Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Update on Derrida Kerfuffle

In a piece by staff writer Ray Rivenburg, Sunday's Los Angeles Times reported that the letter Derrida sent to the University of California Irvine that led to uncertainty about the future of the Derrida archive at that institution was an effort to intervene in the university's action on a sexual harrassment complaint made against an Irvine professor.
According to multiple sources, Derrida wanted UCI to halt its investigation of a Russian studies professor, Dragan Kujundzic, who was accused of sexually harassing a 25-year-old female doctoral student. So he tried to use his archives as leverage to derail the case, they said. . . . The 2004 sexual harassment lawsuit contends that Kujundzic, who taught a popular class on vampires and signed his e-mails with a colon to symbolize Dracula bite marks, used his position as the student's advisor to manipulate her into a series of sexual encounters. . . . "Toward the end of his life, [Derrida] enjoyed the same status as Aristotle among the ancients, and every perception of injustice was routed to his desk," said Avital Ronell, a Derrida protege who teaches at New York University. "Even as he was crawling with fatigue, he put himself in the service of those seeking his help and needing the strength of his prestigious signature."
Naturally, the article concludes with the obligatory joke about deconstruction, this one quoted from ignorant wingnut (or is that redundant?) blogger John J. Miller at Phi Beta Cons (find it yourself):
"Given that Derrida's philosophical legacy is the notion that words have no meaning, shouldn't the bright minds at UC Irvine have realized that 'an agreement he signed' might not be worth much?"
Chris at Dude, Where's My Enlightenment? has already explained why that is a dumb question. We'll just have to add L.A. Times staff writers to conservatives on the list of people who can't read.
Update of a sort: Dude, where's my Dude, Where's My Enlightenment?

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Derrida never, ever, ever said that words have no meaning. If you think that his main idea was that words have no meaning, or that life is meaningless, or anything like that, you haven't read Derrida at all.