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472 Notes to Pages 250-53

Obliteration of the will, unproductivity (a society offoragers), non-work. oblivion as the forgetting of the city. Adorno and Horkheimer correctly tie all these motifS tightly together, and, by contrast, tie them to the history of truth or of Western rationality. Moreover, they propose • modern political reading: "This kind of idyll, which recalls the happinell

of narcotic drug addicts reduced to the lowest level in obdurate social orders, who use their drugs to help them endure the unendurable. 11 impermissible for the adherents of the rationale of self-preservation. It it actually the mere illusion of happiness, a dull vegetation, as meager as animal's bare existence, an~ at best only the absence of the awareness misfortune. But happiness holds truth, and is of its nature a resulc. revealing itself with the abrogation of misery. Therefore the sufferer cannot bear to stay with the Lotus-eaters is justified. He opposes illusion with that which is like yet unlike: the realization of

through historical labor

heimer, The Dialectic ofEnlightenment, trans. John Cumming [Londonl Verso, 1979], pp. 62-63). I find this reading convincing, at least . the general perspective of the book. But this would raise other types questions which I cannot go into here. 8. Ibid., p. 63.

" (Theodor W. Adorno and Max


9. I propose the word telerhetoric or metatelerhetoric to designate

general and more than general space in which these matters would treated. For example: in the case of computers, is the use of the "virus" simply a metaphor? And we might pose the same question for use of the word "parasite." The prerequisite to this sort of problematiC would have to concern rhetoric itself, as a parasitic or viral structures; originarily and in general. Whether viewed from up close or from away, does not everything that comes to affect the proper or the have the form of a virus (neither alive nor dead, neither human "reappropriable by the prope, of man," nor generally subjectivable)? doesn't rhetoric always obey a logic of parasitism? Or rather, doesn't parasite logically and normally disrupt logic? If rhetoric is viral parasitic (without being the AIDS of language it at least opens up possibility of such an affection) how could we wonder about the cal drift of words like "virus," "parasite," and so forth? And the computer virus, just like its "literal" counterpart, attacks, in this telephonically, something like the "genetic code" of the computer Fabien Gruhier, "Votre ordinateur a la verole" ["Your infected puter"], Le Nouvel Observateur, November 18-24,1988. The author

Note to Page 255


that computer viruses are "contagious" and "travel through telephone

lines at the speed of an electron

modem to be contaminated by a virus from Asia, America, or a nearby suburb"). Even now "software vaccines" are being developed. Once again we have the question of the pharmakon as the familial scene and the question of paternity: last year it was a student at Cornell, the son of an

official responsible for electronic security, who sent out the virus "guilty" of spreading this "infection" (and will we put quotation marks every­ where, these speech act condoms, to protect our language from contami­ nation?). This so-called computer infection, spliced onto the AIDS virus itself grafted onto drugs, is more than a modern, worldwide figure of the plague; we know that it mobilizes the entire network of American security forces, including the FBI-and the DST (Direction de la Sur­ veillance du Territoire) and the DGSE (Direction Generale de la Securite

I bring this up to revive our initial exchange concerning


the delimitation of competence. Who will determine the pertinence of these questions? By what authority? According to what criteria? These questions should in return affect everything that we have up to now said

about drug addiction. I take the liberty of mentioning the many places where I have attempted to treat the alogicofthe parasite (for example: Of Grammatology, "Plato's Pharmacy" in Dissemination, "Signature Event

One need only be equipped with a

Context" in Margins-of Philosophy, Limited Inc, abc

and passim).

"Eating Well," or the Calculation of the Subject

NOT E : Interview with Jean-Luc Nancy published in Cahiers Confionta­ tum 20 (Winter 1989), an issue titled ''Apres Ie sujet qui vient" (After the subject who comes). The note presenting the interview read as follows:

"Jacques Derrida was unable to write a text in time for Topoi (the journal in which this interview was initially published in English translation in October 1988 [vol. 7, no. 2]; the issue has since been re-edited as a book:

Who Comes After the Subject? ed. Eduardo Cadava, Peter Connor, and Jean-Luc Nancy [New York: Routledge, 1991)). He proposed that we do an interview instead. The latter, however, took place too late to be integrally transcribed and translated in Topoi, which was able to publish about half of it. It appears here almost in its entirety (although not without the omission of certain developments whose themes were an­ nounced in Topo;: the whole would have been both too long and occasionally too far afield from the main theme)."

474 Notes to Pages 26I-76

1. Cf. Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles, Parages, "Prejuges" in La Jaculte de juger

(Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1984), "Ulysses Gramophone," Of Spirit, "Number of Yes" in Psyche, and passim.

See for example Speech and Phenomena, p. 84, n. 1. This long note de­

velops the implications of Husserl's sentence: "We can only say that this flux is something which we name in conformity with what is constituted, but is nothing temporally 'objective.' It is absolute subjectivity and has the absolute properties of something to be denoted metaphorically as

'flux,' as a point of actuality, primal source-point, that from which springs the 'now,' and so on. In the lived experience of actuality, we have the pri­ mal source-point and a continuity of moments of reverberation. For all this, names are lacking." The rest ofthe note describes that being-outside­ the-self of time as spacing, and I conclude: "There is no constituting subjectivity. The very concept of constitution must be deconstructed."


3. See

4. See Derrida, "Forcener Ie subjectile" in Antonin Artaud: Portraits et

Jean-Luc Nancy, Ego Sum (Paris: Flammarion, 1975).- Trans.

Dessins (Paris: Gallimard, 1986).

5. Cf Of Spirit, and "Heidegger's Hand," passim.

6. See Derrida, "Desistance," preface to American translation of Phi­

lippe Lacoue-Labarthe's 1Jpography, trans. Christopher Fynsk (Cam­ bridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989).-Trans.

7. "My Chances," trans. Irene Harvey and Avital Ronell, in Taking

Chances: Derrida, Psychoanalysis, and Literature, ed. Joseph H. Smith and

William Kerrigan (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press,


8. Jean-Luc Nancy, The Experience ofFreedom, trans. Bridget McDon­

ald (Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 1993).

9. Cf also, for example, The Truth in Painting, p. 286: "Unless

Heidegger ignores (excludes? forecloses? denies? leaves implicit? un­

thought?) an other problematic of the subject, for example in a displace­ ment or development of the value 'fetish.' Unless, therefore, this question of the subjectum is displaced otherwise, outside the problematic of truth and speech which governs The Origin." -Trans. ro. On the question, see Of Spirit, passim; on the "yes, yes," see "Otobiographies," trans. A. Ronell, in The Ear ofthe Other, and "Num­ ber of Yes"; on "viens," see "Psyche: Invention of the Other."- Trans. II. "The Politics of Friendship."

12. Maurice Blanchot, L'amitie (Paris: Gallimard, 1971), p. 328; see

also Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative Community, trans. Peter Connor et

The Inoperative Community, trans. Peter Connor et • Notes to Pages 28I-88 475 al. (Minneapolis: University

Notes to Pages 28I-88


al. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992), and Maurice Blanchot, The Unavowable Community, trans. P. Joris (New York: Station Hill Press, 1988).

13. Cf above, n. II.

14. Even Hitler did not propose his vegetarianism as an example. This

fascinating exception, moreover, can be integrated in the hypothesis I am

evoking here. A certain reactive and compulsive vegetarianism is always inscribed, in the name of denegation, inversion, or repression, in the history of cannibalism. What is the limit between coprophagy and Hitler's notorious coprophilia? (See Helm Stierlin, AdolfHitler, Psychol­ ogie du groupe Jamilial [Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1975], p. 41.) I refer the reader to Rene Major's valuable contribution (De !'election [Paris: Aubier, 1986], p. 166, n. I).

15. The phrase in play here, "11 faut bien manger" (which is also the

original title of this interview), can be read in at least two ways: "one must eat well" or "everyone has to eat." In addition, when the adverb "bien" is nominalized as "Ie Bien," there results the sense of "eating the Good." It is this multivalent sense that Derrida explores in the succeed­

ing sentences.-Trans.

Che cos'efa poesia?

NOTE: First published in Poesia I, no. II (November 1988); republished in Podrsie 50 (Autumn 1989), where it was preceded by the following note: "The Italian journal Poesia, where this text appeared in November 1988 (translated by Maurizio Ferraris), begins each of its issues with the attempt at or the simulacrum of a response, in a few lines, to the question 'Che cos'e la poesia?' It is asked of a living person, while the ques­ tion 'Che cos'era la poesia?' is addressed to the dead, this time to the 'Odradek' by Kafka. At the moment he or she is writing, the living respondent does not know the answer given by the dead one: it appears at the end of the issue and is the choice of the editors. Destined to appear in Italian, this 'response' exposes itself in passing, sometimes literally, in letters and syllables, the word and the thing ISTRICE (pronounced 1Z­ TRR1-TCHAY), which, in a French connection, will have yielded the 'herisson' [and in English, the hedgehog]." Throughout the text, the str-sound is stressed. One may hear in it the distress of the beast caught in the strictures of this translation. For that reason, the text is published also in the original French.