Watch the Derrida Documentary on YouTube.

If the 2002 documentary “Derrida” proves anything, it’s that Derrida can’t answer a simple god-damned question. The film follows the French deconstructionist through the halls of New York University, South Africa, and his family home.

“I have nothing to say about love,” Derrida responds to his interviewer call to discuss the topic. “At least pose a question. I can’t examine ‘love’ just like that.”

“Could you explain,” she responds, “why this topic has concerned philosophers for centuries?” A stubborn refusal: “You can’t ask this of me Amy.”

In a way, you can’t blame Derrida. The man who spent his entire career deconstructing philosophical concepts, how the hell could you expect the man to tell a simple story? What does a story even mean?

“Ive always said I can’t tell a story,” Derrida notes. He does offer “facts” and “dates,” but a narrative is out of the question. In another scene, he reviews footage of him and his wife speaking and notes, “I like that scene precisely because we don’t say anything.”

After summarily refusing to offer a narrative of many aspects of his personal life, Derrida reveals that what he really wants to know about some of Europe’s canonical philosophers – their sex lives.

In an unrelated, though extremely comical scene, Derrida shows off his study and library to the film crew. He coolly declares that he has not, in fact, read all of the books that line the wall of the two-story library.

“But you’ve read most of them?”

“No, no. Three our four. But I read those four really, really well.”

Remember to use that line next time you have to explain why you only read a fraction of the course syllabus.

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  • Raymond

    But this is why we love Derrida.

  • codeslubber

    The filmmakers were beyond ludicrous thinking they were going to capture something akin to The Symposium with their little shoulder-mounted cam. The film is great, because you get to see a really interested cat, and he says a LOT of stuff that is intelligent, that sticks with you, but it’s also painful, in the same way that the Bogdanovich/Welles stuff is: a gnat trying to take down an elephant.

  • Nico Cordoba

    Who gives a shit that he didn’t answer a question about love; Derrida scrutinizes the history of words and their meaning throughout his publications, and the entire idea of philosophy itself. What can you expect when the film crew asks him such an exhausted question? Derrida’s answers in the interview heavily imply that he doesn’t care for vague philosophical exploration, and that he would rather talk specifically. This is apparent in the footage of the TV interviewer asking for Derrida’s comments on Seinfeld in relation to deconstructionism, in which he replies with something along the lines of, “if you think a sitcom is deconstructionism, then you need to do your homework.” ¯_(ツ)_/¯