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read over Leitch's selections on Jacques Derrida and to tell us, what stands out to you about Derrida.

Answer these Questions below.

 

1. Also if as you screen/watch the film Derrida (2002), share with favorite part of the film, and that how it is you now more clearly understand what deconstruction really is about.

2. How do you interpret your life?  

3. Do you see yourself in a sea of competing cultures with opportunity abounding or do you believe you are limited in what is possible because of what you experience?  

4. What are your strategies and tactics to get what you want in life?  

5. Do you make the most of your possibilities because of your circumstances or in spite of them? 

6. I would also like you to write about one discourse community you belong to and write about how is continues to shape who you are? 

7.  A discourse community can be where you work, go to school, where you live, where you go with others to share a common purpose or hobby.

 

Derrida, Deconstruction, and Magical Realism

Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) NATC 1602-35

 "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" (LPA 294-299) and "The Shawl" (LPA 290-294) 

Lecture by Micki Nyman

 

            For quite a while now, Jacques Derrida, French Philosopher of high renown, is the theorist most associated with Deconstruction as method, as discourse, and as process.  In a world where beginnings and endings are often highly regarded as stepping stones in life, it took the likes of Jacques Derrida to help us see that most of life takes place in the middle place, in the process.  For example, one enters school and then graduates from school; but what does one remember?  Neither the initial day nor the departure day, rather, the experiences occurring in-between the two points, the space of the in-between, the process.  Jacques Derrida's great insight to theory, to life, to literature is this particularity of process.  Derrida was a prolific theorist; at the beginning of his career, he wrote about writing itself, that written prose was not as esteemed as the spoken word, what is known as orality.  By the end of his esteemed career, Derrida concerned himself with topics such as ethics, morality, death, and forgiveness.  Many people favor Derrida because he often discussed in his writings and his lectures that everything could be broken down and analyzed into its different parts, a well-known application of  deconstruction, so that innovative thinking could occur.  Others, though, did not buy Derrida's ideas on God as the center of everything.  Derrida believed that when people began to question the validity of any given word, referring to meaning and significance, they began to doubt the existence of God.                       When one hears of people discounting deconstruction or postmodernity (the time period we live in now), one will also hear of the godless philosophers, like Nietzsche and Derrida, who question the purpose of existence and agency in a world where good and evil seem to exist side by side in harmony. So, Derrida is known for his work on the rupture of the center, the idea that there really is not a fixed center that permeates everything, everyone, every meaning.  It is an open center, according to Derrida, that "is at the center of the totality, and yet, since the center does not belong to the totality (is not part of the totality), the totality has its center elsewhere" (915).  The instability of the center is due to the presence of humanity and of desire.  The idea about this instability of the center revolves around transient nature of humanity and desire.  Do our desires continue to change or do they stay the same? Related to the idea of changing desire is the force of contradictions surrounding the desire, what can also be called the center.  Derrida liked to say that two polarized aspects are really about one thing instead.  And these two things are interdependent on one another and at the same time really pushing the same thing because one opposition actually needs the other side for its meaning and to hold its place in the scheme of the center.  So, to make all of this clear, I might speak about the patriarchy, the idea of the rule of the father over mankind.  For at least a thousand years and probably most likely two, the male held more esteem than the female.  While one could not be given rank without the other, whether high or low stature, and both sides of humanity needed the other to give credence to the other half, what is male and what is female was considered a polarized distinction. The play of these two opposites, what is a man and what is a woman, was always changing, dynamic, and not fixed, but really open with respect to interpretation.  What happened and is still happening in some parts of the world is that when one gender is valued over the other, a rupture of meaning occurs, and then gender roles are re-evaluated, re-explored, and often re-assigned.  All of this, of course, takes place on both real and symbolic levels.  In America, women did not just obtain voting rights because they wanted the vote, they had to organize, protest, publish, and sway public opinion.  Many ruptures or re-evaluations of meaning had to occur for real change to occur. Now, some might say the same thing happened with respect to African American culture in this country.  The rupture, the civil-war, had lasting consequences over America's history.  Before the civil war took place, there were many de-centering processes, or ruptures, occurring with respect to how Blacks were treated and respected in America. The North versus the South was merely one of them, and one that led to the war itself.  Did this war end the decentering process?  Our nation had to experience the civil rights movement, the work of Martin Luther King, the inauguration of Barack Obama as our first Black president, and so on.  Today, we look back at Ferguson a few years ago and it continues forward in the Black Lives Movement and also in the current political election where the decentering process concerning who people of color and their relationship to the other? who need them for their own meaning continues the decentering and re-centering process.                                                                                                                   Why am I discussing this aspect of deconstruction of cultural history in our literary study?  Because in literature, ruptures involving character, plot, sequencing, and so forth, happen all of the time.  What we see in life is often seen literature.  It is so exciting to me to analyze literature from the perspective or discourse of Deconstruction and it is fairly simple.  One might begin to ask questions about the discursive realities of the time of the literature, one way to begin to deconstruct a text.  (Why we looked at the meaning of the word Discourse - different types of knowledge that function as power in a society—and why consider Michel Foucault as well). Another way is to look at qualities that are valued or devalued in the story line.  One might look at gender the same way.  So many aspects in literature, in stories, and especially in film, move forward as ruptures, typically in the disruption of the center through the apparent oppostions,  projecting the story forward in its process.  The end of the story might center on its beginning or have a real ending. Many of us hate open-endings and we will work on that idea another day.  We tend to want closure in our art.                                                                                                                  I'm hoping it's possible that you screen the documentary Jacques Derrida (2002), a documentary on the Jacques Derrida that was produced and directed by some of his former students.  You may find the link on Module/Week Seven (7).  Derrida was immensely popular in America.  Everywhere he went he brought out controversy and many, like me, considered him a rock star in the world of theory.  For today, I'd like you to read over Leitch's selections on Jacques Derrida and to tell us on the discussion board forum what stands out to you about Derrida.  If you get confused as you read, keep reading.  When you are finished, just write what you think.  Derrida would be so pleased because whatever you think of while you are reading, this process of reading itself, will be worthy of your time, your thoughts, what you will write down.

 If you are fortunate to screen the film, please let us know what you think.  Many of my students do not understand Derrida until they see the film and then they tell me, "Ah, I get it." 

            I thought I might include a brief mention of Paul de Man (1919-1983), who is famously known for his techniques of interpretation that suggest truth is revealed indirectly in literature, life, and art symbolically.  Everything can be interpreted or read by the references at play.  One way to look at this is that Outside forms can have internal resonance in what is happening in a story or in life.  De Man calls this the "reconciliation of form and meaning" (Leitch).  Authority can often be disguised but not always.  Going to a film and knowing the point of the film in ten minutes is an example of the outside influencing the inside. Knowing how discourse operates in society also streamlines how we interpret culture.  Most of you know what "left" and "right" mean in political discourse and where you see yourself in relation to these two terms. For de Man, language is a coded affair that creates constant reference to what is going on outside of the language itself.  This might be negative for some, but for others it might be positive. Deconstructionists like de Man insist that an effective reading or act of interpretation of any film, poem, story, or even a person, depends on questions that explore the outside in relation to the inside—the inconsistencies one explores  actually create the most interesting findings or results. Following de Man's line of thinking here, I might suggest that Freud actually does this outside/inside projection in his reading of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex to shed light on his theory of repression in childhood shaping adult identity.  One might recall that Oedipus represses his father's (King Laius) attempt to kill him because it this memory is simply too painful.  After many circumstances occur where King Oedipus encounters other people in the community such as his wife Jocasta, the seer Tieresius, his brother-in-law Creon, and priests from an apollonian oracle, Oedipus finally understands that he killed his father on the road when he was a very young man.  The shared interactions with these "others," members of his community, allow Oedipus to remember that that he killed several men in a small incident at a crossroads and one of them was his father, Lauis.  Freud, who spent many years listening to stories of his troubled clients, reads the external aspects of the story (Oedipus Rex is indicative of the repression of memories) into its internal dynamics, the tragedy itself. Freud also uses the external dynamics of Sophocles Oedipus Rex to further enlighten his own theories (internal dynamics) of how repression works for his troubled clients.  If you are feeling confused, then you understand why many people do not understand how deconstruction works.  Deconstruction always works through questioning the why and how of literature or life or art and then through applying dynamics that are at one familiar and strange.  This is how Freud came up with the Uncanny, a word that evokes considerable influence in interpretation today, all of which are justified.    

            For many reasons, one of my favorite genres to read, to teach, and to research is the genre (type of fiction) known as magical realism.  It is has been popular for some time now, though most people know the genre by its hybrid forms, meaning that several aspects of magical realism have infused other fictional forms or genres such as romance, coming of age, drama, detective, crime, science fiction.  If one has never read magical realism, one is in for a treat in the reading of the assigned two short stories, "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" (294-299) and "The Shawl" (290-294).

.           I began my official foray into this genre in 1991 when I picked up a copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Marcia Marquez, a Latin American author who passed away recently and who happens to have authored the first of two short story selections for today. Many things commend this lengthy novel and one can "google" the genre for a complete list of its cherished aspects, but for me its most attractive feature is the embedded spirituality, what is unseen, often a spiritual component, is as important to the fabric of the story as what one can see.  Often, the spiritual component is comedic or humorous in a gentle, non-assuming way and lightens the mood of the plot line, which can be quite based on every day aspects of life, political or religious messaging, or on sad, horrific events.  Magical Realism is not a particularly happy genre although it can be quite entertaining.                                                                        

 

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Donec aliquet. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam lacinia pulvinar tortor nec facilisis. Pellentesque dapibus efficitur laoreet. Nam risus ante, dapibus a molestie consequat, ultrices ac magna. Fusce dui lectus, congue vel laoreet ac, dictum vitae odio. Donec aliquet. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam lacinia pulvinar tortor nec facilisis. Pellentesque dapibus efficitur laoreet. Nam risus ante, dapibus a molestie consequat, ultrices ac magna

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itur laoreet. Nam risus ante, dapibus a molestie consequat, ultrices ac magna. Fusce dui lectus, congue vel laoreet ac, dictum vitae odio. Donec aliquet. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam lacinia pulvinar tortor nec facilisis. Pellentesque dapibus efficitur laoreet. Nam risus ante, dapibus a molestie consequat, ultrices ac magna. Fusce dui lectus, congue vel laoreet ac, dictum vitae odio. Donec aliquet. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam lacinia pulvinar tortor nec facilisis. Pellentesque dapibus efficitur laore

facilisis. Pellentesque dapibus efficitur laoreet. Nam risus ante, dapibus a molestie consequat, ultrices ac magna. Fusce dui lectus, congue vel laoreet ac, dictum vitae odio. Donec aliquet. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam lacinia pulvinar tortor nec facilisis. Pellentesque dapibus efficitur laoreet. Nam risus ante, dapibus a molestie consequat, ultrices ac magna. Fusce dui lectus, congue vel laoreet ac, dictum vita

itur laoreet. Nam risus ante, dapibus a molestie consequat, ultrices ac magna. Fusce dui lectus, congue vel laoreet ac, dictum vitae odio. Donec aliquet. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam lacinia pulvinar tortor nec facilisis. Pellentesque dapibus efficitur laoreet. Nam risus ante, dapibus a molestie consequat, ultrices ac magna. Fusce dui lectus, congue vel laoreet ac, dictum vitae odio. Donec aliquet. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam lacinia pulvinar tortor nec facilisis. Pellentesque dapibus efficitur laoreet. Nam risus ante, dapibus a molestie consequat, ultrices ac magna. Fusce dui lectus, congue vel laoreet ac, dictum vitae odio. Donec aliquet. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam lacinia pulvinar tortor nec facilisis. Pellentesque dapibus efficitur laoreet. Nam risus ante, dapibus a molestie consequat, ultrices ac magna. Fusce dui lectus, congue

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itur laoreet. Nam risus ante, dapibus a molestie consequat, ultrices ac magna. Fusce dui lectus, congue vel laoreet ac, dictum vitae odio. Donec aliquet. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam lacinia pulvinar tortor nec facilisis. Pellentesque dapibus efficitur laoreet. Nam risus ante, dapibus a molestie consequat, ultrices ac magna. Fusce dui lectu

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