TRANS Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 17. Nr. April 2010

Sektion 5.3. Sharing in / out Culture(s)
Sektionsleiter | Section Chair: Vladimir Biti (Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Division of touch:
Distinct in Jean-Luc Nancy and Jacques Derrida

Aleksandar Mijatović (University of Zagreb, Croatia)




Haptocentric metaphysics considers touch (tactus) as the sense of immediate perception which warrants certainty to empirical knowledge. Jacques Derrida in Le toucher, Jean-Luc Nancy (2000) defines haptology as metaphysical privileging of presence and proximity over absence and distance. But for Nancy, contrary to those haptological presumptions, Derrida claims that “touch remains the motif of a sort of absolute, irredentist, and postdeconstructive realism, an absolute realism, but irreducible to any of the tradition’s realisms” (Derrida 2000/2005: 46). Such postdeconstructive realism Nancy derives from the notion of the syncope which refers to interruption in the contact with the other and discontinuity in relation of self with itself. For Nancy the touch is always a syncopated contact undoing fusion, contiguity and immediacy. Touch is not an adherence of touching and touched, active and passive surfaces, but an interval between two syncopated beats of presentation and withdrawal: “The syncope simultaneously attaches and detaches (ajointe et disjointe) (…). Of course, these two operations do not add up to anything, but neither do they cancel each other out” (Nancy 1976: 14). Following that rethinking of touch as both syncopated contact and contact in that syncopation, touch may be defined with Landes as “an interruption in the continuity of being that becomes into what it is only after it has been interrupted” (Landes 2007: 89). According to Derrida, in speaking on touch Nancy “says and thus thinks this as did others before him, to be sure, but otherwise” (Derrida 2000/2005: 276). What Derrida touches in Nancy’s corpus is precisely a touch that happens out of contact, fusion and immediacy, and introduces interruption instead of continuity.

Nonetheless, Derrida sees Nancy’s thinking of touch entangled with Christian and metaphysical haptology. Is it possible to touch on metaphysics without touching Christianity? Nancy’s answer is unequivocal on that matter. He claims in Deconstruction of Christianity (1998) that the deconstruction of Christianity aims to expose an origin of Christian religion that is “more profound than Christianity itself”. In the foundation of Christianity there is something that is not any longer Christian, and exposing that unchristian arche of Christianity is presumption for deconstructing metaphysics. On the contrary Derrida claims that “/d/echristianization will be a Christian victory. Only Christianity can do this work, that is, undoing it while doing it” (Derrida 2000/2005: 54). According to Derrida every such deconstruction of Christianity risks becoming “mere Christian hyperbole” (220).

To start with, in his rethinking of haptology in Corpus (1992/2006) Nancy does not simply try to separate ontology from incarnation. Both the glorious body of Christianity (corps glorieux) and the body cave of metaphysics (corps caverne) put us at the limit of the “philosophico-theological corpus of the body” which considers body both as an organ and organon of the sign: “/Body/ is for our entire tradition, that in which sense is given and out of which sense emerges” (Nancy 1992/2006: 61).(1) This philosophico-theological corpus turns body into the “place of contradiction” where the signifier “body” denotes nothing but a “circular resorption” of sense and sign.(2) Such a circulation of sense and signification makes a source of the “sensible reunion and co-presence of sense with the senses, the body of sense (corps du sens) and the sense of the body (sens du corps)” (65). In the philosophico-theological corpus the glorious body and the body cave are reunited in the materia signata where body is considered to be both a sign of itself (signe de soi) and being-itself of the sign (être-soi du signe). However, in this philosophico-theological bind body is both impenetrable and indecipherable: “There is finally no difference between this opaque darkness and the darkness of the shadow. This body remains the dark reserve of sense, and the dark sign of this reserve” (62). The theological appropriation of philosophy is reason why is body enmeshed in circular resorption of sign and sense, and material reunion of the body of sense and the sense of the body: “I repeat: we ask for the body of a sense that would not give signification of the body, and that would not reduce it to being its sign (…)” (77).

For Nancy, though, the weight of the body suspends the incarnational transformation of flesh into spirit: “Body would then first be the experience of its own weight” (86). The weight of the body is not what body has, but what body is: “The body is the being of the being” (17). This thought that thinks in weighing (d’une pesée d’une pensée) cannot weigh itself. Since no discourse can think the corporeity from which it originates, there always exists a thoughtless ground of thinking. As “(…) here the experience is not any other thing but the weighing itself, the weighing that weighs without weighing itself, without being weighed or measured by anything (…)” (88). Nancy takes the body itself to be experience. Without trying to reject the double bind of sign and sense, he defines this experience of weight as an internally divided thought of the body: thought that is the body itself and thought that we think: “It is thinking withdrawn (en retrait) from thinking. (…) Thought itself touches itself; without being itself, without making its way back to itself. (…) at the body there is the sense of touch, the touch of the thing, which touches “itself” without an “itself” where it can get at itself, and which is touched and moved in this unbound sense of touch, and so separated from itself, shared out of itself (partagé de lui-même)” (102). The significance of the body cannot be reduced to incarnation; instead, the materiality of the body should be thought as the sense itself: “Thought itself touches itself; but it does so without being itself, without making its way back to itself (sans se revenir à soi)” (102)(3).



On touching is not just a deconstruction of Nancy, it is rather a tangential reading through which Derrida touches Nancy without intersecting with him. The tangent through which Derrida rethinks Nancy’s corpus is phenomenological conception of touch which erases the contamination of self and other in touching. Derrida claims that in Ideas II Husserl separated the sight from the touch with the aim of skipping the latter’s capacity for double sensation, both subjective and objective. Husserl claims that in the case of a visually constituted object there is nothing similar to touch. And Derrida concludes: “The self-relation of touch, therefore, acts without empathy or analogical representation: when I touch myself with my hand or finger there is neither any haptical mirror effect, as it were, nor any insinuation of alterity” (Derrida 2000/2005: 171). Contrary to such experience of immediacy, Derrida turns attention to the rift between the exterior touched and interior touching. As in order to have the interior sensation of touching the I must be touched by something exterior to it, the conclusion would be that even in the double sensation: “This detour by way of the foreign outside, no matter how subtle, furtive, an elusive, is at the same time what allows us to speak of a “double apprehension” (otherwise there would be one thing only: only some touching or only some touched)” (175).

Therefore, the self can have an access to its interiority only through the representation of something exterior to itself. Interiority which seems to be the innermost mine belongs to a non-mine-ness outside me. It is precisely this irreducibility of the other and the other of sense that Derrida continuously demands in his reading of phenomenology: “It is necessary to watch over the other’s alterity: it will always remain inaccessible to an originally presentive intuition, an immediate and direct representation of the here” (191). Moreover, it is not only that this “here” will never be mine, but even this irreducible non-mine-ness “itself suffers already from the ‘same’ expropriation” (192). Since the I is exposed to an already exposed non-mine-ness, even the intersection of this divided subjectivities will hardly spawn a unity between them.

Now, Derrida claims that in his thinking of the touch Nancy abandons exactly this eschatological dimension of the other, the otherness of the other. The other is always-to-come, but because of its exposure to the foreign outside it never really arrives. Since the I and the other share this exposure to the outside, the other is always close to the I without ever arriving: “Even when we are in (self-)touch, or when the touching ones touch themselves, they are in touch with something other than themselves and are touched by something other than the same self that touches: the touching cannot be the same as the touched even when the touching touches itself. Then some other is in itself” (246, emphasis added). Since the other is always inscribed in the touching, touching is an experience of the impossible: “To touch, to touch him/it, is possible only by not touching” (298).



To reiterate Derrida’s argument, Nancy betrays the other that is in incessant arrival without ever arriving. This eschatological dimension of the critique of phenomenological tradition was announced already in first Derrida’s book La Voix et le Phénomène (1967). In chapter 6 entitled The Voice that Keeps Silence Derrida discusses the “unfailing complicity between idealization and speech” (Derrida 1967/1973: 75) in Husserl’s phenomenology. What Derrida castigated in Voice and Phenomenon was an absolute proximity of the signifier to the signified and the ensuing transparency of the meaning-intention in the speech expression. Four years before Voice and Phenomenon, Derrida published article Violence and Metaphysics(4) where he deconstructs Emmanuel Levinas’s critique of Husserl’s concept of the alter ego elaborated in Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations. Levinas, according to Derrida, rejects Husserl’s notion of the alter ego because it reduces, “neutralizes”, the alterity of the other: “(…) according to Levinas, by making the other, notably in the Cartesian Meditations, the ego’s phenomenon, constituted by analogical appresentation on the basis of belonging to the ego’s own sphere, Husserl allegedly missed the infinite alterity of the other, reducing it to the same. To make the other an alter ego, Levinas says frequently, is to neutralize its absolute alterity” (1967/1978: 123). But Derrida turns to Fifth Cartesian Meditation where Husserl shows that the immediate presentation (Gegenwärtigung) of my interiority and of the other is not possible. Instead, the other, and even my innermost interiority, is for Husserl available only through the representation, appresentation (Vergegenwärtigung). Contrary to Levinas, Derrida claims that this analogical appresentation means apparition of the other in the way the I can never appear; it is the way in which the other as the other in his “irreducible otherness” appears to the I. The encounter with the other is necessarily mediated through the analogical appresentation whose mediation enables encountering the other in its absolute alterity. Without this mediation of the analogical appresentation the other will cease to be the other, it will be identical to the I, there would be no difference between the idem and ipse. In that in-distinction and in-difference between the idem and the ipse the other would be nothing but empirical person devoid of any transcendentality that puts me in question, makes me saying Yes before any question is posed. But the otherness of the other as the analogical appresentation appears as the otherness of the body whose exteriority is a sign of the irreducibility of other’s subjectivity to the subjectivity of the I. This appearing of the non-presence of the other in the shape of the body (“profile”) is what Husserl himself called the “archi-factuality” (Urtatsache). And this external division between the other and the I is inscribed into the interiority of the I, which means that I’s experience of itself is available only through the Vergegenwärtigung, or analogical appresentation. Therefore non-presence breaks the presence of the I to itself. This is the line of Husserl’s thinking that Derrida will follow in Voice and Phenomenon but in order to “deconstruct” Husserl. Derrida in Voice and Phenomenon turns Husserl against Husserl, Husserl of the analogical appresentation against Husserl of the proximity of the self to itself in interiority and transparency of that interiority in the linguistic sign. Such deconstructive strategy inevitably poses the following problem: if external alterity via analogical appresentation engenders internal alternation, then internal expropriation of the I simulates external otherness. What is expropriation viewed from the inside, turns out to be appropriation viewed from the outside.



In the abovementioned chapter of Voice and Phenomenon Derrida discusses Husserl’s thesis that the intentional act of consciousness is immediately present in the materiality of the signifier. The materiality of the signifier is just a medium which reflects animating act of the meaning-intention. But Derrida also stated: “This immediate presence results from the fact that the phenomenological “body” of the signifier seems to fade away at the very moment it is produced (…). This effacement of the sensible body and its exteriority is for consciousness the very form of the immediate presence of the signified” (1967/1973: 77, emphasis added). Word becomes into the bearer of meaning only if it is animated by meaning-intention that turns its inert sonority (Körper) into an animated body (Leib) or “spiritual flesh” (geistige Leiblichkeit). In the speech the animating act of meaning-intention is present to itself “(…) in the transparent spirituality of what it animates” (78). This living experience of hearing oneself speaking is conceived by Husserl as a pure auto-affection which engenders an absolute self-proximity through the reduction of the space, or the exterior surface: “/T/he subject can hear or speak to himself and be affected by the signifier he produces, without passing through external detour, the world, the sphere of what is not ‘his own’” (78, emphasis added). For Husserl the auto-affection of the voice is determined by pure temporality that excludes any spatial mediation.

Contrary to such auto-affective and self-generating temporality, Derrida shows that in what Husserl thinks as self-presence there exists “the possibility of everything we think we can exclude from auto-affection: space, the outside, the world, the body” (82, emphasis added). Such a detour of the self-presence through difference is designated by Derrida as a movement of différance which “produces sameness as self-relation within self-difference; it produces sameness as the nonidentical” (82). This sameness as the nonidentical, or constitution of the self in the difference with itself, is rendered in On Touching as the I spaced-out-in-itself. Without a detour through the exteriority which spaces out the I in itself there could be no difference between the touching and the touched, between the I and non-I.(5) On Touching explains the movement of différance as the auto-affection which is haunted by the hetero-affection. Contrary to the asymmetry between touch and vision that Husserl introduces in Ideas II, Derrida shows that hetero-affection “(…) is related to spacing and then to visible spatiality – where an intruder may come through, a host, a wished or unwished for, a spare and auxiliary other, or a parasite to be rejected (…)” (Derrida 2000/2005: 179/180, emphasis added). What Derrida shows in On Touching is that visible surface interrupts the immediacy of the contact and breaks the self-presence in touching oneself. Derrida’s conclusions about touching are sequels of his conclusions about hearing oneself speak: “Hearing oneself speak is not the inwardness of an inside that is closed in upon itself; it is the irreducible openness in the inside; it is the eye and the world within speech” (Derrida 1967/1973: 86, emphasis added). This irreducible openness in the inside re-emerges in On Touching as an irreducible spacing (Derrida 2000/2005: 221) which spaces out the touching-touched relation. As Derrida puts it: “In thus opening up a gap and making room for the hiatus of noncontact at the heart of contact, this spacing makes for the trial of noncontact as the very condition or experience itself of contact, the selfsame experience itself of the same open forever – and spaced out by the other” (179/180).

As Leonard Lawlor (2006) recently argued “what divides ipse, spacing it, and making it double in Derrida is mediation, Vergegenwärtigung” (Lawlor 2006: 28). “/M/ediation contaminates immediate”, but in the next step the contamination is reversed into the mediation. “In Derrida, re-presentation contaminates presentation (…)” (54). It follows, according to Lawlor, that contamination is promise which promises unity without being able to keep this promise: “The other is always already close by and coming without ever arriving. Without ever being able to arrive, the one who is going to keep the promise is to come in person (Leiblich). Therefore, we must characterize Derrida’s critique of phenomenology (as he himself has done) as an eschatological critique. It is a critique based in a promised unity that demands to be done over again and again” (28).(6)

According to Derrida, Nancy turns this spacing that breaks continuity and immediacy into the touch itself which results in betraying the otherness of the other. By turning spacing into touching, he effaces the irreducible spacing that introduces the hiatus of the noncontact into the heart of the contact. Following Derrida’s argument, the touch in Nancy is not spaced out, but the movement of spacing is the touch itself. By such identification of spacing with touch, Nancy turns asymmetry into symmetry, discontinuity into continuity, deferral into synchronicity, interruption into immediateness. But Derrida reaches this conclusion only through his own identification of irreducible openness with the eschatological dimension of the other. Such equation displaces exteriority into a purely transcendental, intact domain uncontaminated by mediations such as analogical appresentation, or movement of différance. Is the I exposed at all if exteriority to which it is exposed is not itself also exposed?



Nancy radicalizes the double exposure in question at the end of 1990s in his essays related to art.(7) Art does not just expose us, but exposes us to its own exposure – to the spacing out of its indistinct ground. In the essay L’Image – le distinct, Nancy introduces two oppositions, the first between the sacred and religion, and the second between the untouchable and the impalpable. While religion constitutes and maintains a bond, the sacred is always separated; there is no bond which could be secured by the sacred. According to Nancy, image belongs to the sacred. Now, the preservation of the distance that image draws from this sacred is what he calls the distinction.

Distinction is something that is separated by marks. The distinct is both withdrawn by a line, and marked as withdrawn with a line. Distinction marks something that belongs to the order of the impalpable, but this impalpable “(…) is given in the trait and in the line that separates it, it is given in by this distraction that removes it” (Nancy 2003a: 2/12).(8) Although the image is sacred, it is not a sacrifice, for sacrifice binds with the religion and turns the discontinuity of the sacred into the continuity of the religious bound. On the contrary, distinction “crosses the distance of the withdrawal even while maintaining it through its mark as an image”(3/14). Such crossing does not establish continuity: “It does not suppress the distinction. It maintains it while also making contact. The distinct bounds toward the indistinct and leaps into it, but it is not interlinked with it” (3/14).

This double movement of the distinction is the intimate force with which an image touches its spectator; through this force the distinct line “approaches across a distance, but what it brings into such close proximity is distance” (4/15). Through the double movement of withdrawing in drawing and drawing in withdrawal, image introduces the double separation through which it exposes itself by exposing the ground. Image is “(…) detached from a ground and it is cut within a ground” (7/20). This double separation is a crucial operation since in reality the ground is not distinguished from itself.(9) Therefore it is precisely image that introduces a protection from such an indistinct ground: “/W/ithout the image”, Nancy claims, “there would only be an indistinct adherence” (13/31). The division that the distinct draws in the withdrawal unfounds the ground in the moment of its founding.

Just like a body in Corpus, the distinct line does not come back to itself, and that impossibility of closure is what makes the line draw. The distinct line does not withdraw in drawing, it draws in withdrawing (“elle la tire et elle la retire” (5/18)). There is no coincidence between the drawn figure and the withdrawal that figures. An impossibility of self-return is what makes the signification of the distinct. As the withdrawal cannot be drawn, it makes the unpresentable force that breaks the adherence, the other of the form that interrupts the intimacy and proximity of representation. Nancy puts in the Painting in the Grotto (1994/1996: 77): “The drawing causes the impossible outside of the world to loom up, and causes it to loom up in it is very impossibility.” In contrast to Derrida’s movement of différance the distinct amounts to a distinguishing that is withdrawn from distinguishing. Since the distinct is being out of itself, the distinguishing cannot think itself as the distinguished – it is that distinguishing. If movement of différance syncopates the time with the space, Nancy syncopates the movement of différance with the distinct. Distinct is not just the same conceived as the nonidentical, not just the constitution of self in the difference with itself, it is the I that distinguishes itself without being itself. The distinguishing cannot think the self it founds; therefore in that thoughtless moment of the thought the self is both founded and unfounded.(10) The touch of the distinct does not leave the I closed into its interiority, instead, the touch exposes the I to the exteriority of the touched but in this exposing the I is exposed to itself. The I is exposed to its own exposing, it is the self outside itself, the I that is detached from itself. Without this double exposure, there could be no infinite non-mine-ness to which the I would sacrifice and promise itself, there could be no other to which the I would be infinitely responsible.(11)



In Noli me tangere (2003) Nancy connects the concept of distinction as crossing without continuity with the interdiction of touching the body of the god. The interdiction “Noli me tangere” maintains the distinction between the divine and the human while also establishing a contact between them. Although touching is an experience of the impossible, Nancy demonstrates that it is not necessary to turn to the eschatological other in order to keep the touching-touched relation syncopated and spaced out. In Noli me tangere Nancy remarks that interdiction of touching the body of god is implant – intruder – into the heart of Christianity which is “religion of the touch, immediate presence to the body and to the heart” (Nancy 2003b: 27)(12) par excellence.(13) Nancy shows how painters present a scene of the encounter between Mary Magdalene and Christ in the figure of the gardener. Suspended contact is left in the in-between space of the withdrawal, in the incessant passing between the sight and the touch and the visual and the invisible. In the concluding chapter of Noli me tangere Nancy writes: “It is essential to the painting to not be touched. It is essential to the image in general to not be touched. That is how it differs from sculpture (...). But what is sight, if not, surely, a deferred touching (un toucher différé)?” (81). This deferral is for Nancy constitutive of touch: “Without this detachment, without this withdrawal (recul), without this retreat, touch will not any more be what it is, and will not any longer do what it does (…)” (82). In Noli me tangere touch is conceived as a tangency without contact, adjoining without mixture, proximity without intimacy. Art, as explained above, does not represent that separation and detachment, it is that separation and detachment in which art exposes itself and exposes us to that exposure.

While Derrida in On touching focuses on “Hoc est enim corpus meum”,he mentions    “Noli me tangere” only in passing, and even as it is synonymous with the Christian logic of the incarnation. Nancy, on the contrary, explains that the interdiction of touching “Noli me tangere” is an exception which forms a “theological hapax” (un hapax théologique).(14) Nevertheless, these two statements “Hoc est enim corpus meum” and “Noli me tangere” are to be thought together in a “oxymoron and paradoxical mode” (27). This interpretation is endorsed by Ian James (2006: 141): “The moment of indeterminacy figured by the resurrected body of Christ in Noli me tangere may appear to some much more like a Derridean moment of undecidability than a Merleau-Pontean instance of intertwining or chiasmus. Nancy, by way of his interpretation, is aiming to elaborate a more radical interruption of touch, which he would contend, has always been at stake in his thinking (…).”

Christ that appears before Mary Magdalene in the shape of the gardener is a resurrected body, but not a ghostly return of the dead:(15) “The resurrection is not a reanimation: it is the infinite prolongation of the death which displace and uninstall (désinstalle) all values of the presence and the absence, of the animate and inanimate, of the soul and the body” (Nancy 2003b: 74/75). It is tangible, but impalpable body that withholds itself from the contact (se dérobe à contact): “As resuscitated, its being and its truth are in this refusal, in this withdrawal which alone gives the measure of the touch which must be in question: not touching this body, in order to touch its eternity. Not coming into contact with its manifest presence, in order to accede to its real presence, which consists in its departure” (28). Following the concept of the distinct, Jesus’ appearing body is sacred and impalpable; it is not the body of incarnation that allows touching the untouchable. Jesus is detached and his corporeal appearance is nothing but the distinct line that keeps him syncopated between departure and return, presence and absence.  

In the religion, the intimacy with the distance is enabled through the incarnation, but the presence of the god as a sacred being can only be shown in its departure, not in the return: “The death makes the relation: which is to say, the division of the departure (la partage du départ)” (74). It is in the parting where intimacy with the distant starts, not in the resurrection. Since he did not stop dying Jesus is not dead, but he also does not live any more: “/H/e is dying indefinitely (indéfiniment); he is the one who does not cease to part” (31). This presence is nothing but the interminable departure (partance). “The body of Resurrection becomes a figure in Nancy’s reading for a moment in which the principle of identity or sameness is interrupted or subject to hiatus” (James 2006: 140). As Nancy (1992/2006: 98) puts it in Corpus, “un corps ne cesse pas de se”. Therefore, instead of an interminable eschatological arriving, Nancy emphasizes an incessant parting deprived of the end. Instead of the Christian “being-there-of-beyond”, we are confronted with an immemorial visitatio that opens the presence as “always-already-there and always-there-again, inexhaustibly withdrawn into itself, relentlessly exposed before us” (Nancy 2003a: 121). And it is precisely this interminable departure (“le partant de la partance”) that Nancy contrasts to Derrida’s interminable arriving of the other.





1 This and further quotations from Corpus (1992/2006) are given in my translation, if not otherwise indicated. 
2 According to Diane Perpich: „Here Nancy rejects the idea of “the” body – a single entity defined, for example, by extension in space –  substituting in place of «le» corps a corpus or catalogue of singularities that evoke bodies without essentializing them“, (Perpich 2005: 83).
3 Although Perpich (2005) accurately points out that „/b/odies, for Nancy, do not have limits, they are limits; and further, the general law of intrusion might be adapted here to apply to this notion of limit: there is never only one. Every body is multiple limits (…) (85, emphasis added), she misses the point in her conclusion: „Rather than defining a self, a corpus records the fault lines of the self’s identity, lines that both separate and join the self with itself and with the world“, (emphasis added). Body that in separation „join the self with itself and with the world“ would be the body of the closed immanence and there would be no need for corpus or body as multiple limits.     
4 Violence and métaphysique was originally published in number 3 and 4 of Revue de métaphysique et de morale (1964), and then reprinted in L'Ecriture et différence (1967). Quotations from Violence and Metaphysics are from Writing and Difference (1978). For important readings of Violence and Metaphysics see, for example, Bernasconi (1986), Critchley (1992) and Lawlor (2002). Critchley and Lawlor emphasize numerous revisions in the 1967 version of Violence and Metaphysics.      
5 In Voice and Phenomenon Derrida compares auto-affection of hearing oneself speak with forms of auto-affection such as vision and touch: “When I see myself, either because I gaze upon limited region of my body or because it is reflected in a mirror, what is outside the sphere of “my own” has already entered the field of this auto-affection, with the result that is no longer pure. In the experience of touching and being touched, the same thing happens. In both cases, the surface of my body, as something external, must begin by being exposed in the world” (Derrida 1967/1973: 78/79). 
6 Leonard Lawlor (2002) proposed a kind of “continuity-thesis“ in Derrida’s philosophy which gradually, instead suddenly, shifted from metaphysical toward ethico-political issues. For a critique of this Lawlor’s thesis see Kates (2005).    
7 Recently Donald A. Landes argued for the rethinking of Derrida’s On Touching from the perspective of Nancy's aesthetics: „Without the supplement of Nancy's aesthetics, it becomes difficult to recognize the significance of Nancy's deconstruction of the ars/technē binary and the ethical implications of his subsequent post-deconstructive ectopic ontology of bodies as developed in Corpus” (Landes 2007: 80). And Ian James claims that „for Nancy, the evidence of the image, the exposure to the sense of the world as ungraspable excess or exteriority, is to be found in all the images of art“ (James 2007: 77). James also argues that Nancy in his essay on the Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami „developes an ethics of contact“ (69) that affirms separation and distance. Nevertheless, in her account of the question of presentation (Darstellung) in Nancy's philosophy Alison Ross leaves his conception of touch, including Derrida's dialogue with Nancy on the question, almost out of consideration. She considers touch rather as a general structure „for the affectability of the senses“(Ross 2007: 151).
8 The first page number refers to english translation of Nancy's essay (2005) and second to French edition.
9 According to Ginette Michaud: „Now, this question of the distinction of the image is political – having to do with „wresting the word from its dilution“ from the stereotyped forms that de-politicize it – for the image, like the word, deals with separation, with distinction, with distance, with the incommensurable. (…) In this sense, and in more than one sense, the work of art is not a reflection (à l'image de) of the political, but is the very image of the political“, (Michaud 2005: 122).
10 What is experience but such distinguishing; let me quote from Nancy’s Corpus in French: „Expérience n’est pas savoir, ni non-savoir. Expérience est traversée, transport de bord à bord, transport incessant d’un bord à l’autre tout le long du tracé qui développe et qui limite une aréalité“ (1992/2006: 98). 
11 As Michaud (109) argued quoting Nancy's Nus sommes: „the transfer that occurs in the place of passage is „not a process of identification with the other or of projection onto the other - which would assume two already defined subjects - but the experience of an exposure to otherness that constitutes the subject; an exposure to the extension that constitutes the psyche; the sometimes painful, sometimes joyous sharing of the sense of an encounter in a place of passage“ (Nus sommes, 119).“
12 Further quotations from Noli me tangere (2003b) will be delivered in my translation, if not otherwise indicated. 
13 According to Nancy, since the Latin verb nolo is the negative mode of the volo, proper understanding of the statement “Noli me tangere” is not just “Do not touch me”, but literally “Do not wish to touch me”, Therefore, nolo means “ne pas vouloir”. According to Michaud (125) it is a contact interdit, in both senses of the word: interdiction and suspension.
14 Nancy's makes a direct reference to Derrida's On touching in one footnote which will be quoted in French: „(…) dans ce livre /Le Toucher, Jean Luc Nancy/, d’ailleurs, l’épisode du Noli me tangere est mentionné au cours d’une évocation du rôle du toucher en général dans la légende christique, évocation elle-même inscrite dans une rapport avec la question que j’avais nommée “déconstruction du christianisme”, question à laquelle Derrida entend toucher avec un distance sceptique ou rabbinique que je ne désespère pas de réduire ici quelque“ (Nancy 2003b: 26, emphasis added). 
15  Nancy subtitles Noli me tangere with Essai sur la levée du corps, not relevée, so it is not about return of the dead, but about its departing (partance). Presence of the presence is not in the return of the dead, but in its parting. But since partition is neither the pure presence nor the pure absence, the only way to present it is through a withdrawal, a syncope between the presence and the absence.

5.3. Sharing in / out Culture(s)

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Aleksandar Mijatović: Division of touch: Distinct in Jean-Luc Nancy and Jacques Derrida - In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 17/2008. WWW:

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