These are the philosophers and cultural thinkers I have an intellectual connection with and who influence me: T. S. Eliot, Jacques Derrida, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Osip Mandelstam, William Empson and Geoffrey Bennington.
T. S. Eliot
Original means both the oldest thing (“the origins of time”) and the newest thing (“that idea is completely original!”). The poet (and all creative people) is most creative when she is inspired by other poets who wrote before her and left their mark on the language which she inherits from them and in which she writes. The poet (and all creative people) just re-writes a tradition that stretches back to the origins of his culture, but at the same time creates something new (original) which changes that whole tradition to its roots. Each culture grows in a different place in which it is uniquely rooted, but at the same time is an expression of a wider cultural identity shared with cultures that grow in other places.
Language is only possible as the citation of a code implicit in other uses of language. And we can only apprehend reality in language; even supposedly direct or intuitive apprehensions of reality need to have the same characteristics as language, namely that of citation of an iterable code. Therefore, whenever you use language, even in the most intimately personal way, you are citing an Other. The Other precedes the subject which is constituted by language. The Gift to the Other is not an exchange because you get nothing in return. For it to be a gift, it must be something the Other wants. If the Other wants it then you get repaid by their gratitude, explicit or implicit. The Gift is a necessary impossibility, in which the person who makes the gift is not credited with that gift, but owes it to an Other whom she is repeating. However, it is also her intentional act, and therefore is not accidental, and it cannot simply be credited to the Other(s) whom she repeats.
The meaning of a word is its use. If a lion could speak to us we wouldn’t understand him. Stand roughly there.
Mimesis withdraws from the philosophical attempt to define it, and is the site of the tragic caesura between the human and the divine.
Jewish poet whose integrity in the face of his persecution by Stalin is inspirational.
The ambiguity of words is a powerful resource for literature, especially for those with a keen ear and sharp intellect like Empson. A great defender of candor and scourge of cant.
“It might always be the case (nothing is a more common – political – experience: in fact, this just is the experience of the political) that the figure I take for a legislator is in fact a charlatan. It clearly matters whether I am faced with a legislator or a charlatan, but I have no means of making a confident decision between them: any decision of that sort would need to refer to an existing criterion, and thus foreclose the possibility that all my existing criteria are being challenged by the other – which comes down to disallowing in advance the alterity of the other.”