Friday, July 31, 2009

Aimless Reading: The D's, Part 11 (Michel de Certeau)

de Certeau, Michel
The Writing of History

Purchased at Talking Leaves Books when I was in graduate school. I put it on one of my oral exam lists, "The Philosophy of History," with Rodolphe Gasché (click here to view list). I certainly read the book, as I wrote all over it, but I'll be damned if I can remember it this morning. I have no recollection of the argument at all. I don't recall that it played a huge role in the exam itself, where we focused more on Adorno, Hegel and Foucalt, which is probably why I don't remember it. Even copying out the following, which I underlined, I still remember nothing.

from the Introduction

"Studious and charitable, tender as I am for the dead of the world...thus I roamed, from age to age, always young and never tired, for thousands of years." The open road--"my road"--seems to take hold of the text of this traveller on foot: "I went, I wandered...I ran along my path...I a bold voyager." Walking and/or writing is a labor knowing no rest, "by force of desire, pricked by an ardent curiosity that nothing could restrain." Michelet multiplies his meetings, with "indulgence" and "filial fear" in respect to the dead who are the inheritors of a "strange dialogue," but also with the assurance "that never could anyone ever stir up again what life has left behind." In the sepulcher which the historian inhabits, only "emptiness remains." Hence this "intimacy with the other world poses no threat": "This security made me all the more charitable toward those who were unable to harm me." Every day he becomes "younger" by getting acquainted over and over again with this world of the dead, and definitely other.

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