Thursday, April 28, 2005
Derrida: Text and Networks
transform the world into a library...?
Here's a tiny taste of what Jacques Derrida said in 1979 about text and networks.
Please notice how he touches upon hypertext linking when he says "a 'text' that is henceforth no longer a finished corpus of writing, some content enclosed in a book or its margins, but a differential network, a fabric of traces referring endlessly to something other than itself, to other differential traces."
Derrida discusses how the limits of the text are blurring, being smudged beyond recognition, undergoing a smoothing or evaporation, like sandpaper applied gratingly to the edges.
He mentions the "endless referring" of texts, and is this not what we see in blogs?
I embed a hypertext link into a text that I post. As you read my post, you can interrupt your reading, click/select a hypertext link, and off you go to another text, you read it, then go to yet another text, or return to mine.
So...where does my text end and the other begin?
Believe it or not, I decided I would just grab my copy of the hefty (625 pages) A Derrida Reader: Between the Blinds, opened it at random, and write a post on whatever my eyes landed on.
Luckily (?) for me, it was highly relevant. Or is the imaginary fictional character ghost of my perception of Jacques Derrida deriding my detractors and coming to the aid of my sorry and sullen butt?
Okay. Enough blathering. Let's dive into Derrida, my biggest influence in blogology.
Remember, this was written in 1979!
Prophetic? You decide...
If we are to approach a text, it must have an edge.
The question of the text, as it has been elaborated and transformed in the last dozen or so years, has not merely "touched" "shore," le bord (scandalously tampering, changing, as in Mallarme's declaration, "On a touche au vers"), all those boundaries that formed the running border that used to be called a text, of what we once thought this word could identify, i.e., the supposed end and beginning of a work, the unity of a corpus, the title, the margins, the signatures, the referential realm outside the frame, and so forth.
What has happened, if it has happened, is a sort of overrun [debordement] that spoils all these boundaries and divisions and forces us to extend the accredited concept, the dominant notion of a "text," of what I still call a "text," for strategic reasons, in part--a "text" that is henceforth no longer a finished corpus of writing, some content enclosed in a book or its margins, but a
differential network, a fabric of traces referring endlessly to something other than itself, to other differential traces.
Thus the text overruns all the limits assigned to it so far (not submerging or drowning them in an undifferentiated homogeneity, but rather making them more complex, dividing and multiplying strokes and lines)--all the limits, everything that was to be set up in an opposition to writing (speech, life, the world, the real, history, and what not, every field of reference--to body or mind, conscious or unconscious, politics, economics, and so forth).
Whatever the (demonstrated) necessity of such an overrun, such a debordement, it still will have come as a shock, producing endless efforts to dam up, resist, rebuild the old partitions, to blame what could no longer be thought without confusion, to blame difference as wrongful confusion!
All this has taken place in nonreading, with no work on what was thus being demonstrated, with no realization that it was never our wish to extend the reassuring notion of the text to a whole extratextual realm and to transform the world into a library by doing away with all boundaries, all framework, all sharp edges (all aretes: this is the word that I am speaking of tonight.), but that we sought rather to work out the theoretical and practical system of these margins, these borders, once more, from the ground up.
I shall not go into detail.
Documentation of all this is readily available to anyone committed to breaking down the various structures of resistance, his own resistance as such, or primarily the ramparts that bolster a system (be it theoretical, cultural, institutional, political, or whatever).
[END OF QUOTE]
--Jacques Derrida, from "Living On: Borderlines" translated by James Hulbert. In Deconstruction and Criticism. Edited by Harold Bloom et al. New York: Seabury Press. "Survivre: Journal d bord" first published in Parages (1986).
"mode and motif" copyright 2004 by steven streight
Posted by steven edward streight at 4/28/2005 02:33:00 PM