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Passions in Poetry

Deconstruction

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fractal007
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0 posted 12-19-2002 03:00 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

I am sorry if I am copying Brad here.  I am aware that he posted a similar thread earlier.  I must, however, resurrect the issue because there are a few things I do not understand about deconstruction.

Firstly, concerning the so-called death of the author:

If the author is truly dead and his "authorial intent" is no longer a concern then what is the point of writing texts in the first place.  How would Orwell feel if someone used his 1984 to institute a dystopian world?

Secondly, concerning reader-response criticism:

If all meanings and interpretations are equally valid then does that not make reading a text into an ultimately pointless excercise?

If the text means everything then it means nothing.  Any new reading added to the set of readings of a particular text is ultimately like added zero to zero.  It only adds one more nothing to a set of more nothings.  

But still, I do find something redeeming in reader response criticism, in that it allows for a greater amount of insigt in reading a text.

"If history is to change, let it change. If the world is to be destroyed, so be it. If my fate is to die, I must simply laugh"

-- Magus

Brad
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1 posted 12-19-2002 05:56 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Well, neither of these phrases are associated with Derridean deconstruction. "The death of the author" is a kind of slogan these days, I suppose, but I don't think Foucault's intent was as cut and dry as you make it out to be (he was responding to Roland Barthes by the way.) Could you tell me what you think it means before I try to respond to the three or four ways I've heard it interpreted?

Reader-response criticism, started by Stanley Fish, is a way of reading texts through time and monitoring multiple reactions to texts through time and then commenting on their interaction. I can give you an example if you want.

Derridean Deconstruction absolutely depends on a certain understood meaning and then scrupulously works through the text where that meaning is somehow missing, absent. The meaning can't be what it says, or what it says can't be what the author meant.

Now, Derrida, when he deconstructs, concentrates on philosophical texts, when he looks at literature, he doesn't deconstruct, he does literary criticism (see "Acts of Literature"). It's pretty fun too.

winston
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2 posted 12-20-2002 01:57 PM       View Profile for winston   Email winston   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for winston

Wow, you guys know what you are talking about. It sounds like something I might I wanna look into. Can you guys tell me where I can get hold of what you are talking about and what I might be able to get hold of?
Thanks.

"am a tourist not a terrorist, don't shoot, cause we are all on a journey to God" Michak

[This message has been edited by winston (12-20-2002 01:58 PM).]

fractal007
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3 posted 12-21-2002 06:09 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

I don't.

I ought not to have posted this.

"If history is to change, let it change. If the world is to be destroyed, so be it. If my fate is to die, I must simply laugh"

-- Magus

jbouder
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since 09-18-99
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Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash


4 posted 06-11-2003 01:21 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

quote:
Derridean Deconstruction absolutely depends on a certain understood meaning and then scrupulously works through the text where that meaning is somehow missing, absent. The meaning can't be what it says, or what it says can't be what the author meant.


This doesn't sound all that new to me.  How is this different from what lawyers do when they attempt to find ambiguity in a contract term that undermines the "mutual understanding" which would seem to a casual reader to have been implied by the plain language of the contract?

All it seems to accomplish is a "revelation" that linguistics (and philosophy too, I suppose) is both a prescriptive and descriptive discipline and, resultantly, there will always be differences of interpretation.  Arguably, even the author cannot recall everything he or she was thinking when writing a sentence or choosing one word over another.  The true "meaning" will always be, to some degree, uncertain.  

One result is longer contracts (and, ironically, more opportunities for ambiguity).  Another result is that we keep asking questions.  Isn't that a good thing?

I suppose a downside to overuse would be a tendency to "find" uncertainty where it isn't warranted.  Which is why Deconstruction (what VERY little I know about it) seems more like an interpretive tool than the product of a school of thought.  It is interesting, though.

Jim
Stephanos
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5 posted 06-11-2003 06:48 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

"Now, Derrida, when he deconstructs, concentrates on philosophical texts, when he looks at literature, he doesn't deconstruct, he does literary criticism (see "Acts of Literature"). It's pretty fun too."


May sound like a naive question.  But why treat philosophical texts so differently than literary ones?  Is it due to some kind of preconception that philosophical texts dealing with transcendent matters, can have no real meaning for that reason?  I'm just trying to figure out why I always get the feeling that there is a bias involved with deconstructionism against texts of a philosophical nature.  But to be honest, books and articles by deconstructionists seem to be exemplary of the very ilk of writing they tend to undermine.  It doesn't seem to be a true kind of philology, but rather an interpretive philosophy of philology.


Stephen.    

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (06-11-2003 06:49 PM).]

Brad
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6 posted 06-13-2003 11:16 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Jim said:

quote:
This doesn't sound all that new to me.


It's not. The amazing thing is that Derrida has never claimed that it was. Unfortunately, both his admirers and his detractors have claimed that it is. What is different is the style in which he writes, not that he deconstructs.

Stephen asked:

quote:
But why treat philosophical texts so differently than literary ones?


Your guess is as good as mine. Why not treat philosophical texts as literary ones?

  
  
Stephanos
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7 posted 06-14-2003 03:00 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

I worded that question wrongly, and gave you opportunity to parry my blow.  


But here is the revision:
Why treat all texts as if they are literary (or mythical)?  There are also historical texts and philosophical texts.  I feel that the only reason philosophical texts are "deconstructed" is to show that their claims cannot be really true ... that there's enough ambiguity in language to suggest  that it really doesn't mean anything.  What I meant to ask is, why are philosophic texts "picked on"?  There is a motive behind the deconstruction of certain texts ... and that is what I am looking at.  And when deconstructionism is set forth in an explanatory way, such as in a book or article, are  the conclusions of deconstructionism applied rigorously to these texts as well?


Stephen.        

Stephanos
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8 posted 06-14-2003 03:02 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Geeze Frac,

You look like the Incredible Hulk now.  And I didn't even know he had an interest in philosophy.  I liked your old picture better.  
Brad
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9 posted 06-15-2003 12:20 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Stephan,

That can be answered in two ways: Rorty's answer is that that's because Derrida studied philosophy, that's what he's turned on by, and Derrida writes for people who are also turned on by philosophy (like me). If you aren't then it's really not that important.

If, however, you see a misunderstanding of words like truth, logic, objectivity, hard v. soft sciences etc. are more often used as rhetorical devices than in any substantive sense and that that needs to be pointed out, then you can see that deconstructing philosophy (since that's where these terms matter most) can help us face up to the real problems with our own thinking.

I don't pretend to think that anything like that actually has happened. Right now, it just seems like one more rhetorical device used in academic politics to promote your field and disparage your enemy and of little use to the culture at large.

  
 
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