October 12, 2004

Eh, That's A Shame

See what happens when you skip town for a few days? Jacques Derrida, the academic huckster responsible for deconstructionism, is dead.

Deconstructionism, if you haven't come across it before, essentially is a theory of linguistic nihilism. Derrida argued that there is no such thing as objective meaning in language. All words are at the mercy of subjective interpretation by the writer and the reader - and not even the writer or the reader can state definitely what the words mean either.

Sound like bunk? Of course it is. But it's been in our schools for quite some time now - I first got subjected to it in a junior Medieval Lit. course in 1985. I thought I would be getting Crestian de Troyes. What I got was a heapin', smelly shovelfull of Derrida instead. Just bear in mind, the next time you're writing that yearly $25,000 tuition check to send yer little darlin' to some top rank college, that he or she is probably getting it as well - Derrida's teaching has spread like kudzu across all manner of academic disciplines. (Deconstructionism: It's not just for English Departments anymore!)

As a matter of fact, from some of what I've read, I've always gathered that Derrida was perfectly well aware of his own fraud and perpetrated it largely for the same reason that the dog licks himself - because he could. The shame is not that he did it, but that the Academy has so thoroughly embraced it.

But then again, what can one expect? Deconstructionism allows one to say Nothing and make it sound like Something. It is, therefore, the perfect theory for undergrads who don't feel like studying, post-grads and tenure track types desparate to mine old academic quarries for new materials and tenured profs who wish to work every single academic discussion, no matter what the actual topic, around to their own pet socio-political causes. Plus, to be perfectly brutal about it, whether you're a college kid, a post-grad or a prof, there aren't many better techniques for convincing some starry-eyed undergrad to come back to your place.

Posted by Robert at October 12, 2004 11:10 AM | TrackBack
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