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The final deconstruction

Jacques Derrida passed away last night, according to the BBC, succumbing to cancer at the age of 74.

News coverage will describe his obscurity, the controversies over his work, the difficulty of understanding deconstruction, etc. For me, though, JD was one of those once-in-a-generation thinkers whose work has become so diffuse across disciplines that there are literally hordes of writers who owe a great deal to his work without even realizing it. As I was working on my book this summer, I was amazed at how many times his work peeked through my own, and I don't really consider myself especially Derridean in my approach to things.

Two years ago, I taught Of Grammatology in my 20th Century Rhetoric course, and I remain convinced that Derrida, who is identified primarily as a philosopher, is one of the most important rhetoricians of the past century. He will never be recognized as such, I suspect, because his work is so difficult to encapsulate into keywords or simplistic patterns. Language is difficult, and Derrida's writing both attempts to understand and to perform that difficulty. But to see him simply as "difficult" underestimates one of the most important thinkers of our lifetime.


Tough week. We lost Rodney and Jacques. It made front page news in the NY Times and I read the lenghty obit. It took me back to those Texas summer days so long ago. Hope all is well.

Collin--could you resend me the email that listed the many language translations of "Sorry about George W Bush"

I'm going to have Pasi add a Finnish translation.