The Figure of Catachresis and the Plot of Unreadability in Deconstruction



In the polarised scenario of contemporary criticism, deconstruction has willingly played the role of the arch antagonist and dismantler of traditional scholarship, assaulting the notion of a fixed and determinable meaning, and the authority of any particular system of reading fueled, according to Jacques Derrida, by the ‘powerful, systematic, and irrepresible desire for such a signified’.1 Certain deconstructionist pronouncements, especially when lifted out of their qualifying contexts, have contributed to the misconception that poststructuralist theory is adverse to disciplined, ‘thoughtful’ reading, blocking the process of interpretation even before it had a chance to articulate anything: ‘Modern hermeneutics … is actually a negative hermeneutics. On its older function of saving the text, of tying it once again to the life of the mind, is superimposed the new one of doubting, by a parodistic or playful movement, master theories that claim to have overcome the past, the dead, the false. There is no Divine or Dialectic Science which can help us purify history absolutely, to pass in our lifetime a last judgment on it’.2


Reading Strategy Critical Interpretation Critical Rewrite Figural Language Polarise Scenario 
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Notes and References

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Copyright information

© Marcel Cornis-Pop 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUK

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