Derrida ‘s essay “ Signature Event Context ” was foremost delivered in the signifier of a spoken conference paper in Montreal in 1971 on the subject of “ Communication ” , and published ab initio as an essay as portion of the conference ‘ Proceedings. The ‘context ‘ of Derrida ‘s essay is relevant in relation to the subject of the paper itself. In its initial signifier, a spoken essay ‘preformed ‘ or ‘produced ‘ in the Gallic linguistic communication, the essay ( now in its written English signifier ) , discusses the importance and differences of ‘context ‘ in both the written linguistic communication and in address.[ 1 ]
The essay was so published in 1988 in Graff ‘s aggregation Limited Inc. , which highlighted the differences between Anglo-American and European-Continental towards the theoretical argument on literary analysis.[ 2 ]The historical context of the essay is relevant to the subjects of original significance and context which are discussed within the essay. Derrida discusses the differentiation between the nature of truth and linguistic communication, and he presents statements on the privileging of spoken words, which is deemed as being ‘closer ‘ to the talker and thereby the intended significance ; whereas written words are given a secondary position and the significance is derived by the apprehension of the hearer.
Derrida examines the significance of ‘context ‘ , and so the significance of ‘context ‘ in relation to other factors environing a text, such as events, discourses and signature. He argues that these issues all factor into the significance of the text as it is produced by the author or talker, and so understood by the hearer or reader.
Derrida begins the essay in a treatment on the nature and definition of “ Communication ” , when Derrida provinces:
aˆ¦one must first of all ask oneself whether or non the word or signifier ‘communication ‘ communicates a determinate content, an identifiable significance, or a describable value. ( Derrida 1 ) .
The word or signifier communicating occurs twice, in the pronounced signifier “ communicating ” , and once more as the verb signifier “ communicates ” . For the reader the usage of the word in this manner signifies a inquiry which must be explored in the text of the essay. For Derrida this is a rhetorical inquiry. As readers and as a author nearing the text, if the word “ communicating ” had a definite or incontestable significance, there would be no demand for a treatment or try on the topic. This is typical of Derrida ‘s stylistic attack in the rhetorical inquiring which occurs throughout the text of the essay.
The essay is so structured into three subdivisions discoursing the factors mentioned in the rubric “ Signature Event Context ” , and Derrida uses illustrations from other theoreticians in order to show his statements for each component. In the first subdivision on “ Writing and Communication ” Derrida looks at the statements of Condillac ‘s essay[ 3 ]because it:
aˆ¦contains an expressed contemplation on the beginning and map of the written textaˆ¦which organizes itself here within a philosophical discourse that, in this instance and throughout doctrine, presupposes the simpleness of the beginning, the continuity of all derivation, of all production, of all analysis, and the homogeneousness of all dimensions [ orders ] . ( Derrida 4 )
In utilizing Condillac Derrida is showing the philosophical thoughts on theories of composing from a classical theoretical position, whereby authorship is taken as showing the original thoughts of the author and all lending factors to the composing such as “ beginning, production, derivation and analysis ” and basically equal in nature and quality. There is therefore no hierarchal system to the elements which form authorship, and all conducive factors bring forthing a text, are equal in their importance and relevancy to the formation and apprehension of the text. Derrida suggests that Condillac ‘s thoughts on composing mean that:
aˆ¦the birth and advancement of authorship will follow in a line that is direct, simple, and continuousaˆ¦writing will ne’er hold the slightest consequence on either the construction or the contents of the significance ( the thoughts ) that it is supposed to convey [ vehicular ] . ( Derrida 4 )
Here Derrida presents Condillac ‘s analysis, whereby if authorship is taken as a higher medium of communicating than spoken linguistic communication, the beginning and patterned advance of the authorship remains an absolute which is unsophisticated and incorruptible ; this therefore means that the written signifier is besides changeless in its significance, and for the apprehension of the reader.
Derrida takes issue with the impression of an absolute significance of the written subsequently in his essay, and alternatively suggests that the lone ‘absolute ‘ in authorship is the thought of absence. For Condillac, all composing denotes an absence. There is foremost the:
aˆ¦absence of the addressee. One writes in order to pass on something to those who are absent. The absence of the receiving system [ destinateur ] , from the grade that he abandons, and which cuts itself off from him and continues to bring forth effects independently of his presence and of the present actuality of his purposes [ vouloir-dire ] aˆ¦ ( Derrida 5 )
The act of composing denotes an absence of the author ( absent at the clip of reading ) , and the absence of the reader ( absent at the clip of the authorship ) , which means that the authorship exists independently of both reader and author and is yet paradoxically linked to a presence. The author is present in the authorship at the clip of reading because his/her purposes are made in the words that are written ; the reader is present at the clip of authorship because the author is meaning to pass on an thought in his/her authorship through the act of authorship.
The act of composing therefore implies the absence of both reader and author. The authorship is an independent entity which stands on its ain virtues after it is ‘abandoned ‘ by the author, yet still causes an consequence on the reader ; this consequence is besides independent from the existent purposes of the author, as the apprehension and reading depend on the reader. This brings Derrida to the 2nd absolute in authorship, which is the absence of a unequivocal significance. As Derrida provinces:
Representation on a regular basis supplants [ supplee ] presenceaˆ¦as a uninterrupted and homogeneous reparation and alteration of presence in the representation. ( Derrida 5 )
The presence of the author is hence denoted in the mode in which the text is received by the reader, whose apprehension and reading of the text are founded non in the thoughts which the author is seeking to pass on, but instead in a more practical system of understanding marks. The systematic regulations of composing are based on the apprehension of the written word ; this is founded in linguistic communication systems, which harmonizing to Derrida are merely apprehensible because of their acquaintance. Although marks give a “ representation of the thought which itself represented the object perceived ” ( Derrida 6 ) , it is merely the acquaintance which makes them apprehensible. Derrida provinces:
My communicating must be quotable – iterable – in the absolute absence of the receiveraˆ¦writing that is non structurally clear – iterable – beyond the decease of the addressee would non be composing. ( Derrida 7 )
The marks ( words ) must hence be quotable and repeated in different fortunes in order to be perceived and understand as to what they are meaning ; and more significantly for Derrida what they are denoting or implying. If the intent of authorship is to convey or pass on the author ‘s thoughts, the nature of linguistic communication and words are a representation of something which is quotable, no affair who the reader ( or author ) . Whereby composing is ab initio a agency of communicating, the existent physical Markss and the significance must hold iterability, citability or citationality. All authorship can be copied, or must be ‘copyable ‘ in order to be classified as authorship ; therefore it must be unfastened to both loop and reduplication.
For Derrida marks or authorship, are basically infinite in their iterability, in any capacity whether epistemological, grammatical or semiological ; therefore lies the differentiation between “ written ” and “ unwritten ” communicating ( Derrida 9 ) . Derrida besides states that in the classical construct of authorship, composing at the same time “ carries with it a force that breaks with its context ” ( Derrida 9 ) .
Derrida goes on to show an analysis of spoken language/signs from Husserl.[ 4 ]Again the iterability of spoken linguistic communication is indispensable to the apprehension of what is signified, denoted and understood by the hearer, because linguistic communication operates within a
aˆ¦system of regulations of cosmopolitan grammar, non from a lingual point of position but from a logical and epistemic one. ( Derrida 12 ) .
This means one must be able to do certain other cultural, societal and epistemic mentions which are understood, and thereby enable an apprehension of words or spoken linguistic communication. Derrida one time once more opens up his treatment of composing into a wider analysis of linguistic communication, communicating and cultural relevancy. For Derrida the significance lies in that ‘understanding ‘ is thereby taken “ aˆ¦in a context determined by a will to cognize ” ( Derrida 12 ) . The apprehension of linguistic communication and words, whether spoken or written prevarication in the wider context in which they are read or heard, instead a specific actual context of semantic significance.
This leads to the 2nd subdivision of the essay where Derrida discusses the impression of truth in linguistic communication, through an scrutiny of the ‘event ‘ . Derrida ‘s analysis Centres on unfavorable judgment of Austin ‘s[ 5 ]thoughts of communicating in address:
aˆ¦speech acts merely as Acts of the Apostless of communicationaˆ¦.Communicating a force through the drift [ drift ] of a grade aˆ¦the performative does non hold its referent aˆ¦outside of itself or any event, before and in forepart of itself. ( Derrida 13 )
Derrida suggests here that John Austin ‘s “ ordinary linguistic communication doctrine ” is in fact determined and restrictive, working merely within a model of definitively absolute ‘unordinary ‘ exclusion ; as Austin suggests that the “ performative ” nature of linguistic communication takes case in point in communicating. Austin analyses all vocalizations as performative, yet excludes performative address Acts of the Apostless which are quoted, which Derrida finds basically debatable. This attack is restricting and restrictive, by concentrating chiefly on analyzing the perlocution and illocution, Austin is forced to:
aˆ¦free the analysis of the performative from the authorization of the truth value, from the true/false resistance ( Derrida 13 ) .
If linguistic communication or words take on a performative dimension, this means that the vocalizations of the words will be placed within a state of affairs ( or context ) which is independent of either the true indispensable significance, or any false reading, of the intended significance. The job for Derrida is that the significance of the words are basically subordinated to the existent vocalization or event of the address, and/or the context within which they are expressed ; which in bend produces an ‘event ‘ in the significance as it is understood by the hearer.
Derrida ‘s unfavorable judgment of Austin besides raises inquiries as to the totalizing component of context whereby there is accent on the:
aˆ¦conscious presence of the purpose of the speech production topic in the entirety of his address act ( Derrida 14 )
In the event of the address act the presence of the talker places an importance and foreground processing to the purpose of the talker ; if the purpose of the talker is outstanding in the address act, so it must follow that the apprehension of the receiver/listener becomes secondary. This leads to the inevitableness that
aˆ¦performative communicating becomes one time more the communicating of an knowing meaningaˆ¦ ( Derrida 14 )
This poses a wider philosophical job for Derrida in the context of literary or linguistic communication discourse, as Austin besides discusses the standard of what really constitutes a ‘successful ‘ or ‘failed ‘ speech act with elements of “ rightness and completeness ” ( Derrida 15 ) . This once more is restrictive and finite, and goes against Derrida ‘s general philosophical openness and attack to literary theory.
For Derrida there is an built-in possibility in the success of the ‘event ‘ which lays in the possibilities of for illustration the “ infelicities ” in the event, and may non in fact be distinguishable from a successful ‘event ‘ . For Derrida the ‘failure ‘ of the event, whether deliberate or accidental, serves a greater intent. Derrida suggests that the presence or potency of failure is what in fact constitutes the event as an ‘ideal ‘ . The range for mistake and the ‘negative ‘ impact on the event, whilst it may destruct the idealistic attack to the event, in fact serves the self-contradictory intent of doing the event ideal ; by in its really nature in presenting an component of danger to the event. A perfect or ideal event would hence hold an component of danger, which is avoided. Although Austin cites theatrical events, recitations of poesy or literature as illustrations of felicitous address events, as Derrida points out there is still scope for errors or mistakes in the vocalizations.
Derrida ends the subdivision on “ Event ” by taking an opposing position to Austin, in the similar vena to his resistance to Condillac ‘s positions and refers to the itability of the mark in general. Derrida states that address vocalizations, or events have an itability. Austin ‘s position of the “ ” comparative pureness ” of performatives ” ( Derrida 18 ) must be taken non:
aˆ¦in resistance to citationality or iterability, but in resistance to other sorts of loop within a general iterability which constitutes a misdemeanor of the allegedly strict pureness of every event of discourse or every address act. ( Derrida 18 )
Derrida ‘s position on the event of the address act is that there is a background to the iterability or possible repeat of an vocalization, which means that each vocalization or address act must be taken in the context in which it is said. This has an inevitable consequence on the operation or apprehension of the words which are spoken and what they signify. Contrary to Austin ‘s position that emphasise apprehension of “ the thing and the impression ” ( Derrida 18 ) , Derrida stresses that we must besides see that the:
aˆ¦motivations, indestructible necessity and systematic effects would be capable to analysisaˆ¦ ( Derrida 18 )
Here the importance of context is forward grounded in relation to the event and is capable to the same “ metaphysical beginnings ” ( Derrida 18 ) which Austin appropriates to the event. Derrida concludes by proposing that in order to understand context, the witting purposes of the talker ( and receiving system ) must be definite. However consciousness is non a definite and is unfastened to treatment and discourse. Therefore although vocalizations may be specific, the specificity is non sole to holding an opposite or “ contrary ” consequence on the hearer and therefore the event is unfastened to farther metaphysical argument.
In the concluding subdivision of the essay Derrida focuses on “ Signature ‘ ” as an index and step of the presence of the author or writer. The signature denotes the author as the beginning of the text, or the talker of an vocalization, and they hold the signifier of ordinance for the mark or words which are spoken or written. Derrida illustrates that the possibility and inevitableness of repeat and iterability is indispensable to the signature ; as with earlier treatments on the nature of marks and linguistic communication.
By its really nature the signature is iterable, as it must be, and is ever repeated in order to be recognizable as a signature particular to the writer. As Derrida points out although a signature is remarkable to the writer, yet once more paradoxically, there is an inevitable plurality to its production ; in that it is repeated clip and once more as a mark of the presence of the author. Derrida refers back to earlier statements saying that:
By definition, a written signature implies the existent or empirical nonpresence of the signer. ( Derrida 20 )
The signature thereby signifies the absence of the author, while at the same clip denoting the presence of the signer in the yesteryear, and can be taken as a ‘substitute ‘ for their physical presence ; it besides implies the presence of the reader in the hereafter or nowadays.
Derrida besides instead playfully adds his ain signature to the terminal of the essay, as a performative illustration of an event. As readers we are made cognizant that Derrida must hold at some point made the signature to the paper, nevertheless the printed transcript of the signature in forepart of us is non the ‘original ‘ or ‘authentic ‘ mark/sign made by Derrida, it is an perennial printed transcript of the same. This act highlights cardinal elements of Derrida ‘s statements from the essay, as to the nature of iterability, repeat, absence and context. The communicating of Derrida ‘s thoughts in the preceding essay are someway signified as more genuine, or sincere because he has placed his signature at the terminal of the essay and placed a mark/sign of ‘authenticity ‘ to the essay. Derrida ‘s decisions to the essay tie in with this thought, in that while linguistic communication can be philosophised in an ‘ordinary ‘ mode, as a agency of pass oning semantics, there is ever an implicit in and infinite possibility to other factors such as presence, cognition, representation, and truth. For Derrida the pattern of communicating and the spoken word or authorship must be inclusive of these elements in order for a text to be understood or communicated in its entireness.
Derrida ‘s stylistic presence is apparent in the rubric and construction of the essay, in the usage of inquiries, frequently at times rhetorical, and the proposition of paradoxes. The essay is really structured in the contrary order of the rubric “ Signature Event Context ” : ‘Context ‘ is discussed foremost in presentation of Condillac ‘s thoughts, followed by Austin ‘s statements on the ‘Event ‘ , and the essay ends with Derrida ‘s ideas on ‘Signature ‘ .[ 6 ]This playing with the order of the elements which Derrida is discoursing is slightly typical of Derrida ‘s stylistic and consciously ‘playful ‘ attack to authorship.
At times the linguistic communication and manner is correspondent to the spoken word or a address ; which once more is self-referential to the signifier of the text, as it was ab initio a spoken text/utterance. The signifier and construction of the essay reiterates the thoughts and statements that Derrida nowadayss. The essay is structured in a reasonably accessible yet formal mode whereby Derrida at times breaks statements or thoughts down into listed or numbered subdivisions. Although the complexness of the thoughts and constructs presented are possibly more complicated than the stylistic signifier of the written linguistic communication.
Derrida repeats certain points and statements, by showing his theories in a mode which reiterates the kernel of his statements, and by reiterating the same cardinal statements in a somewhat altered signifier. He uses repeat of the statements to do the thoughts that he is showing familiar and apprehensible to the reader, and this is his general attack to the map and apprehension of linguistic communication, marks and words – the more familiar we become with words, the easier they are to understand in their ‘true ‘ significance. The significance lies in the repeat and iterability non merely of the words, but besides in the constructs and thoughts which lie beneath the semantics of the sentences and content of the essay. Derrida ‘s statements are hence communicated to us as readers when we read and understand the text in the context of the construction of the essay, and see the text as portion of a broad cultural discourse.