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Jacques Derrida is
synonymous with ‘Deconstruction’. His
dense and complex writings had quite an influence and contribution on many
disciplines: psychology, sociology, literary theory, linguistics, cultural
studies, feminism, and anthropology and even an art movement. Derrida
adopts the word originally from the work of Martin Heidegger, from a German
word, ‘Destruktion’. As he himself explains in his famous “Letter
to a Japanese Friend” (1983) that he adopted as the word as the meaning fitted, giving
a reference to the meaning of disassembling the parts of a whole. ‘Deconstruction’, questions the
fundamental “oppositions,” in Western cultures through a close
examination of the text. Deconstruction
expose and challenges various tendencies that make up the Western binary oppositional
structures that make up the dominant ways of thinking.

Derrida analyses language’s
‘concept of presence’, which is divided in the person’s ‘mental state’ and the ‘external
world’. In the ‘mental state’ there is the presence of an image in mind which
is a ‘concept’. It is separate from the ‘physical word’ and so it does not possess
any real qualities. On the other hand, there is the ‘external world’, which is
present and real. The ‘truth’ exists separately to once ‘mental state’ and the ‘external
world’ as language is independent of both. 
Language is a ‘filter’ or mediate, existing between the ‘external word’
and the person’s ‘mental state’. I agree with this statement, as an artist I
experience this through my work as the conceptual ideas are build up by  images in my mind which are product of the ‘mental
state, and the objects used to in reality to portray the concept are part of
the ‘external world’. The ‘external world’ becomes a ‘medium’ or ‘language’
that communicates my ‘mental state’. My work becomes a ‘language’, like text containing
symbol which allow different interpretation. This brings out, Darrida’s  Logocentrism’s  idea that that language takes ‘a life of its
own’, supporting also the ‘metaphysics of presence’ as it represents the idea
that there is a ‘truth’ outside of language which is present to the person.

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‘Logocentrism’ challenges
the idea of ‘metaphysical presence’ through the
study of reality, which states that the world exists independent to
language. Language is a tool whose purpose is to describe the ‘external world’
and the ‘mental state’. However, neither the ‘mental state’, nor the ‘external
world’ are possible to exist independent of language. This can be easily
supported through the idea that humans since the beginning of time, felt the
fundamental need to create a language in order to communicate and co-exist
between the ‘external world’ and the ‘mental state’. As a product cave paintings
contain symbols, representing a ‘language’, which can be still understood till
this very day. ‘Logocentrism’ identifies a connection in western thought between
our ‘mental state’ and language, as one’s ‘mental state’ is both prior to and also
the source of meaning, expresses through the ‘medium’ of language. Derrida
states, that when we look for the truth within, the ‘voice within us,’ it is
already a product of language. However, I disagree, with the idea there is no
self that exists before and apart from language. It only apply sometimes in
writing,  whereas  speaking, mental concepts involving
imagination, feelings and emotions are some of the most challenging to
expressing, as they don’t come up to mind in words. Humans always felt the need
to turn to words in order to communicate so it shows that language in the most
natural thing that occurs and comes to mind, however we force our self to come
up with words to express what we feel. Good examples can be, a person thinking
of a word; or opposingly the need to create samples and models in order to
illustrate an idea. People find it more easier to relate through images, which
shows that we are not the products of language, however language is just a tool
for communication. Logical thoughts or Reasoning promotes a specific way of
thinking by giving into the values of logic as a tool for communicating, which
are controlled by one’s identity. A concept has a single, identical when
opposed to another, by emphasizing once believe at the same opposite time would
be contradicting. Derrida believes that there are three consequences of ‘logical
thinking’ that defines a text. The ‘principal of opposition’ or ‘binary
opposition’, which states that everything is structured on opposites acknowledging
human inclination of thinking in terms of opposition. For Saussure, binary
opposition is the “means by which the units of language have value or meaning;
each unit is defined against what it is not” (Sorcha. F, 2005). So terms and
concepts fit opposingly through association in a positive or negative way
example: Reason/instincts, Few/Many, Speech/Writing. On the other hand, Derrida
argued that these oppositions are arbitrary as they privilege one term over the
other. A text is also defined through the ‘principal of exclusion’, which state
that the meaning of a concept is excludes through its definition. Meaning that
words in a text are excluded, based on the writers definition of the word. When
writing, the writer need to compose his text by eliminating words based on the
words description that do not express his desired meaning. I agree, as writing
can be considered to be like the conscious, as an actions is considered to be
‘right’ or ‘wrong’ depending  on the
classification of the pre-existing knowledge, finally allowing the logical
reasoning to rejected the wrong.  In the ‘principle
of priority’ thinking is structured not based on the personal value and
believes. It is an inherent bias as the person will tend to favours one believe
over another. ‘ Phonocentrism’ is strongly
linked to ‘logocentrism’ as it is a caused by the ‘logocentric’ bias of western
culture and there believes. When expressing once self through language, the
linguistics used might influence the writers intended meaning, which causes the
person to be misinterpreted by the reader.

The principal of ‘Phonocentric’
is based on Derrida’s believe that speaking is superior to writing as it is
more genuine and communicates the person’s ‘truth’. In deconstruction, Derrida analyses
Phaedrus, by Plato, with a textual approach. He notices that when Plato writes
about writing, he states that writing is a poison or a cure, as writing
threatens the genuinely that speaking has, however it is also a cure to old age
and time, as what is written will not be forgotten. Derrida did not support
neither one as he claims as he remained indecisive however, Derrida clearly
agrees with Plato that writing is not so genuine. In fact, ‘phonocentrisim’,
favours speaking over writing as he considers it to be language’s distorted picture
of a meaning. I agree, as writing can easier contradict the person’s ‘truth’ as
the writer is not present to justify one’s statement, as it is something I
experience as the reader tends to interpret my ideas differently. The text can
easily take a ‘life of its own’, unlike speaking as one is present and can
dictate his intentions.  According to
Derrida, Plato, Rousseau, Saussure, and Levi-Strauss, argued “that while spoken
words are the symbols of mental experience, written words are the symbols of that
already existing symbol” (J.Reynolds, 1930-2004)
and I think that this is the reason why writing is more challenging than
speaking. Saussure argue that “language and
writing are two distinct systems of signs: the second exists for the sole
purpose of representing the first” (Saussure.
F, Course in General Linguistics). Saussure states that Language has an ‘oral
tradition’, which is independent to writing however, Derrida disagrees with
Saussure and supports
his disagreement through the ‘philosophy of Language’.

The ‘philosophy of Language’ states
that the nature of Language is writing. Derrida argues that he is not referring
to the chronological historical evolution of language, but the logical
preconditions of what make a language possible. It is a system of writing, like
a set of rules that gives the foundation to speaking, showing that speaking in
fact depends on writing, as we first learn the alphabet, trough sounds will are
later used for writing. Derrida uses the concept ‘Arche-writing’ or ‘originary
writing’, is a form of language, it is only a form of writing which do not
derive from speech, such as symbols in cave paintings and Egyptian
hieroglyphics. By broadening the concept of writing to ‘Arche-writing’, it resulted
in the deconstruction of the ‘metaphysics of presence’, as it does not exist
anymore.  Derrida comes up with ‘differance’
as a new way to define the origin of presence and absence, to replace the
‘metaphysics of presence’.

Derrida’s created the word ‘Differance’
by combining the words differing and deferring together. Differing, is the
meaning of a sign depending on its opposite and deferring, is the meaning of a sign,
which is postponed until later as it is incomplete. Deferring causes the
meaning to be interpreted differently especially through time; this can be
clearly seen in symbolic art as needs to know the pre-existing  various contextual aspects of that time, the
historical, social, political, cultural backgrounds… in order to really
understand the artist’s interpretations. Through deferring, the absence becomes
the present instead, conditioning the presence. The absence are experiences or
memories of the past, make up what remains. Like so, symbolic art, hints the
artist’s background, however it can be interpreted differently without the
knowledge of the artist’s contextual aspects (background). Like so, in speech
and writing the inner meaning, is equivalent to the intention of the writer or
speaker and the outer representation of the reader or listener.

Deconstruction cannot be
simply defined, as Derrida states himself ‘I have never claimed to identify
myself with what may be designated by this name” (Derrida, 1995, p. 15) as
“There is not – one deconstruction, and deconstruction is not a single theory or
a single method” Derrida himself did not define deconstruction it as would go
against deconstruction itself. This can be seen in ‘Letter to a Japanese
Friend’, (1983) where he wrote to explain deconstruction, however instead he
wrote about what deconstruction is not:”a negative determination of its
significations or connotations”; neither is “limited to a
linguistico-grammatical model, let alone a mechanical model”. Nor to “be
reduced to some methodological instrumentality or to a set of rules and transposable
procedures.”‘ which “is not therefore limited to meaning or to the text” … (Derrida.
J, Letter to a Japanese Friend). It cannot be said to be “an analysis nor a
critique” or the “undoing, decomposing, and desedimenting of structures”
(Derrida. J, Letter to a Japanese Friend). He concluded his letter suggests
that “What deconstruction is not? Everything of course! What is deconstruction?
But nothing of course!’ (1983: 5)

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