Derrida and the Darkness of HopeDr David A. Newheiser (Australian Catholic University)
221 Burwood Hwy
- School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Hope sounds like a nice idea, but there is good reason to wonder whether it is. Albert Camus claims that hope posits an otherworldly reassurance that distracts from the struggle of life here and now. In a different idiom, Lee Edelman argues that hope allows the present order to reproduce itself, thereby excluding whatever it calls "queer." In response, I draw upon Derrida in order to argue that, although hope sometimes provides false comfort, it contains a self-critical impulse that resists marginalization. Derrida argues that the future to come exceeds every horizon of expectation, which entails that comportment to the future requires a vulnerable openness to the unknown. In my view, the messianic hope that Derrida describes constitutes a disciplined recognition that, although there is no assurance, we may tenuously affirm hopes that are uncertain.
David Newheiser is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Institute for Religion & Critical Inquiry at the Australian Catholic University. His research focuses on the topics of power and biopolitics, secularization, and the history of sexuality. He has published articles on interpretation, apocalypticism, neoliberalism, love, secularity, and sexuality, and he is currently completing a book on the relation between temporal transcendence and discursive negativity in Dionysius the Areopagite and Jacques Derrida.