While browsing Arts and Letters Daily I came across this review of a new movie about the French deconstructionist Jacques Derrida. Well, kind of a review. The author mentions the existence of the movie then launches into a rant about Derrida which I found to be both amusing and enlightening.
Deconstructionism is the schools of thought which divorces works of art from their creators and any meaningful context, then picks them apart using, in essence, personal whim and non-sequiturs. The goal of this meaningless exercise if to show that no one thing is any more meaningful or important than anything else.
People who have read Cryptonomicon may remember the scene where the protagonist, Randy, objects to the misuse by a visiting professor of the metaphor “information superhighway”. The professor replies that, because Randy is a computer expert his view of the subject is necessarily skewed and, by knowing less about the subject than Randy, he himself is better qualified to form an opinion about the effects of the internet on the lower classes. He also uses a lot of non-sequiturs and academic in-jokes to show how smart he is.
Exactly. In The Bear Went Over the Mountain one of the minor characters wistfully predicts the profound impact his new book, which compares the number of consonants to the number of vowels used by Shakespeare, will have on The Academy. This is also deconstructionism.
Deconstructionism is mediocrity.
Because any tangent can be used in the pursuit of tearing down a work of art, the practice requires neither careful study nor accountability. It is the argument used by far-left liberals when they say all children must feel good about themselves so the smart ones must be dumbed down.
Deconstructionism, when taken to extremes (as convenient schools of thought always are when someone’s career or ego is involved), can seriously damage reputations and, in cases where intervention into affairs outside the academy may be deemed necessary, can actually cost lives. In this article (also by way of A.L. Daily), the author notes that the reason American feminists are spending more time complaining about boy-to-girl ratios in little league teams than they are campaigning against human rights violations in Muslim countries, is that, by their own logic, to act aggressively against the values of another culture is to support the Western hegemony.
The argument is feminist, but the logic behind it is deconstructionist. Western civilization has been shown to have been built by a flawed group of individuals, therefore anything done in support of, opposition to, or in reaction to anything that is connected to Western civilization, is inherently bad.
Thus nothing is done. And here is my primary gripe against the deconstructionists. They are so very good at destroying beautiful, worthwhile things, but they are incapable of creating. Psychologists could have a field day with these people, if they wanted to subject themselves to having their work interpreted in light of the temperature outside, what they had for lunch, number of syllables in their surnames, cross-referenced with whether or not certain fingernails are bitten.
That is no exaggeration. It is much easier to destroy something old than it is to create something new.
And the deconstructionists – not to mention the people who listen to them – never seem to realize that if nothing is inherently meaningful, then neither is deconstruction itself. The entire school of philosophy suddenly collapses, and thousands of trite, untalented graduate students end up holding signs on street corners.
“Will comment on Einstein with reference to South Park, taking into account the feeding habits of the Norway Rat during the Great Plague for food”.