Thursday, 2 February 2012

Theoretical Sonnet I

For a seminar I had to summarize Derrida's "Signature, Event, Context"; after I completed that assignment, I decided to do it again in the form of a sonnet. (To those who don't know, even lit theory nerds who disagree with Derrida still get a little bit enamoured, enough to do silly things like write a sonnet about one of his essays.) I found this exercise very helpful, and I might try it again with other theorists.

I'm not sure how much this is worth to you if you aren't already somewhat familiar with Derrida (a deconstructivist), but at any rate I thought I'd put it here, just in case.

Final disclaimer: I'm not saying that I agree with everything Derrida says; this is a summary, not a statement of my opinion.

I sing my song of Derrida; this dry
And second thing communicates to thee,
My absent reader, that this sonnet’s free,
And I, with my intent and context, die.
This place from which I write, you cannot scry,
Nor can I know what meaning you can see,
Nor whether eyes to tears shall mov├Ęd be;
To origins quotation shan’t comply.
This sonnet, then, does not communicate;
Could speech? Ah, no, for words of tumbling air
Can only mean in language spoken late
By others, diff’ring concepts here and there.
Speech and writing, each such stratagem
Can graft again upon another stem.

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