Source of "Amphiony Critique#8" is

ISBN 0-8018-4281-6

Other Convergences:
Intertextuality, Mutivocality,
and De-centeredness

Like Barthes, Foucault, and Mikhail Bakhtin,
Jacques Derrida continually uses the terms link
(liaison), web(toile), network(reseau), and interwoven
(s'y tissent), which cry out for hypertextuality;
but in contrast to Barthes, who emphasizes the
readerly text and its nonlinearity, Derrida empha-
sizes textual openness, intertextuality, and the
irrelevance of distinctions between inside and out-
side a particular text. These emphases appear
with particular clarity when he claims that "like any text, the text of
'Plato' couldn't not be involved, at least in a virtual, dynamic, lateral
manner, with all the worlds that composed the system of the Greek
language". Derrida in fact here describes extant hypertext sys-
tems in which the active reader in the process of exploring a text,
probing it, can call into play dictionaries with morphological analyzers
that connect individual words to cognates, derivations, and opposites.
Here again something that Derrida and other critical theorists.
describe as part of a seemingly extravagant claim about language turns
out precisely to describe the new economy of reading an writing
with electronic virtual, rather than physical, forms.
Derrida properly acknowledges (in advance, one might say) that a
new, freer, richer form of text, one truer to our potential experience,
perhaps to our actual if unrecognized experience, depends upon
discrete reading units. As he explains, in what Gregory Ulmer terms
"the fundamental generalization of his writing," there also exists "the
possibility of disengagement and citational graft which belongs to
the structure of every mark, spoken and outside of every horizon of semio-
linguistic communication....Every sign, linguistic or nonlinguistic,
spoken or written...can be cited, put between quotation marks." The
implication of such citability and separability appears in the fact,
crucial to hypertext, that, as Derrida adds, "in so doing it can break
with every given context, engendering an infinity of new contexts in a
manner which is absolutely illimitable."
Like Barthes, Derrida conceives of text as constituted by discrete
reading units. Derrida's conception of text relates to his "methodology
of decomposition" that might transgress the limits of philosophy.
"The organ of this new philosopheme," as Gregory Ulmer points out,
"is the mouth, the mouth that bites, chews, tastes....The first step
of decomposition is the bite". Derrida, who describes text in
terms of something close to Barthes's lexias, explains in Glas that "the
object of the present work, its style too, is the 'mourceau,'" which
Ulmer translates as "bit, piece, morsel, fragment; musical composition;
snack, mouthful," This mourceau, adds Derrida, "is always detached,
as its name indicates and so you do not forget it, with the teeth,"
and these teeth, Ulmer explains, refer to "quotation marks, brackets,
parentheses: when language is cited (put between quotation marks),
the effect is that of releasing the grasp or hold of a controlling con-
Derrida's groping for a way to foreground his recognition of the
way text operates in a print medium-he is, after all, the fierce advo-
cate of writing as against orality-shows the position, possibly the
dilemma, of the thinker working with print who sees its shortcomings
but for all his brilliance cannot think his way outside this mentalite.
Derrida, the experience of hypertext shows, gropes toward a new kind
of text: he describes it, he praises it, but he can present it only in
terms of the devices-here those of punctuation-associated with a
particular kind of writing. As the Marxists remind us, thought derives
from the forces and modes of production, though, as we shall see,
few Marxists or Marxians ever directly confront the most important
mode of literary production-that dependent upon the techne of writ-
ing and print.
From this Derridean emphasis upon discontinuity comes the con-
ception of hypertext as a vast assemblage, what I have elsewhere
termed the metatext and what Nelson calls the "docuverse." Derrida in
fact employs the word assemblage for cinema, which he perceives as a
rival, an alternative, to print. Ulmer points out that "the gram or trace
provides the 'linguistics' for collage/montage", and he quotes
Derrida's use of assemblage in Speech and Phenomena: "The wor
'assemblage' seems more apt for suggesting that the kind of bringing-
together proposed here has the structure of an interlacing, a weaving,
or a web, which would allow the different threads and different lines
of sense or force to separate again, as well as being ready to bind
others together." To carry Derrida's instinctive theorizing of hyper-
text further, one may also point to his recognition that such a mon-
tagelike textuality marks or foregrounds the writing process and
therefore rejects a deceptive transparency.

Hypertext and Intertextuality
Hypertext, which is a fundamentally intertextual system, has the
capacity to emphasize intertextuality in a way that page-bound text in
books cannot.