top of page


By Jim Powell

Illustrations By Joe Lee


Western Philosophy

ISBN-13: 978-1-934389-26-3
Price: US $16.99
6x9, 168 pp
August 2007


B/W Illustrations

Deconstruction is so labyrinthine (and rumored to be fatal) that it’s become the monster that murdered philosophy. When Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, uses buzz-words such as “phallogocentrism” and “transcendental signified,” humanities students and aspiring philosophers may get weak in the knees.

Following up on the success of Derrida For Beginners, Jim  Powell’s Deconstruction For Beginners is an irreverent romp through deconstructive domains. Though Powell offers lucid explanations of the most important deconstructive ideas and texts, he also dive into lesser known works. One of these, The Right to Look, finds Derrida offering his thoughts on a photo-novella consisting of images of women making love with each other. Powell then goes on to explore how deconstruction, like an unruly mistress, has escaped Derrida, especially in the realm of architecture. Then, based on Derrida’s assertion that deconstruction happens differently in different cultures, Powell examines how – through Buddhism and Taoism – deconstruction took place in ancient India, Japan, and China.


James Powell: As a boy, James’s chores included keeping coyotes out of the chickens, riding fences, branding, milking, harvesting, and the rather spiritual calling of converting bulls to steers. Since then, his jobs have changed quite a bit. He cut line for Smokey on many western wildfires–working winters surveying and building trails, while gradually awakening to Chumash and Vedic wisdom of fire ecology. 


James has also taught meditation around the world, including to Michael Jackson's Neverland staff, Beach Boy Mike Love’s family, and Lithuanian-born archeologist Marija Gimbutas. The California meditation center he chaired for ten years provided ongoing instruction for over ten thousand  Santa Barbarans. What’s more, he was Ayurvedic consultant to Deepak Chopra and Arianna Huffington at the Center for Perfect Health–which he co-founded–with Deepak's lectures drawing audiences over 1,000. He collaborated with Group f/64 photographer Imogen Cunningham on a photographically interpreted book of his translations of the verse of Spanish mystic San Juan de la Cruz. The project was under consideration at various publishing houses when Imogen passed away. 


Joe Lee is an illustrator, cartoonist, writer, and clown.  With a degree from Indiana University centering on Medieval History, Joe is also a graduate of Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey’s Clown College.  He worked for some years as a circus clown.  He is the illustrator of a baker’s dozen of For Beginners books, including Barack Obama For Beginners, [Howard] Zinn For Beginners, Shakespeare For Beginners, Postmodernism For BeginnersDeconstruction For BeginnersEastern Philosophy For BeginnersDante For BeginnersDada & Surrealism For BeginnersJane Austen For Beginners and Climate Change For Beginners among others. Joe lives in Bloomington, Indiana with his wife Mary Bess, son Brandon, cat George, and the terriers (or rather terrors) Max and Jack.

bottom of page