It had been three years since I went to university. I was getting used to working and not thinking (bookwise, theorywise) about text. Before coming to New York, to study at The New School, I knew I was not only going to study film or filmmaking, but I had no idea I was going to read about all these theorists that my mom would deliberetley name drop in her conversations with friends.
Nevertheless, a challenge is a challenge ... Foundations of Media Theory is taught by this curly haired young PHD Ivy league woman called Shannon Mattern. Her enthusiasm towards theory and the class itself has brought my interest to study...(Otherwise I would pretend that I read by tossing one empty comment that would make all my classmates nod pseudo-intellectually). Not to mention her TA Benjamin Godsill, who seems like a pretty busy guy but still finds time to send e-mails about interesting stuff that's going on in the city, the web and the world.
The first chapter I read was from Jonathan Culler's Literary Theory
Theory.- signals to speculation, but not a guess. Involved complexity. It can't be obviou. It is not easily confirmed or disaproved.
Goethe, Carlyle,Emerson, and Maculay say: Theory is a new kind of writing that has developed which is neither the evaluation of the relative merits of literary productions, how intellectual history, nor moral phillosphy, nor social prophecy, but all these mingled together.
After the 60's : Is an unbounded group of writings about everything under the sun, from themost technical problems of academic philosophy to the changing ways in which people have talked about and thought the body.
Effects of Theory: disputing common-sense, a critique of common sense. Theory involves questioning.
Focault and sex: "The repressive hypothesis"
Claims that the 19 centrury found new ways of grouping together under a single category (sex) a range of things that are potentially quite different.
Power, for Focault, is not something wields but "power/knowledge". Power in the form of knowledge or knowledge as power. What we think we know about the world- the conceptual framework in which we are brought to think about the worrld -excercises great power.
GENEALOGICAL CRITIQUE: an exposure of how supposedly basic categories, such as 'sex' are produced by discursive practices. does not try to tell what 'sex' really is but seeks to show how the notion has been created.
Jaques Derrida (analyzing Rossau and individual self).
Western philosophy: distinguishes 'reality' from 'apperance' thought from signs.
speech: immediate, manifestation, or prescence of thought
writing: artificial, misleading, sign of a sign.
Rossau said: "Languages are made to be spoken;writing serves only as a supplement to speech."
A SUPPLEMENT ( according to Webster's diccionary) is something that 'completes' or makes an addition.
Rossau needed writing to supplement his speech. Contradiction.
'logic of supplementary" : The thing supplemented (speech) turns out to need supplementation because it proves to have the same qualities originally thought to characterize only the supplement (writing).
Rossau needs writings, signs
Law of supplements: of endless linked series, ineluctably multiplying the supplementary mediations that produce the sense ofthe very thing that they defer: the impressionism of the thing itself, of immediate presence, or originary perception.
Necessity of intermediaries:
For Derrida...we should concieve of life itself as suffused with signs .
Original is created by the copies, the original is always differed - never to be grasped.
'Iln'ya pas de hors-texte"
(There's no outside of text)
All is composed of texts of supplements.
Writting is the dissappearance of natural prescence.
POSTSTURCTURALISTS: Focault and Derrida.
F: not based on texts, general framework. D: interprets texts, identifies logic.
What is thoery?
1.Interdisciplinary.- discourse with effects outised an original discipline.
3.A critique to common sense or concepts taken as natural.
4.Refelxive, making sense of things.
THEORY = INTIMIDATING (because its endless!)
Theory makes you desire mastery:you hope that theoretical reading will give you the concepts to organize and understand the phenomena that concerns you.
for further readings:
"The Orientation of Critical Theories" In The Mirror and the Lamp:Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition by M.H. Abrahams.
"Social Science as Moral Theology" in Conscientious Objections:Stirring Up trouble About Language, Technology, and Education. Neil Postman.
take a look at their Trading cards (if you are interested in knowing how Focault looks like)