Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: Deconstruction
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1170  Thursday, 12 June 2003

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Jun 2003 13:03:47 -0300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1155 Re: Deconstruction

[2]     From:   Martin Steward <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Jun 2003 16:03:57 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1155 Re: Deconstruction

[3]     From:   Martin Steward <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Jun 2003 16:08:33 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1155 Re: Deconstruction

[4]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 11:00:31 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1155 Re: Deconstruction

[5]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 06:21:46 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 14.1155 Re: Deconstruction


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 11 Jun 2003 13:03:47 -0300
Subject: 14.1155 Re: Deconstruction
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1155 Re: Deconstruction

Dear all,

It would be wrong, I think, to turn Gabriel Egan, who's only offering an
example, into a whipping boy for the sins of deconstruction.  It's
silly, I should think, to argue against him, not because (in principle)
the deconstructionist doesn't take responsibility for her or his words
(though, hypocritically, usually collects royalties) but because
Gabriel, as an author and our interlocutor, isn't presenting himself as
a deconstructionist, never mind an exemplary one.

As he shows in a parallel threat, it's perfectly possible to imitate a
style and that seems to be what he's doing, though in a way that I found
both interesting and informative.

Cheers,
Sean.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 11 Jun 2003 16:03:57 +0100
Subject: 14.1155 Re: Deconstruction
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1155 Re: Deconstruction

"Further yet, textuality asserts that the constraints of the language of
the text also do not limit the meaning.  Since this would seem to make
the meaning of a piece entirely up to the reader, deconstructionist
criticism is itself criticized as being entirely subjective, allowing no
way for others to investigate the merit of the critique."

The point about deconstruction, at least insofar as it is theorized by
Derrida, is that it renders fallacious any such binary opposition
between subject and object (this is also why some of us are puzzled by
the other list discussion about "emotions" in Hamlet). That's what is
meant by textuality: the reader is textualized as they contextualize the
text (didn't Barthes put it rather more euphoniously - "recreating the
text of the work within the text of one's life" or something?).

q.v. the epistemological roots of deconstruction in Wittgenstein,
Heidegger and Nietzsche.

m

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 11 Jun 2003 16:08:33 +0100
Subject: 14.1155 Re: Deconstruction
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1155 Re: Deconstruction

"Thank you, Mr. Egan. Would you like a job next summer teaching gifted
teenagers?"

You couldn't teach deconstruction to "gifted teenagers", as it would
involve deconstructing the pernicious binarism that defines some
teenagers as "gifted" and others as "not gifted".

That's also why deconstruction differs from the New Criticism (in
response to Don Bloom). The latter was an attempt to depoliticize the
text. The former cannot help but politicize it again (although it has to
be said that it only forms a kind of methodological background to the
politicization it necessitates - one of the criticisms of
poststructuralism levelled by cultural materialists whose methodologies
are post-structuralist). tee hee

m

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 11:00:31 +0100
Subject: 14.1155 Re: Deconstruction
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1155 Re: Deconstruction

I'm glad that some SHAKSPERians enjoyed my bash at a deconstructionist
reading of Sonnet 73, saying so on and off the list.

I shan't answer all the comments made in on-list responses, many of
which I agree with. For example, yes Don one can liken it to New
Criticism, and yes Bob a close reader might well find these things
without theory. Thanks Dale for the job offer, but I must decline.

L. Swilley asks:

>And a general question, please: Does the deconstructionist offer a
>unified view of the work at all, or does he wish only to demonstrate
>that any unified view is untenable, and the work is therefore a
>shambles?

I'd say your second option, setting her face against order, is more
characteristic of our imagined deconstructionist.

>"Deconstructionism in literary critique brings forth the concept of
>textuality.  The concept of the intentional fallacy, which asserts that
>a literary work contains meaning unintended by the author, is similar.
>But textuality further asserts that the meaning in a text need bear no
>debt to the author or his intended meaning at all.  Further yet,
>textuality asserts that the constraints of the language of the text also
>do not limit the meaning.  Since this would seem to make the meaning of
>a piece entirely up to the reader, deconstructionist criticism is itself
>criticized as being entirely subjective, allowing no way for others to
>investigate the merit of the critique." (quoted from
>http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deconstructionism).

Wikipedia is apparently a "Free Encyclopedia", and although I'm
unfamiliar with it I'd advise readers not to take it seriously. It opens
its discussion of this topic with the claim that "deconstructionism
centers around the work of Jacques Derrida", which absurdity ('centering
around') might be a sly joke but is more likely to be woolly thinking.

The concept of 'textuality' that Wikipedia claims is brought forth by
deconstruction is not one that many would recognize under that label,
and unfortunately the entry for 'textuality' that is supposed to be
hyperlinked from the above quotation has yet to be written.  There is
some merit in the claims about subjectivity and I'm sure many of us had
read a piece of modern theory that simply didn't make any logical sense.

Members of the English department at Loughborough University managed to
give Derrida wonderfully precise but entirely inaccurate directions to
get from his hotel to the venue of their conference, at which he was the
keynote speaker, in 2001. Horrified at having lost their prestigious,
indeed irreplaceable, guest of honour, they waited to see whether theory
would direct practice and fantasized about the ways one might understand
'You take the next road on your right hand . . .' (Take it where? If I
turn to look behind me, is another road now 'on' my right hand?
etcetera.) Of course he simply asked, in his clearest possible voice, a
group of passing undergraduates for their most lucid account of the
correct route, and turned up with a cheery wave only slightly late.

Gabriel Egan

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 12 Jun 2003 06:21:46 -0400
Subject: Re: Deconstruction
Comment:        SHK 14.1155 Re: Deconstruction

Gabriel Egan's admirably incisive demonstration of the power of
deconstructive analysis deserves nothing but applause. It's revealing
that the response to it was -in some cases- so ungenerous. Don Bloom
asks whether Deconstruction's interest in ambiguity and paradox means
that it's no different from 'New Criticism'. The difference is crucial.
The New Critics tended to admire ambiguity as something capable of
enriching language, its decorous deployment a sign of the wit and poise
of a superior sensibility.  Deconstruction, on the other hand,
scrupulously pushes ambiguity to its furthest limits, seeing in it a
crucial manifestation of the undecideable, contradictory,
self-undermining nature of language at large. Viewed from that
perspective, New Criticism now looks like a doomed chasing after
permanency. It sounds like a kind of whistling in the dark.  Very
familiar, I'd say.

T. Hawkes

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.