‘Constructions’ of this kind are a kind of one-way conversation with the world, in which, rather like the Americans in Iraq, it is we who tell it what it is like. But meaning is in fact the product of a transaction between us and reality. Texts and readers are mutually dependent.
To revert to our question-and-answer model: We can pose questions to the world, and these are certainly our questions rather than its own. But the answers the world may return are instructive precisely because reality is always more than our questioning anticipates. It exceeds our own interpretations of it, and is not averse to greeting them from time to time with a rude gesture or knocking the stuffing out of them. Meaning, to be sure, is something people do; but they do it in dialogue with a determinate world whose laws they did not invent, and if their meanings are to be valid, they must respect this world’s grain and texture. To recognize this is to cultivate a certain humility, one which is at odds with the ‘constructivist’ axiom that when it comes to meaning, it is we who are all-important. This superficially radical notion is in fact secretly in cahoots with a Western ideology for which what matters is the meanings we stamp on the world and others for our own ends.