Derrida on fear of writing

So the paint’s not so fresh, but there’s no content yet …

This will be remedied, but in the meantime, here’s Jacques Derrida on writer’s block, an out-take from the film  “Derrida”


Each time that I write something,
and it feels like I’m advancing into new territory,
somewhere I haven’t been before,
and this type of advance often demands certain gestures
that can be taken as aggressive
with regard to other thinkers or colleagues
I’m not someone who is by nature polemical
but it’s true that deconstructive gestures appear to destabilize
or cause anxiety or even hurt others
so, every time that I
make this type of gesture,
there are moments of fear.

This doesn’t happen at the moments when I’m writing.
Actually, when I write, there is a feeling of necessity,
of something that is stronger than myself,
that demands that I must write as I write.
I have never renounced anything I’ve written
because I’ve been afraid of certain consequences.
Nothing intimidates me when I write.
I say what I think must be said.

That is to say,
when I don’t write,
there is a very strange moment when I go to sleep.
When I have a nap and I fall asleep.
At that moment
in a sort of half sleep,
all of a sudden I’m terrified by what I’m doing.
And I tell myself:”You’re crazy to write this!”
“You’re crazy to attack such a thing!”
“You’re crazy to criticize such and such a person.”
“You’re crazy to contest such an authority, be it textual,
institutional or personal.”

And there is a kind of panic in my subconscious
As if … what can I compare it to ?
Imagine a child who does something horrible,
Freud talks of childhood dreams where one dreams of being naked
and terrified because everyone sees that they are naked.
In any case, in this half-sleep
I have the impression
that I’ve done something criminal,
disgraceful, unavowable,
that I shouldn’t have done
And somebody is telling me:
“But you’re mad to have done that.”

And this is something I truly believe in my half sleep.
And the implied command in this is:
“Stop everything! Take it back! Burn your papers!”
“What you are doing is inadmissable!”
But once I wake up, it’s over.
What this means or how I interpret this is
that when I’m awake, conscious, working,
in a certain way I am more unconscious than in my half sleep.

When I’m in that half sleep
there’s a kind of vigilance
that tells me the truth.
First of all, it tells me that what
I’m doing is very serious.
But when I’m awake and working,
this vigilance is actually asleep.
It’s not the stronger of the two.
And so I do what must be done.