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"I Have No History": Negotiating Language in Vassilis Alexakis's The Mother Tongue

"I Have No History": Negotiating Language in Vassilis Alexakis's The Mother Tongue ioanna chatzidimitriou ‘‘IHaveNoHistory’’ Negotiating Language in Vassilis Alexakis’s The MotherTongue In Le Monolinguisme de l’autre, Jacques Derrida suggests that we never possess the language that we speak (70). The speaking subject is split between its desire to ensure its oneness and language that keeps insisting on its otherness. It is condi- tioned not only by its inherent multiplicity, but also by the paradox of linguistic normalization: what is meant to regulate forcefully in fact reveals all relevant ir- regularities (69). In order for the ensuing jealousy and madness to be overcome or at least bypassed, every time language is produced there has to be an inherent promise of a more perfect language, one that would no longer claim its exteriority to the subject. This promise, however, is made with the assumption that its imper- fect vehicle, the language at hand, is one, in other words, other (126). This begs the question: how can anyone achieve oneness when the principle underlying its attainment undercuts the very notion of unity? The subject may never speak the promise of the perfect language because that promise is a ploy meant to keep re- enacting the unilateral imposition of language as epitomized otherness, canceling http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

"I Have No History": Negotiating Language in Vassilis Alexakis's The Mother Tongue

The Comparatist , Volume 30 – Apr 26, 2006

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 the Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887

Abstract

ioanna chatzidimitriou ‘‘IHaveNoHistory’’ Negotiating Language in Vassilis Alexakis’s The MotherTongue In Le Monolinguisme de l’autre, Jacques Derrida suggests that we never possess the language that we speak (70). The speaking subject is split between its desire to ensure its oneness and language that keeps insisting on its otherness. It is condi- tioned not only by its inherent multiplicity, but also by the paradox of linguistic normalization: what is meant to regulate forcefully in fact reveals all relevant ir- regularities (69). In order for the ensuing jealousy and madness to be overcome or at least bypassed, every time language is produced there has to be an inherent promise of a more perfect language, one that would no longer claim its exteriority to the subject. This promise, however, is made with the assumption that its imper- fect vehicle, the language at hand, is one, in other words, other (126). This begs the question: how can anyone achieve oneness when the principle underlying its attainment undercuts the very notion of unity? The subject may never speak the promise of the perfect language because that promise is a ploy meant to keep re- enacting the unilateral imposition of language as epitomized otherness, canceling

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Apr 26, 2006

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