Re: deconstruction v. genealogy

On Thu, 24 Aug 1995, Sam Vagenas wrote:

> 2) I agree with you the genealogy shares Deconstruction's dismembering of
> tradition, but I think that genealogy of Nietzsche and Foucault create more
> of narrative counter-history. Suffer through Derrida, as I have, and you
> don't find a synthesis. Read his commentators and you might construct
> counter-history of the death of logos and the phonocentrism, with the
> celebration of writing and differance. However, the fact that Derrida has
> been popularized in this way by American literary circles -- America: the
> citadel of homogeneity both intellectual and cultural -- is frightening.
> We find much more of a deliberate "story" or narrative in Nietzsche and
> Foucault, a white lie or fiction, that is, a new story to serve as
> substitute for tradition. Whether it is Nietzsche fable of how good and bad
> became inverted or Foucault's fable on how the prison disciplines shaped the
> mindset of schools, factories, and all of modern life, we should not forget
> that these counter-histories have a narrative center of a sort. Derrida's
> work -- and not his apologist like Christopher Norris -- is a true
> anti-story, not another story to substitute, but both a rigid and playful
> critique.

Sam, I agree with you here, and am especially interested in the idea of
anti-story, and whether it is indeed possible. To write an anti-story is
to write a kind of pure critique (from emaculate conception to conceptual
emaculateness). I also think you are right that the story that
deconstruction implies (history of a series of decenterings) is largely
fabricated by his popularizers (I agree, Norris can at times be the
worst). But Derrida did suggest this history in "Structure, Sign, and
Play." And even if he did later disavow the pseudo-story that is
suggested there, I am wondering whether Derridean deconstruction can do
without an undergirding story (even a disavowed one). As I think about
it, Of Grammatology also reads like a story--sometimes serious, sometimes
mocking its own form--of the return of the repressed. I would like to
know what others think.

Finally, to tie in with another thread (or a strand within this one?) is
it possible, still, to write a critical account that is not based on some
sort of "repressive hypothesis"?


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


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