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Reflecting on the ongoing aftermath of heart transplantation: Jean-Luc Nancy's L’intrus

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WYNN F. Nursing Inquiry 2009; 16: 3–9

Reflecting on the ongoing aftermath of heart transplantation: Jean-Luc Nancy's L’intrus

This paper explores Jean-Luc Nancy's philosophical reflection on surviving his own heart transplant. In ‘The Intruder’, he raises central questions concerning the relations between what he refers to as a ‘proper’ life, that is, a life that is thought to be one's own singular ‘lived experience’, and medical techniques, shaped at this particular historical juncture by cyclosporine or immuno-suppresssion. He describes the temporal nature of an ever-increasing sense of strangeness and fragmentation which accompanies his heart transplant. In doing so, Nancy opens up the concealed of transplantation in terms of the problematic ‘gift’ of a ‘foreign’ organ, the unremitting suffering intrusiveness of the treatment regimen, and the living of life as ‘bare life’. He uncovers and exposes the relentless uncanniness that pervades the post-transplant experience, which for him is an example of our humanistic, never-ending impulse, to alter ourselves. Nevertheless, Nancy offers no answer to this dilemma, but instead calls us to think about the meaning or ‘sense’ of the prolonging of life and deferring of death, which currently drives our medical interventions.
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Keywords: Jean-Luc Nancy; heart transplant; life; technology; the uncanny

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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