Esther’s Space- journey through my life

February 20, 2007

♪♪♪A little bit of Derrida, by my side♪♪♪

Filed under: Uncategorized — estherspace @ 2:21 pm

Derrida, Watchmen, Freeplay, and Centerlessness

For Jacques Derrida, a deconstructuralist critic, texts are open to a number of different and equally valid readings and not bound to a specific and essential structure. Through this, the notion that the center is no longer the center is validated and the option for freeplay introduced. Now, everything is provisional, rather than fixed or true.

freeplay: opportunity to move freely within a basic structure

decentering: shifting the focus from a center that must create, define, and control a structure in favor of allowing for possible understandings that have not yet been constructed. Derrida’s decentering relies upon the concept that structure is created, not inherent, therefore the decentering is the deconstruction of structure and the opposition to rebuilding.

Within Watchmen, the characters as well as Alan Moore are utlizing the freeplay and decenteredness allowed by Derrida’s deconstructionism.

  • Watchmen as a Graphic Novel-Alan Moore is writing within the structure of language and the more specific structure of a graphic novel, but is maintaining a great deal of freeplay. The characters are as plentious or sparse as he chooses, there are any number of possible story lines, the panels and scenes can be as large or small as necessary, the characters can be physically shaped or appear in any manner, without the confines of a structural ‘recipe.’
    • Take, for example, the first introduction to Dr. Manhattan (ChapterI Page20). Here, Dr. Manhattan is easily four times the height of Rorschach, and his panel takes up the space that was previously occupied by six panels.
  • Dr. Manhattan-One of the best examples of freeplay within the novel. He exists within the basic structure of humanity, but is able to transcend it and work within it in an infinite number of possibilities.
    • Dr. Manhattan’s relation to time is an excellent example of decentering. Time is traditionally thought to be a structured, linear arrangement of moments on a continuum. For Dr. Manhattan, time is not arranged in any structure that would traditionally be recognized. Instead of a linear composition of time with a past, present, and future, time for Dr. Manhattan is a constant present, no matter where that ‘present’ may fall on a traditional linear scale of time (Chapter IV). His ability to live within these constant presents while also interacting with humanity is an example of decentering, for new possibilities have been introduced and therefore the original notion of time cannot suffice.

In relation to Watchmen, Jacques Derrida’s concepts of noncenteredness and unlimited freeplay are inhibited by the necessary structure of literature, interpretation, humanity, and society.  While Derrida would prefer a non-structured world, we as a society demand strict structure in every aspect of our lives. 

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Theory in Watchmen First up: Derrida and Watchmen, over at Esther’s space. […]

    Pingback by Theory in Watchmen « Literary Theory @ Strose — February 20, 2007 @ 10:49 pm


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