100 | Chapter Three

the moment he published it and even if he had not published it, from the moment he wrote it and constituted it by dedicating it to his "dear friend," the presumed signatory (Baudelaire or whoever effectively signed this text beneath the patronymic and accredited signature of Baudelaire—for let us not be so gullible as to believe that the effective signatory of that comes down to a Charles Baudelaire, any more than we believe the dedicatee goes no further than the name Arsene Houssaye), from the moment he let it constitute itself in a system of traces, he destined it, gave it, not only to another or in general to others than his "dear friend" Arsene Houssaye, but delivered it—and that was giving it—above and beyond any determined addressee, donee, or legatee (we are speaking here of an unconscious figure represented by a "dear friend" or even by a determinable, bordered configuration of public and readers). The accredited signatory delivered it up to a dissemination without return. Why without return? What history, what time, and what space are determined by such a "without return"? Whatever return it could have made toward Baudelaire or whatever return he might have counted on, the structure of trace and legacy of this text—as of anything that can be in general—surpasses the phantasm of return and marks the death of the signatory or the non-return of the legacy, the non-benefit, therefore a certain condition of the gift—in the writing itself.

That is why there is a problematic of the gift only on the basis of a consistent problematic of the trace and the text. There can never be such a thing on the basis of a metaphysics of the present, or even of the sign, signifier, signified, or value. This is one of the reasons we always set out from texts for the elaboration of this problematic, texts in the ordinary and traditional sense of written letters, or even of literature, or texts in the sense of differantial traces according to the concept we have elaborated elsewhere. And we are unable to do otherwise than take our departure in texts insofar as they depart (they separate from themselves and their origin, from us) at the departure Ides le depart]. We could not do otherwise even if we wished to do so or thought to do so. We are no longer credulous enough to believe that we are setting out from things themselves by avoiding "texts" simply by avoiding quotation or the appearance of "commentary." The most apparently direct writing, the most directly concrete, personal writing which is supposedly in direct contact with the "thing itself," this writing is "on credit": subjected to the authority of a commentary or a re-editing that it is not even capable of reading.

Jacques Derrida - Given Time page 100