To Follow

To Follow: The Wake of Jacques Derrida

Peggy Kamuf
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    To Follow
    Book Description:

    This book collects ten years of Peggy Kamuf's writing on the work and friendship of Jacques Derrida. The majority of the chapters discuss a key aspect of Derrida's thought, either from a single work or across several texts. Kamuf engages with a broad array of his work, from the 1960s to the posthumous publication of his teaching seminars. _x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4370-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Works by Jacques Derrida Cited
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  5. Series Editor’s Preface
    (pp. xix-xx)
    Martin McQuillan
  6. Introduction: Watchwords
    (pp. 1-19)

    While this book was “in progress” it remained unoriented, its progression having no overarching idea. It was only very late, after all these pieces had been written, that the thought of aligning them in the order of their composition took over somewhat. This is a circumstance that I hasten to confide to the reader of this introduction, who rightfully expects some accounting for what is to follow.

    Each of the steps in this non-progression were taken within the compass of the work of Jacques Derrida. This repeated reference was, for the large majority of pieces collected here, dictated by a...

  7. Chapter 1 “Tape-Recorded Surprise”: Derrida Interviewed
    (pp. 20-32)

    As far as I know, there is no accurate count of all the interviews Derrida has granted, in one circumstance or another, since 1968, the date cited in many bibliographies for his first published interview in a now vanished journal.¹ These were, in any case, very rare throughout the 1970s, and began to proliferate only after 1980. In 1992, Points de suspension: Entretiens, a collection of twenty interviews assembled and presented by Elisabeth Weber, included in appendix a list of an additional sixty-seven interviews then published or broadcast. In the more recent For What Tomorrow, a book that itself has...

  8. Chapter 2 “Bartleby,” or Decision: A Note on Allegory
    (pp. 33-42)

    Let us approach Melville’s incomparable short work and ask it to decide the question of decision. How is it, according to “Bartleby the Scrivener,” that a decision is possible—assuming that it is ever possible? What happens when someone decides or, as one says in French, se décide? Let us see.

    At last I was made aware that all through the circle of my professional acquaintance, a whisper of wonder was running round, having reference to the strange creature I kept at my office. This worried me very much. And as the idea came upon me of his possibly turning...

  9. Chapter 3 Urgent Translation
    (pp. 43-45)

    He held out the book to us, saying “You’ve got to read this.” The book was De la grammatologie, and the young professor of French literature who exhorted us in this manner had just brought it back from Paris. We did not waste any time before obeying.

    This scene took place in 1971, at Cornell University, but no doubt something similar was happening in those years at other American university graduate schools. Derrida’s books were being transmitted there under the sign of a very particular urgency because they upset everything and gave rise to an experience of thinking that one...

  10. Chapter 4 Coming to the Beginning
    (pp. 46-54)

    Let us imagine him: he sits down before a keyboard, stretches his hands over the keys, and, after a slight hesitation, begins to strike them very quickly. Other than the noise of keys being struck, there is silence and no one else is nearby. There is nothing happening in the room with the exception of this movement of fingers above the little plastic cubes each bearing some kind of mark.

    What is he doing? Manifestly, he has begun to write. To confirm this, one has merely to look at the screen (or, some time ago, the sheet of paper): appearing...

  11. Chapter 5 To Follow
    (pp. 55-67)

    So wrote Jacques Derrida in 1986.

    So he writes in “Aphorism Countertime.”

    These two assertions attempt to say something about the legacy of one who was an unflinching thinker of inheritance and legacy. Between them, the first in a dated past tense and the second with its descriptive present tense, they conjugate the times of a survival into a present without limit, which is also and at the same time the limitless future of a promise. This “at the same time” points, at the same time, to the contretemps of a survival, a living on, that was already given by...

  12. Chapter 6 La Morsure
    (pp. 68-70)

    It is very hard to select what to say here, in a few minutes, that could be worthy of this occasion, in this place, which means above all worthy of the one we remember today with such sadness in our souls—with, as one says in French, la mort dans l’âme.¹ My memory of Jacques Derrida is so vast and so deep that I can hardly recall the flavor of my life before I first met him, in January 1974, in Paris.

    I was then a graduate student starting a dissertation on Rousseau, which had been set in motion, a...

  13. Chapter 7 “One day someone . . .”
    (pp. 71-73)

    One day someone may make an inventory of the conferences, symposia, and colloquia, throughout the world, that were concerned with Derrida’s work and at which he was present as an interlocutor. These would probably number in the hundreds. Countless, then, would be all those who had the chance to receive the generosity of his thought when, as so frequently happened, he was called upon to engage others in public discourse. I heard many such exchanges in the last twenty-five years, beginning in the summer of 1980 with a ten-day colloquium at Cerisy-la-Salle in Normandy, France. There were three more “décades...

  14. Chapter 8 The Affect of America
    (pp. 74-88)

    My remarks are going to be somewhat personal.¹ I do not mean I am preparing to talk about myself, at least not much. Rather, I want to say something about Jacques Derrida’s personal America. Many attempts have been made to characterize the intense relations that, forty years ago, began evolving between Derrida’s work and his readers (or non-readers) in the US, relations mediated in very complex ways by the body of his writing, by its reception and translation, by the different institutions or traditions that welcomed or resisted it, and so forth. Instead of another attempt in that general direction,...

  15. Chapter 9 From Now On
    (pp. 89-107)

    Had these lines been written before 2003, they might have found a place in the volume Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas first edited in English translation before collecting the same writings in their original language under the title: Chaque fois unique, la fin du monde. Indeed, for this French edition of his texts written upon the death of many friends over the years, Jacques Derrida concludes a brief foreword by signaling its close connection to the work from which I have just quoted. He writes: “If I dared to offer a true introduction to this book, it would be the...

  16. Chapter 10 Stunned: Derrida on Film
    (pp. 108-119)

    First, let me list a few facts about the film we are going to watch.¹ D’ailleurs, Derrida had its premier showing in Spring 2000 on the Franco-German public television station, Arte, which co-produced it. It was written and directed by Safaa Fathy, an Egyptian filmmaker, playwright, and poet who has long lived in Paris where she also studied for her doctorate in English. It has since been screened many times at film festivals, in commercial theaters, and at numerous conferences such as this one, very often in the presence of the film’s director and/or its subject, Jacques Derrida. The film...

  17. Chapter 11 Aller à la ligne
    (pp. 120-131)

    I would venture to say that the French idiom has had no more consistently or ardently inventive practitioners over the last forty years than Jacques Derrida and Hélène Cixous. As my subject, however, is not just the work of the one, the other, or both, but rather the one reading and writing on or about the other, one may begin to imagine how the appeal to the idiom has not merely to be doubled but raised exponentially. The original occasion for these remarks was a gathering of seasoned commentators of Derrida and Cixous who took as their theme precisely this...

  18. Chapter 12 Composition Displacement
    (pp. 132-151)

    I ought to begin by confessing my very modest ambitions here.¹ And I would indeed begin on that note if only such confessions were not too often taken to be understatements, according to the rhetoric of false modesty, and thus essentially to be false confessions. And then they are apt to produce the reverse effect of raising rather than lowering expectations. So let me say simply that I plan to interrogate two sets of terms, two notions, or two practices that are deployed across Derrida’s great essay “Plato’s Pharmacy,” the terms/notions/practices of composition and displacement. I will necessarily do this...

  19. Chapter 13 The Ear, Who?
    (pp. 152-165)

    The same question—“What are you?”, “What art thou?”—posed each time to a voice, speaking or sobbing, detached from a familiar face, and thus made strange, unknown, uncanny. As if the questioner had to doubt that it was indeed someone’s voice, he asks of it “what” rather than “who.” Calling upon the voice to attach itself again to a name, an identity, the question might well be addressing a ghost, an “it” not yet declared to be the ghost of someone or other. Hamlet, you recall, begins with a question thrown out into the night—“Who’s there?”—as Bernardo...

  20. Chapter 14 To Do Justice to “Rousseau,” Irreducibly
    (pp. 166-177)

    Of Grammatology is a monstrous work. One should say that, if possible, in the best sense, which is to say the sense evoked, now famously, in the last sentences of that book’s initial chapter, titled “Exergue”:

    Perhaps patient meditation and painstaking investigation on and around what is still provisionally called writing . . . are the wanderings of a thinking that is faithful and attentive to the world that, irreducibly, is coming and that proclaims itself at present, beyond the closure of knowledge. The future cannot be anticipated except in the form of an absolute danger. It is what breaks...

  21. Chapter 15 The Deconstitution of Psychoanalysis
    (pp. 178-186)

    It is somewhat foolish no doubt to imagine one can circumscribe the extent of Derrida’s engagement in writing with psychoanalysis, or with the work of Freud or Lacan or other psychoanalytic thinkers, such as Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok.¹ While numerous texts might suggest themselves right away as obviously belonging to the classification, there would remain the irradiating effects across an entire oeuvre of what Derrida calls, in his first published essay on Freud, la percée or la trouée freudienne, the “Freudian breakthrough” (“Freud,” 199). In what follows, nevertheless, I have cut out and assembled a set of four distinct...

  22. Chapter 16 The Philosopher, As Such, and the Death Penalty
    (pp. 187-193)

    It would have been sometime around the year 2000 (the same year as the lecture to the Estates General of psychoanalysis) that Jacques Derrida expressed himself in these terms to his interlocutor in the dialogue that, a little while later, will be published with the title De quoi demain . . ., For What Tomorrow . . . In these sentences, Derrida is categorically and rather uncharacteristically firm in hammering home the superlatives, in naming “the most significant and most stupefying fact, the most stupefied as well in the history of Western philosophy” (Tomorrow, 145–6). Upon reading and rereading...

  23. Epitaph
    (pp. 194-198)

    “A New Wave: Scientists Write on Water,” reads the Web post headline announcing a “breakthrough” technology:

    A new technology allows researchers to write on water. The AMOEBA (Advanced Multiple Organized Experimental Basin), a circular tank created by Mitsui Engineering at their Akishima laboratory, is able to form letters with standing waves. This remarkable display device consists of fifty waterwave generators surrounding a cylindrical tank five feet wide and a foot deep. The wave generators move vertically to produce cylindrical waves. These “pixels” are about four inches in diameter and one and a half inches in height; these form lines and...

  24. Index
    (pp. 199-204)