9.2 The 'Collideorscape' as Différance
Joyce's project with a feminine language, which on one hand dismantles the logos and on the other conserves it, prefigures the concerns of a number of later post-structuralist thinkers. HCE's disappearance into the negation of the feminine sign prior to renewal, for instance, is paralleled by Julia Kristeva's understanding of semiotic analysis, where the subject's interaction with negation both rends and renews the logos:
the subject of the semiotic metalanguage must, however briefly, call himself in question, must emerge from the protective shell of a transcendental ego within a logical system, and so restore his condition with that negativity - drive governed, but also social, political and historical - which rends and renews the social code.
In the Wake, the re-unification of the masculine signified and feminine signifier occurs through desire, and its completion is represented by the sexual consummation of male and female. The kaleidoscope thus depicts the sexual act and union of signified and signifier, and simultaneously represents the 'collide or escape' principles of social confrontation. The motif implies that the sexual act is itself a 'reconciliation' between what had been 'sundered', and is both a collision and an escape into time. As a neutral perception of social interaction, the 'collideorscape' prefigures Jacques Derrida's concept of différance, which 'combines in neither the active nor the passive voice the coincidence of meanings in the verb différer: to differ (in space) and to defer (to put off in time, to postpone presence)'.2 Moreover, Julia Kristeva's assessment of the 'neutral peace' implicit in the 'non-contradiction' of Derrida's grammatology similarly contains echoes of the mute multiplicity of the Wakean feminine signifier and peace in the absence of masculine determining presence:
grammatology denounces the economy of the symbolic function and opens up a space that the latter cannot subsume. But in its desire to bar the thetic and put (logically or chronologically) previous energy transfers in its place, the grammatological deluge of meaning gives up on the subject and must remain ignorant not only of his functioning as social practice, but also of his chances for experiencing jouissance or being put to death. Neutral in the face of all positions, theses, and structures, grammatology is, as a consequence, equally restrained when they break, burst, or rupture: demonstrating disinterestedness toward (symbolic and/or social) structure, grammatology remains silent when faced with its destruction or renewal.
1 'The system and the speaking subject' in The Tell-Tale Sign. A Survey of Semiotics, ed. by Thomas A. Seboek (Lisse, Nethelands: The Peter de Ridder Press, 1975) pp. 54-55, cited in Toril Moi, Sexual/Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory (London: Methuen, 1985), pp. 162-63.
2 Alan Bass's introduction to Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference, trans. by Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), p. xvi.
3 Julia Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language, trans. by Margaret Waller (La révolution du langage poétique, Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1974; New York: Columbia University Press, 1984), p. 142.