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April 7, 2007

EL312: But there isn't one true meaning...

OooOOoooOoo, everyone else's essays have to do with the essay I picked to present on! I have the magic essay (mwhaha!*).

Anyway, I decided to read the Guetti essay since there were a good number of references to my man de Man. Loads of interesting stuff she had to say...

I actually cracked up while reading this. Why? (Literary criticism is far from funny... but our class is hilarious.) Well, I'll just quote from the section that made me giggle:

Urn, I can't possible understand you, because I can't understand what you originally may have meant: (you are like a "still unravished bride") what I see before me is not the original produced by the Greeks, but a byproduct ("foster-child") of the passage of time, which has erased your original meaning... Since, not understanding these things, I can't even be sure what ceremonious function you may have had, I will have to improvise a ceremony that will do justice to my way of apprehending you. In the long run, I will accept the only answer you can legitimately give to my impatient and perhaps improper questions. (387)

After I laughed, I read this part again. (That shut me up.) I was curious and, at the same time, stumped at how all art--urns and poems alike--cannot truly mean what was "meant" at the time of its creation.

"Crucial ambiguities." Right... What's throwing me off is the idea that Guetti is positing that the urn doesn't mean to Keats the same way it "meant" to the Greeks when they created it, therefore implying that there IS a meaning. From my understanding, the de Manian way of thinking doesn't permit ONE meaning (along with our friends in postmodernism who carry large wooden clubs to remind us of such things... although I heard that Derrida likes to carry around an aluminum Louisville Slugger).

In fact, it's my understanding that the whole concept behind the poststructuralist and postmodernist way of thinking is that meaning is relative and based entirely on subjectivity of an individual upon an issue, work, or topic. "Meaning" is derived from how the thing means not WHAT it means, since there cannot exist one true meaning. Many meanings may exist, all of them true within relative conditions--which inherently exemplify their limitations (Derrida 357)-- but none of them taking precedence or importance over another (de Man 369).

Phew. Guetti has some great points, but this was really the most interesting part of the essay. I'm interested to know what others think and how this essay connects (or grinds against) the de Man essay. Be sure to let me know :)

*It's been far too long since I did a good "mwhaha."

Guetti, ''Resisting the Aesthetic'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by KarissaKilgore at April 7, 2007 1:59 PM


I liked how you explained it's "how" something means as opposed to "what." That will be a great discussion topic for your presentation. I think that de Man is hung up on the way things evolve and ask deeper questions whereas Guetti offers strong examples and explains that everything starts from somewhere. We get hope in building bigger, better branches of ideas in this way. The "unravished bride" quotes made me laugh too. I'm looking forward to understanding Guetti a little better, so your presentation will be a help.

Posted by: Erin at April 10, 2007 12:17 PM

Thanks, Erin. Haha, I'm presenting on de Man... no Guetti. So I hope my presentation will still be helpful. ;)

Posted by: Karissa at April 10, 2007 11:57 PM

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