This article attempts to clarify Derrida's notion of écriture and to show, through a close reading of three lectures on literary figures (Valéry, Ponge, Joyce), how he puts theory into practice.
Saussure thought that linguistics would be a branch of semiology, a general theory of signs and signification. His conventional logocentric privileging of speaking over writing was the initial step on the road that made phonology the dominant discipline within the science. Linguists and philosophers have trivialized, ignored, and repressed the other epistemological path, that of grammatology. Derrida's field of analytical inquiry (the signing of signs or ‘signs’ as both noun and verb), includes semiology in an even more general theory of signifying practices (oral communication, mathematics, painting, philosophy, history, literature, etc), since writing and the written are the conditions of their very existence. They all depend on inscription because cultural transmission requires repeatability, duplication, reproducibility, etc. Yet without writing spoken language could not be described and linguistics would not exist. Neither would ‘culture’ in general.