The New York Times got criticized for calling Jacques Derrida abstruse in its obit headline, so it ran a Derrida-lovin' editorial (scroll down) by academic Mark C. Taylor as a way of making amends. Taylor declares Derrida, Wittgenstein, and Heidegger "the three most important 20th Century philosophers"--a thesis topic that reads like a TV news headline. It's like, all three must be continental philosophers, and we need one post-structuralist. So Derrida edges out Foucault and Lyotard because D. just died. The piece attempts to humanize him and make him warm and fuzzy for Times readers, talking about how important religion was to him. But Taylor's description of deconstruction mutes its dark side: as I understand it, Derrida was saying all sentences were hegemonic, i.e., territory conquering--Taylor softpedals that as "working by exclusion." Thus we don't use "grammatically correct," tightly-constructed sentences to study sentences, we play complex, punning language games that tease out their biases and inadequacies, which Derrida could apparently do well but not everyone has a gift for. The result is legions of mediocre sub-Derridas ensconced in college departments, making students hate reading. That's one reason Derrida's death is a slightly charged issue--it's not just because the neocons hate him.

- tom moody 10-18-2004 8:03 pm

But the neo-cons are so good at deconstruction ... oh wait ... that's destruction.
- mark 10-18-2004 11:12 pm

add a comment to this page:

Your post will be captioned "posted by anonymous,"
or you may enter a guest username below:

Line breaks work. HTML tags will be stripped.