ABSTRACT

This article analyzes the figure of the end of the world in the final lecture of Derrida’s The Beast and the Sovereign seminar series (the last seminar series he gives). The author argues that Derrida uses the final line of a Paul Celan poem (“The world is gone. I must carry you.”) as a valedictory refrain in order to show the political and existential stakes of his ontological investigations. The article situates these stakes within Derrida’s fictionalism, his belief that (1) ideal entities are irreal but also (2) the way in which the meanings of ideal entities work is like the way that the meaning of fictional discourse works. Using Derrida’s own example of Celan, as well as examples from Benjamin Britten and Skeeter Davis, the author argues for the importance of aesthetic experience in tying together these political, existential, and ontological themes.

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