Japan In The Mirror Of Language: The Failure Of Language To Represent Objects In Travel Narratives On Japan
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The travel narrative is, ostensibly, little more than representation of foreign places and things, foreign objects. The language of the travel narrative seems, on the surface, to succeed in representing the foreign. None the less, theory abounds which holds that language is fundamentally unable to represent objects, at least in a pure sense. Taking Japanese travel narratives as a particular example, this thesis attempts to demonstrate that the language of these narratives fails to successfully and fully represent objects as they exist, or have existed, in the world. I work between what I take as two extreme theories of language, that of Jacques Derrida which holds meaning to be fundamentally unstable relative to language, which is, therefore, ultimately unable to represent objects, and that of Donald Davidson, which holds language to be the proof of an intersubjective world, such that linguistic reference must necessarily point back to objects in a shared world, and therefore has the fundamental capacity to represent these objects, at least to a certain degree. By analyzing the language of travel narratives relative to these theories and a number of others that fall in between these extreme points, I show that language, as it stands alone, fails to accurately reflect the world. Further, I show that the various contexts in which the travel narrative, along with its author, is situated fail to successfully assist the attempt at representation.