What aspects of deconstructionist literary criticism can be applied to Jorge Luis Borges's Circular Ruins?

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Derrida dismantled the idea that speech is superior to writing. It has been thought that speech is more present (and therefore more "true") than writing because speech is closer to the idea in the author's mind than text.

Derrida showed that both speech and writing are structured by difference. The...

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Derrida dismantled the idea that speech is superior to writing. It has been thought that speech is more present (and therefore more "true") than writing because speech is closer to the idea in the author's mind than text.

Derrida showed that both speech and writing are structured by difference. The meaning of the spoken word "tree" as well as the written word "tree" defers to other signs. A tree is a plant with leaves and roots that uses photosynthesis, and so on. Any sign always already defers to other signs in order to have meaning. This is difference. All meaning is always already deferred. Therefore, speech is not more present than writing. In other words, no meaning is a self-contained, singular entity. It defers to other things in all cases.

The man/wizard in the story (at first) believes he is the author of his own existence. His Being is present to himself alone. He then believes himself capable of dreaming another man into existence. In the end, he discovers that he himself has been dreamt by another. This is thought-provoking. If he has been dreamt, it is possible that everyone has been dreamt. If that is the case, every individual's meaning defers to some other author/speaker/dreamer. This is the kind of endless deferral upon which meaning operates: difference. I am dreamt by you who is dreamt by her and yet I am dreaming both of you, ad infinitum.

In terms of deconstruction, the example in this story addresses authorship. The dictum "there is nothing outside of the text" certainly applies here. Theoretically, taken to the extreme, everyone is part of everyone else's text/dream. There is no one true author and there is no one true speaker. In this story, it's as if we are always already trying to write our selves only to discover that we are always already being written by others. Everyone is author and subject. Everyone is subjected to difference, deferred presence, and textuality. Just as each sign ("tree") defers endlessly to other signs, every subject (person) defers to others in a "circular" way. This kind of endless, circular deferral justifies Derrida's notion that there is no fully present meaning. Rather, with trees or people, speech or text, all meaning is always already deferred.

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As is typical of the author's work, "The Circular Ruins" by Jorge Luis Borges is almost a work of metafiction, with some qualities of a fable and some of a theological essay. With a sort of spare elegance with respect to detail,  Borges himself seems almost to deconstruct the world of the story.

Several aspects of deconstruction can apply to this story. The first is Derrida's dictum "il n'y a pas de hors-texte", for by the end of the story the narrator reveals to us that rather than being "outside" the story of creation, he himself is merely a dream-child as well, caught up in an infinite regress of textual replication and infinite deferral of signification.

Next, the story can be seen as following deconstructive models of breaking down binary oppositions. The differences between story teller and story, creator and creation, illusion and reality, dream and waking, and god and human disappear in the story, as the tale winds back on itself and melds the creating dreamer with a dream. The story challenges us to examine the nature of writing itself and the dream worlds it creates as not opposed to reality but constitutive of the world in which we find ourselves.

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