Thursday, February 23, 2006

How does Genre Hit You?

Last night I read an essay by Jack Derrida called The Law of Genre. It is in this book called Acts of Literature and on the cover Jack (presumably that's him) kinda looks pensive out at us in a half smoldering sort of way over his shoulder from a canvas chair, the sort that movie directors are supposed to use...Was he a movie director??). He seems to be thinking something but it is difficult to know exactly what. Then when you read the essay you realize that he is trying to think about everything but he only has words to tell us about it with but that is exactly what he wants not to talk about so he sort of talks around them. He keeps using French words also, which is not good as I do not speak it..Or read it either.
But I maybe believe that I got some idea about genre from Jack...Well from the words that he is supposed to have written....Well he spoke them first as it was from a conference somewhere in Germany in the 1970's and he spoke in French and then American woman I believe...Translated them into English but she had to keep some of it in French as she may not have been able to understand it either. Here is some of what he may have said before it was written down and translated..Well it has been as it is in English and is here (I just wrote it)

"The law is mad. The law is mad, is madness; but madness is not the predicate of law. There is no madness without the law; madness cannot be conceived before its relation to law. Madness is law, the law is madness. There is a general trait here: the madness of law mad for me, the silhouette of my daughter mad about me, her mother, etc. But La Folie du jour, An (accountless) Account?, carrying and miscarrying its titles, is not at all exemplary of this general trait. Not at all, not wholly. This is not an example of a general or generic whole. The whole, which begins by finishing and never finishes beginning apart from itself, the whole that stays at the edgeless boundary of itself, the whole greater and less than a whole and nothing, An Account? Will not have been exemplary. Rather, with regard to the whole, it will have been wholly counter-exemplary."

What he meant by this was:
"a text cannot belong to no genre, it cannot be without... a genre. Every text participates in one or several genres, there is no genreless text" (Derrida 1981, 61).


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