© 1992 by Indiana University Press

Originally published in French as L 'autre cap.
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Cataloging·in-Pblication Data
Derrida. Jacques.
IAutre cap. English)
The other heading: reflections on today's
Europe I Jacques Oerrida : translated by
Pascale Anne Brault and Michael B. Naas ;
introduction by Michael B. Naas.
p. em. (Studies in Continental
thought)
Translation of: L autre cap.
Includes bibliographical references.
Contents: Today The other heading
Call it a day for democracy.
ISBN 0·253·31693·6 (alk. paper)
I. Europe Civilization I945 2.
Discourse analysis . 3. Valer. Paul. 1871
1945 Political and social views. 4. Press and
politics France. 5. Press and politics
Europe. 6. Publie opinion-France. 7. Public
opinion¯Europe. I. Oerrida¡ Jacques.
Democratic ajournee. English+ 1992. II. Title.
III. Series.
01055.04813 1992
940. 55-dc20 91·47585
2 3 4 5 96 95 94 93 92
CONTENTS
I N T ROD U C T ION:
FOR E X AMP L E,
by Michael B. Naas
vii
TODAY
THE 0 THE R H E A DI N G:
M E M 0 R I E S, RES P 0 N S E S,
AND RESPONSIBILITIES
4
CALL IT A DAY FOR
DEMOCRACY
84
NOT E S
III
I N T ROD U C T ION:
FOR E X A MP L E,
Michael B. N aas
No one today will set out to read Jacques
Derrida's The Other Heading without some al­
ready determined orientation or di rection,
without a certain bearing if not an already
charted course, without knowing, for exam­
ple, where they have been, where they are
headed, and what they can expect from the
other shore. Even those who will have come
across these pages by accident, shipwrecked
here by chance or unknown winds, who will
have sailed under no ideological fag, will al­
ready read with certain assumptions or ex­
pectat ions, certain fears or hopes , with a
certain understanding, at the very least, of
what it means to thi nk, read, and write
"about" politics in general and "about" Eu­
rope in particular.
This has no doubt always been the case,
but it i s especially true today. Because the po-
INTRODUCTION
viii
lemic surrounding the work of Jacques Der­
rida has spread beyond academic circles to
become a regular issue i n the popular media,
one can almost speak today of a certain "pub­
lic opinion" surrounding Derrida, his work,
and all that has come to be associau
!
d and
confused with his name, for example, decon­
structionism, multiculturali sm, political cor­
rectness, and the list keeps growing. This does
not mean, of course, that there is uniform
agreement about what Derri da' s work i s,
stands for, or promises-far from it-but it
does mean that insofar as it has been framed
by public opinion it i s called upon to present
itself in a certain way. Subject to public opin­
ion-subj ect, therefore, to what is never pre­
sent as such in any particular institution or
media form, subject to what nonetheless ap­
pears as natural as the light of day, Derrida's
work is called upon today to stand up for
evaluation and judgment, to stand out so that
all of us together and each of us individually
can take a stand towards it, say yes or no to it,
and thus identify what can be expected not
only today but any day from the other shore.
INTRODUCTION

ix
(For example, just yesterday [October 29, 19911
in an article in the Chicago Tribune, we read:
" .. . deconstructioni sm, a French di sease,
was i nt roduced to America at Yal e. But it has
spread, as French diseases will. a e . " I cite
this example more for its status as an exam­
ple, for its mere appearance i n yesterday' s
hometown press, than f or anything it might
cl ai m. For whi l e its cl ai ms may be ei ther
mean-spiritedy misconceived or straightfor­
wardly trite, the t ruth of the matter is that its
example has spread, as public opinion will, to
the poi nt where one cannot but cite it.)
Yet even if the polemic i s everyhere to­
day, even if it i s the very condition of readi ng
and writi ng about philosophy or politics. this
does not mean that everything i s polemi­
cal-beginni ng with "today. " While we may
indeed have cert ai n s uspi ci ons or hopes,
while we perhaps must always set out in a
particular di rection with a compass and map
in hand, it is not certai n that we must always
do so i n order only t o confirm, conquer, and
condemn, i n order only to rest assured that
the other shore off ers or promi ses us noth-
INTRODUCTI ON
x
ing. For our reading would retain the chance
of escaping mere repetition-and I am here
repeating the opening of The Other Heading­
the chance of not si mply assuming public
opini on in order then to take a posit i on
within i t , insofar as i t would analyze t he con­
ditions and contexts of publ ic opinion, its
forms of representation and repeti ti on, of vis­
ibility, mediati on, transmission, and transla­
tion. As Derrida said in an interview back in
1971:
. . . I persi st in beli evi ng that there is no the­
oretical or polit i cal benefi t to be deri ved
from precipi tating contacts or articulations,
as long as t hei r conditions have not been
rigorously elucidated. Eventually such pre­
cipitation wi l l have the effect only of dog­
matism, confusion, or opportunism.l
It seems that Derrida still persists in believing
this, for The Other Heading i s not so much an
analysis of "Today's Europe"-if ever there
were such a thing¯as of the conditions and
contexts for the debate "about" it; it is not so
much an analysis of particular di scourses
I NTRODUCTION
xi
about Europe as of discourses that assume a
certain relationship to the particul ar and the
example; and it is not so much an analysis of
particular public opinions as of the forms and
means by which opinion becomes visible and
effective.
For example, in newspapers. Derrida re­
minds us in "TODAY, " his short preface to
The Other Heading, that this little booklet or
pamphlet is comprised of two articles, "The
Other Heading: Memories, Responses, and
Responsibilities" ( 1990) , and "Call It a Day
for Democracy" (1989) , both of which were
originally published in an abbreviated form
in newspapers, that is, published on particu­
lar todays and brought to public attention in
a "daily. " This is important not only because
the explicit theme of both articles is the me­
dia, but because the media never simply pre­
sent or represent a theme without impressing
themselves upon it in some way. Hence the
style of The Other Heading will seem both
more accessible, more immediately "applica­
ble" to present-day political concerns, and
INTRODUCTION
xi i
more ell iptical g si nce accessibility i s not won
at the expense of Derrida's usual rigor and
complexitye Whi l e these articles are surely
not like those typically found in the editorial
or pol itical commentary pages of newspa­
pers, they do share certain structural or rhe­
torical norms with them. Like any journalist,
for example, Derrida had to agree that the
final editorial authority would rest with the
newspaper; like any other journali s t g he had
to assume a fairly broad and somewhat ill­
defined context-even a public opi nion¯in
which the article would be read; and in order
to have the article both accepted and read, he
had to address some current event"-some­
thing of i mmediate soci al or political interes t e
For example, the unification of Europe in
1992 or the bicentennial celebration of the
French Revoluti on i n 1989. But then the
question i s sure to be raised, "Why today?
Why is Derrida beginning to write only today
about politics? Does he simply wi sh to be
back in the avant-garde, once again on the
cutting edge, with a discourse about political
I NTRODUCTION
xiii
responsibility and a uni fied Europe?" This
question is sure to be polemical , sure to be
infected with a tone of provocat i on or indict­
ment, of critique or cynici sm. It will never, in
any case, be raised naively but always with
too much certainty, too much faith in the
terms of the question and the issues of the
debate.
And so some will quickly respond that
Derrida has always written about pol i tics,
that he has al ways had a political agenda,
and that this is what makes him so danger­
ous , so "ni hi l i stic" or "anti-humani st i c. "
Others wil l respond just as qui ckly that he
has neer had a properly pol itical agenda, and
that this is what makes him so dangerous,
so "ni hi l ist i c " or "anti -humanisti c. " Sti ll
others , speaking up from the other side,
speaking out in defense or j ustification, per­
haps even in celebrati on, wi ll herald The
Other Heading as a key to underst anding a
newl y emerging Derri dean poli t i cs . "Fi ­
nally, " they will say, "Derrida has provided
us with a pragrammatological application of
deconstructive theory to current political is-
INTRODUCTION
xiv
sues, a way to renew and radicalize the En­
lightenment project, to fulfill the promise of
a radical humanism. "
But whether one speaks for the prosecu­
tion or the defense, whether one sees in thi s
work the same ol d heading, be i t impotent or
threatening, or a new direction, be it a radi­
cal departure from the past or the cautious
unfolding of it, one will at a certain point
have to present one' s case. And if the argu­
ment i s to be more than mere accusation or
intuition, more than personal feeling or sen­
timent, one will have to provide a few exam­
ples.
For example, ri ght here, in order to intro­
duce or present The Other Heading, in order to
portray it i n any light, it would be necessary
to give some examples of Derrida's argument
and orientation in this and other works. For
the task of an introduction is typically to situ­
ate the present work within the more general
context of the author' s li fe or intellectual
itinerary, to demonstrate by means of a series
of exampl es t hat the aut hor has ei t her
INTRODUCTI ON
xv
changed headings or kept to the same one. If,
for example, one were to prove that Derrida
has a/ways been "political." that the political
dimensi on of his thought has , in spite of all
the differences between earl i er and later
t exts, remained essentially the same, one
would be expected to make a case by string­
ing together a series of texts and "todays"
(for exampl e, "The Ends of Man" (1968) ,
"Raci sm's Last Word" ( 1983) , "No Apoca­
lypse, Not Now" (1984) , "The Laws of Reflec­
t i on: Nel s on Mandel a, i n Admi rat i on"
( 1986), etc . ) . 2 Such a procedure would be not
only helpful but necessary, and I myself will
not and could not avoid following it. But
rather than simply citing The Other Heading as
the most recent example of a coherent and
consistent Derridean politics, I would rather
let The Other Heading raise the question of pol­
itics from within a coherent and consistent
critique of the logic of the example. For it j ust
may be that, for Derrida, the logic of the ex­
ample is always prior to, or at least complic­
itous with, the very not ion of politics, in
which case The Other Heading would be not
INTRODUCTION
xvi
o
nly an example of a Derridean discourse
about politics but, insofar as i t questions the
logic of the example in political discourse, an
exemplar place for thinking about the very
meaning and possibil ity of a Derridean poli­
ti cs.
Derrida in fact begins The Other Heading by
l inking the question of European identity to
the question of Europe as an example. Hav­
ing just articulated a general law or axiom for
al l i denti ty and self-identificati on, Derrida
asks: "Will the Europe of yesterday, of to­
morrow, and of today have been merely an
example of this law? One example among
others? Or will it have been the exemplary
possi bility of this law?"
St arti ng, then, not with an example of
politics in the Derridean corpus-as if t he ex­
ample had not hing to do with the politics­
but with the question of the example in The
Other Heading, one might then cite a few ex­
amples from other works that would help us
to understand this logic of the example. For
ins tance, the following from Derri da' s intro­
duction to Husserl's The Origin of Geometry:3
I NTRODUCTION

xvii
The ambiguity of an example that is at once
an undistinguished sample and a t el eological
model i s still found here. In the first sense, in
fact, we could say with Huss erl that ever
community is in history, that historicity i s
t he essential horizon of humanity, insofar as
there is no humanity without sociality and
culture. From this pers pective, any soci ety at
all, European, archaic, or some other, can
sere as an example in an eidetic recogni­
tion. But on the other hand, Europe has the
privilege of being the good example, for it in­
carnates in its purit y the Telos of all hi storic­
ity: uni versality, omni t emporality, i nfini t e
tradi tional ity, and so forth; by investigati ng
the sense of the pure and infinite possibility
of historicity, Europe has awakened history
to its own proper end. Therefore, in this s ec­
ond sense, pure hi stori city is reserved for the
European eidos. The empirical types of non­
European soci eties, then, are only more or
less historical; at the lower l imit, they tend
toward nonhist oricity.
Is it a coincidence that what would seem
to be a properly political analysis gets devel-
INTRODUCTION
xviii
oped out of an analysis of the example? Is it
possible that the question of the example is
not simply one poli tical quest i on among
many, that the question of politics is not
merely one example of the question of the
example, but that the question of the exam­
ple essentially "i s" the question of politics?
For even if one attempted to read this analy­
sis of Europe as an earl y appl i cati on of
deconstructive theory to a properly political
concern, would not this very notion of appli­
cation have dificulty extricating itself from
the ver same logic of the example? And in­
versely, if one attempted to read this analysis
as mer ely an exempl ar y el aborat i on of
deconstructive theory, would not such a no­
t ion of elaboration have difficulty escaping
this very same politics of the example?
The Other Heading would seem to be con­
sistent, then, wi th Derri da' s constant cou­
pling of politics and the example, with his
persistent questioning of the relationship be­
tween nationalism and philosophical nation­
ality, between nati onal or supranati onal
identity and t he logic of identity itself. Even
I NTRODUC TION
xix
in Derrida's most "theoretical" works, and
already from the very beginning, it seems
that the identity of poli tics has always been
complicitous with a certai n politics of iden­
tity-with a politics of the mere particular
and the putative example. And Europe has
never been merely one exampl e among
many of thi s complicity:
In order to underst and Europe i t is necessary
to begin with an idea, wi th a pure and a
priori si gnification. This idea of Europe is the
idea that is born i n Europe; it is the idea of
philosophy that is, i n its absolute original i ty,
as Husserl tell s us, a European idea. In fact,
Europe i s not the cradle of phi losophy, it is
itself born as spiritual significati on, from the
idea of philosophy . . . . Husserl would not
deny that in its empirical facticity Europe
has no privil eged relation with the idea of
philosophy. And yet, as a spiritual place of
bi rth, as t he mysterious and immaterial resi­
dence of phi l osophy, Europe resi sts varia­
tion. A European eidos is here converging
with the idea of philosophy .... At a certain
moment, the pure idea of philosophy has
INTRODUCTION
xx
come to converge with the destiny and exis­
tence of a people or a group of people.
In a certai n sense, this last example would
seem to be the most conclusive, for i t comes
from Derri da's master s thesis of 1953-54,
The Poblem of Genesis in the Philosophy of Hus­
serl.4 Beginning here, one could in a quite tra­
ditional way multiply the examples of such
analyses in the Derridean corpus to show
that Derrida has been, for close to forty years
now, one of the most i nsi stent and sel f­
consistent pol it ical thinkers of our t i me. Yet
what exactly would be consistent about these
various exampl es apart from the explicit in­
terest i n, the mere ment ioning or mere use
of, the example of politics or the politics of
the example? How could we understand the
consistency of a Derridean politics without
merely assuming and thus recapitulating the
logic of the example that is being criticized
from The Problem of Genesis in the Philosophy of
Husserl ri ght up through The Other Heading?
Such questions concerning Derrida's own
self¯consistency may seem to be preliminary
INTRODUCTION

xxi
or even unrelated to the question of politics
as such. Yet what i f these questions were in­
separable from all those concerning the rela­
tionship between politics and the discourse
"about " politi cs, the relationship between
political pract ice and theory, between the
identity of politics, of polit i cs as such, and the
politics of identity? If such were the case,
then one could never simply give examples
of a Derridean politics without at the same time
questioning one's own use of examples; one
could never si mply present a Derridean poli­
t ics without at the same time implicating
one' s own presentation. (In the preface to Of
for example, Derrida says that
the "critical concepts" of the first part of that
work are "put to the test" i n the second part,
"Nature, Culture, Writing," adding: "This is
the moment , as it were, of the example, al­
though strictly speaking, that not ion is not
acceptable within my argument. "5)
To say, then, as a sort of proposition or
axi om, that it is nothing other than this cri­
tique of the example that has remained the
same in Derrida's political thought is simply
I NTRODUC TI ON
xii
t o open up in all its complexity the relation­
ship between politics and the example, be­
tween a Derridean theory and a Derridean
practice of politics and the example. It is to
allow the possibility of beginni ng not wi th
examples of Derrida' s politicS but with Der­
ri da' s cri tique of the political example, and
thus not simply with Husserl's politics of Eu­
rope, but with his representation of Europe as
an example, that is, with a Europe that i s not
si mply one example among others-as it
would feign to be-but the essentially "good
example, " the only possible one in fact-a
particular, historical, and thus always politi­
cal example. Such a reversal in the tradi­
t i onal order of pol i t i cs and the example
would allow the possibility of i ntroducing
The Other Heading not as an example of a Der­
ridean politics but as an exemplary reading of
the politics of the example; it would allow
the possibility of beginning not with a poli­
tics of which we would then give examples,
but with examples out of whi ch we might
invent a politics.
A politics of The Other Heading, for exam-
INTRODUCTION

xi ii
pie. I ndeed the example is either mentioned
or used (i f we can still use this di stinction) no
less than forty ti mes in this short book, men­
tioned-often under the name of "exemplar­
i t y"-or us ed, as in t he phr as e "for
example, " in order to show, if I might sum­
marize, that in the West a certain political
thining of spirit and capital has always de­
pended upon or entailed a mere menti oning
and mere use of examples. By following the
different situations and contexts of these ex­
amples in The Other Heading, by focusing on
them as examples and not simply as examples
of some general rule or concept, we might
begin to see that the questi on of pol i tics is,
for Derrida, always a questi on of situation
and context . And we might begin to under­
stand the necessity of Derrida' s "own" exam­
ples in The Other Heading, the necessity of all
those elements that might appear merely oc­
casional or contingent, merely personal or id­
iosyncratic.
For example, Valery. A good part of "The
Other Heading: Memories , Responses , and
INTRODUCTION
xxiv
Responsibilities" is devoted to a reading of
Paul Valery's hi storical and political works­
works for whi ch he is generally l ess well
known. And so the question i s sure to be
raised, why Valery's poli tical works, and why
today, why read Valery today unless to find
in him a model, example. or paradigm for
helping us to rethink European identity and
European uni fi c at i on i n 1992? (Derrida
writes i n "Qual Quell e: Valer' s Sources, " a
lecture given in 1971 for the centenni al of
Valery's bi rth: "Valery one hundred years
later, Valer for us, Valery now, Valery today,
Valery alive, Valery dead-always the same
code . "6) Once agai n, the answer, the re­
sponse, lies in the context, si nce it always has
more than just a beari ng on the heading.
Derrida first presented "The Other Heading:
Memories , Responses, and Responsibilities"
in May 1990 during a colloquium on Euro­
pean cultural identity in Turi n-"a Lati n
place of the northern Mediterranean." Now
it j ust so happens that Valery was not only a
European intellectual but, as Derrida says. a
"Mediterranean spi ri t." Born today, or rather
I N TROD UCTI O N
xv
on this day ( October 30) in 1871, to an I talian
mother and a Corsican father, Paul Valery
saw in the European spirit an exempl ary
value for humanki nd and in the Mediterra­
nean an exemplary value for Europee For
Val ery,
[tJ he best example, the only one in truthg the
most irreplaceable, is that of the Mediterra¯
nean basin: the "example" that it "ofered"
is in fact unique, exemplar and incompara­
ble. It is therefore not an example among
others, and this is why logos and history are
no longer separatedg since this example will
have been "the most striking and coneIu-
sive."
For Valery_ then, the Mediterranean in par­
ticular and Europe more generally have
never been mere examples. To speak at a col­
loquium in Turin as if one were in Paris, for
exampleg or London, or New York, or Peking,
would already be to assume a certain logic of
the example, a certai n relationship between a
parti cular place and the general notion of
place-a particul arly problematic assump-
I NTRODUCTION

xxvi
tion at a colloquium on "European cultural
identity. " To have feigned to eface all these
marks of particularity, of context and situa­
ti on, woul d have been to draw attention
away from the problemat ic nature of exam­
ples in political discourse, away from politi­
cal discourse as an example, in order to
provide an exemplary, and thus universalist,
discourse about poli tics. It would have been
to i nscribe a particular place and discourse in
the name of the universal. For the "value of
universalit y" is always, says Derrida
linked to the value of exemplarity that in­
scribes the universal in the proper body of a
singularity, of an i dom or a culture, whether
this singulari ty be individual, social, na­
tional, state, federal, confederal, or not.
What makes Valery exempl ary is not that he
simply privileges Europe or the Mediterra­
nean, but that he tries, not unlike Husserl, to
articulate a logic whereby the example or ex­
emplar would become a universal heading
for all the nations or peoples of the world.
Such a logic would thus not militate against ,
INTRODUCTION
xii
but might even promote, the unification of
individual nations or peoples i n the name of
international law and universal values.
For example, in a League of Nations. Der­
rida begins The Other Heading by clai mi ng that
"s omet hi ng unique i s afoot in Europe, "
something t hat "refus[es] itself to anticipa­
tion as much as to analogy," that "seems to
be without precedent." And yet he also
speaks of an imminence in Val ery "whose
repetition we seem to be livi ng." an immi­
nence "that s o much resembles our own, to
the point where we wrongly and too precipi­
tately borrow from it so many discursive
schema. " How are we to understand this ap­
parent contradiction? How are we to under­
stand resemblance when what is at stake is a
certain logic of resemblance, of analogy and
example-since it would seem that particular
events become examples or analogies only
insofar as they resemble each other in some
way? In identifying certain similari ties be­
tween two times or two thinkers. be they of
this century or the last, be they German or
INTRODUCTION

xiii
French, Derrida can therefore neither si mply
reject nor assume this noti on of resemblance,
since i t is precisely the possibility of giving
various examples of a general movement­
such as a movement of "spirit "-that is be­
ing called into question:
I note only that from Hegel to Valery, from
Husserl to Heidegger, in spite of all the dif­
ferences that distinguish these great exam­
ples from each other-I tri ed to mark them
elsewhere, in Of Spirit for example-this tra­
dit
i
onal discourse is already a di scourse of the
modern Western worl d . . . . This ol d di s­
course about Europe, a discourse at once ex­
empl ary and exempl ari st , is al ready a
traditional discourse of modernity.
Derrida cites his own Of Spirit as an example
of this rethinki ng of the example. Hegel ,
Valery, Husserl, and Heidegger are "great ex­
ampl es, " it seems, not because they all defi ne
Europe i n terms of spirit, but because they all
present Europe and spirit i n terms of the
logic of the example. These discourses thus
resemble each other only insofar as they un-
INTRODUCTION
xxix
dersland resemblance-and thereby identif
and recognize Europe-in a similar way.
In its physical geography, and in what has
often been called, by Husserl for example, its
spirituaigeography, Europe has always recog­
nized itself as a cape or headland ....
There was, for example, the form of the
Hegelian moment wherein European dis­
course coincided with spirit's return to itself
in Absolute Knowledge . . . .
Derrida' s "for example both works within
the logi c of the example and displaces i t . For
if Derrida were to present Husserl or Hegel as
a mere example of a general movement that
runs from Hegel to Valery, he would in effect
be treating Husserl as Husserl treated Europe,
or treati ng Hegel as Hegel treated European
discourse-that is, not only as one example
among others for thinking this movement
but as t he exe mplary pl ace for it to be
thought e For while Europe would present itself
as just one example among many, it would,
insofar as it articulates this very logic of the
example, be the example of what remains
INTRODUC TION
xxx
completely outside the discourse as its trans­
parent and unquestioned conditi on.
Spirit is one of the categories of the analogy
and the incomparable condition, t he tran­
scendental, the transcategorial of the whole
economy. It is an example and an exemplary
exampleg the example par excellence. There is
no otherø
Spi ri t would thus be its own conditi on; it
would make of i tself the example par excel­
lence and would thus orient all other exam­
ples toward it. (Spirit would thus function, i n
a sense, like God. In "How to Avoid Speak­
ing: Denialsg Derrida says and emphasizes:
"In every prayer there must be an address to
the other as other; for example-I will say, at
the risk of shocking-God. "7) It is thi s orien­
tation, this complicity between the example
and the universal, that Derrida sees as "sim­
ilar" i n the great philosophi cal di scourses
about spi rit from Hegel to Valery.
Refrai ni ng from giving any examples, let us
emphasize for the moment a generality: i n
this struggle for control over culture, i n this
INTRODUCTION

xi
strategy that tries to organize cultural i den­
tit y around a capi tal that is all the more
powerful for being mobile, that i s, European
in a hyper- or s upra-national sense, national
hegemony is not claimed-today no more
than ever-in the name of an empiri cal
superiori ty, that is to say, a simpl e particu­
larity.
By working both within this logic and at
its l i mits, by not claiming to present it as
such, by not assuming either that one can
give mere examples of this logic or that one
can completely avoid it, Derrida allows us to
begin to think what is and has always been
unprecedented "in" this logi c, what has or­
ganized this rel ationship between spirit and
itself, between the transcendental that would
seem to be outs ide the discourse and the ex­
amples within it. For if what l inks
H
egel to
Valery cannot be completely thought within
this logic of the example, then we are per­
haps called upon to think a relation of exem­
plarit that would never become present as
such, that would never be thematizable, and
yet, since it would not exist somewhere prior
INTRODUCTI ON
xxii
to any manifestation-as spirit might have
feigned to do-would always only appear as
an example of itself, an example that would
at once forbid and necessitate comparison
and resemblance. Such an exemplarity could
never funct ion as a neutral or transparent
model or telos for discourse or thought . I t
would necessitate thinking a resemblance
not between two present things but between
two thinkings of resemblance, a resemblance
between two examples that would illustrate
not some general rule or movement but only
their own exemplarityø
Each t ime, the exemplarity of the exampl e is
unique. That is why it can be put into a se­
ries and formalized into a law+ Among all
the possible exampl es, I wil l cite, yet again,
only Valery's, since I find it just as typical or
archetypical as any other.
Such a rethinking of the example can
only be carried out "within" those discourses
where the logic of the example is at stake.
But this is hardly a l imitationg for this logic is
at work everyhere today, and it is perhaps
INTRODUCTION
xxxii i
not a coincidence that it is at work in what
are generally called political discourses,
that is, in discourses about national and su­
pranati onal sovereignty and identity. Like
Husserl s example of Europe, li ke Heidegger s
example of Germany and the German lan­
guage, Valery s example of the Mediterra­
nean, of Europe, of France, and even of Paris
( "Valery the Mediterranean, Valery the Euro­
pean, wanted to be, in just as exemplary a
way, the thi nker of Paris"), turns out to have
a privileged relationship to the ver essence
of humanity:
The "exempl ari st" logic that we are here
tryi ng to recognize had i n fact driven Valer
o » + to present this capi tal o o ø as the capital
of capitals e ø o ø [Bly being disti nguished i n
this way, the exemplary capital, our capitaL is
no longer simply the capi tal of a country,
but the "head of Europe," and thus of the
world, the capital of human society in gen­
eral, or even better, of "human sociability."
Since the time of Fichte, numerous ex­
amples might attest to this. In the logic of
INTRODUCTION
xxiv
this capital i stic and cosmopol i t i cal di s­
course, what is proper to a parti cular nation
or idiom would be to be a heading for Eu­
rope; and what is proper to Europe would
be, analogi cally, to advance itself as a head­
ing for the universal ess ence of humanity.
For example-it bears repeati ng-as a
heading for and as a League of Nat ions. In
addition to having written many essays on
Europe and European identity ( i n Regards sur
Ie monde actue/ and Essais quasi politiques),
Valery was a leading member of the Commit­
tee on Arts and Letters, whi ch was estab­
lished in 1931 by the League of Nati ons as a
sort of permanent colloquium on "European
cul tural identity. " And so j ust as the l ogi c of
the example both forbids and necessitates
comparison between different philosophical
discourses, so the task of thinking today, of
thi nki ng the today as the unprecedented_
seems to both prohibit and demand a com­
parison between two t i mes: between the
years following World War I when a League
of Nations was established and the years fol-
INTRODUCTION

xv
lowing the end of the Cold War, as important
events i n Eastern Europe and the Sovi et
Union coi ncide wi th the prospects of a uni¯
fied Europe.
Is this the same Europe, then, that is being
unifi ed for a second time? Are these two mo­
ments in the histor of a Europe whose con­
figuration might change but whose essence
woul d remain the same? Or is it possible that
the current situation demands changing this
traditional defini tion of Europe? Might not
the task of t hi nking "Today's Europe" de­
mand not only a new definit ion for European
identity but a new way of thinking i dentity
itself? And what if thi s rethi nking of Euro­
pean identity were not a search for the radi¯
cally new-since this is often precisely what
the Old Europe sought or claimedbut the
return to another origin of Old Europe, an ori­
gin that could never become the object of
any search or discovery?
Derrida asks in the beginning of The Other
Heading whether the toda
y
of Europe will
break with this exemplar logic or whether
the Europe of toda
y
will simply present itself,
INTR OD UCTION
xxi
once again, as one example among others,
and thus, as the exemplar possibility of the
law to which it bears wit ness? In conj unc­
tion, therefore, with these more or less classic
examples of philosophi cal discourse-Hus­
serl , Heidegger, and most especially Valery­
Derrida cites a couple of recent t exts from the
French government that would claim for
France an exemplary role in European poli­
tics and for today's Europe the opportunity
for a joyous return to its origins and identity.
But once again, what makes these claims sig­
nifi cant i s not simply what they say but the
exemplarist logic they use i n saying i t. Thus
when Derrida questi ons French Pres i dent
Fran\ois MiUerrand's characterization of Eu­
rope' s triumphant homecoming or reunion,
he does so by implicitly relating the charac­
terization itself to the logic of the example,
referring to an axiom that would be "prelimi­
nary to the ver possibility of giving a mean­
ing to such assertions (for example, that of a
' reunion') . . . . " The notion of "reunion" i s
thus not merely an example of such asser­
tions concerning European i dentity but an ex-
INTRODUCTION
xvi i
ample of the exempl ari st logi c by which
Europe would i dentify itself in terms of an
identifi able origin and end:
The idea of an advanced point of exemplarit is
the idea of the European idea, its eidos, at once
as arche-the idea of beginning but also of
commanding (the cap as the head, the place of
capitalizing memor and of decision ø . ø )­
and as telos, ...
This advanced point i s, according to Derrida,
a sort of avant-garde of memory and culture,
and so when "for example, . . . a certain offi­
ci al document coming out of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs" refers to France s responsi ­
bility and "avant-garde positiong i ts ai mg its
mission even, in the "conquest of spirit(s) ," it
is once again an exemplarist logic that is be­
ing invoked, the logic by which "France as­
s igns herself this exemplary task. " And when
Derrida cites the claims of "all French major­
ities to an avant-garde status, he argues that
such claims are being made today, as in the
time of Valery, in the name of a universal
idea:
I N T R O D U C T I O N
xxxviii
Without exception, they claim for France,
which is, of course, to say for Paris, for the
capital of all revolutions and for the Paris of
today, the rol e of the avant-garde, for exam­
ple, in the idea of democrati c culture, that is,
quite si mply, of free culture its elf, which i s
founded on an idea of human rights, on an
i dea of an international l aw.
One will have noticed that each time it
is a certain discourse about Europe that is be­
i ng analyzed, a certai n presentation or self­
presentation of Europe. It is thus not a ques­
ti on i n The Other Heading, as some might
clai m, of "reducing Europe to a text , " or of
"deconstructi ng Europe, " but of analyzing
those discourses "about" Europe that would
themselves claim or simply assume some re­
lationship between discourse and Europe, be­
tween speaking about Europe and Europe
itself, and thus between language or spirit
and what is generally taken to be a geograph­
ical or spiritual entity outside or before all
language. In each case, Derrida analyzes dis­
courses that thematize Europe's identity and
mission, Europe' s place and distinction i n the
I N T R O D U C T I O N
xxxix
world. Each time, it is a questi on of a dis­
course that affi rms Europe's role as an exam­
ple of universal i ty. Each time, then, it is a
question of a discourse that presents Europe
by means of a logic that was born and nur­
tured in Europe. And so each time, it is a
question of an exempl ary discourse for the
logic of the example, an exempl ary European
discourse of universali ty.
This persistent critique of the logic of the
example helps to expl ain why so many of
Derrida' s works are "occasional " pieces, and
why the marks of the occasion are so often
retained. For an occasion is always both an
irreducibly si ngular event and, i n as much as
it takes place, that which necessitates com­
pari s on, contextual i zat i on, and anal ys i s .
Such attention t o context and situati on, to
places and frameworks, can be found from
the very beginning of The Other Heading.
For example, in the title, since a title is
never simply an example of the work' s con­
tent but a heading or orientation for all the
other examples within it. This logic can also
I N T R O D U C T I O N

xl
be found right i n the beginning, where Der­
rida preseres in the written version of the
text the idiosyncratic marks of its oral com­
munication in Turin. Derrida begins by ask­
ing whether a col l oqui um on European
cultural identity can avoid the risk of becom­
ing "[ust another cultural event, for exam­
ple, or a performance, or else an exercise in
what one calls, with this very obscure word,
cul t ureø In other words , Derrida asks
whether any colloquium on European cul­
tural i dentity that did not t ake its own exem­
pl ar i t y i nto account woul d not end up
recapitulating the logic of the example that
sustains a traditional understanding of Euro­
pean identity, thereby neutralizing its politi­
cal forcee (As Derrida says in the beginning of
hi s famous essay "The Ends of Man, " first
presented at a colloquium in October 1 968 in
New York: "Every philosophical colloquium
necessarily has a political significance. And
so in addition to speaking "about" politics,
humanism, and democracy in thi s text, Der­
rid a goes on to recall "the writing of this
text, which I date quite precisely from the
month of April 1 968 + + ø the weeks of the
I N T R O D U C T I O N
xli
opening of the Vietnam peace talks and of
the assassination of Martin Luther King. A
bit laterg when I was typing this text , the uni­
versities of Paris were i nvaded by the forces
of order . e w o "8) Once againg it i s necessary
both in fact and in principl e to recall the
forms, structures, contexts, and val ues of
communication and language.
For example, the values of speaking or be­
ing read in another country or another lan­
guage-in translation. (And so right here in
fact, in the middle of these examplesg the
translators would like to recall and acknowl­
edge their gratitude to thei r coll eagues at
DePaul University, to Daryl Koehn, Bill Mar­
ting Andrew Suozzo, and Lawrence Waxman
for their many fine suggestions, and espe­
ci ally to David Krell, for his encouragement,
hard work, good judgment, and guidance.
And of course, they woul d like to thank
Jacques Derrida, who must suffer to be ac­
knowl edged yet agai n, and al ong wi t h
others, for his exemplary kindness, patience,
and support. )
For the question of translation, the ques-
I N T R O D U C T I O N

xl i i
ti on of when and whether t o transl ate, of
what linguistic capital will dominate in Eu­
rope in 1992, i s never simply one questi on
among many on the agendanot in Derrida
and not in any other serious discourse about
Europe. Indeed the question of translation is
often the very condition for talking about the
agenda, for sitting down at the "same" t able.
And the same goes for communicating by
telephone, radio, or television, si nce none of
these is ever completely neutral or transpar­
ent . "For exampl e, "-right here-since En­
gl i s h is not t oday s i mply one l anguage
among others . (Just as French was not for
Val ery, who, as Derrida says, linked the ques­
tion of form i n philosophy "to the nati onal
language and, in a singular and exemplar
way, t o the French l anguage . ") Derri da
writes i n the English version of "To Words
for Joyce": 9
. . . t hi s hegemony remai ns i ndisputabl e,
but i ts l aw only appears as such in the course
of a war through which English tri es to erase
the other language or languages, to colonize
I N T R O D U C T I O N
.. . .
xlii i
them, to domesticate them, to present them
for reading from only one angle. Which was
never so true. Today.
This polemos or war at the center of transla­
tion, at the ver center of identity or being or
truth (war) , must not be forgotten when Der­
rida speaks of the new European newspaper
Liber that links the todays of four European
centers-Trin, Madridg Pari s, and Frankfurt .
What does it mean, Derrida asks, for a news­
paper published si multaneously i n four dif­
ferent languages to be unified under a Latin
title or heading. Such a name would seem to
be i n conformity wi th Derri da' s notion of
paleonomy ( "the "strategic" necessi ty that
requires the occasional maintenance of an old
name in order to launch a new concept") , I O
but Derrida in effect asks whether the Latin
context is there in order to liberate us from it,
in order to point us toward an even more
radical l iberation than the one that is sug­
gested by Latin roots, or whether i t bids us
return to these roots in order to repeat and
cel ebrate t hem. Derri da as ks , i n e ffect ,
I N T R O D U C T I O N

xliv
whether the imperative i s to i nvoke the other
from within a Latin idiom i n order to liberate
them from the hegemony of any parti cular
idiom ( libere-toi) , to experiment with and thus
reinvent an old languageg or whether it is to
call the other back to this idiom of liberation,
to invoke a return to or rediscovery of an old
l anguage in all its lexi cal play and force.
For example, in the metaphor, i f i t i s a
metaphor, of navigation. Already in Plato' s
Statesman and Republic, for example, two dis­
courses that have given the heading for all
Western political discourse, the state is com­
pared to a ship and the king to a captain. This
metaphor reemerges in various forms in the
West right up through Valery, who sees in Eu­
rope a heading, the heading, for all intellectual
and cultural discovery and speculation. Yet
this very heading would seem to suggest that
navigation could never be a mere metaphor,
for one of the essenti al properties of thi s head­
ing is the conversion of material goods into
spiritual ones, that is, the metaphorization of
l i teral goods and capi tal i nto the surpl us
I N T R O D U C T I O N

xlv
value, the capital value, of spirit . Once again,
Derrida sees capital, like spirit , operating on
two registers, one literal and the other meta­
phorical, or rather, one both literal and meta­
phori cal and t he ot her exceedi ng and
responsible for both: "It i s 'the ver thing:
the capi tal point: the thing itself that is di­
vided between the two regi sters or two re­
gimes of the anal ogy. For example: . . . . "
Such, it would seem, is the ver telos of capital,
the overcoming of the merely material in a
spiritual surlus, the capitalizing venture and
return to a surlus value that will have al­
ready been there from the beginning¯as the
spirit or essence of Europe.
And so Derrida too sets out from a Europe
that has always defined itself as the capital of
culture, the headland of thought, in whose
name and for whose benefit exploration of
other lands , other peoples g and other ways of
thi nki ng has been carri ed out . He sets out
from a Europe where the metaphor of navi­
gation has always presented itself as a mere
metaphorg where l anguage and tropes have
been ventured in the expectation that they
I NTRODUCT I O N
xlvi
would return with an even greater value at­
tached. If such Eurocentric biases are not to
be repeated, Derrida warns, the question of
Europe must be asked in a new way; it must
be asked by recalling that "the other head­
ing" is not a mere metaphor subject to capi¯
tal i zat i on, but the very condi t i on of our
metaphors, our language, and our thought.
Derrida argues not only that Europe must
be responsible for the other, but that its own
identity is in fact constituted by the other.
Rejecting the easy or programmatic solutions
of ei t her complete unification ( "The New
World Order") or total dispersion, Derrida ar­
gues for the necessity of working with and
from the Enlightenment values of liberal de­
mocracy while at the same time recalling
that these values are never enough to ensure
respect for the other. Derrida thus seeks a re­
definition of European i dentity that includes
respect for both universal values and differ­
ence-s ince one without the other will sim­
ply repeat without submi tting to critique the
politics of the example. (In his essay on Nel­
son Mandel a, for exampl e, Derri da shows
I N T R O D U C T I O N
xlvii
that Mandel a i s admirable not simply be­
cause of his particular form of resi stance, nor
simply because he i s a good model of Euro­
pean, and thus universal. values , but because
he is an exemplary and unique refection of
those values: "Why does [ Mandela] seem ex­
emplary-and admirable in what he thi nks
and says, i n what he does or in what he suf­
fers? Admi rable in himself » ø ø e " I I ) If it is to
be responsible for itself and for the other­
for itself as other-then Europe must appeal
both to its own heading and to the heading of
the other, even, in the end, to the other of
the headi ng, that is, to that which it cannot
simply say yes or no to, take a position to­
ward, affirm or deny, that whi ch it cannot
simply identify through examples but must
think as exemplarity itself-the irreducible
singularity of each example.
And so Derrida suggests that whil e we can­
not and indeed must not avoid the language
of responsibility and identity-for this would
be to open ourselves up to the worst possible
abuses (which, as Derrida reminds us, have al­
ways been peretrated in the name of the ab-
I N T R O D U C T I O N

xlviii
solutely new or different, in the name of an
absolute break with the past)-neither can we
simply afford to accept this language without
submitting i t to an interminable critique. If
the Enl i ghtenment has given us human
rights, political liberties and responsibilities, it
would surely be out of the question to want to
do away with the Enlightenment project. But
it may also be necessary not simply to affirm
but to question the values it has given us, not
to take them for granted but to take them as
that which can never be completely taken or
granted. The i mperative remains, therefore, to
return to these names and discourses precisely
because they have given us our language­
our language of responsibility, of giving, and
of the example . The imperative remai ns,
therefore, to question the exemplarity of this
language and this heritage in order to encoun­
ter or experience what remains necessarily ab­
sent and unthought , neces s arily without
example, in them.
For example, to question the heritage of
our language and thought i n and through the
I N T R O D U C T I O N

xlix
universi ty. For while Derrida warns that a
homogeneity of discourse might be imposed
through a "new university space, and espe­
cially through a philosophical di scourse" that
would plead "for transparency, " "for the
univocity of democratic discussion, for com­
munication i n public space, for ' communica­
tive action, ' " a university might also provide
the exemplary "space" or "forum" for both
usi ng and criti cizing this logic of universality,
for i nventing an exemplarity that must re­
mai n without example or precedent , that
would never be univocal, neutral, or trans­
parent . Taking the necessary risk of an exam­
ple, one might cite the College I nternational
de Philosophie as such a university space.
Founded i n 1984 by Derrida and others, the
College i s an example of a new pedagogi­
cal-and thus "political "-institution whose
mission would be to present itself not as an
exemplary place for education and communi­
cation but as an exemplary place for ques­
tioning the forms, structures, and institutions
of education and communication-includi ng
the universi ty. ( I n the desc ripti on of hi s
I N T R O D U C T I O N
1 9 83 -84 s emi nar ent i t l ed Du droi t a fa
philosoph ie, a semi nar given under the aus­
pi ces of both the Col l ege and the Ecole
normale superieure, Derrida explai ns the ne­
cessity of questioning the foundation, legiti­
ma t i o n, r ol e , a nd s t r uc t ur e s o f t he
philosophical institution i n generaL conclud­
ing: "The guiding thread for this preliminary
attempt : the example of the College Interna­
tional de Philosophie. Is it a new ' phil(sophi­
cal i nsti tuti on' ?" 1 2 ) I t was thus duri ng a
conference organized by the College i n 1 987
that Derrida first presented Of Spirit, a work
about, among other thingsg Heidegger's rela­
tionship to the German state and university,
to the language of philosophy and to the phi­
l osophy of l anguage-and, of course, t o
spirit. Such a university would thus seem to
be an exempl ary pl ace for t eachi ng and
l earning about the politics of teaching and
learning.
For exampleg teachi ng and learning phi­
losophy-which will never be just one disci­
pline among others. And so we might cite
I N T R O D U C T I O N
Ii
GREPH as another example of an organiza¯
tion devoted to analyzing the exemplar sta­
tus of phi l osophy. Founded in 1 9 7 5 by
Derrida and others, Le Groupe de Recherches
sur l Enseignement Philosophique is a group
of teachers and students devoted to asking
about the relationship between philosophy
and teaching, between the teaching of philos­
ophy and the historical, political, soci al, and
economic conditions in which that teaching
takes place. GREPH is thus a "privileged"
place for asking about the exemplar status
of teaching and phi l osophy-a priviJged
pl ace for asking about the "nature" of the
exampl e, and for acti ng upon these ques­
tions. In anticipati on, therefore, of the for­
mati on of GREPH, Derrida sai d near the
beginning of his 1 9 74-75 seminar: "There is
no neutral or natural place in teaching. Here,
for example, is not an indifferent place. "1 3
Neither GREPH nor the College Interna­
tional de Philosophie would be, then, neutral
or natural places; neither, as Derrida has un­
derstood them, would be the transparent con­
dition for talking about received ideas and
I N T R O D U C T I O N
lii
institut i ons. Rather, they woul d be exem­
plary places for asking about their own ex­
emplarity, places for responding both to the
part icular and to that which exceeds it, both
to the logic and exemplarity of the example.
They would thus not be an exemplary re­
sponse, not one response among many, cer­
tainly not the response, but a unique response
to thei r own unprecedent ed s i t uat i on, to
what could never be a mere example.
Near the end of The Other Heading, Derrida
gives some of his own examples of how we
mi ght best be responsi bl e to and for the
promi se of what must remai n wi thout exam­
ple. None of these examples cl ai m to be mere
exampl es, however; none present themselves
as mere particulars that would essenti ally
communi cate wi t h the universal . Indeed,
each contains an antinomy that can be re­
solved only by ignoring either the example or
the exemplarity of the example, either the
necessary repeatabil ity of a particular situa­
t i on or its irreducible s ingul ari ty. In each
case, i t is a question of a politics and ethics of
the example:
I NTRODU C T I ON
l i i i
One coul d multiply the examples of thi s
double dutyo I t would be necessar above al l
to discern the unprecedented forms that it is
taking today in Europe. And not only to ac­
cept but to claim this putting to the test of
the antinomy (in the forms, for example, of
the doubl e constraint, the undeci dable, the
performative contradiction, etc. ) . It would
be necessary to recognize both the typical or
recurring form and the i nexhaustible singu­
larization-without which there will never
be any event, decision, responsibility, ethics,
or politics.
For example, the i nexhaustibl e s ingu­
larization of today, of today' s Europe-of a
Europe that would resemble yesterday' s or
tomorrow' s Europe only i nsofar as it, like
them, would no longer resemble-and not
even itself. Throughout the first part of The
Other Heading Derri da speaks of a resem­
blance between the hi stori cal situation in
which a League of Nati ons was formed and
the situation we are now living with the uni­
fication of Europe; he even suggests a resem­
bl ance between his discourse, his position
I N T R O D U C T I O N
liv
and status even, and Valery' s. And yet it is
clear, considering Derri da' s sustained cri tique
of the logi c of the example, that the League
of Nations and the Europe of 1 992 cannot be
two mere examples of European unification,
j ust as Derrida and Val ery cannot be two
mere examples of French intellectuals . If par­
allels have to be drawn, i f they must be
drawn, then it must al so be kept i n mi nd that
such lines and distinctions are never natural,
that their legit imacy i s never simply given.
Hence Derri da "i dent ifi es " hi msel f wi th
Val ery not i n order to repeat or to do away
with the notion of identity but to reinvent i t.
Rather than merely repeating Valery' s self­
identification in Europe, in the Medi terra­
nean-in all those sources that refect an
i denti ty wi thout ope ni ng it up onto the
other-rather than si mply interrupting this
refection so that there is no self-recognition
at al l , Derri da demons t r at es t hat s e l f­
refection and self-recognition only ever be­
gin in a source or heading that is not ours.
(For example , i n "Qual QueUe : Val ery' s
Sources , " Derri da demonst rat es that t he
INTROD U CTION
Iv
"logic of Valery's aversions" corresponds not
to a series of personal dislikes and fears but
to a s eri es of exempl ary bl i nd spots i n
Valery' s own self-refection: "Here, for exam­
ple, the names would be those of Nietzsche
and Freud. "1 4 [ Here, i n The Other Heading,
when Valery identifies Europe as a "cape" or
"appendix" to the Asian continent, the ex­
emplary name might still be that of Nietz­
sche, who called "geographical Europe" the
"little peni nsula of Asia. "1 5] ) By recontextu­
alizing a discourse that would have feigned
to give up its particularity in the name of a
universal, Derrida demonstrates the irreduc­
ible s ingularity of Valery' s discourse-and it
is precisely with this irreducible singularity,
with what can have no example, that Derrida
identifies himself, his situation, and his time.
Thus when Derri da repeats or " mi mes "
Valery' s own attempt t o pass off a personal
feel i ng for a general axiom, he not only
draws attention to Valery' s strategy but, by
ci ti ng or contextualizing it as he uses i t, pres­
ents it as an example of what can no longer
simply be presented, that is, as an example of
I N T R O D U C T I O N

lvi
the exemplary relationship between the per­
sonal and the general , between one today
and all todays, between himself and Valery,
between himself and all other Europeans:
Out of thi s feeling of an old, anachronisti c
European ¤ ¤ . I wi ll make t he first axiom of
this l i ttle tal k. And I wi l l say "we" in place
of "1 , " another way of moving surrept i ­
tiously from t he feel ing t o t he axi om.
But what if this axi om did not simply as­
sume the logic of the example but problema­
t ized it, if it claimed that every example were
an example not of some general notion of
identity but of an exemplarity that both con­
stitutes and disrupts the identity of all exam­
pl es ? Then, it seems, the axi om would
reintroduce not only the personal and the
particul ar-the possibi l ity of other head­
ings-but the irreducible singularity or ex­
e mpl a r i t y t hat woul d al l ow for t he
"unification" -though never the subsump­
tion-of these particulars-the other of the
heading. It would thus require not si mply
abandoning the notion of exemplarity but
I N T R O D U C T I O N

lvii
reinscribing it, allowi ng for a Europe that
would not be "guided by the idea of a tran­
scendental community, the subjectivity of a
'we' for which Europe would be at once the
name and the exemplary figure, " but a Eu­
rope that would "advanc[e] itself in an exem­
plary way toward what it is not . . . , " a
Europe that would be exemplary in this very
openness .
The other of the heading would require us
to rethink not only our notion of identity and
the example, but our notion of the identity of
today as a mere example; it would requi re us
t o think the irreducible singularity of a day,
another day, that would actually constitute
our day. It would require us to think the ne­
cessity of not only a new revolution in En­
lightenment values but a revolution in this
notion of revolution and Enli ghtenment .
I began this introduction by t alki ng about
The Other Heading' s emphasi s on the media,
on public opini on, and on certain freedoms
in and of the press. At the end of "Call It a
Day for Democracy, " Derrida seems to sug­
gest that these values and freedoms, the heri-
I N T R O D U C T I O N
lviii
t age of-for exampl e -t he French and
American Revolutions, conceal and call out
for a revolution that can have no examples­
a revolution in the forms of visibility and me­
di ation that the media and public opi nion
assume, a revolution, therefore, in the very
order of the day, and thus, in the very prom­
ise and politics of the example.
N O T E S
1 . Jacques Derrida, Positions, t rans. Al an Bass
(Chi cago: Universi ty of Chicago Press, 1 98 1 ) , p. 62.
2. For an excel lent bi bl i ography of Derrida' s
work, see A Derrida Reader, ed. Peggy Kamuf ( New
York: Col umbi a Univers ity Press, 1 99 1 ) , pp. 60 1 - 1 2 .
3. Jacques Derrida, Edmund Husserl's "Oriin of Ge­
ometry": An Introduction, transl ated, with a preface, by
John P. Leavey, Jr. (Stony Brook, N. Y. : Nicholas Hays,
Ltd. , 1 978) , p. 1 1 5 .
4. Jacques Derrida, Le probleme de la genese dans la
philosophie de Husserl ( Paris: Presses Univers i t ai res de
France, 1 990) , pp. 2 50-5 1 .
5 . Jacques Derri da, 0f Grammatology, transø Gaya­
tri Chakravorty Spi vak ( Bal ti more : Johns Hopki ns
University Press, 1 976) , p. lxxix.
6. In Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy, trans.
I N T R O D U C T I O N

lix
Alan Bass ( Chi cago: Uni vers i ty of Chi cago Pres s,
1 982) , p. 2 78.
7. Jacques Derri da, "How t o Avoi d Speaking: De
ni al s , " in Languages of the Unsayable, t rans. Ken
Freiden, ed. Sanford Budick and Wolfgang Iser (New
York: Columbi a University Press, 1 989) , p. 4 1 .
8 . Jacques Derrida, "The Ends of Man, " in Mar
gins of Philosophy, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: Univers i ty
of Chicago Press, 1 982) , pp. I l l , 1 1 4.
9. Jacques Derrida, "To Words for Joyce, " i n
Post-Structuralist Joyce: Essays from the French, ed. Derek
Attridge and Daniel Ferrer ( Cambri dge: Cambri dge
University Press, 1 984), pp. 47-48.
1 0. Positions, p. 7 1 .
1 1 . Jacques Derrida, "The Laws of Reflection: Nel
son Mandela, in Admi ration, " trans. Mar Ann Caws
and Isabelle Lorenz, in For Nelson Mandela, ed. Jacques
Derrida and Mustapha Tlili (New York: Seaver Books,
1 987) , p. 1 3.
1 2 . Jacques Derrida, "Privilege: Titre justificati f et
remarqucs introducti ves , " in Du droit a la philosophie
(Paris : Edi ti ons Gali lee, 1 9 90) , p. 1 1 .
1 3. Jacques Derrida, "OU commence et comment
finit un corps enseignant, " in Du droit a la philosoph ie,
p. 1 1 4.
1 4. Margins of Philosophy, p. 275 .
1 5 . Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human,
trans. R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni­
versity Press, 1 986), p. 365.
1 H L
Ò 1 H L R
H L A D i N G
¬
T O D AY
kindly asking me to publish i n
book form-as an opus cul e or
"booklet"-what was first a news­
paper article, Jerome Li ndon led me to refect
upon the all iance of an accident and a neces­
si t y. Until then I had not paid enough atten­
tion to the fact that an article, "The Other
Heading" [L'autre cap) , clearly preoccupied
wi th questions of the newspaper and the
book, questions of publication, of the press,
and of media culture, had itself been pub­
lished in a newspaper (Liber, Revue europeenne
des livres, October 1 990, no. 5) . To be sure, it
is a si ngular newspaper, one that tries to be
the exception to the rule, since it is, in an
T H E O T H E R H E ADI N G

2
unusual way, inserted simultaneously into
ot her European newspapers (Frankfurter
Allemeine Zeitung, L'Indice, EI Pais, Le Monde)
and thus at once i nto four di fferent lan­
guages.
Now it just so happens, in an apparently
fortuitous way, that another article, "Call It a
Day for Democracy" ILa democratie ajournee] ,
which in the end treats analogous problems­
above all, problems concerning the press and
publication, the relationship of newspapers,
books, and the media to public opinion, to
freedoms, human rights, democracy, and to
Europe-had also been published the year be­
fore i n another newspaper that was also the
same one, that is, Le Monde, and again, sepa­
rately, in the supplement of a special issue: the
first issue of Le Monde de la Reolution fran(aie
(Januar 1 989) , which appeared twelve times
during the bicentennial year. But beyond this
sharing of themes, and because of this situation
( a newspaper within a newspaper but also a
newspaper issued separately) , I thought there
was some sense in putting these two articles
together as they were, side by side and under
T O D A Y

3
the same light of day. For it is precisely the
day, the question or refection of the day, the
resonance of the word today, that these daily
articles still have most in commonat that
date, on that day. Will the hypotheses and
propositions thus ventured here turn out to
be, for all that , dated todayg in the midst of
what is called the "Gulf" warg at a moment
when the problems of law, public opinion,
and media communicati on, among others,
have come to have the urgency and gravity
that we all kow? This is for the reader to
judge.
Today happens to be the first word of "Call
It a Day for Democracy. " Even if it is not the
last word-especi al ly not that-i t corre­
sponds perhaps in some way wi th what reso­
nates strangely in the apostrophe of Paul
Valer that is cited at the beginning of "The
Other Heading and is then tossed out from
time to ti me: "What are you going to do
TODAY?"
Januar 29, 1 99 1
T H E
o T H E R H E A D I N G:
M E M 0 R I E S,
R E S P 0 N S E S, A N D
R E S P O N S I B I L I T I E S
A
colloquium always tries to forget
the risk it runs : the risk of being
j ust another one of those events
[spectacles) where, i n good company, one
strings together a few talks or speeches on
some general subject . Just another cultural
event, for example, or a performance, or else
an exercise in what one calls, with this very
obscure word, "culture. " And an exerci se
Before i t s publication i n an abbrevi ated form in Liber, this
paper was delivered in Trin on May 20, 1 990, during a
colloquium on "European Cultural Identity. " The confer
ence was presided over by Gianni Vatt imo, with the parti ci ­
pation of Maurice Aymard, Vl adi mi r K. Bukovsky, Agnes
Hel l er, Jose Saramago, Fernando Savat er, and Vi ttori o
Strada. The notes were, obvi ously, added after the fact .
T H E OTH E R H E A D I N G
5
around a quest ion that wi ll always be of cur­
rent interest : Europe.
If this meeting had any chance of escap­
ing repetiti on, it would be only i nsofar as
some imminence, at once a chance and a dan­
ger, exerted pressure on us.
What imminence? Something uni que is
afoot in Europe, in what is still called Europe
even if we no longer know very well what or
who goes by this name. I ndeed, to what con­
cept, to what real individual, to what singular
entity should this name be assigned today?
Who will draw up its borders?
Refusing itself to anticipation as much as
to anal ogy, what announces itself in this way
seems to be without precedent . An anguished
experi ence of immi nence, crossed by two
contradictory certainties: the ver old subj ect
of cultural identity in general (before the war
one would have perhaps spoken of "spiri­
tual identity) , the very old subject of Euro­
pean identity indeed has the venerable air of
an old, exhausted themee But perhaps this
subj ect retains a virgin bodye Would not its
name mask something that does not yet have
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
6
a face? We ask ourselves in hope, in fear and
trembl ing, what this face i s going to resem­
ble. Will it still resemble? Will it resemble
the face of some persona whom we believe we
know: Europe? And if its non-resembl ance
bears the traits of the future, will it escape
monstrosity?
Hope, fear, and trembling are commensu­
rate with the si gns that are coming to us
from everhere in Europe, where, precisely
in the name of i dentity, be it cultural or not,
the worst violences, those that we recognize
all too well without yet having thought them
through, the crimes of xenophobi a, racism,
anti-Semitism, religi ous or nationalist fanati­
ci sm, are being unleashed, mixed up, mixed
up with each other, but also, and there is
nothing fortuitous in this, mixed in with the
breath, with the respirati on, with the very
"spirit" of the promi se.
To begin, I will confide in you a feeling.
Already on the subj ect of headings [caps) -and
of the shores on which I intend to remain. It
is the somewhat wear feeling of an old Euro­
pean. More precisely, of someone who, not
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
7
quite European by birth, since I come from
the southern coast of the Mediterranean, con­
siders himself, and more and more so with
ageg to be a sort of over-acculturated, over­
colonized European hybrid. (The Latin words
culture and colonialization have a common rootg
there where it is precisely a question of what
happens to roots. ) In shortg it is, perhaps, the
feeling of someone who, as early as grade
school in French Algeria_ must have tried to
capitalize, and capitalize upon, the old age of
Europe, while at the same time keeping a lit­
tle of the i ndifferent and impassive youth of
the other shore. Keeping, in truth, all the
marks of an ingenuity still incapable of this
other old age from which French culture had,
from ver early on, separated him.
Out of this feel ing of an old, anachronistic
Europeang youthful and tired of his ver age@
I will make the first axiom of this little talk.
And I will say "we" in place of "I, " another
way of moving surreptitiously from the feel­
ing to the axiom.
We are younger than ever, we Europeans,
since a certain Europe does not yet existe Has
T H E OTH E R H E A DI N G

8
it ever exi sted? And yet we are li ke these
young people who get up, at dawn, already
old and tired. We are already exhausted. This
axiom of finitude is a swarm or storm of ques­
tions. From what state of exhaustion must
these young old-Europeans who we are set
out again, re-embark [re-part ir] ? Must they re­
begin? Or must they depart from Europe, sep­
arate themselves from an old Europe? Or else
depart again, set out toward a Europe that
does not yet exist? Or else re-embark in order
to return to a Europe of origins that would
then need to be restored, rediscovered, or re­
constituted, during a great celebration of "re­
union" [retrouvailles] ?
"Reunion" is today an official word. It be­
longs to the code of French cultural politics
i n Europe . Ministerial speeches and docu­
ments make great use of it; they hel p explai n
a remark of Franrois Mitterrand, the Presi ­
dent of the Republ i c, who sai d ( perhaps
while also presi ding over t he European Com­
munity) that Europe "is returning i n its his­
tory and i ts geography l i ke one who i s
returning home" [chez sOIl What does this
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

9
mean? Is it possible? Desirable? Is it really
this that announces itself today?
I will not even try, not yet, to answer or
respond to t hese questions. But I wi l l ven­
ture a second axiom. I believe it to be prelimi ­
nary to the very possibi l ity of giving a
meaning to such assertions (for exampl e,
that of a "reunion") and such questions. In
spite of the incl ination and conviction that
should lead me to analyze genealogically the
concepts of i dent ity or cul ture-l i ke t he
proper name of Europe�I must give this up,
since the t ime and place do not lend them­
selves to i t. I must nonetheless formulate i n
a somewhat dogmatic way, and thi s is my
second axi om, a very dry necessi ty whose
consequences coul d affect our entire prob­
lemati c: what is proper to a culture is to not be
identical to itself Not to not have an identity,
but not to be able to identify itself, to be able
to say "me" or "we"; to be able to take the
form of a subject only in the non-identity to
itself or, i f you prefer, only in the difference
with itself (avec soil . There is no culture or cul­
tural identity without this difference with it-
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

1 0
self A strange and sl ightly violent syntax:
"with itself" [avec soi] also means "at home
(with itsel f" [chez sOIl (with, avec, is "chez, "
apud hoc) . In this case, self-difference, differ­
ence to itself [ diference a soil , that which dif­
fers and diverges from i tself, of itself, would
also be the difference (from) with itself [differ­
ence (d') avec sozl , a difference at once internal
and irreducible to the "at home (with itself"
[chez sozl It would gather and divi de just as
irreducibly the center or hearth [oyer] of the
"at home (with itself. " In truth, it would
gather this center, relating it to itself, only to
the extent that i t would open it up to this
divergence.
Thi s can be said, inversely or reciprocally,
of all ident ity or all identification: there i s no
self-relation, no relation to oneself, no identi­
fication with oneself, without culture, but a
culture of oneself as a culture of the other, a
culture of the double genitive and of the dif­
ference to oneself The grammar of the double
genitive also signals that a culture never has
a single ori gi n. Monogenealogy would al -
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
I I
ways be a mystification in the history of cul­
ture.
Will the Europe of yesterday, of tomor­
row, and of today have been merely an ex­
ample of t hi s l aw? One exampl e among
others? Or wi l l it have been the exemplary
possibility of this law? Is one more faithful to
the heritage of a culture by cultivating the
difference-to-oneself (with oneself that consti­
tutes identity or by confining oneself to an
identity wherein this difference remains gath­
ered? This question can have the most disqui­
eting effects on all discourses and politics of
cultural identity.
In his "Notes on the Greatness and De­
cline of Europe, " Valery seems to provoke a
familiar interlocutor, one at once close and
still unknown. In a sort of apostrophe, like
the first pitch of a question that would no
longer leave him in peace, Valery tosses out
to his interlocutor the word "today. " "TO­
DAY, " the word is written i n capital letters;
today heightened like the challenge itself.
The great challenge, the capital challenge, is
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

1 2
the day of today, the day of this day and age:
"Wel l! What are you goi ng to do? What are
you goi ng to do TODAY?"*
Why would t he day of today, the day of this
day and age, desere capital letters? Because
what we find difficult to do and think today,
for Europe, for a Europe torn away from self­
identification as repetition of itself, is pre­
cisely the unicity of the "today, " a certain
event, a singular advent of Europe, here and
now. Is there a completely new "today" of
Europe, a "today" whose novelty would not
resemble-especi ally not-what was called
by another well-known program, and one of
the most sinister, a "New Europe"? We come
across traps of this sor at every step, and
they are not merely traps of language; they
are part of the program. Is there then a com­
pletely new "today" of Europe beyond all the
exhausted programs of Eurocentrism and anti-
·Paul Val er, "Notes sur la grandeur et decadence de
l' Europe, " Vol . II of Oeuvres Completes (Paris: Pieiade, 1 960) ,
p. 93 1 ["Notes on the Greatness and Decl ine of Europe, " i n
History and Politics, trans. Deni se Poll iot and Jackson Ma­
thews ( New York: Boll ingen, 1 962), p. 2281 . Quoted transla
ti ons have been sli ghtly modifi ed. Trans.
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

1 3
Eurocentrism, these exhausting yet unforgetta­
ble programs ? ( We cannot and must not for­
get them since they do not forget us. ) Am I
taking advantage of the "we" when I begin
saying that, in knowing them now by heart,
and to the point of exhaustion-since these
unforgettable programs are exhausting and
exhausted-we today no longer want either
Eurocentrism or anti-Eurocentrism? Beyond
these all too well-known programs, for what
"cultural identity" must we be responsible?
And responsible before whom? Before what
memory? For what promise? And i s "cultural
identity" a good word for "today"?
A title is always a heading ( cap] . A chapter
heading, a headline, even a letterhead. By
proposing the title "The Other Heading" for
some bri ef, quasi -i mprovi sed refl ecti ons, I
was thinking at first, while on board a plane,
of the language of air or sea navigation. On
the sea or in the air, a vessel has a "head­
ing": it "heads off, " toward another conti­
nent, perhaps, toward a destination that i s its
own but that it can also change. One says in
my language "faire cap" but also "changer de
T H E O T H E R H E ADING

1 4
cap"-to "have a headi ng " but al s o t o
"change headings . " The word "cap" (caput,
capitis) refers, as you well know, to the head
or the extremity of the extreme, the aim and
the end, the ultimate, the last, the final mo­
ment or last l egs, the eschaton in general. It
here assigns to navigation the pole, the end,
the te/os of an oriented, calculated, deliberate,
voluntar, ordered movement: ordered most
often by the man in charge. Not by a woman,
for in general, and especially in warti me, it i s
a man who decides on the headi ng, from the
advanced point that he himself is, the prow,
at the head of the ship or plane that he pilot s.
Eschatology and teleology-that is man. It i s
he who gives orders to t he crew, he who
holds the helm or sits at the controls; he is
the headman, there at the head of the crew
and the machi ne . And oftent i mes , he is
called the captain.
The expression "The Other Heading" can
al so suggest that another direction is in the
offing, or that it i s necessary to change desti­
nati ons . To change direction can mean to
change goals, to deci de on another heading,
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

15
or el se to change captai ns, or even-why
not?-the age or sex of the captain. Indeed it
can mean to recall that there is another head­
ing, the heading being not only ours l ie notre)
but the other [ l'autre) , not only that which we
identi fy, calculate, and decide upon, but the
he
a
ding of the other, before which we must re­
spond, and whi ch we must remember, of which
we must remind ourselves, the heading of the
other being perhaps the first condition of an
identi ty or i dent ificati on that is not an ego­
centrism destructive of oneself and the other.
But beyond our heading, it i s necessary to
recall ourselves not only to the other headingg
and especially to the heading of the otherg but
also perhaps to the other of the he
a
ding_ that is
to say, to a relation of identity with the other
that no longer obeys the form, the si gn, or
the logic of the headi ng, nor even of the
a
nti­
heading-of beheading, of decapitati on. The
true title* of these refections, even though a
*A vrai titre. a true t i tl e, may be opposed to a faux titre, a
false or bastard title. Cf. John Leavey' s i ntroduction to Der
rida' s The Archeology of the Frivolous (Lincol n: University of
Nebraska Press, 1 980) , pp. 1 4ff. Trans.
T H E O T H E R H E ADI N G

1 6
title is a heading or headli neg would orient us
rather toward the other of the heading. By
selectiong I will deduce the form of all my
propositions from a grammar and syntax of
the heading, of the cap, from a difference in
kind and gender [enre) , that i s, from capital
and capitale. * How can a "European cultural
i dent i t y respond, and i n a res pons ibl e
way-responsible for i tself, for t he other,
and before the othert o the double question
of Ie capital, of capital, and of fa capitate, of the
capital?
Europe today_ in the today that Valery
writes in capi tal letters, is at a moment in its
history (if it has one, and indeed is one, i . e. ,
identifi able) , in t he history of i t s culture ( i f it
can ever be identified as oneg as the s ame,
and can be responsible for itself, answer for
itselfg in a memory of i tself when the ques­
tion of the headi ng seems unavoi dabl e.
Whatever the answer may be, the questi on
* Derrida pl ays throughout on t he rel ati onship between
the feminine la capitale, the capi tal ci ty of a countr, and the
masculi ne Ie capital. capital in the monetar sense. Trans.
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
1 7
remains . I would even say that this is neces­
sary: it should remain, even beyond all an­
s wers . No one t oday in fact t hi nks of
avoiding such a ques tion, and this, not only
because of what has started, or rather has ac­
celerated, these past few months in the east
or at the center of Europe. This question is
also very old, as old as the history of Europe,
but the experience of the other heading or of
the other of the heading presents itself i n an
absolutely new way, not new "as always "
[comme toujours) , but newly new. And what if
Europe were this: the opening onto a history
for which the changing of the heading, the
relation to the other heading or to the other
of the heading, is experienced as always pos­
sible? An opening and a non-exclusion for
which Europe would in some way be respon­
sible? For which Europe would be, in a consti­
tutive way, this very responsibility? As if the
very concept of responsibility were responsi­
ble, right up to its emancipat ion, for a Euro­
pean birth certi ficate?
Like ever histor, the history of a culture
no doubt presupposes an identifiable head-
T H E O T H E R H E ADI NG

18
ingg a telos toward whi ch the movementg the
memory, the promise, and the identityg even
if it be as difference to itself, dreams of gath¯
ering itself: taking the initiative, being out ahead,
in anticipation (anticipatio, anticipare, ante­
capere) . But history also presupposes that the
heading not be given, that it not be identifi­
able in advance and once and for all. The ir­
ruption of the new, the uni ci ty of the other
today should be awaited as such (but is the as
such, the phenomenong the being as such of
the unique and of the other, ever possible?);
it should be anticipated as the unforeseeable,
the unanticipatabk the non-masterable, non­
identifiableg in short, as that of which one
does not yet have a memory. But our old
memor tells us that it i s also necessary to
anticipate and to keep the heading farder Ie
cap) , for under the banner-which can also
become a slogan¯of the unanticipatable or
the absolutely new, we can fear seeing return
the phantom of the worst , the one we have
already identified. We know the "new" only
too well, or in any case the old rhetoric@ the
demagogy, the psychagogy of the "new"-
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
1 9
and sometimes of the "new order"-of the
surprising, the virginal, and the unanticipat­
able. We must thus be suspicious of both re­
petitive memory and the completely other of
the absolutely new; of both anamnestic capi­
talization and the amnesic exposure to what
would no longer be identi fiable at all.
A moment ago, I alluded t o the tremor
that is shaking what are called Central and
Eastern Europe under the very problematic
names perestroika, democratization, reunification,
entry into the market economy, access to politi­
cal and economi c l i beral i sms . Thi s earth­
quake, whi c h by defi ni t i on knows no
borders , i s no doubt the immediate cause of
the subject chosen for thi s debate on "Euro­
pean cultural identity. " I wanted to recall
what has always ident ified Europe with a
cape or headland (cap] . Always, since day one
[depuis toujours] , and thi s "day one" says
something about all the days of today in the
memory of Europe, in the memory of itself as
the culture of Europe. In its physical geogra­
phy, and in what has often been called, by
Husserl for exampl e, its spiritual geography,
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

20
Europe has always recognized itself as a cape
or headland, either as the advanced extreme
of a continent, to the west and south (the
land' s end, the advanced point of a Fi nis­
tere, * Europe of the Atlantic or of the Greco­
Latino-Iberian shores of the Mediterranean) ,
the point of departure for discovery, i nven­
ti on, and colonization, or as the very center
of this tongue in the form of a cape, the Eu­
rope of the middle, coiled up, indeed com­
pressed along a Greco-Germanic axis , at the
very center of the center of the cape.
That i s in fact how Valery described and de­
fined Europe: as a cape, a headland; and, if
this description had the form of a definition, it
was because the concept corresponded to the
border. It i s the whole hi story of this geogra­
phyø Valery obseres, looks at and envisages
Europe; he sees in it a face [visage) , a persona,
and he thinks of it as a leader [chef, that i s, as
a head [cap] . This head also has eyes , it is
*Fi nistere i s a regi on of Bri ttany on the westernmost
coast of France, though Derrida is also drawing attention to
the more general notion of a finis terrae or "l and' s end. "
Trans.
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

2 1
turned to one side, and it scans the horizon,
keepi ng watch i n a determined directi on:
Out of all these achieements, most, and the most
astonishing and fruitful, have been the work of a
tiny portion of humanity, living in a very small
area compared to the whole of the habitable lands.
This privileged place was Europe; and the
European man, the European spi ri t, was the
author of these wonders.
What, then, is Europe? It is a kind of cape
of the ol d continent, a western appendix to
Asi a. It looks naturally toward the west. On
the south i t is bordered by a famous sea
whose role, or I should say functi on, has
been wonderfully effective in the develop­
ment of that European spirit with which we
are concerned. I
A cape, a little geographical promontory,
an "appendix" to the body and to the "Asian
continent , " such is in Valer' s eyes the very
essence of Europe, its real being. And i n the at
once provocative and classic paradox of this
grammar, the first question of being and time
will have been teleological, or rather counter­
teleological: if such is its essence, will Europe
T H E O T H E R H E AD I N G

22
one day become what i t i s (not such a big
deal after all, a little cape or appendix) or will
i t persist in what is not its essence but its
appearance, t hat i s , under the cap, t he
"brain"? And the true telos, the best, would
here be on the side not of essence but of ap­
pearance. Valery l ikes to say, in fact, and as if
in passing, that this is the "capital" question.
Now, the present day brings with it this cap­
i tal question: Can Europe maintain its pre­
eminence in all fields?
Will Europe become what it is in reality­
that is, a little promontory [cap] on the Asian
continent?
Or will it remai n what it seems-that i s, the
elect portion of the terrestri al globe, the
pearl of the sphere, the brai n of a vast
body?2
I interrpt for a moment my recapitula­
tion of all these chapter headings [caps) or
heads, in order to note that present here at
this table are mostly men and citizens of West­
ern Europe, writers or philosophers according
to the classic model of the European intellec-
T H E O T H ER H E A D I N G

23
tual: a guardian held responsible for memory
and culture, a citizen entrusted with a sort of
spiritual mission of Europe. There are no En­
glish here-even though the Anglo-American
language is today the second universal l an­
guage destined to overtake or dub all the idi­
oms of the world; and this is one of the
essential problems of culture today, of Euro­
pean culture in particular, of which Anglo­
American both i s and is not a language.
(When a French intellectual goes to Mos­
cow-and I 've had this experience so com­
mon to all of us-Anglo-American remains
the mediating language, as it is here at this
table for two of us, Agnes Heller and Vladimir
Bukovsky, who in fact come from neither
Hungary nor t he U. S. S. R. but from maj or
AnglO-Saxon universiti es. ) We are thus here
in a large majority male representatives of the
continental point or tip of the European
headland, i n what is called the European
Community, which i s predominantly Medi­
terranean. An accident or a necessity, these
traits are at once discriminant and significant.
They appear at least emblematic, and what I
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
24
hesi tate to advance here under the title of
"heading, " of the other heading and of the
other of the heading, would come to be in­
scribed, at least obliquely, under this sign.
Europe i s not only a geographical head­
land or heading that has always given itself
the representati on or figure of a spi ri tual
headi ngg at once as project, task, or i nfi­
nite-that i s to say universal-idea, as the
memor of itself that gathers and accumu­
lates itself, capitalizes upon itself, i n and for
itself. Europe has also confused its image, its
face, its figure and its very place, its taki ng­
place, with that of an advanced point, the
poi nt of a phallus if you will, and thus, once
again, with a heading for world c ivilization
or human culture i n general. The idea of an
advanced point of exemplarity is the idea of the
European idea, its eidos, at once as arche-the
idea of begi nning but also of commanding
(the cap as the head, the place of capitalizing
memory and of decision, once again, the cap­
tai n)-and as telos, the idea of the end, of a
limit that accomplishes, or that puts an end
to the whole point of the achievement, right
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
2 5
there at the point of completi on. The ad­
vanced point is at once beginning and end, it
i s divided as beginning and end; it is the
place from which or i n view of which every­
thing takes place. (When Heidegger defines
place, art, he recalls that in its High or Old
German idiom, Ort refers to the point of a
spear, there where all the forces are j oined
and gathered i n the end; and when he says
that questioning i s the piety of thinking, he
recalls that fromm, Frommigkeit, comes from
promos: what comes first, leads, or directs the
front line [ l'avant-garde) in a battl e. 3 )
It i s always in t he figure of the Western
heading and of the final headland or point
that Europe determines and cultivates itself;
it is in this figure that Europe identi fies itself,
identifies with itself, and thus identifies its
own cultural identity, in the being-for- i tself
of what is most proper to it, i n its own differ­
ence as difference with itself, difference to
itself that remains with itself, close to itself.
Yes, difference with itself with the self that is
maintained and gathered i n its own differ­
ence, i n its di fference from-with [d'avec] the
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

26
others, i f one can say this, as difference to
itsel f, different from itself for itself, in the
temptation, risk, or chance of keeping at
home (with itself [chez sozl the turbulence of
the with, of calming it down i n order to make
i t i nt o a s i mpl e, i nt eri or border-wel l
guarded by the vigilant sentinels of being.
I should myself interrupt these recollec­
tions and change headings. We all know this
program of Europe' s self-refection or self­
presentation. We are old, I say it agai n. Old
Europe seems to have exhausted all the possi­
bi l i ti es of discourse and counter-discourse
about its own identification. Di alectic i n all
its essential forms, including those that com­
prehend and entai l anti-dialectic, has always
been in the service of this autobiography of
Europe, even when i t took on the appearance
of a confession. For avowal , guilt, and self­
accusation no more escape this old program
than does the celebration of self. Perhaps
identification in general, the formation and
affirmation of an identity, self-presentation,
the self-presence of identity (whether it be
nat i onal or not , cul t ur al or not -even
T H E O T H E R H E A DI NG

27
though identification i s itself always cultural
and never natural, for it is nature' s way out
of itself in itself, nature's difference with it­
se
l
f, always has a capital form, the figure­
head (igure de proueJ of the advanced point,
and of capitalizing reserve . * It is thus not
only for lack of time that I will spare you the
development of a counter-program opposed
to thi s archeo-teleological program of all Eu­
ropean discourse about Europe. I note only
that from Hegel to Valery, from Husserl to
Heidegger, in spite of all the differences that
distinguish these great examples from each
other-I tried to mark them elsewhere, i n Of
Spirit for example-this traditional discourse
is a
l
ready a discourse of the modern Western
world. It dates, it i s dated. It is the most cur­
rent, nothing is more current, but already it
dates back. And this currentness reveals a fa­
mi l i arly disqui et i ng wri nkle, di screte but
merciless, the very stigmata of an anachrony
*Pou in Old French means much or many. even too
much or too many. It is related to prowess and profi t.
Trans.
T H E O T H E R H E A DI NG

28
that marks the day of all our days, of all our
gestures , discourses, and afects, both publ ic
and private. It dates from a moment when
Europe sees itself on the horizon, that i s to say,
from its end (the horizon, i n Greek, is the
limit) , from the imminence of its end. This
old discourse about Europe, a discourse at
once exemplary and exemplarist , i s already a
traditional discourse of modernity. It is also the
discourse of anamnesi s because of this re­
fined taste for finality, * for the end, if not for
death.
Now, we must ourselves be responsible
for this discourse of the modern tradition.
We bear the responsibil ity for this heri tage,
ri ght al ong with the capi talizi ng memory
that we have of i t. We did not choose thi s
responsibility; it i mposes itself upon us, and
in an even more imperative way, in that i t is ,
as other, and from the other, the language of
our language . How then does one assume
this responsi bi li ty, this capital duty [deoir) ?
*Gout de [l. taste for the end, is a play on fin gout fine or
refined taste. Trans.
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

29
How does one respond? And above all, how
does one assume a responsibility that an­
nounces itself as contradictor because it in­
scribes us from the very begi nning of the
game into a kind of necessarily double obli­
gation, a double bind? The inj unction i n effect
divides us; i t puts us always at fault or in
default since it doubles the il faut, the it is
necessary: it is necessary to make ourselves
the guardians of an idea of Europe, of a dif­
ference of Europe, but of a Europe that con­
sists precisely in not closing itself off in its
own identi ty and in advancing itself in an
exempl ary way toward what it is not, toward
the other heading or the headi ng of the
other, indeed-and thi s is perhaps some­
thing else altogether-toward the other of
the heading, which would be the beyond of
this modern tradition, another border struc­
tureg another shore.
To be faithfully responsible for this mem­
or, and thus to respond rigorously to this
double i nj unction: will this have to consist in
repeating or in breaking with, in continuing
or in opposing? Or indeed in attempting to
T H E O T H E R
H
E A D I N G
3 0
invent another gesture, an epic gesture* in truth,
that presupposes memory precisely in order
to assign identi ty from al teri ty, from the
other heading and the other of the heading,
from a completely other shore?
This l as t hypothes i s, the one t oward
which I will prefer to orient myself, is not
only a hypothesis or a call , a call toward that
which i s given at the same time as contradic­
tory or impossible. No, I believe that this is
taking place now. (But it is also necessary, for
thiS, to begin to think that this "now" would
be neither present , nor current, nor the pre­
sent of some current event . ) Not that it ar­
ri ve s , t hat it happe ns o r ha s al re ady
happened, not that i t i s al ready presently
given. I believe, rather, that this event takes
place as that which comes , as that which
seeks or promises itself today, in Europe, the
today of a Europe whose borders are not
given-no more than its name, Europe being
• A play on un seste, a gesture, and une geste, a collect ion of
epic poems-as i n the chanson de geste. "Epic gesture" is thus
a somewhat elliptical rendering of une longue geste. Trans.
T H E
O
T H E R
H
E A D I N G

3 1
here only a paJeonymic appellation. I believe
that if there is any event today, it i s taking
place here, in this act of memory that con­
sists in betraying a certain order of capital in
order to be faithful to the other heading and
to the other of the heading. And this is hap­
pening at a moment for which the word crisis,
the crisis of Europe or the crisis of spirit, i s
perhaps no longer appropriate.
The comi ng to awareness, the refection
by which, in regaining consciousness, one
again finds one' s "direction" [sens: meaning]
(Selbst/esinnung) , * this recover of European
cultural identity as capital discourse, this mo­
ment of awakening, of sounding the alarm,
has always been deployed in the tradition of
modernity at the moment and as the very
moment of what was call ed crisis. This is the
moment of decision, the moment of krinein,
the dramatic instant of a decision that is still
impossible and suspended, i mmi nent and
·Literally "self contempl ation. " Selbstbesinnung is a com
mon term i n Protestant religious texts and in German Ideal­
ism. Trans.
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
32
threateninge The crisis of Europe as the crisis
of spi ri t: they all say thi s at the moment
when the limits and contours, the eidos, the
ends and confines, the finitude of Europe, are
beginning to emerge; that is to say, when the
capital of infinity and universal ity_ which is
to be found in resere within the idiom of
these limits, finds itself encroached upon or
in danger.
We will l at er ask ourselves what this
threat consists of today. This cri tical moment
can take several forms, all of which, i n spite
of their sometimes serious differences, spec­
ify a fundamentally analogous "logic. " There
was, for example, the form of the Hegelian
moment wherein European discourse coin­
cided with spirit' s return to itself in Absolute
Knowledge, at this "end-of-history" that to­
day can give rise to the prat ing eloquence of
a White House advisor [this was, let me re­
call, before what is known as the Gulf War: is
the Gulf the Headland or the Headi ngg or is it
the negative or the other of the Heading?]
when he announces with great media fanfare
"the end-of-history. " This, if one were to be-
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

3 3
lieve him, because the essentially European
model of the market economy, of liberal , par­
l i ame nt a ry, and c api t al i s t democrac i es ,
would be about t o become a universally rec­
ognized model, all the nation states of the
planet preparing themselves to join us at the
head of the pack, right at the forefront [cap) ,
at the capital poi nt [pointe) of advanced de­
mocracies, there where capital is on the cut­
ting edge of progress [i La pointe du pro9r
e
s) .
There was also the Husserlian form of the
"crisis of European sciences " or the "crisis of
European humanity ": the t el eol ogy that
guides the analysis of history and the very
history of this crisis, of the recovery of the
transcendental theme in and since Descartes,
is guided by the idea of a transcendental com­
munity, the subj ectivity of a "we" for which
Europe would be at once the name and the
exemplary figure. This transcendental teleol­
ogy would have, from the origin of philoso­
phy, shown the way, indicated the heading.
There was at the same time, and what
a t i me, i n 1 9 3 5- 1 9 3 6 , t he Hei deggeri an
discourse, whi ch deplored the Entmachtung
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
34
of spi rit . The i mpotence, the becomi ng­
impotent of spiri t, that which violently de­
prives spirit of its potency, is nothing other
than the destitution (Entmachtung) of the Eu­
ropean West . * Even though he is opposed to
transcendental sub-objectivism, or to the Car­
tesian-Husserlian tradition as its symptom,
Heidegg
e
r nevertheless calls for thinking the
essential danger as the danger of spirit, and
spirit as something of the European West,
there at the oppressed center of a vice, in the
Mi tte of Eur ope, betwe en America and
Russi a. 4
At the same ti me, I mean between the
two world wars, from 1 9 1 9- 1 939, Valery de­
fines the crisis of spirit as the crisis of Europe,
of European identity, and more preci sely of
European culture. Having chosen for today
the
configured direction of the heading and
of capital, I will pause for a while in the vi­
cini ty of Valer, and for several reasons, all of
·On t he translation of Entmachtung as destitution, cr. Der
rida' s Of Spirit, trans. Geoffrey Benni ngton and Rachel
Bowlby ( Chi cago: Uni versi ty of Chi cago Press , 1 989) ,
pp. 59ff.-Trans.
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

3 5
which touch upon the capital point [ La pointeJ ,
upon the point lie pointJ of capi tal . *
Valery is a Mediterranean spirit. When
speaking of the Mediterranean lake, what are
we naming? Like all the names we are i nvok­
ing@ like all names in general, these designate
at once a l i mi t , a negati ve l i mi t , and a
chance. For perhaps responsibility consists in
making of the name recalled, of the memory
of the name, of the idiomatic limit, a chance,
that is, an opening of identity to its very fu­
ture. All Valery's works are those of a Euro­
pean from the Greco-Roman Mediterranean
world, close to Italy in his bi rth and hi s
death: I emphasize this no doubt because we
are here, today, in Turin, i n a Latin place of
the northern Mediterraneane But this Medi­
terranean shore also interests me-coming
as I do from the other shore if not from the
other heading (from a shore that is princi­
pally neither French, nor European, nor
·The femi nine I a pointe refers . among other things. to a
head. end. ti p. pOint. or headland. whi le the masculine Ie
point refers to a place. position. or mark. Trans.
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

3 6
Latin, nor Christian) -because of this word
"capital , " which slowly leads me toward the
most hes itant, trembling, and divided point
of my remarks, a point at once undecidable
and decided.
This word "capital" capitalizes in effect,
i n
t
he body of the idiom, and, if I may say
thi s, in the same body, two genres of ques­
ti ons. More precisely: a question in two genres,
with two genders [a deux genres) .
1 . It comes down first to the feminine, in the
feminine: the question of ia capitaie. We are far
from being able to avoid it todayø Are there
grounds for this, i s there from now on a place
for a capital of European culture? Can one
proj ect a centerg at least a symbolic center, at
the heart of this Europe that has considered
itself for so long to be the capital of humanity
or of t
he planet and that would renounce this
role today, some believe, only at the moment
when the fable of a planetarization of the Eu­
ropean model still seems quite plausible? In
this form, the question may seem crude and
outdated. Surely, there will be no ofi cial cap­
ital of European culturee No one is consider-
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

3 7
ing this and no one would accept it. But the
ineluctable question of the capital does not
disappear for all that. It now signals toward
struggles over cultural hegemony. Through
the establ i shed and traditi onally dominant
powers of certain i di oms, of certai n culture
industri es, through the extraordinary growth
of new media, newspapers, and publi shers,
through the university and through techno­
sci ent ific powers , through new "capi llari­
ties, " competitions-sometimes silent but al­
ways fi erce-have broken out . Thi s now
happens according to new modes, in a fast­
changing situati on where the central izing
puis i ons do not always go through st ates.
(For it can even happen, and one can cau­
tiously hope for this, that i n certain cases the
old state structures help us to fight against
private and transnational empires. ) Let us
think about the novelty of these modes of
cultural dominat i on as if they themselves
were those geographico-pol i ti cal domai ns
that have become the objects of everone' s
desire since peestroika, the destruction of the
Berlin Wal l , all the movements of "democra-
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

38
tization, " and all the more or less potential
currents that run through Europe: it is then
that we witness the resurgence of the ques­
tion of the capital, that is, the question of
hegemonic centralityo The fact that this cen­
t
er can no longer be fixed i n the traditional
form of the metropol i s no doubt obliges us to
acknowledge what is happening today to the
citye But this does not do away with all refer­
ence to capi talse Quite the contrary. The ref­
e
rence must be t ransl ated and di splaced
wi t hi n a problemat i c t hat i s profoundly
transformed by techno-scient i fic and techno­
economic givens . These givens also affect,
among other things, the production, trans­
mi ssion, structure, and effects of the very dis­
courses in which one tries to formalize this
problemati c, j ust as they affect the figure of
those who produce or publicly hold these dis­
courses namely, ourselves, or those who in
the past were so easily called "intellectuals. "
First tension, first contradiction, double
injunction: on the one hand, European cultural
identity cannot be dispersed (and when I say
"cannot, " this should also be taken as must
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

3 9
not"-and this double state of affairs i s at the
heart of the difficulty) . It cannot and must not
be dispersed into a myriad of provinces, into a
multiplicity of self-enclosed idioms or petty
little nationalisms, each one jealous and un­
translatable. It cannot and must not renounce
places of great ci rculation or heav trafic, the
great avenues or thoroughfares of translation
and communication, and thus, of mediatiza­
tion. But, on the other hand, it canot and must
not accept the capital of a centralizing author­
ity that, by means of trans-European cultural
mechanisms, by means of publishing, j our­
nal i sti c, and academic concentrati ons-be
they state-run or not-would control and
standardize, subjecting artistic discourses and
practices to a grid of intelligibility, to philo­
sophical or aesthetic norms, to channels of
immediate and effi ci ent communication, to
the pursuit of ratings and commercial profit­
ability. For by reconstituting places of an easy
consensus, places of a demagogical and "sala­
ble" consensus, through mobile, omnipres­
ent, and extremely rapid media networks, by
thus immediately crossing every border, such
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
40
normalization would establish a cultural capi­
tal at any place and at all times. It would es­
tablish a hegemonic center, the power center
or power station (Ia centrale) , the media center
or central switchboard (Ie central) of the new
imperium: remote control as one says in English
for the TV, a ubiquitous tele-command, quasi­
immediate and absolute. One no longer needs
to link the cultural capital to a metropolis, to
a site or geographico-political city. Yet the
question of the capital remains completely in­
tact, and indeed even more intrusive i n that
its "politics"-which perhaps no longer con­
stitute anything desering this name-are no
longer lined to the polis (city, town, acropo­
lis, neighborhood), to the traditional concept
of politeia or res publica. We are perhaps mov­
ing into a zone or topology that will be called
neither political nor apolitical but, to make
cautious use of an old word for new concepts,
quasi-pol iti cal . " Thi s i s a quasi-quotati on
from Valery-once again-who gave as a
general title for a series of texts devoted to the
crisis of spirit as the crisis of Europe: "Quasi­
Political Essays . "
T H E
O
T H E R
H
E A D I N G

4 1
Neither monopoly nor dispersion, there­
fore. This is, of course, an aporia, and we
must not hide it from ourselves. I will even
venture to say that ethics, politics, and re­
sponsibility, if there are any, will only ever
have begun with the experience and experi­
ment of the apori a. When the path is clear
and given, when a certain knowledge opens
up the way in advance, the decision is al­
ready made, i t mi ght as well be said that
there is none to make: irresponsibly, and in
good conscience, one simply applies or im­
plements a program. Perhaps , and this would
be the objecti on, one never escapes the pro­
gram. In that case, one must acknowledge
this and stop talking with authority about
moral or political responsibility. The condi­
tion of possibility of this thing called respon­
sibility is a certain experience and experiment of
the possibility of the impossible: the testing of the
aporia from which one may invent the only
possible invention, the impossible invention. 5
The aporia here takes the logical form of a
contradiction. A contradiction that is all the
more serious in that, if these movements of
T H E OTH E R H E A D I N G
42
"democratization" have accelerated, it is to a
large extent thanks to this new techno-media
power, to this penetrating, rapid, and irresist­
ible circulation of images, ideas, and models,
thanks to this extreme capillarit of discourses.
Capillarity: one need not split hairs to recog­
nize in this word all the lines that interest us
at this moment, at this point [oint] , at the
point or end [ointe) where their fineness be­
comes mi croscopi c; cabled, targeted [cab/ee,
cibIe) , as close as possible to the head and to
the headan (chef, that is circulation, com­
munication, an almost immediate irrigation.
Such capillarity crosses not only national bor­
ders . For we know that a totalitarian system
can no longer effectively fight against an in­
ternal telephone network once its density has
exceeded a certain threshold, thereby becom­
ing uncontrollable. Indeed, no "modern" so­
ciety ( and modernity is an imperative for
totalitarianism) can refuse for ver long to de­
velop the technico-economico-scientific ser­
ices of the telephone-which is to say, the
"democratic" places of connection appropri­
ate to operating its own destruction. The tele-
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
43
phone thus becomes, for totalitariani sm, the
invisible prefiguration and the imperious pre�
scription of its own ruin. For the telephone
no longer leaves in place the limit between
public and private, assuming that such a limit
was ever rigorous . The telephone inaugurates
the formation of a public opinion there where
the usual condi t ions of "publ i city"* -the
"written" or "spoken" press, publishing in all
its forms-are denied access to it . In short,
telephone lines-and soon the vi deophone­
are inseparable from the great channels of
communication, from television or teleprint­
ers. And if i t is i n the name of free and open
discussion with a view to consensus, in the
name of traditional democracy, that these av­
enues of media are opened up, it would be
out of the question to fight against them. It
woul d be ant i - democrat i c t o break up,
marginalize, shut off, deny access, and dis­
connect.
*Derrida puts the word publicite in quotation marks be
cause i t means both "publicness" and. more commonly. pub­
licity or advertising. Tans.
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

44
Yet here as el sewhere, the inj uncti on
seems double and contradictory for whoever
is concerned about European cultural iden­
t ity: if it is necessar to make sure that a cen­
t ral i zi ng hegemony ( the capi t al ) not be
reconstituted, i t is also necessary, for all that,
not to mUltiply the borders, Le. , the move­
ments (marches] and margins [marges] . It is
necessary not to cul tivate for their own sake
minority differences, untranslatable idiolects,
national antagonisms, or the chauvinisms of
idiom. Responsibility seems to consist today
in renouncing neither of these two contradic­
tory i mperatives . One must therefore try
to invent ges t ur e s , di s cour s es , pol i t i co­
institutional practices that inscribe the alli­
ance of these two imperatives, of these two
promises or contracts: the capital and the a­
capital, the other of the capital. That is not
easy. It i s even impossible to conceive of a
responsibility that consists in being responsi­
ble for two laws, or that consists in respond­
i ng to two contradi ctory inj unct i ons. No
doubt . But there is no responsibility that is
not the experience and experiment of the im-
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
45
possible. As we said just a moment ago, when
a responsibility is exercised in the order of
the possible, it simply follows a direction and
elaborates a program. It makes of action the
applied consequence, the simple application
of a knowledge or know-how. It makes of
ethics and politics a technology. No longer of
the order of practical reason or decision, it
begi ns to be i rresponsible. Taki ng a few
shortcuts , economizi ng on medi ati ons, i t
would seem that European cultural i dentity,
like ident ity or identification in general , if i t
must be equal t o itself and to the other, up to the
measure of its own i mmeasurable difference
"with itself, " belongs, therefore must belong,
to this experience and experiment of the impossi­
ble. Nevertheless, one will always be able de
jure to ask what an ethics or a politics that
measures responsibility only by the rule of
the impossible can be: as if doing only what
were possible amounted to abandoning the
ethi cal and pol i ti cal real ms, or as if, i n­
versely, in order to take an authentic respon­
sibility it were necessary to limit oneself to
impossibl e, i mpract i cal , and i nappl icabl e
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

46
decisions. If the two terms of such an alterna­
tive translate at once an unsolvable contra­
diction and an unequivocal seriousness, the
aporia is refected or capitalized in abyss and
requires more than ever thi nking differently,
or thinking
at last, what i s announced here
in the enigmatic form of the "possible" (of
the possibility-itself impossible-of the im­
possible, etc. ) .
It is in this direction (if one could still say
and identify it) that we asked in what new
terms, and according to what other topology,
the question of the place for a capital of Euro­
pean culture would be asked today, the ques­
tion of at least a symbolic place: a place that
would be neither strictly political ( li nked to
the establishing of some state or parl iamen­
tary institution) , nor the center of economic
or administrative decision maki ng, nor a city
chosen for its geographical location, for the
s ize of its airport or for a hotel infrastructure
l arge enough to meet the demands of a Euro­
pean Parliament (this is the well-known com­
petition between Brussel s and Strasbourg) .
Whether directly or not, the hypothesi s of
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

47
thi s capi tal always concerns language, not
only the predominance of a national l an­
guage, tongue, or idiom, but the predomi­
nance of a concept of the t ongue or of
language, a certain idea of the idiom that is
being put to work.
Refraining from giving any examples, let
us emphasize for the moment a generality: in
this struggle for control over culture, in this
strategy that tries to organize cultural iden­
tity around a capital that is all the more pow­
erful for being mobile, that is, European i n a
hyper- or supra-national sense, national he­
gemony i s not claimed-today no more than
ever-in the name of an empirical superior­
ity, which is to say, a simple particularity.
That is why nationali sm, national affi rma­
tion, as an essenti ally modern phenomenon,
is always a philosopheme. National hege­
mony presents itself claims itself. It claims to
justify itself in the name of a privilege i n re­
sponsibility and i n the memory of the univer­
sal and, thus , of the transnational-indeed of
the trans- European-and, fi nal l y, of the
transcendental or ontologi cal . The l ogi cal
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

48
schema of this argument , the backbone of
this nati onal self- affi rmation, the nuclear
statement of the national "ego" or "subject, "
is , to put it quite drly: "I am (we are) all the
more national for being European, all the
more European for being trans-European and
international; no one i s more cosmopolitan
and authentically universal than the one,
than thi s ' we, ' who is speaking to you. " Na­
tionalism and cosmopolitanism have always
gotten along well together, as paradoxical as
this may seem. Since the time of Fichte, nu­
merous examples might attest to this. In the
logic of this "capitalistic" and cosmopolitical
discourse, what is proper to a particular na­
ti on or idiom would be to be a heading for
Europe; and what is proper to Europe would
be, analogically, to advance itself as a head­
ing for the universal essence of humanity. To
advance itself that is the word, for i t capitalizes
most of the figures we have been observing
here. To advance oneself is, certai nly, to pre­
sent oneself to introduce or show oneself, thus
to ident ify and name oneself. To advance
oneself is also to rush out ahead, looking in
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
-

49
front of oneself ( "Europe looks naturally to­
ward the West ) , to antici pate, to go on
ahead, t o launch oneself onto the s ea or into
adventure, to take the lead in taking the ini­
tiative, and sometimes even to go on the of­
fensive. To advance (oneself is also to take
risks, to stick one' s neck out, sometimes to
ove r es t i mat e one ' s s t r engt hs , to make
hypotheses , to sniff things out preci sely there
where one no longer sees (the nose, the pen­
insula, Cape Cyrano). Europe takes itself to
be a promontory, an advance-the avant­
garde of geography and history. It advances
and promotes itself as an advance, and i t will
have never ceased to make advances on the
other: t o induce, seduce, produce, and con­
duce, to spread out, to cultivate, to love or to
viol ate, to love to violate, to colonize, and to
colonize itself.
Since I am speaking French, and so as not
to trigger any inter-national poiemos, I will
ci te the language most common to al the ma­
jorities of the French Republi c. Without ex­
ception, they claim for France, which is to
say, of course, for Paris, 6 for the capital of all
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

50
revolutions and for the Paris of today, the
role of the avant-garde, for example, i n the
idea of democratic culture, that is, quite sim­
ply, of free culture itself, whi ch is founded on
an idea of human rights [droits] , on an idea of
i nternational law [droit) . No matter what the
Engl i sh say today, France woul d have i n­
vented these human rights, among which i s
the "freedom of thought, " whi ch means "in
common usage, " and I am agai n c i t i ng
Valery, "freedom t o publish, or else freedom to
teach. "7
I am here referring, for example, to a cer­
tai n offi cial document comi ng out of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the State Secre­
tary of I nternational Cultural Relations) . This
sophisticated text defines in a competent and
convincing way what is called the "European
cultural construction. " To do this, it first puts
in exergue a sentence from the "Congress on
European Cultural Space" ( Stuttgart , June
1 8, 1 988) , which associates the themes of
conquest, imposition, and spi ri t [esprit) . ("Es­
prit" is, moreover, next to "Brite" and "Race"
[the English word that also means "contest"
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
5 1
or "competition"] , the proper name for one
of the European Community' s programs for
technological development. ) "There is no po­
litical ambition that is not preceded by a con­
quest of spirit (s) : * it i s the task of culture to
impose the feeling of unity, of European soli­
darity ( my emphas is) . The opposite page un­
derscores "the determining role" that France
plays i n the "collective coming to aware­
ness. " This s ame document cites in its ex­
ergue a communique of the French Cabinet,
which states that "French culture" acts "by
teaching others to look to France as a cre­
ative country that is helping to build moder­
ni t y. " Mor e pr ec i s ely, i t s t at es ( and I
emphasize here the language of response, re­
sponsibility, and today) , that "[France, French
culture] i s responsible for today, and this is
what is expected of her. " French cultural
identity would thus be responsible for the Eu­
ropean today and, thus, as always, for the
·Fr the sake of consistency and in light of Derrida's own
comments i n Of Spirit, we have translated esprit as spirit
throughout, even though i t might, as here, have been more
naturally translated as "mi nd. Trans.
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
52
t rans- Eur ope a n, over- E uropean ( o utre­
Europeen] today- It would 'be responsible for
the universe: and for human rights and inter­
nati onal law-which logically presupposes
that it i s the first to denounce divergences
between the principle of these rights (whose
reafirmati on must be and can only be un­
conditional) and the concrete conditions- of
their implementation, the determined limits
of their representation, the abuses of or i n­
equalities in their application as a result of
certain interests, monopolies, or existing he­
gemoniese The task is always at once urgent
and infini te. One cannot but be unequal to i t,
but there are many ways to determine, inter­
pret, or govern this inadequation: that is
what pol itics i s all about, and always about,
today. And France assigns herself this exem­
plar task according to the principle of the
discourse that we just cited ( "( France] is re­
sponsible for today, and this is what is ex­
pected of her") . Identi ty woul d t hus be
instituted in responsibility, which is to say­
and we wi ll come back to this-in a certain
experience and experiment of the response
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
5 3
that here bears the whole enigma. What i s it
"to respond"? To respond to? To be responsi­
ble for? To respond for? To respond, be re­
sponsible, before?
The same text also recalls that France
must "conserve i ts avant- garde posi tion. "
"Avant-garde": the word is always so "attrac­
tive, " whether or not it be extracted from its
strategico-military code (promos) as proj ectile
or missile. This word capitalizes upon the fig­
urehead, the fi gure of prowess, the fi gure on
or of the prow, of the phallic, point advanced
like a beak, like a qui ll, or like the nib of a
pen-the shape of the headland or the cape,
therefore, and of the guard or of memory. It
adds the value of a proposed or advanced ini­
tiative to that of recollection: the responsibil­
ity of t he guardi an, t he voc at i on of a
remembrance that takes it upon itself to take
the initiative, especially when it i s in advance
a matter of guarding, of anticipating in order
to "conserve, " as the official text says, an
"avant-garde position," and thus of conser­
ing itself as the avant-garde that advances in
order to consere what is its due, namely,
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
54
venturing forth in order to conserve what i s
once agai n its due, namely, an "avant-garde
position"-of coursee
This is state talk, but vigi lance must be
exerci sed not only in regard to state dis­
cou r ses . The best intentioned of European
projects, those that are quite apparently and
explicitly pluralistic, democratic, and toler­
ant, may try, in this lovely competition for
the "conquest of spirit(s) , " to impose the ho­
mogeneity of a medium, of di scursive norms
and model s.
Thi s can happen, surely, through newspa­
per or magazine consortiums, through pow­
erful European publishing enterprises. There
i s a multiplication of such projects today, and
we can be happy about this, provided our at­
tention does not lapse. For it is necessar that
we learn to detect, in order then to resist,
new forms of cultural takeover. This can also
happen through a new university space, and
especially through a philosophical discourse.
Under the pretext of pleading for transpar­
ency ( along with "consensus, " "transpar­
ency" is one of the master words of the
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
=.~ .
5 5
"cultural" discourse I j ust mentioned) , for
the univocity of democratic discussion, for
communication in public space, for "commu­
nicative action, " such a discourse tends to
impose a model of l anguage that is suppos­
edly favorable to this communication. Claim­
ing to speak in the name of intelligibility,
good sense, common sense, or the demo­
cratic ethic, this discourse tends, by means of
these very things, and as if naturally, to ds­
credit anything that compli cates this model .
It tends to suspect or repress anything that
bends, overdetermi nes, or even questions, in
theory or in practice, this idea of language.
With this concern, among others, in mind, it
would be necessary to study certai n rhetori­
cal norms that domi nate analytic phi losophy
or what is called in Frankfurt "transcenden­
tal pragmatics. " These models coincide with
certai n institutional powers that are not re­
stri cted to Engl and and Germany. Under
these or other names, they are present and
powerful elsewhere, including France. It is a
question here of a common space, common,
as an implicit contract might be, to the press,
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

56
to t he publ i shing industry, t o the media, and
to the univers ity, to the philosophy of the
university and to philosophy i n the univer­
sity.
2. That was the question of the heading
(cap) as the question of la capita/e. One can
already see how it can be linked to a new
question of Ie capital, to the question of what
links capital to the theme of European iden­
tity. To say it all too quickly, I am thinking
about the necessity for a new culture, one
that would i nvent another way of reading
and analyzing Capital, both Marx' s book and
capital in general; a new way of taking capi­
tal into account while avoiding not only the
frightening totalitarian dogmatism that some
of us have known how to resist up until now,
but a/so, and si multaneously, the c ount er­
dogmatism that is setting i n today, ( on the)
lef and ( on the) right, exploiting a new situa­
tion, interrogating it to the point of banning
the word "capita}
'
'
' indeed even the critique
of certain effects of capital or of the "mar­
ket " as the evil remnants of the old dogma­
tism. Is i t not necessar to have the courage
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
5 7
and lucidity for a ne critique of the ne
effect s of capi t al ( wi t hi n unprecedented
techno-social structures)? Is not this responsi­
bility incumbent upon us, most particularly
upon those who never gave in to a certain
Marxist intimidation? Just as i t is necessary
to analyze and earnestly address-and this is
the whole problem of ethico-political respon­
sibility-the disparities between law. ethics.
and politics. or between the unconditional
idea of law (be it of men or of states) and the
concrete conditions of its ·i mplementation.
between the structurally universalist preten­
tion of these regulative ideas and the essence
or European origin of this idea of law (etc. ) .
i s i t not also necessary to resist with vigilance
the neo-capitalist exploitation of the break­
down of an anti -capi tal i st dogmati sm i n
those states that had incorporated it?
For the moment. we must focus our atten­
tion on the word "capital. " or more precisely
on the tenor of its i diom, i n order to justify
the reference to Valery. Like the vocable
"cap. " but also l i ke the "culture" words.
those from "co/a, " as in "colony" and "colo-
T H E
O
T H E R H E A D I N G
5 8
nization, " and like "civilization, " etc . , the
word "capital" is a Latin word. The semantic
accumulation that we are now highlighting
organizes a polysemy around the central re­
sere, itself a capital reserve, of an idiom. By
giving cause to remark upon this language,
the language in which even this right · here is
being spoken, or at least predominantly so,
we are focusing attention upon the critical
stakes: the question of idioms and transla­
ti on. What philosophy of translation will
dominate i n Europe? In a Europe that from
now on should avoid both the nationalistic
tensions of l inguistic difference and the vio­
lent homogenization of languages through
the neutrality of a translating medium that
would clai m to be transparent, metal inguis­
tic, and universal?
I remember that last year, in this very
place, a name was chosen for an important
European newspaper. Through the diffusive
presence of five already existing and infuen­
tial newspapers, this new newspaper would
link five c apitals of European culture (Turin,
L'lndice; Madrid, El Pais; Pari s, Le Monde;
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

5 9
Frankfurt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; and
London, Times Literary Supplement) . * There
would be much to say about the necessity of
so many analogous projects . Let us consider
only the title chosen for this newspaper. It is
a Latin title, and it was accepted by the En­
glish as well as the Germans. The newspaper
is called Liher (Revue europeenne des livres) .
Those in charge of the newspaper are quite
attached-and they are entitled to be so-to
this name' s rich polysemy, since they recall
its ell ipt i cal economy in
e
ach i ssue. This
polysemy gathers the homonyms and deriva­
tions at play in the lexical roots of a rich
Latin soil : "( 1 ) Liher, era, erum: free (soci ally) ,
of free birth, emancipated, independent, free
(morally) ; absolute, unbridled, free from re­
straint. (2) Lihe, eri: the name of Bacchus,
wine. (3) Liher, hri: the inner bark of a tree
used for writing; a book, writing, treatise, or
play; a collection, catalogue, or newspaper. "
"The reader will have noticed that the preface makes no
mention of the Times Literar Supplement. They apparently de
cided in the end not to panicipate in the project. Trans .
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
60
By playing so seriously, and with a calcu­
lated irony, at recal li ng the memory of the
language at the very moment of reawakening
this identity of European culture, by pretend¯
ing to gather this memory around freedom,
the grape vine_ and the book, one renews an
all i ance and reaffi rms at the same time a
Europeo¯Medit erranean idiom. If I added the
untranslatable homophone "libere, " "liberate
yourself, you and the others" [libere-toi, toi et
les autres] , namely, a command in the familiar
form (un ordre qui tutaie] , * a familiar impera­
tive in the form of a jussive* * speech act that
is possible only i n the idiom of "my" own
language, you would be even more sensitive
to the problem that I wish to rai see It con¯
cerns an irreducible experience of language,
that which links it to the liaison, to commit¯
ment, to the command or to the promise: be­
fore and beyond all theoretico-constatives,
openi ng, embraci ng, or incl udi ng them,
"Derrida i s referring t o the fami l i ar form of address the
"tu" of the second person singular. Trans.
nA common term in speech act theor. From the Latin
jubto to order or command. Trans.
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
61
there i s the affirmation of language, the "I
am addressing you, and I commit myself, i n
this language here; listen how I speak in my
language, me, and you can speak t o me i n
your language; we must hear each other, we
must get along" [nous devons nous entendre) .
This affi rmati on defies all metal anguage,
even i f i t produces, and precisely for this, by
this even, the efects of metalanguage.
Why speak today, only today, and why
name today the "today" in the margins of
Valer? If this could be rigorously justified,
which I doubt, i t would be because of that
which, in a certain text of Valery, bears the
marks of an urgency, or, more properly, an
imminence. I
t
is an imminence whose repeti­
tion we seem to be living, but whose irreduc­
ible singularity we should now, in an even
more imperative way, recover from against
the backdrop of analogy and resemblance. In
what does our experience of imminence dif­
fer today? And, to sketch out the analysis in
advance, how, in Valer's time, did an immi­
nence come on the scene that so much resem­
bles our own, to the point where we wrongly
T H E
O
T H E � H E A D I N G

62
and too precipitately borrow from it so many
discursive schema?
The Freedom of Spirit appears in 1 939, on
the eve of the war. Valery recalls the immi­
nence of a tremor that was not only going to
reduce to rubbl e-among other things­
what was called Europe. It was also going to
destroy Europe in the name of an idea of Eu­
rope, of a Young Europe that attempted to
assure its hegemony. The "Western demo­
cratic" nations, in their turn, and in the name
of another idea of Europe, prevented a certain
European unification by destroying nazism,
allied as they were for a limited but decisive
time to the Soviet Union. In 1 939, the immi­
nence was not onl y a terrifying cultural con­
figurati on of Europe constructed through a
succession of exclusions, annexations, and ex­
terminations. It was also the imminence of a
war and a victory in the wake of which a par­
titioning of European culture was going to be
fied for the time of a quasi-naturalization of
borders, the time in which the intellectuals of
my generation have lived most of their adult
lives. With the destruction of the Berlin Wall
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

63
and the unificat ion of Germany i n sight, with
a perestroika that is still uncertain, with all the
diverse movements of "democratization, "
and with all the legitimate but sometimes am­
biguous aspirations for national sovereignty,
there is in today's day and age the reopening
and denaturalization of these monstrous par­
titions. There is today the same feel i ng of im­
minence, of hope and of danger, of aniety
before the possibi l ity of other wars with
unknown forms, the return to old forms of
religious fanaticism, nationalism, or racism.
There is the greatest uncertainty concerning
the borders of Europe itself, its geographico­
political borders (in the center, to the east and
to the west, to the north and to the south) , its
"spiritual" borders (around the idea of philos­
ophy, reason, monotheism, Jewish, Greek,
Christ i an [ Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox] ,
and Islamic memories, around Jerusalem, a
Jerusalem itself divided, torn apart, around
Athens, Rome, Moscow, Paris, and it is neces­
sar to add, "etc. , " and it is necessary to di­
vide yet again each of these names with the
most respectful persistence) .
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

64
In The Freedom of Spirit, this text of immi­
nence whose stakes are indeed the destiny of
European culture, Valery makes a determin­
ing appeal to the word capital, precisely in
order to define culture and the Mediterra­
n
ean. He evokes navigation, exchange, this
"same ship" that carried "merchandise and
gods . . . ideas and methods . "
That i s how all that wealth came into being,
to which our culture owes practically ever­
thing, at least in its origins; I may say that
the Mediterranean has been a veritable ma­
chine for making civilization. And in creating
trade, it necessarily created freedom of the
spirit. On the shores of the Mediterranean,
then, spirit, culture, and trade are found to­
gether ( II , p. 1 08 6 [History and Politics,
p. 1 96] ) .
After having extended the principle of
this analysis to the cities along the Rhine (Ba­
sel, Strasbourg, Cologne) , to the harbors of
the Hanse, which are also "strategic positions
of spirit, " secured by the alliance of financial
institutions, the arts, and the printing indus-
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

65
try, Valer puts t o work the regulated poly­
semy of the word "capi tal . " Thi s word
compounds interests, it would seem; i t en­
riches with surplus value the significations of
memory, cultural acc umulation, and eco­
nomic or fiduciary value. Valery assumes the
rhetoric of these tropes, the different figures
of capital referri ng to each other to the point
where one cannot nail them down into the
propriety of a literal meaning. But this non­
literality does not exclude hierarchy; it does
not put the whole semantic series on the
same level. g
What is the most interesting moment in
this semantic or rhetorical capitalization of
the values of "capital"? It is, it seems to me,
when the regional or particular necessity of cap­
ital produces or calls for the always threatened
production of the univesal. European culture
is in danger when this ideal universality, the
ver ideality of the universal as the produc­
tion of capita, finds itself threatened:
Culture, civilization are rather vague terms
that it may be amusing to distinguish, con-
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
66
t rast, or combine. I shall not dwell on them.
For myself, as I have told you, they are a
kind of capital that grows and can be used
and accumulated, can increase and diminish
like all the imaginable kinds of capital-the
best known of which is, of course, what we
call our body e . + (II, p. 1 089 [History and Poli­
tics, p. 200] ; Valery's emphasis) .
"Like all the imaginable kinds of capital ":
this analogical series i s recalled in order to
justif the lexicon of capital and the rhetoric
thereby induced. And if I in turn insist on
"our body, already emphasized by Valer as
in the end the best-known, the most familiar,
capital. the one that gives capital its most lit­
eral or most proper meaning, thus gathering
itself, as we have already seen, as close as
possible to the head or to the heading, it is in
order to remark that the body-as in what is
called the proper body [corps propreJ , "our
body, " our sexed body or our body divided by
sexual difference-remains one of the un­
avoidable sites of the problem. Through it
also runs the question of the tongue, of lan­
guage, of the idiom, and of the heading.
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67
Valery' s diagnosis is the examination of a
crisis, of the crisis par excelence, if one can say
this, the crisis that endangers capital as cul­
tural capital. "I say that our cultural capital is
in peril . " Like a doctor, Valery analyzes the
symptom of the "fever. " He locates the ill­
ness in the very structure of capital. For capi­
tal presupposes the reality of the thing, that
is, material culture, of course, but also hu­
man existence. The Valeryian rhetoric is here
at once cultural, economic, technical, scien­
tific, and militar-i. e. , strategic:
Of what is the capital we call Culture or Civili­
zation composed? In the first place, it is com¯
posed of things, materi al objects-books ,
pi ctures g i nst ruments, etcø -havi ng the
probable lifespan, the fragility, and the pre­
c ar i ous ness of thingsø But t hi s i s not
enough¯any more than an ingot of gold,
an acre of good land, or a machine can be
capital unless there are men who need them
and know how to use them. Note these two
conditions. If the material of culture is to
become capital, there must also be men who
need and kow how to use it-that is, men
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68
who have a thirst for kowledge and for the
power of inner transformation, for the cre­
ations of thei r sensibility; and who, more­
over, know how to acquire or exercise the
habits, the intellectual discipline, the con­
ventions and methods needed to exploit the
arsenal of documents and instruments accu­
mulated over the centuries.
I say that our cultural capital is in peril
(II, pp. 1 089-90, [History and Politics, pp.
200-20 1 )) .
The language of memor (putting into re­
serve, into the archive, documentation, accu­
mulation) thus intersects the economic as
well as the techno-scientific language of pole­
mol ogy ( "knowl edg e , " "i nst rument s , "
"power, " " arsenal, " etc. ) . The peril or dan­
ger that lies in wait for capital essentially
threatens the "ideality" of capital : our "i deal
capital, " says Valery. Ideality stems from that
which in capitalization de-limits itself, that
which exceeds the borders of sensible em­
piricity or of particularity in general in order
to open onto the infinite and give rise to the
universal. The maxi m of maxi mizati on,
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69
which, as we have seen, is nothing other
than spirit itself, assigns to European man hi s
essence ( "All these maxima taken together
are Europe").
We are quite familiar with the program of
this logic-or this anaiogic. We could formal­
ize it, expers that we are in such things, we,
the old European philosophers . It is a logic,
logic itselfg that I do not wish to criticize
here. I would even be ready to subscribe to it,
but with one hand only, for I keep another to
write or look for something else, perhaps
outside Europe. Not only i n order to look­
in the way of research, analysis, knowledge,
and philosophy-for what i s already found
outside Europe, but not to close off in ad­
vance a border to the future, to the to-come
[a-venir) of the event, to that which comes
(vient) , which comes perhaps and perhaps
comes from a completely other shore.
According to the capital logic that we see
confirmed here, what threatens European
identity would not essentially threaten Eu­
rope but, in Spirit, the universality for which
Europe is responsible, of which it is the re-
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
70
sere, I e capital or la capitale. What puts cul­
tural capital as ideal capital into a state of crisis
("1 have witnessed the gradual dying out of
men of the greatest value for their contribu­
tion to our ideal capital . . . ") is the disap­
pearance of these men who "knew how to
read-a virtue now lost, " these men who
"kew . . . how to hear, and even how to lis­
ten, " who "knew how to see, " "to read,
hear, or see again"-in a word, these men
also capable of repetition and memory, pre­
pared to respond, to respond before, to be re­
sponsible for and to respond to what they had
heard, seen, read, and known for the first
t i me. Through t hi s respons ible memory,
what was constituted as "solid value" (Valer
emphasizes these two words) produced at the
same time an absolute surlus value, namely,
the i ncrease of a universal capital : " . . .
whatever they wished to read, hear, or see
again was, by recapitulation, turned into a
solid value. And the world's wealth was thus
increased" (II, p. 1 09 1 [History and Politics,
pp. 2 01 -202] ) .
Having approved this discourse while
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

7 1
looking elsewhere, I would like t o precipi­
tate my conclusion; for precipitation is also
that movement of the head [chen that propels
us headlong. It is indeed a question of this
capital paradox of universality. In it intersect
all the antinomies for which we seem to
have at our disposal no rule or general solu­
tion. We have, we must have, only the thank­
less aridity of an abstract axiom, namely,
that the experience and experiment of iden­
tity or of cultural identification can ony be
the endurance of these antinomies. When
we say, "it seems that we do not have at our
disposal any rule or general solution, is it
not necessar in effect to infer or understand
by this, "it is necessar [iJ taut] that we do not
have them at our disposal"? Not only "it is
indeed necessary" [ il taut bien] , but "it need
be" (il Ie taut] absolutely, and this impover­
ished exposition is the negative form of the
imperative in which a responsibil ity, it there
is any, retains a chance of being affirmed. To
have at one' s disposal, already i n advance,
the generality of a rule [regie] as a solution to
the antinomy (that i s, to the double contradic-
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72
tor law and not to the opposition between
the law and its other) , to have it at one' s
disposal as a given potency or science, as a
knowledge and a power that would precede, in
order to settle [rtgler] it, the singularity of
each decision, each judgment, each experi­
ence of responsibility, to treat each of these
as if they were a case-this would be the
surest, the most reassuring definition of re­
sponsibility as irresponsibility, of ethics con­
fused with juridical calculation, of a politics
organized within techno-science. Any inven­
tion of the new that would not go through
the endurance of the antinomy would be a
dangerous mystificati on@ immorali ty plus
good conscience, and sometimes good con­
science as imorality.
The value of universality here capitalizes
all the antinomies, for it must be l ined to
the value of exemplarit that inscribes the uni­
versal in the proper body of a singularity, of
an idiom or a culture, whether this singular¯
ity be individual, social, national, state, fed­
eral, confederal, or not. Whether it takes a
national form or not, a refined, hospitable or
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73
aggressively xenophobic form or not, the
self-affirmation of an identity always claims
to be responding to the call or assignation of
the universal. There are no exceptions to this
law. No cultural identity presents itself as the
opaque body of an untranslatable idiom, but
always, on the contrar, as the irreplaceable
inscription of the universal in the singular, the
unique testimony to the human essence and to
what is proper to man. Each time, it has to do
with the discourse of responsibility: I have, the
unique "I" has, the responsibility of testify­
ing for universality. Each time, the exemplar­
ity of the example is unique. That is why it
can be put into a series and formalized into a
law. Among all the possible examples, I will
cite, yet again, only Valer's, since I find it
just as typical or archetypical as any other.
Moreover, it has here, for me who is speak­
ing to you, the advantage of accentuating in
French what is most "ri di cul ous" and
"fine"-those are Valery' s words-about
Gallocentrism. We are still in the theater of
imminence. It is 1 939. Evoking what he calls
the "title" of France, which is again to say its
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74
capital, since the value of a title is that of a
head, a hat, a heading, a capstone, or a capi­
tal, Valer concludes an essay entitled French
Thou9ht and Art:
I will end by summarizing for you in two
words my personal impression of France:
our special quality (sometimes our ridicule,
but often our finest claim or title) is to be­
lieve and to feel that we are universal-by
which I mean, men of universalit . . . . Notice
the paradox: to specialize in the sense of the
universal. 9
One will have noted that what is de­
scribed here i s not a truth or an essence, even
less a certainty: it is Valer's "personal im­
pression, " stated as such by him, an impres­
sion regarding a belief and a feeling ( "to
believe and to feel that we are universal") .
But these subj ective phenomena (belief, feel­
i ng, an impressi on concerning them by
someone who then says "we") would be no
less constitutive of the essential or constitu­
tive traits of French consciousness in its "par­
ticularity. " This paradox is even stranger
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75
than Valery could or wanted to think: the
feeling of being "men of universality" is not
reserved for the French. Not even, no doubt,
for Europeans . Husserl said that insofar as
the European philosopher is committed to
universal reason, he is also the "functi onary
of mankind. "·
From t hi s paradox of t he paradox,
through the propagation of a fission reaction,
all the propositions and i njunctions are di­
vided, the heading splits, the capital is de­
identified: it is related to itself not only in
gathering itself in the difference with itself
and with the other heading, with the other
shore of the heading, but in opening itself
without being able any longer to gather it­
self. It opens itself, it has already begun to
open itself, and it is necessar to take note of
this, which means to afirm in recalling, and
not simply to record or store up in the ar­
chives a necessity that is already at work any-
·From Husserl's The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcen·
dental Phenomenology: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philos­
ophy, tr. David Carr (Evanston: Northwestern University
Press, 1 970), p. 1 7. -Tans.
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76
way. It has begun to open itself onto the other
shore of another heading, even if it is an op­
posed heading, even if at war, and even if the
opposition is internal. Yet it has at the same
time, and through this een, begun to make
out, to see coming, to hear or understand as
well, the other of the heading in general.
More radically still, with more gravity still­
though this is the gravity of a light and im­
perceptible chance that is nothing other than
the very experience and experiment of the
other-it has begun to open itself, or rather
to let itself open, or, better yet, to be affected
with opening without opening itself onto an
other, onto an other that the heading can no
longer even relate to itself as its other, the
other with itself
Hence the duty to respond to the call
of European memory, to recall what has
been promised under the name Europe, to
re-identify Europe-this duty is without com­
mon measure with all that is generally un­
derstood by the name duty, though it could
be shown that all other duties perhaps pre­
suppose it in silence.
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

77
This dut also dictates opening Europe,
from the heading that is divided because it is
also a shoreline: opening it onto that which
is not, never was, and never will be Europe.
The same duty also dictates welcoming for­
eigners in order not only to integrate them
but to recognize and accept their alterity: two
concepts of hospitality that today divide our
European and national consciousness.
The same duty dictates criticizing ("in-both­
theory-and-in-practice, " and relentlessly) a
totalitarian dogmatism tha�, under the pre­
tense of putting an end to capital, destroyed
democracy and the European heritage. But it
also dictates criticizing a religion of capital
that institutes its dogmat i sm under new
guises, which we must also learn to iden­
tify-for this is the future itself, and there
will be none otherise.
The same duty dictates cultivating the vir­
tue of such critique, of the critical idea, the critical
tradition, but also submitting it, beyond cri­
tique and questioning, to a deconstructive ge­
nealogy that thinks and exceeds it without
yet compromising it.
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78
The same duty dictates assuming the Euro­
pean, and uniquely European, heritage of an
idea of democracy, while also recognizing
that this idea, like that of international law,
is never simply given, that its status is not
even that of a regulative idea in the Kantian
sense, but rather something that remains to
be thought a
n
d to come l i veniT) : not some­
thing that is certain to happen tomorrow, not
the democracy ( nati onal or i nternati onal ,
state or trans-state) of the future, but a democ­
racy that must have the structure of a prom­
ise-and thus the memor of that which carries
the futureg the to-come, here and now.
The same
d
uty dictates respecting differ­
ences, idioms, minorities, singulari ties, but
also the universality of formal law, the desi re
for translation, agreement and univocity, the
law of the maj ority, opposition to racism, na­
tionalism, and xenophobia.
The same
d
uty demands tolerating and re­
specting all that is not placed under the au­
thority of reason. It may have to do with
faith, with different forms of faith. It may
also have to do wi t h cert ai n t hought s ,
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
79
whether questioning or not, thoughts that,
while attempting to think reason and the his­
tor of reason, necessarily exceed its order,
without becoming, simply because of this, ir­
rational, and much less i rrational ist . For
these thoughts may in fact also tr to remain
faithful to the ideal of the Enlightenment,
the Aujlirung, the Iuminismo, while yet ac­
knowledging its limits, in order to work on
the Enlightenment of this time, this time that
i s ours-today. Today, today once more
("What are you going to do TODAY?") .
This same duty surely calls for responsibil­
ity, for the responsibility to thin, speak, and
act in compliance with this double contradic­
tory imperative-a contradiction that must
not be only an apparent or illusor antinomy
(not even a transcendental illusion in a Kant­
ian type of dalectic) but must be effective and,
with experience, through experiment, intermina­
ble. But it also calls for respecting whatever
refuses a cerain responsibility, for example,
the responsibility to respond before any and
every instituted tribunal. We know that it was
in using the discourse of responsibility that
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80
the most atrocious Zhdanovism* was able to
be exercised against intellectuals accused of ir­
responsibility before Society or History, "rep­
resented" at that time, presently, by some
determined, that is, present, state of society or
history, which is simply to say, by some State.
I am going to stop because it is late. One
could multiply the examples of this double
duty. It would be necessary above all to dis­
cern the unprecedented forms that it is tak­
ing today in Europe. And not only to accept
but to claim this putting to the test of the
antinomy (in the forms, for example, of the
double constraint, the undecidable, the per­
formative contradiction, etc. ) . It would be
necessar to recognize both the typical or re­
curring form and the inexhaustible singu­
l arization-without which there will never
be any event, decision, responsibility, ethics,
or politics. These conditions can only take a
negative form (without X there would not be
·Andei Alexandrovich Zhdanov ( 1 896 1 948) was an im
ponant Comunist par leader who was rspnsible, under
Stalin, for a prgram that censored "bourgeois deviationism"
in literature and the ans.-Tans.
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

8 1
V). One can be certain only of this negative
form. As soon as it is converted into positive
certainty ( "on thi s conditi on, there will
surely have been event, decision, responsibil­
i
ty, ethics, or politics") , one can be sure that
one is beginning to be deceived, indeed be­
ginning to deceive the other.
We are speaking here with names (event,
decision, responsibility, ethics, politics-Eu­
rope! ) of "things" that can only exceed ( and
must exceed) the order of theoretical determi­
nation, of knowledge, certainty, judgment,
and of statements in the form of "this is
that, " in other words, more generally and es­
sentially, the order of the present or of presen­
tation. Each time they are reduced to what
they must exceed, error, recklessness, the un­
thought, and irresponsibility are given the so
ver presentable face of good conscience.
(And i t is also necessary to say that the seri­
ous, unsmiling mask of a declared bad con­
science often exhibits only a supplementary
ruse; for good conscience has, by definition,
inexhaustible resources, and one will always
be able to exploit them. )
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One last word. Like the fission reaction it
propagates in our discourse, the paradox of
the paradox should lead us to take the old
name of Europe at once very seriously and
cautiously, that is, to take it lightly, only in
quotation marks, as the best paleonym, in a
certain situation, for what we recall (to our­
selves) or what we promise (ourselves) . For
the same reasons, I would use the word "cap­
ital" in a si milar way: la capitale or Ie capital.
And, naturally, the words "identity" and
"culture. "
I am European, I am no doubt a European
intellectual, and I like to recall this, I like to
recall this to myself, and why would I deny
it? In the name of what? But I am not, nor do
I feel, European in eer part, that is, Euro­
pean through and through. By which I mean,
by which I wish to say, or must say: I do not
want to be and must not be European
through and through, European i n eer part.
Being a part, belonging as "fully a part , "
should be incompatible with belonging "in
ever part. " My cultural identity, that in the
name of which I speak, is not only European,
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

83
i t i s not identical t o itself, and I am not "cul­
tural " through and through, "cultural " in ev­
ery part.
If, to conclude, I declared that I feel Euro­
pean among other things, would this be, in this
very declaration, to be more or less Euro­
pean? Both, no doubt. Let the consequences
be drawn from this. It is up to the others, in
any case, and up to me among them, to decide.
C A L L I T A D AY
F O R D E M O C R A C Y
T
oday, what is public opinion?
-Today? The silhouette of a phan­
tom, the haunting fear of democratic con­
sc iousnes s . The phantom has rights and
powers, but how does one put a stop to con­
tradictory demands? Why must parliamen­
tary democracy protect itself from what in
fact resembles the source of its legitimacy?
Yes, you are right to specify: today, in the light
of today, in today' s day and age [au jour
This i s the complete version of an interiew (with Olivier
Salvatori and Nicolas Weill) that was published in an abbre·
viated form in Le Monde de la Reolution fran,aise, no. I
(monthly, Januar 1 989).
C A L L I T A D A Y F O R D E M O C R A C Y
85
d'aujourd'hul] . Concerning the rhythm, the me­
dium, and first of all the history of public opin­
ion, it has to do with the question of the day
Uour) .
1 . Opinion lends to "public opinions" the
vice or virtue of the unforeseeable: "mobile
and changing, " "difficult to govern, " the Let­
ter to M. d'Alembert already said. Like "dice, "
they defy both "force and reason. "· De facto
and de jure, opinion can change from one day to
the next (de jour en jour) . Literally ephemeral, ··
i t has no status because i t does not have t o be
stable, not even constantly unstable, for i t
sometimes "takes i ts time. " A first ambiguity
stems from this rhythm: if it had a proper
place (but that is the whole question), public
opinion would be the forum for a permanent
and transparent discussion. It would be op­
posed to non-democratic powers, but also to
its own political representation. Such repre-
·Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "The Letter to M. D' Alemben
on the Theatre" in Politics and the Arts. trans. Allan Bloom
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 1 968) , p. 74. Trans.
"From the Greek ephemeros. "lasting only one day. "­
Trans.
T H E
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sentation will never be adequate to i t, for it
breathes, deliberates and decides according to
other rhythms . One can also fear the tyranny
of shifts in opinion. The speed, the "from day
to day" [au jour Ie jour] , even in the "long
run, " sometimes affects the rigor of the dis­
cussion, the time of the "coming to aware­
ness , " wi th opi ni on somet i mes l aggi ng
paradoxical l y behind the represent ative
agencies. Thus on the subject of capital pun­
ishment, we believe that we know (but espe­
cially by way of opinion poll s! ) that the
majorities would not be the same today ( 1 ) in
the Parliament, ( 2) during a referendum, ( 3)
in "opinion polls" or sociologi cal studies.
There is no shortage of examples of such dis­
cordances or differences in rhythm. In order
to gain recognition for the immigrants' right
to vote in l ocal elections , the campai gn
launched by
SOS
Racism * would have to in­
form and convince an opinion that would
then be heard by the parliamentary majority;
• An organization devoted to fghting racism in France.
Trans.
C
A L L I T A
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A Y F O R
D
E M O C R A C Y
87
but the President of the Republic, then a can­
didate, had already announced his personal
"opinion" on the subject and, even better,
had given his point of view on the present
state of affairs, that is, on the lagging behind
of public opinion and even of the Parlia­
ment-something that is not without efect
on either of them. A disconcerting typology.
How does one here identify public opinion?
Does it take place? Where is it given to be
seen, and as such? The wanderi ng of its
proper body is also the ubiquity of a specter.
It is not present as such in any of these spaces.
Exceeding electoral representation, public
opinion is de jure neither the general will nor
the nation, neither ideology nor the sum total
of private opinions analyzed through socio­
logical techniques or modern poll-taking in­
stitutions . It does not speak in the first
person, i t is neither subject nor object ("we, "
"one") ; one cites it, one makes it speak, ven­
triloquizes it ( "the real country" [pays reei,
"the silent majority, " Nixon's "moral major­
ity, " Bush' s "mainstream, " etc. ) , but this
"average" [moyenne] sometimes retains the
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
88
power to resist the means [moyens] "proper to
guiding public opinion, " to resist this "art of
changing" public opinion that, as Rousseau
again says, "neither reason, nor virtue, nor
laws" have.
2. Now, this god of a negative politology
can give no sign of life, in broad daylight,
without a certain medium. The daily rhythm
essential to it presupposes the widespread ds­
tribution of something like a newspaper, a
daily. This techno-economic power allows
opinion to be constituted and recognized as
public opinion. Although these categories to­
day appear hardly adequate, the newspaper is
supposed to secure a place [lieu] of public visi­
bility proper to informing, forming. refecting. or
expressing, thus to representing, an opinion that
would there find the milieu of its freedom.
This correlation between the daily or quotid­
ian-be it written or audiovisual-and the
history of public opinion largely exceeds
what is called the "opinion press. " Valuable
and dangerous, more and more "refined, "
opinion polls adjust themselves at a rhythm
that will never be that of political or labor
C A L L I T A D A Y F O R D E M O C R A C Y
89
union representation. For they see the light
of day in a press that often retains the initia­
tive and power. Finally, we now know, and
the newspaper or daily produces the newness
of this news as much as it reports it, that pub­
lic opinion is no longer in our day what it was
yesterday and from the beginnings of its his­
tory.
3. For the phenomenon was never natural,
that is to say, universal. No more in fact than
everydayness as a major categor of the so­
cial rhythm ever was. Befoe asking about
the supposed "reality" of public opinion to­
day, as well as about the cinematography of
its silhouette, it is necessar to recall that the
phantom has a stor, a histor: it is European,
recent, and heavily scanned. The discourse
on opinion is certainly as old as the world:
doxa or "opinion" (which is not exactly the
same thing) no doubt has equivalents in non­
Western cultures. But as for the histor of
public opinion, it seems to be linked to the
political discourse of Europe. It is a modern
artifact (the premises of the American and
French Revolutions here provide the most
T H E O T H E R
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90
visible landmark), even i f a "high point" was
prepared by the tradition of a political philos­
ophy. Under this or any other name, I do not
believe that anyone has spoken seriously of
public opinion without the model of parlia­
mentary democracy and as long as an appara­
tus of laws (in France, from article XI of the
Declaration of Human Rights* to the law of
1 881 concerning the freedom of the press)
did not permit or promise the formation, ex­
pression, and especially the "publication" of
this opinion outside of these political or corpo­
rative representations.
If it is not electoral in the moment proper
to it, opini on, as its name indicates, is called
upon to pronounce itself by means of a judg­
ment. This judgment is not some knowledge,
but an engaged evaluation, a voluntary act . It
always takes the form of a "j udgment" (yes
or no) that must exercise a power of control
• Article XI of the Delaration de droits de /'homme states:
"The unrestrained communication of thoughts and opinions
being one of the most precious rights of man, ever citizen
may speak. write. and publish freely, provided he is respon­
sible for the abuse of tis liberty in cases determined by the
law. "-Tans.
C A L L I T A D A Y F O R D E M O C R A C Y
9 1
and orientat ion over this parliamentary de­
mocracy. But, from the point of view of the
properly political decision, this considerable
potency always remains potential ø And
within invisible borders. It takes place nei­
ther inside nor outside. It is situated outside
statutory representation, but this outside can
be recognized as the outside of an indeendent
public opinion only within parliamentar de­
mocracies and representative structures: in
view of a possible vote and an intervention
within or on representation. The paradigmatic
moment: the Petition of Grievances [ Cahiers
de DoJeances) . ' As the place of a potential elec­
torate, public opinion is an assembly of citi­
zens called upon to decide, by means of a
jUdgment, issues that are within the compe­
tence of legal representations, but also issues
that escape them, at least provisionally, in a
zone that is being extended and differenti-
-Taditionally, a list of demands addressed to the king or
sovereign by some group or class within the state. During
the French Revolution, petitions of grievances were impor­
tant documents for the deputies of the Estates-General who
received them from the electoral assemblies, who in tum
received them from the general e1ectorate. Tans.
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
92
ated today i n an accelerated way, thereby
posing serious questions about the present
functioning, if not the very principles, of lib­
eral democracy. Just recall the demonstra­
tions in favor of "private education, " the
"coordinations" of students or nurses, the de­
bates surrounding RU 486, AIDS, drug addic­
tion, or condoms, even the Scorsese fm* ( I
am speaking here about speeches, declara­
tions, or demonstrations-these elements of
opinion-and not about the bombs intended
to put an end to all that) . But everthing that
is not of the order of j udgment, decision, and
especi ally representation escapes both pre­
sent-day democratic institutions and public
opinion as such. This couple is joined, conju­
gated, by the possibility of evaluation in the
form of the judgment that decides (yes or no)
and that is produced in a representation. Opin­
ion surveys try to escape this law, on the one
*Derrida is referring to The Last Temptation of Christ, which
was picketed throughout France and even provoked a bomb
attack on a movie theatre in the Latin Quarter of Paris. RU
486 is what is known in the U. s. as the French aborion
pill. Trans.
C
A L L I T A D A Y F O R D E M O C R A C Y
93
hand, by exceeding electoral themes and im­
mediately pol i tical dec i si ons and, on the
other, by multiplying the evaluations in per­
centages (more or less) rather than in an al­
t ernati ve ( yes or no) . But a di scourse
concerns public opinion as such only i f i t an­
ticipates a legislative debate and if the "more
or less" announces a "yes or no. " What then
becomes of this reserve of experience, evalu­
ation, and even determination (the "trends, "
"tastes, " and "customs") that is not of the
order of judgment (yes or no)- and representa­
tion, in any sense of this word? It is here that
one can question the authority of opinion­
not in its content but in its form of pre-elec­
toral judgment; and one can even question
the distincti on private/public whose rigor
will always be threatened by language, by
language alone, and thus already with the
slightest mark. What public-and thus politi­
cal¯place is to be made for this kind of ques­
tion?
A "government of opinion" can play with
opinion, invent it or invoke it against insti­
tuted representations. But this can be done,
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
94
or said, only in an at least formal democracy.
A popular dictatorship or a totalitarian re­
gime is not a government of opinion (and
what is seeing the light of day today in the
U. S. S. R. is perhaps quite simply a public
opinion) . The new means of "staying up to
date, " of taking the pulse of opinion at a
quasi-daily rhythm, authorizes and requires a
certain power (for example that of a head of
state or even of a democratic government) to
take into account an evolution before and be­
yond its expression in the Parliament, in the
parties and labor unions, to discern changes
in the maj ority before elections and even be­
fore a referendum. It is not that opinion is
t he amorphous reservoir of an untamed
spontaneity that would exceed organizations
(parties, labor unions, etc. ) . Neither passive
nor active, the recent "coordinations" of stu­
dents or nurses were no more "manipulated"
than they were the result of an unorganized
spontaneity. Other categories are thus neces­
sary to conduct the analysis-and political
action-beyond this basic alternative. The
same thing goes for the relationships with in-
C A L L I T A D A Y F O R D E M O C R A C Y
9 5
stitutions and especially with the press: pub­
l i c opi ni on does not express itself i f one
understands by thi s that it exists somewhere
deep down, before manifesting itself in broad
daylight, as such, in its phenomenality. It is
phenomenal . It is no more produced or formed,
indeed infuenced or infected, than simply re­
fected or represented by the press. These naive
or crude interretations are rooted in a pow­
erful philosophical discourse. Is not acting re­
sponsibly first of all to try and reconsider
these interpretations? Such a task is philo­
sophical and political, theoretical and practi­
cal; it is difficult but also dangerous, because
it risks touching upon the very concept of
representation, upon the "idea of representa­
tives" that Rousseau called "modern. "* But
does not a democrat have the responsibility
to think through the axioms or foundations
of democracy? To analyze unrelentingly its
historical determi nat ions-those that, i n
·Jean Jacques Rousseau. Te Social Contract. Ch. XV. trans.
Charles Frankel (New York: Hafner Publishing Co., 1 947), p.
85. Trans.
T H E
O
T H E R H E A D I N G

96
1 989, can be delimited and those that can­
not?
For it is indeed a question of the future of
democracy. The dimension of "public" space
no doubt reaches its philosophical modernty
with the Enl ightenment, with the French
and Ameri can Revolut i ons, or with di s­
courses like Kant's that l i n the Aujlirung­
the progress of Enlightenment and of the
day-to the freedom of making public use of
reason in all domains (even though reason is
not reducible to the "opinion" that it must
also submit to critique) . In this post-Revolu­
tionar modernity, the techno-economic mu­
tation of the media marks another scansion.
Following World War I, and especially in Ger­
many, the crises that radio could provoke in
the traditional space of a parliamentar de­
mocracy gave rise to heated debates. (Cf. Fer­
di nand Tonni es ' s La critique de l 'opinion
publique [Kritik der offentlichen Meinung] [Ber­
lin: J. Springer) of 1 922, or the works of Carl
Schmi tt , whose i nfluence i s st i l l al i ve,
whether he is cited or not, ( on the) left and
( on the) right, in every analysis of public
C A L L I T A D A Y F O R D E M O C R A C Y
97
space, for example in Habermas . * These
questions cannot be taken up here-let us
not forget the constraints of the press, which
are not only quantitative: they also impose
models of readability. All the stakes that we
are discussing at this very moment are con­
centrated in what I must entrust here to the
ellipsis of a telegram. Can one speak seri­
ously of the press in the press? Yes and no, in
contraband. ) These debates have not become
outdated: think of the immediately interna­
tional effects of the television of tomorrow
on a public opinion that was first considered
to be national . Think of the transformations
that an opinion poll technique introduces
when it can literally accompany and, even
better, produce the televisual event (l i The
Hour of Truth"! ) . * * Like the press, this tech­
nique can surely give a voice to minorities
deprived of institutional representation; i
t
can correct errors and injustices; but this "de-
·Cf. Derrida's "The Politics of Friendship, " trans. Gabriel
Motzki n. The Journal of Philosophy. vol . 8 5 , no. 1 1 ,
pp. 632 45. Tans.
"A popular French T talk show. Tans.
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G
98
mocratization" never legitimately represents.
It never represents wi thout filtering or
screening-let us repeat it-a "public opin­
ion. " The "freedom of the press" is democ­
racy's most precious good, but to the degree
that one has not at least granted rights, effec­
tively, in laws and in customs, to the ques­
ti ons that we have j ust been asking, this
fundamental "freedom" remains to be in­
vented. Ever day. At least. And democracy
along with it.
-What system i to be invented, then, so that the
formally fee press does not function as censorship?
-It is in fact in the chapter "Of Censorship"
that the Social Contract treats this "kind of
law" that the "judgment" of public opinion
is. But can we here trust in the opposition
form/content ? Is it enough to give content to a
form in order to advance the freedom of the
press, that is, the freedom of a right that will
never go without duty or without the recog­
nition of a freedom "before the press"? It is
necessary to maintain forma rigor, for with-
C A L L I T A D A Y F O R D E M O C R A C Y
99
out it no right is protected; and so it is neces­
sary to invent more refined procedures, a
more differentiated legislation, one better fit­
ted to the techno-economic mutations of the
"free market. " An infinite task, not ony be­
cause there will always be something more
or something better to be done, but because
of a principiai contradiction. A democracy must
surely be vigilant so that censorship (in the
legal sense: this "criticism" that has, Kant
says, public "power") does not win back lost
ground. * It is also necessar to fight against
the effects of "censorship" i n the large sense,
against a "new censorship, " if I may put it
this way, that threatens liberal societies; to
fight against accumulation, concentration,
and monopoly; in short, against all quantita­
tive phenomena that might marginalize or
reduce to silence anything that cannot be
measured on their scale. But one cannot, for
all that, plead simply for plurality, dispersion,
·Immanuel Kant. Reli9ion within the Limits of Reason Alone.
trans. Theodore M. Greene and Hoyt H. Hudson (New York:
Harer & Brothers. 1 960) . p. 7. Tans.
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

1 00
or fractioning, for the mobility of screening
places or of the subjects who occupy them.
For certain s ocio-economic forces might once
again take advantage of these marginaliza­
tions and this absence of a general forum.
How then to open the avenue of great de­
bates, accessible to the majority, while yet
enriching the multiplicity and quality of pub­
lie discourses, of agencies of evaluation, of
"scenes" or places of visibility, etc. ? A wager,
an aporia? This invention, at once impossible
and necessar, can only be announced on the
basis of another imperative: the unity or
"centrality" of the democratic forum must
not be confused with that of the mass, with
concentration, homogeneity, or monopoly.
For the "new censorship"-and this is the
strength of its ruse-combines concentration
and fract i onal i zati on, acc umul at i on and
privatization. It de-politicizes. This terrible
logi c is not restricted to the "audiovisual, "
though i t i s more perceptible there. I t i s at
work as soon as an interpretation, that is to
say, a selective evaluation, informs a "fact. "
No information escapes it.
C A L L I T A D A Y F O R D E M O C R A C Y
1 0 1
This i s all too evident in what is called the
"cultural" press (arts, literature, philosophy,
etc. ) and in all those "refined, " overdeter­
mined, super-coded evaluations that do not
immediately i nduce public opinion as political
judgment or electoral decision. Each time a
media institution controls market phenom­
ena on a massive scale, it seizes and censures
just as massively; it dogmatizes, no matter
what its real eclecticism or facade of liberal­
ism, its virtues or vices, may be, no matter
whether it captivates or bores, whether one
finds it distinguished or crude or both. When
a single judge, no matter what one may thin
of his or her particular talents, is entrusted
somewhere with a monopoly of evaluation,
of screening, of exhibiting i n full daylight, he
or she determines sales in the supermarkets
of culture. A work is thus relegated far from
the court, into the darkness of a quasi-private
enclosure, if it does not fulfill the conditions
of visibility in this great little mirror that fas­
cinates as it distorts, that screens and defects
toward itself so much energy, that interrupts
the conversation, makes the body and the so-
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

1 02
cial gaze conform to a new physiology, and
then finally projects abroad the latest icons of
the national culture. Today, on this scale, a
book must sell and-there is a difference­
be read at more than ten thousand copies in
order to be something more than a confiden­
ti al and quasi-private correspondence. The re­
sult is that what is called "difficult" research,
that which resists the stereotyes of the im­
age or of narrationg which does not submit to
the norms of the culture-thereby repre­
sented in its average (in the si ngular,
opinion always means the "average")-is
excluded from the scene: occulted, deprived
of the liht of day. As a result, such research is
judged to be more and more "obscure, " "diffi­
cult, " indeed "unreadable, " and so it be­
comes what one says i t is and wants it to be:
inaccessiblee And the cycle accelerates. What­
ever may be said of the quality of our "cul­
tural" media, is it a coincidence that our
country i s, i n Europe, the one i n which peo­
ple read the l east? That our libraries are in a
disastrous state_ almost too shameful to ad­
mi t ? And t hat -a probl em i nextri cably
C A L L I T A D A Y F O R
D
E M O C R A C Y
1 03
linked to these-our schools and universi­
ties, the privileged places for the "formation
of judgment, " are undergoi ng such hard­
ships?
But once again, let us not simplify things.
Perhaps it is also necessary to take account of
other rhythms and trajectories. Perhaps it is
necessary not to let oneself be fascinated by
quantitative immediacy. Like the schools, the
press contributes to the quality of democrati­
zation. Access to the average is often a form
of progress. Certain newspapers can, depend­
ing on the situation, accentuate or denounce,
for better or for worse, official evaluations
(those, for example, of the academic profes­
sion, of certain academic bodies) . But is the
power of the media unlimited? It too is eval­
uated from one day to the next by a public
that is not always silent. This heterogeneous
power can sometimes criticize itself, from
one part of its large body to another. Is it not
in the end judged over a longer period of
time and according to criteria that remain
necessarily indecipherable to it? If it contrib­
utes to mass successes that are forgotten a
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

1 04
month later, does not it too risk being forgot­
ten? Untimely developments that escape its
grid of readability might one day take over
without any resistance at all. As for the fu­
ture course of a work, the quality of ten read­
ers, as we know, sometimes plays a more
determining role than the immediate reality
of ten thousand buyers. What would our
great media machines do with Rimbaud or
Lautreamont, with Nietzsche or Proust, with
a Kafa or a Joyce of 1 989? They were at
first saved by a handful of readers (a minimal
listening audience) , but what readers! Per­
haps this analogy already suffers from anach­
ronism-alas -for the intrinsic hi story of
those episodes was no doubt linked to its out­
side and, whether one denies it or not, to a
structure of "public space" that is now out­
dated. But the limited edition still retains a
chance: quasi-private, it nonetheless has ac­
cess to public space. Between the two, samiz
dat. * Given these rhythms and qualitative
·Russian for self edition. A general term for a group of
means to distribute works prohibited by censorship. Tans.
C A L L I T A D A Y F O R D E M O C R A C Y
1 05
differences, the porosity of a border between
"private" and "public" seems more incalcu­
lable than ever. Each event comes into con­
tact with the law, like contraband smugglers
or members of the resistance. Passage is
never assured. Public opinion is not an incal­
culable average, but there is perhaps the in­
cal cul abl e in it . I t is s i mpl y t hat t he
incalculable, if there is any, never presents it­
self; it is not, it is never, the theme of some
scientific or philosophical objectification.
The only choice is thus n
o
t concentration
or dispersion. The alternative would rather
be between the unilateral and the multilateral
in the relations of the media to the "public, "
t o the "publics . " Responsibility, that is, the
freedom of the press and before the press, will
always depend upon the effectiveness of a
"right of response, "* a right that allows the
citizen to be more than the fraction (the pri-
*Though Ie droit de reponse i s usually known in English as
the "ri ght of reply, " we have opted for the "right of re
sponse" since it mai ntains the rel ationship wi th responsibil
ity. Droit de reponse was also the name of a controversial
though popul ar French TV talk show. Trans.
TH E O T H E R H E A D I N G

1 06
vate, deprived [rivee) fraction, in sum, and
more and more so) of a passive, consumer
public, necessarily cheated because of this.
Is there democracy without reciprocity?
-How does one extend the right of response to
such a degree?
-France is one of the few countries that rec­
ognize the right of rectification (on the part of
public powers to which it is resered) and,
more generally, the right of response. This is a
fundamental right. Yet one can only exercise
it (going strictly by the law-I am not speak­
ing about ethics or politics) in very restricted
conditions. Error or falsification, omission,
interpretative violence, abusive simplifica­
tion, the rhetoric of insinuation, stupidity as
well, all these things most often remain with­
out any public and immediate response, on
the radio, on television, or in the newspa­
pers . And of course, massively, in books .
Even when the juridical or technical difficul­
ties do not discourage one i n advance, a re­
sponse is in general neutralized by the place,
C A L L I T A D A Y F O R D E M O C R A C Y
1 07
framework, and delays. As long as the right
of response does not receive its full extension
and effectiveness (again the infinite task) , de­
mocracy will be accordingly limited. Only in
the press? Certainlyg but the press is every­
where today: it gives (itself, in any case, (out
to be) the day itself, it brings ( itself to the
light of day [ (se) donner . . . (pour) Ie jour] . It
brings public space to the light of day, gives
the light of day to it, to its publicityø It brings
to li ght the day itself, gives daylight to the
day itself. Thus the right of response hardly exists.
Why does one so often pretend (a fction of
democracy) to ignore the violence of this dis­
symmetr, along with what can or cannot be
reduced in it? Why the hypocrisy, the denial
or the blindness before the all-too-evident?
Why is this "all-too-evident" at once as clear
as the light of day and the most nocturnal
face of democracies as they are, presently?
Given that good will (which is indispens­
able) will not be enough to change things
that no longer fall under a logic of simple
"consciousness" and of a juridical-that is,
inadequate-concept of responsibility, given
T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G

1 08
that technical procedures and formal legality
(which are indispensable and can always be
improved) will never reach the end of this
immeasurability, given that whenever it is a
question of response and responsibilityg of
address and destination, etc. , the philosophi­
cal concepts that we have inherited have
never sufficed; given all thisg one will recall
the French Revolution only by appealing to
other revolutions. The memory of a promiseg
such an appeal or call seeks a new tone. It,
no doubt, will no longer be "revolutionary, "
and it must take its timebeyond the "revo­
lutionary day" (ournee reolutionnaire] . · Noth­
ing guarantees it this, and I can say no more
about it in a page. * *
"Yet another effort e · · ·
·Duri ng the French Revolution, "revolut ionar days"
were called to mark, celebrate, and renew the Revoluti on.
Tans.
**Derrida is referring to his agreement with the editors of
L Mondt de la Reolution fran�aise that his anicle not exceed a
single newspaper page. Tans.
"·The Marquis de Sade, Philosophy in the Bedroom, in The
Marqui de Sade. compiled and translated by Richard Seaver
and Austryn Wainhouse (New York: Grove Press, 1 965) ,
p. 296. The complete line i s : "Yet another effort, / French
man, / If you would become republicans. " Trans.
C A L L I T A D A Y F O R D E M O C R A C Y
1 09
And yet another word, if you will allow
me, the very word that you gave me to begin
with-today. Already the days are numbered:
at another speed, the day is announced, the day
is coming, when the day reaches its end. The
day is announced when the day (the visibility
of the image and the publicity of the public,
but also the unity of daily rhythm, but also
the phenomenality of the political, but also
perhaps, and at the same time, its very es­
sence) will no longer be the ratio essendi, the
reason or the ration of the -telemetatheoreti­
cal effects that we have j ust been speaking
about.
Has the day ever been the measure of all
things, as one pretends to believe?
In its first edition, this opinion, I hardy
dare say this fiction, remains the most widely
shared thing in the world.
N O T E S
1 . La Crise de ['esprit, Note (ou L'Europeen), i n Essais
quasi politiques, Oeuvres ( Pari s: Gallimard, la Pleiade,
1 957) , t. r. p. 1 004 [translated by Denise Folliot and
Jackson Mathews as "The European, " in Histor and
Politics (New York: Bollingen, 1 962), pp. 3 1 1 1 2) . (If I
may be allowed to indcate in passing that with regard
to Europe and Spiri t, whether it be in Valer or Hus­
ser!, more implici tly i n Hegel and Heidegger, this con­
ference develops, and thus presupposes to a cerain
extent, reflections published in Qther works, most no­
ti ceably in De /'esprit: Heidegger et la question [Pari s: Gali­
lee, 1 987] [0/ Spirit. Heiegger and the Question¿ trans.
Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1 989)] . ) The long note
that this book consecrates to Valer in particular (p. 97
(pp. 1 22-24] ) is, i n the end, only expanded upon a bit
here. It began a "comparative analysis of these three
discourses-Valery's, Husserl ' s, and Heidegger's-on
the crisis or destitution of spirit as spirit of Europe, "
and i t had al ready been called for by one of Valer' s
questions :
Must such phenomena as democracy, the exploitation
of the globe, and the general spread of technology, all
of which presage a deminutio capitis for Europe . . .
must these be taken as absolute decisions of fate? Or
have we some freedom against this threateni ng con
spiracy of things? (La Crise de i"espTit. Deuxieme LeIlTe, I,
N O T E I

I l 2
p. 1 000 [ "The Crisis of Spirit, " "Second letter, " Histor
and Politics, p. 36 J ) .
To the questi on, "But who, after all, is Euro­
pean?" [History and Politics, p. 3 1 6) , that is, to the ques­
tion of our "distinction" and that which "has most
profoundy distinguished us from the rest of human­
ity, " Valer responds by first following the history of
what he calls the "capital " or "the City par excellence"
[Histor and Politics, p. 3 1 7) , namely, Rome, after Jeru­
salem and Athens. He concludes these few pages by
defining Homo Europaeus by distinctive traits other
than race, language, and customs. He still defines him
by spirit, but the essence of spirit manifests itself,
it offers i ts phenomenal image to an economico­
metaphysical determinat ion (at once subjective and
objective) of being as need and desire, work and wil l.
Europe is the name of that which leads the desiring or
willing subject t oward hi s object ivizable maximum.
Capital belongs to the series of Europe' s phenomenal
manifestations.
In power and precise knowledge, Europe still, even
today, greatly outweighs the rest of the world. Or
rather, it is not so much Europe that excels, but the
European Spirit, and America is its formidable cre­
ation. (See on this subject "L'Amerique, projection de
l'esprit europeen, " t. I I , pp. 987ff. ["America: A Projec
tion of the European Spirit, " in Histor and Politics.
p. 329ff. J . )
Wherever that Spirit prevails, there we witness the
maximum of needs, the maimum of labor, capital, and
production, the maimum of ambition and power, the
maximum transformation of external Nature, the maxi
mum of relations and exchanges.
N O T E S 1 - 2

1 1 3
Al l these maxima taken together are Europe, or the
image of Europe.
Moreover, the source of t hi s development, this
astonishing superiority, is obviously the quality of the
individual man, the average quality of Homo Europaeus.
It is remarkable that the European is defined not by
race, or language, or customs, but by his aims and the
amplitude of hi s will . . . . Etc. (I, p. 1 0 1 4 IHistor and
Politics, p. 323) ) .
One will have noticed that by posing in this way
the question of what distin9uishes Europe and what call
it from its absolute singularity, Valery is well aware
that he must t reat the name of Europe, the name Eu­
rope, as an absolutely proper name. In this unique and
irreplaceable reference, it is a matter of an individual
whose identity is personal g perhaps more personal
than all European persons; for the latter participate in
this absolute spirit that makes them possible» Hence
the form of the definition or description: "All these
maxi ma t aken together a re Europe , e ø "-not
['Europe. *
2. Tome I, p. 99 5 [Histor and Politics, p. 3 1 ) . I will
have had here to limit myself merely to proposing, in
passing or in the end, a program for readi ng (census,
logical indexing, interpretation) the uses of the capital­
istic lexicon and its stakes in Valers text. Be it a ques­
tion of histor or of historical knowl edge, of the event
or of the concept, it would always be necessar to re­
capture the "capital moment" (II, p. 9 1 5 [Histor and
· By dropping the definite anicl e, Val er seems to be
treating Europe not as a thing a place or continent-but as
a person with a propr name. Trans.
N O T E 2

1 1 4
Politics, p. 6) ) . The "notion of an event, which is funda­
mental . " would not have been thought or "re­
thought" ( II, p. 920 [Histor and Politics, p. I I )) by the
histori an, precisely because "that capital moment
when precise and specialized definitions and conven­
tions replace meanings that are confused and statisti­
cal in origin has not yet arrived for history" (II, p. 9 1 5
(Hitor and Politics, p . 6) ). I n other words, what has not
yet happened to history, as science, is the capital eent
of a concept, of a possibility of thi nking that would
allow it first to think the eent as such. Further on, it is
again the expression "capital event" that describes the
appearance of a configural and identifying unit, of a
coordination or sstem of correspondence in the prog­
ress and organization of sensible knowledge. Valer
emphasizes : "Sight, touch, and act are coordinated in
a sort of mUltiple entry table, which is the tangible
world, and finally-a capital eent-it turns out that a
certain system of correspondences is necessar and
sufficient for a uniform adjustment of all the visual
sensations to all the sensations of the skin and mus­
cles" (II, p. 922 [Histor and Politics, p. 1 3) ) . This event
i s not only capital, it i s the event of capital itself,
namely, of what is called the head.
And in addition, or as a result, beyond historical
knowledge, this discourse immediately and at the same
time touches upon the historical thing, upon the ver
fabric of events, first of all from Europe's point of
view. What would have escaped the historians is what
would have, in short, happened to the eent, come to be an
eent. The "considerable event " that, because of its
"essential singularity, " would have escaped the his-
N
O T E
2

1 1 5
torians as well as the event' s "contemporari es, " is the
saturation of the habitable earth and the fact that,
"under the evil spell of the written word, " everything
is put into relation with everything else; and so "the
age of the finite world has begun. " Politics and histor can
no longer speculate upon the localization or "isolation
of events. " There is no longer any local crisis or war.
The "Decline of Europe" (II, p. 927 [Histor and Politics,
p. 1 9) ) belongs to this "age of the finite world" that
Europe itself has precipitated by exporing itself, and
by Europeanizing the non-Europeans, awakening, in­
structing, and arming-these are Valery's words­
those who aspired ony to "remain as they were. " This
last expression at least sets the tone. What the anti­
colonialism or, if you prefer, the Euro-capitalist hyer­
colonialism of Val ery, the Great:European, seems to
condemn i s not so much colonialism but rather the
internal rivalr that will have divided the European
colonialisms and disseminated the "immense capital
of knowledge" constituted by "the efforts of the best
brains in Europe":
Now, local European pol itics, dominating general Euro
pean policy and making it absurd, has led rival
Europeans to export the methods and the machines
that made Europe supreme i n the world. Europeans
have competed for profit in awakening, instrcting,
and arming vast peoples who, beforey were im
p
ri soned
in their traditions and asked nothing better than to
remai n as they were = = - = There has been nothing
more stupid in all history than European rivalr in
matters of pol itics and economicsy when com
p
ared,
combined, and confronted with European unity and
collaboration in matters of science. While the efforts
of the best brains in Europe were amassing an im
N O T E 2
1 1 6
mense capital [my emphasis, J. D. I of usable kowl­
edge, the naive t radition of a policy based on history, a
policy
of covetousness and ul terior motives, was being
pursued; and the spirit of Little Europe, by a kind of
treacher, handed over to the very people i t meant to
dominate, the methods and instrments of power . . . .
Europe will prove not to have had the politi cs worthy
of her thought ( I I , p. 926 [History and Politics,
pp. 1 7 1 81 ).
The equivocity of thi s discourse wi ll have never
seemed so pliable, from the ver best to the worst, as it
seems today (I date this today, the today of this note,
on the third day of what is called "The Gulf War"") .
*A thinker of fiction, convention, relay, and telecommu
nication, Valer was also in advance the thinker of the war
of today, when "the time of the finite world has begun":
In the fture, when a battle is fought anywhere in the
world, it will be a perfectly simple matter for the
sound of the cannon to be heard over the whole earth.
The thunders of some future Verdun will then be re
ceied at the antipodes. It will even be possible to see
something of the fighting, to see, at an interal of only
three hundredths of a second, men falling six thou­
sand miles away.
These are the opening words of a short text entitled "Hy­
pothesi s, " the title for a thought that advances itself like a
hyothesis on the subject of the hypothetical character of
everthing, of the Ego as the Everthing, as soon as, and
from the ver beginni ng, convention and relay establish the
regime of the simulacrum. Here are the closi ng words of this
"Hythesis":
Is not our life, i nsofar as it depends on what comes t o
spirt, on what seems to come from spirit and to im
pose itself first on spirit and then on our whole exis
tence-is not our life governed by an enormous,
disorganized mass of conventions. most of which are
implicit? We should be hard put to it either to express
or to define them. Society. languages, l aws, customs.
N
O T E 2

1 1 7
Especially if one considers that this was written
after the fact in the "Foreword" (Avant-propos) to Re­
gards sur Ie monde actuel and to the first text of this
collection, "Notes on the Greatness and Decl ine of Eu­
rope¿ which, just before posing the question of "TO­
DAY" ( "What are you going to do TODAY?") , will
have condemned what the politics of Europe will have
done with its "capital of laws":
Europe wi l l be punished for her politics; she will be
deprived of wines, beer, and liqueurs. And of other
things . . . . Europe aspi res visibly to being govered
by an American Commission. Her whole policy i s lead­
ing to this. Not knowing how to rid ourselves of our
histor, we shal l be relieved of i t by those happy peo­
ples who have none, or next to none. And those happy
peoples will impose their happines on us.
Europe had clearly distinguished herself from all the
other parts of the world. Not by her politics but in
spite of and contrar to her politics, she had developed
to the utmost her freedom of spirit, had combined her
passi on for understanding with her will to

rigorous
thought, invented precise and posi tive speculation,
the arts, politics, i n short, everything that i s fiduciar
i n this world, every effect that is unequal to its cause,
requires conventions that is, relays or intermediaries,
by the indirect means of whi ch a second reality takes
hold, blends with the perceptible reality of the mo­
ment, covers it over, dominates it and is itself some
times tom apart, disclosing the terrifying simplicity of
rudi mentary l i fe. I n our desires, our regrets, our
quests, in our emotions and passions, and even in our
effort to know ourselves, we are the puppets of nonex
i stent t hings things that need not even exist to affect
us ( II, pp. 942 45 IAesthetics, trans. Ralph Manheim
(New York: Boll ingen, 1 964), pp. 229 33) , Valer's em­
phasis) .
N O T E S 2 - 6
1 1 8
and created, by the obstinate pursuit of results that
could be accurately compared and accumulated, a capi
tal of powerful laws and procedures. Yet, her politics
remai ned as they had always been, borrowing from
the singular riches and resources I have mentioned
just enough to support her primitive political practices
and to furnish them wi th more redoubtable and barba­
rous weapons ( I I , p. 9 3 0 [History and Polit ics,
pp. 227-28), my emphasis) .
3. As for fromm and promos, the "pious" that also
comes in the first rank, in the avant-garde of a com­
bat, d. Heidegger' s "Die Frage nach der Technik, " in Vor­
trage und Aufsize, p. 38 [ "The Question Concerning
Technology, " trans_ William Lovitt, in Martin Heideg­
ger: Basic Writings, ed. David Farrell Krell (San Fran­
cisco: Harper & Row, 1 976) , p. 3 1 6) and the remarks
that I devote to it in De l 'esprit, p_ 1 49 [ Of Spirit,
pp. 1 30ft; concerni ng Ort. the place and the tip of the
l ance , cf. i n part icul ar Hei degger, Unterwegs zur
Sprache, p. 37 [ On the Way to Language, trans_ Peter D.
Hertz (New York: Harer & Row, 1 97 1 ) , p_ 1 59) .
4. I take the liberty of referring once again here to
De l 'esprit: Heidegger et la question [Of Spirit: Heidegger and
the Question. )
5. I t i s the impossible possibility of a "logic" that I
tr to formulate (though it is by definition never abso­
lutely formalizable) in Psyche: Inventions de l 'autre (Gali­
lee, 1 987) , parti cul arly, i n the first essay of that
collection [Psyche: Inventions of the Other, trans. Cather­
ine Porter, in Reading de Man Reading, ed. Wlad Godzich
and Lindsay Waters (Minneapolis: University of Mi n­
nesota Press, 1 989)) .
6. Valer the Mediterranean, Valer the European,
NOT E 6

1 1 9
wanted to be, in j ust as exemplar a way¿ the thi nker
of Pari s. There i s nothing surprising in thisg and it is
this logic that we are analyzing here. In Presence de
Paris [ "Paris Is Here"l , of 1 93 7, the most noble and
most serious of tasks comes down not only to "thi nk­
ing PARIS" but to thinking the identity of this capital
(whose name Valer writes i n capital letters twenty-six
times i n five pages) and its identity with spiri t itself, "
"t he awareness of an unrelenting missi on of t he
spirit": "I fancy t hat to think PARIS may be compared,
or may be confoundedg with thinking spirit itself' (Pres­
ence de Paris, I I, p. 1 0 1 2 [ "Paris Is Here, " in Poems in the
Rough, trans. Hi l ary Corke ( New York: Boll i ngen,
1 969) , pp. 266 671 . Val er had previously formulated
a project that will be accomplished only by being in­
verted, according to the very logic of being, that i s,
according to the logos of absolute spi rit (and) of the
capital. Spirit and the capital are presented or repre­
sented in each other. The inhabitant of the capital is
then thought" by the habitat earlier than he thinks.
Fi rst moment: "Whence is born i n me this daunting
and absurd desire: to think PARIS. " But, after four
marelous pages comes the ultimate moment of the
coming to awareness and the reversal: "To thi nk
PARIS? ø ø ø The more one tries, the more one feels
that, on the contrary, i t i s by PARIS that one is
thought . " Just before thi s, the "figure" of the face [Ia
"fgure" de fa fgure) had guided the analysis of this cap­
ital of capitals. One actually looks the capital in the face.
One distinguishes the face, the head and the forehead:
For she is the head of France, i n whi ch are sited the
countr' s organs of perception and most sensitive re
N O T E 6

1 20
actions. Her beauty and light give France a counte
nance on which at moments the whole intelligence of
the land may be seen visibly to burn. When strong
feelings seize our people, it is to this brow the blood
mounts, irradiating it with a mighty fush of pride ( II,
p. 1 0 1 5 [Poems i n the Rough, p. 2701 ) .
The "exemplarist " logic that we are here tri ng to
recognize had in fact driven Valer, ten years earlier,
in the Fonction de Paris ( "Function of Paris, " in Histor
and Politics) ( 1 927) , to present this capital not only as a
cosmopolitical metropolis, a fate that it shares with
other great Western cities ( "Every great city in Europe
or America is cosmopolitan" ( II, p_ 1 007 (Histor and
Politics, p. 397) ) , but as the capital of capitals. This capi­
tal "is distinguished" from all other capital s. Indeed,
"distinction" will be the master word of this discourse.
Paris distin9uishes itsel in two respects that are capital­
ized. On the one hand, it is the capital of the country in
eer domain, and not only, as in other countries, the
political or economic or cultural capital.
To be in itself the political, literary, scientific, finan
cial, commerci al, voluptuar, and sumptuar capital of
a great country; to embody its whole histor; to absorb
and concentrate its whole thinking substance as well
as all its credit and nearly all its monetar resources
and assets, all this bei ng both good and bad for the na­
tion that this city crowns it is in this that Paris distin­
guishes itself from all other gi ant cities (II, p. 1 008
[Histor and Politics, pp. 398 991 , my emphasis) .
On the other hand, by being distinguished in this way,
the exemplar capital , our capital , is no longer simply
the capital of a country, but the "head of Europe, " and
thus of the world, the capital of human society i n gen­
eral, or even better, of "human sociabil ity":
N O T E 6

1 2 1
This Parisy whose character is the result of l ong ex
perience and an endless number of historical vicissi­
tudes; Paris that in the space of three hundred years
has twice or three ti mes been the head of Europe, three
ti mes conquered by the enemy, the theater of half a
dozen political revolutions, the creator of an amazing
number of reputations, the destroyer of countless stu¯
pidities¿ constantl y summoning to herself both the
fower and the dregs of the race, has made herself the
metropolis of various liberties and the capital of human socia
bility ( I I, p. 1 009 (Histor and Politics, p. 4001, my em­
phasis) .
We must neglect neither the insistent ambiguity
of this evaluation nor the abyssal potentialities of this
equivocation. In 1 927, the "Function of Paris" spoke
of everything in the capital that .was at once "good
and bad for the nation that this city crowns, " [po 399) ,
thus for the head, and it associated "the immense ad
vantages" with "the grave dangers of such a concen­
tration": with "the flower" are associated, like a fatal
parasite, "the dregs of the race" [Histor and Politics,
p. 400). What distinguishes, what distinguishes itselt is
always the most threatened, the best being always
right up against the worst. Privilege i s by definition a
del i cateness i n danger. The danger comes from
abroad, from the foreigner, not ony from the Euro­
pean foreigner but from a foreigner who comes from
even further away to contaminate, who comes, more
precisely, from other shores, from an outside of Eu­
rope-and who threatens spirit itself, the "spirit of
Paris" inasmuch as it i ncarnates spirit itself. Shortly
afer having spoken about the "dregs of the race, "
Valery in fact concludes:
The mounting credulity in the world, due to boredom
with entertaining clear ideas and the rise of exotic peoples
N O T E S 6 - 7

1 22
to civilized /ife, threatens what used to distinguish the spirit of
Paris. We have known it as the capital of quality and
the capital of criticism. We have every reason to fear
for these glories, wrought by centuries of delicate ex
periment, enlightenment, and choi ce [Histor and Poli­
tics, p. 400, my emphasis) .
Ten years later, on the eve of the war, Valer recalls
the negative efects of capital "concentration"; he as­
sociates with it, more or less deliberately, the value of
"jealousy, " and-this is in 1 93 7 -uses the expression
"concentration camp, " a camp that "consumes" "ev­
ery Frenchman who distinguishes himself. " I empha­
size:
Yet PARIS clearly distinguishes hersel f from her fellow
mi l l i on- he a de d mons t e r s , t he NEW YORKS ,
LONDONS, PEKINGS o = = our BABYLONS . . . . For i n
none of them has every ki nd of elite of a nation been
so jealously concentrated, for so many centuries, so that
by her judgment alone each value takes its place in the
scale of values, submitting to her comparisons, faCing
her criticism, jealousy. + . . This invaluable traffic could
scarcely subsist except where, for centuries, ever ki nd
of elite of a great nation has been jealously called to
gether and fenced in. To this concentration camp is des
tined every Frenchman who distinguishes himsel PARIS
beckons him, draws him, demands him, and, some
times, consumes him. (II, pp. 1 0 1 4 1 5 [Poems in the
Rough, pp. 269 70) ) .
7. "L libete de i 'esprit, " I I , p. 1 093 ["The Freedom
of Spirit, " in Histor and Politics, p. 1 86) . A few pages
later, Valery makes in passing a somewhat elliptical
remark that seems to me to be of great imporance, as
long as one follows its implications , perhaps even be-
N O T E S 7 - 8
1 2 3
yond what Valery intended by it. Valery in effect deter­
mines freedom as response: " . . . the idea of freedom is
not instinctive [remiere) in us; it never comes unless it is
called. I mean it is always a response" (II, p. 1 095 [His­
tor and Politics , p. 207) ) .
8. The logic of this text is also an analogic. In trth,
it stems entirely from a dissymmetrical analogy be­
tween spirit and value. Spirit i s a value among others,
certainly, l i ke gold, wheat, or oil, but it is also the
source of all value, thus the exceeding value, the abso­
lute and therefore sublime surlus value of the price­
less. Spirit i s one of the categories of the analogy and
the incomparable condition, the transcendental, the
transcategorial of the whole economy. It is an exam­
ple and an exemplar example, tbe example par excel­
lence. There is no other. Since Valery says this so well
in another way, I am content with gathering together
a few Quotations around what he hi mself calls, as if in
passing, "the capital point":
It is a si gn of the times o o + t hat today i t is not only
necessary but imperat ive to i nterest people' s spirits in
the fate of Spi rit that is, in their own fate . . . . They
had faith in spirity but what spirit? e = = what did they
mean by thi s word? = - = The word is indecipherable,
since it refers to the source and value of all other
words (Histor and Politic, p. 1 861 .
Present, immanent in al l that it is not, in al l the values
that are not as valuable as it is, this word can, from
now on and without any risk, enter into analogy, into
the parallelism of economy and the economy of paral­
lelismg between capital and capital . It is "the ver
thingg the "capital point , " the thing itself that is di-
N O T E 8
1 24
vided between the two registers or two regimes of the
analogy. For example:
I spoke. I believe¿ of the decl i ne and coll apseg before
our ver eyes. of the values of our l i fe; and with the
word value I brought together under one term. one
sign. val ues of the materi al and the spi ritual order.
Value is the very thing I wish to talk about. the capi ­
tal point to which I should l ike to draw your attention.
We are today wi tnessi ng a true and giganti c trans­
mut at i on of val ues ( to use Ni etzsche' s excellent
phrase), and i n givi ng to this lecture the title "Free
dom of Spi rit" I am simply alluding to one of those
essential values that nowadays seem to be suffering
the same fate as material values.
So. in saying value. I mean that spirit i s a value, just
as oil. wheat. and gold are values.
r said value because an appraisal. an assessment of
importance i s i nvolved. and also because there is a
pri ce to be discussed the price we are willing to pay
for the value we call spirit .
. . . On that market. spirit is "weak" it is nearly
always falli ng . . . . You see that I am borrowing the
language of the stock exchange . . . . I have often been
strck by the analogi es that arise, i n the most natural
way in the world. between the life of spirit in all its
manifestations and the various aspects of economic
life . . . . In both enterrisesg in the economic as i n the
spiritual l i fe, you will fi nd the same bas i c notions of
production and consumption. . . .
Moreover, in ei ther case we may equally well speak
of capital and labor. Civilization is a kind of capital that
may go on accumul ating for centuriesy as cenain other
kinds of capital do, and absorbing its compound inter
est ( II , pp= 1 077 82 [Histor and Politics. pp. 1 89 9 1 1 ) .
Valer emphasizes al l this; and he cl ai ms not to be
proposing here a "mere comparison, more or less po-
N O T E 8
1 25
etic, " not to be moving, through "mere rhetorical arti­
fices, " from material economy to spiritual economy.
To make this claim, he must confirm the at once origi­
nary and transcategorial character of the concept of
spirit, which while making the analogy possible, does
not completely belong to it. No more than logos, in
sum, is simply included i n the analogy i n which it
nonetheless parti cipates. And in fact, beyond mere
rhetoric, spirit is logos, speech, or word-as Valery lit­
erally explains. This original spiritualism indeed pres­
ents itself as a logocentrism. More rigorously still, as a
logo centrism whose birthplace is in the Mediterra­
nean basin. Once again, it is best to quote. Valer has
just been claiming not to have moved, through an arti­
fice of rhetoric, from material economy to spiritual
economy, and he emphasizes:
In fact , i f we look cl osely at t he matter, we find that
the opposite is tre. Spirit came frst, and it could not
have been otherwi se. It is the commerce of spirits that
was necessarily the fi rst commerce in the world, the
very first, the one that started it all. necessarily the
ori gi nal: for before swapping goods, it was necessar
to swap signs, and consequently a set of signs had to
be agreed on. There is no market, no exchange with­
out language; the fi rst instrument of all trade is lan
guage= We may here repeat (givi ng it a suitably altered
meani ng) the famous saying: "In the beginning was the
Word. " It was essential that the Word should precede
the act of trading. But the Word is no less than one of
the most accurate names for what I have called spirit.
Spi rit and the Word in many of their uses are almost
synonymous« The term that i n the Vulgate means word
is translated from the Greek "logos , which means at
once calculation, reason, speech, discoure, and knowledge,
as well as expression. Consequently, in saying that the
N O T E S 8 - 9

1 26
word is identical with spirit, I think ] am not uttering a
heresy, even in linguistics (II , p. 1 084 1Hiior and Poli­
lies, p. ] 94]) .
Nothing surprising then in the fact that the "logi­
cal" and the historical are from here on homologous
and indissociable: "Not only is it logically necessar
that this should be so, but it can also be demonstrated
historically. " Those "regions of the globe" that have
favored commerce are also "those regions where the
production of intellectual values . . . started earliest
and has been most prolific and various, " those where
"freedom of spirit has been most widely granted. " And
the word "market" comes back regularly (at least
three times in two pages, Tome I, pp. 1 005 1 006 [His­
tor and Politics, pp. 3 1 3 1 4) ) when it is a question of
defning Europe, "this Europe of ours, which began as
a Mediterranean market, " Europe, "this privileged
place, " "the European spirit, " "author of these won­
ders" [Histor and Politics, p. 3 1 2) . The best example,
the only one i n truth. the most irreplaceable. i s that of
the Mediterranean basin: the "example" that it "of­
fered" is in fact unique. exemplar. and i ncomparable.
It is therefore not an example among others, and this
is why logos and histor are no longer separated, since
this example will have been "the most striking and
concl usive" ( I I . pp. 1 084-85 [History and Politics.
p. 1 95) ) .
9. Tome I I . p. 1 05 8 [Histor and Politics. p. 436) .
This should come as no surrise. I t i s precisely i n this
context that Valer, on the subject of philosophy. l inks
together with force two propositions that are often dis­
j oined: the national trait and the formal tait are irreduc-
N O T E 9
1 27
ible and indissociable i n philosophy. i n the discourse
as well as the language of philosophy. The argumenta­
tion of these few pages is extremely intricate; it would
deserve more than a note. It is still a question of "en­
visaging France. the role or function of France in
bui lding up the capital of the human spirit" ( II,
pp. l 047-48 lHistor and Politics, p. 426) . my emphasis) .
Ver schematically, l et us say that if, on the one hand,
Valery gives the form of a concession and a hypothe­
sis-nit is not impossible that , " "this is quite possi­
ble" -to the proposition concerning the national trait
that would mark all philosophy, it is precisely in look­
ing in an exemplar way toward French philosophy
that he emphasizes the foral trait and vigorously ad­
vances a thesis concerning it. One could call this thesis
formalist were it not for the fear of making things
more infexible by providing an easy argument to al
those who confuse attention to form. language, writ­
ingg rhetoric. or the "text" with a subjective formalism
and a renunciation of the concept. One must be able
to take into account the national trait and the formal
trait without nationalism or formalism-and even in
order to elaborate a strategy of refined resistance to­
ward them. As interesting as it may be. the Valerian
strategy seems to me incapable of avoiding these two
pitfalls. The national hypothesis inevitably precipitates
itself in a thesis of nationalist subjectivism. The formal­
ist thesis is there only to sere this precipitation.
Firt moment. the hypothesis:
Abstract or "pure" thought. like scientific thought, en
deavors to obl iterate what comes to the thinker from
his race or his nationg its aim being to create values
N O T E 9

1 28
independent of place and person. It is doubtless not
impossible to di scern, or think we discern, in a system
of metaphysics or morals, the part that properly be­
longs to one race or nation: sometimes_ indeed, noth
ing seems t o define a certain race or nation better than
the philosophy it has produced= It is claimed that cer
tain i deas, though expressed in all universality, are al
most unthinkable outside the climate of thei r origin.
I n a foreign land they wither away like upruCted
plants, or else they look preposterous. This may well
be (II, p. 1 05 5 [Histor and Politics, pp. 43 1 32) ) .
Second moment, t he thesis. Before recalling, and em­
phasizing¿ that the thesis presents itself as a "feeli ng"
and opens with a parenthetical "apology, " let us re­
member the date of these pages: 1 939. On this eve of
combat, when nati onali st and racist eloquence in
sweepi ng through Europe more violently than ever,
Valer tones down i nto a hypothesis his propositions
on philosophy, race, and the nation. He also apolo­
gizes when, in order to speak of his "feeling" and of
philosophy as a "question of form, " he essentially
links this form to the national language and, in a sin­
gular and exemplar way, to the French language:
It is my feeling ( and I apologize for this) that philoso
phy is a matter of form. It is not in the least a science,
and it should free itself from any unconditional link
with science. To be ancilla scientiae is no better for phi
losophy than to be ancilla theoiosiae. o . . I do not say
that I am right, which in any case would be meaning
less. I say . . . that anyone who speak thi s language¿
to others and to himselfg can neither go beyond its
means nor escape the suggestions and associations
that the said l anguage has insidiously i mplanted in
him. If I am French, there at the ver point of my
N O T E 9
1 29
thought where thought takes shape and talks to itself.
it takes shape in French. according to the possibilities
and within the framework of French ( ibid. IHistor and
Politics. p. 4321 ) .
What follows is an analysis. an interretationg and
an evaluation of these said possibilities; I will not en­
gage myself i n them here. Concerning philosophy
more strictly, I will cite only the conclusion-for what
it can allow us to think today, both with and against
its author:
In France. that is the price of success for any philoso
phy. I do not mean that systems of ideas not con
forming to this principle cannot be produced here.
What I mean is that they are never truly and. as it
were. organically assimilated. Incidentally, I find analo
gous French reactions in politic and the arts ( II,
p. 1 056 IHistor and Politic. p. 4341 , my emphasis).

CONTENTS

I

N T

R OD U C T ION: E X AMP L E, vii

FO R

by Michael B. Naas

TODAY

THE

0 THE R H E A D I N G:

M E M 0 R I E S,
AND

RES P 0 N S E S,

RESPONSIBILITIES
4

CALL

IT A

DAY

FOR

DEMOCRACY

84

NO T E S
III

for exam­ ple. and write "about" politics in general and "about" Eu­ rope in particular. read. without knowing. without a certain bearing if not an already charted course. of what it means to think. Even those who will have come across these pages by accident. certain fears or hopes . at the very least. This has no doubt always been the case. Michael B . but it is especially true today . and what they can expect from the other shore . with a certain understanding. Because the po- . who will have sailed under no ideological flag. where they are headed. where they have been.I N T ROD U C T ION: FOR E X A M P L E. N aas No one today will set out to read J acques Derrida's The Other Heading without some al­ ready determined orientation or direction. will al­ ready read with certain assumptions or ex­ pectations. shipwrecked here by chance or unknown winds.

decon­ structionism. for example. that there is uniform a g reeme nt about what Derrida's work i s . This does not mean. and the list keeps growing. to what is never pre­ sent as such in any particular institution or media form. or promises-far from it-but it does mean that insofar as it has been framed by public opinion it is called upon to present itself in a certain way. stands for. and thus identify what can be expected not only today but any day from the other shore. his work. Subject to public opin­ ion-subj ect. say yes or no to it. and all that has come to be associau! d and confused with his name. one can almost speak today of a certain " pub­ lic opinion" surrounding Derrida. therefore. . political cor­ rectness. multiculturalism. Derrida's work is called upon today to stand up for evaluation and judgment. of course . subject to what nonetheless ap­ pears as natural as the light of day. to stand out so that all of us together and each of us individually can take a stand towards it.INTRODUCTION viii lemic surrounding the work of J acques D er­ rida has spread beyond academic circles to b ecome a regular issue in the popular media.

For while its claims may be either mean-spiritedly m isconceived or straightfor­ wardly trite . to the poi nt where one c a nnot but cite it. as French diseases will. a French disease. for its mere appearance in yesterday's hometown pre ss. and condemn. even if it is the very condition of reading and writi ng about philosophy or politics.INTRODUCTIO N ix (For example. the truth of the matte r is that its example has spread. as public opinion will. conquer. . spread. it is not certain that we must alway s d o so in order only t o confirm. this does not mean that everything is polemi­ c al-beginning w ith "today." While we may inde ed have c ertain s u spicions or hopes. was i ntroduced to America at Yal e. deconstructionism. just yesterday [October 29. than for anything it m ight claim. . while we perhaps must always set out in a particular direction with a compass and map in hand. we read: ".. . 19911 in an article in the Chicago Tribune.) Yet even if the polemic i s everywhere to­ day. But it has . in order only to rest assured that th e other shore offers or promises us noth- . " I c ite this example more for its status as an ex am­ ple.

mediation. I p ers i st in beli eving that there is no the­ oretical or po lit i ca l benefi t to be deri ve d from precipitating contacts or articulations. for The Other Heading is not so much an analysis were such much a s of the conditions and is contexts for the debate " about" it. . For our reading would retain the chance I of e scapi ng mer e repetition-and am here repeating the opening of The Other Heading­ the chance of not simply assuming pu blic opinion in order then to take a po sition within it. a nd transla­ tion. as long as t h ei r conditions have not been rig orously elucidated. c onfusion. or opportunis m . Eventu ally s u ch pre­ cipitation will ha ve t h e effect only of dog­ matism. insofar as it would analyze the c on­ ditions and contexts of public opinion. As Derrida 1971 : said in an interview back in . of vis­ ibility. it an anal y s i s not so of particular discourses . its forms of representation and repetition.INTRODUCT I ON x ing. transmission. .l It seems that Derrida still persists in believing of "Today's Europe"-if ever there a t h i ng - this.

both of which were originally published in an abbreviated form in newspapers. Derrida re­ minds us in " TODAY. Responses. " his short preface to The Other Heading.I NTRODUCTION xi about Europe as of discourses that assume a certain relationship to the particular and the example. t h a t this little booklet or pamphlet is co m p r i s e d of two articles. in newspapers. " This is i m p ortant not only because the explicit theme of both articles is the me­ dia. more immediately "applica­ ble" to present-day po lit ical concerns. Hence the style of The Other Heading will seem both more accessible. that is. "The Other Heading: Memories. For e xample . but because the media never simply pre­ sent or represent a theme without impressing themselves upon i t in some way. and . and it is not so much an a na ly sis of particular public opinions as of the forms and means by which opinion b ecomes visible and effective. and " C all It a Day for Democracy" (1989) . published on particu­ lar todays and brought to public attention in a "daily. and Responsibilities" (1990) .

with a discourse about political . he h ad to address some " curre nt event"-some­ . the unification of Europe in 1992 or the bicentennial ce l e brat ion of the French Revolution in 1989 . once again on the cutting edge. to assume a fairly broad and somewhat ill­ define d context-even a pub l ic op i ni on - in which the article would be read.INTRODUCTION x ii m ore elliptica l since accessibility is not won . t h i ng of immediate social or p olitica l in t e r es t For e x a m p l e. But then the question is sure to be raised. Like any journalist. While th ese art ic l es ar e surely not like th o se typically found in the editorial or po l i t i c a l c ommentary pages of newspa­ pers. at t h e expense of Derrida's usual rigor and c o mp l e x i ty . Derrida had to agree that the final editorial aut ho r it y would rest with the newspaper. t h ey do share certain structural or rhe­ torical norms with them. fo r example. like any other j ou rnal i s t he had . "Why today? Why is D errida beginning to wr ite only today about politics? Does he simply w i s h to be back in the avant-garde. and in order to have the ar t icle both accepted and read.

per ­ h a p s even in c elebration." Still spea k i n g up from the other side.I NTRODUCTION xiii responsibility inflect e d with ment. so "nihilistic " o r "anti-humanistic . " r e s p ond just as qu ic k ly that he so ha d a p rop erl y po l i t i c al age nda. in too of critique any c as e . and a u n i fi e d Europe ? " This po l em i c al . and t h a t this is O th ers will has never makes dan ge r­ ou s . It will never. question is sure t o be a sure to be t o ne of p r ov ocat i o n or indict­ or cynicism. b e r a ise d na i v e l y b u t a lway s with too much certainty. ter ms of much faith in the of the the q u es t i o n and the issues d eb a t e . will herald The Other Heading key to underst anding a po li t i c s . n ewl y em ergin g Derride a n "Fi­ nally. And so s om e will quic k ly re s pon d that Derrida has a lw a y s writte n about p ol i tic s . " they will say. s pea k i n g out in defense as a or j ust i fic at io n . t ha t this is what makes him so " ni h i l is t i c " or " anti-humanistic. " Derrida h a s pr ov i ded us with a pragrammatological appl i c at i on of deconstructive th eo ry t o cu r re nt po litic al is- . ot he r s . and dange ro u s . that he has always had a what political him so a ge nd a.

And if the argu­ ment is to be more than mere accusation o r intuition. to fulfill the promise of a radical humanism. a way to renew and radicalize the En­ lightenment project. to demonstrate by means of a series of e x a m p l e s t h a t the a u t h o r has e i t h e r ." But whether one speaks for the prosecu­ tion or the defense. For the task of an introduction is typically to situ­ ate the present work within the m ore general context of the author ' s life o r intellectual itinerary. be it a radi­ cal departure fro m the past or the cautious unfolding of it. For example. in o rder to intro­ duce or present The Other Heading. whether one sees in this work the same old heading. right here. one will have to provide a few exam­ ples. more than personal feeling o r sen­ timent. be it impotent or threatening.IN TRODUCTION xiv sues. in order to portray it in any light. or a new direction. it would be necessary to give some examples of Derrida's argument and o rientation in this and other works. one will at a certain point have to present one 's case.

"Racism's Last Word" (1983) . I would rather let The Other Heading raise the question of pol­ itics from within a coherent and consistent critique of the logic of the example. the logic of the ex­ ample is always prior to. "The E nds of Man" (1968) . the very not i o n of politics. For it j ust may be that. "The Laws of Reflec­ t i o n : N e l s o n Ma nde l a . ) .2 Such a procedu re would be not only helpful but necessary. etc . Not Now" (1984) . for Derrida.INTRODUCT I O N xv changed hea d ings or kept to the same one. an d I myself will not and c ould not avoid following it. one were to prove that Derrida has a/ways been "political. o ne would be expected to make a c ase by string­ ing together a series of texts and "todays" (for example. for example." that the political dimension of h is thought has . in spite of all the differences b etween e ar l i e r and later texts. i n Adm i r a t i o n" (1986). in which c ase The Other Heading would be not . If. " N o Apoca­ lypse. remained essentially the same. or at least complic­ itous with. But rather than simply citing The Other Heading as the most recent example of a coherent and consistent Derridean p olitics.

Derrida in fact begins The Other Heading by l inking the question of E uropean identity ing just articulated a general l aw to a Derridean poli­ the question of Europe as an example. not with an e x ampl e ample had not hing but with to do with politics in the Derridean corpus-as if t he ex­ the politics­ the question of the example in The Other Heading. an exemplary place for thinking about the very meaning and possibility of tics. Derrida asks: "Will the Europe of yesterday. one might then cite a few ex­ amples from other works that would help us to understand this logic of the example. Hav­ or axiom for all identity and self-identification. then. the following from Derrida's intro­ duction to Husserl's The Origin of Geometry:3 .INTRODUCTION xvi o nly an examp l e of a Derridean discourse about politics but. insofar as it questions the logic of the example in political discourse. of to­ morrow. and of today law? have been merely an O ne example among ex a m ple of this others? Or will it have been the exemplary law?" of possibility of this S t arti ng. For ins tance.

i nfin i t e traditional ity. are o nly more or less historical. and so forth. In the first sense. But on the o t h er hand. we could say with Huss erl that every community is in history. From this pers pective. t h en. they toward nonhis t oric ity . at t h e lower l imit. pure historicity i s reserved for the European eidos. Th erefore. in this s ec ­ o n d sense. o m n i t emporality. insofar a s there i s n o h umanity without sociality and culture. Th e empirical types of non­ E u rope an soci eties. o r some other. by investigating the sense of the pure a n d infinite possibility of historic ity.I NTRODUCTION xvii The ambiguity o f a n example that is at onc e an undistingu ished s ample and a t el eological model is still fo und her e. tend Is it a coincidence that what would seem to be a properly po l iti c al analysis gets devel- . Eu ropean. archaic. Europe has the p rivilege of being the good example. Europe ha s awakened h istory to its own prope r end. that histo ricity i s t he ess entia l h orizon o f huma nity. any soc i ety at a ll. in fact. for it in­ carnates in its p u rit y t h e Telos of all historic­ ity: uni versality. can serve as an example in an eidetic recogni­ tion.

if one attempted to read this analysis as m er ely an e x e m pl ar y e l ab or a t i o n of deconstructive theory. would not such a no­ t ion of elaboration have difficulty escaping this very same politics of the example? The Other Heading would seem to be con­ sistent.INTRODUCTION xviii oped out of an analysis of the example? Is it possible that the question of the example is not s imply one political question among many. with his persistent questioning of the relationship be­ tween nationalism and philosophical nation­ ality. with Derrida's constant cou­ pling of politics and the example. then. would not this very notion of appli­ cation have difficulty extr icating itself from the very same logic of the example? And in­ versely. betwee n national or supranation a l identity a n d t h e logic o f identity itself. but that the question of the exam­ ple essentially "is" the question of politics? For even if one attempted to read this analy­ sis of Eur ope as an early application of deconstructive theory to a properly political concern. Even . that the question of politics is not merely one example of the question of the example.

A Eu ropean eidos is here converging with the idea of philosophy. as t he m ysterious and immaterial resi­ dence of philosophy. from the ide a of ph ilosophy . it is itself b orn as s p iritual significat i o n . . At a certain m oment.I NTRODU C TION xix in Derrida's m o s t "theo retical" works. i n its absolute originality. it seems t hat the i de ntity of po l i tics has always be en complicitous with a certain politics of iden­ tity-with a politics of the mere parti cular and the putative example. as a spiritual place of b irth. Husserl would not deny that in its empirical facticity Europe has no privil e ged relation with the idea of philosophy. Europe i s not the cradle of philosophy.. In fact. And Europe has n e v e r b e e n m e rely one example among many of this complicity: In order to underst a nd Europe it is necessary to begin with an idea. and already from the very beg inning.. And yet. the pure idea of philosophy has . w i t h a pure and a priori significa tion. a E u ropean idea. . This ide a of Europe is the idea that is born in Eu rope. . as Husserl tells u s. Europe resi s ts varia­ tion. it is the ide a of philosoph y that is..

t h e e x ample of polit ic s or t h e politics of the example? How could we un d e rs tand the consiste ncy of a Derridean p o l iti c s without merely a s s um i ng and thus recapitulating the logic of the example that is being critic ized from The Problem of Genesis in the Philosophy of Husserl rig ht up through The Other Heading? Such questions concerning Derrida's own sel f consistency may seem to b e preliminary - . In a certain sense. Yet what exactly would b e consistent about these various examples apart from the e x pl i c i t in­ terest in. ' The Problem of Genes is in the Philosophy of Hus­ serl. for close to fo rty years now. one coul d in a quite tra­ di t i o na l way m u l ti p l y the examples of s u c h a na ly s e s in the Derridean corp u s to show that Derrida has been.INTRODUCTION xx come to converge with the destiny a nd exis­ tence of a people or a group of people. fo r it comes from Derrida's mas ter s thesis of 1953-54. one of the most insis t ent and self­ c o n s i s t e n t p o l i t ic a l thinkers of our t ime. th is last e x a m pl e would see m to be the most c onclusive. the mere men t ion ing or mere use of.4 Beg inning here.

Yet what if these questions were in­ separable from all those concerning the rela­ tionship between politics and the discourse " about " politics. al­ though strictly speaking. as it were. of polit ics as such.INTRODUCTION xxi - or even unrelated to the question of politics as such." adding : "This is the moment. as a sort of proposition or ax iom. one could never simply present a Derridean poli­ t ics without at the same time implicating one's own presentation. between the identity of politics. the relationship between political practice and theo ry. and the politics of identity? If such were the case. "5) To say. (In the preface to Of for example. of the example. that it is nothing other than this cri­ tique of the example that has remained the same in Derrida's political thought is simply . Derrida says that the "critical concepts " of the first part of that work are " put to the test" in the second part. then. " Nature. Culture. that not ion is not acceptable within my argument. then one could never simply g ive examples of a Derridean politics without at the same time questioning one's own use of examples. Writing.

that is. but with examples out of which we might invent a politics. " the only possible one in fact-a p articular. be­ tween a Derridean theory and a Derridean practice of politics and the example. but with his representation of Europe as an example. and thus not simply with Husserl's politics of Eu­ rope. and thus always politi­ cal example.I N TRODU C T I ON xxii t o open up in all its complexity the relation­ ship between politics and the example. with a Europe that is not simply one example among others-as it would feign to be-but the essentially " good example. Such a reversal in the tradi­ tional ord e r of politics and the example would allow the possibility of i ntroduc ing The Other Heading not as an example of a Der­ rid ean politics but as an exemplary reading of the politics of the example. It is to allow the possibility of beginn i ng not with examples of Derrida 's politicS but with Der­ rida's critique of the political example. historical. A politics of The Other Heading. for exam- . it would allow the possibility of beginning not with a poli­ tics of which we would then give examples.

that in the West a certain political thinking of s p i r i t and capital has always de­ pended upon or entailed a mere mentioning and mere use of examples. Responses . merely personal o r id­ iosyncratic.o r u s e d. For example. And we might begin to under­ stand the necessity of Derrida's "own " exam­ ples in The Other Heading. I ndeed the example is e ither mentioned or used ( i f we can still use this distinction) no less than forty times in this short book. by focusing on them as examples and not s i mply as examples of some general rule or concept. " in order to show. for Derrida. and . Valery. men­ tioned-often under the name of "exemplar­ i t y". if I might sum­ marize. always a question of situ ation and c ontext . By following the different situations and contexts of these ex­ amples in The Other Heading. we might begin to see that the question of politics is. the necessity of all those elements that might appear merely oc­ casional or contingent. a s in t h e p h r a s e "fo r example .INTRODUCTION xx i ii pie . A good part of "The Other Heading : Memories .

INTRODUCTION xxiv Responsibilities" is devoted to a reading of Paul Valery's historical and political works­ works for which he is generally less well known. or paradigm for helping us to rethink European identity and Euro p e an u nific a t i o n in 1992? (De r rida writes in "Qual Quell e : Valery's S ources. the answer. Responses. why Valery's political works. Valery alive. And so the question is sure to be raised. Vale ry for us. Valery today. why read Valery today unless to find in him a model. "6) Once aga in. lies in the context. Valery dead-always the same c o de . Valery now. as Derrida says. the re­ sponse . or rather ." Now it j ust so happens that Valery was not only a European intellectual but. since it always has more than just a bearing on the h e ading . a "Mediterranean spirit. Derrida first presented "The O ther Heading : Memories . example. and why today. " a lecture given in 1971 for the centennial of Vale ry's b i rth: "Vale ry o ne hundred years later." Born today. and Responsibilities" in May 1990 during a colloquium on Euro­ pean cultural identity in Turin-" a Latin place of the northern Mediterranean.

I N T RO D UCTI O N

xxv

on this day ( O c tober 30) in 1 871, to an Italian

mother and a Corsican father, Paul Valery saw in the Europe a n spirit an exemplary value for humankind and in the Mediterra­ nean an exemplary value for Eu r ope Valery,
[tJhe best example, the only one in tr u t h the
, .

For

most irreplaceable, is that of the Mediterr a

­

nean basin: the "example" that it "offe red"
is in fact unique, exemplary and incompara­

ble. It is

therefore not an example amo ng
,

others, and this is why logos a nd history a re no longer s ep a ra t e d since this ex ample will
have been "the most striking and coneIusive."

F o r Vale ry then, the Mediterranean in par­
,

ticular and Europe more g e nerally have never been mere examples. To speak at a col­

loquium in Turin as if one were in Paris, for
exam p le or London, or New York , or Peking ,
,

wo u ld already be to assume a certain logic of the example, a certain relationship between a

particular place and the general notion of
place-a particularly problematic assump-

I NTRODUCTION

xxvi tion at a colloquium on "European cultural identity. " To h ave feigned to efface all these marks of particularity, of context and situa­ tion, would h ave been to draw attention away from the problemat ic nature of exam­ ples in political discourse, away from politi­ cal disco u rse as an example, in o rde r to provide an exemplary, and thus universalist, discourse about politics. It would have been to insc ribe a particular place and discourse in

the name of the universal. For the "value of
universalit y " is always, says Derrida
linked to the va lue of exemplarity that in­

scribes the universal in the proper body of a
singularity, of an i diom or a culture,

whether

t h i s s ing u la rity be individual, s ocial, na­
tional, st ate, federal, confederal, or not.

What makes Valery exemplary is not that he simply privileges Europe or the Mediterra­
nean, but that he tries, not unlike Husserl, to

articulate a logic whereby the example or ex­ emplar would become a universal h eading for all the nations or peoples of the world.
Such a logic would thus not militate against,

INTRODUCTION

xxvii but might even promote, the unification of individu al nations or peoples in the name of international law and universal values. For example, in a League of Nations . Der­ rida begins The Other Heading by claiming that " s o mething u nique is afoot in Europe," something that "refus[es] itself to anticipa­ tion as much as to analogy," that "seems to
be without precedent." And

yet h e also

speaks of an imminence in Valery "whose repetition we seem to be living." an imm i­ nence " that s o much resembles our own, to the point where we wrongly and too precipi­ tately b orrow from it so many discursive schema . " How are we to understand this ap­ parent contradiction? How are we to under­ stand resemblance when what is at stake is a certain logic o f resemblance, of analogy and example-since it would seem that particular events become examples or analogies only insofar as they resemble each other in some way? In identifying certain similarities be­ tween two times or two thinkers. be they of this century or the last, be they German or

. a di sc ou r s e a t once ex­ emp l a ry a n d exem p l ar i s t . Derrida cites his own Of Spirit as an example of this rethinking o f the example." it seems. This modern Weste rn wor l d . and Heidegger are "great ex­ amples. is a l r eady a traditional discourse of modernity. . D errida can therefore neither simply reject nor a ssume this notion of resemblance. but because they all present Europe and spirit in te rms o f the logic of the example. not because they all define Euro p e in terms of spirit. in Of Spirit fo r example-this tra­ is ditional d i s c o urs e already a d i s course of the . Valery. Th e s e discourses thus resemble e ach other only insofar as th e y u n - . in spite of a ll the dif­ ferences that di st i ngu is h the s e great exam­ ples fro m each o ther-I t r i ed to mark them elsewhere. H e g e l . from Huss erl to Heidegger. Husserl.INTRODUCTION xxviii French. since it is precisely the possibility of g iving various examples of a general movement­ such as a movement of "spirit"-that is be­ ing called int o qu es t i on : I note o nly that from Hegel to Valery. old dis­ course about Europe.

it very would.INTRODUCTIO N xxix dersland resemblance-and thereby identify and recognize Europe-in a similar way. he as Husserl treated Europe. for example. by H usse r l for examp le. Derrida's the "for exa mple " both works within logic of the example and displaces i t . . In its physical geo grap hy . example as Heg el treated European discourse-that is. .. There was. . and in what has often been called. its spirituaigeography. For present if Derrida were to Husserl or Hegel as would in effect a mere example of a general movement that runs from Hegel to be treating Husserl or trea ti n g Hegel Valery.. as just one example among many. the form of the Hegelian moment wherein European dis­ course coincided with spirit's return to itself in Absolute Knowledge . insofar as it articulates this example. Europe has a lways recog­ nized itself as a cape or headland . not only as one a mong others for thinking this movement but as the ex e mpla r y pl ace for it to b e thought For while Euro pe would present itself .. be the example logic of the of what remains .

In "How t o Avoid Speak­ ing: De n ial s . no o t he r . at the risk of shocking-God. "7) It is this o rien­ tation. It is an example and an exemplary ex a m p le the example par excellence. i n Derrida says a nd a s e nse. t he tran­ sc en dental. (Spirit w o u l d thus function. Spirit would thus be its own condition." e mp h a s ize s : add r e ss "In every praye r there must be an to the other as other. like G od. this comp lic it y between the and the u niversal. let us e mph asi ze for t he moment a g en era lity: in this struggle for control over culture. There is .INTRODU C TION xxx c o m p l ete ly outside the d i s c ou rs e as its trans­ parent and unquestioned condition. Refrai n i ng from giving any examples . that Derrida example sees as "sim­ d is co ur s e s ila r " in the great p h i lo s oph ica l about spirit fro m Hegel to Valery. for example-I wi ll say. the transcateg orial of the whole economy. Sp irit is one of the c a teg o r i es of the analogy and the incomparable condition. i t exam­ would make of itself the exa mp l e par excel­ lence and w o ul d thus orient all other ple s toward it. i n this .

that would never be thematizable. a s impl e partic u­ larity. between the transcendental that woul d seem to be outs ide the discourse and the ex­ amples within it. that is to s a y . that i s . by not assuming either that one can give mere e xa m ples of this logic or that one can completely avoid it. then we are per­ haps c alled upon to think a relation of exem­ plarity that would never become present as such. by not claiming to present it as such. what has or­ ganized this relationship b etween spirit and itself. since it would not exist somewhere prior .or s upra-n a tional sense. national h egemony is no t cla imed-today no more than ever-in th e na m e of an emp iri c a l superiori ty. By working both within this logic and at its limits. and yet.INTRODUCTION xxi strategy that tries to o r ga nize cultural i den­ tit y a ro und a c apital that is all the more powerful for being mobile. For if what links H egel to Valery cannot be completely thought within this logic of the example . Derrida allows us to begin to think what is and has always been unprecedented "in" this logic. Euro p ea n in a hyper.

the exemplar ity of the ex a mp l e is unique. yet a ga in. an example that would at o nce forbid and necessitate comparison and resemblance. at work everywhere today. since I find it just as typical or archetypical a s any o t her. only Valery 's. I w ill cite. Each t ime. a s e­ Among a ll the possible ex a mp l es. That is why it can be p u t into ries a nd forma lized into a l a w . But this is hardly a l imit a t io n for this logic is . It would n e c essit a t e thinking a resemb lance not between two present things but between two thinkings of resemblance. and it is perhaps . Such a rethinking of the example can only be carried out "within" those discourses where the logic of the ex am pl e is at stake. Such an exemplarity could never fu ncti o n as a neutral or transparent model or telos for dis cour s e or tho ug h t .INTRO D UCT I O N xxxii to any manifestation-as spirit m ight have feigned to do-would always only appear as an example of itself. a resemblance between two e x amp les that would illustrate not some general rule or movement but only their own exem plarity .

and ("Valery pean. like Hei de g ger example of G erma ny and ' s the German lan­ even of P a ri s guage." Sin c e the time of Fichte. Valery the E uro­ to be. of E urope. that is. of "h uma n soc iability . In t he logic of . as the capital of capita ls [Bly bein g distinguis hed i n this way. o u r capitaL is no l onger s imply the c apital of a country. . . . in discourses about national and su­ pranational sover eig nty and identity. the capital o f human society in gen­ eral. o r even better. to the very essence to pre s ent this capi tal . .INTRODUCTION xxxiii not a coincidence are that i t " is at work in " what g eneral l y c a l led p olitica l discourses. . of F rance. ' Like ' Hu sse rl s example of Europe. t h e exemplary capital. the thinker of Paris"). numerou s ex­ amples migh t attes t to this. in just wanted as exemplary a way. . turn s out to have privileged relationship hum a n ity: The "exemplari st" lo gic th a t we are here trying to r eco gnize had in fact driven Valery . Val e ry s example of the Mediterra­ nean. . a of the Mediterranean. ." a nd t h us of the world. but the "head of Europe.

INTRODUCTION xxxiv this " c a p it a l i st ic " and cosmopol i t i c a l dis­ course. Valery was a leading member of the Commit­ tee on Arts and Letters. so the task of thinking today . to advance itself as a h ead­ ing for the uni ve rs a l ess ence of h um a nity. which was estab­ lished in 1931 by the League of Nations as a sort of permanent colloquium on "European cultural identity." And so just as the logic of the example both forbids and necessitate s comparison between different philosophical discourses. In addition to having written many essays on Europe and European identity (in Regards sur Ie monde actue/ and Essais quasi politiques). seems to both prohibit and demand a com­ parison b e tween two t i m e s : between the years following World War I when a League of Nations was established and the years fol- . analog ically. wh at is proper to a particular nation or idiom would be to be a he ading for Eu­ rope. of thinking the today as the u np r ecedented . For example-it bears repeating-a s a heading for and as a League of Nat ions. and what is p r oper to Europe would be.

then. that is being unified for a second time? Are thes e two mo­ ments in the history of a Europe whose con­ figuration might change but whose essence woul d remain the same? Or is it possible that the c urrent situation demands changing this traditional de fin ition of Europe? Might not the task of t h i nking "Today's Europe " de­ mand not only a new defi n i t i o n for European identity but a new way of thinking i dentity itself? And what if this r ethin k i ng of Euro­ pea n identity were not a search for the r ad i the Old Europe sought or c l a i med ­ c ally new-since this is often p recisely what b u t the return to another origin of Old Europe . an ori­ gin that could never become the object of any search or discovery? Derrida asks in the beginning of The Other Heading whether the toda y of Europe will break with this exemplary logic or whether the Europe of today will simply present itself. as important eve nts in Ea stern Europe and the Soviet Union c oinci de with the prospects of a uni fied Europe.. ­ Is this the same Eu r o p e. lowi n g the end of the Cold War. .INTRODUCTION xxv .

what makes these claims sig­ nificant is not simply what they say but the exemplarist logic they use in saying it. and thus. . " The notion of "reunion" is thus not merely an example of such asser­ tions concerning European i dentity but an ex- . that of a 'reunion') . Heidegger. as the exemplary possibility of the law to which it bears witness? In conj unc­ tion. as one example among others. . and most especially Valery­ Derrida cites a couple of recent t exts from the French government that would claim for France an exemplary role in European poli­ tics and for today's Europe the opportunity for a joyous return to its origins and identity. with these more or less classic examples of philosoph ical discourse-Hus­ serl.INT R O D UCTION xxxvi once again. therefore. referring to an axiom that would be "prelimi­ nary to the very possibility of giving a mean­ ing to such assertions (for example. he does so by implicitly relating the charac­ terization itself to the logic of the example . Thus when D errida questions French Pres ident Fran\ois MiUerrand's characterization of Eu­ rope 's triumphant homecoming or re union. . But once again.

and so when "fo r example. . a sort of avant-garde of memory and culture. .." it is once again an exemplarist logic that is be­ ing invoked." its aim its . . . the place of capitalizing memory and of decision and as telos. . as in the t im e of Valery. " And when Derrida c ites the claims of " all French maj or­ ities to an avant-garde status. th e logic by which "France as­ s igns herself this exemplary task. a c c o r din g to Derrida.IN TRODUCTION xxvii ample of the exempl a rist logic by which Europe would i dentify itself in terms of an identifiable origin and end: The i de a of an advanced point of exemplarity is the idea of the European idea. in t he name of a u niver s al idea: . its eidos. . he argues that " such claims are being made today. . mission even. at once as arche-the idea of beginning but also of commanding (the cap as the head. in the "conquest of spirit(s) . )­ This adv a nc e d point is. a certain offi­ cial document c omi n g out of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs" refers to Fran c e s responsi­ ' bility and "avant-garde p o sition ..

I NT R O D U C T I O N xxxviii W ithout exception. of "reducing Europe to a text . for the capital of all revolutions and for the Paris of today. It is thus not a ques­ tion in The Other Heading. Europe 's place and distinction i n the . " or of " deconstructing Europe. One will have noticed that each time it is a certain discourse about Europe that is be­ ing analyzed. Derrida analyzes dis­ c ourses that thematize Europe's identity and mission. that is. as some might claim. a certain presen tation or self­ presentation of Europe. they claim for France." but of analyzing those discourses "about" Europe that would themselves claim or simply assume some re­ lationship between discourse and Europe. which is. to say for Paris. of course. on an idea of an international law. which is founded o n an ide a of human rights. quite s imply. of free c ulture its elf. for exam­ ple. In each case. in th e idea of democra t i c c u lture. be­ tween speaking about Europe and Europe itself. the rol e of the avant-garde. and thus between language or spirit and what is generally taken to be a geograph­ ical or spiritual entity outside or before all language .

it is a question of a discourse that presents Europe by means of a logic that was born and nur­ tured in Europe. then. This persistent critique of the logic o f the example helps to explain why so many of Derrida's works are "occasional " pieces. to places and frameworks. Each time. And so each time. For example. This logic can also .I N T R O D U C T I O N xxxix world. and why the marks of the occasion are so often retained. E ach time. Such attention t o context and situation. c o ntextual ization. For an occasion is always both an irreduc ibly singular event and. that which necessitates com­ paris o n . and a na l y s i s . in the title. can be found fro m the very beginning o f The Other Heading. in as much as it takes place. an exemplary European discourse of universality. it is a question of a dis­ course that affirms Europe's role as an exam­ ple of universality. it is a question of an exemplary discourse for the logic of the example. since a title is never simply an example of the work's con­ tent but a heading or orientation for all the other examples within it.

which I date quite precisely from the . thereby neutralizing its politi­ cal fo r ce ( A s Derrida says in the beginning of his famous essay "The Ends of Man. " And so in addition to speaking " about" politics. and democ r ac y in this text. . of Euro­ pea n identity. with this very obscure word. D e rrida asks whether any colloquium on Europe an cul­ tural i dentity that did not t ake its own exem­ pl a r i t y into a c c o u nt w o u l d not e n d u p recapitulating the logic o f the example that sustains a traditio n al understanding . humanism.INTRODUCTION xl be found rig h t in the beginning. where Der­ rida preserves in the written version of the text the idiosyncratic marks of its oral com­ munication in Turin. or a performance. Derrida begins by ask­ ing w h e th e r a colloquium o n E urope a n cultural identity c a n avoid the risk o f becom­ ing " [j) ust another cultural event. for exam­ ple. or else an exercise in what one calls. . Der­ rid a goes on to rec all "the writing of this text. ' ' ' In oth e r words . ' c u l t u re . " first presented at a colloquium in October 1 968 in New York: "Every philosophical colloqui u m necessarily has a political signifi c anc e . month of April 1 9 6 8 the weeks of the .

Bill Mar­ Waxman for thei r many fine suggestions. and espe­ c ia lly to David Krell. t hey would like to thank Jacques Derrida. translators would like to r e c all and acknowl­ ed g e their gratitude to their colleagues at D e Paul University. And and g u i d an c e. "8) Once ag a i n it is ne c e s s ary both i n fact and in prin c i p le to recall the forms . in the middle o f these ex am p l es the . o f course. .) For the question of translation. patience. tin Andrew Suozzo. the uni­ . versities of Paris we r e i nv ade d by the forces of order . (And so right he r e in fact . for his encouragement. c ontexts . good judgment. the ques- . the values of speaking o r be­ i ng read in a no th e r country or another lan­ guage-in translation. a n d val u e s of communication and language . . For example. an d Lawre nce . when I was typing t hi s text. and support. A bit l ate r . a n d a l o n g w i t h others. to D a ryl Koehn. ha r d work. who must s u ffe r to be ac­ k n o w l e d g e d yet a g a i n .I N T R O D U C T I O N xl i ope ni ng of t he Vietnam p e ac e talks and of the assassination o f Martin Luther King . . structures. for his exemplary kindness.

or television. in a singular and exemplary way. as Derrida says. radio. . to colonize .I NT R O D U C T I O N xlii tion of when and whether to translate. (Just a s French w a s not for Valery . who. " For example. t h i s h e g em o ny r e m a i n s i ndisputab l e . Indeed the question of translation is often the very condition for talking about the agenda. "-right here-since En­ g l i s h is n o t today s i mply o n e l a ng u a g e among others . ") D e rr i d a "Two writes i n the E nglish version of for Joyce " : 9 Words . b u t i t s l a w only appears as such in the course of a wa r t h rough which English tries to erase the o ther language or language s . And the same goes for communicating by telephone. since none of these is ever completely neutral or transpar­ ent. is never simply one question - among many on the agenda not in Derrida and not in any other serious disco u rse about Europe . to the F r e n c h l a n g u a g e . . of what linguistic c apital will dominate in Eu­ rope in 1992. for sitting down at the "same" table . linked the ques­ tion of form in philosophy "to the national language and.

for a news­ paper published simultaneously in four dif­ ferent languages to be unified u nder a Latin title or heading. Madr i d Paris. D e rr i d a a s k s . This polemos or war at the center of transla­ tion.. and Frankfurt. to domesticate them.I N T R O D U C T I O N . or whether it bids us return to these roots in order to re p ea t and celebrate t h e m. to present them for r eading from only one angle. Today. Such a name would seem to be in c o nformity w i t h D e rrida's notion of an old paleonomy ( " the "strategic " necessity that requires the occasional m a inte nance of name but in order to la u nch a new concept") . I O asks whether the Latin order to liberate us from it. Derrida asks. _ _- xliii them. must not be forgotten when Der­ new European newspaper of fou r E ur op ean . Liber that links the todays What does it m e an. Which was never so tru e . at the very center of identity rida s p eaks of the or being or truth (war). centers-Turin. . in e ffe c t . Derrida in e ffe c t in context is there in o rder to point us toward an even more radical liberation than the one that is sug­ gested by Latin roots.

call the other back to this idiom of liberation. to invoke a return to or rediscovery of an old l an guage in all its lexical pl a y and force. if it is a metaphor.I N T R O D U C T I O N xliv whether the imperative is to invoke the other from w it h in a Latin idiom in order to liberate them fro m the hegemony of any p a rt i cular idiom (libere-toi). that is. two dis­ c ou rses that have given the heading for all Western political discourse. of navigation. the metaphorization of literal g oo ds and capital into the s u rplu s . fo r example. the state is com­ p are d to a ship and the king to a captain. Yet this very heading would seem to suggest that n a v igation could never be a mere metaphor. This metaphor reemerges in various forms in the West right up through Valery. For example. in the metaphor. for one of the essential properties of this head­ i ng is the conversion of material goods into spiritual ones. to exp e rime n t with and thus reinvent an old lan g uage or whether it is to . for all intellectual and cultural discovery and speculation. Already in Plato's Statesman a n d Republic. who sees in Eu­ ro pe a heading. the heading.

. . . Once again. and other ways of out thinki ng has been carried out . g imes of the analog y . other p eo ples the .INTRODUCTION x lv value. one literal and the other meta­ p h o ri c a l . one both l i te r al and meta­ phori cal and the other exceeding and responsible the ' for both: " It i s 'the ve ry registers thing : c ap i t al po int: the th i ng itself that is di­ two or two re­ vided between the Such. name and for whose benefit other in whos e of lands . the c a p i ta l valu e . of spi ri t . the headland of thought. He sets from a E u rope where g a t i o n has alw ays . two like sp irit . return ready to a venture a nd - surplus value that the of Europe . For e x a mpl e : . me t a pho r of navi­ p r esen t e d itself as a mere m e tap h o r wh ere l a n g u a g e and tropes have been ventured in the expectation that they . overcoming of the me rely m aterial the c a pi t a l i z i n g spi ritua l surplus. Derrida sees capital. too w i ll have al­ b e e n there from b e g i nn in g as the spi rit or essence that has always And so Derrida sets out fr om a Europe itself d e fi n e d as the c a pi ta l exp lora ti on of culture. it the would seem. or rather. operating on registers. " in a is the very telos of capital.

Derrida ar­ gues fo r the necessity of working with and from the Enlightenment values of liberal de­ mocracy while at the same time rec alling that these values are never enough to ensure respect for the other. Derrida warns.I NTR O D U C T I O N xlvi would return with an even greater value at­ tached. for example . Derrida shows ­ taliza t i o n . If such Eurocentric biases a re not to be repeated. and our thought. it must be asked by recalling that "the other head­ ing " is not a mere metaphor subject to capi metaphors. our language. the question of Europe must be asked in a new way. Rejecting the easy or programmatic solutions of either c omplete unification ( " The New World Order") or total dispersion. Derrida thus seeks a re­ definition of European identity that includes respect for both universal values and differ­ ence-s ince one without the other will sim­ ply repeat without submitting to c ritique the politic s of the example . Derrida argues not only that Europe must be responsible for the other. but the very c ondi t i o n of our . (In his essay on Nel­ son M andela. but that its own identity is in fact constituted by the other.

to the other of the heading. . . but because he is an exemplary and unique reflection of those values : "Why does [Mandela] seem ex­ emplary-and admirable in what he thinks and says. as Derrida reminds us. And so Derrida suggests that while we can­ not and indeed must not avoid the language of responsibility and identity-fo r this would be to open ourselves up to the worst possible abuses (which. and thus universal. . that which it cannot simply identify through examples but must think as exemplarity itself-the irreduc ible singularity of each example. take a position to­ ward. that is. have al­ ways been perpetrated in the name of the ab- . nor simply because he is a good model of Euro­ pean. in the end. values . affirm or deny. even. to that which it cannot simply say yes or no to. in what he does or in what he suf­ fers? Admirable in himself .I NT R O D U C T I O N xlvii that M andela is admirable no t simply be­ cause of his particular form of resistance . " I I ) If it is to be responsible for itself and for the other­ for itself as other-then Europe must appeal both to its own heading and to the heading of the other.

political liberties and responsibilities. in them. and of the example . therefore. not to take them for granted but to take them as that which can never be completely taken or granted. therefore. it would surely be out of the question to want to do away with the Enlightenment project. The imperative remains. The imperative re mains. to question the heritage of our language and thought in and through the . But it may also be necessary not simply to affirm but to question the values it has given us. in the name of an absolute break with the past)-neither can we simply afford to accept this language w ithout submitting it to an interminable critique. to return to these names and discourses precisely because they have given us our language­ our language of responsibility. of giving. to question the exemplarity of this language and this heritage in order to e ncoun­ ter or experience what remains necessarily ab­ se nt and u ntho ught . For example . nec e s s a rily w ithout example . If the E n l ighte nment has g iven us h u man rights.I N T R O D U C T I O N xlviii solutely new or different.

or trans­ parent . one might cite the College I nternational de Philosophie as such a u niversity space. ' " a university might also provide the exemplary "space " or "forum " for both using and critic izing this logic of universality. for com­ munication i n public space. for ' communica­ tive action . and espe­ cially through a philosophic al discourse " that would plead "for transpare ncy . For while D errida warns that a homogene ity of discourse might be imposed through a " new university spac e . that would never be univocal. and institutions of education and communication-including the u n iversity. ( I n the desc ription of his . " " fo r the univocity of democratic discussion. structures. neutral. Taking the necessary risk of an exam­ ple. the College is an example of a new pedagogi­ cal-and thus "political"-institution whose mission would be to present itself not as an exemplary place for education and communi­ cation but as an exemplary place for ques­ tioning the forms. for i nventing an exemplarity that must re­ main w ithout example or precedent .INTRO DUCTION xlix university. Founded in 1984 by Derrida and others.

tionship to the German state and university. a work about. to the language of philosophy and to the phi­ losophy o f language-and. And so we might c ite . a s em ina r given under the aus­ pices o f both the College and the E cole normale superieure. legiti­ matio n .I NTRO D U CT I O N 1 9 8 3 . Is it a new ' phil()sophi­ cal institution ' ? " 1 2) It was thus during a conference o rganized by the College i n 1 987 that Derrida first presented Of Spirit. of cou rs e . For e xample teach i ng and learning phi­ . and structures of the philosophical institution i n generaL c o nclu d­ ing: "The g u iding thread for this preliminary attempt : the example of the Colle ge Interna­ tional de Philosophie . Derrida e xplains the ne­ cessi ty of questioning the foundation. losophy-which will never be just one disci­ pline among others. Such a university would thus seem to be an exe mpl ary p l a c e for t e a ch i n g and learning about the politics of teaching and learning .8 4 s e mi n a r entit l e d Du dro i t a fa philosophie. among other thi n g s Heidegger's rela­ . t o spirit. role .

Founded in 1 9 7 5 by Derrida and others.7 5 seminar: "There is no neutral or natural place in teaching. and economic conditions in which that teaching takes place . GREPH is thus a "privileged" place for asking about the exemplary status of teaching and philosophy-a p riviJt:ged place for asking about the "nature" of the example. neutral or natural places. neither.I NTRO D U C T I O N Ii GREPH as another e xampl e of an o rganiza ­ tion devoted to analyzing the exemplary sta­ tus of p h i l o s oph y . as Derrida has un­ derstood them. " 1 3 Neither GREPH nor the College Interna­ tional de Philosophie would be. In anticipation. p o litical. social. is not an indifferent place. therefore . and for acting upon these ques­ of tions. would be the transparent con­ dition for tal k ing about received ideas and . D errida said near the beginning of his 1 9 74. then. the for­ mation of G R E P H . Here. between the teaching of philos­ ophy and the historical. for exampl e . Le Groupe de Recherches sur l Enseignement Philosophique is a group ' of teachers and students about the devoted to asking relationship between philosophy and teaching.

to what could never be a mere example . Near the end of The Other Heading. Rather. however. none present themselves as mere partic ulars that would essentially co m m u nicate w i t h t he unive r sal . places for responding both to the particular and to that which exceeds it. but a unique response to t h e i r own u nprec edented s i tu ation .I N T R O D U C T I ON lii institut ions. cer­ tainly n ot the response. In e ach it is a question of a politics and ethics of the example : . either the necessary repeatability of a particular situa­ tion case. both to the logic and exemplarity of the example . They would thus not be an exemplary re­ sponse. N o n e of these examples claim to be mere ex a mples. not one response among many. they would be exem­ plary places for asking about their own ex­ emplarity. Indeed. or its irreducible s ingularity. each contains a n antinomy that can be re­ so lved o nly by ignoring either the example or the exemplarity of the example. Derrida gives some of his own examples of how we m ight best be responsible to and fo r the promise of what must remain without exam­ ple .

etc . ethics .I N TR O D U C T I O N liii O n e c o u l d multiply the exa m p les of t h i s double duty I t would b e necessary above a l l . decision. would no longer resemble-and not even itself. It would b e n ec essary to recognize both the typ ic al o r rec u rring fo rm and the inexhaustible s ingu­ larization-without which th ere will never be any event. for example. responsibility. like them. h i s position . o f t h e doubl e constraint. And not only to ac­ cept but to claim this p utti n g to the test of the antinomy (in the forms. the p erfo rmative contradiction. Fo r example . the undecidable. to disc ern the unprecedented forms t h a t it is taking today in E urope. he even suggests a resem­ blance between his discourse. ) . the inexhaustible s ingu ­ larization of today. of today's Europe-of a Europe that woul d resemble yesterday's or tomorrow's Europe only insofar as it. or politics. Throughout the first part o f The Other Heading Derrida speaks of a resem­ blance between the historical situation in whic h a League of Nations was formed and the situation we are now living with the uni­ fication of Europe.

that their legitimacy is never simply given. considering Derrida's sustained critique of the logic of the example. Rather than merely repeating Valery's self­ identification in Europe . that the League of Nations and the Europe of 1 992 cannot be two mere examples of European u nification. If par­ allels have to be drawn. " D e rrida demonstrat e s that t h e . and Valery 's. i n " Q ual Q u e U e : Valery ' s S o u rc e s . H e n c e D e rri d a " i dent ifie s " h i m s e l f with Valery not in order to repeat or to do away with the notion of identity but to reinvent it.I NT R O D U C T I O N liv and status even. if they m ust be drawn. And yet it is clear. (For e x a mple . in the Mediterra­ nean-in all those sources that reflect an identity without ope n ing it up onto the othe r-rather than simply interrupting this reflection so that there is no self-recognition at a l l . D e r r i d a d e m o n s t r a t e s t h a t s e l f­ reflection and self-recognition only ever be­ gin in a source or heading that is not ours. just as D errida and Valery cannot be two mere examples of French intellectuals . then it must also be kept i n mind that such lines and distinctions are never natural.

that is. pres­ ents it as an example of what can no longer simply be presented. " 1 5] ) By recontextu­ alizing a discourse that would have feigned to g ive up its particularity in the name of a universal. he not only draws attention to Valery's strategy but. the ex­ emplary name might still be that of Nietz­ sche. the names would be those of Nietzsche and Freud . as an example of . by citing or contextualizing it as he uses it.IN TRO D U CTIO N Iv "logic of Valery's aversions" corresponds not to a series of personal dislikes and fears but to a s e r i e s of exempl a ry b l i n d spots in Valery's own self-reflection: "Here. his situation. for exam­ ple. Derrida demonstrates the irreduc­ ible s ingularity of Valery's discourse-and it is precis ely with this irreducible singularity. that Derrida identifies himself. who called "geographical Europe " the "little peninsula of Asia . in The Other Heading. when Valery identifies Eu rope as a "cape" or "appendix" to the Asian continent. " 1 4 [Here. Thus w h e n Derrida repeats o r " m i m e s " Valery 's own attempt t o pass off a personal feeling for a general axiom. and his time. with what can have no example.

" a n o t h er way of moving surrep t i ­ tiously from t h e feeling t o t h e axiom. if it claimed that every example were an example not of some general notion of identity but of an exemplarity that both con­ stitutes and disrupts the identity of all exam­ ple s ? T h e n . anachronis t i c European _ . between himself and all other Europeans: Out of t h i s feeling of an old.I N T R O D U C T I O N lvi the exemplary relationship between the per­ sonal and the general . But what if this axiom did not s imply as­ sume the logic of the example but problema­ tized it. It would thus require not simply aba ndoning the notion of exemplarity but . it s e e m s . between himself and Valery. I w il l make t h e first axiom of this lit t l e tal k . between one today and all todays. And I w i l l s a y "w e" in plac e of " 1 . . the a x i o m w o uld reintroduce not only the personal and the particular-the possibility o f othe r head­ ings-but the irreducible singularity o r ex­ emplarity that would a l l o w fo r the "unification" -though never the subsump­ tion-of these particulars-the other of the heading.

another day. " a E u rope that would be exemplary in this very openness . . . The other of the heading would require us to rethink not only our notion of identity and the example. on public opinion. I began this introduction by t alking about The Other Heading's emphasis on the media. allowing for a Europe that would not be " guided by the idea of a tran­ scendental community. that would actually constitute our day . it would require us to think the irreducible singularity of a day. At the end of " Call It a D ay for Democracy. the heri- . It would require us to think the ne­ cessity of not only a new revolution in E n­ lightenment values but a revolution in this notion of revolution and Enlightenment . but our notion of the identity of today as a mere example. .I N T R O D UCT I O N lvii reinscribing it. and on certain freedoms in and of the press. the subjectivity of a 'we' for which Europe would be at once the name a nd the exemplary figu re . " D errida seems to sug­ gest that these values and freedoms. " but a Eu­ rope that would "advanc [e] itself in an exem­ plary way toward what it is not .

in the very order of the day. tra ns. 2 5 0-5 1 . 1 98 1 ) . 4. ed. p . Le probleme de la genese dans la philosophie de Husserl (Paris: Presses Univers itaires de France. Peggy K a m u f (New York: Columbia Univers ity Press. J acques Derrida. Y. 1 1 5 . conceal a n d call out for a revolution that can have no examples­ a revolution in the forms of visibility and me­ di ation that the media and public opinion assume. Alan Bass ( C hic a g o : University of C hi c a g o Press. Leavey. 1 9 7 8 ) . In Jacques Derrida. therefore. Margins of Philosophy. Positions. 6. with a preface . 5 . . Jr. 60 1 . 0f Grammatology. 6 2 . . Ltd.I NTRODUCTION lviii t a g e o f. trans. lxxxix. J acques D erri da .fo r e x ample . translated. a revolution. 2 . N . 3 . by John P. in the very prom­ ise and politics of the example . 1 9 90). pp. pp.the F re nc h a n d American Revolutions . : N ic h ol as H ays. Jacques Derrida . For a n excellent b i b l i o graphy of Derrida 's work. (Stony Brook. Edmund Husserl's "Origin of Ge­ ometry": An Introduction. 1 99 1 ) . Jacques Derrida. see A Derrida Reader. p . and thus. p . N O T E S 1 . 1 9 76). t r a ns Gaya­ tri C h a kravorty Sp ivak ( B a l t i more : J o hns Hopkins University Press.1 2 ..

" in La ng u ages of the Unsayab le. 1 987). 1 0 . Jacques Derrida. Jacques D errida. p. "Privileg e : Titre justificatif et remarqucs introductives . 2 7 5 . Jacques Derrida . 1 3 . 1 1 4 . in Adm i ratio n . " Tw o Words for J o yc e . " trans. Positions. Mary Ann Caws and Isabelle Lorenz. 2 78 . p. t r a n s . A ll Too Human. pp. I l l . 9. " i n Post-Structuralist Joyce: Essays from the French. 1 1 . Jacques Derrida. ed. 1 9 90). p . 1 4." in Du droit a la philosoph ie. Margins of Philosophy. 1 5 . Friedrich Nie tzsche. "The Laws of Reflection: Nel son Mandela. Jacques Derrida. 47-48 . p. Jacques De rrida . 1 1 . pp. J. in For Nelson Ma ndela. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Ca mb r i dg e U ni­ versity Press. " How t o Avoid Spea king: De nials . 1 98 9 ) . 7 1 . p . 1 1 4. 8 . 1 984). J acques Derrida and Mustapha Tlili (New York: Seaver Books. " in Du droit a la philosophie (Paris : Editions Galilee. 1 2 . Derek Attri d g e and Daniel Ferrer ( C ambri dge: Cambridge University Press. 3 6 5 . trans. Human. 4 1 . trans. " in Mar gins of Philosophy. 1 982). K e n Freiden. p. e d . .I N T R O D U C T I O N lix Alan Bass ( Ch icago: U nivers ity of C h icago P re s s . p. 1 982). "OU commence et comment finit un corps enseigna nt. Alan Bass (Chicago: Univers ity of Chicago Press. "The Ends of Man. p. Sanford Budick and Wo lfg a ng Iser (New York: Columbia University Press. e d . R. 1 98 6). 7. 1 3 .

.

THE OTHER HEADING -. .

.

one that tries to be the exception to the rule. 5 ) .T O D AY kindly asking me to publish in b o o k fo rm . Jerome Lindon led me to reflect upon the alliance of an accident and a neces­ si ty. it is a singular newspaper. had itself been pub­ lished in a newspaper (Liber. Revue europeenne des livres.a s an o p u s c u l e or "booklet"-what was first a news­ paper article. in an . October 1 9 9 0 . To be sure. and of media culture . " The Other Headin g " [L 'autre cap) . Until then I had not paid enough atten­ tion to the fact that an article. since it is. of the press. no . clearly preoccupied with questions of the newspaper and the book. questions of publication.

which appeared twelve times du ring the b i ce nt e n n i a l year. that is. and because of t his situation ( a newsp a p e r within a newspaper but also a newspaper issued separately) . But b e y ond this sharing of themes. and the media to public o pi n i o n . Now it just so happens. inserted simultaneously into o t h e r E u r o p e a n n e w s p a p e r s (Fra nkfu rter Allgemeine Zeitung. L 'Indice. and t o E u r o p e . which in the end treats a n a log o us problems­ above all. democracy. Le Monde. books.THE O T H ER H E ADI N G 2 unusual way. EI Pais. Le Monde) and th u s at once into four different lan­ guages. to freedoms. human rights. in an apparently fortuitous way. problems concerning the press and publication. that a no t h e r article. "Call It a Day for Democracy" ILa democratie ajournee] . sepa­ rately. and again. I thought there was some sense in putting these two articles together a s they were . side by side and unde r .ha d also been published the year be­ fore in another newsp a per that was al s o the same o ne. in the supplement of a special issue: the first issue of Le Monde de la Revolution fran(aise (January 1 989). the relationship of newspapers.

TODAY
3

the s a me light of day. For it is precise l y the

day, t h e questio n or reflection of the day, the
resonance of the word today, that these daily articles still have most in commo n
-

a t that

date, on t h at day. Will the h y pothe se s and propos itions thus ventured here tu rn out to be, for all that, dated today in the midst of
,

what is calle d the "Gulf" w a r at a moment
,

when the problems of law, public opinion, and media communication, a m ong others, have come to have the urgency and gravity
that we all know? This is for the reader to

judge.

Today happens to be the first word of "C all
It a Day for Democracy. " Even if it is not the last word-especially not that-it c o rre­ sponds pe r h a p s in some w ay with what reso­ nates strangely in the apostrophe of Paul Valery that is cited at the beginning o f "The Other Heading TODAY?"
January 2 9 , 1 9 9 1
"

and is then tossed out from

time to time : "What are you goi n g to do

T H E o T H E R H E A D I N G:

M E M 0 R I E S,

R E S P 0 N S E S,

A N D

R E S P O N S I B I L I T I E S

A

colloquium always tries to forget

the risk it runs : the risk of being
j ust another one of those eve nts

[spectacles) where, i n g o o d c ompany, one

strings together a few talks or speeches on some general s ubject . Just another cultural event, for example , or a performance, or else an exercise in what one calls, with this very obscure word, "culture . " And an exercise
an abbrevi ated form in Liber, this Turin on May 20, 1 9 9 0 , d ur in g a

Before i t s publication in

pape r was

colloquium on " E u r op e a n Cultural Identity . " The confer

delivered

in

ence

was presided over by G ianni Va t t imo, with the p a r t i c i ­ Fernando S a v a t e r ,

pation of Maurice Aymard, V l a d i m i r K. Bu kovsky , Agnes

Heller, J o s e S a ra m a g o ,

and V i t t o r i o

S t r a d a . The notes w e r e , obvi ously, a d d e d a ft er t h e fac t .

THE

OTH ER

H E A D I N G

5

around a question that will a l w a y s be of cur­

rent i nte r est : E ur o p e .
If this m e e t i n g

had any ch ance of escap­

ing repe titio n , it woul d be only i n so far as some imminence, a t once a ch a n c e and a dan­
ger,
exerted press ure

on us.
S omet h in g unique is

What imm inence? afoot in

E u ro p e , in what is still c a ll e d Europe

even if we no lo n ge r know very well what o r

who goes by this name. I ndeed, to what con­
cept, to what real individual, to what s ing u l a r entity
s h oul d

this name be a ss i g ned

to d a y?

W h o w i ll

dr a w up i ts b o r d e r s ?

Refu s i ng itself to anticipation as much as to a n al og y, what a nnou n c e s itself in this way seems to be wi t ho u t precedent. An a ng ui s h ed e x per i e nce of imminenc e ,
crosse d

by t w o
the

contradictory c ert a in t i e s : the very old s ubj ec t

of cultural ide n t i ty in g e n e r al (before one would have perhaps tu al
"

war

sp oke n

of "spiri­

identity) , the very old subject of Euro­
exhausted t he m e
" .

pean i dent i ty indeed has the venerable air of an old,
"

But p erha p s th i s
.

s u bj e c t retains a virgin bo dy Would not i t s

n a m e m ask s ometh i n g that does not yet have

in fear and trembling. anti-Semitism. More precisely. and there is nothing fortuitous in this. precisely in the name of identity . where. of someone who. those that we recognize all too well without yet having thought them through. are being unleashed. fear. I Already on the subject of headings [caps)-and of the shores on which intend to remain. I will confide in you a feeling. but also. and trembling are commensu­ rate with the signs that are coming to us from everywhere in Europe. Will it still resemble? Will it resemble the face of some persona whom we believe we know: Europe ? And if its non-resemblance bears the traits of the future. will it escape monstrosity? Hope. the crimes of xenophobia. mixed up. be it cultural or not. It is the somewhat weary feeling of an old E uro­ pean. with the very " spirit" of the promise . what this face is going to resem­ ble. mixed in with the breath. the worst violences. with the respiration. religious or nationalist fanati­ cism. mixed up with each other. not . racism.T H E OTH E R H E A D I NG 6 a face? We ask ourselves in hope . To begin.

in truth. con­ s i d e rs himself.THE OTH E R H E A D I N G 7 q uit e E u ropea n by birth. all the marks of an ingen uity still incapable of this o t h er old age from which French c u ltu re had. colonized European hybrid. since a certain Europe does not yet exis t . and more and m ore so with age to be a s o rt of over-acculturated. from very early on. as ea rl y as grade school in F re nc h A lger i a must have tried to c a p it a l i ze.) short it is. w e Europeans. separated him. a n d cap i t a lize upon. over­ . anachronistic E uro pe an youthfu l and ti r e d of his very age . H as . . Out of th i s feeling of an old. perhaps. " a no ther And I way of moving surreptitiously fr o m the feel­ ing to the axiom. . fe e li ng of someone who. while at t h e same time keeping a lit­ t l e of the indifferent and impass ive yo u t h of the o t h e r shore. will say "we" in pl a ce of "I. s ince I come from the southern c oast of t he Mediterranean. (The Latin wo rds culture and colonialization h ave a common ro ot In . We are younger than ever. there where i t is p re cise ly a question of what happens to roots. I will make t h e first axiom of this l it t le talk. the old age of Europe. Keeping. the .

who said (perhaps while also presiding over the European Com­ munity) that Europe "is returning i n its his­ tory and its g e o graphy l i ke one who is returning home " [chez sOIl What does this . or re­ constituted. they help explain a remark of Franr. We are already exhausted. rediscovered. the Presi­ dent o f the Republic. at dawn. set out toward a Europe that does not yet exist? Or else re-embark in order to return to a Europe of origins that would then need to be restored. This axiom of fin itude is a swarm or storm of ques­ tions.T H E OTH ER H E ADI N G 8 it ever existed? And yet we are like these young people who get up. re-embark [re-partir] ? Must they re­ begin? O r must they depart from Europe. during a great celebration of " re­ union" [retrouvailles] ? "Reunion" is today an official word. From what state of exhaustion must these young old-Europeans who we are set out again. already old and tired. Ministerial speeches and docu­ ments make great u s e of it. It be­ longs to the code of French cultural politics in Europe . sep­ arate themselves from an old Europe? Or else depart again.ois Mitterrand.

to be able to say "me" or "we". There is no culture or cul­ tural identity without this difference w ith it- . that of a " reunion" ) and such questions. In spite of the inclination and conviction that should lead me to analyze genealog ically the concepts o f ident ity or culture-like t he proper name of Europe�I must give this up. only in the difference with itself (avec soil . a very dry necessity whose consequences could affect our entire prob­ lematic: what is proper to a culture is to not be identical to itself Not to not have an identity. not yet. to answer or I respond to these questions.THE OTHER 9 HEADING mean? Is it possible? Desirable? Is it really this that announces itself today? I will not even try. if you prefer. believe it to be prelimi­ nary to the very p o s s ib i l ity of giving a meaning to such asse rtions (for example . but not to be able to identify itself. since the t ime and place do not lend them­ selves to it. and this is my second axiom. I must nonetheless formulate in a somewhat dogmatic way. But I will ven­ ture a second axiom. to be able to take the form of a subject only in the non-identity to itself or.

T H E

OTHER
10

H E A D IN G

self. A strange and slightly violent syntax:
"with itself" [avec soi] also means " at home (with itsel f) " [chez sOIl (with, avec, is "chez, "

apud hoc) . In this c ase, self-difference , differ­
ence to itself [difference a soil , that which dif­ fers and diverges from itself, of itself, would also be the dif ference (from) with itself [differ­

ence (d') avec sozl , a difference at once internal
and irreducible to the " at home (with itse lf) "

[chez sozl It would gather and divide just as
irreducibly the center
or

he arth [foyer] of the

" at home (with itself) . " In truth, it would
gather this center, relating it to itself, only to the extent that it would open it up to this divergence . This can be said, inversely or reciprocally, of all ident ity or all identification: there is no self-relation,
no

relation to oneself, no identi­

fication with oneself, without culture, but a

culture of oneself as a culture of the other, a culture of the double genitive and of the dif­

ference to oneself. The grammar of the double
genitive also signals that a culture never has a single origin. Monogenealogy would al-

THE

OTHER
II

H E A D I N G

ways be a mystification in the history of cul­ ture . Will the Europe of yesterday, of tomor­ row, and of today have been merely an ex­ ample of t h i s law ? O n e example among others? Or will it have been the exemplary possibility of this law? Is one more faithful to the heritage of a culture by cultivating the difference-to-oneself (with oneself) that consti­ tutes identity or by confining oneself to an identity wherein this difference remains gath­ ered? This question can have the most disqui­ eting effects on all discourses and politics of cultural identity. In his "Notes on the Greatness and De­ cline of Europe, " Valery seems to provoke a familiar interlocutor, one at once close and still unknown. In a sort of apostrophe, like the first pitch of a question that would no longer leave him in peace, Valery tosses out to his interlocutor the word "today . " "TO­

DAY, " the word is written in capital letters;
today heightened like the challenge itself. The great challenge, the c apital challenge, is

THE

O T H E R

H E A D I N G

12

the day of today, the day of this day and age: "Well! What are you going to do? What are you going to do TODAY ? " * Why would t h e day of today, the day o f this day and age, deserve capital letters? Because what we find difficult to do and think today, for Europe, for a Europe torn away from self­ identification as repetition of itself, is pre­ cisely the unicity of the "today," a certain event, a singular advent of E urope, here and now . Is there a completely new "today" of Europe, a "today" whose novelty would not resemble-especially not-what was called
by another well-known program, and one of

the most sinister, a "New Europe "? We come across traps of this sort at every step, and they are not merely traps of language; they are part of the program. Is there then a com­ pletely new "today" of Europe beyond all the exhausted programs of Eurocentrism and anti· Paul Val e ry , " N otes sur la g r a n deur et decadence de Pieiade, 1 960), p. 9 3 1 [" Notes o n t h e G reatness a n d Decl ine of Eu rope , " i n History and Politics, t r a n s . Denise Po l l i ot and J ackson Ma­ t hew s ( N e w Yor k : Boll inge n , 1 962), p . 2 2 8 1 . Quoted transla tions have been sli ghtly modified. Trans.

l'Europe , " Vol . I I of Oeuvres Completes ( a r i s : P

perhaps.) Am I taking advantage of the "we" when I begin saying that. and to the point of exhaustion-since these unforgettable programs are exhausting and exhausted-we today no longer want either E urocentrism or anti-Eurocentrism? Beyond these all too well-known programs. a headline. quasi-improvised reflections. On the sea or in the air. I was thinking at first.THE O T H E R H E AD I N G 13 Eurocentrism. for what "cultural identity" must we be responsible? And responsible before whom? Before what memory? For what promise? And is "cultural identity" a good word for "today " ? A title is always a heading (cap] . By proposing the title "The Other Heading " for some brief. One says in my language "faire cap" but also "changer de . even a letterhead. of the language of air or sea navigation. A chapter heading. " toward another conti­ nent. in knowing them now by heart. toward a destination that is its own but that it can also change . a vessel has a "head­ ing": it "heads off. these exhausting yet unforgetta­ ble programs ? (We cannot and must not for­ get them since they do not forget us. while on board a plane.

The expression "The Other Heading " can also suggest that another direction is in the offing. and especially in wartime. there at the head of the crew and the m a c h i ne . Not by a woman. for in g eneral. to decide on another heading. it is a man who decides on the heading. the te/os of an oriented. the end. o r that it is necessary to change desti­ nation s . the final mo­ ment or last legs. at the head of the ship or plane that he pilots. the ultimate. the prow. the last. the eschaton in general. Eschatology and teleology-that is man. from the a dvanced point that he himself is. And ofte n t i me s .THE O T H ER H E A DIN G 14 ca p " -to " h ave a h e a di n g " but a l s o t o "change headings . voluntary. deliberate . he is called the captain. he who holds the helm or sits at the controls. to the head or the extremity of the extreme. It here assigns to navigation the pole . he is the headman. the aim and the e nd. as you well know. " T h e word "cap" (caput. It is he w h o g ives o rders to t h e c rew. To change direction can mean to change goals. ordered movement: ordered most often by the man in c harge. . capitis) refers. calculated.

to a relation of identity with the other that no longer obeys the form. the heading of the other being perhaps the first condition of an identity or ident ification that is not an ego­ centrism destructive of oneself and the other. 1 4ff. but the heading of the other. Archeology faux titre. or the logic o f the heading.THE O T H E R H E A D I N G 15 or else to change captains. and which we must remember. pp. Nebraska Press. may be opposed to a false or bastard title. The true title* of these reflections. . . of which we must remind ourselves. . nor even of the a nti­ heading-of beheading. But beyond our heading. even though a *A vrai titre. of decapitation. and decide upon. or even-why not?-the age or sex of the captain. c alculate. it is necessary to recall ourselves not only to t he other heading . before which we must re­ spond. 1 9 8 0 ) . and especially to the heading of the othe r but also perhaps to the o ther of the heading that is to say. the sign. rida ' s The a true t i t l e . the heading being not only ours lie notre) but the other [l'autre) . not only that which we identify. J o h n Leavey's i ntroduction to Der of the Frivolous (Lincol n : U nive rsity o f Trans. a Cf. Indeed it can mean to recall that there is another head­ ing.

e . of the cap. .THE OTHE R H E ADIN G 16 title is a he a d i ng or headl in e would o rient us . capital in the monetary sense. on e as the s ame. fo r and before the o t h er of t o the double question capital. the question * De rrida p l ays throughout o n t h e re l a t i o nship be tween the femin ine la capitale. i . and in - re s p o n s ib l e t h e other. By se lec ti o n I will deduce the form of all my propositions from a grammar and syntax of the heading . the capital city of a country. ident i fi able). . fo r i t s elf. fr o m capital and capitale. and o f fa capitate. is at a moment in it s h i s to ry (if it has one. that is. answer for in a memory of i t s elf) when the ques­ u na vo i d a b l e . indeed is one. from a difference in a kind and g e n de r [genre) . and the mascul i ne Ie capital. capital? Europe t o da y . of the in the today that Vale r y a nd writes in capital letters. in t h e h is to ry of i t s culture (if it ca n ever i t se lf . Trans. way-responsible of Ie capital. o ther of t h e heading . * How can i d e n ti t y " " European cultural a r esp o nd. . rather toward the . be identified as and can be responsible for itself. tion of the h e a ding s e e m s Whatever the answer may be.

even beyond all an­ s w e r s . or rather has ac­ celerated. as old as the history of Europe . This question is also very old. the relation to the other heading or to the other of the heading . in a consti­ tutive way. not new "as always " [comme toujours) . and this . I would even say that this is neces­ sary: it should remain. not only because of what has started. this very responsibility? As if the very concept of responsibility were responsi­ ble . but the experience of the other heading or of the other of the heading presents itself in an absolutely new way. No o n e t o d a y in fa c t t h inks o f avoiding such a question.THE OTHER HEADING 17 remains . but newly new . these past few months in the east or at the center of Europe . right up to its emancipation. for a Euro­ pean birth certificate? Like every history. is experienced as always pos­ sible? An opening and a non-exclusion for which Europe would in some way be respon­ sible? For which Europe would be. And what if Europe were this: the opening onto a history for which the changing of the heading. the history of a culture no doubt presupposes an identifiable head- .

the promise. We know the " new" only too well. the pheno m enon the being as such of . the unique a nd of the other. the psychagogy of the " new "- . does not yet have a memory . for under the banner-which c an also become a s l o g a n - o f the unanticipatable or the ab s olutely new. that it not be identifi­ able in a dv ance and once and for all. a n te­ capere) . we c an fear seeing return the pha ntom of the worst. . me m ory. dreams of g at h ­ ering itself: taking the initiative. the one we have a lrea dy identified. it should be a nti c i p a ted as t h e unforeseeable. the unanticipatabk the non-masterable. as that of which one . being out ahead. the u n i c i ty of the other today should b e awaited as such (but is the as such. ever possible?). a n ticipare.THE OTHER 18 H E ADING in g a telos t oward which the mo v e m ent the . in anticipa tion (anticipatio. or in a ny case the old rh e tor i c the . and the identity even . no n­ identifiable in short. demagogy. if it be as difference to itself. But our old memory tells us that it is also necessary to anticipate and to keep the heading fgarder Ie cap) . The ir­ rup tion of the new. But h i story also presupposes that the headin g not be given.

its spiritual geography. We must thus be suspicious of both re­ petitive memory and the completely other of the absolutely new. access to politi­ cal and economic liberalisms . w h i c h by d e fi n i t i o n k n o w s n o borders . democratization. the virginal. This earth­ qu a k e . i s n o doubt the immediate cause of the subject chosen for this debate on "Euro­ pean cultural identity.T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G 19 and sometimes of the " new order"-of the surprising. Always. of both anamnestic c api­ talization and the amnesic exposure to what would no longer be identifiable at all. entry into the market economy. In its physical geogra­ phy. I alluded to the tremor that is shaking what are c alled Central and Eastern Europe under the very problematic names perestroika. and in what has often been called. in the memory of itself as the culture of Europe . and this "day one" says something about all the days of today in the memory of Europe. . by Husserl for example. reunification. " I wanted to recall what has always identified E urope with a cape or headland (cap] . and the unanticipat­ able . since day one [depuis toujou rs] . A moment ago.

it is region of B r i t t a n y on the westernmost F rance. though Derrida is also drawing attention to the more general notion of a finis terrae or "land's end. if this description had the form of a definition. and colonization. to the west and south (the land's end. looks at and envisages . the point of departure for discovery. and. indeed com­ pressed along a Greco-Germanic axis . coiled up. or as the very center of this tongue in the form of a cape." Trans.THE O T H E R H E A D I N G 20 Europe has always recognized itself as a c ape or headland. as a head [cap] . and he thinks of it as a leader [chef1 . * Europe of the Atlantic or o f the Greco­ Latino-Iberian shores of the Mediterranean) . inven­ tion. it was because the concept corresponded to the border. * F i nistere is a coast of . Europe. It is the whole hi story of this geogra­ phy Valery observes. the Eu­ rope of the middle. That is in fact how Valery described and de­ fined Europe: as a cape. This head also has eyes . the advanced point of a Finis­ t e re. at the very center of the center of the cape. either as the advanced extreme of a continent. a headland. he sees in it a face [visage) . that is. a persona.

o r I s h o u ld say fu nc t i o n . have been the work of a tiny portion of humanity. a little geographical promontory. the Europe a n spirit. most. its real being. is Europe ? It is a kind of c ape of the old continent. then. w ill Europe . What. And in the at once provocative and classic paradox of this grammar. and it scans the horizon. and the European man. I A cape. was the author of these wonders. and t h e most astonishing and fruitful. the first question of being and time will have been teleological.THE OTHER HEADING 21 turned to one side. living area compared in a very small habitable to the whole of the lands. has been wonde rfully effective in the develop­ ment of that E u ropean spirit with w h ich we are concerned." such is in Valery's eyes the very essence of Europe. It looks naturally toward the west. This privileged place was Europe. or rather counter­ teleological: if such is its essence. an " appendix" to the body and to the "Asian continent. a western appe ndix to Asi a . On the south i t is bordered by a fa mous sea whose role . keeping watch i n a determined direction: Out of all these ach ievements.

Valery l ikes to say. a little promontory [cap] on the Asian continent? O r will it remai n what it seems-that i s . writers or philosophers according to the classic model of the European intellec- . that this is the "capital" question. Now. t h e b r a i n of a v a s t body?2 I interrupt for a moment my recapitula­ tion of all these chapter headings [caps) or heads. in fact.T HE OTHER H E AD I N G 22 one day become what i t i s (not such a big deal after all. the best. and as if in passing . would here b e on the side not of essence but of ap­ pearanc e . a little cape or appendix) or will it persist in what is not its essence but its a ppe a ra n ce. t h a t i s . the present day brings with it this cap­ ital question: C an Europe maintain i ts pre­ eminence in all fields? Will Europe become wha t it is in reality­ that is. in order to note that present here at this table are mostly men and citizens of West­ ern Europe . the e lect portion of t h e terrestrial globe. u nder the c a p . t h e "brain " ? And the true telos. the pe arl of the sphe r e .

as it is here a t this table for two of us. of which Anglo­ Am e r i c a n b o th is and is not a langu a g e . a citizen entrusted with a sort of spiritual mission of Europe. an d what I .) W e are thus here in a large majority male representatives of the continental po int or tip of the E u ropean headland. i n what is called the Europe a n Community. An accident or a necessity.R.THE O T H ER HEADING 23 tual: a guardian held responsible for memory and culture . these traits are at once discriminant and significant. and this is one of the essential problems of culture today. There are no E n­ glish here-even though the Anglo-American l a ngu a g e is t o d a y the second universal lan­ guage destined to overtake or dub all the idi­ oms of t h e world. which i s predominantly Medi­ terranean. (Wh e n mon to a F r e n c h intellectual goes to Mos­ cow-and I 've had this experience so com­ all of us-Anglo-American remains the mediating language. but from maj o r AnglO-Saxon universities. Agnes Heller and Vladimir Bukovsky. of Euro­ pean culture in particular.S . S . They appear at least emblematic. who in fact come from neithe r Hungary n o r t h e U.

of a limit that accomplishes. and thus. once again. with a heading for world c ivilization or human culture i n general.T H E OTHER 24 H E A D I N G hesitate to advance here under the title o f "heading. under this sign. the c ap­ tain)-and as telos. in and for itself. as the memory of itself that gathers and accumu­ lates itself. would come to be in­ scribed. the place of capitalizing memory and of decision. c apitalizes upon itself. at once as arche-the idea of beginning but also of commanding (the cap as the head. its face. or infi­ nite-that is to say universal-ide a . its figure and its very place. at once as project. its eidos. at least obliquely. the point of a phallus if you will. Europe i s not only a geographical head­ land or heading that has always g iven itself the representation or figure of a spiritual heading . Europe has also confused its image. its taking­ place. the idea of the e nd. right . " o f the other heading and of the other of the heading. or that puts an end to the whole point of the achievement. The idea of an advanced point of exemplarity is the idea of the European idea. task. once again. with that of an advanced point.

with the self that is maintained and gathered in its own differ­ ence. comes from promos: what comes first. it is divided as beginning and end. in its own differ­ ence as difference with itself. art. 3 ) It i s always in t h e figure o f the Western heading and of the final headland or point that Europe determines and cultivates itself. Frommigkeit. leads. he recalls that fromm. and when he says that questioning is the piety of thinking. there where all the forces a re j oined and gathered in the e nd. it is the place from which or in view of which every­ thing takes place. or directs the front line [l'avant-garde) in a battl e . close to itself. it is in this figure that Europe identifies itself. The ad­ vanced point is at once beginning and end. (When Heidegger defines place. difference with itself. in the being-for-i tself of what is most proper to it. and thus identifies its own cultural identity. he recalls that in its High or Old German idiom.THE O T H E R H E A D I N G 25 the re at the point o f completion. identifies with itself. difference to itself that remains with itself. Yes . Ort refers to the point of a spe ar. in its difference from-with [d 'avec] the .

has always been in the service of this autobiography of Europe. Old Europe seems to have exhausted all the possi­ bilities of discourse and counter-discourse about its own identification. We all know this program of Europe 's self-reflection o r self­ presentation. or chance of kee ping at home (with itself) [chez sozl the turbulence of the with. For avowal. I should myself interrupt these recollec­ tions and change headings. i f one c a n say this. self-presentation. risk. Dialectic in all its essential forms. c u l t u r a l or n o t -even . and self­ a ccusation no more escape this old program than does the c elebration of self.T HE OTHER 26 H E A D I N G others. as difference to itself. guilt. different from itself for itself. of calming it down in order to make it i n t o a s i mpl e . i n t e r i o r b o rde r . I say it again.w e l l guarded b y the vigilant sentinels of being . even when it took on the appearance of a confession. We are old. in the temptation. the formation and affirmation of an identity. including those that com­ prehend and entail anti-dialectic. the self-presence of identity (whether it be n at io n al or n o t . Perhaps identification in general.

and of capitalizing reserve . discrete but merciless. It is the most cur­ rent. even too much or too many.THE OTHER H E ADING 27 though identification i s itself always cultural and never natural. nothing is more current. but already it dates back. always has a capital form. I note only that from Hegel to Valery. * It is thus not only for lack of time that I will spare you the development of a counter-program opposed to this archeo-teleolog ical p rogram of all Eu­ ropean discourse about Europe . from Husserl to Heidegger. And this currentness reveals a fa­ miliarly disquieting wrinkle. in Of Spirit for example-this traditional discourse is a lready a discourse of the modern Western world. . for it is nature's way out of itself in itself. nature's difference with it­ self}. in spite of all the differences that distinguish these great examples from e ach other-I tried to mark them elsewhere. It is re lated to prowess a nd profi t . the very stigmata of an anachrony *Prou in Old French means much or many. Tra ns. It dates. it is dated. the figure­ head (figure de proueJ of t h e advanced point.

a discourse at once exemplary and exemplarist.THE O T H E R H E ADING 28 that marks the day o f all our days. in that it is . Now. fine or . discourses. This old disco urse about Europe. did not choose this responsib ility. its end (the horizon. the c apitalizing memory We bear the responsibility for this h e r itag e . and in an even more imperative way. is already a traditional discourse of modernity. a nd affects. this capital duty [devoir) ? *Gout de [ill. is the limit) . that i s to say. the language of our language . taste for the end. of all our gestures . we of this re­ fined taste for finality. with right a l o ng that we have of it. and from the other. from the imminence of its end. is a play on fin gout refined taste . as othe r. How then does one ass u me this responsibility. both pu b l i c and private. it imposes its e l f upon us. It dates fro m a moment when Europe from sees itself on the horizon. in G reek. * for the end. if not for must ourselves be responsible for this We d iscourse of the m odern tradition. Tra ns. It is also the discourse of anamnesis bec ause death.

t o wa r d the o t h e r h e ading or the he a d i n g of the othe r. tradit ion. the it is necessary: it is n e c e ss a r y to make ourselves the guardians of an idea of E u rop e . of a dif­ ference of Europe. which would be the beyond of th is modern . it puts us a l w a y s at fault in de fau lt since it d oubl es the il faut. To be fa it h ful ly responsible for this mem­ ory. another border struc­ t ure another shore. how in­ does one assume a r e s p o n s i b ili t y that an­ i t se l f a s c o n t r adicto ry because it a scr ib e s us from the very beginning of the game into kind of n e c ess a r ily double obli­ or gation. indeed-and this is p e rhaps s ome­ thing e lse altogether-toward the o ther of the heading. in continuing or in opposing? Or indeed in a ttempt i n g to . a double bind? The inj u nc t i o n in effect divides us.THE O T HER H E A D I N G 29 How does o ne r e sp o nd ? And above no u n c e s all. and thus t o re s p o n d rigorously to this do ubl e inj u nction: w ill this have to co nsist in repeating or in bre aking with. but of a E urope that con­ sists p r e c is e l y in ex e mpl a ry w ay n ot c losing itself off in its a dva n c i n g own i dentit y and in itself in an toward what it is not.

to begin to think that this "now " would be neither present. ra t h e r . nor current. No. I believe . a gesture. and une geste. the today of a E urope whose b o rd e rs are not given-no more than its name. the o n e t o w a rd which I will p r e fe r to orient m ys e l f. nor the pre­ sent of s o m e current e v e nt . ) Not that it ar­ r i ve s . an e p i c gesture* i n truth. no t that it is alre ady presently given . as that which seeks or promises itself today. I believe that this is taking place now. from a c ompletely other shore? This last hy p o thes i s . a collect ion of epic poems-as in the chanson de geste. Europe being • A play on un seste. is not only a hypothesis or a call . a c a l l toward that which is given at the s a me time as contradic­ tory or impossible . t h a t it h a p p e n s o r h a s a l r e a dy happened.THE OTHER H E A D I N G 30 invent another gesture. Trans. (But it is also necessary. from the other heading and the o the r of the heading. that t h i s event takes place as that which come s . that presupposes memory precisely in o rder to a s s ign i d e nt i t y from alterity. "Epic gesture" is thus a somewhat elliptical rendering of une longue geste. in Europe. . for thiS.

This is the moment of decision. one again finds one ' s " direction" [sens: meaning] (Selbst/:Jesinnung). Selbstbesinnung is a com mon te rm in Protestant religious texts and in German Ideal­ . " ism . And this is hap­ pening at a moment for which the word crisis. the dramatic instant of a decision that is still impossible and suspended. The coming to awareness. I believe that if there is any event today. of sounding the alarm. Trans.THE O T H E R H E A D I N G 31 here only a paJeonymic appellation. has always been deployed in the tradition of modernity at the moment and as the very moment of what was called crisis. imminent and · Literally "se lf contempl ation . this mo­ ment of awakening. the reflection by which. in regaining consciousness. is perhaps no longer appropriate. in this act of memory that con­ sists in betraying a certain order of c apital in order to be faithful to the other heading and to the other of the heading. the moment of krinein. * this recovery of European cultural identity as capital discourse. the crisis of Europe or the crisis of spirit. it is taking place here.

spec­ ify a fundamentally analogous "logic . in spite of their s o meti m e s serious differences. at this "end-of-history" that to­ day can g ive ri s e to the prating e loquence of a White House advisor [t hi s was. when the . a l l of which. let me re­ . the fi n itude of Europe. t he ends and c o n fines. c ri si s o f Europe as the crisis o f spirit: t h e y all say this at the mo m e n t when the limits and contours. capital of infinity and un i ve rsal it y which is to be found in re s e rv e within the idiom of th es e limits. " This. the form of the H e ge li an moment wherein E u ropean discourse coin­ cided with spirit 's r e t u r n to it s e l f in Absolute Knowle d ge. We encroached upon or will l a t e r ask ourselves what this th r e at consists of today. fi nds itself in danger. that is to say. if one were to be- . befo re what is known as the Gulf War: is th e Gulf the Headland or the H e a d i ng or is i t the n e ga t ive or the ot h e r of the Heading?] when he announces with great media fa n fare "the e nd-o f-history . the eidos.THE OTHE R 32 HEAD I N G t hr e at e n i n g The . " There was. call. T h is critical moment can t ak e several forms. are beginning t o emerge. for ex a mpl e .

because the essentially European model of the market economy. of the recovery of the transcendental theme in and since Descartes. the subj ectivity of a "we " for which Europe would be at once the name and the exemplary figure . indic ated the heading . which deplored the Entmachtung .1 9 3 6 . in 1 9 3 5 . There was also the Husserlian form of the "crisis of European sciences " or the "crisis of European h u m a n ity " : the t e l e o l o g y that guides the analysis of history and the very history of this crisis. There was at the same time. This transcendental teleol­ ogy would have.THE OTHER H E A D I N G 33 lieve him. is guided by the idea of a transcendental com­ munity. there where capital is on the cut­ ting edge of progress [iz La pointe du pro9res) . and what a t i m e . of liberal. would b e about to become a universally rec­ ognized model. a n d c ap i t a l i s t d e m o c r a c i e s . par­ l i a m e nt a ry . all the nation states of the planet preparing themselves to join us at the head of the p ack. the H e i de ggerian discourse. right at the forefront [cap) . shown the way. from the origin of philoso­ phy. at the capital point [pointe) of advanced de­ mocracies.

pp. of European identity. i n the Mitte o f E u r o p e . He idegg e r n e verth e less calls fo r thinking the essential danger as the dange r of spirit. all of ·On the translation of Entmachtung as destitution. and more precisely of European culture . and spirit as something of the E u ropean West. I m e an between the two world wars .1 9 3 9 . Valery de­ fines the crisis of spirit as the crisis of Europe.T HE OTH ER HEADING 34 of spi rit . Der rid a ' s Of Spirit. the bec o m i n g ­ impotent of spirit. Geoffrey Benn i ngton and Rachel Bowlby ( C h i c a go : University of Ch i c a g o Press . * Even though he is opposed to transcendental sub-objectivism. 1 9 8 9 ) . and for several reasons. cr. 5 9 ff. is nothing other than the des t i t u t i o n (Entmachtung) of the Eu­ ropean Wes t . b e tw e e n America a n d Russia. there at the oppressed center of a vice.-Trans. trans. or to the C ar­ tesian-Husserlian tradition as its symptom. that which violently de­ prives spirit of its potency. The impote n c e . from 1 9 1 9. I will pause for a while in the vi­ cinity of Valery. . Having chosen for today the configured direction of the heading and of capital.4 At the same time.

or headland. When speaking of the Mediterranean lake. position. * Valery is a Medit e rrane a n spirit. of the idiomatic limit. end. For perhaps responsib ility consists in m aking of the name recalled. a chance. that is. today. among other things. an opening of ide n tity to its very fu­ ture. in Turin. tip . death: I e mphasize this no doubt because we are here. a nd a chance. or mark. w hat are we naming? Like all the names we are invok­ ing like all names in general. to a head. nor point ·The fem i nine I a pointe refers . All Valery's works are those of a Euro­ pean fro m the Greco-Roman Mediterranean world. of the memory of the name . close to I taly in his birth and his a . in Latin place of the northern M edit e r r a n ean But t h is Medi­ terranea n shore also interests me-coming as I do from the other shore if not from the o t h er he ading (from a shore that is princi­ pally neithe r French. . nor E u ropean.THE OTHER HEADING 35 which touch upon the capital point [La poin teJ . u pon the point lie pointJ of capital. a negative l imit. while the masculine Ie refers to a place. at once a limit . pOint. Tran s . these designate .

an d . This word "capital" capitalizes in effect. at . It comes down first to the feminine. in t h e body o f the idiom. g rounds for this. the heart of this Europe that has considered itself for so long to be the capital of humanity or of the p l anet and that would renou n ce this role today. - . a n d divided p oi n t of my remarks. More precisely : a question in two genres. with two genders [a deux genres) . 1 .THE OTHER H E ADING 36 Latin. nor Christian) -because o f t his word "capital. there will be no official cap­ ital of European c u l ture No one is consider. if I may say this. in the feminine: the question of ia capitaie." which s l ow ly leads me toward the most h e s it an t . the qu e s t i o n may seem c r ude and outdated. two genres of ques­ tions . only at the m o m ent when the fable of a pla netarization of the Eu­ r o p ea n model still seems qu i te plausible? In this form. S u rely. s ome believe. is there from now on a place for a capita l of European culture? Can one p roject a c ent e r at le a st a symbolic center. in the same body. trembling. We are far from being able to avoid it t od a y Are there . a point at once undecidable and decided.

h ave broken o u t . through the university and through techno­ sc i e nt ific powe rs . (For it can even h appen. that in certain cases the old state structures help us to fight ag a inst private and transnational empir e s . and publi shers. It now signals toward struggles over cultural hegemony.s o met imes s i lent but al­ ways fi e rc e . of cert a i n culture ind u stri e s . ) Let us think about the novelty of these modes of cultural dominat ion as if they thems elves were those g e o g r a p h ico-pol i t i c a l do m a i n s that have become the obj ects of everyone 's desire since perestroika. the destruction of the Berlin Wal l . through new " c a p i ll a ri­ tie s . in a fast­ chang ing s ituat i o n where the c e ntra l i z i n g puis ions do not always go th r o u gh s t ates . all the movements of "democra- . ne w s papers. Through the establ ished and traditi onally dominant powers of certain i dioms. through the extraordinary growth of new media. " competitions. and one can cau­ tiously hope for this. T h i s now happens according to new modes. But the ineluctable question of the capital doe s not d i sappea r for all that.THE OTH E R HEADING 37 ing this a nd no one would accept it.

the que s tion of hegemonic cent r a l i ty The fact th a t this cen­ . The ref­ . first contradiction. tran s ­ mission. and effects of the very dis­ courses in which one tries to formalize this problematic. transformed by techno-sc ient ific and te chno­ economic givens . that is. e r e nc e m u s t be t ra n s l a t e d and d i s p l a c e d w i t h i n a p r oble m a t i c t h a t i s profo u ndly a ffect. double injunction: on the one hand. " and all the more o r less potential c u rre nts that ru n through E u rope: it is then that we witne s s the resurgence of the ques­ tion of the capital. no do u bt obliges u s to is happening t oda y to the c ity But th is does not do away w ith all refer­ e nce to capital s Qu ite the co ntrary. ter can no longe r be fixed in the traditional fo rm of the metropol i s acknowledge what . j ust as they affe ct the fig u re of those who produce or publicly hold these dis­ courses na mely.THE O T H E R H E A D I N G 38 tization. These givens also among other things . E uropean cultural i de nti ty c annot be d i sp er s ed (and when I say " cannot. structure. or those who in the past were so e a s il y called " intellectuals . ourselves. " this should also be taken as " mu s t . " F irst tension. the production.

But. and thus . it cannot and must not accept the capital of a ce ntralizing author­ ity that. places of a demagogical and " s ala­ ble " consensus. the great avenues or thoroughfa res of translation and communication. such . on the other hand. and a c a demic c oncentr a t i o ns-be they state-run o r not-would control and standardize . to philo­ sophical or aesthetic norms. It cannot and must not renounce places of great circulation or heavy traffic . subjecting artistic disc ourses and practices to a grid of intelligibility. into a multiplic ity of se lf-enclosed idioms o r petty little nat ionalisms. by means o f publishing. by thus immediately cross ing every border. of mediatiza­ tion. through mob ile.THE OTHER 39 HEADING no t"-and this double state o f affairs i s a t the heart of the difficu lty) . e ach o ne j e alous and un­ translatable . and extremely rapid media networks . by means of trans-European cultural me chanisms. to channels of immediate and efficient communication. It c a nnot and must not be dispersed into a myriad of province s . j our­ na l i s t i c . omnipres­ ent. to the pursuit of ratings and c ommerc ial profit­ ab ility. Fo r by reco nstituting places of an easy consensus.

" This i s a quas i-quot a t i o n from Valery-once a g ain-who g ave a s a general title for a series of texts devoted to the crisis of spirit as the c risis of Europe: " Quasi­ Political E ssays . I t would es­ tablish a hege monic center. quasi­ immediate and absolute. One no longer needs to link the c ultural c apital to a metropolis. and indeed even more intrusive i n that its "politic s"-whic h perhaps no longer con­ stitute anything deserving this name-are no longer linked to the polis (c ity. neighborhood). to make cautious use of an old word fo r new concepts . town. to a site or geographico-politic a l city . We a re perhaps mov­ ing into a zone or topology that will be c alled neither political nor apolitical but. the media center of the new or central sw itchboard (Ie central) imperium: remote control fo r the as one says in English TV. I I quasi-political . acropo­ lis. a ubiquitous tele-command. the power center or power station (Ia centrale) . Yet the question of the capital remains completely in­ tact .T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G 40 normalization would establish a cultural c api­ tal at any place and at all t imes . " . to the traditional concept of politeia or res publica.

there­ fore. the impossible invention. and this would be the objection. the decision is al­ ready made. Perhaps . it might as well be said that there is none to make: irresponsibly. politics. one must acknowledge this and stop talking with authority about moral or political responsibility. I will even venture to say that ethics . when a certain knowledge opens up the way in advance. one never escapes the pro­ gram. This is. The condi­ tion of poss ibility of this thing called respon­ sibility is a certain experience and experiment of the possibility of the impossible: the testing of the aporia from which one may invent the only possible invention.THE O T H E R H E A D I N G 41 Neither monopoly nor dispersion. of course. When the path is clear and given. will o nly ever have begun with the experience and experi­ ment of the aporia. 5 The aporia here takes the logical form of a contradiction. if these movements of . one simply applies or im­ plements a program. an aporia. and we must not hide it from ourselves. A contradiction that is all the more serious in that. In that case. if there are any. and re­ sponsibility. and in good conscience.

cabled. at this point [point]. no "modern" so­ ciety (and modernity is an imperative for totalitarianism) can refuse for very long to de­ velop the technico-economico-scientific serv­ ices of the telephone-which is to say. the "democratic " places of connection appropri­ ate to operating its own destruction. and irresist­ ible circulation of images. that is circulation. thereby becom­ ing uncontrollable. rapid. targeted [cab/ee. com­ munication. an almost immediate irrigation. cibIee). it is to a large extent thanks to this new techno-media power. to this penetrating. at the point or end [pointe) where their fineness be­ comes microscop i c . thanks to this extreme capillarity of discourses. Capillarity: one need not split hairs to recog­ nize in this word all the lines that interest us at this moment. and models. Indeed.T H E OTH E R HEADING 42 "democratization" have accelerated. as close as possible to the head and to the headman (chef] . Such capillarity crosses not only national bor­ ders . ideas. For we know that a totalitarian system can no longe r effectively fight against an in­ ternal telephone network once its density has exceeded a certain threshold. The tele- .

marginalize. In short. shut off. the invisible prefiguration and the imperious pre� scription of its own ruin. assuming that such a limit was ever rigorous . *Derrida puts the word publicite in quotation ma rks be cause it means both "publicness" and. pub­ licity or advertising. And if it is in the name of free and open discussion with a view to consensus. deny access. from television or teleprint­ ers. that these av­ enues of media are opened up. publishing in all its forms-are denied access to it. telephone lines-and soon the videophone­ are inseparable from the great channels of communication. for totalitarianism. in the name of traditional democracy. a n d dis­ connect. The telephone inaugurates the formation of a public opinion there where the usu al conditions of " publicity " * -the "written" or "spoken:" press. more commonly. it would be out of the question to fight against them. Trans. For the telephone no longer leaves in place the limit between public and private. . It wou l d be a n t i -dem o c r a t i c to b r e a k u p .T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G 43 phone thus becomes.

untranslatable idiolects. p o l i t i c o ­ institutional practices that inscribe the alli­ ance of these two imperatives . But there is no responsibility that is not the experience and experiment of the im- . Responsibility seems to consist today in renouncing neither of these two contradic­ tory imperatives . the move­ ments (marches] and margins [marges] . It is necessary not to cultivate for the ir own sake minority differences . . No doubt . the other of the capital. One must therefore try to i n v e n t g e s t u r e s . dis c o u r s e s . i t is also necessary . not to mUltiply the borders. L e . for all that.THE OTH E R HEADING 44 Yet h ere as elsewhere. national antagonisms. That is not easy. It i s even impossible to conceive of a responsibility that consists in being responsi­ ble for two laws. or that consists in respond­ ing to two contradictory inj unctions. or the chauvinisms of idiom. of these two promises or contracts: the c apital and the a­ capital. the inj unction seems double and contradictory for whoever is concerned about European cultural iden­ tity: if it is necessary to make sure that a cen­ t r a l i zing h e g e mo n y ( the c a p i t a l ) n o t b e reconstituted.

this experience and experiment of the imposs i ­ a ble. or as if. i n­ versely. it simply follows a direction and elaborates a program. it would seem that European cultural identity. Nevertheless. up t o the measure of its own immeasurable difference "with to itself. one will always be able de jure to ask what an ethics or politics that measures responsib ility only by the rule of the impossible can be: as if doing only what were possible a m ounte d to abandon i ng the ethical and political realms. As we said just a moment ago. the refo re must belong.T H E OTH ER HEA D I N G 45 p o ssib l e . " belongs. It makes of action the applied consequence. if it must be equal to itself and to the other. It makes of ethics and polit i c s a technology. when a responsibility is exe rcised in the order of the possible. like identity or identification in gene ra l. No long e r of the order of practical reason or dec ision. it begins to b e i rrespo nsible . the simple application of a knowledge o r know-how. Taking a few shortc uts . in order to take an authentic respon­ sibility it were necessary to limit oneself to imp o s s ib l e . and inapplicable . economizing on mediations. impractical.

and according to what other topology. nor a city chosen for its geographical location. what is announced here in the enigm atic form of the "possible" (of the possibility-itself impossible-of the im­ possible. etc . the aporia is reflected or capitalized in abyss and requires more than ever thinking differently. the question of the place for a capital of Euro­ pean culture would be asked today. I f the two terms of such an alterna­ tive translate at once an unsolvable contra­ diction and an unequ ivocal seriousness. It is in this direction (if one could still say and identify it) that we asked in what new terms. t he ques­ tion of at least a symbolic place : a place that would be neither strictly political (linked to the establish ing of some state or pa rliamen­ tary institution) . nor the center of economic or administrative decision making.THE OTHER H E A D I N G 46 decisions. or thinking at last. Whether directly or not. ) . for the s ize of its airport or for a hotel infrastructure l a rge enough to meet the demands of a Euro­ pean Parliament (this is the well-known com­ petition between Brussels a nd Strasbourg ) . the hypothesis o f .

let us emphasize for the moment a generality: in this struggle for control over culture. not only the predominance of a national lan­ guage. of the transc endental or ontological.or supra-national sense. a simple particularity. That is why nationalism. which is to say. thus . national he­ gemony is not claimed-today no more than ever-in the name of an e mpirical superior­ ity. but the predomi­ nance of a co ncept of the t o n g u e or o f language. Refraining from g iving any examples. of the transnational-indeed of the trans-E uropean-and. It claims to justify itself in the name of a privilege in re­ sponsibility and in the memory of the univer­ sal and. is always a philosopheme . in this strategy that tries to organize cultural iden­ tity around a c apital that is all the more pow­ erful for being mobile. a certain idea o f the idiom that is being put to work. European i n a hyper. that is.THE O T H E R H E A D I N G 47 this capital always co ncerns language. The logical . tongue. or idiom. National hege­ mony presents itself claims itself. as an essentially modern phenomenon. national affirma­ tion. fi nally.

all the more European for being trans-European and international. looking in . To advance oneself is also to rush out ahead. and what is proper to Europe would be. To advance itself. what is proper to a particular na­ tion or idiom would be to be a heading for Europe. to advance itself as a head­ ing for the universal essence of humanity. thus to ident ify and name one self. to pre­ sent oneself to introduce or show oneself. for it c apitalizes most of the figures we have been observing here. no one is more cosmopolitan and au thentically univers al than the one. the backbone of this national self. to put it quite dryly: "I am (we are) all the more national for being European. than this 'we. " Na­ tionalism and cosmopolitanism have always gotten along well together. S ince the time of Fichte. certainly. " is . To advance oneself is. nu­ merous examples might atte st to this. ' who is speaking to you. that is the word. analogically.a ffirmation.THE OTHER HEAD ING 48 schema of this argument . as paradoxic al as this may seem. the nuclear statement of the national "ego" or " subject. In the logic of this "capitalistic " and cosmopolitical discourse.

sometimes to ove r e s t i m a t e o n e ' s s t r e n g t h s . for Paris. to cultivate. It advances and promotes itself as a n advance. Without ex­ ception. seduce. and so as not to trigger any inter-national poiemos.6 for the capital of all . and to colonize itself. to spread out. t o sniff things o u t precisely there where one no longer sees (the nose. to colonize. Europe takes itself to be a promontory . to love to violate. to love or to violate. To advance (oneself) is also to take risks. I w i l l cite the language most common to all the ma­ jorities of the French Republi c . which is to say. Since I am speaking French. an advance-the avant­ ga rde of geography and h istory. to take the lead in taking the ini­ tiative. of course. and sometimes even to go on the of­ fensive. and con­ duce. Cape Cyrano). to anticipate. to go o n " ahead. the pen­ insula. produce. and it will have never ceased to make advances on the other: t o induce. to m a k e hypotheses . they claim for France.THE - O T H E R H E A D I N G 49 front of oneself ("Europe looks naturally to­ w a rd the We st ) . to stick one ' s neck out. t o launch oneself onto the s e a o r into adventure.

moreover.T H E OTHER HE ADING 50 revolutions and for the Paris of today. which associates the themes of conquest. No matter what the English say today. in the idea of democratic culture. it first puts in exergue a sentence from the " Congress on European Cultural Space" ( S tuttgart . imposition. for example. "7 I am here referring. ("Es­ prit" is. to a cer­ tain o ffic ial document coming out o f the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the State Secre­ tary of I nternational Cultural Relations). quite sim­ ply. which is founded on an idea of human rights [droits] . on an idea of internatio nal law [droit) . the role of the avant-garde . " which means " in c o m m o n u s a g e . and spirit [esprit) . June 1 8 . 1 9 8 8 ) . This sophisticated text defines in a competent and convincing way what is called the "European cultural construction. France would have in­ vented these human rights. or else freedom to teach. " and I am a g a i n c iting Valery. that is. "freedom to publish. for example. of free c ulture itself. next to "Brite" and "Race" [the E nglish word that also means "contest" . a mong which is the "freedom of thought. " To do this .

for the ·For the sake of consistency a nd in light of Derrida's own comments i n Of Spirit. thus. as always. " This s ame document c ites in its ex­ ergue a communique of the French C abinet. of E uropean soli­ d a r ity " (my emphas is) . " Trans. and today) . " M o r e p r e c i s e ly . The opposite p a g e un­ derscores " the determining role" that France plays in the "collective coming to aware­ ness. . we have translated esprit as spirit throughout. even though it might.THE OTHER HEAD I NG 51 or "competition " ] . i t s t a t e s ( a n d I emphas ize here the language of response. the proper name for one of the Eu ropean Community's p rograms for technological development. ) "The re is no po­ litical ambition that is not p reced e d by a con­ quest of spirit(s) :* it is the task of culture to impose the feeling of unity. that " [France. " French c ultural ide nt i ty would thus be responsible for the Eu­ ropean to day and. as here . have been more naturally translated as "mind. a n d this is what is expected of h e r . whic h states that " French culture" acts "by teaching others to look to France as a cre­ ative cou ntry that is helping to build moder­ n i ty . F rench c u l t u r e] is responsible for today. re­ sponsibility.

It wou l d 'be respo n sib l e for the u n ive rs e : and for human rights and inter­ n ational l a w . which is to say­ and we will come back to this-in a certain experience and expe ri me nt of the re s po nse . but there are many ways t o determine. ge m onies The task is always at once urgent and infinite. and always about. or ex is t ing he­ .THE O T H E R H E A D I N G 52 t r a n s . and this is what is ex­ pected of h e r" ) . Identity would t h us be instituted in responsibility. or " gov e r n " this inadequation: that is what pol i ti c s is all about. the determine d limits of their representation. monopolies.E u r o p e a n . the abuses of or in­ equalities in their application as a result of c e r tain interests.which logically presupposes that it is the first to denounce div erg e nc e s between the pr i nci p le o f these rig h ts ( w hose reaffirmation must be and can only be u n­ c ondition a l) and the concrete conditions. One c annot but be unequal to it. inter­ pret.E u ro p e a n ( o u tr e ­ Europeen] today.of their implementation. And France assigns h ers e lf this exem­ plary task according to the principle of t h e discourse that we just cited ( " (France] is re­ sponsibl e for today. o v e r . today.

" and thus of conserv­ ing itself as the avant-garde that advances in order to conserve what is its due. . be re­ sponsible. namely. like a quill. before? The same text also recalls that France must "conserve its avant-garde position. an "avant-garde position. therefore. the figure of prowess. It adds the value of a proposed or advanced ini­ tiative to that o f recollection: the responsibil­ ity of t h e g u a rd i an. This word c apitalizes upon the fig­ urehead. and of the guard or of memory. " whether or not it be extracted from its strategico-military code (promos) as projectile or missile.TH E OTHER HEADING 53 that here bears the whole enigma. What i s it "to respond " ? To respond to? To be responsi­ ble for? To respond for? To respond. the figure on or of the prow. t h e voc a t i on of a remembrance that takes it upon itself to take the initiative . e spec ially when it is in advance a matter of guarding . point advanced like a beak. " "Avant-garde" : the word is always so " attrac­ tive. of the phallic. of anticipating in order to "conserve. or like the nib of a pen-the shape of the headland or the cape. " as the official text says.

This can hap p e n. This can also a new university space. but vigilance must be ex e rc i s ed not only in r e g ard to state dis­ cou rses . This is state talk. may try. There is a multiplication of such projects today. provided our at­ tention does not lapse. namely. democratic. "consens u s .THE O T H E R H E A D I N G 54 ve nturing forth in o rder to conserve what i s onc e again its due. thr o u g h pow­ erful E u ropean publ ishing e nterprises. and toler­ ant. in order then to resist. The best intentioned of European projects. and through a philosophical discourse . an "avant-garde position"-of c o u r s e . " to impose the ho­ mogeneity of a medium. in this lovely competition fo r the " conquest of spirit(s) . and we can be happy about this. of discursive norms and mode l s . those that are quite apparently and explicitly pluralistic. new forms of cultural takeover. For it is necessary that we learn to detect. " " transpar­ h a ppe n thro ugh e s pe c i ally Under the pretext of p l e adi n g for transpar­ e nc y ( a l o ng w ith ency" is one of the master w o rds of the . surely. t h r ou g h newspa­ per or m agazine consortiums.

It is a question here of a common space. or the demo­ cratic ethic. this discourse tends. good sens e . for " commu­ nicative action .T H E OTHER H E A DING - . and as if naturally. It tends to suspect or repress anything that bends. to dis­ credit anything that complicates this model. or even questions.--- 55 "cultural" discourse I j ust mentioned) . overdetermines. " such a discourse tends to impose a model of language that is suppos­ edly favorable to this communication. With this concern. this idea of language . common sense. it would be necessary to study certain rhetori­ cal norms that dominate analytic philosophy or what is called in Frankfurt "transcenden­ tal pragmatics . including France. . common. U nder these or other names. as an implicit contract might be. they are present and powerful elsewhere. in mind. in theory or in practice. for communication in public space. by means of these very things. Claim­ ing to speak in the name of intelligibility. among others. for the univocity of democratic discussion. to the press. " These models coincide with certain institutional powers that are not re­ stricted to England a nd Germany .

t o the media. both Marx's book and c apital in general. That was the question of the heading (cap) as the question of la capita/e. exploiting a new situa­ tion. 2 . One c an already see how it can be linked to a new question of Ie capital. to the philosophy of the university and to philosophy in t h e univer­ s ity . to the question of what links capital to the theme of European iden­ tity. interrogating it to the point of banning the word " capita} ' ' ' indeed even the critique of certain effects of capital or of the "mar­ ket" as the evil remnants of the old dogma­ tism. and to the univers ity. a new way of taking capi­ tal into account while avoiding not only the frightening totalitarian dogmatism that some of us have known how to resist up until now. Is it not necessary to have the courage .TH E OTHER HEADING 56 to t h e publishing industry. To say it all too quickly. one that would i nvent another way of reading and a n alyzing Capital. a n d simu ltaneously. I am thinking about the necessity for a new culture. ( o n the) left and (on the) right. the c ou n t e r ­ dogmatism that is setting in today. but a/so.

THE OTHER H EA D I N G 57 and lucidity for a new critique o f the new e ffe c t s o f capital ( w i t h i n u nprecedented techno-social structures)? Is not this responsi­ bility incumbent upon us. we must focus our atten­ tion on the word "capital. Like the vocable "cap . between the structurally universalist preten­ tion of these regulative ideas and the essence or E uropean origin of this ide a of law (etc . or between the unconditional idea of law (be it of men or of states) and the concrete c onditions of its ·i mplementation. " as in "colony" and "colo- . " but also like the "culture" words. in order to justify the re ference to Valery. and politics. ethics. ) . those from " co/a. most particularly upon those who never gave in to a certain Marxist intimidation? Just as it is necessary to analyze and earnestly address-and this is the whole problem of ethico-political respon­ sibility-the disparities between law. i s i t not also necessary to resist with vigilance the neo-capitalist exploitation of the break­ down of an anti-capitalist dogmatism in those states that had incorporated it? For the moment. " or more precisely on the tenor of its idiom.

El Pais. Le Monde. a name was chosen for an important European newspaper. By giving cause to remark upon this language. metalinguis­ tic . . in this very place. the language in which even this right · here is b eing spoken. The semantic accumulation that we are now highlighting organizes a polysemy around the central re­ serve .T H E O T H E R HEA D I N G 58 nization. this new newspaper would link five c apitals of European culture (Tu rin. the word "capital" is a Latin word. Pari s . Through the diffusive presence of five already existing and influen­ tial newspapers. L 'lndice. M adrid. What philosophy of translation will dominate in E urope? In a Europe that from now on should avoid both the nationalistic tensions of linguistic difference and the vio­ lent homogenization of languages through the neutrality of a translating medium that would claim to be transparent. of a n idiom. itself a c apital reserve. and universal? I rem e mber that last year. " etc . . or at least predominantly so. " and like "civilization. we are focusing attention upon the critical stake s : the question of idio ms and transla­ tion.

or play. treatise. Trans . of free birth. wine . It is a Latin title. free (morally) . catalogue. since they recall its ellipti c a l economy in e ach issue . They apparently de cided in t he end not to panicipate in the project. * There would be much to say about the necessity of so many analogous projects . Those in charge of the newspaper are quite attached-and they are entitled to be so-to this name's rich polysemy. eri: the name of B acchus. and it was accepted by the En­ glish as well as the Germans . (3) Liher. a collection. Let us consider only the title chosen for this newspaper. era. or newspaper. (2) Liher. free from re­ straint. This polysemy gathers the homonyms and deriva­ tions at play in the lexical roots of a rich Latin soil: " ( 1 ) Liher. unbridled. The newspaper is called Liher (Revue europeenne des livres) . Times Literary Supplement) .THE OTHER H E A D I N G 59 Frankfurt. a book. independent. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. and London. absolute. writing. erum: free (socially). hri: the inner bark of a tree used for writing. " "The reader will h a v e noticed that the preface m akes no mention of the Times Literary Supplement. emancipated. .

referring t o the familiar form o f address the second person singular. Trans. ­ to the problem that I w i sh to r a i s e It co n cerns an irr e d u c i b l e experience of l a n g ua g e . to com m i t ment. o ne renews an a ll i an c e and r e a f fi r m s at the same time a E urop e o M e d i t e rr a n ea n idiom. namely. o p e ni n g . a command in the familiar form (un ordre qui tutaie] . and wi th a calcu­ lated iro n y . the grape v i ne and the book. you and the others" [libere-toi. toi et les autres] . F rom the Lati n jubto to order or command. "Derrida i s of the them. * a familiar i m p er a­ tive in the form of a jussive * * speech act that is possible only in the idiom of "my" own language . " "liberate yo u rs e lf. you would be even more sensitive . to the command or to the p ro mi s e : be­ e mb r a c i n g . or inc l u d i n g fore and b e y on d all theoretico-constatives. nA common term in speech a ct theory.THE OTH ER 60 HEADING By pl a yin g so s e ri o u s ly . "tu" . a t r ec a l l in g the memory of the language at the ve ry moment of re awakening this i de n ti ty of European culture. If I added the - untranslatable homophone "libere. by p rete n d . ­ that which links it to the liaison. Trans. ­ ing to g athe r this memory around freedom.

or. the " I a m addressing you. in a certain text of Valery. and why name today the "today" in the margins of Valery? If this could be rigorously justified. recover from against the backdrop of analogy and resemblanc e . which I doubt. me.THE OTH ER HEADING 61 there i s the affirmation o f language. more properly. in Valery's time. by this even. i n this language here. to sketch out the analysis in advance . the effects of metalanguage . but whose irreduc­ ible singularity we should now. to the point where we wrongly . and precisely for this. even i f i t produces. it would be b ecause of that which. w e must hear each other. how. bears the marks of an urgency. in an eve n more imperative way. an imminence. Why speak today. listen how I speak in m y language. only today. I t is an imminence whose repeti­ tion we seem to be living. did an immi­ nence come on the scene that so much resem­ bles our own. and I commit myself. This affirmation defies all metalan g u ag e . In what does our experience of imminence dif­ fer today? And. and you can speak t o m e i n your language. we must get along " [nous devons nous entendre) .

allied as they were for a limited but decisive time to the Soviet Union. With the destruction of the Berlin Wall . prevented a certain European u nification by destroying nazism. on the eve of the war. It was also the imminence of a war and a victory in the wake of which a par­ titioning of European culture was going to be fixed for the time of a quasi-naturalization of borders. the immi­ nence was not only a terrifying cultural con­ figuration of Europe constructed through a succession of exclusions. Valery recalls the immi­ nence of a tremor that was not only going to reduce to rubble-among other things­ what was called Europe. and ex­ terminations. of a Young Europe that attempted to assure its hegemony. in their turn. The "Western demo­ cratic" nations . annexations.THE O T H E � H E A D I N G 62 and too precipitately borrow from it so many discursive schema? The Freedom of Spirit appears in 1 9 3 9 . In 1 9 3 9 . It was also going to destroy Europe in the name of an idea of Eu­ rope . and in the name of another idea of E urope. the time in which the intellectuals of my generatio n have lived most of their adult lives.

There is today the same feeling of im­ minence . Paris. there is in today 's da y and age the reopening and denaturalization of these monstrous par­ titions. Protestant. " and it is necessary to di­ vide yet again each of these names with the most respectful persistence) . Greek. There is the greatest uncertainty concerning the borders of Europe itself. and Islamic memories. with all the diverse movements of " democ ratization. with a perestroika that is still uncertain. its "spiritual" borders (around the idea of philos­ ophy. . a Jerusalem itself divided. reason. its geographico­ political borders (in the center. of anxiety before the possibility of other wars with unknown forms. of hope and of danger. Moscow. around Jerusalem. J ewish. . " and with all the legitimate but sometimes am­ biguous aspirations for national sovereignty. around Athens. torn apart.THE OTHE R H E A D I N G 63 and the unification of Germany in sight. and it is neces­ sary to add. or racism. Orthodox] . monotheism. the return to old forms of religious fanaticism. Christ ian [Catholic . to the east and to the west. to the north and to the south). nationalism. Rome. "etc .

THE

OTHER HEADING
64

In The Freedom

of Spirit, this text of immi­

nence whose stakes are indeed the destiny of European culture, Valery makes a determin­ ing appeal to the word capital, precisely in order to define culture and the Mediterra­ n ean. He evokes navigation, exchange, this "same ship" that carried "merchandise and gods . . . ideas and methods . "
That i s how all that wealth came into being, to which our culture owes practically every­ thing, at least in its origins; I may say that the Mediterranean has been a veritable ma­
or making civilization . And in creating chine f

trade, it ne cessarily created freedom of the
spirit. O n

the s hore s of the Mediterranean,

then, spirit, culture, and trade are found to­ g e t h e r ( I I , p. p.

1 086

[His to ry and Politics,

1 9 6]).

After having extended the principle of this analys is to the cities along the Rhine (Ba­ sel, Strasbourg, Cologne) , to the harbors of the Hanse, which are also "strategic positions
of

spirit, " secured by the alliance of financial

institutions, the arts, and the printing indus-

THE

OTHER

HEADING

65 try, Valery puts t o work the regulated poly­ semy of the word " c apital . " This word compounds interests, it would seem; it en­ riches with surplus value the significations of memory, cultural acc umulation, and eco­ nomic or fiduciary value. Valery assumes the rhetoric of these tropes, the different figures of capital referring to each other to the point where one cannot nail them down into the propriety of a literal meaning. But this non­ literality does not exclude hierarchy; it does not put the whole semantic series on the same level. g What is the most interesting moment in this semantic or rhetorical capitalization of the values of "capital"? It is, it seems to me, when the regio nal or particular necessity of cap­ ital produces or calls for the always threatened production of the universal. European culture is in danger when this ideal universality, the very ideality of the universal as the produc­ tion of capital, finds itself threatened:
Culture, civilization are rather vague terms that it may be amusing to distinguish, con-

THE

O T H E R

H E A D I N G

66

t rast, or combine. I shall not dwell o n them. For myself, as I have told you, they a re a kind of capital that grows and can be used and accumulated, can increase and diminish like all the imaginable kinds of capital-the best known of wh ich is, of course, what we call our body
tics,
.

.

.

(II, p. 1 08 9 [History and Poli­

p. 2 00 ] ; Valery's emphasis ) .

"Like all the imaginable kinds of capital": this analogical series is recalled in order to

j ustify the lexicon of capital and the rhetoric
thereby induced. And if I in turn insist on "our body,
"

already emphasized by Val e ry as

in the end the best-known, the most familiar, capital. the one that gives capital its most lit­ eral or most proper meaning, thus gathering itself, as we have already seen, as close as possible to the head or to the heading, it is in order to remark that the body-as in what is called the proper body [corps propreJ , "our body," our sexed body or our body divided by sexual difference -remains one of the un­ avo idable sites of the problem. Through it also runs the question of the tongue, of lan­ guage, of the idiom, and of the heading .

there must also be men who need and know how to use it-that is .THE O T H E R H E AD I N G 67 . of the crisis par excellence. and military-i. material c ulture . if one can say this. The Valeryian rhetoric is here at once cultural. technical. that is. ­ posed of th ings. " He locates the ill­ ness in the very structure of capital. an acre of good land. or a machine can be capital unless there are men who need them u re is to and kn ow how to use them . " Like a doctor. men . scien­ tific. Valery analyzes the symptom of the "fever. ma t e r i a l objects-books . strategic : Of what is the capital we call Culture or Civili­ zation composed? In the first place. economic. it is com p i c t u res . For capi­ tal presupposes the reality of the thing. of course. But this is not e no u gh - any more than a n ingot of gold. Note these two conditions . If the material of c ul t become capital. "I say that our cultural c apital is in peril .h a v i n g the probable lifespan. and the pre­ c a r io u s n e s s of th ings . but also hu­ man existence . Valery's diagnosis is the examination o f a crisis.e. the fragility. et c . . the crisis that endangers capital as cul­ tural capital. i n s t ru ments ..

documentation. and who. " etc . The peril or dan­ ger that lies in wait for capital essentially threatens the "ideality" of capital: our "ideal capital. accu­ mulation) thus intersects the economic as well as the techno-scientific language of pole­ m o l o g y ( " knowl e dg e . " says Valery .T H E OTHER H E A D I N G 68 who have a thirst for know le dg e and for the power o f inner transfo rmation.2 0 1 )) . [History and Politics. 1 08 9 .9 0 . T h e max i m o f maxim ization. The language of memory (putting into re­ serve. " " i n s t r u m e n t s . the con­ ventions and methods needed to ex pl o i t the arsenal of documents and instrume nts ac c u ­ mulated over the centuries. into the archive. " "power. for the cre­ a ti o ns of t h e i r s e ns i b i l i ty . that which exceeds the borders of sensible em­ piricity or of particularity in general in order to open onto the infinite and g ive rise to the unive r s a l . pp. " " arsenal. Ideality stems from that which in capitalization de-limits itself. the intellectual di s c iplin e. I say that our cultural capital is in peril (II. ) . . 2 0 0. pp. more­ over. know how to acquire or exercise the habits.

what threatens European identity would not essentially threaten Eu­ rope but. but not to close off in ad­ vance a border to the future. I would even be re a dy to subscribe to it. which comes perhaps and perhaps comes from a completely other shore . is nothing other than spirit itself. to that which com es (vient) . analysis. Not only in order to look­ in the way of research. in Spirit. According to the capital logic that we see confirmed here . as we have seen. logic i t s e lf that I do not wish to criticize . knowledg e . to the to-come [a-venir) of the event. It is a logic. experts that we are in such things. for I keep another to write o r look for something else. perhaps outside Europe . of which it is the re- . and philosophy-for what i s already found outside Europe. We could formal­ ize it.THE OTHER 69 HEADING which. the u niversality for which Europe is responsible. assigns to E uropean man his e ssence ("All these maxima taken together are Europe"). here . we. but with one hand only. the old European philosophers . We are quite familiar with the program of this logic-or this anaiogic.

hear. What puts cul­ tural capital as ideal capital into a state of crisis ("1 have witnessed the gradual dying out of men of the g reatest value for their contribu­ tion to our ideal capital . Having approved this discourse while . . and even how to lis­ ten. . what was constituted as "solid value" (Valery emphasizes these two words) produced at the same time an absolute surplus value. pre­ pared to respond. . read. ") is the disap­ pearance of these men who "knew how to read-a virtue now lost. pp. by recapitulation. hear. Through th is respons ible memory. And the world's wealth was thus increased" (II. Ie capital or la capitale. these men also capable of repetition and memory. . to be re­ sponsible for and to respond to what they had heard. or see again was. 1 09 1 [History an d Politics. whatever they wished to read. p. the increase of a universal capital: " .TH E OTHER HEADING 70 serve. . " who " knew how to see. namely. seen. . and known for the first t i m e . turned into a solid value. how to hear. " these men who "knew . or see again"-in a word. 2 0 1 -2 0 2 ] ) . " "to read. to respond before.

and this impover­ ished expositio n is the negative form of the imperative in which a responsibility. to the double contradic- .THE OTHER H E A D IN G 71 looking elsewhere. only the thank­ less aridity of an abstract axiom. retains a chance of being affirmed. it there is any. but "it need be" (il Ie taut] absolutely. already in advance. that the experience and experiment of iden­ tity or of cultural identification can only be the end u ra n c e of these antinomie s . we must have. It is indeed a question of this capital paradox of universality. namely. " it is necessary [iJ taut] that we do not have them at our disposal"? Not only " it is indeed necessary" [il taut bien] . for precipitation is also that movement of the head [chen that propels us headlong . " is it not necessary in effect to infer or understand by this. To have at one's disposal. When we say. In it intersect all the antinomies for which we seem to have at our disposal no rule or general solu­ tion. the generality of a rule [regie] as a solution to the antinomy (that is. I would like t o precipi­ tate my conclusion. "it seems that we do not have at our disposal any rule or general solution. We have.

to have it at one's disposal as a given potency or science . hospitable or . social. national. i m m orality plus good conscience. the most reassuring definition of re­ sponsibility as irresponsibility. as a knowledge and a power that would prec e de. of an idiom or a culture. or not. The value of universality here c a pitalizes all the antinom i es. in order to settle [rtgler] it. confederal. state.THE O T H E R H E A D I N G 72 tory law and not to the opposition between the law and its other) . a refined. each experi­ ence of responsibility. the singularity of each decision. to treat each of these as if t hey were a c ase-this would be the surest. and sometimes good c on­ value of exemplarity that inscribes the uni­ ­ versal in the proper body of a singularity. of a politics organized within techno-science. whether this singular ity b e individual. e ach judgment. fed­ eral. Whether it takes a national form or not. for it must be linked to the . Any inven­ tion of the new that would not go through the endurance of the antinomy would be a dan ge rous m ystific a tion s c ience as immorality. of ethics con­ fused with juridical calculation.

No cultural identity presents itself as the opaque body of an untranslatable idiom. Evoking what he c alls the "title" of France. E ach time. Among all the possible examples. the advantage of accentuating in French w h a t is most " ridicul o u s " and "fine "-those are Valery 's words-about Gallocentrism. which is again to say its . it has here. on the contrary. the responsibility of testify­ ing for universality . We are still in the theater of imminence. for me who is speak­ ing to you. as the irreplaceable inscription of the universal in the singular.T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G 73 aggressively xenophobic form o r not. but always. yet again. only Valery's. the exemplar­ ity of the example is unique . it has to do with the discourse of responsibility: I have. the self-affirmation of an identity always claims to be responding to the call or assignation of the universal. I will cite. Moreover. That is why it can be put into a series and formalized into a law. It is 1 9 3 9. the unique "I" has. E ach time. the unique testimony to the human essence and to what is proper to man. since I find it just as typical or archetypical as any other. There are no exceptions to this law.

" stated as such by him. . even less a certainty: it is Valery's "personal im­ pression. Notice the paradox: to specialize in the sense of the O ne will have noted that w h a t is de­ scribed here is not a truth or an essence. " This paradox is even stranger . . men universal. an impres­ sion regarding a belief and a feeling ( " t o believe and to feel that we are universal") . a heading . . But these subjective phenomena (belief.THE O T H E R HEADING 74 capital. since the value of a title is that of a head. but often our finest claim or title) is to be­ lieve and to feel that we are universal-by wh ich I mean. an imp r e s s i o n concerning them by s o me o ne who then says "we") would be no less constitutive of the essential or c o n s tit u­ tive traits of Fre nc h consciousness in its "par­ ticularity . 9 of universality . a hat. or a capi­ tal. a c aps t one . Valery concludes an essay entitled French Thou9ht and Art: I will end by summarizing for you in tw o words my personal imp res s ion of France : our special quality (sometimes our ridicule . feel­ ing.

but in opening itself without being able any longer to gather it­ self. all the propositions and injunctions are di­ vided. David Carr (Evanston: Northwestern University p. and not simply to record or store up in the ar­ chives a necessity that is already at work any· F rom Husserl's The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcen· dental Phenomenology: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philos­ Press. with the other shore of the heading.Trans. for Europeans . the heading splits. and it is necessary to take note of this. . Husserl said that insofar as the European philosopher is committed to universal reason. the capital is de­ identified: it is related to itself not only in gathering itself in the difference with itself and with the other heading. Not even. It opens itself. 1 970). he is also the "functionary of mankind. tr. 1 7. " · From this p a radox o f the pa radox. no doubt. through the propagation of a fission reaction. . it has already begun to open itself. which means to affirm in recalling. ophy.THE OTHER HEADING 75 than Valery could or wanted to think: the feeling of being "men of universality" is not reserved for the French.

to recall what has been promised under the name Europe. even if at war. More radically still. Yet it has at the same time. . the other of the heading in general. to re-identify E urope-this duty is without com­ mon measure with all that is generally un­ derstood by the name duty. and through th is even. with more gravity still­ though this is the gravity of a light and im­ perceptible chance that is nothing other than the very experience and experiment of the other-it has begun to open itself. to be affected with opening without opening itself onto an other. the other with itself Hence the duty to respond to the c all of European memory. It has begun to open itself onto the other shore of another heading. or rather to let itself open. even if it is an op­ posed heading. better yet. and even if the opposition is internal. though it could be shown that all other duties perhaps pre­ suppose it in silence. or. to hear or understand as well. onto an other that the heading can no longer even relate to itself as its other. begun to make out.THE OTHER 76 H E A D I N G way. to see coming.

destroyed democracy and the European heritage ." and relentlessly) a totalitarian dogmatism tha�. of the critical idea. . under the pre­ tense of putting an end to capital. and never will be Europe . never was. but also submitting it. The same duty also dictates welcoming for­ eigners in order not only to integrate them but to recognize and accept their alterity: two concepts of hospitality that today divide our European and national consciousness . beyond cri­ tique and questioning. which we must also learn to ide n­ tify-for this is the future itself. The same du ty dictates criticizing ("in-both­ theory-and-in-practice.T H E O T H E R H E A D I N G 77 This du ty also dictates opening Europe. to a deconstructive ge­ nealogy that thinks and exceeds it without yet compromising it. But it also dictates criticizing a religion of capital that institutes its dogmatism under new guises. from the heading that is divided because it is also a shoreline: opening it onto that which is not. The same duty dictates cultivating the vir­ tue of such critique. the critical tradition. and there will be none otherwise.

. idioms. but a democ­ racy that must have the structure of a prom­ ise-and thus the memory of that which carries the fu tu re the to-come. with different forms of faith. It may have to do with faith. opposition to racism. agreement and univocity. the desire for translation. minorities. heritage of an idea of democracy. while also recognizing that this idea. but rather something that remains to be thought a n d to come liz veniT) : not some­ thing that is certain to happen tomorrow. like that of international law. but also the universality of formal law. and uniquely European. that its status is not even that of a regulative idea in the Kantian sense. It may also h a v e to do w i t h c e r t a i n t h o u g h t s . and xenophobia. state or trans-state) of the future.T H E OTHER 78 H E A D I N G The same duty dictates assuming the Euro­ pean. The sam e duty demands tolerating and re­ specting all that is not placed under the au­ thority of reason. the law of the majority. not the democracy (national or i nternational. . na­ tionalism. The same du ty dictates respecting differ­ ences . singularities. here and now. is never simply given.

thoughts that. through experiment. and act in compliance with this double contradic­ tory imperative-a contradiction that must not be only an apparent or illusory antinomy (not even a transcendental illusion in a Kant­ ian type of dialectic) but must be effective and. in order to work on the Enlightenment of this time. today once more ("What are you going to do TODAY?"). with experience. But it also calls for respecting whatever refuses a certain responsibility.THE OTHER 79 H E A D I N G whether questioning or not. and much less irrationalist . for the responsibility to think. intermina­ ble. Today. without becoming . We know that it was in using the discourse of responsibility that . ir­ rational. necessarily exceed its order.today . simply because of this. This same duty surely calls for responsibil­ ity. while attempting to think reason and the his­ tory of reason. the responsibility to respond before any and every instituted tribunal. this time that is ours. for example. while yet ac­ knowledging its limits. speak. the Aujkliirung. For these thoughts may in fact also try to remain faithful to the ideal of the Enlightenment. the Iluminismo.

state of society or history. presently. And not only to accept but to claim this putting to the test of the antinomy (in the forms. by some State.-Trans. or politics. by some determined. of the double constraint. These conditions can only take a negative form (w i t hout X there would not be ·Andrei Alexandrovich Zhdanov ( 1 896 1 948) was an im party leader who was responsible. ponant Communist . present. responsibility. etc . the undecidable. ethics. for a pro g ram that censored "bourgeois deviationism" in l ite ratu re and the ans.THE O T H E R H E A D I N G 80 the most atrocious Zhdanovism* was able to be exercised against intellectuals accused of ir­ responsibility before Society or History. that is. the per­ formative contradiction. ) . which is simply to say. dec ision. "rep­ resented" at that time. I am going to stop because it is late . It would be necessary above all to dis­ cern the unprecedented forms that it is tak­ ing today in Europe. for example. under Stalin. One could multiply the e x a mples of this d o uble duty. It would be necessary to recognize both the typical or re­ curring form and the inexhaustible singu­ larization-without which there will never be any event.

and of statements in the form of "this is that. and irresponsibility are given the so very presentable face of good conscience. dec ision. more generally and es­ sentially. recklessness. there will surely have been event. decision.T H E O T H ER H E A D I N G 81 V). One can be certain only of this negative form. ethics. or politics "). of knowledg e .) . inexhaustible resources. As soon as it is converted into positive certainty ( " on this c o nditio n . politics-Eu­ rope!) of "things" that can only exceed (and must exceed) the order of theoretical determi­ nation. judgment. We are speaking here with names (event. one can be sure that one is beginning to be deceived. error. indeed be­ ginning to deceive the other. the order of the present or of presen­ tation. responsibility. cert a inty." in other words. responsibil­ ity. unsmiling mask of a declared bad con­ science often exhibits only a supplementary ruse. for good conscienc e has. the un­ thought. ethics. Each time they are reduced to what they must exceed. (And it is also necess a ry to say that the seri­ ous. and one will always be able to exploit them. by definition.

to take it lightly. And. For the same reasons. that is. naturally. for what we recall (to our­ selves) or what we promise (ourselves).THE OT H E R H E A D I N G 82 One last word. " should be incompatible with belonging "in every part. that in the name of which I speak. by which I wish to say. that is. Euro­ pean through and through. nor do I feel. in a certain situation. as the best paleonym. or must say: I do not want to be and must not be E uropean through and through. the words " identity" and "culture . only in quotation marks. and why would I deny it? In the name of what? But I am not. and I like to recall this. I a m n o doubt a European intellectual. Being a part. . Like the fission reaction it propagates in our discourse . By which I mean. I like to recall this to myself. the paradox of the paradox s hould lead us to take the old name of Europe at once very seriously and cautiously. " I am European. is not only European. " My cultural identity. European in every part. European in every part. belonging as " fully a part . I would use the word "cap­ ital" in a similar way: la capi ta le or Ie capital.

and up to me among them. no doubt. If. "cultural" in ev­ ery part. to decide. . I declared that I feel Euro­ pean among other things. in any case.T H E O TH E R H E A D I N G 83 it is not identical to itself. to be more or less Euro­ pean? Both. Let the consequences be drawn from this . to conc lude. It is up to the others. in this very declaration. woul d this be. and I am not "cul­ tural " through and through.

in the light of today. you are right to specify: today. January 1 989). The phantom has rights and powers.aise. the haunting fear of democratic con­ sc io u sne s s . but how does one put a stop to con­ tradictory demands? Why must parliamen­ tary democracy protect itself from what in fact resembles the source of its legitimacy? Yes. what is public opinio n ? -Today? The silhouette of a phan­ . no .C A L L F O R I T A D AY D E M O C RA C Y tom. T oday. I (monthly. in today's day and age [au jou r This i s the complete version o f a n interview (with O livier Salvatori and Nicolas Weill) that was published in an abbre· viated form in Le Monde de la Revolution fran.

Literally ephemeral. not even constantly unstable. " From the Greek ephemeros. " A first ambiguity stems from this rhythm: if it had a proper place (but that is the whole question). . " t h ey defy both "force and reason. " "difficult to govern. "lasting only one day. " · De facto and de jure.CALL IT A DAY F O R DEMOCRACY 85 d'aujourd'hul] . for it sometimes "takes its time . opinion can change from one day to the next (de jour en jour) . Opinion lends to "public opinions" the vice or virtue of the unforeseeable: "mobile and changing . the me­ dium. d'Alembert already said. · · i t has n o status because i t does not have t o b e stable. D'Alemben on the Theatre" in Politics and the Arts. 1 . it has to do with the question of the day Uour) . p. Such repre·Jean-Jacques Rousseau. "The Letter to M. public opinion would be the forum for a permanent and transparent discussion. trans. It would be op­ posed to non-democratic powers. Allan Bloom (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. "­ Trans. Like "dice. 74. Concerning the rhythm. but also to its own political representation. Trans. 1 968). " the Let­ ter to M. and first of all the history of public opin­ ion.

(2) during a referendum. the time of the "coming to aware­ ne ss . In order to gain recognition for the immigrants' right to vote in local elections .THE OTHER HEADING 86 sentation will never be adequate to it. ( 3 ) in "opinion polls " or sociological studies. the "from day to day" [au jour Ie jour]. • Trans. The speed. the c ampaign launched by SOS Racism * would have to in­ form and convince an opinion that would then be heard by the parliamentary majority. " sometimes affects the rigor of the dis­ cussion. " with opinion s o m e t i m e s lagging pa radoxic a l l y b ehind the represent ative agencies. we believe that we know (but espe­ cially by way of opinion poll s ! ) that the majorities would not be the same today ( 1 ) in the Parliament. An organization devoted to fighting racism in France . deliberates and decides according to other rhythms . even in the "long run. One can also fear the tyranny of shifts in opinion. for it breathes . . Thus on the subject of capital pun­ ishment. There is no shortage of examples of such dis­ cordances or differences in rhythm.

" etc . It is not present as such in any of these spaces. then a can­ didate. It does not speak in the first person. public opinion is de jure neither the general will nor the nation. one cites it. on the lagging behind of public opinion an d even of the Parlia­ ment-so m ething that is not without effect on either of them. How does one here identify public opinion? Does it take place? Where is it given to be seen. "the silent m ajority. and as such ? The wande ring of its proper body is also the ubiquity of a specter. but this "average " [moyenne] sometimes retains the . had already announced his personal "opinion" on the subject and.CALL IT A DAY FOR DEMO CRACY 87 but the President of the Republic. ven­ triloquizes it ("the real country " [pays reeij . A disconcerting typolog y . " "one"). ) . that is. even better. one makes it speak. " Bush's " mainstream. it is neither subject nor object ("we . Exceeding e lectoral representation. had given his point of view on the present state of affairs. neither ideology nor the sum total of private opinions analyzed through socio­ logical techniques or modern poll-taking in­ stitutions . " Nixon's " moral major­ ity .

Now. nor laws " have. reflecting. an opinion that would there find the milieu of its freedom. thus to representing. This correlation between the daily or quotid­ ian-be it written or audiovisual-and the history of public opinion largely exceeds what is called the "opinion press. without a certain medium.THE OTHER HEADING 88 power to resist the means [moyens] "proper to guiding public opinion. nor virtue." opinion polls adjust themselves at a rhythm that will never be that of political or labor . forming. the newspaper is supposed to secure a place [lieu] of public visi­ bility proper to informing. in broad daylight. a daily. more and more "refined. Although these categories to­ day appear hardly adequate. 2 . "neither reason. or expressing. as Rousseau again says. this god of a negative politology can give no sign of life. This techno-economic power allows opinion to be constituted and recognized as public opinion. " Valuable and dangerous. " to resist this " art of changing" public opinion that. The daily rhythm essential to it presupposes the widespread dis­ tribution of something like a newspaper.

For they see the light of day in a press that often retains the initia­ tive and power. that pub­ lic opinion is no longer in our day what it was yesterday and from the beginnings of its his­ tory. it seems to be linked to the political discourse of Europe .CALL IT A DAY F O R D EMOCRACY 89 union representation. a history: it is European. No more in fact than everydayness as a major category of the so­ cial rhythm ever was. and the newspaper or daily produces the newness of this news as much as it reports it. 3. recent. that is to say. But as for the history of public opinion. The discourse on opinion is certainly as old as the world: doxa or "opinion" (which is not exactly the same thing) no doubt has equivalents in non­ Western cultures. Finally. and heavily scanned. For the phenomenon was never natural. it is necessary to recall that the phantom has a story. It is a modern artifact (the premises of the American and French Revolutions here provide the most . as well as about the c inematography of its silhouette . universal. we now know. Before asking about the supposed "reality" of public opinion to­ day.

and publish freely. provided he is respon­ sible for the abuse of this liberty in cases determined by the law. . opi n io n . If it is not electoral in the moment p r oper to it. and especially the "publication" of this opinion outside of these political or corpo­ rative representations . even if a "high point" was prepared by the tradition of a political philos­ ophy. a voluntary act . ex­ pression . write. "-Trans. I do not believe that anyone has spoken seriously of public opinion without the model of parlia­ mentary democracy and as long as an appara­ tus of laws (in France. every citizen may speak. It always takes the form of a "judgment" (yes or no) that must exercise a power of control • Article XI of the Declaration des droits de /'homme states : "The unrestrained communication of thoughts and opi nion s being one of the m o s t precious rights of man. This judgment is not some knowledge . but an engaged evaluation. from article XI of the Declaration of Human Rights* to the law of 1 88 1 concerning the freedom of the press) did not pe rmit or promise the formation. as its name indicates. is c alled u pon to pronounce itself by means of a judg­ ment.THE OTHER HEADING 90 visible landmark). Under this or any oth er name.

The paradigmatic moment: the Petition of Grievances [Cahiers de DoJeances) . public opinion is an assembly of citi­ zens called upon to decide. but a lso issues that escape them. who in tum received them from the general e1ectorate. '" As the place of a pot e ntial elec­ torate. at least provisionally. by means of a jUdgment. petitions of grievances were impor­ tant documents for the deputies of the Estates-General who received them from the electoral assemblies. . Trans . in a zone that is being extended and differenti-Traditionally. a list of demands addressed to the king or sovereign by some group or class within the state. but this outside can be recognized as the outside of an independen t public opinion only within parl i amentary de­ mocracies and repre sentative structures: in view of a possible vote and an intervention within or on representation.CALL IT A D AY FOR DEMOCRACY 91 and orientation over this parliame ntary de­ mocracy. It takes place nei­ ther inside nor outside . It is situated outside statutory representation. from the point of view of the properly political decision. During the French Revolution. " And within invisible borders. this considerable potency always remains " potential . issues that are within the compe­ tence of legal repres e nt at i ons. But.

. Just recall the demonstra­ tions in favor of "private education. A I D S . by the possibility of evaluation in the form of the judgment that decides (yes or no) and that is produced in a representation. even the Scorsese film* (I am speaking here about speeches.s. conju­ gated. pill . This couple is joined. or condoms. decision. declara­ tions. Opin­ ion surveys try to escape this law. on the one was picketed throughout *Derrida is referring to The Last Temptation of Christ. as the French abortion Trans. of lib­ eral democracy. or demonstrations-these elements of opinion-and not about the bombs intended to put an end to all that) . if not the very principles. " the "coordinations " of students or nurses. RU 486 is what is known in the U. But everything that is not of the order of judgment. the de­ bates surrounding RU 4 8 6. which France and even provoked a bomb attack on a movie theatre in the Latin Quarter of Paris. and especially representation escapes both pre­ sent-day democratic institutions and public opinion as such.THE OTHER HEADING 92 ated today in an accelerated way. drug addic­ tion. thereby posing serious questions about the present functioning.

" What then becomes of this reserve of experience.CALL IT A DAY FOR D E M O CRACY 93 hand.and representa­ tion. by exceeding electoral themes and im­ mediately p oliti c al dec isions and. But this can be done. B ut a d i s c o u r s e concerns public opinion a s such only i f i t an­ ticipates a legislative debate and if the "more or less" announces a "yes or no . . in any sense of this word? It is here that one can question the authority of opinion­ not in its content but in its form of pre-elec­ toral judgment. by multiplying the evaluations in per­ centages (more or less) rather than in an al­ t e rnative ( y e s or n o ) . invent it or invoke it against insti­ tuted representations. by language alone. evalu­ ation. What public-and thus poli t i­ cal - place is to be made for this kind of ques­ "government of opinion" can play with tion? A opinion. and thus already with the slightes t mark. " and "customs") that is not of the order of judgment (yes or no)." "tastes. and one can even question the distinction private/public whose rigor will always be threatened by language. on the other. and even determination (the "trends.

is perhaps quite simply a public opinion) . the recent "coordinations" of stu­ dents or nurses were no more "manipulated" than they were the result of an unorganized spontaneity. R . authorizes and requires a certain power (for example that of a head of state or even of a democratic government) to take into account an evolution before and be­ yond its expression in the Parliament. labor unions. The new means of "staying up to date. only in an at least formal democracy. S . Other categories are thus neces­ sary to conduct the analysis-and political action-beyond this b asic alternative . S . etc . It is not that opinion is the am o rphous reservoir of an untamed spontaneity that would exceed organizations (partie s. to discern c hanges in the maj ority before elections and even be­ fore a referendum. ) . Neither passive nor active. in the parties and labor unions. A popular dictatorship or a totalitarian re­ gime is not a government of opinion (and what is seeing the light of day today in the U .THE OTHER HEADING 94 or said. " of taking the pulse of opinion at a quasi-daily rhythm. The same thing goes for the relationships with in- .

It is phenomenal . than s imply re­ flected or represented by the press. because it risks touching upon the very concept of representation. Hafner Publishing Co. as such. p. before manifesting itself in broad daylight. . if one understands by this that it exists somewhere deep down. These naive or crude interpretations are rooted in a pow­ erful philosophical discourse. indeed influenced or inflected. Is not acting re­ sponsibly first of all to try and reconsider these interpretations? Such a task is philo­ sophical and political. Frankel (New York: Trans. it is difficult but also dangerous. theoretical and practi­ cal. "* But does not a democrat have the responsibility to think through the axioms or foundations of democracy? To analyze unrelentingly its historical determinations-those that. upon the "idea of representa­ tives" that Rousseau called "modern. Ch. trans.CALL IT A DAY FOR DEMOCRACY 95 stitutions and especially with the press : pub­ lic opinion does not express itself. It is no more produced or formed. in Contract. in its phenomenality. XV. 1 947). ·Jean J acques Rousseau.. Th e Social Charles 85.

(on the) left and (on the) right. or with dis­ courses like Kant's that link the Aujkliirung­ the progress of Enlightenment and of the day-to the freedom of making public use of reason in all domains (even though reason is not reducible to the "opinion" that it must also submit to critique) . The dimension of "public" space no doubt reaches its philosophical modernity with the E nl ightenment. in every analysis of public . Fer­ dinand Tonnie s ' s La critiq u e de l 'opinio n publique [Kritik der of fentlichen Meinung] [Ber­ lin: J. (Cf. w h o s e i nflu e n c e i s s t i l l alive.TH E OTHER HEADING 96 1989. or the works of Carl S c hmitt . Springer) of 1 92 2 . the crises that radio could provoke in the traditional space of a parliamentary de­ mocracy gave rise to heated debates. and especially in Ger­ many. can be delimited and those that can­ not? For it is indeed a question of the future of democracy. whether h e is cited or not. the techno-economic mu­ tation of the media marks another scansion. Following World War I. with the French and American Revolu t i o n s . In this post-Revolu­ tionary modernity.

* * Like the press. * These questions cannot be taken up here-let us not forget the constraints of the press. Trans. " trans . i t can correct errors and injustices. "A popular . Think of the transformations that an opinion poll technique introduces when it can literally accompany and. fo r example in Habermas . in contraband. All the stakes that we are discussing at this very moment are con­ centrated in what I must entrust here to the ellipsis of a telegram. this tech­ nique can surely give a voice to minorities deprived of institutional representation. even better. Derrida's "The Politics of Trans. The Jo u rn a l of Ph ilosophy. which are not only quantitative: they also impose models of readability. Motzkin. G abriel vol .) These debates have not become outdated: think of the immediately interna­ tional effects of the television of tomorrow on a public opinion that was first considered to be national. 8 5 . 6 3 2 4 5 . pp. produce the televisual event (liThe Hour of Truth"!) . F rench TV talk show. Friendship. n o . 1 1 . Can one speak seri­ ously of the press in the press? Yes and no.CALL IT A DAY FOR DEMOCRACY 97 spac e . but this "de·Cf.

in laws and in customs. And democracy along with it. so that the formally free press does not function as censorship? -It is in fact in the chapter "Of Censorship" that the Social Contract treats this "kind of law" that the "judgment" of public opinion is. Every day. " The " freedom of the press" is democ­ racy's most precious good. But can we here trust in the opposition form/content ? Is it enough to give content to a form in order to advance the freedom of the press. to the ques­ tions that we have j ust been asking. this fundamental "freedom" remains to be in­ vented. It nev e r repre sents without filtering or screening-let us repeat it-a "public opin­ ion.THE OTHER HEADING 98 mocratization" never legitimately represents. At least. effec­ tively. then. for with- . -What system is to be invented. the freedom of a right that will never go without duty or without the recog­ nition of a freedom "before the press"? It is necessary to maintain formal rigor. that is. but to the degree that one has not at least granted rights.

" An infinite task. Hudson (New York: Trans. plead simply for plurality. 1 960) . * It is also necessary to fight a gainst the effects of " censorship" in the large sense. of Reason Alone. 7 . one better fit­ ted to the techno-economic mutations of the "free market. in short. against a "new censorship. and monopoly. against all quantita­ tive phenomena that might marginalize or reduce to silence anything that cannot be measured on their scale . for all that. a more differentiated legislation. Theodore M. not only be­ cause there will always be something more or something b etter to be done. public "power") does not win back lost ground. to fight against accumulation. p. and so it is neces­ sary to invent more refined procedures . concentration. trans. A democracy must surely be vigilant so that censorship (in the legal sense: this "criticism" that has. Reli9ion within the Limits Hoyt H. But one cannot. G reene a nd Harpe r & Brothers. dispersion. but because of a principiai contradiction. · I mmanuel Kant. Kant says. that threatens liberal societies. " if I may put it this way. .CALL IT A DAY FOR DE MOCRACY 99 out it no right is protected.

informs a "fact." No information escapes it. For certain s ocio-economic forces might once again take advantage of these marginaliza­ tions and this absence of a general forum. " though i t i s more perceptible there .TH E OTHER HEADING 1 00 or fractioning . a selective evaluation. I t i s at work as soon as an interpretation. ? A wager. an aporia? This invention. with concentration. of "scenes" or places of visibility. for the mobility of screening places or of the subjects who occupy them. at once impossible and necessary. of agencies of evaluation. while yet enriching the multiplicity and quality of pub­ lie discourses. This terrible logic is not restricted to the "audiovisual. acc um u l a t i o n and privatization. that is to say. It de-politicizes. etc . . can only be announced on the basis of another imperative : the unity o r "centrality" of the democratic forum must not be confused with that of the mass. For the " new censorship"-and this is the strength of its ruse-combines concentration and fra c t i o n alization. homogeneity. or monopoly. How then to open the avenue of great de­ bates. accessible to the majority.

into the darkness of a quasi-private enclosure. that screens and deflects toward itself so much energy. makes the body and the so- . no matter what its real eclecticism or facade of liberal­ ism. it dogmatizes. Each time a media institution controls market phenom­ ena on a massive scale. it seizes and censures just as massively. A work is thus relegated far from the court. no matter whether it captivates or bores . of exhibiting in full daylight. of screening. When a single judge .CALL IT A DAY F O R D EMOCRACY 101 This i s all too evident in what is called the "cultural" press (arts. whether one finds it distinguished or crude or both. literature. may be. is entrusted somewhere with a monopoly of evaluation. philosophy. no matter what one may think of his or her particular talents. " overdeter­ mined. etc . ) and in all those "refined. that interrupts the conversation. its virtues or vices. he or she determines sales in the supermarkets of culture . if it does not fulfill the conditions of visibility in this great little mirror that fas­ cinates as it distorts. super-coded evaluations that do not immediately induce public opinion as political judgment or electoral decision.

such research is judged to be more and more "obscure. m i t ? And t h a t .THE OTHER HEADING 1 02 cial gaze conform to a new physiology. on this scale . " indeed "unreadable . ever may be said of the quality of our "cul­ tural" media . the norms of the culture-thereby repre­ sented in its " " average " (in the s i ngular. What­ . in Europe. As a result. is it a coincidence that our co unt ry is. " and so it be­ comes what one says it is and wants it to be: i n accessible And the cycle accelerates. depriv e d of the light of day. The re­ sult is that what is called "difficult" research. a book must sell and-there is a difference­ be read at more than ten thousand copies in order to be something more than a confiden­ tial and quasi-private correspondence. " "diffi­ cult. and the n finally projects ab road the latest icons of the national culture. Today. the one in which peo­ ple read the least? That our libraries are in a disastrous sta t e almost too shameful to ad­ . that which resists the stereotypes of the im­ age or of na rration which does not submi t to . opinion " always mea ns the "average")-is excluded from the scene: occulted.a p ro b l e m i n e x t r i c ab ly .

Access to the average is often a form of progress. This heterogeneous power can sometimes criticize itself. of certain academic bodies) . Is it not in the end judged over a longer period of time and ac cording to criteria that remain necessarily indecipherable to it? If it contrib­ utes to mass successes that are forgotten a . accentuate or denounce. for example. " are u ndergo ing such h ard­ ships? But once again. official evaluations (those. let us not simplify things. Certain newspapers can. for better or for worse. Perhaps it is necessary not to let oneself be fascinated by quantitative immediacy. depend­ ing on the s ituation. from one part of its large body to another. of the academic profes­ sion. Perhaps it is also necessary to take account of other rhythms and trajectories.CALL IT A DAY FOR DEMO CRACY 1 03 linked to these-our schools and universi­ ties. the privileged places for the "formation of judgment. But is the power of the media unlimited? It too is eval­ uated from one day to the next by a public that is not always silent. the press contributes to the quality of democrati­ zation. Like the schools.

. as we know. * G iven these rhythms and qualitative · Russian for self edition. but what readers! Per­ haps this analogy already suffers from anach­ ronism-alas -for the in trinsic history of those episodes was no doubt linked to its out­ side and. sometimes plays a more determining role than the immediate reality of ten thousand buyers. Between the two . the quality of ten read­ ers. means to distribute works prohibited by censorship. with Nietzsche or Proust. does not it too risk being forgot­ ten? U n timely developments that escape its grid of readability might one day take over without any resistance at all. with a Kafka or a Joyc e of 1 9 89? They were at first saved by a handful of readers (a minimal listening audience). it nonetheless has ac­ cess to public space. What would our great media machines do with Rimbaud or Lautreamont. A general term for a group of Trans. to a structure of "public space" that is now out­ dated. whether one denies it or not. But the limited edition still retains a chance : quasi-private. As for the fu­ ture course of a work.TH E OTHER HEADING 1 04 month later. samiz dat.

E ach event comes into con­ tact with the law. Tra ns. but there is perhaps the in­ c a l c u l a b l e in it . will always depend upon the effectiveness of a "right of response. the freedom of the press and before the press. it is never. it is not. The alternative would rather be between the unilateral and the multilateral in the relations of the media to the "public. " Responsibility. I t is s i m p l y t h a t t h e incalculable. . if there is any. never presents it­ self.CALL IT A DAY FOR DEMOCRACY 105 differences. Droit de reponse was also the name of a cont roversial though popular French TV talk show. Passage is never assured. that is. "* a right that allows the citizen to be more than the fraction (the pri- *Though Ie droit de reponse i s usually known in English as the " ri gh t of reply . " we have opted fo r the " right of re sponse" since it maintains the relationship with re spo ns ib i l ity. the porosity of a border between "private" and "public" seems more incalcu­ lable than ever. like contraband smugglers or members of the resistanc e . Public opinion is not an incal­ culable average. the theme of some scientific or philosophical objectification. " t o the "publics . The only choice is thus no t concentration or dispersion.

the right of response. stu pidity as well. in books . on television . abusive simplifica­ tion. more generally. in sum. or in the newspa­ pers . E rror or falsification.TH E OTHER HEADING 1 06 vate. ne c e s s ar ily cheated because of this. and more " and m o re so) of a passive. the rhetoric of insinuation. deprived [privee) fr action . Is there demo c rac y without re c iproc ity ? -How does one extend the right of response to such a degree? -France is one of the few countries that rec­ o g nize the right of rectification (on the part of p ubli c powers to which it is rese rv ed) and. This is a fundamental right. on the radio. And of c o urse. Even when the juridical or technical difficul­ ties do not di sco ur ag e one in advance. interpre t ative violence . all these things most often remain with­ out any pub l i c and immediate response. . omission. Yet one can only exercise it (going strictly by the law-I am not speak­ ing about ethics or politics ) in very re s tricte d conditions. massively. a re­ sponse is in general neutralized by the place. consumer " public .

(out to be) the day itself. Thus the right of response hardly exists. but the press is every­ where today: it gives (itself). to ligh t the day itself. presently? Given that good will (whi c h is indispens­ able ) will not be enough to change things that no longer fall under a logic of simple "consciousness" and of a juridical-that is. in any case. It b rings publi c space to the light of day. de­ mocracy will be accordingly limited.CALL IT A DAY FOR D E M O C RACY 1 07 framework. g ives daylight to the day itself. . As long as the r ight of response does not receive its full extension and effectiveness (again the infinite task). inadequate-concept of responsibility. it brings (itself) to the light of day [ (se) donner . gives the light of day to it. given . along with what can or ca nnot be redu c e d in it? Why the hypocrisy. Why does one so often pretend (a fiction of democracy) to ignore the violence of this dis­ symmetry. to its p ub l icity It brings . and delays. Only in the pre ss? C e r tainly . the denial or the blindness before the all-too-evident? Why is this "all-too-evident" at once as clear as the light of day and the most nocturnal fa c e of democracies as they are. (pour) Ie jour] . .

compiled and translated by Richard Seaver p . " ··· · Dur i ng the F rench Revolution. and I can say no more about it in a page. the philosophi­ cal concepts that w e have inherited have never sufficed. French . c elebrate. " and Austryn Wa inhouse (New York: G rove Press. given all this one will rec all . * * "Yet another effort . given that whenever it is a question of response a nd respons ib ility of . The complete line i s : "Yet another man. single newspaper page. the French R e v olution only by appealing to other revolutions. It. the Revolution. "revolut ionary days" were called to mark. Philosophy in the Bedroom. 1 9 6 5 ) . will no longer be "revolutionary. address and destination. . such an a ppe al or call seeks a new t o n e. / If you would become republicans . Le Mondt de * * D errida is referring to his agreement with the editors of la Revolution fran�aise that Trans. in The Marquis de Sade. and renew Trans. etc . effort. his anicle not exceed a " · The Marquis de Sade. · Noth­ ing gua r an t e e s it this. 2 9 6 . The memory of a promi s e .THE OTHER HEADING 1 08 that technical p rocedures and formal legality (wh i c h are indispensable and ca n always be improved) will never reach the end of this immeasurability. no doubt. / Trans. " and it must take its time - beyond the " revo­ lutionary day" (journee revolutionnaire] .

its very es­ sence) will no longer be the ratio essendi. but also the unity of daily rhythm. Has the day ever been the measure of all things. but also perhaps.CALL IT A DAY FOR DEMOCRACY 1 09 And yet another word. and at the same time. the day is coming. the reason or the ration of the -telemetatheoreti­ cal effects that we have j ust been speaking about. but also the phenomenality of the political. the very word that you gave me to begin with-today. The day is announced when the day (the visibility of the image and the publicity of the public. Already the days are numbered: at another speed. this opinion. . as one pretends to believe? In its first edition. the day is announced. I hardly dare say this fiction. when the day reaches its end. if you will allow me. remains the most widely shared thing in the world.

.

more implicitly i n Hegel and Heidegger. . . 1 9 5 7 ) . (If I Jackson M athews as " The European .N O T E S 1 . 1 004 [translated by Denise Folliot and 1 2 ) . Heidegger and the Q u estio n . It began a "co mparative analysis o f these th ree discourses-Valery's. la Pleiade. whether it be in Valery o r Hus­ ser!. 1 9 6 2 ) . La Crise de ['esprit. 97 (pp. i n the end. 1 9 87] [0/ Spirit. the exploitation spread of technology. pp . trans. Note (ou L 'Europeen) . " a n d i t h a d a l ready been called for by o n e of Va lery's quest ions : Must such phe nomena of the globe. all of which p res a g e a deminutio capitis for E u rope . and He idegger's-on the c risis or destitution of spirit as spirit of E u rope . most no­ t i ceably in De /'esprit: Heidegger et la question [Pari s : Gali­ lee. . Husserl 's. only expanded upon a bit here. r. Ge offrey Bennington and R achel Bowlby (Chicago: University o f Chicago Press. and thus presupposes to a certain extent. t. reflections published in Qther works. i n Essais quasi politiques. Deuxieme LeIlTe. Oeuvres (Pari s : Gallimard . 1 989)] . 1 2 2 -2 4 ] ) is. p . must these be taken as absolute decisions of fa te? Or have we some freedom against this thre ateni ng con spi rac y of things? (La Crise de i"espTit. ) The long note that this book consecrates to Valery in particular (p. this con­ ference develops. and the g e n e ral as democracy. 3 1 1 may be allowed to indicate in passing that with regard to Europe and Spirit. " in History and Politics (New York: Bollingen. I.

the maximum of labor. ["America: A Projec tion of the European Spirit. J . greatly o u twe ighs the rest of the world. "But w h o . 3 2 9 ff. it offers i t s phenomenal image to an e c o n o m ico­ metaphys ical determinat ion (at once subjective and objective) of being as need and desire. the maximum transformation of external Nature. 9 8 7 ff. maximum. and production. even Or much Europe that excels. p . a fter all. p. after Jeru­ Europaeus by distinctive traits other salem and Athens. Rome. namely. that is. Europe is the name of that which leads the desiring or willing subj ect t oward h i s object ivizable manifestations. " Valery respo nds by first following the history of what he calls the "capita l " or "the City par excellence" [History and Politics. to the ques­ tion of our "distinction" and that which "has most profoundly distinguished us from the rest of human­ ity . maximum of . " "Second letter. 3 1 7) . 3 1 6) . but the Europea n Spirit. there we witness the needs. but the essence of spirit manifests itself. ) Whereve r that Spirit prevails. " t. language.NOTE I I l2 p. rather. it is not s o In power and precise knowledge. (See o n this subject "L 'Amerique. pp . p. the maxi mum of relations and exchanges. Capital belongs to the series of E urope ' s phenomenal today. 3 6 J). I I . He concludes these few pages by defining Homo than race. projection de l'esprit europeen. 1 000 [" The Crisis of Spirit. p. capital. T o the que s t i o n . He still defines him by spirit. is Euro­ pean?" [History and Politics. and customs. " History and Politics. " in History and Politics. the maximum of ambition and power. Europe still. and America is its formidable cre­ ation. work and wil l.

9 1 5 [History and 2. for t h e latter participate in this absolute spirit that makes them p o s s ibl e H e nce the form of the definition or description: "All these m a x i m a t a k e n to g e t h e r a re Europe . 3 2 3 ) ) . In this u ni qu e and i rrepl a ce able reference. (I. " . have ' a pe rso n · By dropping the definite treating E u rope not as a thing with a proper anicle. of the event or of t he concept. or customs. logical indexing. . it would always b e necessary to re­ c ap t u re the "capital moment" (II. name . is obviously the qu a li t y of the i n di vi du a l man. the name Eu­ rope. I wi ll had here to limit myself merely to p ropos i n g . a s an absolutely proper name. a p ro g ram for rea d i ng (census. Valery is we l l aware that he must tre a t the name of Europe . or the ima g e of Europ e . or language. in p a ss i n g or in the e nd . . Etc . . . 1 0 1 4 IHistory and Politics. i nt e rp re t a ti o n ) the uses of the capital­ istic le x i c o n and its stakes in Va l ery s text. * Tome I. the s o u rc e o f t h i s development. . p. 3 1 ) . p. the average qu a l i t y of Homo Europaeus. ['Europe. It is remarkable that the E u rope a n is defined n ot by race. Valery seems to be a place or continent-but a s Trans. Be it a ques­ t i o n of history or of historical knowledge. . p.NOTES 1 -2 1 13 All t h es e maxima taken together are Europe. 9 9 5 [History and Politics. p. astonishing One will have n o t iced t h a t by po s i n g in this way t h e question of what distin9uishes Europe and what calls it fro m its absolute s i ngul ar i t y . M oreov er. p . but by his aims and t h e amplitude of his will .not . it is a matter of an individual whose i d ent i ty is p e r s o nal p e rh ap s more pers on al than all European persons. t hi s superiority. .

beyond historical knowledge.N OTE 2 1 14 Politics. p . p. of what is called the head. " w o u l d n o t have b e e n t h o u ght or " r e ­ thought" ( I I . of a again the expression "capital event" that describes the appearance of a configural and identifying coordi n ation or system of correspondence in the prog­ ress and organization of sensible knowledge. Valery emphasizes : "S ight. which is funda­ m e n t a l . and finally-a capital event-it tu rns out that a certain system of correspondences is necessary and sufficient for a uniform a djustment of all the visual sensations to all the sens ations of the skin and mus­ cles" (II. And in addition. p . precisely because "that c a pital moment when precise and spec ialized definitions and conven­ tions replace meanings that are confu sed and statisti­ cal in origin has not yet arrived for history" (II. which is the tangible world. in short. what has not yet happened to history. Further on. p. namely. as science. or as a result. this discourse immediately and at the same time touches upon the historical thing. 9 1 5 (History and Politics. I I )) b y the histori a n . is the capital allow it first to think the event possibility of thi nking that would event as such. 1 3 ) ) . p . W hat would have escaped the historians is what would have . come to be an event. it i s the event o f capital itself. p . 6)). of a concept. happened to the event." would have esc aped the his- . 9 2 0 [History and Politics. of a I n other words. because of its "essential singularity. p. The " notion of an event. 922 [History and Politics. The "cons iderable event " that. first of all from Europe 's point of view. it is unity. This event i s not only capital. upon the very fabric of events . and act are coordinated in a sort of mUltiple entry table. touch. 6) ) .

. " Politics and history can no longer speculate upon the localization or "isolatio n of events . the Great:European. Europeans have competed for p ro fi t in awakening. " u nder the evil spell of the written word. dominating general E u ro pean policy and making it absurd. seems t o condemn i s n o t so m u c h colonialism b u t rather the internal rivalry that will have divided the Europea n colonialisms and disseminated the " immense capital of knowledge" constituted by "the efforts of the best brains in Europe " : Now. b efo re were im pr i so n e d in their traditions and asked nothing better t h an to rem a i n as they were There has been n o t hi ng more stupid in all history than European rivalry in ma t ters of po l it i c s and ec on o m ics when com p ared. instructing. 1 9) ) belongs to this " age of the finite world" that Europe itself has precipitated by exporting itself. and arming vast peoples who. . . p. and arming-these are Valery's words­ those who aspired only to " remain as t hey were . . the Euro-capitalist hyper­ colonialism of Val e ry . 9 2 7 [History and Politics. " everything is put into relation with everything else. and confronted with E uropean unity and collaboration in m at t e rs of science. . combined. local E u ro pe an politics. " This last expression at least sets the tone . awakening. " There is no l o n g e r a n y local c risis or w a r . has led rival Europeans to export the methods and the machines that made Europe supreme in the world. p . What the anti­ colonialism or. .NO T E 2 115 torians as well as the event's " c ontemporari es. if you prefer. and by Europeanizing the non-Europeans . T h e " Decline of Europe" (II. While the efforts of the best brains in Euro p e were amassing an im . and so "the age of the finite world has begun. in­ structing." is the saturation of the habitable earth and the fact that.

at an interval of only t h r ee hundredths of a second.N OT E 2 116 mense capital [my e mp h asis . by a kind of treachery. and telecommu war of today. from the very best to t he worst. relay. Europe will prove not to have had th e pol i ti cs worthy of h e r tho u g h t ( I I . The equivocity o f t h i s discourse w i l l have never seemed s o pliable. customs." the title for a th ough t that advances itself l i k e a hypothesis on t he subject of t he hypothetical character of everything . . to see. o n the third day of what is called "The G ulf War" " ) . c onvent ion an d re lay establish the re g i me of the simulacrum. the to da y of this note. was b e ing pursued. Soc iety. on w h a t seems to come from spirit and t o im pos e itself first on s p i r it and then on ou r whole exis tence-is n o t our life governed b y an e normous. These are th e op e n i ng words of a sho rt text entitled "Hy­ pothesis. the methods and i ns tru m e nt s of power . The thunders of some future Verdun will then be re ceived at the antipodes . c onve n t io n . when "the time of the finite wo rld has b e gu n" : In the future. of t h e Ego as the Everything. nic a t ion . . and from the very be g i n ni ng. D. me n falling six thou­ sand miles away. p. pp. 9 2 6 [History and Po litics. the naive t radition of a policy based on history. Valery was also in advance the thinker of the . i nso far as it depends on w h a t comes t o s piri t. Here are the c l os in g words of this "Hypothesis" : Is n o t o u r life . languages. handed over to th e very people i t meant to dom ina te . 1 7 1 81). J. disorganized mass of conventions. . It will even be possible to see something of t h e fighting. when a battle is fo ug h t anywhere in t h e world. most of which a re implicit? We s h o ul d be hard put to it either to express or to define the m . as it seems today (I date this today. it w i l l be a perfectly s i m p l e matter for t h e sound of the cannon to be heard over the whole earth. *A t h in ke r o f fiction. as so o n as. and th e sp i ri t of Little Europe.I of usable knowl­ edge. a policy of c o ve t o u s nes s and ulterior motives. laws .

In our desire s . disclosing the terrifying simplicity of rudimentary l ife. trans. b lends with the perceptible reality of the mo­ ment. Valery's em­ phasis) . or next to none. dominates it and is itself some times tom apart. beer. 229 33). pp. and even in our effort to know ourselves. a n d liqueurs . . "Notes on the G reatness and Decl ine o f Eu­ rope . she had developed to the u tmost her freedom of spirit. we are t h e puppets of nonex istent things things that need not even exist to affect us ( I I . And those happy p eop l e s will impose their happiness on us. . in o u r emotions a n d passions. the a rts. 942 45 IAesthetics. Europe had clearly distinguished herself from all the other parts of the world. o u r quests. politics. A n d of other things . w e shall be relieved of i t by those h appy peo­ ples who have none. in short. had combined her passion for understanding with her will to rigorous thought. s h e will b e deprived o f wines. . pp. Europe aspires visibly to being governed by an American Commission. just before posing the question of "TO­ DAY " ( " What are you going to do TODAY ? " ) . every effect that is unequal to its cause. 1 964). by the indirect means of w h i c h a second reality takes hold. covers it over. Ralph Manheim (New York: Boll ingen. everything that is fiduciary in this world. Her whole policy is le ad­ ing to this. Not knowing how to rid ourselves of our history. our regrets. invented precise and positive speculation. Not by her politics but in spite of and contrary to her politics. relays or intermediaries. . " which. will have condemned what the politics of Europe will have done with its "capital o f laws " : Europe w i l l b e punished for her politics.N O T E 2 1 17 Especially if one conside rs that this was written after the fact in the " Foreword" gards sur Ie (Avant-propos) to Re­ monde actuel and to the first text of this collection. requires conventions that is.

p. the "pious" that als o in the a vant.g arde of a com­ bat. by the obstinate pursuit of results that could be accurately compared and accumulated. i n p a r t i c u l a r Heidegger. 3 8 ["The Question Concerning comes in t h e first rank. borrow ing from the singular riches and resources I h ave mentioned just enough to support her primitive political practices and to furnish them with more redoubtable and barba­ rous w e a p o n s ( I I . Wlad Godzich and Lindsay Wa t e rs (Minneapolis: University of M i n­ nesota Press. . p a r t i c u l arly. 1 989)) . 1 9 7 1 ) . Yet. David Farrell Krell (San Fran­ cisco: Harper & Row. 1 9 76 ) . tran s . I t i s the impossible p ossib il i t y o f a "logic" th a t I try to formulate (though it is by defi n i t io n never ab so­ lutely formalizable) in Psyche: Inventions de l 'autre (Gali­ lee. t r ans _ Peter D . " trans_ William Lovitt. 9 3 0 [History and Po lit ics. Valery the Mediterranean. i n Martin Heideg­ ger: Basic Writings. 1 9 87) . 1 3 0ft] . pp. Valery the E u rope a n . p_ 1 49 [Of Spirit. Hertz 3. 4. d. fromm and promos. Cather­ ine Porte r. concerning Ort. ) 5 . t he place and the tip of the l a n ce . As for (New York: H arpe r & Row. 6. Un terwegs zur Sprache. p. c f. her politics remained as they had always been. my emphas i s) . 37 [On the Way to Language. p_ 1 5 9 ) .N O T E S 2 . " in Vor­ trage und Aufsiitze. 3 1 6) and the remarks that I devo te to it in De l'esprit. a capi tal of pow e rful laws and procedures. I t a k e t h e liberty of referring once again here to De l'esprit: Heidegger et la question [Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question.6 1 18 and created. He i de gg er' s "Die Frage nach der Technik. in the fi rst e ssay of that collection [Psyche: Inventions of the Other. ed. p. pp. in Reading de Man Reading. ed. 2 2 7-28). Technology. p.

" " t h e awareness of an unrelenting m is s i o n o f t h e spirit " : " I fancy t h a t to think PARIS may be c om p ared. . 2 6 6 6 7 1 . the that." in Poems in the " . There i s nothing surprising in th i s . p . pp. on the c o n t r a ry . The inhab itant of the c ap it al is then t h o u gh t" by the h ab i t at earlier than he thinks. i t is by PA RIS that one For she is the head of France . the "figure" of the face [Ia "figure" de fa fi gure) had gu ided the analysis of t h i s c ap­ ital of c apitals . " Just b efore this. in j ust as exemplary a w a y . the mo s t noble and m o s t serious of tasks comes d own not only to " t h i nk­ that w e (whose n a m e Valery writes of this ca pit al in c a pit al letters twe nty-six times i n five pages) and its identity with s pi r it itself. One dist inguishes the face. Valery had previously formulated a project that will be accomplished only by being in­ verted. according to t h e logos of absolute spirit (and) of the capital. or may be confou n de d with thinking spirit itself ' (Pres­ ence de Paris. . the head and the forehead: The more one tries. I I . 1 969). 1 0 1 2 [" Paris Is Here. after four marvelous coming to PARI S ? . this lo g i c and i t is a re ana ly z ing here. pages co m e s awareness the ultimate moment o f the and the reve rsal: "To t hi n k more one feels is thought . " But. H i l ary Corke (New Yo rk: Bollingen. in which a re sited the country ' s organs o f percept ion and most sensitive re . ing PARIS" but to thinking the identity Rough. I n Presen ce de Paris [ " Pa ris Is H e re " l . " First moment: " Whence is born in me this daunting and absurd de si re : to t hi n k PARIS . Spirit and the c api t al are presented or repre­ sented in e a c h o t her. trans. th a t i s . according to the very l o g i c of being. of 1 9 3 7. the t h i n ker of Pari s .NOT E 6 1 19 wanted to be. One actually looks the capital in the f ace.

When strong feelings se i ze our pe o p l e . This capi­ tal "is distinguished" from all other capital s . the or economic or cultural cap ital. 1 0 1 5 [Poems in the Rough. 2701). The "e x em pl arist " logic that we a r e here t ry i n g to recognize had in fact driven Valery. but the "head of Europe . a fate that it sh ares with other great Western cities ( " Every great cit y in Europe or America is cosmopolitan" ( I I . or even bette r. my em ph as i s ) . pp. to embody its whole history. Indeed. On the one hand. irradiating it with a m i g ht y flush of pride (II. p. voluptuary. it is to this brow the bl o od mounts. of "human sociabil ity " : . 398 991. our ca p ital . the exemplary capit al. " in History a nd Politics) ( 1 9 2 7 ) . Paris distin9uishes itself in two respects that are c apital­ it is the capital of the country in ized. but as the capital of cap i t a ls . literary. all this bei ng both good and bad for the n a ­ tion that this city crow ns i t is in this that P a r i s distin­ guishes itself from all other g i a n t cities (II. po l itic al every doma in. p. On the other hand. by being di stingu i shed in this way. the capita l of human soc iety i n gen­ eral. 3 9 7)). as in other countries. 1 00 8 [History and Politics. and not only . is no lon g er simply the capital of a country. " and thus of the wo rld. p_ 1 00 7 (History and Politics. p. to prese nt this capital not only as a cosmopolitical metropolis . c o mm e r c i a l . to absorb and concentrate its whole thinking substance as well as all its cre d i t and nearly all its monetary resou rces and assets. and sumptuary ca p i ta l of a great cou ntry.N O T E 6 1 20 actions . ten years earlier. " d istinction" will be the master word of th is discours e . To be in itself the political. in the Fonction de Paris ( " Fu nct i on of Pari s . finan cial. s cie nt i fic . Her b e a u ty and light give France a counte nance on which at moments the whole intelligence of the land may be seen v i sibl y to burn. p.

what distinguishes [History and Politics. p. the best being always right up against the worst. not only from the Euro­ pean fore igner but from a foreigne r who comes from even further away to contam inate. due to boredom with entertaining clear ideas and the rise of exotic peoples . Paris that lo ng ex perience and an endless number of historical vicissi­ in the space of three hundred years has t wi ce or three t i mes been the head of Europe. 400). 1 00 9 (History and Politics. whose character is the result of tu de s . from other shores . my em­ phasis) . " Valery in fact concludes : The mounting credulity in the world. and it associated " t h e immense ad vantages" with "the grave dangers o f such a concen­ tration": with "the flower" are associated. In 1 92 7 . from the foreigner. " the dregs of the rac e " p. We must neglect neither the insistent ambiguity of this evaluation nor the abyssal potentialities of this equivocation. " [po 399). p. The danger c o m e s fro m abro ad. the " spirit of Paris" inasmuch as it i ncarnates spirit itself. itselt is always the most threatene d . from an outs ide of Eu­ rope-and who threatens spirit itself. P rivilege i s by definition a d e l i c a t e n e s s i n d a n g e r . Shortly after having spoken about the "dregs of the race. metropolis of various liberties and the capital of human socia bility ( I I . 4001. the " Function of Paris" spoke of everything in the capital that . who comes.NOTE 6 12 1 This Pa r i s . has m a d e herself the ­ . the theater of half a dozen political revolutions. What distinguishes. three t i mes conquered by the enemy. the des t ro y e r of countless s tu p id i t ies c o nstan t l y summoning to herself both the flower and the dregs of the race. more precisely. like a fatal parasite. thus for the head.was at once "good and b a d for the nation that this city crowns . the crea tor of an amazing number of reput ations.

7 1 22 to civilized /ife. " I I . . PEKINGS . wrought by centuries o f delicate ex periment. Valery recalls the negative effects of capital "co ncentration". p. faCing her criticism. the N E W Y O R K S . " a camp that "consumes" " ev­ distinguishes himself. For in none of them has every ki nd of elite of a nation bee n so jealously concentrated. . my emp h as i s) . our BABYLONS . for so m any centuries. consumes him. so that by her judgment alone each value takes its place in the scale of values. p. times. the value of "jealousy. Valery makes in passing a somewhat elliptical remark that seems to me to be of great importance. 1 0 1 4 1 5 [Poems in the 2 69 70) ) . . " in History and Politics. some Rough. To this concentration camp is des tined every Frenchman w ho distinguishes himself PARIS beckons him. Ten years later. . . . as long as one follows its implications . a nd choice [History and Poli­ tics. . every kind of elite of a great na t i on has been jealously called to gether and fenced in. for centuries. pp. " I empha­ m i l l i on-h e a d e d mons te rs . p. (II. demands him. 7. This invaluable traffic could scarcely subsist except where. " and-this is in ery Frenchman who size: Yet PARIS clearly distinguishes hersel f from her fellow 1 9 3 7 -uses the expression "concentratio n camp. jealousy. m ore or less deliberately. "La liberte de i'esprit. submitting to her comparisons. enlightenment. LONDONS. 1 09 3 ["The F reedom of Spirit. pp. We have known it as the capital of quality and the capital of criticism. perhaps even be- . 1 86). and. he as­ sociates with it. draws him.N O T E S 6 . A few pages later. threatens what used to distinguish the spirit of Paris. 400. . on the eve of the war. We have every reason to fear for these glories.

In truth. a called. Spirit i s a value among others. . . t h e abso­ lute and therefo re sublime surplus value of the price­ less . Valery in effect deter­ mines freedom as response: " . or oil. Present. . . 2 0 7 ) ) . . "the ca p ita l point " : It is a s i g n of t h e times t h a t today i t is not only ne c e ss a ry but i m perat iv e to interest people 's spirits in the fate of Spirit that is. as if in passing. between capital a nd capital . in a l l t h e values that are not as valuab le as it is. the idea of freedom is not tory instinctive [premiere) in us. p. . I am content with ga t heri ng to g ether a few Q uotatio ns around what he hi mself calls. it never comes unless it is and Politics . since it refers to the source and value of all other words (History and Politics. . The log ic of this text is a l s o a n analogic. thus the exceeding value. 1 86 1 . 8 . . . immanent in a l l that it is n o t . wheat. certainly. . It is "the very thing . . . in their own fate . . " the thing itself that is di- . p. from now on and without any risk. There is no other. 1 09 5 [His­ it stems entirely fro m dissymmetrical a nalogy be­ tween spirit and value. They had faith in s p i r i t but what spirit? what did they mean by this word? The word is indec ipherable. t he transcendental. tbe example par excel­ lence. " the "c apital point . into the parallelism of economy and the economy of paral­ lelism . l i ke gold. enter into analogy. . Spirit i s one of the c ategories of the analogy and the incomparable condition. It is an exam­ ple and an exemplary example. this word can. the transcategorial of the whole economy. . I mean it is always a response" (II. p.N O T E S 7-8 123 yond what Valery intended by it. but it is also the source of all value. Since Valery s ays this so well in another way.

and h e claims not t o be proposing here a "mere c o mparison. . . I h a ve often been struck by the a na log i es that arise. Moreover. In both e nterp ri ses in the economic as i n t he spiritual l i fe. . We a re t o d a y wi tn es s i n g a true and g i ga n t i c trans­ mutation of v a l u e s (to use N i e t z s c h e ' s excellent phrase). pp. On that market. spirit is "weak" it is nearly always fal l i n g . Civilization is a kind of capital that may go o n a ccu m u l a t i n g for cen tu r i es as cenain other kinds of capital do. one sign. . For ex a m p l e : I b elie v e of the decline and c o l l a pse before values of our life . just r s a id value because an appraisal. in e i ther c a s e we may eq ua l ly well speak of capital and labor. a n d w i th the word value I b ro u g h t to g e th e r under one term. of th e the same fate as material values. . eyes. . 1 89 9 1 1) . . and also because there is a p ri c e to be discussed the p rice we a re willing to pay as oil. a n assessment of importance i s involved. . between t he life o f s piri t in all i t s manifestations and the various a s pec ts of economic life . for the value we c a l l spirit . . you will fi nd the same b a s ic notions of production and consumption. . and gold a re values. the cap i­ t a l po int to which I sh o uld l ike to draw your attention. in s a y i ng value. and a bs orbi n g its c o m po und inter est ( I I . So. more o r less po- . . . . wheat. . i n the m ost natural way in the world. val ues of the materi a l and the s p i ritu a l order. a nd in g iv i n g to this lecture the title " F ree dom of Spirit" I a m simply alluding to one of those essential values that nowadays seem to be suffering our very I spoke . . I mean that spirit is a value. . . Value is the ve ry t h i n g I wish to talk about. Valery emphasizes a l l t h i s . . . .N O T E 8 1 24 vided between the tw o regi st ers or two regimes of the analogy. You see that I am bor row ing the language of the stock ex c h a ng e . p p 1 0 77 82 [History and Politics.

and he emphasize s : In fact.as Valery lit­ erally explains. It is the co mme rce of spirits that was n ecessaril y the first c om me rc e in the world. he must confirm the at once origi­ nary and transcategorial character of the concept of spirit. the very fi rst . beyond mere rhetoric. it is best to quote. from material economy to spiritual economy. as a logo centrism whose birthplace is in the M editerra­ nean basin. the first instrument of all trade is lan g uag e We may here repeat ( g iv i n g it a s ui t a b ly altered me a nin g ) the famous saying: "In the beginning was the Word. " . Consequently. To make this claim. necessarily the original: for before swappi n g goods. it was necessary to swap signs. No more than logos. in sum. Once again. a nd consequen tl y a set of signs had to be agreed on.N O T E 8 125 etic. speech. " It wa s essential that the Word should precede t he act of trading. discourse. we find that the opposite is true. if we loo k cl osely at the matter. spirit is logos. " not to be moving . reason. which while making the analogy poss ible. More rigorously still. and it c o u ld not have been otherwise . This original spiritualism indeed pres­ ents itself a s a logocentrism . . and knowledge. But the Word is n o less than one of the most accurate names for wh a t I h ave called spirit. does not completely belong to it. " from material economy to spiritual economy . Valery has just been claiming not to have moved. Spirit came first. in saying that the . And in fact. is simply included i n the analogy in which it nonetheless part i c ipates. There is no market. through "mere rhetorical arti­ fices . speech. which means at o nc e calculation. S p i rit and the Word in many of their uses are almost s yno ny mous The term that in the Vulgate means word is translated from the Greek "logos . no exchange with­ out la ng ua g e . as well as expression. through an arti­ fice of rhetoric. the one that sta rt e d it all. or word.

Tome I. " "the E u ropean spirit. p. p. " Those "regions of the glob e " that have favored commerce a re also " those regions where the production of intellectual values . I think ] am not uttering a heresy. " Europe . This should come a s n o surprise . " And the word " m arket" comes back three regularly (at le ast times in two pages. ] 94]) . 3 1 2 ) . [History and Politics. "this privileged plac e . p. and i ncomparable . 436). started earliest and has been most prolific and various . 1 0 5 8 [ Hist o ry and Politics. p. p.9 1 26 word is identical with spirit. "this Europe of ours. 1 08 4 1Hisiory and Poli­ lies. and this is why logos and history are no longer separated. j oined: the links together with force two propositions that are often dis­ national tra it and the formal trait are irreduc- . the only one i n truth. 9 . but it can also be demonstrated historic ally. the most irreplaceable. " "author of these won­ ders" [History and Politics. p . 1 9 5 ) ) . Nothing surprising then in the fact that the " logi­ cal" and the h istorical are from here on homologous and indissociable: "Not only is it logically necessary that this should be so. I t i s precisely i n this context that Vale ry. " those where "freedom of spirit has been most widely granted . which began as a Me diterranean market . It is therefore not an example among others . pp. exemplary. 1 00 5 1 006 [ His­ tory and Politics. Tom e I I . even in linguistics (II . on the subject of philosophy. pp. pp. The best example. 3 1 3 1 4) ) when it is a question of defining Europe. . is that of the Mediterranean basin: the "example" that it "of­ fered" is in fact unique. .N O T E S 8 . since 1 0 84-8 5 this example will have been "the most striking and c o n c l u s iv e " ( I I .

One must be able to take into account the national trait and the formal trait without nationalism or formalism-and even in order to elaborate a strategy of refined resistance to­ ward them. the role or function of F ra n c e in b u i lding up the capital of the h u m a n spirit" ( I I . " " t h is is quite possi­ ble" -to the proposition concerning the national trait that would mark all philosophy. p p . l e t us s a y t h a t if. the hypothesis: Abstract or "pure " thought. i n the discourse as well as the language of philosophy . writ­ ing . rhetoric . The formal­ ist thesis is there only to serve this p recipitation. First moment. Very schematically. it would deserve more than a note. the Valeryian strategy see m s to me incapable of avoiding these two pitfalls. 42 6 ) . l 047-48 lHistory and Politics. or the "text" with a s u bjective formalism and a renunciation of the concept. like scientific thought. it is precisely in look­ ing in an exemplary way toward French philosophy that he emphasizes the formal trait and vigorously ad­ vances a th es is concerning it. en deavors to obl iterate what comes to the thinker from his race or his n a tio n its aim be ing to create values . on t h e one hand. language. One could c all this thesis formalist were it not for the fear of making th i ng s more inflexible by providing an e a s y argument to a ll those w h o confuse attention to form. As interesting as it may be. The argumenta­ tion o f these few pages is extremely intricate.N OT E 9 127 ible and indissociable i n philosophy. . The national hypothesis i ne v i tabl y precipitates itself in a thesis of natio nalist subjectivism . Valery gives the form of a concession and a hypothe­ sis. It is still a question of "en­ visaging Franc e . my emphasis ) .nit is not impossible that . p .

. to the French langu age: It is my feeling (and I ap o l ogi ze for this) tha t ph i l o so phy is a m a tte r of form. a n d em­ phasizin g . It is not in the least a science. If I am French. a n d it s ho ul d free i t self from any unconditional link with science. there at t h e very point of my . Befo re recalling. . that t he thesis presents itself as a "feeling" and opens with a p arenthetical " apology . 4 3 1 3 2 ) ) . . or t h i n k we discern. To be ancilla scientiae is no better for phi l os op h y than to be ancilla theoiosiae. that anyone who s p e aks t h i s l ang u a g e to others and to h i msel f can neither go beyond its means nor escape the su gge s t i ons and associations that the said la n g u ag e has ins i dio u s ly implanted in him. " he essentially links this form to the national language and. Valery tones down i nto a hypothesis his propositions on philosophy. He also apo lo­ gize s when. It is doubtless not impossible to discern. or else they look preposterous. . I do not say that I am right. .NOTE 9 1 28 in dep e n d e n t of pla ce and person. are al most unthinkable ou t s i d e the climate of their origin. 1 0 5 5 [History and Politics. pp. . T h is may well b e (II. th ou g h expressed in all unive rsality. p. O n this e ve of combat. t h e thesis. in a system of m et ap h y s i c s or morals. . in a sin­ gular and exemplary way. I n a foreign land they wither away like upruClted p l a n ts . and the nation. the part that properly be­ l on gs to one race or nation: s om e ti me s indeed. which in an y case would be meaning less . . noth ing seems to define a certain race o r nation better than the p h i l os oph y it has p ro du c e d It is cl a i m e d that cer t ai n ideas. rac e . in order to speak of his " feeling" and of philosoph y as a "question of form. . I s ay . " let us re­ member the date of these pages: 1 9 3 9 . when n a t i o n a l i st and racist e loque nce in sweepi ng through E u rope more violently than ever. Second moment.

I fi nd analo gous F rench re actions in politics and the a rts (II. both with and ag ainst its author: In France. p. 4321) . I will c ite only the conclusion-for what it c a n allow us to thi nk today. organically assimilated. 4 3 41 . Concerning philo s o phy more strictly. and an ev alu a t i on of these said possibilities. my emphasis). I will not en­ gage myself i n them here . What follows is an analysis. Incidentally. 1 05 6 IHistory a n d Politics. as it were. IHistory and Politics.NOTE 9 129 thought where thought takes shape and talks to itself. p. an i nterp retat io n. p . I do not mean that syste ms of ideas not con forming to this p rinc ipl e cannot be produced here. What I mean is that they are never truly and. . acco rd ing to the possibilities and within the framework of French (ibid. that is the price of success for a ny philoso phy. it takes shape in French.

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