Monday, April 04, 2016

Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman: 'Derrida' (2002)

Deconstructing Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman's Derrida (2002). 

In this documentary, we can see layers of Jackie Élie "Jacques" Derrida (1930-2004) over time - sometimes he looks refreshed and relaxed, at other times pensive and taciturn.

Overall, Derrida thinks through words and ideas carefully. 

At times in certain frames he looks like Norman Mailer, then Richard Burton, then Ralph Nader, then Peter Falk -- like a human kaleidoscope.
Derrida was born in Algeria. He was of Sephardic lineage with Jewish-Spanish origins dating back to before the 1492 and later expulsions of Jews and Muslims from Spain. As a boy, Derrida was expelled along with other Jewish students and teachers from "normal" Algerian schools, but he survived the Second World War. This background shaped his outlook as a philosopher. Increasingly, he became attuned to the power of words in discourse and their link to social action. 

In this desultory, entertaining documentary, Derrida speaks about biography, autobiography, history, texts, recording devices, archives, memory, reconstruction, deconstruction, mirrors.

He speaks of the "eye" of the spectator and audience: "between fiction and reality, a phantom eye." (Eg., Facebook)

Seeing his own portrait at one point, he quips: "It's uncanny. It's bizarre." (Iggy Pop expresses similar thoughts in "Success:" upon seeing someone wearing a t-shirt with his face on it approaching him, Iggy sings: "Here comes my face . . . It's plain bizarre . . .")

Derrida speaks of historical dots: "These are facts. Raw facts."

The Story of One's Life: facts vs. autobiography or a biography "in the mode of a story . . . I don't write a narrative. . . I'd love to tell stories, but I don't know how to tell them . . ."

Jackie and Marguerite Aucouturier Derrida, his spouse of many years, decline to say much about their relationship beyond the "raw facts." 

Upon being asked to speak of certain things, he replies, "You need to pose a question."

Of love: "Fidelity is threatened between the who and the what." Initially, one may be seduced by certain of a person's qualities, and later become disillusioned (or as a former brother-in-law once put it: "Love is blind; Marriage is an eye-opener). Or, one loves the "singularity" of another person beyond their most charming traits. 

During a visit to South Africa, after seeing Nelson Mandela's small jail cell when he'd been confined for eighteen years of his life, Derrida speaks of different types of forgiveness and reconciliation.

He delivers general observations and advice: "I am blind to myself . . . It's for others to see. To speak is not to see."

And to the intellectually lazy: "Do your homework and read."
On his archives: "urns in a graveyard . . . An archive is . . . a question for the future."

Of other philosohers: "I'd love to hear something about what they refuse to talk about."

On editing this film, to the directors: "Editing will be your signature, your autobiography."

Fun stuff for a Sagittarian. This post is in honor of Jeron Jackson, RIP. 

Today's Rune: The Self. 

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

"Do your homework and read." I second that!