The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

18 January 2003

Deriding Derrida

Technically, bloggers do not deconstruct: they fisk. And while the technique of fisking owes much to Jacques Derrida's theory of deconstruction, it owes nothing to Derrida's penchant for revisionism: texts are fisked because of what they say, not because of what we think they ought to say.

This week at NRO, Mark Goldblatt, last seen turning out a scathing novel about African-American culture, takes apart both Derrida and Derrida, the hagiographic documentary now playing at a theater near you if you don't live within a thousand miles of me, and he's almost gleeful in his, um, deconstruction:

[H]e is not now, nor has he ever been, a philosopher in any recognizable sense of the word, nor even a trafficker in significant ideas; he is rather a intellectual con artist, a polysyllabic grifter who has duped roughly half the humanities professors in the United States — a species whose gullibility ranks them somewhere between nine-year-old boys listening to spooky campfire stories and blissful puppies chasing after nonexistent sticks — into believing that postmodernism has an underlying theoretical rationale.

I've always aspired to some form of post-postmodernism myself, and generally fallen flat.

What would Derrida think about fisking? I don't know, and Goldblatt doesn't say, but I suspect that he'd take exception to it, if only because the fisker bases his interpretation on the assumption that the author of the text being fisked actually intended it to read that way, whereas Derrida, I surmise, would be predisposed to assume that there is some deeper subtext somehow being missed. And I'd take exception to that, since most of the Truly Fiskable seem devoid of depth; indeed, some meet the qualifications for bas-relief.

(Muchas gracias: Cinderella Bloggerfeller.)

Posted at 11:17 AM to Almost Yogurt