On the difficulty of reading Derrida

Catherine Belsey on the French philosopher's distinctive approach
Jacques Derrida

From Catherine Belsey's superb introduction to poststructuralism:
Q. Derrida is very hard to read. Why doesn't he write more simply? Doesn't he want to communicate?
A. There are three reasons why we have difficulty reading Derrida. The first is that he is a (Continental) philosopher, with a range of reference that is not widely available outside that tradition. Many of his more impenetrable remarks turn out to be allusions to Plato, Hegel, or Heidegger, and not obscure at all to people who have those writers at their fingertips, in a way most of us don't. Second, he is very meticulous. What can seem repetitive and precious comes from a desire to be precise. But third, it is also important from the point of view of the case against logocentrism to demonstrate in practice that language is not transparent, not a pane of glass through which ideas are perceptible in their pure intelligibility. (On the other hand, the same mannerisms reproduced in the writings of his less gifted disciples can be very irritating indeed!)

Catherine Belsey, Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction
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