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Additional resources for Essential History: Jacques Derrida and the Development of Deconstruction
Due to the inability of Derrida’s work to fully perform as he had hoped, a new way of treating Derrida’s key texts proves to be needed: one that approaches deconstruction through its development. The eventual site on which this breakdown is exposed in this chapter will be Derrida’s discussion of Saussure in Of Grammatology’s first half. This remains the signature topos of Derridean deconstruction—the text of Derrida most widely cited and read, for better or worse. However, before turning to Of Grammatology and to the debate in the commentary— to Gasché, Bennington, and Rorty—I must begin by briefly making clear what is at stake in Derrida’s own enterprise.
Eruptive emergence of a new ‘concept,’ a concept that can no longer be, and never could be included in the previous regime” (P 42)—a description that clearly answers to Hjelmslev’s failure to recognize writing in Of Grammatology—Derrida a little later in this interview specifies that this emergence takes place through “the delimitation, the grafting and regulated extension” of an already existing “conceptual structure” bearing a predicate “named X” (P 71). The term “writing,” then, is indeed such an X at this point in Of Grammatology: it has become a paleonym, an old name designating something new.
The centrality of Rorty for my argument may at first appear surprising, however, given how little commentary Rorty has offered on specific works by Derrida. And while this apparently rather disengaged style of Rorty’s Derrida interpretation will be discussed in a moment, right now it must be recognized that Rorty, despite this, is one of Derrida’s canniest critics. Rorty’s proximity to Derrida’s own standpoint, I believe, accounts 8 ESSENTIAL HISTORY for this fact—setting aside Rorty’s own considerable philosophical acuity.