June 11, 2007
Further to my article on the ludicrous Carolyn Guertin, here’s another example of how not to impart knowledge to soft student brains. From Jacques Derrida’s 1994 book, supposedly on the relevance of Marxism, Spectres of Marx, the State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, & the New International:
“Capital contradiction. At the very origin of capital. Immediately or in the end, through so many differential relays, it will not fall to induce the ‘pragmatic’ double constraint of all injunctions. Moving about freely (aus freien Stucken), on its own head [de son propre chef], with a movement of its head but that controls its whole body, from head to toe, ligneous and dematerialised, the Table-Thing appears to be at the principle, at the beginning, and at the controls of itself. It emancipates itself on its own initiative: all alone, autonomous and automaton, its fantastic silhouette moves on its own, free and without attachment. It goes into trances, it levitates, it appears relieved of its body, like all ghosts, a little mad and unsettled as well, upset, ‘out of joint’, delirious, capricious, and unpredictable…”
“But also at stake, indissociably, is the differential deployment of tekkne, of techno-science or tele-technology. It obliges us more than ever to think the virtualisation of space and time, the possibility of virtual events whose movement and speed prohibit us more than ever (more and otherwise than ever, for this is not absolutely and thoroughly new) from opposing presence to its representation, ‘real time’ to ‘deferred time’, effectivity to its simulacrum, the living to the non-living, in short, the living to the living-dead of its ghosts. It obliges us to think, from there, another space for democracy. For democracy-to-come and thus for justice. We have suggested that the event we are prowling around here hesitates between the singular ‘who’ of the ghost and the general ‘what’ of the simulacrum.”
Now it’s possible you find this meaningful and “skilfully poetic”, as others claim to do, and you might argue that I’ve taken these passages out of context and thus obscured some deep and elegant insight. In fact the sequence of many paragraphs appears arbitrary and I suspect one could rearrange them in any number of ways to much the same effect. And if you think I’ve been unfair and scoured for the most “difficult” passages, please feel free to read a much longer extract here, from which these passages were taken. Caution is advised, however, as prolonged exposure may induce fits of nausea or hilarity, or an urge to bite one’s own fist. Those who survive will, no doubt, be rendered very, very clever.