Re: deconstruction v. genealogy

I think at least two important issues are raised in this post: whether
deconstruction and genealogy are the same (especially regarding power)
and whether power for both or either is "bad."

It seems to me that Foucault's genealogy and Derrida's deconstruction
have a lot in common--a lot more, at least on an epistemological level,
than is often granted. I once read an essay or a chapter (I don't
remember where) that suggested that Foucault's turn toward genealogy was
largely influenced by Derrida's critiques of his archaeology ("Before
being its object, writing is the condition of the episteme" [Gramm 27])

At any rate, Derrida mixes in some genealogy in his deconstruction, and
Foucault's project it geared, in the end, toward reversing hierarchies,
examining the margins, looking at the way the outside defines the inside,
and so on. While Derrida uses the notion of repression incessantly, he
also undermines it. It is, he thinks, an term that he would like to do
without, but can't. Similarly, Foucault would like to do without the
idea of repression, but it is there in his writing (unlike Derrida, he
doesn't thematize its return in his own writing). Neither wants to see
power as "bad," but wavers. Both would like, as Derrida says, to assert
that "everything is strategic and adventurous," including their own
texts. But both find that to write one needs a target, and it turns out
that in "post-modernity" the most plausible target is still some
"repressed" force. Except with great difficulty (and even then?) force
is implicated with "power."

Erik D. Lindberg
Dept. of English and Comparative Lit.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI 53211
email: edl@xxxxxxxxxxx


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