Some notes on Derrida’s Dissemination

Derrida has come up a lot in the past few weeks in terms of the concept of the binary (his thoughts are related to Said’s in Orientalism) and as I was redoing some of the readings for the final he came up again in a reading on Postmodernism in relation to the arbitrary nature of language. I briefly studied Derrida while I was studying abroad in Paris but never read his works. Since he has now come up several times in my studies, I was interested in reading his main work Dissemination. It is rather dense and complicated but I jotted down some simplified notes in case anyone is interested :)

Derrida: Dissemination

-Explores relationship between life and writing

-It is impossible to have a science of writing

-Nothing outside the text

-Our reading must be intrinsic and remain within the text

-Double binds and tensions within text

– No experience of reality outside of text

-Signified (what is meant) and Signifier (vehicle for conveying meaning)

-**Takes concept from Sassure that “language is a system of differences” and adds dimension of temporality to it (diachronically)

-Writing is more fundamental than speech

-Repression of writing

-A text is a web which reading must try to untangle

-Reading and writing must rip apart

– He intends to show that laying down a meaning is at all times an arbitrary and provisional act based in a desire for power and control.

-There are always 2 opposing meanings to a word but at the same time they aren’t there…a word carries with it all its other meanings and past but this when written only one of the meanings is presented which is why both meanings are there and not there at the same time.

-Through irresponsible commentary, only one meaning is solidified

-Through history, language gathers more history. Criticism isn’t respectful of binary nature of text

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