Derrida and a Theory of Irony: Parabasis and Parataxis
This thesis presents a theory of structural irony gleaned from the irony theorisedand performed in the texts of thinkers whose works operate on the border of the(non)propositional: Plato, Friedrich Schlegel, Maurice Blanchot, Paul de Man,Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida. While focusing on the irony performedin the texts of Jacques Derrida, and using his engagements with these thinkers as
a frame, this is not a theory of “Derridean” irony, but an irony (primarily)
elaborated through a deconstructive approach and vocabulary. Structural irony isseen to take the form of the transgressive step/counter-step of parabasis and thenon-hierarchical disorder of parataxis. It is an anacoluthic force/weakness, andexhibits the conjunctive/disjunctive trait of hyphenation. It is neither of cynical,aesthetic distance nor humorous, parodic engagement, but is a productivemovement of (impossible) negotiation between terms. Irony is an expression of the
, and this reworking of borders and limits is performed in the
fragment/aphorism. The (ir)responsible step taken in Derrida‟s texts is
understood as a mode of structural irony, and it is proposed that the stylistic
changes that occurred in Derrida‟s “later” texts were in part due to the
d by an overexposure to the “laws of the interview”.
Throughout the thesis styles that manipulate the unmasterable excesses of irony
are investigated, and each chapter ends with a reading of one of Derrida‟s more“literary” or “performative” texts, while r
ecognising and playing with the falsityof such generic makers or divisions. Inscribing Derrida within a tradition of thinkers of the non-thetic both extends readings of that tradition and of ironyitself, while affording a valuable way of approaching the
“structures” withinDerrida‟s texts. Irony is not presented as the transcendental signifier of
deconstruction, but as a profitable way of understanding deconstruction and itsrelation to other writers.