Time to Return

From Two Essays on Reason

Jacques Derrida

Posted by Kevin Flint on Nov 02, 2017

Photograph by Carol Dougherty

Upon receipt of this photograph from Carol, and having written the earlier blog introducing our work with Anthony Marshall and the Hathersage Group, I remained a little unsettled. I had originally aspired to creating a more poetic piece. Over the weekend I had returned once more to Jacques Derrida's book, Rogues: Two Essays on Reason. In typical Derrida fashion he explores and deconstructs democratic practices from the perspective of the road travelled by 'Rogues' - scoundrels who rarely follow established paths.  In so doing Derrida opens space for his readers to consider 'democracy to come', so thinking about what lies at the heart of any event involving our many representations and re-iterations of democratic practices. His play on words in French also makes connection between the turn [le tour] and the turrett, or tower [ la tour]. In etymological terms, Derrida also returns us to the connection between turn and time. 

In thinking about power, I couldn't help return to Michel Foucault's graphic description, in the opening lines of his Discipline and Punish, of the violence inflicted upon Damien the Regicide, resulting in his death. In being poetic I wished to connect the symbolism of the body, presented by Damien, with a multiplicity of other bodies that have experienced a similar fate. 

In returning once more, in the final stanza I then sought to bring everything back to language as our essential home in this world, and in so doing locate the many issues raised by power in our contemporary world, which I still regard in terms of Guy Dubord's The Society of the Spectacle. 


to that place,


with a hidden primitive

instinctive desire

to touch

those walls,

those circular towers

that cold rough stone.

Their reflection, too,


ever impossible to capture

in time,

its re-presentation

tempting its viewers, perhaps,

with a gift

– the unreal world.

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in time,

inside this and other bastions,

to the body of the condemned

and the work of Thanatos,

we might ask what is real.

Damien the regicide,

that very body

burned with boiling sulphur,

its profusion of cries can still be heard,

through those dark corridors of power.

Its visage exclaims,

‘God, have pity on me’,

as white with fear and sublime pain,

the executioner’s steel pincers

tear pieces of its flesh

from its arms and thighs,

its breasts.

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once more,  

possessed not by the hard stone,

the great towers

the reflection in the motte,

but by language,

its grammars, its policed frontiers,

transforming us,

with a smile,

into petrified objects of thought, 

signed patterns,



each leaving us to be:

In living our lives as exceptions

to such symbolism,

perhaps it's time,

not just a time,

but the time to re-turn. 

Kevin Flint, 1st November 2017

I hope you enjoy reading this poem. I look forward to hearing any thoughts, suggestions, feelings... that emerge from your reading. 


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