Thursday, April 21, 2005

Derrida. Linear Writing. Hypertext Linking.


arche-blogging prelude Posted by Hello


Your patience and courage in torturing your beautiful and voluptuous brain with attempting to understand Derrida...such rigor will pay off.

Deconstruction, the meta-methodology and arche-archaeology developed by Jacques Derrida, is very intimately related to hypertext, linking, online writing technique, the blog, internet, web, and digital systems in general.

How could this "philosopher of language and metaphysics" enlighten and inspire us bloggers now?

Patience, dear friend.

As the story unfolds, in my clumsy manner of trying to tell it, or of trying to allow it to escape my telling of it, to signify itself in spite of my mis-tellings, as this process continues, you may discover some valuable gems.

You at least will not become less smart or less sophisticated...by spending a little time with Derrida and me.

Let's go ahead and plunge into today's text.

Derrida discusses "linear writing" (strict progression from point A to point B all the way to point Z, no skipping around without some loss, or even confusion, of meaning)...

...and refers to what would later take form as "hypertext linking".

Remember:
this visionary was discussing these issues in extraordinary depth and complexity, prophetically, back in the 1960s and 1970s.

When Derrida says "the end of the book" I don't believe he meant literally "no more books ever again" like some "total erasure of book publishing and purchasing".

No, I feel he probably meant the end of books dominating text, the end of books as the primary and permanent sanctuary or preserve of writing.

As we now see, more people are self-publishing their writings in blogs, than in traditional books. This is the Derrida/Blog Revolution.



Jacques Derrida speaks (writes):

"The end of linear writing is indeed the end of the book, even if, today, it is within the form of a book that new writings--literary or theoretical--allow themselves to be, for better or worse, encased.

It is less a question of confiding new writings to the envelope of a book than of finally reading what wrote itself between the lines in the volumes.

That is why, beginning to write without the line, one begins also to reread past writing according to a different organization of space.

If today the problem of reading occupies the forefront of science, it is because of this suspense between two ages of writing. Because we are beginning to write, to write differently, we must reread differently.

For over a century, this uneasiness has been evident in philosophy, in science, in literature. All the revolutions in these fields can be interpreted as shocks that are gradually destroying the linear model.

[snip]

The necessary decentering cannot be a philosophic or scientific act as such, since it is a question of dislocating, through access to another system linking speech and writing, the founding categories of language and the grammar of episteme.

[snip]

[Derrida quoting Leroi-Gourhan, Le geste et la parole, Vol. 2, pp.261-262]:

'A vast tape library with an electronic selection system will in the near future deliver pre-selected and instantaneously retrieved information....if some procedure would permit the presentation of books in such a way that the materials of the different chapters are presented simultaneously in all their aspects, authors and their users would find a considerable advantage.'"

--Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology (De la grammatologie. Paris: Editions de Minuit. Translated with an introduction by Gayatari Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976.



See, when you visit a blog, you probably don't engage in "linear reading", starting at the top and working your way down. You may indeed start in this traditional "linear" fashion, but chances are, you'll jump around.

You'll read some of a post, then see a hypertext link, click/select it, and jump over to some other text. Or notice something in the sidebar that seems more relevant, entertaining, or interesting, and click/select that, perhaps an archive category or "previous posts" or "recent comments" link.

Derrida died a short while ago. I tried contacting him when I heard he was sick, but didn't reach him in time.

I wonder what his blog would look like if he were alive now and blogging.

Well, we can all honor his memory and pioneering work, by delving into his writings, his mindings, his deconstructings.

[tear falls from eye]

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