Obituary: Jacques Derrida

 

Jacques Derrida has died.  And so we must ask: Is he in heaven or hell?  Of course the answer is (un)clear: Derrida is in neither.  Rather he is in a place in between, or again: in a place neither one nor the other.  Having died, Derrida rests in a place undecidable, resisting the dichotomy that would put him in some place.  And what sort of "rest"--we may wonder--is that? 

   

Derrida has died.  Is he in purgatory?  No.  For such would imply a progress upward as per some onto-theological telos.  Being that he is not in purgatory, then, we might be tempted to say that he is in death, if this itself were not so presumptuous.

 

Derrida has died.  The philosopher's body begins its degradation into parts, its falling apart.  But this is what the body always does, even when alive: no day is the body the same river one stepped into the previous day.  And so what difference does it make to die?  It makes only difference is the point; which point doesn't stay sharp either, not even as one makes it, but flickers like all saying between presence and absence.  No shoddy metaphors piled on the bank will make any difference as far as this flickering is concerned.

 

Derrida has died.  But what did the name "Jacques Derrida" conjure even when he was alive?  What conjurer's trick is this?  It is a handful of phonemes we have in the name, in no way adequately calling forth the man.  Le nom Derrida ne signifie que l'absence de tout Jacques.  The name itself can only be the absence of any man, and so his death is announced always already in the name.  One names him in order to make his absence known.

 

Jacques Derrida has died.  Many will miss him as they always have; others will miss him as he intended.

 

Eric Mader

10/17/04

A far more just obituary by Mark C. Taylor

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