The Theory of Absence: Subjectivity Signification and Desire

The Theory of Absence: Subjectivity Signification and Desire

The Theory of Absence: Subjectivity Signification and Desire

The Theory of Absence: Subjectivity Signification and Desire

Synopsis

Fuery explores the relationship between post-structuralism and absence. In order to understand the psychoanalytic theory of Lacan (and Freud), the deconstructionalist methodology of Derrida, Foucault's studies of systems of thought, and Kristeva's socio-cultural and psychoanalytic interests, Fuery believes it is necessary to take into consideration the function and operation of absence. He shows how post-structuralist theory can be seen as a system of studies of subjectivity in terms of absence, and how desire is based almost entirely on the precondition of absence. The study is divided into sections on subjectivity. desire, and meaning, with the final section working toward a hermeneutics and semiotics of absence.

Excerpt

What is Absence?

Presence is valued, held up, invested with power, and so can be said to have a pervasive quality. Presence, it appears, constructs, connects, holds together. Within this contrived order of things presence is the determining feature of being, subjectivity, ideology, textuality, systems of speech and writing, presentation and representation--the list is boundless. Presence is, non-presence is not. Such is the construction of presence, even absence, its taxonomic opposite, is seen as a formation and formulation of it. To have presence is also to have the capacity for absence. The force of this relational schema has led to the conceptual figuring of absence and absences only because there is presence, or a register of presence, to begin with. Absence is seen to be derived from a state of presence, as it is seen as the denial of presence.

One way of figuring absence(s) outside of this way of thinking is to specify two forms of absence: primary absences and secondary absences. These categories are necessarily broad and cannot be seen as ascribing a complete agenda to the issues. In this sense it is important to acknowledge the flexibility of the concepts--to recognise the chains of signification which determine not resolution and meaning, but the interplay of the discourses themselves. In their heterogeneity, polyglossia, and dynamic exchange they can be seen to offer not the classification of absence(s), but rather the methodological idea of absences distinct from a relational context of presence. Secondary absences are those which are always derived from a state of presence. They imply presence, acknowledge its relational context, gain their epistemological and ontological structures from it, and indicate sites of presence. They retain, and even reinforce, the binarism of presence and absence. Primary absences, on the other hand, exist outside of any relational context of presence. Primary absences exist . . .

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