Derrida, An Egyptian

I just finished reading Peter Sloterdjik’s tribute to Derrida, titled “Derrida, An Egyptian”. Postmodern deconstructionists are generally clowns, but the book was fantastic. Sloterdjik does a beautiful job. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

A sharp-witted hetero-Egyptian brought into Egypt through a second distortion could indeed have the ability to understand the homo-Egyptians better than they understood themselves. This hermeneutical superiority would be a gift bestowed by his specific marginality — and would in fact transpire to be the key to Joseph’s success in Egypt.

‘Egyptian’ is the term for all constructs that can be subject to deconstruction — except for the pyramid, that most Egyptian of edifices. It stands in its place, unshakable for all time, because its form is nothing other than the undeconstructible remainder of a construction that, following the plan of its architect, is built to look as it would after its own collapse.

Hehe, honesty is great:

Whoever chooses exposes himself to the risk of identification, which is precisely what Derrida was always most concerned to avoid.

Speaking of the Exodus:

All of a sudden, the divine changes hands: is passed from the architects to the archivists. From a monument, it becomes a document.

So close to Barfield, yet so far away:

Every sign, according to Hegel, is ‘the pyramid into which a foreign soul has been conveyed … and is preserved’

This is the dream of reductionism:

If he is to bring his theory of the spirit to its goal, he cannot waste any time with the weight of the pyramids or the enigmatic nature of the hieroglyphs; both must be overcome, until the spirit can clothe itself in a shell of language whose lightness and translucence allow it to forget that it needs any external addition.

I speak Chinese, and he’s wrong about this next quote (the ugly old Saphir-Whorf fallacy). But it’s pretty anyhow:

In this sense, the Egyptians remain eternal prisoners of externality to Hegel, like the Chinese, whose language and writing form one giant system of barriers and disturbances that render impossible the fulfilled moment in which the spirit, distancelessly attendant on itself, hears itself speak.

This final one brings to mind Scruton’s “Beauty”:

The pyramid’s chamber is thus likewise an object that can be sent on a journey — it especially likes to land in those areas of the modern world in which people are obsessed with the notion that artistic and cultural objects should be conserved at any cost. …where selected objects are mortified, defunctionalized, removed from all profane uses, and offered up for reverent viewing.

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