Final Paper

Cory Wilson
Dr. Sarah Arroyo
English 696
April 27, 2014
On Being Deconstructed
In the last verse of the song Beautiful Boy, John Lennon sings, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Having lost my father early in life, I think about this lyric often.   I see how grief and the lack of family structure that followed his death contributed toward a deconstruction of the family unit. Life became real and unreal. Structuralist philosophy suggests that parts could make up the whole and deconstructionists would say there was no whole to begin with. But how does deconstructionist philosophy hold up to grief, to the loss of a loved one who represented structure? In Jacques Derrida’s essay “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences” the concept of structure is deconstructed. He writes, “the whole history of the concept of structure…must be thought of as a series of substitutions of center for center” (2). Thus, structure does not have a single definition or a center; its significance floats. Derrida suggests that if we are to believe in structure then that structure will define our truth; that once structure exists, there is no choice for the individual. But is this true? Since my father’s death, I have often wondered if the lack of structure that followed allowed for too many choices, too many definitions of what was appropriate behavior and what was not. Deconstructionists believed that the center was lost; that structuralist philosophy was no longer relevant. In light of the era from which it came (Vietnam War, assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, etc.) it’s not surprising the philosophy emerged. The country was mourning the loss of hope and, arguably, the loss of its father figures, metaphorical or otherwise. Much like the philosophy of Frederick Nietzsche, deconstructionists questioned everything. Arguably, they were doing so from a base of grief, their center being lost via massive social...