Derrida (2002) Movie Script

[ Derrida, In French ]
[ Woman On TV] Good evening.
Later on tonight's late show...
we look at the French
philosopherJacques Derrida...
founder of the post-structuralist
mode of analysis...
known as deconstruction...
and internationally acknowledged by many
as one of the most innovative...
and inspiring
of contemporary philosophers.
[ Siren Wailing ]
[ Chattering ]
My theory is that Americans exist to
the degree that they're being filmed...
or believe themselves
to be filmed.
- Yeah.
- This is their natural condition.
[ Mumbles ] You see
how Americanized I am now.
[ Chuckles ]
She sees everything around me,
but she's totally blind.
That's the image of the philosopher
who falls in the well. You say?
- [ Woman ] Yes.
- While looking at the star.
- [ Car Alarm Blaring ]
- Watch it.
[ Derrida ]
I have these people around
all the time, day and night.
Wherever I am, for two weeks now
they have been constantly...
- Mm.
- tracking me.
[ Woman ]
Are you getting used to it?
- Sometimes I forget. I just forget.
- Yeah?
[ Elevator Bell Dings ]
[ Derrida ] We should not neglect
the fact that some biographies--
written by people who have
authority in the academy--
finally invest
this authority in a book...
which, for centuries sometimes...
after the death of an author,
represent the truth.
Huh? The truth.
in biography writes...
Life and Works of Heidegger.
Well documented...
apparently consistent...
and it's the only one...
published by--
under the authority of a good press.
Okay? And then,
Heidegger's image--
Heidegger's life image--
is fixed and stabilized
for centuries.
That's why I would say
that sometimes...
the one who reads a text
by a philosopher...
for instance,
a tiny paragraph...
- [ Camera Shutter Clicks ]
- and interprets it in a rigorous...
inventive and...
powerfully deciphering fashion...
is more of a real biographer...
than the one who knows
the whole story.
[ Derrida ]
This is the blue jacket I have.
That's nice.
But this doesn't fit with the--
This is black, this is not blue. Okay?
- And I usually can't--
- I know.
Can I-- We won't get your bottom half.
Can I see what it looks like?
Is that okay?
I'm sorry to trouble you.
As you know, the traditional
philosophy excludes biography...
considers biography as
something external to philosophy.
You remember, uh...
Heidegger's statement...
about Aristotle.
Heidegger once was asked,
I think, uh...
''What is-- What was
the life of Aristotle?''
What could we answer to the question:
What was Aristotle's life?
Well, the answer
is very simple.
Aristotle was a philosopher.
The answer holds
in one sentence:
''He was born, he thought
and he died.''
And all the rest
is pure anecdote.
[ Woman ]
His mother's grave is profaned.
His parents never read
any ofhis books.
He cries out,
''Mommy, I'm scared, '"
every night until she lets him
sleep on a sofa near them.
One side ofhis face
is paralyzed for three weeks...
leaving his eye open
continuously, unblinking.
His father composes
his own death notice...
shortly before
he dies of cancer.
He's expelled from school
because he is Jewish.
He learns he was given
a secret name, Eli...
after theJewish prophet Elijah,
that isn't on his birth certificate.
He fails his first
entrance exam to the university.
He writes his first novel
at age 1 5...
about the theft of a diary
and blackmail for its return.
He pretends to learn Hebrew so as
to read it without understanding it.
He is arrested and thrown in prison
for 2 4 hours in Prague...
for transporting drugs,
which the authorities plant on him.
He receives a collect call from
someone who identifies himself as...
He declines an offer
from Marguerite Duras...
to play a part
in one ofher films.
As an adolescent, he dreams of
becoming a professional soccer player.
He doesn't circumcise
his sons...
greatly upsetting
his mother and father.
He suffers from sleeplessness
and nervous collapse...
from the overuse of sleeping tablets
and amphetamines.
His older brother
lives only seven days...
dying just a year
before he is born.
Classical philosophers...
usually avoid
It is because they think
it's indecent.
That is, a philosopher should not speak
of himself as an empirical being.
And this impoliteness,
or this politeness...
is philosophy itself,
in principle.
So, if we want to break...
with this philosophical axiom,
classical philosophical axiom...
according to which a philosopher
should not present himself...
[ Stammers ]
give in to autobiography...
then we have to be indecent
to some extent.
[ Woman ] We no longer consider
the biography of a philosopher...
as a set
of empirical accidents...
that leaves one with a name...
that within itselfbe offered
up to philosophical reading...
the only kind of reading held to be
philosophically legitimate.
Neither readings of
philosophical systems...
nor external
empirical readings...
have ever in themselves
questioned the dynamics...
of that borderline
between the work and the life...
between the system
and the subject of the system.
This borderline is neither
active nor passive.
It's neither outside
nor inside.
It is most especially not
a thin line...
an invisible
or indivisible trait...
that lies between the philosophy
on the one hand...
and the life of an author
on the other.
[ Chattering ]
- Hi. My name's Jenny.
- Hi.
Listening to you speak just elucidated
your texts just so much to me.
- Thank you. Thank you.
- [ Giggles ]
- But I just wanted to meet you.
- Thank you.
I-I read your novel, one of
your novels over the summer.
I just wanted to hear you speak
so I could understand it better.
I started reading about negative
theology... [ Garbled ]
and I was wondering
if there was any connection...
between, you said
a specific Christian discourse...
but I was wondering if there
was any connection between
that and say Hebrew cabala...
- uh, and something--
- Yeah, it never, it never finishes.
But it's not the same thing.
Cabala is full of...
such gentle God beyond God--
[ Microphone Interference ]
[ Continues, Indistinct ]
- But it doesn't mean
there aren't a number of--
- Thank you.
[ Woman ] You're very well known
in the States for deconstruction.
Can you talk a little bit
about the origin of that idea?
[ In French ]
[ Woman ] The very condition
of a deconstruction...
may be at work in the work, within
the system to be deconstructed.
It may already be located there,
already at work.
Not at the center
but in an eccentric center...
in a corner whose eccentricity assures
the solid concentration of the system...
participating in the construction
of what it, at the same time...
threatens to deconstruct.
One might then be inclined
to reach this conclusion.
Deconstruction is not an operation
that supervenes afterwards...
from the outside, one fine day.
It is always already at work
in the work.
Since the disruptive force
of deconstruction...
is always already contained within
the very architecture of the work...
all one would finally have to do
to be able to deconstruct...
given this always already,
is to do memory work.
Yet since I want neither
to accept or to reject...
a conclusion formulated
in precisely these terms...
let us leave this question
suspended for the moment.
[ Chattering ]
[ In French ]
[ Beeping ]
[ Beeping ]
[ Meows ]
[ Speaking French ]
[ Woman ]
[ Woman ] Who is it that is
addressing you?
Since it is not an author,
a narrator or a deus ex machina...
it is an ''I'"that is both
part of the spectacle...
and part of the audience.
An ''I'"that,
a bit like ''you, '"
undergoes its own incessant
violent reinscription...
within the arithmetical machinery.
An ''I'"that functioning
as a pure passageway...
for operations
of substitution...
is not some singular
and irreplaceable existence...
some subject or life...
but only rather moves
between life and death...
between reality and fiction.
An ''I'"that is
a mere function or phantom.
[ Woman ]
[ Woman ]
[ Woman ] There is not
narcissism and non-narcissim.
There are narcissisms that are
more or less comprehensive...
generous, open, extended.
What is called non-narcissism
is in general...
but the economy of a much more
welcoming and hospitable narcissism.
One that is much more open to
the experience of the Other as Other.
I believe that without a movement
of narcissistic reappropriation...
the relation to the Other
would be absolutely destroyed.
It would be destroyed
in advance.
The relation to the Other,
even if it remains asymmetrical...
open, without possible
must trace a movement
of reappropriation...
in the image of one's self
for love to be possible.
Love is narcissistic.
[ Footsteps Approaching ]
[ Woman ]
[ Woman ]
[ Woman ]
[ Woman ]
[ Derrida ]
- These are facts.
- [ Woman, In French ]
Raw facts.
[ Woman ] Now, well, okay.
[ In French ]
What I'd like to ask you about now
is this question of the anecdote.
At the biography conference,
you quoted Heidegger as saying...
that one could sum up
the life of Aristotle as:
Aristotle was born,
he thought and he died.
And then when I asked you about
your relationship with Marguerite...
you said I can give you the facts,
the dates and that's it.
Can you offer
some commentary on that?
[ In French ]
[ Woman ]
[ Derrida ]
[ Marguerite ]
[ Derrida ]
[ Woman ] Was it strange to you to see
something you had no memory of?.
[ No Audible Dialogue ]
[ Woman ]
Just whatever you want to say.
[ Woman, In French ]
[ Woman, In French ]
[ Woman, In French ]
[ Woman ]
How do you call this?
-[ Woman ] Dispute?
- No problem.
You know, the usual family--
Always something.
Absolute peace.
[ Woman ]
That was the first
and only last time.
[ Laughs ]
I saw that once and for all.
[ Mumbles ]
You remember this.
[ Chattering In French ]
[ Derrida, In French ]
[ Woman ]
[ Woman ]
And I am writing here at the moment...
when my mother
no longer recognizes me.
And at which, though still capable
of speaking or articulating a little...
she no longer calls me.
And for her, and therefore
for the rest ofher life...
I no longer have a name.
That's what's happening.
And when she nonetheless
seems to reply to me...
she's presumably replying
to someone...
who happens to be me
without her knowing it...
means anything here.
Like the other day in Nice...
when I asked her
if she was in pain.
''Yes. '"
Then where?
It was February 5, 1 989.
She had in a rhetoric
that could never have been hers...
the audacity of this stroke
about which she will...
alas, never know anything...
no doubt knew nothing...
and which piercing the night
replies to my question.:
''I have a pain in my mother, '"
as though
she were speaking for me...
both in my direction
and in my place.
I stop for a moment
over a pang of remorse...
in any case, over the admission
I owe the reader...
in truth that I owe
my mother herself...
for the reader will have understood
that I am writing for my mother...
perhaps even
for a dead woman.
For if I were here
writing for my mother...
it would be for a living mother
who does not recognize her son.
And I am paraphrasing here for whomever
no longer recognizes me...
unless it be so that one
should no longer recognize me...
another way of saying,
another version...
so that people think
they finally recognize me.
[ Man On Radio ]
[ Timer Bell Dings ]
[ Derrida Speaking French ]
[ Man ] We are now approaching
the actual maximum security prison.
[ Chattering ]
[ Man, Indistinct ]
- How much? Eighteen years.
- Eighteen years.
- That was his cell.
- That was his cell?
[ Man ]
You will notice that in this cell...
there is no water facility
or toilets.
Toilets were the buckets.
Their own bucket with a lid.
[ Woman ]
As soon as there is the One...
there is murder,
wounding, traumatism.
The One guards against
the Other.
It protects itself
from the Other.
But in the movement
of this jealous violence...
it comprises in itself
its self-otherness or self-difference.
The difference from within one's Self,
which makes it One.
The One as the Other.
At one and the same time...
but in the same time
that is out ofjoint.
The One forgets to remember
itself to its Self.
It keeps and erases the archive
of this injustice that it is...
of this violence
that it does.
The One makes
itself violence.
It violates
and does violence to itself.
It becomes what it is, the very
violence that it does to itself.
The determination
of the Self as One is violence.
[ Derrida ]
More than once, we will be faced...
with the effects
of a preliminary question...
which is the question.:
Who or what?
Does one forgive someone
for a wrong committed...
or does one forgive
someone something?
Someone who, in whatever way,
can never totally be confused...
with the wrongdoing...
and the moment of the past wrongdoing
nor with the past injury.
So, the question:
Who or what?
Do we forgive someone, or do
we forgive someone something?
[ Man ]
Okay, a final final question.
[ Man ]
There is a very anxious question.
Um, so you're a white Western male,
speaking to a white audience.
We are part of the previous
oppressive community in South Africa.
And you are speaking to us
about unconditional forgiveness.
Um, you might have meant
that pure forgiveness thing...
um, with a lot of irony.
Um, and maybe that is something
that is really impossible.
You know, pure forgiveness
being really impossible.
But we sit here as
potential objects of forgiveness...
and we are, all of us,
you included, in a sense guilty.
- Now, don't you think-- Okay.
- [ Man ] Ask your question.
Don't you think it fulfills an
ideological function speaking to us...
telling us, in a sense, we should
not repent, not ask for forgiveness...
because then we ruin
pure, unconditional forgiveness.
At the same time, you are telling
oppressed people...
they should forgive
without expecting repentance.
[ Derrida ] Uh, first of all,
I take irony seriously.
I take the problem of irony
very seriously.
And we need some irony,
that is something...
which challenges
the commonsensical concepts.
And you can't do this
without some irony.
So there was no doubt
some irony.
Now, of course, in this context...
I understand your concern
and I share your concern.
I want to precisely draw
a very rigorous border...
between the pure concept
of forgiveness...
and the idea
of reconciliation...
and the idea of excuse
and the process which is going on.
I think that as soon as you mix
the concept of forgiveness...
with all the connected concepts which
are at work in this current process--
that is reconciliation,
repentance, so on and so forth--
then first you obscurely
Christianize the process.
You introduce confusion
and obscurity...
in something which has to
be as clear as possible.
[ Derrida In French ]
[ Man ]
Okay. Five seconds to go.
Five, four, three, two, one.
In your own time.
If I give you an example
I've often thought to myself...
that Seinfeld, which is America's
most popular ever sitcom.
Seinfeld. Do you know
of the Seinfeld sitcom in America?
If you think of
a classic American...
Jerry Seinfeld
made this sitcom...
about a group of people
living together.
Everything is about
irony and parody...
and what you do
with your kitchen cupboard...
is imbued with as much
feeling or thought...
as whether someone
believes in God, if you like.
Do you see anything in that?
Deconstruction, the way I understand it,
doesn't produce any sitcom.
And if a sitcom is this
and this...
and the people who watch this
think that deconstruction is this...
the only advice I have
to give them is just read...
stop watching sitcoms and try
and do your homework and read.
[ Chattering ]
[ Woman ]
It's not easy to improvise.
It's the most difficult
thing to do.
Even when one improvises in front
of a camera or a microphone...
one ventriloquizes or leaves
another to speak in one's place...
the schemas and languages
that are already there.
There are already a great number
of prescriptions...
that are prescribed in our memory
and in our culture.
All the names
are already preprogrammed.
It's already the names that inhibit
our ability to ever really improvise.
One can't say
whatever one wants.
One is obliged, more or less, to
reproduce the stereotypical discourse.
And so I believe
in improvisation.
And I fight for improvisation.
But always with the belief
that it's impossible.
And there, where there is
I am not able to see myself.
I am blind to myself...
and it's what I will see--
no, I won't see it--
it's for others to see.
The one who
is improvised here...
no, I won't ever see him.
[ Derrida, In French ]
[ Clattering, Rustling ]
[ Woman, In French ]
[ Derrida ]
[ Woman ]
[ Speaking French ]
Ah. There was a time--
No, I never read this.
[ In English ]
[ In French ]
- You recognize this, eh?
- Yes, I do.
-So, she has slept here, huh?
- That's nice.
[ Man ] If you had a choice,
what philosopher...
would you have liked
to have been your mother?
That's his style?
That's his own style?
- [ Clears Throat ]
- [ Sea Gulls Crying ]
I have no ready answer for this,
let me-- Give me some time.
My mother?
[ Chuckling ]
A good question.
It's a good question.
In fact.
It's an interesting question.
I'll try to tell you why.
It's impossible for me to have
any philosopher as a mother.
That's the problem, hmm?
My mother--
My mother...
couldn'tbe a philosopher.
[ In French ]
[ Woman ]
That philosophy died yesterday...
since Hegel or Marx,
Nietzsche or Heidegger--
and that philosophy should still wander
toward the meaning of its death--
or that it has always lived
knowing itself to be dying,:
that philosophy died one day,
within history...
or that it has always fed
on its own agony...
on the violent way
it opens history...
by opposing itself
to non-philosophy...
which is its past
and its concern...
its death and wellspring,:
and that, beyond the death
or dying nature of philosophy...
perhaps even because of it...
thought still has a future.
Or even as is said today...
is still entirely to come because of
what philosophy has held in store,:
or, more strangely still...
that the future itself
has a future.
All these are
unanswerable questions.
By right ofbirth,
and for one time at least...
these are problems
put to philosophy...
as problems philosophy
cannot resolve.
Long ago, I had dinner...
and his mother,
when she was alive, was there.
And one of the great dictionaries
in France had just come out...
and included, uh--
I don't know if it was
the Petit Robert, or something--
included ''difference'' with an ''A''
and that it happened that day.
And at dinner I said that we should
have a party to celebrate...
the induction of
''difference'' with an ''A''...
into the dictionary.
This was a monumental,
encyclopedic event...
that ought to be marked,
and a proper ceremony--
which I was very willing
to arrange-- should take place.
And Jacques's mother,
who is very ancient but noble...
she said, ''Jackie, did you spell
''difference'' with an ''A''?
And she was mortified.
But it was so sweet.
It was so fabulous, and there was
this moment where I also felt...
I had, um, blabbed...
because, you know...
now what's he supposed to do:
explain to his mother, or--
He doesn't--
He's very modest.
He doesn't talk about himself
to his family--
I mean,
his relative's family.
[ In French ]
[ Interviewer]
[ Camerawoman ]
[ Interviewer]
[ Camerawoman ]
[ Interviewer]
[ Camerawoman ]
[ Applause ]
[ Derrida ] You can imagine
how strange it is...
to have someone gather
your so-called archive...
but to attend the event
of the inauguration of the archive--
I realized the other day,
and this afternoon...
by looking at the archive,
in the library...
with these...
uh, gray--
- black and gray urns, uh...
- [ Laughing ]
accumulated, like,
of course in a graveyard...
and, uh, already mourning--
We are already--
always already mourning.
Well, you know, among
the concerns we have...
about where are
we going to be buried...
- [ Laughing ]
- the question is, ''With whom?''
This is the entire
Derrida archive...
beginning there, and, um...
almost to the end, and
there's about a hundred boxes.
[ Yeghiayan ] But he mentioned that,
you know, that his wife was...
kind of reluctant to see
these materials go.
That he was kind of foretelling
of his imminent death...
or something like that--
And, you know, we then had the boxes
still in our reading room.
We were in a kind of
different situation there.
And he, uh, he treated it
like it was...
you know, his little child.
And, I remember the manuscript,
it was pushed out...
and he looked at it,
kind of touched the box.
You know, kind of sorry
to see it go...
or be in another domicile
or whatever.
[ Woman ]
The question of the archive...
is not a question of the past.
It is not the question of a concept
dealing with the past...
that might already
be at our disposal.
An archivable concept
of the archive.
It is a question
of the future...
the question
of the future itself...
the question of a response,
of a promise...
and of a responsibility
for tomorrow.
The archive. If we want to know
what that will have meant...
we will only know
in times to come.
Not tomorrow,
but in times to come.
Later on,
or perhaps never.
[ Woman, In French ]
[ In French ]
[ In English ]
[ In French ]
If you want a quick answer, you don't
want a justification of the answer.
[ In French ]
[ Woman ]
[ Falling Silent ]
[ In French ]
When you will be editing
all that, you will keep...
exactly what you think
has to be kept, okay?
It will be your signature, and your
autobiography in a certain way.
[ Woman ]
How can another see into me...
into my most secret Self...
without my being able
to see in there myself?.
And without my being able
to see him in me.
And if my secret Self...
that which can be revealed
only to the Other...
to the Holy Other--
to God if you wish--
is a secret that
I will never reflect on...
that I will never know, or experience
or possess as my own...
then what sense is there
in saying that it is my secret?
Or in saying, more generally,
that a secret belongs,:
that it is proper to,
or belongs to someone...
or to some Other
who remains someone.
It's perhaps there that
we find the secret of secrecy.
Namely, that it is not
a matter ofknowing...
and that it is there
for no one.
A secret doesn't ''belong. '"
It can never be said
to be ''at home, '"
or in its place.
The question of the Self,
''Who am I?''--
not in the sense of
''Who am I?'...
but rather, ''Who is this 'I'
that can say, 'Who'?
''What is the 'I'and what
becomes of responsibility...
once the identity of the 'I'
trembles in secret?'"
[ Woman ] You asked me
the other day if I regretted...
having undertaken this project,
and I was wondering...
if that was a projection--
if you've regretted it?
No, so far. Perhaps, one day
I will regret it.
So far, no.
I don't know.
- Have you ever been
in psychoanalysis yourself?.
- No.
- Would you ever consider it?
- No.
- I absolutely exclude it.
- [ Laughing ]
Could you characterize any
traumatic breaks in your own life?
There has been, yes.
[ Laughing ]
[ Giggling ]
Thank you.
No, again, I won't be able to--
No. Um-- No.
[ Traffic, Horns Honking ]
[ Church Bell Ringing ]
[ Woman ] We will wonder
what he may have kept...
ofhis unconditional
right to secrecy...
while at the same time,
burning with the desire to know...
to make known,
and to archive...
the very things
he concealed forever.
What did he conceal, even beyond
the intention to conceal?
Beyond the intention to lie
or to perjure.
We will always wonder what--
sharing with compassion
in this archive fever--
what may have burned
ofhis secret passions...
ofhis correspondences
or ofhis life.
Burned without him,
without remains...
and without knowledge.
Without the least symptom...
and without even an ash.