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The Animal That Therefore I Am Paperback – Apr 29 2008
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About the Author
The late Jacques Derrida was the single most influential voice in European philosophy of the last quarter of the twentieth century. His Sovereignties in Question and Deconstruction in a Nutshell have been published by Fordham University Press. Marie-Louise Mallet has been a Program Director at the College International de Philosophie and was the organizer of three of the four Derrida Cerisy conferences. She is author of La Musique en respect and is the editor of the special edition of Les Cahiers de l'Herne on Derrida. David Wills is Professor of French and English at the University at Albany, SUNY. His most recent book is a volume of essays on the work of Derrida, Matchbook: Essays in Deconstruction.
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Two portions of this work have appeared before, but the crucial middle section has not been published. Also included is the wonderful semi-impromptu follow-up, which alone is worth the price of the book. After about nine hours, the address was not able to get to all the issues related to Heidegger. After he was begged for more, Derrida again took the stage at the end of the conference and outlined (though it is extensive in its detail) a reading of Heidegger's (extremely interesting) seminar, *The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics.* Again, this alone is worth the price of the book: engaged, entertaining, somewhat off the cuff, with even more of the surprising and wonderful vitality that pervades the rest of his written out address, what is said here is as pertinent as it is profound.
David Wills', it should be said, also makes an excellent translation--even better than his rendering of *The Gift of Death.* All in all, a great troubler for the set of stagnant interpretations of Derrida here in America: like *On Touching,* Derrida returns to odd issues somewhat more at home in the old phenomenological tradition, but with many twists gained from his extensive forays into issues of writing and his more recent work on ethics or religion. A major work, which should sit alongside some of his more famous volumes: one that--and that this is not at all a fault or even something to regret testifies to the achievement of Derrida and the tenacity of his thought here--would have been (and, in a way, will be) enriched even further with time.
How are we to define the “self” as “subject” if we ignore “spiritual-seeing” and “spiritual-hearing”?
There is more to humanity than the cognitive and the construction of rational propositions. There is a more primitive dimension that also defines us. This dimension speaks to us in an unknown grammar, one that appears to the Hupakouo attribute of the “psyche” who possesses the right perspective or “stance”. Of course, this is the concern of phenomenology in the first place; and the concern of post-modern thought. It is time to re-acquaint ourselves with the “Animot-voice” of the animal-other.
In 10 days at a conference held at the Cerisy Cultural Center in Lasalle, France Derrida did just that. This is his treatise of “awakening”; his plea for a new “auto-biography”, one that will give the animal-monster, that currently exists in the world, a “new name”.
HOW DO WE WRITE THE NEW NAME?
Derrida proposes a triad with regard to his approach. We could call this his “triad-of-Hupakouo”; a new LOGOS. Its parts: 1. the “being-after” of the self as a state of latency with regard to this quest for auto-bio definition. This is the self of shame and impropriety, and under the gaze of the interrogating animal-other. 2. The “being-alongside” marks a transition of the self where self enters the role of “negation” and negating the “monstrous animal”; and positing instead the “theoretical animal-other”. But discernment is still missing here. The self needs dialogue to get past this “lack” with regard to auto-biography. 3. The “being-near” of the self recognizes the role that ”Hupakouo” plays at the level of “presentation” concerning the “other” and “listening” with regard to the transcendentally intuitive “psyche”. Self and animal can co-exist in dialectic.
This is the same Derrida of the “phenomenology-of-writing”; therefore, we should recognize that the “PRAXIS” of all this is the positing of a written “zoo-to-biographical sketch”. This is a sketch of relation between the “I” of the self and the history of the “animal-as-concept”. We will enlist the attestation, argument, and proof of our recalled “auto-bio memory” as the apologetic accompanying proclamation; to help empower this PRAXIS.
The “notion” of this praxis-positing is formed through a process Derrida calls: “Limitophy”; which is a deconstruction of the false-singularity of “animal” currently in existence, coupled with re-interpreting the limit-point of our situation in a way that is “non-linear”. And the “cultivation” of the results of dialogue at the conversation-threshold with other selves involved in the process of forming a new name for animal. Cultivation takes place under the critique of a posited 3rd party called “Universality”.
Give yourself the benefit of reading this manuscript slowly; it is rich in content and addresses Derrida’s fundamental position in a way that centers on ”listening”. We are never so well advanced that we cannot learn new ways to awaken our spiritual listening.
5 stars for this 10-day conference.