Letters to the Bouncy Banker...

Letters to the Bouncy Banker...
...from a struggling artiste.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Deconstructing Financial Jargon and Legalese (an introduction)

The following definition of Deconstruction comes from Wikipedia:

Deconstruction is the name given by French philosopher Jacques Derrida to an approach (whether in philosophy, literary analysis, or in other fields) which rigorously pursues the meaning of a text to the point of undoing the oppositions on which it is apparently founded, and to the point of showing that those foundations are irreducibly complex, unstable or impossible.
Deconstruction generally operates by conducting textual readings with a view to demonstrate that the text is not a discrete whole, instead containing several irreconcilable, contradictory meanings. This process ostensibly shows that any text has more than one interpretation; that the text itself links these interpretations inextricably; that the incompatibility of these interpretations is irreducible; and thus that interpretative reading cannot go beyond a certain point. Derrida refers to this point as an aporia in the text, and terms deconstructive reading "aporetic." J. Hillis Miller has described deconstruction this way: “Deconstruction is not a dismantling of the structure of a text, but a demonstration that it has already dismantled itself. Its apparently-solid ground is no rock, but thin air."

Here I will attempt to perpetrate a number of deconstructions on the jargon imbedded in the current economy. Given my attention span when it comes to all small print I'll only tackle those terms that hold my interest long enough for me to take them apart (like a kid dismantling a watch or, these days, an ipod or cell phone).

The economic use of language, i.e. attempts to simplify the abstruse terms used in mortgage documents and bank statements can and often does lead to more confusion and misunderstanding and not less, intentionally or not. A lot of the language becomes loaded or leaden and new language is created to brush off and revamp dubious or dusty practices. Some of this language is quite fascinating. More later.

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