- Purchase/rental options available:
This article revisits the textual and political encounter between two of the most important figures of twentieth-century French letters – Jacques Derrida and Jean Genet, focusing on Glas, the former’s 1974 monumental book partially dedicated to the latter. Instead of turning to Derrida's detailed reading of Genet's earlier works, however, I ollow the traces, contained within Glas, of Genet's radical political engagements of the real time of the book’s writing, and specifically his alliance with the Palestinian armed forces in Jordan and Lebanon. Reading these traces together with the material directly facing them in this double-column book – a discussion of the family in Hegel – I follow Derrida on his journey following the “remains” of dialectical motion and their political signification – the Jew in Hegel's Christian-philosophical work and the Palestinian struggle with “Europe” itself – showing how Derrida is already addressing here some of his “later” concerns: the politics of deconstruction, the Jew as “cut,” and the theological underpinning of philosophy. But I argue that these anti-dialectical “remains” in Glas feature not only on the level of the signified but also – and perhaps most significantly – on the level of writing’s form itself. I uncover the genealogy of Glas's unique structure – from Derrida and Genet's earlier texts to a book-project Genet was immersed in during the years of Glas’s writing and finally to the influences of non-Christian writing traditions (the Jewish Talmud, but also the Muslim Tafsir). In so doing, I consider the ways Derrida and Genet both create a decolonial form of writing for anti-colonial struggles – as a critique of European absolute knowledge manifest on the level of textuality itself.