In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” He didn’t say any more, but we’ve always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that.
Star Wars IV: a new hope. Let’s have it!
Hjemveiene, de sitter klistra på hjernen. Hver dag det var samme greia. Mamma sa han skulle hente meg, og broren min protesterte, alltid, men likevel kom til skolen min, hilsa på de voksne og tok med meg hjem. Jeg gikk bak, han først, og foran oss Røverkollen lå som fredeligste borettslaget, med blå himmel og fremdeles med julepynten blinkende som diskokule i høyeste blokka, for chipperne ennå ikke hadde erna. En gang broren min peka på vindua i tredje etasje utafor blokka til Julia og bare: se, alle utlendinger har lukka gardiner.
Alle som bor på Romsås, er egentlig fra et annet sted. Mariana går på ungdomsskolen og er forelska i Mu2. Storebroren hennes sitter i fengsel, lillebroren sitter bak gardinene. Faren deres tar fram en grønn Bibel og ber når han tror ingen ser ham.
Alle utlendinger har lukka gardiner er direkte, morsom og ekte – en litterær debut med stor kraft.
Contemporaries, lifelong friends, and intellectuals, Jacques Derrida and Cixous both grew up as French Jews in Algeria and share a “belonging constituted of exclusion and nonbelonging”—not Algerian, rejected by France, their Jewishness concealed or acculturated. In Derrida’s family “one never said ‘circumcision’ but ‘baptism,’ not ‘Bar Mitzvah’ but ‘communion.'” Judaism cloaked in Catholicism is one example of the undecidability of identity that influenced the thinker whom Cixous calls a “Jewish Saint.
Who can say “I am Jewish?” What does “Jew” mean? What especially does it mean for Jacques Derrida, founder of deconstruction, scoffer at boundaries and fixed identities, explorer of the indeterminate and undecidable? In Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint, French feminist philosopher Hélène Cixous follows the intertwined threads of Jewishness and non-Jewishness that play through the life and works of one of the greatest living philosophers.
Cixous is a lifelong friend of Derrida. They both grew up as French Jews in Algeria and share a “belonging constituted of exclusion and nonbelonging”—not Algerian, rejected by France, their Jewishness concealed or acculturated. In Derrida’s family “one never said ‘circumcision’but ‘baptism,’not ‘Bar Mitzvah’but ‘communion.'” Judaism cloaked in Catholicism is one example of the undecidability of identity that influenced the thinker whom Cixous calls a “Jewish Saint.”
An intellectual contemporary of Derrida, Cixous’s ideas on writing have an affinity with his philosophy of deconstruction, which sought to overturn binary oppositions—such as man/woman, or Jew/non-Jew—and blur boundaries of exclusion inherent in Western thought. In portraying Derrida, Cixous uses metonymy, alliteration, rhyme, neologisms, and puns to keep the text in constant motion, freeing language from any rigidity of meaning. In this way she writes a portrait of “Derrida in flight,” slipping from one appearance to the next, unable to be fixed in one spot, yet encompassing each point he passes. From the circumcision act to family relationships, through Derrida’s works to those of Celan, Rousseau, and Beaumarchais, Cixous effortlessly merges biography and textual commentary in this playful portrait of the man, his works, and being (or not being) Jewish.
Her book Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint addresses these matters.