‘I always do find Castoriadis’ story fascinating…’ Leo Wolfert, London
Cornelius Castoriadis (born Istanbul 1922, died Paris 1997), was a charismatic philosopher, psychoanalyst and a modern social thinker. From the early age of 13 years old, to the end of his life, he was a Titan of thought. Why at the age of 13? At that tender age, he lost all his hair, this drove his mother to insanity and himself to become one of the geniuses of the last century.
People, students, journalists, professors that met Castoriadis over the years, they felt a massive influence, his intellect was impressive. His philosophical discourse attracted many bright people, including the man that came to become his American translator, David Ames Curtis.
In the Anglo-Saxon world (English is the language that really matters according to Derrida!), Curtis, translated from the original French many texts and edited many books with the work of Castoriadis. When Castoriadis saw the translations made by Curtis, himself called him “my angel”. What a good moment, the Master had a Master translator! At the same time, Curtis became an authority in the ‘labyrinth’ for the Anglo-Saxon audience, work of Castoriadis.
After his death in 1997, ‘the above fact’ changed not from above of course, but from his family. No matter what the reasons are, Curtis was the best possible translator a philosopher could ever have! For reasons that I cannot understand, the family found a new translator. An old lady! Curtis, ‘the young translator’, had to be sidelined. The removal of the ‘official translator’ may also have serious impact in limiting awareness over the work of Castoriadis. Cornelius Castoriadis belongs to the world and not to his family! No matter what the copyright issues may be for some years. A Parisian family, after the death of the Patron, makes wrong decisions.
Imagine, Kant died, he had during his life a nominated translator to translate his work into English and soon after his death, his family found a new translator. Oh God, the bones of Kant may turn in his grave. For a thinker his ‘Creation’ is his whole life, and if one day his body lies on the floor lifeless, still his ‘Creation’ if his LIFE.
This small article, it has been written in the free spirit that Castoriadis always advocated and for all the people that admire and believe in his work. Also Curtis, should be back in the translator’s office, and as an Anglo-Saxon authority on Castoriadis, must have a major say to what can be published as posthumous work. Without any doubt he will be the best in editing those loose diamonds. Castoriadis, educated people in the free spirit and a sense of justice that is so important in life, as well as, in philosophy.