Introduction: Time in Nancy
Irving Goh and Verena Andermatt Conley
As with every great philosopher, there is something inexhaustible in Nancy's writings. In that respect, one can immediately refer to his prolificacy: indeed, publishing his major philosophical writings since the 1970s, for example, La Remarque spéculative (1973), Le Discours de la syncope (1976), and Ego sum (1979), followed by what Derrida considers to be Nancy's "most powerful works" - Corpus (1992), The Sense of the World (1993), The Muses (1994), and Being Singular Plural (1996) 1 - Nancy shows no sign of stopping today, given the appearance of recent titles such as Tombe de sommeil (2007), Identité: fragments, franchises (2010), Dans quels mondes vivons-nous? (written with Aurélien Barreau, 2011), L'Équivalence des catastrophes (2012), and Ivresse (2013). This is not to mention the great breadth of his writings, which encompasses the history of philosophy (Hegel, Kant, Descartes), aesthetics, ontology, politics, literature, psychoanalysis, religion, and "deconstructive" engagements with philosophical topics such as subjectivity, community, sense, freedom, and the world. The inexhaustibility of Nancy's writings also pertains to the fact that there always remains something to be explicated or elucidated further in his philosophy, which proves critical not only in making sense of contemporary issues, but also in suggesting political and ethical implications for the future of the contemporary world.
This present collection of essays testifies to that inexhaustible force. At the same time, we would also like to think that a certain preoccupation with time forms an implicit backdrop to this collection, thus setting it apart from other collections on the work of Nancy. That preoccupation can be said to exist on at least two counts. Firstly, it is almost inevitable to think of the time of mortality when we think of Nancy, who underwent a heart transplant operation more than twenty years ago. In light of that, we have a greater appreciation of Nancy's prolificacy, reminding ourselves that the inexhaustibility of his writing is neither a given nor absolute: instead, it is always threatened by finitude and contingency. The second instance that gives us occasion to think about time is the collection's title itself - Nancy Now . With the "now" of the title, one cannot help but expect this collection to touch in one way or another on the topic of time, especially that of the present. In effect, time is very much at the back of most of our contributors' minds: most of them readily took the cue from the title, which they knew in advance, and evaluate the state of Nancy's philosophy now , taking stock of how far-reaching his thoughts are, and assessing the stakes for philosophy and the world today. Or else, they foreground the philosophical motifs mobilized by Nancy in his recent publications and explore their future theoretical and empirical potentialities.
We will speak more about the individual essays later in this introduction. First, we would like to concern ourselves with giving an explication of time in Nancy, which is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of his philosophy. Time, as a philosophical question, is already no doubt difficult in itself. The difficulty of speaking about time in Nancy becomes particularly striking when one takes into account his reservation in dealing with this topic in any explicit or extended manner in his writings, as compared to his sustained engagement with other topics such as community, sense, touch, corpus , and the world, not to mention that all of these apparently privilege the question of space. Symptomatic of this reservation before time is Nancy's "Finite History": there is indeed a discursion into th