[Previous] [Main Index] [Next]

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jacques Derrida: Deconstructionist Genius or Self-Bamboozled Fraud: Part IV

Remember: You Should Read the First Three Posts Before Continuing. Remember Too: The previous post dealt less with Derrida than the Famed Critical Theorist Theodore Adorno

SOME QUERIES PROMPT THEMSELVES HERE

What Happens If You Criticize Adorno's and Other Intellectual Inanities Disseminated For Decades Now In ...

. . . in virtually all postmodernist work, full of obscurist writing and psycho-ward attacks on contemporary life in the rich democracies in Europe and the USA ---and full, too, come to that, of overwrought dogmatic declarations, passing for brilliant insights, that have been inspired by French masterminds like Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, Jean-Francois Lyotard and on and on since the late 1960s. An exaggeration? No, not really. With very few exceptions, these postmodern writings unfold in an impenetrably tangled syntax, an orgy of turgid neologisms , wildly imperious claims by the boxcar load, and very little evidence . . . all leading to a reader's head-spinning confusion, assuming he or she tries to hack and hew their way through the thickets of contriver malarkey to the very end. (In Foucault's case, please observe, there is lots of selective cherry-picking of historical examples chosen to illustrate his own sweeping, half-truth claims about power-driven mind-controls across different modern epochs, with the mental dominance and manipulation getting worse and worse from which, he added,there was no escape . . . . all these claims by Foucault delivered with convoluted Delphic complexity and obscure neologisms galore.)

What Then To Do?

Well, suppose you say in a reply --- maybe in a review, maybe in conversation with the devotees ---that their silly and garbled insights into the alleged horrors of modern Western societies lack clarity, logic, and hard evidence . In turn, they reply --- assuming they deign to answer you--- you lack patience; you can't read with focused concentration; or your mental faculties aren't up to it. Or, face it, you're just an idiot. (Maybe you should go see a Donald Duck cartoon, huh?)

Note that the idiot-ploy, to bring all into a relevant focus, was actually used by Derrida with Michel Foucault. Foucault, you see, had publicly dared to criticize Derrida's latest dogmatic featherbrained meanderings. Derrida's public retort? "Vous m'avez mal compris, vous etes idiot!" "You've misunderstand me, you idiot!" (This is like the pot calling the kettle black here, n'est-ce pas?) On Foucault's pretentious and nearly impenetrable writing style, see this talented dissection by a British professor French (a francophile to boot): John Weightman, "Not Underestanding Michel Foucault", American Scholar (1989)

Click the continue-button below

Something To Note in Passing: What Has Happened to the French Language?

It used to be said in France: "Ce qui n'est pas clair n'est pas francais." "If it isn't clear, it can't be French." And the French rightly were proud of such clear writing.

Alas, after WWII, all that changed in fashionable French intellectual life. Starting with Jean-Paul Sartre --- who wrote with exceptional vigor and clarity in his novels and plays, but not in his philosophical work on Heidegger-inspired phenomenology (alternating between clear French and extravagant jargon and head-shaking obscurity in a prolix and pompous [bad] German philosophical way ---the dominant French-thinkers-of-the-month began to write in the now de-rigueur convoluted poseur-manner. It's a kind of bastardized French imitation of Martin Heidegger's own obscurantism and endless stylistic self-entanglement --- Heidegger himself, observe in passing, the biggest influence on Sartre and other French thinkers until his fervent Nazism was unveiled and documented from the early 1990s on. (Sartre also supported, with toady-like naiveté the monstrously mass-murdering Stalinist and Maoist Communisms. So much for his philosophical brilliance, no? ]

Something also worth noting: a 1970 book entitled L'hexagonal tel qu'on le parle - Robert Beauvais - Google Books is an excellent guide to all the pretentiously arcane gibberish-words and gibberish-phrases that had infected the French language since WWII. Believe me, it's gotten worse and worse in the last 43 years. (As for Heidegger's lengthy career as a Nazi enthusiast --- yes, right to the end of WWII and the holocaust ---as well as his big influence on French thought after 1945, see the excellent scholarly work by a gifted French philosopher, Emmanuel Faye: Heidegger: An Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy (2009) Besides exchanging some illuminating emails with Prof. Faye, Prof bug wrote a long favorable review of the book in the comments section at The Chronicle of Higher Education in November 2009. Click here (and scroll down to michaelgordon)

And Now Some Sidebar Fun-Reading: Or Are Post-Modernist Writers All Space-Aliens?

1) We begin with Professor Judith Butler of UC Berkeley, who won the annual Adorno-Prize in 2012 (chosen by a Frankfurt German-group) for her "excellent" work in philosophy, music, film, and theater.) Well, they must be hard up for candidates. (See this devastating review of Butler's work by a distinguished philosopher, Martha Nussbaum, "Professor of Parody" (New Republic, 2000. Click here. More to the point for us, she was the 1998 winner of the annual Worst Bad-Writing Award bestowed in 1998 by Arts&Letters Daily.

Professor Butler's first-prize sentence appears in "Further Reflections on the Conversations of Our Time," an article in the scholarly journal Diacritics (1997)':

"The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power."

Wow, who wouldn't receive the Adorno-award with these wonder-world insights?

2) The second place A&L prize in 1998 went to Homi K. Bhabha, a professor of English at the University of Chicago, for the following sentence. It appears in The Location of Culture (Routledge, 1994):

..."If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities, and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to "normalize" formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality. "

3) If need be, take an aspirin now and then move on to Prof bug's own preference for first place in 1998 . . . in fact, in almost any year you could pick since written literacy began thousands of years ago. Again, we start with the comments of Professor Dennis Dutton --- an American philosopher buggy met when Dutton was studying UCSB (he moved to a post in New Zealand afterward and created Arts&Letters Daily. "Finally" Dutton says, "a tour de force from a 1996 book published by the Stat University of New York Press. It was located by M.J. Devaney, an editor at the University of Nebraska Press. The author is D.G. Leahy, writing in Foundation: Matter the Body Itself.'

"Total presence breaks on the univocal predication of the exterior absolute the absolute existent (of that of which it is not possible to univocally predicate an outside, while the equivocal predication of the outside of the absolute exterior is possible of that of which the reality so predicated is not the reality, viz., of the dark/of the self, the identity of which is not outside the absolute identity of the outside, which is to say that the equivocal predication of identity is possible of the self-identity which is not identity, while identity is univocally predicated of the limit to the darkness, of the limit of the reality of the self). This is the real exteriority of the absolute outside: the reality of the absolutely unconditioned absolute outside univocally predicated of the dark: the light univocally predicated of the darkness: the shining of the light univocally predicated of the limit of the darkness: actuality univocally predicated of the other of self-identity: existence univocally predicated of the absolutely unconditioned other of the self. The precision of the shining of the light breaking the dark is the other-identity of the light. The precision of the absolutely minimum transcendence of the dark is the light itself/the absolutely unconditioned exteriority of existence for the first time/the absolutely facial identity of existence/the proportion of the new creation sans depth/the light itself ex nihilo: the dark itself univocally identified, i.e., not self-identity identity itself equivocally, not the dark itself equivocally, in "self-alienation," not "self-identity, itself in self-alienation" "released" in and by "otherness," and "actual other," "itself," not the abysmal inversion of the light, the reality of the darkness equivocally, absolute identity equivocally predicated of the self/selfhood equivocally predicated of the dark (the reality of this darkness the other-self-covering of identity which is the identification person-self)."

Got that everyone? And you probably think, . . . well, it can't get worse than that. Plain and simple, WRONG!

ENTER CENTER-STAGE AGAIN, PROFESSOR JACQUE DERRIDA

Yep, boys and girls . . . it can get worse. Trust buggy here. All you need do is consider the even more weirdo stuff from outer-space spoken by Professor Jacques Derrida that now follows. And trust bug again, it's typical Derrida rambling bullshit (les conneries in French)

The setting first

It's a crazy-house interview with the famous deconstructionist-creater that takes place in New York soon after the 2001  9/11 terrorist attacks there and on the Pentagon. To call it evasive sophistry and unhinged hurricane-like verbosity is to be way too kind. It is worse. It's compulsive non-stop gibber. No kidding --- it's so psycho-ward that it makes Judith Butler, Theodore Adorno, and the other Critical Theory and Postmodern screwballs quoted earlier look lucid by comparison. 

Just how ding-a-ling is Derrida's drival? 

Well, it's so blatantly kooky that it deserves to be featured in a remake of the great film directed by Milos Forman,  entitled, as cognoscenti will recall,  One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest . . . (the Academy Award winner for1975. Yep, the remake set like the original in a mental hospital --- with the restless wandering ghost of Professor Derrida himself hunted down by the Ghostbuster crew and stuffed into a big cuckoo-clock in the hospital's common room. Promptly, at every hour on the hour, our heavenly head-case chatterbox pops out of the clock --- exactly when Nurse Ratched  making her rounds --- and prattles on in jagged jive-like craziness before he retires back into the woodwork for a rest until the next hour starts chiming.

Picture the scene if you will.

It's 6:00 A.M., say, and Nurse Ratched is just about to start her despotic cracking-the-whip rounds for the morning, and suddenly Derrida's Spirit, dressed niftly in cuckoo-bird drag, pops his head out and babbles on in total bullshit for 6 ear-splitting minutes. Then again for seven minutes at 7:00 A.M. and so on. By 10:00 P.M. we would see Nurse Ratched go totally bonkers, grab an ax, and destroy the fat-mouth's spirit-like head before he can move back inside the clock and fly away with the angels at 12:01 A.M.

Not to worry, folks. Jacques eerie specter will be back at 1:00 A.M. for sure. You can't really destroy a talented philosophical gasser if he's already been let through the Pearly Gates, can you?

AND NOW FOR THE REAL-LIFE CUCKOO'S DECONSTRUCTIONIST DRIVEL

9/11 AND GLOBAL TERRORISM: A Dialogue with Jacques Derrida

Observe, first, that are seven nutbin paragraphs altogether --- roughly a total of over 1500 words --- just in response to the interviewer's first simple to-the-point question. Just the initial question for God's sake! Good luck if you make it to the exhausting end. His compulsive flip-his-lid drool is anything ---anything! ----but to the point, a case study, seemingly, in unglued derangement . Altogether, there must be close to 4000-5000 nonsensical words in the interview . . . and maybe --- count them if you want --- more.

Click here for what seems to be compulsively unstoppable bonkers-driven babble, nothing less.   Note that Derrida is interviewed after Juergen Habermas --- a gifted German philosopher who, among other things, has severely criticized the post-modernist French masterminds, including Derrida.