Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Monograph

Degree

Master of Arts

Program

Theory and Criticism

Supervisor

Vanderheide, John.

Abstract

This project seeks to reconceive a poststructural form of deconstructive criticism as a Deleuzean deconstructive commentary. I first explore the way Derrida’s concept of différance is confined to a deconstructive criticism which solely traces it in order to critique metaphysical concepts. As an alternative to the confined use of différance in deconstructive criticism, I develop a deconstructive commentary which deconstructs the primacy of a commentated text. Instead of using différance solely to trace the limitations of philosophical concepts (Hegelian in particular), it can serve as a plane of immanence that track a multitude of differently configured philosophical concepts in their becoming, as opposed solely focusing on their metaphysical limitations. This style of deconstructive commentary is found in Percy Shelley’s The Triumph of Life despite belonging to the category of art— the poem figures a plane of immanence which tracks the mutation of different concepts.

Summary for Lay Audience

This project seeks to reconceive a poststructural form of deconstructive criticism as a Deleuzean deconstructive commentary. Deconstructive criticism critiques the implicit logocentric and metaphysical assumptions inherent within philosophy itself. This thesis seeks to re-examine deconstructive criticism’s orientation towards metaphysics and logocentrism by identifying within its theorization a movement away from metaphysics. I first explore how Derrida’s concept of différance is confined to a deconstructive criticism which solely traces it in order to critique metaphysical concepts. Deconstructive criticism’s partial fixation on texts, which are read as logocentric, fails to directly engage with the texts’ own perpetuation of différance because their primary concern is with how they conceal their own différance (rather than express it).

As an alternative to the confined use of différance in deconstructive criticism, I develop a deconstructive commentary, partly developed from Deleuze’s and Isabelle Stengers’ notion of commentary, in which the primacy of a commentated text is deconstructed. Instead of a commentary that is subordinated to a prepositional function of a commentated text, both commentated text and commentary arise out of and are inseparable from one another. Instead of using différance to solely trace the limitations of philosophical concepts (Hegelian in particular), it can serve as a plane of immanence; différance, like the plane, can contain infinite virtual movements that track a multitude of differently configured philosophical concepts in their becoming, as opposed solely focusing on their metaphysical limitations.

I apply this style of deconstructive commentary to Percy Shelley’s The Triumph of Life in arguing that the poem—despite belonging to the category of art—figures a plane of immanence which tracks the mutation of different concepts. My commentary of the poem is inseparable from the figures chained to the Chariot producing different simulacra. Because the poem instantiates a plane of immanence on which concepts are created, the distinction Deleuze and Guattari make between philosophy as the creations of concepts and art as the creations of percepts and affects is subject to instability; art, specifically poems, have the ability to create new philosophical concepts aside from merely creating percepts and affects.

Available for download on Saturday, November 30, 2019

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