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derrida
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I first heard Derrida's name while watching an episode of "I'm Alan Partridge". He is referred to as regularly eating at a "fictitious" restaurant called the "Restaurant with no name." He was also referred to as being the World's greatest living philosopher (as opposed to Alan's choice, Peter Ustinov). For some reason I became curious and started to find out about him. It's worth adding that trying to untangle the event referred to is itself quite a good Derrida primer

I don't honestly think I've done much more than began to understand Derrida's ideas and ways of thinking. However, here are some initial observations.

The following box including its contents, especially the quotation marks (and including the box (and this introduction?), is possibly a good place to start...

'Derrida' 'is' 'into' 'thinking' 'without' 'the' 'box' '...'

If you want to try 'unpacking' that box, start thinking about what each word means: in particular , reflecting on how many different meanings it could have in this context. For example, what does 'is' mean here? If it refers to the man himself, it is odd, because he is dead, so the tense is wrong. Is it about thought inspired by his philosophy? That seems to work, but, then again, how possible is it to attribute those thoughts to him alone, rather than other thinkers and one's own history? Furthermore, why is the present tense appropriate? What/when is the implied now?

If all this bores the pants of you and you really can't see the point, that's OK: there's no obligation to proceed further. You may also have heard Derrida critised as breaking things down into meaninglessness. But to me nothing could be further from the truth: I find myself fascinated by the meanings within meanings, the spinning chains of metaphors, and the constant sense one gets from his work of one level of reality being 'haunted' by others.

Here follows some other food for thought...

if you want to learn more, I recommend 'Jacques Derrida' by Nicholas Royle from the Routledge 'Critical Thinkers' Series. But to finish, another quotation. In its wonderings about presence, absence, memory, and identity it follows paths that I think Derrida would like, as well as wresting, as he frequently does, with the twin mysteries of death and life

'Let us go then and buy this pencil. But just as we as turning to obey the command, another self disputes the right of the tyrant to insist. The usual conflict comes about. Spread out behind the rod of duty we see the whole breadth of the river Thames - wide, mournful, peaceful. And we see it through the eyes of somebody who is leaning over the Embankment on a summer evening, without a care in the world. Let us put off buying this pencil; let us go in search of this person - and it soon becomes apparent that this person is ourselves. For if we could stand there where we stood six months ago, should we not be again as we were then - calm, aloof, content? Let us try then. But the river is rougher and greyer than we remembered. The tide is running out to sea...
...The sights we see and the sounds we hear now have none of the quality of the past; nor have we any share in the serenity of the person who, six months ago, stood precisely where we stand now. His is the happiness of death: ours the insecurity of life. He has no future: the future is even now invading our peace. It is only when we look at the past and take from it the element of uncertainty that we can enjoy perfect peace. As it is, we must turn, we must cross the Strand again,...'

from 'Street Haunting: a London Adventure' by Virginia Woolf, Penguin

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