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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 21 | volume IV | June-July, 2001



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 21June-July, 2001
Gallery Reviews

Fleshing the Text

Greenaway's Pillow Book and the Erasure of the Body

p. 1
Paula Willoquet-Maricondi

11. I suggest, then, that neither logos nor grammatos ought to be privileged, for any such privileging relies on the notion of universalizable truths. Quite likely, non-scriptural cultures understand (consciously, unconsciously, or experientially) meaning and truth as only temporally and locally relevant and adequate. By separating “knowledge” from the body of the “knower” and from place, writing makes possible the abstraction of knowledge, its transportability in time and space, and consequently its universalization and permanence.
    12. Moreover, alphabetic writing defined the knower as human, and the non-human world was relegated to silence and thought to be incapable of “speech.” Abram, who agrees with Derrida that there is no self-identical author legislating meaning, argues, however, that “Derrida's critique has bite only if one maintains that the other who writes is an exclusively human Other, only if one assumes that the written text is borne by an exclusively human subjectivity” (282). Abram posits a homology between the act of reading a text and the reading of animal tracks by our indigenous ancestors, that is, a homology between our markings – writing – and those of other animals. “I am suggesting,” says Abram, “that that which lurks behind all the texts that we read is not a human subject but another animal, another shape of awareness (ultimately the otherness of animal nature itself)” (282). Derrida himself has acknowledged that our Western sense of what writing is, is rather limited and limiting. He argues, for instance, that we do not recognize as writing the actions of people who describe their acts of writing as “scratching,” “scraping,” or “drawing lines”: “To say that a people do not know how to write because one can translate the word which they use to designate the act of inscribing as 'drawing lines,' is that not as if one should refuse them 'speech' by translating the equivalent word by 'to cry,' 'to sing,' 'to sigh'?” (Of Grammatology 123). Interestingly, in support of his own argument, Derrida goes on to cite a passage from J. Gernet's “La Chine, aspects et fonctions psychologiques de l'écriture,” in which Gernet elucidates the multiple meanings of the Chinese word for writing, wen. Not only is wen not limited to designating writing in the narrow sense, as discussed by Derrida, but wen is also used to refer to non-human forms of inscription. Gernet's observation that wen “applies to the veins in stones and wood, to constellations,”

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