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Living On / To Survive

Epidemic Writings

Zsuzsa Baross, Professor Emerita of Cultural Theory at Trent University, Canada, is the author of The Scandal of Disease in Theory and Discourse (University of Amsterdam, 1988), Posthumously: For Jacques Derrida (SAP, 2010), and Encounters: Gérard Titus-Carmel, Jean-Luc Nancy, Claire Denis. She has published a wide number of essays in anthologies and journals, including International Studies in Philosophy, New Literary History and Derrida Today. Recently she has been collaborating and publishing with “Artistic Research”, Orpheus Instituut in Gent, Belgium.

Those familiar with the work of Derrida will recognize the double term in the title as variations, in translation, of Derrida's untimely essay Survivre. “To survive” – in this infinite mood and indefinite form that sets no limit to number, person, or time – is at once the theme and the undercurrent that runs through the diverse texts gathered together in this volume. “To survive”, for such is our exceptional situation, also animates the act of writing: to shelter a personal existence and actualize the promise writing holds for saving something more than (bare) life. Derrida termed it “sur-vie” or “living on”. 

The texts date from different times and phases of the mutating epidemic. In chronological order, they register the progressive evolution and complication of the sense of this “novel” crisis. The first is contemporaneous with the immediate virus outbreak and with Agamben’s provocative dismissal of the “health” crisis. The “Two Transcripts” are of video interventions that appeared on Jérôme Lèbre's Youtube channel “Philosopher en temps d’épidémie” – one of several platforms to call for critical discourse; a third intervention, completing the triptych, was recorded in French but never published. Here an extended, more developed version closes the volume. Engaging Derrida’s “Survie,” it also responds to the recent death of Jean-Luc Nancy. At the center, anchoring the volume, is a complex text that can be read as a belated postscript to the first volume On Contemporaneity after Agamben, and / or as a premature preface to its forthcoming successor (The Time That Remains). It asks about the newly acquired sense of the “World” in Paul Celan’s often cited last phrase: “The world is gone”. 

Living On / To Survive is essential reading for students and scholars in literature, philosophy and psychology. Publication details of these and related titles are provided in the prelims to the book.



Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78976-115-3
Paperback Price: £29.95 / $39.9
Release Date: March/April 2022
Page Extent / Format: 124 pp. 216 x 138 mm
Illustrated: No


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