On occasion, one would like to say that there is nothing more to say. But those of us who know better also know that there is no such thing as silence – except for the kind we can conjure in our own heads if we are smart enough. For, as John Cage once remarked, even if you were to isolate yourself in a room completely devoid of sound, you’ll still hear your heart beat and your blood running through your veins. This being said then, and remaining true to the deconstructive aim to denounce stupidity every time we spot it, here is a thought on Vincent’s encounter with Frederik Stjernfeldt – a personnage who, on his academic website with Aarhus University, declares is “against scepticist, vitalist, and deconstructivist views of many kinds,” being more “predisposed to a realist view of semiotics.” Right.

Now, one would like to know why I choose to quote from Stjernfeld’s webpage rather than report on what he says on screen. There is a reason for this. I’m bewildered. What I’m watching is a re-run – the last episode in The Power of Thought series from last year, in which Vincent and Stjernfeldt talk about epistemology and logic. I can’t help thinking to myself: this is fucking déjà-vu, twice over: while Vincent and his guest are not absent from the program as such, they are not present either. They are on my TV, all right, but not with something new; not with what was announced: Vincent with Stjernfeldt on multiculturalism. From a pragmatic point of view, there is only one thing to say: someone is being very incompetent. From a deconstructive point of view – the kind that Stjernfeldt is against – there are many more things to say.

So, let’s say something, now that we’ve got ourselves so worked up. However, as I’m not interested in talking nonsense behind people’s backs, as it were, I’ll make this remark only, sparked by Stjernfeldt’s webpage where he rejects the school of deconstruction in favour of adopting a neo-conservative stance. While I would have been interested in hearing what he has to say about multiculturalism, I am quite certain that I would have pointed out this irony: that the best definitions of multiculturalism are provided precisely by scepticists – (see Multiculturalism from the Margins by Dean A. Harris), vitalists (see Gilles Deleuze’s Vitalism and Multiplicity) and deconstructivists (read all of Derrida, and don’t cheat). Insofar as deconstruction dismantles imperial ideas from within, through identifying the aporias and inconsistencies within the system of ideas itself, dismissing deconstruction is, to me, nothing more than an act of folly, for what is more refreshing than the fact that deconstruction, in its enabling a democratic multicultural discourse also identifies that very democracy perhaps even as a dictatorship of multiculturalism? The same goes for the metaphysics of presence, indeterminacy, and cultural paranoia.

By way of closing this post, let’s end with the words of an intelligent man, Elias Canetti, who, in his brilliant book, The Secret Heart of the Clock, has this to say, hinting, of course, at acts of silence and absence, also embedded in writing strategies such as quoting:

Nothing has changed in me, but sometimes I hesitate before pronouncing the name of the enemy.

From Wittgenstein’s: “Vermischte Bemerkungen”:

“The proper greeting among philosophers should be: Give yourself time!”

“The philosopher finds more grass in the valleys of stupidity than on the barren heights of cleverness.”

Philosophers one gets entangled in: Aristotle.

Philosophers to hold others down with: Hegel.

Philosophers for inflation: Nietzsche.

For breathing: Chuang-Tzu.

The philosophers condensed into a pack of cards.

As I write this, I discover, however, that some things remain consistent, in spite of everything. The TV is still on – and lo – Vincent is on again, with another topic from a previous program, the turning of reality program, namely, the 6th VVV instalment on infinite love....... As I watch it again, I think to myself: there are two possibilities here: either Vincent is very smart, and uses all sorts of strategies to keep us interested including deciding which instalment to be repeated when, even when there aren’t any new ones to repeat; or else (2) he’s very lucky. For, you see, the idea of infinite love is bound to make at least some of us less bewildered, and yes, keep us interested. But whatever the situation, let’s just say that today’s absence has been saved by the clock, not care. Where deconstruction itself is concerned, the fact that the show seems to dismatle itself, by never being consistent with what it announces, nor with when it airs, is a brilliant example of how, while one may not have the adequate theoretical knowledge of how deconstruction works, one can see it in action all the time, like clock-work indeed.


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