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(JANUARY 2005)

“To be Hospitable to Madness”:

Derrida and Foucault Chez Freud

David Boothroyd










Taylor & for Article Francis






Research (online)


This article revolves around Derrida’s return to Foucault on the occasion of a 30th anniversary commemoration of his Folie et déraison . This was an occasion, too, for Derrida to reflect on the contamination of the personal by the intellectual, recalling the once hostile exchange between them, which had taken place long ago, concerning the relation of Reason to madness as a figure of absolute alter- ity. Here I investigate Derrida’s later post-mortem of the ambiguous place of Freud in Foucault’s thought, and argue that the deconstructive re-reading of his text in relation to psychoanalysis can itself be understood as a discursive gesture of “hospitality”, as this has been explored in Derrida’s later work and as it bears on Foucault’s idea of what to be “hospitable to madness” means. As such it is indicative of the ethical dimension of deconstruction as a discursive practice, which, I suggest, could be called “hospitable reading”. I show how Derrida’s text revisits and critically reassesses the difficult intellectual proximity to his “dead friend”—and is, therefore, an expression without the possibility of a personal response—whilst being commemoratively responsive to the Other to which Foucault’s text still gives expression, beyond his death. Derrida’s death came between the submission of this article and its publication here. I dedicate it to his memory.

To wait without waiting, awaiting absolute surprise, the unexpected visitor, awaited without a horizon of expectation: this is indeed about the Messiah as hôte , about the messianic as hospitality, the messianic that introduces decon- structive disruption or madness in the concept of hospitality, the madness of hospitality, even the madness of the concept of hospitality. (Derrida 2002, p. 362)

The essence of language is friendship and hospitality. (Levinas 1969, p. 305 cited by Derrida 2001, p. 207)

Prologue : Two old friends meet. The purpose of their rendez-vous is to re- address an old dispute between them. It is a difficult meeting for many reasons, not least because one of them has been dead for many years and must for this

JOURNAL FOR CULTURAL RESEARCH VOLUME 9 NUMBER 1 (JANUARY 2005) “To be Hospitable to Madness”: Derrida

ISSN 1479–7585 print/1740–1666 online/05/010003–19 © 2005 Taylor & Francis Group Ltd DOI: 10.1080/1479758042000333680



ghostly reunion rely on the memory of the other. Fortunately, this reliance on memory is underwritten by the fact that the matter up for discussion is also a matter of public record, or the archive. What was said between them once, concerning madness, though in part in the idiom of personal exchange, was also published and widely disseminated and read, indeed discussion and disputation of their “disagreement” was widely pursued. The dispute between them, revis- ited now, after many years have passed (and from one side only) is approached from a different angle and in another age. This other, new angle is, so to speak, a triangulation, a new position subtended from an alternative, third point, present but marginal in the early work of the dead friend, but, no less for that, anchored by it. In this sense, “the work in question” itself calls for the re-read- ing and the new commentary it is given; the new critique returns to the work from its own future. For reasons that will become clear, the venue for this meeting will be a hotel: it will not be in the home of either of them, because one can never be truly at home in the idiom of the other.

Old Hostilities, New Hospitalities: Derrida’s Return to Foucault

The “work in question” here is Foucault’s Folie et déraison (FD), revisited and discussed by Derrida in his 1991 lecture “‘To Do Justice to Freud’: The History of Madness in the Age of Psychoanalysis” (TDJF), delivered at a conference to mark the 30th anniversary of the publication of the book and published in Resistances of Psychoanalysis (1998a). 1 This essay was also republished in English, in an abridged form in a collection of essays by Derrida, appropriately titled The Work of Mourning (2001a), a collection in which, as the book’s sleeve notes appropri- ately declare, Derrida “bears witness to singularity of a friendship and to the absolute uniqueness of each relationship”. Not least, though not only because death figures in this post-mortem of a dispute, these two friends will not meet (as friends might be expected to) in the “intellectual home” of either one of them (for neither can ultimately offer hospitality to the other in that sense). The meeting is instead staged here, courtesy of an institution—a form of critical discourse—where intellectual hospitality can be arranged so as to provide a place of neutrality; a place where no one is on his own turf so to speak. For the sake of the argument elaborated below, I propose thinking of this as a kind of “hotel”, to which I shall give the name Chez Freud —I’ll take you there later. In TDJF Derrida revisits his decades old exchange with Foucault concerning the possibility of a “history of madness” once again in terms of the question of the

1. This text was originally delivered as a lecture in the main Amphitheater of Saint-Anne Hospital on November 23, 1991 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the publication of Foucault’s Folie et déraison: Histoire de la à l’âge classique (Paris: Plon, 1961). It was originally published in Penser la folie, essays sur Michel Foucault (Paris: Galilée, 1992). Subsequently it was included in Résis- tances de la psychanalyse (Paris: Galilée, 1996). All references to it here are to the English transla- tion of the text, entitled “‘To Do Justice to Freud’: The History of Madness in the Age of Psychoanalysis” in Resistances of Psychoanalysis (Derrida 1998a, pp. 70–118).


possibility or impossibility of access to madness. The occasion of Derrida’s return

to that book (FD) and to the closure of that friendship , which was both intellec-

tual and personal, still concerns itself with the double articulation of the personal and the intellectual and with what could be called the hospitable and the juridical . In other words, Derrida reopens the problematic of openness to the alterity of the other (the ethical relation) in the context of the tension resulting from the requirement to submit one’s discourse to the law (of Reason and ratio- nal argument). Derrida’s approach to Foucault’s text in 1991 is less hostile , or, rather, more hospitable to Foucault, in that it plays less the role of policeman to Foucault’s discourse and is more “hospitable to madness” as Foucault had attempted to understand madness. This theme will be pursued in greater detail shortly, but in order to make an inroad into the later engagement, we need first to recall how the original dispute between them had been ignited by Derrida’s 1963 lecture “Cogito and the History of Madness” (CHM), 2 and how Foucault had later responded to this in an essay which was published as an appendix to the 2nd (1972) edition of his Folie et déraison (originally published in 1961) and trans- lated as “My Body, this Paper, this Fire” (BPF). 3 In CHM Derrida had originally attempted to show that the very project of Foucault’s book, explicitly to write a “history of madness itself”, was an impos- sible undertaking. As Bennington summarises, CHM had disputed not only Foucault’s substantive reading of the “progression of doubt” and the place of madness in Descartes Meditations , but also attacked the privileging of this (or indeed any other) particular text in the overall project of FD on the ground that all “madness-as-negativity” is inscribed into the very “structure of Reason in general” (Bennington 1979, p. 7). In fact one can summarise the cut and thrust of Derrida’s CHM as aiming to show that this is as true of Foucault’s own work as it is of Descartes’ or, indeed, any possible oeuvre —and it was Foucault himself who had defined madness as “absence of oeuvre ”. CHM had challenged the book’s entire general account of the distinction between Reason and madness and had sought to do so throughout on its own terms .

The attempt to write the history of the decision, division, difference runs the risk of construing the division as an event or a structure subsequent to the unity of an original presence, thereby confirming metaphysics in its fundamental opera- tion. (Derrida 1978, p. 40, cited by Bennington 1979, p. 5)

This was a bit like saying: “your book illustrates, articulates and demonstrates the problem of this distinction; it exemplifies it and the impossibility of the very thing it explicitly sets out to do. There is only ever, can only ever be, a history of Reason’s account of its other”. Any “archaeology of silence”,

  • 2. All references to Derrida’s text “Cogito and the History of Madness”, originally presented as a

lecture on 3 March, 1963 at the Collège Philosophique, are to the English translation of Alan Bass in Writing and Difference (Derrida 1978, pp. 31–78).

  • 3. All references to Foucault’s text “My Body, This Paper, This Fire” are to the Geoffrey Bennington


Derrida sets out to show, is itself an articulation of the voice of Reason. As Derrida had built this critique of Foucault’s book around its reading of Descartes, Foucault’s detailed response delivered and published some 10 years after, in BPF, for the main part consists of a further disputation of Descartes’ text, aimed at challenging and refuting Derrida’s reading. It points out his “many omissions” and the lack of attention to certain details, including, for example, the fact that the Cartesian text significantly plays on “the gap between two determinations of madness (medical on the one hand, juridical on the other)” (Foucault 1979, p. 17). This distinction is an important and decisive one in the project of FD because it effectively directs thought, or philosophising, “outwards” to institutions, practices, locations, etc., rather than holding it in the world of concepts and ideas. For instance, in the discus- sion of the relation between dreaming and madness, Foucault’s reading of Descartes focuses on how Descartes represents the difference between dream- ing and madness within his “meditations” considered as a practice of think- ing , such that we can see that the disqualification and “silencing of madness” in their progress, as an event or practice (Foucault 1979, 18ff.). At one point Foucault redirects Derrida to Descartes’ original Latin, noting his failure to check its translation into French. For instance in respect, especially, of his reference and emphasis on the word “extravagant”, found in the French translation and referring to a mode of mental life, where the original Latin says only “the invention of something new”. This error, Foucault suggests, leads Derrida to “hang his whole demonstration” on a reading which supposes dreaming for Descartes to be a figural, rhetorical radicalisation of madness and a strategy devised purely for the purposes of his argument in the Medita- tions (Foucault 1979, p. 18). In other words, what we should see in Derrida here is the reinscription of Descartes’ remarks on madness within the realm of pure philosophy and ideas. Most emphatically, what this entire “way of read- ing” Derrida embarks upon misses, according to Foucault, is that it is all “a question of the modification of the subject by the exercise of discourse” (Foucault 1979, p. 19, my emphasis). Now, the actual details of this argument about how to read Descartes well, or, indeed how to assign his place in the Foucauldian “history of madness”, or how the significant differences between Foucauldian archaeology and Derridean deconstruction might be read off this dispute, are not the subject matter of this essay. What I do want to take from it for my own purposes and, therefore, to empha- sise here, is how in BPF Foucault clearly thinks he is turning the tables on Derrida and returning the charges to their sender, especially the primary charge that Derrida had levelled at FD at that time: he thus argues that Derrida’s critique itself is caught up in the “traditional metaphysic” which it is most explicitly writ- ing against, and hence implicitly ends up repeating . Foucault draws his response to Derrida in BPF to a close with the now infamous characterisation of the nascent “Derridean deconstruction” as the “most decisive modern representa- tive” of a tradition of philosophical discourse which “reduces discursive practices to textual traces” (Foucault 1979, p. 27). In other words, he says it is precisely


this highly traditional “textual reductionism” which actually constitutes an archetypal “silencing” of the “voices of madness” in the history of thought. Amongst the many historical forms of this silencing, one of them, says Foucault, as he gets up close and personal, is Derrida’s “well-determined little pedagogy” (Foucault 1979, p. 127). Foucault’s “last word” on the matter, in the final paragraph of BPF, is intended to drive his point home like a coup de gras . It barely tolerates summary, none- theless reflecting on it is important for understanding the “return” to FD Derrida undertakes in his later essay TDJF. This “last word” takes the form of an illustra- tion of sorts: Foucault reminds Derrida of one of the “objections” put to Descartes by his contemporary, Father Bourdin. 4 Bourdin wrote that he under- stood Descartes to be saying that it was impossible to doubt what is true/certain, even if one were asleep or mad. Foucault cites Descartes’ rejection of this account of his own thesis as a misunderstanding resulting from Bourdin’s evident inability to see what is stated clearly in the Meditations , namely that whether or not one is dreaming or mad is not of any consequence for the certainty or truth of a thing, nor indeed for the dreaming or mad subject, for whom it is simply not an issue. And, only someone who was unable to distinguish between dreaming/ madness and wakefulness/reason in the first place would make this mistake. These “last words” of Foucault effectively dramatise and caricature the Derridean “replaying” of the Cartesian privileging of Reason and the concomitant exclusion of madness. Such thinking, Foucault reminds him, could justly have been called “metaphysical”, too: this is evident in Bourdin’s preoccupation with the “ being of madness” or “ being mad” rather than showing any concern for madness (itself)—or rather, for the modality of the experience, or condition (of madness) in which the “old metaphysical distinctions” are neither made nor are important. 5 Foucault implies that Derrida’s critique of FD is similar in this way to the Bourdin “objections” put to Descartes, and the whole tenor of Foucault’s response to Derrida is similarly dismissive of them. Although Descartes’ Medita- tions gets a whipping by Foucault in FD precisely for its historical role in “silenc- ing” madness, this doesn’t stop Foucault from likening his own relationship to Derrida to that of Descartes to Bourdin. He dismisses Derrida’s objections to his thesis, suggesting they betray complicity with the epochal silencing of madness FD had described. Some 20-odd years later, when Derrida is invited to contribute to a confer- ence commemorating the 30th anniversary of the publication of FD, he begins (TDJF) with some brief remarks reflecting on how the dispute in relation to this “great book” of Foucault had once “cast a shadow over” their friendship for a decade, and that the departure from and return to the book “today” mirror, in a way, the departure from and return to friendship that had since taken place

  • 4. The second edition of Descartes Meditations (1642) included a “Seventh Set of Objections” by

the Jesuit Fr. Pierre Bourdin, which, as John Cottingham notes “were for the most part extremely

hostile in tone, and often deliberately malicious” (Cottingham 1993, p. 135). An English translation of these objections can be found in Cottingham et al. (1991).


and also marked a changed relation to the work. Derrida emphasises how he does not want “now” (as he had in fact been invited to for the occasion) to return to that old dispute: “In the end, the debate is archived, and those who might be interested can analyze it… right up to the last word , and especially the last word” (Derrida 1998a, p. 71, my emphasis). Let’s just linger a little further here and ponder this reference to the “last word”. The “last word”, I believe can be taken as a reference to the final, Bourdin paragraph I have just referred to (Foucault 1979, p. 27). But as an illustration of Foucault’s view of Derrida it is, in fact, peculiarly double-edged and ambivalent. On the one hand we are shown by Foucault how Descartes, in response to Bourdin’s hostility 4 aggressively slaps down Bourdin and simultaneously excludes madness: Bour- din’s inability to discern the true meaning of Descartes is effectively likened by Descartes to madness itself. On the other hand, Foucault’s “very last words” in BPF are actually left to Descartes: “‘But only as the wise can distinguish what is clearly conceived from what only seems and appears to be so, I am not surprised that this fellow can’t tell the difference between them’” (Foucault 1979, p. 27). This citation, I suggest, is Foucault masking himself as Descartes and saying to Derrida “Look, it’s your master telling you off, but can you even tell it is him?” This provocation itself performs an unsettling experience of uncertainty; it produces an “event” of the very kind Foucault charges “Derridean textualism” with forgetting, or rather, in Foucault’s terms, “refus- ing”: it is a sort of performative slap in the face, a “here, feel that, it is truly maddening, isn’t it!” Foucault thus closes his well-considered response by showing how he too can play the part, act in the name of, a certain Descartes, if he wishes to do so. These “last words” of Foucault on the matter, however, remain ambiguous, unfixed in their meaning and open to several interpreta- tions. This “ending” of the dispute consequently left it open too; these remarks can just as readily be read as serving Derrida’s critique as they can be taken as a successful expression of Foucault’s position. In this final refusal of Derrida’s critique then, Foucault is making it clear beyond doubt that he has understood very well indeed—and better than Derrida had understood him—the nature of the criticism and charge being directed at him. There is bluff, masking, mimicry, trickiness and a barrage of assorted arguments in Foucault’s 1972 response to Derrida. From a philosophical point of view, though, Derrida’s argument about the impossibility of a history of “madness itself ”, which rings like a refrain in CHM, is made to resonate by appealing to Foucault’s own account of the epistemo-historiographical “exclu- sions” of madness, and remains unshaken and unsilenced by Foucault’s counter- attack. The counter-attack in BPF may well emphasise that philosophical clev- erness can tend to be disinterested or forgetful of events and actualities; of states of mind, historical conditions, incarcerations and other institutionalisa- tions of the subject, etc., but in the end—in the “last words” of Foucault on the

matter—it is also the impossibility of fixing meaning in language that is finally

and demonstratively, irrepressible and inescapable. Paradoxically there is, therefore, a proximity between the two of them and for them between poets



and philosophers whose writings are directly concerned with the limits and borders of expression. 6

Chez Freud: Hotel or Hospital?

On his return to FD and its contemporary reading (c.1991) in TDJF, Derrida chooses to approach the book from another point of view or “border”, namely from the point of view of its relation to Freud and psychoanalysis rather than on the basis of its more overt central concerns with Descartes. In this rereading of it from the point view of the place of psychoanalysis in it, or more importantly, from the point of view today, reading it as a work belonging to the age of psycho- analysis (Derrida 1998a, p. 75), Derrida goes into a confessional, psychoanalytic mode:

There is in all this a compulsive repeated participation…Though I have decided not to return to what was debated close to thirty years ago, it would nevertheless be absurd, obsessional to the point of pathological, to say nothing of impossible, to give in to a sort of fetishistic denial and to think that I can protect myself from any contact with the place or meaning of this discussion. (Derrida 1998a, pp. 70–72)

This relationship to that book , and to the text which Derrida in re-reading it “today” produces, that is, today “in the age of psychoanalysis”, has to be under- stood, as far as this is possible, on the basis of a certain psychoanalysis. Returning to the book in this way, and unavoidably to what had ensued previously, in terms of the questions brought to it and the critique as it unfolded, it is a question as much of what went unsaid about Freud and psychoanalysis in it, as it is about what was said about the role of the “Cartesian moment”; in general, it is as much about what is unsaid as is said.

In my title “the history of madness” must be in quotation marks since the title designates the history of the book, The History ( historia rerum gestarum ) of Madness—as a book—in the age of psychoanalysis and not the history ( res gestae ) of madness, of madness itself in the age of psychoanalysis, even though, as we shall see, Foucault regularly attempts to objectify psychoanalysis and reduce it to that of which he speaks rather than to that out of which he speaks (Derrida 1998a, p. 76).

Derrida goes back to the book, not to the old dispute (about Descartes) but none- theless “revisiting” the old dispute, this time to restate “the impossibility” of the book’s speaking from “outside” of its own “age”. This approach is more hospita- ble to Foucault’s project in that it implicitly acknowledges, for example, the

6. Especially the figure of Nietzsche, who is the “mad” poet-philosopher par excellence , but I’m also thinking of the role of the artist as liminal figure, being a creature of the border between epistemes ; “tragic” figures or “figures of the tragic”—and it is to such a list that Derrida will propose adding the figure of Freud. In TDJF he revives the figure of the “tragic Freud” to counter Foucault’s relegation of Freud to the science of psychology (see below).


Foucauldian sense of the episteme and the thinking which it articulates “on the border” between identifiable, historically, conceptually and linguistically deter- mined epistemic totalities. Foucault’s particular objectifications of psycho- analysis are central to Derrida’s attempt to evaluate Foucault’s own declared intention “to do justice to Freud” (Foucault 1961 cited by Derrida 1998a, p. 81), and, against this background, his questioning of the nature of the indebtedness of FD to psychoanalysis: “Does the project owe psychoanalysis anything? What? Or would it on the contrary define the very thing from which the project had to detach itself, in a critical fashion, in order to take shape?”(Derrida 1998a, p. 76). How is one to understand, moreover, why having done a certain “justice” to Freud by acknowledging him, for instance crediting him thus:

Freud went back to madness at the level of its language , reconstituted one of the essential elements of an experience reduced to silence by positivism… [and] restored, in medical thought the possibility of a dialogue with unreason. (Foucault 1961, p. 198 cited by Derrida 1998a, p. 81)

Foucault, nonetheless, later moves to conclude that psychoanalysis should be inscribed in the same tradition as the likes of Tuke and Pinel, namely, the tradi- tion of the pathologization and medicalisation of madness, and Derrida summarises his “negative” characterisation of psychoanalysis describing how for Foucault

Freud would free the patient interned in the asylum only to reconstitute him “in his essential character” at the heart of the analytic situation. (Derrida 1998a, p. 91)

This second, “negative”, characterisation of Freud and psychoanalysis in Foucault is not only a matter of the psychoanalytic delimitation of madness as a disease susceptible to a therapy, but equally that of the authority of the analyst/ doctor, “when it confers all powers on the doctor’s speech” (Derrida 1998a, 91f). Derrida goes on to show how Foucault saw “the tradition” that runs from Descartes through Tuke and Pinel and then on to nineteenth and twentieth century psychiatry, as actually converging on Freud. The figure of Freud, more often than not, almost always, is included in the account of how, “since the end of the 18c., the liberation of the mad has been replaced by an objectification of the concept of their freedom” (Derrida 1998a, p. 97). In TDJF, Derrida returns to Foucault’s FD not in order to challenge Foucault’s reading of Freud and psychoanalysis as such—no more so (nor less) than in his first approach to FD in the 1963 essay he had challenged Foucault’s reading of Descartes (in the sense he supposes Foucault to have taken it). What he does do, rather, is attempt to draw out and consider the manner in which in Foucault’s text, Freud is already for Foucault, and evidently so, a duplicitous figure, doubly and ambivalently inscribed within the project of FD itself; inscribed in terms of what Derrida thinks of as indebtedness. In doing so, Derrida’s reading once again unsettles the project’s attempt to write a history of “madness itself ” and


highlights a familiar aspect of Derridean deconstructive practice, which is the “compulsion to repeat”: the critique presented in his earlier response to Foucault is repeated (is thus indeed, in a sense, the same) but it is also different. Now this “same but different” is not just a case of making the same sort of “argu- ment” again: he approaches the same Foucauldian problematic, “the history of madness”, but now from a different direction, the direction signposted by the psychoanalysis inscribed within FD.

Freud as the Doorkeeper of an Ambivalent Institution

The scene for this new meeting of the two “old friends” is staged, so to speak, before the door (and doorkeeper) of psychoanalysis (and Freud). Before the door, let’s say of Freud’s place (and Freud’s place in Foucault). As already noted in this article, Derrida’s approach to FD is once again based on the deconstructive strat- egy of demonstrating the indebtedness of Foucault’s thought—here to psycho- analysis—insofar as it is, to put this in its simplest formulation, a work written within the “age of psychoanalysis”. And Derrida effectively pays homage to the most insightful thinking of this notion of the “age” or epoch, which, he suggests, must be derived from Foucault’s thinking itself: with reference, that is, to every- thing which is to be associated with his notion of the episteme . This epistemic situation of Foucault’s own thinking, within the “age of psychoanalysis”, is also its evental precondition; the ground or “historical a priori” of Foucauldian “archaeology” itself. Though the modern episteme is not “purely” or “exclu- sively” psychoanalytic, it is nonetheless partly structured by the set of all psychoanalytic “statements” (to use the technical terminology of Foucault’s Archaeology of Knowledge). Derrida directs us, then, to Chez Freud: effectively to the issue of the institutional identity of psychoanalysis and “Freud’s place” within the modern episteme and identifies the inescapable debt of Foucauldian thought to psychoanalysis. However, the critique thus far, which emphasises the epochal imbrication of psychoanalysis within Foucauldian archaeology and proposes a Foucauldian understanding of this imbrication, has a principally stra- tegic function in relation to a further aim beyond that. That is to say, the “crit- ical” part of Derrida’s essay belies the “compulsion to repeat” what he had said decades ago in his initial response to FD—namely that any thought of “madness itself” was “metaphysical”. Beyond this (repeated) move now, in TDJF, Derrida’s

new aim in rereading FD is to restore to Freud, within the context of that work,

the status of what might be called “liminality”: the liminality which Foucault super-valorises and associates explicitly in FD, for instance, with certain “mad” poets, artists and philosophers (e.g. Nietzsche, Artaud, Van Gogh, Nerval, Höld- erlin) and even with certain artworks (Las Meninas) or fictional characters (Don Quixote). All of these figures Foucault either substantially or symbolically invokes as transgressors, escapees, drifters or outcasts; inhabitants of the border zones between epistemes. They all have a messianic, or futural, aspect to them:

they appear within the waning episteme as unexpected, unanticipated


“visitees”; strangers whose arrival heralds the coming episteme; figures who are not “at home” within “their own” episteme. Foucault consistently shows a kind of empathetic hospitality to such figures of “visitation”. Rereading FD, Derrida uses Foucault’s text to re-establish the place of Freud amongst them; the Freud who speaks “on the side” of a certain “madness”, and to whom the Foucauldian “hospitality to madness” may consistently be extended. However, in doing so, Derrida is at odds to discern the singularity of Freud’s “liminality” and the uniqueness of Foucault’s relation to psychoanalysis.

The Freudian place is not only the technico-historical apparatus… Freud himself will in fact take on the ambiguous figure of a doorman or doorkeeper (huisser)… Freud as the doorman of today, the holder of the keys, of those that open as well as those that close the door, that is, the huis: the double figure of the door and the doorkeeper… he closes one epoch and opens another… this double possibility is not alien to an institution, to what is called the analytic situation as a scene behind closed doors (huis clos). (Derrida 1998a, pp. 78–79)

Derrida’s invocation and appeal to the figure of psychoanalysis/Freud as the door/doorkeeper recalls the reader (and Foucault post-mortem) to his text on “Freud’s place” in his reading of Kafka’s parable (of the same title as his own essay) in “Before the Law” (Derrida 1992). 7 In that text Derrida explored the idea of access to a possible origin of the dissension between fact and fiction, only, of course, to show that such an original “law” determining the identity of either of them is “neither presentable nor relatable” (Derrida 1992, p. 194). The example to which Derrida applies the notion of aporia derived from Kafka’s parable of the man who seeks access to the law in “Before the Law”, is there in Freud’s early attempts, through a combination of self-analysis and the incorporation of aspects of Fliessian nasal reflexology, to account for the origin of sexual repression. Freud’s essentially “fictional” rendition of the organic, evolutionary transition to the upright position, concerning the distancing of the nose from the anal–genital sexual stench (Derrida 1992, p. 193), provides the example in Derrida’s essay, of Freud’s desire, at this specific point in his thinking, to write “the history of the law itself”, but also the impossibility of any such a project. (Kafka’s parable serves as the mis-en-scène for this meditation on the aporia of access to the law itself. ) In his essay of 1990 “Force of Law the ‘Mystical Foundation of Authority’”, 8 Derrida reiterates how “the law” is ultimately without legal foun- dation; that every law is premised on a performative act of violence which “insti- tutes” the law, but also, and this is the most important aspect here, that the law only depends “on who is before it (and so prior to it), on who produces it, founds it, authorizes it in an absolute performative whose presence always escapes him”

  • 7. Kafka’s short parable “Before The Law” appears as a sort of prologue to his great novel The Trial,

though it was published as a separate text during his lifetime. All citations of Kafka’s text here are

taken from Wedding Preparations in the Country and Other Stories, trans. Willa and Edwin Muir, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978.

  • 8. The complete version of the text “Force of Law: The Mystical Foundation of Authority”, is avail-

able, trans. Mary Quaintance in Derrida 2002, pp. 230–298.


(Derrida 2002, p. 270 my emphasis). In TDJF, figuratively it can be said, Derrida undertakes to take Foucault to this “door” and considers “with him” its being also the threshold of psychoanalysis; he reposes from this perspective, the ques- tion around which their earlier discussion had revolved concerning the dissension of Reason and madness and the (im)possibility of access to madness. Casting Freud now as the doorkeeper of “today” in TDJF, Derrida principally does two things. Firstly he sketches out a similarity between Freud and Foucault terms of their positions in relation to the “law” of dissension between Reason and madness (they are both “outsiders” to madness—they are not madmen). Secondly, he shows how, depending on how one reads him, one can cast Freud either, as Foucault on balance tended to, as an agent of the law (policing the threshold between Reason/madness) or, alternatively, as Derrida does in this essay (in order to do him “justice”) as the author of a body of work which is in fact “hospitable to madness”—this “hospitality” being marked by the openness of psychoanalysis to the unknowable prior to any of the psychoanalytic institu- tionalisations of madness that might be identified. Without any hope of a direct response or dialogue now with his dead friend, Derrida raises the question of the place of madness in Freudian psychoanalysis in the context of FD with a view to the sense of madness Foucault would have been sympathetic to, or, in various ways, took it upon himself to speak on behalf of. He seeks in doing so, as his title suggests, “to do justice Freud” with respect to

madness, by way of an hospitable reading of Foucault. Seen alternatively, from

another point in the triangulation of Foucault, Freud and madness, this involves acknowledging Freud’s being “hospitable to madness” whilst doing justice to the Foucauldian text (which is found, in part at least—in a certain reading of it—to actually recognise this hospitality as such). In this way, Derrida performatively exploits and reiterates the aporetic nature of the distinction between the ethical and juridical dimensions of “hospitality”, by thinking of the conjunction of hospi- tality and madness in terms of openness to madness. He thereby provides the sense of “hospitality to madness” to which both Freud and Foucault subscribe. His deconstructive reading, which neither rejects nor refutes either Freudian psychoanalysis or Foucauldian “archaeology”, preserves the connection between the problem of justice and question of hospitality as such. 9 Casting Freud thus as a “doorkeeper” of an institution (psychoanalysis) which is “hospitable to madness”, serves to “remind Foucault” and Foucault’s readers that psychoanal- ysis may act as the keeper of madness, but it “keeps” madness as an unknowable alterity. This is shown to be “in keeping” with Foucault on madness, for whom both “Freud and Nietzsche like two accomplices of the same age”, lifted the “interdiction against language” and instituted “the return to a proximity with madness”. But it is also in keeping with the Foucault who “was able much earlier—and more hospitably—to say that Freudian psychoanalysis, to which one

9. More recently Derrida’s reflections on hospitality have been carried through into discussions of politics, ethics and rights in the context of world affairs, war, racism, cultural identity, etc. See, for example, Derrida (1998b, 1999, 2000, 2001b).


must be fair or “do justice”, is not a psychology as soon as it takes language into account” (Derrida 1998a, pp. 97–98). Citing Foucault’s Maladie mentale et psychologie (1962), Derrida adds that “Freud appears [there] as “the first to open up once again the possibility for reason and unreason to communicate in the danger of a common language, ever ready to break down again and disintegrate into the inaccessible” (Derrida 1998a, p. 102, my emphasis) However, no matter how many instances might be cited of Foucault’s approaches to psychoanalysis, or, if it may be put this way, of Foucault’s approach to psychoanalysis as the possibility of access to madness itself (the theme of Derrida’s first critical read- ing of FD), what Derrida wants to highlight too, is how Foucault repeatedly encountered the impassability of this door.

Since the gate stands open, as usual, and the doorkeeper steps to one side, the man stoops to peer through the gateway into the interior. Observing that the doorkeeper laughs and says: “If you are drawn to it, just try to go in despite my veto”. (Kafka)

Whenever he approaches that door as a possible point of entrance, Foucault repeatedly recoils from what he discerns, or what he thinks he discerns, beyond the doorkeeper, to be a psychoanalytic hospital wherein madness is “hospital- ised” yet again. In other words, Foucault is more often, even mostly, as I have noted, and often despite himself, inclined to see psychoanalysis as a carceral institution.

But take note I am powerful. And I am only the least of the doorkeepers. From hall to hall there is one doorkeeper after another, each more powerful than the last. (Kafka)

Derrida’s argument in TDJF is that doing “justice to Freud” involves recalling how Freudian psychoanalysis was in fact “hospitable to madness”. In the context of revisiting FD he concedes that “from the outside”, psychoanalysis, as an insti- tution of “hospitality”, can indeed appear to be a “hospital” of sorts—a carceral institution. However, it only appears so if one forgets that:

The Freud who breaks with psychology, with evolutionism and biologism, the tragic Freud, really, who shows himself hospitable to madness (and I risk this word) because he is foreign to the space of the hospital, the tragic Freud who deserves hospitality in the great lineage of mad geniuses, is the Freud who talks it out with death. (Derrida 1998a, p. 104)

This, says Derrida, is “especially” true of the Freud of Beyond the Pleasure Prin- ciple, in view of which Foucault would surely recognise the kinship with thinkers of what he called “originary finitude”. But rather than open up a dialogue on death at this point, Derrida is more directly concerned with the matter of psychoanalysis as an institution of hospitality—be this imagined as, say, a hospi- tal or a hotel—which would always be a place of suspect, or rather a conditional, hospitality. Talking it out not so much here with death itself then but with the


dead Foucault, Derrida makes this concession to his thinking: there are always good reasons to be suspicious of the hospitality offered by institutions—be such institutions malign, benign or even apparently “welcoming”. 10 In Of Hospitality, Derrida makes the difficult and ambiguous connection between the hospital, hotels, the police and what is internal to the psychoana- lytic situation (namely to the analyst/analysand relationship) explicit when speaking directly of hospitality. He refers to “the situation (a classic and common one, too) of a hotel manager working with the police”—the hotel manager as the betrayer of his “guests” and thus of hospitality itself—but at that point says, parenthetically, “let’s leave to one side the problems—only analagous, and only analogous in relation to each other—of the confessor and psychoanalyst” (Derrida 2000, p. 65). That this collusion, betrayal and complicity with the police or “the law” “can happen in hotels but also in night shelters or hospitals” is indicative, says Derrida, of the “absolute porosity” of doors and borders. More generally, he suggests, the impossibility of using “devices” of any kind to keep secrets—be these computerised records (credit cards, passports, registers, etc.) or the device, strange as it may seem to call it this, of the “the session” with the analyst: “pervertibility” is “virtually inevitable”; the “effacement of the limit between the private and public, the secret and the phenomenal (the home, which makes hospitality possible) and the violation or impossibility of home” (Derrida 2000, p. 65). Whoever checks in with an institution inevitably exposes him- or herself to the risk of betrayal by it. Derrida’s post-mortem rendez-vous with Foucault then, takes the form of a rereading of Foucault on Freud/ psychoanalysis in which he accompanies Foucault to a place regarded as an institution of hospitality, let’s say a hotel, Chez Freud, the place where Freud stands as the doorkeeper. Freud and psycho- analysis on this occasion are made the “third party” to their life-long and protracted dispute about the possibility of a “history of madness”. The dispute is not, however, to be restaged indoors, and thus within the discourse of the institution, though; it takes place rather, on the threshold, “before the door”, a place where being “hospitable to madness” is, precisely, already the issue. This positioning, contrived and elliptical though it is, is comparable to that of Kafka’s man from the country, who comes to seek access to the law only to find his way barred by a doorkeeper. This positioning is significant for several reasons. It emphasises that any misunderstanding between Derrida and Foucault is a misun- derstanding never solely of each other’s thinking (with respect to their singular intellectual homes) but of their relation (always and inevitably) to some “third party” (in this case Freud—just as much as it had once been Descartes). It also stresses the “juridical” requirements of critical thinking against the background of the personal friendship which had become imbricated in their critical exchanges “casting a shadow” over it. Freud and psychoanalysis serves as a

  • 10. For an interesting discussion of Derrida’s discourse on hospitality in the context of the immigra-

tion and asylum debate, see Sarah Gibson’s “Accomodating Strangers: British Hospitality and the

Asylum Hotel Debate” in this journal, (7)4 (2003) 367–386.


reminder of the “place” common to each of them, and indeed to modern culture as a whole 11 ; the culture within which Derrida articulates and proposes a certain “hospitality to madness” as something shared by Freud and Foucault. Bringing them together at this point, facing these two up to each other, as it were on the threshold of madness in several senses, each appears to be in keeping with, or both appear as “keepers” of, the notion of the unassailable alterity of madness. Doing “justice to Freud”, we have learnt here, involves acknowledging the “ethical moment” of his thinking: it involves discerning the manner in which psychoanalysis acts as a “keeper” of madness. Derrida’s analysis is hospitable to Foucault in that it shows how Foucault’s thought too—despite his early preoccu- pations with “madness itself”—also exhibits an openness to madness as a figure of absolute alterity. It finds within both of these discourses an ethical sensibility to what (or who) “is neither expected nor invited, to whomever arrives as an absolutely foreign visitor, as a new arrival, nonidentifiable and unforeseeable, in short, wholly other” (Borradori 2003, pp. 128–129). This is a form of hospitality Derrida defines as visitation—the encounter with an unknowable, unanticipat- able alterity—and distinguishes from the hospitality of invitation. Invitation, which always implies the prior establishment of territorial boundaries between the inside and the outside (as in “I invite you, I welcome you into my home…” (c.f. Barradori 2003, 128f.)), therefore, is also always a conditional hospitality. All of this bears upon the difference between the earlier and the later approaches made by Derrida to Foucault’s FD. Earlier, I suggested we should consider TDJF as “less hostile and more hospitable” to that work. I would now qualify this description by appealing to this thinking of hospitality: the old objec- tions—that Reason can never lay claim to “madness itself” are sustained, but instead of simply reiterating the impossibility of objective knowledge of the Other, Derrida shows how Foucault, like Freud in his own way, was hospitable to the unknowable alterity of madness as wholly other. TDJF returns Foucault to his encounter with Freud, mainly as evidenced in FD, to think with him again (though, sadly actually without the possibility of response) the aporia of hospi-

tality Chez Freud.

Hostipitality: of Doorkeepers, Uninvited Guests and Hostages

Chez Freud: I have placed them all before the door. One can imagine a sign in the window—“Open to Madness” or “Madness Welcome”. Can only the mad check in at such an institution? Can there be welcome without also exclusion? Isn’t a doorkeeper’s job precisely to exclude as well as allow entry? Does it depend who comes here?

  • 11. Derrida’s thinking on the relations between “culture” and hospitality can be followed through in

the seminars collected in Acts of Religion: for example, “Not only is there a culture of hospitality, but there is no culture that is not also a culture of hospitality. All cultures compete in this regard and present themselves as more hospitable than others. Hospitality—this is culture itself” (Derrida 2002, p. 361).


The hospitalities of invitation and visitation are in reality abstractions: not so much because they are logically mutually exclusive, but because we live in a world in which gestures of selfless generosity overlap with systems of violent exclusion, it may help to have a single word which reminds us of this. “Hostipitality” is the neologistic title of one of Derrida’s seminars belonging to a series of seminars on and around the theme of hospitality (Derrida 2002, pp. 355–420). In his brief editors’ preface to the essay, Gil Anidjar notes that in French the hôte is the one who gives and the one who receives hospitality . Derr- ida’s deconstruction of hospitality in this seminar, and in others in the series, classically exploits the undecidability of the notion of the hôte: in its Latin origin, hostis means both guest and enemy. In a nutshell, the possibility of welcome and hospitality is “preceded” by a necessary hostility and violence of appropriation of space as the home; the establishment of the home of the one is the necessary act of territorialization so that the other may be welcomed in. So the condition of possibility of hospitality is also marked by the impossibility of its not having been preceded by a certain violence toward, and exclusion of, the other. Hence the neologism “hostipitality”, coined by Derrida to mark how there can be no hospitality which does not also bear the trace of a certain enmity. As Anidjar also points out, the theme of hospitality in Derrida can be traced through, though not exclusively in, all of Derrida’s writings on Levinas (Derrida 2002, p. 356). For instance, Levinas’ notion of the territorial “I” at-home-with- itself (chez soi) is the “condition” for the ethical relation, the face-to-face and welcome of the Other (Levinas 1969). 12 Now, a detailed consideration of the richness, and complexity of Derrida’s engagement with Levinas’ discourse on hospitality would take us on a too protracted digression at this point. However, I do wish to draw particular attention to an idea of Levinas that, in an important sense, Derrida inherits without any need to translate it into his own idiom. In Adieu Derrida cites the following sentence of Levinas: “The essence of language is friendship and hospitality” (Levinas 1969, p. 305; Derrida 2001, p. 207). Trans- lation is key with respect to everything that has been said here: this inquiry concerns the ultimate translatability of one idiom into another; the translation for instance of psychoanalysis into hospitality, or the triangular translation of the Freudian, Foucauldian and Derridean idioms. As soon as we mention the chez, then we are already assuming a certain familiarity and being-at home-with. In this case it is possible to anticipate, chez Derrida, the eventual impossibility of this translation and of translation in general, and that everything which unfolds will be (and was bound to be) a “compulsive” repetition of the objections Derrida once made to Foucault before and a kind of detour around any such solution (Lösung/analysis) to thinking the relationship between madness, hospitality and psychoanalysis. Fortunately, this is not what we are looking for here: we are not attempting to bring these three together in a sort of cohabitation (in an articu-

  • 12. Derrida’s proximity to Levinas’ discourse is evident, for instance, in the following text: “[B]eing

at home with oneself (l’être-soi chez soil’ipséité même—the other within oneself) supposes a reception or inclusion of the other which one seeks to appropriate, control and master according to different modalities of violence” (Derrida 2001b, p. 17).


lation of the chez nous of hospitality chez Derrida, madness chez Foucault and psychoanalysis chez Freud). It is more a case here of the location of hospitality in relation to critique whilst questioning what it means “to be hospitable to madness”; therefore, of questioning the chain of displacements (or links) between Hotel/Hospital/Hostility/Host/Hostage… linking, eventually, to “psychoanalysis”. These are the principal issues: (1) the mapping of the guest/ host distinction onto the analyst/analysand relation, bearing in mind, as already noted, that the “host”, in accepting the guest, has already claimed the territory of this welcoming as his/her home (chez soi) and that this is, in all cases, the condition of the possibility of hospitality per se. In other words, the guest-patient is welcomed into the analytic situation, which is under the control of the host- analyst who, for his or her part in the overdetermination of the analytic situation (as representative of the authority of psychoanalysis as a doctrine or “law”) is always an old enemy. (And which analysand has never felt this at some point only to be told to reflect on it as a “projection” of him- or herself?) The aim of the analysis is to enable the analysand to be-at-home-with-him- or herself by way of this process, by providing, so to speak, a home-from-home for the patient for the duration of the analysis. (2) There is, therefore, the issue of psychoanalysis as a specific form of “institutionalised hospitality” and the matter of “institution” and “institutional authority” as such. (3) We have to consider the possible ways of differentiating between hospitalities—such as those of the home, hotels and hospitals, etc. Any critical approach to psychoanalysis is from the outside, but the measure and definition of it as a “hospitable institution” must also be learned from within, that is, from within the analytic situation, once one has entered into it as an accepted guest. For Foucault, “psychiatry”, as a manifesta- tion of the authority of Reason, legitimates itself by taking “hostages”—for instance by sectioning the psychotic. For Derrida, the question of who is taken hostage by whom in all of this remains open, as offering hospitality, welcoming the other, even into one’s home, is necessarily to be taken hostage by the guest for whom one is responsible. 13

No Unconditional Hospitality: the Aporia of Admittance

Derrida’s return to FD shows that doing justice to Freud requires the acknowl- edgment of how psychoanalysis is “hospitable to madness”, but also that this (or any such) hospitality is subject to an unknowable “law”. To offer hospitality is, in effect, to be “before the law”. So, psychoanalysis is “hospitable to madness”, but this is not, nor could there be any such thing as, unconditional hospitality. Amongst other remarks about hospitality, elsewhere Derrida says: “An uncondi- tional hospitality is, to be sure, practically impossible to live; one cannot in any

13. Levinas’ discussion of the “hostage” is to be found throughout Otherwise than Being , or Beyond Essence. For instance he says “To be oneself, the state of being hostage is always to have one degree of responsibility more, the responsibility for the responsibility of the other” (Levinas 1981, p. 117).


case and by definition organize it” (Borradori 2003, p. 129). 14 This marks one of Derrida’s neo-Kantian moments in his discussion of hospitality: in practice; in the course of our experience; in our encounters with contingency and the singularity of the event and the situations (historical, political, juridical, etc.) which we live; in our contextual embeddedness, we are guided by and directed toward a certain “impossible” purity and universality.

Without at least the thought of this pure and unconditional hospitality, of hospi- tality itself, we would have no concept of hospitality in general and would not even be able to determine any rules for conditional hospitality. (Borradori 2003, p. 129)

It seems at first extraordinary that Derrida, who once so stridently rebuked Foucault for supposing himself to be writing a “history of madness itself” that he provoked the hostile counter-charge of indulging in a “vicious little pedagogy”, should himself reiterate with extreme insistence now, “the thought” of “pure and unconditional hospitality itself”. In doing so his proximity to Foucault is given expression, but this expression reiterates also how this is a proximity constituted by the shared impossibility of any access to pure otherness (of which “madness” as “the other of Reason” is just one figure)—to what lies “beyond the door”. To relate this finally back to the discussion above: this “situation” and this aporia, and along with it, a certain “hospitality to madness”, can be learnt from, amongst other sources, Freud and psychoanalysis.

Paradox, aporia: these two hospitalities are at once heterogenous and indissocia- ble. Heterogenous because we can move from one to the other only by means of an absolute leap, a leap beyond knowledge and power, beyond norms and rules. Unconditional hospitality is transcendent with regard to the political, the juridi- cal, perhaps even the ethical. But—and here is the indissociability—I cannot open the door, I cannot expose myself to the coming of the other and offer him or her anything whatsoever without making this hospitality effective, without in some concrete way, giving something determinate. (Borradori 2003, pp. 129–130)

The leap beyond “knowledge and power” (and isn’t this conjunction always a summoning of the ghost of Foucault?) is the desirous movement of thought. This

14. This remark can be usefully juxtaposed with the following of Levinas: “The unconditionality of being hostage is not the limit case of solidarity, but the condition for all solidarity. Every accusation and persecution, as all interpersonal praise, recompense and punishment presuppose the subjectiv- ity of the ego, substitution and the possibility of putting oneself in the place of the other, which refers to the transference from the “by the other” into a “for the other”, and in persecution from the outrage inflicted by the other to the expiation of his fault by me” (Levinas 1981, pp. 117–118). I suggest the difference between Derrida and Levinas at this point is one of emphasis. Levinas articu- lates the relation to an absolute alterity which renders the “I” infinitely responsible, Derrida emphasises the practical impossibility of any such “transference”. Hence the models of both psychoanalysis (which has laid its own special claim on the word) and hospitality being proposed by Derrida clearly must “resist” the tendency to collapse both into either forms of “absolution” (supposedly producing mental or spiritual health) or forms of violent “absorption” (such as incarcer- ations) of the other by the same.


post-philosophical gesture is the one always emphasised by Foucault. Derrida acknowledges this, indeed concurs with it as a necessity: “Without this thought of pure hospitality (a thought that is in its own way also an experience), we would not even have the idea of the other as someone who enters into our lives without having been invited” (Borradori 2003, p. 129). However, to welcome the other (to “give something determinate”—such as protection, support, rights, etc.), one must have first appropriated the space as one’s own. In other words there must be governance based on some cultural form of a power/knowledge nexus as such, and with that a certain violence.

How can we distinguish between the guest and the parasite? In principle, the difference is straightforward, but for that you need a law; hospitality, reception, the welcome offered has to be submitted to a basic and limiting jurisdiction. Not all new arrivals are received as guests if they don’t have the benefit of the right to hospitality or the right of asylum, etc. Without this right, a new arrival can only be introduced “in my home”, in the host’s home, as a parasite, a guest who is wrong, illegitimate, clandestine, liable to expulsion or arrest. (Derrida 2000, p. 61)

A pure or unconditional hospitality would itself be “mad” and not consistent with any actual “political reality” in any given situation. It therefore, perhaps para- doxically, corresponds to an abnegation of responsibility to the other. On the other hand, one has to operate within its jurisdiction. The Derrida/Foucault rendez-vous had to be staged therefore, “before the door” of Chez Freud. It is not premised on a species of psychoanalytic hospitality, though, as this has been variously institutionalised in the history of its schools, factions, orthodoxies, etc. Freud “himself” (or rather his oeuvre) is not therefore cast as the manager of such an institution, but rather as its doorkeeper. And, like the “man from the country” in Kafka’s parable, Foucault is once again being “shown the door”. But this does not constitute a rejection or refutation of his position, as the use of English colloquial expression connotes, it is rather, in the course of TDJF, trans- lated into an “act” of hospitality—at once a personal gesture of remembrance of an old friendship toward Foucault and a critical encounter with his work: an invi- tation to think of Freud as his “doorkeeper” and of how there is a sense in which, dear friend, “this door was made only for you”(Kafka).


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