Jacques and complex writings have had an enormous

Jacques Derrida is
synonymous with ‘Deconstruction’. His
dense and complex writings have had an enormous influence in many disciplines:
psychology, literary theory, cultural studies, linguistics, feminism, sociology
and anthropology and even an art movement. Derrida
adopts the word originally from the work of Martin Heidegger, from a German
word, ‘Destruktion’. As he himself explains in his famous “Letter
to a Japanese Friend” (1983) that he  adopted as
the word as themeaning fitted, giving a reference to the meaning
of disassembling the parts of a whole. ‘Deconstruction’,
questions the fundamental “oppositions,” in Western
cultures through a close examination of the text. It seeks to expose and subvert, the various binary
oppositions that structure our dominant ways of thinking.

Derrida analyses language’s
‘concept of presence’, which is divided in the person’s ‘mental state’ and the ‘external
world’. In the ‘mental state’ there is the presence of an image in mind which
is a ‘concept’. It is separate from the ‘physical word’ and so it does not possess
any real qualities. On the other hand, there is the ‘external world’, which is
present and real. The ‘truth’ exists separately to once ‘mental state’ and the ‘external
world’ as language is independent of both. 
Language is a ‘filter’ or mediate, existing between the ‘external word’
and the person’s ‘mental state’. I agree with this statement, as an artist I
experience this through my work as the conceptual ideas are build up by  images in my mind which are product of the ‘mental
state, and the objects used to in reality to portray the concept are part of
the ‘external world’. The ‘external world’ becomes a ‘medium’ or ‘language’
that communicates my ‘mental state’. My work becomes a ‘language’, like text containing
symbol which allow different interpretation. This brings out, Darrida’s  Logocentrism’s  idea that that language takes ‘a life of its
own’, supporting also the ‘metaphysics of presence’ as it represents the idea
that there is a ‘truth’ outside of language which is present to the person.

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‘Logocentrism’ challenges
the idea of ‘metaphysical presence’ through the
study of reality, which states that the world exists independent to
language. Language is a tool whose purpose is to describe the ‘external world’
and the ‘mental state’. However, neither the ‘mental state’, nor the ‘external
world’ are possible to exist independent of language. This can be easily
supported through the idea that humans since the beginning of time, felt the
fundamental need to create a language in order to communicate and co-exist
between the ‘external world’ and the ‘mental state’. As a product cave
paintings contain symbols, representing a ‘language’, which can be still understood
till this very day. ‘Logocentrism’ identifies a connection in western thought between
our ‘mental state’ and language, as one’s ‘mental state’ is both prior to and also
the source of meaning, expresses through the ‘medium’ of language. Derrida
states, that when we look for the truth within, the ‘voice within us,’ it is
already a product of language. However, I disagree, with the idea there is no
self that exists before and apart from language. It only apply sometimes in
writing,  whereas  speaking, mental concepts involving
imagination, feelings and emotions are some of the most challenging to
expressing, as they don’t come up to mind in words. Humans always felt the need
to turn to words in order to communicate so it shows that language in the first
thing that come to mind, however we force our self to come up with words to
express what we feel. A good example can be a person thinking of a word or
opposigly, the need to creating samples in order to illustrate an idea. People
find it more easier to relate through images, which shows that we are not the
products of language, however language is just a tool for communication. Logical
thoughts or Reasoning promotes a specific way of thinking by giving into the
values of logic as a tool for communicating, which are controlled by one’s
principles of identity. A concept has a single, identical when opposed to
another, by emphasizing once believe at the same opposite time would be
contradicting. Derrida believes that there are three consequences of ‘logical
thinking’ that defines a text. The ‘principal of opposition’ or ‘binary
opposition’, which states that everything is structured on opposites acknowledging
human tendency to think in terms of opposition. For Saussure, the binary
opposition was the “means
by which the units of language have value or meaning; each unit is defined
against what it is not.” So terms and concepts fit opposingly through
association in a positive or negative way example: Reason/Passion, Man/Woman,
Speech/Writing. On the other hand, Derrida argued that these oppositions are
arbitrary as they privilege one term over the other. A text is also defined
through the ‘principal of exclusion’, which state that the meaning of a concept
is excludes by definition. Meaning that words in a text are excluded, based on
their definition of the word. When writing, the writer need to compose his text
by eliminating words based on the words description that do not express his
desired meaning. I agree, as writing can be considered to be like the
conscious, as an actions is considered to be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ depending  on the classification of the pre-existing
knowledge, finally allowing the logical reasoning to rejected the wrong.  In the ‘principle of priority’ thinking is
structured not based on the personal value and believes. It is an inherent bias
as the person will tend to favours one believe over another. ‘ Phonocentrism’ is strongly linked to ‘logocentrism’ as
it is a caused by the ‘logocentric’ bias of western culture and there believes.
When expressing once self through language, the linguistics used might
influence the writers intended meaning, which causes the person to be
misinterpreted by the reader.

‘Phonocentric’ is based on
Derrida’s believe that speaking is superior to writing as it is more genuine
and communicates the person’s ‘truth’. In deconstruction, Derrida analyses
Phaedrus, by Plato, with a textual approach. He notices that when Plato writes
about writing, he states that writing is a poison or a cure, as writing
threatens the genuinely that speaking has, however it is also a cure to old age
and time, as what is written will not be forgotten. Derrida did not support
neither one as he claims as he remained indecisive however, Derrida clearly
agrees with Plato that writing is not so genuine. In fact, ‘phonocentrisim’,
favours speaking over writing as he considers it to be language’s distorted
picture of a meaning. I agree, as writing can easier contradict the person’s ‘truth’
as the writer is not present to justify one’s statement, as it is something I
experience as the reader tends to interpret my ideas differently. The text can
easily take a ‘life of its own’, unlike speaking as one is present and can
dictate his intentions.  According to
Derrida, Plato, Rousseau, Saussure, and Levi-Strauss, argued “that while spoken
words are the symbols of mental experience, written words are the symbols of
that already existing symbol” (J.Reynolds) and I think
that this is the reason why writing is more challenging than speaking. Saussure argue that “language and writing are two distinct systems
of signs: the second exists for the sole purpose of representing the
first”. He insists that Language has an oral tradition, which is independent
to writing however, Derrida disagrees with Saussure and supports his
disagreement through the ‘philosophy of Language’.

The ‘philosophy of Language’ states
that the nature of Language is writing. Derrida argues that he is not referring
to the chronological historical evolution of language, but the logical
preconditions of what make a language possible. It is a system of writing, like
a set of rules that gives the foundation to speaking, showing that speaking in
fact depends on writing, as we first learn the alphabet, trough sounds will are
later used for writing. Derrida uses the concept ‘Arche-writing’ or ‘originary
writing’, is a form of language, it is only a form of writing which do not
derive from speech, such as symbols in cave paintings and Egyptian
hieroglyphics. By broadening the concept of writing to ‘Arche-writing’, it resulted
in the deconstruction of the ‘metaphysics of presence’, as it does not exist
anymore.  Derrida comes up with ‘differance’
as a new way to define the origin of presence and absence, to replace the
‘metaphysics of presence’.

Derrida’s created the word ‘Differance’
by combining the words differing and deferring together. Differing, is the
meaning of a sign depending on its opposite and deferring, is the meaning of a sign,
which is postponed until later as it is incomplete. Deferring causes the
meaning to be interpreted differently especially through time; this can be
clearly seen in symbolic art as needs to know the pre-existing  various contextual aspects of that time, the
historical, social, political, cultural backgrounds… in order to really
understand the artist’s interpretations. Through deferring, the absence becomes
the present instead, conditioning the presence. The absence are experiences or
memories of the past, make up what remains. Like so, symbolic art, hints the
artist’s background, however it can be interpreted differently without the
knowledge of the artist’s contextual aspects (background). Like so, in speech
and writing the inner meaning, is equivalent to the intention of the writer or
speaker and the outer representation of the reader or listener.

Deconstruction cannot be simply
defined, as Derrida states himself ‘I have never claimed to identify myself with what may be designated by
this name” (Derrida, 1995, p. 15) as “There is not – one deconstruction,
and deconstruction is not a single theory or a single method.” Derrida himself
did not define deconstruction it as would go against deconstruction itself. This
can be seen in ‘Letter to a Japanese Friend’, (1983) where he wrote to explain deconstruction,
however instead he wrote about what deconstruction is not:”a negative
determination of its significations or connotations”; neither is “limited to a
linguistico-grammatical model, let alone a mechanical model”. Nor to “be
reduced to some methodological instrumentality or to a set of rules and
transposable procedures.”‘ which “is not therefore limited to meaning or to the
text” … (Derrida. J, Letter to a Japanese Friend). It cannot be said to be “an
analysis nor a critique” or the “undoing, decomposing, and desedimenting of
structures” (Derrida. J, Letter to a Japanese Friend). He concluded his letter
suggests that “What deconstruction is not? Everything of course! What is
deconstruction? But nothing of course!’ (1983: 5)

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