Analysis of Lyotard’s Thoughts

Lyotard is a postmodern philosopher and here I would like to sketch some of his prominent thoughts. He begins by defining modernist literature as those associated with Virginia Wolf, T S Eliot and James Joyce and Art with Cubism, Impressionism and Surrealism.
He explicates postmodernism as a fusion between elitism and populism embodying extreme irony parody, pastiche—the use of magic realism.
He then goes on to analyze modernity as the beginning of renaissance, capitalism and Protestantism, the American and the French revolution. Modernity is characterized by innovation, wealth creation, technology and justice.
In ‘the postmodern condition’ he traces the condition of knowledge in developed societies. How is knowledge organized and employed in societies? Knowledge has become a commodity brought and sold on the market and also is the basis of power.
States are beginning to lose their grip over the world. The world is taken over by Oil corporations, computer industries and pharmaceuticals. They use patent laws to claim ownership of knowledge.
There are two types of knowledge systems: scientific knowledge and narrative knowledge. Narrative knowledge stems from different fields like art, literature, sociology and psychology. All these forms of discourses are language games. The rules of a game are not natural but determined by a community. Every utterance should be thought of as move in a game. Modification of rules alters the nature of the game. Different societies have diverse forms of law, politics and legislation. The organization of games and narratives is performed by meta-narratives.
There are two types of meta-narratives—the speculative grand narrative and the grand narrative of emancipation. The speculative grand narrative begins with Hegel and he calls it the spirit which is mans progress of knowledge. All the language games are brought together to present a universal history of the spirit. The grand narrative of emancipation presents knowledge as the basis for human freedom and liberty. The grand narrative of emancipation began with the French revolution. The universalization of education means freeing all citizens from domination and mysticism.
The enlightenment era focuses on the freedom of people from religious superstitions and Marxist narratives focuses on the freedom of workers.
In postmodern culture grand-narratives or meta-narratives have lost their credibility. Postmodern knowledge is marked by efficiency and profitability. The aim is to make production and consumption cheaper.
Individuals are sites where ranges of conflicting moral and social codes intersect and the social bond in fragmented.
The best means to resist globalization of capitalism is increasing fragmentation of games. For example in Quantum physics, the laws of physics cease to operate at the subatomic level and games become the language of probability.
Experimental work of art and literature should challenge the art and tradition of the avant garde art and literature. Art has the capacity to generate political action and also resist the dehumanizing impact of free market capitalism. The aim of communication is for reaching consensus between various participants. Postmodernism is the art of destabilization and achieving the status of the sublime.
Lyotard has introduced the concept of the differand. It could be explained with the help of an example. A company wanted to build its factory in Australian aboriginal land. The aboriginals cannot give up the land because the land is sacred. But the aboriginals cannot prove in court the sacredness of the land. Lyotard does not explicitly say what decision the court should take. He defines such complex legal situation as one of being a Differand. The complexity of rendering justice is a dilemma as both sides stands to lose if the judgment favors one.


Forms of Catharsis

It is the Greek Philosopher Aristotle who coined the term Catharsis. For him it meant a purging of emotions, cleansing of the soul while one watches a play, especially a tragic one. Here I would like to redefine catharsis as an ‘aesthetic affect’ when one encounters or participates in various forms of aesthetic activity. Every encounter with an aesthetic form results in a Catharsis.
What is it to be in Catharsis when one is composing or listening to music? While listening to Bach’s symphony one encounters a musical-catharsis. The sheer musicality of tone, melody, rhythm strikes a fusion and makes our ears tuned to a magic realism. What about Catharsis while listening to rock music? Rock music induces cacophonic catharsis. As the Philosopher Nietzsche has said: ‘art begins with the fusion of Dionysian and Apollonian elements. What about Catharsis for the musician composing music? A musician will be in a State of productive and integrative Catharsis. A musician would have to be creative to induce melody, beat and rhythm into a musical culture.
What is the type of Catharsis when one encounters a painting or sculpture? I would like to state that we come into being of a pictorial catharsis. Let me utilize some examples to illustrate this phenomenon. Let’s analyze the post modern sculpture of Rodin’s Thinker. The first cathartic mode was fascination. The secondary effect was I was asking the question why Rodin sculpt the thinker in such a stiff motion. Is thinker a rebel who wants to defy God and challenge the intellect? The thinker is a metonymy for Death of God as espoused by Nietzsche. When we look at a painting or sculpture we enter into the process of many cathartic modes of deriving meaning. Next I would like to appropriate Marcel Duchamp’s ‘inverted urinal’. Marcel Duchamp celebrated anti-art and it was a form of protest belonging to the art form Dada. While viewing Marcel Duchamp’s inverted urinal one undergoes the Catharsis of disgust. Catharsis can also be a negative mode of thinking, a negation. What is the type of catharsis when one views Munch’s Scream? The scream portrays an individual in angst. The inner angst of an individual becomes individuated when one encounters the scream.
What is the type of catharsis when one enters into the stream of writing? I would like to call it a writerly catharsis. Writing is born out of the pleasure or angst of the ID. In writing catharsis can be confessional, celebratory, critical, analytical, and descriptive. Writing is born from the body of passion and the mind in obsession. Writing invokes the Dionysian modes of rhythm and beat and the Apollonian modes of melody and harmony. There’s a jazz of poetry and the music of art in the writer’s pen.
What is the type of catharsis one encounters in the process of reading? The process of reading produces a phenomenological catharsis. For example while reading Camus ‘The Myth of the Sisyphus’, I encountered the catharsis of anguish. I could identify with the heroic individual Sisyphus who is forced by the Gods to roll a boulder uphill to find to his tragic fate that it rolls down again. There is no meaning or ultimate goal in life’s trajectory. One encounters life as a form of philosophical suicide. Camus advocates that despite life being a Sisyphus, one must overcome suicide and try to authenticate life’s existence. What is the type of catharsis one encounters Plato’s allegory of the cave? In a cave there people and they are separated by a wall and on the other side they can see light. Plato wanted to convey the idea that there is an ideal world beyond this illusory world of existence. Looking at Plato’s allegory in a postmodern context one can say the purpose of life is to transcend death and that could only be possible by creating aesthetic objects. Art can overcome the meaning of death. Again let’s analyze Sartre’s consciousness of being for itself. Being for itself has the state of the ego which projects consciousness towards an object. Sartre calls the object transcendental. Being attains realization of meaning as the art of becoming. This I would like to call as transcendental catharsis.

Metaphysical Attributes

Metaphysics in the past was transcendental and attributed to something related to God. Ontology and Phenomenology have brought it down and integrated into the concept of being Here I would like to focus on certain metaphysical themes like Wisdom, Epistemology, love, hatred, envy and covetousness.
What do mean by Wisdom? Socrates: said ‘know thy self’. The question is how the self can be known? After the psychology of Lacan we understand that there is no stable self. The human has to tight-rope-walk on or maneuver between the ID, EGO and the Super-ego. Wisdom in religious terms is connoted to God the Supreme Being. It said in the Bible: ‘ask of me and I shall give you wisdom’. But that is a symbolic kind of vagueness. Is Wisdom Sapiential? Is Wisdom the factual rendering of thoughts into ideas? What ultimate meaning can we connote with Wisdom? Is Wisdom related to language as Signs, Metaphors and Metonymies? Is the attainment of Salvation in Christianity and Nirvana in Buddhism and Hinduism the hallmark of Wisdom? Wisdom could be celebration of ideas.
How do we incorporate Epistemology or the theory of Knowledge into a Metaphysical realm? One has to ponder about the ideas stated by Knowledge. For example, from psycho analysis we know that dreams are the product of unsatisfied desires. We also know the existence of various states of the mind like the ID, EGO and Super Ego. Structural thought has introduced the concept of the Sign with that of the Signifier and the Signified. The post-structuralists created the Binary division of language. From facts, ideas are born these become the various knowledge systems of epistemology.
What is love? Christian philosophy has distinguished between three facets of love and they are Agape, Eros and Philos. Here Agape refers to the love of God which is unconditional and characterized by Grace. Though we are undeserving, we are privileged to receive Agape. Eros is sexual love and based on the body’s primeval urges. But the problem with Eros is that it is short lived. Once orgasm is reached Eros dies in a grave. There is also another kind of love that is eleemosynary love. Here love is meant by being charitable and helping others. Mother Teresa is an exemplary example of this love. The desire to love is metaphysical and transcendental.
Next I would like to focus on Hatred. Hatred though not a popular theme is also metaphysical. Hatred is a natural emotion. World religions are against hating someone. But in existential philosophy hatred is an attribute of consciousness. Hatred is a process of overcoming angst and entering into the stream of negation. Hatred is not a disease but a therapy for mental healing. One can overcome meaning’s suicide. To hate is to be in the philosophy of existential nihilism.
Envy though no doubt an undesirable trait can be a positive one in the Philosophy of consciousness. Why does envy arise? Envy is the product of a Capitalist Consumerist Society. Such a society gives rise to inequality. Philosophy has to contemplate whether an ideal Utopia can be created. Today we live in a world of Dystopia and envy is a functional behavioral mode of expressing that desires lie unsaturated.
Same is the case with covetousness. Today we are living in a world moral and ethical relativism. Covetousness is born out the greed of the EGO. We are all covetous creatures of desire. If Democracy becomes socialist universally than there would be no covetousness. But we live in democracies of imperfections.

Analysis of the Space of Literature by Maurice Blanchot


Maurice Blanchot though being a heavy weight of Literature is largely ignored by the mainstream public due to the dense obscurity of his work. Blanchot’s literature remains largely ornamental like a piece of Baroque opera with strands of philosophy running through it. I would like to discuss the thoughts that I came through while reading his magnum opus: The Space of Literature.

Maurice Blanchot begins his work be characterizing Writing as Solitude. What is solitude in everyday life? It means an inner calm of tranquility. It is questionable to ask whether a writer writes out of solitude or excitement. He quotes Rilke: ‘I haven’t produced a single work: my solitude has engulfed me’. Why can’t the writer be agitated when he is writing his work? I am sure that Nietzsche wrote: Thus spoke Zarathustra while undergoing bouts of insanity. A Freudian ID gets provoked into the necessity of writing. Even mystics when they meditate are never in solitude. There are in a state of deep contemplation. One can also write out of the passion to write but one can never be in solitude when one is in a state of writing. When one is in the process of writing, one gravitates to the center of meaning. So I would like to reformulate Blanchot’s solitude as excitement, agitation, passion and contemplation. The mind can never be in solitude.

Again Blanchot goes on to say that a writer never knows whether his work is finished or not. In one sense it is true and in another sense it is not. Any work of Literature is only partial does not display art to sense of completion. But then again in a literary work, there’s a beginning and an ending. Let’s take an example of Ulysses by James Joyce. The novel running into eight hundred pages and depicts twelve hours of person’s life mainly Bloom, Stephen and Molly. There is a beginning and an ending to the work. Blanchot is partially right when he says that no work of art is complete. A work of art has got only degrees of perfection. Similarly Blanchot also mentions that a reader enters into solitude while encountering a work. Readers of pulp fiction are causal readers. The work of a serious reader is marked by the phenomenology of reading. The mind of a serious reader works as an inter-textual machine. Reading interferes with what has been read in the past. The ontology of existentialism, the autobiographical possession of the reader comes into play while reading. There is perfect reading but there are only imperfect interpretations.

It’s through an absence that word being of writer comes into existence. I would like to refute this statement by saying that writing is affirmation of presence, a saturation of it. Being is pronounced into the becoming of meaning. In writing there’s indulgence of the meaning of being. Writing is excess of being. Presence of being is an affirmation for a writer.

Again he goes on to say that a writer never reads his or her work. That can be true to some extent. Would a writer really enjoying editing his or work?  A writer does not function as a reader. The writer merely proof reads his or her work.

For a writer, a word is something that cannot be mastered. How could that be the case? A writer is a lingual-maniac. He finds new usages for pre-existing ones. He or she also creates new words: for example neologisms. A writer invents tropes of language. How can this be possible without mastery? Writing is not sterile but active and dynamic.

To write is to break the bond between the word and the self. I would like to say that writing is a catharsis. The bond between writing, the word, and the self is one of unison. Writing is akin to having sexual intercourse. The self and the word are bonded to a writer.

The writer belongs to a language that no one speaks. Yes, writing is inventive and seeks new paradigms of a discovery of meaning. Tropes belong to the language of nascence and newness. Writing is a process of self discovery.

When we admire the tone of the work, we are not referring to style or virtues of the language but to a silence. Blanchot is not sure about what this silence is. We are in fascination and catharsis when we unveil the imagery used by a writer. There is intellectual and emotional gratification. We do not encounter the work in silence.

What is the journal? It is not romantic, not essentially confessional. It is the writer when he or she is not writing. I feel that Blanchot is being vague there. Again he goes on to say that a journal is written out of fear and anguish. The writing of the journal is no longer historical. Romanticism has acquired new shades of meaning in blog writing. Taste, art and culture are all romanticized by bloggers undergoing a new experience. As Wordsworth has said ‘poetry is the spontaneous overflow of feeling’. To be romantic is to be in state of mind that’s in passion. Writing a journal can also be confessional. To be confessional is to be passionate and expressive. My writing on adultery is confessional. It is wrong to say that a journal is not historical. For example let’s take Ann Frank. Ann Frank is a passionate outburst of the oppressions that she encountered during a Nazi regime. Thus a journal can be confessional, romantic and historical.

To write is to surrender to time’s absence. I would like to disagree with the statement. Time in writing flows as streams of consciousness.   Time is reflective and contemplative when the writer engages in writing. Writing cannot be marked by the absence of time.

Fascination is solitude’s gaze. To write is to let fascination rule the language. The gaze of the writer could be a sexual, one; it could also be subjective, philosophical, materialistic and transcendental. The gaze is intentional and is borne out the repressed in the ID.

Again he quotes Mallarme: ‘When I write into verse, I encounter nothingness, an absence of God and my own death. It is questionable to ask Blanchot, how negation can enter the realm of writing. Negation is nihilism, a negative affirmation when something positive does not happen. Writing is self proclaiming and affirmative. Yes after Nietzsche’s proclamation that ‘God is dead’, writing has become anthropocentric. How can a writer enter the realm of death? Is the writer killing his self when he enters into the train of writing? According to Camus, while writing we enter into a philosophical suicide. Yes there’s death of the actual self and birth of the creative self.

Again Blanchot goes to distinguish between the crude word and the ornamental word. When we say that the flower is in the garden we are using crude language or the language of communication. If I use: I am flowering her lips, I am ornamentally decorating the language. Writing is ornamental, decorative and hyperbolic. Again he goes on to say: poetry is the universe of words where relations and configurations are attained through sound, figure and rhythmic language. Poetry is akin to the musicality of words, and it flows with the Dionysian rhythm and makes presence with the Orpheus of figures.

Kafka began his writing out of true despair. We should know that Kafka had a stormy relationship with his father. He was also an exiled Jew. Kafka despised authority figures. Writing for Kafka grew out of protest against authoritarianism. This is especially true when we analysis his work—the Metamorphosis.  The work is allegorical and shows the negation of individuality by authority figures. The individual in Metamorphosis is reduced into fragments. Writing for Kafka was spiritual and psychological salvation. Kafka made the affirmation that nothing else besides literature satisfies me. The more Kafka writes: the less sure is he of himself.

Art is primarily the consciousness of unhappiness not its consolation. How can art be the consciousness of unhappiness alone? One can experience art through the consciousness of joy and affirmation. Let’s diagnose Picasso’s painting of the Guernica. Was Picasso filled with angst of the bombing of Basque? Or was he affirming creativity while painting the Guernica. When I meditate on Dali’s painting: The persistence of Memory, I am filled with cathartic interpretation. I appreciate its meaning to portray time as streams of consciousness. I also marvel at the melting clock placed on the frozen embryo and interpret it as Dali’s own oedipal trauma.


An Analysis of Foucault’s Order of Things

Foucault is a postmodern, post structural philosopher, credited with investigating the archaeology of knowledge and bifurcating knowledge into various epistemes (knowledge Systems).
The ‘Order of Things’ traces the development of Epistemes as predominant discourses starting from the 16th Century and going on up to the 20th century. Foucault develops an archaeology of knowledge.
What was Episteme like in the 16th century? It was a conflation of rational and magical sources. Knowledge was based on similitude and resemblance. The sciences attributed properties to things based on their resemblance. Language developed its syntactical qualities by absorbing verbs, and classifying nouns. The world view of the 16th century was not rational but based on the esoteric and the occult. The 16th century is known for its schism of being narcissistic with the symptom of eclectic catharsis of knowledge.
Towards the 17th and the 18th centuries we find the development of scientific thought, rationalism and empiricism. An example is the Helio-centric view developed by Copernicus that the sun revolved around the earth and that the Sun is the centre of the Solar system. Mathematics progressed with development of Algebra and Geometry. The worldview of the 18th century was marked by the development of a scientific outlook. Descartes brought out his famous dictum: Cogito Ergo Sum, I think I therefore I exist. There was a detour from transcendentalism to rationalism and empiricism.
Similarly too in language we find a heap of changes. From the study of grammar, there developed the Philosophy of language that is Philology. The etymological processing of words became a predominant cult. We find Nietzsche reading Greek and interpreting art as the fusion of Dionysian and Apollonian elements. By the 20th century, we find the predominance of structuralist thought which traces the roots of language to the making of Signs—the Signifier and the Signified. The signifier belonged to the sensate realm and the signified belong to the intelligible realm. For example if I say Rose is Passion, rose is the signifier and passion the signified. Post-Structralists developed the Binary divide of language that is a Sign privileges some terms and marginalize others. For example: Whites are a privileged term where as black and colored people are marginalized.
We also find the development of the trajectory of epsitemes in Philosophy. Philosophy grew out of metaphysical thought which was based on God and Religion. Towards the 18th and the 19th century we find the development of naturalism and evolutionary thought. This promoted a scientific world view. Man became a product of mechanistic materialism. Again in the 20th century we find philosophical paradigms shifting to Ontology and Phenomenology. Thus Heidegger invented the question of being of meaning. Sartre developed existentialism with the consciousness of being existing in three states: Being-in-itself, Being-for-itself and Being for others. Sartre also developed affirmation and negation as characteristic traits of the Ego. We also find in that in the modern age there was a paradigm shift to Postmodernism. The Sign was ontologically deconstructed. The Binary divide of language became a philosophical discourse. Foucault was able to bring out power as the ideology of dominant discourse. Lacan in psychoanalysis challenged with stability of the self and introduced the concept of dreams being a language. Lacan is also famous for bringing into fruition the Mirror Stage and the Gaze. We also find the archeology of feminist, gay and lesbian discourses. Althusser reread Marxism and developed the concept of ideological apparatuses.

An Analysis of Pierre Menard’s Quixote by Borges

I would like to analyze the story based on the literary codes developed by Barthes. They are: the hermeneutic code, Proairetic code, the Semantic Code, the symbolic code and the cultural code. For Barthes, the hermeneutic code represents the enigma of the text. The Proairetic code represents the spatial and temporal dimensions. The Semantic code refers to the level of connotation. The symbolic code represents the binary division of language and the cultural code the conventions of the society.

Looking at the story from a Hermeneutic code, Borges writes about an imaginary writer and a book that does not exist. He creates facts out of fantasy and fantasy out of facts and his whole fictional exploration is a futile phantasmagoria.
He begins the story by quoting a catalogue made by Madame Henri Bachelier on the omissions and additions made to the text of Menard which appeal to Calvinists, Masons and the Circumcised. Is he making a dig at conservatism? Is he being skeptical about tradition? One can never fully interpret due to the very obscurity of his comment. There is an ironic humor inherent in this statement.
Borges again becomes fictional and goes on to enumerate that an examination of the files of Menard is necessary for the exegesis of Quixote. The files are literary and mention the following:
(a) A symbolist sonnet which occurred twice in a review. Everyone is familiar with idea of symbolism and symbolist poets. What one can’t discern is to why Borges makes a random connection to symbolism while trying to explicate Menard’s Don Quixote. Is Borges playing some kind of practical joke with the reader?
(b) A monograph containing the possibility of creating a poetic vocabulary of concepts which would not be synonyms or periphrases of those which make up everyday language. Is Borges hinting at adornment of poetic language? Adornment can take place by clothing words with figures of speech or using neologisms.
(c) A monograph on certain connections and affinities with the Philosophies of Descartes, Leibniz and Wilkins. Is Borges making a big bluff or does he want to impress his readers that he is conversant with the philosophies of the above mentioned philosophers. Why does the author want to show off to an audience?
(d) The work sheets of a monograph on George Boole’s symbolic logic. It is very intriguing that Borges makes this strange connection. How can logic be related to fiction.
(e) An examination of the essential metric laws of French Prose. Borges is conversant in Spanish. I am not sure whether he has the adequate knowledge to comment on French Prose. Meter again is connected to poetry. How can it be equated with prose? Is this a structural flaw in the narrative?
(f) A work in which different solutions are given to the problem of Achilles and the Tortoise. It is really absurd, a canard of the mind. May be Borges is inducing the reader to think that Achilles won the race. Borges has not deconstructed the paradox of Zeno. I wonder why Borges does not suggest an alternative.
(g) A determined analysis of the syntactical customs Toulet. Menard says that censure and praise are sentimental operations which have nothing to do with literary criticism. This statement makes Borges a precursor to literary theorists.
Again Borges digresses and goes on to discuss texts which have inspired Menard to create Quixote. One is a philological fragment which mentions Christ on a boulevard, Hamlet on La Cannebiere and Don Quixote on Wall Street. The depiction of Christ is rather incongruous. What is the mystic connection between Christ and a boulevard? The same goes to Hamlet. Are the Moguls of Wall Street Quixotic?
Again Borges the writer mentions that Menard writes to him that the final term in a theological, metaphysical demonstration –the objective world, God, causality the forms of the universe is common in my framed novel. This demonstrates that Borges is a confused writer. If the world is created by God how it can be objective? Is he mixing up a broth of evolutionary theism?
Again he expostulates that to write Quixote, one must know Spanish well, recover a Catholic faith, fight against the Moors and forget the history of Europe between the years 1602 and 1918. Everyone knows that Quixote by Cervantes was a revolt against Catholicism. The fight between Catholics and the moors is related to History. Is Borges being ironic when he reiterates that we should forget History? 1918 is symbolic for the beginning of the First World War. The narrative of Borges is so fragmented and ambles irrelevantly from one topic to another.
Borges contradicts himself by saying that in a passage of Menard never authored by him there is a sentence: ‘the river nymphs and the dolorous and humid echo.’ This provokes the reader to laugh in delicious delight. Borges is embarking on a flight of fancy. This statement brings into the mind of Borges a quotation of Shakespeare ‘Where a malignant and a turbaned Turk’. Is the monument of literature a sheer extravagant waste? Is it built on the foundations of whimsical chicanery?
Menard in his novel Quixote has no gypsies, no conquistadors and no mystics. Is Borges making an allusion of irony? Again Borges says that in chapter nine of Menard’s Quixote there is a quote: ‘…truth whose mother is History, rival of time, depository of deeds, witness of the past, exemplar and adviser to the present and the future’s counselor. Borges is being philosophical about History. But the fundamental questions are: is History a truth? In postmodernism History is a methodological discourse.

Critical Analysis of Derrida’s Writing and Difference

Jacque Derrida is a postmodern, post-structural philosopher noted for his concepts of deconstruction and binary divide of texts. For him reading a text, an exegesis would be to find out the occurrences privilege and marginalization. I would like to critically interpret his seminal work: ‘Writing and Difference.’ My writing of Derrida is not chronological.
According to Derrida, the beginning of Writing is the closure of the book and the opening of meaning. ‘To write is to have the passion of Origin’. God replaces God and the Book replaces the Book. The return to the book is an elliptical essence. The tools of writing are perversion and subversion. Here Derrida is attempting to deconstruct the LOGOS—the WORD as it is present since Judaism and Christianity and also the ancient Greek Philosophers. Beyond syntax, grammar, discourse posits the book to be lying in the cradle of anarchy. The book has to indulge in a democratic dialogism. Again Derrida goes on to say that the center of the BOOK has to be deconstructed. Signify the center, rupture it methodologically and insert a play of meanings. I would like to call the play of meanings with the center has performationism. Derrida questions the religiosity of God being a center of meaning. A presence of meaning leaves a trace and Derrida calls it as what is inherent and present in the not-said sign. Every signified of a meaning whether be it transcendental, ontological, epistemological or axiological has primarily a Signifier. A Christian apologetic view would be God is God: the signifier and the signified. From an ontological view point: being would be a reference to consciousness and its contents. From an epistemological view point, a sign becomes a causative totality of proven inference and invests meaning as a unity. From an axiological viewpoint, the sign as a chain of meaning is normative.
In another chapter it is said: ‘we need to interpret interpretations more than interpret things. A structure of language, the unity of a sign is an organization of a center. According to Derrida, the history of metaphysics is history of metaphors and metonymies. Let’s look at John 1:1 ‘in the beginning was the WORD, the WORD was with GOD and the WORD was GOD’. The word works here as a metaphor and as a metonymy. A Christian world view acknowledges an inherent presence. For Derrida speech is privileged into the signifier WORD and the signified GOD. Derrida argues that the absence of a transcendental signified extends the domain to a play of signification. To pun Derrida: ‘A laughing God is playing with the Universe.’ The concept of transcendence can be extended to the ontological realm of the bodily experience. For example copulation can be a signifier and orgasm can be the signified. The argument of Derrida that there is no privileged transcendental signified is a misnomer. From an ontological position, emotions like hate, love, lusty, greed and covetousness are all signified from signifiers, and the starting point would be the EGO. Derrida again reiterates that the word Signifier must be abandoned as a metaphysical concept. This could be an erroneous argument. For example Ontological structures like love and hate have the signified in them.
Here Derrida mentions the work of the structural anthropologist Levi Strauss. He observes the distinction between nature and culture. Nature and Culture work on a scheme of binary divide. Levi Strauss uses the example of bricolage, which in literature means creation from a diverse range of sources. Derrida uses the example of MANA, a Polynesian word, a magical one which means power. He mentions that the word MANA has a symbolic structure beyond the syntax. Rupturing the symbolic presence can be a play with the center. Incest has been a taboo since time immemorial and that is linked with the binary chain of the culture as opposed to nature. Derrida is not clear about whether incest should be deconstructed.
Derrida refers to the allegory of Hegel—the Master and Slave dialectic. Hegel’s allegory refers to two types of consciousness, one that of the Master and other that of the slave. The slave is subservient to the Master and the Master is dependent on the slave. Derrida uses this allegory to maintain the inadequacy of speech to maintain the sovereign. Every form of writing leaves the structure of trace within in it. We can use the allegory of the Master and the Slave and juxtapose it with the psychological structures of the ID and the EGO. The body of writing emanates from the ID and the form of writing from the EGO. Again Derrida uses the Hegelian concept of Aufhebung (German) which is equivocal in meaning. Aufhebung in one sense means to preserve and in another sense means to abolish. Let’s use Derrida’s concept of the trace. When God said: ‘let there be light’: the concept of darkness is inherent in it. A trace leaves an imprint of what is not said but what exists in writing.
In the Theatre of Cruelty, Derrida mentions that the theatre must be an experience of the Body. Western theatre has been stripped of the force of essence. Theatre must make use of a liberated life. Theatre should be the privileged site for the destruction of life. The theatre of cruelty expulses God from the stage. Theatre should be released from the stage. Derrida means that the themes of transgression, blasphemy, lust, covetousness, murder should be become centers of meaning that deconstruct the binary codes of the Super Ego. Theatre should not be conceived with passive spectators enjoying a stereotyped play but become an active presence forcing spectators to think, reason and annihilate what is logos as a context and perspective. Theatre should be a spectacle of becoming.
In Force and Signification, Derrida comments that excess is the very possibility of writing. The book arouses the enticement of meaning. The Writer is an idiom. The revelatory power of literary language is free speech unburdened. My question to Derrida is, from a being of past, how can we possess a new being. How is the History of the metaphor possible? Again Derrida uses the Nietzsche’s concept of the Apollonian and the Dionysian in writing. The Apollonian melody and the Dionysian rhythm and beat become self indulgent metaphors for writing.
In Cogito and the History of Madness, Derrida touches on the themes of Psychiatry. Philosophy demeans folly, madness and dementia. Derrida refers to Foucault’s analysis of bringing out the trajectory in the architecture of madness. Madness is a discourse in psychiatry, a cruel and violent discourse. Foucault connects madness with alienation. Derrida is critical about Foucault because he uses the philosophical and linguistic structure of sanity to explain the exegesis of the mad. Madness is institutionalized into medicine and it occupies a repressive structure.
Here, Derrida talks of Edmond Jabes and the question of the Jewish race. A race is born out the book. Words choose the poet. There should be disembarkation from the obedience of the law to a self proclaimed autonomy. Was breaking of the Tablets by Moses a blasphemy? The difference between speech and writing is Sin. How can Jews exist without eschatology? Metaphor or the animality of the letter is a primary and equivocal, a signifier becoming life. Metaphysics rejects the historicity and temporality of man. Derrida asks the question: how to account for the metaphysics and transcendence in the ontology of man. All metaphysics has a privileged center—light and a marginalized periphery—darkness. It is interesting to note how Derrida questions his own authenticity as an identity of being a Jew. Derrida becomes transgressional when he encounters the text of Judaism. Light and God are reduced to Signs and de-centered. Derrida has highlighted the suffering and the exile of the Jews. Can we avoid metaphysics, transcendence and eschatology? Being to becoming is the phenomenology of occupying a metaphysical structure in the ontology of consciousness.