Derrida From Now On

Derrida From Now On

Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 300
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  • Book Info
    Derrida From Now On
    Book Description:

    Written in the wake of Jacques Derrida's death in 2004, Derrida From Now On attempts both to do justice to the memory of Derrida and to demonstrate the continuing significance of his work for contemporary philosophy and literary theory. If Derrida's thought is to remain relevant for us today, it must be at once understood in its original context and uprooted and transplanted elsewhere. Michael Naas thus begins with an analysis of Derrida's attachment to the French language, to Europe, and to European secular thought, before turning to Derrida's long engagement with the American context and to the ways in which deconstruction allows us to rethink the history, identity, and promise of post-9/11 America. Taking as its point of departure several of Derrida's later works (from Faith and Knowledgeand The Work of Mourning to Rogues and Learning to Live Finally), the book demonstrates how Derrida's analyses of the phantasms of sovereignty, the essential autoimmunity of democracy or religion, or the impossible mourning of the nation-state can help us to understand what is happening today in American culture, literature, and politics. Though Derrida's thought has always lived on only by being translated elsewhere, his disappearance will have driven home this necessity with a new force and an unprecedented urgency. Derrida From Now On is an effect of this force and an attempt to respond to this urgency.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4711-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Abbreviations of Works by Jacques Derrida
    (pp. xv-xxii)
  5. Introduction: Bénédictions—“traces in the history of the French language”
    (pp. 1-17)

    In the days immediately following the death of Jacques Derrida in October 2004, I imagined that my mourning would go otherwise. (“My mourning,”I say, as if I knew what mourning was and could identify it as “my own.”) I imagined myself continuing to speak and write about the importance of Derrida’s work for me personally and for contemporary thought more generally. I imagined myself bearing witness to the kindness and hospitality Derrida always showed me and my work. I even imagined myself in the wake of Derrida’s death recounting some more personal stories about him―something I had never allowed myself...

  6. 1 Alors, qui êtes-vous?: Jacques Derrida and the Question of Hospitality
    (pp. 18-36)

    I could not begin these reflections on the life and work of Jacques Derrida without recalling at least one further phrase in French, the only language for which Derrida ever expressed his fidelity and his love and the only language I ever spoke with him. I could not begin without letting at least one more of those traces resonate within me, one of those traces of a French language in which I will never feel absolutely at home but which I nevertheless have also come to love—and in large part thanks to Jacques Derrida. Indeed, I could not cross...

  7. 2 Analogy and Anagram: Deconstruction as Deconstruction of the as
    (pp. 37-61)

    Though I tried to argue in the previous chapter that the double gesture of deconstruction might helpfully be compared to the antinomy between a conditional and an unconditional hospitality, that deconstruction as such might be thought of as a kind of hospitality, there is, it has to be said, something woefully inadequate about this comparison, indeed, something fundamentally mistaken about the notion that deconstruction might be understood through any such comparison or analogy. For it is as if deconstruction itself, deconstructionas such, before being a critique of phonocentrism or logocentrism, of phallogocentrism or carnophallologocentrism, were first of all, and...

  8. 3 Derrida’s Laïcité
    (pp. 62-80)

    The controversy in France in 2003–4 surrounding a proposed law banning the wearing of headscarves and other “conspicuous signs of religious affiliation” in primary and secondary public schools triggered a very lively debate about the place of religion in French educational institutions and in French society more generally. The rallying cry for many supporters of the ban was the French notion oflaïcité.¹ Though often translated as “secularism,”Laïcitéentails more than just the separation of church and state and the protection of French institutions from religious dogma and authority. It involves the promotion of a certain civic and...

  9. 4 A Last Call for “Europe”
    (pp. 81-95)

    It is still far too early even to begin to take the measure of Jacques Derrida’s extraordinary life and work—and particularly with regard to the political. It is still too early, not just because Derrida’s work continues to be disseminated and read throughout the world, and so continues to have an enormous influence on so many disciplines within academia and so many areas outside it, and not just because the institutions Derrida helped found or the causes he championed are still in the process of transforming our world, but, more essentially still, because the “measure” of Derrida’s work is...

  10. 5 Derrida’s America
    (pp. 96-111)

    We have been edging ever closer to this theme from the beginning. It is now time to make the crossing and tackle it head on. This chapter thus looks not at Derrida’s Algeria, Derrida’s France, or Derrida’s Europe, but at “Derrida’s America,” that is, at the history of Derrida and deconstruction in America, as well as Derrida’s evolving relationship to and thinking about America from the early 1960s up through 2004. Though this might be seen as yet another imposition of American cultural hegemony, yet another claim to American privilege in the reception, interpretation, dissemination, and, now, the inheritance of...

  11. 6 Derrida at the Wheel
    (pp. 112-121)

    On the threshold, on the cusp, on the lip of what I hadhopedto be a singular, incomparable testimony, a unique offering—though I now have no illusions, for the lid is already ajar, the gift inexorably doubled and doomed—I too would like to begin by offering a parenthetical word of confidence or confession: Jacques Derrida has been so many things to so many of us—instructor and inspiration, master and mentor, philosopher and friend—and he has written so much on so many subjects (I won’t even begin to enumerate) that it seems ill advised,even indecent, to...

  12. 7 “One Nation … Indivisible”: Of Autoimmunity, Democracy, and the Nation-State
    (pp. 122-146)

    To bring the work of Derrida into even closer proximity to the American context, I would like to begin this chapter with a personal and quintessentially American memory. It is a rather old memory for me, but one that I suspect many readers of this work may share. It is the memory of a speech act, a sort of originary profession of faith, the memory of a pledge that I, like most other American schoolchildren, recited by heart, that is, in my case, thoughtlessly, mechanically, irresponsibly, with the regularity of a tape recording played back in an endless loop, at...

  13. 8 Autonomy, Autoimmunity, and the Stretch Limo: From Derrida’s Rogue State to DeLillo’s Cosmopolis
    (pp. 147-166)

    It may strike the reader as somewhat retrograde to be coming out atjust this timewith another book on Derrida, especially one with the implicitly optimistic titleDerrida From Now On. For we are living at a time when “literary theory” or “cultural theory,” or, as it has simply come to be known, “Theory,” is no longer being reviled or criticized (those were perhaps the good old days) but has been declared simply dead or irrelevant, its time come and gone, a mere cultural relic “from now on.” And the death certificate of the late-great-Theory has been signed and...

  14. 9 History’s Remains: Of Memory, Mourning, and the Event(s) of 9/11
    (pp. 167-186)

    In early September 2001 Jacques Derrida published in English a collection of essays written over the span of about two decades on the theme of mourning. Though many had been published before, some even in English translation, they had never been gathered together into a single volume before Derrida allowed Pascale-Anne Brault, Kas Saghafi, and myself to publish them under the titleThe Work of Mourning. The book was thus released in early September but was, as one might expect, quickly forgotten in the wake of what came to called the “events” of September 11th.

    Yet as the initial shock...

  15. 10 Comme si, comme ça: Following Derrida on the Phantasms of the Self, the State, and a Sovereign God
    (pp. 187-212)

    Those of us today stillfollowingDerrida, either in the sense of coming after him, following after him, or continuing to read and study him, have no doubt all asked ourselves on occasion over the past few years what Jacques Derrida would have done or thought about this or that, how he would have responded to some discourse or event. Though we speculate and, I think, should continue to speculate, since that is part of following him, we will never know—and must not claim to know. How, for example, would Jacques Derrida have responded to a subtitle that begins...

  16. 11 Lifelines
    (pp. 213-226)

    In order to bear witness to the extraordinary intersection of life and work that goes by the name of “Jacques Derrida,” I shall limit myself here to an analysis of what is no doubt Derrida’s shortest published work, a oneline poem published in a somewhat obscure collection of poems more than two decades ago and then republished more recently in theCahier de l’Hernedevoted to Derrida.¹ It is a text that fits on a single line and one that speaks, precisely, of the line and of life, and of the intersection of work and life, an exemplary text for...

  17. Conclusion: The World Over
    (pp. 227-234)

    How could one not think the world of him—especially here, at this gathering, so soon after his death, at the annual meeting of an organization, SPEP, where so many of us will have been in one way or another influenced by his thought, educated by his writing, inspired by his presence, touched by his generosity, graced by his hospitality, or blessed by his friendship?¹ How could one not think the world of him, especially here, where almost any one of us could have been honored, as we three have been honored, to speak this evening of his extraordinary life,...

  18. Notes
    (pp. 235-258)
  19. Index
    (pp. 259-266)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 267-270)