May 3, 2004

Reshaping parentheses

The thing about parentheses is they demarcate a displacement. The bracketed text is what the main text has failed to deny and overcome, failed to edit. It's the subtext making gopher holes, the margins pushing in, the linearity put out of line.

My fist dislike of parentheses was for the artistic ungainliness they admit to. I was a bit like a fascist dictator looking at a disorderly society and wonder why these messes hadn't been forced into the bounds of acceptable and desirable society, a bit like a curriculum planner wondering why these para-texts hadn’t been subsumed or excluded to a standard canon. My first objection was from a fascist aesthetic.

Realizing this, and distancing myself from this, I saw the violence I was foisting on these writings and saw, then, deconstruction's face in this punctuation. Reexammining, I saw my descriptions of distaste take on deconstruction's names and I understood deconstruction again and for the first time.

I understood that deconstruction wasn't the holocaust of authors and the doom of canons but, more, like a descent education, the liberalism that receives texts and traditions only to poke, pry and question, to distort, ply and reshape, to write in the margins and scrawl notes with circles and tangents and parentheses. Seeing bleeding ink where I had thought was only unedited looseness, I recognized it, and realized I'd already been a defender of parentheses in arguing for an ever-expanding canon and that I'd never respected a thinker who never thought with the ragged and misshapen parentheses.

So I wrote about parentheses. Realigned myself on their side. Recognizing they're supposed to make you uncomfortable, that I'll never come to a final peace with the invasion of the margins and the gangly outcroppings of the parentheses.

[the second half of this was pathetic and has been cut]