Responding to Existence: Jean-Luc Nancy’s video-lecture “The Portrait”

Maria Konta


Αdding an article on Jean-Luc Nancy after the philosopher’s own “The Different Life” (The New Centennial Review, vol. 10 no. 3, Winter 2010) owes to its reader an explanation. Seeing 2 minutes 45 seconds of silent video (Safaa Fathy’s filming of the philosopher, his room and his portraits) and asking the question “What understanding of the man and the circumstances seems to be at stake here?” was for me a risky undertaking which I can only explain here by citing from Pausanias’ Description of Greece (5.7.2): “They say that there was a hunter called Alpheios, who fell in love with Arethousa, who was herself a huntress. Arethousa, unwilling to marry (γήμασθαι), crossed, they say, to the island opposite Syrakousa called Ortygia, and there turned from a woman (εξ ανθρώπου) to a spring. Alpheios too was changed by his love into the river… But that the Alpheios passes through the sea and mingles his waters with the spring at this place I cannot disbelieve (απιστήσω), as I know that the god at Delphoi confirms the story. […] For this reason, therefore, because the water of the Alpheios mingles (μίσγεται) with the Arethousa, I am convinced that the legend arose of the river’s love-affair.”

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ISSN: 2281-3209                DOI Prefix: 10.7408

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