Keeping a Distance

Angelaki 16 (2):35 - 49 (2011)
Distance is central to both Heidegger?s depiction of being-in-the-world and Derrida?s theorization of the culture of friendship. It is equally fundamental to the structure of language and, I argue, to the concept of the foreign. This essay brings together these theories of distance and demonstrates the ways they act on and through each other, the role that linguistic distance plays in constructing both foreigners and friends, and the permeable semantic boundaries that the concept of distance shares with movement, strangeness, instability, and indefiniteness. It further contends that this semantic seepage has proven threatening to certain species of philosophy and politics and prompted disciplinary efforts ? to eradicate distance, regulate foreigners, immobilize meaning, and stabilize friendship ? that are remarkably structurally similar and sometimes mutually supportive, but that both Heidegger and Derrida, by contrast, undertake a significant revaluation of distance and the foreignness and indeterminacy associated with it
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