“The Truth That Hurts, or the Corps à Corps of Tongues: An interview with Jacques Derrida” – new translation in Parallax (requires subscription), No abstract, so first note below:
1 Translator’s note [TN]: What follows is a translation of an interview with Jacques Derrida conducted by Évelyne Grossman in December 2003. The interview, entitled ‘La vérité blessante, ou le corps à corps des langues’, was published in the French journal Europe in May 2004, five months before Derrida’s death. A portion of the interview was translated into English by Thomas Dutoit and published in 2005 in the collection Sovereignties in Question: The Poetics of Paul Celan. I would like to thank the editor-in-chief of Europe, Jean-Baptiste Para, as well as Évelyne Grossman, Thomas Dutoit, and Pierre Alferi for allowing us to translate and publish the interview in this special issue of parallax. I would also like to express my gratitude to Donald Cross and Eric Prenowitz, who helped me revise this translation. A few words about the title: the phrase ‘La vérité blessante’ is a play on the French expression il n’y a que la vérité qui blesse – a rough equivalent of ‘only truth hurts’. The French verb blesser can refer to a physical wounding but also to a moral offence, to the hurting of someone’s feelings. The homophony with the English ‘blessing’ might be a deliberate choice by Derrida and Grossman – a hypothesis that the themes addressed in the interview could certainly back up. I have decided to leave the French expression corps à corps as such, both in the title and in the interview. The French phrase literally means ‘body(ies)-to-body(ies)’. It usually refers to a close encounter, a duel, a hand-to-hand combat or attack that involves bodily contact. It can be a form of wrestling, generally without mediation, at least without long-distance weaponry: ‘body-to-body’. But the expression is also used to refer to sexual embrace, intercourse or lovemaking. Both dimensions are present in the interview; in the title, the erotic, corporeal connotation is highlighted by the proximity of langues, ‘languages’ or ‘tongues’.