WHO COMES AFTER THE SUBJECT?

EDITED BY EDUARDO CADAVA, PETER CONNOR, JEAN-LUC NANCY

ROUTLEDGE

NEW YORK AND LONDON

 

Contents
Preface vii
Introduction 1
Jean-Luc Nancy

 

1 Another Experience of the Question, or Experiencing
the Question Other-Wise 9
Sylviane Agacinski

2 On a Finally Objectless Subject 24
Alain Badiou

3 Citizen Subject 33
Etienne Balibar

4 Who? 58
Maurice Blanchot

5 The Freudian Subject, from Politics to Ethics 61
Mikkel Barch-Jacobsen

6 Voice of Conscience and Call of Being 79
Jean-Franr,;ois Courtine

7 A Philosophical Concept. ... 94
Gilles Deleuze

8 "Eating Well," or the Calculation of the Subject:

An Interview with Jacques Derrida 96

Jacques Derrida

9 Apropos of the "Critique of the Subject" and

of the Critique of this Critique 120

Vincent Descombes

10 Being and the Living 135
Didier Franck

11 Who Comes after the Subject? 148
Gerard Granel

12 The Critique of the Subject 157
Michel Henry

13 Love between Us 167
Luce Irigaray

14 Descartes Entrapped 178
Sarah Ko/man

15 The Response of Ulysses 198
Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe

16 Philosophy and Awakening 206
Emmanuel Levinas

17 Seisus communis: The Subject in statu nascendi 217
Jean-Franr;ois Lyotard

18 L'Interloque 236
Jean-Luc Marion

19 After What 246
Jacques Ranciere

Name Index 253

About the Editors and Contributors 256

 

Who?

Maurice Blanchot

So m ebody looking over my shoulder (me perhaps) says, re a din g the question,
Who comes after the subject?: "You return here to that far away time when you were
taking your baccalaureate exam. "�"Yes, but this time I will fail.''�"Which would
prove that you have, in spite of it all, progressed. S til l, do you recall how you would
have gone about it?"�"In the most traditional fashion, by asking about each
word."�"For example?"�"Well, I would notice that the first word is Who? and
not What? which postulates the beginning of an answer or a limitation of the
question that does not go without saying; I would be expected to know that what
comes after is someone and not something, not even something neutral, supposing
that this term would let itself be 'determined,' whereas all along it tends to an
indeterminacy from which nothing is exempt, no more the whomever than the
whatever. "�"That's not half bad, but it might i rritate the examiner. "�"Neverthe-
less I would still go on by asking how one should understand the mea ning of 'come
after. '�Is it a question of a temporal or even historical succession or of a logical
relation (or both)?"�"You mean that there would be a time�a period�without
subjec t or else, as B e nve niste claims, and he was criticized for this, that the always
personal 'I�you'�referring to a person�would lose its sovereignty, in the sense
that it would no longer have the right to recognize itself in the 'it,' that which, in
any language, cannot lay claim to anything personal, except inadvertently: it is
raining, it is, it is necessary (to take a few simple, but of course insufficient
examples). In other words, language is impersonal or it would be impersonal as
long as nobody gets up to speak, even should it be to say nothing. "�"It would
seem that, as an examiner, you are answering for me, whereas I do not even know
what question I am being asked. I therefore repeat the question: Who comes after
the subject?
And I repeat it in another form: What was there before the subject,
which is of recent invention: the subject once again, but hidden or rejected, thrown,
distorted, fallen before being, or, more precisely, incap a b le of letting B e i n g or the

logos give it a place. "�"But aren't you in an unwonted hurry to interpret the
question as Who comes after the subject? and not as 'Who will come after the
subject?' when really you are indulging yourself in seeking a time when the subject
was not posited, neglecting the inaugural decision that, from Descartes to Husserl,
privileged that instantiation (of the subject) that made us modern?"�"Yes, who
comes after the subject? You are right, examiner, to tum me away from easy
solutions, when I seem to be trusting ordinary temporality. The word 'comes,' I
sensed from the start, is problematic�even understood as a present, it is only the
imminence of a je ne sais quoi (as is indicated by the prefix 'pre' of present, by
means of which the present remains always ahead (of me), in an urgency that does
not admit any d elay and even increases from this absence of d elay, which impl i es
a belatedness, at least as long as my speech, in a statement or a conjuration, draws
it, in the act of pronouncing it, toward the abyss of the present tense). "�"Then if
I understand you correctly, the 'who comes' never comes, except arbitrarily, or has
always already come, in accordance with some incongruous words that I remember
having read somewhere, not without irritation, where reference is made to the
coming of what does not come, of what would come without an arrival, outside of
Being and as though adrift."�"The term 'adrift' is, in fact, appropriate here, but
my halting remarks are not entirely useless, and they bring us back to an insecurity
that no formulation could avoid. 'Who comes' has perhaps then always already
come (according to the misfortune or fortune of the circle) and 'Who,' without
claiming to once again put the ego into question, does not find its proper site, does
not let itself be assumed by Me: the 'it' that is perhaps no longer the it of it is
raining, nor even the it of it is, but without ceasing to be not personal, does not let
itself be measured by the impersonal either, and keeps us at the edge of the
unknown. "�"It holds us there in order to engage us in it, whereas becoming
engaged presupposes the disappearance of 'we,' as the perhaps infinite extenuation
of the subject. "�"But aren't we getting away from Western thought by taking
refuge in the interpretation of a simplified Orient, leaving the I-subject for the self
(the Buddhist emptiness) of peace and silence?"�"That's for you to decide, in the
same manner that, returning to the question, I would suggest to you aloud a few of
the answers that tacitly you do not dare to express, precisely in order to avoid
mak ing a decisive choice. I dare you to name: the overman, or else the mystery of
Ereignis, or the uncertain exigency of the idle community, or the strangeness of
the absolutely Other, or perhaps the last man who is not the last. ' '�"Stop, tempter,
this distasteful enumeration where, as in a dream, what attracts and what repels
are mixed, neither existing without the other. "�"Tempter, I agree, as is moreover
any examiner, and I have the advantage over you of revealing myself and, in
addition, of tempting you only to lead you away from temptation. "�"Making of the
detour then temptation itself."

And so on. I here end then this too easy dialogue, ending also my attempt to
elucidate the question, without ignoring that I am vainly trying to avoid it, since it
has not disappeared and continues to provide an uneasiness by its necessity. "Who
then comes after the subject?" Understanding it and not understanding it, I take
the liberty of borrowing from Claude Morali the title of one of his books and the
citation from which he derives it: "As if that appeal had sounded, in a muffled
manner, a nonetheless happy appeal, the cry of children playing in the garden:
'Who is me today?�'Who is taking my place?' And the happy infinite answer:
him, him, him." Only children can create a counting rhyme (comptine) that opens
up to impossibility and only children can sing of it happily.

So Let us be, even in the anguish and the heaviness of uncertainty, from time
to time, these children.

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