Sunday, December 05, 2004

Béisbol has been berry berry good

Chomsky's blog has resurfaced.

I found this out by coming here. To which I was led after finding this post on the Leiter Report, via pas au dela. One gets to a point that unless these little itineraries are recorded at the very moment they occur, one can never recall where anything, including oneself, was.

Anyway, according to Prof. Leiter, Derrida had a 255 lifetime batting average with "no more than 100 homers." The absolutely unarguable authority of American baseball lingo assures us that
He was a particularly flamboyant and outspoken baseball player, for certain, but one who failed to earn respect for his baseball skills.
In the course of further demonstrating the mediocrity of Jacques' beisbol career, Leiter first of all uses some unelucidated criterion twixt philosophers and non-philosophers. One wonders whether he actually could offer a litmus test for determining who's who, or whether he relies on membership in professional associations, or shibboleth ("does your sphincter tingle crawl when you hear 'Lacan'?")

One clue might be found in a fictional Crossfire exchange that Leiter stages between himself and Mark Taylor, who wrote an appreciation of Derrida (now hostage behind moneywall) in the Times for which Mr. Taylor shall, apparently, never be forgiven.

Of Taylor's comment that Derrida was famous for his habit of knocking canonical texts against the grain of received readings, Leiter writes:
...surely it bears noting that a primary reason for skepticism about Derrida is that overwhelmingly those who engage in philosophical scholarship on figures like Plato and Nietzsche and Husserl find that Derrida misreads the texts, in careless and often intentionally flippant ways, inventing meanings, lifting passages out of context, misunderstanding philosophical arguments, and on and on. Derrida was the bad reader par excellence, who had the gall to conceal his scholarly recklessness within a theoretical framework.
The gall of the Gaul.

Derrida's sin is that he played. Real baseball scholars work. Anyone who thinks it's a game obviously misplaced his limited partnership stake in Steinbrenner inc. To the extent the philosopher doesn't look like he's working, to the extent that he indulges in literary caprice, well he just doesn't have his jock carapace on straight. Talk about received ideas...Amazing how offspring of the genealogy of footnotes to Plato never fail to ignore the cryptographic sign of the literary, writ large, all over the corpus delicti of their nobodaddy. We murder literature to philosophize.

But I digress. The thing I wanted to say is, after dissing the Da, Leiter cites a passage from Nietzsche to cap it off. It has to do with reading:

Derrida, says Leiter,
...was the figure who did more violence than any other to what Nietzsche had aptly called "the great, the incomparable art of reading well," "of reading facts without falsifying them by interpretation, without losing caution, patience, delicacy, in the desire to understand" (The Antichrist, sections 59 and 52).
A lovely, sweet definition of reading, one that with a flick of the feather sets it forever and violently against the entire academic labor of interpretation. Invoking the Neetch to bludgeon Derrida for his baseball skill is like Bush invoking Christian values in the service of USian mass murder: It can be done, but something with less industrial-strength inanity perhaps would be more serviceable.

Nietzsche's remark offers a giant clue to his own philosophic processes, and helps me understand a bit more of what he was about. Thanks to AKMA's pointer, we can easily locate some of the Teuton's early, reckless baseball plays. For example, I better understand why as a reader rather than an interpreter he was inclined to write Prefaces to Unwritten Books, as opposed, say, to career-enhancing books.

Or, we can sometimes do that. I just tried, and got this:
Sorry, this site is temporarily unavailable! The web site you are trying to access has exceeded its allocated data transfer. Visit our help area for more information.
The last philosopher is inside Geocities, which is inside Yahoo, which sees fit to allow nearly infinite email space to as many replicas of ourselves as we wish, but puts an allocation on how much Nietzsche we can access.

"Sorry" doesn't do it justice.

In any event, fwiw, I hope in the next quarter-millennium to look at Nietzsche's practice of reading while rereading AKMA's thoughts on the subject.
The subject of reading. Reading reading. After all, what is blogging but that, unless it's a bunch of notes to prefaces to unwritten books?

2 Comments:

Blogger Matt said...

Although I haven't had the time to really check it out, you may wish to try here.

12/07/2004 12:41 PM  
Blogger Jon Husband said...

This time I returned to reading this post and read the last bit differently ... more carefully, or less quickly, or both.

Prior to coming back, I have had an insistent quiet voice reminding me for some reason that I read probably ten or twenty or fifty times as much as I write, or blog. I get a lot more out of reading, trying to understand and commenting. As soon as I get my ego out of the way when commenting, I'll be all set.

12/13/2004 12:10 PM  

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