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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The result is the story Cusset tells about the past 40 years. A bunch of people threatening all kinds of subversion by means that couldn’t possibly produce it, and a bunch on the other side taking them at their word and waging cultural war. Not comedy, not tragedy, more like farce, but farce with consequences. Careers made and ruined, departments torn apart, writing programs turned into sensitivity seminars, political witch hunts, public opprobrium, ignorant media attacks, the whole ball of wax. Read it and laugh or read it and weep.

Stanley Fish tells the story of theory in the New York Times. He tells it all wrong, of course—starting from his strange decision at the outset that the best adjective to put in front of theory is "French," a term that both levels all distinctions between Foucault, Derrida, and Deleuze while simultaneously aligning Theory with a geographic location "over there," and then sliding into a bizarrely over-earnest claim that deconstruction can never be political—but as usual he's got a bajillion comments, with still more at MetaFilter.