La Sticks 2: Writers In My Flaw of Consciousness

Or read it as “Writers Interrupting Mohan’s Flow of Consciousness”

So Mr.Needham once said:

In the beginning, she was married to him and he to her; now each of them is married to a house.

And now the house is waiting for a divorce as she is married to her and he to him.

Identity as an issue (i.e. gender, class, race, religion, sexuality, history, politics, etc) is usually an uncomfortable subject to write about. Not only is one afraid about offending someone, but also being unable to guess – how and why you might offend them.

Lets re-start with different quote:

I think something peculiar-and-politically inert – is going on when I walk into a bookstore and see it sectioned off with shelves devoted to gay and lesbian or African-Americans, as if the writers of these books have something only to say to gays and lesbians or African-Americans…

I question any subcultural division of the literary project which I see, in the Emersonian manner, as arising from an unmeditated exercise of the lonely mind.

          E.L. Doctorow, Reporting The Universe (2003) 

The same-sex marriage for now is a minor issue because it has only been legalized in a few places, but in the future it might be different. 

But as usual  I’m bit confused by Ivanka Savic’s Study:

Abstract Version From PNAS

Here comes The Chronicle of Higher Education Version ( The comment section is always interesting because it often comes with a Science vs. Religion Debate)

Is There a Gay Brain? Imaging Study Finds Anatomical Clues

My fingers are itching to type a whole bunch of Politically Incorrect jokes, but having learnt some valuable lessons from doing so in 2005 during this study:

Abstract Version From PNAS ( April 2005 )

Prefer not to scratch that itch…

Wait… A SMS from Ernest Hemingway (Unlike the kid from Sixth Sense, I don’t see dead people… I only get SMS from them):

Mohan… I have already done the dirty work… You will find it in The Sun Also Rises

[L]ots of criticism is written by characters who are very academic and think it is a sign you are worthless if you make jokes or kid or even clown.

The bastards don’t want you to joke because it disturbs their categories.

“Joke people and you make enemies. That’s what I always say.”

Excerpts From Hemingway’s Novel The Sun Also Rises

Savic’s study is being used by both sides for propagandic purposes (i.e. For and Against Same-Sex marriages)… And that’s why I always don’t say everything…

OK… Let me bring back the train on to the track before it derails…

If the identity based shelving is done because of a request from writers, I will prefer to keep quite. Call it a decision based on practical judgement and not an honest one.

Yet E.L. Doctorow’s  as if the writers of these books have  something only to say to gays and lesbians or African-Americans comment is interesting because the first name that came to my mind was Marcel Proust.

 Literary critics are often asked to maintain an aesthetic distance when dealing with writers using “stream of consciousness” style, but the other side is covered by Norman Kreitman in The Varieties of Aesthetics Disinterestedness

Without being as technical as Kreitman, I would say post-modernist criticism has become more and more fragmentized due to specialization. For example, when a Psychoanalyst says a certain book is bad , it may not be for the same reason as a Philosopher or a Historian…

Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu ( English Version: Remember of Things Past/In Search of Lost Time) is often associated with stream of consciousness.

I’m going to pause now… I need a break… I need to break… Or I will break… So I will push the brake…

To Be Continued…

1 Comment

Filed under La Sticks

La Sticks 1: From Aesthetics To Ass Ticks

La Sticks is created by a simpleton thinking the purpose of literature is not to show us anything, but rather to engage us in a war (of words) to find peace (if not a piece) of mind… Nuisance to Aesthetics, but nuance, knot-tying and word-play to Ass Ticks… Based mostly on  knowledge gained over the past two decades…

The Birth of Ass Ticks ( A No Act Play )

Pundit : Why do you read literature and how do you judge it?
Simpleton : I read it because it can’t read me and judge it in a way it won’t judge me…
Pundit : Answers like this won’t earn you respect among pundits… I with pride judge literature only using the true principles of aesthetics…
Simpleton : I without shame judge literature always using the false perception of Ass Ticks
Pundit : What is Ass Ticks? Is it some sort of an elastic theory?
Simpleton : Um! Not an elastic theory, but it has some elasticity…
Pundit : OK! Don’t try to pull this phsyics bullshit on me…
Simpleton : Do you know what an ass is?
Pundit: I’m a pundit, we know everything… An ass is a noun for the part of your body that you sit…
Simpleton: You mean between the hole you shit thru…   Sensor Board Cut
Pundit : Yes!  Sensor Board Cut
Simpleton: No! Ass ticks came after the donkey with long ears got ticked and kicked the pundit on his bum for trying to prove a point. ( Tamil: Kaluthaiku Theriyuma Karpoora Vaasanai?)
Pundit: Don’t lie to me…
Simpleton: A lie about a lie is a lie, but there lies the beauty…
Pundit: Says who?
Simpleton: Says Poet Vairamuthu…

Listen to these sweet lies…

That ends : Tamilluku La Alagzhu

This begins : Tamilluku mattuma La Alagzhu ?
La Sticks

Leave a comment

Filed under La Sticks

M&M: Reception Theory & Reader-Response Criticism

There was something perversely interesting about Philosopher William Irwin’s argument:

Perhaps the notion that social and historical phenomena are texts is not such a difficult pill to swallow. Historians and lay people alike speak of such things as their interpretations of the French Revolution or the Clinton presidency.

The pill swallowed by Will(iam) must have caused some sort of hallucination to see historians as lay people.

For the sake of historians, one hopes there will be a major difference between my interpretation (as a lay person) of the French Revolution or the Clinton presidency and their study of the same events.

I have yet to see a historian use George Orwell’s Animal Farm  as a documentation of actual events. The novel will  be Orwell’s pessimistic view of society and politics from the Russian revolution through World War II presented as a satire. 

The perversely interesting portion of the essay has to do with some of the arguments used by Irwin.  For  example, take this one:

“Intertextuality,” a term used in literary criticism, has outlived its usefulness, says William Irwin, an associate professor of philosophy at King’s College, in Pennsylvania. It is, he says, “at best a rhetorical flourish intended to impress, at worst … the signifier of an illogical position.”

 The “at best a rhetorical flourish intended to impress, at worst… the signifier of an illogical position.” argument was the exact one used by Marxist Critics against novels like Animal Farm (esp. against the quote “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”).

Irwin’s essay has a very pro republican vibe (i.e. attacking the Tel Quel school as France opposes the Iraq War), but what makes it humouros is his attempt to present it as an academic piece ( instead of selling it as a political one).  

Example of another dangerous argument:

The term describes a way of viewing literature in which texts refer only to other texts and the intentions of the author are irrelevant. It was coined in 1960s Paris in an atmosphere of distrust for authority and capitalism, he says. Intertextuality began as a “politically charged theory” that sought to transfer power from the author to the reader.

But there are logical problems with that transfer of power, Mr. Irwin says. For the theory to be consistent, he says, it should also hold that “the reader can no more create meaning than the author can,” he says.

The fact that Kristeva and Barthes were dogmatic with their theories is not an over-exaggerated argument,  but that never put any major dent on their school of criticism or philosophy. All it did was weaken their theory.

Yet it seems Irwin is suffering from partial amnesia  by using Kristeva’s school as the reason why the desire to transfer power from the author to the reader still exists …

Did someone say Yale School of Deconstruction ?

The Tyranny Of the Yale Critics [The New York Times ( March 16, 1986)]

To be fair, it was Paul de Man’s (more than Jacques Derrida or Harold Bloom  ) past actions that led to the Yale Scandal.

The Case of Paul de Man [ The New York Times (August 28, 1988)]

Paul de Man: The Plot Thickens [The New York Times (May 24, 1992)]

But even after all the scandals,  the late 90s saw an attempt to separate de Man’s personal life from his academic work. There are numerous white papers and essays aimed at filtering the concepts. Here is a good example:

Paul de Man’s “Semiology and Rhetoric”

It all becomes pointless (and a waste of time)   when someone like Irwin tries to capitalize on a political fad while trying to make it sound academic. 

Defenders of intention determines meaning seem to fear that if we deny this notion, we place readers above authors and it opens the door to “anything goes” in interpretation.

Certain doors open only when the reader consciously wants to be a solipsist. Using it as an argument to kill Intertextuality is pointless because the author’s intention or even determinancy of meaning becomes irrelevant to this particular reader.

As for authors using allusion, I respect them for the power of their creations to stimulate endless thoughts and give rise to a variety of readings.

A good number of modern literary criticism seems to be focusing on reception theory and reader-response criticism.  So let me do a mini Morass & Muse on this subject.

Let me once again exploit KB’s Poi (as a self-parody created using pastiche  )… Uday Kiran’s character is crafted to begin as a Type 1 reader ( Daydream) and Vimala Raman as a Type 2 reader ( Reflection) as it relates to the theme: translation of literature. (There are many other forms of criticism, but these two types dominate modern literary criticism esp. Bloom’s school)

Type 1 appeals to the reader’s sense of discovery and cognitive coherence (Yes… I still say Its cool to be a fool) to the person’s ability to detect, connect, and interpret implicit, ambiguous, or incomplete textual information. This involves more mental than reflective activity of the reader .

Type 2 appeals to the reader’s sense of empathy with human fate, building upon the tension between:

  • desire vs reality
  • expectation vs result
  • hope vs disappointment
  • nature vs nurture

Type 1 is considered spatial and circular, while Type 2 is essentially temporal and linear.

These two types are mostly built on psychological theory of Sigmund Freud ( another genius to abuse literature with his Oedipus complex ) and Wolfgang Iser’s phenomenological reception theory.

First Freud abused Literature to build his theories and then many writers abused Freudian theories to create characters.

What happens to the reception theory when the so-called implied reader is consciously aware of the two types?

Links to other articles:

Critical Theory: Introduction to Literature

Captive Ape: Reader-Response Criticism

Ohio University Literary Criticism

Approaches to Reading and Interpretation

Reader-Response under review: art, game or science?

Reader-Response Criticism

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Morass & Muse

Morass & Muse With A Fuse

A train of thoughts set on linestowards an unknown destination… 

Drop a few letters…      

A rain of oughts set on lies wars a known nation…

Theories end… Concepts begin…

 

The word ‘morass’ carries two meanings:

  1. A complicated or confused situation
  2. An area of soft wet ground in which it is easy to get stuck. [LITERARY]

The word ‘muse’ carries three meanings:

  1. Say to oneself in a thoughtful manner
  2. An imaginary being or force that gives someone ideas and helps them to write, paint or make music. [LITERARY]
  3. In Greek and Roman mythology, each of the nine goddesses who preside or give encouragement in different areas of arts and science. [LITERARY]

The word ‘fuse’ carries four meanings:

  1. Blend, join or become combined. (i.e. Fusion)
  2. Cause to melt (together) especially at a high temperature.
  3. Safety part in a electrical device or a piece of machinary which causes it to stop working if the current is too high and so prevents fires or other dangers.
  4. A string or piece of paper connected to a firework or other explosive item by which it is lit, or a device inside a bomb which causes it to explode after a fixed length of time.

Simpleton’s morass and muse on  Arts & Literature with Science begins…

1 Comment

Filed under Morass & Muse

Wrestling With Politics: Language & Literature

Recently I tubed into a couple of hysterical  moments in American Politics:

The Democratic Race Comes To RAW

Mr.President: Deal or No Deal?

OK!…Lets talk about Kamal’s missed opportunity – this could have been his  stepping stone into Hollywood… All he had to do was show up to WWE RAW in his George Bush costume to promote DASAVATHARAM.

But we should not have Kamal saying ” Do you smell what the Rock is cooking? ” … Instead, Kamal’s promo as Bush will be followed by this song from UNNAL MUDIYUM THAMBI:

ENA SAMYALO

Poor Aristotle thought:

All who have meditated on the art of governing have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth

Empire rhymes nicely with vampire… And thankfully, I don’t know if this Fate was meant to be Good or Bad…

Oops! I did it again (Thank You Miss Spears)… Once again, I sucked you into my moronic world.

As I was watching these clips, passages from Philosopher William Irwin’s essay ( published in 2004)  kept flashing in my mind.  And I must thank Amardeep Singh for including this particular passage in his article (Link: “Intertextuality” is under attack” ) :

Perhaps the notion that social and historical phenomena are texts is not such a difficult pill to swallow. Historians and lay people alike speak of such things as their interpretations of the French Revolution or the Clinton presidency. If a text is just an object of interpretation, such things can and should be recognized as texts. It is not just eminent and lofty socio-historical matters that Kristeva would have us take as part of the textual system, however. Rather, as Manfred Pfister says, for Kristeva, “everything—or, at least, every cultural formation—counts as a text within this general semiotics of culture.”8 Everything is a text; not just revolutions and administrations, but professional wrestling and detergent are texts to be interpreted—as, in fact, they are by Barthes. Still, even this is not too disconcerting when taken in the proper spirit. Certainly an adept interpreter can garner interesting insights about the drama and symbolism of professional wrestling and the marketing ploys that determine the color of our detergent. This is not all that Kristeva has in mind, however. There is no separation of the social text and the literary text, but rather the two must be woven together to produce the tapestry. As Graham Allen captures Kristeva’s point, “we must give up the notion that texts present a unified meaning and begin to view them as the combination and compilation of sections of the social text. As such, texts have no unity or unified meaning on their own, they are thoroughly connected to on-going cultural and social processes” (p. 37).

I could write a whole book to defend the so-called illogical position, but I will give you a few simple reasons. 

First, bits & bites on textual lores

Starts with the three basic positions on the meaning of text:

(1) Every literary text is determined, has a predetermined meaning which the reader or critic seeks to discover.

(2) Every literary text is indeterminate, having no predetermined meaning, so the reader or critic can impose or discover whatever meaning he/she wishes;

(3) Over a period of historical time and/or place, any specific literary text may lend itself to a variety of readings, but the text itself has boundaries set by its structures and codes, and these latter limit the range of possible meanings.

Codes

Major Codes = Social, psychological, economic, political, moral, intertextual and religious codes which may dominate a text.

Minor Codes = food, dress, etc…

Local Codes = SOCIOLECT +/- IDIOLECT ( SOCIOLECT refers to a widely available social store of lore and knowledge. IDIOLECT refers to the store of subjective experience of the writer. )

Structures

Realist Text: equilibrium-disequilibrium-equilibrium

Dialectic: thesis-antithesis-synthesis

Metanarrative: sequences of the above in an ascending order

Then it all gets too fuzzy : Age of Reason, Romanticism, Surrealism, Expressionism, DADA, Cubism, Realism,  Modernism, Post-Modernism, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, Genres, Simple, Complex & Multiple Plots, Plotless, etc

 OK! Back to Mr.Irwin’s bitter pills

(1) As a reader (I’m not qualified to be a critic,  so I read and deliver), I have no intention of changing the following definitions:

Signifier – the sound or image that forms the  word we use; the squiggly lines on a page or the waves in the air that reach our eardrums.

Signified – the object that the word refers to;

Sign – the sound/image itself that combines the two concepts above; the piece of language that is the thing we call a “word” 

Significatum – The object to which a sign refers. An “object” may be a thing or a concept, it may be in the empirical world or inside language.

Transitive Sign – A mental concept with its referent significatum will refer to a concrete object in the empirical world.

Intransitive Sign – refers inwards to the processes of thought and language.

(2) English Grammarians can have their fun  with the Subject-Verb-Object syntax…

But as a multilingual simpleton, I shall enjoy FOCAT and ARREST to say:

Mind Your Language – The First Lesson Clip 1

Mind Your Language – The First Lesson Clip 2

Mind Your Language – The First Lesson Clip 3

Mind Your Language – The First Lesson Clip 4

Sure… You can argue that the characterization in this sitcom involves stereotyping with politically incorrect dialogues, but try focusing on the problems with English Grammar…

(3)  The word “theory” when applied to Literary, Historical and Cultural studies is mostly speculative ( hard to compare it with the “theory of relativity” used in science). 

(4) Forcing a reader to take a logical position will cause more people to accept  the fallacy of the ideal reader. There is no ideal reader – only individuals with different ranges of reading competence and general experience. A simple example would be a person following a plot linearly and ignoring all literary devices or even trying to identify themselves with a fictional character.

5) To a certain extent, cultural and historical studies (esp. the ones involved with studying pop and mass culture) swallows literary studies, but I have yet to see it destroy Literature. 

6) Irwin is trying to sell a direct comparision between a book and a film (aka auetur theory from 1960s). When I’m viewing a film in a theater, I become a watcher not a reader… I have no control over the speed at which images are moving ( unless you’re watching a film on DVD, video or Internet, but that’s a luxury only some enjoy), but when it comes to a book, I have total control of turning page to page, focusing on particular words or even the syntax (i.e. the normal English version involving Subject – Verb – Object syntax or the prose norm involving FOCAT and ARREST). 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Why Spin It?

Dead Poet Society

poet001.gifMy guruji once drew a straight line and said:

Eliminate rhyme, and you still have free verse

Eliminate simile, and you still have symbol

Eliminate line, and you have prose

Yet the line is the one characteristic that all other elements must rely on.

Ah! The practice and pleasure of Poetry from Plato to Aristotle  could be seen as the line that divides philosophy from poetry. The term  “Dead Poet Society” has been defined and refined by many poets, but  my favourite definition was the one embraced by Arthur Symons:

Social rules are made by normal people for normal people, and the man of genius is fundamentally abnormal. It is the poet against society, society against the poet, a direct antagonism; the shock of which, however, it is often possible to avoid by a compromise. So much license is allowed on one side, so much liberty foregone on the other. The consequence are not always of the best, art being generally the loser.

The “Dead Poet Society” is a category that deals with poetry from a layperson’s point of view. When the simpleton’s eye meets the poet’s ‘I’ – the line might curve, but the mystery will not be solved because these poets are dead. 

poet002.gif

Leave a comment

Filed under Dead Poet Society

Remembering Ryan

larkin-ryan-cp-2199153.jpg 

Ryan Larkin

(b. July 31, 1943, – d. February 14, 2007)

Ryan Larkin died from lung cancer. He was an inspiration to many  animators and creative film-makers. But  how did a man with so much talent end-up being a pan-handler? 

To be honest, Chris Landreth’s animation only covers a portion of Ryan’s career. A more unbiased account of Ryan’s troubles are well documented in the film Alter Egos by Laurence Green.

The sad thing about his death was it occured just as he was getting his life back together ( I’m sure Chris played  an important role) and working on an animation called Spare Change .

1 Comment

Filed under Simpleton "The Critic"