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Take away from a painting all representation, all signication, any theme and any text-as-meaning, removing [. . .] also all the material (canvas, paint) [. . .] efface any design oriented by a determinable end, subtract the wall-background, its social, historical, economic, political supports, etc., what is left? The frame, the framing, plays of forms and lines which are structurally homogeneous with the frame structure.1 [. . .] Kant [. . .] admits the lacks, the lacunary character [Mangelhaftigkeit] of his work. This is the word Hegel uses too [. . .] What if the lack formed the frame of the theory. [. . .] what if the lack were not only the lack of a theory of the frame but the place of the lack in a theory of the frame (50, 423). What must be thought, then, is this inconceivable and unknowable thing, a freedom that would no longer be the power of a subject, a freedom without autonomy, a heteronomy without servitude, in short, something like a passive decision.2

Jacques Derrida discusses Kant at length in many texts across the entirety of his prolic career, dealing with aesthetics, ethics, politics, anthropology, and so on within the context of multiauthor studies on a wide variety of themes. There can be no question, therefore, of covering here Derridas contribution to the scholarship on, or philosophical use of, Kant in our times.3 I will focus on Derridas fairly

Jacques Derrida, Parergon, in La vrit en peinture (Paris: Flammarion, 1978) 21168, here 111; in English as Parergon, in Truth in Painting, trans. Geoff Bennington and Ian McLeod (Chicago and London: U of Chicago P, 1987) 15148, here 978. Pagination given hereafter parenthetically in text, rst for French original, then for English translation. Jacques Derrida, Voyous (Paris: Galile, 2003); in English as Rogues: Two Essays on Reason, trans. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Nass (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2005) 152. For an introduction to Derridas reading of Kants aesthetics that focuses on the question of the example, see Irene E. Harvey, Derrida, Kant, and the Performance of Parergonality, in Derrida and Deconstruction ed. Hugh J. Silverman (New York and London: Routledge, 1989) 5976. See also Peter Milne, Sans, and the Law of the Law: Following Derrida Following Kant, Mosaic 40.2



early writings (from the mid-1970s) concerning Kants faculty of reexive judgment, as aesthetics and teleology, more specically, The Parergon (from Truth in Painting) and Economimesis, two essays that deal largely with the Critique of Judgment.4 In doing so, however, I will try to disengage from these writings not just what Derrida has to say about the third Critique (or what he lets it say through him because he stresses the interpenetration of passivity and activity), but also how what he says here coheres with his general approach to the problem of reason. In this general approach, Derrida does not, I think, waver across his entire career, as he testies and demonstrates, for example, in Rogues: Two Essays on Reason (published roughly 30 years after the early essays on the third Critique, in 2003). Let me now, in two preliminary steps, rst indicate how Derridas work on the third Critique links up with his general approach to reason, and then summarize his main position and arguments concerning the third Critique, before I show in some detail how these arguments function. In reading Kants third Critique, as we will see, Derrida develops a theory of what he calls (among other things) the frame as always partialas always partially lacking. Since every theory provides a framework (e.g., of interpretation, description, explanation, etc.), Derridas theory of the frame is self-consciously a framing of the frame. It must, therefore, try to allow at every turn for its own lacking frame, its own frame as partially lacking. This accounts for its exacerbatedly self-fragmenting form, which I will necessarily diminish and reductively characterize here. Further, since in Derrida the frame functions as a gure of the determining ground, and of the ground as reason (logos, ratio, Grund, Vernunft, raison, etc.), the theory Derrida is developing in and around The Parergon is a theory of the partial lack of reason in reason, and
(2007): 3952, which connects the reading of the third Critique with questions of the juridical. For important recent readings of Derrida in relation to Kant, see Phil Rotheld, ed., Kant after Derrida (Manchester: Clinamen Press, 2002); Hent de Vries, Religion and Violence: Philosophical Perspectives from Kant to Derrida (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins UP, 2002), which focuses on university politics and religious politics; and Martin Hgglund, Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2008), which contests the post-secularist reading of Derrida undertaken by De Vries and others. For readings of Derrida on Kant that focus on the ethical and political dimension, see Marguerite La Caze. At the Intersection: Kant, Derrida, and the Relation between Ethics and Politics, Political Theory 35.6 (December 2007): 781805; Christian Lotz, The Events of Morality and Forgiveness from Kant to Derrida, Research in Phenomenology 36 (2006): 25573; Jane Mummery, Deconstructing the Rational Respondent: Derrida, Kant, and the Duty of Response, Philosophy Today 50.5 (Winter 2006): 45062. Immanuel Kant, Kritik der Urteilskraft, Werkausgabe X, ed. Wilhelm Weischedel (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1979; in English Critique of the Power of Judgment, ed. Paul Guyer, transl. Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000), pages given parenthetically in text, rst to German then to English edition.



in all of reasons self-reexions. Derrida both acknowledgesand analyzesand attempts synoptically to look beyond the important differences between specic and partially nontranslatable, idiomatic formulations of reason across the trajectory of Western metaphysics. In questioning the limits of reason, he tries to go through and beyond the Heideggerian project, incorporating the insights of many others, notably including Freud (especially the Freud of Beyond the Pleasure Principle).5 Derridas theory of the partial lack of reason is, further, inextricably bound up with his theory of the trace, so a word on the latter is necessary before we proceed. As spirit or mind is almost universally taken in Western metaphysics to constitute the reason, foundation, or origin of the body, or matter, which as the body or matter of language appears as the letter or trace, Derrida applied himself early on to the repeated demonstration of the reversibility of the hierarchical opposition between spirit and letter, as primary, literal foundation, and as secondary, derivative gure, respectively. Drawing on the structuralist notion that meaning inheres between binary poles and not within each pole or term, each extreme rather constituting the other, he argued that the trace (thus displaced in its sense) can always be shown to constitute the mind-event of which it is (to be) the memorial inscription. In the frame theory Derrida develops in Parergon, the analogy that forms the conceptual point of departure linking this work to Derridas earlier work on the letter is this: The frame is to the picture as writing is to the voice of spirit. What seems to supervene belatedly as an accessory to the fundamental thing, to x and delimit it from without, turns out to constitute that thing, repeating itself within the thing in advance. The frame functions like the letter, or the trace. Because this is the case, and because in addition a frame always traces a limit or line around what it frames, and because furthermore in French the name for a brush-stroke is trait, etymologically synonymous with trace (so that painting itself becomes a matter of traces), Derrida can write with some justication that his treatise on Truth in Painting (in which Parergon appears and the notion of frame plays a prominant role throughout) concerns essentially the trace or trait. In the Introduction to that book, he speaks of the essential parasitizing which opens every system to its outside and divides the unity of the line [trait] which purports to mark its edges. This partition of the edge is perhaps what is inscribed and occurs everywhere [se passe partout] in this book(11, 7). And he underlines the claim that the trait or trace is the main focus of the book by elaborating:

Alan Bass, Interpretation and Difference: The Strangeness of Care (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2006), quotes Derrida (albeit without giving the source) as calling his work an inconceivable union of Heidegger and Freud (xiii).



This connection/trait [trait] between the letter, discourse, painting is perhaps all that happens in The Truth in Painting (13; 8). [. . .] The common feature [trait] of these four [essays that comprise The Truth in Painting] is perhaps the trait. Insofar as it is never common, nor even one, with and without itself. Its divisibility founds text, traces, and remains [. . .] [. . .] the question would no longer be What is a trait? or What does a trait become? [. . .] but How does the trait treat itself? Does it contract in its retreat? A trait never appears, never itself, because it marks the difference between the forms or the contents of the appearing [. . .] It begins by retrac(t)ing [se retirer] (16, 11).

What, then, does Derrida do with the third Critique? The best way of broaching a preliminary summary is to start with the two most common and equally (im)plausible and current caricatures of the relationship between deconstruction and aesthetics. Either one decides that deconstruction is simply an anti-aesthetical discourse, opposed to the integrity of aesthetic experience and of the aesthetic work, for it focuses negatively (especially in the case of Paul de Man) on the aesthetic ideology, generates complex theoretical, philological, and philosophico-historical texts that are incompatible with the nontheoretical lifecloseness or organicism of the arts, etc.6 Such a view pigeonholes deconstruction as a rationalism, as theoreticist, analytic, and critical. Or else, one argues that deconstruction is an aestheticism, afrming free play in place of serious reasoning, insisting on homonymic and other verbal associations rather than on rigorous logical development, privileging metaphorical over literal language, distancing itself from politics and history, and so on. Such a view privileges the antirationalism in deconstruction, reducing it to a blind, blinding, and self-blinding play of images. (The rst dismissal tends to be that of chagrined literary scholars or artists; the second that of impatient philosophers, although of course it is not a matter exclusively of professional commitments or deformations here.) But the mere simultaneous existence of both points of view prompts one to wonder if perhaps both are questionable, and to wonder if perhaps their combination would take us further. In contrast to both of these positions, I argue that traces of the aesthetic remain in a displaced way in Derrida. More specically, I argue, with respect to Kants reexive judgment, that Derrida negates, and yet also afrms and even universalizes in a displaced form the interplay between images (or signiers) and concepts (or signieds) that Kant conceptualizes under that heading. First, Derrida negates or contests the autonomy of reexive judgment, specically in the form of the autonomy of aesthetic judgment, and he also contests or negates its capacity to serve as a totalizing facultative synthesis of consciousness (as passage

I will not enter into Paul de Mans work on the aesthetic ideology here, except to recall both that it is not without further ado identiable with Derridas work, and that on the other hand, in de Man also it is not a question of getting rid of any relationship with aesthetic traditions whatsoever. See his Aesthetic Ideology (Minneapolis and London: U of Minnesota P, 1996).



between the understanding and reason). Since the capacity of judgment to absorb within itself and to synthesize the other two faculties is a condition for its autonomy (because otherwise it remains determined by them from without), the second negation still concerns the autonomy of judgment. And yet, Derrida also afrms the interplay between the sensuous and the supersensuous, and indeed as a ubiquitous occurrence, but no longer as one in which harmony can be stressed as opposed to dissonance, or mutual disruption, and no longer as one that guarantees or even promises the autonomy of a consciousness as subject of representations.7 Such a universalizing displacement of the aesthetic resembles in some respects the attempt to break down the wall between life and art that was undertaken by the various historical avant-gardes, and it is no doubt inuenced by their work, but it remains distinct from them in its circumspection with respect to metaphysical utopianism and in its continuing (if extremely ambivalent) adherence to a specically philosophical discursive modality.8 TRACING THE LINES BETWEEN OPPOSED TERMS The strategy guiding the specics of Derridas approach to Kants aesthetics can be summarized most generally as the questioning of binary oppositions from a standpoint that, however, shares with Kants sensibility a hostility to irrationalistic monism and a desire to maximize the subtlety of its discriminations. Derrida examines a series of oppositions crucial to the Kantian architectonic. Derrida pursues the limits of Kantian formalism, but without referring to a substance or content that would be preferable to form, as his interest is rather in the trait, which as we saw marks the difference between the forms or the contents of the appearing (16, 11). In the case of each opposition, then, he tries to show how the opposed terms are inscribed in one another such that each disrupts the meaningful unity of the other, rather than either being separate from it or forming an unbroken whole with it. Detachment and attachment are mutually entangled. Derridas project is to trace from a place ambiguously inside and outside of Kants text the way in which that text, at once actively and passively and in neither voice, lets itself be opened onto what it also wants to exclude. As I indicated, the oppositions Derrida seeks to question fall under two headings. On the one hand, there are those that set up aesthetic judgment in its

Since Kants positioning of the reexive judgment between reason and understanding does imply that it is balanced between spontaneity and passivity, an implication at odds with the supposed autonomy and disinterestedness of aesthetic judgment, it is as if Derrida were playing the former implication off against the latter. Cf. Peter Brger, Theorie der Avant-garde (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1974).



autonomy, and on the other hand those that organize the mediation between aesthetic judgment and the opposite form of reexive judgment, the teleology, and beyond this between subjectivity and objectivity, to provide the homogeneity of reexive judgment, the foundation of consciousness as theoretico-practical unity. For in the faculty of judgment it is a question of the Mittelglied, the central member, between practical reason and theoretical understanding, which is a separable part insofar as it is neither theoretical nor practical, but is a nonparticular, nondetachable part, since it forms the articulation between two others, insofar as it is both theoretical and practical (45, 38). The oppositions that constitute the autonomy of aesthetic judgment include, above all, the distinction between pure and impure judgments (which turns around the opposition between form and sensuous matter); and the distinction between free and adherent beauty (which turns around the opposition between the absence and presence of a concept of the object in the sense of its purpose, or what it is supposed to be, its perfection or Vollkommenheit).9 As for the second group, of the oppositions Derrida questions that concern the passage between the beautiful work and (the teleology of) nature, as the subjective and objective forms of reexive judgment, respectively, I will discuss those that organize Kants views on the metaphysics of genius. Before sketching in greater detail how Derrida questions the main oppositions at stake in these nodal points of Kants third Critique, it is necessary (in order not to efface entirely the polyvalence of Derridas discussion) to indicate briey two other principal extra-aesthetic points of theoretical/textual reference that he brings to bear on his reading of Kant, namely FreudianLacanian psychoanalytic perspectives and the Heideggerian thought of Being. Concerning the former, in a historicizing gesture, Derrida does not just question Kants formalist rationalism and logocentrism, but also underlines the phallocentrism and oral-aural fetishism of Kants theory of aesthetic experience. These observations situate Kant in a history of gender ideology, and link such ideology with the history of metaphysics. But beyond thison a level that is more properly philosophicalthey indicate that Kants aspiring transcendental philosophy is empirically affected by a certain masculinist imaginary rooted in the body politic(s) of its age. Yet Derrida is not just applying psychoanalysis here. Rather, in accordance with a more extended deconstruction of the classical psychoanalytic opposition between perversion and neurosis that he carries out in Glas and

Within the chapter entitled Le Parergon in Truth in Painting, the subsections entitled le parergon and le sans de la coupure pure obscure perhaps the fact that they concern these, the two main aspects of the aesthetic judgment, respectively. But Derridas emphasis on the centrality of marginal examples and gural formulations should not induce us to overlook the aspect of systematicity organizing his partially skeptical approach to Kants residual dogmatism.



elsewhere, Derrida is arguing that, in this text, the perverse or fetishistic denial of castration coincides with (and is unsettled by) its neurotic assumption, in that the establishment of the Mittelglied, whether as separate piece or as synthetic totalization, is always accompanied by its suspension, division, multiplication, and so on. Concerning Heideggerian ontology, and staying within the limits of the two essays on Kants aesthetics, it is only necessary to point out here that the gure of the trait as framing delimitation comes to replace or supplement Heideggerian Being, for example in the formulations, there is frame, but the frame does not exist (93, 81), and there is some [cise, but] the cise of this broaching does not exist (166, 145). If nothing exists without being enframed by a constitutive determination of its limits, then Being is nothing other than framing. Being is tendentially reduced to, or at least supplemented by, writing, as the dissemination of the phallic logos. Derrida reads Heideggerian Being and Freudian castration/ phallicization into or in the gures of framing and delimitation that he discovers in the Kantian text. How, then, does Derrida situate and/or discover (the trace of) this writing at the displaced center of the Kantian critique of aesthetic judgment? BETWEEN THE WORK AND ITS CHARMS: THE PARERGON (OR BY-WORK) Generally considered one of the rst proponents of modern autonomous art, Kant places arts autonomy above all in the experience of the beautiful as the disinterested pleasure taken in a formal object that is half-perceived (or imagined) and half-understood (or conceptualized) as a purposiveness that is lacking in any specic purpose or end. Given that autonomy must always be achieved by some operation of delimiting oneself against the outside, or the non-self, that takes the form of a marking or demarcation, it is clear that Derrida will look for the theme of the trait in Kants discussion of the limits of aesthetic autonomy. But aesthetic autonomy requires detachment from both sensuous materiality and conceptual ideality. The rst place Derrida interveneswhere he discovers the infamous parergonis in a passage where Kant is distinguishing between the formal qualities of the work and its sensuous materiality, that is, where he is dening the dividing line between aesthesis and the sensuous experience of the agreeable. But here, in the place of that dividing line, Derrida discovers an ambiguous something that must situate itself inside the outside and outside the inside, which Kant calls the by-work of ornamentation. At this juncture, Kant has excluded charms (Reiz) as related to feeling, and determined that the proper object (eigentlichen Gegenstand) of the pure judgment of taste is constituted in the pictorial arts by the drawing (Zeichnung), not the charms of color, and in the arts of play by the 333


composition (Komposition), not the charms of sounds. He then qualies this exclusion, however, by allowingalready problematicallythat such charms can play an auxiliary role, highlighting these formal traits, as well as enlivening the presentation and holding the perceivers attention (142, 11011). And now exacerbating this risk, he goes still further to consider ornamentation:
Even what one calls ornament (Zieraten) (parerga), that is that which does not belong inwardly as an element to the entire representation of the object, but only externally as an addition (Zutat) and augments the pleasure of taste, does this however also only through its form: as in frames of paintings, or draperies on statues, or rows of columns around magnicent buildings (Prachtgebude). If the ornament does not consist itself in beautiful form, if it has been brought there, like the golden frame, only in order to recommend the painting to agreement (Beifall) through its charm: then it is called decoration [or jewelry] (Schmuck) and interrupts authentic beauty (tut der echten Schnheit abbruch) (142, 11011).

For Kant, such parerga appear as an exceptional case, one that can be prevented from endangering the integrity of the work, if only they are excluded from the aesthetic representation unless they are themselves formally beautiful. But in a long analysis, Derrida suggests that parerga are actually always involved as invasive supplements of any work along one or another edge. He does so, in part, by questioning the validity and stability of Kants examples. To what extent is clothingor some other decorationseparable from the body it covers and reveals? We think we know what properly belongs or does not belong to the human body, what is detached or not detached from iteven though the parergon is precisely an ill-detachable detachment (67, 59). As for columns around a building, why are they not integral parts of the building in its design? And on the other hand, if they are outside the building, then to what extent can one say that they still belong to it? Yet manifestly, it is impossible to determine whether they are on the inside or the outside of the building. Concerning frames, are they not paradoxically at once in principle necessary to the integrity of the images they enclose and in principle destructive of this integrity? Upon a little reection, it seems that they induce an endless self-displacement of the edge, as soon as they are constituted to establish that edge:
The parergon stands out [se dtache] both from the ergon (the work) and from the milieu [. . .] But it does not stand out in the same way as the work. [. . .] the parergonal frame stands out against two grounds [fonds], but with respect to each of those two grounds, it merges [se fond] into the other. With respect to the work which can serve as a ground for it, it merges into the wall, and then, gradually, into the general text. With respect to the background which the general text is, it merges into the work which stands out against the general background. There is always a form on a ground, but the parergon is a form which has as its traditional determination not that it stands out but that it disappears, buries itself, effaces itself, melts away at the moment it deploys its greatest energy (71, 61).



In this way, Derrida argues for the necessity and innite displaceability of framing limits as parerga for all works, understanding framing in a sense that extends from the most literal to the most gural or derivative, including the framing of any interpretive or theoretical understanding. Further, Derrida emphasizes in his analysis here that the parergon always answers to an internal lack in the work, a lack that it supplants, lls in, and repeats by displacement. The point is simple but important: The work always lacks internally its own external limit. The limit belongs to it as what it always lacks. This means, on the one hand, that an intrinsic or immanent criticism or appreciation of works is not possible, but on the other hand, that the necessity of historicist or conceptual contextualism is endless, which relativizes any given contextualization. The context, as the fulllment of the lack of the work, is always still lacking. As Kant was interested in evading or overcoming the impossible choice between rationalism and empiricism, so indeed is Derrida, as he repeatedly indicates, but what comes between the two in Derrida is not so much the structure of transcendental idealism (which one might see as a fetishistic disavowal of the loss of the Ding an sich in the form of its acknowledgment) but the trace, here in the formless form of the parergonal frame:10
the frame [. . .] is the decisive structure of what is at stake, at the invisible limit to (between) the interiority of meaning (put under shelter by the whole hermeneuticist, semioticist, phenomenologicalist, and formalist tradition) and (to) all the empiricisms of the extrinsic which, incapable of either seeing or reading, miss the question completely (71, 61).

Having established the conceptual gure of the parergon, both as it appears in the third Critique and as it appears explicitly in Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, Derrida develops it further directly in ways too numerous for me to retrace here. Let me note in passing, however, that these include an important discussion of the very structure of the analytic of the beautiful, within which the passage on the parergon appears (14), as a parergon. While the structure of the analytic of the beautiful is based on the analytic of concepts from the rst Critique, it is here being applied to an aesthetic judgment that is not conceptual in character.11 Hence, it is an inappropriate imposition of a model taken from the outside of that object, namely aesthesis as nonconceptual, to constitute that object precisely as nonconceptual.



Cf. Hgglund on the quasi-transcendental or ultratranscendental character of Derridas theory of the trace, 19, 27ff, passim. the whole frame of the analytic of the beautiful functions, with respect to that the content or internal structure of which is to be determined, like a parergon [. . .] neither simply internal nor simply external [. . .] (83, 71).



BETWEEN THE WORK AND ITS END: THE CUT AND ITS LACK We have so far considered how Derrida questions the autonomy of the aesthetic in relation to sensuous materiality. Let us now move on to the next Kantian binary opposition that Derrida questions with a view to seeing what happens on the margin between the terms where they meet and diverge. It is now a matter of the other side of the aesthetic experience in Kantthe conceptual sphere encompassed in ends, or purposes per se. For the beautiful is characterized, according to the third moment or relation, as purposiveness without purpose. Derrida explores this determination under the heading of the sans de la coupure pure, literally but reductively translatable as the without of the pure cut. Let me unpack some of the associations implied by this section heading rst, then outline Derridas explicit argumentation on this point, granting that Derrida would not subscribe and with strong justicationto the strict separability of these two levels, the levels of rhetoric or literature and philosophy. The main purposive ambiguity of the without of the pure cut is that it means both that the work is cut off from purposive conceptuality and that it is not (i.e., that the cut does not take place). In addition, since sans is roughly homonymous with sens, the implication is that the work is connected with the sensuous and/or the supersensuous, whereas if there is no concept, the supersensuous should not play a role here (except that in the interplay between imagination and understanding, it must). Further, since sans is homonymous also with sang, as the English translators Geoff Bennington and Ian McLeod note (83, n21), Derrida is implying that aesthetic contemplation cannot be excluded from the violence of interestedness as Kant would like. And nally, the image of a bloody cutespecially in light of the quotation from Francis Ponge that Derrida places as epigram over this section, which speaks of heads of pricks and retroversion of the uterus in connection with fading tulips and the movement beyond formal beautyis meant to connect the aesthetic with the problematics of castration and dismemberment, and to evoke specically the phallic connotations of reexive judgment as the middle member (Mittelglied) that lls the void between understanding and reason. But enough on the section heading. What does Derrida argue? The opposition Derrida is questioning here, as I have indicated, is that between what Kant here calls free beauty, as beauty properly so-called, which has no relation to a given purpose, and adherent beauty, which is not actually beauty at all, namely the linkage of beauty with a determinate purpose in the representation or object. The two main examples on which Derrida fastens in order to question the opposition are those of the tulip and an excavated tool that we do not nd beautiful. Acknowledging a potential counterargument, Kant grants someone might argue that such a tool is indistinguishable from a beautiful tulip because the tools purpose is not immediately discernible on the basis of its form. This 336


imaginary interlocutor then asks rhetorically if there is any difference between purposiveness here and purposiveness in what we do nd beautiful, since in both cases the purpose itself is not explicitly presented. But Kant answers the objection by insisting that we posit that the tool was designed with a purpose in mind, whereas in the case of the tulip, we experience its beauty purely subjectively without any sense of a natural teleology underlying its production. Indeed, Kant goes so far as to say here that anything we recognize as a Kunstwerk (155, 120), in the sense of a product of human intentionality, is an instance of adherent beautythat is, not really beauty at all. This argument makes particularly pressing the construction of beautiful art (or ne art) as the art of genius, a naturalization of beauty that Derrida will likewise problematize in more detail in Economimesis. I come back to this in a moment. So how does Derrida question the opposition between free and adherent beauty, or the border between art and the conceptually driven world of nal causality, as they are exempied by the living tulip and the dead, excavated tool, the border or framing trait between living nature inected as feminine and the dead articiality connoted masculine? Derridas argument here is driven essentially by his sustained attention to the paradoxical notion of purposiveness without purpose. Since purposiveness implies the presence of purpose, however deferred or indirect, he suggests that one is evidently dealing in beauty with a simultaneous presence and absence of the purpose. This is why Derrida insists on the paradoxical sans as crucial to beauty. The trace of the absent end (purposiveness) includes it as absent presence in the work. Conversely, the presence of the end in adherent beauty is accompanied there by its absence, in that the end remains separable from, and in principle separate fromand as such lost tothe representation of the thing in the absence of its conceptual essence or dened perfection. The connection that intervenes between the thing and its concept is parergonal. The relation between free and adherent beauty, Derrida argues, is thus chiastic: Free beauty is complete (lacking in nothing) because it is incomplete (lacking an end), while adherent beauty is incomplete (needing its end to be what it is, and insufcient as beauty) because it is complete (still connected to its end). Free and adherent beauty verge upon and interfere with each other as complete and incomplete because the disjunction between complete and incomplete is completely incomplete (107, 94). Finally, Derrida formulates this undecidability in terms of the undecidability of a (non)phallic dynamic: To be castrated is not to be without relation to the phallic order; and to assume phallic power neurotically is to be castrated, to identify with a fetish that denies castration. There is no place that is proper to the phallus: The seed wanders. What is beautiful is dissemination, the pure cut without negativity, a sans without negativity and without signication. [. . .] The negativity is 337


signicant. [. . .] It is a signier. The without-goal, the without-why of the tulip is not signicant, is not a signier, not even a signier of lack. At least insofar as the tulip is beautiful, this tulip. (108, 95) This disseminative wandering entails in Derridas reading that the Kantian aesthetic instance wanders beyond its own limits, spreads its contagious wandering throughout the sphere of the signier or the world of conceptual ends and sensuous images as their sans/sens. In other words, there is a radical purposelessness that inheres in all purposive communication, while at the same time no communication is merely purposeless. Groundlessness and grounding are inseparable. THE DIVINE MOUTH OF HUMAN GENIUS, OR THE MITTELGLIED AS TOTALITY OF ART AND NATURE Having questioned the stability of the distinction between free and adherent beauty, as a distinction between the presence and absence of concepts of purposes in the aesthetic object/experience, Derrida remains confrontedalthough he never quite puts it this waywith an important tension in Kant. The tension is that between the claim that the artwork, because it contains purposes, is necessarily the product of human purposive intentionality, and as such incompatible with beauty, and the claim that the artwork, as a work of ne or beautiful art, can indeed become an occasion for aesthetic reexion, that is beauty. In order to resolve this tension, Kant mobilizes the Genie-sthetik commonly embraced in his period.12 According to Kants formulation, the genius creates without knowing what he is doing, and nature gives the rule to art in that the artist, imitating natura naturans, becomes the conduit for natures own purposiveness. In turn, in the Critique of teleological judgement, natures purposiveness is reduced to the regulative principle that allows us analogically to project human intentionality into nature for the sake of understanding the organic as a phenomenon in which parts and whole serve as means for each other qua ends. Despite this turn, in the Critique of Aesthetic Judgment, or rather because of it, the purposiveness in the work of art can be shorn of its human purposes, to be replaced only (subsequently) by the ultimate purpose of creation: the realization of the human as a realm of ends. The naturalization of the artistic work, then, a dimension that still powerfully links Kant to European irrationalism and romanticism, enables him to save art, for the sake of aesthesis, from its inscription in means-ends instrumental rationality. The autonomy of artor aesthetic artis established or reestablished here, paradoxically, through the naturalization of art, its reduction to what is outside of itself, but in turn, nature will be reinscribed into art through regulative

Although he also responds critically to the irrationalist version of the Genius-cult by restricting the claims of genius to specically aesthetic productivity.



teleology. From this perspective, the autonomous function of aesthesis, or the Mittelglied of reexive judgment, is no longer a detached piece mediating somewhere between the understanding and reason, but the essential fusion of these two faculties, of nature as the totality of the sensuous object, and reason as the supersensuous mind of man. The two extremes of the system are enclosed together in this specular interplay of man and nature in the mirror of genius. What does Derrida have to say about these structures within the third Critique? It is in the essay entitled Economimesis, an offshoot of the Parergon reading, that Derrida develops an extended discussion of this aspect of Kants thought about the aesthetic. The principal opposition concerned is that between free, or liberal art, and the crafts (Handwerk), which Kant characterizes as mercenary, salarial, or remunerated artsLohnkunst. The former are free, the latter compelled; the former are offered without ulterior purpose, the latter are presented in exchange for some benet (i.e., their production serves an end). Rather than being pure gift, they enter into an economy of exchange.13 Analogously, beautiful art has to be art of genius because if not, its freedom is bound by rules, and its production is driven by the purpose of concretely realizing such rules. In response to this opposition between free and mercenary art, and the metaphysics of genius it supports, Derridas emphasis is twofold. First, he stresses that through the aesthetics of genius, Kant shores up the problematic Aristotelian tradition of the humanity of the human as a mimetic being raised above the level of animality.14 Second, he suggests that this separation can be shown to fail in two different ways. First, the opposition between free and unfree that organizes the human privilege over material nature is destabilized by the position of mimesis on both sides of the inequality. And second, the oral sphere of spiritual and tasteful genius will be undermined in its purity, invaded by the disgusting. I will take each of these points in turn. Concerning the opposition between free and mercenary arts, Derrida argues that when the free arts are associated with the genius as what avoids exchange, including the exchange of mimetic representation, the entire dimension of unfreedom enters surreptitiously on a different, if higher level. If free art is free because it distances itself from mimesis (as the slavish exchange of a representation for a determinate presence), its genial imitation of the productivity of nature


On the nonharmonious interpenetration of gift and exchange, see Jacques Derrida, Donner le temps. I. La fausee monnaie (Paris: Galile, 1991), in English as Given Time: I. Counterfeit Money, transl. Peggy Kamuf (Chicago and London: U of Chicago P, 1992). See the excellent commentary in Hgglund, 369. For Derridas later pursuit of this question, see Lanimal que donc je suis (Paris: Galile, 2006), in English as The Animal That Therefore I Am, ed. Marie-Louise Mallet, trans. David Wills (New York: Fordham UP, 2008).



reintroduces enslavement to mimesis (and to mimetic exchange) at the very moment when the dictation of nature is supposed to assure the genius of its freedom (62, 67 ff; 6, 9 ff).15 Concerning the second point, the metaphors of orality, genius as supplemented by taste is condensed in the bodily gure of the mouth (and the implied ear), in the speaking-to-oneself-and-listening-to-oneself-speaking that Derrida reads in the subordination of the aesthetic to discursive metaphors. This exemplorality (73, 13) of the Kantian aestheticas evidenced, for example in the ultimate privilege Kant grants poetry over all the other artsrepresents for Derrida an empirical limitone of two bodily guresof the Kantian critique of taste. Together with the phallic imagery of castration and erection, the Kantian discourse privileges imagery of the mouth (as associated with the ear and hearing). This discourse is, thus, overdetermined by phallogocentrism. The phallogocentric privilege is supposed to ensure that the genial imitation of natures productivity remains pure of ulterior motives. But by pressing this strangely familiar combination of oral and phallic empirical-imaginary values into the service of the organization of a transcendental philosophical discourse, Kant compromises precisely the purity of that discourse. Exactly at the site of this culminating, privileged spiritual metaphor of the mouth, the materiality of the body enters Kants discourse. After entering this discourse by the mouth, so to speak, it then reemerges from Kants mouth as the name for what the aesthetic discourse cannot swallow: Ekel. And as I will show, the reference is ultimately to nothing less extensive than sensuous experience in general. But we must begin with the disgusting as disruptive of all aesthetic pleasure in art: Only one kind of ugliness cannot be represented in a way adequate to nature without destroying all aesthetic satisfaction, hence beauty in art, namely, that which arouses Ekel (disgust, nausea), (48, On the Relation of Genius to Taste, 247, 190).16 The nauseating, which cannot be represented in an aesthetic manner, is the literally and gurally distasteful, as Derrida puts it the (internal and external) border which traces its limit and the frame of its parergon [. . .] what [. . .] does not allow itself to be transformed into oral auto-affection (87, 21). The disgusting is what exceeds the system of autonomy and the autonomy of the system to the degree that, as Kant puts it, in this strange



See the elaboration in Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Limitation des modernes (Paris: Galile, 1986), which pursues some of the aporias that arose when modernity, and especially German cultural modernity, articulated itself around the double bind of an imitation of a non-imitative natural origin. As if to conrm the terms importance, by the way, the recent translation of the third Critique by Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews effaces its most obvious meaning by translating it systematically as loathing.



sensation [of nausea] resting on sheer imagination, the object is represented as if it were imposing the enjoyment which we are nevertheless forcibly resisting such that the artistic representation of the object is no longer distinguished in our sensation itself from the nature of the object itself (248, 190). The nauseating object is the nonrepresentable because its representation is immediately a presence, as a forcing to enjoy, which is to say a forcing onto the level of excessive presencejouissance or Genubeyond and despite representation. For this is what it means to force enjoyment: The thing destroys its own representation.17 But the disgusting is not merely the gure for a particular phenomenon that would remain on the outside of taste such as vomit, or the culminating scene of Pink Flamingos. Rather, it inheres in taste as the smell on which taste depends. As Derrida puts it: The chemistry of smell exceeds the tautology of taste/disgust (92, 25).18 First, smell is the supplement of taste: He who is decient in the sense of smell is likewise weak in taste (quoted from the Anthropology in Economimesis, 91, 23). The latter sense is necessary to the former. And while both taste and smell are more subjective than objective, and tend to overwhelm the subject, smell is, so to speak, taste at a distance, and other people are forced to share in the enjoyment whether they want to or not. Hence, by interfering with individual freedom, smell is less sociable than taste (92, 25).19 Smell, then, forces one to enjoyKant denes Genu as innigste Einnehmung or the most intimate taking into ourselves (Anthropology, 451, 269)an indeterminable (unrepresentable) object that has already entered ones body from an alien beyond, exactly as does




The representation of the nauseating is nauseating, and it overwhelms representation as does the nauseating itself, forcing us to enjoy, which in this case means at the limit to vomitto reject enjoyment on the level of enjoyment itself, to enjoy (in) the rejection of enjoyment, against our will not to enjoy its rejection by replacing its forcing of rejection with representation. But in what sense is the nauseating, or vomit, as the concept of the telos or perfection of the nauseating, as Derrida maintains, a parergon of the third Critique considered as a general synthesis of transcendental idealism (88, 21)? As what forces enjoyment, vomit is a name for what prevents the suspension of enjoyment that is necessary to disinterested pleasure. Vomit is a name for excessive enjoyment, enjoyment as excess and emptying. Derrida goes on to say that the literally disgusting is maintained, as security, in place of the worse [. . .] in place of the replacement that has no proper place, no proper trajectory, no circular and economical return. In place of prosthesis (91, 23). The disgusting is a name for irrecoverable and unmournable loss, which is why it appears as a loss of control over enjoyment in Kants discourse of taste as the foundation of subjective autonomy. While Derrida does not actually clarify as well as he might the complete textual basis for this claim toward the very end of Economimesis, the answer is in the sections from the Anthropology concerning the ve senses that Derrida is discussing. Because it is taste at a distance, smell actually comes closer to us than taste, into the lungs, even if it is farther from the (now indeterminate) object-source.



the nauseating.20 Smell proliferates and forces an enjoyment that is not pleasure. As Kant complains, smell is the most ungrateful and also seems to be the most dispensable (Anthropology, 453, 270) organ sense, one that theres no point in cultivating because there are more nauseating objects than pleasant ones [mehr Gegenstnde des Ekels als der Annehmlichkeit] [. . .] and the enjoyment coming from the sense of smell can also only always be eeting and transient if it should give pleasure (vergngen) (453, 270). Since smell is inseparable from taste, and smell tends toward nauseation, the nauseating too is inseparable from taste, as its internal outer limit. But since taste, at least in its inner unity with its objective mirror image teleology (or as genius), is the foundation of the unity and the unity of the foundation of consciousness, the invasion of the autonomy of taste by the heteronomy of scent qua disgusting undermines the autonomy (or self-affection) and self-sameness of the subject tout court. Still further, disgust goes beyond smell to affect or predicate itself of all matter of sensation as such, thereby endangering the arts with the articiality of materiality. This extension of nausea occurs when the motif of disgust reappears, strikingly, in the section of the Critique of Judgment on the combination of the arts (52). Here, Kant speaks of sensation, in general, as leading to disgust. Specically, he says this in the context of repeating that the essential thing in beautiful art is form, which disposes the spirit to ideas, not
the matter of sensation (the charm or the emotion), where it is aimed merely at enjoyment, which leaves behind it nothing in the idea, and makes the spirit dull, the object by and by loathsome [here again the translators avoid disgust and transform it simply into loathing], and the mind, because it is aware that its disposition is contrapurposive in the judgement of reason, dissatised with itself and moody [nicht in der Materie der Empndug (dem Reize oder der Rhrung), wo es blo auf Genu angelegt ist, welcher nichts in der Idee zurcklt, den Geist stumpf, den Gegenstand nach und nach anekelnd, und das Gemt, durch das Bewutsein seiner im Urteile der Vernunft zweckwidrigen Stimmung, mit sich selbst unzufrieden und launisch macht] (2645, 203).

And this, in turn, always occurs when the ne arts are not brought nah oder fern into relation with moral ideas, which alone are attended by an independent pleasure [ein selbstndiges Wohlgefallen] (265, 203). Without this connection with moral ideas, the ne arts serve distraction (Zerstreuung), which is addictive, because one needs more and more of it the more one feels bad about indulging in it. Natural beauties are connected more readily with moral ideas, in turn, the implication being that arts tend toward distraction and sensation, false

Immanuel Kant, Anthropologie in pragmatischer Hinsicht, in Werkausgabe XII, ed. Wilhelm Weischedel (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1979) 395690. In English as Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, trans. Robert B. Louden, in Immanuel Kant, Anthropology, History, and Education, ed. Gnter Zller and Robert B. Louden (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007) 227429.



needs, articiality, etc. In short, not only is smell, as the basis of taste, in general disgusting, but so is all matter of sensation, all charm or emotion which puts the imagination, an intuitive faculty at the core of genius qua art production, in danger of ruining beauty by leading to disgust and to distraction, thereby turning the natural source of genius to its ruin in an art of articiality, an articial art. The beautiful becomes disgustingly articial to the degree that it remains in contact with the sensuous. But even beyond sense as the foretaste of the disgusting, Derrida argues, what is foreclosed is not so much what makes one want to vomitbecause such a gure still clings to the privilege of oralitybut the possible
vicariousness of vomit [. . .] its replacement by anything elseby some other unrepresentable, unnameable, unintelligible, insensible, unassimilable, obscene other which forces enjoyment and whose irrepressible violence would undo the hierarchizing authority of logocentric analogyits power of identication (92, 25).

In other words, what the Kantian critical system includes by exclusion is the possibility that this being-forced-to-enjoy, for which nausea disgust is a synecdoche, is not reducible to the sphere of one chemical sense, but affects all the senses, including the inner sense, and even thought itself, as the essence of Kantian spontaneity, to the point of threatening the very Vitalempndung (Anthropology, 446, 265). Indeed, Kant names one determinate analogous replacement of the literally disgusting, the one that concerns precisely the spiritual enjoyment (Geistesgenu) of communication of thought. When it is forced upon us, as in the constant repetition of supposedly amusing or witty quips (die Wiederholung immer einerlei witzig oder lustig sein sollender Einflle), we nd it widerlich, and this we also call nausea. (Anthropology, 451, 269). But such nauseating Einfllewhich we could here translate as gags, and through the propagation of which Derrida himself consciously and constantly provoked his readership (e.g., in the phrase le sans de la coupure pure)these gags are only one determinate and still orally linguistically focused version of the disruption of autonomy to which Derrida is alluding under the heading of vomit. The limit of taste with which Derrida is concerned is the necessary and continuous nonsovereignty of the subject, its immanent and constitutive exposure to a world of excess and lack beyond its control, its interruption by and dispersion across illimitable (un)limitation, signaled here in Kant by the reemergence of inimical materiality in opposition to the spiritual fusion of genial aesthesis.21


Cf. Hgglund on innite nitude in Derrida, 46 passim.



CONCLUSION Derrida negates the detached autonomy of the aesthetic sphere by placing in doubt the dividing lines between aesthetic experience and both sensuous materiality and conceptual purposes (or purposive concepts). He also negates the smooth synthesis in the aesthetic (as genius) of the human and natural realms, subject and object, by arguing that what Kant alternately calls the natural other and the articial other, materiality, invades and disrupts spiritual humanity from within, in the gure of the nauseating, which forces enjoyment and disrupts representation. He argues, therefore, that the Mittelglied of reexive judgment exists neither separately nor fused with (and as the fusion of) the positing of practical reason and speculative objective knowledge. At the same time but on two different conceptual registers, Derrida links the Kantian problematic with the Freudian and Heideggerian ones. Questioning the FreudianLacanian opposition between neurotic repression and perverse disavowal, this negative demonstration extends his polemical argument that the assumption of the phallus and of castration, here as the existence of the separate ller of the abyss, is not incompatible with its disavowal, the disappearance of the abyss itself, and that neither position is sustainable because each is undone by its opposite. In relation to Heideggers thinking of Being, here replaced by the framing trait, Derrida suggests in these texts that something like Being reappears in Kants third Critique as parergonality. What traces of the aesthetic remain, then, or what is positively retained of Kantian aesthetic reexion? As I have tried to indicate, there remains, for Derrida, of Kants harmonious agreement of imagination and understanding, the undecidable, self-disruptive, and partially dissonant interplay between form and content, sensuality (or referentiality), and meaning (signication), as constantly opened by the traitthe (non)Being of inscriptionwhich is always dividing (itself) into strewn distribution or dissemination. But this undecidable interplay is not limited to a specic sphere of autonomous existence that could be isolated from discourses of knowledge or ethical obligation. Unlimited aesthesis, or exthesis as one might say, in bad taste and as a gag, is not merely disinterested. It always remains bound up with materiality and spiritual meaning, even if the two cannot be decisively distinguished in a given instance of inscription. The exthetic as the auto-heteronomy of dissemination is the play of the trait, of which Derrida writes that there is some, although it does not exist as such. University of Oregon


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