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Derrida On The Big Screen Essay, Research Paper

Derrida on the big screen·”What if someone came along who CHANGED not the way you THINK about everything, but EVERYTHING about the way you think?” So runs the publicity for Derrida, a new film by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman, who studied under Derrida at Yale in the 1980s. Filmed over several years, Derrida promises to be “a complex personal and theoretical portrait” of the great man, mixing “rare vérité footage of Derrida in his private life with his reflections on deconstruction, violence, the structure of love, the history of philosophy, and the death of his mother”. He playfully dodges a few questions, and addresses asides to the audience exposing the artificiality of the whole exercise. One New York Times critic found it “a pleasure to watch as the subject shows himself to be self-deprecating, quick-witted and self-aware, even making fun of his own vanity.” “Wouldn’t it be interesting to be able to watch footage today of Plato or Nietzsche during their lifetime?” asks Kofman. “A hundred years from now, it will be just as remarkable and important to have a cinematic record of Derrida.” Derrida will be screened on July 28 at the Boston French Film Festival, with a European premiere in August at the 55th Locarno Film Festival. You can see a clip from the film at www.derrida-themovie.com.· The latest issue of the Reader (”a magazine about writing worth reading”) includes an essay by Alan Gould entitled Consolation and the Novel. His mother-in-law, Marta, spent much of the second world war in concentration camps, including Auschwitz. Books were strictly forbidden, but one woman in Marta’s dormitory had a copy of Gone with the Wind. A clandestine reading group evolved: “As one reader finished a page, she carefully tore it from the book and passed it to the woman in the bunk below. Hundreds of these fragile, precious pieces of paper passed from hand to hand around that dim precinct somewhere in wartime Europe until all the inmates there had read the book.” But was it consolation these women sought in Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling novel? Gould thinks not. They were trying to keep their minds active; in short, to stay human. Gould rejects the notion that the novel is “a consolation for life” as too sentimental. What of those “disturbing accounts of human life” such as Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles or Flaubert’s Madame Bovary? (”‘What will console us for life’s ultimate paltriness?’ asks Emma Bovary. ‘Nothing’, suggests Flaubert.”) Rather than provide solace, the best novels put us in touch with an indifferent universe, something akin to Hardy’s Immanent Will. Nevertheless, there is always a flicker of hope. At the end of Sons and Lovers, for instance, Paul Morel discovers that he is, “infinitesimal, at the core a nothingness, and yet not nothing”. · Someone has been telling lies about Haruki Murakami. The 53-year-old married novelist has been sighted in the Roppongi district of Tokyo chatting up teenage girls. As Murakami’s American translator Jay Rubin points out in Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words (Harvill), the willowy legs of Japanese girls turn to jelly in the presence of the author of Norwegian Wood. Murakami fans needn’t worry, however. The seducer in Roppongi was unmasked as an unscrupulous lookalike. Under the headline: “FAKE HARUKI MURAKAMI PICKS UP GIRLS AT ROPPONGI”, the Japanese Weekly Gendai helpfully published a mugshot of the novelist side by side with his shameless doppelgänger. Undeterred by such shenanigans, the real Haruki Murakami has just delivered his first novel since Sputnik Sweetheart, expected to hit the Japanese bookstores in September. It may be a while before the English translation is available, but we can reveal the title: Kafka on the Beach. IP

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