Applying deconstructionism to the history of mankind’s attempts to interpret and find meaning in the universe.

  1. We all live in the same universe.
  2. The universe is a text that can derive no meaning from research into an author.
  3. This is not because there is necessarily no author, but because the author is not verifiably accessible.
  4. Thus, the interpretation of the universe’s objects, what we all take as signs whether we mean to or not, falls entirely upon a machine of interpretation known as the individual.  And each individual has different data, different structures of filtering and organizing meaning, different “preconceived notions,” different “common sense,” different experience and education, different knowledge privilege, and even slightly different parsing hardware (apart from all the aforementioned software and memory) called DNA.
  5. Thus, because of these differences in us, and because of occasional runaway eisegetical zealots who distort paradigms or inject false data, the universe is bound to appear a radically different place to different individuals.
  6. But we DO ultimately all live in the same universe, and that causes even the most disparate theoretical and interpretive formations - even the most dogmatic or ignorant paradigms - to overlap at curious and surprising points.  We all have to grapple with the absurd, for instance. 7a. To those who see maximal meaning and teleological design in everything, the absurd still barks from the corner where it’s chained up, demanding to be heard, and such thinkers must rationalize the irrational to make it fit their paradigm.  Often something to do with sin and the fallen state of humanity projected onto creation itself. 7b. To those who think existence is essentially meaningless, absurdity becomes another way of expressing the wholeness of things, from chaotic evolutionary biology to Brownian motion.  But to define chaos is to rob it of some of its phenomenal essence.
  7. And so nothing is ever totally meaningful or totally absurd.  Each consciousness trying to make sense of the objects of the universe - itself included - runs into this problem, and must read the universe - and itself - through this problem.  And so the universe has as many interpretations as people, though some are not so vigilant or open in their interpretation, and some are not enthusiasts of the text, and some, thinking themselves sacrosanct (for no interpretation is really any more than the sum total of the nature and nurture of the interpretation-machine), deny the pleasure and catalytic potential of the other interpretations.
  8. Stepan Pashov, providing the last line in Werner Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World (2008), observed:

“There is a beautiful saying by an American, a philosopher, Alan Watts, and he used to say that through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself, and through our ears, the universe is listening to its cosmic harmonies, and we are the witness through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”

  1. The universe reads itself, and it disagrees.
Neil Bruder @neilbruder