Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Enjoy the Silence: An interview with Luce Irigaray

Interview by Julian Baggini

There are several reasons why Luce Irigrary might be thought brave, or foolish, to agree to be interviewed by me for tpm. First, there is a question of our respective genders. “Men and women do not generate language and structure discourses in the same way,” she has written. “And they cannot understand one another, nor even listen the one to the other, without first becoming conscious about such differences.”

As if that weren't enough of a potential obstacle to communication, Irigaray also agreed to handicap herself by talking in English, which she speaks and understands well enough, but not with true fluency.

Then there is the simple fact that tpm has its roots in anglophone philosophy, a tradition that has at best ignored and at worst mocked Irigaray, a thinker who in many circles is considered among the most important in the world.

Finally, there is the question of whether talking is the right way to encounter each other at all. “The first word we have to speak to one another is our capacity and acceptance of being silent,” she writes in her latest book, Sharing the World. “In this silence, the other may come towards me, as I may move towards him, or her.”

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