Today, I will conduct a thorough analysis of the concept introduced by the renowned philosopher Jacques Derrida in his influential work “Dissemination.” Derrida elaborates on the notion that the sophist, in his verbal discourse, only articulates “the signs and insignia of science; not memory itself (mneme), only monuments (hypomnemata), inventories, archives, appointments, copies, relationships, tales, lists, notes, duplicates, chronicles, genealogies, references.” Remarkably, he argues that it is not the pure essence of memory that is communicated, but rather its external manifestations in the form of memorials. This intriguing premise compels us to investigate the twilight of Platonism and its interaction with Hegelianism, as well as the profound role of writing and simulation in the field of philosophy.
In stark contrast to the abolition, abandonment, or cessation of philosophy and episteme in favor of writing, we are confronted with a unique phenomenon. We observe a symbiotic relationship, marked by mimicry, in which philosophy appropriates the symbols and emblems of science and assumes the appearance of greater veracity. In this transitional phase, philosophy does not abandon its inherent nature; rather, it enters a domain in which its capabilities are limited to “imitating absolute knowledge.”
In a feat of intellectual ingenuity, the renowned poet Stéphane Mallarmé aligns his exploration of the simulacrum with Plato’s conception of the phantasma, where the simulacrum serves as a mere replica of a replica. Nonetheless, Mallarmé presents a captivating deviation from this paradigm. In this novel setting, the lack of a replicable model causes a profound disruption, rendering the very concept of copy obsolete and destroying the conventional relationship between the original and its copies.
Derrida pioneered the early experiments in mime writing, which relied heavily on the collage technique and extensive direct quotations. As he shrewdly asserts, “Again, I am unable to do anything other than quote, as you may have come to realize.” According to Derrida’s working hypothesis, repetition possesses an inherent “original” characteristic. Once a line or phrase is repeated, it undergoes a process of transformation, deviating from its original form. The center of the ring loses its stability as it is influenced by the very source from which it emanates.
As a method, deconstruction capitalizes on the use of terms borrowed from the primary text. Derrida judiciously recontextualizes and redefines terms such as “difference” from Saussure and “supplement” from Rousseau, selecting them with care. These terms are then separated from their original conceptual series or semantic field and merged with another. Nonetheless, it is of the utmost importance to emphasize that this procedure is carried out with meticulous regard for the inherent potentials and constituent elements contained within the terms themselves.
This intricate theoretical framework reveals the profound and intricate relationship between memory and its traces. The sophist’s proposal of memorials in lieu of actual memory suggests a fundamental shift in our understanding of knowledge and its preservation. The emphasis has shifted from protecting memory as an independent entity to praising the external symbols and artifacts that are interwoven with memory.
This reorientation encourages reflection on the essence of memory. Is it merely a collection of personal recollections and experiences, or does it also include a larger network of signs and symbols? Are these memorials, with their inventories, archives, and copies, the true memory banks that shape our understanding of the past and our collective historical narrative?
The dissolution of boundaries between the original and the copy, as exemplified by Mallarmé’s concept of the phantasma, compels us to consider the very foundations of originality and reproduction. How can we determine the veracity of our perceptions in a world devoid of a discernible model and where copies lack a fixed reference point? Does the dissolution of the copy-original dichotomy undermine our traditional notions of truth and reality and pave the way for an endless proliferation of interpretations and perspectives?
In the realm of creative endeavors, the potency of symbols and their ability to evoke memories and emotions frequently captivates our imagination. Derrida’s concept of memorials as memory vessels opens up new research avenues. How can these symbols, inventories, and archives be utilized to produce artworks that transcend individual memory and resonate with collective experiences?
In light of Derrida’s deconstruction technique, which favors collage-like writing, I am inspired to engage in similar experimental endeavors in my artistic practice. By incorporating direct quotations and a plethora of cultural references, I am able to create multilayered artworks that engage and recontextualize existing cultural narratives. This method permits me to traverse the vast terrain of art history and philosophy, assimilating concepts and ideas from various sources into a unified artistic statement.
In addition, the notion that repetition possesses an inherent “original” quality sparks my creativity and motivates me to explore uncharted artistic territory. By revisiting and reworking familiar themes, motifs, and techniques, I can unearth new perspectives and nuances within my artistic repertoire. Each iteration diverges from its predecessor, bearing its own distinctive essence while contributing to my artistic evolution as a whole.
In this era marked by the waning of Platonism and the emergence of Hegelianism, I hold that philosophy and art are not irreconcilable foes, but rather interdependent companions. They coexist in a realm where language, symbols, and representations intersect, compelling us to question and reimagine our conceptions of the nature of truth, memory, and artistic creation.
Derrida’s “Dissemination” continues to fascinate my intellectual faculties with its profound philosophical conundrums. Memory investigation, the dissolution of the copy-original dichotomy, and a deconstructive approach to language and representation provide fertile ground for artistic inquiry. I embark on an odyssey through my artistic practice to navigate these complexities, to challenge preconceived notions, and to create artworks that invite viewers to undertake their own interpretive and introspective journeys.
Jacques Derrida, “Dissemination” (France)
Stéphane Mallarmé, “Collected Poems and Other Verse” (France)
Plato, “Phaedrus” (Ancient Greece)
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, “Phenomenology of Spirit” (Germany)
Ferdinand de Saussure, “Course in General Linguistics” (Switzerland)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “The Confessions” (France)
Michel Foucault, “The Archaeology of Knowledge” (France)
Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (Germany)
Roland Barthes, “Mythologies” (France)
Maurice Blanchot, “The Space of Literature” (France)