Deconstruction/ Krapp’s Last Tape

General overview The auther of this essay is interested in finding the meaning of absurdity, Beckett is master of absurd theater, and Krapp’s last tape is one of the most influencial plays in absured theater which is deconstructed by nature. Not just the work and auther but the approach itself help the auther of this essay to find the true meaning of absurdity which itself leads human, after passing a chaos, to absolute peace. In the following paragraphs, first there is a biography of Samual Beckett the auther of Krapp’s last tape.
Then the discussion goes through deconstruction which is not actually an approach but a reading stategy and short part is devoted to introsucing Lacan’s model of human psyche. Afterward the application of deconstruction and some other points on Krapp’s last tape is placed. At the end there is a conclusion of all what the auther of this essay trying to say. A Biography of Samual Beckett “Samuel Barclay Beckett (April 13, 1906 – December 22, 1989) was an Irish avant-garde and absurdist playwright, novelist, poet and theatre director.
His writings, both in English and French, provide bleak, and darkly comedic, ruminations on the human condition. He is simultaneously considered as one of the last modernists and one of the first postmodernists. He was a main writer in what the critic, Martin Esslin, termed the “Theatre of the Absurd. ” The works associated with this movement share the belief that human existence has neither meaning nor purpose, and ultimately communication breaks down, often in a black comedy manner.

Beckett studied French, Italian and English at Trinity College Dublin from 1923-1927, whereupon graduating he took up a teaching post in Paris. While in Paris, he met the Irish novelist James Joyce, who became an inspiration and mentor to the young Beckett. He published his first work, a critical essay endorsing Joyce’s work entitled “Dante…Bruno. Vico…Joyce” in 1929. Throughout the 1930s he continued to write and publish many essays and reviews, eventually beginning work on novels.
During World War II, Beckett joined the French Resistance as a courier after the Germans began their occupation in 1940. Beckett’s unit was betrayed in August of 1942, and he and Suzanne fled on foot to the small village of Roussillon in the south of France. They continued to aid the Resistance by storing arms in his backyard. He was awarded both the Croix de Guerre and Medaille de la Resistance by the French government for his wartime efforts. Beckett was reticent to speak about this era of his life.
Beckett continued writing novels throughout the 1940s, and had the first part of his story “The End” published in Jean-Paul Sartre’s magazine Les Temps Modernes, the second part of which was never published in the magazine. Beckett began writing his most famous play, Waiting for Godot, in October 1948 and completed it in January 1949. He originally wrote this piece, like most of his subsequent works, in French first and then translated it to English. It was published in 1952 and premiered in 1953, garnering positive and controversial reactions in Paris.
The English version did not appear until two years later, first premiered in London in 1955 to mixed reviews and had a successful run in New York City after being a flop in Miami. The critical and commercial success of Waiting for Godot opened the door to a playwriting career for Beckett. He wrote many other well-known plays, including Endgame (1957), Krapp’s Last Tape (1958, and surprisingly written in English), Happy Days (1961, also in English) and Play (1963). He was awarded the 1961 International Publishers’ Formentor Prize along with Jorge Luis Borges.
In that same year, Beckett married Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil in a civil ceremony, though the two had been together since 1938. He also began a relationship with BBC script editor Barbara Bray, which lasted, concurrently to his marriage to Suzanne, until his death, in 1989. Beckett is regarded as one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century. He was awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature. He died on December 22, 1989, of complications from emphysema and possibly Parkinson’s disease five months after his wife, Suzanne.
The two are interred together in Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris. ”(1) Methodology and Approach “Deconstruction, as applied in the criticism of literature, designates a theory and practice of reading which questions and claims to “subvert” or “undermine” the assumption that the system of language provides grounds thatare adequate to establish the boundaries, the coherence or unity, and the determinatemeanings of a literary text. Typically, a deconstructive reading setsout to show that conflicting forces within the text itself serve to dissipate theseeming definiteness of its tructure and meanings into an indefinite array ofincompatible and undecidable possibilities. The originator and namer of deconstruction is the French thinker Jacques Derrida, among whose precursors were Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) andMartin Heidegger (1889- 1976)—German philosophers who put to radical question fundamental philosophical concepts such as “knowledge,” “truth,” and “identity”—as well as Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), whose psychoanalysis violated traditional concepts of a coherent individual consciousness and a unitary self.
Derrida presented his basic views in three books, all published in 1967, entitled Of Grammatology, Writing and Difference, and Speech and Phenomena; since then he has reiterated, expanded, and applied those views in a rapid sequence of publications. Derrida’s writings are complex and elusive, and the summary here can only indicate some of their main tendencies.
His point of vantage is what, in Of Grammatology, he calls “the axial proposition that there is no outside-thetext” (“il n’y a rien hors du texte,” or alternatively “il n’y a pas de hors-texte”). Like all Derrida’s key terms and statements, this has multiple significations, but a primary one is that a reader cannot get beyond verbal signs to any things-in-themselves which, because they are independent of the system of language, might serve to anchor a determinable meaning.
Derrida’s reiterated claim is that not only all Western philosophies and theories of language, but all Western uses of language, hence all Western culture, are logocentric; that is, they are centered or grounded on a “logos” (which in Greek signified both “word” and “rationality”) or, as stated in a phrase he adopts from Heidegger, they rely on “the metaphysics of presence. ” They are logocentric, according to Derrida, in part because they are phonocentric; that is, they grant, implicitly or explicitly, logical “priority,” or “privilege,” to speech over writing as the model for analyzing all discourse.
By logos, or presence, Derrida signifies what he also calls an “ultimate referent”—a self-certifying and self-sufficient ground, or foundation, available to us totally outside the play of language itself, that is directly present to our awareness and serves to “center” (that is, to anchor, organize, and guarantee) the structure of the linguistic system, and as a result suffices to fix the bounds, coherence, and determinate meanings of any spoken or written utterance within that system. (On Derrida’s “decentering” of structuralism, see poststructuralism. Historical instances of claimed foundations for language are God as the guarantor of its validity, or a Platonic form of the true reference of a general term, or a Hegelian “telos” or goal toward which all process strives, or an intention to signify something determinate that is directly present to the awareness of the person who initiates an utterance. Derrida undertakes to show that these and all other attempts by Western philosophy to establish an absolute ground in presence, and all implicit reliance on such a ground in using language, are bound to fail.
Especially, he directs his skeptical exposition against the phonocentric assumption—which he regards as central in Western theories of language— that at the instant of speaking, the “intention” of a speaker to mean something determinate by an utterance is immediately and fully present in the speaker’s consciousness, and is also communicable to an auditor. (See intention, under interpretation and hermeneutics. ) In Derrida’s view, we must always say more, and other, than we intend to say.
Derrida expresses his alternative conception that the play of linguistic meanings is “undecidable” in terms derived from Saussure’s view that in a signsystem, both the signifiers (the material elements of a language, whether spoken or written) and the signifieds (their conceptual meanings) owe their seeming identities, not to their own “positive” or inherent features, but to their “differences” from other speech-sounds, written marks, or conceptual significations. See Saussure, in linguistics in modern criticism and in semiotics. ) From this view Derrida evolves his radical claim that the features that, in any particular utterance, would serve to establish the signified meaning of a word, are never “present” to us in their own positive identity, since both these features and their significations are nothing other than a network of differences.
On the other hand, neither can these identifying features be said to be strictly “absent”; instead, in any spoken or written utterance, the seeming meaning is the result only of a “self-effacing” trace—self-effacing in that one is not aware of it— which consists of all the nonpresent differences from other elements in the language system that invest the utterance with its “effect” of having a meaning in its own right. The consequence, in Derrida’s view, is that we can never, in any instance of speech or writing, have a demonstrably fixed and decidable present meaning.
He says that the differential play (jeu) of language may produce the “effects” of decidable meanings in an utterance or text, but asserts that these are merely effects and lack a ground that would justify certainty in interpretation. In a characteristic move, Derrida coins the portmanteau term differance, in which, he says, he uses the spelling “-ance” instead of “-enee” to indicate a fusion of two senses of the French verb “differer”: to be different, and to defer.
This double sense points to the phenomenon that, on the one hand, a text proffers the “effect” of having a significance that is the product of its difference, but that on the other hand, since this proffered significance can never come to rest in an actual “presence”—or in a language-independent reality Derrida calls a transcendental signified—its determinate specification is deferred from one linguistic interpretation to another in a movement or “play,”as Derrida puts it, en abime—that is, in an endless regress.
To Derrida’s view,then, it is difference that makes possible the meaning whose possibility (as adecidable meaning) it necessarily baffles. As Derrida says in another of his coinages, the meaning of any spoken or written utterance, by the action of opposing internal linguistic forces, is ineluctably disseminated—a term which includes, among its deliberately contradictory significations, that of having an effect of meaning (a “semantic” effect), of dispersing meanings among innumerable alternatives, and of negating any specific meaning.
There is thus no ground, in the incessant play of difference that constitutes any language, for attributing a decidable meaning, or even a finite set of determinately multiple meanings (which he calls “polysemism”), to any utterance that we speak or write. (What Derrida calls “polysemism” is what William Empson called “ambiguity”; see ambiguity. As Derrida puts it in Writing and Difference: “The absence of a transcendental signified extends the domain and the play of signification infinitely” (p. 280) Several of Derrida’s skeptical procedures have been especially influentialin deconstructive literary criticism. One is to subvert the innumerable binary oppositions—such as speech/writing, nature/culture, truth/error, male/female— which are essential structural elements in logocentric language.
Derrida shows that such oppositions constitute a tacit hierarchy, in which the first term functions as privileged and superior and the second term as derivative and inferior. Derrida’s procedure is to invert the hierarchy, by showing that the secondary term can be made out to be derivative from, or a special case of, the primary term; but instead of stopping at this reversal, he goes on to destabilize both hierarchies, leaving them in a condition of undecidability. Among deconstructive literary critics, one such demonstration is to take the standard hierarchical opposition of literature/criticism, to invert it so as to make criticism primary and literature secondary, and then to represent, as an undecidable set of oppositions, the assertions that criticism is a species of literature and that literature is a species of criticism. A second operation influential in literary criticism is Derrida’s deconstruction of any attempt to establish a securely determinate bound, or limit, or margin, to a textual work so as to differentiate what is “inside” from what is “outside” the work. A third operation is his analysis of the inherent nonlogicality, or “rhetoricity”—that is, the inescapable reliance on rhetorical figures and figurative language—in all uses of language, including in what philosophers have traditionally claimed to be the strictly literal and logical arguments of philosophy.
Derrida, for example, emphasizes the indispensable reliance in all modes of discourse on metaphors that are assumed to be merely convenient substitutes for literal, or “proper” meanings; then he undertakes to show, on the one hand, that metaphors cannot be reduced to literal meanings but, on the other hand, that supposedly literal terms are themselves metaphors whose metaphoric nature has been forgotten.
Derrida’s characteristic way of proceeding is not to lay out his deconstructive concepts and operations in a systematic exposition, but to allow them to emerge in a sequence of exemplary close readings of passages from writings that range from Plato through Jean-Jacques Rousseau to the present era—writings that, by standard classification, are mainly philosophical, although occasionally literary. He describes his procedure as a “double reading. ” Initially, that is, he interprets a text as, in the standard fashion, “lisible” (readable or intelligible), since it engenders “effects” of having eterminate meanings. But this reading, Derrida says, is only “provisional,” as a stage toward a second, or deconstructive “critical reading,” which disseminates the provisional meaning into an indefinite range of significations that, he claims, always involve (in a term taken from logic) an aporia—an insuperable deadlock, or “double bind,” of incompatible or contradictory meanings which are “undecidable,” in that we lack any sufficient ground for choosing among them.
The result, in Derrida’s rendering, is that each text deconstructs itself, by undermining its own supposed grounds and dispersing itself into incoherent meanings in a way, he claims, that the deconstructive reader neither initiates nor produces; deconstruction is something that simply “happens” in a critical reading. Derrida asserts, furthermore, that he has no option except toattempt to communicate his deconstructive readings in the prevailing logocentric language, hence that his own interpretive texts deconstruct themselves in the very act of deconstructing the texts to which they are applied.
He insists, however, that “deconstruction has nothing to do with destruction,” and that all the standard uses of language will inevitably go on; what he undertakes, he says, is merely to “situate” or “reinscribe” any text in a system of difference which shows the instability of the effects to which the text owes its seeming intelligibility. Derrida did not propose deconstruction as a mode of literary criticism, but as a way of reading all kinds of texts so as to reveal and subvert the tacit metaphysical presuppositions of Western thought.
His views and procedures, however, have been taken up by literary critics, especially in America, who have adapted Derrida’s “critical reading” to the kind of close reading of particular literary texts which had earlier been the familiar procedure of the New Criticism; they do so, however, Paul de Man has said, in a way which reveals that new-critical close readings “were not nearly close enough. ” The end results of the two kinds of close reading are utterly diverse.
New Critical explications of texts had undertaken to show that a great literary work, in the tight internal relations of its figurative and paradoxical meanings, constitutes a freestanding, bounded, and organic entity of multiplex yet determinate meanings. On the contrary, a radically deconstructive close reading undertakes to show that a literary text lacks a “totalized” boundary that makes it an entity, much less an organic unity; also that the text, by a play of internal counter-forces, disseminates into an indefinite range of self-conflicting significations.
The claim is made by some deconstructive critics that a literary text is superior to nonliterary texts, but only because, by its self-reference, it shows itself to be more aware of features that all texts inescapably share: its fictionality, its lack of a genuine ground, and especially its patent “rhetoricity,” or use of figurative procedures—features that make any “right reading” or “correct reading” of a text impossible. Paul de Man was the most innovative and influential of the critics whoapplied deconstruction to the reading of literary texts.
In de Man’s later writings,he represented the basic conflicting forces within a text under the headingsof “grammar” (the code or rules of language) and “rhetoric” (the unruly play of figures and tropes), and aligned these with other opposed forces, such as the “constative” and “performative” linguistic functions that had been distinguished by John Austin (see speech-act theory). In its grammatical aspect, language persistently aspires to determinate, referential, and logically ordered assertions, which are persistently dispersed by its rhetorical aspect into an open set of non-referential and illogical possibilities.
A literary text, then, of inner necessity says one thing and performs another, or as de Man alternatively puts the matter, a text “simultaneously asserts and denies the authority of its own rhetorical mode” (Allegories of Reading, 1979, p. 17). The inevitable result, for a critical reading, is an aporia of “vertiginous possibilities. ” Barbara Johnson, once a student of de Man’s, has applied deconstructive readings not only to literary texts, but to the writings of other critics, includingDerrida himself.
Her succinct statement of the aim and methods of a deconstructive reading is often cited: Deconstruction is not synonymous with destruction The de-construction of a text does not proceed by random doubt or arbitrary subversion, but by the careful teasing out of warring forces of signification within the text itself. If anything is destroyed in a deconstructive reading, it is not the text, but the claim to unequivocal domination of one mode of signifyingover another. (The Critical Difference, 1980, p. 5) J.
Hillis Miller, once the leading American representative of the Geneva School of consciousness-criticism, is now one of the most prominent of deconstructors, known especially for his application of this type of critical reading to prose fiction. Miller’s statement of his critical practice indicates how drastic the result may be of applying to works of literature the concepts and procedures that Derrida had developed for deconstructing the foundations of Western metaphysics: Deconstruction as a mode of interpretation works by a careful and circumspect entering of each textual labyrinth….
The deconstructive critic seeks to find, by this process of retracing, the element in the system studied which is alogical, the thread in the text in question which will unravel it all, or the loose stone which will pull down the whole building. The deconstruction, rather, annihilates the ground on which the building stands by showing that the text has already annihilated the ground, knowingly or unknowingly. Deconstruction is not a dismantling of the structure of a text but a demonstration that it has already dismantled itself.
Miller’s conclusion is that any literary text, as a ceaseless play of “irreconcilable” and “contradictory” meanings, is “indeterminable” and “undecidable”; hence, that “all reading is necessarily misreading. ” (“Stevens’ Rock and Criticism as Cure, II,” in Miller’s Theory Then and Now [1991], p. 126, and “Walter Pater: A Partial Portrait,” Daedalus, Vol. 105, 1976. ) For other aspects of Derrida’s views see poststructuralism and refer to Geoffrey Bennington, Jacques Derrida (1993).
Some of the central books by Jacques Derrida available in English, with the dates of translation into English, are Of Grammatology, translated and introduced by Gayatri C. Spivak, 1976; Writing and Difference (1978); dina Dissemination (1981). A useful anthology of selections from Derrida is A Derrida Reader: Between the Blinds, ed. Peggy Kamuf (1991). Acts of Literature, ed. Derek Attridge (1992), is a selection of Derrida’s discussions of literary texts.
An accessible introduction to Derrida’s views is the edition by Gerald Graff of Derrida’s noted dispute with John R. Searle about the speech-act theory of John Austin, entitled Limited Inc. (1988); on this dispute see also Jonathan Culler, “Meaning and Iterability,” in On Deconstruction (1982). Books exemplifying types of deconstructive literary criticism: Paul de Man, Blindness and Insight (1971), and Allegories of Reading (1979); Barbara Johnson, The Critical Difference: Essays in the ContemporaryRhetoric of Reading (1980), and A World of Difference (1987); J.
Hillis Miller, Fiction and Repetition: Seven English Novels (1982), The Linguistic Moment: From Wordsworth to Stevens (1985), and Theory Then and Now (1991); Cynthia Chase, Decomposing Figures: Rhetorical Readings in the Romantic Tradition (1986). Expositions of Derrida’s deconstruction and of its applications to literary criticism: Geoffrey Hartman, Saving the Text (1981); Jonathan Culler, On Deconstruction (1982); Richard Rorty, “Philosophy as a Kind of Writing,” in Consequences of Pragmatism (1982); Michael Ryan, Marxism and Deconstruction (1982); Mark C. Taylor, ed. Deconstruction in Context (1986); Christopher Norris, Paul de Man (1988). Among the many critiques of Derrida and of various practitioners of deconstructive literary criticism are Terry Eagleton, The Function of Criticism (1984); M. H. Abrams, “The Deconstructive Angel,” “How to Do Things with Texts,” and “Construing and Deconstructing,” in Doing Things with Texts (1989); John M. Ellis, Against Deconstruction (1989); Wendell V. Harris, ed. , Beyond Poststructuralism (1996). (2) Lacan’s Model of the Human psyche “THE PSYCHE CAN BE DIVIDED into three major structures that control our lives and our desires.
Most of Lacan’s many terms for the full complexity of the psyche’s workings can be related to these three major concepts, which correlate roughly to the three main moments in the individual’s development, as outlined in the Lacan module on psychosexual development: 1) The Real. This concept marks the state of nature from which we have been forever severed by our entrance into language. Only as neo-natal children were we close to this state of nature, a state in which there is nothing but need. A baby needs and seeks to satisfy those needs with no sense for any separation between itself and the external world or the world of others.
For this reason, Lacan sometimes represents this state of nature as a time of fullness or completeness that is subsequently lost through the entrance into language. The primordial animal need for copulation (for example, when animals are in heat) similarly corresponds to this state of nature. There is a need followed by a search for satisfaction. As far as humans are concerned, however, “the real is impossible,” as Lacan was fond of saying. It is impossible in so far as we cannot express it in language because the very entrance into language marks our irrevocable separation from the real.
Still, the real continues to exert its influence throughout our adult lives since it is the rock against which all our fantasies and linguistic structures ultimately fail. The real for example continues to erupt whenever we are made to acknowledge the materiality of our existence, an acknowledgement that is usually perceived as traumatic (since it threatens our very “reality”), although it also drives Lacan’s sense of jouissance. 2) The Imaginary Order. This concept corresponds to the mirror stage (see the Lacan module on psychosexual development) and marks the movement of the subject from primal need to what Lacan terms “demand. As the connection to the mirror stage suggests, the “imaginary” is primarily narcissistic even though it sets the stage for the fantasies of desire. (For Lacan’s understanding of desire, see the next module. ) Whereas needs can be fulfilled, demands are, by definition, unsatisfiable; in other words, we are already making the movement into the sort of lack that, for Lacan, defines the human subject. Once a child begins to recognize that its body is separate from the world and its mother, it begins to feel anxiety, which is caused by a sense of something lost.
The demand of the child, then, is to make the other a part of itself, as it seemed to be in the child’s now lost state of nature (the neo-natal months). The child’s demand is, therefore, impossible to realize and functions, ultimately, as a reminder of loss and lack. (The difference between “demand” and “desire,” which is the function of the symbolic order, is simply the acknowledgement of language, law, and community in the latter; the demand of the imaginary does not proceed beyond a dyadic relation between the self and the object one wants to make a part of oneself. The mirror stage corresponds to this demand in so far as the child misrecognizes in its mirror image a stable, coherent, whole self, which, however, does not correspond to the real child (and is, therefore, impossible to realize). The image is a fantasy, one that the child sets up in order to compensate for its sense of lack or loss, what Lacan terms an “Ideal-I” or “ideal ego. ” That fantasy image of oneself can be filled in by others who we may want to emulate in our adult lives role models, et cetera), anyone that we set up as a mirror for ourselves in what is, ultimately, a narcissistic relationship. What must be remembered is that for Lacan this imaginary realm continues to exert its influence throughout the life of the adult and is not merely superceded in the child’s movement into the symbolic (despite my suggestion of a straightforward chronology in the last module).
Indeed, the imaginary and the symbolic are, according to Lacan, inextricably intertwined and work in tension with the Real. 3) The Symbolic Order (or the “big Other”). Whereas the imaginary is all about equations and identifications, the symbolic is about language and narrative. Once a child enters into language and accepts the rules and dictates of society, it is able to deal with others. The acceptance of language’s rules is aligned with the Oedipus complex, according to Lacan.
The symbolic is made possible because of your acceptance of the Name-of-the-Father, those laws and restrictions that control both your desire and the rules of communication: “It is in the name of the father that we must recognize the support of the symbolic function which, from the dawn of history, has identified his person with the figure of the law” (Ecrits 67). Through recognition of the Name-of-the-Father, you are able to enter into a community of others. The symbolic, through language, is “the pact which links… subjects together in one action.
The human action par excellence is originally founded on the existence of the world of the symbol, namely on laws and contracts” (Freud’s Papers 230). Whereas the Real concerns need and the Imaginary concerns demand, the symbolic is all about desire, according to Lacan. (For more on desire, see the next module. ) Once we enter into language, our desire is forever afterwards bound up with the play of language. We should keep in mind, however, that the Real and the Imaginary continue to play a part in the evolution of human desire within the symbolic order.
The fact that our fantasies always fail before the Real, for example, ensures that we continue to desire; desire in the symbolic order could, in fact, be said to be our way to avoid coming into full contact with the Real, so that desire is ultimately most interested not in obtaining the object of desire but, rather, in reproducing itself. The narcissism of the Imaginary is also crucial for the establishment of desire, according to Lacan: “The primary imaginary relation provides the fundamental framework for all possible erotism. It is a condition to which the object of Eros as such must be submitted.
The object relation must always submit to the narcissistic framework and be inscribed in it” (Freud’s Papers 174). For Lacan, love begins here; however, to make that love “functionally realisable” (to make it move beyond scopophilic narcissism), the subject must reinscribe that narcissistic imaginary relation into the laws and contracts of the symbolic order: “A creature needs some reference to the beyond of language, to a pact, to a commitment which constitutes him, strictly speaking, as an other, a reference included in the general or, to be more exact, universal system of interhuman symbols.
No love can be functionally realisable in the human community, save by means of a specific pact, which, whatever the form it takes, always tends to become isolated off into a specific function, at one and the same time within language and outside of it” (Freud’s Papers 174). The Real, the Imaginary, and the Symbolic thus work together to create the tensions of our psychodynamic selves. (3) “Jacques Lacan has proven to be an important influence on contemporary critical theory, influencing such disparate approaches as feminism (through, for example, Judith Butler and Shoshana Felman), film theory (Laura Mulvey, Kaja Silverman, and the various film scholars associated with “screen theory”), poststructuralism (Cynthia Chase, Juliet Flower MacCannell, etc. ), and Marxism (Louis Althusser, Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Fredric Jameson, Slavoj Zizek, etc. ).
Lacan is also exemplary of what we can understand as the postmodern break with Sigmund Freud. Whereas Freud could still be said to work within an empirical, humanist tradition that still believes in a stable self’s ability to access the “truth,” Lacan is properly post-structuralist, which is to say that Lacan questions any simple notion of either “self” or “truth,” exploring instead how knowledge is constructed by way of linguistic and ideological structures that organize not only our conscious but also our unconscious lives.
Whereas Freud continued to be tempted by organic models and with a desire to find the neurological and, thus, “natural” causes for sexual development, Lacan offered a more properly linguistic model for understanding the human subject’s entrance into the social order. The emphasis was thus less on the bodily causes of behavior (cathexis, libido, instinct, etc. ) than it was on the ideological structures that, especially through language, make the human subject come to understand his or her relationship to himself and to others.
Indeed, according to Lacan, the entrance into language necessarily entails a radical break from any sense of materiality in and of itself. According to Lacan, one must always distinguish between reality (the fantasy world we convince ourselves is the world around us) and the real (a materiality of existence beyond language and thus beyond expressibility). The development of the subject, in other words, is made possible by an endless misrecognition of the real because of our need to construct our sense of “reality” in and through language.
So much are we reliant on our linguistic and social version of “reality” that the eruption of pure materiality (of the real) into our lives is radically disruptive. And yet, the real is the rock against which all of our artificial linguistic and social structures necessarily fail. It is this tension between the real and our social laws, meanings, conventions, desires, etc. that determines our psychosexual lives. Not even our unconscious escapes the effects of language, which is why Lacan argues th t “the unconscious is structured like a language” (Four Fundamental 203). Lacan’s version of psychosexual development is, therefore, organized around the subject’s ability to recognize, first, iconic signs and, then, eventually, language. This entrance into language follows a particular developmental model, according to Lacan, one that is quite distinct from Freud’s version of the same (even though Lacan continued to argue—some would say “perversely”—that he was, in fact, a strict Freudian).
Here, then, is your story, as told by Lacan, with the ages provided as very rough approximations since Lacan, like Freud, acknowledged that development varied between individuals and that stages could even exist simultaneously within a given individual: 0-6 months of age. In the earliest stage of development, you were dominated by a chaotic mix of perceptions, feelings, and needs. You did not distinguish your own self from that of your parents or even the world around you.
Rather, you spent your time taking into yourself everything that you experienced as pleasurable without any acknowledgment of boundaries. This is the stage, then, when you were closest to the pure materiality of existence, or what Lacan terms “the Real. ” Still, even at this early stage, your body began to be fragmented into specific erogenous zones (mouth, anus, penis, vagina), aided y the fact that your mother tended to pay special attention to these body parts. This “territorialization” of the body could already be seen as a falling off, an imposition of boundaries and, thus, the neo-natal beginning of socialization (a first step away from the Real). Indeed, this fragmentation was accompanied by an identification with those things perceived as fulfilling your lack at this early stage: the mother’s breast, her voice, her gaze.
Since these privileged external objects could not be perfectly assimilated and could not, therefore, ultimately fulfill your lack, you already began to establish the psychic dynamic (fantasy vs. lack) that would control the rest of your life. 6-18 months of age. This stage, which Lacan terms the “mirror stage,” was a central moment in your development. The “mirror stage” entails a “libidinal dynamism” (Ecrits 2) caused by the young child’s identification with his own image (what Lacan terms the “Ideal-I” or “ideal ego”).
For Lacan, this act marks the primordial recognition of one’s self as “I,” although at a point “before it is objectified in the dialectic of identification with the other, and before language restores to it, in the universal, its function as subject” (Ecrits 2). In other words, this recognition of the self’s image precedes the entrance into language, after which the subject can understand the place of that image of the self within a larger social order, in which the subject must negotiate his or her relationship with others.
Still, the mirror stage is necessary for the next stage, since to recognize yourself as “I” is like recognizing yourself as other (“yes, that person over there is me”); this act is thus fundamentally self-alienating. Indeed, for this reason your feelings towards the image were mixed, caught between hatred (“I hate that version of myself because it is so much better than me”) and love (“I want to be like that image”).
Note This “Ideal-I” is important precisely because it represents to the subject a simplified, bounded form of the self, as opposed to the turbulent chaotic perceptions, feelings, and needs felt by the infant. This “primordial Discord” (Ecrits 4) is particularly formative for the subject, that is, the discord between, on the one hand, the idealizing image in the mirror and, on the other hand, the reality of one’s body between 6-18 months (“the signs of uneasiness and motor unco-ordination of the eo-natal months” [Ecrits 4]): “The mirror stage is a drama whose internal thrust is precipitated from insufficiency to anticipation—and which manufactures for the subject, caught up in the lure of spatial identification, the succession of phantasies that extends from a fragmented body-image to a form of its totality that I shall call orthopaedic—and, lastly, to the assumption of the armour of an alienating identity, which will mark with its rigid structure the subject’s entire mental development” (Ecrits 4).
This misrecognition or meconnaissance (seeing an ideal-I where there is a fragmented, chaotic body) subsequently “characterizes the ego in all its structures” (Ecrits 6). In particular, this creation of an ideal version of the self gives pre-verbal impetus to the creation of narcissistic phantasies in the fully developed subject. It establishes what Lacan terms the “imaginary order” and, through the imaginary, continues to assert its influence on the subject even after the subject enters the next stage of development. 8 months to 4 years of age. The acquisition of language during this next stage of development further separated you from a connection to the Real (from the actual materiality of things). Lacan builds on such semiotic critics as Ferdinand de Saussure to show how language is a system that makes sense only within its own internal logic of differences: the word, “father,” only makes sense in terms of those other terms it is defined with or against (mother, “me,” law, the social, etc. . As Kaja Silverman puts it, “the signifier ‘father’ has no relation whatever to the physical fact of any individual father. Instead, that signifier finds its support in a network of other signifiers, including ‘phallus,’ ‘law,’ ‘adequacy,’ and ‘mother,’ all of which are equally indifferent to the category of the real” (164).
Once you entered into the differential system of language, it forever afterwards determined your perception of the world around you, so that the intrusion of the Real’s materiality becomes a traumatic event, albeit one that is quite common since our version of “reality” is built over the chaos of the Real (both the materiality outside you and the chaotic impulses inside you). By acquiring language, you entered into what Lacan terms the “symbolic order”; you were reduced into an empty signifier (“I”) within the field of the Other, which is to say, within a field of language and culture (which is always determined by those thers that came before you). That linguistic position, according to Lacan, is particularly marked by gender differences, so that all your actions were subsequently determined by your sexual position (which, for Lacan, does not have much to do with your “real” sexual urges or even your sexual markers but by a linguistic system in which “male” and “female” can only be understood in relation to each other in a system of language).
The Oedipus complex is just as important for Lacan as it is for Freud, if not more so. The difference is that Lacan maps that complex onto the acquisition of language, which he sees as analogous. The process of moving through the Oedipus complex (of being made to recognize that we cannot sleep with or even fully “have” our mother) is our way of recognizing the need to obey social strictures and to follow a closed differential system of language in which we understand “self” in relation to “others. In this linguistic rather than biological system, the “phallus” (which must always be understood not to mean “penis”) comes to stand in the place of everything the subject loses through his entrance into language (a sense of perfect and ultimate meaning or plenitude, which is, of course, impossible) and all the power associated with what Lacan terms the “symbolic father” and the “Name-of-the-Father” (laws, control, knowledge).
Like the phallus’ relation to the penis, the “Name-of-the-Father” is much more than any actual father; in fact, it is ultimately more analogous to those social structures that control our lives and that interdict many of our actions (law, religion, medicine, education). Note After one passes through the Oedipus complex, the position of the phallus (a position within that differential system) can be assumed by most anyone (teachers, leaders, even the mother) and, so, to repeat, is not synonymous with either the biological father or the biological penis.
Nonetheless, the anatomical differences between boys and girls do lead to a different trajectory for men and women in Lacan’s system. Men achieve access to the privileges of the phallus, according to Lacan, by denying their last link to the Real of their own sexuality (their actual penis); for this reason, the castration complex continues to function as a central aspect of the boy’s psychosexual development for Lacan. In accepting the dictates of the Name-of-the-Father, who is associated with the symbolic phallus, the male subject denies his exual needs and, forever after, understands his relation to others in terms of his position within a larger system of rules, gender differences, and desire. (On Lacan’s understanding of desire, see the third module. ) Since women do not experience the castration complex in the same way (they do not have an actual penis that must be denied in their access to the symbolic order), Lacan argues that women are not socialized in the same way, that they remain more closely tied to what Lacan terms “jouissance,” the lost plenitude of one’s material bodily drives given up by the male subject in order to access the symbolic power of the phallus.
Women are thus at once more lacking (never accessing the phallus as fully) and more full (having not experienced the loss of the penis as fully). Note Regardless, what defines the position of both the man and the women in this schema is above all lack, even if that lack is articulated differently for men and women. ”(4) In this essay the Writter trys to find binary opposition in the play and explain who they work in an opposite position. How Krapp’s last tape is elaborating Deconstruction would be explain at the same time.
Lacanian stages in the play is also found and is explained. Notes 1. Abrams, M. H. A Glossary Of Litterary Terms, Thomson Learning:United tastes of America, 1999, 7th Edition, p. 55-61. 2. Friedman, Marissa L. “KRAPP’S LAST TAPE: Samuel Beckett Biography. ” KRAPP’S LAST TAPE: Samuel Beckett Biography. N. p. , n. d. Web. 8 June 2012.. 3. Felluga, Dino. “Modules on Lacan: On the Structure of the Psyche. ” Introductory Guide to Critical Theory. Purdue U. 8 June 2012. . 4. Felluga, Dino. “Modules on Lacan: On Psychosexual Development. Introductory Guide to Critical Theory. Purdue U. 8 June 2012. < http://www. cla. purdue. edu/english/theory/psychoa nalysis/lacandevelop. html>. 5. Beckett, Samuel. “Krapp’s Last tape”, 7 November 2011, Marl Sullivan,https://www. msu. edu/~sullivan/BeckettKrapp. html 6. Beckett, Samuel. “Krapp’s Last tape”, 7 November 2011, Marl Sullivan,https://www. msu. edu/~sullivan/BeckettKrapp. html 7. Beckett, Samuel. “Krapp’s Last tape”, 7 November 2011, Marl Sullivan,https://www. msu. edu/~sullivan/BeckettKrapp. html 8.
Beckett, Samuel. “Krapp’s Last tape”, 7 November 2011, Marl Sullivan,https://www. msu. edu/~sullivan/BeckettKrapp. html 9. Beckett, Samuel. “Krapp’s Last tape”, 7 November 2011, Marl Sullivan,https://www. msu. edu/~sullivan/BeckettKrapp. html 10. Birkett, Jennifer & Kate Ince. Samuel Beckett :Criticism and interpretation, Longman: Londen, 1999, p. 122. 11. Beckett, Samuel. “Krapp’s Last tape”, 7 November 2011, Marl Sullivan, 12. Beckett, Samuel. “Krapp’s Last tape”, 7 November 2011, Marl Sullivan, 13. Beckett, Samuel. Krapp’s Last tape”, 7 November 2011, Marl Sullivan,https://www. msu. edu/~sullivan/BeckettKrapp. html 14. Wikipedia’s Editor. “The Myth of Sisyphus”. 22 May 2012. 12 June 2012, Work Cited Bibliography 1. Abrams, M. H. A Glossary Of Litterary Terms, United tastes of America: Thomson Learning, 1999, 7th Edition, p. 55-61. 2. Conner, Steven. “Voice and Mechanical Reproduction: Krapp’s Last Tape, Ohio Impromptu, Rockaby, That Time”. Samuel Beckett :Criticism and interpretation. Ed. Birkett, Jennifer & Kate Ince, Longman: Londen. 1999. 119- 133 3.
Howard, Anne”. ”Part IV: Contemporary Culture Stain upon the Silence Samuel Beckett’s Deconstructive Inventions”. “Drama as Rhetoric/Rhetoric as Drama: An Exploration of Dramatic and Rhetorical Criticism””. Ed. Hart, Steven. , and Stanley Vincent Longman. University of Alabama Press, 1997. THEATRE SYMPOSIUM A PUBLICATION OF THE SOUTHEASTERN THEATRE CONFERENCE Drama as Rhetoric/Rhetoric as Drama An Exploration of Dramatic and Rhetorical Criticism 4. Weller, Shane. Beckett, Literature, and the Ethics of Alterity. Houndmills,: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. 70-180 Website 1. Beckett, Samuel. “Krapp’s Last tape”, 7 November 2011, Marl Sullivan, 2. Friedman, Marissa L. “KRAPP’S LAST TAPE: Samuel Beckett Biography. ” KRAPP’S LAST TAPE: Samuel Beckett Biography. N. p. , n. d. Web. 8 June 2012. 3. Felluga, Dino. “Modules on Lacan: On the Structure of the Psyche. ” Introductory Guide to Critical Theory. Purdue U. 8 June 2012. . 4. Felluga, Dino. “Modules on Lacan: On Psychosexual Development. ” Introductory Guide to Critical Theory. Purdue U. 8 June 2012. ; http://www. cla. purdue. edu/english/theory/psychoa

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