Not Half No End: Militantly Melancholic Essays in Memory of Jacques Derrida

Not Half No End: Militantly Melancholic Essays in Memory of Jacques Derrida

Not Half No End: Militantly Melancholic Essays in Memory of Jacques Derrida

Not Half No End: Militantly Melancholic Essays in Memory of Jacques Derrida

Synopsis

This collection gathers essays written by Geoffrey Bennington since the death of Jacques Derrida. It continues the ongoing work of elucidating difficult and complex thoughts, often enough with reference to Derrida's persistent interrogation of the concepts of life and death, mourning and melancholia and what he calls 'half-mourning'.

Excerpt

I speak of mourning as the attempt, always doomed to failure – a constitutive
failure, precisely – to incorporate, interiorize, introject, subjectivize the other
in me. Even before the death of the other, the inscription of that other’s mor
tality constitutes me. I am in mourning therefore I am – dead with the other’s
death, my relation to myself is primarily one of mourning, a mourning that is
moreover impossible. This is also what I call ex-appropriation, appropriation
caught in a double bind: I must and must not take the other into me; mourn
ing is an unfaithful fidelity if it succeeds in interiorizing the other ideally in
me, i.e. if it fails to respect the other’s infinite exteriority.

This volume gathers a number of pieces about Jacques Derrida which, with the exception of the first, were all written since his death in October 2004. Some of them explicitly attempt to address that death and its impact (at least its impact on the author), but all, in spite of their differences of occasion and audience, of tone and style, whether directed to a more or less ‘professional’ deconstructive audience (‘That’s Life, Death’ or ‘Handshake’) or one presumed to be less familiar with Derrida’s work (‘Foundations’ or ‘The Limits of My Language’) are profoundly marked by Derrida’s death, and are often struggling to go on thinking in its wake. Several of these pieces invoke Derrida’s own reflections on mourning and melancholia, and more especially on what he sometimes calls half-mourning or demi-deuil, a kind of suspended or interrupted state of the ‘normal’ work of mourning as famously described by Freud in Mourning and Melancholia. If this ‘normal’ mourning works in view of a recovery of the self from the loss of the other through a withdrawal of cathexes from that other back into the ego, then demi-deuil, insofar as it implies incomplete mourning, clearly has affinities with mourning’s doublet, melancholia. But this melancholia is no longer seen as a pathological condition, and rather as a kind of ethics of death, whereby the other’s loss is not lost in the interests of the self, as is the case in ‘normal’ mourning, but is in a certain sense maintained as loss, and therefore . . .

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