A Pin-Downable Derrida

A filmic biography of the man who is an atheist where I is concerned

No wonder, then, that Derrida prefers to see the self as fluid, intermingling with others. He speaks in the film of his relationship with his sister as one of "absolute peace," which is similar to the way he has described, elsewhere, his friendship with the great literary critic Paul de Man. Both these relationships with the Other hearken back, inevitably, to the relationship Derrida wished to have with his mother, who understood not a word of her famous son's work, whose life and death (in 1991) he nonetheless describes here with great tenderness and affection, but also with the kind of baffled longing that strikes even the wisest when they attempt to enter that particular mystery.

Derrida talks a lot about eyes in this film, about how they're the only part of our physical selves that don't seem to age, that contain the child woven in the weakness of the changing body. Derrida often gives us long uninterrupted looks at those eyes of its subject, allowing us glimpses into things Derrida doesn't know he's giving off (though, of course, he knows he doesn't know what he's giving off), the child still craving union with the Other and spending a lifetime forging a philosophy insisting, among admittedly so many other things, that undetermining the self is the pathway that avoids violence and allows for love.

DERRIDA WAS DIRECTED BY KIRBY DICK AND AMY ZIERING KAUFMAN. NOW PLAYING AT THE NUART THEATER, 11272 SANTA MONICA BLVD., W. LOS ANGELES, (310) 478-6379; WWW.LANDMARKTHEATERS.COM. THROUGH NOV. 14.
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