Well, as my lovely child, I mean, my child read my works, she killed me. She was only twelve days old when she managed to read my works. Well, I am taking this opportunity to talk to someone who would be able to put this matter of studying langage to rest; God.
Me: Have you any thoughts on De Saussure and ‘The Object of Study’? I have read him, and frankly, I found him annoying, as I take what he has said for granted. I mean, we already know the language, why do we have to study it all over again?
God: You may have a point. The vocal apparatus may be better off if we did regress back to ‘ugh’. We wouldn’t be having this conversation otherwise. He has made it quite complicated, hasn’t he?
Me: I prefer ‘meah’ or ‘bah’. After all we are sheep to De Saussure, Barthes, Foucault and the Formalists. I thought you’d appreciate the sheep reference [smiles].
God: Good point. That is true. Although, at least Foucault does recognize a beginning, doesn’t he say that Marx and Freud are ‘founders of discursivity’?
Me: That’s right, I believe he did. At least he sees some originality.
God: How is your child by the way? How old is she now?
Me: Twelve days old, I think. I’m not too sure how she is to be honest. Perhaps you could let me know, you see we’re divorced as we argued too much.
God: That’s awful. Did you have to move out of the house?
Me: No… no… My wife and I bought the house. I’m not letting my children take that yet. Give me some credit.
God: You divorced from your wife though…
Me: No, my wife and I were still happily married when I died. My wife was so upset about my Oedipal child, so my wife forced the child to move out of the house. The child moved out to the dog’s kennel. Literally my child’s ‘in the dog house’ [laughs]. The dog’s now sleeping in the cot, with nappies on. That’s so he doesn’t dirty the house; the child can get those nappies second hand, if she wishes. Thank you for that, because if he, as in the dog, could read, I would really be in trouble.
God: You can’t kick out your own child.
Me: No… I think it was mutual. The child wanted to leave by her own accord too, especially as I told her that she herself would be a sheep someday and that she doesn’t have her own opinion. Culturally, I told her that she is a sign in a system; that our manifestations of man and woman has no genesis; no scientific opinion.
God: How does she look after herself?
Me: Through signifiers and signifieds. She refuses to parle to my wife and I. She is cute though, I’ve always wanted my own daughter to be my own little lamb. Anyway, she’s eating through her apparatus that leads to the vocal cord.
God: You are being too hard on Saussure; or ‘De Saussure’ as you like to call him.
Me: His surname is ‘De Saussure’ which in the English langue is ‘Of Saussure’. I mean if I ask you if you listen to Chris De Burgh, would you say that you listen to Burgh or De Burgh? The syntax through this system of langue should be correctly identified as ‘De Burgh’ and therefore, our aforementioned friend should be called ‘De Saussure’. I am also fed up with this rubbish of changing surnames to adjectivize them such as Foucault to Foucauldian, to me it remains as Foucaultian. That’s also using both the phenomenon of the speaking (parole) and of the system of langage. It’s the same as O’Casey’s plays. We don’t call them…
God: Shut up! I get your point. I think you probably are right. Where are we?
Me: I was being ‘too hard on de Saussure’.
God: That’s right. Whitney is far worse than De Saussure [winks]. He actually believed that the ‘vocal apparatus for language was accidental’ and was ‘imposed on us by nature’. Ah, he was a great comedian.
Me: True, that is a very good point. …And your thoughts?
God: Even ‘meah’ is a system of langue and langage. To take it simply, forget about the complexities of different languages; we’ll use your sheepish method of ‘meah’. ‘Meah’ does have a syntax. Your baby is born and does need to learn…
Me: She’s not my baby any more.
God: Shut up. Anyway, your baby needs to start understanding langue. She has the concept of image, the signified, that’s you pointing to yourself as you parole with the sign ‘Dada’.
Me: My child knows the system at twelve days old.
God: Will you shut up! We are in Heaven, you know. I still can send you in the opposite direction. Anyway, your daughter has to collect the image; that is the concept and what de Saussure calls signified; she hears the acoustic image or sound pattern; the signifier, and then tries to talk through the concept of both the signified and signifier to come up with the sign.
As we grow older, these signs collect and construct to form the langue. That’s where Whitney has a point; language is, in a sense, imposed on us by nature. But, the system as a whole, that is the language system including the syntax of subject, verb, object etc. is langage. So De Saussure is right, if we need to study the system of language, we need to study langage not langue.
Me: Ah, so in relation to liberally cynicism, Marx and Freud are essentially discourses of langage. Words like proletariat, bourgeois, Oedipus Complex, unheimlich etc have become signs within that system. As also throughout the history of poetics, we have signs like catharsis, tautegorical etc. that were introduced into the system
God: Now you have it. So, are you going to let your child back in the house?
Me: Not unless she apologizes…
God: If you have grief with anybody, it’s Barthes – not Foucault or De Saussure.
Me: Damn… I was stupid. Is Barthes here? I want to have a word with him.
God: No, for murder he is with Beelzebub.