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Voice and Phenomenon notes

Attention conservation notice: some long badly formatted notes on Derrida's Voice and Phenomenon, probably extremely boring if you're not me.

I wrote these while attempting to get into using Logseq. The habit never stuck, whereas I've been getting a lot out of reading my notebook posts back, so I'm republishing here.

  • before I read, here's my guess about what it's about
  • Husserl: phenomenology as starting from immediate first-person experience of the world
  • Derrida: this doesn't actually exist in a pure form, even 'immediate' presence has traces of articulated structure in it. Maybe this is what Derrida means by 'trace', I'm never sure
  • Newton Garver intro quotes Derrida as saying "There has never been any perception".
This is, of course, not a rejection of any familiar everyday experience, but a rejection of a concept, a concept that is an idealized and, one might say, logicized abstraction from our common everyday experience. It is the concept of perception, not as the awareness of circumstances in which we live and move and have our being, but rather as the pure immediate awareness of a sensory content which, although complicated by retentions and protentions, has no intrinsic reference to any such actual circumstances.
  • Garver again: echoes [[Wittgenstein]]'s seeing vs seeing-as. (Garver was a Wittgenstein scholar.)
  • Différance: to recognise a symbol, it needs to
  • a) be distinguishable from other symbols (so e.g. you couldn't have an alphabet where all letters of the alphabet were indistiguishable to the human eye). this is the 'differ' bit I think (the spatial part of the definition)
  • b) repeat. you don't have just one instance of the letter A, you have multiple ones at different times and recognise them as 'the same'. this is the 'defer' bit I think (the temporal part)
  • these are sort of preconditions for the possibility of writing. this sort of articulation occurs in phonemes, too, which is where you get these weird cryptic statements about 'writing is prior to speech'.

Garver's version:

Differance is a complex essential characteristic of signs, being composed of (a) an actual difference which makes the sign possible, but which can be instituted and understood only in terms of (b) other times and circumstances in which the instituted difference systematically appears

Time stuff. This is what I'd like to get clearer on.

  • Husserl wrote about time perception, talked about something like 'the thick present' which I think is something like some kind of memory of the past/anticipation of the future hanging around at the same time as now.
  • Derrida says: this is temporal deferring. There's no pure 'now', it has the trace of other times built into it.
  • Let's see what [[Norris]] had to say. pp. 46-7 of Deconstruction.
  • OK so [[Husserl]]'s book was The Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness
  • 'Retention' = immediate sensory traces (also 'protention' = same thing but future-directed anticipation), 'representation' = experience recalled later
Husserl is constantly obliged, by the logic of his own argument, to treat the present as a moment compounded of manifold retentions and anticipations, never existing in the isolated instant of awareness. Time is an endless deferring of presence which drives yet another paradoxical wedge into the project of phenomenology
Husserl's main object was to separate perception from representation in such a way that the latter - the realm of 'mediated' signs and impressions - should not interfere with the primary self-evidence of knowledge
  • The background arena for all this is phenomenology vs structuralism. Derrida was well read in both of them and wanted to use the resources of both. already talked about this in the braindump.
  • ok can't put this off any longer let's read.
  • Introduction: tried to skim, couldn't follow at all

1: Sign and Signs

Husserl begins by pointing out a confusion: The word "sign" (Zeichen) covers, always in ordinary language and occasionally in philosophical language, two heterogeneous concepts: that of expression (Ausdruck), which is often wrongly taken as a synonym for sign in general, and that of indication (Anzeichen). But, according to Husserl, there are signs that express nothing because they convey nothing one could call (we still have to put it in German) Bedeutung or Sinn, Such is the indicative sign [indice]} Certainly an indicative sign is a sign, as is an expression. But, unlike an expression, an indicative sign is deprived of Bedeutung or Sinn; it is bedeutungslos, sinnlos. But, nonetheless, it is not without signification. By definition there can be no sign without signification, no signifying without the signified.
  • I think [[Dutilh Novaes]] also talks about these two meanings of sign... hm can't find it quickly in my notes. But possibly she also quotes Husserl
  • 'Everyone knows' (haha) that Husserl doesn't make the 'sense' and 'reference' split that [[Frege]] does. (Sinn and Bedeutung. I think this is the thing about Phosphorus and Hesperus... same reference, different sense. I guess this makes sense if you're interested in 'how things appear to you' as in phenomenology, though I'm sure Derrida will want to blur this)
In Ideas I, the dissociation which occurs between the two notions does not at all have the same function as for Frege, and this confirms our reading: meaning is reserved for the content in the ideal sense of verbal expression, spoken language, while sense (Sinn) covers the whole noematic sphere right down to its nonexpressive stratum
One and the same phenomenon may be apprehended as an expression or as an indication, a discursive or nondiscursive sign depending on the intentional experience [vecu intentionnel] which animates it.
We know already in fact that the discursive sign, and consequently the meaning, is always involved, always caught up in an indicative system.
  • an example would be nice!
  • this is getting convoluted. this might be the 'no private language' section Garver was talking about. but it's difficult... let's keep skimming
  • Oh ok actually this is an interesting question:
By proposing from the start a radical dissociation between the two heterogeneous kinds of sign, between indication and expression, he has not asked what is meant by a sign in general...

What then is a sign in general?
  • bla bla lost the thread again

2: The Reduction of Indication

OK so I think we're getting on to Derrida's project of blurring indicative vs expressive.

Husserl's whole enterprise—and far beyond the Investigations—would be threatened if the Verflechtung which couples the indicative sign to expression were absolutely irreducible, if it were in principle inextricable and if indication were essentially internal to the movement of expression rather than being only conjoined to it, however tenaciously.
What is an indicative sign? First, it may be natural (the canals of Mars indicate the possible presence of intelligent beings) as well as artificial (the chalk mark, the stigmata, all the instruments of conventional designation).

Here's a chunk from Husserl:

In these we discover as a common circumstance the fact that certain objects or states of affairs of whose reality (Bestand) someone has actual knowledge indicate (anzeigen) to him the reality of certain other objects or states of affairs, in the sense that his belief in the being (Sein) of the one is experienced (though not at all evidently) as motivating a belief or surmise in the being of the other (First Investigation, § i\ ET [modified!, p. 270).
  • so something that we have 'actual knowledge of' (e.g. marks on a paper) indicates the reality of some other thing
  • now it gets complicated, let's run away

3: Meaning as Soliloquy

Now we're talking about expression/

What is expression? It is a sign charged with meaning.
Expression is a voluntary exteriorization; it is meant, conscious through and through, and intentional

Derrida says that this is a verbal thing for Husserl?

If expression is always inhabited and animated by a meaning (bedeuten)y as wanting to say, this is because, for Husserl, the Deutung (the interpretation or the understanding of the Bedeutung) can never take place outside oral discourse (Rede).
This explains why everything that escapes the pure spiritual intention, the pure animation by Geist, that is, the will, is excluded from meaning (bedeuten) and thus from expression. What is excluded is, for example, facial expressions, gestures, the whole of the body and the mundane register, in a word, the whole of the visible and spatial as such.

Don't fully understand the next bit but it sounds important

As such: that is, insofar as they are not worked over by Geist, by the will, by the Geistigkeit which, in the word just as in the human body, transforms the Korper into Leib (into flesh). The opposition between body and soul is not only at the center of this doctrine of signification, it is confirmed by it; and, as has always been at bottom the case in philosophy, it depends upon an interpretation of language. Visibility and spatiality as such could only destroy the self-presence of will and spiritual animation which opens up discourse. They are literally the death of that self-presence.

Oh here's a quote from Husserl, he actually did say this!

Such a definition excludes (from expression) facial expression and the various gestures which involuntarily (umuillkiirlich) accompany speech without communicative intent, or those in which a man's mental states achieve understandable "expression" for his environment, without the added help of speech. Such "utterances" (Ausserungen) are not expressions in the sense in which a case of speech (Rede) is an expression, they are not phenomenally one with the experiences made manifest in them in the consciousness of the man who manifests them, as is the case with speech. In such manifestations one man communicates nothing to another: their utterance involves no intent to put certain "thoughts" on record expressively (in ausdriicklicher Weise), whether for the man himself, in his solitary state, or for others. Such "expressions," in short, have properly speaking, no meaning (Bedeutung)
  • so 'expressive' meaning has to be bound up with the conscious will, so e.g. grinning involuntarily doesn't count. because there is no intent to communicate.
  • this sounds straightforwardly stupid to me but let's continue
That one may eventually "interpret" gesture, facial expression, the nonconscious, the involuntary, and indication in general, that one may sometime take them up again and make them explicit in a direct and discursive commentary—for Husserl this only confirms the preceding distinctions. This interpretation (Deutung) makes a latent expression heard, brings a meaning (bedeuten) out from what was still held back.
Once we have excluded all the nondiscursive signs immediately given as extrinsic to speech (gestures, facial expressions, etc.), there still remains a considerable sphere of the nonexpressive within speech itself.
  • partly this is stuff like phonemes and written signs, but not all
  • Husserl: "A mere distinction between physical signs and sense-giving experiences is by no means enough, and not at all enough for logical purposes"
  • Considering now the nonphysical side of speech, Husserl excludes from it, as belonging to indication, everything that belongs to the communication or manifestation of mental experiences.
  • gimme an example mate!
All speech inasmuch as it is engaged in communication and manifests lived experience operates as indication. In this way words act like gestures.
Husserl indeed admits that expression is "originally framed" to serve the function of communication (First Investigation, §7). And yet expression itself is never purely expression as long as it fulfills this original function; only when communication is suspended can pure expression appear.
  • haha I was expecting to not understand Derrida, but actually I don't understand Husserl! Why is the communicative function of speech only indicative?
  • This is a nice phrase (the bold bit):
Sensible phenomena (audible or visible, etc.) are animated through the sense-giving acts of a subject, whose intention is to be simultaneously understood by another subject. But the "animation" cannot be pure and complete, for it must traverse, and to some degree lose itself in, the opaqueness of a body
Everything in my speech which is destined to manifest an experience to another must pass by the mediation of its physical side; this irreducible mediation involves every expression in an indicative operation. The manifesting function (kundgebende Funktion) is an indicative function. Here we find the core of indication: indication takes place whenever the sense-giving act, the animating intention, the living spirituality of the meaning-intention, is not fully present.
  • sounds like god stuff to me
When I listen to another, his lived experience is not present to me "in person," in the original... the subjective side of his experience, his consciousness, in particular the acts by which he gives sense to his signs, are not immediately and primordially present to me as they are for him and mine are for me. Here there is an irreducible and definitive limit. The lived experience of another is made known to me only insofar as it is mediately indicated by signs involving a physical side.
The notion of presence is the core of this demonstration. If communication or intimation (Kundgabe) is essentially indicative, this is because we have no primordial intuition of the presence of the other's lived experience. Whenever the immediate and full presence of the signified is concealed, the signifier will be of an indicative nature.
The meaning is therefore present to the self in the life of a present that has not yet gone forth from itself into the world, space, or nature. All these "goings-forth" effectively exile this life of self-presence in indications. We know now that indication, which thus far includes practically the whole surface of language, is the process of death at work in signs.
  • OK maybe this is becoming clear. In Husserl's view we have some internal sense of meaning, then when we send it out into the world it loses that.
  • Husserl on solitary expression, in interior mental life:
Expressions continue to have meanings (Bedeutungen) as they had before, and the same meanings as in dialogue. A word only ceases to be a word when our interest stops at its sensory contour, when it becomes a mere sound-pattern. But when we live in the understanding of a word, it expresses something and the same thing, whether we address it to anyone or not
The first advantage of this reduction to the interior monologue is that the physical event of language there seems absent. Insofar as the unity of the word—what lets it be recognized as a word, the same word, the unity of a sound-pattern and a sense—is not to be confused with the multiple sensible events of its employment or taken to depend on them, the sameness of the word is ideal; it is the ideal possibility of repetition, and it loses nothing by the reduction of any empirical event marked by its appearance, nor all of them.
  • this looks a bit like the differance idea? I don't understand it too well though
Is this to say that in speaking to myself I communicate nothing to myself? Are the "Kundgabe" (the manifesting) and "Kundnahme" (the cognizance taken of the manifested) suspended then? Is nonpresence reduced and, with it, indication, the analogical detour, etc.? Do I not then modify myself? Do I learn nothing about myself?
Husserl considers the objection and then dismisses it: "Shall one say that in soliloquy one speaks to onself, and employs words as signs (Zeichen), i.e., as indications (Anzeichen) of one's own inner experiences? I cannot think such a view acceptable"
  • OK it looks like this is the point that Derrida is going to deploy his One Weird Trick, and use the logic of Husserl's own argument against him
Husserl's argumentation is decisive here; we must follow it closely. The whole theory of signification introduced in this first chapter devoted to essential distinctions would collapse if the Kundgabe/Kundnahme function could not be reduced in the sphere of my own lived experiences—in short, if the ideal or absolute solitude of subjectivity "proper" still needed indications to constitute its own relation to itself
For it is more and more clear that, despite the initial distinction between an indicative sign and an expressive sign, only an indication is truly a sign for Husserl. The full expression—that is, as we shall see later on, the meaning-filled intention—departs in a certain manner from the concept of the sign.
In "solitary mental life" we no longer use real (wirklich) words, but only imagined (vorgestellt) words. And lived experience—about which we were wondering whether it might not be "indicated" to the speaking subject by himself—does not have to be so indicated because it is immediately certain and present to itself
In the interior monologue, a word is thus only represented. It can occur in the imagination (Phantasie). We content ourselves with imagining the word, whose existence is thus neutralized.
  • some complicated stuff which I'll skip


Saussure was also careful to distinguish between the real word and its image. He also saw the expressive value of a "signifier" only in the form of the "sound-image.

4: Meaning and Representation

  • We're still talking about Husserl and how the pure function of expression is not to communicate or manifest - that is the realm of indication. Talking about inward speech again.
  • Quotes Husserl:
One of course speaks, in a certain sense, even in soliloquy, and it is certainly possible to think of oneself as speaking, and even as speaking to oneself, as, e.g., when someone says to himself: "You have gone wrong, you can't go on like that." But in the genuine sense of communication, there is no speech in such cases, nor does one tell oneself anything: one merely conceives of (man stellt sich vor) oneself as speaking and communicating. In a monologue words can perform no function of indicating the existence (Dasein) of mental acts, since such indication would there be quite purposeless (ganz zwecklos ware). For the acts in question are themselves experienced by us at that very moment (im selben Augenblick)
Can this system of distinctions be applied to language? From the start we would have to suppose that representation (in every sense of the term) is neither essential to nor constitutive of communication, the "effective" practice of language, but is only an accident eventually occurring in the practice of discourse. But there is every reason to believe that representation and reality are not merely added together here and there in language, for the simple reason that it is impossible in principle to rigorously distinguish them.Here's the differance stuff. Talking about how signs have to be repeatable.
When in fact I effectively use words, and whether or not I do it for communicative ends (let us consider signs in general, prior to this distinction), I must from the outset operate (within) a structure of repetition whose basic element can only be representative. A sign is never an event, if by event we mean an irreplaceable and irreversible empirical particular. **A sign which would take place but "once" would not be a sign; a purely idiomatic sign would not be a sign.**
A signifier (in general) must be formally recognizable in spite of, and through, the diversity of empirical characteristics which may modify it. It must remain the same, and be able to be repeated as such, despite and across the deformations which the empirical event necessarily makes it undergo. A phoneme or grapheme is necessarily always to some extent different each time that it is presented in an operation or a perception. But, it can function as a sign, and in general as language, only if a formal identity enables it to be issued again and to be recognized. This identity is necessarily ideal.
  • (I think 'ideal' here means that there is some process of abstraction over many instances of the sign, it is not immediately present to your senses)
By reason of the primordially repetitive structure of signs in general, there is every likelihood that "effective" language is just as imaginary as imaginary speech and that imaginary speech is just as effective as effective speech. In both expression and indicative communication the difference between reality and representation, between the veridical and the imaginary, and between simple presence and repetition has already begun to wear away.
  • too many long German words in the next bit
According to Husserl, the structure of speech can only be described in terms of ideality. There is the ideality of the sensible form of the signifier (for example, the word), which must remain the same and can do so only as an ideality. There is, moreover, the ideality of the signified (of the Bedeutung) or intended sense, which is not to be confused with the act of intending or with the object, for the latter two need not necessarily be ideal. Finally, in certain cases there is the ideality of the object itself, which then assures the ideal transparency and perfect univocity of language; this is what happensin the exact sciences.2  But this ideality, which is but another name for the permanence of the same and the possibility of its repetition, does not exist in the world, and it does not come from another world; it depends entirely on the possibility of acts of repetition. It is constituted by this possibility.  Its "being" is proportionate to the power of repetition; absolute ideality is the correlate of a possibility of indefinite repetition.
  • reaching my limit for today, going to idly skim til the end of this pomodoro. currently at p. 52. (91 of the pdf). ok the next chapter is the time one, good. then looks like another chapter linking this time stuff back to speech. not sure what the final chapter is about but it starts with talking about differance. Then there are reprints of two other essays, and one of them is just called 'Differance' - that might be worth reading too. Skimming it now it looks more like classic annoying Derrida writing haha
  • Trying again a few days later but it's hot and I've lost the thread of this chapter. Let's skip to...
  • This is the temporality stuff.
Self-presence must be produced in the undivided unity of a temporal present so as to have nothing to reveal to itself by the agency of signs.
Later, whenever Husserl wants to stress the sense of primordial intuition, he will recall that it is the experience of the absence and uselessness of signs.
At this point, however, we cannot avoid noting that a certain concept of the "now," of the present as punctuality of the instant, discretely but decisively sanctions the whole system of "essential distinctions." If the punctuality of the instant is a myth, a spatial or mechanical metaphor, an inherited metaphysical concept, or all that at once, and if the present of self-presence is not simple, if it is constituted in a primordial and irreducible synthesis, then the whole of Husserl's argumentation is threatened in its very principle
Despite all the complexity of its structures, temporality has a nondisplaceable center, an eye or living core, the punctuality of the real now. The "now-apprehension is, as it were, the nucleus of a comet's tail of retentions"
... the presence of the perceived present can appear as such only inasmuch as it is continuously compounded with a nonpresence and nonperception, with primary memory and expectation (retention and protention). These nonperceptions are neither added to, nor do they occasionally accompany, the actually perceived now; they are essentially and indispensably involved in its possibility
As soon as we admit this continuity of the now and the not-now, perception and nonperception, in the zone of primordiality common to primordial impression and primordial retention, we admit the other into the self-identity of the Augenblick; nonprescnce and nonevidence are admitted into the blink of the instant. There is a duration to the blink, and it closes the eye.
  • Husserl wanted to keep retention and protention in what Derrida calls 'the sphere of the primordial'. Insists on absolute validity of primary memory (i.e. the stuff in retentions) vs relative validity of secondary memory (i.e. stuff you recall days later).
  • that chapter was nice and short!

6: The Voice That Keeps Silence

some stuff about the wholeness of the self. Husserl says there is no inner communication, but this depends on a single unified self to which everything is present:

One must admit that the criterion for the distinction between expression and indication in the end rests on an all too summary description of "inner life." It is argued that there is no indication in this inner life because there is no communication; that there is no communication because there is no alter ego. And when the second person does emerge in inner language, it is a fiction; and, after all, fiction is only fiction. "You have gone wrong, you can't go on like that"— this is only a false communication, a feigned communication.
For the moment let us ask in what sense, and in view of what, the structure of inner life is "simplified" here, and how the choice of examples is revelatory of Husserl's project.
  • The example is apparently "You have gone wrong, you can't go on like that" said to yourself
  • no new self-knowledge:
These examples are of a practical order. In the propositions chosen the subject addresses himself as if to a second person whom he blames or exhorts, upon whom he enjoins a decision or a feeling of remorse. This doubtless proves that we are not here dealing with "indication." Nothing is shown, directly or indirectly; the subject learns nothing about himself; his language refers to nothing that "exists."
  • Derrida says this sentence is not expressive either: "Paradoxically, it is not indicative because, as nontheoretical, nonlogical, and noncognitive, it is not expressive either."
Here we must listen. Let us return to Husserl. For him, pure expression, logical expression, must be an "unproductive" "medium" which "reflects" (wiederzuspiegeln) the pre-expressive stratum of sense. Its sole productivity consists in making sense pass into the ideality of conceptual and universal form.

Ah, something interesting about why the voice is associated with presence:

My words are "alive" because they seem not to leave me: not to fall outside me, outside my breath, at a visible distance; not to cease to belong to me, to be at my disposition '"without further props." In any event, the phenomenon of speech, the phenomenological voice, gives itself out in this manner.there's nothing for us to see... compare some communication method where we hurled out coloured balls... these would be obviously 'dead' and inanimate. (Sign language is interesting to think about here... this is still connected to the body so also feels alive)
In phenomenological interiority, hearing oneself and seeing oneself are two radically different orders of self-relation.
Let us try, then, to question the phenomenological value of the voice, its transcendent dignity with regard to every other signifying substance. We think, and will try to show, that this transcendence is only apparent.
This immediate presence results from the fact that the phenomenological "body" of the signifier seems to fade away at the very moment it is produced; it seems already to belong to the element of ideality. It phenomenologically reduces itself, transforming the worldly opacity of its body into pure diaphaneity
When I speak, it belongs to the phenomenological essence of this operation that I hear myself [je m'entende] at the same time that I speak
  • OK, yeah this is actually important I think? Work through the coloured balls example. Wouldn't I still see them at the same time that I threw them? So what is the difference? You would still perceive the sensible form and understand your own expressive intention. Maybe there'll be something about writing later that'll clear this up?
  • hm maybe it's because with sound the perception is also interior, inside your head?
  • yeah could be this: "the subject can hear or speak to himself and be affected by the signifier he produces, without passing through an external detour, the world, the sphere of what is not "his own.""
  • so with the coloured balls you have to chuck them into the world, then see them and understand the expressive meaning
To reactivate writing is always to reawaken an expression in an indication, a word in the body of a letter, which, as a symbol that may always remain empty, bears the threat of crisis in itself.
  • Mentions geometry, there's a footnote to his introduction to On the Origin of Geometry.
  • On Husserl's metaphysics:
Husserl always describes all these movements in a metaphysical conceptual system. What governs here is the absolute difference between body and soul. Writing is a body that expresses something only if we actually pronounce the verbal expression that animates it, if its space is temporalized. The word is a body that means something only if an actual intention animates it and makes it pass from the state of inert sonority (Korper) to that of an animated body (Leib). This body proper to words expresses something only if it is animated (sinnbelebt) by an act of meaning (bedeuten) which transforms it into a spiritual flesh (geistige Leiblichheit). But only the Geistigkeit or Lebendigkeit is independent and primordial.

First use of [[différance]]. Translator's footnote:

Derrida introduces a neologism here; from the French "difference" he derives the term "differance" As in the Latin "differre" the French "differer" bears two quite distinct significations. One has a reference to spatiality, as the English "to differ"—to be at variance, to be unlike, apart, dissimilar, distinct in nature or quality from something. This is even more evident in its cognate form, "to differentiate." The other signification has a reference to temporality, as in the English "to defer"—to put off action to a future time, to delay or postpone.

Interlude: Lawlor on auto-affection

I don't fully understand what Derrida means by auto-affection. This book chapter by Leonard Lawlor could be useful.

Auto-affection refers to self-experience. It is not, however, the experience opened up by a deliberate act of reflection through which an object called the self is given in a representation. Below reflection is a basic selfawareness, such as the experience of my own thoughts.
In order to understand Derrida’s deconstruction of auto-affection, we must examine the first and most important deconstruction of autoaffection that appears in Derrida’s 1967 Voice and Phenomenon. This is a difficult book.
  • yep

Three ideas from phenomenology necessary to understand it:

  • epoché: 'suspends all belief in a world that exists independently of
  • temporality: 'However, for now, we must note that, when Derrida appropriates the phenomenological idea that all experience is fundamentally temporal, he demonstrates that temporalisation is a movement of differentiation. The present is always being differentiated into pastness and futureness so that the present is itself always in a process of division.'
  • Alterity/the alien: experience of myself is immediate, experience of others is mediated. 'More strongly, it indicates, and this is really Husserl’s great insight, that the interior life of another is never given to me as such. In the experience of the other, there is a kind of absence or non-presence that differs from the usual kind of non-presence one encounters in perception. In the experience of the other, there is a kind of absence or non-presence that differs from the usual kind of non-presence one encounters in perception. The perception of a threedimensional object always includes absence insofar as there are hidden sides to every spatial object. Yet, these hidden sides can be brought into presence if I move around the object. Unlike the absence of the backside of a table, the non-presence of the other, however, remains no matter what I do, no matter how I move about'

this sounds useful for understanding 'presence'

  • Derrida in contrast thinks that, even in self-experience, we find Vergegenwärtigung,
    that is, non-presence and mediation.
  • Now summarises the argument in Speech and Phenomena. First four chapters are about Husserl's expressive/indicative distinction. 'According to Husserl, in soliloquy, the meaning of the words I am using seems to be immediately present in the moment, in “the blink of an eye.” Because Husserl speaks of the moment (the German word for moment is “Augenblick,” which literally means “blink of an eye,” hence Derrida’s title for Chapter Five), Husserl seems to be presupposing some view
    of temporal experience.' So chapter 5 talks about Husserl's descriptions of phenomenology of time.
  • In chapter 5 Derrida talks about the 'thick present', retention protention etc. 'Derrida argues that there must be a continuity between retention and secondary memory such that it is impossible to claim that there is a radical discontinuity or a radical difference between retention and re-presentation.'
  • OK now onto chapter 6 which has the main auto-affection bit. ' Derrida provides a
    phenomenological description of hearing-oneself-speak'
Here are the basic features of that description. When I speak silently to myself, I do not make any sounds go out through my mouth. Although I do not make sounds through my mouth when I speak silently to myself, I make use of phonic complexes, that is, I make use of the forms of words or signs of a natural language.
Because however the medium of the voice is temporal – the phonic forms are iterated across moments – the silent vocalisation endows the phonic forms with ideality
  • I don't really understand this but let's keep going
Thanks to the phonic forms utilised in hearing-oneself-speak, one exteriorises the ideal sense (a thought).
We see how the element of the voice seems to satisfy the two requirements for the constitution of an ideal meaning: the silent expression objectifies the sense (universalises it) and yet it remains in proximity to the one expressing. In other words, the subject lets himself be affected by the signifier, but apparently without any detour through exteriority or through the world
The signified or what I want to say seems to be so close to the signifier that the signifier seems to be “diaphanous”
Yet, the diaphaneity of the voice is only apparent since, now reverting back to the argumentation found in Chapter 5, it is conditioned by temporalisation. Temporalisation indeed makes the voice ideal, but by doing so it also makes the voice (the phonic forms) repeatable to infinity and therefore beyond the acts of expression taking place right now. As repeatable, the phonic forms have the possibility of not being close by
  • There's a later section called 'The Two Forces of Event and Repetition'. References a much later essay, Typewriter Ribbon. Some connection to [[Brian Cantwell Smith]] here.
  • Well that's helped at least a little bit... back to Derrida

6 again

... this pure difference, which constitutes the self-presence of the living present, introduces into self-presence from the beginning all the impurity putatively excluded from it.
  • This bit is difficult and also he's having one of his bouts of really annoying writing
  • I somehow like this quote though
Also, just as expression is not added like a "stratum" to the presence of a pre-expressive sense, so, in the same way, the inside of expression does not accidentally happen to be affected by the outside of indication. Their intertwining (Verflechtung) is primordial; it is not a contingent association that could be undone by methodic attention and patient reduction.
And if indication—for example, writing in the everyday sense—must necessarily be "added" to speech to complete the constitution of the ideal object, if speech must be "added" to the thought identity of the object, it is because the "presence" of sense and speech had already from the start fallen short of itself.

7: The Supplement of Origin

  • Now we're on to the differance stuff
Thus understood, what is supplementary is in reality differance, the operation of differing which at one and the same time both fissures and retards presence, submitting it simultaneously to primordial division and delay.
This structure of supplementation is quite complex. As a supplement, the signifier does not represent first and simply the absent signified. Rather, it is substituted for another signifier, for another type of signifier that maintains another relation with the deficient presence, one more highly valued by virtue of the play of difference.
  • I think this means something like writing as a supplement of speech... so the written word 'cat' is a signifier of the spoken word 'cat', a signifier of a signifier.
It is more highly valued because the play of difference is the movement of idealization and because, the more ideal the signifier is, the more it augments the power to repeat presence, the more it keeps, reserves, and capitalizes on its sense.
We must here consider the last exclusion—or reduction— to which Husserl invites us, so as to isolate the specific purity of expression. It is the most audacious one; it consists in putting out of play, as "nonessential components" of expression, the acts of intuitive cognition which "fulfil" meaning.


If we seek a foothold in pure description, the concrete phenomenon of the sense-informed (sinnebelebten) expression breaks up, on the one hand, into the physical phenomenon forming the physical side of the expression, and, on the other hand, into the acts which give it meaning and possibly also intuitive fulness, in which its relation to an expressed object is constituted. In virtue of such acts, the expression is more than a merely sounded word. It means something, and in so far as it means something, it relates to what is objective
Fullness therefore is only contingent. The absence of the object aimed at does not compomise the meaning, does not reduce the expression to its unanimated, and in itself meaningless, physical side
  • OK so we're separating meaning from the existence of the object it's about. OK there's some examples later - it may have no meaning for empirical reasons (golden mountain) or a priori reasons (square circle) but still has an intelligible sense.
We know that pure logical grammar depends entirely on the distinction between Widersinnigkeit and Sinnlosigkeit. If it obeys certain rules, an expression may be widersinnig (contradictory, false, absurd according to a certain kind of absurdity) without ceasing to have an intelligible sense that permits normal speech to occur, without becoming nonsense (Unsinn)... Pure logical grammar, then, excludes from normal discourse only what is nonsense in the sense of Unsinn ("Abracadabra," "Green is where").
  • next paragraph is complicated but important looking. there's an example afterwards though:
Let us consider the extreme case of a "statement about perception." Let us suppose that it is produced at the very moment of the perceptual intuition: I say, "I see a particular person by the window" while I really do see him.
It is structurally implied in my performance that the content of this expression is ideal and that its unity is not impaired by the absence of perception here and now.  Whoever hears this proposition, whether he is next to me or infinitely removed in space and time, should, by right, understand what I mean to say
This structure will never form an "intimately blended unity" with intuition. The absence of intuition—and therefore of the subject of the intuition—is not only tolerated by speech; it is required by the general structure of signification, when considered in itself. It is radically requisite: the total absence of the subject and object of a statement —the death of the writer and/or the disappearance of the objects he was able to describe—does not prevent a text from "meaning" something. On the contrary, this possibility gives birth to meaning as such, gives it out to be heard and read.

Seems like I gave up at this point.