Glas by Jacques Derrida

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 § 0

Glas by Jacques Derrida: A Trinity of Philosophical Essays Transformed into a Typographic Collage

A Book Review by 
David Detrich

Glas (1986) by Jacques Derrida is an innovative collage of double columns each with its own typographical font, often with columns within columns, an innovative book which represents a philosophical glas defined as a mournful sound from a medieval funeral, or the soulful sound that a dog will make when someone dies. Glas is a masterful blending of theology and literature with meditations on Jesus Christ, the philosophy of Hegel, and the writings of Jean Genet which create a contrast between the sacred and the literary. Jacques Derrida has put some of his best thought into this monumental work which conveys information to the reader in an indirect manner with numerous moments of simultaneity revealing subtle nuances of meaning that make up a life story.

The translation of Glas into English reveals the work of two translators, each who handled a different set of columns.

The translation of Glas was a joint effort. Richard Rand provided the first draft translation of the column on Jean Genet and I of the columns on Hegel. I then integrated and reworked both columns for accuracy, continuity of language, and stylistics.
                                                      Note to the Translation
                                                      John P. Leavey Jr.

This reveals a double book theme, or a trinity of themes when the double text opens onto the theology of Jesus, whose words reveal a simple life story that concludes soon after he introduces the idea of sacraments at the Last Supper. Jacques Derrida is among the true believers who takes Israel seriously, and the life of Jesus reveals a young man whose single act of defiance in turning over the tables of the money lenders became a challenge to the religion of the temple, and the founding of a new religion.

"John says (2: 25) of Jesus that he knew what was in man; and the truest mirror of his beautiful nature is his discourse at the sight of immaculate nature." Not soiling this nature or becoming a child ("in my name,") is the same thing. 
                                                              Jacques Derrida

Jesus is aware of the defacement in the mirror theme, and shows his disapproval, preferring as Hegel said the "truest mirror of his beautiful nature" with prophetic insight into the future dilemma of the divine image. This is a quote from On Christianity: Early Theological Writings (1948) by Friedrich Hegel which Jacques Derrida considers at length in Glas, interpreting the words of Jesus which prophesize future events, including the themes of defacement, the friendship of Jesus and John, and the beginnings of Christianity.

The place of the one who writes must always be sought, even if it is not fixed, if it lets no more than the replacement be caught. John does not name himself, but does not hesitate to point to himself, under his own pen, as Christ's preferred disciple.
                                                             Jacques Derrida

The friendship of Jesus and John creates a new branch of theology with a constellation appearing on the horizon as a visual sign of excellence, and Glas continues with the evolution of religion away from church ceremonies towards the popular culture of rock music. As Timothy Leary suggested in High Priest (1968) a new religion could be formed on the basis of psychedelic sacraments for a more profound approach to mystical self-realization and the envisionment of God. Where Jesus left off with a break from Judaism which seemed a historical necessity, a new religion could be formed that would bring intense metaphysical insight to the living experience as a living religion.

Like all new sacraments, the psychedelics require a new religion.
                                                              High Priest
                                                              Timothy Leary

In Glas Jacques Derrida has imagined a new religion which would be a religion of flowers in which love would prevail as the sacrament of choice. 
A religion of flowers is more a religion of love which is needed to have a living religion, where the sacrament could be lovemaking and eroticism. In looking back at ancient history he finds that the religion of flowers also follows the religion of the sun as a branch from the main hierarchy of spiritual interconnections.

Then in place of burning all, one begins to love flowers. The religion of flowers follows the religion of the sun.
                                                             Jacques Derrida

The sacraments of Christianity feature a host and a chalice of wine which are symbolic ways of having communion with Jesus, yet we can imagine other possible religions which may be independent of Christianity, or a branching from the main theological movement. 

gl tears the "body," "sex," "voice" and "writing" from the logic of consciousness and representation that guided those debates.
                                                             Jacques Derrida

The philosophy of Hegel and Derrida, the literary writings of Jean Genet, and the evolution of Christianity are aspects of the phenomenology of consciousness which is represented on the page as a form of writing, a narrative, an essay of creative non-fiction, that is guided by a literary consciousness which has developed the linguistic concepts of Ferdinand de Saussure into what has become the semiotic novel, as a form of idealized book that Stéphane Mallarmé had envisioned, a book which is a monumental narrative written from the enlightened perspective. This is the reality of God reflected in the writings of philosophy, journal writing, and the innovative novel, a literary consciousness that guides the writing of thought which has taken on the form of collage, an esthetic theory that grew out of modern art. 

The big O of the erect treelike gentleman before the pink sea shell figure becomes phrases of ahahahah word clusters suggested in the nodes of modalities which express the joy formidable of the energized bookworker * thoughtprocess * smileprophet who floats like a white fluffy seed on the wind towards the poetess of visionarytheory * lovepredictions * complementarycolors written into the holybook which the literary gentleman kisses with respect for the gifted belief in the generosity of God for his creation. 
                                       Dream the Presence of the Circular 
                                       Breast Starfish Topography
                                       David Detrich

My novel-in-progress Dream the Presence of the Circular Breast Starfish Topography is a monumental innovative novel with typographic design that has developed the themes of Glas within the context of Surrealism, and the philosophical analysis of theology has suggested possible religions which are considered in the intricate poetic plot which has been written while reading Glas as an avant garde parallel text which set the trend for the idealized book as a work of modern art.
Glas (1986) by Jacques Derrida is this great book that could be written, and realizes the dream of philosophy to become a monumental work of avant garde writing that realizes the dream of  esthetic theory in an idealized book that discusses the most relevant issues at length in an intelligent manner. The contrast of modes in a trinity of narratives reveals that the writings of Friedrich Hegel on religion have inspired the true believer Jacques Derrida to consider the themes which suggest yet a further development in the history of religion as a form of innovative narrative.                                                                                                                                                        
                                    *    *

Glassary (1986) by John P. Leavey Jr. with a foreward by Jacques Derrida is a large book which accompanies Glas as a companion piece which includes the essays Proverb: 'He that would pun...' by Jacques Derrida, "This (then) will not have been a book..." by John P. Leavey Jr, and Sounding the Unconscious by Gregory Ulmer. Published by the University of Nebraska Press, Glassary includes a glossary of terms from Glas, and as John P. Leavey Jr. suggests is a grouping of essays that it is not itself a complete book.

The law of genre is the same: quickly withdrawing, and not detaining the reader.
                                           Proverb: "He that would pun..."
                                           Jacques Derrida

The invasion scheme is enough to cause those who identify with it to consider withdrawing from their tough legal position. We are masters of the situation so that those who thought they were unnoticed have been traced and expressed verbally or in writing. The philosopher realizes the truth of the situation in relation to the virtuosity of the novelist's use of language, not punning as much as in some modes of writing. defend certain norms, the free play, the complacent and slightly narcissistic relation to language, the exercise of virtuosity to no profit, without economy of sense or knowledge, without any necessity but that of enjoying one's own mastery over one's language and the others.
                                           Proverb: "He that would pun..."
                                           Jacques Derrida

This short essay is followed by the essay "This (then) will not have been a book..." by John P. Leavey Jr. which describes the reality of the Glassary which is that it contains a few short essays and a glossary of terms, similar to my own elaborate bibliography for my second novel.

The idea suggested by both Glas and the Glassary is that Jacques Derrida is writing as a predecessor to what comes after, even suggesting the large horizontal format book which can be filled in by those who follow, similar to my own monumental novel-in-progress Dream the Presence of the Circular Breast Starfish Topography which places philosophy and the innovative novel in the context of modern art, books which are taking on visibility as art objects, with Glas written as an art collage of philosophical writing, dictionary philology, and literary criticism. The 21st Century  is developing the themes of Jacques Derrida, and the writers of Tel Quel, with the art conscious esthetic theories which have produced a sequence of innovative novels using typographic design to convey a sophisticated blending of narrative modes into a book arts masterpiece.

David Detrich lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where he has just completed The Convergence of Two Narrative Lines Ascending, an ultramodern Surrealist novel written in minimal squares. He is working on Dream the Presence of the Circular Breast Starfish Topography, a monumental Surrealist novel written with innovative typographical design. His first novel Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights (2001) is available from Amazon. He edits Innovative Fiction Magazine and Surrealist Star Clustered Illuminations.

What's this?

You are currently reading Glas by Jacques Derrida at Innovative Fiction Magazine .


§ Leave a Reply