Johnson, Laurie (2009) A ghost of a chance, after all. Derrida Today, 2 (2). pp. 166-176. ISSN 1754-8500
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Identification Number or DOI: doi: 10.3366/E1754850009000505
Does a Postal Principle, a principle of destinerrance, hold true for computer mediated communication (CMC)? Perhaps, however, the question is not one concerning technology. Is it rather the case that we must ask, after Derrida, after all, whether destinerrance ever held true, as a principle? This paper considers the prospect that the Postal Principle was, in principle, or as a principle, an expression of a truth value from something that can not in fact, be held at all: the ghost in the machine. Drawing on a phenomenology of computer practice, the paper argues that there is greater explanatory value to be found in Derrida’s more recent comments on the relative exteriority of the technological apparatus (in Archive Fever and elsewhere), framing an understanding of the human body as partes extra partes. Yet it is demonstrated here that this same framing was already in place from the moment that the principle of destinerrance was first articulated, that a subsequent technical turn in Derrida’s work merely extends a framework already set in place in the earlier work (in The Post Card, for example). It is argued, then, that in articulating a Postal Principle for the purpose of guaranteeing its failure, Derrida had calculated the future trajectory – and had built the logic of the calculation and of the “jet” words, as he calls them, into this trajectory – of what I call the “fantasy of the disembodied virtualm” through which users of CMC project themselves into the archive of archives that the internet was bound to become.
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