Sunday, May 08, 2005
Derrida. Imagination. Sign.
writing is more mental
On Derrida Online we discover "Speech and Writing According to Hegel" by Jacques Derrida.
[STREIGHT: commentary coincidental with Derrida text.]
[QUOTE by Derrida]
The word symbol has been used to designate the linguistic sign, or more specifically, what is here called the signifier.
Principle I in particular weighs against the use of this term.
One characteristic of the symbol is that it is never wholly arbitrary; it is not empty, for there is the rudiment of a natural bond between the signifier and the signified. The symbol of justice, a pair of scales, could not be replaced by just any other symbol, such as a tank. (p. 68)
[STREIGHT: Other non-arbitrary "symbols" (which do have a bond with that which they symbolize) include a lion symbolizing bravery, eagle for freedom, ant for strength, bee for choreographed cartography, rat for cunning, snake for sneakiness, cloud for abstraction, lightning for speed, thunder for authority, and lemming for mindless follower.]
This difference required between the signified and the signifier is entirely congruent with the move by which semiology is inscribed in psychology.
We recall that psychology in the Hegelian sense is the science of mind determining itself in itself, as subject for itself, at the moment that, as Hegel says in the opening of the Psychology of the Encyclopaedia, 'Mind henceforth has only to realize the concept of its freedom.'
[STREIGHT: This sounds oddly similar to an indictment of narcissistic drivel blogs, but is rather, in context, about psychology! So here, at this strange crossroads of text, is a juncture, an "X", a spot marked out by scandal: blog = psychology = self-disclosure as a good in and of itself.]
But the production of arbitrary signs manifests the freedom of mind.
[STREIGHT: Thus, according to Derrida, the production of writing ("arbitrary signs") manifests the freedom of mind. This indicates to me that even the self-obsessed mundrane trivia blogs have a place, and perform the role of exhibiting the attempt to fashion and publicize a personal style, subject matter, and purpose.]
Consequently freedom is more manifest in the production of the sign than in the production of the symbol; it is signified better by arbitrary signs than by more or less natural symbols.
Mind is closer to itself and to its freedom in the arbitrary sign, whereas it is more outside of itself in the naturalness of the symbol.
[STREIGHT: The gist of this is this: writing is more mentality than art, pictures, symbolic images...because writing is code, is arbitrary signage, is to explained by more of itself, a nice racket if you can get it.]
Hegel writes: 'In signifying intelligence therefore manifests a will (Willkür: choice, free will) and a mastery (Herrschaft) in the use of intuitions which are not manifest in symbolising' (ß 458).
The semiotic instance, which was a moment ago defined as the rational - though abstract - instance, is now defined as the manifestation of freedom.
We then understand better that we must reserve a major place for semiology in the architectonics of a logic or a psychology. And that is indeed what Hegel wishes to do; but he in fact does so incidentally, in the middle of the Remark added as a long appendix to the short paragraph defining the sign. The pyramid itself arose in the space and in the detour of this excursus.
In logic and psychology, signs and language are usually foisted in somewhere as an appendix (Anhang: supplement, codicil), without any trouble being taken to display their necessity and systematic place (Zusammenhang: enchainment, solidarity) in the economy of intelligence.
The right place for the sign is that just given ... This sign-creating activity may be distinctively named ' "productive" memory' (produktive Gedächtnis) (the primarily abstract 'Mnemosyne'); and since 'memory' (Gedächtnis), which in ordinary life is often used as interchangeable and synonymous with 'remembrance' (recollection) (Erinnerung), and even with 'conception' and 'imagination', has always to do with signs only. (Remark, ß 458)
[STREIGHT: So, writing, a system of arbitrary, therefore, more mental, more psychologically deep, more authentic, signs, this thing or action, called writing, is something that fills in memory deficiency (if we all had perfect memories, writing would be unnecessary in this system), or invents the very opposite of memory: fantasy, imagination, science, myth, metaphysics.]
Here we see that (inasmuch as the production of signs is concerned), memory and imagination are the same, the same interiorisation of mind relating itself to itself in its freedom and in the intuition of itself, but bringing this intuition of itself to exterior existence.
[END QUOTE from Derrida.]
[STREIGHT: And this act of bringing intuition (memory and imagination) into external, exterior, out-of-body existence, post-mentation existence, how can it be other than writing, or vocal writing aka speech? Or which is it? To switch on the manifestation is to inscribe, to make marks, not sounds. Marks, letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, books, blogs, emails, PDF files, text documents.
Derrida is always questioning the demotion of language, the usurp slant of speech and image.
Is it MTV, VH1, Fox News, Pay Per Channel, Satellite TV, HDTV, text messaging, cell phone video recorders, pen cameras, wearable wifi, Internet2 super high-speed film downloads...
In other words:
* instant interactive but ephemeral communication (text messaging)
* passive consumption of entertainment
* active updating of, and interaction with the users of, a universalized democratic, global-public communications and archiving platform: the blog.]
Posted by steven edward streight at 5/08/2005 11:08:00 PM