For Strasbourg: Conversations of Friendship and Philosophy

For Strasbourg: Conversations of Friendship and Philosophy

For Strasbourg: Conversations of Friendship and Philosophy

For Strasbourg: Conversations of Friendship and Philosophy


For Strasbourg consists of a series of essays and interviews by French philosopher and literary theorist Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) about the city of Strasbourg and the philosophical friendships he developed there over a forty year period. Written just months before his death, the opening essay of the collection, "The place name(s): Strasbourg," recounts in great detail, and in very moving terms, Derrida's deep attachment to this French city on the border between France and Germany. Morethan just a personal narrative, however, it is a profound interrogation of the relationship between philosophy and place, philosophy and language, and philosophy and friendship. As such, it raises a series of philosophical, political, and ethical questions that might all be placed under the aegis of what Derrida once called "philosophical nationalities and nationalism." The other three texts included here are long interviews/conversations between Derrida and his two principal interlocutors in Strasbourg, Jean-Luc Nancy and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe. These interviews are significant both for the themes they focus on (language, politics, friendship, death, life after death, and so on) and for what they reveal about Derrida's relationships to Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe. Filled with sharp insights into one another's work and peppered with personal anecdotes and humor, they bear witness to the decades-long intellectual friendships of these three important contemporary thinkers. Thiscollection thus stands as a reminder of and testimony to Derrida's relationship to Strasbourg and to the two thinkers most closely associated with that city.


“Der Ort sagt…”

This is going to be about thinking [il y va de la pensée], to be sure, about thinking as a going concern, about whether it’s going well or poorly (just try to translate this into another language, into German, for example: la pensee comme elle va). It is going to be about the thinking writing [l’écriture pensante] that traverses philosophy, literature, poetry, music, theater, the visual arts—as well as politics—and the rest.

Why begin with such a dry, cold, abstract statement? If I insist on saying that, first of all and finally, everything will have had to do, in the last analysis, for me, for us, for you, with thinking and with writing, whatever this may mean and whatever it may entail, it is in part in order to protect myself. To protect myself against myself. It is in order to try to stem the flow, in truth, to stem the tears of emotion, of gratitude, of love and of friendship, of nostalgia as well, indeed of melancholy, which would otherwise overwhelm my words here today in Strasbourg. My tone should not be one of an eschatological pathos in philosophy. This is not a last meeting with my friends from Strasbourg. That is at least my hope, and I mean it with all my heart.

If I thus begin by recalling thinking or writing, it is not because I still know, after all these years, what these words mean or, at least for us, what they will have one day had to mean. No, it is so that through the effusion we do not lose sight, in the so very rich landscape of our common memory, of this certainty and this truth: what called me from the . . .

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