The Ghost in The Fall

Unlike Jacques Derrida, who was haunted by specters of Karl Marx, I am haunted by specters of JKA Smith. My first glimpse of Smith’s ghostly presence came in 2005, when an anonymous reader for my soon-to-be published book on postmodernism berated me for never mentioning The Fall of Interpretation. As I checked Smith’s text out of my college library, planning to include it in my last-minute revisions, I noted how well worn it was, as though, like Hamlet’s ghost, it had wandered... Read More

Response to Bowald: Sins of Omission

I’m profoundly grateful to these scholars for taking time to carefully, critically, and charitably engage the second edition of The Fall of Interpretation—and in the summer, of all things!  This kind of constructive engagement is a real gift to an author, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to continue the conversation by replying to each. As I’ve come to expect, Mark Bowald has taught me things about myself by bringing my younger self into conversation with my older... Read More

The Redemption of Interpretation: An Interlocution on Sin and Hermeneutics

What is “interpretation”?  James K. A. Smith has issued a second edition of his first book on its “fall.”  Clarifying what exactly interpretation is for Smith is a priority for those who might benefit from reading it, and his later work.  We can clearly identify two dimensions to interpretation: first, the ontological conditions for interpretation and, second, the act of interpretation. The primary point of Smith’s petard in TFI relates to the first.  He clearly... Read More