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Subliminal - Page 16

the Freudian "Nachtraglichkeit." Let us pursue it here along lines elaborated by Alphonso Lingis, as "an element that is . . . found only within the human economy, without being a sign." Perhaps: a stupid sign. The analogy he draws conforms nicely to our purposes:

The criminal, whose telos is the perfect crime, and not simply the release of unsocialized or barbaric force, acts to break an established order, and depart from the scene of the crime. But the disturbance itself remains, and can function as so many signs indicating a malefactor and expressing, to the detective, the identity of the act and of its agent. The criminal then acts to cover up his traces, so as to depart completely. But the deed passed into the real, and the precaution taken to wipe away the traces of the deed itself leaves traces. The traces a criminal leaves in covering up his traces are traces neither in the pure or purified sense we can now reserve for this term. They are neither signs nor indices, and they are not inscribed by an intentionality; the criminal meant neither to express nor to indicate anything by them. They are not made in order to be recognized and repaired. For him who comes upon them, they will mark the loci at which an order has been disturbed. They refer to a passing, that acted to pass completely from the present, to depart from the scene completely. The one who detects them recognizes something strange, not about to present and identify itself and not representable, but that concerns him by virtue of this disturbance and violation of the layout he inhabits. (145)

If we were able to conceive of these criminal traces not only as an aftereffect of the disruption of the scene but as proper to its very construction, in something like the Derridean sense of non-originary origins, we would be close to the traumatic relation to and originary return of the Real that the stupid underground poses to the culture of repression. One must, in other words, imagine that the criminal stupidly repeats the scene of origination (which is not to say origin as such) in the very act of seeming to transgress its order, and the traces he leaves reveal not only his own crime but its

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