Valentine's Day (Disappointment and lawyers edition)

Ah, Valentine's Day! A day when many reflect on love gone wrong, and the harsh things that are said when love spoils like potato salad left too long in the sun. Charmingly, the Times has a story today on a UC Irvine-centered case of spoiled love, and yes, harsh things were said.

"Irvine is not exactly the center of the world," Kamuf said…

Not a nuclear-winter inducing strike, admittedly, but there's no denying that nasty edge there. So, who is Kamuf and what bit of unrefrigerated mayo-based-salad-of-the-heart inspired her to say that?

The somewhat snotty Kamuf is Peggy Kamuf, "chairwoman of USC's comparative literature department" (ah, USC), and more importantly in this context, "a friend of the Derrida family". The Derrida family is, of course, the currently green parts of the family tree of the late French philosophy idol, Jacques Derrida, who taught part-time at UCI from 1986 to 2003.

It seems that once there was love between Derrida and UCI, and Derrida promised the blushing young school a token of his affection (his papers). But then the old man had second thoughts, and rethought his promised gift. Words were exchanged. Derrida died. Words continued to be exchanged with the Derrida family. Lawyers were retained. Unpleasantness on a [insert your favorite Hollywood divorce here] level loomed. But now passions have cooled, the lawyers (well paid) have been sent home, and a middling sort of "can't we still be friends" compromise appears to have been reached.

"This is what should have happened all along," [Kamuf] said. "One hundred years from now, Derrida will be considered the most important philosopher since [Immanuel] Kant."

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OK, apparently not all passions have cooled. Most important since Kant? Really? That's the sort of love-drunk declaration-- especially with that gaseous I'll be right when you are dead assertion-- you might expect from a squealing fan-girl, not a scholar of such lofty status that she can sneer at Irvine from on high.

But since it's a holiday, let's skip the philosophical arguments and instead enjoy a combination of a different sort of drunkeness and philosophy. I give you Monty Python's Philosopher's Song (click link, You Tube won't embed) featuring some of those thinkers Kamuf would tell are nothing but "beery swine" compared to her Derrida.


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