kb and jd

Jerry Ross jlross at postnet.com
Wed Oct 4 21:58:19 EST 2000

I've been following (or at least as much as a busy comp teacher can manage!)
the Burke and Derrida discussion with some interest.  For me, it's been
quite timely, as our little philosophy reading group is now looking at JD's
"Pharmakon."  Tonight as I browsed through Disseminations, my eye (strangely
enough!) was attracted by the phrase "The semen is already swarming."
Needless to say, I read on. (roughly pgs. 302-3)

What struck me in this little passage (which, granted, I read out of
context, but there's something appealing about reading Derrida
non-sequentially) was the number of Burkeian analogies/concepts imbedded in
just these two pages.  Reminded me of a KB anecdote I heard somewhere:  when
asked what he thought of JD and deconstruction, he waved his hand and said
"We were doing that stuff in the Thirties."

Here's what I've noticed:

1. JD's method of literary analysis looks suspiciously like indexing.
Derrida reads texts closely, looking for patterns in the weave.  He groups
terms together in "signifying chains" much like KB's  "what goes with what,
what vs. what, and what becomes what."  Both are unafraid to add their own
thread to the weave (or even to fray a few threads in the process).
2. Differance and the principle of the negative both premise an essential
division of one from the other (Yes says No to itself in KB, thereby
begetting Something;  JD posits "the blow" or the "cut"-differance is a
sledgehammer which opens things up).  Both differance and the negative
ironically result in multiplicity-the Scramble of the Human Barnyard and
3.  As a distinctively organic metaphor, dissemination in these passages is
described as a seed or germ.  It is also closely connected to terms:  "Germ
is but another word for term."  Dissemination for JD describes the process
whereby terms are multiplied into signifying chains, into socially reified
systems and institutions or orders.  Sounds a lot like entelechy to me.

I'm tired.  That's all I have for now.  But it seems that, even in a quick
and dirty reading, KB and JD can dance.


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