<br><h3> Chapter One </h3> December 12, 2001 <p> * * * <p> <p> Feminine ... masculine [<i>La ... le</i>]. <p> Let me recall the title proposed for this year's seminar: the beast [feminine: <i>la bête</i>] and the sovereign [masculine: <i>le souverain]. La, le.</i> <p> Naturally I shall try to justify this title as I go along, step by step, perhaps stealthily, like a wolf [<i>peut-être à pas de loup</i>]. Those of you who followed the last few years' seminars on the death penalty know that the huge and formidable question of sovereignty was central to them. So this inexhaustible question will provide for a certain continuity between the previous seminars and what still remains untrodden from this new approach, by the turn or at the turning of the seminar to come. <p> The question of the animal was also, here and elsewhere, one of our permanent concerns. But the beast is not exactly the animal, and it was only after the fact, after having chosen this title, the literal formulation of this title, the [feminine] beast and the [masculine] sovereign, that I understood one at least of the lines of force or one of the silent but insistent connotations in what seemed to me to impose the very letter, down to my unconscious, down to the title's unconscious, "La bête et le souverain," namely the sexual difference marked in the grammar of the definite articles, <i>la, le</i> (feminine, masculine), as if we were naming in it, ahead of time, a certain couple, a certain coupling, a plot involving alliance or hostility, war or peace, marriage or divorce—not only between two types of living beings (animal and human) but between two sexes which, already in the title, and in a certain language—French—<i>se font une scène</i>, are going at each other, are making a scene. <p> What scene? <p> "We're shortly going to show it" [<i>Nous l'allons montrer tout à l'heure:</i> literally, "We are going to show it in a moment"]. (Board) <p> <p> Stealthy as a wolf. Imagine a seminar that began thus, <i>stealthy as a wolf:</i> <p> "We're shortly going to show it." <p> What? What are we going to show shortly? Well, "We're shortly going to show it." <p> <p> Imagine a seminar that began thus, saying almost nothing, with a " 'We're shortly going to show it.' 'What? What are we going to show shortly?' Well, 'We're shortly going to show it.' " <p> Why would one say of such a seminar that it moves <i>stealthy as a wolf?</i> <p> This is, however, what I'm saying. Stealthy as a wolf. I'm saying it with reference to the [French] proverbial expression <i>à pas de loup,</i> which in general signifies a sort of introduction, a discreet intrusion or even an unobtrusive effraction, without show, all but secret, clandestine, an entrance that does all it can to go unnoticed and especially not to be stopped, intercepted, or interrupted. To move <i>à pas de loup</i> is to walk without making a noise, to arrive without warning, to proceed discreetly, silently, invisibly, almost inaudibly and imperceptibly, as though to surprise a prey, to take it by surprising what is in sight but does not see coming the one that is already seeing it, already getting ready to take it by surprise, to grasp it by surprise. Speech (for we are dealing with silent speech here)—speech proceeding <i>à pas de loup</i> would not be proceeding <i>à pas de colombe,</i> dove-footed, according to what a great philosophical tradition says of the dove, of the all but unnoticeable procedure or proceeding of truth advancing in history like one thieving or else flying [<i>comme un voleur ou encore en volant</i>] (remember, while we're in the columbarium of philosophy, what Kant already said about it in the Introduction to the <i>Critique of Pure Reason</i>, about the light dove [<i>die leichte Taube</i>] which, in its flight, does not feel the resistance of the air and imagines it would be still better in empty space. And especially Zarathustra, in the book that is one of the richest bestiaries in the Western philosophical library. A political bestiary, what is more, rich in animal figures as figures of the political. A dove crosses a song at the very end of the second part of <i>Also sprach Zarathustra, "Die stillste Stunde,"</i> "The Hour of Supreme Silence" ([The stillest hour] that's the title of the song). This hour of supreme silence speaks, speaks to me, addresses me, and it is mine, it is <i>my</i> hour, it spoke to me yesterday, he says, it murmurs in my ear, it is closest to me, as though in me, like the voice of the other in me, like my voice of the other, and its name, the name of this hour of silence, <i>my</i> hour of silence, is the name of a fearsome sovereign mistress [souveraine]: <i>"Gestern gen Abend sprach zu mir meine stillste Stunde: das ist der Name meiner furchtbaren Herrin"</i> [Last night my hour of supreme silence (my hour of the greatest silence, of sovereign silence) spoke to me: this is the name of my terrifying sovereign mistress: <i>"das ist der Name meiner furchtbaren Herrin."</i>] (Commentary: the hour, my hour, the hour of my sovereign silence speaks to me, and its name, the name of this absolutely silent one, is that of my most fearsome mistress, the one who speaks to me in silence, who commands me in silence, whispering through the silence, who orders me in silence, as silence.) So what is she going to say to him, <i>to me</i>, during this song I'm leaving you to read? After saying to him (to me, says Zarathustra), "what is the most unpardonable thing about you [<i>dein Unverzeihlichtses</i>] is that you have the power [<i>Macht</i>] and you do not want to reign [<i>du willst nicht herrschen</i>]," you have the power and you do not want to be sovereign. Zarathustra's reply, again convoking sovereign power and beast: "For all command I lack the lion's voice." At that moment, his most silent voice tells him, as though in a whisper: <i>"(Da sprach es wieder wie ein Flüstern zu mir): Die stillsten Worte sind es, welche den Sturm bringen. Gedanken, die mit Taubenfüssen kommen, lenken die Welt."</i> ["It is the stillest words that bring the storm. Thoughts that come with dove's footsteps guide the world."] <p> Read what follows: a still small voice, one might say in a parody of the biblical book of Kings [1 Kings 19:12], the silent voice commands him to command, but to command in silence, to become sovereign, to learn how to command, to give orders <i>(befehlen)</i>, and to learn to command in silence by learning that it is silence, the silent order that commands and leads the world. With dove's footsteps, on dove's feet. <p> Now, where were we just now? Not like a dove, we were saying, and above all not on dove's feet, but "stealthy like a wolf," on wolf's feet. Which also means, although quite differently than in the case of dove's feet: silently, discreetly and unobtrusively. What the dove's footsteps and the wolf's footsteps have in common is that one scarcely hears them. But the one announces war, the war chief, the sovereign who orders war, the other silently orders peace. These are two major figures in the great zoopolitics that is preoccupying us here, which will not cease to occupy us and is already occupying us in advance. These two figures <i>pre</i>occupy our space. One cannot imagine animals more different, even antagonistic, than the dove and the wolf, the one rather allegorizing peace, from Noah's Ark, which ensures the future the safety of humanity and its animals, the other, the wolf, just as much as the falcon, allegorizing hunting and warfare, prey and predation. <p> A great number of idiomatic and quasi-proverbial expressions feature the wolf ("howl among wolves," "cry wolf," "have a wolf in one's stomach," "cold enough for a wolf," "between dog and wolf," "a young wolf," "the big bad wolf," etc.). These expressions are idiomatic [in French]. They are not all translatable from one language or culture to another, or even from one territory or geography to another—there are not wolves everywhere, and one does not have the same experience of the wolf in Alaska or in the Alps, in the Middle Ages or today. These idiomatic expressions and these figures of the wolf, these fables or fantasies vary from one place and one historical moment to another; the figures of the wolf thus encounter, and pose for us, thorny frontier questions. Without asking permission, real wolves cross humankind's national and institutional frontiers, and his sovereign nation-states; wolves out in nature [<i>dans la nature</i>] as we say, real wolves, are the same on this side or the other side of the Pyrenees or the Alps; but the figures of the wolf belong to cultures, nations, languages, myths, fables, fantasies, histories. <p> If I chose the expression that names the wolf's "step" in the <i>pas de loup</i>, it was no doubt because the wolf itself is there named <i>in absentia</i>, as it were; the wolf is named where you don't yet see or hear it coming; it is still absent, save for its name. It is looming, an object of apprehension; it is named, referred to, even called by its name; one imagines it or projects toward it an image, a trope, a figure, a myth, a fable, a fantasy, but always by reference to someone who, advancing <i>à pas de loup</i>, is not there, not yet there, someone who is not yet present or represented; you can't even see its tail; as another proverb says: "When you speak of the wolf, you see its tail," meaning that someone, a human this time, shows up just when you are talking about him or her. Here you don't yet see or hear anything of what is advancing <i>à pas de loup</i>, when at the beginning of a seminar I might say: "We're shortly going to show it." <p> For one of the reasons—they are many, too many, I won't get through enumerating them, and I will in fact be devoting the whole seminar to them—one of the many reasons why I chose, in this bunch of proverbs, the one which forms the syntagm <i>pas de loup</i>, is precisely that the absence of the wolf is also expressed in it in the silent operation of the <i>pas</i>, the word <i>pas</i> which implies, but without any noise, the savage intrusion of the adverb of negation (<i>pas, pas de loup, il n'y a pas de loup</i> [there is no wolf], <i>il n'y a pas le loup</i> ["the wolf is not here," perhaps even "there is no such thing as the wolf"])—the clandestine intrusion, then, of the <i>adverb</i> of negation <i>(pas)</i> in the <i>noun</i>, in <i>le pas de loup</i>. An adverb haunts a noun. The adverb <i>pas</i> has slipped in silently, stealthy as a wolf, <i>à pas de loup</i>, into the noun <i>pas</i> [step]. <p> Which is to say that where things are looming <i>à pas de loup</i>, the wolf is not there yet, no real wolf, no so-called natural wolf, no literal wolf. There is no wolf yet when things are looming <i>à pas de loup</i>. There is only a word, a spoken word, a fable, a fable-wolf, a fabulous animal, or even a fantasy (<i>fantasma</i> in the sense of a revenant, in Greek; or fantasy in the enigmatic sense of psychoanalysis, in the sense, for example, that a totem corresponds to a fantasy); there is only another "wolf" that figures something else—something or somebody else, the other that the fabulous figure of the wolf, like a metonymic substitute or supplement, would come both to announce and conceal, to manifest and mask. <p> And do not forget that in French we also call <i>loup</i> the black velvet mask that used to be worn, that women especially, "ladies" more often than men, used to wear at one time, in certain milieux, and especially at masked balls. The so-called <i>loup</i> allowed them to see sovereignly without being seen, to identify without allowing themselves to be identified. This woman in the <i>loup</i> would be the feminine figure of what I once called a "visor effect," the upper part of the armor played on by the father or spectral king in <i>Hamlet</i>, who sees without being seen when he puts down his visor. This time, in the case of the <i>loup</i>, the mask nicknamed <i>loup</i>, the visor effect would play especially, or at least most often, on the feminine side. <p> Why this <i>loup</i>, why <i>loup</i>-woman rather than the <i>loup</i>-man, in this masked unobtrusiveness, whereas in the proverb "When you speak of the wolf, you see its tail," we seem to be taken more toward the masculine side of sexual difference? <p> In both cases, in any case, of sexual difference, <i>pas de loup</i> signifies the absence, the literal non-presentation of the wolf itself in response to its name, and so an evocation that is only figural, tropic, fabulous, phantasmic, connotative: there is no wolf, there is <i>pas de loup</i>. And the absence of this wolf, ungraspable in person other than according to the words of a fable—this absence bespeaks at the same time power, resource, force, cunning, ruse of war, stratagem or strategy, operation of mastery. The wolf is all the stronger, the meaning of its power is all the more terrorizing, armed, threatening, virtually predatory for the fact that in these appellations, these turns of phrase, these sayings, the wolf does not yet appear in person but only in the theatrical <i>persona</i> of a mask, a simulacrum or a piece of language, i.e. a fable or a fantasy. The strength of the wolf is all the stronger, sovereign even, is all the more all-conquering [<i>a raison de tout</i>] for the fact that the wolf is not there, that there is not the wolf itself, were it not for a <i>pas de loup</i>, except for a <i>pas de loup</i>, save a <i>pas de loup</i>, only a <i>pas de loup</i>. <p> I would say that this force of the <i>insensible</i> wolf (<i>insensible</i> because one neither sees nor hears it coming, because it is invisible and inaudible, and therefore nonsensible, but also insensible because it is all the crueler for this, impassive, indifferent to the suffering of its virtual victims)—that the force of this insensible beast seems then to overcome [<i>avoir raison de</i>] everything because through that other untranslatable idiomatic expression (<i>avoir raison de</i>, to overcome, to win out over, to be the strongest), the question of reason comes up, the question of zoological reason, political reason, rationality in general: What is reason? What is a reason? A good or a bad reason? And you can see that already when I move from the question "What is reason?" to the question "What is a reason?" a good or a bad reason, the sense of the word "reason" has changed. And it changes again when I move from "to be right" [<i>avoir raison</i>] (and so to have a good reason to bring forward in a debate or a combat, a good reason against a bad reason, a just reason against an unjust reason), the word "reason" changes again, then, when I move from <i>avoir raison</i> in a reasonable or rational discussion, to <i>avoir raison de</i> [to overcome] in a power relation [<i>rapport de force</i>], a war of conquest, hunting, or even a fight to the death. <p> "We're shortly going to show it," I was saying. <p> Imagine a seminar, I was also saying, that began thus, <i>à pas de loup:</i> <p> "'We're shortly going to show it.' What? Well, 'We're shortly going to show it.'" <p> <p> Now, it's high time, you had already recognized the quotation. <p> It is the second line of a fable by La Fontaine that puts on stage one of those wolves we'll be talking about a lot: here, then, the wolf from the fable <i>The Wolf and the Lamb</i>. Here are its first two lines; the fable begins with the moral, this time, before the story, before the narrative moment which is thus, somewhat unusually, deferred. <p> The reason of the strongest is always the best; As we shall shortly show. <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <p> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>The Beast & the Sovereign</b> by <b>Jacques Derrida</b> Copyright © 2009 by The University of Chicago. Excerpted by permission of The University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.