Saturday, October 09, 2004

Let Us Listen

Jacques Derrida

"I give you - a pure gift, without exchange, without return - but whether I want this or not, the gift guards itself, keeps itself, and from then on you must owe, tu dois. In order that the gift guard itself, you must owe. You must at least receive it, already know it, recognize or acknowledge it. The exchange has begun even if the countergift only gives the receiving of the gift." (243a)

passed away last night.

Spurious has a very thoughtful piece, and wood s lot has done a nice job, as always. Of course there is no substitute for re-reading the man himself.

I might recommend this article by Caputo:
The thing itself always slips away–leaving us to pray and weep, to hope and long for it to come. That is the impossible, and we get going, we begin, by the impossible. For that is what we love.

In Favor of Thinking begins a post with these words:
The news of Jacques Derrida's death is currently being reported in a variety of ways, some more irritating than others. The NYT obituary, for instance, twice detours into allegations surrounding Paul de Man's Nazi involvement -- which ultimately have very little to do with Derrida's life and work. I'm glad to see that various news sources are at least taking note of his passing -- and some are trying to be neutral in their appraisal of his contribution to 20th-century philosophy. But others are just rehearsing the same old tired claims that his writings are "absurd" or "difficult" or "controversial." (Actually, it's sort of fascinating to read several of these news clips -- most of them clearly derived from one never-to-be-located Ur-text, but each recombining the sentences in slightly different ways.)

Tobias, also writes something worth a look. And Bat writes:
Derrida's death comes at a time when the constant ritual denunciations of his work have taken on a particularly ugly and strident tone. It's not difficult to see why. His patient, unyielding disassembly of the "white mythology" of Western metaphysics was bound to enrage our contemporary Crusaders, those who would wish to squander the legacy of the European enlightenment by pressing it into the service of an obnoxious triumphalist imperial ideology.

As for myself, I happen to agree with Spurious, that Derrida's writings often seem to need, and to ask for, a certain protection - although they also stand on their own for anyone with the patience and will to try meeting them where they are - and furthermore that this 'need' may in fact be their greatest strength. But such claims also require further explanation and elaboration, if they are not to become mere fodder for the malicious, or for the leeches or the mimics. Maybe I will try to put my own gratitude into words, hopefully in some kind of ruthless, unmelodramatic manner, at some point, later. The humble, (rather than summarizing and inevitably trivializing and iconoclastic) approach of SubStance magazines "counter-obituaries" seems very wise.

Johathan Derbyshire has some worthwile comments. As does Johnathan Sterne at Bad Subjects. Perhaps most worthy yet are Mark Taylor's remarks, which may surprise some people.

Please see here.

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