The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

10 October 2004

Hit the road, Jacques

The death of French philosopher Jacques Derrida reminded me of this January 2003 piece wherein I tried to find some common ground between deconstructionism and the blog technique known as "fisking."

Since undoubtedly Derrida will be mourned in academic circles, I'm happy to reprint this observation in NRO by Mark Goldblatt on the arrival of a documentary film about Derrida, which inspired my original post in the first place. (I didn't quote as much of it the first time around.)

[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. History will remember Derrida, and it surely will, not for what he himself has said but for what his revered status says about us.

(Adjustment of hat angle motivated by Michelle Malkin.)

Posted at 6:00 AM to Almost Yogurt

I always thought a philosophy which holds that writing can't communicate meaning was mighty handy for such a poor writer.

Posted by: rita at 7:22 PM on 10 October 2004

It was perfect. You didn't even have to read something to deconstruct it; all you had to do was take the known facts about the author — or, if you were feeling particularly jaunty, make up some "facts" — and then twist and squeeze until you got the conclusion you thought the instructor wanted. I rather think this eventually became a basic tool in J-school.

Posted by: CGHill at 8:21 PM on 10 October 2004