Drop (Quote)

Here’s Jacques Derrida in an interview:

We are all mediators, translators. In philosophy, as in all domains, you have to reckon with, while not ever being sure of it, the implicit level of an accumulated reserve, and thus with a very great number of relays (teaching, newspapers, journals, books, media), with the shared responsibility of these relays. Why is it apparently the philosopher who is expected to be “easier” and not some scientist or other who is even more inaccessible to the same readers? And why not the writer, who can invent, break new paths only in “difficulty,” by taking the risks of a reception that is slow to come, discreet, mistaken, or impossible? In truth–here is another complication–I believe that it is always a “writer” who is accused of being “unreadable,” as you put it, that is, someone who is engaged in an explanation with language, the economy of language, the codes and the channels of what is the most receivable.

The accused is thus someone who re-establishes contact between the corpora and the ceremonies of several dialects. If he or she is a philosopher, then it’s because he or she speaks neither in a purely academic milieu, with the language, rhetoric, and customs that are in force there, nor in that “language of everyone” which we all know does not exist.

Things became virulent (since it’s the case, isn’t it, and fortunately so, that people do not always complain about those they cannot read) when, after some books on Husserl, I accelerated or aggravated a certain contamination of the genres. “Mixing the genres,” people thought, but that’s not the right word. So certain readers resented me perhaps when they could no longer recognize their territory, their “being-at-home” or “among-themselves,” their institution, or–still worse–when these were being perceived from this angle or this distance…

Thinking about media democracy for a while now… (Here are the notes from the public consultation to democratically organize Media Democracy Day.) There are two lines from the above quote that I want to think more about, or at least point out now for future consideration. The first is that we are all mediators. This is an important idea for any proposal for media democracy. I like the way Derrida makes the statement, and then explains the difficulty of being what we are. We must reckon with a reserve and relays, of which we can never be sure, and of which we share responsibility. And the second line is that we all know the “language of everyone” does not exist.

Note: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” I Timothy 2:5

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