‘A Coming Without Past or Future’ translated by Nikolaas Deketelaere and Marie Chabbert
When Lenin published his powerful and influential essay What Is to Be Done in 1902, it was, and was perceived as, a call to action. The Russian title of that manifesto was literally ‘What to Do?’—and that is the literal translation of Que Faire?, this new exploration by Jean-Luc Nancy that appears now in English with a title reminiscent of, and congruent with, his earlier books, Coming and Listening.
In Doing, one of the most prominent and lucid articulators of contemporary French theory and philosophy examines the precarious but urgent relationship between being and doing. His book is not so much a call to action as a summons to more vigorous thinking, the examination and reflection that must precede any effective action. The first section of the book considers this matter tersely: Jean-Luc Nancy’s quickness of language and grace of humor lead the reader carefully past the dangers of oversimplification, toward a general awareness of meaningful being.
In ‘A Coming Without Past or Future’, Nancy sheds new light on human beings’ relationship with—and experience of—time, drawing attention to Westerners’ difficulty to apprehend and mourn their past, to understand and navigate their present as well as to embrace their future in light of the coming of the event.
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