derrida and chomsky

derrida is a terribly funny man. directors kirby dick and amy ziering kofman capture a thoughtful and amusing side of the thinker in their documentary bearing his name.

the film opens with derrida rummaging about his apartment in search of his keys. this focus on the everyday, the unglamourous, world of the much flaunted philosopher is refreshing. it is these moments that ground his ideas in the realm of daily life.

while there are moments of cinematic posturing and pretension, derrida’s delightful personality is what makes this film necessary viewing.

john junkerman’s power and terror: noam chomsky in our times, by contrast, is a much more serious effort with substantially graver subject matter. the primary difference between these films is that chomsky is a somewhat monotonous subject. what i mean is that to listen to chomsky talk at length is to feel waves of sleep come over oneself. while i gladly read his books and enjoy the mental barrage of his research, recordings of him speaking are virtually unlistenable. it was a struggle to keep my eyes open during some of the longer segments of this film.

however, beyond my inability to sustain attention to chomsky’s speech, the content of what he discusses is invigorating. his scope and focus are earnest and intense, and his fearlessness to engage unpopular subject matter is impressive. i recall after the world trade center disaster that chomsky was one of the first loud voices of reason on the matter. it is for this i put toothpicks in my eyelids and work through his words. if he could learn to modulate his voice a little more i think it would greatly assist his cause.