Here is the biography of Derrida
There is something inherently strange, peculiar even, about the 'auto' in 'autobiography'. On the one hand, it implies the automatisation of the self, that one would act autonomously, as oneself, in the writing of oneself (from the Greek autos, 'self'). On the other hand, this action or acting-out would seem to take place automatically, immediately, without the mediation of others but also without the mediation of the self; since any act that is purely autonomous, purely an act of the self in a totally unmediated form, cannot be chosen and cannot be willed - any such process denies the very 'auto' of the self just as it embodies this very 'auto'(nomy). As with Walter Benjamin's automaton in 'On the Concept of History', we are always subject to the mediation of 'a little hunchback' (an expert chess player...) that inhabits the self as the self, the other within.
Of course, Derrida was not the only thinker to insist that any notion of an indivisible self is utterly fallacious. But deconstruction has, more consistently than any other strand of modern philosophy, emphasised the necessity of mediation, bearing out Derrida’s dictum il n’y a pas de hors-texte (‘nothing is outside the text’). However, 'life-writing' (bio-graphy) in general tends to be primarily oriented towards death; about those that have died, but also inevitably those that will. As Peeters observes, ‘there are biographies only of the dead.’ The narrative movement towards death occupies the formal heart of the genre so trenchantly that the construction of the self (one's own or another) is so radically displaced that the life ceases to live; it becomes crystallised, formalised in a state of nature. History is sacrificed, as Benjamin might have it, in the name of (a deathly) progress.
Benoît Peeters' poignant Derrida: A Biograghy is - evidently - not an autobiography, yet it is a piece of writing that draws upon Derrida's own auto-biographies; on a life of work that depicts the life as work, as a work in progress, of a life in writing as writing (not to mention Peeters' unprecedented access to Derrida's personal letters and other writings). Therefore, that the negotiation with life itself, as a conceptual philosophical notion, is inherently bound up with Derrida's own life - the site of which is seen as a 'divisible borderline', that which traverses two 'bodies', man and corpus - is more than just an egotistical (French) proclivity for exposure; for Derrida it was a necessity. The intersection of the life of the man with the negotiation of philosophical investigations is often taken to be the locus of Derrida's obscurantist literary prolixity. Indeed, the complex relationship between literature and philosophy, for Derrida, is a recurrent theme in the biography, and the struggle between the two, in Derrida's adolescence (which, as he states, ‘lasted until I was thirty-two’), makes for fascinating reading.
Enormous consequences for the legacy or ongoing understanding of deconstruction can be drawn from the insight that Derrida's very life is at stake in the work, and that this is encapsulated in his ever-present engagement with literature. Peeters vividly relates how Derrida's early interests stemmed from reading the 'life-writing' of Rousseau and Nietzsche, and how, in a letter to Foucault from 1963, Derrida declares the need to undertake ‘an essential task ... a type of philosophical writing in which I can say “I”’. Forged in the tumultuous fires of 1960s French academia, this type of philosophical writing (regardless of whether or not we call it deconstruction) is, perhaps, contrary to popular opinion, just as radically disruptive of disciplinary boundaries today as it was during the period of its conception. Such a writing remains outside the disciplinarily defined fields of philosophy and literature, just as it did at the time; the veritable difference is the lack of historical urgency.
Nevertheless, Derrida's work cannot help but disturb the presuppositions of disciplinary boundaries, of genres and the concept of genre itself - that of biography included. Thus, in the introduction, Peeters quotes Geoffrey Bennington, and in particular the latter's envisaging of a Derridean biographical writing, ‘multiple, layered but not hierarchised, fractal’, in the face of the impossibility of writing any form of traditional biography; the genre ‘of complacent and recuperative writing’. Thankfully, Peeters does not attempt to perform such an operation; his faithfulness to the subject is to the subject of the man, not the subject of deconstruction, and although this inevitably smacks of an arbitrary and conciliatory 'strategic essentialism', as Peeters says, ‘mimicry, in this respect and in many others, does not seem the best way of serving him today.’
Lastupdate on : Wed, 6 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 6 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 7 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM GK READINGS
SHRC awaits Chief Minister’s action into ‘this grave human rights violation’
Asks DGP to initiate departmental probe against senior police officers
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Srinagar, Feb 6: Reminding Chief Minister Omar Abdullah of his promise to bring the accused in custodial killing of a Sopore youth in 2011 to justice, the Jammu and Kashmir Human Rights Commission on Wednesday More
- Srinagar City
Reviews functioning of SMC, visits various areas of city
Srinagar, Feb 6: Minister for Urban Development and Urban Local Bodies, Nawang Rigzin Jora on Wednesday reviewed progress and functioning of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC).   More
To Recommend Amendments In Existing Laws On Crime Against Women
GK NEWS NETWORK
Jammu, Feb 6: The Government Wednesday constituted a high-powered committee to recommend amendments to make the existing laws dealing with the offences against women more stringent.An official spokesman More
Ill-equipped departments, obsolete syllabus and inexperienced faculty worries journalism students
Um Roommana Sulaiman, 23, wants to become a successful television broadcaster like Mishal Husain of the BBC. A 4th semester student of journalism at the Islamic University of Science and Technology Awantipora More