The Remains of the Remains

The Remains of the Remains

The Glas website has been moved and deleted several times, then reposted along with a lot of updated commentary, on a different server. Therefore, I ought to provide some answers, (t)here, to those online and off who keep asking these three questions:
  1. What happened to the plans for a Glas conference in 1999 at Cornell?
  2. Why did the Glas email-list end abruptly?
  3. Why did the dedicated Glas forum at disappear?
From 1996 to 1998, I had dedicated a certain amount of my time to providing, for free, some theory websites with bibliographic and other information, among them one about Glas, complemented with a Glas discussion list for email exchange among those who have a scholarly investment in this text. The list comprised well over 100 readers from many countries, and the website, part of my larger website dedicated to literary theory, received hundreds of hits per day. My help had also been enlisted by a colleague, then at Cornell University's Humanities Center, who hoped to organize an international conference for the 25th anniversary of the publication of Glas.
     The somewhat thankless undertaking of my free online services reached a low point when a subscriber to the email list committed a stupid prank and announced Derrida's death to the other readers. Here is Jacques Derrida's account of the unfortunate chain of events, in published form:
Le 6 mai, 'on' (un certain Clifford Duffy) croit malin, et désirable, depuis le Canada, d'annoncer sur le Web (site consacré à Glas) la nouvelle de ma mort. Après un grave accident de voiture, dit-il, en Californie. Au moment meme où Peter Krapp, qui s'occupe de ce site, fait à Irvine une conférence sur 'Glas comme hypertexte'. Ruche de coups de téléphone (de Geoff, en Angleterre, qui venait de lire la nouvelle sur son ordinateur de bon matin, à Marguerite, puis de M. à moi qui la rassure, à une heure du matin à Laguna, puis de moi à G. qui dément sur Internet, etc.) Je me tate... et si c'etait vrai? La nuit suivante, je reve que j'apprends en voyage la mort de mon père (vous savez qu'il est mort depuis 1970 et Glas n'est pas sans rapport avec ce deuil). Je n'arrive pas à y croire - ni à en douter. J'essaie de me forcer à prendre cette nouvelle au sérieux jusque dans mon corps, à pleurer, à souffrir là où, souffrant, je m'accuse aussi de ne pas souffrir, pour souffrir de ne pas souffrir assez, et sourtout de ne pas oser téléphoner à ma soeur et à mon frère (argument: que pourrions-nous encore nous dire, sans feindre, au téléphone? Sentiment aigu, dans mon reve, que vraiment il n'y a plus de mot. Plus un seul mot disponible. Sauf ceux qui m'attendent et que je ne connais pas encore. Rien n'est plus viable entre nous. Nous allons donc devoir, tous, le miens et moi, nous séparer, sans un mot)...
La Contre-Allée, par Jacques Derrida et Catherine Malabou.
Collection Voyager Avec... La Quinzaine Louis Vuitton, Paris 1999, 274
ISBN 2-910491-08-0, for sale for 22,87 Euro, or 150 FF, organized in three parts:
L'Ecartement des voies - dérive, arrivée, catastrophe - by CM, Correspondance, lettres et cartes postales (extraits) by JD,
and Haltes, a kind of CV. - Notably, Derrida is the only living subject among the authors featured in the series.

Needless to say, I am not too happy about the juxtaposition of Duffy and myself. While I remember too well the confusion on the email list and at Irvine that day, this account could be read it seem as if, in a horrifying complicity of sorts, I invited or at least allowed this to happen, in virtuality or reality, or actuvirtuality as Derrida would say. While dwelling on Derrida's notion of mediatic actuvirtuality, it should be noted that in this passage, Derrida does not distinguish between a website, which is static and offers a lot of bibliographical and other information, and an email list, which as an open forum for discussion for many dozen people was a much more fluctuating medium. That there is always the potential for offensive behaviour on email cannot be denied, but I still hope what I try to do with this website, namely to provide free, international, multilingual access to Glas and related work, can be deserving of support. At the time, everybody was all too quickly united in disgust over the threat of the internet, formerly an academic medium, and so it did not come as a surprise when Jonathan Culler and Richard Klein decided to indefinitely postpone any plans for a Glas conference at Cornell. What happened may or may not shed some light on deconstruction and politics - still, the remains are offered, for what they are worth, (t)here.

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