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by acques Derrida

Universit of Nebraska Press Lincoln & London


T a nated, edited, and with an intoduction
by
Ned Lukacher
Introduction, translation, and notes added in this edition 1991 by the
University of Nebraska Press
Feu fa cendre copyright 1987, Des femmes, 6, rue de Mezieres, 75006 Paris, France
All rights reserved. Manufactured in the United States of America
"Feu la cendre" was first published in Anima 5 (Decembre 1982): 45-99. With the addition of the "Prologue" and some revisions Feu fa cendre was published simultaneously as a book and as a
cassette recording in the series "Bibliotheque des Voix", by tditions des femmes in 1987. It is the 1987 version that is reprinted here with an accompanying translation entitled
c n d e s
The paper in this book meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences - Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials,
ANSI Z39.48-1984.
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Derrida, Jacques.
[Feu la cendre. English]
Cinders by Jacques Derrida translated, edited, and with an introduction by Ned Lukacher.
p
.
cm.
Translation of: Feu la cendre.
Includes bibl iographical references.
ISBN 0-8032-1689-0 (alk. paper)
1. Play on words. 2. Homonyms. 3. Ambiguity
Lukacher, Ned, 1950- II. Title.
P 3 o 4 D 4 7 3 9 9 9 o 2 7 7 4 2
401 '.41-dc20
CIP
1 . . .
21 ...
30 . .
31 ...
78 ...
Introduct on
Mourning
Becomes
Telepathy
Ned Lukacher
1
I shal show the cinders of my spirits
Through the ashes of my chance
SHAKESPEARE, Antony and Cleopatra
Wy does Jacques Derrida speak of the trace in terms of ash
and cinder (cendre) r "I would prefer ashes)" Derrida has said,
"as the better paradigm for what I call the trace -someting that
erases itself totally, radically, while presenting itself.'" In Cin
ders) Derrida writes that cinders are "the best paradigm for the
trace," better than "the trail," "the fraying," "the frrow," or
the many other names he has given to the trace stmcture since
his frst publications from the 1960s. But he has also written
that cinder is only one name among others for "these remains
without remainder": "Trace or cinder. These names are as
good as any other."2 Cinder is at once the best name for the ab
sence of a tmly proper name for that which holds all beings and
entities in presence, and by te same token just another name
that cannot begin to assess its distace or proximity to the fnal
proper name (or names) of the tmth of Being, whose very exis
tence remains undecidable. Cinder is the best name, in Der
rida's estimation, among all the names that have thus far pre
sented themselves, but it is merely another name when con
sidered in relation to the still withheld tmth of Being. The
naming of a cinder thus resists presenting itself as the privi
leged name or metaphor for that which brings things to pres
ence and sustains them there. It is at te same time a name that
resists the temptation to make the play of metaphor itself syn
onymous with the tmth of Being. Cinders are neither proper
nor metaphorical names; cinders name aother relation, not to
the tmth as such, but to its possibility.
Why are there cinders rather than nothingr Why does language
bear something within itself that somehow signals a language
beyond language, that signals that there are conditions for the
possibility of a language without saying what those conditions
ard Wy does language bear within itself the traces of some
thing that cannot be exhausted by pragmatics and historicity,
something from which the pragmata of history themselves
arisd "Cinders tere are" (I y a Ii cendre), "there are cinders
there," "there" where the marks of a divisible materiality
within language, within its syntactic ad linguistic stuf, trace
the infnitesimal cinder quarks that remain from whatever it is
that makes it possible and necessary that a language comes into
being. Cinders are the quarks of language, neiter proper
names nor metaphors, the traces of neither ontotheology nor
of te generalization of metaphor, naming neither tmth nor its
impossibility, but al the while keeping a space open into which
the tmth, or its impossibility, might come, a space, as Derrida
cals it, for the in-vention, the in-venire) the in-coming of the
other.l
Cinders are al that remain of the path that might someday lead
back (or forward) to the origin of language, the path that
opens the possibilities of the metaphoric and the literal with
out being reducible t either of tem. Though it is one name
among others for this path, trace, or trat that separates and
joins the fguraity of poetic or metaphoric naming to the
philosophic thinkng of the literal, a cinder is neverheless
a very specifc name whose associations with heat, fre, and
I. Jacques Derrida, "On Reading Heidegger: An Outline of Remarks to the Es
sex Colloquium," Research in Phenomenology 17 (1987): 177.
2. Jacques Derrida, Schibboleth: Pour Paul Celan (Paris: Gallee, 1986), 73- My
translation.
3. "But one does not make the other come, one lets it come by preparing for its
coming. The coming of the other or its coming back is the only possible ar
rival, but
'
it is not invented, even if the most genial inventiveness is needed to
prepare to welcome it" (Jacques Derrida, "Psyche: Inventions of the Other,"
trans. Catherine Porter, in Reading De Man Reading, ed. Lindsay Waters and
Wlad Godzich [Minneapolis: Universit of Minnesota Press, 1989], 60).
2
confagration fgre prominently in Derrida's usage. In te
warmth of a cinder one ca feel the efects of the fre even if the
fre itself remains inaccessible, outside cognition tough not
without leaving a trace. Thinking and poetic naming lead us
only so far on a cinder path, for cinders cool ad fall to ash and
the path leads no frther. Does something within language
really burn? Does language bear within itself te remains of a
burning? Cinder is about the fre that is still burning at the ori
gin of laguage, the not yet literal but more than fgurative fre
that can be felt in the cinders of a language.
The fre has always already consued access to te origin of lan
gage and thus to the truth of being. But by leaving cinder re
mains, it alows the relation between the coming of language
and the truth of being to persist, to smolder within the ashes.
Cinders name both te extreme fragility and the uncany te
nacity of this relation.
A cinder is a very fragile entit that falls to dust, that crmbles and
disperses. But cinders also name the resilience and the intrac
tability of what is most delicate ad most vlnerable. II y a li
cendre literally meas "it has ashes there, tere." By rendering
the idiomatic il y a by "there is," we install the intrasitive verb
"to be" where, properly speaking, it does not belong, for in the
French idiom what is in question is not the "being" of the en
tity but its "there-ness." As in te German Es gibt (literaly, "it
gives"; idiomaticaly, "there is"), il y a makes no determination
concerning the ontology of te essent. Each time we read the
refrain il y a li cendre} "cinders there are," we should remember
that the delicate vulnerabilit of a cinder leaves open the ques
tion of its being or non-being. We should hear within "cinders
there are" something like "it has cinders," or "it gives cinders,"
or "cinders persist," where what "it" may be and what "persis
tence" might entail are aong the questions te phrase poses
without implying that it already has the answers.
Martin Heidegger also emphasizes the delicate nature of the rela-
tion between language and truth; between fgure and idea; be
tween the tick condensations of Dichten} or poetic naming,
and the quasi-conceptal determinations of thinking, or Den
ken} which are, he writes, "held apart by a delicate yet luminous
diference" (zarte aber helle Difrenz). + Though this delicately
glowing "rift" (Riss) holds metaphor ad the literal apart, this
holding is itself a relation (Bezug) that keeps them from being
"separated in a relationless void" (ins Bezuglose abgeschieden). In
Cinders this luminous glow emanates from within the ashes,
and now it is less a question of seeing the light than of feeling
the heat. It is the event in which this luminous rif "incises" it
self into Dichten and Denken and thus draws them, engraves
them, sets them into "the design [Aufss] of their neighboring
natre" that Heidegger naes the Ereinis} which for Heideg
ger aways entails a double movement in which langage is in
cised by the withdrawal of the unnameable otherness of its ori
gin and is thereby set into its own proper nature. As Derrida
remarks in his reading of this passage of Heidegger's "The
Nature of Langage," the incisive movement of Ereinis "is
strcturally in withdrawal": "Its inscription [ . . . ] occurs only by
efacing itsel"l In Cinders the. appropriative-disappropriative
strcture of Ereinis is enacted through the withdrawal of the
fre that continues to burn in a cinder. The coming of language
as a means of thought ad expression is always also the with
drawa within langage of the trace, the trait, the re-trait of its
conceaed origin. Heidegger writes elsewhere that "language is
the most delicate [zarteste] and thus the most vlerable [an
flliste] vibration holding everything within the suspended
4. Martin Heidegger, On the Way to Language, trans. Peter Hertz (New York:
Harper & Row, 1971), 90; Martin Heidegger, Unterwes zur Sprche (Pfullin
gen: GUnther Neske, 1982), 196.
5. Jacques Derrida, "The Retait ofMetaphor," Encitic 2 (1978): 29 (translation
modifed); Jacques Derrida, "Le retrait de la metaphore," in Psche: Inventions
d l'autre (Paris: Galilee, 1987), 88-89.
strcture of the Ereinis" (alles verhaltende Schwingung im
schwebenden Bau des Ereinisses).6 It is the heat within the reso
nance of tis oscillation that Derrida names li cendre. Cinder
names te tender susceptibility of that vibration, that ringing,
that burning within language. To hear, to speak, to write, is to
feel the heat, to feel te retreat of the fre as a cinder falls, yet
again, to ash.
At what temperature do words burst into fame? Is language itself
what remains of a burning? Is language the efect of an inner vi
bration, an efect of light and heat upon certain kinds of mat
ter? Glas begins and ends with an alusion to Hegel's notion of
Klang) the "ringing" at the origin of langage that Hegel dis
cerns in the legend of the "colossal sounding statue" (Klang
statue) of the Memnons in ancient Thebes, which emited a
sound when struck by sunlight at sunrise.? It is on te border
between speech and Klang that the path to the origin of lan
gage becomes impassable; and it is tere that a cinder burns.
Sound is frst the escape of heat; so also for Derrida is lan
gage. I y a li cendre initially presents itself to Derrida as a
ringing tonality before it becomes a meaningfl utterance. The
ideal materiality of its broken music precedes the unfolding of
its poetic and philosophic resonance. Klang) writes Hegel, is
"the ideality of materiality" that characterizes "the transition of
material spatiality into material temporality."g For Hegel
Klang names the initial ringing at the beginning of time, the
sound of the frst burning, the sound of the fre as it rshes
from absolute space into the relative space of universa cre
ation. "The bell," writes Heidegger, thinkng of Holder/in,
but perhaps also of Hegel, "- rather its Klang - is the song of
poets. It cals into the turning of time.''9 Poets enable us to hear
the tones and echoes which this Klang has traced into a lan
gage, whereas thinkers speak of the causes and the conse
quences of these traces. As Derrida's ars metaphysica) Cinders
leads us into those spaces within the French language where
one can still hear something burning, still hear te ringing in
langage of a burning more ancient than time and space.
Cinders bear te traces of this most ancient materiality within the
empirical, extended materiality of measurable space and time.
The smoldering ashes of another materiality ring from within
the tonalities of a material langage; within the idioms of a lan
guage burn the remains of someting other than a singular id
iom, the cinders of a still lost and unreadable genealogy.
"Spirit is fame," writes Heidegger, "It glows and shines."Io Hei
degger's essay "Language in the Poem: A Discussion of Georg
Trak's Poetic Work" is treated at some length in Derrida's Of
Spirit: Heideger and the Question) where Derrida focuses on
the way Heidegger's idioms name the burning of the earliest
beginning within the German language. U Of Spirt is ver
closely linked to the language and te problems raised in Cin
ders) for the latter text seeks within te French lagage the still
buring traces of the most primordial beginning. In "Ghostly
Twilight" (Geistliche Dimmerung) Trakl writes: "Forever rings
[tint] the sister's lunar voice / Through the ghostly night.''' It
6. Martin Heidegger, Identit and Dif rence, trans. Joan Stambaugh (New
York: Harper & Row, 1969), 38. Translation modifed.
7. Jacques Derrida, Gla, trans. John P. Leavey, Jr., and Richard Rand (Lin
coln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986), 3a, 253a.
8. G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Nature, 3 vols., trans. M. J. Petrey (New York:
Humanities Press, 1970),2:69.
9. Martin Heidegger, Erliuterulgen zu Holderlins Dichtung, Bd.4 of Gesamt
ausgabe, ed. Friedrich-Wilhelm von Hermann (Frankfurt a Main: Vittorio
Klostermann, 1981), 197. My translation.
10. Martin Heidegger, On the Way to Language, 181; "Der Geist ist Flamme.
GlUhend lcuchtet sie" (Untenves zur Sprache, 62).
n. Jacques Derrida, Of Spirit: Heideger and the Question, trans. Geofrey Ben
ningon and Rachel Bowlby (Chicago: Universit of Chicago Press, 1989),
esp.83-1I.
1. Cited in Heidegger, On the Way to Language, 169 (Untelvegs, 48).
3
is through the ringing sound of tis voice that the fre of the
spirit gathers the soul of the poet. The coming of the phrase if y
a fa cendre likewise passes through this geitliche Nacht, this
4
"ghostly night," where geistliche means, not the insufating
breath of pneuma or spiritus, but the still burning ringing of
what Heidegger calls "the stiller, brighter earliness."'l
Derrida's French in Cinders is scorched by the ghostly spirit that
gathers and draws its idioms into relation with the secret that
burns within the essence of a cinder. Georg Tral's sister, Mar
garete, calls him into the "Evening Land," into the "Occident"
which is the site of what the poet calls "one generation," "one
knship," "one fesh," "one gender," all of which translate "ein
Geschlecht." Beyond the incestous echoes that surround the
enigma of Trakl's relationship with his sister, the ringing of the
fre in language calls the poet to a more primordial unity. The
"cinders love me," writes Derrida, "they change sex, they re-cin
der themselves, they androgynocide themselves." The femi
nine voice of La Cendre, "she, the cinder," plays in Cinders a
role not uike that of Margarete Trakl. But, as Derrida repeat
edly maintans, the gender of the cinder is highly unstable; thus,
in his untranslatable French neologisms, cinders "s'andrent,"
which rhyes with cendre, and they "s)androocidnt," which
evokes cendre, androgyny, and genocide. Geit gathers language
into te cinders of "ein Geschlecht."
2
An open reion that hold the promise of a dwelling, and provides a
dwelling, i what we call a {(land." The passage into the stanger's
land fead through ghosty tiliht.
HE IDE G G E R, ((Language in the Poem')
Toward the end of Cinders Derrida alludes to Friedrich Nietz-
sche's notion of "eternal recurrence" ad to his idea that "our
entire world is the cinder of innuerable living beings." In
other words, even inanimate and inorganic mater is the (inder
of what was once living. Nietzsche's idea that the universe is it
self a cinder that burns and cools and then burns again antici
pates Albert Einstein's notion of an expanding and perhaps
contracting universe of fnite mass and energy. How does fni
tude come to presence? How can we think of space and time as
themselves fgres of some nonfnite thing, fgures of some
thing "outside" a fnite universe? Wence comes the light and
the fre that, as Einstein remarks, "transfers mass" (das Licht
ubertragt Masse) ?'4 Does the light of the fre bear an "outside"
into the "inside"? Do any traces of an "outside" remain? If
there are traces, are they merely unreadable remains or can we
use them to reconstrct an "outside"? How can we think the
diference of what lies between outside and inside? Wat is still
hidden in the coming to presence of this light and in the trans
ference of mass and energy by the fre of creation? Nietzche's
notion of the universe as cinder attempts to think the residual
mass-energy of the outside that still burns on the inside.
Wen Derrida calls Nietzsche "something else perhaps than a
thinker of the totalit of entities," he is thinking ofHeidegger's
reading of Nietzche as a thinker who succumbed to the meta
physician's desire to think the essence of the unhidden as some
thing present, the desire to bring to presence the hiddenness
from which all that is present emerged. Heidegger regards
Nietzche's notion of the "will to power," the essential or un
derlying force that determines the eternal recurrence of the f
nite universe over and over again, as a frious and ftile impo
sition of the trth of beings upon the truth of Being: "The
essential, historic culmination of the fna metaphysical inter
pretation of beingness as will to power is captured in the eter-
13. Hcidcggcr, On the Way to Languae, 188 (Unteres, 7).
14. The Sls Years: Writings, [900-[909, VOl.2 of Coleced Papers of Albert Ein
stein, cd. John Stachcl (Princeton: Princeton Universit Press, 1989),268-69.
na recurrence of the same, captured in such a way that every
possibility for the essence of trth to emerge as what is most
worthy of question founders.""1
Derrida's phrase, "something else perhaps than a thinker of the
totality of entities," indicates a certain departre from Heideg
ger's position, at least insofar as it pertains to the cinder as the
trace of Nietzsche's efort to think not the essence of Being or
beings but the diference between them; thus the cinder be
comes the trace of a certain non metaphysical element in Nietz
sche's thinkng. The cinder thus names thinking's inability to
achieve the metaphysical determination of the essence of un
hiddenness.
The "bi bang," writes Derrida, "would have, let us say at the ori
gin of the universe, produced a noise which we can regard as
not yet having reached us. It is still to come and it will be up to
us to captre it, to receive it.""6 This ringing noise is still an ab
solute nonmemory, but it may not be so elsewhere, nor may it
always be this way for us, or for those afer us. Here and now,
we cannot think beyond the borders of our fnitde.
Nietzsche describes eternal recurrence as an image in a mirror, an
image of the fnitude of self-refection, and thus also of its
limits. At its limits, in the place of the tain of the mirror, lies the
"nothing," which "rings" the world into spatial form, between
inside and outside, between a world and its concealed essence:
And M you know what ((the world)) is to me? Shall I show it to you in my
miror? This world: a monster of enety without beginning, with
out end; a fxed, brazen quantity of enery, which becomes neither
big er nor smaller which Mes not consume itsel [die sich nicht
verbraucht], but only tansrs itsel as a whole, of unalterable
size, a household without losses and gains, but also without in
creases, without revenues; enclosed by ((nothing) as by a boundary;
not something vague or watefl, not infnitely etendd, but a a
deterined frce enclosed in a deterined space, and not a space
that would be ((emptf) anywhere, but rather a frce everyhere, a
a play offrces and waves afrce, at once one and many increaing
here and at the same time decreasing there, a sea offrces storing
and raging in itsel eterally changing, eteraly running back,
over monstrous ages of recurence, with an ebb and fow of its frs,
out of the simplest frs strving toward the mst complex, out of the
stillest, most rgid, coldest frs come frth the hottest, mst turbu
lent, mst selcontadictory, and then back home again from the
most abundnt to the simplest, fom the play of contadicwns back
to the pleasure of concord [Einklan gs ], still afring itsel in this
similarity of its courses and ages, blessing itsel a that which mut
recur eterally as a becoming that knos no satiety, no digust, no
weariness -: this, my dionysian world of eteral selcreation, of
etera seldestctwn, this myster world of twofld bliss; this, my
((Beyond Good and E viP) without aim [Ziel], unless the jo of the cir
ce is itsel a goal, without wil, unless a rng hold goodwill unto it
sel-would you have a name for this world? A solution to all its rid
dles? A light for you to, you most-concealed, stongest) most un
daunted men of darkest midniht? - This world is the wil to
power - and nothing else! And even you yourselves are this will to
power -and nothing else. 17
Nietzche forgets neither the distinction between what the world
is and that it is nor beteen the world in the mirror and what
15. Martin Heidegger, The Will to Power a Knmvledge and aMetaphysic, vol.3
of Nietzche, trans. Joan Stambaugh, David Farrell Krell, Frank A. Capuzzi
(San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987), 180-81.
16. Jacques Derrida, "Tlepathie," Furor 2 (1981): ro. My translation.
17. Friedrich Nietzche, Wrke, 3 vols., ed. Karl Schlecta (Munich: Carl Hanser
Verlag, 1960),3:916-17. This is passage numberr67 in The Wil to Pmver. I have
consulted and modifed the following to translations: The Wil to PUer 2
vols., tras. Anthony M. Lodovici (New York: Macmillan, n.d.), 2:431-32; The
Will to Pmver trans. Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale (New York: Ran
dom House, 1967), 549-50. .
5
6
lies on the other side. The task he sets for himself, however, is
to name this world, to name its "whatness" without mistaking
it for the name of what is beyond the boundary that he calls
the "nothing" (Nichts). The ebb and fow of the world as will
to power is contained, surrounded (umschlossen), by a border
(Grenze) that gives the universe the shape of a circle or a ring, a
defned space in which a defned quantity of energy, heat, and
light works its way through its incessat cycles of creation and
annihilation: It is the voracious appetite of the world within
the ring that Nietzsche calls "the will to power." The formation
of the ring itself, however, is, in Nietzsche's extraordinary
phrase, "without will" (ohne Willen), "unless a ring holds
goodwill unto itself' (wenn nicht ein Ring zu sich setber guten
Willen hat). The ring stands beyond the world as will to power,
and thus bars the way to the essence of the truth of what comes
to presence. In closing of our world, it opens onto something
entirely other, something that goes entirely against the grain of
Heidegger's characterization of Nietzsche's thinking: "As a
revaluator of all values, Nietzsche testifes to the fact that he be
longs ineluctably to metaphysics and tereby to its abyssal sep
aration from every possibility of another commencement. Nietz
sche himself does not know the distance that is measured out in
this fnal step."'B
The ring is the name Nietzsche gives to the possibility of this
oter beginning. It is his nae for this last step (dieses letzten
Schrittes), this step that traces the nonpresent within presence,
the step in which one fnds oneself stepping up behind oneself,
going not beyond but before, not into a metaphysical cosmol
ogy but back into te enigma of the everyday. Nietzsche, pace
Heidegger, does kow the unspeaable distance that this step
measures out. The ring is between the world as will to power
ad te still withheld essence from which a world comes to
presence. It names the unrefective foil on te other side of the
mrror, what Heidegger, in discussing ancient Greek philoso-
phy, calls the khorsmos} or "gap," beteen Being and Becom
ing. In Nietzsche's Ring we can hear the ringing of the Klang}
the burning trace of an otherness that keeps a space open for
the promise and the question of the trut of Being.
In Nietzsche's account of the ring, there is a strange economy in
this passage between te Nichts and the wenn nicht that in
scribes the trace of anoter commencement, of a nothingness
that is not nothing, of an "unless," an "except when," a hesita
tion, a proviso, a "but ... ," that opens the between of the
khorimos. Nietzsche writes the trace of something beyond the
world in the world, something that appears ony in disappear
ing, something that disappears into the thoughtfl silence of
the wenn nicht} as if to say, "but what if, on the other side of the
ring ... . " The Nichts ad the wenn nicht trace what Derrida
calls a cinder, the trace here of a nonpresent "there," the re
mains of the ring between outside and inside. Heidegger says
that Nietzsche's fndamental metaphysical position "can be
the counterposition for our other commencement only if the
latter adopts a questioning stance vis-a-vis the initial com
mencement -as one which in its proper originality is only now
commencing." Nietzsche's putative ignorance of te "last step"
serves as the pretext for the frst step that is "the unfolding of a
more original inquiry":
The thinker inquires into being as a whole and a such; into the world
as such. Thus with his very frst step he always think out beyond the
world} and so at the same time back to it. He think in the direction
of that sphere within which a world becomes world. Wherever that
sphere is not incessantly called by name} caled aloud} wherever it is
held silently in the most interor questioning} it is thought most
purely and profundly. 19
18. Martin Heidegger, The Will to POl' as Knowledge and a Metaphysics, 176.
19. Marin Heidegger, The Eteral Recurence of the Same, vol. 2 of Nietzche,
trans. David Farrell Krell (New York: Harper & Row, 1984),206--7.
Listening for the silent trace of another origin, for the ring of the
nothing, for the accord (Einklang) of "the most interior ques
tioning," is precisely what Heidegger cannot discover in
Nietzsche. We might call this Heidegger's pa de Nietzche,
Nietzsche's (non)step, Nietzsche's "no," or "no" to Nietzsche.
It is in this destabilizing pa de .. . , in this step "out beyond
the world, and so at the same time back to it," that a cinder
burns.
Heidegger speaks of the trace in terms of the mystery of presence
that is concealed within the privative a of a-letheia, the coming
into unhiddenness, coming from beyond the ring, coming
from the other side of the khoris1S into the world. 20 The priva
tive a in Heraclitus's aletheia or in Anaimander's apeiron (the
un-bounded) name the nameless exception, the withdrawal
that is the coming to presence of a world.
The a in diferance likewise marks .he non-negative, nameless si
lence that dwells within the name, the trace of something irre
ducible to either presence or absence within the diference
beteen Being and beings. At the same time, Derrida's appro
priation of this Heideggerian motif also disappropriates a ves
tigial echo in Heidegger's usage of a certain apocalyptic prom
ise that there is a fna proper name to be discovered: "This is
why the thought of the letter a in dif erance is not the primary
prescription or the prophetic annunciation of an imminent
ad as yet unheard-of nomination. There is nothing kerygma
tic about this 'word,' provided that one perceives its decap
ita(liza)tion. Ad that one puts into question the name of the
name."2' Because we do not know whether or not there is a fnal
proper name of Being, we will always hear a residual, silent
promise of the name. Wat Derrida calls "an apocalyptic tone"
is thus at once irresistible and menacing, a double bind. There
is no way not to speak of "the name of the name."22 The task of
putting into question the name of the name defnes Derrida's
fndamental project from his earliest work to the present.
Feu la cendre, here translated as Cinders, was frst published in 1982.
The enigmatic, untranslatable phrase il y a la cendre frst ap
peared in the ackowledgments to La Disemination in 1972.
Derrida retrospectively traces anticipatory echoes of the phrase
in "Plato's Pharmacy" (1968), as well as post-1972 resonances of
the phrase and the motifs it conveys in Glas (1974), The Postcard
(1980), and "Telepathy" (1981), which is closely linked to the
"Envois" section of The Postcard. Hence the shuttling back and
forth from the lef-hand pages, tile "Animadversions," a title
which meas "observations" or "assessments" and is of long
standing in the history of criticism (Milton and Leibniz, for ex
ample, wrote texts using tis title), and which gathers together
the previously published alusions to cinders and ashes from
texts written between 1968 and 1980, and the right-had pages
of Cinders, where we fnd the philosophical prose poem that
was written in 1982 and that is woven around tile phrase "cin
ders there are." Wich came frst, the text writen in 1982 or the
antecedent passages that were gathered together in 1982 in re
sponse to the "newly" inscribed text of Feu la cendre? Wich was
the frst step and which tile last? Wch is tile cause ad which the
efect? The very constrction of Cndr destabils the ge
nealogica inquiry into antecedents and consequences in the very
act of posing it. When did the gatlerig of cinders begin?
20. Cf. Martin Heidegger, "Plato's Doctrine of Truth," trans. John Barlow, in
Philosophy in the Twentieth Century, cd. William Barrett and Henry D. Aiken
(New York: Random House, 1962),3:270.
21. Jacques Den'ida, "Diferance, " in Mins of Philosophy, trans. Aa Bass
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982),27.
22. Cf Jacques Derrida, "Of an Apocalyptic Tone Recenty Adopted in Philos
ophy," trans. John P. Leavey, Jr., Oxford Literary Repiew 6 (1984):3-37; and
Jacques Derrida, "How to Avoid Speakng: Denials," tras. Ken Frieden, in
Languages of the Unsayable: The Play ofNcgatipit in Literature and Literary
Theory, ed. Sanford Budick and'Wolfgang Iser (New York: Columbia Univer
sity Press, 1989),3-70.
7
8
In order to pose the question of what constirutes a "frst time" and
a "last time," in order to pose the question of another begin
ning, Derrida listens closely to and looks closely at an unread
able phrase that appears to have been telepathically transmitted
from the margins of fnirde. Here the privative a taes the
form of the silent diference betweenla cendre and la cendre, be
tween "the cinder" and "there cinder." In this telecommuni-
cated signal, "there" is precisely what oscillates; la, with or
without the accent, is what comes in and out of tune, in and
out of range; the privative a marks the cinder track through
which this phrase has been traveling since before the begin
ning, the always double and divided beginning, where the
nonorigin at the origin is already divided by the trace of a non
present "outside." Cinder tells of the coming of diferance, of
the absolutely mnimal positivity of the privative a (with or
without the accent), the instable divisibility within language
that inscribes the trace of something beyond it, of its essence,
inaccessible beyond the ring. The "Animadversions" (as the
Latin etymology suggests, "a turning of the mind toward"),
gather together the trail of ashes toward which Derrida had al
ways somehow been turning, gather together the cinders that
had always been caling to him, calling for his attention. Cin
ders is the text in which Derrida fnally answers the call.
On the way to answering the call, Derrida deciphered many of the
names that the master thinkers from Plato to Heidegger have
given to the diferance within ontological diference, some
times without having themselves realized precisely what they
were naming. These paleonymic or deconstructive readings of
the names of what is most ancient, ancient and modern names
for what is older than time and space, these readings rurn again
and again to a primordial nonpresence that is not nothing,
what Derrida calls in his reading of Husserl "the irreducible
nonpresence of another now."'l Verechtung, or "interin
ing," is the word in Husserl's Logical Investiations that names
the destabilizing linkage within langage between indication
and expression, the irreducibility of what the sign shows prior
to its appropriation by the cogito as an expressive means of es
tablishing its own self-relation. Something in the sign pre-ex
ists the ideal self-relation of the Husserlian coito and in fact
constitutes it rather than being constitted by it. The Ver
fechtung of indication and expression names the site of what
Derrida, in his stdy ofHusserl's The Orgin of Geometry, called
"a degradation at the interior of language."2 The power of the
sign to gather meaning and sense (sen) arises from this de
graded nonpresence, this crumbling and fragile otherness of
langage that maes the sign "the worldly and exposed resi
dence of an unthought tmth"; the truth being that this some
thing within language, which Derrida calls "writing," causes
the truth "to disappear." What Derrida, still in the introduc
tion to The Oriin of Geomety, calls "la possibilite graphique,"
marks the site of a persistent instability, an uncontainable di
visibility within the ver essence of language that is something
other than language, that is something other than sensation
and cognition. The inscription (ramma) and the letter (ram
mata) are aways already engaged to, and in the service of, the
divisibiity of the trace that they bear within themselves as the
very condition of their coming to presence. Writing (ecriture)
is the nae Derrida gives to te nonpresence within the pres
ence of the inscription and the leter. "The concept of writing,"
as he remarks apropos of Rousseau's Essay on the Oriin ofLan
guage, "designates the place of unease [lieu de malaie], of the
23. Jacques Derrida, Speech and Phenomena, trans. David B. Alison (Evanston,
Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1973) , 65.
24. Jacques Derrida, Edmund Husrl's "Oriin of Geometry": An Intrduction,
trans. John P. Leavey, Jr. (reprint, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press,
1989) ,92 (translation modifed); Edmund Husserl, L'Orgine de lageometrie,
traduction et introduction par Jacques Derrida (Paris: P.U.F., 1962) , 90.
reglated incoherence within conceptuality."'l This uneasy site
lies within and beyond the graphite, within and beyond the
carbonized remains of the fre; ad it opens onto the divisible,
unseizable, unthinkable graphematic possibility that lies im
measurably outside even while it leaves its barely discernible
graphic trace on the inside. Vrechtung, "the supplement,"
and writing are the names through which Husser! and Rous
seau keep a space open for the coming of the oter, naes
through which they at once mark the still withheld essence of
language and at the sae time attempt to appropriate it for
thinking. In these and oter readings by Derrida from te
1960s and 1970S one can hear te call of ash and cinders from
within the graphic degradation of writing, which in efect al
ready marks out the site of the remains of an absolute outside
encrypted on the inside of language.
A "graphics of supplementarity," a "generalized writing," situ
ated, as Derrida writes apropos of the chain of signifcations at
work in Plato's texts, "in the back room [ariere-boutique], in
the shadows of the pharmacy, prior to the oppositions be-
teen conscious and unconscious, freedom and constraint,
voluntary and unvoluntary, speech and language."26 The way
to language leads into this back room, and it is here that ash
and cinders burn. The essence of language has consumed itself
as the condition of the coming to presence of phonic and
graphic traces.
Plato's Second Letter concludes with Plato admonishing his cor
respondent to burn the letter. In the frst version of "Plato's
Pharmacy" Derrida writes, "reread tis letter . .. burn it. Ad
now, to distinguish between to repetitions." Four years later,
when the essay was published in Disseminaton, Derrida made a
slight change: "reread this letter . . . burn it. I y a la cendre.
Ad now, to distinguish between two repetitions." Both ver
sions are gathered in the "Aimadversions." "Cinders there
are" between to repetitions, between the absolute space that
lies beyond te ring and the trace of that other materiality
within the ring of empirical space. The other, unnaeable ma
teriality was already there, always on the outside, but its traces
must also already be on the inside in otder for te inside to
come to presence. A cinder is what burns in language in lieu of
te gif or the promise of the secret of that "frst" burning,
which may itself be a repetition. Something persists, some
thing keeps ringing and burning between these repetitions; it
is this something that gives the strange gif of a cinder.
"Yes, she cried, yes, yes." The thought, the thing that cries here at
the end of Maurice Blanchot's VAret de mrt (which means at
once that which gives death, the "death sentence," and that
which stops it, keeps it at bay), is less a phenomenologicaly
identifable character than it is la pensee, la chose that lies within
the ashes of the concealed origin of lagage: "Ad that now
this thing is over there [la-bas], now you have unveiled it and,
having seen it, you have seen face to face tat which lives on for
eternity, for yours and for mine!"27 It is this voice that some
how speaks even within the ashes that Derrida calls La Cendre,
the Cinder, as in Cendrillon, Cinderella, the one in Perrault's
fairy tale who is covered with ashes ("Cucendron," as her nas
tiest stepsister cals her), the one who remains with the remains
of what burns in the hearth. Derrida addresses her throughout
Cinders, or rather, is addressed by her. "'Viens,' " writes
Blanchot, "et eternellement, elle est la" ("Come," ad eternally
25. Jacques Derrida, OfGrammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Bal
timore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), 237-38; De la grammatologie
(Paris: Les edtons de Minuit, 1967),338.
26. Jacques Derrida, "Plato's Pharmacy," in Disemination, trans. Barbara John
son (Chicago: Universit of Chicago Press, 1981), 19; La disemination (Paris:
Editions de S
e
uil, 1972), 147.
27. Maurice Blanchot, Death Sentence, trans. Lydia Davis (Barrytown, N.Y.:
Staton Hill, 1978), 79 (translation modifed); L'ret de mort (Paris: Galli
mard, 1948), 125.
9
10
she is there). LA Cendre is the Other, she afrms the frst burn
ing, the frst lack (LAC), the frst "without" that is not really
nothing, and she is intertwined, interlaced, a entrelac) a in
terlacing, in the second burning, in all our memories, forget
tings, appropriations, and disappropriations.
In Parages, Ulysse Grmophone, and several of the essays collected
in Psche: Inventions de l'autre, Derrida pursues the issue of the
double repetition through readings of Blanc hot, Joyce, Michel
de Certeau, Heidegger, and others!8 Cinders announces the
coming of the "arche-originary yes" through the coming of the
phrase "Cinders there are," through its double appearance in
Disemination and its repetitions and transformations in Gla
and The Postcard. What Derrida in his reading of Joyce calls
"the gramophone efect" is another name for the cinder, for the
afrmation of the Other in the back room, the Other in the
ashes, what Joyce calls the "gramophone in the grave," the au
tomatic, noncognitive writing that preexists the coming of the
subject. The essays on Blanchot collected in Paraes date from
1976 to 1979, while the two essays on Joyce in Ulysse Gramohone
and the essays on the double "yes" in Psche all follow the pub
lication of Feu la cendre in 1982. The coming of the cinder that is
the "arche-originary yes" is unspoken, inaudible, like the un
seizable, unmasterable complex of terms generated in
Blanchot's texts by the pa de ... ,pa-de-nom, or pa au-dela,
the nameless step of naming, or the step into an inaccessible
beyond. La cendre, with or without the accent, like te pa de,
signas a pre-originar engagement or commitment, a promise
or pledge, tat silently binds language to the infnite divis
ibility of the nonpresent trace, ad tus to the Other. In Of
Spirit Derrida writes langage as l'engae to indicate our engage
ment to langage as someting that precedes all questioning,
thinking, and speakng.29 Cinders are te gage of tls engage
ment, the self-consuming aifacts by whch language pledges it
self i the very act of immolatg the promse it makes. It is te
call of te cinder, the coming of il y a la cendre, tat lead Derrida
from tile "grapllics of supplementarity to the thought of the
nonpresent Oter.
Cinder recounts the Ereini of laguage that doubles and divides
every afrmation, ever "yes," placing it between two repeti
tions, between the Other's silent call and the possibility ofIts
arrival.
3
Thi mere word, saced without sace, afring beneath all afr
mation, impossible to deny too weak to be killed, too docile to be con
tained, not saying anything, only seaking, seaking without liv
ing, without voice, in a voice IOller than any voice.
MAURICE BLANCHOT, L'Attente l'oubli
Derrida makes explicit what is merely implicit in Heidegger
when it is a question of the intimacy and the remoteness of the
Other, which aso involves the question of the gender of the
Other. She, the grafatical "she," la cendre, is "eternaly
there," which is to say, "eternally nonpresent." The cinder is
also at times "he." As Derrida remarks in his essay on te gen
der of Dasein in Being and Time, "one must think of a pre-dif
ferentia, rather a pre-dual, sexuality," which situates sexual dif
ference at an indeterminate point in the disseminal throw
through which Dasein enters spatiality. 3D Dasein's relation to
the body is put into question throughout Cinder.
28. Jacques Derrida, Parage (Paris: Galilee, 1986); Uysse Gramphone (Paris:
Galilee, 1987); Psche: Inventions de {autre. Two essays of
p
articular relevance to
the
p
roblem of the double re
p
etition have been translated: "Ulysses Gram
o
p
hone: Hear say yes in Joyce," trans. Tina Kendall, in James Joce: The Aug
mented Ninth, ed. Bernard Benstock (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press,
1988), 27-5; "A Number of Yes," trans. Brian Holmes, in Qui Parle 2 (Fall
1988): 118-33.
29 Derrida, DiSpirit, n.5, 129-36.
30. Jacques Derrida, "Geschlecht: Sexual Diference, Ontological Diference,"
Reearch in Phenomenoloy 13 (1983): 72,78-9.
We might also think of the cinder as the "friend" of whom Hei
degger speaks: "Hearing constittes the primary and authentic
way in which Dasein is open [Ofnheit] for its ownmost po
tentiality-for-Being - as in hearing the voice of the friend
whom every Dasein carries with it [der Stimme des Freundes,
den jedes Dasein bei sich tagt]'''ll Dasein carries her/him, the
cinder, the intimate and yet unspeakably remote friend, whose
"pre-dua sexality" (a knd of potentiality for gender) aways
accompanies the particular gender of a body in real space. Da
sein is Dasein only insofar as the cinder is there; only insofar as
Dasein hears the silent voice of the cinder can Dasein come to
the word. S/he keeps her(him )self a secret while s/he lies within
our most intimate interiority.
The cinder is not the word, it is not the letter, but what precedes
it; and what precedes the letter has already been burned. The
cinder comes in lieu of a preoriginary letter that would assure
that a letter always reaches its destination, which would be to
believe that the letter as language's essence could be made pres
ent, could be given, to thought. The remains of a cinder pre
vent thinking and nang from reaching back before the fre:
"this double gestre, to propose a philosophy of cinders and to
show how 'cinders' prevent philosophy from closing upon it
self."l2 The cinder is neither an entity, nor Being, nor non-Be
ing. Cinders remain of what lies beyond the ring, remain of
what is not and was never in the world. The cinder is the dis
patch 0 envoi whose incineration makes a letter possible.
But what separates a cinder from an envoi and from the other
naes for the structre of the trace is its evocation of the fre.
The title Feu la cendre indicates, by virtue of its double dis
placement of the two meanings of fu, yet a further connection
- to mourning: "fire," but also "deceased" or "departed."
Aong the options for a more literal traslation are "Fire, Cin
der," "Burn the Cinder," or "The Late Cinder," "The Bereaved
Cinder," in the archaic sense of "bereaved" as "separated" or
"taken away." Feu is a homonym of jt, and echoes fut: fre
burning within the passe dini of the verb "to be," within
l'tre/ietre. These echoes are elaborated in an essay from 1977
called "Cartouches," which is about the artwork of Titus Car-
mel. Cinders, like Titus Carmel's matchbox cofns, is a "car- II
touche," a cinder container bearing the phrase ii y a ii cendre, a
cinder envoi that is also an explosive cartridge (also cartouche in
French), that comemorates the "frepower" of a nonpresent
(divine) name, an exploded paradigm: "the suicide paradigm
retrac(t)ing by blowing itself up. It scuttles [saborde]. Fuit [in
Latin, 'it was'; in French, 'fees' or 'fed'] the former model. Feu
(sur) Ie paradime [fre on the paradigm; the late paradigm].
I-t'yJ Feu la cendre takes this structure of aesthetic auto
destrction to its inevitable limits, where the contents of the
cartouche, the phrase itself, autodestructs: "a self-destructive
virtue fring on its own right into the heart." Fromfu Ie para
dime to fu la cendre, from the deconstruction of aesthetic
judgment to that of ontology. The cartouche and the cinder
call upon us to mourn the lack of paradigms and holy naes.
But what is it to mourn the disappearance of something that
was never presentt
In a brief essay entitled "Transience" (Verangiichkeit) (1916)3
Freud recounts a conversation he had with a friend and a
young poet whose "aching despondency" concerning the tran
sience of earthly beauty was unafected by Freud's argument
31. Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward
Robinson ( New York: Harper & Row, 1962) , 163.
32. Didier Cahen, "Vers l a deconstruction: Entreticn avec Jacques Derrida,"
Diraphe 42 (1987) : 2. My translation.
33. Jacques Derrida, The Truth in Painting, tans. Geof Benningron and Ian
MacLeod (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987) , 229. Translation
slightly modifed. Is not the fery breath of Heraclitean phusi stragely (in) au
dible here?
34. Sigmund Freud, "On Transience," in The Standard Edition of the Complete
Psychological Wrk of Simund Freud, cd. James Strachey, 2 vols. (London:
Hogarth Press and the Instinrte of Psycho-Analysis, 1957) , 14:303--.
12
that transience in fact only lends things greater charm. Freud's
failure to persuade his companions suggests to him that they
are infuenced by "some powerfl emotional factor" which
he calls "a foretaste of mourning" (einen V'eschmack dr
Trauer) . In Glas and Fors Derrida elaborates on the orality of
the mourning process and on its connection to the introjection
and incorporation of words, phonemes, and letters. For Der
rida there is no introj ection without incorporation, no idealiz
ation of the one who is departed that does not leave some un
assimilable residue behind, some piece or fragment of the
other or the other's speech secretly lodged or incorporated
within the mourner's speech or behavior. This is also the case
with language as such: we cannot take it in without also com
ing upon the un assimilable remains of the Oter. It is this oth
erness of the word that Derrida calls the "bit," or mors) as in the
"piece," or marceau) of the dead that one eats in a cannibastic
mourning ritual, a ritual that is in efect enacted whenever one
comes to the word, for whenever one inhales or exhaes the vo
cable, one also eats a piece of the word's otherness, of the de
parted Other it silently bears with it. To come to the word i
s
in
cessantly to taste these cinder remans. Freud's concern in
"Transience" is with the temporality of things, with one's
mournfl "foretaste" of "temporal limitation" (zeitliche Be
schrankung) . What makes mourning such "a great enigma"
(roes Ratsel) is the pain caused by the "detachment" (Ab
losung) of libido from the lost obj ect: "We see only that libido
clings [ klammert] to its objects and will not renounce those
that are lost even when a substitute lies ready to hand." It is the
cinder beyond the word, other than the word, that neverthe
less clings to the word, that is sprinkled on it ad that burns
within it. Mourning ends when "it has consumed itself" (sich
selbst aufezehrt) by eventually renouncing its former atach
ments. Derrida is interested in what persists within the
"enigma" of mourning, of what stil "clings," what still con-
tinues to burn and cannot be consumed. For Derrida mourn
ing always entails melancholia, an infnite attenuation of the
clinging to something "there." Freud writes in "Mourning and
Melancholia" that both normal and melancholic mourning
share the "characteristic of detaching the libido bit by bit"
(Einzeldurchfhrung) , 35 Derrida's name for this attenuated
clinging is borrowed from the nineteenth-centry convention
of demi-deuil) the "half " or "partial mourning" that follows
"high mourning." For Derrida we are always already in half
mourning, for there is no end to the "bit by bit" divisibility of a
cinder. Pushing still frther Abraham's linguistic elaboration
of Imre Hermann's study of libidinal cli nging ( cramponne
ment) ,l6 Derrida discovers the clinging to language of some
thing beyond language: the clinging of the bit, the mrs) which
is also of course the mort) the dead. Wat in Glas Derrida calls
the ef t de mors) the "bit-" or "death-efect," the efect ofthegl
(as in glottis), the cinging, sticky work of the tongue that at
once makes possible and resists absolutely all ideal ization and
conceptualization,37 this call of something entirely other from
within the silent ringing ofgla) takes in Cinders the form of a
"raw cinder, that is more to his taste."
But there is still something more to this name among others that
is a cinder. Cinders "would tell of the all-burning, otherwise
called holocaust and the crematory oven, in German in all the
Jewish languages of the world." The work as cartouche com
memorates "an impossible tomb"; it constitutes "the memory
of a cenotaph," an inscription on an empty tomb.
When Hegel writes in Phenomenology of Spirit and Lectures on the
Philosophy o Reliion of the torrents of fre and light, of the
35. Freud, "Mouring and Mel ancholia," in The Standard Editin, 14: 256.
36. Cf Imre Hermann, L'Insinct flial, introduction by Nicolas Abraha
(Paris: Den od, 1972) .
37. Glf, 235b.
"streams of fre destructive of [all] structured form,"18 he calls
the coming of the all-burning light of sunrise a "sacrifce"
( Opfr) in which the Being-for-itself of spirit burns itself, con
sumes itself in order to preserve itself Derrida suggests in Glas
that "holocaust" is a better translation of Opfr than "sacrifce"
ad indeed that "holocaust" ( all [holos] is burned [caustos] ) is a
more appropriate word for the process Hegel describes than
Opfr itself Derrida's holocaust means something diferent,
however, than Hegel's Opfr. In Hegel's speculative dialectic
the holocaust is spi rit's gift of itself to itself; its excursion into
what Hegel calls its "otherness" only insures its return to itself.
For Hegel , writes Derrida, "The gif can only be a sacrifce,
that is the aiom of speculative reason. Even if it upsurges ' be
fore' philosophy and religion, the gif has for its destination or
determination, for its Bestimmung, a return to self in philoso
phy, religion's truth."19 Hegel's sacrifcial holocaust maes the
otherness of the holocaust itself apear it pretends to bring it
to presence, while Derrida's holocaust remains entirely other,
non present ad outside the theorizable limits of ontology,
leaving only the cinder traces of an absolute nonmemory. It is
the non-sacrifcial nature of the Nazi Extermination that is si
lently at stae throughout the section of Gla that forms the
central and longest section of the "Animadversions. " A certain
continuity is thus also ( and still silently) sketched between
Hegel's sacrifcial logic, which ontologized the essence of un
hiddeness, and the aesthetic or cathartic motivation of the
Nazi Extermination, the most monstrous gif of appropria
tion, which sought to purge Europe of its unaesthetic inhabi
tants, Jews above all, but also dissidents and eccentrics of all
sorts - political , sexual, or cultural; "of the others," writes Der
rida, "cinder there is."
Cinders resist the domination of the essence of unhiddenness by
the dialectic, by mind, reason, spirit, etc. In so doing, they
eliminate the possibility of the anniversary, the return back to
itself, of spirit, energy, will, form, etc. Can we think the other
ness of what is outside the ring, think of it as something that
can never come back to itself? Thinking what Derrida calls
"the time of a cinder" denies us the consolation of "the logic of
the aniversary, the imposition of the curve on the angle."40 It
means thinking the ring's displacement from itself, "dispersion
without return," a truly "pyromaniac dissemi nation." One
thus commemorates a cinder's not-belonging to itself, another
kind of anniversary, the anniversary of an absolute nonmem
ory, the ringing together of what no longer takes the shape of a
circle.
Mourning, ashes, te holocaust, the breathing in and eating of
the remains of cinders, the anniversary, the ring, the absolute
singularity of the date, these elements of Cinders all signal the
perasive infuence of Paul Celano In Schibboleth: Pour Paul
Celan we read: "II y a la cendre, peut-etre, mais une cendre
n'est pas" (There are cinders, perhaps, but a cinder is not) . The
passage continues: ''This remainder seems to remain of what
was It] , ad what was [ut] just now; it seems to feed or drink
from the source of being-present, but it comes out of being, it
uses up in advance tile being on which it seems to draw. The
remnant of the remainder -the cinder, almost nothing -is not
a being that remains, if at least one understands here a being
that subsists." This passage is by way of a reading of Cela's
"Mit der Aschenkelle geschopf" ( Drawn with the ladle of cin
ders / from the trough of Being) : "What is drawn, inhaled,
drunk ( geschopf) with the ladle (Kele; the source or the foun
tain, Quele, is not far) , with the ladle of cinders, with the cin
der spoon (mit der Aschenkelle) , comes out of the trough of Be-
38. G. wF. Hegel, PhenomenologyofSpirt, trans . A. V. Miller (Oxford: Oxford
Universit Press, 1977), 419.
39. Gla, 243a.
40. Gla, 24sa.
13
I4
ing (aus dem Seinstr-o) ."+1 The cinder ladle comes out of Being
seig) soapy, slippery, a slippery cinder, nearest the source of
Being but most difcult to grasp. The process by which the
cinder serves up the word describes the central scene ofCelan's
writing: the coming again and again of the cinder that bears
the word, and that, in bearing the word, consumes it. Derrida's
holocaust is identica with the radical non identity of the ring
ing of an aniversary in Celan:
Consumption) becoming a cinder conjagration o incineration ofa
date: on the hour in the hour itsel every hour. It is the threat ofan
absolute crypt: the non-retur) the unreadability the amnesia
without remainder but the non-retur as retur) in the retur it
sel [. . .} There is certainly today a date fr this holocaust that we
kno the hell ofour memory; but there is a holocaust fr every date)
somewhere in the world at every hour. +2
The ringing of this anniversary cuts into the word, incises the ring
at an aqle, circumcises the word (which is Derrida's leitmotif
in Schibboleth) : "circumcision of the word by te incision of the
nothing in the circumcised heart of the other, that's you,"
that's the cinder, the friend of uncertain gender who aways ac
companies Dasein. +l Al languages are Jewish in this sense,
consumed by the cinder that bears them and burns them from
within, by the al-burning oven named in the Greek holokaustos
"in German in all the Jewish languages of the world."
4
How is it called) your land
behind mountains) behind years?
PAUL CELAN, "Es ist alles anders"
Celan's oblique presence in Cinders is one of the most fnely
nuanced infections by which Derrida defnes his own neigh
borhood of poetic naming and thoughtf saying. The cassette
recording that accompanies the I987 French edition, in which
the author and Carole Bouquet read Feu la cendre with the
occasional accompaniment of Stockhausen's hauntingly
ethereal Stimmung) bri ngs the question of thinkng and poetry
directly to bear upon what Derrida calls the "polylogue," "an
unpronounceable conversation," between the audible sonority
of the indeterminate number of voices of Cinders and the still
silent voice, the absolutely minimal voice of the Other. "But
how," asks Derrida, "can this fatally silent call that speaks be
fore its own voice be made audibld" The various tonalities and
moods of voice, already marked in the written text and still
more discernible in the recorded version, succeed in making
the inaudible call of the Other yet more discernible, by always
calling, in all their multiplicity and gender confsion, for yet
another voice, for one that would bring us still closer to the
"you" that speaks in a cinder. Cinderella is one name among
others for te still withheld essence of the cinder friend that is
bore along with Dasein. By varying the intonation, by trying
to mark or to eface the accent grave in li cendre (which some
times even looks like an anagram of ce(la) n) , the spoken voices
begin, as Derrida remarks, to say something about "the experi
ence of cinders and song." The song of poetic saying would
thus sing to and of the inaudible, nonpresent incineration that
burns within every experience: "this experience of incineration
that is experience itself"+ We can only think the otherness of
the other's inaudi ble voice, but our thinking about it is always
inseparable from poetic saying, from the audi ble song, prayer,
or hymn that would bring us as close as possible to the silence
in which the voice of the Other burns. Cinders is situated in the
neighborhood of this haunted crossing, in the nearness of the
khorismos) near what Derrida calls "the absolute hiatus."
41. Derrida, Schibboleth: POUI Paul eelan, 77. My translation.
42. Schibboleth, 83 . My transl ation.
43. Schibboleth, no. My transl'ation.
4. Cahen, "Vers la deconstructi on," 23.
The neighborhood of Dichten and Denken is convened by the
Other's silent call. "But poetic saying that thinks [das denkende
Dichten] ," writes Heidegger, "is in truth / the topology of Be
ing [Seyns] '''45 Such saying, Heidegger continues, "tells [ sagt]
Being the habitation [Ortschaf] of its essence [ Wsens] ," its
still concealed essence. Being comes into te proximity of po
etic saying and thinkng and thus establishes and signals its to
pology, the place it has come to inhabit, the place (Ort) that is
distinct from space (Raum) . This is what occurs in the coming
of the phrase il y a la cendre, the phrase that establishes and sig
nals a place (il y a lieu / Place tere is), a place that is not to be
conceived or eperienced spatialy. Wat Derrida calls the "lo
caity" (Ie paysage) of "cinders there are" suggests the habita
tion or topology of a cinder that is evoked in the words Ort
schaf and Nachbarschaf. The neighborhood of poetic saying
and thinkng is a place or site that belongs to the topology of
another spatiality which Derrida and Heidegger (re )name and
(re)think throughout their writing. The specifc modalities of
the namng and thinking of that neighborhood point to im
portant resemblances and diferences beteen Heidegger and
Derrida which bear signifcantly upon the tonality of il y a la
cendre.
La cendre names the persistent concealment of Dasein's essence,
indeed it translates that concealment into French; la-cendre at
once translates and recongures da-Sein. Like Dasein a cinder
lies within the diference of the unextended space of the res cogi
tans or "thinking thing" and the extended space of the res ex
tensa, within the diferance between the intelligible and the
sensible; it is what makes cognition possible while withhold
ing itself from representation or conceptualization. A cinder
lies finally on the far side of Dasein, just beyond the edge of its
Being-in-the-world. It thus follows the trajectory of Heideg
ger's efort to name and think the word that would bring to
presence, that would distance and "un-distance" (ent-ren)
the "region" (Gegend) in which Being comes to language. By
situating the places in language where Being comes to reside,
such namng and thinkng bring Being into the audible range
of beings who can thus be called into their own. To discover
these traces, grooves, and efractions in language through
IS
which Being marks its silent withdrawal is to come to the limi-
nal threshold of the site of this other spatiality that is composed
of another materiality, a spatiality into which tllree-dimension-
a space and tie emerge, and that, in gathering together and
sustaining the diferences between past, present, ad fture,
would constitute another tempora or extratemporal dimen
sion. Heidegger asks us to think of the concealed origin of lan
guage as being situated on tllis dimensional cusp. His later
thinkng searches, listens, and lingers within language for
traces of what in Being and Time he called Dasein's capacity to
"take space in," or to "break into space." Instead of askng how
Dasein could enter time-space, the later Heidegger asks what it
is that enables time-space to get underway. Moving from the
near to the far side of the ontological diference, moving from
Dasein to language, Heidegger seems at times to write as
though the fnal, absolutely literal proper name for the mate
riality of this other space-time were near to hand, as though it
were on the verge of becomng palpable.
Wat in Being and Time he cals the "spiritual" (eisti) essence of
Dasein's ability to become spatia,46 belies a profound conit
ment to the possibility of such naming. As Derrida demon
strates in Of Spirit, Geist names, in early and late Heidegger,
45. Martin Heidegger, "The Thinker as Poet," in Poet, Language, Thought,
trans. Alber Hofstadter ( New York: Harper & Row, (971) , 1 (translation
modfi ed) ; Aus der Erfahrung des Denllens, Bd. 13 of Gesamtausabe, ed. Her
mann Heidegger ( FrankfIrt am Mai n: Vitorio Klostermann, (983) , 84.
46. "Neither may Dasein's spati alit be interpreted as an imperfection which
adheres to existence by reason of the fatal 'linkage of the spirit to a body.' On
the contrar, because Dasein is 'spi ritual,' and only because of this, it can be spa
tial in a way that remains essenti al ly impossible for any extended corporeal
thing," Being and Time, 368.
the site of the proximity of Being's proper name, the site of fre
and ashes. Wereas in Being and Time it is the spiritual (eiti)
essence of Dasein's "ecstatical-horizonal temporality" that en-
16 abies it to break in
t
o space, in "Language in the Poem" that es
sence burns within the mystery of ghostly orgeistlich fre. Spirit
as fre leads Heidegger closer to that other materiality than had
spirit as the breath of mind and thought. Rejecting thegeisti
thinkng of Platonism and Christianity, as well as his own ear
l ier celebration of the geisti force of Dasein and the German
people, Heidegger, in a gestre whose intemperate impatience
Derrida devastatingly reveals, turns to Trak's geitlich land:
"This land is older, which is to say, earlier and therefore more
promising [ versprechender] than the Platonic-Christian land, or
indeed than a land conceived in terms of the European West.
For apartness is the 'fi rst beginning' of a mounting world-year,
not the abyss of decay."47 Heidegger wants to come as close as
he can to the fre of the promise that burns within language, al
ways closer to the inmost materiality of the fire. His advocacy
of Dasein's geisti essence during the 1930S had, perhaps inad
verently, provided cover for the forces of destruction. Perhaps
te haunting return of Geist in its fery, geistlich guise would
lead, not to the decay of a decomposing Geschlecht, but to the
"mounting world-year" of "one fesh."
This "more promising" beginning, whatever its salutary utopian
possibility, involves a promise no less impossible than the erst
while promise of its geisti predecessor. Invoking the memora
ble and i neluctable wrinkle which Paul de Man introduced into
Heidegger's famous formula, Die Sprache spricht ( language
speaks) , Derrida remarks that de Man's Die Sprache verspricht
sich addresses precisely the problem that Heidegger's diferen
tiation of Geit has led him into:
Language or speech promises, promises itself but also goes back on its
word, becomes undne or unhinged, derails o becomes delirious, de
teriorates, becomes corpt just a immediately and just as essen-
tiaty. It cannot not promise as soon a it speak, it is promise, but it
cannot fail to break its promise - and thi comes ofthe stucture of
the promise, as ofthe event it nonetheless institutes. 48
This deteriorati on, this fragilit of language, this degradation
at the hear of language, is something Heidegger everywhere
confronts only to turn away from it at the last moment.
Heidegger wants to think of Geist at its most essential as being
somehow free of the decomposition of human generation,
while Derrida's deconstructive reading shows that the most
verprechende beginning is neverheless heir to the corruption
oflanguage.
Cinders name this corruption, they anticipate language's inevita
ble crumblings and deteriorations. Though, arguably, no one
has understood better than Heidegger the delicacy oflanguage
and its suscepti bility to breakdowns and misfres, deni als and
negations, indeed the entire network of terms and ideas that
can be generated from veragen, this understanding is invari
ably placed in the service of a even more profound suscep
tibility to the lure of the fnally proper name. 49 Cinders, how
ever, plays with the tormenting will to speak the proper name.
Derrida plays with the deadly serious proximity and distance
of the fre that burns and subsides within a language. The "con
tinuous, tormenting, obsessive meditation about what are and
are not, what is meant - or silenced by, cinders" moves inces
santly from mourning to telepathy, from the most impossible
distance to the most unbearable proximity. Derrida's cinders
47. Heidegger, On the Way to Language, 194 ( Untenvegs, 77) .
48. Derrida, OfSpirt, 93-94. Also see Derrida's discussion of de Man's Die
Sprache verspricht sich in Memoires: For Paul de Man, trans . Cecile Lindsay, Jon
athan Culler, and Eduardo Cadava ( New York: Columbia Uni versity Press,
1986) , 94-101.
49. r have indicated some of these crossings, which result in a certain overpow
ering of Dichten by Denken,
.
in my essay "Writing on Ashes : Heidegger Fort
Derrida, " DiacriticS I9. 3-4 (1989) : 128-48.
canot escape or overcome the promise of, and the desire for,
the literal name, but by anticipating te broken promise, by re
maining aert to the trope lurking within every concept and the
concept concealed
w
ithin every trope, they inject a certain rest
less instabi lity that may make it inevitable as well as necessary
that we constantly invent new versions of the Other ad thus of
the others.
Language rises like a wave out of its unthinkable origin and comes
into the lingistic habitations (the Ortschaf) of huan speech
or into the Gedicht ofthe poet. It is up to thinkers to make these
habitations audible, and up to poets to discover the song
within these traces. The rising itselfis a silent ringing, a hissing
noise, like heat escaping, like something burning, a wave of ag- .
itated motion which thinkers and poets translate into difering
modes of audibility. As this wave rises from its impossible dis
tance, mourning becomes telepathy, and we receive what Der
rida calls "the impossible emission." Tete-pathos, the transmis
sion over a distance of the Other's state of being, the ability to
feel the heat of the Other, is more properly speaking tele-kaus
tos, the sending of what burns within a cinder. Telekaustos
would mean, not thought-transference, but the transference of
that other materiality within thought which at once sustains
thought and withholds itself from thought. The opening of
aother topology through laguage is the work of telekaustos,
the sending of a cinder signal.
Early and late Heidegger succumbed to the persuasive power of
Geist. And early and l ate in his writing there is a clearly defned
sacrifcial logic. In order to defne perhaps the most signifcat
feature of Cinders, let us consider a characteristic instance of
Heidegger's understanding of the relation between "historical
being" and the advent of the essential thinking that thinks the
truth of Being:
The thinking whose thoughts not onl d not calculate but are really
[iberhaupt] deterined by what is Other than beings [dem A-
deren des Seienden] i called essential thinking. Rather than
count on beings with beings, it exend itselin Being fr the truth of
Being. This thinking answer to the demands ofBeing in that man
surenders [iberantortet] his historical being to the simple, sole
necessit whose constaints d not so much necessitate a ceate the
need which is fllled in the feedm ofthe sacrfce [Freiheit des
Opfers) .l
It is through one's courage to make the sacrifce, Heidegger con
tinues, that one enters into "the neighborhood of the inde
structible." The thinker's "saying" of Being and the poet's
"naming of the holy" seek, in their distinct ways, "to care for"
the words in which Being's "soundless voice" ri ngs. This state
ment of the sacrifcial logic underlying the neighborhood of
Dichten and Denken, which Heidegger wrote in 1943, makes ex
plicit the fndamental content of Heidegger's thinking before
and after. Sacrifce entails that we must reconfgure our histori
cal being once we have entered into relation with the truth of
Being, even if that truth is still only the trace of something lack
ing and withheld. There would be nothing particularly alarm
ing about such a scenario were it not for the fact that Heideg
ger's "essenti al thinking" lavishes itself, indeed squanders itself
(verschwendet sich) on the truth of Being. This is how he had en
dorsed the geistg essence of German Dasein, and how he will
endorse the coming of a geitlich epoch in his later writing.
There is nothing lef for historical being but the prospect of its
iminent cessation as the logic of sacrice bears essentia
thinking ever closer to the fre of the spirit.
The disengagement of Heidegger's thinking from the sacrifcial
logic underlying it has been an important part of Derrida's
50. Marin Heidegger, "Postscript" to What i Metaphysics? in Exitence and Be
ing, ed. Werner Brock (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1949) , 357-58 (translation
modifed) ; "Nachwort zu 'Was ist Metaphysik'," i n Wgmarken, Bd.9 of Ge
samtausabe, ed. Friedrich-W,helm von Hermann (Frankfrt am Main: Vi t
torio Klostermann, i976), 309.
17
18
thinking early and late. Derrida recognized very early that the
only way to enable essential thinking to reconfgure historical
being was to remove it from the logic of sacrifce. The relation
between logic and sacrifce is of the utmost importance here,
for it is Heidegger's intention to mark an absolute break be
tween logic, or "calculative thought," and sacrifce, which in
volves our submission to those prelogical thoughts that "are
absolutely [uberhauptJ determined by what i s 'Other' than
what-is. " Heidegger insists that "sacrifce tolerates [duldetJ no
calculation, for calculation always miscalculates [verechnetJ
sacrifce in terms of the expedient and the inexpedient."51 It has
always been clear to Derrida that Heidegger's sacrifce on be
half of the Other provides cover for the most caculating ideo
logical ad psychological investments. Heidegger's sacrifce to
the Other lends itself too readily to a calculated sacrifce of the
others who do not appear to share te experience of essential
thinking. Heidegger even calls the sacrifce "the departure
from beings [Abschied vom SeiendenJ ." While for Heidegger
"calculation disfgures [veruntaltetJ the nature of sacrifce," for
Derrida the insurmountability of miscalculation and disfgura
tion exposes the dangers of the surreptitious logic of sacrifce.
Derrida reveals the secret economy of loss and gain that sus
tains even the sublime fction of a sacrifce a fnd perdu.
She, the Cinder, blocks the path of Heidegger's impossible sacri-
fce. Heidegger would risk everything on the withheld origin
of the "call of conscience" that comes from Dasein's innermost
essence, from the being "there."s> Derrida wants only to take a
chance on the Other, to reveal that no sacrifce will succeed in
bringing the Other to presence, and to acknowledge that the
experience of a cinder describes our ethos, our "dwelling-place"
as human beings. Derrida listens more closely than Heidegger
and discerns the almost i naudible call of the Cinder, its strage
androgynous intonation. Derrida's recognition or acknowl
edgement of our debt to the Other purges Heidegger's think
ing ofits Romatic apocalypticism and thus provides us with a
realistic basis on which to rethink and reinvent our relations to
others. Though it is not yet present and may never be present,
the place of the Other is nevertheless rea, ad through it we
can deconstruct the transcendent idealities and materialities
that pretend to bring it to presence.
Cinder is the fr intirieur of Derrida's oeuvre, where he hears the
"lack" that comes like a whisper from the far side of Dasein,
from the distant entity beyond Being that holds everything in
Being. Cinders recounts the emergence of conscience as the
recognition of our debt to the Other ad to the others.
''That is what is owed to the fre, and yet, if possible, without
the shadow of a sacrifce." These words from Cinr may
provide the best clue to transl ating the enigma of il y a la cendre.
51. Etence and Being, 359 ( transl ation modifed) ; Wgmarken, 3D.
52. Being and Time, 317-25 .
p
r
o
o
g u
e
21 . . .
I I y a pl us de 1 5 ans, une phrase m' est venue, comme mal gra
moi , revenue pl utOt, si ngul i ere, si ngul i erement breve,
presque muette.
Je l a croyai s savamment cal cu l ee maTtri see, assuj ett i e, comme
si j e me I ' etai s e tout j amai s appropri ee.
Or depui s, sans cesse je doi s me rendre a I ' evi dence: l a ph rase
s' etai t passe de toute autor i sat i on, el l e avai t vecu sans moi .
El l e avai t touj ours vecu seul e.
La premi ere foi s (etai t-ce l a premi ere f oi s7), ce fut donc i I Y a
pl us de 1 5 ans, a la f i n d' un l i vre, La dissemination. Dans
un paragraphe de remerci ements, au moment ou un l i vre se
dedi cace, se donne ou se rend a ceux qui , con nus ou i n
connus, vous I ' ont d' avance donne l adi te phrase vi ent
s' i mposer a moi avec I ' autor i te, si di screte et si mpl e qu' el l e
f Ot , d' une sentence: il y a la cendre.
La s' ecr i vai t avec un accent grave: la, i l y a cendre, i l y a, la,
cendre. Mai s I ' accent, s' i l se l i t a I ' mi l , ne s' entend pas: i l y
a Ie cendre. A I ' acoute, I ' art i cl e defi n i , la, r i sque d' effacer I e
l i eu, l a menti on ou l a memoi re du l i eu, I ' adverbe l a . . .
Mai s a l a l ectu re muette, c' es! I ' i nverse, la efface la, la s' ef
face: l ui -meme, el l e-meme, deux foi s pl utOt qu' une.
Celie phrase, dont chaque l ettre en secret comptai t pou r moi , j e
I ' ai ensu i te repri se, ci tat i on ou non, dans d' aut res textes:
Glas, La care postale, par exempl e.
More tan 15 years ago ae qm to le, as though
in spite of me; to be more precise, it returned,
unique, uniquely succinct, alost mute.
r thought r had calculated it cunningly, mastered and
overwhelmed it, as if! had appropriated it once and
for all.
Since then, I have repeatedly had to yield to te evi
dence: the phrase dispensed with al authorization,
she had lived without me.
She, te phrase, had always lived alone.
The frst tie (was it the frst tie? ) , more than 15 years
ago, at the end of a book, Dissemination) in the ac
knowledgments, where a book is dedicated, ofered,
rendered up to those who, kown or unknown,
have already given it to you in advance, the sentence
i question imposed itself upon me with the author
ity, so discreet and simple it was, of a j udgment:
"cinders there are" (il!_a endr) .
La written with an accentgrave: la) there, cinder there
is, there is, tere, cinder. But the accent, although
readable to the eye, is not heard: cinder there is . To
te ear, the defnite article, la) risks efacing the
place, ad any mention or memory of the place, the
adverb la . . . But read silently, it is te reverse: la
efaces la) la efaces herself, himself, twice rather
than once.
This sentence, in which each letter had a secret mea-
. -.. -. . - .
.
_ - , -
ing for me, I lsed_
.
g(il later, whether a citation or
not, in other texts : Glas) The Postcard) for example.
Pendant pres de di x ans, al l ees et venues de ce spectre, vi si tes
i nopi nees du revenant. La chose parl ai t toute seul e. Je de
vai s m' expl i quer avec el l e, l u i repondre - ou en repondre.
Quand des ami s, en 1 980, m' ont i nvi te a ecri re sur I e theme de
l a cendre pou r une revue qui a mai ntenant di sparu , Anima,
j ' ai propose, dans Ie gen re paradi e du pol yl ogue, une con
versat i on apparemment i mpranongabl e, en veri te un di s
posi t i f d' ecr i t ures qui , pourrai t-on di re, faisait appel a l a
voi x, a des voi x. Mai s comment fai re ent endre cet appel fa
tal ement si l enci eux qui parl e avant sa propre voi x? Com
ment I e l ai sser attendre?
Sur l a page, en eftet, deux ecri ts se font face: d' une part, a
droi t e, Ie pol yl ogue proprement di t , un enchevetrement de
voi x en nombre i ndetermi ne, dont certai nes parai ssent
mascu l i nes, d' autres femi ni nes, et cel a se marque parfoi s
dans l a grammai re de l a phrase. Ces si gnes grammati caux
sont l i si bl es mai s i l s di sparai ssent pour l a pl upart a I ' audi
t i on, ce qui aggrave une certai ne i ndeci si on ent re I ' ecr i t ure
et la voi x, i ndeci si on donI Ie mot la, avec ou sans accent,
dans il y a la cendre, fai sai t deja cour i r I e r i sque.
Cette tensi on ri squee ent re I ' ecri t ure et l a parol e, cette vi bra
t i on de l a grammai re a l a voi x, c' est aussi I ' un des themes
du pol yl ogue. Cel u i -ci sembl e-t- i l , se dest i nai t a I ' ri l , i l ne
s' accordai t qu' a l a voi x i nter i eure, une voi x absol ument 22 . . .
basse.
For nearly ten years, this specter's comings and goings,
unforeseen visits of the ghost. The thing spoke alon
its own. I had to explain myself to it, respond to it -
or for it.
When some friends, in 1 980, invited me to write on the
theme of cinders for Anima) a now defnct journal, I
proposed, in the parodied genre of the polylogue,
an apparently unpronounceable conversation, realy
a writing apparatus tat, one might say, caled to te
voice, to voices . But how ca this fataly silent cal
that speaks before its own voice be made audible?
How could it be kept waiting any longer?
In efect two pieces of writing come face to face on the
page : on the righthad side, the polylogue proper,
an entanglement of an indeterminate number of
voices, of which some seem masculine, others femi
nine, and this is sometimes marked in the gramar
of the sentence. These readable gra1atical signs
disappear for the most part when spoken aloud,
which aggravates a certain indecision between writ
ing and voice, an indecision already risked by the
word lay with or without the accent, in "cinders there
are" [il Y a la cendre] .
This tension risked between writing and speech, this
vibration of grammar in the voice, is one of the
themes of the polylogue. Ad this polylogue, it
seems, is desti ned for the eye; it corresponds only to
a interior voice, a absolutely low voice.
23 . . .
Mai s par 1 8 meme i l donnai t a l i re, i I anal ysai t peut-etre ce
qu' une mi se en voi x pouvai t appel er et a l a foi s menacer de
perdre, une pr oferat i on i mpossi bl e et des tonal i tes i ntrou
vabl es. Oserai -j e di re de mon desi r qu' i l avai t l i eu, son l i eu,
ent r e cet appel et cette menace? Qu' attendai t- i l ?
Vi nt un j our la possi bi l i te, i l faut di re la chance de cette gramo
phoni e. Avant d' etre techni que (ce qu' el l e est aussi a un
moment d' i nnovat i on si ngul i ere dans I ' h i stoi re de I ' edi
t i on) , cette chance suppose I e desi r, i ci cel ui d' Antoi nette
Fouque: frayer I e passage a ces voi x qui travai l l ent une ecri
ture au corps. Et en somme l es mettre en Cuvre, enfi n a
I ' Cuvre. Non pour substi tuer la scene vocal e au l i vre, mai s
pour donner a I ' une et a I ' autre, I ' une et I ' autre s' affectant ou
se rel anant ai nsi , l eur espace ou pl utot l eur vol ume res
pectf: je ne cr oi s pas que la l ecture si l enci euse en souffre,
ni I e desi r du l i vre, au contrai re, i l reoi t de ceUe exper i ence
de nouvel l es pui ssances i nterpetati ves. Les edi ti ons Des
femmes ne proposent pas seul ement ce doubl e medi um, l a
page et I e vol ume sonore, desormai s i ndi ssoci abl es dans
l eur Mterogenei te meme, el l es donnent son l i eu a une sorte
de l aboratoi re d' etudes, un studi o des ecri tures vocal es,
dans l equel une experi ence de I ' i nterpretati on devi ent pos
si bl e.
A quel l e exper i mentat i on no us sommes-nous donc l i vres en
sembl e, Mi chel e Mul l er , Carol e Bouquet et moi -meme?
But precisely thereby [ar la] the polylogue engaged
reading; it analyzed perhaps what vocalization [mise
en voi] could call forth and at the same time risk los
ing, an impossible utterance and undiscoverable to
nalities. Will I dare to say that my desire had a place,
its place, between this call and this risk. What was it
waiting for?
Then one day came the possibilit, I should say the
chance of mang a !e-ncording of this. Before
the technical means (which themselves mark a mo
ment of singular innovation in the history of pub
lishing) , this opportunity presupposes the desire,
here that of Antoinette Fouque: to breach a way
into the voices at work in a body of writing. And in
short, to situate them in the work, indeed to put
them to work. Not in order to substitute the vocal
setting for the book, but to give to each of them
their space or rather their specic volume, in such a
way that each medium is afected or reinvented by
the other. I do not believe that silent reading will
sufer from this, nor the book's desire, which, on the
contrary, receives new interpretive ipets from
this experiment. Des Femmes proposes not only this
double medium, printed page and tape recording,
from here on indissociable in their very hetero
geneit, but also provides a place for it, a sort of re
search laboratory, a studio of vocal writing, in which
an interpretive experiment becomes possible.
On what experiment have we embarked together, Mi
chele Muler, Carole Bouquet and myself? We have
Nous avons mi s a I ' epreuve cette questi on - a la loi s une
peur et un del i : a quel l es condi t i ons ri squer I ' acte de haute
voi x, cel ui -I a meme que j ' avai s attendu, mai s d' avance de
cri t, annonce, redoute su rtout comme I ' i mpossi bl e meme,
d' autres di rai ent l'interdit? Car sur l a page, c' est comme si
chaque mot etai t choi si pui s pl ace de tel l e sorte qu' aucune
prolerat i on par aucune voi x j amai s n' y accede.
Dans certai ns cas, en I ' absence d' exi gences marquees et con
tradi ctoi res, c' est I ' i ndetermi nat i on meme qui rendai t peri l
l eux I e passage a I ' acte gramophoni que: trop de l i berte,
mi l l e laeons, toutes aussi l egi ti mes, d' accentuer, de mar
quer I e ryt hme, de fai re vari er I e ton.
Dans d' autres cas, qu' i l s' agi sse encore de cesure, de pause ou
d' accord, l es deci si ons l es pl us contradi ct oi res etai ent si
mul tanement requi ses: l a meme syl l abe doit etre pronon
cee sur des regi stres incompatibles. Et donc ne I e doi t pas.
Cette potenti al i te peut rester, si on peut di re, dans I e fond, et
se percevoi r a l a l ecture si l enci euse, preci sement, envel op
pee, voi l ee. Comment l a lai re sort i r de sa reserve sans un
acte de foi , I e hi atus absol u a I ' i nstant d' une deci si on i m
possi bl e? Cel l e-ci se trouve touj ours conl i ee, I e moment
venu, a l a voi x de I ' autre. Non, a une voi x de I ' autre, a une 24 . . .
autre voi x: cel i e, i ci , de Carol e Bouquet.
put this question to the test - at once fearfl ad de
fant: Under what conditions does one take the risk
of vocalization, the very act I had awaited, having al
ready described i, given notice of it, above all
dreaded it as the impossible itself, some would say
the "prohibited" [Pintt] ? On the page it is as
though each word were chosen, then placed in such
a way that nothing uttered by any voice could gain
access to it.
In certain cases, in the absence of indications to the
contrary, it is the indetermination itself that makes
the experience of te ,gramophonic

ct so perilous :
too much freedom, a thousand ways, aljust as legit
imate, to accentuate, to set the rhythm, to make the
tone change.
In other cases, where it is still a question of cesura,
pause or agreement, the most contradictory deci
sions were required simultaneously: the same sylla
ble should be pronounceable on two incompatible
registers. But then again it shouldn't be. This poten
tiality remains, so to speak, in the background [dans
Ie fnd] , to be perceived by silent reading precisely as
something enveloped, veiled. How can we force this
potentiality out of hiding without a act of faith, the
absolute hiatus at the moment of an impossible deci
sion? This decision is always confded, when the
time comes, to the other's voice. No, to a voice of the
other, to aother voice: here, that of Carole Bou
quet.
25 . . .
Qui deci dera si cette voi x fut pretee, rendue ou don nee? Et a
qui ?
En s' engageant dans l es choi x i mpossi bl es, l a haute voi x "re
cordee" donne a l i re une reserve de I ' ecri tu re, ses pul si ons
tonal es et phoni ques, l es ondes ( ni I e cri n i l a parol e) qui se
nouent ou denouent dans I ' uni que voci ferati on, l a si ngu
l i ere portee d' une autre voi x. Cel l e-ci , a fi l trer l es possi bl es,
se l ai sse al ors passer, el l e est d' avance passee, memoi re
doubl ement presente ou presence dedoubl ee.
Qu' est-ce qui s' engage dans cet acte phonographi que? une i n
terpretat i on, une seul e par mi d' autres. A chaque syl l abe, a
chaque si l ence meme, une deci si on s' est i mposee: el l e ne
fut pas touj ours del i beree, ni parfoi s l a meme d' une repeti
t i on a I ' autre. Et el l e ne si gne ni l a l oi ni l a veri te. D' autres
i nterpretat i ons restent possi bl es - et sans doute neces
sai res. On anal yse ai nsi l a ressource que nous offre au
j ourd' hui ce doubl e texte: un espace graphi que d' une part,
ouvert a une mul ti pl i ci te de l ectures, dans l a forme tradi
ti onnel l e et sauve du l i vre -et c' est autre chose qu' un l i vret
pui squ' i l est re-donne a l i re, un autre don, l a nouvel l e
donne d' une premi ere f oi s; mai s d' autre part, si mul tane
ment, et aussi pour l a premi ere foi s, voi ci I ' archi ve sonore
d' une i nterpretat i on si ngul i ere, un j our , par tel ou tel I e, cal
cui et chance d' un seul coup.
A trancher, quel quefoi s sans I e vou l oi r, entre pl usi eurs i nter-
Who will decide whether this voice was lent, returned,
or given? And to whom?
By entangling itself in impossible choices, the spoken
"recorded" voice makes a reservoir of writing read
able, its tonal and phonic drives, the waves (neither
cry nor speech) which are knotted or unkotted in
the unique vociferation, the singular range of a
other voice. This voice, to narrow the possibilities,
is then left to pass away, it has passed away in ad
vance, doubly present memory or doubly divided
presence.
What is involved in this phonographic act? Here's an
interpretation, one aong others. At each syllable,
even at each silence, a decision is imposed: it was not
always deliberate, nor sometimes even the same
from one repetition to the other. And what it signs is
neither the law nor the truth. Other interpretations
remain possible - and doubtless necessary. Thus we
aalyze the resource this double text afords us to
day: on the one hand, a graphic space opened to
multiple readings, i the traditional ad protected
form of the book - ad it is not like a libretto, be
cause each time it gives a diferent reading, another
gif, dealing out a new hand all over again - but on
the other hand, simultaneously, and aso for the frst
time, we have the tape recording of a singular inter
pretation, made one day, by so on and so forth, at a
single stroke calculated ad by chance.
To decide, sometimes without wating to, between
pretat i ons (au sens de la l ecture mai s aussi du t hMtre et de
l a musi que) , l a voi x ne t rahi t pas un texte. Si el l e I e fai sai t ,
ce serai t au sens OU l a trahi son revel e: par exempl e I e pol y
l ogue remuant qui di vi se chaque atome d' ecr i t ure. Mani
festat i on de I ' i mpossi bl e veri te dont i I aura fal l u, a chaque
i nstant, et mal gre des repeti t i ons, en une seu l e foi s deci der.
L' enonci at i on al ors denonce, e l l e devoi l e ce qui I ' au ra em
porte, un j our , entre toutes l es voi x qui se partagent ou que
se partage l a meme voi x.
En face du pol yl ogue, sur l a page de gauche, des ci tat i ons
d' autres textes (La dissemination, Glas, La carte postale1 )
qui tous di sent quel que chose de l a cendre, mel ent l eurs
cendres et Ie mot "cendre" a autre chose. l i s accompa
gnent, i l s comparai ssent: arch i ve i ncompl ete, encore en
trai n de brOl er ou dej a consumee, rappel ant certai ns l i eux
du texte, l a medi tat i on conti nue, harcel ee, obsedee de ce
que sont et ne sont pas, veul ent di re - ou tai re, des cendres.
Ces ci tat i ons sont precedees du mot animadversio qui si
gni f i e en l ati n attention, observation, remarque, rappel, et
que j ' ai choi si en hommage a la revue Anima.
1. Bien qu' i l ne soi t pas cite, un autre texle est vi se par une al l usi on (p. 75): Te/epathie,
sorle de suppl ement a La cre postale qui , comme Glas, se trame autour des lett res LAC,
CLA ALC CAL, ACL, etc. (Furor 2. 1 981 et Confrontation 1 0, 1 983). Schibbo/eth (1 986).
aussi dedi e aux cendres, n' etai t pas encore publ i e.
26 . . .
several interpretations (in the sense of reading that is
also that of music and theater) : t?YQice does. not

_
etray a text. If it did, it woul,d be in the sense that
betrayal is a revelation: for example, the restless
polylogue that divides up each atom of writing.
Maifestation of the impossible truth on which it
wil have been necessary, at every instant, and de
spite repetitions, to decide once and for all . . !he_._
terace
.
EuS betrays, it unveils what will have, .?ne
day, carried it away, between the divisions of all the
voices or those into which the sae voice divides it-
self.
Facing the polylogue, on the lefhad page, citations
from other texts (Dissemination) Glas) The Postcardr )
that all say something about the cinder, mingle their
ashes ad the word "cendre" with something else.
The citations co-appear along with it, they are "sum
moned" [comparaissent] : a incomplete archive, still
burning or already consumed, recalling certain tex
tual sites, the continuous, tormenting, obsessive
meditation about what are and are not, what is
meant - or silenced by, cinders . These citations are
preceded by the word animadversio) which in Latin
means "observation, " "perception," or "call to at
tention," and which I chose in homage to the j our
nal Anima.
I. Athough it is not cited, another text is alluded to (p. 75) : "Telepathie," a
ki nd of supplement to The Postcard, which, l i ke Glas, is woven around the
letters LAC, CLA, ALC, CAL, ACL, etc. (FtrOr 2 [1981] and Confrontation
10 [1983] ) . Schibboleth (1986), also dedicated to cinders, was not yet pub
l ished.
27 . . .
Qu' on me permette de soul i gner enfi n deux di ffi cul tes parmi
d' aut res dans l a scenographi e son ore qui fut tentee d' autre
part. Tout d' abord, i l fal l ai t a fa {Dis marquer et effacer I ' ac
cent sur I e a de l a dans " i I y a l a cendre" et ai l l eurs. Fai re l es
deux a l a foi s etai t i mpossi bl e et si I e mot "accent" di t quel
que chose du chant, c' est I ' experi ence de l a cendr e et du
chant qui cherche i ci son nom.
Pui s si l a versi on enregi stree donne a entendre deux voi x, dont
I ' une paraTt mascul i ne, I ' autre femi ni ne, cel a ne rMui t pas
Ie pol yl ogue a un duo, voi re a un duel . Et en effet l a ment i on
"une aut r e voi x, " qu' on entend parfoi s sans l a l i re, aura sou
vent l a val eur d' une mi se en garde. El l e si gnal e que cha
cune des deux voi x se pr!e a d' autres encore. Je I e repete,
el l es son! en nombre i ndetermi ne: cel i e du si gna!ai r e des
!extes ne f i gure que I ' une d' entre el l es, e! i l n' es! pas sOr
qu' el l e soi l mascu l i ne. Ni I ' autre femme.
Mai s l es mots "une autre voi x" ne rappel l ent pas seul ement l a
mul t i pl i ci te des personnes, i l s appel l ent, i l s de man dent
une autre voi x: "une autre voi x, encore, encore une autre
voi x. " C' est un desi r, un ordre, une pri ere ou une pro
messe, comme on voudra: "une autre voi x, que vi enne a
cette heu re, encore, une autre voi x . . . . " Un ordre ou une
promesse, I e desi r d' une pr i ere, j e ne sai s pas, pas encore.
J. D.
May I emphasize fnally two difculties aong others
in the resonant scenography that was attempted
elsewhere. To begin with, it was necessary at once to
mark and eface the accent on the "a" in "la" in "il y a
la cendre" and elsewhere. To do both at once was
impossible and if the word "accent" says something
about "song," it is the experience of cinders and
song that here seeks its nae.
So if the recorded version makes to voices heard, of
which one seems masculine, the other feminine, that
does not reduce the polylogue to a , much less
to a <: Ad the efect of mentioning "another
voice," which one sometimes hears without reading
it, will often be to put one on one's guard. It signals
that each of the two voices yields to still others . I re
peat, they are indeterminate in number: the voice of
the signatory of the texts is the fgure of only one
aong oters, ad it is not certain whether this fg
ure is masculine; nor whether the other is a woman.
But the words "another voice" recall not only the com
plex multiplicity of people, they "call," they "ask
for" aother voice: "another voice, again, yet an
other voice." It is a_9_ire, a.t_9J: ger, a Ryer 9_
I
<!ie, as you wish: "_C!.voic, may it CQme
soon now, again, anothe!yoice . . . " A orer" or . a
+a
promise, the desie of a prayer, I_ d?1t )0W, not
yet.
J. D.
Feu l a cendre
Ci nders
Animadversiones
"S'ecarant d'el/e-meme, s'y formant toute, presque
sans reste, NJriture d'un seul trait renie et reconnalt la
dette. Efondrement extreme de la signature, loin du
centre, voire des secrets qui s'y paragent pour disper
ser jusqu'a leur cendre.
"Que la lettre soit forte en cette seule indirection, et de
toujours pouvoir manquer /'arrive, je n'en prendrai
pas pretexte pour m'absenter a la pontualite d'une de
dicace: R. Gasche, J-J Goux, J-C Lebensztejn, J.-H.
Miller, d'autres, il y a la cendre, reconnaltrnt, peut
etre, ce qui intervient ici de leur lecture. Decembre
1971 . "
30 . . .
Animadversions
"Moving of of i tself, forming i tself wholly therein, almost wthout
remainder, writing denies and recognizes its debt in a single dash.
The utmost disintegraton of the signature, far from the center,
indeed fom the secrets that are shared there, divi ded up so as to
scatter even their ashes.
"Though the letter gains strength solely fom this indirection, and
granted that it can always not arrive at the other si de, I wll not
use this as a pretext to absent myself fom the punctuality of a
dedication: R. Gasche, ]. ]. Goux, ]. C. Lebensztejn, ]. H. Mil
ler, others, cinders there are til y a Ia cendre] , will recognize, per
haps, what their reading has contributed here. December
1971. "
31 . . .
- Et pres de l a f i n, au bas de l a dern i ere page, c' est
comme si tu si gnai s de ces mots: "I I y a l a cendre. " Je
l i sai s, rel i sai s, c' etai t si si mpl e et pourtant j e compre
nai s que je n' y etai s pas, l a phrase se reti rai t sans m' at
tendre vers son secret.
- O' autant pl us que ce mot, l a, vous ne I e donni ez pl us a
entendre. A I ' ecouter seu l ement, l es yeux fermes, j ' ai
mai s me rassurer en mur murant l a cendre, confondant
ce l a, oui , avec I e si ngul i er femi n i n d' un art i cl e defi ni s
sant. / I tal / ai t dechi ffrer sans perdre I ' equ i l i bre, entre
I ' ci l et I ' orei l / e, je ne sui s pas sOre d' avoi r pu m' y arre
ter .
- J' avai s d' abord i magi ne pour ma part que cendre etai !
l a, non pas i ci mai s l a comme I ' hi stoi re a raconter: l a
cendre, ce vi eux mot gri s, ce theme poussi ereux de I ' hu
mani te, I ' i mage i mmemori al e s' etai t d' el / e-meme de
composee, metaphore ou metonymi e de soi , tel est I e
desti n de toute cendre, separee, consumee comme une
cendre de cendre. Qui oserai t encore se ri squer au po
eme de l a cendre? Le mot de cendre, on reverai t qu' i l tOt:
l ui -meme une cendre en ce sens, l a, l a-bas, el oi gne
dans I e passe, memoi re per due pour ce qui n' est pl us
d' i ci . Et par l a, sa phrase aurai t vou l u di re, sans r i en gar
der: l a cendre n' est pl us i ci . Y fut-el / e j amai s?
-And near te end, at the bottom of the last page, it
was as though you had signed with these words :
"Cinders there are." I read, reread them; it was so
simple, and yet I knew that I was not there; without
waiting for me the phrase withdrew into its secret.
- Al the more because this word, !4 "tQ," you
woud no longer let it be heard. Listening only to it,
with eyes closed, I liked putting my mind at rest by
wbisFering "the cinder," con1ing this ta) "there,"
y, .) me_,sjglar. fminine ddnite article. It
was necessary to decipher without losing equilib
rium between the eye and the ear; I a not sure that
I was ever able to achieve it.
-As for me, I had at frst imagined that cinders were
there, not here but there, as a story to be told: cin
der, this old gray word, this dusty theme of human
ity, the imemorial image had decomposed from
within, a metaphor or metonymy of itself, such is
the destiny of every cinder, separated, consumed
like a cinder of cinders. Who would stil dare run the
risk of a poem of the cinder? One might dream that
the word "cinder" was itself a cinder in that sense,
"there," "over there," in the distant past, a lost mem
ory of what is no longer here. And thereby [par tal
its phrase would have meant, without holding any
thing back: the cinder is no longer here. Was [ut] it
ever?
32 .
33 . . .
- I I y a 1 cendre, quand cel a fut, i l y a pres de di x ans, l a
phrase el oi gnai t d' el l e-meme. En el l e, el l e portai t I e
l oi ntai n. Mal gre sa pl ace et I ' apparence el l e ne se l ai s
sai t pas si gner, el l e n' appartenai t pl us, un peu comme
si , ne si gni f i ant ri en qui fOt i ntel l i gi bl e, el l e vena i t de tres
l oi n a l a rencont re de son presume si gnatai re qui ne l a
l i sai t meme pas, l a recevai t a pei ne, l a revai t pl utat
com me une l egende, une lumee de tabac: ces mots qui
sortent de votre bouche et vont se perdre sans recon
nai ssance.
- Suppose, voi 1 ce que j ' aurai s ai me l u i demander
(mai s a qui ? pour l a premi ere l oi s ce mat i n, di x ans
apres, j e prends consci ence j usqu' a pouvoi r me I ' a
vouer de ce qui a l a l ecture s' i mpr i me en moi , au centre
defendu mai s prepare pour l a j oui ssance muette: I ' art i
cl e absent devant tel l e cendre, en un mot l a ressem
bl ance esqui ssee par cet homophone 1 fai sai t trembl er
d' une lemme I e lantame au f ond du mot , dans l a fumee,
I e nom pr opre au fond du nom commun. La cendre n' est
pas i ci mai s i l y a 1 Cendre.
- Qui est Cendre? OU est-el l e? Ou court-el l e a cette
heure? Si I ' homophoni e ret i ent I e nom si ngul i er dans Ie
nom commun, ce lut bi en l a, une personne di sparue
mai s une chose qui en garde et a l a loi s perd l a t race, l a
- Cinders there are; when that happened [ut]
nearly ten years ago the phrase withdrew from itself
The phrase carried distance within itself, within her
self Despite its venue and despite al appearances, it
did not permit itself, did not permit herself, to sign;
it no longer belonged; somewhat as if, signifing
nothing that was [t] intelligible, the phrase cae
from very far away to meet its supposed signatory,
who did not even read it, who scarcely received it,
dreaed it rather, like a legend or a saying, a whif of
tobacco smoke : these words that lea
v
e your mouth
ony to be lost i unrecognizability.
- Just suppose, this is what I would have liked to ask
( but whom? This morning, for the frst time, ten
years later, I becae aware to the point of being able
to admit to myself that something about this read
ing is imprinted in me, in a place sheltered but ready
for silent ecstasy: the article missing before such cin
ders, in a word, the resemblance sketched by this ho
mophonic la "there," made a feminine phantom
tremble deep within the word, in the smoke, the
proper name deep within the common noun. The
cinder is not here, but Cinder there is.
- Who is Cinder? Where is she? Where did she run
of to at this hour? If the homophony withholds the
singular name within the common noun, it was
surely "there," la; someone vanished but something
preserved her trace and at the same tie lost it, the
34 . . .
35 . . .
cendre. C' est la la cendre: ce qui garde pour ne pl us
meme garder, vouant I e reste a l a di ssi pat i on, et ce n ' est
pl us personne di sparue l ai ssant l a cendre, seul ement
son nom mai s i l l i si bl e. Et r i en n ' i nter di t de penser que
ce soi t aussi I e surnom du soi -di sant si gnatai re. I I y a l a
cendre, une phrase di t ai nsi ce qu' el l e fai t , ce qu' el l e est.
El l e s' i nci nere a l a seconde, sous vos yeux: mi ssi on i m
possi bl e ( mai s j e n' ai me pas ce verbe, i nci nerer, j e ne l u i
trouve aucune affi ni te avec l a tendresse vul nerabl e, avec
l a pat i ence d' une cendre. II est acti f, ai gu, i nci si f).
- Non, l a phrase ne di t pas ce qu' el l e est, mai s ce qu' el l e
rut, et comme ce vocabl e f ut empl oye par vous dej a tant
de foi s depui s tout a I ' heure, n ' oubl i ez pas qu' i l reste en
memoi re de feu , du mot feu dans I ' expressi on feu un tel
ou feu une tel l e. Cendre de to utes nos etymol ogi es per
dues, tatum, {uit, functus, defunctus.
- La phrase di t ce qu' el l e aura e!e, des l ors se donnan! a
el l e-meme, se donnant comme son propre nom, I ' art
consume du secret: de I ' exh i bi t i on savoi r se garder.
- Su ppose, aurai s j e demande, que cette l egende seul e
men! si gnal e, et pour ne ri en di re d' aut re que soi : je sui s
un si gnal de cendre, j e rappel l e quel que chose ou quel -
cinder. There the cinder is : that which preserves i
order no longer to preserve, dooming the remant
to dissolution. Ad it is no longer the one who has
disappeared who leaves cinders "there"; it is only her
stil ureadable nae. Ad nothing prevents us
from tinng that this may aso be the nicknae of
the so-caled signatory. Cinders there are, the phrase
thus says what it does, what it is. It imediately in
cinerates itself, in front of your eyes : an impossible
mission (but I do not like this verb, "to incinerate"; I
fnd in it no afnity with the verable tenderness,
with the patience of a cinder. The verb is active,
acute, incisive) .
- No, the phrase does not say what it is, but what it
was [ut}) and since this vocable was [t} just used
by you so many times, do not forget that it remains
in memory of the departed [u}) of the word fu in
the idiom, "the late so and so," the departed, the be
reaved. Cinder of al our lost etymologies, fatum)
fit) fnctus) defnctus.
- The sentence says what it wil have been, from te
moment it gives itself up to itself, givig itself as its
own proper nae, the consued ( and consu
mate) art of the secret : of knowing how to keep itself
from showing.
- Just suppose, I would have asked, that this saying
ony gives a signa and only i order to say nothing
other than itself: I a a cinder signal, I recal some
thing or someone of whom I will say nothing but
36 . . .
37 . . .
qu' un dont j e ne di rai r i en mai s ce trace vi si bl ement
pour ne ri en di re aura dO annul er I e di t de son di re, I e
donner au feu, I e detrui re dans l a f l amme et non autre
men!. Pas de cendre sans feu.
Cel a se doi t au teu et pourtant, si possi bl e, sans I ' ombre
d' un sacr i f i ce, a mi di , sans dette, sans Pheni x et I ' uni
que phrase vi ent a pl acer, au l i eu d' aucun pl acement, I e
l i eu seul ement d' une i nci nerat i on. El l e n' avoue que I ' i n
ci nerati on en cours dont el l e reste Ie monument, taci te a
peu pres, ce peut etre la -
- Mai s pourquoi aur i ez-vous donne au feu? Pour gar
der, cache, au pour perdre en l ai ssant voi r I e gri s du
deu i l , I e demi -deui l qui ne l i ent a soi que I e temps d' une
cendre? Pourquoi la cendre? Li eu de brOl ure mai s de
quoi , de qui ? Tant qu' on ne I e sai t pas, et vous ne I e sau
rez jamai s, decl are l a phrase en ce qu' el l e di t de pl us
haut, I ' i nci nere n' est pl us r i en t or s l a cendre, un reste
qui se doi t de ne pl us rester, ce l i eu de r i en qui soi t , un
I ieu pur se chi ffrat-i I .
- Pur est I e mot. I I appel l e un feu. I I y a l a cendre, voi l a
qui prend pl ace en l ai ssant pl ace, pour donner a enten
dre: r i en n' aura eu l i eu que I e l i eu. I I y a l a cendre: i l y a
l i eu.
this rough sketch obviously i n order to say tat
nothing wil have had to anul what is said in its say
ing, to give it to the fre, to destroy it in the fame,
and not otherwise. No cinde without fre [u] .
That is what is
..
o

to e fre, and yet, if possible,


without the shadow of a sacrifce, at noon, without
debt, without the Phoeni, thus the unique phrase
comes to set into place, in the place of no emplace
ment, the place solely of an incineration. The sen
tence avows only the ongoing incineration, of
which it remains te almost silent monuent : this
can be "tere " la - ,
- But why would you have given it to the fre? To
preserve the hiddenness of mguring's ashen gray
ness, or to undo it by letting it be seen, the half
mourning that persists only as long as the tie of a
cinder? 'y cinders "there"? The. _place of burning,
but of what, of whom? A long as one does not
know, and you wil never kow, te sentence says
what it said earlier, the incinerated is no longer
nothing, nothing but the cinder, the innermost cin
der frnace, a remnant that must no longer remain,
this place of nothing that may be, a pure place was
marked out.
- Pure is the word. It cals for fre. Cinders there are,
this is what taes place in letting a place occur, so
that it will be understood: Nothing will have taken
place but the place. Cinders there are: Place there is
(il y a lieu) .
38 . . .
39 . . .
- OU? I ci ? La? OU sont des mots sur une page?
- I I y a prescr i pt i on. L' i di ome " i l y a l i eu, " jamai s vous
ne I e tradui rez, non pl us qu' un nom propre cache or I e
voi ci qui deporte tout: vers l a reconnai ssance, l a dette,
I e devoi r, l a prescri pti on. I I y a l i eu de ceci , un nom
pr opre, i I y a l i eu de fai re ceci ou cel a, de donner , de ren
dre, de cel ebrer, d' ai mer. Et de fai t I e paysage de l a l e
gende ( i l y a 1 1 cendre) I ' entou re d' ami t i e, l a grce ren
due t out de meme que l a di ssemi nati on. I I y a 1 3 cendre,
cel a ful, en somme, com me I e ti tre f ragi l e et f r i abl e du
l i vre. Di scretement ecartee, l a di ssemi nati on phrase
ai nsi en ci nq mots ce qui par I e feu se dest i ne 3 la di sper
si on sans ret our, l a pyri fi cati on de qu i ne reste pas et ne
revi ent 3 personne.
- Si un l i eu meme s' encercl e de f eu (tombe en cendre
fi nal ement, tombe en tant que nom) , i l n' est pl us. Reste
la cendre. I I y a l a cendre, tradui s, l a cendre n' est pas,
el l e n' est pas ce qui est. El l e reste de ce qui n' est pas,
pour ne rappel er au fond f ri abl e d' el l e que non-etre ou
i mpresence. L' etre sans presence n' a pas ete et ne sera
pas pl us l a au i l y a la cendre et par l erai t cette autre me
moi re. La, au cendre veut di re l a di fference entre ce qui
reste et ce qui est, y arri ve-t-el l e, l a?
- Where? Here? There? Where are the words on a
page?
- There are prescribed liits. The idiom il y a lieu)
you will never translate it, no more than you wil a
hidden proper name, for this is what carries ever
thing away: toward the recognition, the debt, the
obligation, the prescribed limit. There is a place for
this, a proper name, place there is for doing this or
that, for giving, rendering, celebrating, loving. Ad
because of this, the locaJit of the legend ("cinders
-' . . '
there are") surrouns it 't friendship, iest.wing
grace and dissemination a_the same ti!e. Cinders
tere are, that was [ut} fnally like te fragile,
singed, and crumbling title of the book, Dissemina
tion. Discreetly pushed to the side, dissemination
tus expresses in fve words [il y al.qndre} what is
destined, by the fre, tAispersion 2, return,
the pyrifcation of what does not remain a
1
.
? returns
to no one.
- If a place is itself surrounded by fle (fals fnally to
ash, into a cinder tomb) , it no longer is. Cinder re
mains, cinder there is, which we can translate: .he
cinder is not, is not what is . I! refans from what is ,
not, in order to recall at te delicate, charred bottom
of itself only non- being or oIprsence. eipg
without presence has ,n(t beel al 'iJl.lo l(nger be
there where there is cinder and where this other
memory would speak. There, where cinder means
the diference between what remains and what is,
will she ever reach it, there?
40 . . .
41 . . .
- I I trouve peut-etre i ndecent d' avoi r a commenter, a l i re
meme et a ci ter cette phrase: c' est proprement encenser,
pour di re I e mot. Quoi qu ' i l pretende, H i l y a l a cen dre"
reste a l u i . Et tout ce que nous en di rons et mul ti pl i erons
i ci , de l a si gnature l egal e qu' i l fei nt de deter i orer i l l e re
l i era, il nous I e reprendra, Ie donnera au foyer de son
pr opre i ncendi e - ou de sa propre fami l l e: i l n' y a cendre
que sel on I ' atre, I e foyer, quel que feu ou l i eu. La cendre
comme mai son de I ' etre . . .
- Ta precaut i on est i ngenue. I I repondra ce qu ' i l voudra,
l a phrase a beau paraitre dans un l i vre portant sa si gna
ture, el l e ne l u i appart i ent pas, i I avoue I ' avoi r l ue avant
de I ' ecr i re. El l e, cette cendre, l u i fut don nee ou pretee par
tant d' autres, par tant d' oubl i s et d' ai l l eurs personne i ci
ne I ' encense d' un commentai re, ce secret. Nous n' en de
voi l ons l i tteral ement r i en, ri en qui au bout du compte ne
l a l ai sse i ntacte, vi erge ( i l n' ai me que ca) , i ndechi ffrabl e,
i mpassi bl ement taci t e, bref a I ' abri de l a cendre qu ' i I y a
et qui est el l e. Car abandonnee a sa sol i t ude, temoi n de
qui ou de quoi , l a phrase ne di t meme pas l a cendre.
Cette chose dont on ne sai t r i en, ni quel passe porte en
core cette poussi ere gr i se de mots, ni quel l e substance
vi nt s' y consumer avant de s' y etei ndre (savez-vous
- Perhaps he fnds it unseemy to have to comment,
even to read and to cite this phrase: he is, in efect,
"rally incensed" at having, in a word, "t!c:nse" it.
Regardless what he may say, "cinder there is" re
mains his . Ad everything we will say and advance
here about it, concerning the lega signature that he
pretends to undermine, he wil reinstate it, he will
tae it back again, will give it to the hearth of its own
burning - or of its own family. r- a,re_ iIders
only insofar as there is the hearth, the fre
p
lce, ome
fre or pl,ace. Cinder as the)0use of being . . .
- Your precaution is naive. He will answer however
he chooses. While the phrase appears in a book bear
ing his signature, it does not belong to him. He ad
mits having already read it before writing it, before
writing her. She, this cinder, was given or lent to
him by so many others, through so I
1J
o
Jg
!ti
!
g,
ad besides, no one here fatters this secret with a
commentary. We literally uveil nothing of her,
-- -
. . -. - - - -
n

thing th

t in the fnal account .2s not le

ve her
in.! t;
:
l .(that's te only thing he loves) , u
decipherable, impassively tacit, in a word, sheltered
from the cinder that there is and that she is. For
abadoned to its soli
t
de, witness to whomever or
whatever, the sentence does not even say the cinder.
This thing of which one knows nothing, knows nei
ther what past is still carried in these gray dusty
words, nor what substance cae to consume itself
there before extinguishing itself tere (do you know
II
"Pure et sans figure, cete lumiere brOle tout. file se
brOle dans Ie brOle-tout qu'elle est, ne laisse d'elle
meme ni de rien, aucune trace, aucune marque, aucun
signe de passage. Pure consumation, pure efusion de
lumiere sans ombre, midi sans contrake, sans resis
tance, sans obstacle; onde, ondees, fots enfammes
de lumiere: "[. ] (Li chtgOsse) [. ] "
"Le brOle-tout est 'un jeu sans essence, pur accessoire
de la substance qui se leve sans jamais se coucher
(ei n wesenl oses Bei herspi el en an di eser Substanz di e
nur aufgeht, ohne i n si ch niederzugehen) sans devenir
sujet et sans stabiliser ses differences par Ie moyen du
soi-meme (Sel bst) '. "
42 . . .
II
"Pure and fgureless, this light burns all . It burns itself in the a11-
burning [Ie brle-tout] it is, leaves, of i tself or anything, no
trace, no mark, no sign of passage. Pure consuming destruction,
pure efusion of light without shadow noon wthout contrary,
wthout resistance, wi thout obstacle, waves, showers, streams
ablaze with light: 'f . . $ 1 (Lchtgisse) [ . . . 1. ' "
"The all-burning is 'an essenceless by-play, pure accessory of the
substance that rses wthout ever setting (ein wesenloses Bei
herspielen an dieser Substanz die nur aufgeht, ohne in sich
niederzugehen), wthout becoming a subject, and without con
solidating through the self (Selbst) its diferences. ' "
43 . . .
combi en de types de cendres di st i nguent l es natura
l i stes? et de quel " boi s" tel l es cendres parfoi s rappel
l ent un desi r?), une tel l e chose, di ra-t-on encore qu' el l e
garde meme une i denti te de cendre? Au present, i ci
mai ntenant, voi l a une mati ere - vi si bl e mai s l i si bl e a
pei ne - qui ne renvoyant qu' a el l e-meme ne fai t pl us
trace, a moi ns qu' el l e ne trace qu' en perdant l a trace
qu' el l e reste a pei ne
- qu' el l e reste pour peu
- mai s c' est j ustement ce qu' i I appel l e l a trace, cet effa
cement. J ' ai mai ntenant I ' i mpressi on que Ie mei l l eur
paradi gme de l a trace, pour l ui , ce n' est pas, comme cer
tai ns I ' ont cru , et l ui aussi peut-etre, l a pi ste de chasse,
I e frayage, I e si l l on dans I e sabl e, I e si l l age dans l a mer,
I ' amou r du pas pour son emprei nte, mai s l a cendre (ce
qui reste sans rester de I ' hol ocauste, du brO l e-tout, de
I ' i ncendi e I ' encens)
- Qu' el l e reste pour tres peu de personnes, et pour peu
qu' on y touche el l e t ombe, el l e ne tombe pas en cendres,
el l e se perd, et j usqu' a l a cendre de ses cendres. En ecri
vant ai nsi , i l br Ol e une f oi s de pl us, i l brul e ce qu' i l adore
encore mai s qu ' i l a deja bru l e, i l s' y acharne
how many types of cinders the naturalists disti
guish r and for what "wood" such cinders sometimes
recall a desire? ) ; will one still say of such a thing that
it even preserves the identity of a cinder? At present,
here and now, ther

is something material - yisible


but scarcely . . rea4a.le - that, referring only to itself,
. . . . . - " , . - . , " . , , -
n
( }g
r m
a
e
. .. . .
tr
:
ce,
unless it
r . (p
l
y . . .
b
y
1
?
si
lg .t1
t
.
it
..
ce
y leaves
- that it just barely remains
- b
u
t that is j ust what he calls _e_.tac, is . eiace
pt. I have the impression now that the best para
digm for the trace, for him, is not, as some have be
lieved, and he as well, perhaps, the trail of te bunt,
the fraying, the frrow in the sand, the wake i the
sea, the love of the step for its imprint, but the cider
(WE. Emin. without remaining [r5l the holo
c_lst, fr(. te a !ig, fr, e .incineratio
?
. Icense)
-That it remains for very few people, and, however
slightly one touches it, it falls, it does not fall ito
cinders, it gets lost down to the cider of its ciders.
In writing this way, he burns one more time, he
burns what he stil adores although he has already
burned it, he is intent on it
" . . . feu artiste. Le mot lui-meme ( Bei herspi el en) joue
I'exemple ( Bei spi el ) a cote de i'essence. "
"Le brule-tout - qui n'a lieu qu'une fois et se repete ce
pendant a l'infini - s'ecare si bien de to ute generaJe
essentielle qu'il ressemble a la pure diference d'un
accident absolu. Jeu et pure diference, voila Ie secret
d'un brule tout imperceptible, Ie torrent de feu qui
s'embrase lui-meme. 5'emporant elle-meme, la dife
rence pure est diferente d'elle-meme, done indife
rente. Le jeu pur de la diference n'est ren, il ne se rap
porte meme pas a son prpre incendie. La lumiere
s'entenebre avant meme de devenir sujet. "
"Comment de cette consumation sans limite peut-il
rester quelque chose qui amorce Ie proces dialectique
et ouvre i'histoire?"
"Comment I e pur du pur, I e pire du pire, I'incendie pa
nique du brule-tout pousserait-il quelque monument,
tt il crematoire? quelque forme geometrique, solide,
par exemple une pyrami s qui garde trace de la mor?
Pyrami s, c'est aussi un gateau de miel et de farine. On
i'ofrait en recompense d'une nuit blanche a qui restait
ainsi eveille. "
"5'il detruit jusqu'a sa lettre et son corps, comment Ie
brule-tout peut-i/ garder trace de lui-meme et entamer
une histoire au il se conserve en se perdant?
lei s' epruve la force implacable du sens, de la media
tion, du laborieux negatif. Pour etre ce qu'il est, purete
du jeu, de la diference, de la consumation, Ie brule
tout doit passer dans son contraire: se garder, garder
son mouvement de perte, apparaTtre comme ce qu'il
est dans sa disparition meme. Des qu'il apparaTt, des
que Ie feu se montre, il reste, il se retient, il se perd
comme feu. La pure diference, diferente de soi, cesse
d'etre ce qu'elle est pour rester ce qu'elle est. C'est
i'origine de i'histoire, Ie commencement du declin, Ie
44 . . .
" . . . fre arti st. The word i tself (Beiherspi elen) plays the exam
ple (Beispiel) besi de the essence. "
"The all-burning - that has taken place once and nonetheless
repeats i tself ad infni tum - diverges so well fom all essenti al
generali ty that it resembles the pure diference of an absolute ac
ci dent. Play and pure diference, those are the secret of an imper
ceptible all-burning, the torrent of fre that sets i tself ablaze. Let
ting i tself get carri ed away, . d
!
ference
)

Aierent
_?_!,
ifgf_e
J
I}i_f
e
rent. Ih Eu_e_plgy gierene_! s IthiIg, does
not even relate to i ts own confagration. The light envelops itself
in darkness even before becoming subj ect. "
"How, fom this consuming destruction wi thout limi t, can there
remain something that primes the dialectical process and opens
history?"
"How would the purest of the pure, the worst of the worst, the
panic blaze of the all-burning, put forth some monument, even
were it a crematory? Some stable, geometric, solid form, for ex
ample, a pyramis that guards the trace of death? Pamis is also
a cake of honey and four. It was ofered as a reward for a sleepless
night to the one who thus remained awake. "
"If the all-burning destroys up to i ts letter and i ts body, how can i t
guard the trace of itself and breach/broach a history where i t pre
serves i tself in losing i tself?"
Here is experienced the impl acable force of sense, of mediation, of
the hard-working negative. In order to be what it is, puri t of
play, of diference, of consuming destructi on, the all-burning
must pass into i ts contrary, guard i tself, guard its own monument
of loss, appear as what it is in i ts very disappearance. As soon as i t
appears, as soon as the fre shows i tself, i t remains, i t keeps hold
of i tself, it loses i tself as fre. Pure diference, diferent from (t)self,
ceases to be what it is in order to remain what it i s. That is the ori
gin of history, the beginning of the going down [declinJ , the set-
45 . . .
coucher du soleil, Ie passage a la subjectivite occiden
tale. Le feu devient pour-soi et c'est perdu; encore pire
puisque meilieur.
Alors au lieu de tout bruler on commence a aimer les
feurs. La religion des feurs suit la religion du soleil.
L 'erection de la pyramide garde la vie - Ie mor -pour
donner lieu au pour-soi de I'adoration. file a la signifi
cation d'un sacrifce, d'une ofre par laquelle Ie brule
tout s'annule, ouvre I'anneau, Ie resserre dans I'anni
versaire de la revolution solaire en se sacrifianl
comme brule-tout donc en se gardanl. "
"Chance ae la substance, de la reslance determinee en
subsistance. "
"La diference et Ie jeu de la lumiere pure, la dissemma
tion panique et pyrmane, Ie brule-tout s'ofre en ho
locauste au pour-soi, gi bt si ch dem Fursi chsei n zum
Opfer. /I se sacrifie mais c'est pour rester, assurer sa
garde, se lier a lui-mame, strictement, devenir lui
mame, pour-soi, aupres de soi. Pour se sacrifier, if se
brule. "
"Inversion panique, sans limite: Ie mot hol ocauste qui
se trouve traduire Opfer est plus approprie au texte que
Ie mot de Hegel lui-meme. Dans ce sacrifice, tout (ho
l DS) est brule (caustos) et Ie feu ne pourra s'eteindre
qu'attise. "
"Qu'esle-ce qui se met en jeu dans cet holocauste du
jeu lui-mame?
Ceci peut-atre: Ie don, Ie sacrifice, la mise en jeu ou a
feu de toul, I'holocauste, sont en puissance d'ontolo
gie. Sans I'holocauste Ie mouvement dialectique el
I'histoire de I'alre ne pouvaient pas s'ouvrr, s'engager
dans I'anneau de leur anniversaire, s'annuler en pr
duisant la course solaire d'Orent en Occident. Avant,
si ron pouvait compter ici avec Ie temps, avant toute
chose, avant tout etant determinable, il y a, il y avait, il y
46 , . ,
|lag e|:ae saa, :ae passage :e eccliea|al sa|jec:lrl :j. Ere |e-
cemesler- l :)sellaailsles:,je:nerse[pie] slace|e::et.
Ihealalaceel|atalngall,eeglas:aerenaners.Jherell-

lene|eners|allens:aetellgleae|:hesaa.
Iaeetec|leae||hepyraml1gaatisll|e- :aeieai- laerier:e
glrerlse[donner lieu] :e:he|et-l:)sel|elaiara:lea. Jalsaas
:aeslgallca:leae|asacrlhce,e|aaeer|jnalca:aeall-|aralag
aaaalsl|sel|,epeas:aeaaaalas,cea:rac:s:aeaaaalasla:e:ae
aaalrersarjal:hesalarterala:lealnsactlhclagl|sel|as:heall-
|aralag,:aere|erelagaar1lagl :sell.
"Jaecaaacee|sa|s:aace,e|:aeremn+ncejtes|aace|ie:erlaei
assa|sls:ence.
"JaeilEerenceaai:heplaja|:heparellga:, aakanij-
tnlailssemlaa|lea, |l clNaraing eersl:s a h|a
a(:a a)r-(l sel|,gbt sich dem Purslchselnzum Opfer.
f) 'L|(l||:sel|, 1. Y __ pl:elasatel|sgaarilag,:e
|la1l :sel|:e l:sel|s:tlc:l, |a |ecemel :sel|, lar-t)sell, clese)-
|j:)sell.lnarier:esacrlhcel|sell,l:|arasl:sel|.
" / ':
li'-
' ' paalc,llml :lesslarerslea.:aenari|c+ust:aa:aappeas:e
:raaslateOpfer lsmeteapptaptla|e:e:he:ex::aaa:heneria|
Hegelalmsel|.la|alssacrlhce,
_
i

s, l
'
(ac
|
s) ,
aai:aelrecangeea:ealjs|ekei "
"wha|a|sl|sel|laplajl n:alsaalecaas:e| plajl:selP
Jalsperhas.:egl|:,:a acrlhce,:hepa::lagla:elajar:he
se::lagealreeleretj:alag, :aealecs:c;:alas:aese]el
an:elegjwl :hea::aehelaccas::aeilalc|lcalmeremea:aai


|
. '
:
' '
eln
1 ,
c
". "
:

e
""
sel

res
)
g
]
e
_
:he
(
-
slesla:aeaaaalas |:aelaa|yersarj, ceal1ae:aaaal:aem-
selreslapreiaclng:aesalarcearseEem0rlea::e0ccliea|.e-
|ere,lleaecealiceaa:aerem|h:lme,|e|areejg,|e|ere
q(l
le

e
i
ag[
eta
nt] ,
:
Q
els, :a

s,:a
(,
e
|
47 . . .
aura eu I'evenement irrptifdu don. Evenement qui n'a
plus aucun rapport avec ce qu'on designe couram
ment sous ce mot. On ne peut donc plus penser la do
nation a partir de I'etre, mais 'Ie conlraire' pourrait-on
dire si cete inversion logique eta it ici perinente au
moment ou il ne s'agit pas encore de logique mais de
I'origine de la logique. Dans Zei t und Sei n, Ie don du
es gi bt se donne a penser avant Ie Sei n dans Ie es gi bt
Sei n et deplace tout ce qu'on determine sous Ie nom
d' Erei gni s, mot souvent traduit parevenement. " j . . ]
" . . . Ie proces du don (avant i'echange), proces qui
n'est pas un prces mais un holocauste, un holo
causte de I'holocauste, engage i'histoire de i'elre mais
ne lui apparient pas. Le don n' est pas, I'holocauste
n' est pas, si du moins il y en a. Mais des qu'il brule
(I'incendie n'est pas un etan! il doil, se brOlant lui
meme, brOler son operaton de brO/er et commencer a
etre. Cele reflexion, ce refet de I'holocauste engage
I'histoire, la dialectique du sens, I'ontologie, Ie specu
lalif. Le speculatif est Ie refel (specul um) de I'holo
causte de I'holocausle, I'incendie ref/8chi et rafra1chi
par la glace du mirir".[. . ]
"II Y a la un falum du don, el cette necessite se disail
dans Ie 'doit' ( muss) qui nous I'indiquait plus haul
[. . ]Je te donne - don pur, sans echange, sans re
tour - mais que je Ie veuille ou non, Ie don se garde et
des lors tu dois. Pour que Ie don se garde, lu dois.
[. . ] Le don ne peut eire qu'un sacrfice, tel est
i'axiome de la raison speculative. Meme s'il surgit
'avant' la philosophie et la religion, Ie don a pour desti
nation ou determination, pour Best i mmung, un retour
a soi dans la philosophie, verite de la religion. "
48 . . .
hae_ beI the jrrlptj) event of th(gtf [don] . An event that no
more has any relation with what is currently deSignated under
this word. Tus giving can no longer be thought stati!g.fIe
[etre] , but ' the contrary, ' it could be sai d, i f this logical inver
sion here were pertnent when the question is not yet logiC but the
origin of logic. In Zeit und Sein, the gift of the es gibt gives itself
to be thought before the Sein in the es gibt Sein and displaces all
that is determined under the name Ereignis, a word translated by
event. " [. . . J
" . . . t
.
'
rocess of th. 9!ft (before exchange), the process _

O
.
put a. hQlocaust! aJ_oc_t 9f rb. holocaust,
gage th
.
histor ofBeiqg lt 4,10. belong t it. The gift is,
pt,tQhQIQ1t is not; if at least something there is [il yen
I
a] . But as soon as it burns (the blaze is not a beingHIt, burn-

ing i tself,

E. itX9of burni,ng aE81n This refec-


tion (n both senses of the word) of the holocaust engages history,
the dialectic of sense, ontology, the speculative. The speculative is
-
the refection (speculum) of the h.,l!Alo

aust, the blaze


refected and cooled by the glass, the ice, of the mirror." [ . . . 1
"A fatum of the gift there is [II y a 10] , and this necessit was said
in the 'must' (muss, dOit) we indicated above [ . . . ]. Lg!y
y
ou

p
ure gift, thout e.xchange, thout . return -,but whether I
t.i_or n,ot, igift guards i tself, eeps i tself, and fom then
P]Ou must-o\e, tu dois. [ . . . J

he gift .. cn only be a
!
acrifc>,
that is the axiom of speculative reason. Even if it psurges ' before'
philosophy and religion, the gift has for its destination or deter
mination, for i ts Bestimmung, a return to self in philosophy, re
ligion's truth. "
49 . . .
et j e I e sens,
j e veux di re I ' odeur du corps, peut-@tre du si en. Toutes
ces cendres, i l s' acharne en el l es.
- On di t "cendres chaudes, " "cend res froi des, " sel on
que I e feu s' y souvi ent encore, y couve au ne fomente
pl us. Mai s la? Quand la cendre toute en phrase n' a pour
consi stance que sa syntaxe et de cor ps qu' en son voca
bul ai re? Les mots, ga fai t chaud au froi d? Ni chaud ni
froi d. Et l a forme gr i se de ces l ettres? Entre I e bl anc et I e
nai r, l a coul eur de I ' ecri tu re ressembl e a l a seul e " I i tte
ral i te" de la cendre qui t i enne encore dans un l angage.
Dans une cendre de mots, dans l a cendre d' un nom, l a
cendre el l e-m@me, l a l i tteral e - cel i e qu' i l ai me - a di s
paru . Le nom de cendre est une cendre encore de la cen
dre meme.
- C' est pour quoi l a cendre dans une sentence i ci n' es!
pl us, mais i I y a l a cendre.
- La, une i nci nerat i on de I ' arti cl e defi ni l ai sse en cen
dres l a cendre meme. l i l a di sperse et l a garde par l a, el l e,
a l a seconde.
- Lui ( mai s c' est peut-etre el l e, l a cendre), peut-etre
sai t- i l ce qu' i l vou l ai t ai nsi i ncendi er , cel ebrer, encen-
and I sense it, I mean the
odor of the body, perhaps his. Al these cinders, he
feels them burning in his fesh.
- One says "warm cinders," "cold cinders, " depend
ing whether the fre still lngers there or no longer
stirs . But there? Were the cinder witin a sentence
has for consistency only its syntax and for body only
its vocabulary? Does this make the words warm or
cold? Neither warm nor cold. Ad the gray form of
these letters ? Beteen black and white, the color of
writing resembles the ony "literality" of the cinder
that still ineres in a language. In a cinder of words,
in the cinder of a name, te cinder itself, the literal
that which he loves - has disappeared. The name
"cinder" is still a cinder of the cinder itself
-That is why te cinder in a sentence here no longer
is, but cinder tere is .
- There, la) an incineration of the defnite article
leaves the cinder itself in cinders. It disperses it and
thereby [par la] preserves it, preserves her, in a in
stant.
- He (but perhaps it is she, la cinder) perhaps he
knows what he thus wished to set on fre, to cele
brate, to ignite with praise m the secret of the sen-
50 . . .
51 . . .
ser dans I e secret de l a sentence, peut-etre I e savent- i l s
encore, peut-etre en sai t-i l du moi ns quel que chose.
Mai s cette nui t meme i l peut encore decouvri r de I ' i n
connu ou de I ' i nconsci ent a cette l egende qu' i l di t tant6t
avoi r l ue tantot avoi r, je me rappel l e son mot, forgee. I I
I ' avai t prononce avec un accent ang l ai s, ma "forger i e de
cont refacteur. " Or i l va bi en mour i r. Et si peu de temps
que ce soi t, l a peti te phrase a quel que chance de l ui sur
vi vre, pl us cendre que jamai s, l a, et moi ns que j amai s
sans personne a di re moi .
- Mai s I e contrefacteur peut ment i r , i l ment fen sui s
presque sOre, comme d' experi ence, i l n' y a sans doute
aucun vrai secret au fond de cette phrase, aucun nom
propre determi ne. Un j our i l m' a confi e mai s j e ne I e
cr oi s j amai s que l a premi ere l ettre a peu pres de chaque
mot I . L. Y. A. L. C. etai t I ' i ni t i al e d' un aut r e mot , I e tout
proferant, mai s dans une l angue etrangere, une toute
autre decl arat i on, et que cette derni ere aurai t j oue Ie rol e
d' un nom pr opre code, en veri te sa si gnature chi ffree. Je
n' en ai ri en cru, i I venai t d' i nventer l a supercheri e, i l peut
touj ours menti r ou ne pas meme etre assure de ce qu ' i l
di t savoi r. C' est preci sement a c e pOi nt qu' i l y a l a cen
dre. S' i l etai t sOr en veri te de son savoi r , pourquoi
aurai t-i l eu ce desi r d' ecri re et surtout de publ i er une
tence, perhaps they still know it, perhaps he knows
at least something about it. But even tonight he may
still discover what is unknown or unconscious in
tis saying that he sometimes says he has read ad
sometimes, I recal his expression, forged. He had
pronounced it with an English accent, my "counter
feiter's forgery." He wil of course die someday; and
for however brief a time, the little phrase has some
chance of surviving him, more a cinder tha ever,
there, ad less tan ever without anyone to say "I. "
- But the counterfeiter can lie, he's lying, I am a
most sure of it, from experience. There is doubtless
no rea secret at the bottom of this sentence, no de
termined proper nae. Once he confded to me, but
I still do not believe that the frst letter of almost ev
er word, I. L.YA. L. C. [l Y a la cendrej, was the frst
letter of another word, al of it expressing, but in a
foreign language, an entirely diferent statement,
which would have played the role of a coded proper
nae, in truth his ciphered signature. I believed
none of it, he had j ust invented the hoax, _: al
ways lie or not even be certain of 'h< he claims to
,.. _---- - .. - .' -
. . .. . .
. It is precisely at this point tat the cinder is
there. If he were sure of the trut of his knowledge,
why woud he have this desire to write and above al
to publish a phrase that makes itself indeterminate in
52 . . .
53 . . .
phrase qui s' i ndetermi n e ai nsi ? Pour quoi mettre en de
r i ve et cl andest i ner de l a sorte une proposi t i on aussi l i
si bl e? Sa proposi t i on, qu' i l y ai t l a cendr e, voi l a qu' el l e
consi ste, dans son extreme fragi l i te comme dans I e peu
de temps dnt el l e di spose (sa vi e aura ete si cou rte) en
ce non-savoi r vers l equel se preci pi tent, touj ours de
pai r, I ' ecri tu re et I ' aveu. L' un I ' autre, I ' une I ' autre dans l a
meme crypte se compul sent.
- Par I e retour pat i ent , harcel ant, i roni que de I ' exegese
qui n' avance a ri en et que l es i ngenus trouverai ent i nde
cente, ser i ons-nous en trai n de model er I ' urne d' un l an
gage pour cette phrase de cendre qu ' i l a, l u i , abandon
nee a sa chance et au sort, une vertu d' autodestruct i on
fai sant f eu t out e seu l e en pl ei n ccur?
- Mai s I ' u rne de l an gage est si fragi l e. El l e s' eff ri te et tu
souffl es aussi t6t dans une poussi ere de mots qu i sont l a
cendre meme. Et si tu l a confi es au papi er c' est pour
mi eux t ' enf l ammer mon enfant, tu te raval es aussi t6t.
Non, ce n ' est pas I e tombeau dont i l aurai t reve pour
qu' un travai l de deu i l , comme i l s di sent, y ai t l i eu de
prendre son t emps. Dans cette phrase je voi s: I e tom
beau d' un tombeau, I e monument d' une tombe i mpos
si bl e - i nterdi te, com me l a memoi re d' un cenotaphe, l a
this way? Why set adrif and "clandestine" in tis
way such a readable proposition? His proposition,
that cinders there were, fnaly consists, in its ex
treme fragility and in the lite time at its disposal (its
life will have been so short) , of this non-kowledge
toward which writing and recognition, always a
pair, are precipitated. One and the other, both of
them, are compelled into the same crypt.
-Through the patient, tormenting, ironic retrn of
the exegesis tat leads to nothing and which te u
sophisticated would fnd useemly, would we be
molding te urn of a language for this cinder sen
tence, which he, he, has abadoned to its chace and
to fate, a self-destrctive vire fring on its own
right into te heart.
- But the urn of language is so fragile. It crumbles
and imediately you blow into the dust of words
which are the cinder itself And if you entrust it to
paper, it is al the better to infame you with, my
dear, you will eat yourself up immediately. No, this
is not the tomb he would have dreamed of in order
that there may be a place [y ait lieu}) as they say, for
the work of mourning !Q take its time. In this sen
tence I see the tomb of a tomb, the momuent of an
impossible tomb - forbidden, like the memory of a
I
I
54 . . .
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
!
I
I
I
!
I
!
I
I I
I
I I
I I
I I
I I
I I
I I
I I
I I
I I
I I
I I
I I
I I
I
I
I I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
55 . . .
pati ence refusee du deu i l , refusee aussi l a l ente decom
posi t i on abr i tee, si t uee, l ogee, hospi tal i see en toi pen
dant que t u manges i es morceaux ( i l ni a pas voui u man
ger I e morceau mai s i l l ' a dO), Une i nci nerat i on cel ebre
peut-etre Ie r i en du tout, sa destruct i on sans retour mai s
fol i e de son desi r et de sa r use ( pour mi eux t out garder
mon enfant), I ' affi rmati on di ssemi nal e a corps perdu
mai s aussi tout I e cont rai re, I e non categor i que au l a
bour du deui l , un non de feu, Comment accepter de tra
vai l l er pour monsei gneur Ie deu i l ?
- Comment ne pas I ' accepter? I I est cel a meme, Ie deu i l ,
I ' hi st oi re de son refus, I e reci t d e ta revol ut i on, ta rebel
l i on, mon an ge, quand el l e entre en hi stoi re et a mi nui t tu
epouses un pr i nce. Quant a I ' urne de l angue, fOt-el l e de
feu, ne l a crei s pas si fri abl e. Et ne mens pas, tu sai s bi en
ce qu' une ph rase est sol i de. Par sa di spar i t i on meme
el l e resi ste a tant et t ant d' ecl i pses, e l l e gar de t ouj ours
une chance de reven i r, el l e s' encense a I ' i nfi n i , c' est
beaucoup pl us sOr au fond que I e pl acement de I ' archi ve
dans un beton su rarme a dest i nati on de nos neveux
extra-terrestres. La phrase se pare de toutes ses morts.
Et si mi eux tu te raval es, di t l a grand-mere et I e l oup pour
qui tu travai l l es, c' est encore au benefi ce du deu i l .
ccnotaph, dcprvcdot thcpatcnccot mournng,dc-
nicd a|so thc slov dccomposton that shcltcrs, lo-
catcs,lodgcs,hospitazcsitscltmyouwhlcyoucat
mcpcccs hcddnotvanttocatthcpcccbutwas
forccd to) . aton c|cbrats prsm
poU(||,dcc(igQJ prnbut
madvthtsdcsrcandwrthtscunnng( althcbct-
tcrtoprcscrvccvcjthng,mydcar) ,thc dpcratcly
dsscmna|ammanqbutals {sc,thc
K
w-- v ~ ~ ~^
;!'
c

n

t
9!!|''
us
. j@
urnng,
'' '!@
r

. Canonccvcracccptworkgfor!s
!ghncssMoumng`
-!owcanoncnotacccptt`_()hatmog
)s, jsqgpJrtsrha|,thcnarrativcolyourrcv-
o|ution, your rcbc||on, my angc|, vhcn it cntcrs
ntohrstoryandatmidnghtyoumarjaprrncc.As
torthcurnotthcspokcntonguc,cvcnwcrc[ut} ta
tonguc othrc,do not thnk that t brcaks upcasly.
Ad do not|ic,youvc||knowhovso|idascntcncc
is . Bytsvcjdsappcarcc itrcssts sovcrymany
cclipscs, t a|ways has a chancc otrcmrnng,_. .
cs"

tscl(

'
. Jhs s so much morc ccr-
tarnhnallythan p|acngmcarchvc|n a rcnforccd
bcamdcstincdtorourcxtratcrrcstrialcousins .Jhc
scntcnccis adorncdwitha|lotits dcad. Ada||mc
bcttcrtocatyoursc|tw|th,saythcgrandothcrand
thcwolttorwhomyouwork, tssti|ltothcbcncnt
otmournng.
III
" . . . E finir cette Deuxieme Lettre: ' . . . Refechis
donc a cela et prends garde d'avoir a te repentir un jour
de ce que tu laisserais aujourd'hui se divulguer indi
gnement. La plus grande sauvegarde sera de ne pas
ecrire, mais d'apprendre par crur . . . to me gra
phei n al l ' ekmanthanei n . . . car il est impossible que
les ecrits ne finissentpar lomber dans Ie domaine pu
blic. Aussi, au grand jamais, je n'ai moi-meme ecrit
sur ces questions . . . oud' est i n sungramma Pl ato
nos ouden oud' estai , il n'y a pas d'ouvrage de Platon
et il n'y en aura pas. Ce qu'f present I'on designe sous
ce nom S6kratous est i n kal ou kai neou gegonotos . . .
est de Socrate au temps de sa belle jeunesse. Adieu et
oMis-moi. Aussit6t que tu auras lu et relu cette lettre,
brule-Ia . . . "
- J'espere que celle-ci ne se perdra pas. Vite, un
double . . . graphite . . . carbone . . . relu cette lettre
. . . brule-Ia. I y a la cendre. E maintenant il faudrait
distinguer, entre deux repetitions . . .
56 . . .
III
" . . . And to fnish that Second Letter: ' . . . Consider these facts
and take care lest you sometime come to repent of havins now
unwisely published your views. It is a very weat safesuard to
learn by heart instead of wri tins . . . to me graphein all' ek
manthanien . . . . It is impossi ble for what is wri tten not to be
disclosed. That is the reason why I have never written any thins
about these thinss . . . oud' estin sungramma Platonos ou
den oud' estai, and why there is not and will not be any wri tten
work of Plato's own. What are now called his . . . Sokratous es
tin kalou kai neou gegonotos . . . are the work of a Socrates
embellished and modernized. Farewell and believe. Read this let
ter now at once many times and burn i t. . . . '
- I hope this one won' t set lost. Quick, a duplicate . . . sraphite
. . . carbon . . . reread this letter . . . burn i t. Cinders there are
[II y a la cendre] . And now to distinsuish, between two repeti
tions . . .
57 . . .
- Si c' etai t moi , j ' aurai s prefere n' avoi r jamai s ecr i t cel a,
j e I ' aurai s aussi t6t br Ol e.
- Cel a f ut fai t, non?
- Tu di sai s tout a I ' heure qu' i I ne pouvai t pas y avoi r de
phrase d' "auj ourd' hui " pour ce mot de cen dre. Si , i l n' y
en a qu' une peuHtre dont l a publ i cat i on soi t di gne, e l l e
d i rai t I e br Ol e-tout, autrement d i t hol ocauste e t I e four
crematoi re, en al l emand dans toutes l es l angues j u i ves
du monde.
- Vous di tes ne pl us vous souven i r du l i eu au l a 1 1-
gende, une seconde foi s, dans I e mme l i vre, comme un
murmure de Pl aton pour occuper I ' encei nte . . .
- Un murmure parfume, I e pharmakon desi gne parfoi s
une sorte d' encens, et I ' i terati on, l a seconde qu' el l e est
aussi ferai t penser a une ci tat i on mai s el l e ne recom
mence qu' une premi ere et une der ni ere foi s a l a loi s. Si
vous ne vous rappel ez pl us, c' est que I ' i nci nerat i on sui t
son cours et l a consumat i on va de soi , l a cendre mme.
Trace dest i nee, comme tout e, a di sparaitre d' el l e-m@me
pour egare r l a voi e autant que pour ral l umer une me
moi re. La cendre est j uste: parce que sans trace , j uste
ment el l e trace pl us qu' une autre , et comme I ' autre trace.
- If it were I, I would have preferred never to have
written that, I would have burnt it at once.
- Was [ut] that not done?
- You j ust said that he could not have a "up to date"
phrase for tis cinder word. Yes, there is perhaps
only one worth publishing, it would tell of te al
burning, otherise called holocaust and the crema
tory oven, in German in all the Jewish languages of
the world.
- You say you no longer remember the place where
the legend, a second time, in the sae book, like
Plato murmuring in the enclosure of the phar
macy . . .
- A perfmed murmur, the pharmakon sometimes
designates a kind of incense, and the second itera
tion, which looks like a citation, which pretends to
be a citation, but it only starts up all over again te
frst time and the last time at the same time. If you no
longer recall it, it is because the incineration follows
its course and the consumation proceeds from it
self, the cinder itself. Trace destined, like everthing,
to disappear from itself, as much in order to lose the
way as to rekindle a memory. The cinder is exact : be
cause without a trace it precisely traces more than an
oter, and as the other trace( s) . Although it comes
La nui passe. Au maln, on entend des coups a la
pore. lis semblent venir du dehors, cette (ois, les
coups . . .
Deux coups . . . quatr . . .
IV
"J' espere que ce/le-ci ne se perdra pas. Vite, un double
. . . graphite . . . carbone . . . relu cette lettre . . .
brule-Ia. E maintenant il (audrait distinguer, entre
deux repetitions . . .
La nuit passe. Au matin, on entend des coups a la
pore. /Is semblent venir du dehors, cete {ois, les
coups . . .
Trois coups . . .
V
"Le 27 aout 1979. Tu viens d'appeler. Ah non, surout
pas Phenix (d'ail/eurs c'est d'abord pour moi, dans
ma langue {ondamentale, la marque . . .
58 . . .
The night passes. In the morning, knocks are heard at the door.
They seem to be coming fom outside, this time . . .
Two knocks . . . four . . .
IV
"I hope this one won' t get lost. Quick, a duplicate . . . graphite
. . . carbon . . . reread this letter . . . burn it. And now to distin
gUish two repeti ti ons . . .
The night passes. In the morning, knocks are heard at the door.
They seem to be coming fom outside, this time . . .
Three knocks . . .
V
"
27 August I979. You just called. A no, above all not Phoenix
(which for me, moreover, is frst of all, in my fndamental lan
guage, the mark . . .
59 . . .
Bi en Qu' el l e arri ve pl us tot dans I ' ordre du l i vre et l a re
l i ure des pages, el l e y fut i nscri te apres l a seconde: el l e
ne f i gurai t pas dans l a premi ere edi t i on du meme texte,
Entre l es deux versi ons, ou est l a cendre de I ' autre, i ci ou
l a?
- Or par ce j uste ret our des cendres, et depui s l ong
temps j e t ' observe Quand tu ecri s, ce Qui revi ent de ta
course essouffh e fai t sa voi e d' une l ongue pi ste cen
dree, Tu as beau t' en defendre, tu n' es vol ume Qu' a te
couvri r de cendres, comme l a tete en si gne de deu i l .
-I I ya l a rebel l i on contre Pheni x et aussi I ' affi rmat i on du
feu sans l i eu ni deui l .
- La phrase reste pour moi vi si bl e et avant mame de l a
rei i re son i mage dans mon souveni r s' i mpri me a l a pl u
ri el l e, i l ya l a cendres, Versi on fauti ve a enterrer, comme
font l es Jui fs Quand I e nom de Di eu un manuscri t I e
bl esse, Cel a, I ' s muet pour ne pouvoi r s' entendre et ne
r i en changer a l ' ou'e, ma memoi re I e j ouai t , el l e j ouai t
avec I e si ngul i er homophone un j eu pl us di scr i mi nant,
pl us rassu rant, sans doute, Mai s ce l a desormai s si gni
f i ai t Que I ' i nnombrabl e couvai t t out uni Quement sous l a
cendre, I ncubati on du f eu couche so us l a poussi ere,
earlier in the book and in the order of the pages, it
was [ut] inscribed there after the second iteration: it
did not fgre in the frst version of the text. Between
the two versions, where is the cinder of the other,
here or there?
- Now, through this precise return of the cinders,
and for a long time I have observed you when you
write, what returns from the breathless race makes
its way on a long cinder track. No matter how much
you resist it, you have mass and volume only when
covered wit cinders, as one covers one's head wit
ashes in a sign of mourning ,
-There is rebellion against the Phoenix ad also the
afrmation of the fre without place or mourning.
- The sentence remains visible for me and even be
fore rereading it, its image in my memory is im
printed in the plura: cinders there are. A faulty ver
sion to be buried, as do the Jews when a manuscript
has wounded the name of God. The "s," silent so
that it calot be heard ad to chage nothing in the
hearing, my memory played with that; and with the
singular homophone [cendre] it played a gae more
discriminating, more reassuring, no doubt. But this
"there" from now on signifed that the innumerable
lurks beneath the cinder. Incubation of the fre lurk
ig beneath the dust.
VI
"Quant aux Envoi s eux-memes, je ne sais pas si la lec
ture en est soutenable. Vous pourriezles considerer, si
Ie ccur vous en dit, comme les restes d'une corres
pondance recemment detruite. Par Ie feu ou par ce qui
d'une figure en tien! lieu, plus sur de ne rien laisser
hors d'atteinte pour ce que j'aime appeler langue de
feu, pas meme la cendre s'il y a Ii cendre.
Fors- une chance. "
VII
"Car les envois totalement incineres n'ont pu etre in
diques d'aucune marque. "
VI I I
"Si tu m'avais ecoute, tu durais tout brule et rien ne se
rait arrive. Je veux dire au contraire que quelque chose
d'inefatable sera it arrve, au lieu de . . .
IX
"Rien n'est arrive parce que tu as voulu garder (et donc
perdre), ce qui en efet formait Ie sens de /'ordre venu
60 . . .
VI
''s for the 'Envois' themselves, I do not know if reading them is
bearable. You might consi der them, if you really wish to, as the
remainders of a recently destroyed correspondence. Destroyed by
fre or by that which fguratively takes i ts place, more certain of
leaving nothing out of the reach of what I like to call the tongue of
fre, not even the cinders if cinders there are [s'il y a la cendre] .
Save [fors] a chance."
VII
"For the totally incinerated envois could not be indi cated by any
mark. "
VIII
"If you had listened to me, you would have burned everything, and
nothing would have arrived. I mean on the contrary that some
thing inefaceable would have arrived, in the place of . . . "
IX
"Nothing has arrived because you wanted to preserve (and there
fore to lose), which in efect formed the sense of the order coming
61 . . .
- Le feu: ce qu' on ne peut pas etei ndre dans cette trace
parmi d' autres qu' est une cendre. Memoi re ou I ' oubl i ,
comme tu voudras, mai s du feu, trai t qui rap porte en
core a de l a brO l u re. Sans doute I e feu s' est- i l ret i re, I ' i n
cendi e maltri se, mai s s' i l y a la cendre, c' est que du feu
reste en retrai t . Par sa retrai te encore i I fei nt d' avoi r
abandonne I e terrai n . I I camouf l e encore, i l se degui se,
so us l a mul t i pl i ci te, l a poussi ere, l a poudre de maqui l
l age, I e pharmakon i nconsi stant d' un corps pl uri el qui
ne t i ent pl us a l ui -meme - ne pas rester aupres de soi , ne
pas etre a soi , voi l a I ' essence de l a cendre, sa cendre
meme.
- Au-dessus du l i eu sacre, I ' encens encore, mai s aucun
monument , aucun Pheni x, aucune erect i on qui ti enne -
ou tombe - , la cendre sans ascensi on, des cendres
m' ai ment, el l es changent de sexe al ors, el l es s' andrent,
el l es s' androgynoci denl .
- El l e j oue avec l es mots comme on j oue avec I e feu, j e l a
denoncerai s comme une pyromani aque qui veut nous
fai re oubl i er qu' on construi t des egl i ses, en Si ci l e, avec
l a pi erre de l ave. L' ecri tu re pyrotechn i ci enne fei nt de tout
abandonner a ce qui part en fumee, ne l ai ssant l a que
cendre a ne pas rester. Je pl acerai s un l ong reci t, des
noms, Mal l arme, I ' hi stoi re du tabac, La fausse monnaie
de Baudel ai re, I ' Essai sur Ie don, "To ute I ' me resumee
-The fre: what one canot extinguish in this trace
among others that is a cinder. Memory or oblivion,
as you wish, but of the fre, trait tat still relates to
the burning. No doubt the fre has withdrawn, the
conagration has been subdued, but if cinder there
is, it is because the fre remains in retreat. By its re
treat it stil feigns having abandoned the terrain. It
still camoufages, it disguises itself, beneath the mul
tiplicity, the dust, the makeup powder, the insistent
pharmakon of a plural body that no longer belongs
to itself- not to remain nearby itself not to belong
to itself, there is the essence of the cinder, its cinder
itself.
- Above the sacred place, incense again, but no
monument, no Phoeni, no erection that stands -or
falls -, the cinder without ascension, the cinders love
me, they change sex, they re-cinder themselves, they
androgynocide themselves .
- She plays with words as one plays with fre, I
would denounce her as a pyromaniac who wants to
make us forget that i Sicily churches are built with
the stone of lava. Pyrotechnical writing feigns aban
doning everything to what goes up in smoke, leav
ing there only cinder that does not remain. I woud
set out a long narrative, of names, Mallarme, the
history of tobacco, Baudelaire's "Counterfeit Mo
ney," Mauss's The Gi) "The whole soul sumed up
de derriere ma voix, lu Ie rappel/es, il y a tant d'annees,
dans ma premiere 'vraie' letre: 'brule-tout. ' "
X
" . . . puis tu ajoulais) 'Je brule. J'ai /'impression bete
de t'etre fdete. Je garde pourant de les phrases cer
tains simuJacres [depuis tu me les as montresj. Je
m' eveille. Je me souviens des cendres. Quel/e chance,
bruler, oui, oui . . . '
XI
"Le symbole? Un grand incendie holocaustique, un
brule-tout enfin ou nous jetterions, avec toute notre
memoire, nos noms, les lettres, les photos, les petits
objets, les cles, les fetiches, etc. "
XII
"Holocauste des enfants.
Dieu lui-meme
n'avait que Ie choix entre deux fours crematoires . . .
XIII
"I/s n'y verront que du feu-. "
XIV
"Au bout du compte, premiere chance ou premiere
echeance, la grande brulure de cet ete. Tu seras la, dis
moi, au demier moment, une allumetle chacun pour
commencer [. . . J Nous toucherns au feu un jour de
62 . . .
fom behind my voi ce, you remember, so many years ago, in my
frst ' true' letter: ' burn everything. ' "
x
" . . . then you added) 'I am burning. I have the stupid impression
of being faithfl to you. I am nonetheless saving certain simula
cra fom your sentences [you have shown them to me since] . I am
waking up. I remember the cinders. What a chance, to burn, yes
yes . . .' "
XI
"The symbol? a great holocaustc fre, a burn-everything into
which we would throw fnally, along wth our entire memory, our
names, the letters, photos, small obj ects, keys, fetshes, etc. "
XII
"Holocaust of the children
God himse1f
had only the choice between to crematory ovens . . .
XIII
"They wll only see it through the fre (they will only be blinded
by it). "
XIV
"In the fnal account, the frst chance or the frst reckoning, the
great burning of this summer. You' ll be there, say it, at the last
moment, one match each to start. [ . . . ] We will draw dose to the
63 . . .
grand pardon, peut-etre, ce sera au mains la troisieme
fois que je joue avec ce feu jour-la, et chaque fois pour
Ie depar Ie plus grave. "
XV
"Mais en principe seulement, et si la part du feu est im
possible a delimiter, en raison du lexique et des
'themes, ' ce n'est pas pour la raison habiuelle (faire au
feu sa par, allumer des contre-feux pour arreter la pro
gression d'un incendie, evier I'holocauste). Au con
traire, la necessite du tout s'annonce . . . "
XVI
" . . . je n'y arriverai jamais, la contamination est par
tout et l'incendie nous ne /'allumerions jamais. La
langue nous empoisonne Ie plus secret de nos secrets,
on ne peut meme plus brOler chez soi, en paix, tracer Ie
cercle d'un foyer, il taut encore lui sacrifier son propre
sacrifice. "
XVII
"et quand tu ne reviendras'plus, apres Ie feu, je t'enver
rai encore cares vierges et muettes, tu n'y reconnal
tras meme plus nos souvenirs de voyage et nos lieux
communs, mais tu sauras que je te suis fidele. "
XVI I I
"Ce fut sans doute I e premier holocauste desire
(comme on dit un enfant desire, une file desiree). "
XIX
"La au surout je dis vrai ils ne verront que du feu. A
propos, tu sais que la Sophie de Freud fut incineree.
Lui aussi. "
64 . . .
fre on a day of judgment, perhaps, i t wl l be at least the third
time that I play wi th the fre on that day, and each ti me for the
most serious stakes. "
XV
"But in principle only, and if fre's share is impossible to delimi t, by
virtue of the lexicon and the ' themes, ' it is not for the usual reason
(give fre i ts due, light counter-fres in order to stop the progres
sion of a blaze, avoid a holocaust). On the contrary, the necessity
of the whole [du tout] announces i tself . . . "
XVI
" . . . I will never get there, the contamination is everyhere and
we would never light the fre. Language poisons for us the most
secret of our secrets, one can no longer even burn at home, in
peace, trace the circle of a hearth, one must even sacrifce one's
own sacrifce to it. "
XVII
"and when you will no longer come back, after the fre, I wil l still
send you vrgin and mute cards, you will no longer recognize even
the memoirs of our travels and our common places, but you will
know that I am fai thfl to you. "
XVI II
"Doubtless this was the frst desired holocaust (as one says a de
sired chi l d, a desired girl). "
XIX
"There [La] especially where I speak truly they will be blinded by
the fre. On this subject, you know that Freud's Sophi e was cre
mated. He too."
65 . . .
XX
"Demain je t'ecrirai encore, dans notre langue etran
gere. Je n 'en retendrai pas un mot et en septembre,
sans que je /'aie meme revue, tu brO/eras,
tu /a brO/eras,
to; taut que ce soi toi. "
66 . . .
XX
"Tomorrow I will wri te you again, in our foreign language. I won' t
remember a word of i t and i n September, wi thout my having even
seen it again, you will burn,
you will bur i t,
i t has to be you. "
67 . . .
[ . . . ] pour peu Que l a cendre se separe [ . . . ] Le sens
trop preci s rature Ta vague l i tterature. "
- Par ces ci tati ons, ces references, vous autori sez la
cendre, vous construi sez une uni versi te nouvel l e, peut
etre. Ecoutez pl utOt Vi rgi ni a Wool f, dans Three Guineas:
" L' argent gagne [ par l es femmes] ne devra en aucun cas
al l er a la reconstructi on d' une uni versi te a I ' anci enne, et
comme i l est certai n Qu' i l ne pourra etre consacre a l a
construct i on d' une uni versi te fondee sur de nouvel l es
bases, cette gui nee portera l a menti on. ' Chi ffons, es
sence, al l umettes. ' On y attachera cette note: ' Prenez
cette gui nee, et redui sez I ' uni versi te en cendres. Br Ql ez
l es vi ei l l es hypocri si es. Que la l umi ere du brasi er effrai e
l es rossi gnol s! Qu' el l e empou rpre l es saul es! Que l es
fi l l es des hommes eduQues fassent l a ronde autour du
feu! Qu' el l es entreti ennent l a fl amme en y j etant des
brassees de feui l l es mortes, et des pl us hautes fenetres
que l eurs meres se penchent et cri ent: Br Ql e! BrQl e! Car
nous en avons f i ni avec cette "educati on" !
,
"
- Encore faut- i l savoi r br Oi er . I I faut s' y entendre. I I y a
aussi ce "paradoxe" de Ni etzsche - Qui en fai t autre
chose peut-etre Qu' un penseur de l a total i te de I ' etant
quand Ie rapport de la cendre au tout ne l ui paralt pl us
[ @ . q ] howcvcrs|ight|yJhccindcrscparatcsitsc|t. . . |
Jhcovcr|yprcciscmcaningcrascsYourvaguc|itcra-
turc."
- Withthcsc citat|ons, thcsc rctcrcnccs,youautho-
r|zcthc cindcr, youw|||constructancwunivcrsity,
pcrhaps. But|istcntoVirgn|aWoo|tnThree Guin
eas: Moguncaotcarncdmoncymoncycarncdby
thcwomcn| shou|dgoto rcbu|dingthcco||cgcon
thc o|d p|an, ust as ccrtain|y nonc cou|d bc spcnt
upon bu|dingaco||cgcuponancwp|an,thcrctorc
thc guinca shou|d bc carmarkcd `Kags. Pctro|.
Matchcs.` And this notc shou|d bc attachcd to it.
`Jakcthisguincaandv|thitburnthcco||cgctothc
ground.Sctnrctothco|dhypocrsics.Lctthc|ight
otthc burn|ng bui|dngscarc thc nightnga|cs and
|ncarnadnc thc wiUovs. And |ct thc daughtcrs ot
cducatcdmcndanccroundthcnrcandhcaparmml
uponarmm|o|dcad|cavcsuponthchcs.And|ct
thcirmothcrs|cantromthcuppcrwindowsandcry,
Lctitb|azc'!ctitb|azc'Forwchavcdoncwiththis
cducat|on"' ` "
- nc must sti|| know how to |ct t b|azc." nc
mustbcgoodatt.JhcrcisaIsoM|ctzschc`sparadox
- wh|ch makcs hm somcming c|sc pcrhaps than a
thmkcrofthctotaIityofcntitcs[PitantJ - whcnhc
no |ongcr norma|izcs thc rc|at|on otthc c|ndcr to
thc who|c by trcat|ng|t as partotthc who|c, or by
68 . . .
69 . . .
regul ar i se par I ' i ncl usi on de l a parti e ou par quel que
tranqu i l l i sant l ogos metonymi que: "Notre monde tout
enti er est l a c1/d' i nnombrabl es etres /|/o|s;et si
peu de chose que soi t I e vi vant par rapport a l a total i te, i I
reste que, une foi s dej a, tout a ete converti en vi e et con
ti nuera de I
'
etre ai nsi . " Or ai l l eurs Go/ So/|/) .
"Gardons-nous de di re que la mort serai t opposee a l a
vi e. Le vi vant n' est qu' un genre de ce qui est mort, et un
genre tres rare. "
- Dans l a premi ere l egende, qui vi ent a l a seconde,
apres el l e, I e mouvement de l a dedi cace ( reconnai s
sance de delte et non rest i t ut i on) di t au moi ns, montre
en di sant a pei ne que la cendre vi ent a l a pl ace du don. I I
y aurai t e u don, meme s' i l n'
est pas di t, comme i l s e do i t
pour qu' i l ai t l i eu, de qu oi ou de qui . Reconnai ssance et
denegati on d' une dette, d' "un seul trai t di vi se, " "l oi n
du centre. " Et d' une l eUre seul e, d' un coup de dent en 1/|
( "Que la l eUre soi t forte en cette seu l e i ndi recti on") un
centre s' effri te et s' attendri t , i l se di sperse d' un coup de
de: cendre.
- Muette, l a dedi cace fei nt de resti tuer. Mai s el l e ne sau
rai t rendre ou donner ri en que des poussi eres de feu ,
el l e n e di t r i en, e l l e ne l ai sse ri en paraltre d' el l e-meme,
introducing some tranquilizing metonymic logos :
"Our entire world is the cinder of innumerable living
beings ; and what is living is so little in relation to the
whole, it must be that, once already, everything was
transformed into life and it wil continue to be so. "
Or elsewhere ( Gay Science) : "Let us guard against
saying that death is opposed to life. The living being
is only a species of what is dead, and a very rare spe
cies ."
- In the frst legend, which comes afer the second,
afer her, the movement of the dedication ( recogni
tion of debt and non- restitution) says at least, shows
by barely saying that the cinder comes in place of te
gif. Gift there would have been, even if it is not said,
as it shoud be so that it may take place, from what
ever or whomever. Recogition and denial of a debt,
of a "single divided trait," "far fom the center." Ad
from a mere letter, idebted to a dental d/t fung fom
the tongue ("Though the letter gains strength solely
from this indrection") , a center crumbles and melts, it
is dspersed i a throw of the de: cinder.
-Mute, the dedication feigns restitution. But it only
knows how to render or give nothing but fery dust;
it says nothing, it allows nothing of itself to appear,
70 . . .
71 . . .
de son or i gi ne ou de sa dest i nat i on, qu' une pi ste de sa
bl e, et encore vous anesthesi ant: sabl e brOl ant ou pas?
A l a pl ace d' autres, au pl uri el deja, de l eurs noms et non
d' eux-memes, i l y a l a cendre, "d' autres, i l y a l a cen
dre. "
- G' est evi demment une f i gure, al ors meme q u' aucun
vi sage ne s' y l ai sse regarder. Gendre de nom f i gure, et
parce qu' i l n' y a pas i ci de cendre, pas i ci (ri en a toucher,
aucune cou l eur, poi nt de corps, des mots seu l ement) ,
mai s surtout parce que ces mots, qui a travers Ie nom
sont censes ne pas nommer I e mot mai s l a chose, l es
voi l a qui nomment une chose a l a pl ace d' une autre, me
tonymi e quand l a cendre se separe, une chose en f i gu
r ant une autre dont i l ne reste r i en de fi gurabl e en el l e.
-Mai s comment un mot, i mpropre a seu l ement nommer
l a cendre a l a pl ace du souveni r d' autre chose, pourrai t
i i , cessant de renvoyer encore, se presenter l u i -meme, I e
mot, comme de l a cendre, a el l e parei l , comparabl e j us
qu' a I ' hal l uci nati on? Gendre, Ie mot, j amai s ne se trouve
i ci , mai s l a.
- I I faut pour cel a que tu I e prennes dans ta bouche,
quand I ' emi ssi on du souffl e, d' ol qu' el l e vi enne au vo
cabl e, di sparalt a l a vue comme une semence brO l ante,
of its origin or its destination, only a trail in the sand,
and it still anesthetizes you: can you not feel the step
[pas] into the burning sand? In the place of others,
plural already, of their names and not of themselves,
cinder there is, "of the others, cinder there is."
- It is obviously a fgure, athough no face lets itself
be seen. The name "cinder" fgures, and because
there is no cinder here, not here (nothing to touch,
no color, no body, only words) , but above all be
cause these words, which through the name are sup
posed to name not the word but the thing, they are
what naes one thing in the place of another, me
tonymy when the cinder is separated, one thing
while fguring another from which nothing fgur
able remains.
- A word, unft even to name the cinder in the place
of te memory of something else, and no longer re
ferring back to it, how can a word ever present it
self? The word, like the cinder, similar to her, com
parable to the point of hallucination. Cinder, the
word, is never found here, but there.
- For that it is necessary that you take the word into
your mouth, when you breathe, whence the cinder
comes to the vocable, which disappears from sight,
72 . . .
73 . . .
une l ave en vue de r i en. Cendre n' est qu' un mot. Mai s
qu' est-ce qu' un mot pour se consumer j usqu' a son sup
port ( bande de voi x ou de papi er, autodestructi on de
I ' emi ssi on i mpossi bl e une foi s I ' ordre donne) , j usqu' a
se I ' assi mi l er sans reste apparent? Et tu peux recevoi r
aussi l a semence dans I ' orei l l e.
- Quel l e di fference entre cendre et f umee: ce l l e-ci appa
rem men! se perd, et mi eux, sans reste sensi bl e, mai s
el l e s' el eve, el l e prend de I ' ai r, subti l i se et subl i me. La
cendre - tombe, l asse, I ache, pl us materi el l e d' eff ri ter
son mot, el l e est tres di vi si bl e.
- Je comprends que l a cendre n' est ri en qui soi t au
monde, ri en qui reste comme un etant. El l e est I ' etre,
pl uta!, qu ' i l y a - c' est un nom de I ' etre qu ' i l y a l a mai s
qui , se donnant (es gibl ashes), n' es! ri en, reste au-del a
de tout ce qui est (konis epekeina les ousias), reste i m
pronongabl e pour rendre possi bl e I e di re al ors qu' i l
n' es! r i en.
- Mon desi r ne va qu' a l a di stance i nvi si bl e, i mmMi ate
ment "gr i l l ee" entre les l angues, ent re cendre, ashes,
ci nders, ci ni s, Asche, cendr i er (to ute une phrase) ,
Aschenbecher, ashtray, etc. , et ci neres, et surtout la ce-
like burning semen, like lava destined nowhere. Cin
der is only a word. But what is a word for consum
ing itself all the way to its support (the tape-re
corded voice or strip of paper, self-destruction of the
impossible emission once the order is given) , to the
point of assiilating it without apparent remainded
Ad you can also receive semen through the ear.
-What a diference between cinder ad smoke: the
latter apparently gets lost, ad beter still, without
perceptible remainder, for it rises, it takes to the air,
it is spirited away, sublimated. The cinder - fals,
tires, lets go, more material since it fritters away its
word; it is ver divisible.
- I understand that the cinder is nothing that can be
in the world, nothing that remains as an entit
[etantj. It is the being [[Jetej) rather, that there is
this is a name of the being that there is there but
which, giving itself ( es gibt ahes) , is nothing, re
mains beyond everthing that is (koni epekeina tes
ousia) , remains unpronounceable in order to make
saying possible although it is nothing.
- My desire only goes so far as the invisible distance,
immediately "grilled" between laguages, overnm
ning the distance between cendre) cenere) ashes,
cinders, cinis) Asche) cendrer (a whole sentence) ,
Aschenbecher ashtray, etc. , and cineres and above all
XXI
"Avant ma mor je donnerais des ordres. Si tu n'es pas
la, on retire mon corps du lac, on Ie brDle et on t'envoie
mes cendres, ume bien protegee ("fragile") mais non
recommandee, pour tenter la chance. Ce serait un en
voi de moi qui ne viendrait plus de moi (au un envoi
venu de moi qui I'aurais ordonne mais plus un envoi
de moi, comme tu preferes). Alors tu aimerais meIer
74 . . .
XXI
"Before my death I would give orders. If you aren' t there, my body
is to be pulled out of the lake [lac] and burned, my ashes are to be
sent to you, the urn well protected ('fagile') but not registered, in
order to tempt fate. This would be an envoi of/fom me [un en
voi de moil which no longer would come fom me (or an envoi
sent by me, who would have ordered it, but no longer an envoi of
me, as you like). And then you would enjoy mixing my cinders
75 . . .
ni za de Franci sco de Quevedo, ses sonnets AI Vesubi o,
et "Yo soy ceni za que sobr6 a l a l l ama; / nada deja por
consumi r el fuego / que en amoroso i ncendi o se de
rama. " , se di sperse, et "sera ceni za, mas tendra sent i do;
/ pol vo seran, mas pol vo enamorando. "
- J' entends bi en, j e I ' entends, car j ' ai encore de I ' orei l l e
pour l a f l amme si une cendre est si l enci euse, comme
s' i l br Ol ai t du papi er a di stance, avec une l oupe, concen
trat i on de l umi ere a force de voi r pour ne pas voi r, ecri
vant dans l a passi on du non-savoi r pl utot que du secret.
Je di rai s, pour l a defense et i l l ustrat i on de sa pr opre
phrase, moi la cendre, que Ie savoi r n' i nteresse pas son
ecri ture. La cendre crue, voi l a son goOt; et l a consonne
i ni t i al e i mportant peu, t out mot f i ni ssant par ( )endre,
ou ( )andre, verbe, nom propre ou commun, et meme
un verbe quand i I devi ent attri but - I e tendre. Que fai t-i I
avec OR E, je me Ie demande (sans, sens, sang, cent
O R E) . Je vous l ai sse chercher l es exempl es.
- Et avec ce l ac, ces l acs, ce l acs - quand i l y engage
toute l a tel epathi e, l a aussi i I y a LA Cendre.
- Non, vous trai tez sa ph rase comme I ' accumu l at i on
d' une pl us-val ue, comme s' i l specu l ai t sur quel que
the ceniza of Francisco de Quevedo, his sonnets "To
Vesuvius," and "I a cinder that darkens in the
fae / nothing that remains to consume the fre /
that in aorous confagration is dispersed," that
"wil be cinder, but will remain sentient / wil be dust
but amorous dust."
,
- I hear wel, I hear it, for I stil have an ear for the
fame even if a cinder is silent, as ifhe burned paper
at a distace, with a lens, a concentration oflight as a
result of seeing in order not to see, writing in the
passion of non-kowledge rather than of the secret.
I would say, for the protection and illustration of its
own sentence, "1" the cinder would say that his writ
ing is not interested in knowledge. The raw cinder,
that is more to his taste; and the initial consonat
matters ver little; ever word seems to fnish wit
( ) inder, whether it's a common or proper noun, or
even a verb, even a noun that we make into a verb -
" ' d " " ' d " C th ' d k tm er, to tin er - lor e cm er ra es ever
word "tinder." Wat does he do with DER? I won
der: (scin- , [pre] scin- , [re] scin- , DER) . I leave it to
you to fnd exaples.
- Ad with this lack that is la cendre, these lac(k)s)
this lac(k) (s) - when he gets al entangled with tele
pathy, there [la] also LA Cinder is there.
- No, you treat his phrase like the accumulation of
surplus-value, as if he speculated on some cinder
mes cendres a ce que tu manges (cafe Ie matin, pain
brioche, the a 5 heures, etc.). Passe une certaine dose,
tu commencerais a t'engourdir, a tomber amoureuse
de toj, je Ie regarderais t'avancer doucement vers la
mor, tu t'approcherais de moi en toi avec une serenite
dont nous n'avons pas idee, la reconciliation absolue.
E tu donnerais des ordres . . . En ['attendant je vais
dormir, tu es toujours la, mon doux amour.
I I
Ani madversi ones I . La dissemination 408. 1 1 . Glas 265
sq. I I I . La pharmacie de Platon, in La dissemination
1 97. I V. La pharmacie de Platon, in Tel Que1 33, 59. V.
La care postale 271 . VI . 7. VI I . 9. VI I I . 28. I X. 28. X. 28.
XI . 46. XI I . 1 55-56. XI I I . 1 96. XI V. 21 3. XV. 238. XVI .
240-1 . XVI I . 262. XVI I I . 271 . XI X. 272. XX. 273. XXI .
21 1 .
76 . . .
with what you eat (morning cofee, bri oche, tea at 5 o' clock,
etc.). After a certain dose, you would start to go numb, to faIl in
love with yourself, I would watch you slowly advance toward
death, you would approach me wthin you wth a serenity that
we have no idea of, absolute reconciliation. And you would give
orders . . . While waiting for you I'm going to sleep, you're al
ways there, my sweet love. "
Animadversions I. Disseminati on, trans. Barbara Johnson
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, I98I), 3 66. II. GIas,
trans. John P. Leavey, Jr. , and Richard Rand (Lincoln: Uni
versity of Nebraska Press, I 986), 238-43 . Translation
modifed. III. "Plato's Pharmacy, " in Dissemination, I70-
71. IV "La Pharmacie de Platon, " Tel Quel 3 3 ( I968 ) : 5 9. V.
The Postcard, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chi
cago Press, I987) , 254. VI. The Postcard, 3 . Translation
modifed. VII. The Postcard, 5 . VIII. The Postcard, 23 . IX. The
Postcard, 23 . X. The Postcard, 23 . Translation modifed. XI.
The Postcard, 40. XII. The Postcard, I43 . XIII. The Postcard,
I 8 2. XlV The Postcard, I98 . Translation modifed. XV. The
Postcard, 222. Translation modifed. XVI. The Postcard,
224. XVII. The Postcard, 24 5 . XVIII. The Postcard, 254. XIX.
The Postcard, 25 5 . Translation modifed. XX. The Postcard,
25 6. Translation modifed. XXI. The Postcard, I96. Trans
lation modifed.
77 . . .
cendre capi tal e. Or c' es! d' un ret rai t qu' i l s' agi t, pour
l ai sser sa chance a un don sans la moi ndre memoi re de
soi , au bout du compte, pas un corpus, un tas de cen
dre i nsouci eux de garder sa forme, un retrai t seul ement
sans aucun rapport avec ce que mai ntenant par amour j e
vi ens de fai re et j e m' en vai s vous di re -
capital. It is, however, a question of makng a wit
drawal, in order to let him try his luck on a gif with
out the least memory of itself, in the fa account,
the remains of a body, a pile of cinders unconcerned
about preserving its form, a retreat, a retracing only
without ay relation with what, now, trough love,
I just did and I a just about to tell you -
77. We reprint the phrase "pas un corpus" from the 1982 text of Feu
la cendre rater than "par un corpus" from the 1987 version. Both
readngs are, however, revealing in their own way. The gif on
which one takes a chance is and is not a body; it is, rather, what re
mains of a corpse whose form is no longer decipherable. Was it
ever?
These notes have been provided by the editor and are keyed to page numbers.
N o t e s
37. Fors la cendre) "nothing but the cinder," but also fr la cendre) as
in Ie fr intbieur one's innermost sense, thus "the innermost cin-
der"; Ie fur the frnace or oven, is not far of
37. Un lieu pur se chif dt-t-il. Derrida echoes the "tang pl ace" of
"place" (RI EN N
'
AURA EU LI EU QUE LE LI EU) dans cesparages du
vague) "in these vague regions," from Mallarme's "Un Coup de
des," where it is a question ofhaI Iucination, agony, and the uncon
cealment of the concealent of the origin of number (LE
NOMBRE . . . clos quandapparu) , where it is a question of"taIIying
up the whole" ( SE CHI FFRAT- I L / evidence de lasomme) .
37. Pur est Ie mot. Pur = Pyr Greek for "fre." Thus, pyrijcatin.
39. Tombe en tant que nom. Tombe) as a noun, is "tomb"; as a verb, it
means "falls."
41. Encenser to praise or extol, as well as to burn i ncense, also
sounds out insense) insane or maddened; the English "i ncense" or
"incensed" contains all these meanings .
53. "Clandestining" is the inevitable efect that the cinder envoi has
on the sending of any letter.
55. "Rien du tout," "nothing at al l," or "the nothing of the alL"
57. Although the saying "il y a la cendre" appears in "Plato's Phar
macy" prior to its appearance in the dedicatory envoi at the very
end of Disseminatin) this alusion was in fact written afer the one
in the concluding acknowledgments . In distinguishing between
the repetitions at work here, Derrida is reminded of Pl ato "mut
ter[ing] . . . [i]n the enclosed space of the pharmacy" as he begins
to analyze the pharakon [Dissemination 169] . In "Plato's Phar
macy" and more recently in "Chora" [in Poikilia: Etudes Ofrtes a
Jean-Piere Verant (Pari s: Eqirions de L'Ecole des hautes etudes
en sciences sociales, I987) ; 265-96] , Derrida presents chora as
Plato's most challenging version of this "enclosed space," the
"place" rather, te "mother and receptacle of this generated world"
(Timaeus 5ra) , "there" between the unchanging Forms ( eids) on
the outside and the mutable copies (eikon) on the inside.
59. "Cinders" makes the silent "s" in "cendres" audible. Here we
might cite from T E. Hulme's "Cinders," the fi nal section of his
Speculations (I92+) : "That the world is fnite [ . . . ] and that it is yet
an infnitude of cinders." Levinas has writen of the Jewish custom
of burying a faulty manuscript.
67. Derrida's caesura is formed from four of the fourteen lines of
Mallarme's sonnet, "Toute l'ame resumee," in Hommages et Tom
beau) where Mall arme compares the expiration of the soul to the
separation of the ash from the burning cinder (la cendre se separe /
De son cair baiser de fu) in a well-smoked cigar (que/que ciare /
Bralant savamment) . Here lies perhaps a trace of the promised
"history of tobacco." Incidentally, Baudelai re's prose poem,
"Counterfeit Money," concerns a "singularly minute reparti
tioning" of the notion of the gif that occurs as to friends exit a
tobacconist's shop. Derrida analyzes Mauss and Baudelaire in de
tail in Donner Ie temps (Given Time) ( forthcoming) .
69. The frst Nietzsche citation is from notes made in 1881 during
the composition of The Gay Science (Friedrich Nietzche, Idylen
aus Messina / Die fohliche Wissenschaf / Nachgelassene Fragmente
Fruhjahr 1881 bis Sommer 1882, in Kritische Gesamtausabe: Werke)
pt. 5, vol . 2, cds . Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari [Berlin:
Walter de Gryter, 1973] , 370-71) .
69. The mortal throw of the die that is the exhalation of a vocable,
at once delivers the gif and the debt, dissemination and grace, the
necessity and impossibility of return; thus cinders fall to ash,
"de: cendre." The "thrownness" of Dasein is very much the work of
the tongue.
7. "Sable brulat ou pas," burning sand or not, also suggests the
heat of the non-negative "step," the pa) the "stop" or obstruction
t which we can be so anesthetized that we no longer feel the non
presence burning within language.
73. The "impossible emission" recalls, of course, the T series Mis
sion Impossible.
73. Konis epekeina tes ousia (cinders beyond being or presence) re
writes Plato's agathon epekeina tes ousias (The good beyond being) .
73. "Griller une distace" means "to overrun a distance," here in
the sense of being unable to stop because the very notion of a dis
tance between languages has been annulled; the burning and the
grilling begin as soon as one steps beyond a language and toward
language itself.
75 . "For the defense and illustration of the French language" is an
expression ofL'Academie Fra<aise.
75 . "Tendre," like the English "tender" or "to tender," means
something delicate or fragile that is extended or tendered within
language; it rhymes with "cendre." Tinder and the neologism, "to
tinder," make these motifs explicit and rhyme with "cinder. "
75. Sans = without, sens = sense, sang = blood, and cent = one hun
dred, are all homonyms of cen-dre. "Scin-der" may suggest "scin
tilla," the slightest trace or spark, and te Latin "scindere," to cut
or separate, and leads readily to "prescinding" (separation) and
"rescinding" ( annulent) .
types
types
The English text Animadversions is set in Eri c Gill' s Joanna
The French texts ani madversi ones and feu la cendre are set in Max Mei di nger' s Hel veti ca
tpes
The English text Cinders is set in Matthew Carter's Galliard
Composito.-: M_ Meile
Desiner: R. Ecke.-sley
at the Universit of
Nebraska Press, 1991
50 year ofpttblishif