Sunday, 3 September 2000

From "The Shape of the Signifier"

By Walter Benn Michaels.

That is, the redescription of difference of opinion (the difference between what you think that letter is and what I think that letter is) as difference in subject-position (the difference between you and me) makes the literary critical critique of intentionalism into the posthistoricist valorization of identity. More generally - beyond the question of intention - it is difference itself that emerges as intrinsically valuable. Because there is no contradiction between the fact that from a certain distance, at a certain angle, in a certain light those formations on Mars do have the shapes of letters and the fact that from another distance, at a different angle, and in a different light, they don't, there is no necessary or intrinsic conflict between these positions, no question of right or wrong, true or false.

[...] One name for this recourse to difference and (it amounts to the same thing) identity has been the end of history.

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