Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
of Laetus in Praesens
Laetus in Praesens Alternative view of segmented documents via Kairos

1st October 2010 | Draft

Invagination in Psychosocial Terms

understandings from web resources

-- / --

Annex A of Engendering Invagination and Gastrulation of Globalization (2010)


As indicated in the main paper, the following survey of web resources may be understood as an effort to venture into what is a virtual quagmire of sophisticated preoccupations of the humanities with deconstruction. The language is often as inaccessible as that required by fundamental physicists in their domain. The cognitive challenges of comprehensibility by the human brain are not integrated into the considerations of either deconstructionists or physicists. Whether the appropriate collective noun for deconstructionists should be caricatured as a "confusion of deconstructionists" is another matter.

The following quoted remarks are in each case selected to provide a context for understanding the language in which "invagination" (or "invaginated") is discussed in the psychosocial domain -- potentially in relation to "globalization", in its more general sense (as discussed in the main paper). The purpose is to determine what might be derived from current use of the term in contexts associated with keywords which might be associated with globalization.

The approach was therefore to undertake web searches by pairing "invagination" (or its variants) with terms potentially related to globalization, namely: social, societal, political, economic, psychosocial, psychological, psychoanalytic, communication, spiritual, cognitive, conceptual, community, memetic, semantic, strategic, globalization, feminist, self-refertence, self-reflexivity. For reading facility, "invagination" is in each case emphasized in bold.

The references are clustered into three groups:

Items referring only to "invagination" or "invaginated"

Jacques Derrida. The Law of Genre. In: W.J.T. Mitchell (Ed.), On Narrative. University of Chicago Press, 1981, pp. 51-77.

It is precisely a principle of contamination, a law of impurity, a parasitical economy. In the code of set theories, if I may use it as least figuratively, I would speak of a sort of participation without belonging -- a taking part in without being a part of, without having membership in a set. With the inevitable dividing of the trait that marks membership, the boundary of the set comes to form, by invagination, an internal pocket larger than the whole; and the outcome of this division and of this abounding remains as singular as it is limitless. (p. 55)

Deconstruction: Supplement, originary lack, and invagination. Wikia: the psychology wiki

The word supplement is taken from the philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, who defined it as "an inessential extra added to something complete in itself." According to Derrida, Western thinking is characterized by the "logic of supplementation," which is actually two apparently contradictory ideas. From one perspective, a supplement serves to enhance the presence of something which is already complete and self-sufficient. Thus, writing is the supplement of speech, Eve was the supplement of Adam, and masturbation is the supplement of "natural sex."

But simultaneously, according to Derrida, the Western idea of the supplement has within it the idea that a thing that has a supplement cannot be truly "complete in itself." If it were complete without the supplement, it shouldn't need, or long-for, the supplement. The fact that a thing can be added-to make it even more "present" or "whole" means that there is a hole (which Derrida called an originary lack) and the supplement can fill that hole. The metaphorical opening of this "hole" Derrida called "invagination." From this perspective, the supplement does not enhance something's presence, but rather underscores its absence.

Thus, what really happens during supplementation is that something appears from one perspective to be whole, complete, and self-sufficient, with the supplement acting as an external appendage. However, from another perspective, the supplement also fills a hole within the interior of the original "something." Thus, the supplement represents an indeterminacy between externality and interiority.

Entry on "Supplement". Wikipedia

According to Derrida, Western thinking is characterized by the 'logic of supplementation', which is actually two apparently contradictory ideas. From one perspective, a supplement serves to enhance the presence of something which is already complete and self-sufficient. Thus, writing is the supplement of speech, Eve was the supplement of Adam, and masturbation is the supplement of 'natural sex'....But simultaneously, according to Derrida, the Western idea of the supplement has within it the idea that a thing that has a supplement cannot be truly 'complete in itself'. If it were complete without the supplement, it shouldn't need, or long-for, the supplement. The fact that a thing can be added-to to make it even more 'present' or 'whole' means that there is a hole (which Derrida called an originary lack) and the supplement can fill that hole. The metaphorical opening of this "hole" Derrida called invagination. From this perspective, the supplement does not enhance something's presence, but rather underscores its absence.

Erin Runions. Detranscendentalizing Decisionism: political theology after Gayatri Spivak. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Fall 2009, 25, 2, pp. 67-85

...radical alterity operates as an invagination or permanent parabasis to political reasoning

Edward Picot. The Gateless Gate: an interview with Joel Weishaus. RainTaxi review of books, Summer 2010

My trope of invagination surfaced during the mid-1980s, from reading Derrida, Deleuze, Ulmer, Jabès, and others. The original idea was to interrupt a sentence by placing quote within quote, each one smaller and printed lighter, until they completely disappeared . . . then slowly emerged again, until the original sentence was able to continue. However, as you can imagine, that proved awkward. Yet the trope continued to be viable as single interruptions, or intrusions, within a paragraph.

Elisabeth de Freitas. Making Mathematics Public: aesthetics as the distribution of the sensible. Educational Insights, 13, 2010, 1

The sensible world is a world of surfaces, a tangible world of skin, ground, wall, and screen. We tend to demote the surface as that which has no substance of its own; the notion of a surface seems to instantly summon up the specter of the other more full substance within or beyond. And yet Gould (1982) talks about the evolution of life in terms of the proliferation of surfaces, of increasing the folds of those surfaces (and eventually internalizing these surfaces) as complexity increases. Similarly, Deleuze (1988) talks about substance in terms of folds, twists and the 'invagination of a tissue' (Deleuze, 1988, 98), and extends this discussion to the constitution of subjectivity (and the interiority of the 'self') whereby the subject 'emerges from a topological twist of the surface itself' (Zizek, 2005, 178). Indeed, the surfaces that seem to define an otherness of some kind (as that which, or whom, is outside) often suddenly reveal themselves as fungible and permeable, collapsing as we reach out to touch them, and thereby redefining the contours of subjectivity and otherness.

W. John Harker. Framing the Text: the Year 2000 in British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Education, 1992, 17, 1

The frame, rather than simply circumscribing the text, becomes both a boundary around the text and a part of the text contained within the boundary. For this reason, Derrida (1979b) contends 'there is framing, but the frame does not exist' (p. 39). Derrida (1979a) elaborates this notion in his discussion of what he terms 'invagination' (p. 97), the process by which, through its folding in on the text, the frame becomes indistinguishable from the text. Through invagination, what was once perceived to be exterior to the text becomes interior to it; what was once peripheral becomes central. While the intertext may have first seemed to exist on the margins of the text, it now can be found at its centre, part of the text itself.

Mousumi Roy Chowdhury. Invaginated Cartographies. Rice University, 1999

"Invagination" is a deconstructionist term that indicates the act of reading through texrualizing strategies. "Reading" in a Derridean sense means the inversion or displacement of value. This act of displacement itself features as inscription in the social text, and in this sense, a deconstructionist "reading" is writing. The textualising strategies in each of these chapters, attempt at a displacement of value through the act of "'reading", and creating new contexts by refolding the edges of the chosen discourses and narratives, in order to see what new questions might emerge to unsettle the transparency of the sign "woman" in legal, historical, and literary texts around which the readability of the sochis itself is predicated.

Joost de Bloois. Introduction. The artists formerly known as... or, the loose end of conceptual art and the possibilities of 'visual autofiction'. Image [&] Narrative, November 2007

Derrida argues that these 'remarks of belonging' proceeds from an impossible logic (a 'madness', as he calls it): they are made from within the work and at the same time from the strange liminal topos Derrida has described. They only apparently result from the narrator's meta-position; in fact, they underline the sheer impossibility of such a position that can only end in an endless back-and-forth between inside and outside. They result in what Derrida calls an 'invagination': that is to say that this principle of uncertainty affects the narrating voice in such a manner that we are left with a relentless folding of narratives, voices and points of view (an endless 're-marking', as Derrida puts it).

Fethi Benslama. The Veil of Islam. Journal of the Jan Van Eyck Circle for Lacanian Ideology Critique, 2, 2009, pp. 14-27

The demonstration of woman is the abstraction of her body which consecrates it, which establishes it as a spiritual truth. The veil is nothing less than the creation of a spiritual/mental view of woman that attaches itself to her very body. It springs from a double function of the thing and the cause, the thing that interposes itself in order to cause an Other('s) view of her: it is an eye-veil.... What, therefore, is the mystery of this separation by which the prevention of prohibition interferes with the pupil and its eye. Would woman thus be the castration of the man of God? The point of God's blindness to man? Strange questions to put to theology but, to be honest, they are inherent to it, or at least invaginated in it. In a sense, the mystique is only the invagination of theology.

Steve McCaffery. Prior to Meaning: the protosemantic and poetics. Northwestern University Press, 2001

As a result, what [John] cage inscribes is not th cognitive invagination of his own subjectivity -- an internal folding which still holds the subject to a knowledge, however skewed -- but a departure from the Same without return in a writing induced from a gift received without gratitude. It is the Abrahamic treatment of source text, understood as gift, or liturgy, that guaantees this writing its "poethicality". (p. 221)

Peter de Bolla. Toward the Materiality of Aesthetic Experience. Diacritics, Spring 2002, 32, 1, pp. 19-37

This seems to suggest that in the case of a work of art, say, our experience of the object in the form of an aesthetic judg- ment does not provide us with knowledge of the work, but the judgment belongs, nev ertheless, to the cognitive power. Kant leaves hanging what might result from this in terms of knowledge... Part of the problem here -- and it is a problem no less for Kant than for us -- is the reach of what should count as knowledge: precisely the terrain opened up by the triangulation -- connection, invagination, overlapping -- of thinking, knowing, and cognition. What needs to be exposed is the connection or nonconnection that reflective judgments have to 'knowledge.'

Gilles Deleuze. Difference and Repetition. Columbia University Press, 1994

How does actualization ocurr in things themselves?...Beneath the actual qualities and extensities [of things themselves] there are spatio-temporal dynamisms. They must be surveyed in every domain, even though they are ordinarily hidden by the constituted qualities and extensities. Embryology shows that the division of the egg is secondary in relation to more significant morphogenetic movements: the augmentation of free surfaces, stretching of cellular layers, invagination by folding, regional displacement of groups. A whole kinematics of the egg appears which implies a dynamic. (p. 214)

Steen Christiansen (Dissemination and Contamination, New Mappings, 2005

In Derrida's conception, genre instates a line which must not be crossed, a certain norm whatever it may specifically be. This norm, as we have seen, is never natural but always constructed by certain standards. This is the law of genre. It is precisely this law which enables us to interpret texts, which indicates not just the necessary existence of genre but also the impossibility of genreless texts: 'a text cannot belong to no genre, it cannot be without or less a genre. Every text participates in one or several genres, there is no genreless text; there is always genre and genres.' (Derrida, 1980: 65) The trait that marks membership comes to form what Derrida terms an internal pocket by the process of invagination and this pocket is larger than the whole. (Derrida, 1980: 59) I will argue that invagination is the same process as grafting, since what we find is that another discourse imposes upon a text and inseminates it with meaning. The confluence of the sexual metaphors here are not to be mistaken for it is clear that meaning is given birth by this process of insemination and invagination.

David Loy. The Clôture of Deconstruction: a Mahayana critique of Derrida. International Philosophical Quarterly, 27, March 1987, 1, 105

It is not sufficient to answer that the deconstructive concept of truth, rather than presupposing a "transcendental signified" outside the text, requires only an "invagination" of the text, a reflexive infolding back onto itself. For the problem is precisely what is obscured by all self-referring involutions. The concept of interpretation, presupposing such reflexivity, is an instance of such "infolding." The conquence of this, as we shall now see, is that, although nothing escapes the circle of supplementation, for that very reason nothing has ever supplemented anything else.

David Loy. The Deconstruction of Buddhism. In: Coward and Foshay ed., Derrida and Negative Theology (Suny Press, 1992) pp. 227-253

The relation between Nagarjuna's Madhyamika and Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism is a fascinating one. From one perspective, Ch'an may be said to put into practice the approach of Nagarjuna. From another, Ch'an practice is a deconstruction of Madhyamika theory, whose anti-metaphysics is still philosophical. If the dualism between inside and outside is a construct, the result of an "invagination" of the outside (which is therefore not an outside), it raises the possibility of a "de-vagination." The Japanese Zen master Dogen (1200-1253) described his experience thus: "I came to realize clearly that my mind is nothing other than rivers and mountains and trees, the sun and the moon and the stars."

D. Venkat Rao. Derrida Elsewhere: a mnemocultural dispersal. Borderlands, 6, 3, 2007

One wonders why Derrida, who wove his texts with such extraordinary figural traces of the feminine (track, sign, furrow, hymen, invagination etc), who taught us so much about the originary violence of the irruption of life itself, should not consider the deepest mark, that deepest 'wound', that brings forth every hominid body. This 'wound' - linked to a bare fibrous thread, floating in the non-space of, non ground of the bodily fluid, yet absolutely essential for any being's coming forth - leaves the most literally indelible mark on every body. This thread ought to remind every body of the source, indeed 'history', and the untraceable origin of the body's emergence. Yet the thread is the absolutely significant mark, a mark that no one excepting a woman (female) can inscribe. It is rather a mystery as to why this deepest mark of woman does not find a hospitable shelter in Derrida's figural weave.

Henry Sussman. Prolegomena to any Present and Future Language Poetry. MLN 118, 5 (2003) pp. 1193-1212

The present point in my own exposition is the moment when one would properly expect a lengthy and weighty digression on the theoretical and philosophical backgrounds of language poetry. Yet for reasons cited above, now is precisely the moment for us to delve into specific texts in a specific way, to read them as closely as possible. The theory of language poetry dwells not somehow apart from the poems themselves. It is inscribed, invaginated within the poems.

Marie-Eve Morin. Putting Community Under Erasure: Derrida and Nancy on the plurality of singularities. Culture Machine, 8, 2006

If a singularity is not an individual, it should also not be thought as an individual that would have been breached or torn: 'There is, strictly speaking, no tearing of the singular being: there is no open cut through which an "inside" would flow and lose itself in the outside. This would presuppose an inside, an interiority' (Nancy, 1990: 76). This is why Nancy will prefer, instead of speaking of the other (autrui, l'autre), to speak of the body:

Bodies are places of existence, and there is no existence without place, without there, without a 'here,' 'here it is,' for the 'this' [Nancy is playing on the phrase Hoc est enim corpus meum]. The body-place is neither full nor empty, it has neither an inside nor an outside, neither parts, nor totality, functions, or finality. Aphallic and Acephalic in all senses, if one can say it that way. But it is a skin diversely folded, unfolded, multiplied, invaginated, exogastrulated, orificed, evasive, stretched, relaxed, excited, staggered, tied, untied. In all these modes and in thousand of others -- the body gives (a) place to existence. (1992: 16)

Alice A. Jardine. Gynesis: configurations of woman and modernity. Cornell University Press, 1985. Notes that Jacques Derrida employs the word 'invaginated' to describe the 'inward refolding' of a narrative, and the word 'hymen' to signify that which is 'undecided'.

W. J. Thomas Mitchell. The Unspeakable and the Unimaginable: word and image in a time of terror. ELH, 72.2 (2005) pp. 291-308

My teacher at Johns Hopkins, Ronald Paulson, exposed the depths of the so-called "word and image" problem when he drew a fundamental distinction, located in eighteenth-century aesthetics and semiotics, between the "emblematic" image and the "expressive." The emblematic was the image as word, as linked to, determined by, readable in words. The expressive was the obverse -- the unreadable, the mute, the indexical -- a "regression into primitivism prior to language, or a leap forward to the ineffable beyond language." This distinction then was discovered to inform the spaces of the eighteenth-century English garden, in its development from "poetic" and allegorical garden spaces to the wilder, more open and detextualized spaces of the landscape garden and the picturesque. Paulson's lesson still resonates with me, partly because it reminds us of the fundamentally dialectical character of the word/image problem, the way in which each term simultaneously contrasts itself with and incorporates its partner. The word/image problem is "inside" the problem of the image, and vice versa. I think Derrida would call this an "invagination" in discourse, one that is built into ordinary language.

Stephen G. Dewyer. Threading a needle thanks to Gayatri Spivak

It is, I hope, apparent in Threading a needle that any representation constitutes an impure and partial projection and that, as such, the presence of others presents representation within a liminal framework where space transforms notions of anteriority from determinate to indeterminate ones, perceiving, in a way, responsiveness to a location through supplementation of the other.  In other words, Threading a needle attempts to show the ambivalence of a frame as constitutive of nothing as an event.  This evacuation of a center from the gallery space via a frame constituting nothing, this effacement of the determinacy of the unilateral subject, this liminal representation of space, supplements Gayatri's theory of invagination:

Since each other being is the only other being, there are always two, not many. For the dvaitin or twoness-minded, radical alterity is an impossible invagination in every instance of the other…  Invagination.  When you think anything can be contaminated by the super-natural, by alterity, '[i]t is precisely [by] a principle of contamination, a law of impurity, a parasitical economy… 'A participation without belonging -- a taking part in without being a part of… the boundary of the set of comes to form, by invagination, an internal pocket larger than the whole.'  The super-natural, dvaita/advaita in action, a structure of feeling folded in, again and again, to alterity (Other Asias, pp. 179).

While the writer has no intention of establishing a fidelity to an 'Author' that would refer to Threading a needle thanks to Gayatri Spivak, it is the intention of the writer to trace the relationship of the work to readings of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's Other Asias (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007) and In Other Worlds (Routledge, 1998). In the texts Other Asias and In Other Worlds, Gayatri writes an analysis of international politics and subaltern studies in terms of deconstruction, feminism, marxism and postcolonialism. In In Other Worlds, Gayatri writes of the problem of representing a subject since any representation thereof would exclude becoming other than Self. Any notion of Self is called into question by others since it would involve the foreclosure of becoming other. Gayatri writes that the subaltern cannot speak because of the absence of representation. She also argues against the application 'Value' as a totalizing exchange by reading Marx's theory of value as labor-power. In Other Asias Gayatri uses several of her essays to write on post-Soviet international politics and the rise of non-governmental organizations (N.G.O.s) in addressing human rights in the 'developing world,' especially Asia. Gayatri goes on to write about responsibility, critical regionalism, Najibullah in Afghanistan and the Moving Devi.

Christopher Johnson. System and Writing in the Philosophy of Jacques Derrida. Cambridge University Press, 1993

This co-implication or 'invagination' of internal and external space, of the subject and the object of discourse, undermines the traditional, positivistic assumption of the separation of (neutral) discourse and (passive) object, as Derrida indicates in La carte postale... 'What happens when acts or performances (discourse or writing, analysis or description, etc.) are part of the object they designate? When they can be given as examples of precisely that of which they speak or write?' (p. 140)

In Derrida's work, what is especially stressed is the anatomico-sexual dimension. This is apparent in 'La double seance' (La dissemination), where the topology of invagination seems to act as a foil to and displacement of the figure of the phallus, associated with logocentric thought and its methodological distinctions between the 'inside' and the 'outside' of systems.

Masood Ashraf Raja. Salman Rushdie: reading the postcolonial texts in the Era of Empire. Postcolonial Text, 5, 2. 2009

Certainly deconstruction, invagination, and supplementarity are all important strategies. Spivak's invagination and catachresis are also two good examples of deconstructive strategies. All of these strategies are meant to make the text unresolved, and hence harder to reduce under a particular regime of signs or stereotypes. Inundation is not a departure from these strategies, but rather a fusion that insists on problematizing not only the text but also its critical reception by metropolitan critics. In the metropolitan negotiation of the peripheral texts, the question of interpretation is of great significance, especially in a post-9/11 world in which old stereotypes and metonymic readings of the cultures of the periphery have become more acceptable.

Sangeeta Ray. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: in other words. John Wiley and Sons, 2009

The word culture for Spivak can only be used as a strategy, since "culture alive is always on the run" (CPR, 355) and because culture is "invaginated in civil society" (CPR, 356). For "culture" to do its "differential" work with a modicum of success, we must re-imagine culture in the Foucauldian mode, as "a name that one lends to a complex strategic situation in a particular society" (CPR, 353). Only then can we understand that culture is a "regulator of how one knows." (p. 94)

Peter Wilberg. The Nature and Shapes of the Awareness Body. 2006

The human form of the awareness body can be best visualised by imagining a spherical balloon whose surface has been pushed in by a finger or hand to create an inner protrusion or 'invagination' of its surface - one that remains when the finger is withdrawn. It is only this inwardly protruding part of the spherical capsule - our Awareness Body as a whole - that can take the shape and form of the human body as we know it.

Items referring to "double invagination" or "doubly invaginated"

Jacques Derrida. Living on -- Border Lines. In: Harold Bloom (Ed.). Deconstruction and criticism. Taylor and Francis, 1979, pp. 75-176

Such is the demand for the story, for narrative, the demand that society, the law that governs literary and artistic works, medicine, the police, and so forth, claim to constitute. This demand for truth is itself recounted and swept along in the endless process of invagination. Because I cannot pursue this analysis here, I merely situate the place, the locus, in which double invagination comes about, the place where the invagination of the upper edge on its outer face (the supposed beginning of La folie du jour), which is folded back "inside" to form a pocket and an inner edge, comes to extend beyond (or encroach on) the invagination of the lower edge, on its inner face (the supposed end of La folie du jour), which is folded back "inside" to form a pocket and an outer edge. Indeed the "middle" sequence ("I had been asked, 'Tell us exactly what happened.' A story? I began: I am neither learned nor ignorant. I have known joys. That is saying too little. I told them the whole story and they listened with interest, it seems to me, at least in the beginning. But the end was a surprise to all of us. 'That was the beginning.' they said. 'Now get down to the facts.' How so? The story was finished!"), this antepenultimate paragraph, recalls, subsumes, quotes without quotation marks the first sentences of La folie du jour (I am neither learned nor...), including in itself the entire book, including itself, but only after anticipating, by quoting in advance, the question that will form the lower edge of the boundary of La folie du jour -- or almost final, to accentuate the dissymetry of effects. (pp. 98-99)

Andrzej Warminski. Readings in interpretation: Hölderlin, Hegel, Heidegger. University of Minnesota Press, 1987

What consequently becomes clear is the following: since a border encloses an interiority only if this border refers to its outer other, and since this reference to the other cannot be inscribed within the interiority, not do borders acquire an extremely twisted structure, but the interiority, the very space where the relationship of the form to itself takes place, appear to be at the same time the gathering space of the double invagination that crosses out the identity of the form.... Double invagination, as a structure of the borders of a text, thus pertains, at first, only to a text determined in such a manner; it does not represent a truth of all texts.... The borders of all texts are not always de facto double invaginated. Yet, it is a possibility that can come about in any kind of ensemble. (p. xx)

Items referring to "chiasm" or "chiasmatic" invagination

Bent Sørensen. Transatlantic perspectives on America. The Atlantic Community, 12 January 2008

Poems such as these that are created through the process Jacques Derrida has dubbed 'double invagination' possess so much energy within their folded boundaries that text alone threatens to be unable to contain it for long. Unfolding such an invagination can in fact also be dangerous both for the author and for the unwary reader, as the chiasmic relations concealed behind the double fold may turn out to be highly charged and potentially explosive.

Amelia Acker. Double Chiasmatic Invagination: the diagram in "The Law of Genre". University of California, 2006

In Jacques Derrida's article titled "The Law of Genre," the diagram of double chiasmatic invagination of edges appears within a discussion of the textual movement in Maurice Blanchot's "The Madness of the Day." The diagram maintains a certain resistance to interpretation(s) because of the silence surrounding its presence in the description of the account. Consequently, this project turned towards the logics of spacing and figuration of the diagram in the Jacques Derrida Papers in the Jack Langson Library Special Collections. The various appearances of double chiasmatic invagination in the archive reveal how methods of transmitting information in the archive shape the nature of the knowledge that can be produced. In "The Law of Genre," other figurations of feminine elements are linked to the diagram of double chiasmatic invagination in which the sexual differential of "woman" is involved. This creates a constellate effect that draws upon "woman" in particular ways through figures with precarious phallocentric affinities throughout the article. The project attempts to prove how Derrida critiques phallocentric discourse in patriarchal terms. In response, the project offers an alternative reading in which the implications of inscribing figures of the body upon a text are revealed, proving that allegiances to phallocentric discourse are maintained through figurations of feminine elements as textual effects in "The Law of Genre."

Jodey Castricano. Much Ado about Handwriting: countersigning with the Other Hand in Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Romanticism on the Net, 44, November 2006

These possibilities beg the question of who remains holding, reading and interpreting Jekyll's narrative, as the text -- instead of ending with Jekyll's last word -- appears to fold back on itself, drawing us into what Derrida would call an 'invaginated pocket' (The Law of Genre...) or a 'double chiasmatic invagination of edges'... occurring in a work when, as Jonathan Culler describes it, 'an outside becomes an inside and an inner moment is granted a position of exteriority'... This 'fold' is uncanny because it gives us insight into what Jean Baudrillard means when he says, 'the other is never more than the ephemeral form of a difference that draws me closer to the I [me rapproche de moi]'.... To be drawn 'closer to the I' through a 'double chiasmatic invagination of edges' is terrifying not only because the law of reflection has been breached but also because the text reveals itself, not as a mirror image, but as a mirror in an uncanny subject position similar to the one alluded to by Lacan in the epigraph to this essay. We get a sense of what is at stake in this uncanny moment of reading when in the novel Utterson and Jekyll's manservant, Poole, who have broken down the door of Jekyll's laboratory to find the body of Hyde, come upon the cheval-glass 'into whose depths they looked with an involuntary horror'... Poole says, ''This glass has seen some strange things, sir,'' to which Utterson, cryptically replies, ''And surely none stranger than itself''... In this scene, the mirror itself is uncannily regarded by others -- because it appears capable of perception -- and also by itself, and it seems a moment in which the reader might reflect upon the text as being analogous to the cheval-glass and equally uncanny. While the mirror suggests that text serves as 'the ephemeral form of a difference that draws me closer to the I,' this moment is uncanny because it draws attention to what is at stake in reading, writing and interpretation when, as Kristeva puts it, 'the boundaries between imagination and reality are erased'....

Nicoletta Isar. Undoing Forgetfulness: chiasmus of poetical mind - a cultural paradigm of archetypal imagination. EJOP, 11 August 2005

As it comes out from these old cosmologies, the discourse of chiasmus is the discourse of the totality's irreducible reference. Indeed, one could say that chiasmus is 'the primitive matrix of dialectics in its Hegelian form.' Yet chiasmus has continued to challenge not only some of the greatest thinkers of contemporary thought (de Man), but even one, most reputed for his systematic deconstruction of totality. In Derrida's Archeology of the Frivolous, 'the chiasm folds itself with a supplementary flexion.' The supplementary fold makes the chiasmus an unequal fork; it is 'neither constitutive nor simply disruptive of totality.' Chiasmus is explored by Derrida in two other essays on Maurice Blanchot: The Law of the Genre and Living On: Border Lines. Here He coins the term 'chiasmic invagination,' an expression of his concern with the unthought of 'totality.' This is the movement that constitutes and deconstitutes the border, the limit of a closure. As Gaché explains: 'the chiasm in Derrida is to be understood as the form of that exceedingly strange space within which the philosophical form of chiasm makes its incision, in order to cross-bandage, by analogy and dialectics, the same wound.' And further: 'the doubly invaginated chiasm is what both makes possible and deconstitutes dialectics. It is an a priori counterlaw to the unifying role of chiasm, a counterchiasm, so to speak, within which the totalizing function of dialectics is rooted. This counterchiasm does not anihilate dialectics; it does not destroy it but 'merely' shows it to its 'proper' place.'

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

For further updates on this site, subscribe here