Derrida and On-Demand

Derrida photo

I’ve just finished rewatching the documentary on Derrida: Derrida by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman. There is a wonderful sequence at the beginning with a voice-over (and sub-titles) of the following Derrida quote:

In general, I try to distinguish between what one calls the future and “I’avenir.” The future is that which — tomorrow, later, next century — wil be. There’s a future which is predictable, programmed, scheduled, foreseeable. But there is a future, I’avenir (to come) which refers to someone who comes whose arrival is totally unexpected. For me, that is the real future. That which is totally unpredictable. The Other who comes without my being able to anticipate their arrival. So if there is a real future beyond this other known future, it’s I’avenir in that it’s the coming of the Other, when I am completely unable to forsee their arrival.

I could not help, prompted by the terminology, juxtaposing these thoughts with the movement away from scheduled viewing to on-demand viewing. Can you imagine going home and turning on your television to nothing? Can you imagine the same with the Internet? Can you imagine a blank future that awaits your beckon, your “pull”? How much does our knowledge that there are shows scheduled for days, weeks, months affect our life? It makes the future seem certain, but also prefigured. An on-demand future can seem uncertain, but also bursting with possibility. I wonder, can we categorise scheduled viewings as moments when we want an Other to take responsibility for that moment; and then on-demand as moments when we want to feel that we are entirely in control?

And too, if “scheduled” and “on-demand” are known, what would be an unexpected visitor?…


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