II. Primary and secondary
reading: in this section, Dr. Sim offers a list of bibliography
of deconstruction with brief introduction.
"Deconstruction is a form of textual practice derived from the work
of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida which aims to demonstrate the
inherent instability of both language and meaning" (A Handbook to Literary
Research, 131). Deconstruction rejects the word "analysis" or "interpretation"
as well as it rejects any assumption of texts.
Derrida, Jacques. Writing and Difference. Chicago: Chicago UP, 1979.
---. Of Grammatology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1976.
---. Margins of Philosophy. Brighton: Harvester P, 1982.
---. Positions. London: Athlone, 1981.
---. The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. Chicago:
U of Chicago P, 1987.
---. The Truth in Painting. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1987.
---. Spectres of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning,
New International. London: Routledge, 1994.
Bloom, Harold, ed. Deconstruction and Criticism. London: Routledge,
Hartman, Geoffrey. Saving the Text. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP,
and structuralism: deconstruction is regarded as a form
Culler, Jonathan. On Deconstruction. London: Routledge, 1983.
Sarup, Madan. An Introductory Guide to Post-Structuralism and Postmodernism.
London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993.
Norris, Christopher. Deconstruction: Theory and Practice.
London: Methuen, 1982.
---. The Deconstructive Turn. London: Methuen, 1983.
---. Contest of Faculties. London: Methuen, 1985.
---. Derrida. London: Fontana, 1987.
Staten, Henry. Wittgenstein and Derrida. Oxford: Blackwell,
Ryan, Michael. Marxism and Deconstruction: ACriticalArticulation.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1982.
Hogan, Patrick Colm. The Politics of Interpretation: Ideology, Professionalismand
the Study of Literature. New York: Oxford UP, 1990.
How does deconstruction rejects structuralism?
Both of them develop from semiotics and Saussurean linguistics.
But "deconstruction rejects most of the assumptions of structuralism-particularly
its systematic approach to texts and methodical forms of analysis."
It rejects "binary opposition in structuralism on the grounds that such
oppositions always privilege one term over the other-signified over signifier."
Structuralism assumes that there must be an essential structure in a text.
But to Derrida, it is to set up certain assumptions at first and then to
analyze or to collect interpretations that fit to previous assumptions.
Structuralism is the example of logocentricity of Western cultural discourse,
"the belief that sounds, and words, are representations of meanings already
present in the speaker's mind."
Where is meaning?
Derrida opposes the idea that "meanings can be fully present to individuals
in their minds, without slippage of any kind of occurring."
He thinks that "meaning is neither before nor after the act."
"Meaning is not present in a text." It depends on "the individual reader."
Because their different life experience and reading experience, each reader
will have their own meanings when they read a text" (133).
What does Derrida really fight against?
concepts: It is difficult for critics to "pin
down the conceptual basis of his [Derrida's] argument.
"Derrida wants a free play of meaning; this suggests that it is not just
logocentricity that Derrida is setting himself against, but Western culture's
commitment to rationality and liner thought."
"Derrida's argument is that structuralists are imposing a form on textual
material, and that such a practice puts limits on human creativity" (134).
critical discourse: It is a game of language.
Derrida complicates the terms he uses in speech; for example, "difference"
could mean "difference" or "deferral". This is an example that he uses
to prove that there is always a slippage of meaning.
Rather than interpret obscure meanings for the puzzled readers, his job
or his idea is to make meanings proliferate.
"What deconstructionists set out to reveal is the strength of the signifier
vis-a-vis a signified that tries to enclose it" (135).
"Interpretation no longer aims at the reconciliation or unification of
VI. The politics
For example, puns. A pun has multiple meanings in the same discourse though
not everyone can receive all the meanings it contains. Every listener will
at least receive one, and what he or she receives can be different from
each other, "full of inherent instability".
"The argument is that such a free associative, almost stream of consciousness
method of writing is less authoritarian than traditional criticism, where
the critic is seen to mediate between text and reader: the argument is
that it creates-rather than recovers, fixes, or closes off-meaning" (136).
"Deconstruction is a useful corrective to this all-too-common tendency,
although its anarchic-looking procedures might themselves be seen to have
their own socio-political commitments. To wish to escape from the world
of authority and value into a world of innocence of becoming has, one might
suggest, definite ideological connotations" (137).
What is the relationship between deconstruction and Marxism? In Derrida's
Spectres of Marx, "he proceeds to argue for deconstruction as a inheritor
of the liberationist credentials of Marxism" (137).
"How far down this road one can follow Derrida without collapsing
into a self defeating solipsism and private language is, however, an interesting
question to ponder. It might also be objected that if Language is as marked
by indeterminacy as deconstruction claims, then it is difficult to see
how it can establish this indeterminacy through the use of language: some
sort of logical paradox would seem to be involved at that point" (137).