Showing posts with label derrida. Show all posts
Showing posts with label derrida. Show all posts


Analysis: Freud, Derrida and the Magic Slate

Do you remember playing with a magic slate as a child? Learn how Sigmund Freud uses this device to talk about the unconscious mind.
Photograph of “Iki-piirto” writing pad, a Finnish variety of Printator, known in German language as “Wunderblock”, as described by Sigmund Freud in his essay “A Note upon the ‘Mystic Writing-Pad’” from 1925. This writing aid has allegedly been used in Finnish schools circa 1950s when teaching mathematics, as there is a multiplication table on the backside (not pictured).
A Finnish Version of Freud's Wunderblock.
Do you remember this toy from your childhood? It’s charmingly called a “Magic Slate” or an “Etch-a-Sketch”. In German, the Wunderblock. I had a version of this toy as a kid. The novelty of the apparatus consists in the ability of the pad to retain impressions, such as drawings, and like a normal slate, the impressions can be erased, not by an eraser but by simply lifting the page. Presto. Freud and Derrida loved this thing. Freud liked it because the Magic Slate is a model for the human mind. Psychoanalysis! Derrida liked it because Freud's reading of it seems to suggest the unconscious is inhabited by writing and is prior to speech acts. Deconstruction!
The stylus is used to write, scribble, or draw on the transparent plastic sheaf which creates an impression on the middle thin layer. The magic slate I had as a kid was a simple plastic, red stylus. The slate itself was a flimsy plastic backing with the “magic sheaf” part lightly affixed to the backing.

When the sheaf is lifted, the thin papery layer which exists beneath it is erased of its impression. At the bottom, a resinous wax layer exists which retains etched into the resin the residuals, or traces of all the previous impressions.

Freud on the “Magic Slate”
Freud wrote a short seven-page essay called "A Note Upon The Mystic Writing Pad." He wrote the essay to explain his theory of memory via the working apparatus of the Wunderblock. The outer coating represents the protective layer of the mind. The layer protects the mind from too much excitation. Notice if the thin paper layer is torn or contaminated the Wunderblock ceases to work in the same way that trauma can irreparably damage the psyche. The stylus represents a stimulus from the outside world. The papery layer is the conscious mind and the wax resin is representative of the unconscious.

The memory of the present can be erased, but like the mind, retains the impressions in the unconscious. The Wunderblock can both destroy and create.

Freud thought the Magic Slate was the closest machine-toy resembling the human mind. The only difference between the Wunderblock and the human mind is the mind's waxy resin layer can come back and disrupt the psychic life. Notably in dreams and trauma.

Derrida On Freud
Derrida, in an essay called "Freud and the Scene of Writing" was astounded that Freud, as a metaphysical thinker, could have inadvertently stumbled upon a machine that is a metaphor for the techné (production) of memory.

Derrida wonders how Freud could have imagined the Wunderblock to represent the psychic life while not realizing that the fundamental essence of the toy, like the mind, is its reserve of graphical traces, not phonetic signifiers.


Jacques Derrida in the News

For shits and giggles, I like to search "Jacques Derrida" in the Google News search engine to see if the posthumous philosopher has made any recent headlines.

I found something today!

He is referenced in a New York Observer article by Jonathan Liu on architecture and performativity (07/12/2011):

The talk about architecture as performance must conjure up the 1980s and deconstruction:
Meanwhile, Peter Eisenman spent the 1980s conceptualizing deconstructivist architecture with Jacques Derrida and the naughties building a stadium for the Arizona Cardinals.
Does this stadium look "deconstructed" to you?

Lemme know what you think in the comments below.


Video Repost: Jacques Derrida in 1 Minute

By putting emphasis on Derrida as a literary theorist, I must say this bloke does a pretty damn good job of expounding on Deconstruction in a nutshell. 

P.S.: The last ten-second analysis of Lord of the Rings in both structuralist / deconstructive terms is entertaining.


Philosophy of Psychoanalysis Terminable and Interminable: Dueling with Derrida and Lacan

image source: writer's block
the worse case of writer's block is to sit in front of a typewriter charged with a tabula rasa  must i force, jettison, project, something onto a page? 

i feel that i must write.

let's us say it is a conviction compulsion concentration -- send it by e-mail but i rather write a letter kinda thing -- type it out, resist the virtual void; let's play with the textual machine, the typewriter. maybe it will get us to write more    substance

what happened? did the letter not go through? not every letter is guaranteed to reach its destination.

f u c k

lacan: he structure of a letter is to always contain the possibility of return

derrida: a letter must contain the possibility of always not returning to its proper place

who is right?

it puts me in a bind: how to write a letter about a letter that contains / doesn't contain the possibility of return?

1. i have to write a letter ... or a paper ... or something ... not an e-mail, but a response, a missive, to respond.

2. it is for a class. psychoanalysis and deconstruction (part 2)

3. i took part one last semester.

4. i wrote about la différance

5. isn't once enough?
i do know lacan and derrida parted ways. well, they never were friends in the first place. 

elizabeth roudinesco tells a story in her mammoth history of lacanian psychoanalysis, lacan and co. (p. 418):

Upon his arrival, he was very surprised to learn from René Girard that Lacan had requested a deluxe hotel room for him. Exhausted from jet lag, he set down his bags and heard the old master say: "So, I had to come all the way here to finally meet you!" At dinner the next day, Derrida raised questions close to his heart, about the Cartesian subject, substance, and the signifier. While eating coleslaw, Lacan replied that his subject was the same as the one proposed by his interlocutor as an alternative to the theory of the subject. In itself, the remark was not false, but Lacan hastened to add: "You can't bear the fact that I have already said what you want to say." Derrida responded without missing a beat: "That is not my problem." So Lacan got nowhere. Later that evening, he approached the philosopher, putting a friendly hand on his shoulder: "Ah! Derrida, we have to talk, we have to talk!" But they were never to talk...(8)    A year later, at a dinner in Paris at Jean Piel's home, Lacan took warmly Derrida's hand in his smooth palms and asked what he was working on. Plato, Socrates, the pharmakon, the letter, the concepts of origin, logos, mythos: the philosopher was preparing a text for the journal Tel Quel. Under the talented leadership of Philippe Sollers, this journal had begun to include important topics of the older structuralism together with revisions in the light of "textuality." When Of Grammatology was being published, Derrida had joined the editorial board of the journal Critique. And since the publication of his Ecrits, Lacan has become director of a collection at the publisher Seuil. Once again, he mentioned how strange it was that he had already discussed the same topics as those preoccupying Derrida. One need only ask his students. To avoid a debate, Derrida told the psychoanalyst the following anecdote. One evening, as his son Pierre was falling asleep in the presence of his mother, he asked his father why he was looking at him:    "Because you are handsome."    The child reacted immediately by saying that the compliment made him want to die. A little uneasy, Derrida tried to find out what he meant:    "I don't like myself," the child said.    "Since when?"    "Since I learned to talk."    Marguerite took him in her arms:    "Don't worry. We love you."    At which point Pierre burst out laughing:    "No, it's not true at all. I am a born cheater for life."(9)    Lacan said nothing. Sometime later, Derrida was stupefied to find the anecdote penned by his interlocutor in a lecture given at the French Institute in Naples in December 1967.(10) Lacan told the story like this: "'I am a born cheater for life,' said a four-year old boy while curling up in the arms of his genitrix in the presence of his father, who had just answered 'You are handsome' to his question 'Why are you looking at me?' And the father didn't recognize (even when the child in the interim pretended to have lost all taste for himself the day he learned to speak) the obstacle that he himself was foisting on the Other by playing dead. It's up to the father, who told it to me, to hear me from where I speak or not."    After this second meeting, relations between Derrida and Lacan were never cordial.  

To say the least!


i am set with the task of writing about derrida's deconstruction of the Other in Lacan's purloined letter. i am sure to include the debacle recounted above.

the thesis of my rant is: Something like a Lacanian Other suppresses differance.

then i will do a close reading of derrida deconstructing lacan: the facteur and all that and the psychoanalysis that supposedly finds itself! how convenient.
in another essay, derrida wrote, called "for the love of lacan," he talks about the chance factor psychoanalysis leaves out. was it by chance that derrida met lacan several times?

but, i am not so sure how it all relates. or how it matters. who cares, i say? leave it to chance. i can agree to that. when i go to analysis, to a psychoanalyst, i free associate, i try to leave it to chance, but it seems no matter how "free" i am, there is a determinism -- call it psychological determinism -- setting in a mold what i say. or is it like alan bass said somewhere that the problem with analysis is free association is like translating without a good dictionary!

i need a good dictionary to figure this out. i feel so useless, as if i am left to figure out, to resolve a duel, between two great philosophers of psychoanalysis.

what would freud think? wo es war?

i read barbara jonson's critique of derrida on lacan. she says lacan and derrida are saying the same things but just quibbling over individual differences.

she also says it is difficult to write about three texts, the poe "purloined letter" text, the lacan "seminar" text, and the derrida "facteur" text. i should just copy and paste all three texts, lump them into one word processing document and turn that in as my paper.

but i shan't. or i won't.

the other won't let me.

neither one. the big "O" bastard and his little other mother fucker.

i think after i write this paper i am going to abandon lacan to derrida and derrida to lacan : forever.

i mean, i like this stuff; it is just difficult to hammer out something to say. so i am exorcising demons by writing this post.


The 4 Train On Sunday

He told me this morning the four train is beast. Not beast as in animal. But beast as in best. I had taken it on Sunday after a visit to my Shrink. (I capitalize her name to make it proper). So I knew what he was talking about.


Derrida's Definition of Western Philosophy

Derrida writes in "La Différance," in Margins of Philosophy, "For the middle voice, a certain nontransitivity, may be what philosophy, at its outset, distributed into an active and a passive voice, thereby constituting itself by means of this repression" (9).


Generosity as Gift of Self: Short Reflection Written Before Hurricane Ivan Made Landfall

I recently took the Carrollton streetcar to grab a bite to eat at a restaurant on St. Charles Avenue the night before hurricane Ivan skirted Louisiana. In New Orleans, everything is usually open, all the time, so it was unusual to see places boarded up and the streets bereft of people. The place I found was the only place open, besides bars, so I got a seat for one and sat down with a book. No sooner had I sat down, when a woman’s voice above me asked, “What book are you reading?” For a brief second, I was surprised at being interrupted, but I looked up and told her; she asked me if I would not mind eating with her and her boyfriend. For a second I hesitated, but then said, “sure” and joined the couple. It was a delightful supper, replete with redfish, red wine, and delectable conversation.