An Interview with Cory Doctorow
Subject:   Ouch.
Date:   2005-03-04 19:55:17
From:   jstang
Deconstruction. Never has there been a more loaded or more misunderstood term since people like J. Hillis Miller and Jacques Derrida began developing and writing about the practice. But there's an interesting problem with mass media being illustrated in this article, one worth pointing out.

When someone, especially a writer with fans, like Cory Doctorow, goes online and uses a term like deconstruction incorrectly, as he does here when he implies it as a synonym for, say, "dismantling" or "exposing", he encourages and, unfortunately, even authorizes a common misconception about a major movement in literary criticism. This is a significant error, IMHO, in an interview during which he purports to be something of a critic: In re: Card, "His work I find to be pretty uneven."

Were he truly a deconstructionist, he would likely avoid analyses of authorial intention implied by, for example, revelations regarding authorial politics. To a true deconstructionist, the meaning is in the text, bucko, and that's it. If you are writing a "deconstruction", Mr. Doctorow, then I expect to be reading about the tropes Card uses in Ender's Game and how fundamental tensions and inconsistencies arise from language in relation to the arguments laid out in the text. Otherwise, you're writing parody or satire, which has a different aim than that of the discovery of truth; I would think what you are doing is more properly thought of as rhetoric, to which I would reply, "yadda yadda yadda".

Finally, regarding Ender's Game and Starship Troopers, it seems like we read different books with the same titles. I took Starship Troopers to be an example of fascism at work -- appropriate for a sci-fi novel -- and not a glorification of military life, but merely an example of an instance of military life within a fascist system. There are portions of that text which are purposely there to provoke thought, but you'd have to argue quite a bit to convince me that the novel is a glorification of the military. And although I'm unaware of Heilein's views on his own novel, I would ask you not to introduce them. As someone who does enjoy deconstruction, I tend to reject authorial intention as being nothing more than trivially interesting. If a text is worth reading, it will be worth reading regardless of what the author "really meant".

Ditto for Ender's Game. Mr Doctorow, you may at some point grow enough that you're able to set your own politics aside long enough and realize that writing literature that's any good, in any genre, is not possible for any length of time at 30 minutes per day. Of course, writing ceaseless rhetoric is, and may you have the best of luck with it.

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  1. Ouch.
    2005-03-07 20:03:48  MEP [View]

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