Uncategorized

Notes on Derrida’s “Structure, Sign and Play in the Human Sciences”

Derrida: “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences”

From Writing and Difference, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978): 278-93.

“We need to interpret interpretations more than to interpret things” (Montaigne).

Derrida refers to the history of the concept of structure and an “event” in that history (it should be noted that in this opening paragraph, Derrida himself highlights the bracketing of the term event in quotation marks to serve as a precaution). Even here, the choice of the word “event” is “loaded” with a “meaning” that structural or structuralist thought seems to preclude. Thus we would have to say this word “event” as though it were crossed out or sous rature (under erasure). And so, with these precautions and noting structuralism’s potential objections, Derrida chooses to speak of an event whose “exterior form would be that of a rupture and a redoubling” (278).

This rupture perhaps brings to mind what Althusser normally calls an “epistemic break”, insofar as Derrida notes how the concept and word “structure” are as old as the episteme of Western philosophy and intertwines deeply with the “soil of ordinary language”. In fact the word and concept of structure are metaphorically displaced by the “deepest recesses” of the episteme. Of course, Althusser attributes epistemological breaks specifically to Marx and the way in which ideological conceptions are replaced by scientific ones. Here, what concerns the notion of an “event” in the history of the “structurality of structure” is the way in which it has always already been at work and “neutralized or reduced” due to its spontaneous attribution of a center or point of presence, “a fixed origin”. The goal of attributing a fixed center to structure is in order to “limit what we might call the play of structure”. It is not to eliminate play but to limit it according to the “total form” of structure that the episteme has succeeded in warding off “the notion of a structure lacking any center”, which would represent “the unthinkable itself”. (279).

Continue reading

Standard
Uncategorized

Lecture on Huxley contra Freud 4/1/13; ACLA Paper on Guattari

On April 1st of this year at 11:30 I will be giving a talk on my paper concerning Huxley and Freud. For those of you in the area, it’d be great to see you at Emory. For those of you outside of that area, I’ll try to see if we can get a recording of the event. Joe that could be something you can handle :). This lecture is a PSP luncheon meeting, and it finishes out my requirements for the PSP certificate (psychoanalytical studies).

Also, on April 8th at Toronto for the ACLA I will be giving a paper on Guattari and components of passage. I am already contemplating reflecting on Huxley or Proust for Guattari’s examples. Brave New World would have everything one would need to trace most of the transformations of the schizoanalytic fields Guattari envisions in Machinic Unconscious.

Standard
Uncategorized

Constant’s Seductive Education, or Adolphe’s Astonishment (with translations)

[Update: I have taken the liberty of translating, by my own limited and critically biased means, the French citations of Constant in this essay. I hope that this makes for a more enjoyable and comprehensible experience! :)].

Benjamin Constant’s Adolphe presents the reader with the guiding inspiration behind its genesis, which is that what is at stake here is a narrative that would feature only two main characters. In his preface to the third edition of the novel, Constant himself broaches this idea in relation to his attempt to thwart the counterfeit versions of his novel by writing that the work concerns “la possibilité de donner une sorte d’intérêt à un roman dont les personnages se réduisaient à deux, et dont la situation serait toujours la meme” [the possibility of giving a sort of interest to a novel that would be reduced to two characters and whose situation would always be the same] (32). If we take this claim seriously, it is a question of what emphasis is to be given to the notion of “sameness” in the situation of the novel. According to the third preface, what seems to be the “same” in the narrative is also coincidentally indicated by how often Constant himself is approached by his readers with testaments of how they identify with the narrator and titular character Adolphe: “ce qui me ferait croire au moins à un certain mérite de vérité, c’est que presque tous ceux de mes lecteurs que j’ai rencontrés m’ont parlé d’eux-mêmes comme ayant été dans la position de mon héros” [what made me believe at least in a certain merit of truth {for Adolphe} is that almost all of my readers whom I’ve encountered have spoken about themselves to me as having been in my protagonist’s position] (33). Furthermore, at this point one should also ask: which situation is the same, which situation is the model for the sameness of the text, and to which two personages is the narrative reduced? In other words, what is the general situation of the novel that leads to such a universal identification on behalf of its readers? Although in a first reading of the novel the answer appears to be quite obvious that the two characters in question are Adolphe and Ellénore, perhaps “le moule universel” [the universal mold] of these two personages is more abstract and not necessarily easy to identify with proper names.  In order to shed more light on this subject, we will investigate what it means for the reader or anyone to claim to be—or more specifically and crucially “to have been”—in the position of Constant’s “protagonist”.  The guiding thread for this reevaluation of Constant’s famous claims in his third preface will be the extent to which the generalized theory of seduction regarding the “allogenetic” conception of the unconscious put forth by Jean Laplanche in his reading of and with Freud can be put to good use in rereading and resituating the orientation of Adolphe’s narrative thrust.

Continue reading

Standard
Uncategorized

To Read or Love as She Pleased: Dream-Reading ‘Dora’ through Dora’s Reading-Dream

2012-10-12 00.19.42

They do it in fear and trembling, with an uneasy look over their shoulder to see if some one may not be coming.—Freud, Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, Touchstone: New York, 1997, p. 92.

How are we to approach the singular genre of the case history that Freud develops early on in his psychoanalytic and writing career? This genre is all the more striking in his first case history Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria precisely because it remains in fragmentary form for several reasons. Although the text is divided into five parts—which might spark in the literary critic the desire to see the structure of a Shakespearean play—the plot and subplot of the work is not necessarily easy to locate, for the action seems to encroach on the divisions and overflow on all sides. Perhaps this is another consequence of the fragmentary nature of this first case history or an indication that Freud has not mastered the genre with his first attempt, but it is necessary to remember that there is a multiplicity of narratives at play simultaneously throughout the work whose compositeness requires careful analysis before suggesting any unproblematic theoretical wholeness or unity.  But it is also the fragmentary status of Dora’s desire indicated by the fragments of her memory that sustains and also complicates the narration of this case history.

Continue reading

Standard
Uncategorized

Notes on ‘Introduction aux sciences génériques’

408276_305378806249746_1951712860_n

The following are notes typed up fairly summarily and quickly from Laruelle’s Introduction aux sciences génériques [Introduction to the Generic Sciences], Paris: Editions Petra, 2008. Since this work hasn’t yet been translated, I have tried to stick closely to Laruelle’s verbiage. Any lack of clarity is definitely on my part. One thing not included in these notes is a little dig that Laruelle makes at Badiou and Deleuze (p. 21). Since I am mentioning it now, I will go ahead and preface it here…two reasons being: why not highlight some minor polemic spectacle? but, more generally and importantly, because chapter three on non-epistemology has a lot to do with distinguishing ‘ensemblism’ from ‘en-semblism’…bringing in Lacan’s notion of the ‘semblant’ and really ‘riffing’ on it extensively…But that’s not in these notes–yet!

Here’s the Badiou/Deleuze thing, just for a taste!

The distinction between the ontological fundamental and the applied would correspond in classical philosophy with a broad distinction between two possible descriptions: one speculative, of the whole/all, the other of objects and of the empirical manifold. The ontological fundamental would involve tight relations with fundamental research, and the regional of the philosophies [would involve tight relations] with the distribution of the theoretical domains of objects. A philosopher like Badiou leans on the text of Set Theory, rather than on the fact that there are millions of theorems produced annually. Must one then lean solely on the interesting, the striking, the singular (Deleuze) rather than on the fundamental or the foundational? Philosophy supposes that there is a topology of the sciences, a cartography of disciplines and continents, an archeology of knowledges [savoirs]: this is an immense effort to lay the sciences on this Procrustean bed that philosophy is and into the coffin of history, to reduce knowledges [savoirs] to quite distinct disciplines that they consequently exceed. [This quote continues in the notes, cf. pirating on the high seas!].

Continue reading

Standard
Uncategorized

Internetics and Conviviality

Tierney Gearon

So I thoroughly enjoyed reading through two books this weekend: Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum and Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon. The first book focuses on the geographically grounded physicality of the internet and is quite fascinating insofar as it brings it back down into the mud of things in flesh and blood away from the heavenly realm of Platonic Ideas–even though the ‘blood’ of the internet is pure light, something Blum is really insistent to point out all throughout the book.

Continue reading

Standard
Uncategorized

New Translation(s) of Laruelle on Univocal Press

Brett Amory, "Waiting"

Brett Amory, “Waiting”

Over at Univocal Publishing there is a new translation of Laruelle’s essay on non-ethics available on their blog. Be sure to go over and check this out here: http://univocalpublishing.com/blog/108-the-concept-of-an-ordinary-ethics-or-ethics-founded-in-man.

Hopefully this translation will help bring attention to the great work they are doing already. Be sure to check out the titles they have already published, and expect to see more Laruelle in the future (I’ll be publishing two of Laruelle’s translations with them next spring. You can find these in their book section). Also check out their two most recent translation on Struggle and Utopia and Photo-fiction!

Standard