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Re: Deconstruction (trying again)
I thought this item from NDT-L might be relevant to the current
thread on kritiks/critiques.
> 24 Oct 1994 17:18:28 -0400
> Reply-to: Bryon D Gill <bdgst1+@PITT.EDU>
> From: Bryon D Gill <bdgst1+@PITT.EDU>
> Subject: Re: Deconstruction (trying again)
> To: Multiple recipients of list NDT-L <NDT-L@uga.cc.uga.edu>
> I only take exception with the last part of Arnie's message, where he
> argues that the negative ought to endorse a counterplan to win the
> argument advocated by the kritik. In my view, this misses the point.
> The argument in at least some cases is that the affirmative has cut off the
> discourse by, for example, acting through the state. If the negative
> tried to counterplan with "do community based punishment", the
> counterplan is permuted, thus the current debate framework, when the
> affirmative is acting in a way that entrenches the state (again, as an
> example), discourse regarding the alternatives is chilled. The arguments
> never turn on the merits of alternatives. The kritik argument, to the
> extent that it is nihilist, is probably not helpful. But the kritik may
> allow new alternatives to enter the discussion, and that is the value of
> "inaction". The reason why you should vote on new discourse while
> "allowing the domination to continue", so to speak, is that the
> domination could only be *hypothetically* solved by the affirmative,
> whereas the discourse impacts really occur in debates and in debaters
> mindsets. This is the ever-popular "fiat is a myth" argument on which
> the kritik argument depends.
> This brings up a second thread which I haven't seen discussed
> yet- If the kritik has real impacts on the debaters, what impact does
> that have on the judge's responsibility to be an objective (well, you
> know what I mean, anyway) critic in a debate round? In other words, if
> you win the argument on the flow that voting for the kritik will have
> significant implications for debates as they happen and debaters as they
> grow up and become real policy makers, what if the judge agrees that the
> other team did not defeat the argument, but personally believes that
> changing peoples mindset in such a way is bad? Let me give that one more
> try. I am a judge who believes very strongly in the us legal system.
> The negative convinces me that working within the legal framework would
> encourage other debaters to work within the same framework. The negative
> wins *on the flow* that the legal system is bad. What sort of perverse
> resopnsibility could a judge have to encourage mindset changes in other
> human beings in ways that she or he did not believe were fitting? What
> if the kritik argued that, for example, racism, rather than rights, were
> an illusion? (I am assuming for the sake of argument here, and it is a
> big assumption, that the judge in this last case would not intervene with
> a kritik of her/his own!)
> Anyway, that ought to be food for thought.
> Bryon Douglas Gill (412)683-0473
> "I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little-death
> that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to
> pass over me and through me. And when it is gone past I will turn the
> inner eye to see it's path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
> Only I will remain."
> Litany against fear, Orange Catholic Bible
> On Mon, 24 Oct 1994, Arnie Madsen wrote:
> > A second attempt -- the first got lost somewhere on the superhighway,
> > and I didn't save a copy before sending it. So, I'll try again...
> > My primary problem with deconstruction (and, by extension, with
> > critiques/kritiks), is the essential conservativism of the approach
> > (conservative as in unlikely to take political action, not as in
> > right-wing conservative).
> > Derrida, DeMan, Foucault, etc, etc, etc. all point to the power
> > structures in place that uphold certain orientations and create
> > systems of domination. They are correct, I believe, in that those
> > power structures are obvious in our language choices, and that
> > unpacking or *deconstructing* one's language choices will reveal
> > those systems of domination.
> > However, what do you get after deconstruction? Derrida suggests
> > you have only identified a *trace* of the meaning of the text. Thus,
> > you need to engage in a deconstruction of the deconstruction -- acting
> > on the basis of the initial deconstruction could be in error since the
> > initial attempt might not have located all the meaning of the text. So,
> > you deconstruct again. But you have still only located traces, so you
> > continue to deconstruct -- you are never sure of a text's meaning, you
> > only identify traces, so it is a never-ending process (toward a *ruthless
> > kritik* perhaps?).
> > Derrida also suggests that he is simply engaging in a *game* with
> > language -- playing the language game to see what one can find if one
> > looks hard enough -- hardly a politically active philosophy.
> > As a result, deconstruction encourages inaction on the part of those
> > that play its game -- you deconstruct a text to locate more of its
> > central meaning, then you deconstruct some more, then you keep
> > deconstructing to find what else you can learn. Eventually you can
> > publish a book or an article that shows how well you can play the game.
> > However, the system of domination remains intact -- it is still there,
> > imposing its will on those affected by the system. The deconstruction
> > does not tear down the power system, it does nothing to affect the
> > power system.
> > I would advocate that at some point critics have to break out of the
> > critique/kritik mindset and do something -- take some action to counter
> > the power structure or the structure remains in place. *Inaction is
> > action* does not answer this commentary -- *inaction is action* is
> > simply action that upholds/accepts/allows the ongoing domination to
> > continue.
> > Imagine a critique/kritik of systems of domination regarding slavery,
> > or other civil rights issues across time -- rather than taking an
> > alternative seat in a bus, or refusing to move from a seat at a lunch
> > counter, and so on, deconstruction would say *my, look at the system
> > of domination that is preventing equality between the races. However,
> > we may not fully understand that domination, so let's look a little
> > further.*
> > Deconstruction is fine, as a starting point for action (not inaction).
> > Deconstruct and then advocate an alternative, critique/kritik and
> > then advocate a counterplan -- then the exercise has some meaning.
> > Simply playing the language game to see what happens seems to be
> > pretty irrelevant.
> > --
> > Arnie Madsen
> > email@example.com
> > Communication Studies, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls,
> > IA 50614-0357 (319) 273-7200
> > 101 Hawthorne Ave, Waterloo, IA 50702 (319) 235-8866
>Michael "Bear" Bryant Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org
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