Derrida: “What Comes Before the Question?”

Derrida ponders over what precedes questioning and what we mean by the word “being”. Like all great philosophers, he is not interested in the superficial things, but tries to explicate the underlying processes that encourage us to delve deeply into the matter of things. He claims that all human beings seek affirmation, which, according to Derrida, is a prerequisite to questioning. It is believed that an individual is born with natural curiosity that drives them to explore the complex world in which we live by asking different questions. The more we question, the more we learn and, subsequently, obtain knowledge and experience necessary for surviving in a society. Derrida puts “into question both questioning form of thought as well as the authority of the present or presence” (2007). Questioning is a form of response to inner and outside stimuli, when we single out important things and acknowledge them. Derrida also claims that in everything there is a “trace”, which he defines as something we constantly return to – whether it is past, present or future – “a different type of temporality that is even older than the past” (2007). There is nothing new under the sun, and literature experts of all times convincingly demonstrate the truthfulness of this saying.  

Woulff: She’s My Dad

In recent years, gender issues attract undivided attention of society in general and researchers and writers in particular. This week’s reading unravels prejudices and stereotypes connected with gender, which penetrate modern belief and value systems. In fact, Nickie Farrell and Alex Steward are the embodiments of opposing perspectives on gender. Nickie, a post operative transsexual woman, acts as the voice of modern generation, who believe that gender is construed under various outside influences and can be changed at any point of one’s life. Alex, on the contrary, expresses the outdated views on gender, believing that once you have been endowed with masculine or feminine features, you should stick to them: “I am so damned conformist and puritanical that I can’t handle being attracted to a… transsexual woman” (2195). Their perspectives on gender have as many supporters as opponents, and whatever side one takes, in all probability, it will be the right one. An important issue is how the opposing perspectives can harmoniously coexist in society without leading to irreconcilable conflicts. The evident answer is that compromise is hardly possible, once you have made up your mind about gender and its formation. The writer also touches upon the question of journalists’ professional integrity or, in other words, to what extent they should intrude into other people’s lives. Nickie voices Woulff’s opinion, saying that “journalism is a demanding and harsh field, fraught with opportunities to hurt people, and you’ll have to weigh your choices very carefully” (2009,          p. 2075). In fact, journalism is quite a competitive field, where integrity is not appreciated, but prevents professional growth and fame.

Foucault: What Is an Author?

Foucault focuses his attention on what people give more credit to – the writer or his ideas. Nowadays, the flow of information is so quick that we often forget to acknowledge the primary sources, clinging to the ideas, sifting them and transforming them as we like. People have become more indifferent to who is speaking, but pay close attention to what and how is being said. “Writing unfolds like a game that invariably goes beyond its own rules and transgresses its limits” (1984, p. 102). According to Foucault, the purpose of writing is to create a space for words, which can speak for themselves. Indeed, words impart meaning through symbolism and expand the horizons of our understanding. The reader’s perspective depends mostly on the context in which the words are said or written, triggering different emotions and reactions. Foucault also discusses the relationship between writing and death. I believe that the most compelling reason to pursue the writing career is to become “immortal” and distinguished among other voices. Once you are heard and acknowledged, you can change the world for the better or worse. 

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