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.
“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.