Derrida is Dead


Obituaries of the famous often tell us
the reason for their subject’s disruption,
the underlying cause of their best invention.
In Nietzsche we find a certain stage of
tertiary syphilis can drive the already creative mind
to reaches of paradox and flights of ideas –
I reference the eternal return and the birth of tragedy.
In Gertrude Stein the dislocation from Jewish Europe
to the USA, and the repetitions involved in learning English,
along with the wealth that allowed a life of radical play,
produced Very fine is my valentine. Very fine and very mine.
Very mine is my valentine very mine and very fine.
In Plath and Woolf the bio-chemistry of rising mania
altered their relation to language the way red wine
did for Dylan Thomas and whisky for Sibelius and Stravinsky.
In the case of Derrida who also constantly pulled syntax
apart, we find he grew up in a Jewish family in Algeria,
spoke Arabic in the street and French at school.
At the age of five he began his life’s work of language play
and the interrogation of meaning: deconstructing
what seemed obvious in one language, because
in some cases it didn’t exist in another.

from The Kindly Ones (River Road Press, 2008), Susan Hampton 2008, used by permission of the author and River Road Press

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