DECONSTRUCTION COMES FIRST

According to Katerina Kolozova correlationism consists in the premise that “there is nothing but discursive constructs that fully determine thinking and that are methodologically accounted for all the way down” (CUT OF THE REAL, 2). The argument of the realists is not a protest against reduction as such, but against its philosophical immobilisation in a doctrine of the world and a system of thought. This is where reduction, a necessity of thought in its diachronic transversal movements, becomes reductionism, thought’s debased synchronic shadow.

Post-Lacanian Theory, which Kolozova calls “postmodern theory”, tends towards a linguistic idealism where the real, banished from thought as unthinkable, becomes irrelevant to thought and we are left in the field of discursive constructionism, which positivises its hyper-confinement as limitless plasticity, and whose axiom is that all is constructed, that the world is construction all the way down. This is presented as a translation of Derrida’s slogan “there is no outside-text”. In other words, Derrida’s slogan is interpreted to endorse linguistic reductionism: all is text. A realist interpretation would be “the text includes constitutively its outside, which deconstructs it both in advance from outside and after the event from within”. From the static “layer-cake” model of construction all the way down, typical of  a linguistically or epistemologically sophisticated synchronic ontology, we advance to a more diachronic interpretation where it is deconstruction all the way down. Deconstruction all the way down is precisely the antithesis to linguistic idealism. It is not originally I who choose to deconstruct nor is this deconstruction limited to language:

“Deconstruction takes place, it is an event that does not await the deliberation, consciousness, or organization of a subject, or even of modernity. It deconstructs itself. It can be deconstructed. [Ça se deconstruit.] The “it” [ça] is not here an impersonal thing that is opposed to some egological subjectivity. It is in deconstruction (the Littré says, “to deconstruct itself [se deconstruire]… to lose its construction”). And the “se” of “se deconstruire,” which is not the reflexivity of an ego or of a consciousness, bears the whole enigma”. (Letter to a Japanese Friend).

Deconstruction takes place first, in the real, in psychic and social movements, and in material processes of change. Derrida has explained that his own deconstructions were preceded, and made possible, by all sorts of outside events. Deconstruction is not a linguistic idealism, the forced (or simply presupposed) correlation of the real to textuality, it is a mode of discursive correlation with the deconstructive real. It correlates with the non-plasticity that characterises this extra-discursive real along with its plasticity, which is thus not limitless and not absolute.

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3 Responses to DECONSTRUCTION COMES FIRST

  1. Pingback: DECONSTRUCTION COMES FIRST | Things that I liked enough to 'save for later' that maybe you'll like, too.

  2. Tom Eyers says:

    I’d been looking forward to this book, but all of this easy strawman short-hand – ‘Post-Lacanian Theory’, deconstruction as linguistic idealism, ‘postmodern thought’ – does not augur well. Still, I’ll give it a go, but pretty bleak out there in theory-land right now.

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    • terenceblake says:

      The book will be very interesting to read. I think I may have fudged things by concentrating on the intellectual historical context and reformulating it in my own terms. Kolozova talks about postmodern and poststructuralist theory, but clearly this is a reference to the Anglophone transposition of some French thought. The details of this historical sketch are less important than the realist drive underlying them. I do not find things as bleak as you do as I think that Laruelle/Stiegler/Latour are pretty inspiring.

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