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Writing and Difference

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3.99  ·  Rating details ·  7,328 ratings  ·  76 reviews
First published in 1967, Writing and Difference, a collection of Jacques Derrida's essays written between 1959 and 1966, has become a landmark of contemporary French thought. In it we find Derrida at work on his systematic deconstruction of Western metaphysics. The book's first half, which includes the celebrated essay on Descartes and Foucault, shows the development of De ...more
Paperback, 362 pages
Published February 15th 1980 by University of Chicago Press (first published 1967)
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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Le tout sans nouveauté qu’un espacement de la lecture. -- Mallarmé, Preface to Un Coup de dés


I had in mind, perhaps, to perform a public service, to undertake finally Derrida’s Writing and Difference, to head off the intentions of my goodreads Friends who have been intrigued by this THING. Let me stop right there. Recently some interest has been expressed among my Friends to look into what Derrida is all about, and one should, should one so might. This volume in particular was indicated. I know
...more
Benjamin
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
What is it to read Derrida? Is it not to read reading itself? But how does one read reading if one cannot read? Derrida presents his own "readings" of reading, but then what do I read? I bought this book- which itself is a negation of buying, an erasure of "that which is not bought"- in order to get to grips with Der-rida who I'd always-already had trouble understanding. I'd read two introductory texts that I thought (or "thought I", the presupposition of the presence of I in thought, and though ...more
Amber Todoroff
Jan 29, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shopenhaur says if you can't understand what a person is saying, chances are they're not saying anything at all. I did not waste my time with some of these essays. some readers are taken by derrida's extremely large vocabulary and overly indulgent syntax, but these are only barriers to understanding behind which he hides his intellectual bankruptcy. Here is my favorite quote from differance-

"one can expose only that which at a certain moment can become present, manifest, that which can be shown
...more
Fergus
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Writing and difference? Well, it’s a LOT more like writing ABOUT difference!

That “tenth of an inch” difference between really Getting life’s meaning - and forever wandering in an eternal circle, as the Zen masters say.

The hopeless difference between Hope and hopelessness.

The difference between being eternally lost - and being Forever Found.

You know, reality isn’t a set of hieroglyphics that needs a magical Rosetta Stone to decipher. So how come we don’t feel quite at home in it?

On that day, whe
...more
Katie
Oct 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Yikes. This is probably the most difficult book I've ever read. I feel a little weird reviewing it, honestly, because I'm not sure I really comprehended it at all. But Derrida has let me know that poems are nothing without the risk of being meaningless and that language is crazy signifying play all the time anyway, so I will give it a go. Once I write words down they're apparently alienated from me forever, so make of this what you will!

Derrida is all about deconstructions. There are ideas all o
...more
Mr.
Oct 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
With this collection of subversive essays, Jacques Derrida exploded onto the scene of post-modern philosophy in Europe and the US though he didn't have a doctorate or teaching position at the time. In it, he demonstrates for the first time his conception of `deconstruction,' an apparently inexplicable concept which enables the analysis of `inter-textuality' and `binary-oppositions,' to be revealed. `Writing and Difference,' is of course a difficult text, and analytic philosophers don't even both ...more
Eric
Aug 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I had a class that Derrida guest lectured at right before he passed away. He was still thinking. That should have been his epitaph.
Andrew
Apr 06, 2020 added it
Shelves: theeeeeeory
I did it. I finally read book-length Derrida.

Is Derrida consistent in his attack? Probably, but it's really, really hard to say. I mean I think that I get what Derrida's going for, and it's definitely helpful that I have some familiarity with Heidegger and Levinas. The first and last essays are the most comprehensible, but on the whole, Foucault's allegation of Derrida being an obscurantist-terrorist seems like it's probably right, and you can imagine their exchange stemming from Derrida's accus
...more
Ananya
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
It's frustrating to know that there's something out there in the English language that's completely out of my grasp .WHAT THE FUCK
Matt
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
The abstract art of modern philosophy. Self-indulgent (others say playful), unnecessarily digressive and round-about----the actual conceptual depth of what is conveyed, while it was surely groundbreaking, can be stated in terms much simpler than Derrida's. Derrida is a cultural hero to many and the gravitational mass of the cult that surrounds him has bent the light in the eyes of those who adulate a man that can do no wrong.
I once heard Derrida give a lecture in Auckland on the concept of mercy
...more
Vignette-Noelle
Mar 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Okay...just finished it last night.

First of all. if you are not a fan- do not read this book. haha.

Secondly, if you're still not really sure what linguistic deconstruction is all about, the first half of this book would be a good introduction to Derrida's philosophy.

Thirdly, this book is awesome! While it is not as in depth as some of his other works, it is still a refreshing read if you're interested in deconstruction.
Oscar Despard
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this stimulating work. It may not be a light read, and it will certainly require a more careful examination before I can give any considered opinion on much of its content. However, I was consistently fascinated by what I read, and I would recommend it.
John Lucy
Mar 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Every time I read Derrida I remember that he is hard to read. I don't want to sound dumb, but the big words and esoteric concepts that he uses, constantly, weigh down the text for the reader. Each paragraph is a struggle. Some people can read through these types of things more easily than others, of course, but the number of those people who will read Derrida for fun are quite few. At the end of the day Derrida is a little out of reach for the ordinary person, which is a shame.

Before reading thi
...more
Draco3seven Crawdady
Nov 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Socio or philosopher
The structural nature of Western thought. He says:

“the concept of structure and even the word “structure” it self are as old as the episteme that is to say as old as western science and western philosophy and their roots thrust deep into the soil of ordinary language, into whose deepest recesses the episteme plunges in order to gather them up and to make them part of itself in a metaphorical displacement. Nevertheless, up to event which I wish to mark out and define, structure-or rather the stru
...more
Mark
Thought-diarrhea.

That's what writing is. But that's not the point. The point is that like pretty much all books and especially philosophy books, this is something that will mean more to you depending on when you read it. I was actually given the book like 12 years ago and had almost no interest in it after reading two essays. I read a few more a few years ago. Then I read through the rest of the book in about two weeks.

If you're interested, Derrida's whole approach is basically to take a piece o
...more
Alex Obrigewitsch
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An absolute must for any Derrida reader (which is to infer an absolute must absolutely).
Also a good entry into Derrida, I guess. For is there any real entry into a deferring motion that has no real beginning or end as it slips within and without of the metaphysical closure?
On a personal level, I enjoyed the "Violence and Metaphysics" essay the most.
sologdin
Jun 10, 2011 rated it liked it
most well known for 'structure, sign, & play,' but contains otherwise some great little gems on hegel, foucault, levinas, husserl, inter alia. ...more
Iryna
Feb 14, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Started it today and decided I don't want to read it. Read a dozen pages and didn't understand a single thought. Maybe I'm just not fit for the job :)
Alexander
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
G'damn, what a collection. Derrida pitches and elaborates his philosophy of Writing (or, dfférance) with and against his gamut of (now) dead, white, European men (Husserl, Freud, Bataille, Levi-Strauss, Levinas, Arataud, Jabes). Not that he ever pretended to do anything else than work with the tradition he inherited. Still, it's an incredibly demanding work, not necessarily because of it's style (I thoroughly enjoy the way Derrida writes), but because of how much assumed knowledge each essay ta ...more
univocity
Oct 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: philosophy
Interesting to compare the opening essay with "Sign, Structure and Play," as both are critiques of structuralism using Nietzsche as base. The difference being: the earlier essay is still using the Nietzsche of Deleuze, while the latter is wholly Derrida. So you get a metaphysical and extra-textual force which undergrids the possibility of structure or you get the textual play of signifiers. And after the opening essay, Derrida abandons any mention of force. It's no wonder the pieces on Bataille ...more
Kate Savage
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was feeling pretty smart because I enjoy Derrida's social and political commentary. And then I dipped into his theory on language. I was perpetually lost. So I sat in the lost-ness and dug out little serviceable fragments, like:

"it is necessary still to inhabit the metaphor in ruins, to dress oneself in tradition’s shred and the devil’s patches"

Lovely, but shred and patches are all I'm left with.
Anthony
Jan 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy-etc
re-checked this out after giving up on it the first time-- love the chapter on jabes, but the chapter on foucault leaves a funky taste in my mouth-- and there is still a lot in here i'm going to need to come back to later (for example, i can't even begin to read derrida's reading of bataille's reading of hegel when i haven't yet read any hegel...)
Gavin
Apr 12, 2007 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: given-up-for-now
Argh this is giving me a headache. I may not make it. I have a feeling Derrida works a lot better if you already have a solid grounding in structuralism (this is post-structuralism) or in any eighteenth to twentieth century philosophy first. I don't, really, or not enough.
-uht!
Okay... I LOVE deconstruction and difference, but this book made me feel like a blathering idiot. I've attempted it 3 times and I fear that I am just not a good enough reader to follow it. I'm really glad other people have read Derrida and can tell me what he said.
Spoust1
Apr 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: deconstruction
Review pending re-reading, which is in progress. I will say that this has some of Derrida's most exciting and powerful writings. "Sign, Structure, and Play" leaves me breathless each time I revisit it.
Jason
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Writing and Difference - yeah, baby, yeah! Be prepared to get your analytical magnifying glass out. Probably worth a weekend of head scratching. Derrida is a good name to drop at the proverbial cocktail party :)
Giorgi Komakhidze
"We need to interpret interpretations more than to interpret
things."
Well, yes, Montaigne was right. Derrida's writing is doubting, something like unfinished, chaotic, abnormal. It's full of intelligence and braveness, though.

3.5 actually.
Brahim Elboukhari
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent work for anyone who wants to study different writings of Derrida on deconstruction and other disciplines . it's a multiple facet book that deals with philosophy , critical theory , history, politic, literature and more...
Pam
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Finally, I can finish this book. The book that contain its chapter from another philosopher and Derrida has commented, as usual he re-read and did some his work to deconstruct each the philosopher propositions.

I will write further review on the paper later.
Josh
Apr 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm fairly certain I don't understand and damn thing in this book, but it changed the way I view literature.
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Jacques Derrida was the founder of “deconstruction,” a way of criticizing not only both literary and philosophical texts but also political institutions. Although Derrida at times expressed regret concerning the fate of the word “deconstruction,” its popularity indicates the wide-ranging influence of his thought, in philosophy, in literary criticism and theory, in art and, in particular, architect ...more

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“That philosophy died yesterday, since Hegel or Marx, Nietzsche, or Heidegger—and philosophy should still wander toward the meaning of its death—or that it has always lived knowing itself to be dying... that philosophy died one day, within history, or that it has always fed on its own agony, on the violent way it opens history by opposing itself to nonphilosophy, which is its past and its concern, its death and wellspring; that beyond the death, or dying nature, of philosophy, perhaps even because of it, thought still has a future, or even, as is said today, is still entirely to come because of what philosophy has held in store; or, more strangely still, that the future itself has a future—all these are unanswerable questions. By right of birth, and for one time at least, these are problems put to philosophy as problems philosophy cannot resolve.” 25 likes
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