Image: “Derrida” by Pablo Secca
For most of his life, certainly in the early parts of his career, Derrida resisted discussions of his personal life and did not allow the use of publicity photographs. Yet given Derrida’s “exotic” background and striking good looks, his political involvements and philosophical commitments, and the international reception of his work, his life seems tailor-made for biography. Derrida showed an awareness of this expectation for his life to be on display when, asked about his background in a 1983 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur (cited in the first chapter of the Peeters biography), he somewhat mockingly recited the beginning of the expected answer: “Ah, you want me to say things like ‘I-was-born-in-El Biar-on-the-outskirts-of-Algiers-in-a-petit-bourgeois-family-of-assimilated-Jews-but …’ Is that really necessary?”
Is biography itself a fundamentally philosophical concept? Kas Saghafi on Benoît Peeters’s Derrida: A Biography.
Biography is the only afterlife I believe in.