Precis: Sarah Knoth

Derrida’s “Plato’s Pharmacy: Pharmacia” is an interesting debate between reading and writing and the significance of each as a part or a whole. Derrida continues to discuss a common theme in this course, which is imitation. There is a bit of a debate as to the authenticity of and the component of necessity of writing in that it is essentially just copying. He paraphrases Plato in saying that “writing can only repeat (itself), that it ‘always signifies…the same’ and that it is a ‘game’” (65).  With this argument, I think it is a matter of the reliance of the author’s ownership of truth or lack thereof. Derrida speaks of the “incompatibility between the written and the true” (68). Derrida also talks about how writing is a drug (pharmakon) of sorts; too much can cause damage but just the right amount can assist the mind in understanding. This whole argument made me think about the differences between non-fiction and fiction; a certain trust is given to the authors of the respective genres. This trust stems from certain types of knowledge and the validity of the knowledge of reality. For example, a lot of attention was given to the book A Million Little Pieces. Many people felt like they were fooled out of a reality when they found out much of it had been fabricated. This whole idea goes along with the themes in Derrida’s piece in that how much knowledge is too much knowledge, how much of that knowledge is copied, and can we trust the knowledge and reality we read? 

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