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March 26, 2007

EL312: And I opened up my eyes, I saw the sign

Okay, so that should really say "I read the sign," but who's being that particular... (it's still a visual reference anyway, sheesh).

Jacques Derrida is "the man" when it comes to explaining the centered and uncentered structures, as well as signs at large:

The surrogate does not substitute itself for anything which has somehow pre-existed it. From then there was no center, that the center could not be thought of in the form of a being-present, that the center had no natural locus, that it was not a fixed locus but a function, a sort of nonlocus in which an infinite number of sign-substitutions came into play. (355)

I know that's a horrendously long quote, but Derrida just keeps adding restrictive "that" clauses until he gets to a "which" and concludes his quite centered point about uncenteredness.

Without a center, the visual I get is an amoeba-esque figure--not a circle or any true geometric shape--with a nucleus just floating around bumping into the walls of the cell, laissez-faire. No centeredness, therefore, the presence of this floating "center" (which is a faux representation of the idea) has no true meaning to the definition of the thing which has no center--it may as well not exist.

But Derrida's uncenteredness leads us to the sign/signified/signifier--representation. I see it this way: if identity or definition comes from systems of signs, then

identity/definition = system -> (sign => [signifier <> signified])

where identity/definition is not valid without a system (as Derrida says), and where sign(s) are invalid without either 1) a signifier or 2) a signified (but sign(s) may exist without both--since that's for the reader to decipher through language... and Keesey has already explained how tough it is to explain language with language...).

Derrida, ''Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by KarissaKilgore at March 26, 2007 2:45 PM


I really appreciated this theory from Derrida, because it takes a postmodernist spin on Postmodernism. Would that make him a Post-Postmodernist? He breaks away from the traditions that breaks away from traditions. Derrida's sense of having a solid center argues against ambiguity, which is what I thought was a big part of Postmodernism. Understanding that all of the answers are not going to be answered, but to continue searching was the original intention, but Derrida, with the use of signifiers, leaves a definition open to the reader. I find that very interesting, but I would still like to argue against Derrida's theory. I must say, your interpretation of Derrida was very impressive, but still, I am not surprised. :)

Posted by: Jason Pugh at March 28, 2007 10:14 AM

Very nice site!

Posted by: John1739 at August 21, 2009 12:08 PM

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