Jacques Derrida died more than five years ago now, but his work keeps on coming out and, in the case of his work on photography, keeps on developing. While three important works on photography were published in English during Derrida's lifetime (“The Deaths of Roland Barthes” , Right of Inspection , and a series of reflections on the photographs of Frédéric Brenner in Diaspora ), the three works that are set to come out in English in 2010 are likely not just to supplement but to radically augment and transform our understanding of Derrida's reading of the photographic medium. In the forthcoming “Alētheia,” Copy, Archive, Signature, and perhaps most especially Athens, Still Remains, Derrida develops a powerful reading of the unique temporality of photography and its essential relationship to memory, ruin, and mourning. This essay argues that these recent works on photography illuminate in a most striking fashion some of Derrida's earliest reflections on time as deferral or delay; on survival as trace, testament, and archive; and on the now as always divided from itself and so always developing in several different, noncontemporaneous times—a veritable “now theory” that should resonate well with this special issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly on theory now.
Michael Naas; “Now smile”: Recent Developments in Jacques Derrida's Work on Photography. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 January 2011; 110 (1): 205–222. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-2010-029
Download citation file: