Re: Deconstruct the Narrative = Protocolian positioning

Posted by Are | Thu Feb 20th 2003 7:37 p.m.

I think Derrida would be upset about his project being referred to in the past tense, while he is still alive. On the other hand, he once pondered the phrase "Deconstruction is dead" and found it lacking, so he might enjoy it.

The closest "meaning" of "deconstruction" is "analysis." See Derrida's Letter to a Japanese Friend, in Between the Blinds, among other places.
The insitutional critique has already been much debated in the very postmodern 90s. See for example; On the Museum's Ruins or Abigail Solomon Godeau's essays re: photography. Or just look in the recent Rhizome archives...

The problem with bypassing language is usually that someone has done it before and that there is little left to say.

Wittgenstein, of course, gave up on philosophy entirely and took up a position as a hospital orderly...

-af
  • Dyske Suematsu | Thu Feb 20th 2003 11:55 p.m.
    Hi Are,

    > The closest "meaning" of "deconstruction" is "analysis." See Derrida's
    Letter to a Japanese Friend, in Between the Blinds, among other places.

    I've heard him say this too, but I would not say this is the "closest"
    meaning; it is the broadest meaning, or that it is the closest word among
    commonly used words. I think "decenter" would be more precise, however,
    anyone who has not studied postmodern philosophy would not know what that
    means. To deconstruct is to analyze text in a very specific fashion. It
    would be silly to use the word "deconstruct" if you simply mean "analyze" in
    an ordinary sense of the word.

    On this list, I'm starting to sound like I am a big Derrida-head, but I'm
    not. I started reading his books only a few years ago, mainly because his
    way of using language to express what he is expressing is fascinating. It
    borders on accomplishing something that Zen has always claimed impossible.
    It still is impossible, and Derrida knows it too, but it is fascinating to
    see him push that limit. I must respect him for being able to articulate
    something that I personally could not. And, he has established a certain
    vocabulary in our culture that I can now take and use to express what I want
    to express. If I know that the person that I'm speaking with is not familiar
    with his vocabulary, then I would find some other ways of expressing them,
    but on this list everyone seems to be familiar with his ideas. So, I do not
    see the need to avoid using it.

    > The problem with bypassing language is usually that someone has done it
    before and that there is little left to say.

    What do you mean by "bypassing language"?
    I'm not too concerned about whether something that I am doing has been done
    before. I'm sure it has been. It is a sad phenomenon that we see, in the
    last 100 years or so, artists and writers became alienated by history. They
    are not capable of doing something for their sheer passion, because they are
    haunted by the idea of history. They live in fear of repeating history, or
    doing something redundant. Mainly because it is the recognition that they
    are after. If you put your priority on your own love, not on your desire to
    be recognized in history, then history in fact becomes an enjoyable aspect
    of art and philosophy; otherwise it is your enemy that you are constantly
    trying to beat.

    > Wittgenstein, of course, gave up on philosophy entirely and took up a
    position as a hospital orderly...

    Though this is not important, it is not true that he gave up philosophy to
    work at a hospital. From 1941, for a few years, he worked as a drug
    dispensary porter, but this was not to give up philosophy. He was never too
    fond of academic life and he wanted a real job. He died in 1951 and his last
    book "On Certainty" was written in the last year and a half of his life. The
    last entry into this book was written 2 days before his death.

    Dyske
  • D42 Kandinskij | Fri Feb 21st 2003 2:03 a.m.
    On Thu, 20 Feb 2003, Dyske Suematsu wrote:

    > > The problem with bypassing language is usually that someone has done it
    > before and that there is little left to say.

    As has "someone" used language appropriately.
    As has "someone" breathed, slept, eaten.
    Why is that a "problem"?

    The "problem" is that your brain likes making
    "problems" where there arent any. And "someone"
    has even "understood" why before--so we suppose
    that's a problem too.
  • Are | Fri Feb 21st 2003 11:02 a.m.
    Re: 2/20/03 22:57, "Dyske Suematsu" <dyske@dyske.com>:

    > I've heard him say this too, but I would not say this is the "closest"
    > meaning; it is the broadest meaning, or that it is the closest word among
    > commonly used words. I think "decenter" would be more precise, however,
    > anyone who has not studied postmodern philosophy would not know what that
    > means. To deconstruct is to analyze text in a very specific fashion. It
    > would be silly to use the word "deconstruct" if you simply mean "analyze" in
    > an ordinary sense of the word.
    >
    > On this list, I'm starting to sound like I am a big Derrida-head, but I'm
    > not. I started reading his books only a few years ago, mainly because his
    > way of using language to express what he is expressing is fascinating. It
    > borders on accomplishing something that Zen has always claimed impossible.
    > It still is impossible, and Derrida knows it too, but it is fascinating to
    > see him push that limit. I must respect him for being able to articulate
    > something that I personally could not. And, he has established a certain
    > vocabulary in our culture that I can now take and use to express what I want
    > to express. If I know that the person that I'm speaking with is not familiar
    > with his vocabulary, then I would find some other ways of expressing them,
    > but on this list everyone seems to be familiar with his ideas. So, I do not
    > see the need to avoid using it.

    This passage goes against just about everything Derrida has attempted to do
    since the late 60s. From the Margins of Philosophy, rethinking the roots of
    Western metaphysics, to his work on language and especially translation,
    starting off with Of Grammatology. In this sense, it would indeed be very
    silly to use deconstruction if you mean analysis, and especially if you mean
    analysis and use deconstruction. (Get it, in the "ordinary" sense of what I
    mean?). How many times has he tried to explain that deconstruction is not a
    "method," in the sense of a specific fashion, articulating something that
    you are not always already, his favorite phrasing, articulating? He is hence
    not pushing "that" limit, but working within its _limitations_. How his opus
    has then enabled you to "express what you want to express" basically ignores
    the entire project he has undertaken. Arguably this is the bittersweet
    revenge of deconstruction, as I have an entirely other reading of it
    (although I confess to own just about every book, even the more rare ones,
    like Cinders, up there with "trace" for me, and Veils). Never saw the movie,
    though.

    I believe you're right about the Wittgenstein bio, but I meant it in the
    sense of "philosophy," as a unified project. Like Derrida once said, even
    when, or actually when, you are not philosophizing, you are philosophizing.
    I am increasingly of the persuasion that the institutionalized projects
    centered around disciplines lead to an impoverished expression that is full
    of meaning through repetition, within the confines thus draw, but ultimately
    void of surprises and, well, a certain joie de vivre. In fact, this
    suppression of possibility is perhaps the very definition of a discipline or
    an institution; it's like an organism devouring the new and instantly
    turning it into the old to suppress the potential dangers harbored by the
    future, by youth. We thus have a reversal of the historical process, where
    new games follow old rules as progress.

    -af
  • Dyske Suematsu | Fri Feb 21st 2003 12:17 p.m.
    Hi Are,

    I'm glad to have found someone to discuss this with. Let's get to it:

    What you are saying is true and I concur. However I do not see anything that
    I said contradict what you are saying. By "analyze text in a very specific
    fashion", I do not mean a specific method or formula that you follow. That
    would indeed be another form of logocentrism. You read text with a specific
    mindset is what I mean here, and what this mindset is, defies definition. I
    certainly do not mean to analyze text in order to create yet another
    logocentric structure.

    The point about "limitation": I don't see any issue with describing it as
    "pushing the limit", that is of language. Take a look at his word inventions
    like Differance. Now, this word does not function in an ordinary way our
    language does. In fact, it does and it doesn't. It is actually not possible
    to have a word like this where it defies defining. If you understand what he
    means by Differance, then you do, otherwise, you don't. Here, I would say he
    is pushing the limit of language, albeit UNsuccessfully.

    I express what I want to express also within the limitations of language.
    You interpreted my sentence as if Derrida's ideas "enabled" me to say
    something that was otherwise impossible. What I said was: "he has
    established a certain vocabulary in our culture that I can now take and use
    to express what I want to express." It is just a matter of convenience that
    he has provided for me. And, I also clarified that even without his
    vocabulary, I would express them anyway.

    I always say that I only preach to the converted, and that all my writings
    are works of fiction. I aim only to do whatever I can do with whatever I
    have (bricolage). I do not expect anything more than that.

    <quote>
    I am increasingly of the persuasion that the institutionalized projects
    centered around disciplines lead to an impoverished expression that is full
    of meaning through repetition, within the confines thus draw, but ultimately
    void of surprises and, well, a certain joie de vivre. In fact, this
    suppression of possibility is perhaps the very definition of a discipline or
    an institution; it's like an organism devouring the new and instantly
    turning it into the old to suppress the potential dangers harbored by the
    future, by youth. We thus have a reversal of the historical process, where
    new games follow old rules as progress.
    </quote>

    This paragraph is very interesting. Have you read Robert C. Morgan's "The
    End of the Art World"? If so, is what you are conveying here a similar
    sentiment?

    I personally feel that history has been reverse-engineered by the artists.
    Since the 20th century, artists have become increasingly conscious of
    history. Rather than letting history tell its own story, artists are trying
    hard to write it. Art history has become an active product, not a passive
    one, like McLuhan's reversal of over-heated medium. The cause and effect are
    reversed. In a way, history as an institution is the transcendental
    signified by which every element that belongs to it gets fixed, such as
    museums, galleries, magazines, artists, critics, etc.. The reversal of
    natural relationship is pervasive at every level. Artists create art that
    would please critics. Artists make art in order to get museums or galleries
    to show it. Art is no longer made as a product of their passion, so if they
    see no chance to succeed, they are able to simply give up. In this sense,
    working within this structure, it is only natural that the reversal of the
    historical process happens also, as you pointed out.

    As I said before, this is a very unfortunate phenomenon. Artists are
    subordinating their passion for historical significance. This is Alienation
    by a strict Marxist's sense of the term. They are literally alienated from
    their own art and their activities by the effect of art history. That is,
    they are no better than mundane office workers who are alienated by the
    effect of Capitalism.

    Dyske

    --
    Dyske Suematsu
    http://www.dyske.com
    Where Nothing Is Everything
  • Fee Dickson | Fri Feb 21st 2003 4:57 p.m.
    Hi, I am Fee, artist, former architect and general layabout..been lurking a=
    round for a little while, but am interested in the thread involving derrida=
    /art history/ art and language.

    IMHO, language as an everyday communication device works perfectly well to =
    comunicate meaning, however, as one stumbles into philosophy (from whatever=
    direction of study - more of that later) the fixed meaning of words slides=
    and elides until one is unsure of the basic building units of the language=
    you have spoken since birth...I remember spending hours puzzling out the m=
    eaning of words suchs as 'if' or 'other' back in the days when I regularly =
    studied philosophy. A further complication is added by the medium in which =
    one is trained - in almost any academic study one will eventually be drawn =
    through a nest of quotes and references to philosophy. But the roads we tak=
    e there influence our view on arrival - postmodernism means something entir=
    ely different to the architect, the artist, the writer and the philosopher.=
    And this is where language begins to stumble between the divides and barri=
    ers put up between disciplines.

    And along came Derrida to pull down every institutions white walls and say =
    what do you mean whe you say this? do you mean the same as so-and-so in the=
    art gallery half a mile along the road? or do you mean something entirely =
    different, more like the guy in the humanities department? to pull the lang=
    uage apart is the only way i you will understand if you are talking about t=
    he same thing. And Marc and Dyske are already arguing about this word decon=
    struct, that derrida invented for his process..as does anyone who has ever =
    heard of the word. A word invented to help us understand words which is tan=
    talislingly almost beyond definition itself.
    Now it's along time since I've read Derrida and my approach to him was thr=
    ough his work with architects such as Peter Eisenmann and Bernard Tschumi i=
    n Parc La Villette, in Paris. So please excuse me if my understanding of d=
    econstruction is completely different from yours. I will ashamedly admit it=
    takes me a long time to understand his concepts at all, and if my understa=
    nding is the correct one is impossible for me to tell - and so we go, round=
    in semiotic circles.

    Words do change meaning over time, become loaded with cultural reference, b=
    ecome transformed in context, have a history - but I have an idea that when=
    one says 'art' on a list such as this and 'art' to an elderly relative, on=
    e means totally different things almost without being aware of the differen=
    ce. We roleplay through language and our use of it, our understanding of it=
    , is as much defined by who we are addressing as by the 'dictionary definit=
    ion'. Perhaps I am stating the blindingly obvious/previously stated. What t=
    horoughly frustrates me though sometimes is that the academic stuff is irre=
    sistible to artists/creatives and their funders and critics - but sometimes=
    i'd just love to have an honest little dialogue running there side by side=
    ' hey I had this cool idea and i'm really excited about it and it's sort o=
    f about reaching this edge space or htat but not quite and I really want to=
    make the visuals move..I saw this film and read that book and they made me=
    think, what if..? ' You know, the kind of stuff you would say in the studi=
    o that actually tells - not the real, but another side of the work. The hum=
    an side maybe.

    'institutionalized projects
    centered around disciplines lead to an impoverished expression that is full
    of meaning through repetition, within the confines thus draw, but ultimately
    void of surprises and, well, a certain joie de vivre. In fact, this
    suppression of possibility is perhaps the very definition of a discipline '

    I've seen the institutional grinder for artists at work - 7 years at art sc=
    hool studying architecture - but am reluctant to put myself and my work thr=
    ough it as an artist. I'm reluctant to pin myself down, to define myself..I=
    paint pretty watercolours and photograph insects dying and to me its all p=
    art of the same thing. Yet to acknowledge oneself as an outsider seems to p=
    ut another artistic label on, again..(raw art, self taught, what do they me=
    an to you? hmmm) as Marc said we all live with 'dichotomies and multichotom=
    ies'..we all want to belong and yearn to break free. My answer is to try an=
    d stay out the institutions and dodge the expectations. sometimes - not alw=
    ays - it can be better to be ignorant of art history, art trends and politi=
    cs to create art.
    But then I am very poor. lol.

    Anyone, apologies for any repitious stuff, been working it through in my he=
    ad as I write, have thoroughly enjoyed reading all the posts on this topic.=
    .made the old braincells come to life a little (am a hibernatory animal)

    thabks for reading if anyone made it through.
    Fee
    http://pbase.com/fee
  • Are | Fri Feb 21st 2003 5:44 p.m.
    Re: 2/21/03 11:13, "Dyske Suematsu" <dyske@dyske.com>:

    > Take a look at his word inventions
    > like Differance. Now, this word does not function in an ordinary way our
    > language does. In fact, it does and it doesn't. It is actually not possible
    > to have a word like this where it defies defining. If you understand what he
    > means by Differance, then you do, otherwise, you don't. Here, I would say he
    > is pushing the limit of language, albeit UNsuccessfully.

    This is probably the essay he regrets the most writing, since it has become
    such a defining paradigm for deconstruction. But to approach what it is, one
    must instead consider what it does. It is a lecture delivered as a speech,
    from a written manuscript. The audience is thus the reader which is
    nevertheless not the same as that other audience being addressed. The
    difference between difference and differance lies in the a, which is
    correctly pronounced the same as difference to make the distinction, the
    English difference, mute in speech and observable in writing. The meaning is
    both to differ and defer. And so on and on throughout the essay. The point
    is that this gathering does not make deconstruction a concept that can be
    enunciated in the singular idea of differance. Rather, differance is a live
    performance of spacings and differences that is performed, again, through
    the essay text. This is why the binary "do" or "don't" forms the root of the
    exercise, not the ultimatum for its eventual absolution. Hence the limit is
    not in question, but limitations invoked by the beginning and end of this
    limit are. The charge leveled at Derrida is usually what standpoint he,
    himself, assumes in dissecting these binaries, and I think the only way of
    resolving this is to stop thinking in terms of three dimensions and consider
    deconstruction an agent, also, of the constantly vanishing and reappearing
    fourth.

    I never read the end of the art world title, but I can certainly see it
    around me everywhere I turn. The end of history comes with the dismantling
    of grand narratives and was the number one buzz word of early pomo. We never
    quite gave up on gathering smaller narratives, like net.art, though, even if
    the order of the universe was supposedly in crisis. We now have theories
    proposing the variable speed of light, and the drive to quantize space and
    time appears to have reached a lull. I am not sure what will happen to
    "art." The stuff in galleries and magazines is incestuously boring overall.
    (Admittedly, I have not made much of an effort to keep up lately, but spies
    in NY have reported dire findings.) Net.art actually appears more
    interesting to me, maybe because of the unstable platform it operates on and
    the fragility and mutability of the bits it assembles. It is, I feel, still
    a subject of change rather than change as a subject (the avant-garde).

    I just sent off a trashy essay that tangentially deals with the processes of
    subduing the young, the up and coming, to control the future -- where the
    purpose of education and the institutional reversal of the historical
    process, as an agent of change, rests. I can eventually send an URL or post
    it, if permissible.

    -af
  • marc garrett | Fri Feb 21st 2003 6:11 p.m.
    Beautiful...

    marc

    Hi, I am Fee, artist, former architect and general layabout..been lurking=
    around for a little while, but am interested in the thread involving derri=
    da/art history/ art and language.

    IMHO, language as an everyday communication device works perfectly well t=
    o comunicate meaning, however, as one stumbles into philosophy (from whatev=
    er direction of study - more of that later) the fixed meaning of words slid=
    es and elides until one is unsure of the basic building units of the langua=
    ge you have spoken since birth...I remember spending hours puzzling out the=
    meaning of words suchs as 'if' or 'other' back in the days when I regularl=
    y studied philosophy. A further complication is added by the medium in whic=
    h one is trained - in almost any academic study one will eventually be draw=
    n through a nest of quotes and references to philosophy. But the roads we t=
    ake there influence our view on arrival - postmodernism means something ent=
    irely different to the architect, the artist, the writer and the philosophe=
    r. And this is where language begins to stumble between the divides and bar=
    riers put up between disciplines.

    And along came Derrida to pull down every institutions white walls and sa=
    y what do you mean whe you say this? do you mean the same as so-and-so in t=
    he art gallery half a mile along the road? or do you mean something entirel=
    y different, more like the guy in the humanities department? to pull the la=
    nguage apart is the only way i you will understand if you are talking about=
    the same thing. And Marc and Dyske are already arguing about this word dec=
    onstruct, that derrida invented for his process..as does anyone who has eve=
    r heard of the word. A word invented to help us understand words which is t=
    antalislingly almost beyond definition itself.
    Now it's along time since I've read Derrida and my approach to him was t=
    hrough his work with architects such as Peter Eisenmann and Bernard Tschumi=
    in Parc La Villette, in Paris. So please excuse me if my understanding of=
    deconstruction is completely different from yours. I will ashamedly admit =
    it takes me a long time to understand his concepts at all, and if my unders=
    tanding is the correct one is impossible for me to tell - and so we go, rou=
    nd in semiotic circles.

    Words do change meaning over time, become loaded with cultural reference,=
    become transformed in context, have a history - but I have an idea that wh=
    en one says 'art' on a list such as this and 'art' to an elderly relative, =
    one means totally different things almost without being aware of the differ=
    ence. We roleplay through language and our use of it, our understanding of =
    it, is as much defined by who we are addressing as by the 'dictionary defin=
    ition'. Perhaps I am stating the blindingly obvious/previously stated. What=
    thoroughly frustrates me though sometimes is that the academic stuff is ir=
    resistible to artists/creatives and their funders and critics - but sometim=
    es i'd just love to have an honest little dialogue running there side by si=
    de ' hey I had this cool idea and i'm really excited about it and it's sort=
    of about reaching this edge space or htat but not quite and I really want =
    to make the visuals move..I saw this film and read that book and they made =
    me think, what if..? ' You know, the kind of stuff you would say in the stu=
    dio that actually tells - not the real, but another side of the work. The h=
    uman side maybe.

    'institutionalized projects
    centered around disciplines lead to an impoverished expression that is fu=
    ll
    of meaning through repetition, within the confines thus draw, but ultimat=
    ely
    void of surprises and, well, a certain joie de vivre. In fact, this
    suppression of possibility is perhaps the very definition of a discipline=
    '

    I've seen the institutional grinder for artists at work - 7 years at art =
    school studying architecture - but am reluctant to put myself and my work t=
    hrough it as an artist. I'm reluctant to pin myself down, to define myself.=
    .I paint pretty watercolours and photograph insects dying and to me its all=
    part of the same thing. Yet to acknowledge oneself as an outsider seems to=
    put another artistic label on, again..(raw art, self taught, what do they =
    mean to you? hmmm) as Marc said we all live with 'dichotomies and multichot=
    omies'..we all want to belong and yearn to break free. My answer is to try =
    and stay out the institutions and dodge the expectations. sometimes - not a=
    lways - it can be better to be ignorant of art history, art trends and poli=
    tics to create art.
    But then I am very poor. lol.

    Anyone, apologies for any repitious stuff, been working it through in my =
    head as I write, have thoroughly enjoyed reading all the posts on this topi=
    c..made the old braincells come to life a little (am a hibernatory animal)

    thabks for reading if anyone made it through.
    Fee
    http://pbase.com/fee
  • ryan griffis | Sat Feb 22nd 2003 7:49 p.m.
    howdy,
    it seems that sometimes saying something is dead is a
    way to rhetorically revive it...
    and institutional critique isn't pomo by default is
    it?
    most of it seems at least a bit modernist, if just in
    its "ethics" and concern for the material.
    either way, "institutional critique is dead."
    best,
    ryan

    __________________________________________________
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  • Fee Dickson | Sun Feb 23rd 2003 1:45 p.m.
    Is that a bit like the 'end of history'? so many historians hanging around =
    the job centres these days..
    just can't get no history degree no more.
    You have to laugh..
    Fee
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Ryan Griffis
    To: list@rhizome.org
    Sent: Sunday, February 23, 2003 12:49 AM
    Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Re: Deconstruct the Narrative = Protocolian posit=
    ioning

    howdy,
    it seems that sometimes saying something is dead is a
    way to rhetorically revive it...
    and institutional critique isn't pomo by default is
    it?
    most of it seems at least a bit modernist, if just in
    its "ethics" and concern for the material.
    either way, "institutional critique is dead."
    best,
    ryan

    __________________________________________________
    Do you Yahoo!?
    Yahoo! Tax Center - forms, calculators, tips, more
    http://taxes.yahoo.com/
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