Author: Joshua Kates

Interchange II: Closing Remarks

Another way to get at this is just to say that the identification of what the text means with what the author intends is already in place without our having any recourse to a theory of intention or to a positive account of intention as a mental state. While the work that it does in place—determining the act—makes clear the mistake in imagining that the text we write could be either controlled by or liberated from what we meant.

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Interchange I: On intention, context, and meaning, with examples

The reason Derrida does not think intentions are governing is because he thinks the condition of having a (linguistic or semiotic) one entails a form of repeatability that the intention cannot fully master. Yet there also cannot be any text-y things, written or spoken or semiotic, without intention playing some role. Moreover, as an interpreter, Derrida wants both: he wants to interpret faithfully the intention, as Henry pointed out, and read what is not available as an intention but inscribed in a text (which reading also produces). Not one or the other, but both.

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Write, Rinse, Repeat: Text and Context in Derrida’s SEC and in Literary Studies

None of what the text says and is about can be determined beginning from such considerations, however; texts are not functions of cultural, social, or historical “structures” or “logics.” Such suppositions erase the text itself, by subordinating it to new and again unexplained systems or structures, implicitly resurrecting the ideal. Appeals to structures or logics necessarily trade on otherwise unexplained ideal last instances, ones hailing now not from language but from society, history, the economy, and so on. Their invocation thus renders the text in question effectively equivalent to the common understanding of “now is night,” an inscription somehow without a writer, receiver or context—subordinating it to a new ideal instance and thereby depriving it of its status as an authored text.

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