[-empyre-] Contretemps

Nicholas Ruiz III editor at intertheory.org
Fri Apr 24 00:47:49 EST 2009

Kantian distinctions notwithstanding, has this all not simply dissolved (evolved?) into what jt referred to (albeit in a different manner than the 80s and post-80s Silicon Valley sense) as 'networking'?


 Nicholas Ruiz III, Ph.D
Editor, Kritikos

From: Cinzia Cremona <cinziacremona at googlemail.com>
To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 7:50:50 PM
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Contretemps

Cinzia, your invocation of the Derridean concept of a Contretemps is intriguing, and I would love to hear more.  At the outset, it causes my consciousness to turn to Derrida?s idea about dissemination as the giving of that which can never come back to me: a squandering of the nom-de-p?re, a letting loose of the phallic function even more radical than occurs with respect to Judge Schreber?s psychosis.  How do you connect contretemps with potlatch, all those Trobriand Islanders smashing plates and burning whale oil candles in a spectacle of unreciprocatable generosity?  Also, since Derrida claims that, eccentrically, the gift sets the economic circle in motion (while it somehow also effractively breaks it apart), I wonder how you connect this account of an economic engine with contretemps, dissemination, waste and excess: the obscene underside of the gift, the squalor and effulgence we seek to manage and mask through economics and ethics.  PS?Love your
 vid!  Are you trapped inside the gift?  Perhaps you are the gift.
Thanks MA for such piercing questions. Of course I am the gift!
In the 'The Politics of Friendship', Derrida suggests contretemps as a radical and indispensable dissymetry between the offer and the return I can expect. And it is always I, as the relationship can only be mentioned from the point of view of the offerer. I shall call you friend in the hope that you will become, by my interpellation, my friend. My gift creates an obligation, but it does not ask for a direct return. Not sure how a letting loose of the phallic function applies here, although desire plays a big part.
Contretemps is based on difference (differance?) - not at the same time, not in the same place, not with the same person, etc.
Personally, I feel called to invest in a larger loop of exchange. It makes more sense to offer gifts to those who cannot return them. Similarly, I hope that I will be offered gifts that I cannot return by those who have resources I have no access to.
I am not sure how to think about potlatch in the 21st century ... As a process, it seems to me to stem from a sense of kinship, of US and THEM, which does not apply anymore. What are the marks of my friends and of my enemies? How would I know which 'other' is worth my investment? I'd rather make the pot fuller with what I have in abundance. At some point, someone else will do the same with different gifts.
Of course, this is naive, steeped in neo-liberalism and captive of capitalism! But perhaps it is not that far from an Open Source approach to production and self organization. 
And being kind to those who are not of the same kind seems to me a good investment.


Visions in the Nunnery
22 to 31 May 2009
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