Deconstructive criticism : an advanced introduction by Vincent Leitch

By Vincent Leitch

The correct prelude to the research of deconstructive thought for the as-yet-uninitiated reader. Leitch makes use of in-depth analyses, surveys of ancient history, and worthy overviews to handle the questions posed by means of the most important figures - Saussure, Lacan, Levi-Strauss, Heidegger, Derrida, Barthes Foucault - then penetrates and monitors the sophisticated intricacies in their solutions.

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Example text

We shall take brief note of Husserl now and Heidegger more fully later.  Following the primordial silence of pure being, language expresses and embodies, yet buries in secondary sedimentations, the self­presence of pure being.  In the beginning is being—determined in presence and prior to language.  Necessarily, this operation proceeds, as a possible metaphysics, through the initial suppression of primordial difference.  It is always already a trace” (SP, 85).  The living present is for Derrida an effect of difference, of spacing, of the trace.

Maybe Lévi­Strauss is the closest thing we have in the human sciences to a shaman, for in this whimsy he exceeds the individual ranges of either the peddler, bricoleur, engineer, or scientist.  Shrinking, the sign, whether fleeing bird and falling snake, or acoustic form and ideal concept, or floating signifier and sliding signified, or differential and contentless mytheme, begets always and everywhere presumptuous soothsaying and bold rhetoric. ”1 The principal aim in Of Grammatology is to put in question the traditional values of sign, word, and writing; its speculative mode, perhaps inevitably, partakes of danger, abnormality, and monstrosity; its most utopian impulse is Page 25 to proclaim and present future; and its tone throughout is prophetic and uncomfortably sure.

Neither process nor product, differance is nothing.  Imprisoned within the closure of metaphysical thinking and locked into the necessity of naming, we reduce differance to a word or a concept; or, perhaps worse, we celebrate differance as a master name, a unique word, a founding concept.  “There is nothing kerygmatic about this ‘word’ so long as we can perceive its reduction to a lower­case letter” (159). For now, we can conceptualize differance as the structured and differing “origin” of difference.

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