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By David McNally

Our bodies of that means offers a full of life problem to postmodernist theories of language and politics which detach language from human our bodies and their fabric practices. starting with the 'historical our bodies' theorized via Marx, Darwin, and Freud, McNally develops another account of language which attracts at the paintings of Mikhail Bakhtin and Walter Benjamin and up to date contributions to materialist feminism. In bringing the physique again into language, this ebook makes an important contribution to present debates in social and political concept.

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Extra resources for Bodies of Meaning: Studies on Language, Labor, and Liberation

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For one of the most interesting features of Saussure's linguistics is his use of economic concepts to construct a science of language. Saussure hoped to use the concept of "value" to illuminate relations among linguistic signs. But in so doing he entangled himself in a fetishistic economics of language. Astute reader that he can be, Derrida sees some of this. But Derrida also resists moves to defetishize. Intrigued by the movements of specters, spirits and fetishes, he refuses any move toward the real, toward the embodied practices which underwrite spectral movements.

The problem for the true thinker is to resist "the seduction of language (and of the fundamental errors of reason that are petrified in it)" (GM, 45; also TI, 48). Yet, how is this seduction to be avoided? " After all, if "the speaker has already vulgarized himself by speaking" (TI, 93), doesn't it follow that the only solution is to  < previous page < previous page page_42 page_43 next page > next page > Page 43 disavow communication by refusing to speak? Certainly, Nietzsche often suggests as much; at such moments, Zarathustra turns silent.

Astute reader that he can be, Derrida sees some of this. But Derrida also resists moves to defetishize. Intrigued by the movements of specters, spirits and fetishes, he refuses any move toward the real, toward the embodied practices which underwrite spectral movements. And, as we shall see, this refusal of defetishizing critique undercuts efforts to use deconstruction as critical theory. And here I caution the reader. Tracing the movement of Derrida's arguments can be a frustrating task. Derrida delights in word play and allusion, he relishes the obscure and the inscrutable.

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