[ilds] Readings

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Sun May 4 12:00:29 PDT 2008


A "reading" of a literary text can be an enjoyable pastime, as we're doing now.  Some "readings" are better or more definitive than others, and authors and composers couldn't exist very well without readers and performers.  Which "reading" you prefer is a matter of personal preference.  It seems necessary to state the obvious.  But the creators of art stand above their admirers, and no "reading" has equal standing with its ultimate source, which I think some criticism advocates or is in danger of advocating.  Another obvious point.  Great works of art will last, and everything else related to them is derivative, transitory, and at best deserving of a footnote in history.  A hundred years from now, I like to think, The Alexandria Quartet will still be read and enjoyed, and all the present "readings" and writings about the Quartet will be considered deadwood by a new group of scholars who are supremely confident they hold the key to interpretation.

Being the author of "bredwine," I state unequivocally that I had no intention of insinuating the Blessed Sacrament.  Although considering the ingenuity of your reading, perhaps I should have.  This does not, by the way, prove your point, for I don't consider anything I write "literature."

Your Chopin example is interesting.  Musicians are considered artists but art critics are not.  I think this disparity has led literary critics to invent Deconstruction and even the score. 


-----Original Message-----
>From: James Gifford <odos.fanourios at gmail.com>
>Sent: May 4, 2008 10:16 AM
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: Re: [ilds] words written and read and shared

>Nice put, Bruce.  While I regularly rely on inferences within reasonable 
>expectations (as you put it), I'm certain not convinced that I should 
>label those inferences anything other than my own 'reading.'  I suppose 
>what I mean is, insofar as the author is privileged with copyright, 
>alphabetization in the library, and a shocking array of cover photos, I 
>see a need for a balance: the reader.  We are creatures that play a 
>marvellous language game, and while I wouldn't call it hubris to guess 
>at what Lawrence Durrell was up to as an author, I'd likely go weak in 
>my knees if I called that guess something other than a reading -- after 
>all, who is doing the guessing, reasonable or otherwise?
>After all, when I go to a concert, as I hope to do this evening, I don't 
>actually "hear Chopin" even though I might say that -- I hear a 
>performance by an interpreter of something Chopin wrote.  Chopin gets 
>intellectual rights, alphabetization, and expired copyright, but I'm 
>still listening to Rafal Blechacz, much like when I pick up a book 
>(among many) with Durrell's name on the spine, *I'm* reading.  And, as a 
>writer, how many people would know that I'd originally written 
>"Beethoven" rather than "Chopin," and who would reasonably guess why I'd 
>changed it (much like the shifts from "Keats" to "Blake" in 
>/Balthazar/'s corrected proofs).
>But I suggest that Bill really means (intends...) for his expired author 
>to be much like Barthes': polemical.  Barthes' still wanted copyright 
>and tenure based on his books -- he just wanted us to attend to readers 
>as well.  There are risks in mind-reading dead people, and a séance 
>might be as close as many readers' interpretations, so despite 
>reasonable inferences, why not add readers to the pot as well.  Without 
>the reader, reading becomes passive voice, and we all know what Orwell 
>thought of that!
>At least, I must admit I want both, though Bill may think I've made an 
>unreasonable inference...  Will he correct me, or does this author 
>prefer to leave his text out there in the world, to make its way on its own?
>ps: Bruce, is the "bre(a)dwine" in your email address an intentional 
>sacrament, or is that just my reading?  I'll continue to choose to read 
>your postings as body & blood offered up to us...  Still, reasonable 
>inferences with regard to some authors come with material risks, so if 
>we want to get into hermeneutics of /that/ book, I'd really prefer the 
>author remain dead, in Nietzsche's sense, and we focus on the readers.

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