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Reviews191 a lively way, and after it I found myself impatient to read Deleuze (and Tournier). While declaring itself the first in a proposed series—"Continental Philosophy "—this volume contains only two essays (on Heidegger and Habermas) which cross the borders separating France from other parts of continental Europe. One wonders why it was not explicidy devoted to French philosophy. Indeed, the otherwise excellent essay on Habermas by John McCumber seems to break the loose but discernible network of distinctively French concerns that emerges through the chapters on Deleuze, Lyotard, Derrida, and Lévinas to Barthes. Barthes? On my way through the book I had harbored a grudge against Barthes for being included in place ofany ofa whole list ofthinkers I thought more worthy. However, on reading Jacques Derrida's "The Deaths of Roland Barthes," I came to regard its inclusion as something ofan editorial masterstroke. Far from being a simple exposition on Barthes, Derrida's essay is a complex and selfreflexive piece which, qua "performative," manages to flesh-out many of the recurring themes more abstracdy approached in the earlier essays. While one could comment on the nominalist tendency shared by most of the philosophers represented here, this would be misleading: what is at issue is no abstract ontological "thesis" but something closer to an ethics based around the acknowledgment of alterity. It is the very occasionality of Derrida's piece—a public address on and for a friend recendy dead—that brings this home. In such a discourse the capacity to breech the faith and civilities ofthe former friendship by using the other's name in some self-serving way is all too clear. But we are here reminded that such an infidelity is attendant on speech per se with its constant threat of the categorial leveling which betrays the particularity and otherness ofits referent. It is this concern to resist the eclipse ofsingularity by philosophy's own abstractions—to resist the domination of all that is not of philosophy by philosophy—which links Derrida and other French philosophers to the heritage of Merleau-Ponty. Macquarie University, AustraliaPaul Redding Aparté: Conceptions and Deaths of S$ren Kierkegaard, by Sylviane Agacinski, translated with an introduction by Kevin Newmark; xi & 266 pp. Tallahassee: Florida State University Press, 1988, $24.95. Originally published in 1977 in French, this book may prove tobe the keystone of the series on "Kierkegaard and Postmodernism" under Mark C. Taylor's editorship. Stimulated by Agacinski's provocative example, further deconstruc- 192Philosophy and Literature tionistreadingswillbe hard pressed to surpassits logical subdety and scintillating rhetorical playfulness. Taking TL· Concept of Irony as representative of die entire Kierkegaardian project, Agacinski asks, in the first of the book's three sections, how one can write a "thesis" about irony—about that which "posits nothing" (p. 35)? Irony, as the "nondialectizable negativity" (p. 58) that cannot be grasped or aufgehoben by the self, reason, or the Hegelian system, also resists the mediations ofwriting. This establishes Agacinski's own (unironic) "thesis" about Kierkegaard: that his irony does not yield actuality, truth, or conceptual content, but is an infinitely negative and "abortive" dialectic lacking any "conception" or birth of the Idea. The name "Kierkegaard" ("churchyard" or "cemetery") fathers not life but death—his works a monument or tomb "encrypting" and glorifying his losses, "sacrifices," and "deaths." The second and third sections elaborate these abortions of "the Idea/Concept "—as (philosophical) Truth, as (Christian) God, and as object of (aesthetic) representation or mimesis. Readings of The Point of View and Prefaces dissolve die objectivities of the author and the book; a comparison of Repetition with Mallarmé's Mimique and Derrida's The Double Session subverts the metaphor of theatricality as mimesis; Freudian readings of "the filial metaphor" central to Kierkegaard's melancholic Christianity identify his relationship to "the God" with his troubled involvementin his father's guiltover some unspeakable "crime" (perhaps a primal scene of rape) that Kierkegaard's writing "encrypts" and resists. Kierkegaard's aborted engagement to Regine Olsen signifies the deathly infinitude of a desire awakened only by virtue of this very loss or "death." This repudiation of "woman" for a Christian "sexual indifference" initiates a sustained gender critique of Kierkegaard's Christianity...


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