Contemporary readers of philosophy, literary criticism, and related modes of discourse face a constant challenge. Even as we doubt, or indeed, fain to reject outright, the adequacy of traditional understandings of language, we are compelled to follow its insidious rules, and in rebellion we succumb to complicity with the system we suspect. The mechanics of interpretation, the possibility of consensus on the meaning of any given word, the relation between language and physical reality or thought, the hope for communication—all these things are thrown open to severe suspicion, and even under indictment, they control the flow of evidence and the disposition of judgment. “The mastery of (a) language” no longer means the inception of babbling autonomy in a toddler, a student's competence with a foreign tongue, or critical acclaim for a new writer's genius. Now perhaps it's language that's the master. The signal ambiguity inherent in that preposition “of” both sets up and already deconstructs this possibility.