Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Derrida is dead

The Parisian Heidegerrian Jacques Derrida has died. I’m tempted to deconstruct this, but I’ll just leave it as a postcard since my intention wouldn’t control the reading of the text. It would be the metaphysical illusion. Deconstruction is justice, Derrida said. I say Derrida isn’t even a trace; and that’s the truth.

Discussions - 8 Comments

Even my literary theory professor, who was in no way conservative, could not stand the obtuseness of the man’s prose. However, despite losing precious hours of my life reading the man’s work, I sympathize with that last exchange in the article:

He was so influential that last year a film was made about his life - a biographical documentary.

At one point, wandering through Derrida’s library, one of the filmmakers asks him: "Have you read all the books in here?"

"No," he replies impishly, "only four of them. But I read those very, very carefully".

Requiescat in pace.

Mr. Schramm, no man of so many words has ever been laid to rest so effectively with so few words. Bravo

Hi, Peter--That’s "Heideggerian." Just saying.--Beth

Alas, his theories still endure in the ivory towers - until the latest fad for tenure and grad students comes around. His very old heresies seem to have been taken as fashionable, current, and modern, post-modern, that is, but many foolish scholars. As Pontius Pilate may have responded to Peter’s last words, "What is truth?"

Deconstruction is actually not a fashionable "theory" right now (i.e. nobody actually writes about it anymore), but is rather viewed as a tool. The two most fashionable bodies of theory proper at the moment are Post-Colonialism and Queer Theory, both of which use deconstruction as a tool for demonstrating (at least as they see it) the operations of "ideology" ("eurocentrism" for P-Cism, "homophobia" for Q-Theory). There is right now an attempt to turn the "theories" of Peter Singer and others into a "Green Theory" that seeks out "speciesism" (i.e. "irrational" bias in favor of the human species to the detriment of others) in cannonical literature, but that has not really caught on (at least not yet). The basic idea is to turn a grievance into a theory so that a graduate students in English can have at least a decade of dissertations (one for each major work or author in the cannon). It is all quite silly, but everyone plays along because otherwise people would actually have to seriously wrestle with the issues raised in literary works, and that would not do at all...

To Daniel: Thanks for your comments. I can’t imagine what I would do if I were a student in English (especially in grad school) today! I hope all is well with you. Next time I am up at Case I promise to say howdy.

Sounds good, and I hope all is going well at Ashland. I may try to come by for a colloquium sometime. Do not get the impression that all English studies are a wasteland. One can find interesting courses in most undergrad programs (I am currently taking a delightful course on English literature prior to 1800), and struggling with literary theory can build character (and some of it, particularly transactional reader-response theory, structuralism, and narrative theory) can be useful. As to graduate programs, if you are content to study at schools like the University of Dallas that lack the prestige of Harvard, or if you can get a spot at Chicago, you can still do serious work. "All shall be well and/ All manner of things shall be well." Besides, I cannot become too disheartened, for I now have my NLT Mug, and my joy is complete (however, it must be a vessel for mere tea, as I do not normally drink coffee).

I’ve been out of graduate school for over ten years, so I know that I am out of touch with all the latest fads in "intellectual" life. I prefer to stick with the "good, the noble, the beautiful," and the true, as do you. But, thanks for the update proving my point about fashion and universities blowing in the wind. Too bad they’re not producing anything worthwhile that anyone might actually want to read! Go figure!

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