Sean de Toit (by the way the coolest name of any biblioblogers) asks the question of whether James thinks he is the only one to really understand Derrida, and wonders if the entire monstrosity surrounding Derrida can really be a chimera.
If I gave the impression that this is the scope of James' project, I must apologize; I can't imagine anyone saying that there is a 'single' correct interpretation of Derrida. What I feel James is attempting is a reading of Derrida that listens carefully to Derrida, and in the process seeks to dispel some of the 'pop-culture' interpretations of Derrida.
First James sets the Derrida-monster squarely within the context of two significant events, the awarding of the honorary doctorate by
Next by way of via negative he explains deconstruction:
- Deconstruction is not a 'method'. It is not something we do to texts, deconstruction is already present in the texts, as interpreters we are but witnesses.
- Deconstruction is not merely negative 'destruction'. It is never a simple dismantling of texts, it is always a double movement of destructing with a view to reconstructing, thus the con infix is very important.
- Deconstruction is not a 'master' name. Deconstruction is not an adequate term, and must never be severed from the discourse of trace, margin, supplement, etc.
- Deconstruction is not nihilism. 'Deconstruction is not an enclosure in nothingness, but an openness towards the other (Deconstruction and the Other, 124).'
- Deconstruction is not anti-philosophical. While deconstruction questions the systems of philosophy and the institution of university, it is not opposed to either as such.
So as to come to a preliminary definition: 'Deconstruction then is a deeply affirmative mode of critique attentive to the way in which texts, structures and institutions marginalize and exclude 'the other', with a view to reconstructing and reconstituting institutions and practices to be more just (i.e. to respond to the call of the other).' (12)
Obviously there are other ways of reading Derrida, but I think James touches on something very important, the fact that the positive purposes of Derrida are often either neglected all together, or hidden in the backdrop; because a domesticated, silly, deconstruction is easier to brush of than one that, at its very center, has the ethics of the 'other' in view.