Athens, Still Remains: The Photographs of Jean-Franois Bonhomme

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Overview


Athens, Still Remains is an extended commentary on a series of photographs of contemporary Athens by the French photographer Jean-Franois Bonhomme. But in Derrida's hands commentary always has a way of unfolding or, better, developing in several unexpected and mutually illuminating directions. First published in French and Greek in 1996, Athens, Still Remains is Derrida's most sustained analysis of the photographic medium in relationship to the history of philosophy and his most personal reflection on that medium. At once photographic analysis, philosophical essay, and autobiographical narrative, Athens, Still Remains presents an original theory of photography and throws a fascinating light on Derrida's life and work.The book begins with a sort of verbal snapshot or aphorism that haunts the entire book: we owe ourselves to death.Reading this phrase through Bonhomme's photographs of both the ruins of ancient Athens and contemporary scenes of a still-living Athens that is also on its way to ruin and death, Derrida interrogates a philosophical tradition that runs from Socrates to Heidegger in which the human-and especially the philosopher-is thought to owe himself to death, to a certain thought of death or comportment with regard to death. Combining philosophical speculations on mourning and death, event and repetition, and time and difference with incisive commentary on Bonhomme's photographs and a narrative of Derrida's 1995 trip to Greece, Athens, Still Remains is one of Derrida's most accessible, personal, and moving works without being, for all that, any less philosophical. As Derrida reminds us, the word photography-an eminently Greek word-means the writing of light,and it brings together today into a single frame contemporary questions about the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction and much older questions about the relationship between light, revelation, and truth-in other words, an entire philosophical tradition that first came to light in the shadow of the Acropolis.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Taking his point of departure from Bonhommeûs wonderful photographs of Athens, photographs that bear the traces of the history of this living anddying city, as well as of an entire network of questions that have remained at the heart of the history of philosophy ever since its earliest Greek beginnings. Derrida offers us a moving meditation on the relations among photography, light, writing, memory, mourning, death, and survival.Presented as a series of photographic stills-in-prose, his exquisite essaynot only enacts and performs what it wishes to convey, but it also tells usthat we did not have to wait for the invention of photography to learn whyüwe owe ourselves to death,ý or why, at every step of this wondrousphotographic and philosophical journey, we also üowe ourselves to life.ý It demonstrates once again why, like Athens, Derrida still remains one of our most cherished resources.-Eduardo Cadava

In this fascinating short book Jacques Derrida ruminates on the photographical instant in the work of Jean-Franois Bonhomme. Confessing his 'passion for the delay' Derrida reads photography as an experience of mourning made possible by the full daylight of Athens and its surroundings. The book presents Derrida at his best, as he travels to ancient sites, contemplates the city and technics, reads ships and Plato - ultimately writing a picture, if that is possible, of photography itself.-Sander van Maas

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823232055
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 10/13/2010
  • Edition description: 2
  • Pages: 88
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

The late JACQUES DERRIDA was the single most influential voice in European philosophy of the last quarter of the twentieth century. His The Animal That Therefore I Am, Sovereignties in Question, and Deconstruction in a Nutshell have been published by Fordham University Press. Pascale-Anne Brault is Professor of French at DePaul University. She is the co-translator of several works of Jacques Derrida, including The Work of Mourning and Learning to Live Finally, and of Jean-Luc Nancy's Noli Me Tangere: On the Raising of the Body (Fordham). Michael Naas is Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University. His most recent books include Taking on the Tradition: Jacques Derrida and the Legacies of Deconstruction and Derrida from Now On (Fordham).

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