What was Of Grammatology about? When Madeleine, the heroine of Jeffrey Eugenides's campus novel The Marriage Plot, asks a young theory-head this question, she is immediately set straight: 'If it was "about" anything, then it was about the need to stop thinking of books as being about things.' That's not so far off. In all three books, Derrida's argument was that Western thought from Plato to Rousseau to Lévi-Strauss had been hopelessly entangled in the illusion that language might provide us with access to a reality beyond language, beyond metaphor: an unmediated experience of truth and being which he called 'presence'.
—Not in the Mood
by Adam Shatz is an essay in The London Review of Books about a new biography
of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida. The review does a good job of explaining Derrida's theories in simple language and putting it in the context of his life, from his childhood as French Jew in Vichy-controlled Algeria to his later years as a globetrotting academic star. For a complimentary perspective on Derrida, you can do worse than starting with these thoughts on his relevance for historians and progressives
posted by Kattullus
on Nov 14, 2012 -
Almost immediately upon my arrival in my first teaching job, I became the go-to guy for the Holocaust. Of course, this was partly due to my dissertation, but in larger part, I suspect, because of my Jewishness. This was fine with me for a number of reasons. First, as a junior faculty member, this identification, though merely professional, could only help in my quest for tenure. An expert on the Holocaust carried infinitely greater weight, I thought, than an expert on ministerial instability during the French Third Republic.
: My life as an accidental Holocaust expert—and why I decided to quit
posted by timshel
on Feb 25, 2012 -
Poetry in Hell
contains a complete collection of poems recovered from the Warsaw Ghetto's Ringelblum Archives
. The project, which took ten years to complete, gives English translations of poems that are shown in their original Yiddish. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Jul 23, 2010 -
"The special moment when the Kohanim blessed the assembly moved me deeply, for it possessed a great sense of magic and theatricality... I had heard that this indwelling Spirit of God was too powerful, too beautiful, too awesome for any mortal to look upon and survive, and so I obediently covered my face with my hands. But of course, I had to peek."
--Leonard Nimoy, I Am SpockLeonard Nimoy
discusses his inspiration
for the Vulcan "live long and prosper" hand gesture. Rabbi Yonassan Gershom explains its Jewish origins,
and discusses Jewish themes in Star Trek. Via Laughing Squid.
posted by mattdidthat
on May 21, 2009 -
"They are demanding that I kill the children of my people with my own hands"
On October 4, 1939, a few days after Warsaw's surrender to the Nazis, Adam Czerniaków
was made head of the 24 member Judenrat, the Jewish Council (write "Czerniakow" in the linked page's search box)
responsible for implementing German orders in the Jewish community (interactive map of the Warsaw ghetto)
. On July 22, 1942 -- Tisha B'Av
, the "saddest day in Jewish history
" -- the Judenrat received instructions that all Warsaw Jews were to be deported to the East (exceptions were to be made for Jews working in German factories, Jewish hospital staff, members of the Judenrat and their families, and members of the Jewish police force and their families. Czerniaków tried to convince the Germans at least not to deport the Jewish orphans)
. Czerniaków kept a diary from September 6, 1939, until the day of his death. It was published in 1979 in the English language as the "The Warsaw Diary of Adam Czerniaków: Prelude to Doom
", edited by one of the most prominent
, Raul Hilberg
. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Feb 17, 2006 -