The Trespass of the Sign: Deconstruction, Theology, and Philosophy

By Kevin Hart | Go to book overview

The God Effect

The Question of Context

[This is my starting-point,] says Jacques Derrida, [no meaning can be determined out of context, but no context permits saturation.]1 What is at issue here, he explains, is not the [semantic fertility] of high canonical literature such as the texts to which he has been referring, P B. Shelley's The Triumph of Life and Maurice Blanchot's L'arrêt de mort, but rather [the structure of the remnant or of iteration,] which applies to every text regardless of its aesthetic, moral, political, or religious values.2 Doubtless, Derrida could have added more disjunctions - remnant or iteration or parergon or remark or supplement or trace - for he has given this structure many nicknames over the years. One could say without being at all grudging that he has done nothing else but brood upon this structure as it variously conceals and reveals itself in writings that answer the names of [law,] [literature,] [philosophy,] [poetry,] [psychoanalysis,] or [theology.]

In 1977, for instance, we find Derrida en courroux chastising the speech act theorist John Searle for missing the point about iteration:

I repeat, therefore, since it can never be repeated too often: if
one admits that writing (and the mark in general) must be able
to function in the absence of the sender, the receiver, the context
of production, etc., that implies that this power, this being able,
this possibility is always inscribed, hence necessarily inscribed as
possibility
in the functioning or the functional structure of the
mark.3

Any mark, and by extension any text, must be able to signify in the absence of its original context and intended destination though not, of course, in the complete and total absence of any context whatsoever. It is always possible for any text to arrive in an unforeseen place, to be read within a frame that its author never felt appropriate or could never have imagined. What pres-

-273-

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The Trespass of the Sign: Deconstruction, Theology, and Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction to the 2000 Edition ix
  • Preface xxxiii
  • I - Confrontation 1
  • 1: Interpretation, Signs and God 3
  • 2: Deconstruction Otherwise 40
  • 3: Metaphysics and Theology 71
  • II - Examination 105
  • 4: The Status of Deconstruction 107
  • 5: Questions of Scope 138
  • III - Dialogue 171
  • 6: The Economy of Mysticism 173
  • 7: Kant: Mysticism and Parerga 207
  • 8: Heidegger 237
  • Appendix to: The 2000 Edition 271
  • The God Effect 273
  • Bibliography 299
  • Index of People 313
  • Index of Topics 317
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