Chris Dierkes Indistinct Union
Deconstructionism has the ability to spot the gaps in language. That is not the same as "questioning assumptions" and to me is much more than a species of opinion. Nor is that so vague as to meaning nothing. What deconstructionism can not do is anything more than spot such gaps. This is why it leads to literary terrorism. It can blow texts up and nothing else. [An example of me practicing deconstruction in a moment in order to ground this claim]. This is why, as much as it may seem otherwise, I agree with Matthew that deconstructionism per se/en toto leads to bad art, degraded culture, and nihilism. What I don't say is that therefore the entire thing is irrelevant. It's worth following the deconstruction train, feeling its rhythms, seeing the terrain. Ideally, I think it makes us more humble as thinkers--I can't speak for artists though I would assume the same. Derrida and anyone who takes his work as primary make the same mistake in reverse as those he properly criticizes. They absolutize absence, grammar, mourning, the Other which is only the same disease in reverse: the disease recall was only identifying with the Same, logos, present, truth, living, etc. So following Nagarjuna I state that there is relative and absolute truth. The relative world exists on the principle of polarity. The poles dependently co-arise: i.e. they depend for one another on their existence. For there to be flowers there must be weeds and vice versa as Matthew's garden image points out. Derrida rightly stressed I feel that the Western philosophical tradition did not give proper time, attention, and respect to one side of the pole: the absent, dead, maimed, feminine, irrational, emotional, aboriginal, structural, etc. [Others before Derrida like the Romantics made similar cries no doubt]. That the Western tradition did so philosophically is related to the pain and violence inflicted on such groups. The outer and inner themselves dependently co-arise, with a deep resonance about them. That does not mean I am saying people shouldn't study that great Western tradition/canon, but they should never been unaware of the historical consequences of that tradition either. Some of it good, plenty evil. In other words, deconstructing Matthew's analogy, he can not destroy all the weeds because the weeds are the very thing that make flowers possible in the first place. If he kills the weeds, the flowers will no longer be flowers and may become in the minds of many themselves a weed. The prostitute is always the secret best friend of the preacher, because the preacher would be out of job without her. While that may seem a silly play on words, I assure the reader it is quite serious when you take weeds and flowers and apply that to human beings. The idea that weeds should be fought at all times is quite dangerous when say applied to a civilian population housing an insurgency (think Vietnam carpet-bombing). [For the record, I am not accusing Matt or anybody else of promoting genocide. I am simply stating that ideas always have political ramifications. Ideas for me are not reducible to their political consequences but they are never separate from them either. That is a Marxian position, which is very modernist btw.]I follow, as best as possible, the words of Christ: the weeds and the wheat must grow together until the final harvest...
But what Matthew has not I believe shown is that in this Double-Deconstruction---that leads into Emptiness/Godhead not Nihilism--deconstruction, little d, has no value whatsoever.The problem, as I see it, is Matthew reading every instance of postmodern as inherently meaning better than modern. While that is certainly the case I would say for many who are self-described postmodernists, that is not my position. And anyone who reads through this blog will have a damn hard time finding me saying something as simplistic as that.Though Matthew doesn't come out and say it specifically, seems to me he is often insinuating I'm in the same camp as the stereotypical Lyotardian, American left-wingnut boomer humanities professor. I am not--for God's sakes I've linked to David Horowitz on occasion. Not to mention I quoted a "premodern" text (Gita) as more important and wiser than a postmodern one.
This is why in my rebuttals I continue to stress my own more Habermasian roots. I promote modernity generally (hence my support for Barnett, not exactly a postmodernist he) but I believe some forms of postmodernism made proper criticisms of the way in which modernity was sourced during the 18-mid20th century. Like Habermas I think to talk about progress (which to my mind is a modern notion last time I checked, not postmodern) in a dialectical fashion. And that reason must be grounded philosophically in the intersubjective, which for me leads to perspectives. As many as possible and then working from the ones that are already in existence, seeking to find creative solutions that engage but are not limited to such already in existence perspectives.That is not postmodernism but it includes a postmodern (what I take to be postmodern anway) element. [But I'm not married to the idea that has to be a postmodern insight]. Namely that truth is contextual and that contexts are endless. Hence in our own differing ways, both Matthew and I are advocating the unending conversation...posted by CJ Smith @ 3:41 PM