cop shows and postmodernism redux

Catherine Driscoll cdriscol at
Tue Feb 23 04:56:12 PST 1999

Charles Brown writes:

>Thanks for the reply. I'm thinking deconstructionism "deconstructs
structures", and thus relies on a structuralist premise, but I could be wrong.

Yes, you would be right in thinking that. I think the classic essay in this context is still Derrida's 'Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences'. Derrida makes it clear here and elsewhere that you deconstruct a system from within it.

>How does the difference in the idea of synthesis play out ?

When Derrida locates terms in tension with one another he does stress their mutual dependence but does not aim for, predict, desire, or attempt to locate, a synthesis of these terms. The tension is not resolvable in the sense of transcending it. Moreover, a synthesis is a single term relying on and resolving a dualism, and deconstruction often proceeds my locating terms not covered by a dualism that claims to be a dichotomy.

>The only reason I pay attention to Hegel is because of Engels and Marx.
Those who refer to Hegel but seem to forget Marxism.... I don't get it. Why is it that a lot of these Derrida types seem to contradict classical Marxism ?

Well I would want to avoid the label 'Derrida types' because I think there's quite a bit of variation within people influenced by and even identifying with deconstruction. There's a long debate about relations between deconstruction and Marxism. I'm happy to discuss it if you want. I'm not exactly sure if there are writers or texts you're referring to at present, but I gather it's just a sense you have of deconstruction??

But... perhaps you should tell me why you think 'classical Marxism' should never be contradicted? I wouldn't like to hold any discourse to be that inviolate.


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