March 29, 2007

My (very long overdue) Gathering of the Wright ...

When it finally struck me that there wasn't much time left in the semester to get my presentation done I began looking for something that I thought might be interesting. I had heard the word (or phrase - depending on the author of course) poststructuralist in my philosophy class. So I thought to myself that this might be the week for me to present. I'm going to have to apologize in advance because I'm not sure that I understand it myself, but I am going to do my best in the following "continued dream" to explain my meaning and give my readers (and myself) a bit more information about this blog entry than the normal everyday blog. In the following entry you will find websites that I hope will help you to understand the author and some of the people that she is talking about, passages I found important, arguments made by my peers, and some questions that came to mind when I was reading certain passages.

Important People in Wright's Essay

While I know that we all had to read Derrida for tonight's class, I found that I didn't really know a whole lot about Derrida and Lacan. I don't necessarily want to know who these two authors are, but more of what their concepts were. I had a difficult time following parts of this essay in the sense that Wright was mentioning the work of Lacan and I don't know his (or her for all I know) arguments.

Wright uses Lacan's theory of "subject and its attendant myths" to help her find a new psychoanalysis of "Benito Cereno." She claims that according to this theory, Lacan's breakdown of Sartre's argument becomes a part of the story. Delano makes everything and object and therefore does not react to Sartre's Other. This Other is important to the relations on Benito Cereno's ship. Lacan has a website, devoted to him by name, that lists authors that apply his theory to their own works. There is also on this site information about Lacan's life. Check it out if you are interested. (Quick disclaimer: The art work on the main page of the website has a bit of a graphic image on it. So try not to be shocked when you open the page.)

As far as Derrida goes, I'm not sure I saw where he comes into the picture. I think the if anything it comes into play more with her idea of the father figure being found on the ship. The argument, which takes place on page 397, describes for the reader how metaphors are used to give the reader a feeling of the father figure missing. She states, "...and there is a dead father-figure, in both a metaphorical sense and a literal one, since the skeleton of the unfortunate 'leader' is very much present, being tied to the mast of the San Dominick" (397). Later in the essay, Wright does reference a Derridian idea to help her read between the lines so to speak. She states, "For the psychoanalytic critic an approach based on a decentering of language is constructive, for it will seek out those nodal points in a text where a desire for lost meaning manifests itself" (399). She is essentially setting up her argument that we might be reading too much into a work.

Important (to me anyway) passages to discuss and some questions that come with them

The first passage is found on page 393:

Post-structuralist criticism undermines the notion that the text contains a stable meaning. The author's intention is not only recoverable but was never where he might have thought it was in the first place.

This quote brings to mind what we were talking about earlier in the semester with authorial intent. It goes right back to that notion that we as readers can try and figure out authorial intent, but the above quote states that the author may have an idea of why he or she is writing, but that is not necessarily the way that critics and the readers are going to look at the work. Do you think this can relate back to Pale Fire? Why or why not?

The second passage is also on 393:

The term "structuration" suggests that the text can be cauth in the act of porducing itself, whereas the term "structure" suggests a closed, unified, stable artifact.

This idea to me seemed to be a face off. I kept thinking that this is a ring match between what the becomes versus what the text actually is. When looking up the term "Structuration" it isn't even really a word (at least not according to When I tried to get a definition other than the one the book provides it bumped me over to Google. I will be interested to hear the classes take on the word.

I also want to discuss the use of plot summary in this essay. It seemed as if every time I turned around Wright was quoting long passages from "Benito Cereno" instead of discussing them.

On page 396, Wright references Freud's "The Uncanny." How else do you think this idea of poststructuralism can be applied to "The Uncanny?"

Thoughts by the class

I found it very interesting that when reading the blogs posted on the class blog for this entry that four of the nine entries centered around the passage on page 399 where Wright questions unstable meanings. (It is almost as if they were trying to get their blog carnival topic done for our second blogging portfolio.)

Mitchell, David, Vanessa, and Karissa all brought together their ideas on Wright's theory that we are reading too much into a story. Mitchell believes that Wright may not be entirely right when she is asking what's the use. His idea is that this idea must be handled carefully so as to not get carried away, but that there is something to it. Vanessa and David seem to be focusing on the author in their entries, emphasizing that we can't know what the author is thinking and anything else is just an interpretation. Vanessa also agrees with Mitchell in the idea that we are oftentimes reading too much into a work. Karissa, on the other hand, takes a different approach to the same quote that the other three use. She focuses on the idea that Wright is giving "authors an 'out' in saying that the meanings they may (or may NOT) have had in mind while producing the text are all valid and should be considered all due to the limitation of one human's mind to extend only within the realm of what was and what is--not into what could or will be."

Another important student to mention here is Erin because she brings up, what I call, the set up to the quote the other four students were talking about. She believes that by psychoanalyzing the texts we are bringing the author to a human level.

There was one other quote that was discussed by Denamarie and Jay. They both talk about the quote on 393 that expresses how reading a text can no longer be a leisure activity. Interestingly enough both of them disagree with Wright and I would have to agree with them. Even though we study literature there will always be some sort of pleasure that can be gained from it, otherwise why are we studying it in the first place?

One final comment before I go. David brought up on Kevin Hinton's blog on the Slave-Master complex discussed here that I think would be fun to discuss more because it goes right along with the authorial intent we were discussing earlier in this section. He asks, "Do you think it is coincidence that every single critique we read about Cereno draws the same conclusions?" I now pose the question to you and hope that an answer can be found.

Wright, ''The New Psychoanalysis and Literary Criticism'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at March 29, 2007 12:14 AM | TrackBack

OoOOoo, I'm quoted :)

Looking forward to your presentation! Thanks for summing things up a little and providing some outside stuff to look at.

Posted by: Karissa at March 29, 2007 2:48 PM
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