|DifferAnce is an anglo-saxonized version of the french
word for differance which, I'm told, sounds like the word
"difference" in French, but is spelled differently. I
wanted a way to make this term conspicuously different from
difference and easy to type, so I have used a capital A in
the middle of the word. In published writings, I, and
others, sometimes use differance. The exact
way to write this term in English, however, has not been
entirely established. At any rate, "differAnce" is a term
that Derrida coined. Derrida also is responsibility for the
popularity of the word "deconstruction' in our postmodern
vocabularly. "Deconstruction", however, is a term he
harvested from a little known use of the word
"deconstruction" in Heidegger.
What follows is is me quoting Derrida and reflecting on
his term differAnce in my paper that has recently been
called the "Pomo Primer". It is referenced at the end of
The word "differAnce", spelled with an "a", is a
term, and Derrida contrasts it with the vernacular
"difference". Patterns of "Difference," he explains,
'produced' - deferred -- by 'differance'"
p.14). But what does this mean? That difference is
Imagine observing a quilt on the wall with patches
blue and white. If you notice the yellow and the
you see a pattern of concentric boxes. If you notice
blue and the non-blue you see a checkered design.
pattern is a play of differences, but it is a
of differences when yellow is differentiated from
than when blue is differentiated from non-blue, a
set of differences that shows us different patterns.
What is interesting about this shift from one
the other is that it not only calls our attention to
new pattern, but that it suppresses our awareness of
other pattern. DifferAnce, defers a pattern of
(say the pattern of differences between the blue and
not-blue). That is, one pattern of differences
into the background another possible play of patterns.
You cannot study the pattern of yellows and the
of blues at the same time because differAnce causes
one or the other patterns to be "deferred".
is the hidden way of seeing things that is deferred
out of awareness by our distraction with the imagery
that captures our attention. Because it contains
other way to see things "DifferAnce is
form."(Derrida, 1976, p.63). It is the "historical
and epochal 'unfolding' of Being..."(Derrida, 1982,
DifferAnce might be related gestalt switch in looking at
an ambiguous picture. It is, on the one hand, what is
pushed to the background, the pattern created by the blue
and white, say, and it is also what is able to push the
other pattern into the background. It is what causes one or
the other pattern to be deferred.
Shawver, L. (1996). What Postmodernism Can Do for
Psychoanalysis: A Guide to the Postmodern Vision. The
American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 56(4), pp.371-394.
Derrida, J. (1976). Grammatology. Baltimore: The
Derrida, J. (1982a). Differance. In J. Derrida (Ed.),
Margins of Philosophy, pp. 3-27. Chicago: The University of