Sunday, March 13, 2005

Il n'y a pas de hors-texte . . .

Recently, my five-year-old son told me, "God does not exist."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"God does not exist in the world," he explained.

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"God exists in stories," he clarified.

My son loves stories, especially stories about monsters, so I asked, "Do monsters exist in the world?"

"No," he said. "They exist in stories."

"But you're afraid of monsters," I noted.

"Yes," he confirmed.

"So . . . monsters are real?" I suggested.

"Yes," he agreed.

"Is God also real?" I asked.

"Yes," he replied.

"But he only exists in stories?" I checked, just to be sure.

"Yes," insisted my son.

So, my little boy's opinion seems to be that God is real but exists only in stories -- a bit like the scarey monsters. And only yesterday, I learned that he believes that "God controls everything we do." From inside the text, I guess.

And wouldn't we be in there, too, what with God inscribing our every act? Stories within stories?

"Il n'y a pas de hors-texte."

"There is nothing outside of the text," not even God. My son has been reading Derrida.

22 Comments:

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

I'll have to dredge up the posts on my blog where I've dealt with this Derridean claim. Derrida, in his later years, backed away from the metaphysical implications of "il n'y a pas de hors-texte." Smart move. I think the claim is demonstrably false.


Kevin

 
At 3:45 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

En-Uk will be sorry to hear that the views that he shares with Derrida are wrong, but it's best that he receive correction at a tender age:

"As the twig is bent, so grows the tree."

I'll direct him to your posts.

Jeffery Hodges

 
At 9:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Demonstrably"? I'm curious, Kevin...

 
At 10:12 PM, Anonymous ThomasVV said...

"As the twig is bent, so grows the tree."

Indeed, Horace... But the better "bent", the more "textual"... ;)

 
At 10:35 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the light-hearted comments . . . but I go by "Jeffery."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:05 PM, Anonymous ThomasVV said...

Sorry, Jeffery, I was probably influenced by the poetical sound...

 
At 6:23 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

No problem.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:21 PM, Anonymous ThomasVV said...

Stories within stories, ok, but telling the story they are told by! That's the inevitable recursion we will always be doomed to...

 
At 6:29 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Here's 'my' story . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:55 PM, Anonymous ThomasVV said...

Waw... Looks great... I am chatting with a modern Goethe!
Particularly the following comment is intriguing me:
"Hodges very successfully argues that moral choice lies at the center of the problem of the human condition, and he drives home his point--without metaphysics and without moralizing--that our situation in the Cosmos is precarious indeed; and that recent progressive claims for the transformation of society and the human race through a postmodern revolution in consciousness are premature, naive, self-deluding, and very possibly self-destructive."
Is this an accurate comment?

 
At 7:17 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thomas VV - sorry, but I didn't get a notice of your comment with its query:

"Hodges very successfully argues that moral choice lies at the center of the problem of the human condition, and he drives home his point -- without metaphysics and without moralizing -- that our situation in the Cosmos is precarious indeed; and that recent progressive claims for the transformation of society and the human race through a postmodern revolution in consciousness are premature, naive, self-deluding, and very possibly self-destructive."

That was a reader's review, and you asked:

"Is this an accurate comment?"

My belated reply:

I hope so . . . because it sounds good . . . but I don't quite comprehend the praise. That reader must have understood more than I did . . . . Anyway, if you do read my story, I hope it's worth your time and effort.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:21 PM, Anonymous ThomasVV said...

Thanks for your reaction, Jeffery. I am very much interested in your novel. By the way, do you know Oswald Spengler?

 
At 7:53 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Oswald Spengler? Decline of the West fellow?

Trained as a historian, I've heard of everything but know only a little about anything.

I've read only quotations from his book. I presume you've read it all . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:19 PM, Anonymous ThomasVV said...

"Der Untergang des Abendlandes", indeed, Jeffery. What a title, isn't it? As I read you have lived in Germany, you can certainly appreciate it...
Spengler was a fervent Goethe-adept, and his ideas might interest you as a prominent historian. In particular the above quoted reader comment reminded me of Spengler in general...

 
At 8:32 PM, Anonymous ThomasVV said...

(besides the initial Derrida statement)

 
At 8:51 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

It's on my bucket-list of books to read.

Life is too short . . . though it wouldn't be so bad if we didn't have to perish at the end . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:48 PM, Anonymous ThomasVV said...

Be at ease, Jeffery, as far as it is up to Spengler, we don't have to perish at all. He is only talking about the organical end-phase of the culture of what he calls "das Abendland" some 100 years ago. In my opinion his approach of history, culture and humanity is paradoxally enough a revealing "refreshment" in our more and more mechanical, rigid, star (?) and fossilizing society...

 
At 4:07 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I was reflecting more on the decline of Jeffery Hodges, an Untergang that will see me go under . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:33 AM, Anonymous ThomasVV said...

Is that your concern, Jeffery, your personal Untergang?

 
At 8:03 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, that was the object of my dark humor.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:50 PM, Anonymous ThomasVV said...

You see yourself as a member of the Abendland-culture?

 
At 11:05 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes.

By the way, I've blogged on our encounter -- if you'd prefer to post on a more recent entry.

Jeffery Hodges

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