Let me think. To go back to what we were saying earlier about seeing and touching, about seeing and speaking, and seeing and touching… Instead of getting enmeshed in a profound meditation on sight which I’ve written about and discussed at length elsewhere. What interests me about the eyes is that they are the part of the body that doesn’t age. In other words, if one looks for one’s childhood across all the signs of aging in the body—the deterioration of musculature, the whitening of the hair, changing in height and weight—one can find one’s childhood in the look of the eyes. And what’s striking about this is that a man of my age keeps the exact same eyes that he had as a child. Hegel says that the eyes are the outer manifestation of the soul. Through the eyes, the inner soul presents itself to the outside. But I translate this thought as follows: That one’s act of looking has no age. One’s eyes are the same all of one’s life. And I’ll say something related to this about the subject of hands. In a book I just published, I spoke a lot about hands. I’m very interested in the hands of philosophers. I’ve written a text on the hands of Heidegger, which also references the hands of Kant, Husserl… So the hands of philosophers interest me a lot, and what they say about hands, and the privilege that’s given to this part of the body. Keeping in mind that there’s a history of the hand, the evolution of man [sic], what we call the hominization of the animal, occurs via the transformation of the hand. I think that it’s not the body of the hand that stays the same, the hand changes from childhood to old age. It is the eyes and hands that are the sites of recognition, the signs through which one identifies the Other. To return to the question of narcissism, they are, paradoxically, the parts that we see the least easily. We can look in a mirror and see ourselves and have a reasonably accurate sense of what we look like. But it’s very difficult to have an image of our own act of looking or to have a true image of our own hands as they are moving. It’s the Other who knows what our hands and eyes are like. These—how do you say—these gestures of the hands, are seen better by the Other than myself.
Jacques Derrida, Derrida (2002)