Corpus-[corpus]: hand, handiwork, Habitat, gifts, feet, footnotes, and the ‘ob-scene’


Setting the scene: Nancy’s Corpus. The first scene suggests a fold. A site for thinking the intimacy of the book as a handling act. The translation of Jean-Luc Nancy’s Corpus, by Richard A. Rand–a delightfully dual-language edition, in the case of the title essay, “Corpus”–claims here on page ix that this is the fold, the zero point, the ground zero, the core, of Nancy’s… corpus.1 It is the zone from which and into which all of his thinking flows. This collection of texts, written between 1990 and 1992, writes Rand, “can be taken as the summa of his work in the decades preceding and a formulation for the work in the decades to follow. It sweeps,” he notes, “like the torch of a lighthouse, over the points of its author’s compass” (ix). As I write and muse on this, my shoulders aching from the hard wood stool I have been using as a chair until I can make time to purchase a new one–the birds in the garden out back, and my tea, finished (I will have to make a new pot), I note how pleased I was walking into the bookstore to buy this Corpus, and find that it was a dual language edition. In this English-speaking world–my habitus–I have come into the habit of buying books in English even when they were written in my father’s French, because I can use them to teach.

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