Have you ever found yourself writing a paper or answering an exam question or worse, walking to a podium, and having absolutely no idea what you're going to say? I think I've done all three. There was one time I can think of where I was doing this music thing and I realized that night that the expectation was that I was doing the singing. I thought I was doing the playing. That was fun. lol. I can laugh about it now. I've heard it said that the trick is, is to know what you're doing well, and then the public performance part is much easier. Which is why I feel for celebrities sometimes, because most of us will never know the added pressure of being caught by the cameras on a bad day in our underwear. But I digress...
I don't really come from the sort of background that had me growing up with wonderful enriching conversations around the dinner table. I don't remember a dinner table at all much actually. And so when I got to university, I remember feeling so humbled and having such a sense of awe, that all this stuff had always been there, and I'd never known about it. A lot of people seem to recall their university days as a great beer bash, especially the school I went to, haha. Not me. I'm just happy to have gotten through...
Because I remember sitting in the university library and thinking, I know my name. I know my name, but I wasn't sure of much else. And right smack dab in the middle of my descent into nihilism somebody told me to write a paper on deconstructionism. Yeah that's right, deconstructionism. What's that you say? Well that's what I said. The only thing that I remember, umpteen years later is how hard is is to write a paper when you have no idea what you're talking about...or maybe I did, instinctively, and that's why I was struggling.
The other day, I was listening to this lecture and lo and behold, the professor explained this movement in literary criticism called, you guessed it, deconstructionism. It was my lucky day! And I got it! lol. It's not so hard actually, especially when you've had some time to think about our present postmodern culture as an adult. It's basically looking at works of art and literature, etc., and analyzing the agenda or so-called agenda of the writer(s) in question. The story beneath the story so to speak, or training to be suspicious of truth claims that result in "oppressive" grand narratives such as Christianity or Marxism. At least that's what I think it is haha, but that could just be my agenda. Regardless, I'm going to write about it, but I'm not going to spend three weeks in a pit, like I did then, because I don't think it's worth that...and here's why.
When I was a kid sitting in that library, I'd had everything I believed in fall apart, and so I was struggling to find meaning to begin with, at that time of my life, and so to be handed an assignment that basically tears down all writing as agenda driven...where do you begin with that? How does a feminist begin? How does a minority begin? How does one who is oppressed begin? If everything has an agenda, and we all have an agenda, or more fairly perhaps, we all have a perspective. And that's why that project, though I couldn't articulate it then, was resulting in a kind of paralysis, because I knew somehow that to write a paper on the agenda of writing, with an agenda of seeing an agenda would have been an agenda. And how could I possibly do that?
But maybe it only matters when it's someone else's agenda... It's funny because I was watching this news clip, maybe you've seen it, of a pro-choice audience shutting down a pro-life speaker in a Canadian university, again, this time in Waterloo. I can't seem to get that image of a talking, or was it a shouting vagina out of my head. This, on the same day that someone else put up clips of famous atheists saying that stuff like incest or infanticide or rape, hey maybe it's not so bad. Sigh. And yet these young people, God bless them, stirred up enough to wear a vagina costume, seem to believe in objective reality and objective morals. Good on them! They must, because on what other basis would you base objections to abortion or environmental degradation or demands for animal welfare- in every case? It just amazes me that they don't see that it's only a matter of time before their bluff is called, that they cannot defend anything that they are arguing for on the basis of a relativistic postmodern worldview, fully suspended in mid air. Will it be scientism or materialistic naturalism that comes to their rescue? Apparently not, because reason doesn't lead you to morality, as the new atheists are beginning to demonstrate. Where will fired up young people turn, to continue to defend their ill-evolving primordial slurpee, otherwise known as a cause? They have nowhere to turn, nowhere they want to turn (oppressive grand narratives successfully excluded), and that's why they shout and shut down discussions. I'm not saying anything here about the relevance or the importance of the above issues. I'm simply pointing out, that in the end, to see through everything is to see nothing. One man's truth claim is another man's power grab. One man's cause is another kid's commodity. But don't you believe it. That's just the leveling of destructionalism.
thanks for listening, have a great night,
M. A. Harvey
Here's that wonderful lecture: