“Courageous skepticism” is needed to comprehend the extent of my activities for this week. The past two days have seen me engaging in a sort of Deconstruction of Rudolf Jung’s Der nationale Sozialismus (2nd Edition). Since the 3rd Edition was always untrustworthy, the 2nd Edition is less constraining on my ability to think critically and creatively. Thus, I had found plenty of contradictions throughout the entire book, with the first Chapter being the most relevant for the German-speaking world since 1990. The English translation of the 2nd Edition in particular has provided ample opportunities to conduct Deconstruction methods in the English language without having to do the translations myself. But does it mean to Deconstruct something?
The first thing you’ll have to do is question the common meaning or prevailing theories of the text you’re deconstructing. When deconstructing, you need to start from a place of critical opposition. The only assumption you can make is that the meaning of the text is unstable and what others have told you about it is based on their own assumptions. In other words, you need to be skeptical from the onset.
Practitioners of the deconstructive method refer to cultural biases in texts in a number of lofty ways, calling them “binaries” and “hierarchical oppositions.” To understand these interchangeable terms, remember that certain words and the concepts they represent are often privileged, or emphasized more, than their opposite words and concepts — rich over poor, male over female, enlightened over ignorant.
One way to investigate underlying meaning of a text is to analyze sentence structure, specifically the arrangement of subject and object. Ask yourself if a person or thing represented as an object in the text makes it subordinate to the subject in some way. For instance, if a novel’s male protagonist is always the initiator of action rather than the recipient — “He took her to the store; he bought her earrings; he found some food she would like” — the recurrent sentence structure may reinforce the protagonist’s power over the dependent character. Look for these patterns and determine if the points of view of other characters are limited to favor cultural bias.
After you’ve analyzed the text for biases, see if your discoveries support a new interpretation. While many associate deconstruction with destruction of meaning, the opposite is true. According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, by assessing the biases of a given text — the social and historical conventions that helped produce it — you’ve opened up the words and sentences to an infinite amount of possible, if partial, readings.
Looking back at the timing of this Blog post, I have decided that I should return to completing Part III of the latest Third Place Blog post. I can deconstruct Pan-Germanic Socialism later.
Categories: Blog Post