Saturday, October 09, 2004

BBC NEWS - Deconstruction icon Derrida dies

One of my students just forwarded this news. The BBC's story doesn't have much to it (the usual hints of dissatisfaction--"But in 1992, staff at Cambridge University in the UK protested against plans to award him an honorary degree, denouncing his writings as 'absurd doctrines that deny the distinction between reality and fiction'"). It's an extraordinary thing to think about, the life of Derrida being over. For anyone like me educated in literature in the 1980s and 1990s, Derrida is probably the single most powerful critical influence--of course it depends on your intellectual temperament, others would say Foucault or I suppose Barthes or some number of others--but because my core interest really is in language and argument, Derrida's writing really is the thing that shapes my thought about all kinds of things, though nobody would call me a Derridean. My favorite essay of his is still "Signature Event Context." But I'm fond of the stuff in Grammatology as well, and was just rereading the "Plato's Pharmacy" essay in Dissemination. Thumbed through his essay on Celan (titled "Shibboleths") a month ago, reminded of how I need to put in some time with Celan without being under the shadow of DeMan and all who loom a little too large when you're a graduate student at Yale....

Anyway, I don't have any personal stories or anecdotes. I do remember my college tutor M. telling me a story about meeting Derrida at a cocktail party and telling him about the American insecticide called D-con....

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