In his remarks opening the Archives of the Impossible conference, Jeffrey Kripal references his work on articulating the “superhumanities”, the title of his forthcoming book. Curious, I followed up what Kripal might have had to say about this project and found a lecture he gave on the topic under the auspices of The Parapsychological Association.
At around the 8:20 mark, Kripal refers to “Jacques Derrida’s late conversion to telepathy as the ultimate deconstruction of the subject.” I have grave misgivings that in this instance Kripal, along with George Hansen, might well have misread Derrida’s brain-cracking piece, “Telepathy”, now collected in Psyche: Inventions of the Other, Vol. 1. To put the matter in nuce, “Telepathy” is not about telepathy in the parapsychological sense, nor does its composition and belated publication mark a “conversion”.
“Telepathy” is a collection of ten, dated texts, from 9 July 1979 to 15 July 1979. Derrida himself makes clear in the first endnote that these ten texts were intended to be included in the first section of The Postcard: from Socrates to Freud and Beyond, whose first section, “Envois” is composed of the same kind of short texts, dated 3 June 1977 to 30 August 1979, which, Derrida tells us, might be considered “the remainders of a recently destroyed correspondence” (3). It’s not that Derrida essays the topic of telepathy as a paranormal phenomenon, but that “Telepathy” is a fragment of a larger text, composed itself of fragments, which (as is Derrida’s wont) probe or essay ‘telepathy’, especially as it is articulated by Freud (See note 7 to “Telepathy” in Psyche), as part of Derrida’s larger deconstructive project to think and write about language, writing, and literature in novel terms (e.g., telepathy) not indebted to the “metaphysical” inheritance, to (re)think ‘telepathy’ as “inextricably linked to the question of writing” and “as a name for literature as a discursive formation”, all persistent themes in Derrida’s philosophical oeuvre.
It may very well be I am jumping the gun here. We’ll have to wait for Kripal’s book to be published, as I, for one, lack the clairvoyance needed to determine if my misgivings are justified….