Sunday, September 27, 2009

This is NOT a post about my comps

I'm experimenting with false titles.

I haven't been very prolific postwise recently. Generally, as I'm sure you have all noticed, my posts are either about whatever aspects of my personal life I feel willing to share, how my school research is doing, and various pop culture investigations.

My personal life has been preempted by comps. My school work is comps. My TV show schedule is preempted by comps. And I decided I'm not going to talk about comps on my blog. So not much to post about. Okay, that was all a slight exaggeration; I'm still fitting most of that stuff in, but... frankly it's all really boring of late. The comps stuff, on the other hand, is really interesting.

Here's an example: I've had to read multiple essays by Jacques Derrida. For those who don't know Derrida--I envy you greatly. Derrida is a French literary theorist who specializes in revealing complexities. He's often been named as the main figure of the deconstructionist movement, though he himself would probably deny that. (And if you don't know what deconstructionism is, again, I envy you. The short version is that it's about taking the most obvious readings of a text and tearing them apart. The long version is the same as the short, but to get there, you need to spend about an hour explaining why the short version contradicts itself.)

The text I'm reading at the moment of his is about truth and literature: whether truth is something that exists, and, if it does, what literature's relationship to it is. He's making his mark on a long strand of literary discussion that dates back to ancient Greece. Basically, it boils down to Aristotle and Plato saying that the purpose of literature is to imitate reality. In order to deal with this mimetic relationship, Derrida discusses Mallarme (another French critic) and what Mallarme said about "Peirrot Murderer of His Wife." Peirrott is a stock name for a mime, and miming is about imitating reality, so we have one level of representation. This particular scene was invented by the actor Paul Marguette. Marguette was later accused of plagiarising another actor's scene by a similar name, which would have been a representation of a representation of the "real" murder. He DID write a book about it, and asked one of the people who saw the performance to write the foreward. His book, then, is a representation of the performance of the murder, and the foreword is representation of someone observing the the performance of the murder. Mallarme read the second edition, with a new foreword by Marguette about writing the original book. So the second edition is an imitation of the representation of the performance of the murder. Then, finally, Mallarme writes about his version of this, which makes it an interpretation of an imitation of a representation of the performance of the murder.

Derrida lives for this kind of stuff.

Finally, Big D gets his hands on the text, and in great, yet vague, detail, outlines that this is his interpretation of an interpretation of an imitation of a representation of the performance of the murder. And after that, *I* got a hold of it, took down a set of notes, then used this set to write this blog. So: you're reading an outline of a summary of an interpretation of an interpretation of an imitation of a representation of a performance of a murder. That's seven levels of imitation between you and the murder--now remember that the murder was imaginary. What is the "real" here?

If you are in any way confused, then I have succeeded in conveying the reality of how it feels to read Derrida. To add to all the confusion, I had originally mistaken "Peirrot" for "Poirot" and spent most of the essay waiting for everything to turn into an Agatha Christie murder mystery. Which would have made it so much better.

Later Days.

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