John Cage
J-S Bach
John Zorn


Introduction to Deconstruction

[1] Any attempt to discuss deconstruction in music immediately gives rise to two fundamental questions: (1) what is deconstruction? (2) What is music? This page addresses the former. The aim is to shed some light on the working and strategy of deconstruction.
This overview is the result of a literature search on deconstruction in philosophical discourse. My main interest has been the practices of deconstruction as elaborated by Jacques Derrida. The texts in this section will not directly be related to music.
Two issues need to be addressed beforehand. First, this section is offered to introduce the reader to deconstructive strategies in musical practices and discourses; in particular, what knowledge is required in order to see deconstruction at work within music. The information presented has, therefore, no pretense of being definitive; this is not an exhaustive analysis of all that deconstruction might comprise (if that were possible at all). Second, certain aspects of deconstruction will be addressed (more extensively) on the pages that deal specifically with music.

[2] Derrida repeatedly and emphatically writes that he does not regard deconstruction as a method or a theory for the analyses of texts. It is not possible to implicitly define, to fix, deconstruction. However, when deconstruction is adopted into the musical praxis - which is the goal of this site - it is at least presupposed that deconstruction can be described (circum-scribed) in one way or another. In Deconstruction: Between Method and Singularity, this issue is addressed in greater detail.
In a most general sense, deconstruction may be regarded as a reading strategy. This strategy presents us with the impossibility of assigning an unequivocal meaning to a sign or a text. Here, the ethics of deconstruction reveals itself in an openness to the heteronomous or 'the other'. This idea is explained more extensively in Deconstruction - an Affirmative Strategy of Transformation.
Several aspects of deconstruction may be distinguished. In a number of separate pages, more attention will be given to some of these aspects: (a) the location of complementary twin concepts where one term is subordinate to the other (Hierarchical Oppositions); (b) the location of concepts or words that harbor multiple, often constrasting meanings (Undecidables); (c) the notion that the meaning of a text can never be completely determined (Dissemination); (d) the notion that what seems additional, secondary or marginal in a text often turns out to be of essential significance (Supplement); (e) the idea that a context indeed determines the meaning of a text, but that a context can never be clearly demarcated and that a text can be placed within different contexts (Context).
As a means of realization, each separate paragraph will include references to the text, 'Plato's Pharmacy', from Dissemination (p.61-171).

[3] This seems to be somewhat of a systematic run-down, but in fact it involves a repeated new beginning at a constantly changing place in the Derridian labyrinth in order to wind up at the same place again (which also turns out to be different each time). The play of deconstruction.