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This article is taken from PN Review 221, Volume 41 Number 3, January - February 2015.

Ten Years On: Derrida, Death, and Deconstruction Roger Caldwell
1

Jacques Derrida died of pancreatic cancer on 6 August 2004. Only a few weeks before, though weakened by chemotherapy, he had attended a conference in Rio de Janeiro dedicated to his work, and delivered an address lasting three hours, which he concluded with the smiling admission that ‘There are many more things to be said, but I don’t want to tire you.’ With Derrida there was always more to be said; his remarks were always preparatory, preliminary, indicating a path, maybe even going a few steps along it before finding slippages or blind alleys, or impossibilities. Any goal was always very far ahead – maybe not even in view. The excavation of a text, the anxious interrogation of its contexts, of its lexis, of its aporias, or those moments when the text seemed to come apart, demanded infinite persistence, infinite patience (which was, and is, never available). But now that time has run out for Derrida, and ten years after his death, since the corpus is complete, we may ask what is left of the legacy he bequeathed us. For once upon a time Derrida was an essential reference point for anyone concerned with literary or cultural matters – when all read Derrida, or pretended to have done so – and all trod down the path to deconstruction .

True, the Derridean tide was turning in his later years, and had never risen high in the realms of philosophy proper, especially in Anglo-Saxon circles, where it tended to meet either silence or fastidious disdain, but ...


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