In October 1993, when I shared a stage with Derrida at New York University, I had a brief, private conversation with him that touched on these issues. I could see in him a certain urgency to acknowledge those many people who had translated him, those who had read him, those who had defended him in public debate, and those who had made good use of his thinking and his words. I leaned over and asked whether he felt that he had many debts to pay. I was hoping to suggest to him that he need not feel so indebted, thinking as I did in a perhaps naively Nietzschean way that the debt was a form of enslavement: did he not see that what others offered him, they offered freely? He seemed not to be able to hear me in English. And so when I said ‘your debts’, he said: ‘My death?’ ‘No,’ I reiterated, ‘your debts!’ and he said: ‘My death!?’


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