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Waiting and Lateness: The Context, Implications, and Basic Argumentation of Derrida's “Awaiting (at) the Arrival” (S'attendre à l'arrivée) in Aporias

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In Derrida's last book (posthumously published in 2006), L'animal que donc je suis, there is a kind of refrain: “il ne suffit pas de …” (it is not sufficient or enough to . . . ). Derrida utters this refrain in relation to all the discourses on animality and animal suffering found in the Western philosophical tradition. None of these discourses are sufficient. This last book revolves then around the idea of an insufficient (not enough) response. The idea of an insufficient response is not restricted to the problem of animal suffering; it extends to what we must call, following Derrida, “the problem of the worst.” The worst is the end, in the sense of total violence or total suicide: apocalypse. In this essay, I have tried to construct the beginnings of a more sufficient response that urges us to move toward the least amount of violence towards all living beings, while recognizing nevertheless that even this response is not sufficient. The more sufficient response is based on Derrida's transformation of the concept of waiting into being late found in Aporias. This transformation is at the heart of Derrida's thought of the messianic. We are so late in relation to the problem of the apocalypse that we can no longer wait for someone else to come and save us. We are so late that we—there's no one else coming—must take action now.

Affiliations: 1: Pennsylvania State University

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