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Hors duvre

Jody Greene

To love friendship it is not enough to know how to bear the other in


mourning; one must love the future.
Jacques Derrida,
The Politics of Friendship
Even if it is essentially preservative, love (but also deconstruction) is nevertheless no stranger to destruction, to loss, and to ruin.
Peggy Kamuf, Deconstruction and Love
The archive should call into question the coming of the future.
Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever

How we mourn, how we recognize and remember the dead, according to


Jacques Derrida, dictates not only our relationship to the past, but also any possibility of a future. This is also the commonest form of common sense, albeit pushed to
its limits: while we cannot control the future in its unanticipatable unfolding, cannot
predetermine or securely prepare for it, as death and untimely death above all
surely shows, how we orient ourselves to the future in the wake of loss will have
Jody Greene is Associate Professor of Literature and Feminist Studies at the University of
California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of The Trouble with Ownership: Literary Property
and Authorial Liability in England, 16601730 (Pennsylvania, 2005), and the editor of The
Work of Friendship (GLQ 10.3 [2004]). She is at work on a new project on poststructuralism and book history, sections of which have appeared or are forthcoming in PMLA and The
Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation.
Eighteenth-Century Studies, vol. 40, no. 3 (2007) Pp. 367379.

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consequences for the memory or legacy of whatever or whomever has been lost, as
well as for ourselves and those who come after us. Mourning, remembrance, and
the preservation of the past are all intimately linked, as Derrida argues in Archive
Fever, to a responsibility for tomorrow.1
In assembling a volume that engages the question of Derridas relationship
to the eighteenth century, I am unquestionably participating in an act of public
mourning, even as I ask othersreaders, writersto join with me in bear[ing]
Derridas legacy as a scholar of eighteenth-century texts to an audience of eighteenthcentury scholars. I am trying, that is, in what I know is a doomed act of preservation,
to protect from the ruin of forgetting something specific about Derridas oeuvrehis
lifelong engagement with an eighteenth-century archiveeven as I call attention to
the fact that so many prominent readers of Derridas work make a living or at least
began their careers as dix-huitimistes. This project remains doomed because it is as
likely to fall on deaf ears among self-identified Derrideans, skeptical of historicisms
and periodizations, as among those who desire no truck with poststructuralism.
The proprietary challenge of Derridas eighteenth century, then, seems to solicit
in return only two possible and equally proprietary responses: Not my Derrida;
Not my eighteenth century. Yet my interests here are not exclusively preservative
and might even, truth be told, border on the destructive, or at least the disruptive.
I am hoping that a volume such as this one might change the way scholars of the
eighteenth century, in both senses of that modifying genitive, understand their
eighteenth century, as well as the way readers of Derrida apprehend the Derridean
corpus, the archive or oeuvre that consigns itself under that proper name. At once a
project of derangement and a scheme of conservation, this volume offers itself, too,
however sheepishly, as an act of lovefor eighteenth-century studies, for the work
of Jacques Derridaa hybrid venture of mourning, love, and reading that both
affirms the future of the Derridean archive and calls that future into question.
Throughout Derridas work, mournings link to futurity is conceived in
both ethical and practical terms. While the two inevitably contaminate each other,
for the purposes of an introduction (a foolhardy enterprise in itself, as any reader of
Derrida well knows), it seems excusable to hold them apart, however provisionally.
Derridas ethical approach to mourning can be glimpsed in the passage from Politics
of Friendship cited among the epigraphs above, the one in which he adjures us to
love the future. Lest we think we know what it is we are being asked, or told,
to love in this undeniably affirmative moment, Derrida modulates instantaneously
and characteristically from affirmation to something more tentative: there is no
more just category for the future than that of the perhaps.2 An injunction to
commit ourselves to a perhaps, a command, in the name of justice, to love a mere
possibility, an instruction, finally, later in the passage, to open on to the coming
of what comes, whatever that may be (PF 29): the terrain of friendship, love,
bear[ing] the other is suddenly very short on assurances. Futurity is becoming
more perilous by the moment.
Perilous, or perhaps monstrous. One of Derridas preferred figures for the
ethics of futurity from the time of the Grammatology forward, as Peggy Kamuf
notes at the opening of her essay in this volume, is the figure of the monster. In
1990, in an interview on German radio, Elisabeth Weber asked Derrida to reflect
on what he had elsewhere referred to as the monstrous nature of his writing, its

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tendency to mutate away from the tradition in which he had begun writing into
something new and unrecognizable, a mutation into the future that serves to illustrate the writers powerlessness over his own text. What is the relation between
what you call the monsters of your writing, Weber asked, and the memory of
this absence of power?3 Derridas response itself mutates from a discussion of the
past and of memory that returns him to the beginnings of his own oeuvre to an
invocation of the future:
I think that somewhere in Of Grammatology I said, or perhaps its at the
end of Writing and Difference, that the future is necessarily monstrous:
the figure of the future, that is, that which can only be surprising, that for
which we are not prepared, you see, is heralded by species of monsters.
A future that would not be monstrous would not be a future; it would
already be a predictable, calculable, and programmable tomorrow. All
experience open to the future is prepared or prepares itself to welcome
the monstrous arrivant, to welcome it, that is, to accord hospitality to
that which is absolutely foreign or strange, but also, one must add, to
try to domesticate it, that is, to make it part of the household and have it
assume the habits, to make us assume new habits. (P 38687)

Derrida begins this recollection of his past writing practices by misremembering


his own oeuvre, by failing to cite himself confidently, as if enacting a lifetimes
theorization of the failure of authorial self-presence in a momentary but illustrative lapse. The opening up of the past, the powerlessness over our own discourse
that will ensure its mutation into the monstrosity of an unexpected futurethese
occur even as they are described in this passage. What arrives in the place of the
recollection is a herald, a monstrous guest that is not the future but that, in its
surprising appearance, reminds us of the duty to welcome whatever arrives. As it
barrels through the door, this monstrous arrivant demands that we open on to
the coming of what comes, whether we like it or not. The monster cannot itself
be the future, because, as Derrida carefully notes, no sooner has it arrived than
our hospitality tries to domesticate it, in a shuttling movement that alters both
the monster and its host. To be open to the future, to the perhaps, means being
willing to accommodate the monster, to put her up, to put up with her, to change
our habits for her, but also and above all, even as this process of monster-taming
is occurring, to be listening for the doorbell, the signal that the next monster is
about to arrive, coming toward us from outside, de hors. This movement of hospitality, domestication, and repeated surprise, Derrida goes on, is the movement
of culture, of writing and of scholarship, a movement that continually requires
of us that we open toward the unknown (P 387).
As his disquisition on writing and monstrosity continues, Derrida moves
from a figural meditation on the future and the ethical responsibility for hospitality
to a more pragmatic discussion of the reception of texts. Like the monstrous figure
that appears without warning demanding our welcome, new species of writing
arrive on our desks and in our inboxes (electronic or otherwise) challenging us to
make room for them, a challenge to which, more often than not, we fail to rise.
Our failure to welcome these textual arrivants, however, does not necessarily ensure
that they will leave us alone, much less that they will take a hint and go away:

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Texts and discourses that provoke at the outset reactions of rejection,


that are denounced precisely as anomalies or monstrosities are often texts
that, before being in turn appropriated, assimilated, acculturated, transform the nature of the field of reception, transform the nature of social
and cultural experience, historical experience. All of history has shown
that each time an event has been produced, for example in philosophy or
in poetry, it took the form of the unacceptable, or even of the intolerable,
of the incomprehensible, that is, of a certain monstrosity. (P 387)

Those texts we have the most trouble welcoming, those that most resist domestication, ultimately, even during the era of their anomaly, bring about transformations
in the cultural and historical field. What is most powerfully rejected and forcibly
held outside, Derrida insists, must nonetheless already be intimately connected
with what is inside a given culture, inside its archive, or it would not require such
radical denunciation in the first place. It would not, we could say, provoke such a
perversely preservative response. As he put it in the very first section of his essay,
Scribble, his introduction to the French translation of William Warburtons 1742
essay on Egyptian hieroglyphics, ce qui est chass, exclus, dehors, se fait toujours
reprsenter . . . au-dedans, il travaille de faon surcrypte au-dedans [whatever is
driven out, excluded, outside, always has itself represented; it works in an encrypted
way on the inside].4 Whatever is deliberately defined as outside a culture, a system,
or an oeuvre must also and at the same time be recognizable inside that culture,
and thus must already reside there, albeit in an encrypted form.
Derridas remarks concerning the encrypted interior of any cultural system
appear in the course of a discussion of the practice of editorial collectionsspecifically, the curiously named Collection Palimpseste in which, in 1977, Warburtons
essay on hieroglyphics appeared. How do we decide what should go in such a
collection, Derrida wonders, especially a collection devoted to texts dcrypts
[unburied, taken out of the crypt] (S10) after more than two hundred years? What
should be included and what should be left out, and who decides? Almost twenty
years later, Derrida would return to the question of the criteria that govern the
collection of texts, this time in the 1990 work Archive Fever. Here, Derrida once
again renders the movement between mourning and the future both as an ethical
problem and as a matter of textual dissemination and reception, but now he does
so in terms of the archive. One might be tempted to think of archives as repositories of the past, Derrida hazards, whose job it is to gather up and preserve the
artifacts of a bygone culture or deceased cultural maker in as complete, faithful, and
permanent a manner as possible. Archives, then, would be yet another example of
the work of mourning, of how we bear the other in mourning, not to mention
of how we attempt to encrypt the things we love. Nothing, Derrida argues, could
be further from the truth of the archive:
The question of the archive is not, we repeat, a question of the past. It
is not the question of a concept dealing with the past that might already
be at our disposal or not at our disposal, an archivable concept of the
archive. It is a question of the future, the question of the future itself, the
question of a response, of a promise, and of a responsibility for tomorrow. The archive: if we want to know what that will have meant, we will
only know in times to come. (AF 36)

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The archive, Derrida counsels, is not of the past but of the future, not complete but
openan opening on the future (AF 30)not so much faithful as an example
of what he later called la fidlit infidle [unfaithful fidelity].5 There is no subject who determines the meaning of the archive, though there are subjectscall
them archons (AF 2)whose job it will be to decide what should be included
in a given archive and what should not. Every archiving gesture, it follows, is a
gesture of exclusion as much as of inclusion, which is why, as he tersely put it,
No archive without outside (AF 11). Once again, of course, as with an editorial
collection, decisions concerning what to exclude will have ramifications for the
reception of whatever finds inclusion, inflecting the meaning of the content of the
archive inexorably. Better to leave the archive open, Derrida suggests (as though
we have any other choice), better to be prepared to welcome the unexpected arrival, however monstrous, and even to prepare a response. The archive, he writes,
should not try to determine the future but should, instead, call into question the
coming of the future, primarily by recognizing its own contingency, its susceptibility to ruin and loss as well as to preservation (AF 3334). As Michael Naas and
Pascale-Anne Brault note, in reflecting on Derridas own response to the works
of his deceased friends, this conviction regarding the openness of the archive was
derived from experience, as much as from philosophizing. In his acts of mourning, they write in the introduction to The Work of Mourning, Derrida always
recognizes not only the systematicity and coherence of a corpus but its openness,
its unpredictability, its ability to hold something in reserve or surprise for us.6
Derrida, that is, models for us in his reading of others, particularly dead others,
how to open our mourning work and our archiving work to the future, how to
stay faithful to an oeuvre and attend to or at the very least make way for what is
hors duvre at the same time.
Not long before his death, in a now well-known interview with Jean Birnbaum published under the title Apprendre vivre enfin [To Learn/To Teach How to
Live, Finally], Derrida addressed in personal and often humorous terms the matter
of his own oeuvre and its destiny both within his life and after his death. To send a
book into the world, he emphasized, always uncannily anticipates the experience
of ones own death: au moment o je laisse (publier) mon livre (personne ne my
oblige), je deviens, apparaissant-disparassaint, comme ce spectre inducable qui
naura jamais appris vivre [at the moment I let my book go (to be published)
(no one makes me do it), I start appearing and disappearing like that unteachable
ghost who has never learned how to live] (AVE 33). Publication precipitates an
experience of radical self-loss, a powerlessness not only over the work, which has
mutated into a public object, but over what is mine more generally. In publishing, I let go of what I once thought of as my bookbut was it ever properly
mine?relinquishing it to its readers, and in so doing confront the specter of my
own exteriority with relation to myself and to what I thought I could call my own.
This experience of self-loss that attends publishing, which Derrida playfully describes as irrappropriable [unreappropriable], hardly differs from the experience
of death itself. preuve extrme: on sexproprie sans savoir qui proprement la
chose quon laisse est confie. Qui va hriter, et comment? Y aura-t-il mme des
hritiers? [The final test: one expropriates oneself without knowing to whom the
thing one leaves behind is properly entrusted. Who will inherit, and how? Will

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there even be inheritors?] (AVE 3334). Confie: entrusted, confided, perhaps


consigned, since that is the word Derrida repeatedly uses to describe deposition in
an archive. Those who inherit what we expropriate by giving it out as though it
were our own are also those who will decide what survives. To them is entrusted
the task of gathering, but also the tension between gathering and dispersion that
characterizes archive-making and knowledge-making more generally.7 The decisions
they make, these inheritors and archons, will be responsible for determining what
appears and disappears, if not for the future, then at least for tomorrow.
Take this volume, for instance, which can certainly be understood to constitute a practice of archiving. Contributors were asked to consider whether Derrida
could be said to have a special or privileged relationship with the materials of the
eighteenth century, particularly at the beginning and end of his writing career, and
to begin, if they so desired, by exploring certain key terms in the Derridean lexicon
often associated with that century: reason, fraternity, democracy, and Enlightenment, to name only a few. The last of these, in particular, has been a persistent
theme in the Derridean oeuvre, although the relationship between Derridas work
and the project of Enlightenment has been understood more often as benighted
than as privileged. As Derrida himself expostulated in 2002, it is often the case
that people would like to oppose this period of deconstruction to the Enlightenment. No, I am for the Enlightenment, Im for Progress.8 If Derrida can be said to
be for the Enlightenment, if we may take him at his word here, then Derridas
eighteenth century might be interchangeable with Derridas Enlightenmentand
so the contributors to this volume have largely taken it to be, focusing their studies
almost entirely on the two great thinkers of Enlightenment whose works take up
the most space in Derridas writing, Rousseau and Kant. No surprises there: when
one is asked to consider Derridas preferred eighteenth-century archive, the works
of these two thinkers are surely the first to come to mind.
At the same time, however, the contributors to this volume nearly all expressed understandable reservations, notwithstanding the self-evidence of Derridas
repeated return to these thinkers of the Enlightenment, about a project that appeared to be trying to historicize Derridas work, to tie it to or even to claim him
for a particular historical moment. These reservations are understandable because
of Derridas own painstaking exposition of the tricky relationship between a text
and, on the one hand, the era of its original composition and, on the other, the
proper name with which it is signed. Just because a work was originally composed
in the eighteenth century, Derrida insists, in yet another modulation on the notion
of unreappropriability, it is not necessarily an eighteenth-century text. Everything is out of joint, he explains in A Taste for the Secret, because texts are
heterogeneous, not even contemporary with themselves; if deconstruction
is possible, he continues, this is because it mistrusts any sort of periodization,
just as it mistrusts proper names.9 As Geoffrey Bennington lays out in the first
essay in this volume, an essay that might well be thought of as the collections
proper introduction, or at least as required reading for what follows, this skepticism
about periodization and the proper name, which runs throughout Derridas work,
makes its first appearance and finds its fullest elaboration in Of Grammatology,
with direct reference to our period: le XVIIIe sicle franais, Derrida there
calls it, si quelque chose de tel existe [the French eighteenth century . . . if such

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a thing exists].10 Anyone can see, Bennington argues, in the Grammatology above
all, Derridas attention to and even affection for the texts of this period (382), a
period Derrida identifies as uniquely important in the history of writing. For Derrida,
this period stands out as the place where a battle for supremacy between speech
and writing became explicit in Western European history and philosophy, a place
of combat and crisis (G 147) precipitated by three scholarly developments
that occurred in the epoch running roughly from Descartes to Hegel: the project
for a universal writing; the scholarly exploration of non-European scripts; and the
development of a general science of language and of writing. Yet that epoch, from
our belated perspective, is not the eighteenth century, but ce quon appelle le XVIIIe
sicle [what is called the eighteenth century] (G 147), a deliberate estrangement
of the historical referent that leads Bennington to his title, Derridas Eighteenth
Century. The necessity of defamiliarizing the referent, rendering it inhospitable,
is directly traceable to the practice of reading: the mere fact and act of reading
(its very possibility), Bennington writes, is itself already sufficient to undo the
largely unquestioned historicism that continues to afflict any periodizing effort
(384). Whatever it is that we access or respond to when we read a work written
in the eighteenth century, Bennington reminds us, it is not a historically verifiable
entity, the reality and consistency of another era located firmly in the past (384).
What we access instead is a powerful received idea about the meaning of a particular erathe French eighteenth century, for instancethat conditions our
reading practices but also inevitably deforms them. Our very activity as scholars,
Bennington concludes, opens texts up always beyond their historical specificity
to the always possibly menacing prospect of unpredictable future reading (392).
Reading, that is, like archive-making, is open to the future, unpredictable, and,
as often as not, fraught with danger.
Peggy Kamuf opens her essay, To Do Justice to Rousseau, Irreducibly,
in similar terms, with an act of estrangement and a warning of impending danger,
a warning that is also, as with Bennington, a kind of promise. Like the eighteenth
century to which he ostensibly belongs, Rousseau remains inaccessible to us,
not only because the Rousseau we apprehend is a product of our reading, but also
because the place in our reading from which Rousseau can be glimpsed is inevitably a blind spot. So, for instance, although Rousseau names supplementarity
endlessly, refers to it constantly throughout his work, the law of this naming and
the concept governing its compulsive repetition in Rousseaus discourse remains
unthought, unnoticed, unread, and unseen by the signatory not less than by the
generations of scholars or savants who have built a house of knowledge on the
archive of Rousseaus oeuvre (396). The blind spot in Rousseaus own discourse is
replicated and redoubled in the field of vision of Rousseau scholars, such that they
are as oblivious to the law of his discourse and hence of his entire oeuvre as he
himself must inevitably be. What is significant in Rousseaus writing thus remains
outside his oeuvre, or rather, inside and outside at the same time: Rousseaus legacy
both belongs to and does not belong to the authors signed work (396), rendering
it unreappropriable by us as much as by Rousseau himself. The task of reading,
nonetheless, of reading Rousseau, the age of Rousseau, and ultimately the
age of Derrida, Kamuf writes, is to forge a tiny opening within the blind spot
(402), to remove and reorient ourselves through a practice of reading that allows us,

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anamorphically, to round . . . on our own blind spots otherwise (402). Whether


it remains possible to effect such a reorientation through an act of will, an act of
deliberate rereading of those corpuses, remains a question. Certainly, as Kamuf
notes, it is too early to tell what the blind spots of the age of Derridaincluding, quite possibly, that ages acrimony toward the oeuvre of Jacques Derrida
(402)will have been. Such acrimony writes on water, she concludes, where
its ripples dissipate with the blink of an eye (402). Given that our most generous
and most loving readings, as much as our moments of acrimony, are afflicted by
little interval[s] of blindness (402), our best hope is to turn and return, errantly
but faithfully, toward an oeuvre that notwithstanding the efforts of generations of
scholars and savants cannot, mercifully, be closed off or determined in advance.
The question of determination and its relationship to both faith and
scholarship is taken up in the next two essays, Neil Saccamanos Inheriting Enlightenment, or Keeping Faith with Reason in Derrida, and Richard Terdimans
Determining the Undetermined: Derridas University without Condition.
Saccamanos essay presents us with yet another meditation on insides and outsides,
this time with relation to the question of religion in Derridas thought, a question
that might be phrased, how do we get outside the terms of religion sufficiently to
be able to think religion? Given that the very ideals the Enlightenment is purported
to have championed against religiontolerance, publicity, universality, reason,
critique itselftrace their roots to Christian theology, it remains impossible to
stand outside religion sufficiently to deploy its critique a-theologically: religion
would seem impossible to think philosophically without religion, Saccamano
concludes (406). Ranging across the works of Kant to those of Shaftesbury, Hume,
Voltaire, and even Richardson, Saccamano painstakingly and generously retraces
what is only an apparent contradiction between the persistence of a discourse of
faith and the dedication to rational exchange among Enlightenment thinkersnot
least among them, Derrida himself. Derridas commitments to singularity, justice,
and unconditionality, the unverifiable absolutes, as Terdiman will have it, of his
philosophical project, only appear to be at odds with the more worldly, progressive concerns associated with the Enlightenment, including, as Saccamano points
out, the necessity of law, right, and norms in international politics (421). Derrida inherits his affirmation of unconditionality, which is also an article of faith,
from the very thinkersKant, Rousseaufrom whom he also receives the legacy
of perfectibility that leads him to embrace the tools of progress, tools such as
laws and norms (421). Thus Derrida cannot but keep faith with the project of
Enlightenment, Saccamano concludes, because within that project the secret and
the promise of an unconditional justice resonate[s] alongside the more practical,
ethical, normative ends we cannot fail to be for (421).
Terdimans contribution also worries the edge or fold between Derridas
invocation of unconditionality and his deployment of a vocabulary borrowed
from, even determined by, the Enlightenment. In this instance the university will
be the site for thinking this tension between the conditional and the unconditional,
a tension that becomes, in Terdimans uncompromising account, frankly untenable, internally contradictory and logically incoherent (427). While Terdiman
is sympathetic in principle to Derridas motivation in calling for a university
without condition, a place where any question can be asked, freed from the

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encroachments of authority, he questions Derridas model, his mechanism,


or lack of one, for achieving such a space free of determination (433). The absence of attention to material factors that would enable such a university to
come into being (430), its reliance on the very notion of an unpredictable and
open -venir that also grounds his notion of the event, of mourning, and of the
archive, remains, for Terdiman, another kind of blind spot in Derridas thinking
(433). In Terdimans account, however, the refusal to specify anything short of a
miracle that will get us from the university of today to the ideal and ideational
one of the future makes of the essay on the university something more insidious
than a failure of method.11 The problem with The University without Condition
is not only that it is contaminated by Enlightenment thinking, and most notably
by Kants thinking about the university, knowledge projects, Enlightenment, and
critique more generally. Indeed, Derrida confesses as much at the outset. The issue
is, rather, that Derrida knowingly inherits what Terdiman calls Kants resonant
theses about the liberation of thought, but then depoliticizes them, emptying
them of their pragmatic content, hollowing out Kants analysis of how the liberation
of thought might be made real (434). Derrida relies too much on the thinking
of the Enlightenmentand does not rely on it enough. In Saccamanos terms, he
is unfaithful in the very act of keeping faith with the Enlightenment. Derrida may
have thought he was for the Enlightenment, according to Terdimans account,
but in a fitting fulfillment of that prophecy of an unpredictable future to which he
returned so frequently in his writing, he may also turn out to have been against
itdangerously, monstrouslyall along.
Julie Candler Hayes joins the ranks of those interrogating Derridas relationship to the Lumires in Unconditional Translation: Derridas Enlightenment
to Come. Hayes sets out to circumvent the historicizing paradox that troubles
some of the other contributors to the volume by focusing not on works published
between 1700 and 1799, but instead on Derridas own formulations and reformulations of a concept, or rather of a series of concepts, including Enlightenment, Enlightenment to come, democracy to come, and even translation to come
(444). In a painstaking review of the many articulations of the notion of the term
venir in Derridas writings, a kind of philology of the to come, alongside
an exploration of what seems to have been a deliberate return to the vocabulary
of Enlightenment in late works such as Rogues, Hayes tracks a shift in Derridas
works from the historical, however idealized Enlightenment to an ahistorical Enlightenment situated in the never-fully-present venir (445).12 Far from
evacuating the concept of Enlightenment of its politically progressive utility, this
renvoi constitutes an effort to free Enlightenment from the totalizing or fetishizing forms of reason for which it had been condemned throughout the twentieth
century (450). Derridas loving resignification of the term, Hayes argues, might
turn out to be Enlightenments saving grace, allowing Derrida his claim to be for
the Enlightenment after all. Yet we can only know whether that will have come
to pass in retrospect, since what it will have meant to be for the Enlightenment
will require acts of translation, as this term mutates away from its many points of
origin. The last third of Hayess essay thus turns to translation both as a theme in
Derridas writing and as a necessary dimension of his philosophical practice. As
the constant shifting between Enlightenment, Aufklrung, Illuminismo, Lumires

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shows, she argues, semantic slipperiness, far from constituting a hindrance to


rational critique, is salutary: it aids our understanding by preventing us from
fixing on individual terms (451). Semantic play allows and even forces us to move
across a range of concepts in an open-ended conversation between texts, which
makes possible a conversation among periods, languages, and genres of discourse
that can only be felicitous for thinking, as well as for critique (454).
Srinivas Aravamudans Subjects/Sovereigns/Rogues opens just such a
conversation among discursive domains in its exploration of the literary and specifically fabular language that permeates eighteenth-century political philosophy.
Beginning his analysis with the opening of Rogues, but moving outward from there
to other texts that did not immediately capture Derridas attention, Aravamudan
asks, what better way to approach the self-important and self-aggrandizing narrative of sovereignty and reason than through myths and fables? (458). Aravamudan,
following Derrida, comes at some of the more exalted Enlightenment writings on
reason and sovereignty from a perspective that is both outside and below them,
the perspective of literature, fiction, and in particular the beast(ly) fable, only to
find those fables already well encrypted inside the sovereign archive. The rich
cultural history of roguery as Enlightenment, too, which Derrida traces from its
origins in late sixteenth-century rogue literature, through the nineteenth-century
evolutionary science of Charles Darwin, and into the post-9/11 American obsession
with the phenomenon of rogue states, provides a fresh perspective on sovereign
exceptionalism through pointing to a certain lawlessness at the heart of democratic
governance (461). Aravamudan carries the analysis, as well as the open-ended
conversation among philosophy, literature, beastliness, and roguery, beyond the
pages of Rogues, to sites that include the works of Hobbes, Defoe, and Montesquieu,
which is to say, the theory of statecraft, the English novel, and the oriental tale.
Aravamudan concludes with a timely reminder that Derridas eighteenth century
should not become a pick-and-choose-affair, in which Derridas contribution to
eighteenth-century studies is remembered exclusively in terms of his treatment of
particular eighteenth-century figures, among them Rousseau, Condillac, Kant, and
to a lesser extent Hobbes (464). He recommends, instead, in a project his essay
profitably initiates, taking up concepts that are derived from other periods and
figures, but that nonetheless are central to eighteenth-century studies, concepts
such as modernity, tradition, the human/animal divide, and individual freedom,
to name only a few (464). He recommends, that is, that we venture outside of
Derridas oeuvre and also beyond the specific constraints of 17001799, reading
through and across those clearly delimited archives in search of material we might
read back onto the narrower concerns of eighteenth-century scholarship, in a
process that promises to open the field, and perhaps too to call it into question in
surprising and enlivening ways.
To Ian Balfour falls the last word in this volume, and appropriately enough,
that last word is difference. Balfours The Gift of Example: Derrida and the
Origins of the Eighteenth Century returns us one last time to questions of periodization and archiving, as well as to those key eighteenth-century figures who fill
the pages of the Grammatology: Rousseau, Kant, Condillac, and Warburton. Yet
Balfour, not content with these perennial examples, turns our attention to works
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made any appearance at all, works by Locke, the Shelleys, Defoe, Diderot, Herder,
and even Cleland. Balfour references these works as some of those he might include
alongside Kant and Rousseau in a new project on the language of origins in the
eighteenth century (470), a project in dialogue with Derridas work, but which also
aims to provide a somewhat original supplement to Derridas charting of the territory (471). A supplement, as readers of Derridas Rousseau well know, both
adds to an entity and transforms it; thus Balfours work to come leaves us with a
promise, a promise that it will expand what has come, perhaps in part through
this volume, to be considered Derridas eighteenth century, even as it transforms
that territory, that oeuvre, in as yet unpredictable ways.
To the list already provided by Balfour, I might add or expand on a few
items of my own, items set down here like breadcrumbs for an eighteenth-century scholar to come, and especially for one who desires to perform a mutation
in the archive we have so provisionally gathered here. Among the most obvious
candidates for inclusion in the next version of Derridas eighteenth century, si
quelque chose de tel existera, must surely be the works of and on Condillac and
Warburton, treated in the Grammatology but also in essays of their own, each of
which forms a tendentious introduction to a modern edition of an eighteenth-century workScribble, in the case of Warburtons essay on hieroglyphics from The
Divine Legation of Moses Demonstrated, and The Archeology of the Frivolous,
originally published as a sprawling introduction to Condillacs Essay on the Origins
of Human Understanding, itself advertised as a supplement to Locke.13 Briefer
and harder-to-find but no less tantalizing examples, some of which might divert
the conversation in revolutionary as well as monstrous directions, some of which
also push the eighteenth century into its long version, include the following: the
reflections on Robinson Crusoe that wind through the unpublished 20012003
seminars on La Bte et le souverain, as well as the extended lycological analysis
of Hobbes touched on here by Aravamudan, which can be found in those same
seminars and is already available in the French collection La Dmocratie venir;
the discussion of Thomas Jefferson in Declarations of Independence, a must-read
on this side of the Atlantic at least, particularly alongside Peggy Kamufs treatment of the work of Thomas Paine in Sign Paine, ou la panique dans les lettres;
staying with the revolutionary theme, the staging of a conversation between the
French revolution and the South African anti-apartheid struggle in The Spirit of
the Revolution; and finally, the invocation of Jeremy Bentham and Cesare Beccaria as early and influential opponents of capital punishment in Death Penalties,
perhaps paired with Violence against Animals, in which Bentham appears again,
this time elaborating a ground for a theory of animal rights.14 These few and hastily
assembled examples together serve to demonstrate that the present volume might
be subject to yet one more act of diacritical defamiliarization: perhaps my title
would be best rendered, with apologies to Geoffrey Bennington, as Derridas
Eighteenth Century, given the near exclusive preoccupation in these pages with
only two of Derridas eighteenth-century interlocutors. Is that preoccupation really
a reflection of Derridas engagement with the eighteenth century, or does it instead
tell us something about our own scholarly epoch, and perhaps also about our will
to close off Derridas oeuvre, to domesticate that within it which is unfamiliar,
foreign, or strange?

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The answer to such a question must come from elsewhere, from outside
these pages. It will require a turn and a return toward the works of the past, a
renvoi that is in part a work of mourning and in part a welcoming of the future.
It will require not only revisiting the archive, but remaking it, attending to what is
dehors as much as to what is dedans. To hear the answer, the echo from the crypt
that calls the future into question, all that is demanded is a willingness to listen,
to read, and in turn, to respond.
What happens when a great thinker becomes silent, one whom we knew
living, whom we read and reread, and also heard, one from whom we
were still awaiting a response, as if such a response would help us not
only to think otherwise but also to read what we thought we had already
read under his signature, a response that held everything in reserve, and
so much more than what we thought we had already recognized there?
(WM 206)

Notes
1. Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, trans. Eric Prenowitz (Chicago: Univ.
of Chicago Press, 1996), 36. Hereafter abbreviated as AF.
2. Jacques Derrida, Politics of Friendship, trans. George Collins (London: Verso, 1997), 29. Hereafter abbreviated as PF.
3. Jacques Derrida, PassagesFrom Traumatism to Promise, trans. Peggy Kamuf, in Points:
Interviews, 19741994, ed. Elisabeth Weber (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1995), 385. Hereafter
abbreviated as P.
4. Scribble: pouvoir/crire was first published as an introduction to a modern edition of Lonard
des Malpeines 1744 translation of Warburtons essay, issued under the title, William Warburton, Essai sur les hieroglyphes des Egyptiens (Paris: Collection Palimpseste, Aubier-Montaigne, 1977). Most
of the essay, minus the first ten pages, was translated into English by Cary Plotkin, and published as
Scribble (writing-power) in Yale French Studies 58 (1979): 11747. My citations are taken from
the first, untranslated section of the French edition, and the translations are my own (10). Hereafter
abbreviated as S.
5. Jacques Derrida and Jean Birnbaum, Apprendre vivre enfin (Paris: Galile/Le Monde, 2005),
38, my translation. An English translation is forthcoming from Meville House Publishing in 2007.
Hereafter abbreviated as AVE.
6. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas, To Reckon with the Dead: Jacques Derridas Politics of
Mourning, in The Work of Mourning, ed. Brault and Naas (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2001),
28. Hereafter abbreviated as WM.
7. Jacques Derrida, Paper Machine, trans. Rachel Bowlby (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 2005),
13.
8. Jacques Derrida, What is Owed to the Stranger? Arena Magazine (AugustSeptember 2002),
6.
9. Jacques Derrida and Maurizio Ferraris, A Taste for the Secret, ed. Giacomo Donis and David
Webb, trans. Giacomo Donis (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001), 9.
10. Jacques Derrida, De la grammatologie (Paris: Minuit, 1967), 150. Translations follow those
adopted by Geoffrey Bennington in this volume.
11. Neil Saccamano notes below that Derrida in fact made direct reference to the concept of miracles
in Faith and Knowledge, in which he asks us to believe that we already believe in the everyday
occurrence of miracles (413). See Derrida, Faith and Knowledge: The Two Sources of Religion at
the Limits of Reason Alone, trans. Samuel Weber, in Religion, ed. Jacques Derrida and Gianni Vatimo
(Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1998).

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12. Jacques Derrida, Rogues: Two Essays on Reason, trans. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas
(Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 2005).
13. For Scribble, see above n. 4. LArchologie du frivole was originally published as the introduction to Condillacs Essai sur lorigine des connaissances humaines (Paris: Galile, 1973), and translated
into English as The Archeology of the Frivolous: Reading Condillac, trans. John P. Leavey, Jr. (Lincoln
and London: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1980).
14. All material is by Derrida, unless otherwise noted: for the Robinson Crusoe material in La Bte
et le souverain, see J. Hillis Miller, Derrida Enisled, Critical Inquiry 33 (2007): 24876; for Hobbes,
see La Bte et le souverain, in La Dmocratie venir: Autour de Jacques Derrida, ed. Marie-Louise
Mallet (Paris: Galile, 2004), 43376; for Jefferson, see Declarations of Independence, trans. Tom
Keenan and Thomas Pepper, in Negotiations: Interventions and Interviews, 19712001, ed. Elizabeth
Rottenberg (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 2006), 4654; for Paine, see Kamuf, Sign Paine, ou la
panique dans les lettres, in La Dmocratie venir, 1935; for the last three breadcrumbs, see The
Spirit of the Revolution (77105), Death Penalties (13965), and Violence against Animals
(6276), all in Jacques Derrida and Elisabeth Roudinesco, For What Tomorrow?: A Dialogue, trans.
Jeff Fort (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 2004).