Improvisational Responsibility: Derrida's Call to Play

reagan patrick mitchell


Jacques Derrida is as improviser with a degree of improvisational finesse similar to that of John Coltrane or Miles Davis. However, Derrida’s instruments, not at all related to measurement, for vocalization of his thoughts where pen and paper; his performance ensemble, the public sphere; and some of his compositional phenomena, world events.

I situate my discussion on Jacques Derrida’s speech “For Mumia Abu-Jamal” (Rottenburg, 2002). The first part of the discourse involves me addressing how he engages acts of improvisation within the work and how this can be seen as a form of responsibility. For the second part, I come back and approach how Derrida’s improvisation stands as an exemplar of hope with encouragement of ascendance to a state of “Play”.


Rottenberg, E. (2002). Negotiations: Interviews and Interventions. Stanford,California: Stanford University Press.




Derrida; Improvisation; Responsibility

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