Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
In ["The Death of the Author"], Barthes criticizes the method of reading and criticism that relies on aspects of the author's identity — his or her political views, historical context, religion, ethnicity, psychology, or other biographical or personal attributes — to distill meaning from the author's work. In this type of criticism, the experiences and biases of the author serve as a definitive "explanation" of the text. For Barthes, this method of reading may be apparently tidy and convenient but is actually sloppy and flawed:
"To give a text an Author" and assign a single, corresponding interpretation to it "is to impose a limit on that text."
In [his essay "The Author Function"], Foucault posits that the legal system was central in the rise of the author, as an author was needed (in order to be punished) for making transgressive statements. This is made evident through the rise of the printing press during the time of the Reformation, when religious texts that circulated challenged the authority of the Catholic Church.
The author function does not affect all texts in the same way. For example, the author of a science text books is not clear or definable as the author of a well known novel. It is not a spontaneous creation or entity, but a carefully constructed social position.
Critics interested in pursuing such matters will be pleased to learn that Tally-Ho, Cornelius! is a good point of departure for an inquiry into the nature of authoriety, the deconstruction of the "author function," and the nature and genealogy of transgressive statements. Indeed, these issues form deliberate themes (and meta-themes) in the novel. Jerry Cornelius, which Mr. Moorcock created as a sort of "share ware" trademark everyman (see the wiki article on JC, here) has been utilized by many authors over the years. This shared control over the character is part of his meaning, which plays upon a range of Continental ontological theories ranging from Rousseau to Foucault, meanwhile bringing to bear an incredulous (some might say "flip") British skepticism that, when it's all mixed together, produces fascinating literary/philosophical effects, as well as some unusual comedy.
What I found rather curious as I composed the novel is that the humor reminded me a lot of the aesthetic I find in Hawthorne and Milton, and I think often the reader can tell (perhaps it seems more obvious to me) that the writer--that is "I"--was evidently deeply impressed when he--"I"--read Paradise Lost and The Scarlet Letter. Significant to me as a reader is how Tally-Ho, Cornelius! brought me into a greater appreciation for Milton's and Hawthorne's humor. Moreover, I think Hawthorne and Milton are more hilarious fellows than most critics are willing to admit. Along these lines, I think this is true also of Gurdjieff--who is a capital joker, though you wouldn't necessarily get this from reading the people who write about Gurdjief, whoever they are.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
My friendships seem to pass,
Where wise old owls and little girls
Are laughing at the past.
Into the sun the flowers turn
Their petals brush the sky,
Honey bees fly into them
If you follow so will I.
A spider spins a web
And seems to go away,
But she remains to hatch her egg
Just watch the shadows sway.
If some song’s seven meanings
Leave much unexplained,
Open your eyes, don’t cheat yourself
What will be will save the day.
About elliptical clouds of ellipsoids
My refractions fly so fast,
Where crooked, aglow the dying woes
Are sailors before the mast.
Through corridors of spinning stars
A looking glass leads the way,
The fires of the sun display.
Large corpuscles sublime appear,
They inflate amongst the mist.
Toward the goal they seem to soar
They lead the Just to bliss.
If you say your name backward
Does it sound the same?
Aleister Crowley has a job for you
On the Astral Plane.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I should also suggest this sort of thing is key to unlocking the humor--and there is a lot of it--we find in the Gospels.
The Priest meets his friend, the Rabbi, and says to him "You have taught me many things but there is one thing in particular I want to learn very much but you do not wish to teach it to me. I want you to teach me the Talmud."
The Rabbi replied: "You are a Non-Jew and you have the brain of a Non-Jew. There is no chance that you will succeed in understanding the Talmud."
But the Priest continued in his attempt to persuade the Rabbi to teach him the Talmud. Finally, the Rabbi agreed. The Rabbi then said to the Priest: "I agree to teach you the Talmud on condition that you answer one question."
The Priest agreed and asked the Rabbi "What is the Question?"
The Rabbi then said to the Priest: "Two men fall down through the chimney. One comes out dirty and the other comes out clean. Who of those two goes to wash up."
"Very Simple," replied the Priest. "The one who is dirty goes to wash up but the one who is clean does not go to wash up."
The Rabbi then said to the Priest: "I told you that you will not succeed in understanding the Talmud. The exact opposite happened. The clean one looks at the dirty one and thinks that he is also dirty, goes to wash up. The dirty one, on the other hand, looks at the clean one and thinks that he is also clean and, therefore, does not go to wash up."
The Priest then says to the Rabbi: "This I did not think of. Ask me, please, another question."
The Rabbi then says to the Priest: "Two men fall down through the chimney. One comes out dirty and the other comes out clean. Who of these two goes to wash up?"
The Priest then says to the Rabbi: "Very simple. The clean one looks at the dirty one and thinks he is also dirty and goes to wash up. The dirty one, on the other hand, looks at the clean one and thinks that he is also clean and, therefore, does not go to wash up."
The Rabbi then says to the Priest: "You are wrong again. I told you that you will not understand. The clean one looks into the mirror, sees that he is clean and, therefore, does not go to wash up. The dirty one looks into the mirror, sees that he is dirty and goes to wash up."
The Priest complains to the Rabbi "But you did not tell me that there is a mirror there."
The Rabbi then tells the Priest: "I told you. You are a Non-Jew, with your brain you will not succeed in understanding the Talmud. According to the Talmud, you have to think of all the possibilities."
"Alright," groaning, said the Priest to the Rabbi. "Let us try once more. Ask me one more question."
For the last time, said the Rabbi to the Priest. "Two men fall through the chimney. One came out dirty and the other came out clean. Who of these two went to wash up"
"That is very simple!" replied the Priest. "If there is no mirror there the clean one will look at the dirty one and will! think that he is also dirty and will, therefore, go to wash up. The dirty one will look at the clean one and will think that he is also clean, and will, therefore, not go to wash up. If there is a mirror there, the clean one will look into the mirror and will, therefore, not go to wash up. The dirty one will look into the mirror and will see that he is dirty and will, therefore go to wash up."
The Rabbi then says to the Priest: "I told that you will not succeed in understanding. You are a Non-Jew, you have a Non-Jewish Brain. Tell me, how is it possible for two men to fall through a chimney and for one to come out dirty and for the other to come out clean?"
Click here for source.