Nick Ivins

En Abyme

Jacques Derrida was born in French Algeria in 1930 and has revolutionized the study of philosophical movements in the 20th and 21st Centuries. His publication Of Grammatology inspires the application of deconstruction to common themes underlying and comprising the major tenants of ontological and Western logic. This deconstruction and eventual destruction of the representative form of language is in direct opposition with the concept of mimesis as applied to art and the written word. Derrida positions his method in the play between identity and difference inherent in linguistic discourse and within Freud's "space of writing" situated in the psyche. Freud's dynamic play of forces is extended parallel to the deferment of meaning (both temporally and through disguise) by Derrida to question the relation between so-called "objective" and "subjective" structures. Derrida contends this application "composes" rather than "symbolizes" meaning, incorporating the relationship between the "signified" and "signifier" as the "orb and the orbitary"(162 Of Grammatology). Thus we begin "wherever we are"(162) in an "indefinitely multiplied structure" or "en abyme [in an abyss]" of meaning (163). Each word and concept is understood through referential context only:
"Art and death, art and its death are comprised in the space of the alteration of the originary iteration (iterum, anew, does it not come from Sanskrit itara, other?); of repetition, reproduction, representation, or also in space as the possibility of iteration and the exit from life placed outside of itself" (209)
Thus, as meaning (in the ontological or "onto-theological" and Western epistemological sense) is deferred, and the "supplement"(298) is always the supplement of a supplement; Derrida suggests an analysis of textual and implied inverse logical propositions in varying levels of symmetricity to "deconstruct" a text to "a natural catastrophe"(258) of empty representation. This "chromatic"(214) conceptuality of language and meaning can "open" texts to new and intense interpretation as meaning is decentralized.

Works Cited:

Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. John Hopkins University Press, 1976.

Deconstruction of Frankenstein

Return to previous page