“That which checks all the police forces of avoidance is, if I can put it thus, avoidance itself. There are, for example, what are called ‘publications’: one can fail to know them, this is always possible in a given context; but one can arrange things, in a certain milieu, in order to avoid knowing that they exist; one can also, knowing of their existence, avoid reading them; one can read while avoiding ‘understanding’; one can, understanding, avoid being affected by them or using them; one can also, using them, avoid referring to them; but one can further, referring to them, enclose them, contain them, exclude them, and therefore avoid them better than ever, etc. But what is to be thought of the fact that one cannot avoid avoiding, of inevitable avoidance in all its forms—rejection, foreclusion, denegation, incorporation, and even introjective and idealizing assimilation of the other at the limit of incorporation—?” – Jacques Derrida, The Post Card (trans. Alan Bass)

“To become sensitive and pitiful the child must know that he has fellow-creatures who suffer as he has suffered, who feel the pains he has felt, and others which he can form some idea of, being capable of feeling them himself. Indeed, how can we let ourselves be stirred by pity unless we go beyond ourselves, and identify ourselves with the suffering animal, by leaving, so to speak, our own nature and taking his. We only suffer so far as we suppose he suffers; the suffering is not our but his. So no one becomes sensitive till his imagination is aroused and begins to carry him outside himself.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile (quoted by Jacques Derrida in Of Grammatology (trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak))

“It is at the moment when agrarian capitalism begins to establish itself that the means of stabilizing it in written balance accounts appears and it is also at the moment when social hierarchization is affirmed that writing constructs its first genealogists. . . . The appearance of writing is not fortuitous; after millennia of maturation in the systems of mythographic representation the linear notation of thought emerges at the same time as metal and slavery.” – André Leroi-Gourhan, La geste et la parole (quoted by Jacques Derrida in Of Grammatology (trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak))

“Societies have assumed their final form: no longer is anything changed except by arms and cash. And since there is nothing to say to people besides give money, it is said with placards on street corners or by soldiers in their homes.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile (quoted by Jacques Derrida in Of Grammatology (trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak)) (emphasis in original)

“The bodily effect of our sufferings is less than one would suppose; it is memory that prolongs the pain, imagination which projects it into the future, and makes us really to be pitied. This is, I think, one of the reasons why we are more callous to the sufferings of animals than of men, although a fellow-feeling ought to make us identify ourselves equally with either. We scarcely pity the cart-horse in his shed, for we do not suppose that while he is eating his hay he is thinking of the blows he has received and the labors in store for him.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile (quoted by Jacques Derrida in Of Grammatology (trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak))

“In the experience of suffering as the suffering of the other, the imagination, as it opens us to a certain nonpresence within presence, is indispensable: the suffering of others is lived by comparison, as our nonpresent, past or future suffering. Pity would be impossible outside of this structure, which links imagination, time, and the other as one and the same opening into nonpresence.” – Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology (trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak)

“How are we moved to pity? By getting outside ourselves and identifying with a being who suffers. We suffer only as much as we believe him to suffer. It is not in ourselves, but in him that we suffer.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Essay on the Origin of Languages (quoted by Jacques Derrida in Of Grammatology (trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak))

“Writing may not have sufficed to consolidate human knowledge, but it may well have been indispensable to the consolidation of dominions. To bring the matter nearer to our own time: the European-wide movement towards compulsory education in the nineteenth century went hand in hand with the extension of military service and with proletarization. The struggle against illiteracy is thus indistinguishable from the increased powers exerted over the individual citizen by the central authority. For it is only when everyone can read that Authority can decree that ‘ignorance of law is no defence.’ “ – Claude Lévi-Strauss (quoted by Jacques Derrida in Of Grammatology (trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak))

“To locate the promising marginal text, to disclose the undecidable moment, to pry it loose with the positive lever of the signifier; to reverse the resident hierarchy, only to displace it; to dismantle in order to reconstitute what is always already inscribed. Deconstruction in a nutshell. But take away the assurance of the text’s authority, the critic’s control, and the primacy of meaning, and the possession of this formula doesn’t guarantee much. Why should we undo and redo a text at all? Why not assume that the words and the author ‘mean what they say’? It is a complex question.” – Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Translator’s Preface,” Of Grammatology

“The ‘subject’ of writing does not exist if we mean by that some sovereign soliture of the author. The subject of writing is a system of relations between strata: The Mystic Pad, the psyche, society, the world. Within that scene, on that stage, the punctual simplicity of the classical subject is not to be found.” – Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference (trans. Alan Bass) (emphasis in original)