Leaving a Trace in the World: Sexuality and Auto-Affection in Of Grammatology

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This essay aims to bring to light a specific movement elaborated by Derrida in Of Grammatology, which goes from the experience of dispossession in speech and the economy of signs that replaces speech itself with writing, through the chains of supplements, to the merging of language and auto-erotism into the differentiated totality of auto-affection as the universal rule of experience or as life itself. I will point out that idealization, as the submission of the world to a certain power of repetition in the living and, thus, as the only condition at which the world can affect the living, marks the becoming-spontaneous of the possibility of auto-affection and, at the same time, the very articulation of life, across its history, into a hierarchy of more and more complex symbolical operations. As I aim to demonstrate throughout my reading, the ultimate task of this movement is that a phenomenology cannot account for the structure of auto-affection insofar as, with a gesture parallel to phonocentrism, it would dissolve the irreducible trait of sexuality into the self-presence of self-touching.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-254
Number of pages15
JournalDerrida Today
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2013


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