Derrida on film
We caught this flick last night: Derrida. It is laughably stupid, as Derrida himself obviously thought but was too polite to say. He looks perplexed, like he can't believe they are asking him such stupid questions, like "Que pensez-vous sur l'amour?" What? What about "l'amour"? Posez une question! Sometimes the interviewer can't think of any, perhaps just awed to be in the presence of the dapper little man. There are long moments of silence, as he waits for some question or thought to come from "l'autre," in this case the filmmaker, that he can grapple with. Elvis Mitchell of the NYT is quoted as saying it was "Blissful -- a delight to watch," which I guess means he wasn't paying any attention to the dialogue. (Read the whole review to see how far Elvis was in over his head -- he has no idea what Derrida was about.) Oh, well, for all its inanity, the film was still fun to watch, because little Jacques is quite charming. He was a self-declared narcissist who fussed over his long white hair and was delighted and embarrased to see his image in a portrait; he dressed in outlandish patterned suits, patterned shirts and patterned ties (all different patterns), and was especially delighted by all the attention of film crew with lights, booms, cameras, and all the rest, who followed him for months, in Paris, New York and South Africa. But he was a generous sort of narcissist, too courteous to put someone down. Except maybe in this very funny scene: A British journalist asks him if "Seinfeld" wasn't an example of deconstruction. He stares at her. She tries to explain to him what "Seinfeld" is. He frowns harder. She explains that it is a popular television comedy. At last he takes a breath and says, "If people think that a television comedy is deconstruction, they should turn off the TV and start reading." Right!

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