Pur: desiccation of light's sweep
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In discussing Pierre Klossowski’s writings on Sade, Jane Gallop engages with what she cites as a “whirling quid pro quo” of turnings, which she nominates under the term “tergiversations” from the Latin vertere, “to turn” and tergum, “back;” hence to turn one’s back, but also per-version, to turn completely around, sub-version, to turn up-side-down and contra-version, to turn against. The “quid pro quo” escalates across Klossowski’s readings of Sade and the contexts of reception of those readings but, most explicitly, “tergiversations” alludes to the feigns and multiple feigning of feigns of sexual difference in Sadian integral monstrosity that are “gaily undecidable.” This is not far from Jacques Derrida’s engagement with Nietzsche and the question of “Woman” in Spurs: Nietzsche’s Styles. In what is, perhaps, his only reference to Klossowski, Derrida defers to Klossowski’s translation of an impossible-to-translate German passage by Nietzsche, a passage that, pointedly, implicates the title to Derrida’s book, “Éperons,” “Spurs.” The key word for Klossowski and Derrida is “ressac,” translated as “backwash,” or re-turn in the turbulence of waves rolling back over themselves, in a passage that moves from the fire of a branding iron as conflagration to boiling surf breaking on rocky reefs, the éperons “whose white flames fork up to my feet,” re-turns, or re-vertings as tergiversations. The question of re-turn as the possibility of the proper to sexual difference is central to Derrida’s text, as it is for Gallop and Klossowski. Derrida’s other texts on sexual difference also dwell in the conflagration of flames, Cinders especially but also Glas in its encounter with Hegel’s reading of a Heraclitan holocaust as originary and all-consuming fire whose destructive conflagration is the transmutating of all, ta panta: the fire-breath of the Heraclitan hen as the illuminating-revealing of air, water and earth. The work concerns the fluidity of desiccations as the future anterior of imperceptible shadows, where logos, physus, epic, polemos, eros whirl in the ressac, backwash, tergiversations, boiling surging of pur.