Saturday, February 11, 2006

"All text is pretext."

from Rev. of Saving the Text: Literature/Derrida/Philosophy, by Geoffrey H. Hartman. Philosophy and Rhetoric 15.4 (1982): 274-77.

Wonderful though they may be, "texts are false bottoms," Hartman states (p. 66). This they certainly are. Despite the potentials of the word which texts alone can release, despite the specific pleasures of the text, there is not text apart from sound. All text is pretext. This is the basic paradox of textuality. From the inscribed page, the marks we call writing have always to be run through someone's auditory imagination if not through the ear itself to acquire any meaning at all. A certain fundamental allegiance, acknowledged or unacknowledged, to the spoken word can never be renounced, even by those who like ourselves, use the spoken word for noetic activities, such as Derrida's and Hartman's brilliant lucubrations, which are utterly impossible without writing" (277).


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