I AM AN EARTHLING
The room erupted into guffaws and chuckles. Nothing like being a mature student in a room full of 22 year old, fourth year students. Sigh. You want to know what my background is, or where I’m from and where I’m going when I’m six feet under? There’s your answer. Let me use this excerpt from one of Joseph Campbell’s books to introduce the buff4 notion of deconstruction:
“As viewed by astronauts from the moon, the earth lacks those lines of sociopolitical division that are so prominent on maps. And as recognized here below, the web of interlacing socioeconomic interdependencies that now enfolds the planet is of one life. All that is required is a general change of vision to accord with these contemporary facts.” (From: The Inner Reaches of Outer Space)
Where I’m from, where my folks are from, where I grew up, what country I swear allegiance to really are superficial labels to be bandied around in an exercise of communal connection. And really who cares? If you subscribe to the notion of reincarnation than this is useless. Why not peel away all these layers of identification. Deconstruct yourself. If you’re looking for a communal connection find something that is universal. And when you do, tell me what springs forth from this foundation? If you view the world from outer space all you see is water and land. No lines. No divisions. You actually see unity. Geophysically speaking. Earth is peaceful as it is. Upon closer examination this human race has created so many layers that it has impeded the inherent flow of peace. Hence, the last line makes reference to the need for a shift in perception to bring about the view that so many of us pay lip service to.
So, buff4 is going to hijack part of the curriculum teachings of this fourth year phys ed course taught by an envelope pusher. The concepts of deconstruction in the class’s context were associated with philosophers such as Fouceault. Examine the meaning of meaning, discourse and the power associated with it to result in predetermined outcomes based on the meaning. Pretty confusing stuff. That’s the issue with philosopher’s, most of us masturbate our anatomical parts for fun, they take it to the mental/intellectual level so that they can create this elitist self-pleasure group. One that excludes the powerless with threads of thought that you need an interpreter to follow. The outcome of our hijacking is to provide clarity. We’re going to twist the meaning of certain things and attempt to reveal its essence. Basically, cut to the chase of what a notion like deconstruction can do once it’s extrapolated to a functional, everyday adaptation, such as self-actualization. Let’s begin:
“Come with me
Into the trees
We’ll lay on the grass
And let the hours pass
Take my hand
Come back to the land
Let’s get away
Just for one day
Let me see you
Stripped down to the bone” depeche mode, stripped
The term deconstruction in the context of Western philosophy is highly resistant to formal definition. It is easier to explain what deconstruction is not than what it is. According to Derrida, deconstruction is not an analysis, nor a critique, a method, an act, or an operation (Derrida, 1985, p. 3). Further, deconstruction is not, properly speaking, a synonym for “destruction”. Rather, according to Barbara Johnson (1981), it is a specific kind of analytical “reading”:
“Deconstruction is in fact much closer to the original meaning of the word ‘analysis’ itself, which etymologically means “to undo” — a virtual synonym for “to de-construct.” … If anything is destroyed in a deconstructive reading, it is not the text, but the claim to unequivocal domination of one mode of signifying over another. A deconstructive reading is a reading which analyzes the specificity of a text’s critical difference from itself.
Michel Foucault (1926-1984) always insisted that he was not a poststructuralist critic but rather a genealogist. But his analysis of discourse owes a lot to Saussure’s insights about the construction of meaning. Foucault shows how discourses regulate what can be said, what can be thought, and what is considered true or correct. So the pre-modern medical theories based on bodily humors constructed a particular understanding of the body, and within that discourse, certain things were true and false. However, there were many other propositions that were neither true nor false but fell outside the discursive system altogether. Anyone who tried to think outside the system would not have been respected or accorded a voice in the conversation about bodies. Discourse is thus the medium through which power is expressed and people and practices are governed; academic disciplines discipline. Foucault also argued that “the history of thought” is a misnomer, as it implied a continuous evoltion of ideas. Rather, he used the terms genealogy or archeology of knowledge, focusing on the ruptures or breaks between one era’s discourse and another’s. (1)
Power/Knowledge is a work by Foucault that explains his theory of how power is created and transferred throughout an “economy” of discourse (or conversation). It shows how power is transferred along conduits of dialogue according to the knowledge one has. Barry Allen says that it is only to have a statement pass among others as “known or true”. Therefore, knowledge does not necessarily have to be true, but it only needs to be passed on as true for the statement to have an effect on the speakers in the discourse.
DIGGING IN THE DIRT
What is deconstruction to buff4? The philosophy at buff4 is to observe, analyze and pass commentary on such factual occurrences in the world of health. Is there such a thing as truth? Part of the inherent drive behind buff4 is to provide opportunity for empowerment on an individual and collective level. This is attempted in a comical fashion as well because laughter not only is the best medicine but can disarm and penetrate egotistical defense systems in a self-deprecating fashion. Look at how much time and energy we spend devoted to making ourselves look good, or attempting to preserve this youthfulness, in actuality speeding up our aging process. (see Roc of Ages in ummmm).
It has been said that knowledge is power and without a doubt this is a statement of arrested development. What is knowledge but a past tense statement; at best knowledge in the form of what you read in a book represents potential. What is power? From a mathematical perspective, it is applied action. Hence, for knowledge to be of any use, it has to be put to work in the moment, and in that moment one comes to a greater realization. Power is knowing. I could tell you that to lose one pound of fat you have to burn 3500 calories. How powerful is that? Hypothetically speaking, depending on your current conditioning levels, you would have to hit the treadmill for 50 minutes a day for 7 days straight to burn the equivalent of one pound of fat, calorically speaking. Only when you actually do that would you know. So all the knowledge in the world is useless. The point of this discourse? Why on earth would you want to deconstruct yourself? Why wouldn’t you?
CULTIVATING THE DIRT
Let’s take a look at a basic concept of me. I have a name, a gender, a family, friends, a job or many, and hobbies. I wear clothes, play sports, and have an education. Each of these represents a program that comes with a predetermined instruction manual. I’ve been named after someone else because of such and such and this name is my label for life. My life is a program. It can be like so many others or it can be an independent film. Diving deeper into this script, I’m part of a family and supposed to act a certain way in certain contexts based on the order of my birth. I have friends (maybe not as many as i used to) and with each friend I play out a certain role that may be similar but adaptable depending on each context. If I’m bloody honest, I’ll speak my mind. If I’m a drama queen I’ll want all the latest gossip. The clothes I wear carry certain brands depending on likes, affordability and image to be presented. Some stuff may never be original; maybe because I want to look like that person on TV or in a magazine. Some stuff may be the exact opposite. What we have here is the construction of me in a very basic sense. What happens when I exercise freedom of choice in every single facet? I decide to change my name because I’ve outgrown the connotations with the old one; I reject my family because they’re a bunch of backstabbing, alcoholics with no morals. I decide I don’t want friends and start collecting cats. Is this better, does this reflect deconstruction? Do you go from one end of the spectrum to the next? Sometimes you have to hit opposites to find your own balance.
We are born into this earth under a plethora of influences. We will constantly be bombarded by these. Some of us will live a life time and not blink an eye. Others will seek deeper meaning or artificial escapes. All of these are constructions. Influenced by outside sources. Deconstructing is about exploring our individuality. In-divid-dual-ity (wordplay). In dividing duality or dual (like conflict but wrong vowel) can we come to one-ness with our self and the world? At this point your thinking, damn this intellectual masturbation elitist club is too much, time to go back to yoga for one! Deconstruction is the lube of expression, it will loosen you up, or actually you will loosen you up, and shake your very foundation to come to the core of who, what and how you are. All in an effort to free your self of the mental shackles and influences we find ourselves bound by.
The object of deconstruction is to seek your own truth and understand how your own truth has been constructed by all the influences gathered in your psychosocial development.
Is there a seven step dissembling process? Probably not, the best analogy is that we come into this life as a seed; we are planted and cultivated as we grow. Deconstruction is a process that is analogous to self-pruning. You start realizing that there are things that run counter intuitive to what makes you feel good in life. Perhaps there’s a nagging vibe inside that implies there is more than this and you realize you’re carrying too much baggage. It’s a continual exploration because we are in a constant state of flux. When I first started resistance training 20 years ago, the influences present then were bodybuilders. Over the course of two decades health and fitness has mushroomed into a holistic endeavour. The training parameters of the early days have been expanded and refined. Currently training has become about the intricacy of neurology and muscle activation. The influence of today’s advances comes from greater understanding gleaned through physiotherapy and rehab. And in the next decade there will be a greater understanding of the biochemical processes and energetics that again will be contextualized for the masses. Get the feeling that deconstructing is a housecleaning process that happens on a regularly? This housecleaning is performed in conjunction with the concept of power. Personal power. Real power. As in gravitational, not force, that we have often tended to associate with power. Have you ever forced a plant to grow? This is why certain modalities are threatened. And this is not new. If the integrity of something is being challenged and revealed to be weak, such as our current doctoring state, than that reflects an overall elevation in consciousness and shift personal power. Consider it a reduced state of dependency. By no means am I implying that doctor’s are inadequate. But we have placed too much of our responsibility in their hands. We have externalized our locus of control and have to reclaim that stake in a partnership. Is this process of deconstruction for everyone? You’re the one to answer this, in my opinion; there are those that are ripe for it and others that aren’t. It kind of gets back to what Anthony Robbins has been preaching for years, Stephen Covey, Buddha and a plethora of others, our motivation to deconstruct will largely be influenced by the benchmark we set ourselves against and our levels of pain and pleasure in regard to the acceptance of these levels. If you don’t accept things, question and seek to evolve, than the process of deconstruction moves forward.
In relation to why you would want to contemplate deconstructing yourself, the inherent query is what is the benefit?
For so many years in our society we preach the gospel of peace, love and happiness. Really, who came up with this slogan anyways? Someone out of touch with reality tripping on pot? I remember reading the book, The Road Less Traveled by Scott M. Peck and the opening line is ‘Life is suffering.’ I think the Buddhists to a degree share this philosophy. I don’t. And never will again. I made the choice to explore this avenue a long time ago to come to new realizations of what peace, love and happiness are. Obviously, my context is different than someone living in a war torn country listening to the symphony of bomb explosions and fighter jets all day long. But if I choose to examine what is suffering, how do I minimize it (not only in my own life but others) and what am I seeking at this point? Freedom? Power? Flow? What will deconstruction do for my understanding? Drive me insane? Open my eyes up to (more) beauty? I place more in parentheses because for so many years I was carrying around so much junk that I couldn’t appreciate the beauty in front me, day in, day out. Will it help me achieve the dreams I’ve always wanted to? I firmly believe you can get to levels of acceptance and connection that leave you in awe that you almost become afraid and drawback. Deconstruction, the buff4 definition perhaps, can be likened to the root word of religion, which means to go back to our roots. Implications of a truly religious experience in the ultimate sense. Who am I? Who do I want to be, not meaning a Paris Hilton replica or some character in Sex in the City, but in this moment and the next? If given a choice between being guided by an internal vibe or that created by someone else, who would you choose to be? Life is not suffering. Not in all contexts. How do we find a way(s) to create more peace? Deconstructing ourselves, the images we have adopted of ourselves and what we think the world should look like represent a major shift in rewriting the road taken by more and more.
Is it apparent that this process of deconstruction can last a lifetime with many incredible breakthroughs in personal evolution? If there are multiple events of personal breakthrough do you actually think at some point we can legitimately call ourselves an advanced civilization? Deconstruction is about health on all levels, it’s about examining many rocks, turning them inside out and outside in to get to a truth that is gravitational in force. In the words of the Wonder Twins from the Super Friends series, “Wonder twin power activate, shape of the earth, form of a spade!”