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Jacques Derrida “Learning to Live Finally”

Derrida, Jacques 2007. Learning to Live Finally. An Interview with Jean Birnbaum. Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

I have always been interested in this theme of survival, the meaning of which is not to be added on to living and dying. It is originary: life is living on, life is survival [la vie est survie]. (26)

All the concepts that have helped me in my work, and notably that of the trace or of the spectral, were related to this “surviving” as a structural and rigorously originary dimension. It is not derived from either living or dying. No more than what I call “orignary mourning”, that is, a mourning that does not wait for the so-called “actual” death. (26)

I maintained that survival is an originary concept that constitutes the very structure of what we call existence, Dasein, if you wil. We are structurally survivors, marked by this structure of the trace and of the testament. But, having said that, I would not want to encourage an interpretation that situates surviving on the side of death and the past rather than life and the future. No, deconstruction is always on the side of the yes, on the side of the affirmation of life. (51)

This surviving is life beyond life, life more than life, and my discourse is not a discourse of death, but, on the contrary, the affirmation of a living being who prefers living and thus surviving to death, because survival is not simply that which remains but the most intense life possible. I am never more haunted by the necessity of dying than in moments of happiness and joy. (52)

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