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Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles/Eperons: Les Styles de Nietzsche

Written by son of rambow on Saturday, April 10, 2010

ISBN: 9780226143330
Subtitle: Nietzsche's Styles/Eperons: Les Styles de Nietzsche
Translator: Harlow, Barbara
Author: Derrida, Jacques

Derrida argues that an examination of style in Nietzsche, specifically his style(s) concerning the trope or metaphor of woman, reveals an understanding of truth. This conception of truth (on the part of Nietzsche, and/or of Derrida) is not fixed but by design a restless dynamic (or "undecidability" [105]) between various proferred accounts, and Derrida explores several positions the concept of woman assumes in Nietzsche's writings. "The heterogeneity of the text ... mark[s] the essential limit of such a codification [of woman, of truth]." [95]

That said, I do not conclude that Derrida claims there is no truth. Rather, he seems to mount an epistemological rather than an ontological argument: truth is undecidable, not non-existant. Note to claim decisively there is no truth, is equally undecidable. So Derrida makes no ultimate claim as to truth's Being, concluding only that to seek it, is to discover its undecidability. I take this to be the epistemological stance within anti-foundationalism, as opposed to the ontological stance (often leveled as an accusation against anti-foundationalists by critics, and just as often unjustly).

The 'spur' of the title is a promontory or prow, an extension which meets an adversary in advance of the main body. "Thus the style would seem to advance in the manner of a spur of sorts (eperon). Like the prow, for example of a sailing vessel, its rostrum, the projection of the ship which surges ahead to meet the sea's attack and cleave its hostile surface." [39]

(The trope) Woman is used by Nietzsche (argues Derrida) to indicate power over distance, something which works precisely because it is never fully engaged. "On the one hand ... Nietzsche revives that barely allegorical figure (of woman) in his own interest. For him, truth is like a woman." [51] Then, "But, on the other hand, the credulous and dogmatic philosopher who believes in the truth that is woman, who believes in truth just as he believes in woman, this philosopher has understood nothing." [53] And finally: "Woman, inasmuch as truth, is scepticism and veiling dissimulation. This is what must be conceivable." [57]

Later Derrida links the above investigation with the idea of truth as propriation, and suggests that the link to propriation (property) is a limit to the detriment of our understanding of truth. And what would truth look like, were it not to operate like an "appropriating" force? Derrida suggest this would be a productive line of enquiry.

I am left, incidentally, with the impression that Nietzsche is all too easily read as misanthrope or chauvenist, an impression initially developed after reading Nietzsche first-hand.

Derrida notes [37] that deconstruction is an affirmative interpretation, and his lecture here builds upon work from the past two years. Interesting: I've most often heard of deconstruction as an undermining enterprise, and the term itself seems to suggest this. I'm sure Derrida is playing with this very sense when making the statement.

Whether due to an ineffective translation, or the fact it presumes a familiarity with Derrida's lecture that I cannot claim, the introduction by Stefano Agosti was useless to me. I skipped it after a few pages and read the lecture itself with much greater interest and reward.

Loubrieu's line drawings are utterly impenetrable, though I made little effort to link them to the text or engage them on their own. Later

table of content
Table of Contents
Coup sur coup: Pré face à Éperons

Coup upon Coup: An Introduction to Spurs, Stefano Agosti

Éperons: Les Styles de Nietzsche

Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles

La question du style / The question of style


Voiles / Veils

Vérités / Truths

Parures / Adornments

La simulation / Simulation

Femina vita


Le regard d'CEdipe / The gaze of Oedipus

Le coup de don

Abî mes de la vérité / Abysses of truth

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