Study Guide

Jacques Derrida Influences

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Jean Jacques Rousseau

It's hard for any self-respecting literary critic not to take issue with this 18th-century political monster of philosophy. He had so much to say, he said it first, and he said it in really powerful ways. My masterpiece Of Grammatology created the groundwork of deconstruction, and in a weird way, Rousseau was my muse. My basic argument—although there's really nothing basic about it—is that Western philosophical tradition has always subscribed to the false belief that writing isn't as great a way of forming message as speaking.

Phaedrus by Plato

I'm no lightweight. When I deconstruct, I only deconstruct the best. If you haven't read Phaedrus, no worries, but it's definitely worth a peek. In my super famous essay, "Plato's Pharmacy," I dig deep into the origins of writing and do some major deconstruction of my man Plato. Once again, I look at that crazy hierarchy between speech and writing that has been messing up Western metaphysics since Plato's ancient day. I then proceed to a critique of those pesky binary oppositions, including male/female, good/evil, truth/error and speech/writing, each opposition giving higher status to the first category.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

In my book Glas, I went nuts with the whole deconstruction thing, going so far as to deconstruct the very look of the words on the page. Yeah. Glas offers my deep thoughts on the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and the French novelist/playwright Jean Genet. But it's laid out in a cool way—each figure has a graphically inspiring parallel column. Then there's an occasional third column of commentary about the two men's ideas. I also use different font sizes. Oh, and I cut words in half. It's kind of gimmicky, yeah, but it provoked thought, which is all I want in life.

The Medium is the Message by Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore

I'm really into writing, right? I'm convinced that it's always just been dismissed like the unwanted child of speech and that we should give it a little more credit. Well, get this: McLuhan and Fiore went and declared the end of writing—they may as well have declared war, because I just can't accept that. These guys are nuts about the ideaof going back to an oral community, claiming that would bring us more immediate connections with people. But you tell me—don't you feel connected to me right now? And I'm writing. So there.

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