Source: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (2013 1 ed). p. 241.

In fact, when you see language as something that uses you, reflects your unconscious, and determines your very identity, you can no longer treat language as a passive tool for your own purposes. For example, you can't "just write down what you're thinking," because each of the important concepts in that phrase—write, you, and thinking—all overlap. This is why Lacan's writing itself, like Derrida's, can seem so difficult to read. Typically, neither writer is simply explaining a point, but performing an example of a point. It's rather like poetry—you can reduce a poem to a summary, but you're well aware that the real meaning of the poem is not contained in the para- phrase but in the experience of the poem itself (see Chapter 3).

  1. What are some examples where they perform 'an example', rather than simply explaining?

  2. Please see the titled question.

1 Answer 1


1. Lacan: Basically everything in Ecrits, in which on the last page of the Overture he says that he wants to make the reader work to understand him ("must pay the price with elbow grease").

Derrida: Also basically everything, but especially "Limited Inc a b c . . ." collected in Limited Inc.

2. Usually when we explain something, we presuppose prior knowledge--in the author's example, we have to know what "write," "you," and "think" mean to understand the meaning of "just write down what you're thinking." Since these two theorists often interrogate the meaning of fundamental terms such as these, you could imagine how confusing (or obfuscatory) the writing might be that has to explain things using these terms without attributing fixed meanings to them!

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