Tuesday, March 26, 2013

More Thoughts on Deconstruction

I've long been fascinated with Derrida and deconstruction. So, what is "deconstruction?" It is not synonymous with "destruction." Mark C. Taylor writes: “The guiding insight of deconstruction is that every structure—be it literary, psychological, social, economic, political or religious—that organizes our experience is constituted and maintained through acts of exclusion.” (Quoted in "Derrida: The Excluded Favorite," by Emily Eakin. One unravels an event, or a text, to expose what is not there, yet presences itself as required for what is there. "What is excluded “does not disappear but always returns to unsettle every construction, no matter how secure it seems.”" (Taylor, in Ib.)

Deconstruction has to do with absence, with exclusion. With what is not there. The letter a is not b, but cannot be understood apart from the excluded b. For recent examples of employing deconstruction in theology see these two brilliant works: Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, by Miroslav Volf, and White Theology: Outing Supremacy in Modernity, by James Perkinson. (See, e.g., my little pieces "Miroslav Volf and the Self-Inflation of the Negative," and "Deconstruction and James Perkinson's "White Theology."")