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The Work of Mourning

1
How to reconcile this plural?
2
/ Its the only one I ever spoke with Paul de Man.
3
/ There is nothing
original, of course, and yet, how else can one love?
4
/ But already, you see (and I prefer addressing
you rst, Francine, for you have been the closest witness to what I no doubt will not be able to say
here), this language linking force to guilt would probably not have pleased Max.
5
/ One of us, each
says to himself, the day will come when one of the two of us will see himself no longer seeing the
other and so will carry the other within him a while longer, his eyes following without seeing, the
world suspended by some unique tear, each time unique, through which everything from then on,
through which the world itself - and this day will come - will come to be reected quivering, reecting
disappearance itself: the world, the whole world, the world itself, for death takes from us not only
some particular life within the world, some moment that belongs to us, but, each time, without limit,
someone through whom the world, and rst of all our own world, will have opened up in both a nite
and innite - mortally innite - way.
6
/ I answered him somewhat playfully and in an offhand way, in
order to conceal my anxiety and my sadness, Okay, Ill give you a call and come over.
7
/ Friendship
had thus already come to be reected in mourning, in the eyes of the poem, even before friendship - I
mean before the friendship that later brought us together, when we were neighbors, between the rue
de lEpe de Bois and the rue dUlm, on one occasion with Celan, on another with Gabriel Bounoure
(a great friendship for which I have Edmond Jabs to thank).
8
/ This promise now interrupted,
broken all of a sudden, and yet still indestructible, I take to be innitely renewed by death itself.
9
/
He described a woman, as if he were seeing her in a painting.
10
/ All work in general works at
mourning.
11
/ Here and there, we nd the body and we nd the book, the open book and the closed
book.
12
/ As regards these theses - but the word doesnt t - notably the one concerning an
irreducible difference in opposition to a dialectical opposition, a difference more profound than a
contradiction (Difference and Repetition), a difference in the joyously repeated afrmation (yes,
yes), a taking into account of the simulacrum, the one among all those of my generation to whom I
have always considered myself closest.
13
/ The word droiture - straightforwardness or
uprightness - is another word that I began to hear otherwise and to learn when it came to me from
Emmanuel Levinas.
14
/ Along with so many other innovations.
15
/ It was impossible to endorse the
strict authority exhibited by every title, even one made up of only two words, for example, oui,
nous, yes, we.
16
Daniel Shelley-Smith
1
All texts taken from The Work of Mourning by Jacques Derrida, edited by Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas (2003).
2
First line of The Deaths of Roland Barthes, on the death of Roland Barthes.
3
Second line of In Memoriam: Of the Soul, on the death of Paul De Man.
4
Third line of To Do Justice to Freud, on the death of Michel Foucault.
5
Fourth line of Letter to Francine Loreau, on the death of Max Loreau.
6
Fifth line of The Taste of Tears, on the death of Jean-Marie Benoist.
7
Sixth line of Text Read at Louis Althussers Funeral, on the death of Louis Althusser.
8
Seventh line of Letter to Didier Cahen, on the death of Edmond Jabes
9
Eighth line of A demi-mot, on the death of Joseph N. Riddel.
10
Ninth line of As If There Were an Art of the Signature, on the death of Michel Servir.
11
Tenth line of By Force of Mourning, on the death of Louis Marin.
12
Eleventh line of . . . . . . . ., on the death of Sarah Kofman.
13
Twelfth line of Im Going to Have to Wander All Alone, on the death of Gilles Deleuze.
14
Thirteenth line of Adieu, on the death of Emmanuel Levinas.
15
Fourteenth line of All-Out Friendship, on the death of Jean-Franois Lyotard.
16
Fifteenth line of Lyotard and Us, on the death of Jean-Franois Lyotard.

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