JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 329
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identity of the tradition. Hermeneutics thus exposes itself as an ontologi-
cal project that expels all that overflows understanding/identity.
In what follows, I begin to explore another way of conceivingthe task
of annotating. That is, I make my way toward a conception of writing that
exposes what is at stake in an encounter with those who do not share in
our understanding, with that which finds no refuge within our mnemonic
cover. I seek to stage this encounter as an opening to an other (ethical)
imperative that puts into question the hermeneutical obligation to link
(overcome) the other in the constitutive self-understandings ofa common
tradition or vocabulary. I will start by raveling my discussion within the
double bind that Derrida finds the annotator in. Rhetorically this will push
my discussion to consider a writing, a means of translation and transmis-
sion, which works before the Law of law, a writing that writes its exposure
to another imperative.
The annotator who seeks to transmit the meaning of a text as a story with
"an intelligible beginning, middle, and end," that is "meaningfully
delimited within a given community," comes before a set of laws that
simultaneously constrain and re-create the prevailing relations between
texts, contexts, and normative and literary allusions that exist within the
self-enlarging totality of the tradition. The danger of fostering "morality
and solidarity" (even one that claims to be open-ended) through the claim
for a "shared understanding" is succinctly pointed out by Alphonso
Lingis; he writes, "The community that forms in communicating is an
alliance of interlocutors who are on the same side, who are not each Other
for each other but all variants of the Same, tied together by the mutual
interest of forcing back the tide of noise pollution" (81). If we are to avoid
the ethically bankrupt claim that maintains the priority of a self-enlarging
totality over the abject "noise" that disrupts it, we would have to breach
all laws that threaten the exteriority of the other. In other words, our
annotations would have to cease concerning themselves with the will to
transmit/relate meaning and instead attempt to secure the alterity that
overflows understanding. This would put the annotator before the law in
a fundamentally different way (Derrida, "This" 201). Concerned with
preserving the exteriority of the other, the annotator comes before the
limits ofthose laws which constrain and re-create how texts are related to
other texts, and how meaning is to be preserved and transmitted within
this relationship. Because the other is to be absolutely exterior, the other
cannot be grasped in terms of any relation. If the other is to be beyond any
Here’s what’s next.
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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/m1/75/: accessed February 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .