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This article is taken from PN Review 102, Volume 21 Number 4, March - April 1995.

The Survival of Theory III: Moral Outstanding or Halo-tosis Raymond Tallis

The impotence of post-Saussurean theory to alter anything in the real world is sometimes difficult to see clearly because theorists are always riding away - on promissary notes, on results and findings and 'influences' already established or achieved - to the next place. Most of all, it is protected by the moral glow in which it is wrapped. Criticising theorroea not only brands one as 'conservative' (in every pejorative sense of the term); it also puts one morally at fault. So much is wrong with the world that subverting or undoing the word-text must be intrinsically good, and those who are doing it must live in a chronic condition of moral superiority to the world at large the world that feeds, waters and heats them. Because deconstruction overturns the privileging of male over female, of occident over orient and of any hegemonic winner over any hegemonic loser, advanced by an all-pervading, suffocating secular odour of sanctity, an incense of sanctimoniousness. They suffer from inflammation of the halo or halo-tosis. The halo-totic critics is on the side of all the oppressed; the wretched of the earth are his/her constant preoccupation. His/her heart is in the right place; more predsely, in all the right places. The moral high ground is the advanced critics' native turf and few of us can hope even to approximate their moral stature. Even if they are shown to be wrong on matters of fact or logic (those outmoded categories), they are existentially in the right. From ...

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