September 2, 2008 in gewgaws
French intellectual Réne Girard gave a provocative interview to Il Foglio in March 2007, and it has only recently been translated and pubished in English. In this interview Girard rails against post-modernism, calling the movement’s denial of overarching truths a “castration against meaning.” Here’s a sample bit:
Q: Unfortunately, today there is only one definition of violence, that of pure aggression.
A: This is because one wants to render oneself innocent. Human violence, however, is the result of desire and imitation. Postmodernism is not able to speak of violence. Violence is placed in parentheses and its origin is simply ignored. And with it, the most important truth: that reality is in some measure knowable.
I like the daring vehemence with which Girard denounces post-modernism as conspiracy. I do believe that reality is in some measure knowable, and that it’s not altogether fruitless to come up with ways to define the human experience, at least by certain parameters. No one wants to feel predetermined or stereotyped, but I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice by not extrapolating from our experiences. I guess it all goes back to the meaning of life itself: why do we exist if not to learn something from being alive?
In this vein, Girard goes on to say:
This nihilism of our time is also called deconstruction, or simply ‘theory.’ But if nihilism is transformed simply into a respectable philosophical ‘theory,’ then everything becomes frivolous, everything is a play on words, everything is a joke. So we may begin with the deconstruction of language, but we then finish with the laboratory deconstruction of the human being.