14 March 2009

"To be very, very, very rough: first of all the model of this friendship is a friendship between two young men, mortals, who have a contract according to which one will survive the other, one will be the heir of the other, and they will agree politically - I give a number of examples of this. Which excludes first of all friendship between a man and a woman, or between women, so women are totally excluded from this model of friendship: woman as the friend of a man or women as friends between themselves. Then the figure of the brother, of fraternity, is also at the centre of this canonical model. I show this of course through a number of texts and examples. Brotherhood, fraternity, is the figure of this canonical friendship. Of course this concept of brotherhood has a number of cultural and historical premises. It comes from Greece, but it also comes from the Christian model in which brotherhood or fraternity is essential. Men are all brothers because they are sons of God, and you can find the ethics of this concept in even an apparently secular concept of friendship and politics. In the French Revolution this is the foundation of the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Fraternity was the object of a terrible debate in France at the time, and fraternity appears, between equality and liberty, as one of the foundations of the republic. So, you have to deal here with what I would call a phallocentric or phallogocentric concept of friendship. Which doesn't of course mean to me that the hegemony of this concept was so powerful that what it excluded was effectively totally excluded. It doesn't mean that a woman couldn't have the experience of friendship with a man or with another woman. It means simply that within this culture, this society, by which this prevalent canon was considered legitimate, accredited, then there was no voice, no discourse, no possibility of acknowledging these excluded possibilities."
- Jacques Derrida Politics and Friendship: A Discussion with Jacques Derrida

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