Repetition Compulsion

Just a quick follow-up to the last post on Levi. He writes: “I could never escape the impression that Derrida is a one trick pony that created three or four concepts (differance, supplementarity, and trace) that he then monotonously repackaged with different terms in text after text from there on out.”

I’m not going to disagree with Levi for the moment, since that’s not interesting. But I do wonder what philosopher isn’t robustly repetitive. I think the early Derrida is just moving through different philosophers to show a similar metaphysics of presence, and that will appear to be a one trick pony (has anyone seen a one trick pony? I mean—a ponyt could be pretty cool on its own, so being adorable and able to do a trick would seem a good thing). Hegel’s dialectic could appear repetitive—and thank goodness, since it’s that “repetition” is the only way one could get through the Science of Logic and understand anything. In fact, I think that’s what makes a particularly good philosopher: having a certain “system” (or anti-system or what-have-you) and showing it off in different contexts. The bad philosophers are the ones who can’t keep it straight from one text to the next, or are those for whom you can’t recognize any repetitive system of thought at all. And that’s good, since reading someone like Badiou would mean relearning the wheel (strange metaphor) with each new text, which would obviate the need to work through the two volumes of Being and Event.