Take heart, writer. Your voice is just different.
Those are the words that I longed to hear during my struggle for publication. It seemed that every outlet wanted to mold me into the industry’s ideal writer. For a subjective art, there certainly are a lot of rules and expectations. The longer we cave to the whims of an industry that is controlled by the tastes of an elite few, the further writing becomes not art but mechanical production.
Had Derrida listened to his teacher, would we now have his books? Thankfully he did not. Certainly I agree that active voice is better than passive and that wordiness can bog down the pace, but I don’t agree with these arbiters of an author’s fate when it comes to what makes a great work. There is a huge push to hear the voices of the oppressed–which in it’s heart is good, but don’t forget that it is more likely being done in the same vein as Poverty Porn–images of poor people with celebrities and the like–to make money of a niche. It’s just as racist to say that a black author is better than another because, well, they’re black and they know suffering, or something. No. They’re as good, because they’re good at writing and the melanin in their skin doesn’t determine that–though it has been made to determine their experiences. Likewise, I am not better at penning stories about women, simply because I am a woman. Our society has precluded the experience of woman, so to find an authentic woman is a feat–good luck to a person of any gender in accomplishing it.
That last statement is indicative of the subjectivity in writing. The reader will determine how well you communicated your ideas. From one to the next that success is going to waver. One author doesn’t speak for a whole generation. That’s a myth. Greatness has been told to us in a lot of cases. I used to wonder, while sitting in class, what makes these books so much more important than these other books. Why this author and not that one?
Semiotics was the focus on which I did most of my graduate work. The subject matter isn’t easy. It’s full of a lot of conceptual ideas and philosophy, psychology and history. You’ve really got to know the archetypes of culture to push into it even a little bit. Symbolism and similar studies feed into it, like–one of my favorites–intertextuality. Semiotics is a branch of literary analysis that picks apart the parts of meaning making.
Fascinating questions abound. Learn more about Derrida below…and read some of my work on the topic of semiotics at K. on Writing.
Derrida’s Teacher Calls His Writing Quite Incomprehensible
Jacques Derrida, Philosopher
Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher, born in Algeria. Derrida is best known for developing a form of semiotic analysis known as deconstruction, which he discussed in numerous texts. Wikipedia
Born: July 15, 1930, El Biar, Algeria – Died: October 8, 2004, Paris, France
Spouse: Marguerite Derrida (m. 1957–2004)
Education: École Normale Supérieure, Lycée Louis-le-Grand, Harvard University
(c) Google Search, April 14, 2015
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