Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lecture 7: Barthes, Derrida, Manovich - Part Trois

S/Z - structuralist analysis of "Sarrassine" by Honore de Balzac

Paul: The antithesis is the battle between two plenitudes (page 27) - in the structural analysis of Sarrasine Balzac is setting up things that are diametrically opposed (binary oppositions)

Beauty cannot assert itself in the form of a citation...it is referred to in an infinity of codes, so it is a construct, it is always signified (page 33)

Paul: Sarrasine is an impersonal network on symbols combined under the proper name of Sarrasine...we are searching for a transitory site of the text... (page 94)

What is "readerly" and what is "writerly."

Andy: Alice and Wonderland: "it means what I want it to mean"

Paul: interesting reading a structural analysis of language knowing it has been translated, there is no translation for masculine and feminine (think of Derrida's comment on the french word for "lie" meaning "beastly" but actual usage is far more subtle)

"What is most often called 'relevant'? Well, whatever feels right, whatever seems pertinent, apropos, welcome, appropriate, opportune, justified, well-suited or adjusted, coming right at the moment when you expect it--or corresponding as is necessary to the object to which the so-called relevant action relates: the relevant discourse, the relevant proposition, the relevant decision, the relevant translation. A relevant translation would therefore be, quite simply, a 'good' translation, a translation that does what one expects of it, in short, a version that performs its mission, honors its debt and does its job or its duty while inscribing in the receiving language the most relevant equivalent for an original, the language that is the most right, appropriate, pertinent, adequate, opportune, pointed, univocal, idiomatic, and so on."

Andrew: "pattern". Used to give presentation to artists, designers, computer programmers etc...and the use of the word "pattern" highlighted problem with translations. For scientists pattern = nobel prize, for maths you can de pattern, in art if one makes patterns implies no originality (mere pattern-making). You realise there is a whole subtext of meanings for one word. Thus, semantic and approach differences is what makes this Masters' course so different and challenging.

"knowing what you're not is just as valuable as knowing what you are" (Andrew)

How many humanities scholars have patents? Just goes to show you the different kinds of goals between sciences and humanities and raises questions and challenges for translations between ideas/schools of thought.

Read: Zazie in the Metro (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
by Raymond Queneau - about colloquial French language

Also look at his Exercises de style, 1947

"English writers write spoken English and American writers write spoken American. And the most striking thing of all is that their scientists, their scholars and their historians write an English that is the English of the man in the street, whereas in France, when it comes to science or history, we are still obliged to write in formal language. I want to write in a living language--in the language of the ordinary man. The language you want to write in is your so-called maternal language."


Derrida and Language

The moment of maximum freedom is reached by translation with Jacques Derrida's translation deconstructionist theory. That, even if Derrida's theory of translation states that it is enemy of the pursuing of freedom. Derrida's translation is free because it doesn't aim even to be free, because it overlooks any and all duty, be it philological or liberal, and revolts at any intention to communicate the prototext's content, to "imprecisely transmit an unessential content". In Des tours de Babel, of 1985, he enunciates the four principles of translation:

1. The translator's task is not revealed by any reception.

2. Translation has not as essential aim to communicate.

3. Translation is neither an image nor a copy.

4. Translation has no obligation to transport contents, yet must evidence the affinity between languages, must exhibit its potential (1985: 386-395).

Derrida's is a primordial translation allowed by the subjective interpretant sign, that has no aim to produce a text apt for being understood, that has no aim to communicate to the outside. A "free" translator is an exhibitionist who enjoys in flaunting his ability to translate his way. The Derridian translator is a narcissist, because he doesn't care about text except as a mirror of his bravura; he is interested in himself as capable translator.


Student Task from last week: Structuralist Critique

Paul's move from analogue to digital:

Andy's shift from digital to analogue (which for the purpose here must be re-translated to digital)


Paul Scattergood said...

That was a good session today, i very much enjoyed the discussion and the PHD project proposals, outlines etc.

Lots to do for next week so i had better get onto it.

I want to read zazi and the metro as well. It sounds like it would be v interesting. Lets see how much we have both (as in me and andy) read by next week.


Paul Scattergood said...


check out the video of zazie dans le metro.. It is super ace.

Jess said...

Glad you enjoyed the session Paul.

Thanks for the link to the video - I've commented on your site.

Don't forget the reading for next week's session on feminism:

Luce Irigaray's This Sex Which Is Not One - the first two chapters. (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=DOOjzN-u-zUC&dq=this+sex+which+is+not+one&pg=PP1&ots=i-4zII0ira&sig=ZFOFz9fakoQ6iVKomI2M0yxm938&prev=http://www.google.co.uk/search%3Fhl%3Den%26q%3Dthis%2Bsex%2Bwhich%2Bis%2Bnot%2Bone%26meta%3D&sa=X&oi=print&ct=title&cad=one-book-with-thumbnail#PPA5,M1)

Rosi Braidotti's Nomadic Subjects - the introduction (http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0231082355/ref=sib_dp_pt/105-5223010-8541236#reader-link)

Rosi Braidotti's Cyberfeminism with a Difference - http://www.let.uu.nl/womens_studies/rosi/cyberfem.htm

TASK: compose a manifest for feminism today.


shen-an-doah said...

For anyone who doesn't know yet, here's my new (slightly more DC-related) blog:


I'm up to 4 posts already :D