Ousia and Grammē

trace that has disappeared in the forgetting of the difference between Being and beings.

Is this not what "The Anaximander Fragment" seems to tell us at first? "The oblivion of Being is oblivion of the distinction between Being and beings."40 "The distinction collapses. It remains forgotten. Although the two parties to the distinction, what is present and presencing (das Anwesende and das An-wesen), reveal themselves, they do not do so as distinguished. Rather, even the early trace (die frühe Spur) of the distinction is obliterated when presencing appears as something present (das Anwesen tole ein Anwesendes erscheint) and finds itself in the position of being the highest being present (in einem höchsten Anwesenden)" (pp. 50-51).

But at the same time, this erasure of the trace must have been traced in the metaphysical text. Presence, then, far from being, as is commonly thought, what the sign signifies, what a trace refers to, presezice4hen, is the trace of the trace, the trace of the erasure of the trace. Such is, for us, the text of metaphysic, and such is, for us, the language which we speak. Only on this condition can metaphysics and our language signal in the direction of their own transgression.41 And this is why it is not contradictory to think together the erased and the traced of the trace. And also why there is no contradiction between the absolute erasure of the "early trace" of difference and that which maintains it as trace, sheltered and visible in presence. Thus Heidegger does not contradict himself when he writes further on: "However, the distinction between Being and beings, as something forgotten, can invade our experience only if it has already unveiled itself with the presencing of what is present (mit dem Anwesen des Anwesendem); only if it has left a trace (eine Spur geprägt hat) which remains preserved (gewahrt bleibt) in the language to which Being comes" (p. 51).

Henceforth it must be recognized that all the determinations of such a trace— all the names it is given—belong as such to the text of metaphysics that shelters the trace, and not to the trace itself. There is no trace itself, no proper trace. Heidegger indeed says the difference could not appear as such. (Lichtung des Unterschiedes kann deshalb auch nicht bedeuten, class der Unterschied als der Unterschied erscheint: "Illumination of the distinction therefore cannot mean that the distinction appears as a distinction"—p. 51.) The trace of the trace which (is) difference above all could not appear or be named as such, that is, in its presence. It is the as such which precisely, and as such, evades us forever. Thereby the determinations which name difference always come from the metaphysical order. This holds not only for the determination of difference as the difference

40. TN. "The Anaximander Fragment" in Early Greek Thinking, trans. David Farrell Krell and Frank Capuzzi (New York: Harper and Row, 1975), p. 50. All further references are to this edition.

41. Thus Plotinus (what is his status in the history of metaphysics and in the "Platonic" era, if one follows Heidegger's reading?), who speaks of presence, that is, also of morphē, as the trace of nonpresence, as the amorphous (to gar ikhnos ton antorphou morphē). A trace which is neither absence nor presence, nor, in whatever modality, a secondary modality.


Jacques Derrida - Margins of Philosophy