I've always wanted to talk about deconstruction in a blog post. (The philosophical variety, not the demolition kind.) My only minor problem -- which shouldn't ever stop a blogger -- is that I knew next to nothing about the subject.
But now I've read all 168 pages of "Deconstruction for Beginners," a terrific book. One of it's appealing points is that it takes a comic book style to deciphering Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction.
And has quite a bit of talk about sex. Including drawings of naked women.
This stuff isn't gratutious, as it contributes to understanding how deconstruction works (deciding whether to kiss a breast or another female body part is a deep philosophical act, but I'm not going to touch that or go there -- so to speak -- in this post.
For now I simply want to share an excerpt that hit home with me.
The book's author, Jim Powell, writes in the form of a dialogue between various people, including Mark Twain, a coyote, and The Glorious Glorious Bliss of God's Phallus.
Here's some of what Twain has to say:
This all reminds me of my trips to Niagara Falls. Actually, I had to visit Niagara Falls fifteen times before I succeeded in getting my imaginary Falls gauged to the actuality and could begin to sanely and wholesomely wonder at them for what they were, not what I expected them to be.
When I first approached them it was with my face lifted toward the sky, for I thought I was going to see an Atlantic ocean pouring down thence over cloud-vexed Himalayan heights, a sea-green wall of water sixty miles wide and six miles high, and so, when the toy reality came into view -- that beruffled little wet apron hanging out to dry -- the shock was too much for me, and I fell with a dull thud.
It is a mistake for a person with an unregulated imagination to go and look at an illustrious world's wonder. For when a thing is a world wonder to us it is not because of what we see in it, but because of what others have seen in it. We get almost all of our world wonders second hand.
It may be the Taj Mahal, and when you see it you cannot keep your enthusiasms down, you cannot keep your emotions within bounds when that soaring bubble of marble breaks upon your view.
But these are not your enthusiasms and emotions -- they are the accumulated emotions and enthusiasms of a thousand fervid writers, who have been slowly and steadily storing them up in your heart day by day and year by year all your life; and now they burst out in a flood and overwhelm you. And you could not be a whit happier if they were your very own.
But by and by you sober up, and then you perceive that you have been drunk on the smell of somebody else's work. You realize that "your" view of the Taj -- acquired thus at second-hand from people to whom, in the majority of cases also, acquired "their" view at second-hand -- has no origin at all!
This points at what I was getting at in "Follow your passion wherever it leads." It's easy to lose touch of what we ourselves -- that glorious conscious sense of me, me, me which really is our sole possession -- experience.
We fall into habits of borrowing other people's ways of looking at the world. We go to a holy place, or see a holy person, or read a holy book, or meditate in a holy fashion, and believe that we should feel what others have felt.
Going against the flow of an Expectation River can be difficult. Standing at the rail overlooking Niagara Falls, listening to all the oohs and ahs, it takes a lot of deconstructive honesty to say, "Just looks like a bunch of water going over a cliff to me. Is this all there is?"
I grew up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains near California's Sequoia National Park, home of the largest tree in the world.
Driving up to see it for the first time, after my mother had told me where we were going, my seven year old mind envisioned something much grander than the reality turned out to be. I remember thinking, "This is just a big tree," when I saw the General Sherman.
That bore a lot of resemblance to my reaction when I first saw in person the guru that I followed for many years. He wasn't larger than life. Just a person.
I'd heard so many stories of how one look from the guru was soul-transforming. I didn't feel that, though I enjoyed being in his presence a lot.
It's best to live life as ourselves, not as someone else. If you're going to get drunk, let it be on what you truly find intoxicating, not another's passion.