At the time of his death in 2004, Jacques Derrida was arguably the most influential and controversial thinker in contemporary philosophy. But how does one respond to the death of Derrida? How does one mourn for Derrida, who spent thirty years warning of the dangers of mourning, while insisting that mourning is both unavoidable and impossible? "The Impossible Mourning of Jacques Derrida" was written in the first two months after Derrida's death. In this original and engaging response, Sean Gaston re-examines his own relationship with this great thinker and traces his own mourning, while examining the very nature of mourning in Derrida's work. In exploring the gap that the death of Derrida has left open, Gaston traces the gaps (ecarts), and the history of the gap, in Derrida's work. He argues that the inescapable gaps that cannot be bridged play a central role in Derrida's thought and in our response to his death. In tracing the ecarts in Derrida's work, Gaston also takes in Plato, Hegel, Descartes, Kant, Husserl, Heidegger, Levinas and Lyotard.
The book explores how, after the death of Derrida, we think of him in a history of philosophy and asserts the importance not only of literature, but also of history in Derrida's thought. Written in the immediate aftermath of Derrida's death, this insightful and touching account offers a fresh analysis of a vital element of Derrida's thought and a genuine reflection on the implications of Derrida's death for how we will now address his work.
Sean Gaston is a Research Fellow in the Department of English at the University of Melbourne and author of Derrida and Disinterest (Continuum, 2005).
1. The Precedant (12-29 October 2004):; The dangers and impossibility of mourning; 2. Histories-Decalages (1-30 November 2004):; A history of philosophy and a philosophy of history; 3. The Gap Moves (1-17 December 2004):; Saying goodbye.