Thursday, March 6, 2014

Random (Very) Comment: Derrida et Jeanne d'Arc Déjà Vu

An LA Review of Books article by Jan Mieszkowski discusses a recently released volume of Derrida's seminars on the death penalty. I'm no expert on or huge fan of Derrida, but the following quote from the review has stuck with me several hours.
Derrida also claims that with all four of his paradigmatic examples of subjectivity as the subjection to a death sentence — Socrates, Jesus, Hallaj, and Joan of Arc — what was actually being put to death was language, language that in each case claimed to be the presentation of divine speech. These four figures must be executed, suggests Derrida, because people are afraid to hear — “directly, immediately” — the voice of God, which is also to say that these four must be killed because their defining statement, “I am the truth,” confronts both church and state with a performative utterance with which the established models of sovereignty, and therefore the hegemonic understandings of life and death, cannot contend.

As far as The Cage is concerned, this passage has ideas worth applying to the Goddard film Vivre Sa Vie which was reviewed here. Specifically, I can ask whether Nana's adoration of Joan of Arc led to her death not mearly as an inconvenient woman who had developed her own sense of agency, but that she met her violent end because she realized something further in her modeling of the saint. She had actually become a voice of the divine. The instant, no-brainer answer is "yes". The question merits further exploration. No doubt someone has already delved since the imagery clearly suggests this reading.

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