Remainder | Jacques Derrida

A trace is never present, fully present, by definition; it inscribes in itself the reference to the specter of something else. The remainder is not present either, any more than a trace as such. And that is why I have been much taken up with the question of the remainder, often under this very name or more rigorously under that of resistance or remaining. The remaining of the remainder is not reducible to an actual residue, or to what is left after a subtraction, either. The remainder is not, it is not a being, not a modification of that which is. Like the trace, the remaining offers itself for thought before or beyond being. It is inaccessible to a straightforward intuitive perception (since it refers to something wholly other, it inscribes in itself something of the infinitely other), and it escapes all forms of prehension, all forms of monumentalization, and all forms of archivation. Often, like the trace, I associate it with ashes: remains without a substantial remainder, essentially, but which have to be taken account of and without which there would be neither accounting nor calculation, nor a principle of reason able to give an account or a rationale {reddere rationem), nor a being as such. That is why there are remainder effects, in the sense of a result or a present, idealizable, ideally iterable residue. What we are saying at the moment is not reducible to the notes you are taking, the recording we are making, or the words I am uttering—to what will remain of it in the world. The remains of what remains cannot be calculated in this way. But there will also be remainder effects, sentences fixed on paper, more or less readable and reproducible. These remainder effects will thereby have presence effects—differently in one place or another, and in an extremely un- even way according to the contexts and the subjects that will get attached to it. A dispersion of the remainder effects, different interpretations, but nowhere the substance of a remainder that is present and identical with itself.