Post Structuralism vs. Structuralism

Post structuralism and deconstruction deals with the differences between the two terms. In the essay there are 4 different key points that can show the reader the difference between post structuralism and structuralism. The certain key differences that I decided to write about were tone and style, attitude to language and, project. The essay points out the differences between the two terms in order to get a better understanding what the differences are and to compare the two theories to one another. structuralism writing is one that is seen as abstract and general. There is a form that structuralism takes on that has an order that takes on aspects of scientific writing although it does not want to be labeled as a term that is only scientific. Post-structuralism writing is euphoric and urgent. This means that the writing is supposed to give off a certain feeling or expression to the reader that is associated with happiness. Structuralist believe that the world is constructed through language. Reality is only seen through a linguistic medium. I find this interesting because I think that the structuralism is trying to state that language is very important in the sense that it creates the world we live in. Structuralism also is thought of as having a structure and order that the world revolves around. Post structuralist’s believe that reality is seen as textual. “post structuralism develops what threatens to become terminal anxieties about the possibility of achieving knowledge through language.” I think that this quote helps us understand how post structuralism causes certain tensions that are brought up by the idea of language. This idea is further explained to express the idea of words in language that mean one thing may not successfully be understood the way one refers to them. There is a lost in translation at times and meaning can vary according to the words that are used in language. Post structualists also believe that words are known and understood through the help of other words that are opposite of the original word that is trying to be identified. The goal that structuralism wants to fulfill is the breakaway from the modes of perception/categorization and get words to be seen in a more reliable point of view. Post structuralisms goals are for one to see an individual as a product of social and linguistic forms and to take away the idea of skepticism in language.

Nature of Linguistic Sign

Nature of Linguistic Sign by David Ritcher explores Ferdinand de Saussure’s theories. What I noticed from the text was that language plays a huge role in identifying the different theories. The sign, the signified and, the signified concept deals with language and naming process of how things,places,people,etc. get their names. This conception that linking a name and a thing is simple is broken down and is argued to be a false assumption. Naming things is a difficult process especially because there are different languages that come up with names for different things that may or may not have a similar resemblance from one another.Along with language are linguistic signs. A  linguistic sign unites a concept and a sound-image together.But what happens when we use sign language or mouth words without actually saying them? Would they be considered to be part of the linguistic sign that unites sound-image? The idea that we observe our own speech is interesting. When one mouths a word they are not speaking but how does another person understand the person mouthing words? It is through sound-words that we understand mouthed words. By exploring different forms or languages and dialect there is a comparison between how the expressions of one language differs from one language to the next. Language is also referred to as a system of interdependent terms that have a value in presence of other terms. A value can be seen as the significance and importance of one term in comparison to another. An example that was mentioned in the text was the word sun. One naturally thinks visually about the word sun and the words associated with sun. These are natural thoughts when one thinks of certain words that have value and one uses references of other words because it is a natural thought that comes across one’s mind. A quote that I found interesting about language was… “In language there are only differences but they are not known to not be positive”. Language is not known before the linguistic system meaning that language must be studied and analysed in order for it to be understood, it is conceptual and phonetic differences have issues from the system. I believe that the phonetic differences that create issues of this idea are onomatopoeic words, sign language, and mouthing words without actually saying them.

French vs. English (tangent?)

(Once or twice I felt like bringing up this idea in class but was afraid it would take us away from the main points we were trying to understand in the readings so I saved it.  I’m still not sure it’s relevant, but I’ll throw it out there and see if anyone else is interested.)

When discussing the puns and plays on language Barthes makes, Prof. Ferguson said we should just “pretend this was written in English” and I agree that, for practical purposes this makes the most sense.  But, it was originally written in French and that does have an impact on issues of word choice and language play.  One of the reasons English is such a challenging language for people to learn is that it is a large, ranging language with vocabulary and spelling and grammar rules from many other languages.  However, the advantage English has over other languages is because it is so large, we are afforded choices in shades of meaning (and instruments for word play) that would be harder to come by in other languages.

More specifically, to compare English and French– French has about 100,000 words in common use and English 200,000 (Source: The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson).  In the US, where English is the most commonly spoken language we have not made it an “official” language, nor do we place restrictions on what can be an “official word” or the kinds of names one can give one’s child.  Compare to the Académie Française with its tight control over the French language, down to the list of state-approved names for French children.

Ok, so my point in connection to Barthes?  If the language is smaller, then the chance that one word means many different things is higher.  My French is pretty limited, but take the verb parler for example.  In English, this means to speak or to talk.  In English we say, “I speak French” but “I talked to my mother this weekend.”  (If you “spoke” to your mother, it implies something a bit more serious than a friendly chat.)  So I’m wondering if this makes plays on words like “jouissance” a little easier to pull off in French than it would be in English– and perhaps we are missing a million other such puns in the text?

Text & Work

I’ve always used the words “text” and “work” interchangeably when speaking of a book or piece of literature. I never thought there would be a distinction between the two. After reading Roland Barthe’s From Work to Text I’ve come to understand that “the work can be held in the hand, [and] the text is held in language.” The work is stationary. It’s what holds the language together, meanwhile the text lies within the work. I would agree that the text is the essence of the work. Maybe in the past, auctors would disagree and say that the work is what holds all the importance and that there is no distinction between the work and what is written inside. The work was whole and important to its spiritual connotations.

In The Death of an Author, Barthe’s also mentions that “the author is a modern figure.” Text is a newly created term and is linked to how the importance of literature has evolved over time. A book isn’t just read and taken word by word to mean what it is. We analyze it and create new ideas and meanings, “text cannot stop (for example on a library shelf); its constitutive movement is that of cutting across (in particular, it can cut across the work, several works).” This is seen in the way we now target one particular work from different areas of studies to have a greater understanding of it.

Although we interpret works through interdisciplinary methods, I think we can agree that in the end we still don’t know all there is to know about a work. I can compare a work to a lock and the key would be the text. The way we examine the language in the text allows us to obtain a deeper understanding and unlock the mysteries that lay within the work. The both need each other but without understanding how the key and lock work, we cannot unlock and make use of its function.

As reader’s we can study the text and become authors of our own interpretation of a work. The author of the work doesn’t play a role in our interpretation and therefore we become creators of an idea that was born from a text, which can become our form of a work. So can a text become a work?

Stakes and Implications

I feel as though Austin views performative in a much too simple way. His thought is so broad it is almost elementary, but Butler dives right in and carefully narrows down the subject. He claims, “…it is a model for thinking about crucial social processes where a number of matters are at stake.” He includes the nature and production of identity, the function of social norms, the fundamental problem of what today we call “agency” in English, and lastly the relations between the individual and the social change. Obviously, each of their stakes greatly differ. Is Butler saying we are always going to be limited in certain acts we partake in?

I’m thinking that social acts are too great an influence over our individual acts. Living in our world in present day, many feel we are ruled by social media and influential figures around us. The consequences of our actions, whether we realize we are being influenced or not, is our issue that needs to be corrected. The language we pick up upon, or our particular acts of promising has become such a sub conscience thing.

Mass media has so many positives and just as many negatives. It’s the balance of how we partake that is the issue. I unfortunately doubt it will ever be solved.