Art History Unstuffed. “Jacques Derrida and ‘Différance’”

Art History Unstuffed

 “Jacques Derrida and ‘Différance’”

posted on July 25, 2014.

 Just as Derrida was concerned with the emphasis on “logos” or the spoken word, requiring the presence of a speaker, he was concerned about the presumed primacy of speech over writing. Jacques Derrida’s concept of “Différance” was an attempt to interrogate polarities and to discuss the “play” among supposed differences.

 To take note of this space of deferral or absence, Derrida created the term “différance,” (mis)spelling the word with an “a” to signify that the “différance” that could not be heard only seen graphically or in writing. The “a” is silent in speech, and, according to Derrida, silent like a tomb. “Tomb” (oikēsis) in Greek is linked to “house” (oikos)which in turn is linked to “economy” in what he called an “economy of death.” The “a” exists in an intermediary zone, neither speech nor writing, because this letter, this non-sound cannot be represented (spoken/heard) through the senses.

 Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette

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