Language vs. Thought

A note on Derrida and the postmoderns.– Difficult language is sometimes necessary to communicate thought. However, difficulty, in the sense of varying degrees of opaqueness or indecipherability, must never be the goal, for the simple reason that language must never be the goal. To make language itself the goal of writing is analogous to making pots and utensils the goal of cooking. This is what Derrida does when, for example, he writes. Or, for another example, when he insists that the traditionally privileged status of speaking over writing bespeaks historical injustice. No, it bespeaks an understanding of the natural relationship between thought and language, without which language would have no human function whatsoever, other than as a subtle weapon of mass oppression — exactly the opposite of the political position Derrida, a proud purveyor of language emancipated from thought, pretends to espouse.

Difficulty of language must be relative to meaning, and always in a ratio of 1 to 2. Hard words must indicate doubly complex thought. For the aim of language is to analyze and simplify thought. Therefore, the opposite ratio — language more difficult than meaning; or worse, language that deliberately obviates meaning — is pretension, artifice for its own sake, a mask of sophistication, modern art. A mask of divine obscurity concealing all-too-human transience.

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