33 General Introduction

mythology is deposited in our language.”58 “Electromagnetic energy” would be one of those saving words, saving us from the contradictions between the models elaborated by Hertz. But that word is mythical. In or der to save, it would have to express the being or essence (Wesen) of what it names. No doubt, the analogy with myth stirs up as many problems as it solves, which may explain why Wittgenstein did not develop it further. Nevertheless it clearly indicates what our language wishes for us, nothing less than the calm assurance of having hold of being. Such confidence can only be due to an excretion of predicative grammar, one that never leaves us. The gap between the being a word presumes and the ordinary use it serves never closes up, and thoroughly preserving this gap is a never-ending task. Witness the ceaseless struggle in the Philosophical Investigations against the in-itself or essence, against everything that may be grasped from within. His is a battle without end as was Kantʼs dispersing of transcendental illusions. The drive of idioms that speak to us as if they made us grasp things from within them—as if we were grasping them within our selves—is a thorough going drive. A sober philosophy would dissipate this double echo at the heart of everyday assertions. But perfect sobriety re mains beyond the reach of analytic ascesis. Dejection occurs be cause the saving word seems to impose itself as a bit of natural obviousness as soon as we speak. “Say electromagnetic energy. . . .” Wittgenstein directs this entirely Kantianesque formula directly against the metaphysics of ineffability in the Tractatus: “One believes one is tracing the out line of nature over and over again, and one is merely following along the form through which we consider it” (§ 114).

Again, a reading would not be wrong that saw in the following pages primarily a document in support of the pain to which Wittgenstein and Hertz bear witness—a pain that evermore alters the pleasure of calling things by their (common) names. The document shows not only that the pain is ancient and that the differend of which it is a symptom has instituted philosophy as well as, perhaps, what is called Western civilization; in addition, it calculates into that pain an evil that is present until death. There is an evil lodged in everyday speech, manifesting itself in the dispersion of singular cases from which rises the megalomania of saying what is. Its pangs that vex everyday life are better expressed by “differend” than by “difference.”

The career, more than two millennia long, of normative differences proves that no speaker escapes the mythogenic condition of wanting to say what is. Hence, it will be necessary to try to understand the difference in the differend, as well as the differend in difference. And this will hap pen by asking whether some thing like “metaphysics” has ever existed, a label that in the last century has above all served the purpose of discrediting oneʼs contemporaries. Wittgenstein, for instance, had no qualms about ranking among them what we might call the phenomenologists of being; and Heidegger may well have repaid the fa vor in kind, if for no other reason than Wittgensteinʼs theses on the autonomy of grammar. I intend to detach the “differend” from this thesis and to use it as a tactical implement to detect how, at the idiomatic inceptions of philosophy, being was given to utter “foundation.” It was given to do so when it used hegemonic fantasms to make the law, and by undoing the law through an oblique fidelity to that very singular from which the law had been raised. If this is the case, a certain cleistomania inherent in philosophy will prove to be thetic, which runs: The “closed fi eld of metaphysics” merely amounts to one more the sis in reference