By Avital Ronell
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Still, the envoi sent by the one who professes to be the child of the father structurally comes from a dead child, a child martyred by the address. The envoi or letter survives the sender, serves a testamentary purpose, reports from the dead. ) Fused at the site of a double death, the son and father divert disaster only to the extent that the abandonment sustains itself, that it does not overturn into a fusion with the greater father, be it Allah, Yahweh, or one among the rest of them. When Mohamed Atta crashed into the World Trade Center, he effected a jump shot into the embrace of the transcendentalized father.
But authority does not belong to the class of action or syntax of being that can be “exercised,” that is, in any significant way flexed, handled. It belongs to an entirely different scale of showing and being. In effect, it comes along silently, with minimal fuss and even less melodrama. It asserts itself with few words and low phenomenological maintenance. Still, how does it show up on our scanners and what kind of bite marks does it continue to leave on our political bodies? In what way does authority, which notoriously withdraws from thought and shuns ostentation, allow an approach?
Such a question accompanies Lacan’s thoughts on the dream of the burning child. Here Lacan introduces the latent complexity of Freud’s commentary regarding what it would mean to constitute the father as a witness to the child’s address. The question expands into the domain of the father’s desire, worrying the issue of whether the father also needs the address of the child to get a close-up of his own desire. 7 Kafka’s missive missed its target, leaving us to size the failure of the letter to arrive at its destination.