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Jean-Luc Nancy: who desperately sought Aurore

16 September 2021

Jean-Luc Nancy: who desperately sought Aurore

Image credit: Wikimedia

Funeral oration for Jean-Luc Nancy, 31 August 2021.

It was decided that I would speak after Anne, my goddaughter, in this chapel which saves us from soulless funeral homes, in this chapel since the Republic has not been able to build, as Malraux said, any temple or any tomb and since Christianity must still be deconstructed, for better or for worse. Jean-Luc, as we know, has been working on this task all his life.

Jean-Luc was the oldest friend, the lifelong friend, as I was his oldest friend. We had a magnificent, demanding, flawless friendship for over sixty years. I always admired Jean-Luc's great and warm simplicity which put you, whoever you were, on the same level as him and which never missed an opportunity to push his more obscure friends to the forefront. He of whom no one could speak ill, was always "all things to all people", as the apostle says, and as we used to say in our superstitious youth, from which we have perhaps had so much difficulty in recovering. He was always there, present at all the celebrations as well as at all the trials of life, saying each time the right word that allows you to start again, to get back on your feet, not to let yourself be defeated. His genius, the one that matters most to me, was first and foremost in his life, in this existence, the word and notion of which permeate his entire work. "Existence" means taking into account the finitude, the irreplaceable singularity and the fragility of each person, all of which reveal our humanity.

While his absence today freezes the blood and devastates us, I would like to try to pull myself together and say a few poor words even if, speaking after the one who can no longer answer, I can give the silly impression of having the last word, of closing or closing a debate. This debate, however, he had not stopped opening it, by awakening, rejuvenating, magnifying the weight of enigma that inhabits all our questions.

They came from all corners of the world, and I speak here also on behalf of Divya Dwivedi and Shaj Mohan from New Delhi, with whom Jean-Luc had recently put me in touch, as if I were capable one day, after him, of taking over. They have come from all over the world and perhaps here we are, gathered from what we have in common, at a time when the world is going badly and society is so badly fractured. Thanks to Jean-Luc, we now know, more than ever, what "common", what "community" still means and we are now experiencing, whether real or virtual, our being in common.

Last Sunday I had a long telephone conversation with him and I thought, so strong and calm was his voice, that once again, the leonine phoenix, the indestructible subject, was going to be saved, that he was going to experience an anastasis, the one he talks about in one of his most secret books, a resurrection, a rebound, a recovery.

For, through the past 30 years, his whole life has been full of crises, of terrible blows that the intranquil "qui-vive" of the transplant had provoked. But also of these prodigious rebirths which had made him a living person, a great living person, a super-living person whose quiet strength was going to allow him to make countless friendships and to give us a monumental work. This miracle of his life, continued and restarted each time, perhaps reminds us that this is also what "great health" is all about. We are all dancing on an abyss and we must do as he did, not spare ourselves or spare ourselves.

He who was desperately looking for Aurore, the dawn and the chance of a changing world, he who was looking for meaning, knew that there was no other meaning than the one he was looking for, the one he was, the one who will be there for a long time to come. And in saying "there" let me evoke the da of Dasein that, rightly or wrongly, he has always gratified me with having revealed to him. The da of Dasein, the of being-there, is the ekstatic where each human can open up to himself by engaging in the dis-enclosure of the world. I would like to finish, however, more modestly, to hear also in Dasein, the simply spatial "there". For Jean-Luc told me not long ago that he intended one day to have his place and to rest somewhere on this earth, to have his place in a small corner of the earth. The thinker of the incarnation, the earthling that he was, would have lived on this earth until the end. And now, so be it.

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