No, Really Last Words

About ten days ago, I pointed to a posting of Derrida’s last words. Margaret called my attention, this morning, to the epigraph to John Caputo’s The Weakness of God:

Mes amis, je vous remercie d’être venus. Je vous remercie pour la chance de votre amitié. Ne pleurez pas: souriez comme je vous aurais souri. Je vous bénis. Je vous aime. Je vous souris, où que je sois.

My friends, I thank you for coming. I thank you for the good fortune of your friendship. Do not cry; smile as I would smile at you. I bless you. I love you. I am smiling at you, wherever I am. (reported and translated by John Caputo, frontispiece)

OK, we can note with snarky appreciation the complexity of rival accounts of which words were Derrida’s last, and we can wonder what difference it makes when this or that constitutes one’s final articulate gestures (as opposed to “very late words, when the final words were ‘No, that hurts a lot’ ”). The two versions of his farewell actually resemble one another quite closely, and both include expressions that bear at least implicitly theological resonances — if they don’t amount to an ultimate confession of faith (in a certain way).

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