Chapter 11: “The Time of a Thesis: Punctuations” by Jacques Derrida
At this point in the text when you see Derrida’s name you have probably associated it with dense, needlessly so, papers concerning history or literature. That is normal. So this entry is probably no different; you read the words ‘time’ and ‘thesis’ and thought, “Uh oh! A lengthy diatribe where he deconstructs the concept of a thesis. Better get out the Advil for this one!” Well, you would be glad to know that this piece is not the usual case. In fact, it is a bit easy to read, comparatively speaking.
The piece deals with Derrida’s philosophy. Principally speaking, deconstruction. He recounts his struggle with writing, and publishing, the theory which came to be known as deconstruction. How many times university procedure and tradition froze him out of his research and efforts to link his writings with his larger intent; philosophic underpinnings and differences in how Derrida conceptualized the Western tradition, being what he means by “is there a time of a thesis?” The exact window of reference being the twenty-five odd years between his master’s thesis and his doctorate thesis; chronicling his thoughts on how he got from point A to B, including his long grappling with a variety of influences, Derrida tells a personal story concerning his entanglement with the French philosophic tradition.
Going into specifics this piece tells of the philosophic lineage of deconstruction. It acts, to a lesser extent, also as an introduction to the basics of deconstruction not as practiced in a demonstration, but as seen from a bird’s-eye view. It is almost like an epistemological introduction to his thought process and in this way it is a revealing read into his difficulties. It may not stimulate your brain from a challenging perspective but it will provide a reference point for where Derrida, and his seemingly incoherent prose, is coming from.