Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jackie Derrida

It's the birthday of one of the great intellectual tricksters and con-men of the (post)modern world. Born Jackie Derrida in Algeria, he came to France and somehow managed to convince a slack-jawed, credulous world that he actually had something to say. And he did it with brio and style. For that, I salute him, and will be having a glass of wine tonight to celebrate his life and his art form (because I consider what he did to be a form of performance art, "the trickster plays the role of the philosopher," the oldest form of performance art in Western culture).

From The Writer's Almanac:

It's the birthday of philosopher Jacques Derrira born in El Biar, Algeria (1930). He's one of the founders of the theory of "deconstructionism," which he presented in the book Of Grammatology (1967). It assumes that there is no common intellectual structure or source of meaning that unifies a culture. When applied to literary criticism, it holds that a single text can have multiple meanings, which underlie and subvert the surface meaning of the words.

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