how not to say

Yesterday I attended a graduate colloquium on the figure of the hedgehog/porpentine/hérisson/istriche…: a very important figure for such thinkers as Derrida for reason I cannot do justice to: I will do a violence if I say that the figure of the hedgehog on the highway is both exposed, and, with his spikes, ready (reading*) to wound. Simultaneously wounded and wounding – poetics (if this prickles your interest I would recommend having a look at Derrida’s ‘Che cos’è la poesia?’ – ‘what thing is poetry?’). Now, after 10 weeks of seminars (today was my last) deconstruction remains something of a foreign language, so listening to a seminar is like listening to something in French, and I only grasp at phrases thinking ‘ah, I know that!’. In other words, I am not fluent. The papers that were delivered were, however, beautiful. Whatever – deconstruction is a beautiful language. Perhaps if I were able to study those papers that were read I might have gained something academic, but I did not; but that is not to say I gained nothing at all.

I am kind of averse to poetry. Don’t dislike it as such, but do not understand it. I don’t understand ‘what thing is poetry’, what makes poetry ‘poetry’; feel much more comfortable with ‘prose-poetry’, which is admittedly my favourite way to write. After a while, though, I started to feel like the notes I was scribbling felt more like poetry than anything else, and enjoying it, the idea built itself a castle. Well, without further ado, here are some notes on Derrida/the colloquium/the hedgehog that constitute my first go of a poetry in a very long time.


How to not say


Blanchot – the instant of my death
What can never arrive
to arrive without arriving (the letter)
the ‘I’ can never arrive; travelling toward the elusive ‘I’
Writing in the night
the scene of the Invention of language.

To invent is to know how to say ‘I’
to say ‘I’ is to invent.
Departure, arrival, what lies between?
What and where the destination
a promise that always leaves something to be desired
‘certain passion of the singular mark’
Testimony, confession, signature

Rogues and highwaymen
A certain non-place
Movement: voyage
‘I’, ‘it’, ‘itinerate’
Monolingualism of the Other and the voyage.
Portrait of the Traveller as Hedgehog

Vulnerability, nakedness and the animal
writing begins in the naked space
the vulnerable non-place of uncertainty

Autoimmunity; hérisson’s spikes
The danger of penetration
The mark as a body (corpus)

‘quills upon’
Quills are clothes or prosthetic weaponry
‘Quills upon the fretful porpentine’
‘fretful’ fret frets: words echo, tremble, reverberate meaning

bask in a radiance of silence.




The mechanical (the machine) and chance.
Hedgehogs and flamingos.

Filthy white sheets.

What is it to be a poet? A poet-philosopher.
The ‘first dreamer-philosopher’



*I wrote ‘reading’ at first instead of ‘ready’. It’s impossible for me now to let any kind of slip just go, so I thought I’d let it remain


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