October 10, 2004


Savagely hilarious stuff from Infinite Thought's nameless correspondent on Derrida's death and its inevitable (well, everything's always-already happened, so it's all inevitable innit?) exploitation by hackademic careerist drearocrats like Critchley and Bennington. There are many problems with Derrida's work (none of them identified by the BBC's almost defiantly ignorant piece natch), but it's clear that no-one deserves 'friends' like Critchley and Bennington, or any of the other professional disseminators of French-fried fuzz-out academo-babble who have reduced his theory to a Representational Mind Virus lifestyle option. (The hackademic machine is now happily turning out Deleuze wallpaper by the yard of course).

It's odd, because I was only chatting to Sean Crumbling Loaf yesterday on msn about how blogging vindicated Derrida's attack on phonocentrism and the metaphysics of presence. The default assumption is that it is only in face-to-face interatction that one encounters the truth of a person. In fact, the opposite is the case. Everday life is almost solely composed of a series of ritualized masquerades (cf Goffman). It's a blizzard of nonconscious signaling noise that typically invites mutual misunderstanding and sends people scurrying back to the dubious protection of their oed-I-pod burrows.

Blogging however has the capacity to anticipatively decode subjectivized misunderstandings and pre-empt those that might otherwise occur. Hence the on the uh face of it surprising ease with which bloggaz get on when they meet outside k-space. So many of the hexes, blocks and defensive strategies that wall us into our protective Self-imposed prisons have already been disabled. That's not because writing is an expression of interiority. On the contary, writing as Foucault says, allows you to escape your face, your identity, your past. Everyday discourse traps you in them.

One other note on the Derrida death thing: the BBC's idiotic dismissal is obviously beyond-belief embarrassing, but it's worth thinking for a minute about the idea that Derrida propagated 'absurd doctrines'. Surely the academic discipline propagating the most 'absurd doctrines' is the one that is also one of the most respected amongst non-academics: Economics. What could be more absurd than the still dominant Rational Agent Theory, the idea that people are 'basically rational' and make choices that are in their own interests?

Posted by mark at October 10, 2004 04:04 PM | TrackBack

My definition of rationality = Spinoza's.

Being rational = acting in yr own interests.

Acting in yr own interests = acting collectively.

Acting collectively involves subordinating human interests to that of the cosmos = God which has no interests.

So it don't have much to do with a hearty Habermasian hearth....

and just because writing is or can be a destratifying technology doesn't mean that it always is --- just as it isn't the only available destratifying machine (so don't worry blind mute paraplegic catatonix need not feel left out :-) )

Posted by: mark k-p at October 10, 2004 07:26 PM