This philosophical style (and I use the term loosely) is exemplified by Jacques Derrida, a French "philosopher" who is commonly credited with having founded the field. His writing, as far as I've seen, is spectacularly confused and cloaked in so much obfuscation and deliberately obscure language as to be almost unreadable, either in French or in translation. He, like most other proponents of his field, is fond of masking his almost universally ridiculous claims in language that makes them seem profound--he could have been the very subject that Nietzsche (no bastion of clarity himself) had in mind when he said "Those who know they are profound strive for clarity. Those who would like to seem profound strive for obscurity." Here's an example from Writing and Difference, just to give you a taste of his style:
The entire history of the concept of structure, before the rupture of which we are speaking, must be thought of as a series of substitutions of centre for centre, as a linked chain of determinations of the centre. Successively, and in a regulated fashion, the centre receives different forms or names. The history of metaphysics, like the history of the West, is the history of these metaphors and metonymies. Its matrix [...] is the determination of Being as presence in all senses of this word. It could be shown that all the names related to fundamentals, to principles, or to the centre have always designated an invariable presence - eidos, arche, telos, energia, ouisa(essence, existence, substance, subject), transcendentality, consciousness, God, man, and so forth.If you find yourself thinking "well that doesn't really say anything at all!" congratulations: you're sane. The central thrust of my objection to the entire deconstructionist thesis is (briefly) just this: is isn't accurate to portray all of reality as a "text" to be interpreted it, as a "social construct" or as a relative phenomenon. There is, in fact, a difference between referent and thing referenced, between subjectivity and objectivity, and between truth and fiction. When I make a statement like "there is a tree outside my window," I'm making a claim about how the world really is that, depending on various facts about the real world is either going to be true or false. It isn't a matter of interpretation, opinion, or "textual construction" (whatever that even means), and cloaking these sorts of inanities in sophisticated (or deep sounding) language isn't going to change that basic fact.
I'm not going to continue with my critique here, because John Searle did a much better job than I ever could. The depth and ferocity of his attack on Derrida, his disciples, and deconstructionist ideology in general is breathtaking in its effectiveness. Snip:
What are the results of deconstruction supposed to be? Characteristica
lly the deconstructioni st does not attempt to prove or refute, to establish or confirm, and he is certainly not seeking the truth. On the contrary, this whole family of concepts is part of the logocentrism he wants to overcome; rather he seeks to undermine, or call in question, or overcome, or breach, or disclose complicities. And the target is not just a set of philosophical and literary texts, but the Western conception of rationality and the set of presuppositions that underlie our conceptions of language, science, and common sense, such as the distinction between reality and appearance, and between truth and fiction. According to Culler, "The effect of deconstructive analyses, as numerous readers can attest, is knowledge and feelings of mastery" (p. 225).
The trouble with this claim is that it requires us to have some way of distinguishing genuine knowledge from its counterfeits, and justified feelings of mastery from mere enthusiasms generated by a lot of pretentious verbosity. And the examples that Culler and Derrida provide are, to say the least, not very convincing. In Culler's book, we get the following examples of knowledge and mastery: speech is a form of writing (passim), presence is a certain type of absence (p. 106), the marginal is in fact central (p. 140), the literal is metaphorical (p. 148), truth is a kind of fiction (p. 181), reading is a form of misreading (p. 176), understanding is a form of misunderstandin
g (p. 176), sanity is a kind of neurosis (p. 160), and man is a form of woman (p. 171). Some readers may feel that such a list generates not so much feelings of mastery as of monotony. There is in deconstructive writing a constant straining of the prose to attain something that sounds profound by giving it the air of a paradox, e.g., "truths are fictions whose fictionality has been forgotten" (p. 181).
The direct target of his attack is a book by Derrida's disciple Jonathan Culler, but the criticisms hold true for Derrida himself, as well as for much of the deconstructionist movement in general. If you are--like me--inclined to view academia in general (and philosophy in particular) as a project that aims to get at clear and rational truth about an objective world, I urge to you read Searle's criticisms: they are spot on.