Sunday, December 6, 2009


Last week, I thought our discussion on postmodernism and more specifically, Derrida's concept of words, was interesting. He gives the example of difference and the French word for differ, differance. These two words sound the same, but by their context, you are able to tell the well, difference, between the two. As words, they can always mean something else in another context. In this case, words and their meaning seem to parallel human beings--no two words mean exactly the same, just as no two humans' existences are exactly the same. Each differs in a certain context. One word can mean something entirely different in one sentence than another, and a human can act an entirely different way in one situation than another. If a human is put in a strange situation he/she is not used to, they may feel uncomfortable and act differently than usual--if a word is put into another sentence it is usually not used in, its meaning may change.

Also, this is kind of a silly example, but I actually think it works here-- a few weeks ago Professor Johnson mentioned again “the gaze.” “The gaze” however also sounds like “the gays.” It might have caught me off guard for a second, but I knew that in this context, she was obviously talking about existentialism’s “the gaze.” The point is, though they sound the same, they mean something completely different and one way or the other, changes the meaning and interpretation completely. It is just funny to think about stories told over time and texts, such as the Bible, where the verbal and written context of the same thing may mean completely different things to those who told the stories and those who wrote them; even those who are reading them.


  1. I like what you're getting at here. I think that we should be more aware of the multiple meanings words have, not just in the case of words that sound very similar to others. I think everyone has a slightly different perspective or impression of words. Someone's idea of "dog" might be related to a first puppy. Someone's idea of "God", of "faith" similarly might be different enough to another's, to result in a conflict of interpretation or connotation. Maybe we are too often agreeing when we think we are disagreeing or vice versa.

  2. I like the point of this post alot. Being careful about which words to use is addressed very clearly in this post as well as in class itself. One word can change the meaning of the entire sentence and therefore alter the interpretation completely. As Hugh said that there are many different interpretation simple words like " dog" or the most complex such as "God" but we have to keep in mind the weight that single words carry and that interpretations are different for all words around the world. Sarah's account of the " the gaze" and " the gays" is really interesting and when said without any context shows excatly the impact that just words have on interpretation of any text.


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