Posts Tagged ‘ Theory ’

Ten Weeks of Derrida, Week 2: The End of the Book and the Beginning of Writing

Of Grammatology is divided into two parts: Writing before the Letter and Nature, Culture, Writing. Here we begin the first part of the first part, The End of the Book and the Beginning of Writing, a 24 page section subdivided into three parts: The Program (5 pages), The Signifier and Truth (9 pages), and The Written Being/The being Written (9 pages).

Before the program, a paragraph considering the problem of language.

“This crisis is also a symptom. It indicates, as if in spite of itself, that a historic-metaphysical epoch must finally determine as language the totality of its problematic horizon” (OG 6).

Consider the title of the chapter: The End of the Book and the Beginning of Writing. A book is a discrete physical object, with a finite set of words arranged on a finite number of pages. The experience of reading a book, however, is infinite and unique for each individual. And what do all of those words mean with regards to “reality?” For Derrida, this is the final question of our historic-metaphysical epoch. The words in a book extend infinitely inward into the mind of the reader, and infinitely outward as the book is cited, written about, and smeared across the rest of human existence. Language (and the idea of writing), unlike a book, have no boundaries. Continue reading

Derrida’s Of Grammatology in Ten Weeks

Wikipedia’s page on Derrida and Of Grammatology is dreadful, and the internet apparently is not vast enough to have any good alternatives.

So I’m going to read the book over the next ten weeks, posting about what I’ve read each week. I’ll update this page to reflect my progress. The goal is to explain Derrida in an understandable, accessible way.

The sections:

Part I: Writing Before the Letter

1 Exergue

2 The End of the Book and the Beginning of Writing

Linguistics and Grammatology Continue reading

The Stones of Venice: The Savageness of the Gothic

I was looking for this essay online, and I couldn’t find it for the life of me. So I got it from and edited it to make it readable. I don’t think many people would want to read this for fun, but it is the most interesting art criticism I have ever read; at the time I read it I had no concept of Marxist alienation and Ruskin’s Christian conception of the idea (I’m not saying they influenced each other, just that they reached the same idea in different directions, like Newton and Liebniz) was the most novel idea I’d ever encountered. Sort of like how dinosaurs are more interesting because they were evolutionary dead-ends, Ruskin’s aesthetic ideas have, as far as I can tell, gone extinct.

I doubt anyone would want to read this for fun, but maybe someone will stumble upon it as a reference. And as such an important part of my intellectual development, I figured releasing it on the internet was the least I could do.

One note: his discussion of the foxglove blossom invokes Christian ideas of typology in a way that makes it clear (to me) how prevalent this metaphor(?), now vanished, was before the 20th century. Enjoy: Continue reading

Is Nick gay in The Great Gatsby?

These past five weeks I’ve been (thus far successfully) engaged in a project to finish a book a week. Not necessarily read a book cover to cover every week, but that one of the books I’m reading transitions from my nightstand to my bookshelf.

  • It began five weeks ago with Anna Karenina, which I’d read fitfully over the course of a year. If you want to read it—if you want to read any Russian literature for that matter—please, for your own sake, read the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation.
  • Then The Scarlet Letter, which was better than I remembered from high school, but not by much.
  • Third: Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman. A gem, and I can see how it’s so influential for high schoolers.
  • Next was World on Fire. Books like that are hard to judge—for me at least—I have to wait to see if it and its ideas seep into my thoughts and conversations.
  • Finally, I accidentally read The Great Gatsby for the fifth time. Just sat down to look at it and ended up finishing it over the next two days (at 189 pages, not exactly a challenge). Continue reading