Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Semantic vortices, musings, and doppelgangers

I haven’t written for a while. My reading has slowed down too but that is because I am reading meatier texts. I should be reminded that writing is far more stimulating than not writing more often.

When I first started sitting in on a literary theory class taught by Professor Philippian, he explained that theory must be thought of as tools with which we can understand the text. Each of these tools, used correctly, will bring out a different understanding of the text. A reader could use the same tool to search every text just as a can opener or a chainsaw could be used to open a can it is just that some theories are better suited for a text than others. At the same time I see the problem of the man with a hammer who sees everything as a nail because it seems to me that literary theories are mostly a way to state your foremost bias as a reader.

From the beginning I wanted there to be a sort of swiss army tool; a literary theory that doesn’t set one bias over another in the reading and understanding of a text but exposes all biases and can thus search for understanding in a more holistic manner. The problem with this is that not all people contain all biases so there will automatically be preferential treatment toward one or another venue of comprehension and no one person can possibly grasp all of his own biases. And if, in some amazing happening, a reader could look at a text from every possible angle with every possible bias, writing or speaking of that understanding would last forever. And if it was trimmed down to a digestible size it would just as absurd as attempting to say every word I am going to say today in one second; the result would be an incomprehensible yalp. The impossibility of a functioning swiss army tool doesn’t detract from my desire for one but requires me to search all the harder for this fantastic absurdity.

When we came to Deconstructuralism (also called poststructuralism), I was at first quite put off by the school of thought. Deridda starts his essay with “Perhaps” and constantly speaks in such ephemeral doublespeak that there is no possible way to find any definitive meaning in the essay. I don’t know why I didn’t like the essay at first; I guess I momentarily forgot how much I love absurdity.

I have been thinking more and more about Deconstructuralism and have come to realize that it is a sort of swiss army tool. Deconstructuralism takes a reading of the text down to the meaning of words but says that words only have meaning in relationship or context to other words. When meaning is broken down this far the author, the reader, history, belief, and language all have a say in what the inherent meaning of a text is and are all fallible because communication is inherently flawed. Deconstructuralism is a great humbler of critics because it will always call foul on any critic who claims authority over knowledge. Not because it claims to be right (which would, of course, be a paradox) but because everyone is wrong in that we can never be totally right. Deconstructuralists are kind of kooky because they can never say anything definitive beyond you are wrong because you are only partially right.

This seems to be a rejection of any metanarrative and revulsion to absolute truth but I disagree. Deconstructualists are driven to a constant rejection and embrace of ideas because partial truth is never sufficient. They are driven by a search for absolute truth even though the fallibility of language renders all efforts to quantify Truth incomplete thus allowing them to question critics while accepting their ideas.

Maybe I simply like Deconstructuralist criticism because it can agree with my own feelings that absolute truth exists but at the same time is unquantifiable in human language thus making it incomprehensible and untenable in the current human reality of a finite realm, and since it can not be grasped because it is beyond human ability of conception, in the same way, it does not exist in a human language defined world. Or maybe I just like it because I love semantic vortexes and infinite play of language in interpretation (here I am not talking only about texts but about all communication everywhere).

Now that I have got my absurdity out for the day let’s turn to a more serious matter. I googled myself the other day. Simply typing “kooy” into the search engine did not render the results I had hoped for though I did find out that there was a musician named Peter Kooy who is apparently popular in some circle or another and that my last name was originally spelled Kooij (Grandpa always said that there was once a j in our name).

What I was really searching for was an answer to the question of how important was my blog in the realm of my self as defined by a Google search. When I typed in my full name I got better results though not quite as good as I hoped for. The first result was a hit from The second was Andrew Kooy on facebook. The third was my myspace page. Finally, in the fourth place I found Kooy to the World.

My first reaction was: “Fucking myspace. Sure that profile has existed longer but my blog is far more interesting than myspace.” My second reaction was: “Wait! Facebook? I don’t use facebook. Did somebody set up a facebook page on my behalf?” And in an attempt to catch the lousy bastard I clicked on the link to see what “my” facebook had to say about me. I wish that someone had simply set up a false account for me but the truth is far more insidious. I have a doppelganger.

The doppelganger Andrew Kooy currently resides in Toronto, Ontario and has many Dutch friends, lots of Vander-something names. As doppelgangers originate in Germany I am sure that he followed a linguistic route to track me down. Dutch is an offshoot of German so of course he went to the Netherlands, fell in love with the myth of Kooy, and immigrated (just like my ancestors) to Canada. There I am sure he is honing his skills of subterfuge so that he may destroy me, feast on my soul, and take my place in society when he finally confronts me. Luckily I know that I am my doppelganger’s goppeldanger and have skills I too must hone if I am to prevail. Fear and tremble Andrew Kooy. I, your nemesis, know of your existence and will not stop until I taste of your destruction.



mme. bookling said...

dear god. this entry is so meaty and over-stimulated! :)

by the way.
i had never heard of it being referred to as deconstructuralism, but rather deconstructionism. I dictionaried YOUR term, and nothing came up. Is it Derrida jargon or did you MEAN deconstructionism.

These are the the details of writing that distract me from what you were saying.

In fact, I have no idea what I just read. :)

WAIT. I do remember something. I remember laughing inside that you would rather take off the CHUNKIEST part of the all-encompassing whole rather than examine details bit by bit. It's very YOU...the whole picture guy - comfortably only with vast and immense absurdities rather than minute picky-ness.

We are different.
In case you didn't know.

mme. bookling said...

i forgot to have the responses emailed to me, so now i am leaving a comment to do that.

Kooy To The World said...

Yes yes. I mixed up deconstrucionism with poststructuralism and came out wit deconstructuralism. My mistake. Be glad I don't attempt to correct all of the mistakes I see in blogs though miswording of idealogical nominclature is a bit more grave of an error than spelling or grammar (though they could all lead to a similar misunderstanding).

Ah but here is where the madness begins as deconstructionism is a look at the all-encompassing absurd whole by way of every minute picky-ness imaginable. I believe our differences are on the level of semantic nit picking which means our differences are also infinitely and absolutely different.

Ha, what madness, what play, what intellectual rigor, what philosophical laxitude. This must be cured (exacerbated) by another martini. What type, you say. Well, gin of course. Vodka is for those who do not wish to taste of the finer things or remember the blandness of that which was previously imbibed.

Ah absurdity
meaning and meaninglesness
ah absurdity.

mme. bookling said...

if your defenition of absurd is
1. semantics
2. vodka drinkers

than my defenition of absurd is:
1. leaning on insult over wit
2. gin drinkers who think they have refined taste when actually they are the king of the hobo/suicide cocktail that entails any and everything in my liqour cabinet. also...anyone who loves taco bell's potato burritos and still claims a high falutin' palate.
3. people who think semantics are not an important part of writing - or rather thinking that people who cannot recover well from haneous mispellings, grammatical travesties, or irresponsible word splicing are just being knit-picky. it's called's what we non-genius types rely on to feel better about ourselves when grammatical fuckups such as yourself produce your bull-shit tour de force.

mme. bookling said...

i don't even spell check my comments.

that's how NOT knit-picky i am.

Kooy To The World said...

I hate to say this, no, I love to say this because it makes me giggle. The term is nit-picking in reference to the act of removing miniscule lice eggs (nits) from hair or clothing. I love being a ridiculous bastard.

Also, my definition of absurd does not include vodka drinkers. I love to embrace my own absurdity and I dislike vodka (though I am in the planning stages of a flavor fusion experiment using vodka as a base). And I have never claimed to be some erudite connoiseur of the palate. I do, however, like the term foodie as a lover of diverse comestibles and dabbler in gastronomical experimentation.

Hobo/suicide cocktails. . . thusly named I will continue to create and enjoy them.

mme. bookling said...

i think it's funnier.

and let's be clear.
i am better than you.

just to be clear.

Allison said...

oh god...i miss being around you english majors. and of course hearing the name philippian. haha. i am also glad that we are writing, that which all english majors should be doing!