The Scission and Dissemination

"The pure present would be the untouched fullness, the virgin continuity of the nonscission . . . The present can only present iself as such by relating back to itself; it can only aver itself by severing itself, only reach itself if it breaches itself. . . The presence of the present only forms a surface . . . only institutes itself. . . in the play of this cut, this scission (Dissemination 303)."

"A difference: the cause is radically that . . .The primal insemination is dissemination . . . The term, the atomic element, engenders by division, grafting, proliferation . . .(Dissemination 304)."

Words undergo a scission, a splitting of the signifiers. New signified objects are created in the rifts between these differences. Meaning is not born by immaculate conception. An engendering process has to take place; meaning, rather, is a function of division. Hence Derrida's references to sex cells, viruses, and the like. These biological organisms reproduce by mitosis, a self-scission as it were. The cut spawns meaning, disseminates it throughout the existing system. "The primal insemination is dissemination," in the sense that multiplying the splits/signs will breed new meaning and expand the system. Dissemination is enabled by the "mother-difference." Every sign is "pregnant" in that it is open to scission, utterly vulnerable to further dissemination.

Differance also creates the effect of positive meaning. Words are cut from other words; they are granted a mark of distinction manifested in sound or inscription (i.e. the "a" in "differance" marks it off from "difference"). The word, the text, or the utterance then appears to be a self-enclosed entity--something that is present to itself, coherent and irreducible. Yet in all instances this illusion only comes to being after a cut is made from prior entities, which had already been cut from entities prior to them. This succession ultimately takes the form of an endless trace.

An intriguing case in point: synonyms found in a thesaurus can be quite distinct. However they (roughly) represent the same object. In order to arrest the trace to each other, each is accorded a unique form, making it seem divorced from any larger system of signifiers. One might protest by saying that anyone with a good enough vocabulary would not be fooled by this effect. True as this may be, the material variation between synonyms carry with them slight variations in meaning. These conceptual variations are made possible by material difference. From here, we discover that difference and trace are intimately cooperative phenomena, thus confirming Derrida's reasons for merging the two functions in the word "differance." A host of consequences result from this integration.

Cyberspace Web Main screen critical theory