as i commence this introduction, I feel divided between two
impulses: to attempt a direct paraphrase-like introduction, or to initiate
a self-reflexive commentary on what makes an introduction before I get
into the issue of what the current book is all about. The first impulse
seems to emanate from a basic nontheoretical self that is interested in
sharing its concerns and priorities with other selves, whereas the other
push would seem to originate from a professional self committed obses-
sively to the task of what Jacques Derrida would call “thinking thought
itself as a necessary precondition for thinking representationally
about anything. Is this second-order thinking necessary at all except as
a form of professional compulsion? Does it add anything to the value
of the discussion except give it a specialist dimension? How does one
decide when and where metacommentaries are useful and illuminat-
ing, and when they are self-indulgent and inane? I am reminded of my
undergraduate years in India as a debater when many of us would begin
our orations with a de rigueur analytical riff on the very proposition-
ality of the proposition that was under discussion. Were we doing it
out of some chronic smart-aleckiness, or were we really opening up
the debate to a crucial metapropositional dimension of richness and
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