I think I mentioned yesterday that I’m somewhat fascinated with communication. Lots of reasons for that. I’m a communicator. So is God. So are you. We all do it everyday. It can make relationships flourish… or not. So on, and so on. On top of all that, studying and understanding the way communication works is interesting in and of itself. At least, it is for me.
I’ve slowly been working through a book entitled, Is There a Meaning in This Text?, by Kevin Vanhoozer.
It is something of a standard work for biblical interpretation that seeks to maintain something close to a conservative approach toward the Bible. Anyway, I picked it up today after a fairly long break from it, and within a few minutes I read a passage that touches on some thoughts from yesterday.
What Derrida undoes is the possibility that the author’s intention can serve as the ground and goal of interpretation. Are meanings voice-controlled? As we have seen, Derrida exposes an “ugly ditch” between conscious speech and “writing.” Derrida contends that writing – the artificial and arbitrary system of differences and distinctions in terms of which an individual thinks and speaks – frustrates the conscious aims of the author. The author as sovereign subject has been undone, exposed as a metaphysical, rhetorical, and ideological construct. The author, like the signs he uses, is only a cipher that stands at a swirling crosscurrent of various competing forces and discourses that constitute him or her. Indeed, Harold Bloom portrays the author not as a master in command of his discourse, but as one who struggles to make one’s voice heard over and distinct from those of previous texts. The case against the author seems so strong that we must ask whether an author can ever say what he or she means.
Now, that’s a happy thought. Makes you want to click on over to Amazon right now, right? Probably not. That Derrida’s got a lot of nerve calling me a “metaphysical construct.”
His mama’s a construct.
I’ll show him an ugly ditch.
In case you are wondering, this is theological discourse at its highest level.