Today there are pirate festivals in thirty-one American states, including a three-day event in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, during which 450 local businessmen in pirate costume storm the town and kidnap the mayor. And about an hour away from where I am writing this, in Johnson City, New York, there is now a Pirate School, where for $15 “both youngsters and adults [can] discover their ‘inner-swashbuckler’!” The appeal of all these rides, films, books, and events has apparently not been diminished by the recent appearance in the Indian Ocean of a lot of very real and unpleasant pirates.
Solnit feels crucial in a way most other writers don’t. Feminism and the patriarchy are complex and mutating beasts, and it takes a steady hand and deep heart to get to the bottom of things. There are writers who struggle to express their bold ideas. Then there are writers whose ways with words aren’t matched by their storytelling. Solnit occupies the rare category of writer who presents her powerful, searing ideas in dazzlingly graceful language. The Mother Of All Questions is a joy of both form and function. It’s difficult to think of an equal.
One notable fact about the reception of deconstruction in the United States was its relatively early acceptance by departments of literature compared to departments of philosophy. Undoubtedly , there are several reasons for this, but one may be that, as Geoffrey Hartman notes, “Deconstructive criticism does not present itself as a novel enterprise” because the ambiguity and contextuality, the interplay of the spoken and written word, that deconstruction emphasizes in philosophical texts are both more obvious and more acknowledged in literary ones. At the same time, deconstruction, by foregrounding the fact that “Everything we thought of as spirit, or meaning separable from the letter of the text, remains within an ‘intertextual’ sphere” (DC viii), opened important channels of communication between philosophy and literary studies.