July 29, 2007

Whose idea was this? - My 1st week of Graduate School

So, I started classes this week. Yipes.

I'm taking an introduction to theory and theatre, which is essentially a graduate student's boot camp. I'm reading 50 really hard pages a night and writing about 1000 words a night.

I'm learning a ton and loving it, but it's kicking my butt. Here's a sample of the kind of thing I'm writing.


The mid-20th century gave rise to a philosophical dream team that greatly impacted the landscape of western thought. Among those voices is that of Jacques Derrida. He rejects any system of thought that is bound by such abstract notions as truth, being and oneness. He sees contradictions in structuralism, phenomenology and semiotics and criticizes the blind eye they must turn to their respective shortcomings.

Derrida believes that one of the reasons theories based in western thought are immediately mired in contradiction and difficulty is because they are irrevocably tied to language. Derrida believed that beneath all writing, text, language and behavior was a process he called “arche-writing.” Derrida was so conscious of the impact of language that in his own writing he tries to destroy the existing language by using brackets, symbols and quotation marks around and in place of words to give them new meaning.

Derrida also adapts Saussure’s difference to diffĂ©rence which, for him, refers to the idea that no word, idea, text or subject is separated from a definitive meaning. He also attacks, logocentricism, the idea that spoken language is more primarily connected to the idea’s origin than writing would be. Derrida would go on to decry all notions of immediacy and presence, claiming that they are illusions.

To demonstrate the inadequacy of western thought, two millennia in the making, it is Derrida’s goal to take works – artistic, philosophical or historical – and expose contradictions or problems inherent in them. Ultimately, deconstruction, the name given to Derrida’s entire theory, is in fact an act Derrida believes necessary to slay the lumbering giant of western philosophy. It looks at works own their own terms and points out ways they are breaking the rules they are supposedly following. For example, Derrida often found categorization as his target and would address the faults in binary systems, such as gender or life and death, depicted in works of art or philosophy. All this deconstruction is in an effort to strip away false pretenses and debunk the heritage of western thought. For Derrida, like Nietzsche foresees a society of the future devoid of the current patterns of thought and meaning made possible by the painstaking work of deconstruction.


Then after a week of that, I went to see The Simpsons, twice. Mmmmm, Derrida.

3 comments:

Edison said...

"Yipes" indeed.

jakepride said...

My senior paper mixed some Derrida deconstructionism with social anarcho-syndicalism, focusing on how the Internet was "deconstructing" the artifical construct of the American music industry. This was back in 1999.

This weekend, I rented the Beastie Boys' concert film, "Awesome! I ... Shot That," in which the fans ostenisbly created the documentary for the band. It kicked ass.

Just thought I'd mention those two things.

-Mr. Pike

The Cachinnator said...

Mmmm... Nietzschees and crackers...

Deconscrumptious...