cover image Thinking Out of Sight: Writings on the Arts of the Visible

Thinking Out of Sight: Writings on the Arts of the Visible

Edited by Ginettte Michaud et. al. Univ. of Chicago, $45 trade paper (328p) ISBN 978-0-226-14061-2

This wide-ranging collection of essays, lectures, and interviews, shows philosopher Jacques Derrida (Acts of Religion) (1930–2004) applying his signature deconstructionist thinking to the visual arts. The pieces span from 1979 to the last year of his life and are divided into three sections. The first deals with visibility and language; the second concerns the “rhetoric of the line” (particularly in drawing and painting); the third is about photography, video, and theater. In one interview, Derrida speaks of film offering “the means to rethink or refound all the relations between the word and silent art.” In “Marx is (Quite) Somebody,” he muses on a play about Marx and what it means to bear a name. Themes include Derrida’s self-proclaimed incompetence about drawing, and his obsession with blindness (he suggests that it is “in a way the origin of drawing”). His writing requires careful parsing, as even simple ideas are written complexly: “Silence is my most sublime, my most peaceful, yet my most undeniable declaration of war or scorn,” he writes in an essay on how he is seen. Philosophically minded readers will find much to consider in the way of art criticism. (Jan.)