Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tallis is dead (from the neck up)

There have been several misinterpretations of what I and other deconstructionists are trying to do. It is totally false to suggest that deconstruction is a suspension of reference. Deconstruction is always deeply concerned with the "other" of language. I never cease to be surprised by critics who see my work as a declaration that there is nothing beyond language, that we are imprisoned in language; it is, in fact, saying the exact opposite. The critique of logocentrism is above all else the search for the "other" and the "other of language." Every week I receive critical commentaries and studies on deconstruction which operate on the assumption that what they call "post-structuralism" amounts to saying that there is nothing beyond language, that we are submerged in words—and other stupidities of that sort. 
Jacques Derrida in an interview with Richard Kearney, printed in Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers published in 1984.
In the 1980s I came across post-structuralism, post-modernism, literary theory and the works of characters such as Jacques Derrida, and disillusionment was replaced with rage. These people wanted to tell us that ‘there is nothing outside of the text’ – that the linguistic representation of an extra-linguistic reality was an illusion. “Tell that to a junior doctor responding to the message ‘Cardiac arrest, Ward 6’” I thought.
Raymond Tallis in the August/September 2010 edition of Philosophy Now.


NB: The post title alludes to the final line of this song.

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