The Literary Review is grateful to M. Alexandre, Director of the French Institute, Edinburgh, for arranging the following interview with the philosopher Jacques Derrida during M. Derrida's recent lecture visit to Scotland. The interviewers, James Kearns and Ken Newton, are lecturers in French and English respectively at Dundee University.
JK – May we begin by asking you to outline the present state of your research, particularly as it relates to your theory of 'différance'?
JD – In March, I shall publish a book entitled: The Postcard from Socrates to Freud and Beyond which will deal with this theme of 'différance' in a field situated between psychoanalysis and telecommunications. It is a close reading of Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle in which I discuss a set of problems on the nature of telecommunications, problems concerning not only the technology of telecommunications in relation to the development of psychoanalysis but also epistolary literature: what is a destination? an addressee? what is it to send a message? to receive a message? what is the identity of the sender? of the receiver? what is correspondence? what remains, what is destroyed in correspondence? The book begins with a fictional correspondence of which a description of a picture-postcard forms the thread. I discovered the postcard in Oxford three years ago and was fascinated by it. It is a reproduction of an illustration in a thirteenth-century book on fortune-telling and shows Socrates writing and