As everyone in academia knows, and most people outside of, Jacques Derrida died over the weekend. My initial reaction was, I admit, a bit embarassing – I was surprised to hear he had died, because I simply assumed he was dead. Aren’t all famous philosophers dead?
Anyhow, the NYTimes ran an obit that appears to have pissed off a good number of academically oriented people, largely for deriding the contributions Derrida made, and basically saying “thank god deconstructionism will die with him.” So the folks at UCI put together a letter they fired off to the NYTimes, complete with signatures of many people.
It’s the signatures of many people that’s getting me. I recognize names. A lot of names. I’ve been in the same room, and talked with, a few of them. Some of these names are people I’d list as very influential to how I currently think.
They’re all alive. Most of them are teachers at universities I could conceivably attend to pursue… whatever it is I’ll end up pursuing after this. That I could study with some of these great minds awes me. That I might eventually be one of these great minds scares and thrills me.
It’s very weird to have my world shifted around like this, to be only a degree of separation or three from these people I so admire, and to have it in the back of my head that one day, it could be reversed, and I could be the few degrees separation from a student who so admires me.