Barthes, Derrida and all that jazz

There’s a new¬†[amazon_link id=”0745656153″ target=”_blank” ]biography of Jacques Derrida[/amazon_link] by Benoit Peeters, reviewed by Terry Eagleton. As an economist, my education in literature and critical studies is pretty scanty, but I have read Roland Barthes¬†[amazon_link id=”0374521506″ target=”_blank” ]Mythologies[/amazon_link] (sitting in the Kramer Books cafe in Washington DC).

[amazon_image id=”0745656153″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Derrida: A Biography[/amazon_image]

So over breakfast this morning I asked my husband (degree in French and German literature a million years ago) to sum up for me the difference between the two authors. He pondered an said, “Derrida is like Barthes going off on one.” So unless anybody persuades me to the contrary, I’ll stick to Mythologies. There was a new edition published earlier this year. The New Yorker reviewer Richard Brody liked best the essay ‘African Grammar’: “It exposes the colonialist rhetoric that is embedded in the popular press under the guise of journalistic objectivity.”

I preferred the hymn of praise to the Citroen DS, surely one of the most beautiful cars ever designed:

“I think that cars today are almost the exact equivalent of the great Gothic cathedrals: I mean the supreme creation of an era, conceived with passion by unknown artists, and consumed in image if not in usage by a whole population which appropriates them as a purely magical object. It is obvious that the new Citroen has fallen from the sky inasmuch as it appears at first sight as a superlative object .. We must not forget that an object is the best messenger of a world above that of nature: one can easily see in an object at once a perfection and an absence of origin, a closure and a brilliance, a transformation of life into matter…”

The essay clearly inspired generations of advertising copywriters….

The Citroen DS

2 thoughts on “Barthes, Derrida and all that jazz

  1. Long ago I craved for a Citroen DS. The trouble was I could not fit the family or much luggage in, the steering and braking were iffy and they were rust buckets.

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