Derrida and his master's voice
Jacques Derrida's Speech and Phenomena has met with a strange destiny. Greeted from its publication in 1967 as a remarkable work, its influence has nevertheless suffered because of the simultaneous appearance of two other books which were more varied in composition and were without doubt more easily accessible: Of Grammatology and Writing and Difference. Whereas an earlier work, namely the long and profound "Introduction" to HusserFs Origin of Geometry (1962), had hardly been noticed with the exception of a small circle of initiates, Speech and Phenomena has done much to consecrate the international fame of Jacques Derrida. Sustained by new publications at an ever increasing rate, this fame has not ceased to grow, to the point of becoming, in the United States at least, a media and cultural phenomenon. This is not the place, however, to ask about the complex links that tie the joyful deconstructionist horde to a thinker who works in solitude and whose voice becomes more and more anguished. This new intellectual vogue which claims to take its inspiration from Derrida concerns us nevertheless in that it has distorted or even prevented, with few exceptions, a reading of Speech and Phenomena that would match the richness and ambitions of the text. I would briefly like to mention two kinds of approach that, although opposing each other, have in common that they misunderstand totally the key question of Speech and Phenomena, namely: how to listen to the voice of one's master.
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