Deconstruction theory

Is there such as thing as a theory and method in deconstructive criticism? After all, deconstructionists disparage all attempts to develop general, systematic theories with fixed doctrines and definable, repeatable methods, because they argue that texts cannot be mastered, for they are based upon paradoxes and aporias. Texts elude the grasp of theories, methods, and totalizing analyses that attempt to identify and determine once and for all a text's meaning, or themes. However, this failure to totalize opens up a different possibility: a 'negative hermeneutic' that focuses on details in a text that obscure or undo standard presuppositions concerning logical order, meaning, and intention. In film analysis, this involves focusing attention on non-narrative details that present in an oblique way a network of meanings that oppose, interfere with, or contradict narrative meanings.

Deconstruction is not, therefore, a theory but a strategy: a reading of texts with scrupulous attention to the point where discrepant or disruptive details are foregrounded. Deconstruction rigorously pursues marginal details or minor stylistic flourishes that escape rationality. It is not an arbitrary activity, for it has a specific procedure that can be identified and followed. But that procedure cannot simply be outlined as a three- or five-step process.

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