Jacques Derrida (1930-2004)

            Reading the writing of Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), we encounter what many call postmodernism or deconstruction.  What is it about "modern" thought and culture that post-modernism tries to surpass?  A host of [allegedly] stable, fixed, static, blind, oppressive, authoritarian, even Fascist, conventions subtly woven into our very ways of thinking and experiencing.  One example of thought forms that need revolutionary work are oppositions such as reason/emotion, mind/body, spirit/nature, man/woman; and center/periphery, inner/outer, subject/object.  Such oppositions, developed in the history of the West, mask continuities and interrelationships; and the oppositions function in power relationships as destructive and hierarchal (reason over emotion, mind over the body, etc.).  To subvert these hierarchies, playful inversion is a technique.  Another technique is to destabilize the meanings of key words, by associating these words with other words derived from etymologies or Freudian associations.  How does deconstruction operate?  One of the primary techniques is to show, often by commenting on a text of some sort, that the attempted unity, integrity, authority of the text subverts itself.  For example, rightly viewed, a text is to such an extent a weave of other texts that the very idea of the author as the source of the text is brought into question.

 


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