Différance



metaphysics normalizes Western discourse, and not only in the texts of the "history of philosophy." As rigorously as possible we must permit to appear/ disappear the trace of what exceeds the truth of Being. The trace (of that) which can never be presented, the trace which itself can never be presented: that is, appear and manifest itself, as such, in its phenomenon. The trace beyond that which profoundly links fundamental ontology and phenomenology. Always differing and deferring, the trace is never as it is in the presentation of itself. It erases itself in presenting itself, muffles itself in resonating, like the a writing itself, inscribing its pyramid in différance.

The annunciating and reserved trace of this movement can always be disclosed in metaphysical discourse, and especially in the contemporary discourse which states, through the attempts to which we just referred (Nietzsche, Freud, Levinas), the closure of ontology. And especially through the Heideggerean text.

This text prompts us to examine the essence of the present, the presence of the present.

What is the present? What is it to think the present in its presence?

Let us consider, for example, the 1946 text entitled Der Spruch des Anaximander ("The Anaximander Fragment").25 In this text Heidegger recalls that the forgetting of Being forgets the difference between Being and beings: ". . . to be the Being of beings is the matter of Being (die Sache des Seins). The grammatical form of this enigmatic, ambiguous genitive indicates a genesis (Genesis), the emergence (Herkunft) of what is present from presencing (des Anwesenden aus dem Anwesen). Yet the essence (Wesen) of this emergence remains concealed (verbogen) along with the essence of these two words. Not only that, but even the very relation between presencing and what is present (Anwesen und Anwesendem) remains unthought. From early on it seems as though presencing and what is present were each something for itself. Presencing itself unnoticeably becomes something present. . . The essence of presencing (Das Wesen des Anwesens), and with it the distinction between presencing and what is present, remains forgotten. The oblivion of Being is oblivion of the distinction between Being and beings" (p. 50).

In recalling the difference between Being and beings (the ontological difference) as the difference between presence and the present, Heidegger advances a proposition, a body of propositions, that we are not going to use as a subject for criticism. This would be foolishly precipitate; rather, what we shall try to do is to return to this proposition its power to provoke.

Let us proceed slowly. What Heidegger wants to mark is this: the difference between Being and beings, the forgotten of metaphysics, has disappeared without leaving a trace. The very trace of difference has been submerged. If we maintain that différance (is) (itself) other than absence and presence, if it traces,


25. TN. Martin Heidegger, Holzwege (Frankfurt: V. Klostermann, 1957). English translation ("The Anaximander Fragment") in. Early Greek Thinking, trans. David Farrell Krell and Frank Capuzzi (New York: Harper and Row, 1975). All further references in the text.


33


Jacques Derrida - Margins of Philosophy