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Deconstruction

critical outlook concerned with the relationship between text and meaning

Deconstruction (French: déconstruction) is a literary theory and philosophy of language derived principally from Jacques Derrida's 1967 work Of Grammatology. The premise of deconstruction is that all of Western literature and philosophy implicitly relies on a metaphysics of presence, where intrinsic meaning is accessible by virtue of pure presence. Deconstruction denies the possibility of a pure presence and thus of essential or intrinsic meaning.

QuotesEdit

  • Professors of the humanities have long been desperate to make their subjects accord with modernity instead of a challenge to it. … The effort to read books as their writers intended them to be read has been made into a crime, ever since “the intentional fallacy” was instituted. There are endless debates about methods—among Freudian criticism, Marxist criticism, New Criticism, Structuralism and Deconstructionism, and many others, all of which have in common the premise that what Plato or Dante had to say about reality is unimportant. These schools of criticism make the writers plants in a garden planned by a modem scholar, while their own garden-planning vocation is denied them.
  • If in one way or another a person is afraid of being unable to maintain an overview of something that is multifarious and prolix, he tries to make or acquire a brief summary of the whole for the sake of a full view. For example, death is the briefest summary of life, or life traced back to its briefest form. This is also why it has always been very important to those who truly think about human life to test again and again, with the help of the briefest summary, what they have understood about life.
  • Lacan, Derrida, and Foucault are the perfect prophets for the weak, anxious academic personality, trapped in verbal formulas and perennially defeated by circumstance. They offer a self-exculpating cosmic explanation for the normal professorial state of resentment, alienation, dithering passivity, and inaction.
    • Camille Paglia, “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf,” Arion, Third Series, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Spring, 1991), p. 177
  • The Seventies French fad was a flight from Sixties truths, a reactionary escape into false abstraction and rationalism, masquerading as distrust of reason.
    • Camille Paglia, “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf,” Arion, Third Series, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Spring, 1991), p. 179
  • May I show a true model
    of deconstruction to Derrida
    by taking off parts that make up my being!
  • Those who say that all historical accounts are ideological constructs (which is one version of the idea that there is really no historical truth) rely on some story which must itself claim historical truth. They show that supposedly "objective" historians have tendentiously told their stories from some particular perspective; they describe, for example, the biasses that have gone into constructing various histories of the United States. Such an account, as a particular piece of history, may very well be true, but truth is a virtue that is embarrassingly unhelpful to a critic who wants not just to unmask past historians of America but to tell us that at the end of the line there is no historical truth. It is remarkable how complacent some "deconstructive" histories are about the status of the history that they deploy themselves.

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