Thursday, 4 March 2010

La différance

My PhD research is partly looking at the problems of representation/representing sex, drugs and alcohol in YAF. I have become more and more aware that these are in fact all weapons in the YAs armoury, potential tools that can be used by YAs to emphasise and extend the difference between them (the YA) and adults (and indeed the children that they once were). But perhaps the word here should not be “difference” but rather Jaques Derrida’s well trammelled word, “différance”.[1] Loosely translated, différance comes to mean two things, for there is no straight English translation: it is to "defer," to put off, and to “differ”, to be unlike. This could also be seen as like a young adult, no longer a child and not yet an adult, where to differ, be different, is part of the identity development and to defer is the denial of the inevitable which is that one day the YA will become adult. Thus the transition period, the period between childhood and adulthood, is fluid and ever changing, constantly in flux, ever unstable in meaning and directionless, to define it is like chasing a chimera, until the inevitable is realised by all YAs: that one day they will, indeed, emerge as adults (a state, arguably and equally defined by difference). As such I feel this adds a further dimension to be considered when writing YAF and something I became very aware of when reading No & Me (see earlier post), this was a book written about a girl who is just entering teenagedom but is in a class of much older teenagers because she is so bright. There is a difference , she has only just started the journey whilst many there are moving towards the end. As writers it is important to be understanding of this difference, this movement whilst never assuming that the progress from childhood to adulthood is straight forward and linear nor identical, it is a journey that follows an individual path for everyone.
[1] Derrida, J., ‘ Differance’, In J. Derrida (Ed.), Margins of Philosophy, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982) pp. 3-27

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