Introducing Lyotard: Art and Politics (Critics of the by Bill Readings

By Bill Readings

The 1st really introductory textual content on Lyotard, this ebook situates Lyotard's interventions within the postmodern debate within the wider context of his rethinking of the politics of illustration. invoice Readings examines Lyotard's dating to structuralism, Marxism and semiotics, and contrasts his paintings with the literary deconstruction of Paul de guy; he positions Lyotard's paintings to be able to draw out the consequences of poststructurlaism's cognizance to difference in analyzing. Lyotard's willingness to question the political and look at the connection among artwork and politics is proven to undermine the cost that deconstruction abdicates political and social articulation.

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Additional info for Introducing Lyotard: Art and Politics (Critics of the Twentieth Century)

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Lyotard accepts that the linguistic signifier functions differentially, but insists that this is not the whole story: that this ignores the difference of the visible evoked in linguistic reference or in the plasticity of the line in the letter. Let us begin by looking at the incommensurable presence of visible and textual space in the way reference functions as a figure for structural linguistics. According to Lyotard, reference and designation ground the function of language, but they do so at the cost of introducing the alterity of the visible to the textual space of linguistic signification: ‘To speak is always to speak of something, and this dimension of reference, which the structuralist method ignores on principle, is nothing other than the presence of the distantiation of seeing in the experience of discourse’ (DF: 31).

Let us begin by looking at the incommensurable presence of visible and textual space in the way reference functions as a figure for structural linguistics. According to Lyotard, reference and designation ground the function of language, but they do so at the cost of introducing the alterity of the visible to the textual space of linguistic signification: ‘To speak is always to speak of something, and this dimension of reference, which the structuralist method ignores on principle, is nothing other than the presence of the distantiation of seeing in the experience of discourse’ (DF: 31).

Saussure’s account of signification also establishes an unmotivated relation of textual space to the body of the reader, which Lyotard calls the ‘graphic’ function of the letter. There is no value to the plastic forms of letters—their capacity to signify depends simply on their oppositional graphic distinction. All that is required of ‘t’ is that it be distinguishable from all other letters. The actual plastic shape of the letter is irrelevant. At the same time, all that is required of the reader is the recognition of this distinction: the different corporeal engagement of the retina in tracing the line of ‘t’ or of ‘r’ is utterly irrelevant to their function, which in each case is merely to distinguish themselves from 25 other characters, from the absence of character, and from diacritical marks.

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