In Memory of Jacques Derrida

In Memory of Jacques Derrida

In Memory of Jacques Derrida

In Memory of Jacques Derrida

Synopsis

In Memory of Jacques Derrida is a remarkable account of one of the greatest thinkers of our time. We are still coming to terms with the astonishing richness of Derrida's writings, as well as with the impact of his untimely death in 2004. In a sense it may be said that we are all 'in memory of Derrida', regardless of whether or not we have read him. The essays gathered in Nicholas Royle's book offer a series of lucid and incisive readings of Derrida's work, as well as an elegiac tribute in more personal terms. In the midst of his many extraordinary works, Derrida is constantly engaged with a series of topics that form the basis of this book: the strange place of 'death' in thinking, writing and perception; a new kind of attentiveness to the importance and paradoxes of mourning in love and friendship; questions of legacy, inheritance, the ghost and the gift; and the nature of memory, remembering and forgetting. In his writings on mourning (what is mourning? when does it begin, or end?), Derrida makes frequent reference to arguably the most powerful exploration of the topic in the western literary tradition: Shakespeare's Hamlet. Mourning, Derrida argues, is 'the true subject' of this play. Royle's commemorative volume in turn makes Shakespeare a central focus for thinking about Derrida's work. Nicholas Royle writes in an autobiographical as well as critical vein: In Memory of Jacques Derrida is a poignant testament to the enigma of Derrida as writer, teacher and friend, and a provoking and fascinating elaboration of why his work remains crucial to an understanding of the contemporary world.

Excerpt

Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) was the most original and inspiring writer and philosopher of our time. He made - and his writing still makes and will continue to make - earthquakes in thinking. I believe that in many ways, indeed, the reading of his work is still ahead of us, scarcely begun. His work is about worldwide seismism. From the opening sentence of Of Grammatology(in 1967), his concern was with the trembling foundations of ethnocentrism and transformations of the world that we now so hastily name 'globalisation' and that he preferred to refer to as 'becoming worldwide' or 'worldwide-isation' (mondialisation). His thinking on politics, ethics and responsibility, democracy, law and justice, will stimulate, encourage and empower for years to come. This thinking is at the same time inseparable from other, apparently less worldly or more intimate concerns, such as poetry, fiction and literature, memory and autobiography, friendship and mourning itself. Worldwide-isation, it might be said, is not only about the reaches of capitalist, hegemonic, colonial or imperialist violence or (in more benign mode) about the extensions of international law and democracy, but also about the ruses and aporias of narcissism and new ways of construing consciousness, interiority, writing and love.

Derrida's work has consistently provoked anxiety, anger and frustration, as well as pleasure, exhilaration and awe. One way or another he seems to get under people's skin. He questions everything. He refuses to simplify what is not simple. He works at unsettling all dogma. He meddles but always in a singular way, and he leaves it up to you how to meddle in turn. He is a great writer but can be difficult: the same goes, as his work shows, for other great writers (Plato, Mallarmé, Joyce, Blanchot, Cixous). He can also be wonderfully straightforward, poetic, funny and moving (and in these respects he is, perhaps, more like Nietzsche or Beckett). He is fascinated by religious topics and always sensitive, solicitous and respectful when writing about religion and . . .

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