So why all the excitement over the Veiled One's teachings? Lots of reasons. For our purposes, yesterday's Borges quote is notable for pointing out what's absent from Foucault's mirror analogy, namely any paternity or maternity metaphor to speak of. Language represents itself, and in so doing replicates itself, but nowhere does Foucault say it engenders itself. He takes the mirror for what it is: an optical machine. And he's right: mirrors hold no life or magic, for all that they've captivated people's attention over the millennia. Of all the technological achievements of humankind, mirrors may have done the most to make self-hatred possible. Small wonder they're so mystified. But the physical property of reflectivity, refined and harnessed, is all that mirrors are.

Well OK. Foucault does ascribe to language the power of faire naître en lui-même sa propre image, given last Friday as "to bring about a likeness of itself, in and of its own self." Does that count as engendering? I don't think it does, no matter how literally you translate faire naître: "cause to be born" still expresses nothing in the way of gendered parentage. In fact Foucault's mirror analogy is all but completely mechanized--which may be why "Language to Infinity" appears to summon the mechanized Holocaust without naming it. Whether or not to call this a symptomatic omission is a hell of a question. NB that to identify the Holocaust as Foucault's hidden sign for language's passage toward death, surfacing "through what seems chance or inadvertence," would be to paraphrase Foucault himself (p.57).

But I leave the troubled question for Alli's readers (though here again Agamben has a lot to say), so I can stay focused on Friday's other question: What is this mirror-like thing that language encounters on its way toward death? If I am permitted to bring the answer to you, it will be an overwhelming pleasure.


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