JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 319
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Mario DiPaolantino 319
a commentary) forms, in which the "scandal of the other," that which
obliges the addressee to think beyond itself, to make itself vulnerable
to difference, comes to be contained in a cognitive set of "qualities"
that the addressee "grasps" in order to call itself back to itself.
Concerning ourselves with how we comment on or link onto testimo-
nies is a serious ethical activity that allows us to question the ways in
which "meanings" are created or contained in the complex social process
of historical transmission. This is an urgent task when we consider, as the
problematic unfolded above suggests, that there is an "inevitable temp-
tation" to mend the ruptures of our "traditional interpretive instruments"
by reconciling the command of the other, which pleads with us to think
beyond the present, within a commentary or a linking that demands a
cognitive presentation (a presentation within the same). What is at stake
here is how to resist this "inevitable temptation," how to respect the
disjunction between our present understanding and that which continu-
ally points to our own inability to decipher or determine any "graspable"
meaning. What this suggests is that our endeavors in linking, commenting
on, or annotating testimonies should avoid those attempts to fill or patch
up the holes in our frames of understanding and interpretation, and
instead heed the retrieval of difference, which, in always already defer-
ring the present (the ground for our shared understanding), comes to
provide the condition for the possibility of transmitting an other history.
But how can we link onto that which continually calls out our limits and
stages our epistemological blind spots? What would it mean to annotate
(to write as history) that which exposes our lack in understanding and
interpretation? Does not the possibility of the annotation break down at
this point? Does not the annotation necessarily assume the will to define,
maintain, understand, and hence transmit an event/text as knowledge?
The Genre of the Annotation
Although wanting to talk about the possibility of annotating as a potential
ethical endeavor, as a linking that respects the words of the other beyond
our present frames of understanding, I realize that this gesture toward a
differential (as opposed to assimilative) transmission comes before the
law. In wanting to posit the possibility of an annotation that attempts to
resist the "inevitable temptation" to link the other within the same, I
inevitably bump against the genre (the laws) of the annotation. Although
I want to talk about the annotation in another way, I must first note the
present fact that the annotation is an historical institution brought into
being and governed by the laws of its genre (Derrida, "This" 196).
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Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition (U.S.). JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004, periodical, 2004; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28644/m1/65/: accessed April 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .