How to touch, tactfully, the corpus of Jean-Luc Nancy? How can this corpus be shared and divided (partagé}? How can these words or thoughts be weighed? This text seems to set itself vigilantly and rigorously in opposition to the mystery of the incarnation and urges us to demystify the discourses of the body. The very translatability of the paper--to whatever degree translation is possible--and its presentation--in whatever way presence is possible--are modalities closely linked to the question of what body and corpus are and can be. The text "Corpus" is exscripted, to speak with Nancy, written out, that is, in a way that distances it from the breath and the tongue. It is already divided, shared. Here is my body, take it and eat, even in my absence, especially in my absence, in remembrance of me, it seems to say. Is there not a whiff of the incarnation here? But then as Jacques Derrida asks, in the text "Ellipsis"--on which Nancy writes elsewhere, or more precisely which he reinscribes--"how can the phantom of the center not call to us?" How can we not ask what sense is to be given to translation in the new "corpuscular philosophy" (deforming the sense of a good seventeenth-century term), to the substitution of one set of sounds and gestures for another? If we can summon up the proper tact, will we then make (con)tact with this embodied and disembodied thought? Or is contact to be scrupulously avoided as it is omitted, along with consensus and consent from Nancy's set of entries, his anatomy, his "catalogue without a logos"?
Copyright © 1994 Stanford University Press. This book chapter first appeared in Thinking Bodies.
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Shapiro, Gary. "Jean-Luc Nancy and the Corpus of Philosophy." In Thinking Bodies, by Juliet Flower MacCannell and Laura Zakarin, 52-62. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994.