Monday Night — 03.26.01 — Reading Group at 16 Beaver

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Monday Night — 03.26.01 — Derrida — Reading Group at 16 Beaver
Politics of Friendship (Jacques Derrida)
Reading Group at 16 Beaver
March 26, 2001, 8pm @ 16 Beaver, 5th Floor
1. About This Monday (text selected by Mao & friends)
2. Some info about text
4. About efax Reader (attached file: part 1 of reading)
1. About This Monday
Using our recent readings on love and community, ethical & political
we arrive this week to the Politics of Friendship. A text to which we
will most likely return to. Sorry for the delay in sending out this week’s
reading, which will be the first chapter of the book.
2. Book Description + a nice review from Andrew Furlow
A rich exploration of the idea of friendship and its political consequences, past and future, by the most influential of contemporary philosophers. Until relatively recently, Jacques Derrida was seen by many as nothing more than the high priest of Deconstruction, by turns stimulating and fascinating, yet always somewhat disengaged from the central political questions of our time. Or so it seemed. Derrida’s “political turn,” marked especially by the appearance of Specters of Marx, has surprised some and delighted others. In The Politics of Friendship Derrida renews and enriches this orientation through an examination of the political history of the idea of friendship pursued down the ages. Derrida’s thoughts are haunted throughout the book by the strange and provocative address attributed to Aristotle, “my friends, there is no friend” and its inversions by later philosophers such as Montaigne, Kant, Nietzsche, Schmitt and Blanchot. The exploration allows Derrida to recall and restage the ways in which all the oppositional couples of Western philosophy and political thought — friendship and enmity, private and public life — have become madly and dangerously unstable. At the same time he dissects genealogy itself, the familiar and male-centered notion of fraternity and the virile virtue whose authority has gone unquestioned in our culture of friendship and our models of democracy The future of the political, for Derrida, becomes the future of friends, the invention of a radically new friendship, of a deeper and more inclusive democracy. This remarkable book, his most profoundly important for many years, offers a challenging and inspiring vision of that future.
Andrew Furlow (formconstants@hot .com) from Cambridge, England
Derrida’s latest book continues what has been pecieved as an ‘ethical turn’ in deconstruction, intiated with 1994’s “Spectres of Marx,” and the subesquent rich contribution of ‘deconstructionists’ to political and moral thinking. However, Derrida himself contends that his entire project would have been unthinkable without some form of Marxism, and I share emphatically the view of Critchley, Laclau et al that questions of ethics and politics lie at the heart of the deconstructive enterprise. It is such a reading that gives this latest text a crucial location in the most contempoarary of politics. And those who contend that Derrida’s (and the continental tradtion’s legacy in general) has nothing ‘practical,’ ‘useful’ to say about the conduct of states and peoples in something called the ‘real world,’ need only refer to the Middle East situation, and the endlessly shifting notions of ‘friends’ and ‘enemies’ in that region to begin to grasp the paradoxical importance of Aristotle’s strange address, inverted by Nietzsche, “O my friends, there are no friends,” around which Derrida constructs his arguments. Where do the boundairies of friendship lie – is not our closest friend also, as Nietzsche suggested long ago, also our greatest enemy? Throughout the years of the Cold War, such questions may have seemed irrelevant, facticious. For those of us in the West, it was US and them, the USSR, the Warsaw Pact. Complicated though the transactions may have been, it was between two concretely opposed and finished blocs. Today the questions are rarley so simple – is the US a friend, to those in Britain? But which US – for it is surely now not an homogenous entity if it ever was. And which Russia do we hold dear? The collsape of stable relasionships between states of the world precipates a collaspe of recognition and identification within these states, via which we exist as political beings. Derrida’s book is not the truth of friends, but in myraid different ways explores the legacy in various philosophical traditions of the dicotomy friend / enemey, and opens new and vital interpretations of our contempoarary state.
If you are already on the READING LIST, please disregard
To prevent flooding people’s e-mails with large files,
I am assembling a list of people who would like to receive part 2 of this week’s reading.
I am also starting a list of people who do not mind receiving the full readings each week.
If you would like to receive the second part of this week’s reading, you have two choices:
1. Just this week!
Just send an e-mail to sixteenbeaver@aol.com with subject heading “derrida”. Please
indicate within the e-mail message to which e-mail address you would like it sent.
2. Always and Forever!
If you would like to be placed on a list that always receives the readings (in full).
Then send an e-mail to sixteenbeaver@aol.com with subject heading “READING LIST”
For Mondays we often like to distribute work, notes, readings to accompany presentations. In these cases we use this messenger as a simple and cost efficient way of distributing the materials. The download is short (it is a small program) and quite simple to use. It allows you to read digital faxes (and of course to print them). When you follow the link below, please make sure to download the correct viewer. There is one for Windows and one for Mac. The one for Mac will take a bit longer to download. Here is the link,