Nichole Kypreos

Nichole
Kypreos

Suspense
Fiction

Earl
Jackson, Jr.

November 9, 1998

[This is Nichole’s paper again, but this time
with Earl’s feedback in
Red]

Narrative Deconstruction in The Killer Inside
Me

Hi Nichole – I found my
copy of the Derrida text that would be great for a longer paper should
you wish to do one. Now this text may seem dry anddusty at first but itís
the important underpinings of Grammatology.
Itís two chapters from a much more {at least apparently} conventional type
of philosophical treatise D. published in 1967 {published the same year
he published Of Grammatology}, Speech and Phenomena And Other Essays on
Husserlís Theory of Signs. (Translatd David B. Allison, Evanston; Northwestern
University Press, 1973] There are two essays in that really address the
issue of consciousness
that tells a story as if wre a novelist. And
the ambiguitiy of the [impossible]
and the narrative text [the wrtiing of which we cannot specify]. I used
this many many years ago when wrot a paper on Samuel Beckettís trilogy,
I think It will work here too.] The Chapters are: „Meaning as Soliloquy“and
„The Voice that Keeps Silent.“ Also the last chapter in this collection
is where Derrida originally introduced the concept of Differance.


The written text often times tells of its own limitations
as a mode of expression and interpretation [This
is true, and it is a basic tenet of deconstruction as well. The only fogginess
you need to keep your eye out for is the blurry distinctions between self-deconstructive
processes within texts and „deconstruction“ as a critical practice through
you engage with those. These dimension „deconstructioní do tend to shift
in Derridaís arugment from time to time, but itís important keep a grasp
of the scope of your particular project. Your borders are shaky in these
two sentences, so all you need to do is make better fences, decide which
side of the fence youíll be here and then go to work – the shift in this
area where deconstruction isnít „forbiddení and in fact you may want to
have that option – but itís only effective if you allow to happen self-consciously
and under your critical scrutiny.
Otherwise
your engagemetn wtll slip way into a pantextual limbo. ].
Deconstruction,
the term coined by Jacques Derrida in the late 1960s, is the mode by which
language forms, namely speech and writing, overlap and transgress one another.
[This is good, but this is also where the danger may lie.]

The relationship becomes nonexistent
as the two are so closely linked [then the relationship still very much
exists!!!!]
that they join in sharing similar semiotic features. Jim
Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me, a representation of a murderer’s
mind, closely resembles the above theoretical concepts [will
need to elaborate but I think itís very possible.].
The narrative
structure questions itself [How? Any really provocative
or counter-intuitive claim must be illustrated with ready and readily intelligible
examples.],

suggests its limitations
and ultimately subverts itself as an intelligible mode of expression and
means of interpretation
[very heavy, and probably
true.]
. This particular unintelligibility effaces itself from an
epistemological standpoint [this semi-metaphor
is running away with your sentence. What does an „unintelligibility“ look
like? How does it hide? What is it hiding? Its
meaning?
Its
meaninglessness? The extremities to which it had to go for the sake of
its apparent meaning?]
as the novel’s conclusion
problematizes narrative structure as a successful phenomenological means
of communication
[Why would narrative e a „phenomenological“
means of communication? Why not semiotic? Whatís the difference between
the two. This sentence is sheltering real powerhouses. They have to identified
and their relevance to a localized discussion of Thompson needs to be elaborated.
[youíll like the book on Husserl, I think, given this sentence.].

I must first address what it means to deconstruct
a text. The term seems to be used loosely in regards to undergraduate studies
(the majority of upper division literature courses offered at the

University of California, Santa Cruz, in my experience)
in textual

analysis, that is, picking apart a text piecemeal
in a series of

close readings. This is
confusing because it isnít clear whether youíre writing that this „picking
apart“ of a text is what you do in a Classroom here instead of deconstruction,
or are you saying this is deconstruction.?]
Each part is then
examined in a kind of hermeneutic

tradition This is impressive
– but why the passive voice twice here? it makes that class seem really
mysterious. Also it there is a lit class engaging in casual „close readings,“
it seems surprising that that also includes submitting the text to hermeneutical
arguments and other philosophies. And what school among these critical
traditions would decide on a „determinate“ meaning. Remember „unlimited
semiosis.í?]
in which aspects
such as author intention and historical

relativity are discussed to produce a determinate
meaning. [Oh, I see what youíre doing. ]

[Sorry Nichole
iím in my office itís Saturday and I have to rush to the train to get home
– iíll finish this then ok? I
havenít
been home since Tuesday.]
Best,
earl


Jacques Derrida produced his groundbreaking
Of
Grammatology
in the mid-1960s


and had it published in 1967
[On second thought, there are always more trains. {sound of rolling up
my sleeves}]
. He uses the western philosophical


tendency which privileges the spoken
word to the written [He „uses“ it in the sense
that he uses it as his primary target for his attack. He doesn’t „use“
it as the normative model intelligbility or the transparent medium to thought,
whichis what he is attacking and accusing his predecessors of doing.].

From Saussure to Rousseau, he reverses the notion of writing as an externality
to speech [You switched one half of the metaphor
in the equation without changing the other so you reader would have to
be pretty up on her or his Derrida to make the necessary extrapolation.
If you had kept it as the idea of speech being anterior  or prior
to writing, to say „he reverses“ it makes sense, i mean it can be conceptualized
from that phrase. But when you switch it ot „writing as externality to
speech“ the sense of „he reverses is lost.“ What is the reversal? Exterior
– Interior?Are you saying
that his predecessors declared speech interior to writing? That’s probably
arguable, but it would lead you to another paper entirely. And more importantly,
I think even inverted, the interior-exterior dichtomy would be dangerously
misleading to preserve in any synopsis of Derrida’s thought. Keep the concepts
in order but also keep their individual signature tropes in line too ;-)] 

In his deconstruction, writing becomes the catalyst to language formation
and evolution [This is a peculiar chronology imagine.
Language has to have already come into formation before writing occurs,
no matter how much you want to „think Derridean.“ So what do you mean here
since you can’t mean that?]
  and
[When he claims that writing has primacy over speech, he isn’t making counterempirical
claims about the concrete historical evolution of either phenomena. See
me about this if this isn’t clear.]
takes an emphatic precedence
over the spoken word. In his final analysis
[Why
is this his „final analysis“? Do you mean, In Of Grammatology, Derrida
concludes that . . .“]
,
Derrida states that writing is
„always already“ speech [or the other way around?]
in that the concept of form (i.e.
Saussure’s
binary model of
the
sign
) „permitted a

distinction between formal difference
and phonic difference.“ (57). He maintains that the exteriority of writing
and the interiority of speaking are one of the same; they are of the same
language and are

inextricably joined; there exists
no boundary between the two. In

applying this theory to Jim Thompson’s
The Killer Inside Me, a book

that can perhaps be best described
as a Freudian venture into the

relations between the conscious, preconscious,
and unconscious, I find

that the plot becomes a problematic
discourse about the limitations of


a first-person narrative and written
language. The narrative


ultimately folds in on itself on
the last page of the novel, and it is


that instance that I would like to
highlight for inspection and a


possible deconstruction.

Lou Ford, the deputy sheriff of Central
City, Texas, is a hypocrite. He does exactly what he says he would not
do. He explains how he kills Amy Stanton on Saturday night, April 5th,
1952 by leading thereader on an up and down of path to knowledge, leaving
him/her in a state of anticipation of the actual event. [Scroll down to
table where conversation
continues
in earnest.] Just as he begins to tell the story of the murder,
he retreats back into the past to give the history behind his murder. In
a particular „down“ time, he mentions the act of writing and how many writers
tend to dramatize events to the point of incoherence. He matter of factly
states that in thbooks he has read, „the writer seems to go haywire every
time he reaches a high point. He’ll start leaving out punctuation and running
his words together and babble about stars and sinking into a dee dreamless
sea.“ (179-180). He evades his presence as a writer,


however he raises himself to the
status of story-teller. Bycontrasting his construction with those of other
writers, he at first seems to place himself in the position of the writer.
Consequently, this means that the narrative would be a written one and
could smoothly fit into the first part of the aforementioned Derridian
model. Lou, however, makes a decisively clever move and moves out of the
realm of the written and into a narrative that seems untenable andabsent
in construction. He says on the same page, „But the way I see it is, the
writer is just too goddam lazy to do his job. And I’m not lazy, whatever
else I am. I’ll tell you everything.“ (180). If Lou had inserted „but“
instead of „and“ in his statement about his no being lazy, he would have
elevated himself to the level of the writer. He, in contrast, views himself
quite differently from the writer which problematizes the status of his
narrative. The question remains, if his story is not speech and he dismisses
it as writing, then what could it possibly be. Moreover, Lou must keep
to his word  in order for his narrative to be an aggressive text outside
of speech and writing. In other words, he must tell the reader everything
in a clear and orderly manner to give himself a presence between the two


seemingly separable entities. To
elaborate further on the above quote [passage],
Lou does, in fact, tell the reader everything, and that becomes the crux
of the narrative’s problem [Superb!].
I will return to this later.


EEarl,

This is as far as I could
get without feeling as though my thesis was teetering on the precipice
between reason and wacky interpretation. The plans, however, for the rest
of my paper are as follows:
Earl’s
Response

1. I intend to compare
the above passage w/ the last few paragraphs of

the novel to see if, in
fact, Lou holds up his end of the bargain. I

am going to show how Lou’s
words do seem to sink into a „deep

dreamless sea.“ The punctuation
and lack thereof help to show this as

well as the words incoherent
meaning(s). Does Lou really die? (He

does in my interpretation).
If he does, then how does he go on

„speaking?/writing?“ the
last and ending paragraph
?

What is an
incoherent meaning?

Is it a meaning if incoherent
and if so to whom?


 

Yes Lou really dies.

At the end we see him dies but
that moment of his death  as representation of his death also means
that he was always already dead. The narrativete presentation of the narrating
self and its „inner secrets“ and the history of is truth, that entire presentation 
was the impossible „voice“ of a subject already dead, and already dead
having never existed in the first place.


The question how did he do it
to begin with. 


2. I am
going to try to thoughtfully show how the narrative’s

improbability and unintelligibility
(in a Foucauldian
e
epistemological

sense) is that very thing
that deconstructs it. The unintelligibility

reveals how Lou’s narrative
is neither speech nor writing but both. 

I’m going to use some more
Derrida theory as well as the fact that the

The Killer Inside Me text
is written. Lou’s ambivalence to writing is

also a topic of interest.

This is perfect! I never thought of the narratorial
peculiarity o f The Killer  Inside Me as a testing ground for Derrida’s
gramatology but it really works! I once wrote a paper on Beckett’s trilogy
with this approach, but now reading you paper I see the similarities between
Beckettt’s and Thompson’s narrators.


Superlative Work!
3.
What does this say, then, about writing as a medium for expression?

What does this say about the
success of the first person narrative? 

What does this say about the
transparency of language? I’m not quite

sure yet, but I have some
ideas. 

What do you think about all
this, Ear


Am I going out on a crazy

Derridian limb? Will you have
this read before Tuesday’s office hours,

because I’d like to come talk
to you about it. If not, can we perhaps

make an appointment?l? 

 

Let’s see:
I’m going to reverse the order of your questions:

Yes we can make an appointment

Yes I will have this read by Tuesday,
since I have already read  it now.


 

Yes you are  going out

on a crazy Derridean limb . And
you’re doing it responsibly and profitably.

My way of  answering the last[first]
questions  is to pose a hypermedia Derridean action parable. I have
embedded links to valuable online resources to the very issues you are
addressing. I embedded them this page and also the previous
one
where it is soley your texts.