Friday, January 15, 2010

The Thesis in Parables

I'm toying with the idea of including an explicit supplement in my thesis which would be a sort of other to the thesis. For Derrida, argumentation always involves implicit supplementation: in order to argue X, that which is other-than-X is required in an 'infinite chain' that is yet concealed in order to give the 'mirage' that the argument is self-sufficient (OG 157). The supplement both adds to and substitutes the argument: it 'adds only to replace' (OG 145). It is both essential and threatening. Threatening since it reveals that, without it, the argument cannot appear self-sufficient, cannot appear as "a work itself;" without the supplement, there is no "itself" of the work. Therefore essential since the "work itself" is less than whole, less than pure, lacking in and of itself, and in need of supplementation.

This is why I've been thinking about the possibility of including a (there is an infinite chain of supplements such that there is never just one supplement, never just the supplement) supplement that might work as an other of the thesis. While there will be implicit supplements in my thesis (some I may be aware of, others I definitely won't be), I've been thinking/worrying/obsessing about the nature of the doctoral thesis in general, about writing and representation in general before (see here, for example, where I was thinking about alternative presentations, like the work of a number of poststructuralist thinkers, including Derrida's Glas and Circumfession) and think that a supplement that augments the philosophical, theological, ethical and ecclesiological argumentation with literature might be an apt way to explore how argumentation can also be replaced by the supplement.

So I'm thinking about a supplement of creative writing, in which I attempt to write the thesis as parables, "the thesis in parables," one for each chapter, positioned after the thesis, as a supplement. These pieces of writing might say in poetic form what the logic of the argument is trying to say. The parables can (will?) say more than the argument will (can?) and can (will?) replace the argument.

I'm going to post a few of them to the Facebook discussion board of the Association for Continental Philosophy of Religion at the beginning of March, along with a brief introduction to the background to their creation. I'll also post them in a "thesis in parables" series here at some point.

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