Film-Philosophy 24 (2):185-203 (2020)

Authors
Gina Zavota
Kent State University
Abstract
The central character of Denis Villeneuve's 2016 film Arrival, Dr. Louise Banks, is a linguist tasked with deciphering a logographic alien language in time to avert a seemingly impending global war. I argue that the alien heptapods' logographs exemplify the understanding of language advanced by Jacques Derrida in seminal texts such as Of Grammatology, while also engaging some of the themes concerning time and gift-giving that he develops in later, more explicitly political works. Derrida argues that written signifiers, rather than being a mere vehicle for representing speech, confer their own, supplemental meaning onto communication. Furthermore, he emphasizes that writing is not bound by the same linear temporality as spoken utterances, inasmuch as it is inscribed in a format which allows it to be revisited repeatedly. The significance of this disruption of linear temporality becomes clear in Derrida's later works such as Specters of Marx and On Cosmopolitanism, where he describes such disruption as a necessary condition for the type of political change he believes is needed in the world. The ability to experience time in a nonlinear fashion allows Banks to prevent the looming war, in an illustration of the connection that Derrida draws between time, violence, and politics. However, it also puts humanity in the heptapods' debt, thus exemplifying the paradox of genuine gift-giving that Derrida claims is impossible. Despite the complex ethical questions it invokes, however, the unique nature of the gift in Arrival signals that this gift might be a genuinely altruistic offering after all.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.3366/film.2020.0138
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,464
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Limited Inc.Jacques Derrida - 1988 - Northwestern University Press.
Of Grammatology.Jacques Derrida - 1982 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 15 (1):66-70.

View all 15 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Given Time: I. Counterfeit Money.Peggy Kamuf (ed.) - 1992 - University of Chicago Press.
Given Time: I. Counterfeit Money.Peggy Kamuf (ed.) - 1992 - University of Chicago Press.
Derrida on Time.Joanna Hodge - 2007 - Routledge.
Derrida on Time.Joanna Hodge - 2007 - Routledge.
Returning the Gift of Death: Violence and History in Derrida and Levinas.Jeffrey Hanson - 2010 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 67 (1):1-15.
Given Time and the Gift of Life.John Protevi - 1997 - Man and World 30 (1):65-82.
Returning (to) the Gift of Death: Violence and History in Derrida and Levinas.Jeffrey Hanson - 2010 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 67 (1):1 - 15.
Given Time: I. Counterfeit Money.Jacques Derrida - 1992 - University of Chicago Press.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2020-06-02

Total views
8 ( #1,010,708 of 2,520,430 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #405,718 of 2,520,430 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes