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Derrida From Now On

Michael Naas

Publication Year: 2008

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.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiii

Several chapters of this book were initially presented as lectures at various institutions or conferences, and many were subsequently published in earlier versions in different journals or collections. They all benefited enormously from the conversations that followed these lectures and the suggestions received...

Abbreviations of Works by Jacques Derrida

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pp. xv-xx

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Introduction

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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....

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1. Alors, qui êtes-vous?

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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...

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2. Analogy and Anagram: Deconstruction as Deconstruction of the as

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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...

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3. Derrida’s Laïcité

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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...

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4. A Last Call for ‘‘Europe’’

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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...

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5. Derrida’s America

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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...

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6. Derrida at the Wheel

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pp. 112-121

On the threshold, on the cusp, on the lip of what I had hoped to 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...

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7. ‘‘One Nation . . . Indivisible’’: Of Autoimmunity, Democracy, and the Nation-State

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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...

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8. Autonomy, Autoimmunity, and the Stretch Limo

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pp. 147-166

It may strike the reader as somewhat retrograde to be coming out at just this time with another book on Derrida, especially one with the implicitly optimistic title Derrida 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,’’...

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9. History’s Remains: Of Memory, Mourning, and the Event(s) of 9/11

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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...

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10. Comme si, comme ça

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pp. 187-212

Those of us today still following Derrida, 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...

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11. Lifelines

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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...

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Conclusion: The World Over

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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,...

Notes

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pp. 235-257

Index

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pp. 259-266

Perspectives in Continental Philosophy Series

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pp. 267-270


E-ISBN-13: 9780823247110
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823229581
Print-ISBN-10: 0823229580

Page Count: 300
Publication Year: 2008