chapter  2
11 Pages

Modernism, postmodernism, and the two sublimes of surrealism

ByROGER ROTHMAN

Over the last three decades, no two figures have influenced the intellectual landscape of contemporary theoretical discourse as widely and deeply as have Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida. What makes this dual influence all the more remarkable is that, as Slavoj Žižek has remarked, “Derrida and Deleuze speak different, totally incompatible, languages, with no shared ground between them” (Žižek 2004: 47). Yet he insists their differences are today more salient:

While Derrida proceeds in the mode of critical deconstruction, of undermining the interpreted text or author, Deleuze, in his buggery, imputes to the interpreted philosopher his own inner-most position and endeavors to extract it from him. So, while Derrida engages in a “hermeneutics of suspicion,” Deleuze practices an excessive benevolence toward the interpreted philosopher. At the immediate material level, Derrida has to resort to quotation marks all the time, signaling that the employed concept is not really his, whereas Deleuze endorses everything, directly speaking through the interpreted author in an indirect free speech without quotation marks. And, of course, it is easy to demonstrate that Deleuze’s “benevolence” is much more violent and subversive than the Derridean reading: his buggery produces true monsters.1