Dr. Kate Liu
Response on Poststructuralist's Ideas
Poststructuralists' Ideas on Literature and the World
In his foreword to the English edition of 'The Order of Things,' Michel Foucault suggests that he is looking for a revelation of "positive unconscious of knowledge." Through that revelation, he can find out the elements that determined the different forms of human knowledge. For Foucault, it means that the discourse is related to the exercise of power. Writing, for Foucault can be disruptive, for it exists within a culture, which needs to use language in order to master the "meaning." Literary works are always in a state of averting themselves. Therefore, literature can "evade the exercise of power" by its ability for self-reflection.
As to authors, Foucault suggests that the author who criticizes should resolve the discontinuities of discourse into a harmonious totality, and to discover the author's unconscious desire that may inhabit in language. This idea is derived from the Psychoanalytic criticism's idea of the entity of the language and unconscious, just like what Lacan argues-the unconscious is structured like a language, and language is a chain of signifiers.
According to Saussure's own formulation, language is constituted by "difference", and the sign must always imply to thing's absence. For Derrida, the sign, and the meaning, which it refers to, is always different from the original signified. Thus, the representation never really "re-presents," and the sign is always in a state that "differs and defers." This is the idea what Derrida called "difference." Since the sign cannot express its originality, writing is now considered as secondary.
In arguing the self-presence, Decartes has an idea of "cogito," which means the very moment of one's certitude. But the activity of writing does transgress the limitations within the opposing patterns because to deconstruct a text is also to trace the paradox within its own language. Therefore, deconstruction is not merely to re-present a thing but to invite its own "play." So we may come to a realization that deconstruction does not try to deconstruct the world and the word but to urge a reconsideration of the term that people formulated it.
For post-structuralists, the language does not stick to the meaning that shapes the world. It notes the idea that how we see the world is actually what we know about the world. In addition, we do live in a world of uncertainty without any fixed reference. Without any fixed meaning, people might enter a world in which everything can be deconstructed.