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How To Deconstruct Almost Anything (1993) (fudco.com)
69 points by jp57 27 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 15 comments



What this text truly reveals is the effect that nihilism and Wittegenstein’s philosophies has had on cultural studies.

As the extent of philosophical inquiry through the written word was capped and the reins passed off to material experimenters, many cultural philosophers seem trapped in a simulation of academic inquiry, but which is really a black hole vortex in their language games.

They say that the final frontier is the mind and some even suggest that the reason we haven’t encountered aliens is that before we explore the infinite expanse of mostly lifeless space, intelligent life enters the infinite vortex of their minds and thus look in rather than look out.

What is truly left to be inquired about when we look into the distance and see only the void. The games we play are the lives we live and perhaps all we need is someone to twist our minds such that we can see something delightfully new with a little wit and humor.

And maybe that is a life well lived for the technically ungifted.


This is the greatest apology on the méthode déconstructiviste that I have ever read. The subtle implicit suggestion that academics are actually on the verge to save the whole society through their epic use of wit will surely instill in any reader mind the obviousness of the Translapping Magisteria tenet that underlies the deconstructive reflexivity.[1]

That revival of the text comes just in right time in a period where for example Scull so severely critics Foucault's Histoire de la Folie.[2]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflexivity_(social_theory) Note that the French article https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%A9flexivit%C3%A9_(socio-a... is, obviously, superior as it goes further than the narrow scope of sociology [2] https://www.books.fr/michel-foucault-deconstruit/


This is a great essay. The second to last paragraph is the crux of it.

Philosophy, in particular, shares this problem.


Yes. But the previous paragraph is kinder. And I love the paragraph that deconstructs the statement about JFK.


I have an unusual stance on this as far as I can tell.

I for example almost agree with the dummy deconstruction on JFK. What I think is missing from postmodern talks is that such an interpretation while possible is strictly below the actual reading of words.

You can theorize about how and why things were said, but claiming to understand the deeper motive for a statement is irrelevant to the truth of the statement.


Analysis of any such statement is absolutely meaningless without a context. You can put around a text which would make it simple no-hidden-meanings thing, or you can make it sound ironically, or negatively. So this dummy deconstruction is neither correct, nor incorrect it's just useless. Which makes it a good illustration for the idea as whole.


True that it is neither correct or incorrect, but it is only useless if your intention is to find out the author true intentions.

If what you are doing (and you are honest about it) is trying to reason on what effect such a statement could have on the reader you are actually investigating a real process.

The crucial step (where as far as I can tell many postmodernists fail) is that you must not then claim that your interpretation can replace the statement itself.

All the interpretations in the world do not invalidate the obvious concept of actual truth.


Your comment sounds rational to me, but it misses the point of deconstruction to those who believe in it. The fundamental idea of poststructuralist (here it's called postmodernist) faith is that pretty much all statements are "power-structured" because language defines power thus there should be an effect where the only context which counts is power structure. And it means there's no objective truth, or at least it doesn't have any importance. Statements (and language generally), they believe, create narratives which are presumably either oppressive, or liberating. So there's no honesty in classical meaning when one does deconstruction. Deconstructor must find an oppression, because it is the whole idea, and presumed reason for deconstruction. It's meant to be a revolutionary act which approves itself by destroying old world, and building new one through language modification.


> but it misses the point of deconstruction to those who believe in it. The fundamental idea of poststructuralist (here it's called postmodernist) faith is that pretty much all statements are "power-structured" because language defines power thus there should be an effect where the only context which counts is power structure. And it means there's no objective truth, or at least it doesn't have any importance.

Ok, I was trying to stay polite, but I believe this stance is bullshit. No less than saying that sex is the only human motivator.

I believe that this kind of deconstruction has a role to play in society, as power and power structure exist and are often (partially ) corrupted. But claiming that this is some kind of universal explanation for societal structure is reprehensible.

My comment was trying to find a core of usefulness latent in this.


I actually think this theory is not somewhat wrong, but 100% wrong. While human societies are always hierarchical (it's true even for self-proclaimed egalitarist communities), it's not because of language, and won't change because of ideological wordplay.


A softer version of it can be seen as saying that language can be just another tool in the hand of those with power. Something that we know to be factually true since at least last century huge use of propaganda.

When then people start claiming that the only reason for hierarchies is power itself it start to degenerate quickly.


>Mind you, the fundamental thesis of our presentation was Politically Incorrect, but we wanted people to get upset about the actual content rather than the form in which it was presented

Gosh, that were peaceful times in 1993, weren't they? Nowadays they would risk to get into a twitter shitstorm demanding their resignation, firing, and disappearance.


I think the phrase "politically incorrect" had a narrower meaning in 1993. At the time it really was limited to politics, and in this case the politics in question were probably the politics of academia. So you'd only be be taking a risk saying the politically incorrect thing he was saying if you were an academic, and it offended other academics who had the power to make decisions that affected your career.

Nowadays, "politically incorrect" really means "socially unacceptable", and what is socially acceptable has shrunk to not include having political opinions outside of your social sphere's.

But I think the modern idea of "politically incorrect" isn't new. McCarthyism, for example, is basically the same thing; they just didn't use the term "politically incorrect" to describe statements which could be construed as Marxist.


I don't think so. The fundamental idea behind the concept of PC remains the same, it's possible to check it by reading discussions of that time. It's just that the political movement which forces it was weaker, smaller, and less aggressive back then.


Interesting - but I don't recall academia being quite that extreme but I am in the UK. I find deconstruction so useful...[essay deleted]




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