Today, I was typing out my post structuralism notes into my laptop; remembering how bemused I was, in comparison to today, made me realise that university does inspire a degree of progress in a person; even though most of the time, you feel as though you are swimming against a tide, attempting to conquer the ever-growing reading list (an impossible task). The vague understanding of week three, in comparison to today’s more developed understanding made me think about how much I adore my course; despite the quagmire of definitions, reading and concepts, it does work. The ideas must be percolating in my head; spinning around in a subconscious, dream-like kind of way, ethereal and inexplicable, but they are there. And so then I began to think.
The most appealing idea of post structuralism is the idea of the “ghosts of meaning” proposed by Jacques Derrida. Nothing in linguistics can be absolute; it is in flux, continuously evolving and each linguistic interpretation is different to each person. This means that when you are in “discussion” with your parents about for instance, the wing mirror that may or may not have detached itself from the car door, you can simply argue that this is just their interpretation of events based on their background which then allows you to argue that your background (and therefore your linguistic experience) is different to theirs. This opens a whole new range of ways to try to prove your parents wrong. This is of course to be done at your own risk.
Another brilliant facet of post structuralism is the idea of the de-centred universe. This means, simply put, that you cannot even be sure of where, or even what, you are because there is no external way to measure yourself against something else. Nothing has a central, solid meaning, because like language, everything is in flux. Being completely unaware of your position in the universe is fascinating, and to a certain extent, also liberating. You are in some ways therefore completely free to consider yourself as being absolutely anywhere in the universe. Again, this can be used as a mechanism to argue with authorities, e.g. parents, and teachers. Unfortunately, even the most open-minded teacher is unlikely to accept the argument that because of the theory of post structuralism, you are not entirely certain that you are at a true school at all, and even less sure that your supposed exam board is real, and therefore why should you have to write five thousand word pieces of coursework? If you were feeling particularly inventive, you could even drop in a word or two about string theory physics, and the meaning of the universe. If anyone really succeeds, then please let me know.
Of my critical theory repertoire, post structuralism is the one I identify with most clearly, despite the immense complexity of it when applied to any given text. It’s also fascinating when applied to real life. I think a thesis on Derrida would be extraordinarily complex and yet extremely rewarding. I’m sure several brain cells would die attempting to process such a seething mass of information. Nonetheless, I’m looking forwards to being able to revisit the theory next term; I like understanding difficult ideas. It’s a good thing too really, since I’m at university.