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Redesigning Theory: The Art of Making-Real the CounterFactual in the Indecent Institution

If there is a question that philosophy, itself so questioning, manages to exclude, this is the question of its own socially necessary conditions. Resembling the artist in this respect, the philosopher sets himself up as an uncreated creator, a creator whom there is no getting around and who owes nothing to the institution. Pierre Bourdieu The Philosophical Institution

what if Theory was an Art movement What if the Event that Art aims to effect has not been taking place as art over the last 30 years, but as Theory? What if Baudrillard is right to claim that art that claims to be about nothing is merely a conspiracy to deny that it is in fact nothing?1 What if, while art played at nothing, something more Art than art was happening, in Theory? Is this not the difference (and never ever the sameness that know-nothings so often couple together) between postmodernism (art) and postructuralism (thinkwriting2)? And what if that Theory Art Event is itself now over? What now, for art or Theory? I loved Theory, but Theory is today dead Most Theorists have died, though some live on.3 Many Theory journals and series have been deleted, though some persist and there even a few new ones.4 Few universities these days risk Theory subjects that are difficult and without clear outcomes in terms of increased graduating salary, though you can still find some buried under ambiguous titles in handbooks. If there is still Theory about, it tends to be either: > in doth protest too much articles which claim that Theory was always dead already, that there is nothing more Theory than post-Theory, etc.5 > back within traditional disciplinary boundaries (Continental Philosophy) > dispersed amongst a mess of narratives employing notions that unironically contradict of all that Theory aimed to question the personal, the historical, the activistly political and/or the identity of communities or places. Theory was, for me6 Loitering in various sections of bookshops (this was before online shopping) philosophy, literary criticism, cultural studies, sociology, etc flicking through the latest translation or exegesis. Handing over next weeks rent and walking home with the book under my arm, but the cover clearly on display.

A rumour that Liz Grosz is finally going to give a course on Derrida.7 Piling into a clich of a philosophy seminar room in the Main Quad. of Sydney Uni. Finding the room exploding with people, some sitting on the window sills, others on cupboards in the corners, lots on the floor. Everyone laughing knowingly when Liz asks how many people are officially enrolled in this subject and only 7 people put up their hand. 8 Hours upon hours in front of the computer screen, watching the same sentence inch out, then get backspaced away, over and over again, until there was just the right level of reflexivity and intertextual allusion in every bracketed or hyphenated word. The desperate attempt to take heed of all of your conditions of possibility, to critically account for all that you were doing, or trying to do, or using to do whatever was being attempted. The surety well, arrogance that such reflexive think-writing was crucial, had agency, made all the difference. Peri-* : An open secret society one that pretended to be more secret than it was comprising three early postgrads (now a translator of Badiou, a Lacanian analyst, and sustainable design researcher), half-way between a reading group (reading the College de Sociologie Bataille, Callois, etc) and student activism (agitating Departments and conferences to experiment with alternative modes of discourse through posters, pamphlets and even performances), something the group professed to be post-politics (the politics of post-). More than all this though, the delight that is the only word; what else would you call it when you find yourself grinning, half-losing your breath? when, after spending hours slowly following Derrida reconstruct the argument of this or that philosopher, term by term, all of sudden, you find Derrida seemingly beside you. How did he get there? He was in front of me, methodically showing me the way, and now he is next to me, resting a hand on my shoulder as if to say, who are you looking for? And then the quietly exciting optimism that came as you put the article down, the hope, the faith, that in the impossible complexity of it all, there lay possibilities, chances, both personal and political, for those careful enough with their creative critiques. This sort of affect came not only from Derrida. There was the awe at Foucaults ability to handle so many, and such disparate, archival sources, to think on so massive a scale. And the wonder that came with being able to put down one or other archaeology or genealogy and quite literally see the world completely differently lecture theatres, doctors waiting rooms, fundamental Christians apologising for secret depravities. There was the frustration at Lacans ability to teach like a chess-master, thinking innumerable steps ahead; if he knows that I know that they dont know that he doesnt know that And the consequent yearning to have the ability to effect change through words alone that clinical psychoanalysis promised all forms of analysis. Theory for me was care; careful care for the otherness of the other; concerned yet certain, the surety that comes from constant doubt, discerning. Theory for me was creative criticality; bewilderingly beautiful creativity, but in the service of insightful critique; it was critical creativity; always responsible imagination, always serious play, always tactfully tactical, always decent. Theory for me was all that a university should be: a space and time for critically examining everything, including the nature of that space and time; a space and time for developing other forms of space and time for enhancing and preserving criticality.

the feeling has gone Theory is not utterly dead, as a topic or approach. But its moment has certainly passed; it is no longer a movement; the emotion behind it has gone; as a disposition, it is nowhere anymore; as a community, it has dispersed. there is still Zizek though Superficially, Theory is alive and well in Zizek; the mastery of a myriad of sources, popular and esoteric; the wit and vitriole in composition; the analytic ability to double- and triple-think through dialectical oscillations; the shunned and exploited celebrity. In some ways, Zizek is the ultimate theorist: 9 a summation of Lacanian psychoanlysis, Foucauldian post-Marxism, and Derridean commitment;10 all applied to the Realpolitik of the day September 11, Iraq, fundamentalism, liberal hypocracy. And yet in other ways, the never-ending ranging of Zizeks texts, their alwaysmore-radical-than-thou-ness, their lack of conceptual punctuation, suggest that if Zizek is the embodiment of Theory, he is its transubstantiation, its consummation. In short, what I find missing in Zizek, is a mood, a shared project, in his writing or its reception. the opposite of enthusiasm? I am recalling Theory with a certain sentiment deliberately. In a strange argument, Kant once tried to find proof that world history was progressing toward a more reasonable future in the aesthetic reception afforded to the French Revolution. Because a significant number of non-participants, that is, people without a direct interest in those events, felt a certain aesthetic appreciation, and more, enthusiasm, for the possibilities inherent in the Revolution (not in the events themselves, which as concrete facts, are logically prohibited from being predictors of the future), even while condemning the immoral excesses of its execution, this evidenced the presence of a drive toward universal reason amongst those so affected.11 The argument is typically Kantian, that is, perverse, so I will not rehearse it here, and there is certainly no direct analogy with the event of Theory though one can imagine asking: Did the passing Event of Theory signal progression in relation to the enlightenment project instituted as the university? I mention Kants argument merely to indicate that I think that mood is crucial factor when trying to appreciate the nature and significance of a phenomenon.12 In hindsight, what I find most poignant about Theory is the sheer differend in terms of mood that it provoked. I have tried to describe the appreciation, if not love, that certainly I felt being around Theory. But it is crucial to remember that Theory was, throughout its existence, hated and I mean that with all the violence that should be reserved for the word hate.13 Theory provoked hateful over-reactions14 throughout its existence, and not only toward the end, when even cowards were emboldened to spit on the aged. Long before the de Man, Heidegger and Cambridge affairs in the late 80s and early 90s, let alone the Sokal affair in 1996 (which I take to be the actual date of Theorys death),15 Theory was subject to numerous attacks from those resistant to Theory,16 and not only in publications, but tenure and promotion meetings.17 These reactions to Theory, whether in the 80s, 90s, or in the last few years, were almost without exception never well researched or well reasoned.18 In a near systematic way, anti-Theory involved not just misreadings, but unreadings.19 Most involve versions of the Freudian joke about the borrowed kettle:20 Theory is unreadable; Theory can be read as having no position; Theorys positions undermine all the values of higher education, research and the wider civilized culture, of which I, who cannot be ignorant of my own blatant contravention of those values in making these unresearched contradictory accusations, claim to be the defender.21

Why this level of anxiety? How is it possible that what I, and not only I, experienced as careful and beautiful, as most becoming of all that a university stands for, opening up opportunities for hope, for making a difference, caused so many, and so many whose lives were committed to research and education, to reason and representative politics, to sign up, without any direct encounter, to public denunciations of what they assumed to be carelessly ugly and nihilistically indifferent? What would it mean to Kant to find rather than sympathy accompanying an event, utter detestation by non-participants? What was Theory that it also entailed this? Theory Halt! There was no Theory. At best there were theories and theorists. The collective noun Theory22 was how a range of incompatible (post)structuralist, (post)Marxist, and (post)Heideggerian interdisciplinary approaches were hailed by those seeking to arrest this movement. Theory is a construct of anti-Theory. But because anti-Theory has won because Theory has not just been displaced by something post-Theory, in the dialectical sense of something that takes account of what Theory was or discerned, that takes aspects of Theory forward into some new direction23 because Theory has rather been replaced by something avowedly pre-Theory, something that returns to things as if Theory never happened, something that erases Theory from intellectual history24 because all those who published that they were prepared to censor what they had never even read, in the name of the rigour that is the ideal of the university; because their blatant hypocrisy remains unproblematically clear for all to see, despite all that Theory remained committed to in terms of probity and responsibility because anti-Theory vindicates itself uncontested it has managed to constitute retrospectively this thing called Theory. Though there was no Theory, there is now Theory, in the past. Theory is what you can no longer do, even if some still try. Theory is what has been pronounced dead as a post by those who knew so little about it that they claimed that there was a thing called Theory.

paradigm craze Was Theory a fad, inflated beyond mere fashion by me, along with others, being a fan? Or was it a paradigm, a real ontological problem that we were all working on? Certainly, I have always thought that at the least Theory was the paradigm of perceiving paradigms. The minimum requirement for Theory was condensing structuralism into the process of understanding quite distinct things as part of the same; the products, architectures, politics, practices and ideas of any particular place or time as different manifestations of that place or times paradigm. Such paradigms were not hegemonic world-views being imposed by certain sets of people, or even the censoring ideologies of transhistorical systems, but ontologies encompassing all that was possible at each time or place, and never available for articulation by those structured by them. The task of Theory was to discern the nature of the current paradigm, to glean its rules from its many different applications, to notice what was being proscribed by this way of structuring being-in-the-world, and thereby seed the possibility of paradigm shift.25

However, in this version, Theory was perhaps too conscious of its task for it to be considered a paradigm in the strictly Kuhnian sense. The nature of the normal science that occurs within a scientific paradigm, allowing scientists in different places to share and contest each others research, is only identifiable in retrospect, when anomalous research prompts work on a different fundamental model or guiding problematic. Theory, by contrast, was all about identifying the nature of its paradigmatic task of disclosing ontologies: archaeology, geneaology, deconstruction, ecriture, etc. the devolution of the university The university of
> 1750 >1800 > 1850 > 1950 > 1968 > 1996 > God Reason26 Culture27 Professional Expertise28 Innovation Excellence Ruins

Content
Theology Philosophy + Applied Faculties Humanities Sciences Technology Diverse Branded Niche

Function
Contemplation Disseminating Doctrine Liberal Experience Elite Apprenticing Mass Training29 Quality Assured Research Output Large Corporation

Theory =
Metaphysics Critique Ideal Truth Model Theory Post-Theory

the distinction of being difficult to employ I am part of what has been called The Next Generation of Theory.30 Most Theorists grew up during the second world war, developing their Theories in the 60s and 70s in reaction to technocracy and the Society of Spectacle in enlarged universities servicing the post-war boom in the economy and population. Their primary exegetes were baby boomers, finding both counter-culture and research output opportunities in Theory, allowing them to become tenured radicals.31 The Next Generation of Theory went to university in the 80s, encountering Theory second hand from their boomer professors, and rather than reacting to it, adopted it with the tribalistic fervour of their Generation X search for authenticity.32 The way I and my peers received Theory is well captured in Michel Beaujour glib account of why deconstruction was so successful in America:
During the sixties and seventies, the American universities and their affluent presses, in cooperation with the foundations and the art museums, came to absorb most of the cultural activities that had not been pre-empted by the profit-making media, the art market and the capitalist trade publishers. When the sort of critical and oppositional thinking that had previously been undertaken at the writers own risk, and mostly in precarious circumstances, was annexed by the Universities and supported by Foundation grants, it also started to counting for academic tenure and preferment. In short it became academic. These, I believe, are the general conditions under which American deconstruction came into being and thrived for a while, along with other critical discourses that would eventually shove deconstructionism aside, largely because these militant critical theories could ride on the aspirations, and fit the abilities, of expanded student bodies. Besides, they were better attuned to American traditions of pragmatism and moral righteousness than was deconstruction. [This did not however] entail for deconstruction a risk of rapid and massive trivialization [because] paradoxically enough, the initial appeal of the philosophical criticism that turned into deconstruction resided precisely in its difficulty, its specific philosophical difficulty. A few bright and

increasingly disaffected students hoped that this kind of difficulty would redeem the mediocrity they had been expected to emulate [in enlarged quality assured universities]. However, these students whose interest in literature was presumably more intellectual than aesthetic also were American enough to expect satisfaction from the academic institution itself, rather than from the 33 outside world. (88-9)

Certainly, in my experience, Theory offered the ambitious student in an institution reeling under sudden increases in enrolments and institutional mergers, a very visible differentiator; Theory, as challenging in both senses complex and anti-establishment, rigorous whilst questioning of the institution policing rigor was a powerful way of distinguishing oneself, of being distinct from and yet a distinguished part of, the postmodern multiversity.34 There obviously were elements of a fashion clique to all this, a subcultural fluency in being able to do Theory. This was partly because Theory, whilst more explicit than a paradigm, was never a specified project, a demarcated procedure. It was always more like a habitus in Bourdieus sense: a field of changing examples through which members become adept at anticipating a compliant next move.35 It wasnt that we were all imitating this or that model, even though it may have appeared this way to anti-Theorists; we were rather tyring in different ways to imitate what all the different examples each seemed to be imitating, without that model ever being determinable, or fixed. This is why the field was diverse and shifting, but why nonetheless there was a discernible we, a sense of those who were in on Theory and those who were not, something you could pick within a paragraph or two of any article. However, for all its fashionability, I want to insist that Theorys radical prestige was not hypocrisy. Rather than fake criticism of the institution in order to gain status in the institution, I want to argue that Theory was in fact seeking to enhance the criticality of the institution, reinstituting the criticality that was the idea of the university, an ideal that was at risk in the devolution of the marketised university. The coda to the Next Generation of Theory story is that the second wave of enlargement of the number of universities and number of students at universities throughout the 80s was followed by a period of economic rationalisation. Academic job opportunities for The Next Generation were few and highly competitive. Wider hiring only recommenced when universities reoriented toward corporatised education service delivery and industry partnered research funding, not a fertile environment for Theory. Theory died because the next generation of its defenders never got academic jobs nor managed to innovate ways of sustaining its project outside the protective gates of the academy. media Theory The role of the fashion for Theory in the ruination of the contemporary university is complicated by the fact that these transformations were not just happening within the university, but to the university. Internationalisation (i.e., pre-digital globalisation), both quantitatively and qualitatively de-privileged the university as the guardian of culture and expertise. Consequently, the division between the academy and society was being breached more and more by the media. If there is such a thing as an Information Society, it is only because the university is no longer at the centre of what counts as formative knowledge that role now being dispersed about Society. Intellectual fashions and their celebrities (possible because of the increased numbers of fans involved36) and their opponents37 within the university, became issues for significant elements of society at large through increased reportage. This is apparent in the volume of the interviews carried out by

Foucault and Derrida for example, and the significance of those interviews, whether for academic or more public audiences, for their thinking. Theory took place, not only in the university, but also in the media. All of this is to say that, if there were elements of fashion to Theory, these were in fact part of the paradigm that is Theory. In its historical context, in the context of the ruination of the idea of the university beneath globalisation, and in particular, global media, Theory was even though it was also more than this a media-spectacle fashion. And I think that, to the extent that it did not manage to adequately discern this aspect of its ontology, to the extent that it was played by the media, or played out in the media, and failed to play the media, it remained open to the censorship that has now befallen it. Theorys incapacity to adequately negotiate the media led to its demise.38 the strange self-consciousness of art movements As something more conscious than a paradigm, but less conscious than a fashion, as something happening within a particular institution, but also with a wider presence, a social interface, perhaps Theory was more like an Art movement:39 a shared attempt to make present particular things in particular ways, to generate affects, to effect an Event.40 Theory = Theory + Anti-Theory To explain why Theory provoked anti-Theory and why Theory then did not manage to respond adequately to anti-Theory, particularly in the context of the mediated multiversity, and thereby became responsible for its own demise, allow me to risk a dangerously schematic account of what Theory actually entailed: a re-factual counter-factual counter-factual I always understood Theory to be, at the very least, and as its etymology specifies, about seeing what cannot just be seen, about seeing through to what lies behind or in front of what is visible, or in the visible itself. Theory, as a form of abstraction, is born of the requirement to move beyond the immediately apparent facts. Theory is always counter-factual, constructing a version of the world that is not the one we experience. This hermeneutics of suspicion is not particular to Theory; it is, or should be, the project of the academy more widely, particular the modern university, with its crucial lower Faculty of forceless critical judgement, the Department of Philosophy.41 What was particular to Theorys version of this counter-factual insight was what I take to be a series of three moves beyond Marxist critical theory that I will call structural, deconstructive and poststructural. 1) As indicated above with reference to paradigms, the first was to move beyond ideology critique to what could be called ontological critique; to shift the focus, for example, from the impositions of this or that form of subjectivity (being a worker or a capitalist), to the impositions involved in subjectivity per se. In either case, the theorising aims to let us see that we are less free than we feel; that we experience as freedoms ways of being that are in fact (i.e., in theory) limited. 2) The second deconstructive move, by contrast, attempts to see that we are more free than we feel. Theory sees ideology, even if understood ontologically, itself counterfactually: that the systems that structure our ways of being are less controlling and controllable than we have learned to assume. Where Marxist critical theory reconstructs the world of naturalized, ahistorical facts as historical institutions imposing themselves on us, Theory deconstructs those historical institutions as limited

in their ability to be fully imposing. Being a subject, being only in ways determined by notions of subjectivity, is limiting, but those notions are themselves quite limited, and limited precisely in their ability to be been, to be applied, or inhabited, to be lived by us. 3) There is however, a crucial third move to Theory, one that is frequently missed by those who seek to gloss Theory as postmodernism. This third move is in fact a return to the first, one that could be said to be re-factual in the face of the counter-factual character of the second. This is the move that acknowledges that, despite having limitations, those institutions are nevertheless experienced as successful impositions; whilst subjectivity is a flawed notion, in its livability, it is nonetheless still used by us in our everyday dealings. This move is well summarised by Sam Weber in the following call for a programmatic shift in Theory in 1982:
The strategy of deconstruction in what I would call its orthodox form has focused on the particular ways in which systematic constructions simultaneously entail exclusions and incorporations, which render the system constitutively dependent on factors it cannot integrate or comprehend. But in thus elaborating the aporetic, non-dialectical identity of the conditions of possibility and impossibility of systematic thought, such deconstruction has tended to downplay the forces and factors that always operate to institute and maintain certain sets of paradigms, notwithstanding (or even because of) their intrinsically aporetic structure. In short, by focusing on the conditions of possibility and impossibility of systems, what has been neglected is what I would call the conditions of imposability, the conditions under which arguments, categories and values impose and maintain a certain authority, even where traditional authority itself is meant to be subverted. To ignore such factors, of course, is to leave their force unchallenged and to suffer their 42 effects without reserve.

Theory then and here I mean not just the middle-period work of Derrida that Weber is referring to, but also Foucaults later work, as well as Lacans various cryptograms on the effectivity of analysis involves the necessarily ambivalent insights that we are freer than we think, but in ways that we are less free to take up and enact; the systems constraining our perceptions and actions can never entirely succeed (in theory), and yet they do manage to be experienced as successes (in practice), in ways that Theory must seek to theorise, to have insight into. This is why Theory was not itself a form of activism, nor did it seek to inform activism. The task of Theory was not to direct action against any imposing system this would be to forget the ontological nature of the systems, the extent to which these systems have the ability to impose themselves on experience nevertheless. Theorys job was to develop insights into the impossibilities and imposabilities of the systems structuring current existence. However and this is the crucial point here this job is did still required action, action that I think Theory did not adequately undertake. I am calling this third move poststructural because it refers to what happens anyway after a deconstructive analysis, the sort of structure that persists even after its counter-factual critique. In other words, it is not as if the act of revealing a systems conditions of impossibility and/or imposability has inherent agency. The re-imposition of a system takes place not only generally, but quite particularly in relation to Theory itself; it is Theorys insights that will be excluded or incorporated as the re-imposition occurs. To put it another way, there is no learning from Theory; it is not something that can be done, and then assumed to now be known, some fact that can be taken as a ground for further development. One cannot merely identify that a system is inadequate, and thereby assume to proceed as if the system has now been disabled; imposability names the realisation that the system will continue despite its inadequacies. Consequently, if Theory managed to win insights into the systems structuring our current existence (through its first two counter-factuals), these insights, or at

least the ways of accessing those insights, needed to be actively held open, in resistance to the systems re-imposition. The action required of Theory in this third move was not one of destroying the system (destruction), or constituting alternative systems (construction), but of actively, materially, creatively, instituting ways of maintaining its ways of gaining insights (instituting deconstruction). In short, if there is no inherent learning from Theory, then Theory must be the unceasing action of inventive teaching. The sort of actions that I am referring to here are the actual innovations in writing, but also in researching and teaching, in the everyday mechanisms of the institutions of researching and teaching that accompanied the best instances of Theory. I am thinking not only of Derridas performative think-writing, but his typographic and book design innovations, and his (only now better acknowledged) constant involvement in educational institution reform and experimentation;43 and also of Lacans more radical institutional experiments.44 I am thinking of the small but concerted body of work on deconstructive pedagogy45 and poststructural research methods. And I am thinking in particular of the arcanely prolific work of Gregory Ulmer.46 None of these gestures were themselves acts of revolutionary liberation.47 They were merely inventions designed to materialise access points to the limitations inherent to any ontological impositions or proscriptions. They are not deinstitutionalisations, but designs (in both the strategic and material sense) that allow others to continue to see the finitude of institutions. Theory has died because it did not defend itself . It did not die by allowing itself to be co-opted by institutionalisation, but by not doing enough institutionalisation, by not instituting itself creatively enough. In becoming merely another aspect of the university it allowed itself to be one of the aspects that the university could render redundant. It should have been active in asserting the extent to which it is the modern embodiment of the idea of the university, essential to the future of that idea and its institutionalisation. It should have been asserting this to and in the media. making preservation happen
In the work, the happening of truth is at work; at work, indeed, in the manner of a work. Accordingly, the essential nature of art was specified, in advance, as the setting-itself-to-work of truth setting-to-work also means: bringing the work-character of the work into motion and happening. This happens as preservation. Thus art is: the creative preservation of the truth in the work The essence of art is poetry [in the Greek sense of poiesis, making]. The essence of poetry however, is the founding of truth. Founding is understood here in the threefold sense: as bestowing, as grounding, and as beginning. But it only becomes actual in preserving. Thus to each mode of founding there corresponds a mode of preserving.48

I would like to reiterate this schema of Theorys three moves in two different ways. In either case, what I would like to do is move from the specific content of Theorys concerns, which are highly contestable given the reductive mash-up of Theory that I have just recalled, to the general affect that Theorys project managed to generate while it was taking place. 1: MAKING REAL To my mind, one of the best attempts to capture the overall feel of Theory, as that which is inseparable from anti-Theory, is provided in a short essay by Elaine Scarry, a thinker particularly

adept at large-scale innovatively synthetic thinking. The essay, The Made Up and the Made Real draws attention to the fact that Theory, as counter-factually deconstructive, as revelatory of how much that we take for granted is imposed, must be acknowledged as generating a wider constructivist sensibility:
In the last several decades, the attempt to understand the nature of creation and created things has become a central and collective intellectual project. The energy that in an earlier age was directed toward the investigation of truth bas been redirected toward understanding the nature of inventing, making, creating (or as it has often been referred to lately constructing, especially in the sense of the social construction of X) The category of created objects (the category of objects that can be immediately recognized as created) has been vastly extended so that art works are no longer its solitary representative. They stand accompanied by countless other cultural artefacts: nation states are fictions (in the sense of created things), the law is a created thing, a scientific fact (many argue) is a constructed thing, the wilderness is a made thing, a quark is a made thing, fire is a created thing, sexuality is a created thing, romantic passion is a created thing, the body (some say) is a created thing, gender (some say) is a made thing, childhood (Philippe Aris says) is a created thing, and so on. (239)49

If this is the counter-factual insight of Theory, what it manages to discern from its first two moves, Scarry then clearly articulates the necessary third move, the re-factual recognition:
On a particular morning, when the artifactuality of law (or any artefact) becomes suddenly and insistently visible, what should be striking is not the fact that the law is not real, or the sense that its reality was a fraud, or that there is no difference between the real and the artifactual, but rather that X (the particular law) is artifice and the artifice of X entailed at its centre, up until last night, the appearance and force and responsibilities of the real. In other words, having been made up, as a poem is, it then must have gone on to a second stage of creation, where the initial work of invention was compounded by an additional process through which reality was conferred on or discovered in it; and the essence of this second stage lay in the making invisible of the traces of its having been created in the first place. (241-2)

What Scarry calls the second stage of creation to which art is never subject (art being less a truncated or abbreviated artefact an adolescent artefact (242), than exceptional for the overtness of its fictionality (243)) is another way to name what Weber calls imposability. Where Webers metaphor of institution draws attention to the pragmatic and political aspects of the process of imposition-in-spite-of-inadequacy, Scarrys metaphor of art focuses on the creative and imaginative aspects of the process. Scarry is explicit about the risks involved in this trope over individuating, or over-personifying the process, under-emphasising its materialist and collective nature indicating that arts showiness as an example of making up works precisely to conceal the less ostentatious mechanisms at work in making real. Scarrys article is particularly concerned by the way in which this project is faltering. Having developed an inventory of the created, an erroneous despondency arises that inhibits and deforms the ability to think clearly about artefacts (241), and so prevents the de-constructivist, or rather de/re-constructivist project of Theory from its next phase of work, bring[ing] forth a series of revelations about the nature of creation that both draw on and account for the way aesthetic and nonaesthetic artefacts co-inhabit the world. (246) In other words, a certain anti-Theory sentiment arises. What this counter-mood represents is the desire for the restitution of the distinction between the realms of the art-as-made (the traditional canon of the humanities) and the real-as-real (activist subjectivities, historical meaningfulness, scientific truth, politics as the only domain of the political, etc).

What needs to be glimpsed here is that, if the second stage of creation according to Scarry involves concealing the createdness of the created, de-creating perhaps, then anti-Theory, the attempt to proscribe Theory for its counter-factuals, is quite explicitly an agent of decreation, or rerealisation; it is an exemplary enabler of imposition. If Theory involves foregrounding the conditions of imposability of the inadequate systems structuring our ways of being, then Theory must not ignore or overcome anti-Theory, but see how anti-Theory is instructive for its project. Of course, Theory cannot merely let anti-Theory take place, lest Theory be ignored or overcome by anti-Theory. Careful and creative structures are therefore needed, to the preserve insight into the re-imposing role of anti-Theory 2: DECENT SCEPTICISM In the same vein as Scarrys willingness to think with the conflation of deconstruction and a wider constructivism, a conflation that has its origins in the caricatures deployed by anti-Theory, I would like to discuss the conflation of Theory with scepticism. In one of the earlier but still the best exegeses of deconstruction (in the context of modernist art), Stephen Melville turns to the work of Stanley Cavell to prepare the way for understanding Derrida. Working from American pragmatist readings of Wittgenstein, Cavell develops what can only be called a decent way of responding to sceptics. The essay, Knowing and Acknowledging begins by pointing out the pointlessness of trying to refute sceptics by either accusing them of selfcontradiction (misusing ordinary words) or banging on a table to assert the irrefutable presence of reality:50
The appeal to ordinary language cannot directly repudiate the sceptic (or the traditional philosopher generally) by, for example, finding that what he says contradicts what we ordinarily say or by claiming that he cannot mean what he says: the former is no surprise to him and the latter is not obviously more than a piece of abuse. What the appeal can and ought to do is to display what 51 the sceptic does or must mean, even how he can mean what he says.

In other words, one must begin with the assumption that the sceptic is not an idiot. If he or she has gone to the trouble of claiming, publicly, something counter-factual, it is plainly indecent to assume that he or she is not aware that the claim is contrary to common sense. In fact, as Cavell points out, to fail to begin from a point of empathy with the sceptic is actually to evidence what the sceptic is concerned about: that experiences are not sharable, that I cannot know other minds or the outside world. By acknowledging that the sceptic must have some reason for making such claims, one is able to now read the sceptic as perhaps asking for, or offering, help in dealing with the confusions that have prompted such scepticism. Cavells help comes in the form of distinguishing between what one knows in an everyday practical way the world is there, you feel pain like me and what one at times must acknowledge that there are difficulties in explaining how the world is there or how I know what others know. Now, despite the fact that no Theorist ever makes the sort of straight out sceptical claims that Cavell is talking about,52 or that are forever attributed to Theorists by reactionaries, there is a scepticism involved in the particular counterfactuals of Theory,53 exactly in the sense that Cavell decently reconstructs: of course I know there are truthes about the real world that a subject like me can communicate to others; its just that on analysis our concepts of truth, the real, subjectivity and meaning seem inadequate. Here is Derrida in a late interview published in the collection Life.After.Theory, being frank about a certain scepticism in his work, and setting out the sort of generous questions necessary for negotiating that scepticism:

My life is irreducible to what I say and it is certainly the case in, for instance, The Post Card, that I confess that everything I oppose, so to speak, in my texts, everything that I deconstruct presence, voice, living, voice and so on is exactly what Im after in life. I love the voice, I love presence, I love; there is no love, no desire without it. So Im constantly denying so to speak, in my life what Im saying in my books or my teaching. Which doesnt mean that I dont believe what I write, but I try to understand why there is what I call Necessity, and I write this with a capital N Necessity, as if it were someone, perhaps a woman, a Necessity which compels me to say that there is no immediate presence, compels me to deconstruct and say that there is an interruption, there is a possibility for a letter not to arrive at its destination and so on I take into account this Necessity and I obey, I account for, this Necessity. Nevertheless in life, I do the opposite. I live as if, as if it were possible for the letter to reach its destination or somehow to be present with the voice, or vocal presence But, Im trained to think: Whats going on? Why do I insist on the fact that there is no pure presence? And nevertheless, nevertheless, because, because there is no such thing, because there is this Necessity, it is because of that that there is a desire for presence and intimacy. So, I try to articulate the Necessity which urges me, compels me to write and to teach what I write, and this articulation means that its because there is no pure presence that I desire it. There would be no desire without it.54

By having recourse to the concept of Necessity in this summation, Derrida is making clear that to understand Theory, one must be sympathetic to this sceptical imperative, one must share this sense of being forced to think counter-factually, this need to not take the real in its mere visibility, but to theorise that it is invisibly the outcome of imposability, a flawed system imposing itself nonetheless. This decency necessary for Theory to do what it intended can be understood in two ways: an aesthetic disposition and an academic freedom. The aesthetic disposition, as set out for us moderns by Kant, is a duty not just to receive works unprejudicially, but to engage them actively on the assumption that the works are purposeful, that they are meant to mean, and that there is therefore a way to understand them as cohering meaningfully.55 Academic freedom, again as specified by Kant in terms of the process of critique critical to being modern, is the imperative to undertake aesthetic interpretation as creatively as possible, though always with an explicit and reproducible rigour: one must engage with works, concepts, problems as extensively as possible (can implies ought; if one can read something some way, one ought to try),56 yet always within what counts still as an interpretation.57 Theory demonstrated and called out for either form of decency (they are perhaps the same, given the birth of the modern university as the romantic institution of the liberal arts). It aimed to receive the domains it theorised without bias, thereby remaining open to the wildest possibilities, so long as those still remained possibilities of those domains. And in turn, it itself demanded radical hospitality; it asked, through its compelled counter-factual thinking, to be not judged before every generous reading was afforded it. Theory was the art movement of the university. To the extent that such aesthetic and academic decency was exactly what was denied Theory by its constant reactionaries, to the extent that Theory was so blatantly prejudged before even the most uncreative reading, Theory demonstrated its point; institutions of research and education, of understanding, are nothing without these forms of decency. Theory revealed the best and worst of the university; it made plain the sort of impositions the university was capable when faced with revelations of its inadequacies. However, this would be to grant Theory a kind of pyrrhic victory; it succeeded in exposing the sheer indecency of an artlessly unrigorous university by failing utterly to establish a place for such a

decency. In being vanquished from publications and course options, a certain imposability has taken place, clearly, but in a way that will mean that shortly, that imposability will no longer be visible; it will be concealed by the mere fact of the university, filled once again with subjects, truths, facts, histories and meanings and not politics. This is why it was so encumbent on Theory to be creative, in material ways, about shoring up what it was revealing, and how it was revealing. If the institution is nothing without decency, decency is nothing without some form of institution, without a range of strategies for instituting ways of being decent to counter-factuals. how little Theory Whilst there were some innovative strategies deployed by Theory to sustain its counter-factuals in the face of the re-making-real of everyday institutions, it always surprises me > how little Theory adopted unconventional forms not conferences, articles, journals, books, lectures, seminars and how little engaged with experimentation beyond writing, in teaching primarily. To this extent, I think accusations that many were using Theory opportunistically, simulating critique, to further conventional careers, are justified not in all cases, but certainly many. > how little Theory deployed other media visual arts, architecture, design, multi-media as opposed to being applied to those domains58 or being deployed by practitioners in those domains, not always with the best depth of understanding. Admittedly, The Internet and subsequent dot.com boom happened only after Theorys demise, but I have found it depressing that the digital has not facilitated a Theory revival, conceptually59 but more significantly, practically60 > how little Theory engaged with the media analytically61 or creatively.62 There is much talk at the moment about the relation between Theory and cultural studies, but almost none about the relation between Theory and media studies, apart from anthologies of the latter misappropriating deconstruction as one amongst other methods of reading the media. For such a media-tised academic movement, interrogations of the media and interventions into the media remain few and weak63 > how little Theory interrogated the impossibilities and imposabilities of the elephant in the room, economics. Despite Derridas leads,64 and Foucaults,65 there remains almost no careful and creative examinations of the ontologies of economics by Theory.66 In all these regards, Ulmers work, in pedagogy, broadcast media, consultancy,67 website design, public art, etc, tends to look ridiculous because it is so alone in its experimentation. Too much Theory hid from practice, from what I am calling creative material institutionalisation with the assertion that, in theory, Theory was always already practice. Theorys insight into us being more free than we know within systems that tend to re-impose themselves anyway, should have emboldened Theory to experiment with practice (always already theoretical). Or to become even more sloganistic, it never seemed like deconstruction could ever attest to its insights into systems and their imposability by using those insights to construct its own systems. if Theory was an Art movement Theory just didnt seem to have enough art, enough art-making, enough setting the work to work in works, in things, other than texts. It didnt seem to have enough preservers. or there was too much art, too much aesthetic, too much displayed perfection

Think-writing counter-factually demands reflexivity: how is it possible to know of and enunciate impossibilities and imposabilities of ontologies? Such reflexivity aimed to demonstrate the necessity of finitude; not reflective insight but a constitutively blinding reflex. Rather than licensing the taking, or making, of a position all actions are compromised impositions, so take action Theory did tend to withdraw into the spectacle of its own reflexivity what might be called posing. Theorys creativity tended to be expended on developing some of the most beautiful performances of imposability, with none of that cleverness being invested in constituting stages for their viewing.68 What I fell in love with in Theory, the delight in reading Theory, was perhaps a symptom of its unsustainability, the evidence that Theory was no longer an Art movement, but now merely art, a tasteful thing of the past. know nothing students Without an adequate quantity or quality of innovative institutionalisation, Theory became vulnerable to a series of quite prosaic attritions. Theorists died without institutions to extend their work.69 Theory enthusiasts failed to carry on the work of Theory when academic employment opportunities downturned. But most significantly, Theory failed to impact on education beyond, or beneath, the higher education sector. One of the most frustrating things about universities is that the bulk of its participants, students, being in most cases in the institution for only a 3-5 years, have no sense of what the institution was they only have a sense of how it is now (something that makes universities pliantly restructurable from the point of view of governments; each tranche of nave first year students has no way of knowing that standards have slipped) As a consequence, universities cannot be said make knowledge, as if having been made, knowledge can then be presumed to exist. It is more accurate to say that the job of universities is to sustain knowledge: if they make it, they must also keep teaching it if the knowledge that they have made is to continue to exist; or institute outside of themselves, in many ways. To this extent, I concur thoroughly with William Spanos, who indicts Theory for having missed the student.70 Without consideration of students particulars, Theory could not but perpetuate the myth of Bildung, the notion that mere exposure to diversity is inherently formative, acculturating students into the comm-unity.71 In other words, Theory failed to take responsibility for its take up, with students.72 Crucial is the nature of secondary education.73 It is important to try to discern what impact Theory has had on secondary curricula. I get the feeling that a certain amount of Theory arrived as content, what our esteemed Prime Minister (with Mr Anti-Theory downunder, Keith Windshuttle, whispering in his ear) derides as the thematic approach to history for example.74 However, I also get the feeling that if Theory did make it to schools as content, it did not as form how could it, given the lack of models of alternative educational forms being generated by university level Theory? My experience of starting-out undergraduates these days is that they have a powerfully instrumental notion of education. They have naturalised expectations of specified, if not contractual, learning outcomes. At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, I get the sense that whereas I had the expectation that university should be in essence exactly what Theory was counter-factual, reflexive, experimental these students expect it to be opposite. They seem to lack a capacity for the aesthetic disposition, and certainly an intolerance for the slow indirectness of academic freedom. They have been schooled, maybe by the Age to be quite indecent, cynical rather than sceptical. And that sentiment, or lack of sentiment, is what is killing off the last vestiges of Theory, particular a Theory that has not been creative enough at counter-instituting.

if then If Theory is the recognition that the systems that impose themselves anyway are inadequate, then Theory is, in theory, free to impose itself. Such impositions will be inadequate and will, if at all effective, be in turn excluded or incorporated by the systems own re-imposition. But this does not mean that positions should not be tried out, put forward. Theory should have been, should be, doing more of this. If Theory is the recognition that systems are made-up but also made-real, and if that insight into madedness is under threat from making-re-real, or re-making-real, then what Theory should have been, should be, doing more making, testing and demonstrating forms of making, making forms of testing and demonstration that are repeatable, that will be sustainable in the face of any system reimposition. If Theory is counter-factual in the face of the acknowledgement of imposability, if it demands a decency that the institution no longer provides, then theory should have been, should be, instituting more decency, particularly in response to the constitutional indecency of the media. If Theory is the essence of the university, then Theory should have been, should be, more ambitiously creative and multi-modal in how it sustains its insights, in how it teaches to the students of this generation. next Let me by way of conclusion name, but not explain, two related fields that could be interpreted as responding to most of this brief, re-doing Theory. Both relate to design. The first are the make-ups of the post-postmodern art movements of relational aesthetics and design art.75 And the second are the insights into making-real being generated by the post-critical, posthuman, non-theory of technoscience developments by Bruno Latour, Donna Harraway and colleagues.76 The two come together to some extent in the Latours exhibitions, for example Making Things Publc.77 If Theory was an art movement, these exhibitions are what I am next getting enthusiastic about.

The Conspiracy of Art [New York: Semiotext(e), 2005]. Theory, I believe, is in essence the sort of thinking that can only be done in writing. What I will discuss below in terms of Theorys counterfactual reflexivity involves a complexity and non-linearity that is only possible with the prosthetic memory, or distributed cognition, of the written Theory cannot be done within a subject. Theory is not unique amongst forms of thinking in this regard, but it was perhaps unique in its level of self-consciousness about this. I will therefore refer to Theory from time to time as think-writing. 3 Of course, continental Theory-like think-writers, even of long standing, are still alive, working and influential: Georgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe [died while this was going to press], Jean-Luc Nancy, Bernard Steigler. Their work though is of less interest than Theory was to disciplines outside of philosophy, and certainly to the world outside of academia. On Zizek, see note X. And nearly all the most prominent American exegetes of Theory are still publishing, though many about the end of the Theory. The following is a list of those consulted in the course of preparing this article: Jean- Herman Rapaport Theory Mess [New York: Columbia University Press, 2001], Jane Gallop Anecdotal Theory [Durham: Duke University Press, 2002], Michel Rabat The Future of Theory [Oxford: Blackwell, 2002], Vincent Leitch Theory Matters [New York: Routledge, 2003], Christopher Fynsk The Claim of Language: A Case for the Humanities
2

[Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004]. There is an interesting generation of mid-career, mainly British, academics now publishing on what I would call the Theory preserved within Cultural Studies whose work has been inspiring to discover: Ivan Callus and Stafan Herbrechter, Gary Hall, Stephan Wortham, Paul Bowman. See the special issue of Culture Machine on Deconstruction is/in Cultural Studies No.6 (2004). 4 Many of the journals I used to await at libraries have ceased eg Boundary 2, Diacritics though the more literary theory ones continue Oxford Literary Review, Modern Language Notes and others have arisen Angelekai and some online journals Postmodern Culture, Culture Machine, Critical Encounters. Critical Inquiry continues, though for its thirtieth birthday, it published a post-theory symposium on the future of criticism. 5 See for example Nicholas Royles Dj Vu in McQullan, M., Macdonald, G., Purves, R. & S.Thomson eds Post-Theory: new Directions in Criticism [Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999]. 6 There were various of stakeholders in Theory 1) the prominent (French) Theorists and 2) those attempting to proscribe them (Anglo-American anti-Theorists ), 3) the leading (Anglo-American) exegetes, appliers and extenders; 4) the doctoral candidates and junior academics researching and publishing further exegeses, applications and extensions; and 5) the students exposed to these ideas in courses run by those in 3) or 4). There were also 6) the journalists who reported on some of the trials of Theory. I lay somewhere between 4) and 5), what I would call an enthusiast for reasons that will be explained in an endnote below on Kant and Lyotard. 7 It will be quickly apparent that the focus of the following is Derridas work. The term Theory will be used to refer to the triumvirate, Foucault, Lacan and Derrida (my own pathway into theory was in that order), and to a lesser extent Baudrillard, Bourdieu and Lyotard. Excluded is any consideration of Deleuze, which time constraints have never allowed me to engage with at all thoroughly. Derrida, not just because of not dying early enough, bore the brunt of vigilantes against Theory, even in its structuralist and critical theory (where the focus was history and power) forms, despite the fact that Derridas career begins by initiating poststructuralism, and never really concerned sociological notions of history or power. Derrida became the metonym for Theory. There is an element in what follows of me attempting to honour Derrida in memoriam, as the opportunity to write an essay like this will certainly never come my way again, not least because Theory is dead. I am very grateful to Artspace for so long now doing what the University no longer does, and being to my mind exemplary of what Theory, as an Art movement, should be for the opportunity to publish this. 8 This was in fact the first year of the introduction of HECS, a factor that quickly outlawed non-paying students sitting-in on classes. 9 See Geoffrey Harphams utterly apposite reading of Zizeks work to date, which begins with this point: Doing the Impossible: Slavoj Zizek and the End of Knowledge Critical Inquiry Vol 29 (Spring 2003) . 10 Zizek has recently been explicitly claiming to be a type of heir of Derrida precisely in response to posttheory pronouncements; see A Plea for a Return to Difference (with a minor Pro Domo Sua) Critical Inquiry Vol.31 No.2 (Winter 2006). 11 Kant, I An Old Question Raised Again: Is the Human Race Constantly Progressing in Conflict of the Faculties [Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992]. Kants argument about enthusiasm for political events as an indicator of innate reason is taken up by Lytoard in the final section of the The Differend, The Sign of History [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988]. For a lucid and lightly critical reconstruction of the arguments of Kant and Lyotard, see Antonio Calcagnos Interface: Modernity and Postmodernity The Possibility of Enthusiasm according to Immanuel Kant and Jean-Francois Lyotard Philosophy Today (Winter 2005). For an insightful testing of Kants argument in relation to September 11, see Andrew Cutrofellos Is the Human Race Constantly Progressing? Reflections on September 11 in Human studies Vol.25 (2002). It is with reference to Lyotards analyses that I would describe myself as a Theory enthusiast. In fact, the whole strategy of this essay, embracing the performative abstract noun Theory despite it having no actual referent, is like Lyotards treatment of the jews in Heidegger and the jews [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990]. In other words, Theory names the dispute as to whether various ways of theorising are Theory or not; the positive project should not be considered distinct from the negativity it aroused. 12 I am here drawing on Hubert Dreyfus use of Heideggerian concepts of mood and attunement to capture notions of style. See for example, Spinosa, D., Flores, F. & H.Dreyfus Disclosing New Worlds: Entrepreneurship, Democratic Action and the Cultivation of Solidarity [Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997].

I would like to cite at length some of Derridas asides as he summons the energy (by outlining the concept of biodegradability in relation to publication) to respond to 6 critics of his analysis of the revelations of de Mans collaborationist journalism as a 21 year old in 1941-2. I want to cite at length because: a) these comments capture the acerbic nature of the differend between Theory and anti-Theory; b) the essay from which I am citing has received very little comment, a fact that the anti-Theory crowd take as evidence that the Theory crowd were embarrassed by Derridas naked anger (though see the discussion in the final chapter of Rei Teradas Feeling in Theory: Emotion after the Death of the Subject [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001]; c) this piece has always contained a kind of punctum for me I so feel for Derrida in this response, still:
Those who have sought to exploit these revelations, those who have given in to the temptation to annihilate, along with the work of a whole life, all that which, from near or far, came to be associated with it (Deconstruction, they say), have produced in spite of themselves, a premium of seduction. In spite of themselves? Perhaps, I am not sure of that. In any case, too bad for them. It is an effect that may be deemed perverse. One had to have a lot of ingenuousness and inexperience not to have forseen it. Many of those who have taken part in this crusade against de Man and against Deconstruction are getting more and more irritated: now it turns out that, in part thanks to them, people are talking more and more about that which the crusaders wanted, without delay, to reduce to silence by denouncing the alleged hegemony that seems to cause them so much suffering. They should have thought of that. Things dont biodegrade as one might wish or believe. Some were saying that Deconstruction has been in the process, for the last twenty years, of extinguishing itself (waning as I read more than once), like the flame of a pilot light, in sum, the thing being almost all used up. Well, here they go and think they see, at the bottom of the little bit of oil remaining, a black stain (). Certain this time that they will be able to get rid of it, without further delay and thus without any other precaution, they rush forward like children in order to wield the final blow and destroy the idol. And, of course, the flaming oil spreads everywhere, and now there they are crying even louder, angry with their own anger, frightened by their own fear and the fear they wanted to cause Reread last night five of the six critical responses. Its true, as I noted last week, these people are frightened. And so they want to frighten. A familiar scene. They are frightening sometimes, its true. What I see of them frightens me, I wont hide the fact. (818-9) It would be necessary to invent a new category here. Bad faith or denegetation are insufficient. were talking about something that falls between the I-cannot-read and I-do-not-want-to-read. How can one pronounce judgement against someone who can/will not read? How could one bear him or her any ill will? Moreover, I bear these five no ill will; I have nothing against them; I would even like (if only in order to avoid this spectacle) to help them free themselves from this frightened, painful, and truly excessive hatred. What are they afraid of exactly, and what are they suffering from? (823) The five insulting texts all take aim at the same principal target, that deconstruction about which the authors visibly understand nothing, I mean really nothing, and this goes equally for all of them. What can I do? Deconstruction is for them the threat, the common and public enemy. This war is the most urgent in their view. (825) Biodegradables: Seven Diary Fragments Critical Inquiry Vol.15 (Summer), 1989.

13

Here for example is Jean-Michel Rabat in a Conversation on The Future of Theory: Most of this book it may not be obvious is autobiographical. When I came to Penn in ninety-two, the first local star who was mentioned to me was Camille Paglia. I never heard of the name but she was the most famous antitheoretician living in the US at that time. One day, an acquaintance suggested that I should invite her to my seminar because she had "kicked Derrida in the ass!" My response was: "Oh really? That might be interesting." Then I heard Camille Paglia talk a few times and loved the way she kept contradicting herself without any qualms--indeed, it was an hysterical reaction to Theory's hystericizing discourse. She was the living proof that that Theory could antagonize or hystericize, thus produce effects that, for better or worse, are similar to those of classical hysteria. Journal of Cultural and Religious Theory Vol.4 No.2 (2003), para.5, http://jcrt.org/archives/04.2/rabate-lambert.shtml (accessed 01/01/07). 15 For those not familiar with the history of Theory:

14

Heidegger Affair: In 1987, Victor Faras published a history of Heideggers involvement in Nazism at the same moment that Derrida published a seminar on Heidegger; while Faras book revealed little that was new, the simultaneous publication required a number of those in Theory to clarify their relation to Heideggers politics; the controversy resurfaced in 1991 when Derrida refused permission for an interview he had given in 1987 about Heideggers Nazism to be republished in the paperback edition of an anti-Heideggerian edited collection by Richard Wolin the latter took up the issue in the letter-to-the-editor section of the New York Review of Books. See the interview with Derrida, The Work of Intellectuals and the Press (The Bad Example: How The New York Review of Books and Company do Business) in Points: Interview, 1974-1994 [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995]. de Man Affair: A few years after Paul de Man (Derridas initial American champion at Yale) died, it was revealed that when 20, he had published a number of at times anti-semitic literature reviews for a Nazicollaborationist Belgian newspaper in 1939-40; Derrida and all prominent deconstructionists published responses to this revelation and de Mans silence about it in 1988 in the face of newspaper reports that this revelation proved that deconstruction = (collaboration with) facism. Sokal Affair: In 1996, a physicist managed to get a meaningless article combining citations from physicists and various bits of Theory published in Social Text, and then revealed the hoax, subsequently publishing a book called Intellectual Imposters in which he claimed to have thereby proved the fraudulence of Theory. I call this the actual death of Theory because a) the article should not have made it through peer-review, b) Theory never managed an adequate response (see for example the exchange between Guillroy and Neverfield in Critical Inquiry, c) this hoax is exactly the sort of creative critical performance that Theory should have been engaged in. 16 Paul de Mans essay The Resistance to Theory published in the collection of that title [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986] was in fact written in 1981 on commission from the Modern Languages Association, though the latter rejected it. In other words, an essay on the concept of the resistance to theory was subject very practical resistance, without irony. 17 For example, Philip Lewis 1982 article The Post-Structuralist Condition Diacritics Vol.12 (Spring), begins with a discussion of media reports about denial of tenure to a Theorist. 18 A prominent exception is the strangely anti-Theory arguments of a kind of Theorist, Christopher Norris. Norris, one of the first exegetes of Derrida in English, has been a long time critic of postmodern relativism. Norriss arguments are often correct, though it is less often that you can find a Theorist making the sort of relativist claims that he is criticising. See for example Whats Wrong with Postmodernism: Critical Theory and the Ends of Philosophy [London: Harvester, 1990] or Against Relativism: Philosophy of Science, Deconstruction and Critical Theory [Oxford: Blackwell, 1997]. 19 For a partial litany, to that date, see Derridas written responses to questions from Gerald Graff published as Afterword: Toward an Ethic of Discussion in Limited Inc [Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1988]. Most heinous must be Habermas attempt to dismiss Derridas work in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity proudly confessing to basing his argument only on exegeses of deconstruction. Here is Derridas footnote about this: With stupefying tranquillity, here is the philosopher of consensus, of dialogue and of discussion, the philosopher who claims to distinguish between science and literary fiction, between philosophy and literary criticism, daring not only to criticize without citing or giving a reference for twentyfive pages, but, even worse, justifying his nonreading and his atmospheric or hemispheric choices by this incredible alibi: Since Derrida does not belong to those philosophers who like to argue, it is expedient to take a closer look at his disciples in literary criticism within the Anglo-Saxon climate of argument in order to see whether this thesis can really be held. (p193) (p157). All this continues to this day: type Derrida and obituary into a search engine and you will quickly find a leader from The Economist belittling Derrida on the occasion of his death; you will notice via a hyperlinked term that the editor perpetuates the atrocious misattribution to Derrida of the term phallacy in a signed letter to the press by the Oxford dons protesting the awarding to Derrida of an honorary doctorate (on this affair, see the interview with Derrida, Honoris Causa: This is also extremely funny in Points: Interview, 1974-1994 [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995]). Read the hyperlinked unapologetic erratum: excuse the Australian, but, what fuckwits. 20 Ssee Zizek Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle [New York: Verso, 2004].

For one of the most succinct early responses to these contradictory accusations, see David Woods Beyond Deconstruction? in Griffiths, P. ed Contemporary French Philosophy [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988]. 22 On the appellation, with scare quotes, Theory, see Jacques Derrida Some Statements and Truisms about Neo-Logisms, Newisms, Postisms, Parasitism, and other small Seismisms in Carroll, D. ed The States of Theory: History, Art and Critical Discourse [New York: Columbia University Press, 1990]. 23 On the way in which Theory has been airbrushed out of academic existence in ways that indicate the idiosyncracies of literary theorys (non)evolution, its inability to learn from itself (I will return to this), see Jeffrey Williams Theory Change Journal of Religious and Cultural Theory Vol.4 No.2 (2003), http://jcrt.org/archives/04.2/williams.shtml (last accessed 01/01/07). 24 The mood, ah, at last, we can get back to what we were doing, before theory, seems patent to me in Bordwell and Carrolls Post-Theory [Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1996]; see Zizeks response in The Fright of Real Tears: Krysztof Kieslowski Between Theory and Post-Theory [London: British Film Institute, 2001]. I am reminded of Jan-Luc Nancys response to the glib victory claimed for neo-con capitalism after the fall of the wall in 89: Anger, then, before the ridiculous belief that floods in on us from al sides: the idea that we are done with Marxism and communism, that it is simply over. As if history, our history, could be so inconsistent, so phantasmic, so flaky to have carried us along for one hundred and fifty years on clouds that dissipate in a moment. As if error, pure, simple, and stupid error could be thus corrected, regulated, mobilized. As if thousands of so-called intellectuals were simply fools, and especially as if millions of others were even more stupid to have been caught in the delirium of the first. Jean-Luc Nancy La Comparution/ The Compearance: From the Existence of Communism to the Community of Existence Political Theory Vol.20 No.3 (1992), 375-6. Nancy makes a similar plea more in the context anti-Theory in his essay Our History, commissioned as an external response to the de Man affair: The forgetting or repressing of the question of our history [i.e., facism, that this has happened: our history has been capable of reaching the point of wiling to destroy itself in order to fulfil itself (114)] is signalled, in the American debate concerning the de Man case by the [mis]use of the word deconstruction, (101) by ignoring the history of that word, and the extent to which it primarily involves the activity of freeing history from itself. (105) Our History Diacritics Vol.20 No.3 (Fall 1990). Problematising notions of return is also the basis of Nancys response to Ferry and Renauts anti-Theory tract La Pense68, which attempted to restore philosophy to Kantian humanism as if nothing has ever happened since: The Forgetting of Philosophy in The Gravity of Thought [New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1997]. 25 See Reiner Schrmans Anti-Humanism: Reflections of the Turn towards the Post-Modern Epoch Man and World Vol.12 No.1 (1979). 26 See the model of the university set out in Kants Conflict of the Faculties. The role of the philosophy faculty is summed up in Kants proleptical praising of Friederich Wilhelm of Prussia as the only prince in the world [who] says, Argue as much as you will, and about what you will, but obey. (What is the Enlightenment? in Foucault, M. The Politics of Truth [New York: Semiotext(e), 1997], 10) Kants design for the modern university has been well interrogated by Derrida and colleagues: see Mochlos: or the Conflict of the Faculties in Rand, R. ed. Logomachia: The Conflict of the Faculties [Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992], and Vacant Chair: Censorship, Mastery, Magisteriality, Part III of Language and Institutions of Philosophy in Eyes of the University: Right to Philosophy II [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004]. 27 This is the Jena Romantic (Schiller, Schelling, Humboldt) design for the university, as discussed in Bill Readings The University in Ruins [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996]. 28 This is American project for the university as discussed by Sam Weber in The Limits of Professionalism in Institution and Interpretation [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987]. 29 See Jeffrey Williams account of the popularity of structuralist New Criticism followed by poststructuralism: As Graff remarks in Professing Literature, the New Critical practice provided a reproducible pedagogical method for the massive postwar influx of students and burgeoning American university system In contrast to the pedagogical need that the New Criticism fulfilled, Theory gained dominance because it fulfilled a different need, that of the research protocol of the multiversity, from the 1960s through the 1980s. Theory reconstituted our work and professional rationale explicitly as research rather than teaching. Theory

21

Change Journal of Cultural and Religious Theory Vol.4 No.2 (2003), para.s 21 & 22, http://jcrt.org/archives/04.2/williams.shtml (last accessed 01/01/07). 30 The phrase is from Peter Hermans introductory essay 60s Theory/90s Practice to his edited collection Day Late, Dollar Short: The Next Generation and the New Academy [Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001], inspired by, and reprinting, Jeffrey Williams 1995 essay The Posttheory Generation. 31 For a widely read diatribe against of boomer Theory (by the neo-con who lead the culture wars against political correctness) see Roger Kimballs Tenured Radicals: How Politics has Corrupted our Higher Education [New York: Harper and Row, 1990]. 32 For a commemoration of Gen X Theory, see Tara Brabazon From Revolution to Revelation: Generation X, Popular Memory and Cultural Studies [Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005] 33 Une drle de classe de philo in Anselm Haverkamp Deconstruction is/in America [New York: New York University Press, 1995]. Beaujour goes on to argue that Theorys decline was a result of the lack of philosophical grounding in its graduate proponents: American students inevitably did [close reading of philosophical texts] in a hasty, haphazard and ad hoc fashion, given many other demands on their time, and an absence of follow-through which is characteristic of American humanistic studies. The philosophical texts they read, as well as the literary texts about which philosophical issues were raised, had to be mainly the ones which de Man and Derrida discussed in their courses, notwithstanding the serendipitous suggestions these teachers might also make, perhaps only in an imperative aside: We read them in order to understand why we must rad them, writes Ellen Burt revealingly: we really didnt have a clue beforehand, because we had no background in philosophy This autodidactic quandry goes a long way toward explaining a rapid decline in the philosophical sophistication of American deconstructionism as it turned to quasi-rhetorical issues and became a sui generis critical theory that substituted discontinuities and aporias for the ironies of an older school of Anglo-Saxon criticism. The initial desire for the difficulty of philosophy a hardness that raised the self-esteem of young critics trapped in unpresitigous literary studies was reoriented by younger scholars toward other self-valorizing gambits [This led to a situation in which] The tense elitism of deconstruction was forced to pull down its vanity and to refit itself in the democratic shirtsleeves of textbooks and easy undergraduate courses, as it attempted to hold on to an audience in the academic marketplace of diversity and multiculturalism. (90-92) 34 Academia, or rather, intellection, has always involved camps: the Stoics versus Platos academy; left versus right Hegelians; Trotskyites versus Maoists. The difference between these and those at play in Theory might be something like authenticity. The sorts of camps just mentioned were disputes of belief, whereas the counter-claim on either side of the Theory debate have always been about inauthenticity and hypocrisy: how can you be against authorial intention? how can you accuse me of a contradiction when you have plainly not read me? 35 Of course, Bourdieu explicitly claimed that at least the French contributors to Theory constituted a field in the same way that all academics differentially identify themselves through more or less shared taste regimes, anti-institutionality being one of dinstinguishing features of their institution: see Homo Academicus [Cambirdge: Polity, 1988]. A Bourdieuan critique of Theory was put forward by John Guillory Cultural Capital: The Problem of the Formation of Literary Canons [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993]. 36 See Regis Debrays Teachers, Writers, Celebrities: The Intellectuals of Modern France [London: New Left Books, 1981]. 37 An interesting example is provided by Jeffrey Mehlams obituary for Derrida. Mehlman recounts how his criticisms of Derridas work on Blanchot, for not taking account of the latters collaborationist articles in the 1930s, in his article Writing and Deference led to him being misquoted in the press as an academic making the link between deconstruction and fascism. See Derrida: notes toward a Memoir SubStance 106 Vol.34 No.1 (2005). 38 This continues beyond Derridas death. See the website established to counter the obituary that the New York Times put on its front cover, which has since become a kind of open memorial: www.humanities.uci.edu/remembering_jd (last accessed 01/01/07). 39 This is explicitly the argument of Gregory Ulmer, though more in terms of general avant-gardism than the avant-gardes factionalism: Criticism is now being transformed in the same way that literature and the arts were transformed by the avant-garde movements in the early decades of this century. The break with

mimesis, with the values and assumptions of realism, which revolutionized the modernist arts, is now underway (belatedly) in criticism. The Object of Post-Critism in Foster, H. ed The Anti-Aesthetic [ ], 83. 40 For an argument that Theory and anti-Theory (the culture wars, the deMan and Heidegger affairs) share a phobia of art, as sensorial, see Wendy Steiners The Scandal of Pleasure: Art in an Age of Fundamentalism [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995]. 41 See the note above on Kants schema for the university in The Conflict of the Faculties. 42 The Limits of Professionalism originally published in 1982, but republished in Webers book seminal for my introduction to Theory Institution and Interpretation [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987]. Weber apparently sat across the table from Derrida translating the latters devastating rebuttal of Searles attack on Derridas deconstruction of Austin, now published as Limited Inc, a b c. Weber analysed Derridas strategy in that text in the essay It, Glyph 4 (1978), noting a shift in Derridas philosophy that he articulates more succinctly in 1986: Having established [in his earlier writings] a certain structural instability in the most powerful attempts to provide models of structuration, it was probably inevitable that Derrida should then begin to explore the other side of the coin, the fact that undecidability notwithstanding, decisions are in fact taken, power in fact exercised, traces in fact instituted. Weber, Sam Introduction in Weber, S. ed Demarcating the Disciplines: Philosophy, Literature, Art [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986], x. 43 Derridas leading involvement through the mid-late 70s in GREPH, an organisation founded to defend and expand school philosophical education in France, and though the mid-late 80s in the College de Philosophie, a new type of post-philosophical interdisciplinary higher education institution, were discussed on occasion most thoroughly by Chris Fynsk (A Decelebration of Philosophy Diacritics Vol.8 No.2 (Summer 1978)), but also, for example, Steve Unger Philosophy after Philosophy: Debate and Reform in France since 1968 Enclitic Vol.8 No.s 1-2 (Spring/Fall) 1984) and Vincent Leitch Research and Education at the Crossroads: A Report on the College International de Philosophie Substance No.50 (1986) and a few of Derridas texts in those contexts were published around the same time (The Age of Hegel in Weber, S. ed Demarcating the Disciplines [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986]; The Principle of Reason: The University in the Eyes of its Pupils Diacritics Vol. 13 No. 3 (1983)). However, on the whole, this aspect of Derrida was never given enough attention, except perhaps by Gregory Ulmer, who I will discuss below. This may be because Derridas large collection of his occasional essays dedicated to questions about educational and research institutions Du Droit la Philosophie, (1990) while slated for translation in the early 90s (These and other texts related to the College will appear, along with the rest of Derridas work on the institutions and teaching of philosophy, in Jacques Derrida Institutions of Philosophy, edited by Deborah Esch and Thomas Keenan, forthcoming in 1990 from Hardvard University Press; Editors Note to translation of Sendoffs, Yale French Studies No. 77 (1990)) only appeared in 2002 and 2004: Whos Afraid of Philosophy? Right to Philosophy I [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002] & The Eyes of the University: The Right to Philosophy II [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004]. 44 See, in particular on the description of le Pass, Elizabeth Roudinesco Jacques Lacan & Co. [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990]. 45 See Cary Nelson ed. Theory in the Classroom [Michigan: University of Illinois Press, 1990], Blake, N., Smeyers, P., Smith, R., & P.Standish eds Thinking Again: Education after Postmodernism [Westport: Bergin & Garvey, 1998], Peters, M. & P.Trifonas eds Derrida, Deconstruction and Education [Oxford: Blackwell, 2004]. Bielz, G. & D. Egea-Kuehne eds Derrida and Education [New York: Routledge, 2004]. 46 Applied Grammatology: Post(e) Pedagogy from Joseph Beuys to Jacques Derrida [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985], Teletheory: Grammatology in the Age of Video [New York: Routledge, 1989], Heuretics: The Logics of Invention [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994], Internet Invention [New York: Longman, 2002], Electronic Monuments [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006]; see also Ulmers theory-as-hobby articles: Handbook for a Theory Hobby Visible Language No.22 (1988), Theory Hobby: How to Theory Art and Text No.37 (1990); Theory Hobby Handbook: Lesson Ten Exposure No.28 (1991). 47 To put this the other way round, Theory was never about abandoning the rigour of higher education and research in the modern university. If it attempted to create alternative modes and sites of education and research, it did so in order to preserve, if not enhance, the power of critical rigour, as the only process that could expose the way the institution imposed itself in spite of its impossibilities. These alternative institutions were not models for non-imposing, transparent ontologies, but merely tools for maintaining the exposure of

certain ontologies. Whilst difference form the status quo was necessary for these instituted alternatives to function as placeholders or guides or memorials, the difference needed was not radical. On this see Peggy Kamuf The University in the World that it is Attempting to Think Culture Machine No.6 (2004). 48 Martin Heidegger The Origin of the Work of Art in Off the Beaten Track [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002 (1950)], 44, 47. 49 Elaine Scarry The Made-Up and the Made-Real Yale Journal of Criticism Vol.5 No.2. (1992). 50 For an amusing, yet robust critique of the way people call on supposedly indisputable realities outsideof-language-and-rhetoric to counter sceptics, see Death and Furniture: The Rhetoric, Politics and Theology of Bottom Line Arguments against Relativism by Derek Edwards, Malcom Ashmore and Jonathan Potter History of the Human Sciences No.8 (1995). 51 Must we Mean what we Say [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976], 240, cited in Melvilles Philosophy beside Itself: On Deconstruction and Modernism [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986], 21. 52 Geoffrey Harpham makes this point in his Derrida and the Ethics of Criticism Textual Practice Vol.5 No.3 (1991), 392. The exception to this rule about Theory is Baudrillard whose theorising is explicitly and theatrically provocational, or seducing of the real. 53 In relation to Derrida, see the chapter Unmasking Deconstruction: Skepticism in Disguise? in Ewa Ziarek The Rhetoric of Failure: Deconstruction of Skepticism, Reinvention of Modernism [Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996], the whole of which renegotiates the territory covered initially by Melville, especially Cavell. 54 Payne, M. and J.Schad eds life.after.theory [London: Continuum, 2003] 55 In relation to Derrida, see David Woods account of the necessity of complying with Derridas thinkwriting strategies for them to be understandable: Following Derrida in Sallis, J. ed Deconstruction and Philosophy: The Texts of Jacques Derrida [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987]. 56 Derrida indicates in an interview that his interest in literature is in an institution which allows one to say everything [tout dire also say anything], in every way The law of literature tends, in principle, to defy or lift the law. It therefore allows one to think the essence of the law in the experience of this everything to say. It is an institution which tends to overflow the institution. This Strange Institution called Literature, in Attridge, D. ed Acts of Literature [New York: Routledge, 1992], 36. A later essay names this (ideal) institution The University without Condition in Without Alibi [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002]. For a discussion of the way Derrida feels an obligation to take up all that can be taken up in relation to an issue, Harphams Derrida and the Ethics of Criticism Textual Practice Vol.5 No.3 (1991). 57 In a small piece about a letter in which Heidegger admits that his interpretation of Holderlin could be considered a catastrophe, Derrida formulates the intellectual freedom imperative in this way: I propose to call thought here what keeps the right to ask for, I am saying only to ask for just that, not the immediate acquittal for whatever may present itself, immediately or nearly, but the right to the experience of the disaster, to that risk at least for thought. Not the right to whatever may be calculable (), but the right only asked for to that risk incalculable for thought. Comment Donner Raison? How to Concede, with Reasons? Diacritics Vol.19 No.s3-4 (1989), 6. 58 Brunnette, P. & D. Wills eds Deconstruction and the Visual Arts [New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994]; Brunette, P. & D.Wills Screen/Play: Derrida and Film Theory [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989]); Papadakis, A. Cooke, C. & A.Benjamin eds Deconstruction: Omnibus [London: Academy, 1988]. 59 Though see Gary Halls important Culture in Bits: The Monstrous Future of Theory [London: Continuum, 2002]. Work on the relation between Theory as a mode of think-writing and hypertextuality exists but is not strong to my mind, less for its account of something like deconstruction, than for the retrograde technodeterminism (if not technophilia) that sometimes underwrites it: see Landows Hyper/Text/Theory [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994], Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of Contemporary Literary Theory and Technology [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997], Hypertext 3.0: Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization [[Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006]. 60 Not just the disintermediated dissemination of Theory, exploiting the long-tail of digital economies to overcome the censorship of market-based academic publishing (on this see the interesting but confused Enemies of Promise: Publishing, Perishing and the Eclipse of Scholarship by Lindsay Waters, Executive Editor for the

Humanities at Harvard University Press [Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2004]), but the alternative modes of communication and research digitally tracking metaphorics, palimpsest commentary, etc. 61 Certainly toward the end of his life Derrida devoted substantial time in interviews to laying out concepts that could be used for interrogating the relation between Theory and the media. See for example the discussion between Derrida and Bernard Steigler in Echographies of Television: Filmed Interviews [Cambridge: Polity, 2002]. 62 Here is a comment from Gregg Lambert in the process of interviewing Rabat: Part of this earlier tradition that we're tracing historically was the rise of a very experimental kind of theory, and I'm thinking of books like Avital Ronell's Telephone Book. It suppose it emerged partly in response to Derrida's Glas and the period of Tel Quel, which was the dominant influence in Paris a decade earlier. But the period I am speaking of was at the height of the Reagan Era, and it's a very odd and kind of interesting truism to say that a more conservative political environment produces a more hysterical leftist environment, in the sense. One of the things that I was part of in the early eighties was a group called "Radio Free Theory," and this was in Berkeley, where we actually put on a radio show together that starred several people like Ronell and others who have gone on to make a name for themselves, or to disappear. But we created a radio program that had things like a "schizophrenic weather report" and a radio version of Freud's "The Rat Man." It actually aired on the PBS radio station. But it seemed like anything was possible in this environment, and the more radical and experimental that we became, the more possible it seemed, although I also think that we went way over the line of good taste in the process. But I wonder if you think about that and the period that followed, precisely around the emergence of the revelation of the wartime writings of de Man, that there was a closing down of some of the more surrealist and experimental forms of theoretical work in the United States? Conversation on The Future of Theory Journal of Cultural and Religious Theory Vol.4 No.2 (2003), para.38, http://jcrt.org/archives/04.2/rabate-lambert.shtml (accessed 01/01/07). 63 I find Deborah Eschs In the Event: Reading Journalism, Reading Theory [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999] frustrating in covering the topic without getting to the issue, especially when compared to something like Jeremy Valentines Audit Society, Practical Deconstruction and Strategic Public Relations Parallax Vol.10 No.2 (2004). 64 See for example Given Time [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992] and Spectres of Marx: The State of Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International [New York: Routledge, 1994]. 65 See Exchanging in The Order of Things [New York: Vintage, 1970] 66 See Vincent Leitchs New Economic Criticisms: The Rise of the Lilliputians in Theory Matters [new York: Routledge, 2003]. In terms of how this article will conclude, it is significant that the Market has been be subjected to Actor Network Theory: for example, Michael Callons edited collection The Laws of the Markets [Oxford: Blackwell, 1998]. To some extent Theorys engagement with economics (as opposed to postTheorys i.e., Negri and Hardt) is taking the form of Nancys work on mondialisation: see The Sense of the World [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997] and The Creation of the World or Globalization [Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007]. 67 See Ulmers EmerAgency and his work with the Florida Research Ensemble, partly discussed in Confrontation (for a New Consultancy) Oxford Literary Review Vol.12 No.s1-2 (1990). 68 This was Theorys inversed repetition of Jena Romanticism, as diagnosed by Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancys The Literary Absolute: The Theory of Literature in German Romanticism [Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988]: For insofar as we are , we are all preoccupied with fragmentation, the absolute novel, anonymity, collective practice, the journal, and the manifesto; as a necessary corollary, we are all threatened by indisputable authorities, petty dictatorships, and the simplistic and brutal discussions that are capable of interrupting questioning for decades; we are all, still and always, aware of the Crisis, convinced that interventions are necessary and that the least of texts is immediately effetive; we all think, as if it went without saying, that politics passes through the literary (or the theoretical). Romanticism is our naivet. (17) 69 A counter example is the institution policing the legacy of Lacan, The Freudian Field, though expectedly it remains fraught with in-fighting. 70 The End of Education: Toward Posthumanism [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993]. Though Lyotard does analyse the inhumanness of the not-yet-fully-humanised student as a point of leverage in The

Postmodern Explained to Children, as does Michel Serres, in terms of the learners in-between-ness, in The Troubadour of Knowledge. 71 Bildung is the German idealist theory of an aesthetic education (reappropriating Ancient Greek notions of paideia). The metaphor combines imagination (Bilden images) and cultivation, suggesting the need for a rich compost that can be decomposed and integrated into a strong example of the species. The romanticism that Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy diagnose as Theorys ontology manifests in the extent to which so many Theorists, when under threat from post-Theory, defaulted to the Bildung defense travelling through strange discourses is in and of itself acculturating something that puts Theory on par with golf. I would love, however, to be able to undertake a research project that tested Theory-Bildung: given that so few of those whose university education was dominated by Theory are now in academia, where are they now, and how, if at all, is their Theory education reflected in what they now do? 72 The continuing failure of postmodern theory to provide a pedagogical context that would facilitate the concpetualization of the unconscious resistance of youth is most apparent in its institutionally inscribed tendency to overlook the scene of undergraduate study in favour of graduate courses in theory. End of Education, 268. 73 William Spanos makes the point that The only European theoretician who, in the aftermath of the events of May 1968, recognized the fundamental importance of the schools in reproducing the dominant socio-political order was Louis Althusser. (End of Education, 197) Spanos is overlooking Derridas work with GREPH. 74 See the documentation of the Australian History Summit convened in August 2006 on the Australian Federal Governments Department of Education, Services and Trainings website. 75 Nicolas Bourriaud Relational Aesthetics [les presses du reel]; Anthony Dunne Hertzian Tales [Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005]. 76 In many ways this article, particularly the three-phase account of Theory, has been a pro-Derridean translation of Latours sometimes anti-Derridean (or anti-deconstruction) attempts to explain his Actor Network Theory as the critical empiricism of how constructions become real. See Why has Critique run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern Critical Inquiry Vol.30 No.2 (Winter 2004). Here is some typical Latour: I propose the following test: When you hear that something you cherish is a construction, your first reaction is (check the right circle): o to take a gun o to seize a hammer o to erect a scaffold Answer: If you checked the first, then you are a fundamentalist ready to annihilate those who appeal to the destruction of what remains strong only if it is unconstructed by human hands [i.e., anti-Theory]; if you ticked the second, then you are a deconstructionist who sees construction as a proof of weakness in a building that should be pressed to ruins in order to give way to a better and firmer structure untouched by human hands [i.e., counter-factual]; if you checked the third, then you are a constructivist, or better, a compositionist engaged at once in the task of maintaining or nuturing those fragile habitations [ i.e., making real]. The Promise of Constructivism in Don Ihde & Evan Selinger eds Chasing Technoscience: Matrix of Materiality [Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003], 46. 77 See the encyclopaedic catalogue collection: Making Things Public [Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006].