- Moscow Diaries
Jacques Derrida’s Moscou aller-retour can be read as a dialogue with Walter Benjamin’s Moscow Diaries. And the rapport between these texts poses a problem that both writers tackled at the beginning of their careers, both of them in texts that are theoretical reflections on their own works as translators: Benjamin in “The Task of the Translator”, which is the introduction to his 1923 translation of Baudelaire’s Tableaux parisiens (1861), and Derrida in his “Introduction” to L’Origine de la géométrie, his 1962 translation of Husserl’s Die Frage nach der Ursprung der Geometrie (1939). And this crucial problem is the question of the reprise, the Derridean relève, the Hegelian Aufhebung, akin to Husserl’s phenomenological neutralization, the epoche, which happens in translation, but which is always already at stake in the reading-writing process: the very project to read-write the physiognomy of a city (like Paris or Moscow) necessarily implies a bracketing off that is also an Erinnerung in the Hegelian sense: a “spiriting away” that is the very movement of creation. Obviously, this outlook was hardly reconcilable with Marxist materialism, and that generated tensions perceptible in the diaries as well as in the philosophies of both Benjamin and Derrida.