PRINT October 2002


Jacques Le Narcissiste

Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman, Derrida, 2001, still from a color video, 85 minutes. Derrida at home with his wife, 1995.

WE CULTURE-ISTAS KNOW Derrida is the Madonna of thought. He’s antiphallogocentric and a total diva. Undeniably powerful, he’s either revered or deplored as the author of cultural relativism, rampant textuality, and undecidability. The notoriously close reader is still dashing at seventy-two, with a dark but surprisingly soft gaze, eagle-ish features, and a mildly poufy white coif: a silver fox. Spinning his web (yes, folks, that’s three animal metaphors!) of defamiliarization that readers find seductive or annoying, or both, his discourse is riddled with paradox: He fights to improvise “but always with the belief that it is impossible”; he emerges through the ear and eye of the other, although so do “I,” so who is there to read or see him?

When I think of Jacques Derrida, I think of the wretchedness of grad school, what a horrible, disillusioning period that was for me, university

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