Poststructuralism and Derrida

Deconstruction is a delicate art, even for the grandfather of poststructuralism himself.  If there is one thing that I’ve learned in my time spent studying Literary Theory and specifically the movement in the late 1960’s in Paris, it is that the entire system works as a conversation.  Though many of these theorists acknowledge real-world ramifications to their theories and works, it is important to remember, and this fact is often overlooked by the American literary consensus, that Derrida and his predecessors and followers (Lacan, Foucault, Saussure, Cixous, etc) were as interested in conversation as they were in theories.  Theories stem from reaction, and reaction stems from inspiration, which again stems from inspiration, etc.  So, the literary theorists who are so often discredited by students and teachers alike as being “too complicated for their own good” and equally credited by the art and literary classicists like Greenberg as the final downfall to art in the 20th century, they were really just theorizing.  Not to assume that Derrida would assume that deconstruction has no real ramifications in the real-world, but rather to imply that deconstruction serves first and foremost as an idea.  This is an important thing to consider, especially when we are viewing deconstructive and poststructuralist art.

As Derrida writes in On Grammatology:

“Since we take nourishment from the fecundity of structuralism, it is too soon to dispel our dream.  We must muse upon what it might signify from within it.  In the future it will be interpreted, perhaps, as a relaxation, if not a lapse, of the attention given to force, which is the tension of force itself.  Form fascinates when one no longer has the force to understand force from within itself.  That is, to create.”

One Response

  1. Nicely put. So much energy is expended to understand folks like Derrida (he exhausted me) that we do forget that theorizing is conversation. . . It is ongoing and thought provoking . . . like art.

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