A Spurious Set (Up)
Somewhere here, beyond the mythology of the signature, beyond the authorial theology, the biographical desire has been inscribed in the text. Jacques Derrida, Spurs And we ourselves--who we?--might learn from her. . . . Unable to seduce or give vent to desire without it, "woman" is in need of castration's effect. But evidently she does not believe in it. She who, unbelieving, still plays with castration, she is "woman". . . . [This] woman knows that castration does not take place.
Jacques Derrida, Spurs
"Woman," "seduction," "castration"--these signifiers and their metaphors often turn up together. We have seen them before in psychoanalysis and Clarissa; in what follows, I will be reviewing the "return of the same." My subjects are postmodern theory, as exemplified by deconstruction, and its metaphysical antecedents. My position is that "woman," "seduction," and "castration" have been the making of theory, in that theory traditionally has had need of "woman" to operate its own seduction while averting castration's threat. In a more concrete sense, the three have also been the making of male theorists. Hence, theory makers as far removed as Socrates and Derrida have similarly toyed with becoming woman and played with "her" castration, thereby complicating their position as gendered subjects. Both games are designed to promote the theorist's mastery of his material, all the more so by feigning to relinquish it. The two maneuvers also have a rhetorical purpose, however, since