Saturday, February 7, 2009

Derrida and Texts and Technology

Derrida's Milieu

Nietzsche: attack on essentialist metaphysics; pioneered genealogical investigations; amor fati response vs. Rousseau's melancholy; play and active forgetfulness

Heidegger: “sous rature” (under erasure); Dasein (Being of beings) becomes transcendental signified; method of destruction inspired deconstruction; ignores absolute authority of text

Freud: dispels Cartesian consciousness and sovereignty of self; psyche is written; interpretation of dreams (“words” as “things”); psychoanalysis as method of deciphering texts (deconstruction), looking for the “navel of the dream”; origin of differance

Husserl: voice is most immediate evidence of self-presence

Saussure: primacy of speech; writing is representation of representation; admits language is a species of writing; “there are no phonemes before the grapheme” (Grammatology, 245); differences

Levi-Strauss: bricoleur vs. engineer

+All of Western literature (especially Plato, Rousseau, Hegel)

Derrida's Works that are relevant to T&T (by faculty)

See Peter Krapp's extensive bibliography:

Of Grammatology (1967; translated 1976) (Landow, Scott)

Speech and Phenomena (1967; translated 1973)

Writing and Difference (1967; translated 1978) (Landow)

Dissemination (1972; translated 1981) (Landow, Scott)

Margins of Philosophy (1972; translated 1982)

Glas (1974; translated 1986) (Saper)

The Postcard: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond (1980; translated 1987) (Saper)

“Mes Chances” (1983) (Mauer, Saper)

“Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression” (1995) (Saper)

Key Derridean Terms

presence: Descartes' self-assurance of solitary mental life

transcendental signified: the thing-in-itself, pure reason

trace: disappears in place of transcendental signified; writing is representative

absence: enables presence as space for desire for it to appear fully

differance: “combines and confuses 'differing' and 'deferring' in both their active and passive senses” (Positions, p. 98, n. 3)

supplement: what is added, such as writing to clarify thought; there is always a lack (absence)

logocentrism: belief that meaning emanates from speech, logic, effacing the signifier (writing)

grammatology: science of writing, the trace

deconstruction: method of interpreting texts by looking for slips and breakdowns

under erasure: printing a crossed out term to indicate that we don't know what it means

Derridean Texts and Technology

Gregory Ulmer (1984) Applied Grammatology (Saper)

Jasper Neel (1988) Plato, Derrida, and Writing (Bowdon)

Sharon Crowley (1989) A Teacher's Introduction to Deconstruction (Scott)

Avital Ronnell (1991) The Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia, Electric Speech (Saper)

Mark Taylor (1994) Imagologies (Saper)

George Landow (2006) Hypertext 3.0

Discussion Questions

  • Can Derrida's analysis be carried over into the study of computer languages and source code?
  • Is Freud's method still relevant in light of snack-size writing styles and the interference of software assistants? How do you deconstruct hypertexts?
  • Does Derrida's project yield “Questions that can only be asked” but not answered?

1 comment:

  1. Suspending the first two and playing the third question, deconstructing Landow starts in the index looking for LAN and not seeing entries for GNU or Linux, reasoning therefore that any entries for FOSS or open source are likely to be skewed. This both validates and suggests he will stumble in LANs, lacking thorough technical knowledge from long habituation to human readable accounts of open, standard network protocols implemented [preposition] hosts and routers [verb] free, open source operating systems. (The blog software did not accept the phony parts of speech tags used as pseudo code (almost BNF), so the angles (less than and greater than) symbols were replaced with square brackets.) Landow:

    Third, the term network also refers to an electronic system involving additional computers as well as cables or wire connections that permit individual machines, workstations, and reading-and-writing sites to share information. These networks can take the form of contemporary Local Area Networks (LANs), such as Ethernet, that join sets of machines within an institution or a part of one, such as a department or administrative unit. Networks also take the form of Wide Area Networks (WANs) that join multiple organizations in widely separated geographical locations . . . which until the arrival of the World Wide Web . . .

    His examples differentiating between Local Area Networks as Ethernet, and Wide Area Networks, for which he gives examples of precursors to the World Wide Web, suggests that he does not appreciate network protocols such as TCP/IPv4 make the network more so than the level of 'Ethernet'. Recall TCP/IPv4 with respect to the OSI model: it falls in the mid to upper levels of encapsulation, whereas Ethernet is down there with the wires and the rest of the physical layer defined electrically in IEEE 802.11.


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