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  • Inaccessible Life
  • Juan Manuel Garrido (bio)


In today’s life, it is not obvious that one will find the time to write books, especially if they are philosophy books (philosophy and life have always been in contradiction . . .). It is even less obvious to find publishers that agree to give public existence to what one writes. But it is almost a miracle to find readers who might be seriously interested in what one writes. I will not qualify what it means to me, finally, the chance of finding readers who are not only interested in what I have written, but who also devote time and effort to write about it. This is the case of Luis Felipe Alarcón, David Johnson, and Aïcha Liviana Messina, who have addressed to me three complex, challenging, and beautiful texts, full of questions that my book (Garrido 2011) did not know how to anticipate. I want to think that when readings are true, the text can never anticipate them, at least if it is true that a text must be concerned with problems, that is, with unthoughts and tasks for thinking, not with answers or recipes to find answers. [End Page 283]

To write about someone’s text (this applies to the whole tradition) means to give to this text its existence. A text cannot preexist the moment in which someone decides about its sense. Even the “author” is in such a position when he reads his own and supposedly already written texts: he or she must decide about their meanings, consequences, arguments, questions. In principle, the meaning of a text is always a matter to be decided, a reality to come. A text opens, engenders for the first time the space of the indecidability of meaning. It can never fully handle or master or intend what is going to be said. A text always speaks from a space that precedes the vouloir-dire. Such is the place of what I have tried to call “life,” as Luis Felipe Alarcón sharply understood it in section IV of his essay in this issue of CR. It is the space that makes the life of a text, if I may say so. And that is why—Alarcón is right again—a text cannot decide ex ante whether it will be a so-called philosophical text (a text that seeks to affirm the sense even at the irrational limits of human rationality) or whether it will be a literary text (a text that lets sense affirm itself even in its most senseless, almost inhuman and unpredictable forms): in both cases the sense is a problem, and the meaning will remain always to come. This—the meaning always to come—is perhaps the place of “contact” between literature and philosophy, although one must keep in mind that the closer and more intimate the contact (in a single work, on a single page, in a single phrase, in a single word), the more there is separation, impenetrability, incommensurability. It is perhaps in defending the irreducible difference between philosophy and literature that there are more chances to let come the indecidability of meaning.


One of the problems most insistently raised by my readers—especially by David Johnson and Aïcha Liviana Messina—concerns the notion of life and the claim that “I will propose life as another name for différance” (Garrido 2011, 15). Others concern the notions of “hunger,” “finitude,” and “time.” Let me first make clear what I understand by “life.” Today, we do not know anymore what we call life. “We” not only means whoever tries to treat the problem of life in the context of the post-phenomenological and post-Heideggerian [End Page 284] philosophical trend called “deconstruction,” to which the academic doxa would probably be inclined to ascribe my two recent books (Garrido 2011, 2012). “We” also includes all kinds of rational beings—whether they be life scientists, philosophy professors, or simple neighbors—that may be compelled or at least tempted, for one reason or another, to find an answer to the famous question, “What is life?,” especially if we give to these rational beings a scholarship to devote themselves to...


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pp. 283-292
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