Thursday, 8 January 2009

I'm in love with Jacques Derrida

That's the title of a song by Scritti Politti, which was the first song that iShuffle chose to play me today (which, pleasingly, was the day I started work on Chapter 4 of Teh Book - the Derrida chapter).

Anyway. You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again?*

It's just this, really: Derrida is so great. I'm working on his essay 'Faith and Knowledge' today, and it's all brilliant, but this in particular, on the 'demographic-religious problematic' (I'm thinking about the attacks on British Jews in 'retaliation' for the Israeli attacks on Gaza, and about the recent research into white working-class fears about immigration):

... the manner in which the faithful are counted must be changed in an age of globalization... In truth, this question of numbers obsesses, as is well known, the Holy Scriptures and the monotheisms. When they feel themselves threatened by an expropriative and delocalizing tele-technoscience, 'peoples' also fear new forms of invasion. They are terrified by alien 'populations', whose growth as well as presence, indirect or virtual - but as such, all the more oppressive - becomes incalculable. New ways of counting, therefore.**


The trouble with this is that it looks like 'Faith and Knowledge' is going to be a major text for Chapter 4, and Chapter 5 (which is mainly going to be about the angel of history in Benjamin's profoundly theological 'Theses on the Philosophy of History') is entitled 'Angel', and the book as a whole is largely about concepts of globality, communication and sovereignty in Latin epic (which of course means augury, divine messengers, prophecy and necromancy), which in turn looks very much - doesn't it? - as though I am writing about religion. But I don't have any thoughts about religion! Really! None!

*That's from T S Eliot's 'East Coker', perhaps the most awesome of the Four Quartets. You can read the whole thing here, if you like.

*Jacques Derrida, 'Faith and Knowledge: The Two Sources of "Religion" at the Limits of Reason Alone', trans. Samuel Weber, in Acts of Religion, ed. and intr. Gil Anidjar (London and New York: Routledge, 2002) [first published in French, 1996; in English, 1998), pp. 40-101, p.90.


Una McCormack said...

Oh, East Coker, battling with Little Gidding for Top Quartet:

"...Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God."

TRUFAX, Tommy.

Ika said...


Also, yesterday J and I had a discussion about whether Gandalf's horse was called TRUFAX (it isn't, but it ought to be, and then Dumbledore's would be called DUBIOUSCONJECTURE).