures are inherently citations. This is espoused (at least I think) in Limited Inc a,b,c… The “absolute anchoring” is my best understanding of decentering. In contrast, (p15) talks about Austin’s “organizing center remain[ing] intention.”

(p17) Citationality. JD links his discussion of the citation to that of Austin’s parasitic speech (poems, plays, etc). So if we lose context and intention (and thus capital M Meaning), doesn’t it appear as though all writing is a citation? This a key point that Searle missed (and I missed the first time around). As such, the improbable debate was made even more improbable… classic. The signature event is singular, but the reading is multiple (doubling, as JD puts it)… multiplicity? I can’t help but see a lobster! The whole debate is pretty funny if you read this page 17… he grants that people can say “I pose a question” and christen boats… what he’s getting at that philosophic presupposition. Isn’t that, afterall, what Austin was getting at? “No, its not true/false, its constative/performative” Granted Austin was to assert a rigid structure… Derrida seems to be more of a Nietzschean “philosopher of the future” in his prowess at remaining always decentered, always becoming.

Reiterating the Differences: A Reply to Derrida
Searle comes off as a stodgy old professor who doesn't like to stray from the canon (be it authors or writing style). He's very much a defender of "pure Austin." I need to read Derrida's reply to Searle's attacks on D's interpretation of Austin's interability (come on, totally a rhizome)... but otherwise, this is all I need to remember from "Reply" (on the last page):

"There is no upper limit on the number of new things that can be communicated by speech acts, which is just another way of saying that there is no limit on the number of new speech acts. Furthermore, hearers are able to understand this infinite number of possible communications simply by recgnizing the intentions of the speakers in the performances of the speech acts. Now given that both speaker and hearer are finite, what is it that gives their speech acts this limitless capacity for communication? The answer is that the speaker and hearers are masters of the sets of rules we call the rules of language, and these rules are recursive. They allow for the repeated application of the same rule."

If thats what you think, then thats what you think... but that, to me, is a textbook example of the will to ignorance. Searle was a jerk to not allow his Reply to be published in Limited Inc. Having read it I now don't think he's a buffoon... he's just rigid... the kind of guy who enjoys putting red on a students paper, and franky, I applaud Derrida for ripping into him. Who was more violent? Derrida to assault Searle with vigor and panache, or Searle for reading Derrida so rigidly? Deconstruction... deconstructing the Rightness of the Academy?

Limited Inc a b c …
Man, Derrida went from very dense and deliberate to… slightly less very dense and more acerbic(ly playful, if that’s possible). I must say, though, I’m indebted to Searle, as much of Sec came to life for me in Limited Inc a b c…

““Copyright 1977 John R. Searle”” Derrida’s pen must drip blood, geeze.


(p34) “Let’s be serious. Faced with this speech act (‘let’s be serious’), readers may perhaps feel authorized in believing that the presumed signatory of this text is only now beginning to be serious, only now committing himself to a philosophical discussion worthy of the name, and is thus admitting that what he has previously been engaged in was something entirely different. But let’s be serious…” Oh Derrida ::swoon::


(p37) “What I like about this ‘confrontation’ is that I don’t know if it is quite taking place, if it ever will be able, or will have been able, quite, to take place; or if it does, between whom or what. Evidently, John R. Searle and ‘myself’ do not sign here, or speak for ourselves. We are nothing more than ‘prete-noms’, ‘borrowed names,’ straw men, … fronts.” I love his turn on “improbable debate.” If you’re not paying attention, it seems like Derrida lifts Searle’s railroad and turns it right back at him. If you are paying attention… well… he’s used the same idea with a clever twist and an absence. Chiasmus? Maybe not. Rather than Searle’s assertion of JD not understanding Austin, JD goes back to his original point about absence, makes fun of Searle, all the while maintaining the same “improbable, never happened” structure Searle used. I feel like the John Madden/Terry Bradshaw of philosophy.

On “borrowed names, fronts” is his “(3 + n) authors”… mentioned above

P38 on translation inherent in the confrontation

(p42) “… thus in analyzing the violence and the type of evaluative reactions, I had the impression that Sec had touched the mark, right in the middle, as it were.” About Searle’s heated reply. Was Sec not an arrow sent straight into the heart of the Academy? This is pretty big… this short essay is deadly – he’s contending that all of philosophy, all of writing is built upon a flawed presupposition. “This isn’t to say that boats won’t be christened” but in the Academy, where people do philosophy… it had to have been bait. Sec was assassin’s arrow… Limited Inc was the bazooka (well, the US Army’s latest heat-seeking, blow-your-ass-up technology). His whole response is hilarious… even when he’s being serious its funny (“But lets be serious”). The absurd amount of detail he applies to _everything_ has the effect of making Searle’s reply laughable. “How, therefore, will it be possible, from now on, to know just exactly which Searle Sec has failed to miss?” While this, by itself, is just a dirty trick, he makes it artful. His logic and argument is all well and good (by my account)… his humorous, pun-tastic style is only to ice the cake. And you can’t just write him off as a jackass… he writes how he’s philosophizing… much as Searle doe (to Derrida’s amusement.)


(p45) “Finally, I give my word of honor that I shall be of good faith in my argument. I promise this in all sincerity and in all seriousness, literally, raising my hand above the typewriter.” But actually (now that the gloves are quite off) I need to get off of the de(re?)tour and back onto the highway… to be picked up again at some undetermined time in the future.