Given Time: Counterfeit Money v. 1 Hardcover – 1 Sep 1992
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From the Back Cover
Is giving possible? Insofar as it enters into the circle of exchange (gift and countergift, debt, acquittal, compensation, symbolic recognition, memory), the gift seems to get annulled. In order to give, one would have to expect nothing in return: to hope for nothing, to count on nothing from what must remain incalculable. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) was director of studies at the ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales, Paris, and professor of humanities at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of many books published by the University of Chicago Press.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
All this does have another pragmatic end, I'm just tired of the dead-ended revolutionary rhetoric and discourses that have been taken off the shelf at the museum, dusted slightly, and reused by the Occupy Movement here in the 21st century. The last time I visited the Occupy headquarters here in Portland, Oregon, it was like going into a museum of revolution. All the obsolete grand narratives, you know, like Marx, political economy, on and on.
Maybe there's a more valid and potent approach to be found in tracing the thread I describe above to arrive at a fresh political outlook, for me at least.
So, my advice: read this book like poetry- it's precious, esoteric, and abstract, with some lucid and salient points made at various junctures. This may be a very synoptic distillation of Derrida and his writing at a point in time, but to tell you the God's honest truth, I can't formulate a summary statement of him after reading this book. But after all, I'm not really interested in doing that. If he feels he's incomprehensible, what the hell am I supposed to say about it, try to make sense out of his incomprehensibility?
He wrote in the Foreword to this 1991 book, “this work follows a trajectory the corresponds faithfully to the one I followed in the first five sessions of a seminar given under the same title in 1977-78 at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and the next year at Yale University… the distribution of the four chapters reproduces the rhythm of … Lectures delivered at the University of Chicago in April 1991. On that occasion, I in fact attempted to formalize the discourse first proposed in 1977-78 and which still had a particular significance for me: It was in the course of this seminar that I gave more thematic figuration to a set of questions which for a long time had organized themselves around that of the gift… The problematic of the gift, such as it had signaled itself to me or imposed itself on me up to that point reached there, precisely at the limit of its formalization, a sort of intermediary stage, a moment of passage. The premises of this unpublished seminar remained implied, in one way or another, in later works that were all devoted … to the question of the gift….”
The “gift” concept comes from the epigraph from Baudelaire: ‘The King takes all my time; I give the rest to Saint-Cyrm, to whom I would like to give all.” (Pg. 1)
He says in the first chapter, “The motif of the circle will obsess us throughout this cycle of lectures. Let us provisionally set aside the question of whether we are talking about a geometric figure, a metaphorical representation, or a great symbol, the symbol of the symbolic itself… Saying that the circle will obsess us is another way of saying it will encircle us. It will besiege us all the while that we will be regularly attempting to exit. But why exactly would one desire, along with the gift, if there is any, the exit? Why desire the gift and why desire to interrupt the circulation of the circle? Why wish to get out of it? Why wish to get through it?” (Pg. 7-8)
He states, “We are not talking therefore about conditions in the sense of conditions posed (since forgetting and gift, if there is any, are in this sense unconditional), but in the sense in which forgetting would be in the condition of the gift and the gift in the condition of forgetting; one might say on the mode of being of forgetting, if ‘mode’ and ‘mode of being’ did not belong to an ontological grammar that is exceeded by what we are trying to talk about here, that is, gift and forgetting. But such is the condition of all the words that we will be using here, of all the words given in our language---and this linguistic problem, let us say rather than this problem of language before linguistics, will naturally be our obsession here. Forgetting and gift would therefore be each in the condition of the other.” (Pg. 17-18)
He notes, “We are going to give ourselves over to and engage in the effort of thinking or rethinking a sort of transcendental illusion of the gift. For in order to think the gift, a theory of the gift is powerless by its very essence. One must engage oneself in this thinking, commit oneself to it, give it tokens of faith, and with one’s person, risk entering into the destructive circle. One must promise and swear. The effort of thinking or rethinking a sort of transcendental illusion of the gift should not be a simple reproduction of Kant’s critical machinery… But neither it is a matter of rejecting that machinery as old-fashioned.” (Pg. 30)
He observes, “The gift is not a gift, the gift only gives to the extent it gives time. The difference between a gift and every other operation of pure and simple exchange is that the gift gives time. There where there is gift, there is time. What it gives, the gift, is time, but this gift of time is also a demand of time. The thing must not be restituted immediately and right away. There must be time, it must last, there must be waiting---without forgetting…” (Pg. 41)
He explains, “The title of ‘Counterfeit Money’ is, may be, counterfeit money. Counterfeit money is never, as such, counterfeit money. As soon as it is what it is, recognized as such, it ceases to act as and to be worth counterfeit money. It only is by being able to be, perhaps, what it is. This irreducible modality taken into account, and inasmuch as the title may belong to it, obligates you. It obligates you first of all to wonder money is: true money, false money, the falsely true and the truly false---and non-money which is neither true nor false, and so forth.” (Pg. 87)
After a six-page digression about tobacco, he states, “You will no doubt find such a long detour to be excessive, especially on the subject of an elliptical allusion to the tobacconist’s in the first line of ‘Counterfeit Money.’ Why this digression? Is it because a digression---wandering or risky promenade, apparently without method---marks the step of the two friends in ‘Counterfeit Money’ and no doubt the rhythm of every incalculable scene of the gift? Or can the digression be justified by the fact that Baudelaire often paid attention, in other narratives, to the symbolics of tobacco or more exactly to tobacco as symbol of the symbolic itself?” (Pg. 114)
There is little of any “philosophical” import in this book; but those interested Derrida’s writing as “literature” may be delighted with it.
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