Thursday, April 08, 2010

On Getting Derrida (and Adorno) Right

A beautiful essay by Marco Roth from N+1 on Jacques Derrida, which includes a wonderful defense of Adorno through Derrida:

Derrida's seminar was on hospitality. It was his usual touch for the relevant without engaging in the actual politics of the moment. Every session he fended off questions from students anxious to know how reading Lévinas or the orientalist and anthropologist Louis Massignon linked to the issues of hospitality facing France. He told them that he'd signed the petition supporting the sans-papiers and had marched, but his intellectual method seemed designed to evoke a present social situation and frustrate his students' desire for arguments to use on the barricades. It's important to know what's happening, but that means we should read Hegel or Lévinas or even the Catholic pornographer Pierre Klossowski with more care and slowness than before. You could imagine frustrated radical students pelting Derrida with flowers and baring their breasts.

My bolded italics. It is so easy to caricature, and so very difficult to characterize. It also makes me wonder why it is so important in intellectual circles, and especially in philosophy, to have enemies...

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