Earlier this month when I saw the fake add about The Influential Teachers Series that Jerry made to accompany my article on Herbert Marcuse, I couldn’t stop laughing. “There is certainly no danger of this inadvertently predicting the future!” I thought to myself. After all, even Gorgias wasn’t being serious when he postulated that
- Nothing exists;
- Even if something exists, nothing can be known about it; and
- Even if something can be known about it, knowledge about it can’t be communicated to others.
- Even if it can be communicated, it cannot be understood.
Yesterday I was reflecting on some work I had done last month on postmodern literary theory and it suddenly hit me: premise three has been postulated in utter seriousness by a number of respectable – and influential – teachers.
A pillar of postmodern literary theory is that communication from one person to another is impossible.
OK, I admit, I’m simplifying things, but that is basically what the science of deconstruction boils down to (hang on to the idea of boiling). In an article I wrote for the Colson Center titled, ‘Literary Criticism and Postmodernism’, I explain how the influence of German hermeneutics, French linguistic philosophy, and American sociology has produced a situation in which thousands of intellectuals seriously doubt whether objective communication is even possible. You can read all the gory details of these philosophies and their complexities over at Chuck’s website.
And just in case you’re wondering, the books that deconstructionist philosophers write are not blank. So far all they have done is try to destroy them. You know, the usual thing like cutting Stephen Colbert’s I am America (and So Can You) in half with a handsaw, or boiling several novels in order to make noodles. Just stuff like that.
Don’t believe me? Watch the following video that writer Davis Schneiderman produced. It gives a new meaning to the idea of deconstructing texts.