I want to cross over to the other track, for a moment to think about the lan­guage of law and margins so as to provide a few “crossovers” for our topics.  Dr. Velasco looks closely at the cog­nitive and insti­tu­tional factors that con­stitute and drive the devel­opment and mapping of man­u­script space. He looks at how the for­mation of one text, of the law, of the “canon” of the dis­cursive com­munity pro­duces its dou­bling in the margin. He examines how gloss is not exactly a par­allel text, but pro­vides a dif­ferent reg­ister of the “life” of the text. The gloss can translate the primary text in relation to “civil life”; the gloss is, in some ways, a tenor for the text’s trans­lation or extraction into dif­ferent dimen­sions. In his article he notes that the “glosses protect the central text, placing it within a complex hermeneutic framework.” He describes the margin as an “eye” which illu­mi­nates the text and also trans­forms it. This per­ception pro­vided by the gloss is “panoptic”: “it watches both the text and those who read and interpret it,” func­tioning like a kind of dropped pin that pro­vides a fiction of immo­bility and cen­trality for the text itself. 

This said, if we take as a given the “sen­sation of being immobile” in the center of the page that the mar­ginal text pro­duces, we also exposed to the space of con­tin­gency that underlies both the space of the text and espe­cially the space of nego­ti­ation pro­vided by the margin. So, thinking about the fixity that the “eye” pro­duces, if we were to assume that the cen­trality of the text pro­duces a “once” (that is, a decisive textual event) then the margin would pre­sumably produce and affir­mation of that “once” in a second reg­ister. How each of these relate to one another, and what this has to do with lit­er­ature and the space of the poetic is what I hope to open the class up to today.

To begin, this class started for several of you, on the heels of the lecture of mys­ticism from last semester. Some of you who have already read Derrida’s “Number of Yes” — his reading of Michel de Certeau, a Jesuit scholar whose work The Mystic Fable became a way to think about the practice of mys­ticism (mostly in relation to his concept of the orga­ni­zation of the “everyday”  and its recessive epis­te­mology – not of the known, but of the secret, and spaces that are in them­selves con­sti­tuted by  the “cutting across” of bound­aries). Derrida under­stands the “mystic fable” to be part of the fable of ontology – the fable of “being” – which only articles itself as though it were a “first” in a so called “second” iter­ation. The second affirms and con­firms the first, but also simul­ta­ne­ously pro­duces the first iter­ation of the “yes.” If we think of this in the context of mys­ticism, we might note the ways in which, for example, any trans­mission of a text,  is also the “con­fir­mation” (and pro­duction) of its origin. A received text (espe­cially the visionary text) is never artic­u­lated as the “pure” voice of god, but rather, the voice of affir­mation of its reception. Think for example, of Hildegard’s Scivias: these are the true reflec­tions received from God.” For all the visionary texts that are “dic­tated” and mem­o­rized – not in the sense of rote memo­ri­al­ization, but in the sense of being imprinted,  as if they granted an onto­logical pos­si­bility. As if the “being” of the poem or of the poetic text were pos­sible.   The con­se­quences for this are sig­nif­icant, as we will see in the essay by Derrida” Che cos’e la poesia.” 

First, to speak of poetry of the lit­erary, is always a question of division: a poem never “is”, for Derrida. Its “is” both an effect of writing and an effect of address. How do I mean this?

For Derrida, some­thing of “tra­versals” of crossings occurs in the poem. Where do we find these tra­versals and how are they called? What names do crossings go by?