Saturday, September 03, 2022

such is his life

Sometimes, not showing up is just not showing up. Our egos are vulnerable possessions. 

One last story I am moved to mention here, but which, for reasons of discretion, I have not done before, concerns Derrida’s final reconciliation with Ricoeur. After Derrida’s Dublin lecture on the lie we retired to my house for dinner. During the course of the conversation, the question of Derrida’s depression came up – we had both experienced ‘dark nights’ in our lives – and he happened to mention how one of his worst bouts followed his doctoral defence when Ricoeur (his director) never showed up for the post-dissertation toast. Derrida confided that this withholding of the ceremonial blessing (as he read it) had devastated him, because Ricoeur had been an intellectual father for him since leaving his own family in Algeria to come to Paris as an émigré student. When I informed him that Ricoeur had not come to my doctoral toast either, Derrida was speechless. You too? He exclaimed. ‘Were you not shocked?’ I said not at all. I had simply picked up the phone and asked Ricoeur why he had not shown up – and had received this frank and moving response:

I am sorry Richard, but I never attend any of my student’s dissertation toasts. I have so many and must also look after my own family. I am a bad father to both my intellectual and actual children. I never give either enough time. Such is my life. I do two jobs badly, but it is all I can do. (n.p.)

Derrida was deeply affected and as soon as he returned to Paris the next day phoned Ricoeur. They agreed to meet that same afternoon in the Jardin du Luxembourg (it was early May) and stayed talking non-stop until the gardiens sent them home when the gates closed at 21:00. What they realised during their exchange was that for 30 years their respective philosophical positions (deconstructive and hermeneutic) had been speaking

Chapter 2


Where I speak from: A short intellectual autobiography

past each other – mishearing, misreading, miswriting – in part because of a dialogue manqué at a pivotal moment in their lives: Derrida looking for a surrogate father, Ricoeur unable to respond to a surrogate son.

Ricoeur confessed to me subsequently that after this reunion, they continued to talk on a weekly basis right up to Derrida’s untimely death from pancreatic cancer in 2002. Ricoeur wept at Derrida’s passing, confiding to me: ‘It was not fair. He should not have died before me’. Ricoeur joined his adopted spiritual son two years later in 2004. In one of the last conversations I had with Ricoeur, he told me that when he and Derrida had read my book, The God Who May Be, Derrida thought it too hermeneutic while Ricoeur thought it too deconstructionist! I shared with him a line from Seamus Heaney: ‘Two buckets are easier carried than one, I grew up in between’. He smiled.

-- Kearney, R., 2018, ‘Where I speak from: A short intellectual autobiography’, in D.P. Veldsman & Y. Steenkamp (eds.), Debating Otherness with Richard Kearney: Perspectives from South Africa, pp. 31–62, AOSIS, Cape Town.

Sometimes, when we do enter conversation, a great deal of who we're not sure we are does show up. 

Just like that. 

haiku. (for s. gregory magni)

Dum páginæ sacræ mystéria pánderet,

While he was interpreting the Mysteries of the Sacred Volume, 

colúmba nive candídior appáruit.

there was seen upon him a dove whiter than snow.

                                                                                                                                                                          (-- Vesperas - Antiphona) 

as often I read

this has not happened to me --

still, wing-brushed leaves move 

subito, alerta

 inmate asks for a

philosophy course on Jung --

(ay mi persona) 

as the doctor's father died

 "We waited to see

if there was one more breath, and

there wasn't," he said

Friday, September 02, 2022

unsay that

 No one exists in 

isolation, not no one —

Only with (MU) one

Thursday, September 01, 2022

therapeutic αρχικό philosophy

 What is your intent?

What persona faces out?

What are you hiding?

it’s september



Hey, where’d you go?

zum beispiel

 no longer in class-

room, the aging mendicant

forgets what he knew

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

a good lad

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!

frohes neues jahr

 It is New Year’s Eve

This end of august, morning

Brings a fresh new start

let me know

 Wake me when he is

Arrested, put on trial, sent

Away to prison

first day

 when the teacher is

ready, the student will show

up and stare at him

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

as summer packs to leave, late august 2022

There are no events

only one continuous 

unveiling instant

Right there, where you are

bow reverently, stay home

your own holy place

slow to anger, abounding in love

 I haunt the zendo the way an old memory hides in the shadows of recall, or a dream dissipates with each waking second as night fades.

This porch of chapel/zendo is seldom visited now that covid-19 has detoured traffic to other roads and living rooms. 

There's no place I'd rather be -- leaves and sun-patch, distant bells from France and wheels on repaved road heading to and from town. 

If you are ok with being alone there is nothing not with you. But quietly. No inclination to instruct or correct, no obligation to make you better or demand compliance with some ritual hard to remember..

There must be a love of solitude.

Just this instant arising.

And passing away.

Like mid-afternoon breeze traveling up mountain.

God, arising as perpetual origin, has forgotten why -- with each careful step.

Creation accompanies on silent trail.

Slow and abounding!

what one man has wrought

 Dastardly lying

Shameless self promotion, raw


Monday, August 29, 2022

prison conversation monday morning

 To be patient is to suffer. 

To want things to be other than they are is to suffer.

To be human is to suffer.

This instant arising

This instant arising

This instant arising where quality dwells alone and undifferentiated.

Before thinking, before wanting, before dividing — this is our true face our true name.

Go figure!

Sunday, August 28, 2022

leucippus would be proud but unanswering

And if opinions were abnegated? 

“Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.” —Democritus


Can’t hear you!.

Anyone there?  

Oh God, nothing!

 "Nothing happens at random, but everything from reason and by necessity.[3]— Leucippus, On Mind[4]

mercy, a hortative intention

 Who are we asking?

Miserére mihi Dómine,

O Lord, be merciful to me,  

quóniam ad te clamávi tota die:

for I have cried out to you all day long. 

quia tu Dómine suávis ac mitis es,

For you are sweet and mild, Lord,  

et copiósus in misericórdia

and plentiful in mercy 

ómnibus invocántibus te.

to all who call upon

(—from Introitus, 28aug22, feast of Augustine of Hippo)

Who wants to know? 

みんなを兄弟のように扱う *

 What reason to live — 

Ikigai — ageing slowly

Sound mind sound body

…   …   …

        * treat everyone like a brother (Japanese)

原初的內在性 *

 At edge of nowhere

Stepping into nothing i

Look through you for you

…   …   …

      * originary immanence  (traditional Chinese)