Learning to Live Finally: The Last Interview
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With death looming, Jacques Derrida, the world's most famous philosopher, known as the father of "deconstruction," sat down with journalist Jean Birnbaum of the French daily Le Monde. They revisited his life's work and his impending death in a long, surprisingly accessible, and moving final interview.
Sometimes called "obscure" and branded "abstruse" by his critics, the Derrida found in this book is open and engaging, reflecting on a long career challenging important tenets of European philosophy from Plato to Marx.
The contemporary meaning of Derrida's work is also examined, including a discussion of his many political activities. But, as Derrida says, "To philosophize is to learn to die"; as such, this philosophical discussion turns to the realities of his imminent death--including life with a fatal cancer. In the end, this interview remains a touching final look at a long and distinguished career.
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public scene. You have not only published many new works but have traveled around the world to participate in several international conferences organized around your work—in London, in Coimbra, here in Paris, and, in the coming days, in Rio de Janeiro. A second film has been made about you (Derrida by Amy Kofman and Kirby Dirk, after Safaa Fathy’s very beautiful 2000 film, Derrida’s Elsewhere), and several publications have devoted special issues to your work, including Le magazine littéraire,
not: those who came from metropolitan France were nonetheless foreigners—oppressors and standardizers, normalizers and moralizers. They provided a model, a uniform and a uniformity, a habitus, and one had to conform to it. But at the same time we made fun of the French from France. When a teacher arrived from the Métropolewith his French accent we found him ridiculous!18 That’s where the hyperbolization comes in: I have only one language, and, at the same time, in an at once singular and
there but the hour of the Kaddish seemed far away. No one, at least, could really imagine it. After many hesitations, at the moment of beginning our conversation, of posing a first question, it was almost exactly the same words, the same italics, that imposed themselves upon us: “Someone, you or me, comes forward and says: I would like to learn to live finally.”5 Everything began there, everything being contained there in reserve, in this enigmatic formula that gave the interview its initial