Admittedly, the more you take these post-structuralists with a grain of salt, the more enjoyment you can derive from their work. The jargon, the irrelevant distinctions, the dramatic pronouncements, and the overreliance on analogy and metaphor are just never not entertaining. I can't imagine anyone at this late date asserting that we're supposed to take it really seriously.
I'm just starting my undergraduate degree and I feel like I am unable to complete a degree in literature. Having said that, I find Derrida extremely useful in terms of post-colionialist aims. He releases you from the notion that meaning and connotation are authoritative descriptions of our current concepts, which I think is the corner stone in the theory behind Critical Whiteness.
I don't know, maybe I'm talking **** but I find both Derrida and his influence on Critical Whiteness to be invaluable to minority issues with in literature.
If you want complexity, have a look at Lacan. What a pile of cr@p and people like Zizek built their reputation on Lacanian mumbo jumbo. Early Zizek is all about Lacan. I have a copy of Ecrits somewhere that I never opened after finishing the university. Still theory is invaluable in interpreting our complicated world. I wonder how much the translators are responsible for the obscure language. Gyatari Spivak's translation of Of Gramatologyis not very inaccessible but we can't say the same for most other theoretical writings.
"The farther he goes the more good it does me. I don’t want philosophies, tracts, dogmas, creeds, ways out, truths, answers, nothing from the bargain basement. He is the most courageous, remorseless writer going and the more he grinds my nose in the sh1t the more I am grateful to him..."
-- Harold Pinter on Samuel Beckett
But feel free to describe any of the progress that's been made by women and minorities in terms of voting, hiring and advancement, housing, education, lending, representation in government, and anti-discrimination which is attributable to close reading or deconstruction.
We're not facing out-right violence anymore, at least not in the country I currently live. What we face is a more subtle and allusive beast. As the issues change, so do the tools. By all means, continue to be as condescending as possible but don't expect me to reply.
A group of people (like Toni Morrison) are currently theorising that "whiteness" has become the human default or social norm and propose that while that distinction exists, in all facets of society, then equality is a dream. It linguistically reinforces colonial power structures in which the normative other (I.E minorities) are seen as a separate class.
I think in this context, deconstruction is very useful.
There is a problem with that, in that deconstruction often works at cross-purposes with the sort of identity politics that organize and motivate political activism which have improved the conditions of minority groups, at least their material conditions.
When we get into these political academic discourses, which are participated in primarily by an educated middle class, rather than the kind of activism that produces tangible, and relevant, results for those effected by oppression, I don't really see the point.
"If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
- Margaret Atwood
I can see your point. I'm not personally from an educated middle-class background though and perhaps that's the distinction between our levels of optimism in such discourses. It's all very new and exciting from my vantage point.
I feel as social mobility improves, we will see a new thinker from the Lumpenproletariat as more and more get accepted into higher education...or at least, that is my hope. Anyway, this is a bit off topic now.
I still have no problem with Derrida. Everyone should read more Derrida.