In this article the author explores Jacques Derrida’s reading in The Purveyor of Truth of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Purloined Letter. In his essay, Derrida proposes a . Derrida – The Purveyor of Truth ().pdf – Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online. THE PURVEYOR OF TRUTH [Jacques Derrida] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

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What can philosophy get out of literary criticism? We’ve had some past episodes like this and this where we discussed some philosophical issues brought up by a piece of fiction, but that’s different then the act of doing philosophy through literary criticism, which is supposed to reveal something about our relationship to language, to ideas, to culture. The tradition of criticism coming from Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida and this is not to minimize the differences between them considers not just how an author creates an effect or what themes he or she is trying to convey, but the relationship of a text or other creative work to the human psyche.

Lacan in particular used literature not uncommonly, following Freud and others to help explain points of his psychoanalytic project. A story, like a dream, is fodder for analysis to learn about the psyche of its creator, whose characteristics will in many cases be generalizable to the rest of us.

Lacan’s “Seminar on the Purloined Letter ” from which you can read here analyzes the Edgar Allan Poe short story from which you can read and listen to here or listen via iTunes U.

Lacan’s point is to investigate ” repetition automatism ,” which was a puzzle for Freud: Lacan’s explanation is that the unconscious is not just a bundle of drives, but is made up of symbolic strings, which participate in systems that have their own internal logic and thus motive force.

In the story, the various characters take on certain roles in reaction to a letter being used to blackmail the Queen of France. The content of the letter is not divulged to the reader is it evidence of an affair? Lacan and his readers. Even though Lacan is notoriously suspicious of traditional philosophical claims about truth he unsurprisingly sees all such claims as expressions of psychological and social phenomena instead of their being really about what they claim to beDerrida claims that the old fashioned ” metaphysics of presence ” is still alive and well in Lacan’s analysis, that Lacan depicts the act as speech as primary over writing e.

The Purloined Letter – Wikipedia

We read these articles in the collection The Purloined Poe: Muller and William J. This is much preferable over chasing the abovementioned ttuth around on the Internet because:.

There are supporting essays explaining specifically what Lacan is talking about and giving background on Derrida’s general project. Even on the Poe story itself, there are lots of footnotes explaining where he got various ideas and other elements. The Derrida essay has rtuth mercifully abridged from some other versions, and the abridgment was Derrida-approved.

Topic for # Lacan & Derrida on Literary Criticism: Poe’s “The Purloined Letter”

There’s some background on psychoanalytic reading in general, including an essay by Marie Bonapartea patient and student well, “associate” of Freud, whose more overtly sex-obsessed reading was read and criticized by Lacan. There are no less than eight other essays in the volume that evaluate and expound upon the two articles we all read, including one by editor John Muller that helpfully explains Lacan’s debt to Hegel i. Beyond this, there’s plenty more trutu out there on Poe himself: I also found it helpful to look at Poe’s essay “Philosophy of Composition,” which exemplifies how Poe actually worked.


In the essay, he reveals how he crafted ” The Raven ,” i. While this doesn’t mean that he’s not tapping into some interesting psychological phenomena, to me it was a testament to what literary analysis actually should be, i. Buy The Purloined Poe. I share the misgivings of those who feel that Kuhn is not well-suited to explain anything at all in the humanities.

But, as I trurh show, in the case of Cavell there are unusually solid reasons to turn to Kuhn. When ordinary language philosophy is read truh the lens of poststructuralism, misunderstandings are inevitable. Philosopher of Scientific Revolutions. Cavell is an acquired taste for purvetor at least to read but well worth the effort and some excellent secondary sources out there and he is a quite accessible lecturer: I have a bunch of stuff on Cavell in a box in my basement.

I thought the variety of reactions made for a particularly interesting discussion. Purveyof would be even cooler if you could get Sheldon Solomon to come guest on it.

The letter is the phallos, which is the interest of the trhth Other. How can one know, what does the m Other want?

Phallos marks what is that which is wanted — that is, what could fill the lack of the m Puurveyor. Nobody can say what is it which makes it wanted, what gives it the special meaning. The cause of the meaning is beyond reach — like the text in the letter. The letter is wanted as is phallos tuth, it is hidden until aquiredeverybody wants it desire of the Other defines what one desires. So, what do we as neurotics try to obtain in life? Something that fills the lack of the mOther — what Other dfrrida and as such, we desire.

How do we know there yhe such thing? Because something is missing and wanted. The story shows, presents, how this could be written in example. If it, for example, would be made to movie: Now with Derrida, thickening the plot, it makes my effort to take them all on all the more complicated. In short, I find all of these writers very dense and of little use in terms of what they actually ultimately say. They seem more interested in the nature of interpretation than the story, the content of which of course Lacan argues IS the nature of interpretation.

The king is audience as is the minister albeit unknowingly or unwittingly for the queenthe queen as actor is the ethos figure — character — and the letter is the logos — as are her actions, perhaps, in terms of how the audience react to her withholding trugh the text. As a representation of the situation of analysis — patient and therapist — with regards to the minister, he is no therapist at all functionally, but an extorter — or something, we assume which is another question if we keep delving into the question of western thought.

Dupin himself also poorly figures as an analyst — what he does is for money participates in aiding the prefect and the queen suppress — or repress, depending how we take the story expressionistic or other — the letter, which is to say the content that would presumably reach the consciousness of the king. In a sense, he sort of tries to extort the prefect, who is also I guess kind of extorting the queen. This was not the only factor for success, but it was and is still today regarded by the majority — maybe ALL — psychoanalysts, whether they are ego, object, Freudian, or other.

The idea has been pushed further, but still foregrounds the subsequent divergences. Thusly, and perhaps in more ways, I find the Lacanian interpretation as deeply flawed just even in a psychoanalytic sense. Further, the idea that signs are dictated by the symbolic world we exist in may be freeing in a sense that it helps us to see there may be other ways to see, but ultimately the nature of seeing involves symbols, and we have to make conclusions about things.


This is where my beef with Derrida begins. The wandering, permanent para-basis of meaning, the difference, and deference, the binary, on and on — ultimately seems to lead to a conclusion that all meaning is arbitrary. Further, even if it were true, we could never really know for sure — because by its nature, the theory of deconstructionism is figurative, or symbolic, as it comes through language, and language is symbolic.

We cannot speak or write without figures. Our lives have the meaning we assign to them up until our deaths or brain deathand we order our world based on them. It does seem to have a calming effect on them — and helps them to grow and may be necessary even be able to live. Glad to see oof someone else is still struggling through this stuff. I found this article extremely helpful in getting a handle on the text: As of now, you can get it through the following link: The letter deerrida pure signifier i.

I enjoyed The Purloined Letter. This episode frustrated me to no end. In so many of the psychoanalytic episodes I listen to, there is this sort of uncharitable undertone it seems to have, particularly in this one where Wes was absent. So then why do it?

I think it would have clarified some of his theory. I personally felt that TPL as analyzed by Lacan was to serve as a tool for properly understanding signifiers and the signified. So Derrida trutu kind of annoying to me in that way.

I really hope you will do more analysis of fictional works from a philosophical perspective.

Topic for #75: Lacan & Derrida on Literary Criticism: Poe’s “The Purloined Letter”

I would love to have an episode on The Brothers Karamazov because no one else due to the usual brevity of most podcasts will ever do a podcast on it I am sure! Jen, that seems fair and accurate in my judgment. However, the analyst agrees to aide the female figure suppress info from the male royal figure-which suggests some illicit activities though we never really know.

I find the story more interesting- much more interesting- than the criticisms; useful to understand the schools, but amputative of the story and its riches. Mark, Seth, and Dylan do their best to wade through this morass and eke out a bit more understanding of Lacan building on ep. Read more about the topic and get the book. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email.

Notify me of new posts by email. This is much preferable over chasing the abovementioned articles around on the Internet because: Kuhn is good and Cavell is very good!

The Purloined Letter

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