A new Jeffrey Eugenides short story quotes Derrida. Quote 1:
In that sense it is the Aufhebung of other writings, particularly of hieroglyphic script and of the Leibnizian characteristic that had been criticized previously through one and the same gesture.
What writing itself, in its nonphonetic moment, betrays, is life. It menaces at once the breath, the spirit, and history as the spiritâ€™s relationship with itself. It is their end, their finitude, their paralysis.
“A little Derrida goes a long way and a lot of Derrida goes a little way,” said a friend of mine who was a graduate student in English. These quotes show why. In Theory of the Leisure Class, Veblen argued that professors write like this (and assign such stuff to their students) to show status. I have yet to hear a convincing refutation of this explanation nor a plausible alternative. Is there a plausible alternative?
Veblen was saying that professors are like everyone else. Think of English professors as a model system. Their showing-off is especially clear. It’s pretty harmless, too, but when a biology professor (say) pursues a high-status line of research about some disease rather than a low-status but more effective one, it does — if it happens a lot — hurt the rest of us. Sleep researchers, for example, could do lots of self-experimentation but don’t, presumably because it’s low-status. And poor sleep is a real problem. Throughout medical school labs, researchers are studying the biochemical mechanism and genetic basis of this or that disorder. I’m sure this is likely to be less effective in helping people avoid that disorder than studying its environmental roots, but such lines of research allow the researchers to request expensive equipment and work in clean isolated laboratories — higher status than cheap equipment and getting your hands dirty. I don’t mean high-status research shouldn’t happen; we need diversity of research. But, like the thinking illustrated by the Derrida quotes, there’s too much of it. A little biochemical-mechanism research goes a long way and lot of biochemical-mechanism research goes a little way.