Re: Derrida (was Re: the emperor's new clothes)

Christopher Pound (pound@IS.RICE.EDU)
Thu, 7 Apr 1994 13:21:58 -0500

> I tried to read some Derrida once -
> an English translation of the essay "Differance".
> a) I don't have the background. This is possible,

No kidding. "Differance" is a compact review of and reply to Hegel,
Nietzsche, Freud, Saussure and (especially) Heidegger. There's no way
you could really "get" the last eight pages or so without having read
a whole lot of other stuff (e.g. _Being and Time_).

Why not stick to Derrida's comments on Levi-Strauss or Foucault or Bataille,
that is, to something which might be relevant to your other reading?
_Writing and Difference_ has commentaries on each of these guys ... I'd
say "Cogito and the History of Madness" or "Structure, Sign, and Play in the
Discourse of the Human Sciences" are both pretty easy to read if you're
familiar with the works they're responding to.

_Of Grammatology_ also has lengthy sections on Saussure, Levi-Strauss, and
Rousseau ... A lot of people cut their teeth on this one.

On the other hand, if you really wanna go back and read Heidegger's _Being
and Time_ and maybe _On the Way to Language_ and *then* tackle "Differance,"
I think it'd be worth the effort. You'd also find "Differance" to be
remarkably clear and succinct by comparison.

Christopher Pound ( | They think they are Parisians, but
Department of Anthropology, Rice U. | they are nothing. -- Pierre Bourdieu