Signs of the Times: Nietzsche, Deconstruction, and the Truth of History

Kevin Newmark

in Irony on Occasion

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780823240128
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823240166 | DOI:
Signs of the Times: Nietzsche, Deconstruction, and the Truth of History

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Today's university occupies a site delicately poised between intellectual, institutional, economic, juridical, ideological and political values. The precariousness of its situation can be gauged at any given moment by considering discursive practices that take all these forces as an object of study and intervention. In this respect, what was nicknamed “deconstruction” in the 20th century can be usefully considered in light of Friedrich Nietzsche's writing. This chapter juxtaposes a dated example of cultural criticism, whose clear call to action regarding the university is easy to read and understand, with an untimely fragment on “dissimulation” from Nietzsche's Gay Science, which problematizes what it means to read, understand, and act effectively in any socio-historical context. Its appearance (Schein) notwithstanding, Nietzsche's emphasis on “activities” like reading, thinking, pretending, and writing may ultimately provide somewhat more reliable access to historical intervention than the urgent but illusory need to resist “passivity” at any cost.

Keywords: University; Values; Deconstruction; Nietzsche; Dissimulation; Appearance; Schein; Fragment; Reading; Historical action

Chapter.  12853 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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