The French Disconnection, 4: Encounters


Because I was living in the birthplace of deconstructivism – because I was invited to dinner with some of the movement’s most carefully constructed spooks – I mean spokes-persons, because my Art Press assignment called for a translation and dissemination of their tortuously-twisted gifts to humankind, well, because of all this, there was a time when I felt I had to make some kind of an effort to understand what the movement was all about.

Maybe that was my first mistake – and I made many along the way – that is, assuming that something is actually about something other than its rhetoric, its bare, and if possible, highly convoluted, linguistic expression. For them, all experience reduced itself to something to do with language. Language, it seems  (and I don’t claim to be anything but confused) determines and encompasses all knowledge.

So then, there is no real experience outside of language? Was that it? Whatever did that mean? It seemed to me that the most powerful of human experiences were those for which… justement… we lacked zee words. Faith, vision, truth, beauty, dare I say… love… occur in a realm that most often leaves verbalization behind.

I could see their eyes glazing over with disdain when I penetrated the inner sanctum. Here she comes again, that warped victim of an archaic upbringing, further hobbled by some naively American New Age excursions into World Soul, insisting on meta meaning where there simply could be none. Much as I tried to leave it behind, proclivity for the spiritual clouded my cognitives. I was stymied when it came to grasping a self-referential system that on the one hand touted language as the key to all meaning and on the other hand insisted on its dissolution and then once dissolved, in a final furious flourish refused anything vaguely wordless that might take its place.

My encounters with Catherine M. of Art Press and her tight coterie of post-modernist thinkers led me to realize that I had been wasting my time looking for love, connection, a path through motherhood, dimensions of beauty, pleasure, personal identity and… worst of all … a spiritual dimension to human experience, while other sturdier types were busy deconstructing all of the above and letting one another know in coded language, that was at once meaningful and meaning-less, how it felt to live in the sterile landscape of all that lies beyond such out-moded assumptions.

About susanrtorn

writer, life coach
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