Temporal Exile in the Time of Fiction: Reading Derrida Reading Blanchot's the Instant of My Death

By Langlois, Christopher | Mosaic (Winnipeg), December 2015 | Go to article overview

Temporal Exile in the Time of Fiction: Reading Derrida Reading Blanchot's the Instant of My Death


Langlois, Christopher, Mosaic (Winnipeg)


This essay asks whether or not Martin Hagglund's reassessment of the Derridean project of deconstruction as a project defending diachronic temporality is amenable to thinking the peculiar temporalities of literature and fiction that Derrida, in "Demeure: Fiction and Testimony," detects in Maurice Blanchot's The Instant of My Death.

One of the tasks that Martin Hagglund sets out to accomplish in his highly influential publication Radical Atheism is to rescue the Derridean deconstructive relation to justice and alterity from being conceptually perverted by ethical metaphysicians like Robert Bernasconi, Drucilla Cornell, and Simon Critchley. Hagglund is particularly hostile toward attempts in the secondary literature of deconstruction to align Derrida's writing with the transcendental ethics of Emmanuel Levinas. What such attempts fail to appreciate is that nowhere does Derrida's thinking pursue the "ideal justice" embedded in what Hagglund severely criticizes as a Levinasian pre-temporal economy of alterity, ethics as metaphysical "first philosophy," that naively (and perhaps dangerously) privileges good over evil, the other over the same, speech over writing, peace over violence, and life over death. The Derridean relation with alterity, ethics, justice, and life, Hagglund rightly claims, is distributed much more aporetically (autoimmunitarily) than readers like Critchley, Cornell, and Bernasconi are willing to concede. In Hagglund's reading of Derrida, justice always already betrays injustice, the alterity of the other is always already violated by the identity of the same, life is always already implicated in death, and peace always already presupposes violence. The sole culprit behind these relations of autoimmunity in the Derridean project of deconstruction is for Hagglund "the 'ultratranscendental' condition" of temporality "from which nothing can be exempt" (10). Deconstruction is nothing, in other words, if not a sustained critique of temporality, and we fundamentally misunderstand the movement and space of differance if we do not appreciate it as the instantiation of the ontological violence that temporality constitutively commits. "Thus, a rigorous deconstructive thinking," Hagglund explains, "maintains that we are always already inscribed in a temporal 'economy of violence,' where we are both excluding and being excluded" (82).

Because Derrida was not always consistent in emphasizing the degree to which deconstruction is first and foremost a project of temporality (or so Hagglund wants us to believe), it is hardly surprising that Derrida's thinking has so easily been co-opted by such (albeit closeted) metaphysical and ethical thinkers like those mentioned above, or, more recently, by theological apologists of deconstruction like Hent de Vries, Richard Kearney, and John Caputo, who continue to work at the vanguard of the "theological turn" in contemporary critical theory. What each of these camps exclude, or at the very least suspend, is the incessantness of the logic of autoimmunity that infects each and every concept and image of philosophical ways of thinking that rely on a metaphysical logic of temporal presence (which is to say, temporal transcendence) for value and verification. What is so radically atheist about deconstruction, in short, is that it precludes both the possibility (from ontological and epistemological perspectives) and the desire (from ethical and political perspectives) for the fulfillment of promises of metaphysical or theological transcendence in the temporal space of finitude that living, thinking, and desiring humanity solely inhabits. As it relates to the theological front of Hagglund's reassessment of what Derrida's thinking entails, the autoimmunitary logic of deconstruction means that "messianic hope is for Derrida a hope for temporal survival, faith is always faith in the finite, and the desire for God is a desire for the mortal, like every other desire" (120, emph. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Temporal Exile in the Time of Fiction: Reading Derrida Reading Blanchot's the Instant of My Death
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.