Helpful Feedback for Derrida on “Structure, Sign, and Play”

Perhaps [weasel-word!] something has occurred in the history of the concept of structure that could be called an “event,” if this loaded word [loaded according to whom?] did not entail a meaning which it is precisely the function [is this really its only function?] of structural–or structuralist–thought [which is it?] to reduce or to suspect [again, which?]. But let me use the word “event” anyway, employing it with caution and as if in quotation marks. In this sense, this event will have the exterior form of a rupture and a redoubling [why? Unpack this].

It would be easy enough to show [then show it! This is a big generalization that you never support!] that the concept of structure and even the word “structure” itself are as old as the episteme [is this a reference to Foucault? In that case, cite]–that is to say, as old as western science and western philosophy [this is a big claim, citation?]–and that their roots thrust deep into the soil of ordinary language, into whose deepest recesses the episteme plunges to gather them together once more, making them part of itself in a metaphorical displacement [unclear -- I think I see what you're getting at, but it could be expanded and unpacked a bit more]. Nevertheless, up until the event which I wish to mark out and define [maybe you should lead off with what this event is supposed to be, rather than making the reader wait? I'm already losing the thread], structure–or rather the structurality of structure–although it has always [careful with these generalizations] been involved, has always been neutralized or reduced, and this by a process of giving it a center or referring it to a point of presence [this feels jargony to me], a fixed origin. The function of this center was not only to orient, balance, and organize the structure–one cannot in fact conceive of an unorganized structure–but above all to make sure that the organizing principle of the structure would limit what we might call the freeplay of the structure [what does this mean? Unpack]. No doubt [this does not seem as immediately obvious to me] that by orienting and organizing the coherence of the system, the center of a structure permits the freeplay of its elements inside the total form. And even today the notion of a structure lacking any center represents the unthinkable itself [this seems a bit overblown -- maybe nuance?].

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11 Responses to “Helpful Feedback for Derrida on “Structure, Sign, and Play””

  1. Eric Says:

    The best commentary on Derrida’s style I’ve seen is in an early Nick Land (90’s Nick Land) essay where he quotes a typical Derridean circumlocution and then says something like “now these are clearly the words of a man who expects to continue living for quite some time into the future.” My feelings exactly.

  2. Daniel Lindquist Says:

    I wonder how many of these comments match Searle’s. Surely he at some point had a copy of the essay covered in red ink.

  3. Daniel Lindquist Says:

    D’oh, I confused one three-noun title for another. Point stands: I am sure Searle had a copy of “Signature Event Context” that looked much like this.

  4. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Easy mistake to make.

  5. Josh K-sky Says:

    I didn’t even have a very good Searle joke, but I’m still dismayed not to have gotten in here first with it.

  6. Frank Garrett Says:

    Isn’t Derrida merely [weasel word?] revealing the already decentered, playful “structure” of structure as such without resorting to pedantic tricks (such as citations, et al). [You'll notice this isn't a question.] His writing is the very point of his argument–that structure allows for free play, even the very structure of a paragraph, an argument, a philosophical text. That is to say, I don’t find your feedback helpful; rather it obscures the crux of Derrida’s project by trying to render it “out of bounds” within the very inbound discourse of language he worked against [did anyone else ever read how Derrida's deploys the word "exorbitant"?].

  7. Adam Kotsko Says:

    The joke behind the post is that the feedback isn’t really helpful at all.

  8. terenceblake Says:

    You have a Zizekian streak (or Zizek has a Kotskovian one).

  9. terenceblake Says:

    The joke behind my post was that I chose to take yours seriously, thus making my reply both more serious and even funnier.


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