Derrida announces he is a parasite

The deconstructionist “philosopher” Jacques Derrida tells the world that he is, indeed, exactly what he and people like him have always seemed to be: a deliberate sower of untruth and confusion, a destructive parasite, a non-living virus that takes over and kills its host—the host in this case being the living body of language and meaning:

All I have done … is dominated by the thought of a virus, what could be called a parasitology, a virology, the virus being many things…. The virus is in part a parasite that destroys, that introduces disorder into communication. Even from the biological standpoint, this is what happens with a virus; it derails a mechanism of the communicational type, its coding and decoding. On the other hand, it is something that is neither living nor non-living; the virus is not a microbe. And if you follow these two threads, that of a parasite which disrupts destination from the communicative point of view—disrupting writing, inscription, and the coding and decoding of inscription—and which on the other hand is neither alive nor dead, you have the matrix of all that I have done since I began writing. [Brunette & Wills, ed., Deconstruction and the Visual Arts, (Cambridge University Press, 1994), 12.]

Reading this amazing passage, you realize that once again reality has mimicked the novels of Ayn Rand, where the cartoonish, vermin-like villain—Wesley Mouch, James Taggart, Ellsworth Toohey—comes right out and announces his intention to destroy the world.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 18, 2003 07:25 PM | Send

I think there is an intimate (no pun intended) connection between the rise of homosexualism and the rise of deconstructionism. Deconstructionists, if I understand them, seek to dissolve sane order by denying that any social order (and certainly not the Christian West) can have any legitimate premises to which that social order’s inhabitants must give allegiance.

Homosexuality we have always had with us, at least at a trace level in society. In most societies, and certainly in Christendom, homosexuals usually conformed externally to the society’s mores. While they may have refused, or been unable, to conform to society’s mores in their private lives, they did not seek to destroy them. Even most homosexuals could see the need for strong and healthy families.

What has changed in our day, and this is where I believe the link exists between deconstruction and homosexualism, is that many homosexuals no longer ask merely to be tolerated and left alone. Instead, activist homosexuals demand to be “affirmed”; lauded and celebrated for their often lethal way of life. Now that affirmative action has taken hold, many expect - analogous to blacks and other minorities in the racial spoils system - to be considered morally superior to “inhibited” non-homosexuals. Such an attitude, striking as it does directly at the root of the very things that hold society together, marriage and stable families, can only arise in a society in a profoundly disordered state of mind, one where everything, no matter how self-evidently good, is open to question, and to Hell with the consequences.

What deconstructionism has done to academic philosophy, homosexualism threatens to do to civil society. The virus analogy is apt here as well. There are very few deconstructionists and, in truth, not very many homosexuals, yet the viruses they have introduced into society (I am not speaking of AIDS, though some might think that apt) threaten to break up whatever social order is left. The irony in both cases is that these movements, given how few their true partisans are, could enjoy no success without the willing or passive assent of a thoughtless majority.

I know nothing about Jacques Derrida’s personal life, but I seem to recall that his confrčre Michel Foucault’s personal search for meaninglessness led him from France to the bathhouses of San Francisco and an early death of AIDS. HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on November 19, 2003 12:54 PM

I’m re-posting here a comment by Thucydides from another thread, where the Derrida quote was also discussed:


The Derrida quote is superlative evidence of the accuracy of Nietzsche’s vision of the rise of a horrific nihilism in the 20th Century. What better example than a man who devotes his life to trying to destroy human communication? And what sorrier comment on our institutions of higher education than Derrida remains much admired in the culture of the academic left?

Posted by: thucydides on November 19, 2003 01:08 PM

I would further add that of Fr. Rose’s four stages of nihilism—Liberalism, Realism, Vitalism, and the Nihilism of Destruction—Derrida is clearly in the final and fullest stage of nihilism, the Nihilism of Destruction, along with, for example, Hitler. Nietzsche was a nihilist of the vitalist type.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 19, 2003 1:44 PM

Mr. Auster refers to

” … Fr. Rose’s four stages of nihilism — Liberalism, Realism, Vitalism, and the Nihilism of Destruction — … “

I haven’t had a chance yet to read Fr. Rose’s work on this. Would the following blog entry of Thrasymachus’s depict an example of the second of Fr. Rose’s phases, that of “Realism”?:


“A mother had, for their education and betterment, given her children Aesop’s fables to read. Very soon, however, they brought the book back to her, and the eldest, who was very knowing and precocious, said: ‘This is not a book for us! It’s much too childish and silly. We’ve got past believing that foxes, wolves and ravens can talk: we’re far too grown-up for such nonsense!’ – Who cannot see in this hopeful lad the future enlightened Rationalist?”

(Schopenhauer of course lived way before the full flush of actual twentieth-century nihilism — I mean, whoever heard of any nineteenth-century thinker making admissions about himself along the lines of what Derrida blurted out in that passage? — but sometimes we think we may perceive a movement’s earlier “roots.”)

Posted by: Unadorned on November 19, 2003 4:10 PM

Unadorned is correct. By Realism, Fr. Rose means positivism, materialism, naturalism, reductionism: the belief that the higher things of mind and spirit are “nothing but” matter, sensation, the physical. He says that whereas the Liberal is an agnostic or evasive deist, the Realist is an out-and-out atheist. “Where the Liberal is vague about ultimate things, the Realist is childishly naive: they simply do not exist for him; nothing exists but what is most obvious.”

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 19, 2003 4:52 PM

It is possible to regard Schopenhauer as a materialist, but he himself rejects “the antithesis between mind and matter” and claims that the Spiritualists and the Materialists are wrong.

To quote him: “The exertion of weight in a stone is every bit as inexplicable as is thought in a human brain: this fact would suggest the presence of a mind in the stone. For this reason I would say to these disputants [Spiritualists and Materialists]: you believe you perceive dead, i.e. completely passive material void of all qualities, because you suppose you can truly understand everything which you are able to trace back to a mechanistic effect…Now if you suppose the existence of a mind in the human head, as a deus ex machina, then, as already remarked, you are bound to concede a mind to every stone. If, on the other hand, your dead and purely passive matter can, as weight, exert itself, or as electricity attract, repel and give off sparks, then it can also, as grey-matter, think. In short: all ostensible mind can be attributed to matter, but all matter can likewise be attributed to mind; from which it follows that the antithesis is a false one.”

The way I would put it would be that it takes a great deal of pride to say to use the term “material phenomenon” as if that was a phrase that conveyed any real limit on a phenomenon. I would ask, do we know so much about matter as to limit what God could create with it?

That seems to be the very first flaw of realism – an unnecessary reductionism which puts on great airs just from knowing a few simple things about mechanics. As if that explained anything important.

Posted by: Thrasymachus on November 19, 2003 5:46 PM

To quote him: “The exertion of weight in a stone is every bit as inexplicable as is thought in a human brain: this fact would suggest the presence of a mind in the stone.”

Without getting into the details of this philosophical discussion about materialism, I just want to back up the idea (whether it’s objectively true or a romantic intuition) that stones have a kind of soul. I’ve felt it myself, especially, for example, when walking or sitting on boulders in Rocky Mountain creeks and rivers in Colorado. The Indian spiritual master Meher Baba says stones are a lesser developed state of the soul. Then there are the Romantics, like Wordsworth, who conveyed some of the idea of mountains and boulders as beings. Then the 20th century American poet Theodore Roethke who in a beautiful poem wrote of “the stone’s eternal pulseless longing.” A stone is alive, but the cycle of its existence, and thus its “pulse,” is infinitely longer than our own.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 19, 2003 7:05 PM

I believe Acquinas would have agreed. If I recall correctly he talked about a hierarchy of souls on earth, the summit of which is the human _imago Dei_ but which included mineral, vegetable, animal, etc (its a vague memory so I may have it wrong). It is interesting how the new information-based physics out of Santa Fe (which attempts to resolve a lot of open scientific issues by positing information as an actual component of reality on par with matter/energy) is starting to mimic the ancients in this regard. In the old story scientists labored for centuries to climb the mountain of truth; and when they reached the summit they found the philosophers and theologians already there, sitting in a circle smoking their pipes and drinking brandy.

Posted by: Matt on November 20, 2003 7:50 AM

this is the most boring thing I’ve ever read.

Posted by: Gordy on January 9, 2004 9:23 PM
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