Mark Sample’s Disjointed Success, “Deformed Humanities”

Mark Sample’s writing style is described by a reader as being a performance in and of itself. In his article “Deformed Humanities,” he writes on the subject matter of reinventing the humanities in a way not previously attempted by deconstructionists. While the theory proposed in 1999 by Lisa Samuels and Jerry McGann of “deliberate misreading” has merit in its deconstruction of works of literature, Sample points out that the action of deliberate misreading is the same behavior as deconstruction itself, disguised as something different. In deliberate misreading, the work of text is taken apart and analyzed, but then put back together to once again create meaning as a whole, unified work. Sample wants to analyze the yolk of the broken egg (his metaphor of deliberate misreading is likened to Humpty Dumpty) without dissecting the yolk’s relevance to the white. He doesn’t want to make an omelet. He wants to look penetratingly deep into the eye of the yolk and come to a conclusion that would never be possible should Sir Humpty Dumpty make his way back together again. Sample’s writing style is refreshing to read for anyone accustomed to MLA-formatted and eloquent (potentially suffocating) in its organization. Sample writes, “Deformed Humanities tears apart existing structures and used the scraps.” He calls one of his essays, “Hacking the Accident,” “a parody of academic discourse.” Sample encourages deformations because they are “departure(s), leading us somewhere new entirely.” He writes in an incoherent, yet somewhat understandable syntax that has a shuffling effect on the brains of his readers. His personal definitions for words do not match the status quo; his sentence structures encourage new perspectives if they are to be interpreted at all, let alone conventionally. He challenges the process of interpretation. He writes, “The deformed work is the end, not the means to the end.” It sounds like he wants analysts to break apart syntax, language, and word choice, and leave it broken. He wants to study the carcass of text as it decomposes and becomes part of the soil; he wants to watch as the text mutates and becomes something different altogether.

written by Shawna Marie Rodgers

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