Thursday, August 23, 2018

Deconstructing Deconstruction | Ugc Net English Literature | Literary Theory


An actual deconstruction conducted by Derrida - say the deconstruction of Saussure's theory of language, specially the quotation from Derrida where he reveals Saussure's theory of language as logocentric and contaminated by the metaphysics of presence. 

Agreeing with Saussure on the essentially differential nature of all meaning, Derrida goes on to point out that despite Saussure's insistence on that purely differential nature of the sign, Saussure maintains a rigorous distinction: between the signifier and the signified and the equation between the signified and the concept leaves open in principle the possibility of conceiving a signified concept in itself. The give access to the signified and seems subordinated to the concept of meaning that it communicates. SO, Saussurean’s theory is shown as making a neat distinction between the signifier and the signified and arranging them in a hierarchy: signified signifier.
Deconstructing, Deconstruction, Literary Theory, Ugc Net Notes, English Literature, Literary Criticism, Ferdinand De Saussure, Literary Essay

This as Derrida shows later is a fallacy signified cannot be conceived independently of the signifies. The only concrete entities in terms of which we can talk about signifies are the signifiers themselves. Thus, he reverses the hierarchy in Saussure's theory and shows the theory to be contaminated with the traditional notion of presence. Then what is the linguistic model according to Derrida? Instead of Saussure's signified, Derrida would start with the written letter: marks-on-blanks, as the basic unit---the a priori given. Everything else he would see as imported from outside or generated in a reader's interaction with these mark. "Ultimately man finds in things nothing but what he himself has imported into them "says one of his dedicated followers, J.H. Miller. So, just as Saussure's model of language takes a certain signified presence as its starting point and is thus labeled logocentric, similarly, Derrida's model which takes the written sign for granted, can be labeled 'graphocentric'--centred on the marks- on-blanks.

As the process of signification continues over years, these marks accumulate "traces" of meanings. Any signification that difference has activated in a signifier in the past remains active as a "trace" in the present instance as it will in the future, and these traces accumulate like sediments giving the meaning of that word a diversity. Thus, whenever we try to ascertain the meaning of a word, Miller would have us believe, we encounter a number of meanings present in a state of "vibratory suspension", which will not permit us to accept any one meaning as the only meaning of the word. But what sets this process of difference into motion? If a human mind learning language starts with these marks-on-blanks, then, what sets into motion the system of differentiation through which at least a couple of meanings are created which can then through mutual differentiation inbreed other meanings and create a complete I , system?
This is one of the basic questions about language, which the deconstructionist cannot satisfactorily answer without committing a heresy. In order to answer it, Derrida offers the notion of difference. Combining the ideas 'difference-differing-deference' difference denotes both a 'passive' difference already in place as the condition of signification and an act of differing which produces other differences. How does that passive difference arise in the first place? , To answer this Derrida would ask us to believe in an impossible process in which difference originates in the process of differing without the differing terms having - any kind of a priori signification. All this adds up to say that just as Saussure's theory is based on the logo centric model, similarly Derrida's theory of difference is based on the graphocentric model. Derrida's deconstruction of Saussurean linguistics is also dependent on an origin, ground and end. His origin and end are his graphocentric premises and the impossible notion of difference in which he sees the origin of meaning.

To say that Derrida's critique of Saussure harbors the same limitations is nothing new. Deconstruction critiques a fallacy even while harboring the same fallacy itself. Then, why should anyone read deconstruction seriously if it remains a fault-finding exercise without suggesting any positive remedy?

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