The Impact of Deconstructionism on Literature Studies at Colleges and

In topology, a simply connected shape is one in which a loop drawn on any part of the shape can be contracted to a point without leaving the shape or borrowing from higher dimensions. A circle/sphere is a simply connected shape. A torus is not.

The tines of a fork look separate and isolated in two-dimensional cross-section: spun through that dimension, they become either a series of distinct and isolated circles (around a single central focus) or a multi-connected shape (double focus): but no amount of topological distortion will make it into something it is not while remaining within the familiar constraints.

Literature students come to the university in the simple faith that words, at least, are words. Nothing in deconstruction changes that, not at the core. All that shifts is a new appreciation of the necessary limitations of every written translation of thought. It is essentially no different from modern quantum theory: what we perceive depends heavily on how we choose to measure it – but the existence of one means of perception shouldn’t keep the whole from being something we can reliably interact with, in utter faith that the feet we believe we stand on won’t suddenly cease to exist.

The difficulty for the university student lies in our willingness to polarise our tools of understanding. Theories in physics have been forced to acknowledge and incorporate what has been understood previously. Theories in the humanities have not, yet. Exclusive schools of thought arise, and disciples – and somewhere in the mix, what originally drew the student to the study of literature is too often lost.

The attempt to render deconstruction a (fallen) function of a determined objectivity of meaning, or objectivity a (symbolic) function of deconstructionist theory, is an attempt to force a multi-connected concept into a simply connected one without stepping outside the familiar dimension. Each attempt at exclusive representation is equally blind to what the other seeks to represent. How can speculation and wonder survive rainbows shattered into measurable wavelengths? How can love of the creative work survive endless regressions of symbolism without a core meaning? In a world geared toward absolute certainty curiosity dies. In a world which denies all absolute statements curiosity equally die,  because at its logical conclusion, nothing matters.

To pursue deeper studies in literature, both are essential: the basic grounding, alike with the discovery that the ground we perceive can only ever be an imperfect map. Awareness of the multi-connections implicit in appreciating words as imperfect symbolic representations is crucial to deeper understanding: but force this too early in a literature student’s education, and the written work becomes utterly disconnected from the words they had learned to love.