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Deconstruction

Synonymous with poststructuralism (used interchangeably) Emerged in the 1960s, coined by Jacques Derrida, a French philosopher and teacher According to Derrida, Western metaphysics has invented a variety of terms that functions as centers: God, reason, origin, being, essence, truth, humanity, beginning, end and self. The Western proclivity for this center he calls, logocentrism. Decentering, questioning the old center, establishes a new one. Concept of BINARY OPPOSITION, God/humankind, good/evil. DIFFERANCE, a termed coined by Derrida which is pivotal in understanding deconstruction or the What if? question.

Methodology: First stage: recognize the existence and operation of binary opposites in our thinking, 2nd stage: readily reverse it. When the hierarchy is reversed, we can examine those values and beliefs that give rise to both the original hierarchy and the newly created one, revealing the meaning of terms arising from their difference.

In the interpretative process of a text, deconstructors seek to overrule their own logocentric and inherited ways of viewing a text. By identifying the binary oppositions that exist they can now show the preconceived assumptions upon which most of us base our interpretation.

Ex. God/Satan Man/Woman

Satan/God Woman/Man

We know truth for instance because we know deception; we know good because we know bad. According to deconstructors, we cannot simultaneously see this views or levels in the story. To do this, we must suspend our first level of interpretation.

In textual analysis, we assume that there exist multiple interpretations and that it allows itself to be reread countless times. Since no one correct interpretations of a text exist, the joy of textua l analysis resides in discovering new interpretations each time a text is read or reread. It also aims at challenging the fixed views associated by such hierarchies and the values associated with such rigid beliefs. Meaning evolves as we readers , interact with the text, with both the readers and the text providing social and cultural context. Deconstruction do not wish to set up a new philosophy, a new literary theory of analysis, or a new school of criticism. Instead they present a reading strategy that allows us to make choices concerning the various levels of interpretations we see in the text. In addition we may never declare such a reading to be complete or finished, for the process of meaning is ongoing, never r allowing us to pledge allegiance to any one view. Overall, deconstruction aims at an ongoing relationship between the interpreter (the critic) and the text. By examining the text alone, deconstructors hop e to ask a set of questions that continually challenges the ideological positions of power and authority that dominate literary criticism. And in discovering new meaning in a text, they declare that criticism itself is just a valuable as the creative writing that is being read, thus inverting the creative writing/ criticism hierarchy.