The words which the title of our paper suggests to place under scrutiny are quite familiar to Bakhtin's students as well as to the literary theorists in general. It would not be far-fetched to offer them as an aphoristical summary of the main issues of the poststructuralist project - those of alterity/Otherness, identity formation, intersubjectivity/dialogism. Since thus far nobody has bothered to esteem their exact purchase value, it may be a good idea to verify whether the virtual hard currency of poststructuralism is not in fact a soft one.
To start with it should be noted that the canonical rendering of Bakhtin's aphorism is not faithful enough to the letter of the original giving it a paraphilosophical, if not a quasi-Heideggerian, ring . The result is that Bakhtin is forced to contradict himself on a theoretical level . For this dictum is obviously at odds with one of the four fundamental notions of the Bakhtinian paradigm, namely with the notion of outsidedness, exotopy . To remain outside means to have an alibi. Poststructuralism has taught us to immediately reject this as a patently logocentric stance, as a manifestation of the drive for mastery and unambiguous meaning, whereas Bakhtin is believed to be the first to dub such things monologism. And yet the real problem is not the malfunction of the postal service but the reluctance of its customers to open the delivered letters in the alphabetical order. What Bakhtin is actually saying is that "one cannot prove one's own alibi in the event of being"(1979 /1920-1924/: 179). That is, the difference between the original and the translation is the poststructuralist difference par excellence, to wit, the difference between the performative and the constative statement. Irony stems from the fact that in our case an act of translation as an act of (intertextual/lingual) transformation that transforms the first into the second and thereby misses its aim which is exactly to revitalize the original that discursively is always already threatened with death qua exhaustion, aphanisis of the performative potential. To emulate the Bakhtinian idiom , the generally accepted version is the translation into the dead language, and not the other way around as it should be according to the theory of intertextual dialogism. Which explains why to save the latter we have to prove that what we are dealing with is a misreading, and not an outcome of succumbing to the dictates of theoretical and literary texts, i.e. that, appearances notwithstanding, the process of transformation itself remains unimpared.
The paradoxicality of this imperative is not surprising for at stake is precisely the self-contradictory nature of an utterance on which dialogism vitally depends. And this because what the poststructuralist discursivity boils down to is nothing else than the celebrated paradox of the Cretan Liar, from which the alleged impossibility to prove an alibi seems to be derived. Asserting that all the inhabitants of his isle are liars, the Cretan Liar produces an over-inclusive discourse of mutual intertextual guilt and indebtedness acknowledged by a speaker contrary to his/her conscious intentions, that is, in the mode of a confession. Discursively, this is what, in the poststructuralist perspective, defines the human condition: the world one is born in is that of polyphony, every uttered word becomes (Cretanly) double-voiced simply by virtue of being uttered. According to the theory of dialogism of which Bakhtin is believed to be an avatar, no utterance, the one claiming an alibi included, can be exonerated from the Cretan Law of infinite splittings/doublings that make a constative utterance differ from itself and thereby transform it into the performative one. Which explains why dialogism/intertextuality is advanced as an effective weapon against traditional ways of reading: according to Paul de Man, the impossibility of reading is a rhetorical, to wit, a performative/intertextual one. Since, from the poststructuralist standpoint, the impossibility of reading is the possibility of fiction (cf.Derrida 1981, 1989,1991), it is not difficult to imagine what the current strategy of dealing with the logocentric adversary will wind up with.
In effect, as we have already become a bit tired of hearing, the trouble with the scientific, to wit, logocentric discourse in general, and that of psychoanalysis in particular is that it fosters mastery and domination (cf.Moi 1985). The only way to undermine the latter that poststructuralism has been able thus far to imagine is to try to expose the fictive nature of the former. In the case of psychoanalysis, this boils down to an attempt to fictionalize Freud (cf. Brooks 1984; de Certeau 1981; Felman 1985; Mahony 1984; Marcus 1985; Schonau 1968), that is exactly "to attribute 'crafty maneuverings' 'to Freud's every claim of scientific intent, making his theoretical no less than his clinical publications into the works of a 'genuine creative writer': a novelist who plays at being a psychiatrist" (Cohn 1992: 32; italics added). Momentarily the reader will see that this attribution most consistently pursued by Derrida in "To Speculate - on 'Freud'" happens to be the deconstruction not of the scientificity but of the fictionality of a given discourse.
The reason is that, on these premises, fictionality becomes synonymous with the impossibility to prove an alibi, or, more correctly, with the automatism with which a constative assertion of an alibi performatively disproves itself and thereby proves the hermeneut's involvement, his/her lack of alibi. The psychoanalytic name for this involvement is transference. As a result a purely aesthetic problem receives a patently hermeneutic solution - exactly the one that immediately robs aesthetics of its subversive force. And this precisely because, contrary to what poststructuralism has been drumming into our heads, the problem of logocentrism that deserves the name of the hermeneutic problem par excellence is how to penetrate a discourse subject to interpretation and not to find the position outside of it since it is precisely the exotopy that makes the interpretive enterprise impossible. In order for the question of mastery to arise at all, a hermeneut has first of all to penetrate a discourse. Insofar as this penetration is not an a priori given fact but the aim of interpretation, it needs a proof. To prove the participation in the discursive scene means to disprove the exotopical alibi of an interpreter. On these premises, shared by tradition and its alleged detractors, the impossibility to prove an alibi becomes the possibility of interpretation. To dub it the impossibility of reading does not mean to misread the actual state of affairs but to bare its truth, for the proof at stake cannot be other than a self-contradictory, to wit, a Cretan one. Which means the privileging of confession - not only as a literary genre (cf. de Man 1979), but, more importantly, as the discursive mode. Since it is precisely in detective fiction, generally viewed as the logocentric genre par excellence, that the confession receives a frame, which, according to Derrida, is one of the main tools of deconstruction (cf. Derrida 1987b), a recourse to this genre provides a good opportunity to test the basic assumptions of recent theorizing; and in so doing, at long last to identify the logocentric adversary; to see what it is that in actual fact makes the existence of fiction possible; and to suggest a genuinely new perspective on one of the fundamental notions of psychoanalysis, that of the primal scene, which is supposed to lie at the core of the psychoanalist's complicity in the logocentric tradition (cf. Evans 1989; L.Frank 1989; Garner 1989; Sprengnether 1985). The novel that will be read between the theoretical lines is Agatha Christie's Curtain: Poirot's Last Case (1986 /1975/) exemplary of the genre, and renowned for its exemplarity to the extent in which it foregrounds the Cretan problematics and does this in a way radically subversive of the Western hermeneutic project.
According to Derrida, Beyond the Pleasure Principle lays bare "the conditions for the fictional, and for that type of fiction called, confusedly sometimes, literature" (Derrida 1987a: 262) precisely because there is no exotopical beyond to the pleasure principle which, as is the case with every logocentric concept, is pharmakonized, hollowed out from the inside by the logic of differance (283-285), by the logic of invaginating abyssal stri/ucture which intertextually "confuses the order of all limits, and forbids the arrangement of bodies"(373). The same holds for an author (whence Freud in inverted commas in Derrida's title) who, as a result of an intertextual invagination, cannot claim a position outside from which to master his/her own discourse (274, 284). The moral of the would-be deconstruction is that this is bound to happen to everyone who - unwittingly or not - abandons him/herself to speculation. Which explains why the unavoidable question whether Freud who has explicitly defined his search for the beyond of the pleasure principle as a speculation - "Did actually want to? Did he want to want to? (265) - can receive only a Cretan's answer: apparently not, and yet he could not have helped succumbing to the speculative logic (401); which in the last resort is the logic of intertextuality, i.e., the logic of the self-betraying confession (273, 369-376).
However, to surmise that Freud has been all along writing fiction(s) would hold only if in his paper on Beyond the Pleasure Principle was actually the theory of the death drive in which he was giving us to believe; and yet, on a more careful inspection, it turns out that Freud's aim was precisely to undermine the inclination to believe, natural as it is to the reader of fiction. Paradoxically, this is precisely why he has defined the theory of the death drive "as our theoretical fiction" (1967 /1920/: 66). The gist of the matter is that to fully appreciate the scene of writing we have to consider the mise en scene, i.e. to constantly bear in mind that to enter the scene of a psychoanalytic debate Freud was prompted by a problem of practical hermenetics, i.e., by the impossibility to bring to a close the analysis of a number of cases using the pleasure principle as an explanatory device. Viewed against this background, the reconfirmation of "the authority of the pleasure principle" with which the introduction of the death drive winds up has nothing "curious" (Derrida 1987a: 278), or Cretanly paradoxical, or deconstructively subversive about it. For the recourse to the death drive "serves a strategy whose finality", contrary to Derrida, "cannot /help but/ be clear, cannot/help but/ be itself" (278), namely to convince the practicing analyst that by discarding the pleasure principle s/he will practically gain nothing but only multiply the troubles, so that the only moral which a practitioner can draw from Freud's paper is that one would better stick to the familiar framework, whatever its deficiencies. This is precisely how the Beyond... has always been read by the psychoanalytic community which has no reason to bother itself with "the testamentary singularity of this scene of writing"(377) - and by Derrida himself whose insistence "upon the textual (autobiographical, heterobiographical, thanatographical ...) procedure", upon Freudian "demarche"(377; 279) implies in effect reading Freud "as naively, i.e., innocently, as possible" (273). And hardly surprising, for, instead of Cretanly "corrupting ... by reapplication" (283-284), the Derridaean attempt to speculate - on 'Freud' which makes of "speculation not only a mode of research named by Freud ... but also the operation of his writing"(284) strives to bare the Freudian strategy and therefore cannot fail succumbing to it, i.e., takes exactly that which Freud would like his reader to take (the pleasure principle) and discards that which he had intended for this purpose: the death drive. If, as Derrida was quite correct in pointing out, "one cannot say that Freud elaborates this inconceivable concept for itself ... in order to present its properly theoretical originality"(277), then precisely because the death drive was introduced only to be dismissed and, most importantly, dismissed as fiction. Which explains why it "is not of the theoretical order, is not purely or essentially theoretical"(277). Of interest about this dismissal is its effect, at once reconfirming and limiting.
The irony of the matter is that it is not the pleasure principle per se but the psychoanalytic method which comes to be reconfirmed in the first place. For in most conventional perspectives the restorative force of psychoanalysis has everything to do with the deconstruction of fiction: "The analysand's narratives are deconstructed through the analyst's steadily focusing on their internal contradictions , their being founded on displacements, condensations, and marginalizations, and their erasures of expectable, emotion-laden, crucial life experience ... Contrary to popular prejudice, however, deconstruction is not a lofty name for destructiveness and disillusionment; psychoanalytic deconstruction makes possible new and sounder construction, in particular the construction of more fulfilling narratives of lives in progress" (Schafer 1992: 12). Which explains why Freud, on poststructuralism's own premises, cannot be regarded as a creative writer, nor his case histories as pieces of fiction. For our excerpt applies neatly to such a privileged example of "psychoanalytic fictions" as Dora's case - ironically, in strict accordance with the basic assumptions of those who are bent upon fictionilizing Freud and in order to prove their charge read this case history exactly as Freud's attempt to make a "new and sounder construction" out of Dora's narrative full of gaps, displacements, erasures etc. (cf. Hertz 1985). A neat counterpart provides Derrida's reading of the Beyond... which focuses upon its multiple displacements (284, 383) with the insistence the only parallel for which is Freud's own therapeutical thrust. Whence the paradoxical impasse into which poststructuralism corners itself by trying to define fiction intertextually, to wit, from the Cretan point of view of self-involving confession. For the fictive status of Dora's case history comes to be dependent upon Freud's failure to bring order and coherence, that is to cure Dora. However this means to define fiction referentially, to foreground the factual failure since the text itself is a more fulfilling narrative of Dora's life just as the effect of the deconstructive baring of Freud's failure to justify the death drive is the transformation of the Beyond... into an autobiographical narrative oriented towards fulfillment. Witness Derrida's alignment of Freud's act of writing of the Beyond... with the work of mourning (Derrida 1977: 139-146).
As we have seen, the only type of fiction Freud could have written on postructuralism's own terms is of the realistic kind. Paradoxically, this conclusion, were it to be maintained, would have been salutary to the poststructuralist strategy in general, to the deconstructive tactics in particular, however considerable the limitations imposed on both may appear to be. In effect, nobody has ever claimed that realism has nothing to do with fiction, moreover it seems to be the natural object of deconstruction as an auto- deconstruction. On the other hand, the deconstructive auto-transformation of the logocentric discourse of science into a fictive one, as Derrida is at pains to stress (383), has everything to do with transference. However, it is precisely the latter, generally viewed as the psychoanalytic method par excellence, if not as psychoanalysis itself (Soler 1996: 56), which turns out to be inimical to the existence of fiction. Witness the way in which Freud enters his discourse on the death drive. I mean of course the celebrated anecdote about the game of Freud's grandson with the cotton-reel. The famous idea of Derrida is that the same game, to wit, the fort-da movement (of discursive undecidability) structures Beyond the Pleasure Principle . The gist of the matter is, however, whether this acting-out takes place in a Cretanly unconscious way, i.e., contrary to Freud's overt intentions. Unfortunately the apparent undecidability of this issue evaporates the moment we remember what the initial problem was which prompted Freud to write his essay.
The threat to the pleasure principle, says Freud, comes from traumatic dreams; which means that the problem which has triggered his inquiry - why the patients rebel against the tyranny of the principle of pleasure by oneirically reproducing unpleasurable events - boils down "to one of the classic problems of aesthetics: How is it that things which would cause displeasure in life can cause pleasure when they are framed in works of art?" (Holland 1968: 298); or in dreams after which the former, as a psychoanalyst and a poststructuralist will grant with equal readiness, is modeled. The pleasure one takes in a traumatic event once it has received an oneiric or artistic frame/paragon is at one and the same time of a mimetic and Cretan order: the trauma mimed by a dream is effectively dereferentialized, to wit, transformed into a simulacrum, so that in a waking state the patient has only to identify with his dreamer-self in order to deny its reality: an identification, to wit, transference, makes of an assertion "it was only a dream" a neat counterpart of the Cretan Liar's assessment of the discourse of his compatriots. In other words, the inaugural problem in Beyond the Pleasure Principle seems to be no problem at all, for the traumatic dream provides the perfect evidence corroborating two Freudian theories - that of the wish-fulfilling nature of dreaming, i.e., its subjection to the Law of the pleasure principle, as well as his option in favor of the phantasmatic nature of the primal scene/trauma - the theories which serve as the ultimate reference points for a semiotic extension of psychoanalysis - be it Lacan or Ricoeur. An unpleasant corollary, however, is that this evidence threatens an analyst with unemployment, for as a fact the patient effectively cures him/herself and in so doing fortifies the exotopy of the analyst in respect to the discourse subject to interpretation. Which means that both theories turn out to be at odds with psychoanalytic practice, to wit, with the transferential method of removing symptoms. On the other hand, Freud's equation of the traumatic dream with the game of his grandson allows him to circumvent this problem. Now, it is precisely this equation which makes of the applied psychoanalysis such a reductive affair, for it implies a decision in respect to the discursive status of its first member, i.e., an option in favor of treating the anecdote as a fact of Freud's biography, whereas strictly speaking we have only his word for its ever taking place. Which explains why the hermeneutic concerns of safe-guarding the transference compel Derrida to ignore this only relic of fictionality proper in Freud's text and even to frame it with referential data which prove its facticity (cf. Derrida 1977: 137-146). So long as his stance is obviously that of the innocent believer it is tempting to say that Derrida is to Freud what Hastings, renowned for his all too trusting nature (cf. Christie 1986: 168,171,179), is to Poirot. The irony of the matter is that if this was really so, two (logocentric) birds were killed with one (deconstructive) stone.
In effect, insofar as Hastings is there to narrate the exploits of the Great Detective, the adoption of his attitude seemingly amounts exactly to the desired fictionalization of the logocentric narrative. In this respect we should not be bothered by Hastings's narrative transparency, for, according to Poirot himself, it is the latter which hampers him to arrive at the right solution , and no wonder, since this transparency is actually indiscriminateness , i.e. actually non-transparent. On the other hand, inasmuch as this strategy is the strategy which allows the Great Detective to become what he is, i.e., the Absolute Master, the poststructuralist charge leveled at Freud for his conspiracy with logocentrism seems to receive the corroboration. The paradox is that it is precisely the transference, the Derridaean name for which is self-deconstruction of a given (allegedly logocentric) discourse, which hinders our story to be rounded in a neat way.
As we have seen Beyond the Pleasure Principle is an attempt to justify transference, to wit, psychoanalysis as such. Furthermore, it was shown that this justification takes place in a non-contradictory, i.e., non-Cretan way; therefore, it may appear that we have only corroborated the recent suspicions as regards the subversiveness of the Cretan model (Borch-Jacobsen 1993; Thomas 1995). Momentarily, the reader will see that the results of our investigation are not as modest as that. If the Cretan discursivity is perfectly compatible with logocentrism, then precisely because there happens to be two ways to reconcile exotopy and the impossibility to prove an alibi, one of which, adopted by poststructuralism, is to treat the latter as a transferential involvement. One of the as yet unappreciated lessons of detective fiction is to show why this marriage turns out to be incompatible with an act of fictionalization, and in so doing, to highlight a revolutionary, to wit, Bakhtinian alliance.
On a less cursory inspection it becomes obvious that the deconstructive discourse of Derrida relates to that of Freud not as Hasting's (or Watson's) narrative does to the discourse of the Great Detective: in actual fact the relation between Freud and Derrida is that between the Great Criminal and his victim. Which explains why neither the poststructuralist rendering of Bakhtin's dictum nor its Derridaean counterpart is a misreading of the actual state of affairs albeit the true meaning of the latter is beyond the perceptive abilities of current theorists. In order to see why this should be so, suffice it to cast a brief glance at what was destined to become Poirot's last case.
Curtain owes much of its interest to the fact that a thorough violation of the conventions of the genre turns out to be a baring of its actual rules, which make up the most wholesale of examples of detective fiction, and by extension of literature as such - be it high or low, traditional or innovative - the true locus of subversion. And this, owing to the technique that, for once, has allowed the criminal explicitly to achieve what every criminal aspires for, i.e., to perpetrate the perfect crime. The irony of the matter is that this technique does not make the crime unsolvable - and this due to its baring effect in respect to the strategy of the Great Detective.
It is rather tempting to equate Norton's technique with hypnotism. However Poirot is at pains to stress the opposite. The reason is quite simple, namely, the practical ineffectiveness of hypnosis: "It was not hypnotism - hypnotism would not have been successful"(170). Which is exactly why Freud has discarded hypnosis and opted in favor of transference which hinges vitally on the "break/ing/ down of the ... resistance"(170). Given the narratological nature of the ineffectiveness of the "mimetic /hypnotic/ tie" (Borch- Jacobsen) between the two discourses , the current celebration of hypnosis and/or telepathy (Borch-Jacobsen 1993; Forrester 1990; Miller 1984; Ronell 1984, 1989; Royle 1991, 1995) may indeed appear puzzling. However our wonder would have been justified only if deconstruction was actually that for which it is giving itself.
Significantly - just as students of Bakhtin are reluctant to address the paradox with which we are dealing - none of the advocates of hypnosis have bothered to ponder over the paradox that in discarding hypnosis Freud discarded one of the two evidences for the existence of the unconscious, apparently the most palpable one. However, he had good reasons for doing so: in Poirot's wording, Freud just as "your great Shakespeare, my friend, had to deal with the dilemma that his own art has brought about. To unmask Iago he had to resort to the clumsiest of devices - the handkerchief - a piece of work not at all in keeping with Iago's general technique and a blunder of which one feels certain he would not have been guilty"(169). The hypnotic evidence resembles the evidence of the Iago's handkerchief in that it runs counter to the "general technique" of psychoanalysis which is fundamentally a technique of mutual involvement qua transformation. What should be transformed is the primal scene. And it is the aim of transference to bring about this transformation (cf. Laurent 1996; Soler 1996). Now the trouble with hypnosis is precisely that, even in the most susceptible of persons, it does not reach far enough to uncover the latter (cf.. Freud 1905b:313) - ironically and precisely because of "the inclination to believe which the hypnotized displays towards the hypnotizer and which besides hypnosis has the only parallel in real life in the relation of the child towards the beloved parents"(Freud 1905b: 307). With this in mind one may try to justify the advancement of the hypnotic mode of interpretation as an effort to circumvent the Oedipus complex which has its core in the primal scene, that is to do away with the notorious reductiveness of the Oedipal model. In effect, in the paper from which we have been quoting Freud does not seem to diverge from the commonsensical view according to which it is essential to the mental health of the child to believe the parents, in particular the tales they tell about where children come from. On the other hand, it is the child's sexual curiosity which fosters trauma and neurosis, giving rise to infantile sexual theories to which the scientific attitude can be traced back. As Freud's paper suggests, this is the main difference between transference and hypnosis, which are otherwise practically indistinguishable . And this is precisely why the patent example of the poststructuralist reading of Freud, Derrida's Postcard, committed as it is to the transferential/transformative attitude cannot account for the existence of fiction: not only is transference scientific enough to be at odds with the fictive status of a given discourse: it is a scientific method, if not the method . The irony of the matter is that this attitude depends vitally on a misreading - unfortunately in the conventionally psychoanalytic and not in the advanced poststructuralist sense of the term.
The Oedipal child misreads the primal scene interpreting the parental coitus as an act of violence, i.e. as a crime . Only thus a child can do away with his exotopy which gives rise to anxiety and even satisfy his desire by way of a sublimation: forsooth he is perfectly capable of violence, whereas an access to sexuality is denied to him. In concluding that the beyond of the pleasure principle is the drive for mastery (1987a: 407- 408), Derrida acts exactly as the psychoanalytic child. And this due to the fact that Freud's technique of which Derrida becomes a victim has a neat counterpart in the technique of Christie's Great Criminal Norton : just as in the case of the latter, Freud achieves his aims by an indirect suggestion, i.e. prompting the reader to discard the fiction of the death drive. Significantly, for his part, Hastings was also on the verge of succumbing to the same strategy (170,176-177). And yet, contrary to Poirot (178), it was precisely his trusting nature which in the last resort saved him from completely falling prey to it. As a reward his writing becomes writing without resistance, that is a writing truly subversive of the scientific claims, be it of psychoanalytic or any other methodology.
Given his proneness to megalomania, it is only natural to hear from Poirot that Hastings was bound to become a criminal were it not for the Great Detective: "You responded. You made up your mind to do murder. But fortunately, Hastings, you had a friend whose brain still functioned. And not only his brain!"(177-178). In a generally accepted view, exactly the "functioning of the brain" is the (logocentric) Law of this Genre. Whence its denigration and/or the question: "How does one write analytic detective fiction as high art when the genre's central narrative mechanism seems to discourage the unlimited rereading associated with serious writing? That is, if the point of an analytic detective story is the deductive solution of a mystery, how does the writer keep that solution from exhausting the reader's interest in the story?(Irwin1994:1): The poststructuralist answer to this is a Cretan one: "As Johnson sees it, taking a position on the numerical structure of the tale means, for Lacan and Derrida, taking a numerical position, ... but that means playing the game of even and odd, the game of trying to be one up on a specular, antithetical double ... Or put another way, ... the structure that we find in 'The Purloined Letter' involves doubling an opponent's thought processes in order to turn his own methods against him ... In analyzing an act of analysis, self-conscious thought turns back upon itself to find that it cannot coincide with itself. This insight about the nature of thought is at least as old in our tradition as the philosophies of Zeno and Parmenides and as new as Goedel's proof ... It is this paradoxical insight that if one considers the act of thinking and the content of thought as two distinguishable things - as it seems one must in dealing with self-consciousness ... able to represent itself , able to take itself as its own object - then the attempt to analyze the act of analysis, to include wholly the act of thinking within the content of thought, will be a progression of the order n+1 to infinity. Which is to say that there will always be one more step needed in order to make the act of thinking and the content of thought coincide" (7,11-12). Psychoanalytically, this boils down to an endless transformative acting-out of the primal scene in the transference, an acting-out which has the narratological grounding in the discrepancy between the rhetorical/performative and the grammatical/constative dimensions (8-9) of the narrative. It remains to show that even the privileged poststructuralist example, Poe's story, happens to be at odds with this analytic stance. Which explains why the two most influential, if not the only readers of Poe - Lacan and Derrida fail to misread him.
As our excerpt suggests, the transformative/transferential model would hold only if there actually was a doubling of analytic attitudes. On psychoanalytic terms as well as on the terms of the poststructuralist narratology, this doubling should be imperfect, non- coincident, for the attitude of the patient/culprit is denigrated as a para-analytic one . In Poirot's idiom, it is the functioning of the brain that matters. And yet the crucial thing is that "it is not only his brain"(178) that still functioned. Or to be more correct the functioning of the famous little gray cells has nothing at all to do with the true essence of the genre. Whereas the Great Detective dispenses of his eloquence defending an armchair, it is the innocent Hastings who is , once again, closer to the truth. Witness his repeated attempts to seduce Poirot into emulating an ordinary sleuth who goes on his knees etc., his opinion that the detective should act and not think. However it is the same innocence which hinders him as well as the reader to consciously perceive that this acting is always underway .
That the kind of acting we are speaking about is the direct opposite of acting-out in transference is evidenced in Poe's story. According to Derrida, Beyond the Pleasure Principle boils down to the textual acting out of the primal scene, to wit of the anecdote about the grandfather observing his grandson's game, an anecdote, which, as was shown, makes fiction evaporate. Ironically, thus far nobody has bothered to notice that Poe's analyst enters the (primal) scene of the (discursive) crime in exactly the same way - albeit the result is directly an opposite . Forsooth, it is not "negligible that the unequivocal hint through which" this entry takes place "is a story ... of an English doctor named Abernethy, in which a rich miser, hoping to sponge upon him for a medical opinion, is sharply told not to take medicine, but to take advice" (Lacan 1988: 49). So long as the opinion is to the advice what the theoretical fiction of the death drive is to the practical method of transference, it seems that, just as in the case of Freud, the textual exploit of an analyst will boil down to the acting out of this anecdote, i.e. to the justification of an analytic method. And once again this justification seems to presuppose the discarding of fiction/opinion: Dupin acts as though at stake was an advice, albeit in actual fact it was an opinion for which he was asked. Since Dupin is to the Prefect what Abernethy is to the rich miser it comes as a surprise that Lacan sees in "the deal Dupin makes of delivering the letter" an attempt at "withdrawal from the symbolic circuit of the letter"(49), for the episode clashes not "with the rest of the work"(49) but with Lacan's own reading, of course if it really was a Cretan misreading of Poe's text. However, the qualification "at first sight"(49) is quite sufficient to give us pause. In effect, the transferential impossibility to prove an alibi boils down in our case to placing an analyst in the position of blindness, occupied by "the King and the police ... then by the Minister" (32). Since the money comes from the spot of blindness par excellence, Dupin's taking it, on poststructuralism's own premises, proves that he has always already been blind. The irony of the matter is that by the same token the confessional evidence of his blindness which should and could only be the letter substituted for the original one (cf. Lacan 1988: 49-52) becomes unnecessary, to say nothing about the fact that the confession itself is far too straightforward in order to be considered properly Cretan. Still, this undermining of confession would have had something Cretan about it were it not for another unnoticed fact that neither the opinion nor the advice is given to the Minister being burdened instead on the narrator. And this is the only reason for the letter's non-arrival at its destination.
That Dupin has delivered what he has found does not prove that he has found that of which he was asked. He could have handed over a facsimile of the found letter, preserving the original, or, better, destroying it. Further, he could have played on the Queen a practical joke analogous to that played on the Minister or even a better one by sending a blank sheet. Finally, it is possible that his act was the first and only crime: since the Queen's story is that of adultery bordering on the "vaudeville" (Lacan 1988: 33), it may well be that it is the Minister whom the Queen has fallen in love with and that the letter was his, i.e. that he has only taken back his property and the real theft was committed by Dupin. We should consider all these possibilities implied in the celebrated Derridean dictum if we are at long last to take it seriously, i.e., to read it. Otherwise it is bound to remain cryptic at best, at odds with Poe's textuality at worst.
Paradoxically, the letter can fail to arrive only in the transferential sense. The reason for this is that an act of delivery clashes with an act of deduction conceived of as an acting-out and thereby undermines the latter. To crown the paradox Lacan was the first to admit that the methodology which allegedly allowed Dupin to solve his task and which has its nucleus in the anecdote is a ruse that should "not defy us so blatantly to believe in it" (37), for, hopefully, "we have already learned no to be too credulous of his diversions" (52) . Which means that Dupin's intent has been all along to punish the Minister, i.e. that the letter left at the Minister's headquarters has nothing Cretanly confessional about it. It follows that the detective's outwitting of the criminal is the complete subversion of the analytic attitude, for it is the latter who happens to be the Great Analyst. And this is precisely why Derrida whose initial aim in Postcard was to demonstrate the impossibility to prove an alibi of the analyst - be it Freud, Lacan or Poe, i.e., his Cretan (self-betraying confessional) involvement, is compelled to conclude that "there is no possible analyst here" (1988: 204); a conclusion, which, as a constative statement - analogous to the poststructuralist rendering of the Bakhtin's dictum concerning the alibi - amounts to nothing less than to an acknowledgment of the blockage of the transferential acting-out. As Christie's novel(s) show(s) Derrida's words should be read literally.
Whence the baring of the main device of the genre aimed at subverting the confessional narratology and transferential/transformative hermeneutics. If in other less explicit cases the latter is undermined by the fact that all deductions notwithstanding only the confession of the criminal can defeat him whereas the method of eliciting the confession undermines the method. Here, the Great Detective's taking of the law into his own hands invalidates the confession:
What this all boils down to is a pungent displacement: instead of proving the identity of the criminal, Poirot is now trying to convince Hastings that the murder of Norton was his doing (170-185). Which means that the ultimate proof of Poirot's deductions becomes his murder of the supposed criminal. Since the former are essentially an attempt to construct a method of transferential narrative, Hasting's obvious inclination to disbelieve his friend, to regard his constructions as a mare's nest (28) - and it is worthwhile to note that there is no indication that Poirot has convinced him - amounts to nothing less than to a baring of transference which, as poststrucralism has been rubbing in, should enable fiction as fiction. So long as intertextuality/dialogism hinges vitally on a self-betraying confession elicited by the transferential method, Bakhtin's idea that a confessional genre represents one of the most imperfect forms of the relationship between author and hero in aesthetic activity (1979a /1920-1924/: 131-140), or, to be more precise, has nothing to do with fictionality proper - for in fact "in the confession we have neither an author nor a hero, since their relationship presupposes outsidedness, but the latter is at odds with an act of confessing" (128) - deserves our full attention; for it highlights a reconciliation between exotopy and the impossibility to prove an alibi; a reconciliation which bares the subversive force of aesthetic activity an access to which was barred by the poststructuralist transformation of aesthetics into paraesthetics along the lines of transferential parapraxis (cf. Carroll 1987). Bakhtin's way to reconcile both notions subverts the very possibility to produce evidence, the possibility to prove anything at all - be it an alibi or the lack of it, that is the very structure of truth . The result is a triumph of fictionality over the scientific attitude promoted by the method of transferential transformations.
Whence a possibility of re-applying the notion of the primal scene, last but not least, to the study of detective fiction. An astute reader has already guessed that this reapplication will purge the notion of its notorious reductiveness and in the same stroke place the concept of misreading in its true light. The irony of the matter is that if there ever was a perfect concordance between the theorists thoroughly guilty of psychoanalytic commitments and those totally innocent in respect to the latter, then precisely on the point of applying the primal scene to the detective genre. However it is the most happy of marriages which are first to be destroyed.
According to Tzvetan Todorov, "at the base of the whodunit we find a duality" (1977: 44): there are two crimes and two stories. And forsooth there are. However instead of being related in a revelatory hermeneutic way they correspond in a manner subversive of all hermeneutics. Witness Poirot's crime .
As we have seen, the reason is that the technique of the Great Criminal, which eventually is the technique of psychoanalysis, is a paraesthetic reconciliation of exotopy and participation:
On these premises it becomes impossible to treat the second crime/story as a revelation of truth. Instead, owing to the innocence of the narrator, it comes to bear as a misreading of an act of love as an act of violence; and this is precisely what allows us to see in the central device of the genre, to wit, in an act of solution, a fictionalizing act in its purest form. A neat counterpart provides a current tendency to reduce Freudian legacy to his (quasi) involvement with philosophy (cf. Borch-Jacobsen 1993; Derrida 1980; Kofman 1994). Which means that we are dealing not with an accident but with one of the basic underpinnings of poststructuralist threorizing.
It has already become a common-place in Bakhtinian criticism to treat him as an unsystematic theorist par excellence. So long as the contradiction we are dealing with is the contradiction of current theorizing, to solve it means to show that Bakhtin's students try to burden him with their own troubles - last but not least, by generalizing them: "Inevitably the interpretation I shall offer privileges some texts and formulations of Bakhtin over others ... This is a methodological necessity in all criticism, but it is particularly true for Bakhtin" (Hirschkop 1989b: 20; italics mine). As we shall see, there is no alibi for being so discriminative. In fact, all one has to do is precisely to push "Bakhtin's ideas to logically necessary conclusions which they avoid" (20) - a task which thus far nobody has pursued with sufficient consistency; and hardly surprising, for on a deeper level (of analysis) it turns out that Bakhtin has managed to reconcile that which on a cursory reading seems to be irreconcilable. The same holds for Freud and his students, however well- or ill-behaved they wish to appear. Cf..: "A psychoanalyst obviously read: "inevitably," must not take just anyone into analysis" (Soler 1996: 62); "Beyond The Pleasure Principle: I will propose a selective, filtrating, discriminating reading" (Derrida 1987a: 261). In other words, Bakhtin's trouble has a bearing on current theorizing in general. We shall return to it in order to divulge its significance.
The translation comes from V.Liapunov (cf. Bakhtin 1993 : 37-41). How easily (theoretical) common-places distort one's vision is evidenced by the fact that even C.Emerson whose artificial ignorance of theoretical advancements of the last decades is quite representative of Bakhtinian scholarship, despite her knowledge of Russian, finds the original and not the translation "stylistically stypefying" (1996: 169) Cf. Bakhtin 1993a: 79-80. Significantly, Cohn writes as though Derrida does not exist. This hints that the celebrated misreading more often than not is essentially the resistance to reading. Cf. the dialogue between one of the Great/est/ (logocentric) Sleuths, Lord Peter Whimsey and the suspect:
Or another dialogue:
To be sure, the detective's outsidedness is one of the basic conventions of the genre and seems to have a sufficient explanation in the fact that the Great Detective is a Private Detective. Whence a generally accepted view, uncontested by poststructuralism (cf. papers in Irons 1995), according to which this outsidedness is basically a sociological one. That thus far nobody has attempted to divulge its deeper roots is hardly surprising given the vogue enjoyed by intertextuality/dialogism. Conventions are fundamentally an intertextual affair precisely because they are there to be tempered with, i.e. to be Cretanly misread (cf. Cottom 1996; Durante 1994; Jenny 1972). And yet the irony of the matter is that it is obviously impossible to contest the basic convention. So long as detective fiction lays bare the basic devices of literariness, this means that the essence of the latter has nothing to do with intertextuality/dialogism. We remember the method of dealing with the Bakhtin's legacy suggested by Hirshkop. It is worthwhile to note that the concept of differance corresponds neatly to the psychoanalytic notion of displacement (cf. Derrida 1987a: 284). The value of this remark will become apparent a bit latter. And once again the only possibility to deny this implies taking recourse to the actual history of Ida Bauer.
The irony of the matter is that the few dissenters who have raised their voices against an attempt to treat Freud as a creative writer wind up with basically the same conclusion. Witness Cohn's equation of realism with fiction as such, discarding the (post)modernist innovations as failing to "conform to structures that are distinctive of fictional narratives" (34). At first glance this equation compels her to define the scientific narrative in terms that are commonly used to describe (post)modern writing: "the framing context" (38), author's "nescience" (33, 39) etc. And yet, in the last resort, the scientific narrative comes to be indistinguishable from the realistic one due to "the criterium of referentiality" (31) as an ultimate distinctive mark. What this criterium boils down to is our knowledge, in the case of fiction, that the heroes "are not real persons" and this "because their imaginary status is signaled by the names they bear - more precisely, by the fact that they don't bear the names" of real persons (27). However, the heroes of Freud's case histories also do not bear the names of his real patients. To say nothing about the fact that the characters of most fictional narratives - realistic as well as modernist - equally have real prototypes. I have chosen to dwell on this point for it is illuststrative of the impasse in which the contemporary literary theory finds itself in. The core of the trouble is the inability to define fiction. Witness the papers in the recent volume: Mihailescu and Hamarneh 1995. For instance, it would be impossible to compare Freud's style with that of Nabokov or Proust, as Steven Marcus has done in an influential paper (Marcus 1985), or with Joyce (Porter 1981: 244)
Which would have meant that charging Derrida for reinstating one of the fundamental issues of the metaphysics of presence, that of uniqueness, by being far too discriminative in his choice of examples - "... why Rousseau, rather than Plato, for instance, as the good example here? ... One could well ask: why not choose Descartes ..." (1992: 210) - Harvey is unjust. As was earlier the case with Bakhtin and Lacan students there is something which thwarts the Cretan model that, theoretically, should be over- inclusive: to read Freud "as naively as possible" (Derrida 1987a: 273) obviously does not mean to "propose a selective, filtrating, descriminating reading" (261).
Which, significantly, appears at the close of the analysis of a seminal piece of detective fiction, that is, as a fact draws a curtain on it. Cf.: "Perhaps there is no possible analyst here, at least in the situation of psychoanalysis in X" (1988: 204)
The reader remembers that from early days of Russian Formalism detective fiction is said to exemplify, i.e. to lay bare the basic devices of literariness. Perhaps this is why the novel, the title of which, from the point of view of Russian Formalists (that, as was shown in "Bakhtin Laid Bare", was deepened by Bakhtin), lays bare, makes strange (ostranjaet) the Derridean notion of the veil, written at the height of Christie's career, was published only posthumously.
"In so much Bakhtin criticism, the novel represents the dialogical reality of language for us, but in so doing it ceases to be a material force within reality. To the extent that the novel is conceived of as the reflection, even in intensified form, of a dialogic reality outside of it, it is dematerialized as discourse. Its effect - the relativization of linguistic consciousness - is the result of a realistic depiction of a discursive world (heteroglossia) external to it. By the logic of this argument the novel itself plays no part in the construction of that reality as we see it. But the novel not only reflects discursive reality, it is also a force within it and thus cannot encompass that reality within itself" (Hirschkop 1989b: 32-33; italics mine), i.e., remains outside of the latter. Which comes very close to saying that the subversive force of literature has something essential to do with exotopy. Unfortunately, our author is not stout-hearted enough to pursue this line of thought hastily taking recourse to concept of the Cretan performative misreading (34) and in so doing ... leaves no chance for literary subversion at all making textuality proper evaporate: "Novelistic and poetic discourse ... have no style of their own, but are made effective by a series of contextual factors" (31). To my knowledge none of the poststructuralist theorists who replace the question of textuality by the question of "how the novels are read" (31) has gone as far as to deny the existence of textuality as such. Cf. for instance: "The result of hypnosis is often enough ... that it becomes a kind of drug" (Freud 1905b: 314), i.e. the "hypnotic tie" resembles closely the one thematized as "transferential love".
Our contribution to psychoanalysis is to prove that this point - which, as the current debate shows (Soler 1996), all of Lacan's painstaking efforts notwithstanding, remains problematic - in a most economic way. Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle is thoroughly scientific up to the smallest textual atom, to wit, up to the celebrated anecdote which has the same status as the anecdotes about Archimedes's bath or Newton's apple. As we shall shortly see, this is precisely what warrants the possibility of re-application of the notion of the primal scene.
An indirect suggestion, "violence at second-hand" (1986: 172) is the technique of Christie's Great Criminals. Cf.: "All along I have been aware of the dual personality of the murderer". However, far from being an instance of the poststructuralist doubling, it consisted in that "Two people were involved - the real murderer, cunning, resourceful and daring - and the pseudo murderer, stupid, vacillating and suggestible. Suggestible - it is in this word that the mystery of Mr.Cust consists!" (1973 /1936/: 183; italics added). The passage comes from The ABC Murders - another title which pungently bares one of the poststructuralist tit-bits (the notion of intertextual infiniteness).
Without further ado the theorists of detective fiction have accepted the Barthesian idea that the genre is governed by the hermeneutic code. "A typical detective story is therefore also like a riddle or a conjurer's trick because once it has been explained, it looses all further power to stimulate the fantasy. The reason why run-of-the-mill detective stories do not warrant a rereading is that almost all the pleasure for the reader is in their hermeneutic dimension, in the suspense of not knowing" (Porter 1981: 257-258; italics added). However, as a postructuralist advocate of an open- endedness qua possibility of multiple (mis)readings (245-259), our author should have been interested precisely in the Derridaean remnants, in what remains of pleasure which, by his own admission, is not exhausted in not knowing. Ironically, the author cannot help but dub it a "simple-minded"(Irwin 1994: 1), i.e. an innocent one.
I say readers, for prior of speaking of a misreading there should be a reading and yet, more often than not, the relevant texts are not actually read at all, so that the question of resistance to theory seems to boil down to the question of resistance to reading, the resistance on which the institution of criticism, however innovative, begins to depend at a certain moment. Witness Freud's paper "Psychic Treatment (Soultreatment)": seminal for every discussion of hypnosis/telepathy it is never quoted in the current debate.
Cf. the second example of the betrayal of the pathogenic phantasies by neurotics: the patient forestalls the question which an analyst would have certainly asked her in order to excuse avoiding the treatment (Freud 1969 /1911/: 228). That the patient knows everything about the psychoanalytic method allows him/her "to play on the conventions of the genre". Whence the crucial problem of the "lay analysis" which, in the last resort, boils down to the threat of collapse into fiction. It is worthwhile to note that in dealing with it (witness his suggestion that every analyst should from time to time go into analysis) Freud deploys the same strategy of discarding fiction as in writing the Beyond. Whence the necessity - at long last! - to pay attention to such remarks as: "The question was not one which could be conveniently settled by a brilliant flash of deductive logic" (Sayers 1966: 199). These remarks punctuate almost every narrative of detection.
A parallel to an attempt to make Freud write fiction is an attempt to make Poe write a scientific narrative. Witness Irwin's study (1994). Cf. the thematization of the difference in A Caribbean Mystery (1966 /1964/: 88- 98) Which should have been enabled by "the notion of the inmixture of subjects, recently introduced in our reanalysis of the dream of Irma's injection" (32) Another notion from the current theoretical jargon which is put in question by the detective genre. For a fuller discussion see Linetski 1996.
The most lucid example provides the finale of Death on the Nile: Poirot: "The picture is complete, but you understand that, although I know what must have happened, I have no proof that it happened. Intellectually the case is satisfying. Actually it is profoundly unsatisfactory. There is only one hope - a confession from the murderer" (1960: 206). "That's proof enough for a logical mind, but I don' believe it would have convinced a jury. Oh, well - it can't be helped. You sprang it all on Simon, and he ... just lost his head utterly, poor lamb, and admitted everything" (1960: 216)
Another instance provides Christie's Crooked House (1964 /1949/), where the play on the conventions of the genre undermines intertextuality of this strategy. The murderer turns out to be a girl, who effectively avoided suspicions by mimicking the method of the Great Detective. The only evidence against her is of the confessional order: her diary, found by her aunt, opening with the words "Today I killed the Grandfather" (195). And once again it is the murder of the supposed criminal and the death (suicide) of the alleged detective (her aunt's life, just as Poirot's in the Curtain, "is close to its end" /197/) - both perish in a deliberate car accident - which testify that the solution was right. However the confession is effectively undermined by the fact that, actually, it is quite in line with the view held by everybody throughout the narrative, that the girl was "mere romancing" (99) in pretending that she knows who had done murder.
"He /Norton/ discovered how ridiculously easy it was, by using correct words and supplying the correct stimuli to influence his fellow creatures. The only thing necessary was to understand them - to penetrate their thoughts, their secret reactions and wishes" (172) Especially since in the postmodern theoretical discourse the Virtual Reality which should ultimately subvert the logocentric discourse is represented as the postmodern form of the traditional inward "double-voiced" discourse of diary and/or confession:
In Todorov's view, the detective fiction undermines verisimilitude in order to enable the advent of truth (1977: 88). Which means the alignment of the strategy of the genre with the strategy of producing the scientific narrative deployed by Freud in the Beyond.
Whence the failure to articulate the genuinely subversive poetics, for it is precisely the notion of transformation which is at odds with the concept of fictionality. And yet the contemporary theorists are strangely bent upon preserving the former: thus Dainotto defines the postmodern imagination as a transformative one (1993), whereas Iser sees in transformation the essence of aesthetic activity (1993: 2-7). In this respect Stone's remark that "the procedure of transforming" is what "the Greek notion of technic" boils down to (1994) would have been a worthwhile reminder, if the theorist had attempted to dissociate it from the hopes of fictionalizing subversion. Unfortunately just the opposite happens to be the case.
Witness the work of the most influential theorists of the genre, Dennis Porter, whose discussion of detective fiction within the conventionally Freudian framework winds up with the denigration of the genre and the celebration of anti-detection for its anti- Freudianism (243-259)
Further we can consider Ordeal By Innocence (1972 /1959/) where a self-appointed sleuth uses hypnotic/transferential suggestion to elicit a confession from the culprit who had committed murder falling prey to the same method practiced by the real - exotopical - Criminal. Which means that, once again, there is no actual doubling that, in the poststructuralist view, makes the transferential intertextuality function. To be sure the second murder takes place. But it is the methodical man, an arm-chair detective who is murdered. Therefore, there remains no chance to make of the two solutions - explicit and implicit ones - an affair of doubling. Moreover, we can surmise that the second murder was committed out of self-defense (Kirsten's perceiving that there is a plot to victimize her) - and, by all laws, self-defense is compatible with innocence. Since the criminal is the woman this means that it is precisely the transferential method which is at odds with the overall project of feminism that unwittingly adopts it (cf. Klein 1995: 171- 191). The innovativeness of our analysis owes much to our ability to show how the narratives dismissed for promoting logocentric biases achieve the most advanced aims which current theorists justly pose but fail to attain.
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