Derrida on the Line

My article ‘Derrida on the Line‘ has been published in Derrida Today 10.2 (2017), pp.142-159.

By offering us a voice that is both at a distance and inside one’s own head, the telephone causes interference in thinking and writing. But despite the multiple telephones that echo in and across Jacques Derrida’s work, and specifically his writing to and with Hélène Cixous, it is only since Derrida’s death that critical interest in the phone has fully emerged, with work by Nicholas Royle (2006), Eric Prenowitz (2008), Geoffrey Bennington (2013) and Lynn Turner (2015) stressing the value of staying on the line. Engaging with Derrida, however, is not simply a matter of picking up the receiver. For the telephone is also, Derrida insists in H.C. for Life (2006), a ‘poetico-technical invention’, that is, the telephone is ‘thought itself’. This paper is about how the telephone ‘thinks’ Derrida, about how it remembers Derrida, and about how it offers us a line for re-imagining his voice. Bound up with the uncanny mechanisms of the telephone, it invites readers to participate in long-distance calling – listening across species, texts and worlds.


Daisy Bell: The Voice and the Machine


Artist’s rendering of HAL 9000’s noted camera eye

Listen to my documentary feature ‘Daisy Bell: The Voice and the Machine’ on BBC Radio 3, complete with interviews with beatboxer Danny Ladwa, Professor Simon King (Director of the Centre for Speech Technology at the University of Edinburgh), Dr Jonathan Fishman (a consultant at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital), the inspirational Andrew Beaumont, HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and ‘Mr Phone’.

Many thanks to producer Simon Elmes, to Aoife Radburn who sang so beautifully for us, and to everyone who helped with the making of this feature.