Pravin Kumar Patel
Ph.D. Research Scholar The English and Foreign Languages University,
Hyderabad – 05
The objective of this paper centers on two fundamental issues, that is, to formulate some strategies of the process of “deconstruction,” and to explore what kind of function, beyond the realm of philosophy and linguistic concerns, it asserts in terms of reading the text. In doing so, this paper attempts to offer an alternative and “supplement” perspective on the thesis of Jonathan Culler, Christopher Norris and Peggy Kumuf, to name only a few, who consider deconstruction a “theory,” a “method” or a “doctrine” concerned only with meta questioning of language, which in turn destabilizes the foundation and established ideology. In theoretical speculations, I shall limit my concerns to literary texts only.
There are crucial controversies over application of the process of deconstruction to literary texts. But, against Derrida’s assertions in “Letter to a Japanese Friend,” critics have established it as an approach, a “mode of reading” and/or a “method of interpretation”. However, the practitioners do not apply the same “method” of analysis to every text. Since deconstruction, like Reader-Response criticism, asserts that each reader constructs a different text and meaning in reading, and there is no fixed pattern of interpretation, I use the word process in a wider sense. The term process implies the impossibility of limiting deconstruction to a set of rules, as is the case with “theory,” “method” and “technique”. One can never know what will happen next in the process of deconstruction. It resists the idea of simplification and/or arrival which is associated with “critique” and “analysis”. It also entails that deconstruction cannot be imposed on the text in question from outside, as happens in the case of “operation”. Thus, the term process goes beyond the restricted outline of “theory” and “method,” and other such fields mentioned above in its venture.
Definitely, it would be worth proposing how a deconstructionist reads. At the conclusion of “The End of Man” in Margins of Philosophy, Derrida proposes that deconstruction encompasses two potential strategies for disseminating the logocentric system. First, it attempts a reading without changing ground, by tracing the intrinsic logocentric structure and using the system against it, and the last, it changes the ground and quickly steps outside by affirming an absolute break and difference (135). The selection between these two forms of deconstruction is not simple; therefore, he recommends that both forms of reading may be employed. The very idea of choice, between the two modes of interpretations, shows privileging of one over another. In order to avoid such problems, Derrida calls for double-reading, and himself applies this method to read Rousseau’s “Essay on the Origin of Language” in the second half of Of Grammatology. He formulates these two modes of interpretation—logocentric and deconstructive—firmly in his essay “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences” in Writing and Difference:
There are thus two interpretations of interpretation, of structure, of sign, of play. The one seeks to decipher, dreams of deciphering a truth or an origin which escapes play and the
order of the sign, and which lives the necessity of interpretation as an exile. The other, which is no longer turned toward the origin, affirms play and tries to pass beyond man and humanism, the name of man being the name of that being who, throughout the history of metaphysics or of ontotheology—in other words, throughout his entire history—has dreamed of full presence, the reassuring foundation, the origin and the end of play (292).
The deconstructive strategy creates a counterreading of logocentric “metaphysics of presence” and “ontologies of being”—by scrupulously locating and foregrounding the unnoticed constituting force of difference and writing, by shaking the firm ground, familiar hierarchies and orders—against the grain to reveal a subversive meaning, deferred context, false bottom, and counter-sense. It shows that the point of reference is deconstructible because it is founded or constructed on the interpretable and transformable textual strata. Deconstruction is a genealogical analysis of these constructions. The Deconstructive questioning of the subject—the given values, morality, politics, legality, legitimacy, authority and the norms of reading—makes justice possible, in both literal and metaphorical sense. But the questioning of foundation is not a deliberate strategic change of subject from the controlled superstructure; instead, it is a maximum intensification of a transformation in progress. The formulations of deconstructive process in the aforementioned essays are concerned with two modes, first, it is an exploration of logocentric meanings and their systematic undoing by meticulous interpretations and genealogical analysis of the subject; and the last, it demonstrates the presence of meaning without referring to the origin, it is ahistorical and anti-logocentric, and proceeds through reading of the text without locating the fixed ground. What follows in the paper will be based on these two practices. I would like to begin with the latter one.
A deconstructive reading, which does not turn towards origin, reveals the irreconcilable forces within the text and destabilize its so-called “definite structure and meaning into an indefinite array of incompatible and undecidable possibilities”. As J Hillis Miller writes:
Deconstruction as a mode of interpretation works by a careful and circumspect entering of each textual labyrinth. The critic feels his way from figure to figure, from concept to concept, from mythical motif to mythical motif, in a repetition which is in no sense a parody. It employs, nevertheless, the subversive power present in even the most exact and ironical doubling. The deconstructive critic seeks to find, by this process of retracing, the element in the system studied which is alogical, the thread in the text in question which will unravel it all, or the loose stone which will pull down the whole building. The deconstruction, rather, annihilates the ground on which the building stands by showing that the text has already annihilated that ground, knowingly or unknowingly. Deconstruction is not dismantling of the structure but a demonstration that it has already dismantled itself (Theory Now and Then 126).
Miller’s claim shows that deconstruction does not do anything to the text; it does not disintegrate the text. It only reveals, through a close reading in an endless mise en abyme and a “lateral dance”, the undecidable and self-conflicting meanings of the text and how it is organized. Barbara Johnson also supports this argument, as she asserts, it is “the careful teasing out of warring forces of signification”. According to Jonathan Culler, the indispensable step to
deconstruct a discourse is to show or reveal “how it undermines the philosophy it asserts, or the hierarchical oppositions on which it relies, by identifying in the text the rhetorical operations that produces the supposed ground of argument, the key concept or premise”. Thus, for Miller, Johnson and Culler, every statement is self-subversive, aporetic, figurative. and rhetorical, and in consequence, the final meaning (if there is any) is undecidable, suggesting that every signifier refers not to stable signified, but to more signifiers, the trace of other signifiers, ad infinitum.
Rhetorical or figurative language makes single, stable, or essential meaning impossible. According to de Man, “[T]he determining characteristic of literary language is indeed figurality, in somewhat wider sense of rhetoricity, but that, far from constituting an objective basis for literary study, rhetoric implies the persistent threat of misreading” (Blindness and Insight 285). The undecidability resulting from figurality makes him assert that critics (paradoxically) show the greatest blindness at their moments of greatest insight, that is, they are doomed to say something quite different from what they had meant to say. In this way, literary language and misreading are interrelated. Its impossibility of truthful reading avoids “the fallacy of a finite and single interpretation”. de Man opines that a narrative is allegorical because it always refers to something other than itself. All narratives are allegories of their own (mis)reading, and are caught in difficult double bind, which lead to the confrontation of incompatible meanings (Allegories of Reading 76). The de Manian rhetoric permits one thing to be compared or identified with another, by virtue of contiguity and analogy: “My love is like a red rose,” or “The sunshines of yours eyes,” etc. Such devices have no logical ground for determining the absolute truth and axiomatic foundation, so in consequence, they undermine the authority.
Deconstruction identifies paradoxical situations in the text, on one hand, and systematically dismantles them, on the other. Deconstruction is not merely a neutralization of a “deadlocked aporia of meaning,” but a gesture of double reading. It overturns the oppositions, and then re-inscribes them in a larger field, which account for non-presence as other than lack of presence. In this procedure the binary polarities are first identified and then inverted in order to disclose how a text is controlled through the privileging of certain metaphor over others. The second step in double reading is “the intervention of an outside or excluded term within the very constitution of wholeness” (Double Reading 33). Derrida writes, “Deconstruction cannot limit itself or proceed immediately to neutralization: it must by means of a double gesture, a double science, a double writing, practice an overturning of the classical opposition and a general displacement of the system. It is only on this condition that deconstruction will provide itself the means with which to intervene in the fields of opposition that it criticizes, which is also a field of nondiscursive forces” (Margins of Philosophy 329, emphasis in the original). The use of the word, “nondiscursive,” in the preceding citation, implies that the overturning of linguistic hierarchies is also a political and social overturning of hierarchies of society. Derrida makes similar point in Dissemination—the stance of refusal to deconstruct such oppositions is to “give free rein to the existing forces that effectively and historically dominate … to confirm the established equilibrium”. Miller follows a different strategy of deconstruction. He examines the undecidable moments from the broader realm of “repetition”.
Miller, following Nietzsche, is of the opinion that every form of repetition implies “a world based on difference”. In this way, emphasizing the uniqueness of each thing, repetition implies not a copy but what Deleuze calls “simulacra” or “phantasms,” writes Miller. The “differential interrelations among elements” in repetition is a form deconstruction. In its process,
repetition includes Derrida’s concept of aporia, iterability and trace. Mechanically, repetition determines the plot, textuality and intertextuality of a text; the authors’ psychological aspect; and archetypal pattern, social and historical issues related to a text. In this context Miller writes:
Any novel is a complex tissue of repetition and of repetitions within repetitions, or of repetitions linked in chain fashion to other repetitions. In each case there are repetitions making up the structure of the work within itself, as well as repetitions determining its multiple relations to what is outside it: the author’s mind or his life; other works by the same author; psychological, social, or historical reality; other works by other authors; motifs from the mythological or fabulous past; elements from the purported past of the characters or of their ancestors; events which have occurred before the book begins.
(Fiction and Repetition 3)
The major form of repetition emerges from certain historical personages and events in fictional narration. It may be repetitions within the fiction and repetitions by the fiction. The certain recurring features of characters expressed through motifs and imageries will be carried out in other characters of the same or other novels, they implicitly and un/consciously repeat the pattern of the life led by the previous character/s. In addition, the names of the characters, in specific circumstances, directly refer to their namesake of other novels. It will not be wrong to affirm that, in some crucial situations, the characters repeat both their own earlier lives and lives of others. A character may repeat previous generations, or historical or mythological characters. This is a significant feature of the eighteenth century fiction. In this context Roland Barthes’ assertion, “the text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture” is completely applicable in this pattern of repetition. The function of repetition is to disrupt purity and uniqueness of the text. Sometimes, the voice of the author also merges with that of the narrator/s and thus leads to an ironical situation. Such repetitions claim to question, subvert and undermine the assumption they standby. Typically, it makes explicit the incompatible forces working through repetition which do not allocate definiteness of structure and meaning. This results in undecidable possibilities. Let me show how repetition works in Ian McEwan’s The Comfort of Strangers and Atonement.
In the case of The Comfort of Strangers, there is no direct reference of the names of places and cities for the setting, but as far as the description of incidents and surroundings are concerned, it refers to Venice. There is a very good parallel between Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming and McEwan’s The Comfort of Strangers regarding the apparent themes and setting. In The Homecoming a man and his wife go to Venice, during their one week’s holiday, to amend their breaking marriage. Unfortunately, their visit does not help their plan out. The same happens in The Comfort of Strangers in which two English lovers have come to Venice on holiday in order to decide whether they should continue or end their relationship, which is being continued for seven years. In Atonement, repetition occurs within the text of the novel. For instance, Briony, the narrator cum implied author, tells lies at two points of time, and each gives the crucial turn to the life of her own and others. Her first lie results in the imprisonment of her elder sister’s lover, Robbie; and from the prison, he is sent to the battlefield during the II World War where he dies. Briony’s sister, Cecelia, in her attempt to meet Robbie, is killed in a bomb- blast. The result of her own act makes Briony feel guilty, and in repentance she joins a hospital in London to work as a nurse. While serving as a nurse, she tells another lie to Luc, a deeply wounded French soldier, by accepting herself as the girl friend of him, which eases his death,
and also helps her get atonement. The two different consequences complicate the ethical judgments and social values.
Repetition brings the purity of genre under question. In this way, there is the part played by the “radically other” in the structure of the novel, and embodies the concept of différance in the system of sign—“half of it always ‘not there’ and the other half always ‘not that”’. The structure and meaning of the novel, like that of the sign, is always determined by “the trace or track of that other which is forever absent,” and “this other is of course never to be found in its full being” (Of Grammatology xvii). Consequently, the play of différance in the novel subverts its organic whole. Repetition also occurs in the form of duplication of scenes and events within the text. Motifs from one plot or character may recur in another or within the same text with different functions. This kind of repetition results in the “subversion of organic form”. In addition, an author may repeat the motifs, themes, characters, or events from his novels. Miller’s concept of Repetition embodies Harold Bloom’s notion of “anxiety of influence” and Roland Barthes’ intertextuality.
The main concern in the rhetorical, allegorical and repetitive mode of deconstruction is undecidability. Undecidability in deconstruction is not an oscillation between two significations, or two contradictory and very determinate rules. It is not tension between two decisions, but instead, as Derrida says, “it is the experience of that which, though heterogeneous, foreign to the order of calculable and the rules, is still obliged—it is of obligation that we must speak—to give itself up to the impossible decision, while taking account of law and rules” (“Force of Law” 24). He also states the same in “Ethics and Politics Today”: “One must, in some way, arrive at a point at which one does not know what to decide for the decision to be made. Thus, a certain undecidability . . . is the condition or the opening of a space for an ethical or political decision” (Cited in “Said, Derrida and the Undecidable Human” 304, emphasis added). Thus, undecidability is respect for equality and universal right of heterogeneous or marginal elements. In this context Derrida writes that “the deconstruction of all presumptions of a determinant certitude of a present justice itself operates on the basis of an infinite ‘idea of justice,’ infinite because it is irreducible, irreducible because owed to the other, owed to the other, before any contract, because it has come, the other’s coming as the singularity that is always other” (“Force of Law” 25). The aforementioned statements can also open the space for undecidable multiple interpretations which provide equal importance to another interpretation. What follows is an illustration of undecidability in Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness.
The novel, Heart of Darkness, poses undecidability in terms of the title, narrative, characters, events, actions and descriptions. In my analysis, I take into consideration only one scene, that is, the last words of Mr. Kurtz. “The horror! The horror!” uttered in the context of the novel, generates various interpretations but none of them can stay with the other. Some commentators find it affirmative, others find it nihilistic, and others find it obscure. The narrator offers the following comments: (a) Kurtz had realized that his life had been horrible and horrifying affair, and therefore, condemns his actions. It is recognition of evil within him that he was practicing. These words are regarded by Marlow as “an affirmation”, as “a moral victory” and as a sign of firm belief. (b) These words represent Kurtz’s “the strange comingling of desire and hate” to return to the scene of those abominable satisfactions among the “savages,” and therefore, is not a moral victory, after all. (c) Kurtz considers horrible the natures of all humans: it was his “final burst of sincerity”. He was presiding over the native’s mid-night dances, always
ending with “unspeakable rites” which include sex orgies, all kinds of sex perversions, human sacrifice, brutality, bloodshed, barbarism, and savagery. (d) Kurtz regards the entire universe horrible: “the wide and immense stare embracing, condemning, loathing all the universe . . . ‘the horror!”’. It refers to the description of the wild scenery of the thick, almost impenetrable jungle, the half-buried boiler, the railway track with its wheels in air, and the purposeless blasting. Such undecidabilities give space to hidden and marginal meanings. The illustration of theoretical supposition in the novels tries to point out how an argument is inevitably involved in an aporia, which reveals a multiplicity of meanings, unfolds the uncertainty operating in the text, assigns freedom to the text, and preserves a sense of literariness of literature at the moment of “breaking the form”.
The second perspective planned by Derrida “dreams of deciphering a truth or an origin” by tracing the intrinsic logocentric structures of the subject. According to this perspective, the deconstruction of subject is to work through its structured genealogy in the most scrupulous and immanent fashion, and at the same time, it also involves a certain external perspective to determine what may have concealed or excluded in constituting the subject (Positions 5). Derrida’s deconstructive understanding of logocentric text is very much similar to Foucault’s genealogical analysis of history in particular and poststructuralist understanding of how the connections between the different types (or “strata”) of structure operating in history are made in general. It takes into consideration “origin” or everything that legitimates the subject, and examines their coming into being from the perspective of “trace,” arch-writing,” “différance,” and spectrality. As Derrida writes:
[It] consists rather (this is its very style) in transforming things by exhibiting writings, genres, textual strata (which is also to say – since there is nothing outside the text, right – exhibiting institutional, economic, political, pulsive [and so on] “realities”) that have been repulsed, repressed, devalourised, minoritized, delegitimated, occulted by hegemonic canons, in short, all that which certain forces have attempted to melt down into the anonymous mass of an unrecognizable culture, to (“bio)degrade” in the common compost of a memory said to be living and organic. From this point of view, deconstructive interpretation and writing would come along, without any soteriological mission, to “save,” in some sense, lost heritages (“Biodegradables” 821)
It works on the formulation: “meaning is context-bound but context is boundless”. In a way, it emphasizes external presence in determining the meaning but at the same time regards them as a “text,” which is uncertain of its “fixities and definities”. It never takes the origin or foundation as logos, a point of reference. The deconstructive process, in its mission, takes into consideration the following questions: what is a subject? How does it come into existence? Does subject still exist? What is a legitimate subject? What does it mean to establish the truth of subject in question? Deconstruction of the subject (say Derrida in an interview, “Jacques Derrida: Section 1” & Section 2), if there is such a thing, is not to destroy, dissolve, or cancel the legitimacy of the subject. It analyzes, historically and genealogically, the formation and different layers that have built the concept of subject. It analyzes how the concept is built, used, legitimized, and what lies underneath. Deconstruction of the subject means to analyze, and being aware of those historical components and the hidden assumption in theological, political or ideological formation of the subject; it is not dissolution of the subject. The subject is not simply
formal identity, it takes into account all the determinations: for instance, whether a child is a subject, or a woman is a subject, or a non-European is a subject, or a non-heterosexual is a subject. Let me examine the concept of “incest” in Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden to show how it is legitimized.
The novel, The Cement Garden grounds its meaning in the logos of the social, cultural and theological structure. The children, Julie and Jack, are accused of indulging in incest. And as a consequence they are caught up by the police. The question is: what makes one decide the primal fulfillment of the children’s desire as incest. Is it the author? Or is it the socio-cultural background of the reader? Or is it the text of the novel? Or is it a construction of knowledge and discourse for operation of power and domination? Or is it “the Ideological State Apparatuses” or “the Repressive State Apparatuses”? It is very difficult to decide on any one particular issue. In a way, all these are responsible for the construction of incest as scandal. If we remove the idea of society, religion, and the tradition of literary art, there will be no such issue of incest. Every society and religion has prohibited incest. It is reflected in the cultural artifacts, for instance in the Greek Literature. In Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, at one point it is said, “He who commits patricide and incest is a criminal, brings a / curse on his country, and is doomed to punishment”. The Cement Garden proceeds in centric manners. And thus the novel revolves around a “transcendental signified” and “Metaphysics of Presence”. The relation of Julie and Jack in the novel is a kind of “scandal”. Scandal is a kind of incest prohibition. Derrida reminds that Lévi- Strauss in his Elementary Structure encounters the notion of incest and claims that it does not accept the nature/culture opposition. It is at the same time natural and cultural. Natural in the sense of its universal prohibition and cultural in the sense that it is the construct of society. Thus the notion of the so-called incest as against nature is dismantled. Derrida further writes, “Obviously there is no scandal except within a system of concept which accredits the difference between nature and culture” (Writing and Difference: 283). Above all, the presence of such multiple determinants undermines the idea of incest, and postpone the signified from one point to another in a chain of possible substitutions. The novel interrogates the binary opposition of the social and the personal, the natural and the cultural, the right and the wrong. The interrogation of the binary polarities in the novel dislocates logocentrism.
The recent work in deconstruction shows a monumental shift from “linguistic sublime” to cultural, material, political issues, and the affirmation of the other. The deconstructive theoretical strategies are revived in many other areas including disability studies, postcolonialism, feminism, queer theory, new historicism, cultural materialism, material culture, race, ethnicity, narratology and psychoanalysis. In all these fields, there is a lively sense of debate on such fundamental issues as representation, life, contingency subjectivity, freedom, political change, living conditions, institutional practices and the like. As the given space does not permit me to explore all of the areas given above, I shall limit myself to feminism. In this domain, I take up how deconstruction critiques patriarchal ideologies, and brings justice to women.
Like all other logocentric hierarchical binary oppositions, the male/female becomes the target of deconstruction. Though, the struggle for equal rights for women began far earlier than deconstruction came into existence, but the defiance of the Freudian and the Lacanian formulations of feminine psyche as “penis envy” and “phallic lack” was influenced by the Derridean theory. The deconstructive reversal of patriarchal and phallogocentric conceptualizations gave power to the femininity’s otherness, ambiguity, difference, subordinate,
secondary and subordinate statuses. Shoshanna Felman and Gayatri Spivak used deconstructive technique in exposing the underlying ideologies in the text. They took their insights from Derrida’s Specters of Marx to deal with social and political history. Spivak as a Marxist, feminist, deconstructionist attempts “the critique of phallocentrism as a part of larger ideological analysis of logocentrism. She offers a deconstructive view of history:
Even if all historical taxonomies are open to question, a minimal historical network must be assumed for interpretation, a network that suggests that the phallocentric discourse is the object of deconstruction because of its coextensivity with the history of Western metaphysics, a history inseparable from political economy and from the property of man as holder of property. (Cited in “Deconstructive Criticism” 256).
Spivak’s major endeavor was to reread classic texts as phallocentric, and to reveal a historically created and creating system that allocates social, sexual, economic and political roles to women. Summing up the contribution of deconstruction to feminism, Spivak writes: “My attitude towards deconstruction can now be summarized: first, deconstruction is illuminating as a critique of phallocentrism; second, it is convincing as an argument against founding of a histeriocentric to counter a phallocentric discourse; third, as a ‘feminist’ practice itself, it is caught on the other side of sexual difference” (Cited in “Deconstructive Criticism” 257).
The attention to other is not reconstruction but affirmation. Many critics agree that deconstruction is concerned with marginalized. The endeavour to bring marginalized in the center is affirmation of the identity of marginalized, as well as reconstruction and deconstruction of justice and democracy. “Deconstruction,” in the words of Drucilla et al, “has brought in its wake the clamor for the recognition of many voices outside the traditional canon. The writing of the people of different cultures, nationalities, races and sexes are now given equal standing to the work of white men” (Deconstruction and the Possibilities of Justice ix). It valourizes the discontinuous and non-homogenous, and supports, on theoretical plane, the struggle of women and minorities in the face of white, patriarchal power structure, homogeneity and organicity. However, this does not imply that deconstruction is a progenitor of “the cultural establishments,” instead it shows that the modes of our understanding have been transformed by deconstruction.
Though, in this paper, I have tried deconstruction as a process in reading, “it is a transformation of ways of thinking and doing that coincides with wide-ranging changes going on in [institutional and pedagogical, familial and sexual, political and juridical, even theological and scientific areas in contemporary] . . . societies”. Today, deconstruction has taken a very vast sphere—as Jeffrey T. Nealon writes that now we have different types of deconstruction: rhetorical deconstruction of Paul de Man, pedagogical deconstruction of Gregory Ulmer, political deconstruction of Michael Ryan, postcolonial (feminist) deconstruction of Gayatri Spivak, feminist deconstruction of Barbara Johnson, among which each one is different from another—so my paper has taken very limited area; and the other reason for doing so was to make an exhaustive study of the selected concepts.
I made clear that a deconstructive study concerns with the task of understanding and embracing “difference,” “otherness,” “heterogeneity,” “plurality”. Deconstruction, if there is such a thing, is inherently untotalizable, anti-totalitarian and democratic. For deconstruction
nothing is monolithic, but a structure which traces, by the principle of différance, the identities of the other. By the “other” Derrida means everything that escapes or resists the attempts of totalization. The other is not necessarily another person or another thing, but, instead it refers to “the absence and loss at the heart of presence and the same”. The other is indentified by such non-concepts as “différance,” “iterability,” “pharmakon,” “hospitality” and so on.
However, Derrida/deconstruction is accused of celebrating difference and particularism without any framework for distinguishing legitimate from the illegitimate. There are also critics who insist that deconstruction cannot provide a legitimate basis to the hidden or marginal subjects because it undermines social hierarchies and puts them under-erasure. It is not (and cannot be) completely stated where difference and otherness begins and ends. Of course, deconstruction is not free from contradictions, as Thomas McCarthy points out “Derrida apparently wants to have it both ways: to undermine all logocentric concepts and yet to continue to use them for his own purpose” (cited in Double Reading 161). According to Marzec, “Turned into a methodology, deconstruction attended considerably to the discursive orders of the tradition but failed to articulate a response to the demands put upon those that historically have had little access to citizenry and cultural productions: the dispossessed, exiled, homeless, ‘paperless’ people of the planet” (“Said, Derrida and the Undecidable Human” 310). Derrida’s exclusive work on the human and its relation to undecidability does not fully consider the impact colonial policies—particularly in the form of land reformations—have had on inhabitation. (310). In closing chapter of Saving the Text Hartman offered “a counterstatement to Derrida” based on a psychoanalytic theory of “word-wounds” and “spectral names” derived from Jacques Lacan.
The enterprise of deconstruction has been criticized as being anti-humanistic, anti- mimetic, anti-historical, anti-referential and concerned with anti-expressive textuality. It has been alleged for separating and isolating “the literary works from the world and the author and inhabited valuable ethical and emotional responses from readers”. In a way, it undermines biographical, traditional, historical, and judicial modes of analysis. Some of these charges are irrelevant and inauthentic. The concerns with anti-humanism are not found in the works of Derrida and Spivak; anti-expressivism are not there in Bloom and Hartman, since both of them take into consideration the creative psyche and biographical details of the author (it is very much explicit in Bloom’s idea of the “anxiety of influence” and Harman formulation of “saving the text”); ahistoricism and anti-referentiality are not true in the case of Derrida and Spivak (in Limited Inc, Derrida emphasizes his concerns “to history, to world, to reality, to being, and specially … to the other”). The defense of anti-referentiality also defends the anti-mimetic accusations. The assertion that deconstruction undermines the rationality is wrong. The critics, who argue so, refer to certain state or certain set of norms; and our rationalism today cannot be
the same as that of, lets us say, 18th century. Reason is not simply what we thought. Deconstruction is new rationality, say Derrida in an interview in “Jacques Derrida: Session 3”.
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