‘Derrida’s “Economimesis’ and Laruelle’s Onto-Photo-Logical Critique of Photography Theory
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In a key passage in his Copy, Archive, Signature, Derrida reflects on the hinge between the active and passive senses of the rhetorical trope of invention as it bears on the photographic act: “There is a concept of photography as the simple recording of the other as he was, as he appeared there, but it is immediately contaminated by invention in the sense of production, creation, productive imagination. One produces the other there where he is not. . . . I invent him, then, in the sense in which one invents what is not there. These two concepts of invention lie at the heart of photography” (43). In this paper, I will explore the sense in which the photographic apparatus configures and probes--brings into focus--the undecidable differentiation between observation and construction of the realm of objects. To this end, I will pursue a close reading of Derrida’s “Economimesis”, his important early essay on the productivity of mimesis in The Critique of Judgment. I will probe Derrida’s explication of Kant’s econopolitical construction of the aesthetic realm as a point of reference for a consideration of Derrida’s take on photography theory, in relation to the work of Barthes, Flusser, and, in particular, Laruelle. Derrida’s concluding argument in “Economimesis” fixes on the dynamics of what he calls “the hierarchizing authority of logocentric analogy” at work in the structuration of “judgments of taste” in the Kantian aesthetic. I am especially interested in the implications of Derrida’s explication of “disgust” in the Third Critique in relation to Laruelle’s argument in The Concept of Non-Photography for the photographic as “a realism of immanence”, rather than of transcendence or objectivation.