Lecture Report

Last night I attended a lecture at DePaul University given by Ginette Michaud of the Université de Montréal. Her topic was the relationship between Derrida and Cixous, centered in a reading of Derrida’s H. C. for Life: That is to say… and Cixous’ Insister of Jacques Derrida (forthcoming in a translation by Peggy Kamuf).

Not having read either text, I cannot give a detailed report of Prof. Michaud’s paper. All I can report is a feeling of being, as it were, re-convinced of the ambition and the real greatness of Derrida. My recent reading of his On Touching–Jean-Luc Nancy reminded me that Derrida was the hardest working man in academia, and for those like me who have gone through phases of being “tired of Derrida,” I think that the decisive factor may well be tiredness — not simply a feeling of aesthetic boredom with Derrida’s writing style or with his sometimes predictable moves (particularly in his ethical writings), but literal fatigue or even exhaustion in the face of the sheer labor necessary to keep up with Derrida.

A commenter at this post was disturbed by Peggy Kamuf’s “(un-Derrida-like?)” statement that “One hundred years from now, Derrida will be considered the most important philosopher since (Immanuel) Kant.” Whatever “un-Derrida-like” may mean in this context–and I’m not sure that it’s un-Derrida-like at all, given that Derrida was willing to call one of Nancy’s books the modern equivalent of Aristotle’s De anima or to call Cixous one of the greatest poets of all time–one still has to say: Perhaps. Perhaps he will. Perhaps he’s correct in his final interview that one has not yet even begun to read him.


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