Echoing Sentiments: Art and Melancholy in the Work of Pleshette DeArmitt


  • Michael Naas DePaul University



Derrida, Kofman, Melancholy, Mourning


During those first few days, those first few weeks, truth be told, still today, something in me has wanted simply to echo the sentiments of others. That’s because I myself didn’t know exactly what to say and, truth be told, I still don’t know today. But it’s also because others, including and especially some of the people here today, beginning with my co-panelists and, perhaps especially, early on, Leigh Johnson, knew at the time just what had to be said and so expressed so well the sentiments that we all—that I at least—just wanted to echo. Just to echo, that’s what I wanted to do, because by echoing the sentiments of others I would be able to protect myself just a bit longer, I thought, though also, I self-justified, by echoing others I would be able to give back in some way to Pleshette herself, who showed us in her work that Echo does not simply repeat but initiates even when it looks or sounds as if she is not, Echo who gives back even when it sounds as if she has nothing to give, Echo who not only has her own Narcissus but her own narcissism—which Pleshette would have been the first to tell us is not only not a bad thing but a necessary one, and perhaps just what is needed for a new thinking of empathy, of mourning, and, perhaps, as I will try to say, of the ephemeral.