‘I like the I in myself’ : Facing the Derridean ‘massacre’

by Alexandra Claudia Manta

Lately I’ve been thinking at some linguistic operations such as substitution, permutation, and at underlining and the use of block letters in written communication. I and Myself. I within Myself. I whom I see in that which I see you see. Is reality merely a question of vision and point of view? The reality which I see is nothing but an overlapping of thin tiny little skins (like those of the onion), each of them being in itself a vision or perhaps just an expanded, exploded, overflowing, even overleapt individuality bursting out of itself, covering everything like a thin crust of ice, like a delicate snow stratum, like a transparent coat of tears. This overflown “I”, a skin of multiple “I”s which cover some kernel, wraps it tightly within. And then it comes the skin of the next “I”, and that of the next one, an incessant packing of this world in its own individuals. I see from this world only that which all those other thin, shiny skins mirror back in the same way that my own skin mirrors. I only see myself in everything else.

Then, I’m just as a child who knows how to read only the first three letters of the alphabet and who can recognize only those in any given text. I read this world in an ill-assorted manner. I read pieces of this world. I cannot decode it, I haven’t got all the required signs, and I merely have my own signs through whose reading I create the world as mine. I keep on stumbling on your signs. I haven’t got yours, just as I have got nobody else’s. Never will I have them. But I still read incessantly, I keep reading without cessation, even though my ability to understand has vanished from the very beginning. I read by hops and skips, discontinuously, no, I do not read, I barely distinguish, recognize letters, I barely identify myself in this wide world. I am being gulped imperceptibly by a sea of signs which make me stall. It would prove to be so hard to live if I just let myself crushed, if I let myself overwhelmed by the mystery of it, by the fact that I am such a self-centered illiterate, but it is queer, nevertheless, that I should feel like floating, that I should feel all those significant meanings, ideas, signs, ciphers, messages float around me but I do not touch them, nor catch their meaning; it doesn’t bother me, my inability to catch them and split them open into some sort of self-dissection, some decoding of the body, of the flesh.

It feels like some overextended convalescence. I feel like a paralytic who swims in a fluid emptiness as a fetus does in his amniotic fluid. I am this individual reduced to his body which thus became his tormenting bed. Contrary to the biblical character, I cannot fold my body and hold it pick-a-back and start walking. All there is is my own amorphous universe, unshakeable, at twilight. If this world revolves, I am the one revolving; I am the skin wrapped around the core which I alone can see. My puddle, which reflects that which my retina absorbs – completely – confounds itself with those other puddles in which I catch glimpses of what my retina recognizes as reflections of its own puddle. And the rest doesn’t exist, for it is inaccessibly objective. And I myself am poisonously subjective. Poisonously subjective.

In a way, I figured out I survive – or perhaps do we all people survive? – because we play. We play with words – ‘I like the I in myself’ – with ourselves too, for we are ourselves words. An addressed word is what we are. Words for us to make something with or of, or perhaps words to become something else. Not words spoken idly, but in a context. Not spoken for ourselves, but for other people. And, sometimes, while living, I feel myself toying with my own words, and with other’s. I can do anything with words – make anything from them – with myself, with others; this “anything” is essentially nothing. Words are limits, they are bodies, and they are reduced and reduce at their turn. They do not assert, just babble, just make noise, and just hum in an organic way for they are alive. The engine of our lives…. They cut up our space, our message, they slice through, break the film, disrupt, hack, set boundaries to, limit. One is not free between the lines; one does not become free because of the words as long as one takes them seriously. If one does take them seriously, one shuts oneself up within one’s own mouth and chews oneself into pieces. One tears oneself, rips oneself, charmingly. And one does not get out otherwise than bit by bit, amongst one’s teeth. Or one might feel than by speaking words, one gives oneself to the poor. One gives oneself, one becomes smaller and smaller, one lessens. There remain within oneself only that which cannot be spoken. That which one cannot say is deeper within than what one can say, which is somewhat more marginal, and one fears that, by speaking what one fears to speak, it will pull one’s heart out, one’s guts; that it will extract one’s essence, unfold out the kernel, that one will become a silly little empty skin costume, and that one – one is only what one will never speak. One is the fear to speak.

But we, the people, who play with our own words, with ourselves, with others, aren’t we, at our turn, played with? Gamed? Aren’t we someone else’s puppets on the stage? Or perhaps someone else’s language? We – the people – our lives, what we think, what we feel, what we will, what we will not, what we need, what we refuse, our language, our dreams, fears, relationships – each is a sign, a letter and we are being spoken. Mankind in itself is like an alphabet – and we are all being spoken, put into syntax, we are applied rules to, we agree, we don’t, we form idiomatic expressions or, on the contrary, pleonasms, – thus we live not only for ourselves, but for language itself, for something we must communicate together. But who is that someone who speaks us? What do we communicate? And to whom?

The dangers of Derridean deconstructionist philosophy is that we will never know, for there is nothing to know, there is nothing to say or to write about. There are mere words I am simply not afraid to speak, or write.

‘I like the I in myself’ : Facing the Derridean ‘massacre’

2 thoughts on “‘I like the I in myself’ : Facing the Derridean ‘massacre’

  1. Mai da si tu un semn de viata, omule! (Lena, fosta ta colega de facultate)

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