State University of New York (Buffalo)
This article provides a comparative reading of Jacques Derrida’s The Politics of Friendship with Sherman Alexie’s short story ‘South by Southwest’. In these texts, ‘friendship’ or love is impossible to achieve by seeking conformance to pre-existing models. Instead, it requires faith in unknown possibilities, which will often appear extralegal or marginal. The ‘outlaw lovers’ of Alexie’s story become a device for exploring Derrida’s questions, seeking the meaning of love and friendship on a journey and beyond the horizon. The history of friendship, for Derrida, is historically marked by the exclusionary racist and sexist rhetoric of fraternal groupings—linking its ideals to violent nationalism, as in the case of Carl Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political, where the sovereign decides its friends and enemies so that it may justify killing the latter. Alexie and Derrida’s texts will underscore this aporia with paradoxical themes or phrases: in Alexie’s story, two men attempt to understand what it means to love one another during a “non-violent killing spree,” while Derrida will contemplate the meaning of the phrase Montaigne attributed to Aristotle, ‘oh my friends, there are no friends’.