The following video deconstructs the notion of an essay, while at the same time exploring attributes of deconstruction itself.
Now that we’re finished defining, at least to some extent, the nature of deconstruction let us examine how the classic notion of an essay has been deconstructed in this paper. Like all deconstructions, we must first start with a text (though this does not necessarily have to be written. Indeed, one can deconstruct a work of art or even a concept). In this case it will be the same definition that was previously given on the title page:
“Essay (Fr. essai, ‘attempt’) Usually short, non-fictional prose composition, written expressing a personal point of view.”
While we could theoretically seek to disrupt the given hierarchy between ‘short’ and ‘long,’ I have opted not to--mostly because the poem above, which consists of a mere eight stanzas, took me over nine hours to write (not including research of course). Likewise, as intriguing as playing off the dichotomy between fiction and truth would be, I thought it’d probably make for a rather poor essay (subjectively speaking of course). This leaves us with two remaining facets which we can then deconstruct: the nature of ‘prose’ and the notion of a ‘personal point of view’.
In the definition above there seems to be an insinuation that prose is more apt at succinctly conveying concepts than its elaborate counterpart. In reality, the very opposite is often true. Poetry’s miserly attitude towards words forces the author to write things in a much more direct and, hopefully, poignant fashion. Indeed, if my poem succeeds at all it will be because this difficult concept (deconstruction) has been conveyed, at least in part, in a relatively facile manner. That is not to say that I expected to address the issue with the same breadth and complexity as a three hundred page book would--but merely that it is possible to convey the main points of such a difficult issue in a meager two-hundred and thirty-two words.
Besides the ease with which the hierarchy between poetry and prose can be overturned, there is one other significant concept that necessitates our attention: the fact that such a dichotomy is inescapably self-referential. Similar to the concept yin and yang, ‘prose’ would bear absolutely no meaning if it was not juxtaposed with ‘poetry.’
The concept of a unique “personal point of view” is just as easy to deconstruct. Simply put, we are unavoidably influenced by the people whose works have we read during our attempts to understand a given topic. This notion is even further complicated by the fact that many of these people are not the originators of the ideas themselves, but are instead only rehashing the concepts into a different form. This leads to multiple levels of obfuscation within the realm of so called ‘personal points of view.’ That is not to say that an author cannot espouse anything new, but merely that his perspective is partially derivative of what has previously informed him (similar to Derrida’s connection between fiction and criticism). This distinction is underscored in my essay above by the fact that it is largely forged out of words taken from my reference material.
The last facet I'd like to touch upon is the essay's presentation: Not only is the piece displayed in an untraditional manner (cinema instead of printed paper), but, because it is shown online, it no longer has a tangible form whatsoever!