Thursday, 18 October 2007

Grad Student Horror #3,781: All You Functions Are Under Erasure I'd forgotten about this particular Tale of Scholarly Embarrassment until I commented on this post at the interesting new blog Perverse Egalitarianism. Unlike most of the embarrassing material appearing on Acephalous, I didn't write this. I did, however, seek and receive permission to mock its author; but sadly, the actual essay sleeps peacefully on the hard drive of a non-working laptop. You'll have to make do with this vicious parody of it instead: In her "Translator's Preface" to Of Grammatology, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak describes "the structure of writing as the sign under [erasure] because writing has had the negative privilege of being the scapegoat whose exclusion represents the definition of metaphysical enclosure" (lxix). In what follows, I will demonstrate that Spivak evinces a decided lack of commitment to writing-under-erasure: whereas an honest critic would connect writing-under-erasure to Foucault's conception of the author-function, Spivak limits her thought (and therefore the radical possibilities thereof) to a wo(e/w)ful cleverness that can neither contain nor obtain the infinite of the aporia to which it points. She ignores what Foucault calls the "complex operations" subtending and undermining the concept of "the author" in contemporary discourse. I will not make the same mistake; instead, I will facilitate my reading of Spivak's translation of Derrida's reading of Rousseau via the dual/dueling concepts of "the author-function" and "writing-under-erasure" ... Before you say anything, the author made one request (besides demanding anonymity): that you not take him to task for making absolutely no sense. The point is that this person wrote an entire paper in which everything was under erasure. And why wouldn't it be? This student was the sort of "uppity little snot" so many readers wished they had in their classes ... and while I'm sympathetic to arguments like Rufus's, I can't help but think that ... nevermind: I'm sympathetic to arguments like Rufus's. Stupid as the above paragraph is, it must've been a blast to write. Its author was alive with the ideas he abused, and that sort of enthusiasm should be encouraged. No need to grind us down from the get-go, right?

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