Derrida on inner sociality (Enough Shakespeariana for the moment)

Tue, 02/02/2010 - 09:17 -- Heward Wilkinson

Oliver Kamm says I am not a genuine Shakespearian - others think there is too much Shakespeare around here!

Should I write about Arsenal?

Perhaps the less said the better about that, after Sunday's efforts....

The thing about a Blog which takes on life in its author's mind is that it actually is a place to think out loud and gradually one gains a sense of it as a metaphorical 'place'. This did not happen for me whilst it was still only confined to Therapy issues. I found my thinking about philosophy was looking for a place, which was not simply confined to the members of the courses I run, so I modified the title here to allow for that. Then the latest drive of Kamm's began with a flick at De Vere on January 25th

and so Shakespeare came into the frame.

A blog brings out the reality of what Derrida is talking about in his theory of the primacy of writing; a writer is her or his own 'first reader'. And it has to take on a life of its own to do that. One has to establish a sense of ones 'authorial identity', however modest that may be. So one has, in the Derridean sense, to create oneself as text. [This is of course the Kantian dimension of Derrida!] Writing about Freud on the Mystic Writing Pad

Derrida ['Writing and Difference' pp. 226-7] says

"If there were only perception, pure permeability to breaching, there would be no breaches. We would be written, but nothing would be recorded; no writing would be produced, retained, repeated as legibility. But pure perception does not exist; we are written only as we write, by the agency within us which always already keeps watch over perception, be it internal or external. The 'subject' of writing does not exist if we mean by that some sovereign solitude of the author. The subject of writing is a system of relations between strata: the Mystic Pad, the psyche, society, the world. Within that scene, on that stage, the punctual simplicity of the classical subject is not to be found. In order to describe the structure it is not enough to recall that one always writes for someone; and the oppositions sender-receiver, code-message, etc., remain extremely coarse instruments. We would search 'the public' in vain for the first reader: i.e., the first author of a work. And the 'sociology of literature' is blind to the war and the ruses perpetrated by the author who reads and by the first reader who dictates, for at stake here is the origin of the work itself. The sociality of writing as drama requires an entirely different discipline."

All this is profoundly relevant to the whole question of the pseudonym of course! And, within psychotherapy, systemic approaches have a great deal to say on all of this. Object Relations is internal systemic psychotherapy! Its not an accident that Derrida ends his paper appealing to Melanie Klein and the inner world of the child.

I have a link here to Robert Elliott's blog, mainly to track his involvement with the world of Regulation of Therapy, for I find his thinking too much immersed in the technical world of therapy approaches to feel free enough for me. Yet here

he is celebrating his 400th post, of a blog which began September 2006,with its shifts of audiences and so on! And I can feel for that.

This is what I mean, what Derrida means, by the intrinsic sociality of the author.


Hi Heward,

I have to admit that I find Derrida practically unintelligible and something of a poseur to boot. This may be because he's so much smarter than I am. But I tend to favor the theory that what he dresses up in a cloud of technical imagery and wording is really a very simple, although important thought:

The author is always his own first reader. And some authors enjoy inventing other authors, which allow them to speak what they could not in propria persona. In Kleinean terms, we would say, wouldn't we, that the pseudonym is itself becomes a special kind of object. But what kind of an object is it -- that is, what is its relationship to other objects of the imagination? Perhaps your post already answers that question, but it does seem a fruitful area for inquiry, don't you think?

Regarding Kamm's ready recourse to the "Wilkinson is not an expert" argument, he seems to be the sort of fellow who fails to apprehend the irony of a hedge fund artist promoting himself to be the public arbiter of expertise about Shakespearean studies. The internet hath many over-reachers in it. But the Stratfordian ethos has always depended on a kind of cult of expertise, a form of intellectual "insider trading" in which we all agree to carefully monitor one another's thinking to prevent any sustained outbreaks of angst, either within the tribe itself or the larger culture. Our identity is threatened by doubt; we must be resolute, our Will shall triumph. Anyone who doubts is, ipso facto, no member of the tribe. And in case we have any problems in this regard, we always have effective agents of public discourse like Oliver Kamm to whip the malcontents by reminding them of their inferior social status.

Here's something you might enjoy: