What does deconstruct mean, specifically as it applies to writing?
• analyze (a text or a linguistic or conceptual system) by deconstruction, typically in order to expose its hidden internal assumptions and contradictions and subvert its apparent significance or unity.
• reduce (something) to its constituent parts in order to reinterpret it.
According to Mark T. Conard:
Deconstruction “can mean to take a theory or a concept and expose the political or philosophical baggage at its heart; it can also mean to (attempt to) show that language is only ever self-referential, that it has no reference to anything beyond itself.”
Why am I writing about deconstruction? Because, if my buddy Mark is correct, I and a few of my writer friends have been misusing the word. Now, it’s entirely possible, and I do like to know when I’m misusing a word so that I can stop. In this instance, though, I don’t believe I have.
In my article About Writing: Peripheral Elements in Writing, I claim to have deconstructed sensory perception, and it’s effect on emotional responses in people or fictional characters. My theory is that experiencing what I call peripheral thoughts is entirely possible, and the knowledge thereof can be used to our advantage. This may have been postulated prior to my reckoning, and maybe others have done it better, but this is my way and I can only ever do things my way.
Now, to meet the expectations of Mark’s definition, which does agree with Google’s definition, I would have had to take a theory (the theory of peripheral sensory perceptions as a device to add suspense by playing on emotions using uncertain sensory perception) and expose it’s philosophical baggage. Now, I’ll admit I’m more than a little out of my depth when it comes to philosophy. Often, I have to read Mark’s blog posts slowly, or repeatedly to fully grasp more than the topic on the surface. So if I’m mistaken, I’m open to discussing this further, and eager to hear from anyone who has input to offer in this matter. Especially you, Mark!
My theory, basically, is that writers can use peripheral sensory perception to pull readers into a grey area of uncertainty, adding suspense to any given story. The philosophical baggage at the heart of my theory is that peripheral sensory perception influences what we think we know, NOT what we actually know. That is key to understanding my theory because there is a huge difference between what we think we know, and what we know, even if we aren’t always emotionally aware of that difference. Using sensory perception, we ascertain the nature of all things tangible. We try (though we shouldn’t) to use peripheral sensory perception to do the same. Basing our knowledge on information we’ve received via the “grey area” is unreliable, but that is a basic human flaw. Our fictional characters should reflect as much.
All things considered, I believe I have used the term properly when I said my article is the result of deconstruction. Mark, what do you think?