Typewriter Ribbon

even when it is a happy event: an event is always traumatic, its singularity interrupts an order and rips apart, like every decision worthy of the name, the normal fabric of temporality or history. How, then, is one to reconcile, on the one hand, a thinking of the event, which I propose withdrawing, despite the apparent paradox, from an ontology or a metaphysics of presence (it would be a matter of thinking an event that is undeniable but without pure presence), and, on the other hand, a certain concept of machineness [machinalité] ? The latter would imply at least the following predicates: a certain materiality, which is not necessarily a corporeality, a certain technicity, programming, repetition or iterability, a cutting off from or independence from any living subject—the psychological, sociological, transcendental, or even human subject, and so forth. In two words, how is one to think together the event and the machine, the event with the machine, this here event with this here machine? In a word and repeating myself in a quasi-machinelike fashion, how is one to think together the machine and the event, a machinelike repetition and that which happens/arrives?

In the perspective opened by this repetitive series of questions, we began to read what de Man wrote one day, what he inscribed one day, apparently à propos of an "excuse me" of Rousseau's—which was perhaps only an "excuse me" of de Man's, just as we read an "excuse me" of Austin's at the moment he was getting ready to talk about the excuse in general and excused himself for not doing so, contenting himself apparently with excusing himself, "within such limits."

I say indeed an "excuse me" of Rousseau's. Instead of the excuse in general, or even some generality in general, de Man apparently intends this here "excuse me" of this here Rousseau, even if, we are getting to this, with the example or the index of this here "excuse me," he appeals to what he himself says he "calls text" ("What we call text," he will have written, a phrase that is followed by a definition of the text in general that places the word "definition" in quotation marks) . There is, to be sure, a general thematics or problematics in play in these very rich texts. But at the point of the reference, what is at stake, in my opinion, is the singularity of a certain "excuse me" by Rousseau that is, moreover, double, according to the at once ordinary and ambiguous French grammar of this verb (s'excuser), which appears at least twice in Rousseau, in strategic places, in the same paragraph of the Confessions concerning the theft of the ribbon.

The two occurrences are the object of a very active interpretation by de