The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond / Edition 1

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Overview


17 November 1979

You were reading a somewhat retro loveletter, the last in history. But you have not yet received it. Yes, its lack or excess of address prepares it to fall into all hands: a post card, an open letter in which the secret appears, but indecipherably.

What does a post card want to say to you? On what conditions is it possible? Its destination traverses you, you no longer know who you are. At the very instant when from its address it interpellates, you, uniquely you, instead of reaching you it divides you or sets you aside, occasionally overlooks you. And you love and you do not love, it makes of you what you wish, it takes you, it leaves you, it gives you.

On the other side of the card, look, a proposition is made to you, S and p, Socrates and plato. For once the former seems to write, and with his other hand he is even scratching. But what is Plato doing with his outstretched finger in his back? While you occupy yourself with turning it around in every direction, it is the picture that turns you around like a letter, in advance it deciphers you, it preoccupies space, it procures your words and gestures, all the bodies that you believe you invent in order to determine its outline. You find yourself, you, yourself, on its path.

The thick support of the card, a book heavy and light, is also the specter of this scene, the analysis between Socrates and Plato, on the program of several others. Like the soothsayer, a "fortune-telling book" watches over and speculates on that-which-must-happen, on what it indeed might mean to happen, to arrive, to have to happen or arrive, to let or to make happen or arrive, to destine, to address, to send, to legate, to inherit, etc., if it all still signifies, between here and there, the near and the far, da und fort, the one or the other.

You situate the subject of the book: between the posts and the analytic movement, the pleasure principle and the history of telecommunications, the post card and the purloined letter, in a word the transference from Socrates to Freud, and beyond. This satire of epistolary literature had to be farci, stuffed with addresses, postal codes, crypted missives, anonymous letters, all of it confided to so many modes, genres, and tones. In it I also abuse dates, signatures, titles or references, language itself.

J. D.

"With The Post Card, as with Glas, Derrida appears more as writer than as philosopher. Or we could say that here, in what is in part a mock epistolary novel (the long section is called "Envois," roughly, "dispatches" ), he stages his writing more overtly than in the scholarly works. . . . The Post Card also contains a series of self-reflective essays, largely focused on Freud, in which Derrida is beautifully lucid and direct."—Alexander Gelley, Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226143224
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1987
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 552
  • Sales rank: 1,459,566
  • Product dimensions: 5.39 (w) x 8.55 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) was director of studies at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, and professor of humanities at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of many books published by the University of Chicago Press.
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Table of Contents


Translator's Introduction: L before K
Glossary
Envois
To Speculate—on "Freud"
1. Notices (Warnings)
2. Freud's Legacy
3. Paralysis
4. Seven: Postscript
Le facteur de la vérité
Du tout
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2003

    It is the beyond that is with us...

    I would reccomend reading this book to all who are interested in Derrida's philosophy of ethics. Herein we may find ephemerally expounded glimpses of Postmodernism's notions of continuity and of the legacy of ideas: a gift which we neccessarely both receive and reinscribe - 'What is tragic is not the possibility but the neccessity of repetition' (Writing and Difference). Many Derrida readers have shied away from this text because of its disparate and fragmented stuttering...Don't! If you have patience to listen, read this treasure. It is a pastiche, a montage and a rebus. An exquisite rendition on tradition and inheritance, on presence and absence. A reminder to never stop giving and giving and giving because the most ethical one can be is through the dissemination of ideas, the transformation of the recurring, within which each becomes a relative of all and none. This book is extremely personal and one of Richard Rorty's favorites I might add.(amazingly so, for he was not very fond of the early Derrida) Rorty understands Derrida as only Caputo and Bennington have...This is our modern day Novalis, we may dream of dreaming our dreams!

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