Month: January 2014

Durham Time and My To Do List

Now that I’m well-ensconced at the fellowship here it’s part of my goal to do a bit more with the site in terms of adding content, beyond the links to stuff I find important. First up is to detail what I’ll be working on this semester.

1. First are two articles relating to Derrida’s later lectures. One will be a review for Berfois on Vol. 1 of Derrida’s 1999-2000 lectures on The Death Penalty. There already have been a number of articles on these lectures (see this 2012 special issue of The Southern Journal of Philosophy–subscription requ.), many by those involved in the translation project bringing out the lectures in English. Given the forum, I’ll concentrate on the limits of Derrida’s approach (he speaks of the death penalty almost wholly in terms of the theological-political, though of course its medicalization, which may be genealogically tied to the theo-political, is of absolute import in thinking the bio-political (as I discuss in The State of Sovereignty); in the review, I promise to say that much more straightforwardly), but also how it opens up rethinking the tasks of deconstruction for those who would think his work hermetically sealed in readings of texts.

(For those who want a short precis of the lectures, read chapter 8, “Death Penalties,” in For What Tomorrow…, Derrida’s interview with Elisabeth Roudinesco on the topic.)


The second article will be on certain terms that are paramount in those lectures, as well as similar writings at the time and are new to his work. (It’s going out for peer-review, so I’ll just leave it at that.) But thirdly, if I get enough notes done, I think it’s important to look at his comments on Foucault in several key places, especially where he looks to the famous opening scene of Discipline and PunishI think more than the back and forth between them during their lifetimes, these pages go further than Derrida’s claim that in some sense Foucault puts a Platonic hold over historical periods.

All of this will help with parts of a book project I’m developing for Bloomsbury with Rick Elmore tentatively called The New Derrida–writing as we rethink his work given how some debates have shifted since his death in 2004.

2. I also have to get together a seminar here for February 10, “Thinking Time after Platonism.” (Details here.) This is, thankfully, an informal talk going over what I’m working on in my book on time, which I will be looking to finish by this spring (finally). Particularly helpful is that a couple of fellows here are physicists and so I can use them to hash out a chapter I’m doing on the physics of time and why I think physicalist accounts are not enough. (IAS people will know time was the subject of last year’s theme, but I’ll talk about light, too.)

3. On February 25, I’ll give a public lecture at Durham relating to the politics of light and darkness from Plato to the current war on terror. That too will be public and approachable for non-specialists. My starting point will be Dick Cheney’s claim that in the war on terror, the U.S. needed to operate in the dark and the consequences of enacting that claim.

4. Also to do: finishing up the last editorial changes on my Speculative Realism book, which are mostly completed and were only interrupted by the need to make another current deadline (and stuff back home I’ve discussed on FB).

Finally there are two editorial projects I have on the go, namely The Nancy Dictionary, though my coeditor Marie-Eve Morin and I are waiting on submissions that come in the late spring, beyond those we have already received, and a volume on Continental philosophy of science I’m developing with my colleague Jay Foster.

In any case, that is indeed a lot of work ahead, but enjoyable. Thanks to those who recommended me to come here. Durham is a very special place to work and the interdisciplinary atmosphere is outstanding.