Derrida and OOO

Oh I guess I should weigh in here on the Caralco comments. (For background, see here and here.) A few of things in random order:

1. I’m on record that I find the “I’ve read this through a certain figure” a type of bloated stretchmark type of intellectual work, and about as pretty. Look, there in the cracks, it’s there! And I’ve said numerous times here that I wish more people would stop trying to make something of a master figure and be happy that they’re doing that work.

2. But, that doesn’t mean I think Derrida was some sort of Kantian, that I don’t think that Caralco is right.

3. That said, the “Derrida 101” of when I was coming up—that is Derrida as through his worst interpreters—was some sort of bad Kantian: difference is on this side of human things and fools who access the real are mistaken.

4. The interesting connection, perhaps, is through Nancy (it’s no accident he’s the interlocutor for “Eating Well”), but I’ll just throw that out there for the moment. (He has his own flat, democratic ontology, though Graham’s point has been that it’s too “flat”…)

5. As for Derrideans and OOO, turning to Graham’s point: well (a) give some people some time to get some writing done! but more seriously, (b) no “Derridean” or “Heideggerian” or anyone that would self-identify that way would be doing much beyond tight readers of Derrida, Heidegger, et al. But those influenced by Derrida would include, um, me. And Tim Morton, who came out as an OOO last night. (The prop 8 ruling has had all sorts of strange effects here in California.)

I think this might be where the SR/OOO difference would come to the fore and how one marks it. Let’s say that one is working on a book on time: that would be less an “object,” of course, though this person can’t deny the influence of the OOO people on it. (For example, this same person might be writing that Derridean notions of time are too much about the time of life…) In other words, an early critique of Morton by Levi, if I recall, was that the “mesh” was too relational and therefore could only speak of objects’ relations in a very flattened-out way. In other words, too much SR, too little OOO. (His view is not still this, but it helps me make that point.)


  1. Pace Harman, Derrida provides some eminently useful anti-correlationist tools. Deconstruction provides arguments against the epistemic immediacy of consciousness and the primacy of phenomenology. It thus allows one to undermine the status difference between transcendental claims and empirical claims. If all phenomenological claims are, effect, on a par with empirical claims then claims regarding the constitutive status of the transcendental subject become insupportable. See my ‘Naturalising Deconstruction’ for a run throught.

  2. It seems to me that the question of the Other and whether it turns into a variance of neo-Kantism and thus correlationalism is very much the same debate as to Derrida’s purported mysticism. Derrida seems quite at pains to say that he’s not doing a theology or mysticism and that the Other is not the hyperousia of the neoPlatonists nor their theological descendants through the ages. Instead Derrida is after something less than the ousia. Closer to Plotinus’ matter as Other or pure privation rather than Plotinus’ One as Other.

    Given that it is this “less” form of Other there’s simply nothing to correlate with. This isn’t the Kantian thing in itself nor any of the sorts of platonic excesses. Rather it’s an excess tied up purely with temporarlity and the finitude of phenomenology.

    So to me the reading of Derrida as correlationalist is very much the theological debate about Derrida from the early 90’s merely put in new clothing.

    1. Or simply a rehash of the 1970s “il n’y a pas des hors-texte” debates…

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