In Benoît Peeters’ biography of Jacques Derrida, there is an intriguing interview with Derrida that was never published. Peeters writes:
In 1992, Jacques Derrida gave Osvaldo Muñoz an interview which concluded with a traditional ‘Proust questionnaire’. If this text, meant for the daily El País, was in the end not published, this is perhaps because Derrida deemed it a bit too revealing:
What are the depths of misery for you?: To lose my memory.
Where would you like to live?: In a place to which I can always return, in other words from which I can leave.
For what fault do you have the most indulgence?: Keeping a secret which one should not keep.
Favourite hero in a novel: Bartleby.
Your favourite heroines in real life?: I’m keeping that a secret.
Your favourite quality in a man?: To be able to confess that he is afraid.
Your favourite quality in a woman?: Thought.
Your favourite virtue?: Faithfulness.
Your favourite occupation: Listening.
Who would you like to have been?: Another who would remember me a bit.
My main character trait?: A certain lack of seriousness.
My dream of happiness?: To continue dreaming.
What would be my greatest misfortune?: Dying after the people I love.
What I would like to be: A poet.
What I hate more than anything?: Complacency and vulgarity.
The reform I most admire: Everything to do with the difference between the sexes.
The natural gift I would like to have: Musical genius.
How I would like to die: Taken completely by surprise.
My motto: Prefer to say yes.
[From Derrida: A Biography, p. 418]
One could say many things about this. But for now, I mainly want to observe that I am struck by the open sexism of admiring “thought” as a woman’s virtue while singling out “vulnerability” (in essence) as his preferred “quality in a man.” Of course, one of Peeters’ interviewees remarks that “In spite of his love of women and his closeness to feminism, he still had a bit of a misogynistic side, like many men of his generation.”