the rigorous m

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yates on the awareness of death via derrida

Posted by rigorousm on February 4, 2015

The dynamic I see taking shape in the moment of discovery is analogous to the moment that Derrida finds figured in death. “Death,” he writes, “is very much that which nobody else can undergo or confront in my place. My irreplaceability is therefore conferred, delivered, ‘given,’ one could say, by death. It is the same gift, the same source, one could say the same goodness, and the same law. It is from the site of death as the place of my irreplaceability, that is, of my singularity, that I feel called to responsibility. In this sense only a mortal can be responsible.” See Jacques Derrida, The Gift of Death, trans. David Willis, 41. What Derrida describes is the creation of a kind of hyper-subjective awareness of self, a sense of being-there that derives from death as datum and, so, condition. If responsibility springs from this gift, then so also do martyrdom and terror.

Footnote 47 to Chapter 6 of Error, Misuse, Failure: Object Lessons from the English Renaissance by Julian Yates.


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