system – deconstruction

If by ‘system’ is meant—and this is the minimal sense of the word—a sort of consequence, coherence and insistence—a certain gathering together—there is an injunction to the system that I have never renounced, and never wished to. This can be seen in the recurrence of motifs and references from one text to another in my work, despite the differing occasions and pretexts—a recurrence that, having reached a certain age, I find rather striking. What I have managed to write in the course of these past thirty years has been guided by a certain insistence that others may well find downright monotonous. ‘System,’ however, in a philosophical sense that is more rigorous and perhaps more modern, can also be taken to mean a totalization in the configuration, a continuity of all statements, a form of coherence (not coherence itself), involving the syllogicity of logic, a certain syn which is no longer simply that of gathering in general, but rather of the assemblage of ontological propositions. In that case deconstruction, without being anti-systematic, is on the contrary, and nevertheless, not only a search for, but itself a consequence of, the fact that the system is impossible; it often consists, regularly or recurrently, in making appear—in each alleged system, in each self-interpretation of and by a system—a force of dislocation, a limit in the totalization, a limit in the movement of syllogistic synthesis. Deconstruction is not a method for discovering that which resists the system; it consists, rather, in remarking, in the reading and interpretation of texts, that what has made it possible for philosophers to effect a system is nothing other than a certain dysfunction or ‘disadjustment,’ a certain incapacity to close the system. Wherever I have followed this investigative approach, it has been a question of showing that the system does not work, and that this dysfunction not only interrupts the system but itself accounts for the desire for system, which draws its élan from this very disadjoinment, or disjunction. On each occasion, the disjunction has a privileged site in that which one calls a philosophical corpus. Basically, deconstruction as I see it is an attempt to train the beam of analysis onto this disjointing link.

Jacques Derrida, “I Have A Taste For The Secret”



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