disrupting discourse


The [Online] Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines ‘discourse’ [noun] as: 1. the process or faculty of reasoning. 2. Onward course (in space or time). 3.a. (an) exchange of words; conversation, talk. 3.b. conversational power. 3.c familiar intercourse; familiarity.1 4. an account, a narrative. 5.a formal discussion of a topic in speech or writing; a treatise, homily. etc. 6. a connected series of utterances, forming a unit for analysis etc. And, ‘discourse’ [verb intrans.] as: pass from premisses to conclusions; reason.

“an entity of sequences, of signs, in that they are enouncements 2 3  


The [Online] Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines ‘narrative'[noun] as: an account of a series of events, facts, etc., given in order and with the establishing of connections between them; a narration, a story. b. the practice or art of narration; narrated material. 2. Scots Law. the part of a deed or document containing a statement of the relevant or essential facts, spec. the parties and the cause of granting of a deed. i.e. those ‘facts’ that can’t/wont be disputed or indeed rendering them indisputable if they are not already. In the form of a written document these become those parts of the ‘discourse’ that, going forward, are not contested; that become authoritative. 

the life of a discourse

I am interested in our relationship with discourse and the way in which power and authority are invested in it. Criteria of formation. What individualises a discourse such as political economy or general grammar is not the unity of its object, nor its formal structure; nor the coherence of its conceptual architecture, nor its fundamental philosophical choices; it is rather the existence of a set of rules of formation for all its objects (however scattered they maybe), all its operations (which can often neither be superposed nor serially connected), all its concepts (which may very well be incompatible), all  its theoretical options (which are often mutually exclusive). There is an individualised discursive formation whenever it is possible to define such a set of rules.” 4 – the singularly authoritative nature of discourse.

our relationship with a discourse

We so readily accept the primacy5 of a narrative, an embryonic discourse, as having a value sometimes over and above reason or oppositional narratives.

role and responsibility

When creating a live oral communication performance it is my aim to disrupt (as much as possible, intelligently) a discourse and our relationship with it.

The responsibility for who we are and the role we play in shaping and managing our lives as individuals and, by extension, as a community locally, nationally and globally is changing. From here on we will be playing a bigger role in our own wellbeing. An integral part of that change is being sufficiently informed6 in order to take responsibility. Part of being sufficiently informed is participating in the formation of discourse by interrogating information provided to us.

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  1. Why is it familiar? What makes it familiar? Familiarity as power
  2. enounce – 1. state in definite terms; enunciate. 2. state publicly, proclaim.”
  3. Michael Foucault (1969). L’Archeologie du savoir (The Archaeology of Knowledge). Paris. Editions Gallimard.
  4. Michael Foucault, Politics and the Study of Discourse. reproduced in: The Foucault Effect, Graham Burchell et al, 1991
  5. primacy – the state or position of being first in order, importance, or authority; the first or chief place; pre-eminence, precedence, superiority.
  6. informed – knowing or acquainted with the facts; educated, knowledgeable; un or ill-informed – not informed or instructed; unacquainted with the facts. uneducated, ignorant.

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