[ilds] baboonism

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Sun Jul 8 07:01:44 PDT 2007


Jamie, you're opened up a new field of study.  But I wouldn't call it the study of literature, as I know it.

Bruce

-----Original Message-----
>From: James Gifford <odos.fanourios at gmail.com>
>Sent: Jul 7, 2007 9:50 PM
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: Re: [ilds] baboonism
>
>Bruce comments:
>
> > I disagree with this, absolutely disagree.  My reading
> > of literature is not to consider equally any possible
> > reading of a text.  I want to know what the author is
> > doing and intending, not to understand and give equal
> > weight to whatever may be occurring in the reader's mind.
>
>So, Beethoven's main theme from his 5th Symphony was taken up in WWII as 
>"V" for victory in morse code -- certainly this wasn't Beethoven's 
>intention, but you'd rather not consider such a thing as ever having 
>importance?  I know you'd find that interesting, which is why I don't 
>really believe you right now...  Did Shakespeare intend Sonnet 18 in the 
>'heteronormative' way most readers read it when we put it next to Sonnet 
>20?  With those two side by side, we might speculate about Shakespeare's 
>intentions and the truly remarkable (and exciting) prospect of teenage 
>love expressed using those words.  Many, many readers take up an 
>author's words and use them to self-express or self-describe -- that has 
>little to do with the author, but I still think it's fascinating to see 
>literature work in that manner, giving a reader a way of articulating 
>his or her inner life.
>
>Better still, and closer to Durrell, Henry Miller wrote _Tropic of 
>Cancer_, which was banned and went through some of the most important 
>legal trials for censorship in the 20th Century.  It's perfectly viable 
>to ask if we'd have the California pornography industry today if it 
>weren't for those trials (sigh) -- yet, that wasn't part of Miller's 
>intentions, so we should ignore it.  Right?
>
>Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" caused a riot in Paris, which also 
>wasn't his intention.  We should disregard that as well?  We have no 
>interest in the result of a work?
>
>So, for Durrell, _Bitter Lemons_ went on to win the Duff Cooper Memorial 
>Prize, which is pretty clearly political.  If that wasn't his intent, 
>should we again say that Durrell's intentions differ from the social and 
>cultural context of the book's reception, so we disregard the history of 
>the book?  That denies bibliography, and I thought we'd agreed you like 
>bibliography...
>
>I'd rather keep that field wide, wide open.  I'm not going to dismiss an 
>author's intentions (though I do understand why some people do), but I'm 
>also not going to say my assumptions about those intentions are the only 
>thing we have to talk about (and they will *always* be assumptions about 
>intentions, even with good evidence, or very likely projections in the 
>Freudian sense).
>
>Besides, no one suggested we should "consider equally any possible 
>reading of a text" -- to suggest such a project is what we're talking 
>about is simply a way of shutting down the debate.  Surely we should 
>give at least some merit to what readers actually do while reading a 
>book...  Surely we should discuss the merits of an idea rather than 
>dismissing it because we can loosely and vaguely associate it with an 
>ill-defined "ism" we arbitrarily despise...  I have human failings, but 
>I'd at least like to aspire to avoiding such things.
>
>Perhaps we'll just have to disagree about this one and get back to the 
>book.  I respect where you're coming from, Bruce, and I have sympathy 
>for your position.  However, I disagree with you about this being an 
>"either / or" problem -- I want "and," and I think that plurality comes 
>closer to the complex way that the world is.
>
>Best,
>James
>
>Bruce Redwine wrote:
>> No, I disagree with this, absolutely disagree.  My reading of literature is not to consider equally any possible reading of a text.  I want to know what the author is doing and intending, not to understand and give equal weight to whatever may be occurring in the reader's mind.
>> 
>> Bruce
>> 
>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: James Gifford <odos.fanourios at gmail.com>
>>> Sent: Jul 7, 2007 7:02 PM
>>> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>>> Subject: Re: [ilds] baboonism
>>>
>>> Moreover, let's no forget that a book can have an effect independent of 
>>> the author's intentions.  Analyzing those impacts is a viable as 
>>> analyzing the author's intentions or contexts, though it certainly has 
>>> a motivation.  Choosing to exclude those same things is equally driven 
>>> by a motivation.
>>>
>>> Best,
>>> James




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