Typewriter Ribbon

ribbon and the lie that followed as paradigmatic episode] is, in itself, as arbitrary as it is suspicious, but it provides us with a textual event of undeniable exegetic interest: the juxtaposition of two confessional texts linked together by an explicit repetition, the confession, as it were, of a confession" (279; my emphasis).

That this selection is held by de Man to be "as arbitrary as it is suspicious" is a hypothesis that must be taken seriously, even if one is not prepared to subscribe to it unreservedly. For it subtends in a definitive way de Man's whole interpretation, notably his concepts of grammar and machine. At the end of the text, he will speak of the "gratuitous product of a textual grammar" (299), or yet again, still à propos of this structure of machinelike repetition, of "a system that is both entirely arbitrary and entirely repeatable, like a grammar" (300) . Once again I underscore "like," this index of analogy.

The expression "textual event" is found again in conclusion, very close to the last word. It is no longer a matter of the last word of a chapter, but of a book, since this is, in de Man's corpus, the last chapter of the last book he will have published and reread during his lifetime.

Now, it both is and is not the same "textual event"; it is no longer the one in question at the beginning of the text. Apparently, it would be the same, to be sure, because it is still a matter of what happens with the paradigmatic passage in the Confessions. But now this event has been analyzed, determined, interpreted, localized within a certain mechanism, namelyand we will come back to this later-an anacoluthon or a parabasis, a discontinuity or, to quote de Man's conclusion, "a sudden revelation of the discontinuity between two rhetorical codes. This isolated textual event, as the reading of the Fourth Reverie shows, is disseminated throughout the entire text and the anacoluthon is extended over all the points of the figural line or allegory" (300) .

How does this "textual event" inscribe itself? What is the operation of its inscription? What is the writing machine, the typewriter, that both produces it and archives it? What is the body, or even the materiality that confers on this inscription both a support and a resistance? And, above all, what essential relation does this textual event maintain with a scene of confession and excuse?

Since we are getting ready to speak of matter or, more precisely, of the body, I note in the first place that de Man, very curiously, pays almost no attention, for reasons that he doubtless considers justified and that in my

Jacques Derrida - Without Alibi