Jacques Derrida

Jacques Derrida [ 1930 - 2004 ] was  an Algerian-born, [ scruffy, see Wikipedia's mug shot Editor ] Jew. He was also a literary critic and an alleged philosopher, considered the first to develop "deconstruction" after it emerged in the work of Martin Heidegger. He seems to have been highly influential among the patter merchants and quasi-intellectuals of the left. Of course what gets called literary criticism quickly becomes political criticism. Claiming that "police man" is not a valid classification can follow onto police should not exist. It does not follow through with a sensible alternative. Deconstruction is looking at the background assumptions implicit in writings. Herewith is a sample:-

Jacques Derrida's version of deconstruction is one of the most influential schools of thought among young academic critics. It is salutary in that it focuses on the political power of rhetorical oppositions -- of tropes and metaphors in binary oppositions like white/black, good/bad, male/female, machine/nature, ruler/ruled, reality/appearance -- showing how these operations sustain hierarchical world views by devaluing the second terms as something subsumed under the first.

-- Cornel West, "The New Cultural Politics of Difference," Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures, 1990.[1]
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It has a couple of virtues; being short and moderately intelligible. It helps to have access to a dictionary for the more useless words. This is an attack on the idea that society should have values and judgments. Notice that today we have to pretend that there is no difference between white people and blacks. Saying so qualifies you for systematic abuse. We are allowed to say that a hurricane hit New Orleans [ see New Orleans Special ] but we are supposed to pretend that the rapes, murders, looting etc. which followed were nothing to do with blacks even though they constituted over 95% of the population in the aftermath. We are also supposed to ignore the looting by [ black ] police. We are allowed to make excuses for them; victims of discrimination etc. The media did this with great enthusiasm.

It is crucial to be cognizant of the network of forces determining your identity. Though it is not possible to regulate one's identity, it is necessary to be one of the forces contributing to its expression. Since even "objective facts" can be viewed from innumerable perspectives we can utilize so-called "objective" historical knowledge and its impact upon identity formation in ways that supports self-empowered living, this a functional view of identity. Functionalism means fluidity in a world where dualist classification systems inhabit even oppositional strategies to prejudice such as Aimé Césaire's seductive song of negritude[3], or Judy Chicago's well-appointed "Dinner Party."[4] A functional view is inherently going to be assailed as constructionist fiction, and yet a view that intends to transcend the quagmire of dualist identity using a strategy of essential "sameness" is going to be assailed equally:

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Perhaps this was written as an entry for Pseuds Corner in Private Eye. Take it seriously if you want, if you think it is worth the effort. I do not.  It tells you more about the people that swallow it than anything else. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Derrida for a sympathetic view.


Errors & omissions, broken links, cock ups, over-emphasis, malice [ real or imaginary ] or whatever; if you find any I am open to comment.

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Updated on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 18:38:27