Hi everyone, my name is Nikki and I am about to be a senior, double major in psychology and HDEV. I thought this course sounded like it would really help with the grad school process and I am looking forward to it!
In The Instant of my Death/Demeure Derrida criticizes and analyzes Blanchot’s piece of work, while questioning the relationships between literature and experience and fiction and truth.
On page 33 Derrida starts questioning what exactly a “testimony” is. If a witness must be present at a specific time to testify, and if his statement is true at only that moment, he argues that for testimony there must be an instant. Although I do find his point somewhat confusing, from what I understood from it I would have to say I disagree. While I can see that he is speaking in terms of the law, I feel that if I testify something at one point and if I testify it again at another point, it yields truth just the same either time if still coming from my perspective. Derrida says that if testimony is divisible it no longer has the value of truth. He also says that repetition of the truth destroys the instant. I think it is not the instant or the moment that “destroys” testimony, but it is the context of the testimony itself that matters. If the testimony is false, why even bother trying to argue if the instant has destroyed it?
On page 39 Derrida brings up a good point by saying that in English, the words “instant” and “instance” have very different meanings. What would these words translate to in other languages? When trying to translate between languages, some things might get lost in translation due to the language barriers and differences. In this case I can see how the relationship between fiction and truth might be unclear. If 100 percent translatability is promised, only then can truth be seen across cultures.
Derrida speaks of Blanchot’s writing in a thought-provoking way, calling it an “unexperienced experience” and a “testimony of fiction”. In my opinion literature and experience are two completely separate entities, with literature being a piece of written work and experience being something that one has gone through in life. Literature can, however, be either fiction or truth while experience should only be the truth. Writing down one’s experience on paper does not necessarily make it a legitimate experience, but I do believe it can be classified as literature. This is due to the fact that literature has so many forms: novels, poetry, autobiographies, essays, textbooks, etc. The classification of the specific type of literature is what should be held accountable. The Instant of my Death is “suggestively autobiographical”. Because it was not officially classified as an autobiography or a memoir, in my opinion there really would be no point to further speculate the truth behind Blanchot’s words. This is because the book itself is classified under “Philosophy/Literature” from what I am aware of. On page 52 Derrida begins talking about a letter received from Blanchot, saying that it testifies to the event that occurred. Derrida argues that Blanchot is describing his life, and while he has fair and convincing reasons to back up his decision I still stand by my opinion of literary classification because Blanchot, the narrator, and the young man are technically three separate figures. The rest of Demeure continues to pick apart Blanchot’s narrative and analyze it, using sentences as examples. Derrida still argues, says he calculates even, that Blanchot’s work of fiction is so obviously autobiographical. Even if it is, fiction is still fiction, and if it’s not 100 percent truth it has every right to be classified and read as fiction as decided upon by the author of the literary work.