“To ask me to renounce what formed me, what I’ve loved so much, what has been my law, is to ask me to die. In this fidelity there is a sort of instinct for self-preservation. To renounce, for example, some difficult formulation, some complication, paradox, or supplementary contradiction, because it is not going to be understood,…that the reader or audience will not understand … is for me an unacceptable obscenity. It is as if I were being asked to capitulate or to subjugate myself – or else to die of stupidity.”
Learning to Live Finally: an Interview
with Jean Birnbaum
Translated by: Pascale-Anne Brault
and Michael Naas (page 30)
This past year has given me cause to take an accounting of my life, to consider its purposes and its ends. Derrida seeks “to learn to live finally”; to be “taught” the lesson of living. It is the ongoing lesson that one does not hope to end but to learn by degrees.
My lesson thus far… is but a striving … to understand at last that the only thing I can control is within me. The only choices I have are my own. Through this understanding, through this acceptance more than I desire can be accomplished. I strive to be calm; to be still; to experience this moment without hope for the next; to exercise a faith that what I do might live into the future and to be content so that to breathe this cool air; to feel the warmth of this moment; to drink the good wine is enough – to know that to feel and to allow myself to feel – sad, happy, angry, grateful, is to open the door…