Friday, 28 September 2007

Searle on Derrida's Intellectual Influence

Searle on why the mind-boggling Derrida became so fashionable in literary theory departments throughout the world (found in a review of Culler's book on deconstruction, On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism from the New York Review of Books, vol. 30, no. 16, 27th October 1983):
It is apparently very congenial for some people who are professionally concerned with fictional texts to be told that all texts are really fictional anyway, and that claims that fiction differs significantly from science and philosophy can be deconstructed as a logocentric prejudice, and it seems positively exhilarating to be told that what we call "reality" is just more textuality. Furthermore, the lives of such people are made much easier than they had previously supposed, because now they don't have to worry about an author's intentions, about precisely what a text means, or about distinctions within a text between the metaphorical and the literal, or about the distinction between texts and the world because everything is just a free play of signifiers. The upper limit, and I believe the reductio ad absurdum, of this "sense of mastery" conveyed by deconstruction is in Geoffrey Hartman's claim that the prime creative task has now passed from the literary artist to the critic.

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