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138Philosophy and Literature Hamlet happens to read Claudius's letter—is involved in a movement whereby Hamlet acquires a more playful understanding of mimesis and accepts chance rather than scripts ordained by providence or the father. While presenting Hamlet as a sort of convert to poststructuralism may sound routine, the detail of Warner's reading makes this a subde and interesting contribution to the invention of a Hamlet for a nonhumanist age. University of AucklandAlex Calder Institution andInterpretation, by Samuel Weber; xix & 182 pp. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987, $29.50 cloth, $13.95 paper. In his essay entided "Fate," Emerson calls man "a stupendous antagonism, a dragging together ofthe poles ofthe Universe." In his new book Samuel Weber, the author of The Legend of Freud (1982), marshals nine previously published essays to show that such antagonism, which he associates with the differential spray of signs or conflictual drama of interpretation, is damped down or excluded in a variety of ways to enable institutions to function as metaphysical preserves of knowledge. In their dread of infinity the professions, academic departments, philosophers, and critics, not only protect themselves by setting up certain borders, excluding certain elements and including others, they also, as Nietzsche well knew, impose their forces to bring about a synchronic correlation of meanings, a specific discursive and hermeneutical practice: what Weber calls an institution. The question for Weber is "not whether limits are imposed, but how?" (p. xvi). His essays, dating from 1980 to 1985, trace the avoidance of conflict and the "conditions of imposability" (p. 19) in the semiological research of Pierce and Saussure, in Stanley Fish's Is There a Text in This Class? and Frederic Jameson 's TL· Political Unconscious, in the critical responses to Tristram Shandy, in Freudian psychoanalysis over against hermeneutics, and in Derrida's relationship to Husserl's work. Also included here is one of the earliest—and still one of the most insightful—English essays on Derrida's TL· Post Card, "The Debts of Deconstruction and Other, Related Assumptions." In his analysis of Derrida's "correspondence" with Freud and Heidegger, Weber does not let those readers entranced with deconstruction forget that deconstruction, being a discursive enterprise, maintains its substance and cutting power by an obscure institutional calculus, and that it is indebted to other writers and theories for the conditions of its possibility. It is Derrida's honesty about these factors and forces, and the Reviews139 difficult diachrony which ensues from this honesty, that Weber finds operative to some degree in Speech and Phenomena, and highly intensified in The Post Card. In the latter we find the very poetic vertigo of translation and transference, destruction of bunker mentality, Derrida deploying missives whose paths and arrivals cannot be guaranteed in a nexus of relations extending from postmodern Paris to Plato. The institutional fate of all such missives is attracting the scrutiny of Derrida, Weber, and many other theorists. It should be emphasized that Weber's new book is not merely another searchand -destroy effort to track down totalizing critics and hidden signals of suppression . Yes, there is here the tacit and nuanced redundancy of the Heideggerian /early-Derridean surveillance project, so that many of Weber's critical specimens are located—inevitably—in some sort of metaphysical itinerary. But Weber's use ofFreudian theory, always sharp and interesting, keeps the windows ofhis own institution wide open. The notions of"debt" and "enabling exclusion" can bring the analysis ofour taken-for-granted inclinationsofthoughtto striking results, as when Weber retraces the liberal tradition in America. His nine essays are sandwiched by two suggestive pieces which discuss the epistemological dilemma of critical theory in terms of Kant's attempt, in the Critique ofJudgment, to institute particularity without recourse to pregiven concepts, without muting alterity. Here Weber works a line of inquiry neglected by other theorists who have been enmeshed in the Hegelian machinery. As readers of thisjournal are well aware, many theorists are starting to probe Kant's work as an early context for die (very institutional) problem ofthe "faculties." In this collection ofessays, and in his recendy revived Glyph, Weber is sparking a debate for them with some genuinely exciting investigations. Pennsylvania State UniversityC. S...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 138-139
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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