In a comment below the question How does Derrida's Signifying obfuscate his writing?, DJohnson wrote,

Just for the record Derrida has been quoted as stating that he deliberately made his presentations and books difficult and/or, if you prefer, impenentrable.

Claims that Derrida is hard to read are easy enough to find. See for example this Reddit question from five years ago:

Here is Searle on Derrida's obscurantism. The general gist of the criticism is that Derrida is intentionally obtuse and difficult to read which makes it hard to know exactly what he's saying. Any criticism of Derrida is deflected with a "well, you just don't understand him." This makes it easy to reject all criticism as non-substantive and based on a poor reading of Derrida. It seems that Derrida himself used this tactic, which is probably why fans of his work sometimes do as well.

The link in the above quote points to the blog post John Searle and the Obscurantism in French Philosophy on Open Culture (01.07.2013), which contains the following quote from an interview in the magazine Reason:

With Derrida, you can hardly misread him, because he's so obscure. Every time you say, "He says so and so," he always says, "You misunderstood me." But if you try to figure out the correct interpretation, then that's not so easy. I once said this to Michel Foucault, who was more hostile to Derrida even than I am, and Foucault said that Derrida practiced the method of obscurantisme terroriste (terrorism of obscurantism). We were speaking in French. And I said, "What the hell do you mean by that?" And he said, "He writes so obscurely you can't tell what he's saying. That's the obscurantism part. And then when you criticize him, he can always say, 'You didn't understand me; you're an idiot.' That's the terrorism part." And I like that. So I wrote an article about Derrida. I asked Michel if it was OK if I quoted that passage, and he said yes.

While these criticisms may be justified, they don't prove that "Derrida has been quoted as stating that he deliberately made his presentations and books difficult". Hence my question: did Derrida ever say such a thing?

  • Paul Fry, Yale scholar, knew Derrida when he (Derrida) was in residence at Yale and, in this 2010 lecture (chapter 2 on Derrida's style) makes it clear what his (Derrida's) strategy was in being purportedly difficult. youtube.com/watch?v=Np72VPguqeI&list=WL&index=4
    – DJohnson
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 17:58


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