“Pencils down.” Impending deadlines loom, and I fend off terror as I pick up yet another book, seeking “just the right entry point,” the concept that will allow me to pick up and follow a thread long enough to fill 20 pages. I’m in over my head, there’s no doubt about it.
And here’s the thing: I took that plunge. I could have chosen a topic within my grasp; I could be well into my writing (and pleased with it, too.) Instead, I chose the impossible.
I keep coming round to the impossible, really. I can’t let it go.
I’ve been circling Derrida’s deconstruction for a decade or more – and while it’s impossibly beyond me, I can’t help but keep chasing it. I find something so deeply compelling, so crucial, so essential hinted at in this work. It’s controversial, no doubt – even disdained in many quarters. It’s difficult, much-debated; there’s no limit to the secondary sources that critique, praise, snub. I could spend my lifetime on this (and some have) and still only be at the beginning.
Which I suppose is why I can’t let it go. In a sense, deconstruction represents the living elements of my faith. They’re both ceaselessly demanding – not in a controlling way, but in more of an inviting sense: “Come! There’s more! Don’t stop now!” They both extend hope: there really is more. And more and more and more. We will never come to an end of it. I think this is true of God’s love, of the mystery of our faith, of the depths of another human being. Deconstruction reminds me that what I see is really just the tip of the iceberg. And that my responsibility – nay, my calling – is to continue to explore. To look beyond the surface, beyond the obvious. To realize the immensity of the gift that remains hidden and go after it with both gratitude and single-minded dedication.
Which is why I’ll pick up that pencil again. I’ll keep chasing the starting point for an essay that must begin but (alas; there’s hope!) will never fully end.