Derridean Meaning in Arthur Rimbaud’s Vowels and Borges’ Compass: A Poststructuralist Study


  • Debojyoti Dan Naba Ballygunge Mahavidyalaya, College, Kolkata, India Author



Ontology, Logocentric, Episteme, Deconstruction, Grammatological, Signifier, Signified


In the poststructuralist discourse, the site of one’s logos has ontological fissures. The simulation of singularity and stability is interrupted, resulting in the vacuum being filled with signifiers that celebrate the plurality of logocentric identity. At a time when the semblance of coherence has dissipated from the logos and what remains is an unstable, incoherent and ambiguous space between the words, the discourse of Arthur Rimbaud in his poem ‘Vowels’ and Jorge Luis Borges in ‘Compass’ subvert the one-ness of episteme creating a centerless text. In the postmodernist search, we need to realize that the identity of the poet and the self are diluted in their praxis. I want to show in this paper how Arthur Rimbaud uses symbols to sever the attachment of meaning with words in his poem ‘Vowels’, and Jorge Luis Borges writes the poem ‘Compass’ to destabilize the hegemonic use of words and the phenomenological utility of truthful existence. Arthur Rimbaud is one of the earliest in this respect who questions our inability to understand poly-grammatological episteme. Following Derridan’s code, we see how Rimbaud, decades before Derrida, successfully reveals that “istoria and episteme (and not only etymologically or philosophically) as detours for the purpose of the reappropriation of presence.” On the other hand, Borges begins the circuitous journey from the allocated encoding of inheritance of power to words to the collocated decoding of the anxiety of logocentrism in the post-truth age. He begins the poem ‘Compass’ (published in Buenos Aires on 18th August 1969) with ‘[e]very single thing becomes a word’ (Borges 1999), producing what Derrida claims as ‘centerless’ centrality of words ‘outside the totality’ of meaning.