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On Being Haunted by the Future

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Derrida insists that we understand the 'to-come' not as a real future 'down the road', but rather as a universal structure of immanence. But such a structure is no substitute for the hard work of taking responsibility for what are often entirely predictable and preventable disasters (9/11, the Iraq war, Katrina, global warming). Otherwise "the future can only be anticipated in the form of an absolute danger". Derrida devotes much attention to proposing, imagining, hoping for a 'future' in which im-possible possibilities are being realized. It is important to steer clear of the utopian black hole, the thought (or shape of desire) that the future would need to bring a future perfection or completion. The future may well exhibit a universal structure of immanence. But what is equally disturbing is not our inability to expect the unexpected, but the failure of our institutions to prevent the all-too-predictable.

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