Pheng Cheah is Professor of Rhetoric and Chair of the Center for Southeast Asia Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of
The Arriving World: The Inhuman Otherness of Time as Real Messianic Hope
This chapter critically reconstructs Jacques Derrida’s sketchy outlines of a deconstructive account of worldliness. It examines how Derrida radicalizes Heidegger’s account of temporality by arguing that time is not proper to human existence but comes from the inhuman other. It then suggests that this leads to a conception of the world as a nontotalizable whole or text in general and an understanding of the opening of the world by the coming of the other as the imperative to act. It explores the insights that narrative can give us into the opening of worlds and concludes with an account of the world as having a “literary” structure.