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Kwame Anthony Appiah,
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If you want to gawk at Derrida, like a tourist, then check out this video.
If you've begun reading Derrida for the first time, there is nothing in this video for you. If you've come out on the other side of reading Derrida after a long time, there is nothing in this video for you. Then why watch it? Because it is a document of a man who remains--and will remain--one of the most important philosophers of the modern era. He is gone now, but if you've never seen him you have the opportunity in this video to look at him.
This video is not the Cliff notes to a corpus of work. It is, instead, a look into the public and private life of a man who, like everyone of us, remains a mystery to strangers. And it is a dirty look, a pornographic eye, indeed, that does the looking. The creators are like groupies at a rock show, the ones that manage to weasel back stage passes. They know not enough to ask smart questions, ones that would make Derrida think. So instead, they follow the man around like stalkers, pointing their video camera into his private life: We watch, as did they, Derrida put jam on his toast, talk about his cat, walk through his house, walk through the street. It is as though the video makers were simply in awe of the fact that the man lives!
The same video makers/groupies/stalkers made a video about/on/addressed to/following the cultural critic, Zizek. Similar result, except the latter looked an awful lot like promotional matter. And make no doubt, the co-creator of this video has said as much: "There is a market for these videos," she said at the screening of Zizek in Amherst. Pornographer indeed.
In short there is nothing in this movie that you need to see. But you do get to see everything. Derrida is gone now, but he once was alive. You can find him in his books, but if you want to gawk at him, then check out this video.
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