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Man Man + Derrida

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Man Man’s album Six Demon Bag is one of the more engaging things I’ve listened to in awhile. The kind of complete gimmickry and insanity that makes it impossible to just put on in the background. It veers toward being eclipsed by its own tricks and stunts, but it’s a good album nonetheless. Sounds kind of like Animal Collective if they suddenly underwent a moodswing from nostalgic to angry, switched from LSD to cocaine, and joined the circus.

And, this is mostly unrelated: How bad is Derrida for our intellectual climate and institutions? Postmodernism, specifically deconstructionist ideas, is touted as a big bad wolf, the kind of catch-all representative for all that's-wrong-with-our-culture, especially in regard to religion. This article argues it differently and insightfully. At the extremes of postmodernism there is total relativism which ends up with conclusions that are hostile towards religion. Here many bring up the question "What is true, then?" or suggest that "If nothing is right or wrong, and everyone is right, we have indifference or even chaos." What the article points out is that all this deconstruction, this pointing out of gaps and inconsistencies and problems with truth and meaning, ends up with what Derrida later termed the “undeconstructible,” a concept that's hard to describe. Derrida said that justice, for example, is indeconstuctible--it is, of course, still a word, but Derrida explains it this way, in the midst of a discussion involving the story of Babel: "the place that gives rise and place to Babel would be indeconstructible, not as a construction whose foundations would be sure, sheltered from every internal or external deconstruction, but as the very spacing of de-construction." Meaning it isn't that justice is out of bounds of deconstruction, but that it has in its definition a structure which don't create the usual loop of oppressive self-referential signifiers.

Essentially it is some thing that is pure affirmation, something that is beyond the reach of decontructionism and therefore beyond our abilities to reason and even imagine. Kind of a desire beyond desire itself. In this sense Derrida's entire project was making an affirmation rather than a negation—an important point. From Sauf le Nom:

Here the invisible limit would pass less between the Babelian project and its deconstruction than between the Babelian place (event, Ereignis, history, revelation, eschato-teleology, messianism, address, destination, response and responsibility, construction and deconstruction) and 'something' without thing, like an indeconstructible Khora, the one that precedes itself in the test, as if they were two, the one and its double...

The "Khora" can be defined as something it is not--it is something that defies the logic of noncontradiction, the either/or dichotomy. The article suggests that Derrida's deconstruction really is a kind of extremely high standard, an idea that is akin to, for example, the Jewish rejection of idols as inadequate and inappropriate. Maybe postmodernism can be friendlier to religion than we think. Actually, there are some fascinating parallels. Certainly, by definition it doesn't have to be, and we would do well to understand it more fully before seeing the whole thing as one big hostile empire.
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    Anonymous kyle 

    Cool post.

    Man Man is okay. I like about half of the album. The new Adam Green isn't as good as the last two albums, though it must be said that I consider those masterpieces. It's still pretty good. The Two Gallants albums is really good. The Josh Ritter album is the best album I've heard this year. The new Fiery Furnaces is really good--going to see them tomorrow. I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness is pretty good. Rubies is good. The new Concretes is good--should be pretty popular. I'm leaving out a lot.

    Looking forward to the new Walkmen and Vetiver albums most.

    Derrida isn't as harmful as mst ppl believe. I think he had some valuable things to say about the metaphysics of presence. I wish he would have lived longer to help rework the concept of writing (along with Barthes).

    I think it's funny when people say: If nothing is right or wrong, and everyone is right...
    B/C if nothing is right or wrong, then no one can be right or wrong, so not everyone is right. Pretty funny mistake.

    You get to another of my fav things about Derrida. He understood that something can be explained by how it dissociates (not just how it associates). That's pretty cool to me.

    Take her easy man.

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  • Blake
  • Chicago, IL, United States

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