Logic of Supplementarity

Derrida’s logic of supplement helps me understand Foucault’s view on “sex” and how it has changed to something we now use to identify ourselves by rather than what it used to be see perceived as in the past. She explains this logic as the thing that is identified as a “supplement”, comes to also need supplementation, because it shares the qualities thought to only be present in the original supplement. Derrida states that “the idea of the original is created by the copies, and that the original is always deferred – never to be grasped,” meaning that the original, becomes a supplement which will then leads to more supplements needed to help explain it (original). This causes a never ending chain of supplements.

When viewing Foucault’s view on sex, the original in this case would be the thought of “sex” in the past centuries when it was seen as a natural act. This act was repressed in different ways during that specific time period. The ways in which it was repressed become the supplements. The supplements serve to add, complete or compensate for the lack of something. Therefore, because “sex” was subjugated it led to the talks/discourses of sex to become its way of making up for the way in which it was repressed. In other words speaking of what is not supposed to be spoken about/done becomes its form of release, which makes up for its absence.

These supplements were necessary for the transformation of the concept of sex. The discoursing become the copies of the original (sex) in the sense that it was a topic that was being talked about in different ways. As a result of these supplements, the original (sex) came to mean something entirely different, which Foucault explains as “an artificial unity of sex” which is made up of the supplements. This unity has become what we now use to attempt to identify ourselves with. This original like Derrida mentions can “never be grasped.” Sex becomes a means of identifying ourselves. Identity is constantly changing depending on our surroundings and how we perceive ourselves in at different times. Identity cannot be grasped and therefore becomes a supplement because like it has the same qualities supplements have, they need to be linked to something other to be understood. Keeping this in mind, if we attempt to identify ourselves through sex, we will find ourselves connecting different aspects, such as female/male, and other characteristics that can explain who we are. These characteristics become supplements and are essential to us making sense of what we define ourselves as since identity cannot do it on its own, it becomes a supplement because it needs supplements.