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Jacques Derrida (like derrière but derri-DAH)
I hate binaries, but I'm really working on clarity—so with deeply meaningful reservations, I will put "Male."
No, I wasn't born in Paris, okay? I was born inEl Biar (Algiers), French Algeria. So I always felt like "The Other,"an interloper, in France. We were French citizens—the country was French territory, meaning occupied by the French (get it—French Algeria…)—but Parisian we were not. I never had that clichéd love of Paris and Left Bank cafés that all the other critics and philosophers suffered from. For most of my life, I lived with my wife in Ris-Orangis, a peaceful bourgeois suburb south of Paris.
As a child, I had big plans to become a footballer (Allez, Bleu!). But then my calling became a writer, thinker, lecturer, and mutineer of Western thought. NBD.
Let's put it this way: I wasn't the kid being kept behind to clap the erasers afterschool. My grade reports said something about myinclination to makethingsreally complex—oh, and I alsohad superior verbal skills, so clearly my complex mind was budding from an early age. No one's surprised.
Anti-Semitic laws led to my being expelled from grade school.But you know what? They could shove it—I was already on my own reading the likes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Albert Camus anyway. I went on to bomba bunch of exams, but finally got into the École Normal Supérieure by the hair of my chinny chin chin.
Political parties just aren't my thing.Some people describe my ideas as fascist, but that's just plain mean. I'm not a communist or a socialist either. Actually, I'm more into all of the abstract ideas around politics (surprising, eh?), like national identity, racism, nationalism, and other important -isms.
Naturally, everyone got on my wick about lacking political commitment, saying that deconstruction renounced absolutes and prevented them from formulating straightforward political claims. My response? I sort of picked up the political pace, as it were, and got on board with many of the day's political causes: disapproving of the Vietnam War (the French were their first, ya know, America could have learned a few lessons there), speaking out againstthe Apartheid government of South Africa, supporting Czech dissidents, defending the rights of North African immigrants living in France, and getting real steamed up about the US invasion of Iraq. (Don't get me started on George W. Bush—and people say I'm unclear!)
Mom and Dad were French-Algerian Sephardic Jews who lived through the Nazi period, so… yeah, religion was a stressful subject. I wrote a bunch of essays on Jewish identity and how the Holocaust affected French writing, but I was never I synagogue-goer. Too busy theorizing and deconstructing. It's hard work.
Television (no sitcoms!). But don't assume I'm just vegging out. I'm critical of what watching. I deconstruct all the time. Even Gilligan's Island.