Sunday, October 10, 2004

Ralph Derrida and Jacques Nader? Close Enough

I wish I knew more about deconstructionism because the comparison between Ralph Nader and the late Jacques Derrida is potentially delicious. Unfortunately, my acquaintance with deconstruction has been confined to semiacademic attacks on its deficiencies. I haven't read the seminal documents or its most eloquent defenders or its most-rewarded academic practitioners. My view of it -- formed by only the most tangential acquaintance -- is that it was a continuation of the insight, one that wasn't new in the 20th Century, that words are slippery, meaning elusive, the writer's intention often irrelevant, and that the scientific method makes pretty clear it's all a matter of probabilities, not absolutes. Yet probablities keep planes in the air and coax the sun over the horizon every morning. My impression is that deconstructionists have too narrow a view of probability. Deconstruction in excess seems to lead to that dead end. The deconstructionists seem to have taken a valid if unremarkable idea -- unremarkable to anyone who isn't an intellectual troglodyte -- clasped it to their bosoms and run off into the fog.

I was able to figure out based only on his discourse that George Bush, if installed as president, would probably do something stupid. My argument would PROBABLY be stronger if I knew a little more about basic deconstructionist theory.

Never mind. My point is just that Nader has the whiff of deconstruction -- and note how happily the word "deconstruction" collapses into "destruction" -- when he says there is no important difference between Bush and Kerry. Nader's point is true when viewed from the heights of high philosophical abstraction, and it also isn't true down where you and I live in the mud and the blood.

That's where you and I live, and that's where we will die, one way or another.

1 comment:

G Pabst said...

My spouse, Ms. Kathleen - no deconstructionist she - nailed the difference in the candidates during Debate 1.0.

When Kerry complimented Bush on his daughters and their activities, Mr. President commented someyhing like "I gotts put a leash on 'em."

To which the Senator replied, "Oh, Mr. President. I've learned not to try to do that!"

To which the presence in the other corner of the room shouted, "THAT'S IT! That's the difference. And a big one."

Derrida, Schmerrida. Read Agatha Christie for the way to decode the world around you.