Monday, June 06, 2005

How not to read Derrida

Hardly in short supply, but a useful example of flat-world anti-Derridism (to use the parlance of the times) nonetheless comes courtesy—if that is the right word—of here:
No wonder a tour through the post-modernist section of any American bookshop is such a disconcerting experience. The most illiberal, anti-enlightenment notions are put forward with a smile and the assurance that, followed out to their logical conclusion, they could only lead us into the democratic promised land, where all God's children will join hands in singing the national anthem. It is an uplifting vision and Americans believe in uplift. That so many of them seem to have found it in the dark and forbidding works of Jacques Derrida attests to the strength of Americans' self-confidence and their awesome capacity to think well of anyone and any idea. Not for nothing do the French still call us les grands enfants.

Quick, some liberal save us from the Heart of Darkness that is French poststructuralism! I care not for the timbre, or diachronics, of language; show me the political doctrine!

Such (re)visions of deconstruction are themselves beyond quaint. The dangerous conflation of (uncritical) enlightenment and nationalism continues; ironically here betrayed all the more by the presuming to preach against it.

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