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← 16. The Social Permeability of Reader and Text

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Ukazujem Revíziu 1 vytvorenú 08/05/2012 od Amara Bot.

  1. Prof: So we arrive at
    our turn to sociogenesis.
  2. Genesis is, of course,
    here obviously--even as we read
  3. both Jauss and Bakhtin for
    today--a misleading term in a
  4. certain sense;
    because obviously,
  5. the most egregious difference
    between Jauss and Bakhtin--
  6. and once again you're probably
    saying to yourself,
  7. "Well, my goodness.
  8. Why have these two texts been
    put together?"--
  9. the most egregious difference
    is that Bakhtin's primary
  10. concern is with the "life
  11. that produces a text and Jauss'
    primary concern is with the
  12. "life world,"
    or perhaps better
  13. "succession of life
  14. in which a text is received.
  15. I think you can tell,
    however, from reading both
  16. texts,
    and will be conscious as you go
  17. through the materials that
    remain on the syllabus,
  18. that the relationship between
    the production and reception of
  19. literature,
    or of discourse of any kind,
  20. once you factor in the social
    setting of such a text,
  21. becomes much more permeable,
    much more fluid.
  22. There's a certain sense in
    which the producer is the
  23. receiver;
    in which the author is the
  24. reader and stands in relation to
    a tradition, to a past,
  25. as a reader;
    and the reader in turn,
  26. in continuing to circulate
    texts through history--
  27. that is to say,
    in playing a role as someone
  28. who keeps texts current--
    is perhaps even in concrete
  29. terms a writer.
  30. That is to say,
    he or she is someone who
  31. expresses opinions,
    circulates values,
  32. and keeps texts,
    as I say, in circulation.
  33. I've always felt this about
    Jauss's sense of what a reader
  34. is.
  35. What kind of reader would it be
    who was responsible for the
  36. continued presence,
    or influence,
  37. of a text through literary
    history who wasn't in some sense
  38. communicating an opinion?
  39. This is obviously truer today
    than ever before when we have
  40. blogs and discussion groups and
    when everybody is circulating
  41. opinions on the internet.
  42. Plainly the reader,
    plainly the taste-maker,
  43. the reader as taste-maker,
    is at the same time a writer.
  44. Just in passing--this has
    become a digression but I hope a
  45. useful one--
    in this context,
  46. one can think about a really
    strange pairing,
  47. Jauss in relation to Bloom.
  48. If Bloom's theory of strong
    misreading as a principle of
  49. literary historiography can be
    understood as a relationship
  50. between writers as readers and
    readers as writers,
  51. so by the same token if we see
    Jauss's analysis of reception in
  52. these terms,
    and if we think of reception as
  53. a necessary circulation of
  54. there is, after all,
    a sense in which for Jauss,
  55. too, the reader is a writer and
    the writer is a reader.
  56. That is undoubtedly a remote
  57. but it is a way of seeing how
    both Bloom and Jauss are figures
  58. who have strong and interesting
    and plausible theories about
  59. literary history.
  60. All right.
  61. To go, however,
    back to the beginning--
  62. back to the sense in which
    we're at a watershed,
  63. or a moment of transition in
    this course,
  64. leaving for the moment out of
    the picture the intermediate
  65. step of psychogenesis--
    to go back to this sense of our
  66. being in a moment of
  67. as always, such is the
    calendar, just at the wrong
  68. time: we finally accomplish our
  69. then we go off to spring break,
    forget everything we ever knew
  70. and come back and start off once
    again as a tabula rasa.
  71. We'll do our best to bridge
    that gap.
  72. In any case,
    if we now find ourselves
  73. understanding in reading these
    two texts for the first time,
  74. really--although it's not that
    we haven't been talking about
  75. "life"
  76. Obviously, we have been,
    as it's not as though the
  77. Russian formalists culminating
    in the structuralism of Jakobson
  78. don't talk about a referential
  79. It's unfair even to the New
    Critics to say that somehow the
  80. world is excluded from the
    interpretative or reading
  81. process--
    even though all along we've
  82. been saying things like this,
    we still sense a difference.
  83. The difference is in the
    perceived relationship between
  84. the text,
    the object of study,
  85. and the life world--
    the sense, in fact,
  86. in which a text is a life
  87. This has, after all,
    something to do with our
  88. understanding of what language
  89. So far we have been thinking of
    language as a semiotic code and
  90. also with the strong suspicion
    that this semiotic code is a
  91. virtual one.
  92. We have been emphasizing the
    degree to which we are passive
  93. in relation to,
    or even, as it were,
  94. "spoken by"
    this language.
  95. In other words,
    it's been a constant in our
  96. thinking about these matters
    that language speaks through us,
  97. but we have exercised so far a
    curious reticence about the
  98. sense in which this language is
    not just a code,
  99. not just something that exists
    virtually at a given historical
  100. moment,
    but is in fact a code made up
  101. of other people's language:
    in other words,
  102. that it is language in
  103. not just language as somehow
    abstractly outside of networks
  104. of circulation available for
  105. So we begin now to think of
    language still,
  106. and the relationship between
    language and speech,
  107. but now it's not a language
    abstracted from reality;
  108. it's a language which,
    precisely, circulates
  109. within reality and as a matter
    of social exchange and social
  110. interaction.
  111. Language is now and henceforth
    on our syllabus a social
  112. institution.
  113. In literary theory it has the
    same determinative relationship
  114. with my individual speech,
    but we now begin to understand
  115. the claim that I don't speak my
    own language in a different
  116. register.
  117. Hitherto it's been,
    well, "Language is there
  118. before me,
    what I speak is just sort of
  119. that which I borrow from
    it," but now this takes on
  120. a new valency altogether.
  121. What I don't speak is my
  122. it's other people's language.
  123. My voice--and the word
  124. is obviously under heavy
    pressure here,
  125. even though nobody says it goes
  126. my voice is a voice permeated
    by all the sedimentations,
  127. registers, levels,
    and orientations of language in
  128. the world that surrounds me.
  129. I take my language,
    in other words,
  130. from other people.
  131. I stand here--for my
    sins--lecturing in kind of an
  132. ad-lib way, and that makes it
    even more pronounced in what I
  133. say.
  134. You're hearing the internet.
  135. You're hearing newspaper
  136. You're hearing slang.
  137. You're hearing all sorts of
    locutions and rhetorical devices
  138. that I'd be ashamed to call
    mine, >
  139. at least in many cases,
    because they are in the world;
  140. they are out there, as we say.
  141. What's out there gets to the
    point where it's in here,
  142. and the next thing you know,
    it becomes part of the ongoing
  143. patter or blather of an
  144. It is, in other words,
    the speech of others that
  145. you're hearing when you hear an
  146. The extent or the degree to
    which this might be the case is,
  147. I suppose, always subject to
  148. We're going to take up a couple
    of examples,
  149. but in any case,
    you can see that without the
  150. structure of the relationship
    between language and speech
  151. having really changed--
    and in fact it won't really
  152. change as we continue along--
    without the structure of the
  153. relationship between language
    and speech having changed,
  154. the nature of this relationship
    and the way in which we think of
  155. it in social terms is changed,
    and the social aspect of it now
  156. comes into prominence and will
    remain there.
  157. Now in order to see how this
    works in the case of today's two
  158. authors a little more
  159. I wanted to turn to a couple of
    passages on your sheet.
  160. You got my grim warning last
    night that if you didn't bring
  161. it, I wouldn't have any to
  162. We'll see how well that worked,
    and if it didn't work,
  163. well, perhaps it'll work better
    in the future.
  164. In any case,
    first of all turning to the
  165. first passage on the sheet by
  166. by the way, if you don't have
    the sheet,
  167. maybe somebody near you does,
    or maybe somebody near you has
  168. a computer which is being used
    for the correct purposes that
  169. can be >
  170. held somehow between the two of
  171. These are all possibilities.
  172. The first passage on the sheet
    by Bakhtin is about the
  173. relationship between what he
    takes to be a formalist
  174. understanding of
  175. for example,
    the new critical understanding
  176. which he's not directly talking
    about but which we could use as
  177. an example of irony--
    the ways of talking about not
  178. meaning what you say.
  179. He's talking about those sorts
    of double-voicedness in
  180. relationship to,
    in contradistinction to,
  181. what he means by "genuine
  182. and he says,
    first passage on the sheet:
  183. Rhetoric is often limited to
    purely verbal victories over the
  184. word, over ideological
  185. [In other words,
    I am sort of getting under your
  186. ribs if you're somehow or
    another voicing an
  187. authoritative,
    widespread, or tyrannical
  188. opinion by some form or another
    of subverting it--
  189. in other words,
    a kind of a binary relationship
  190. between what I'm saying and
    what's commonly being said out
  191. there.]
    When this happens [says
  192. Bakhtin]
    rhetoric degenerates into
  193. formalistic verbal play but,
    we repeat, when discourse is
  194. torn from reality it is fatal
    for the word itself as well.
  195. Words grow sickly,
    lose semantic depth and
  196. flexibility, the capacity to
    expand and renew their meanings
  197. in new living contexts.
  198. They essentially die as
    discourse, for the signifying
  199. word lives beyond itself;
    that is, it lives by directing
  200. its purposiveness outward.
  201. Double-voicedness,
    which is merely verbal,
  202. is not structured on authentic
    heteroglossia but on a mere
  203. diversity of voices.
  204. In other words,
    it doesn't take into account
  205. the way in which there are
    seepages or permeabilities among
  206. the possibilities and registers
    of meaning,
  207. depending on extraordinarily
    complex speaking communities
  208. coming together in any aspect of
  209. ways in which we have to think
    about the life world of a
  210. discourse in order to understand
    the play of voice.
  211. Heteroglossia is the language
    of others.
  212. That's what it means if we are
    to to understand the way in
  213. which the language of others is
    playing through and permeating
  214. the text.
  215. A comparable response to
    formalism on the part of Hans
  216. Robert Jauss--
    I should say in passing that
  217. both Bakhtin and Jauss have
    authentic and close relations
  218. with the Russian formalists.
  219. Bakhtin begins,
    in a way, at the very end of
  220. the formalist tradition,
    as a kind of second generation
  221. formalist,
    but quickly moves away--it is
  222. breaking up in the late 1920s--
    from that and begins to rewrite
  223. formalism in a certain sense as
    a sociogenesis of discourse in
  224. language;
    and by the same token,
  225. Jauss in his theory of literary
  226. which is not enunciated in
    these terms in the text that you
  227. have,
    but rather in the long text
  228. from which I wish your editor
    had taken an excerpt,
  229. called "Literary History
    as a Provocation to Literary
  230. Theory."
  231. You have excerpts from that on
    your sheet.
  232. In any case,
    in Jauss' understanding of the
  233. relationship between the text
    and the life world,
  234. Jauss cobbles together,
    as it were,
  235. aspects of Russian formalist
  236. particularly that of Jakobson
    and Tynjanov,
  237. and a Marxist understanding of,
    as it were,
  238. the marketing,
    reception, and consumption of
  239. literary production.
  240. These pairs of ideas go
    together in his developing of
  241. his thesis about literary
    reception, to which we'll return
  242. at the end of the lecture.
  243. The second passage on the
    sheet, which distances him,
  244. in which he wants to distance
    himself somewhat from both of
  245. these influences,
    goes as follows:
  246. Early Marxist and formalist
    methods in common conceive the
  247. literary fact within the closed
    circle of an aesthetics of
  248. production and representation.
  249. In doing so,
    they deprive literature of a
  250. dimension that inalienably
    belongs to its aesthetic
  251. character as well as to its
    social function,
  252. the dimension of its reception
    and influence.
  253. In other words,
    the way in which a text,
  254. once it exists,
    moves in the world,
  255. the way in which it persists,
    changes as we understand it and
  256. grows or diminishes as time
    passes in the world:
  257. this is the medium,
    the social medium,
  258. in which Jauss wants to
    understand literary--
  259. precisely
  260. as we'll see.
  261. Coming a little closer to this
    issue of the relationship
  262. between thinking of this kind
    and the formalist tradition,
  263. Bakhtin on page 592,
    the left-hand column toward the
  264. bottom--
    I'm not going to quote this,
  265. I'm just going to say that it's
  266. Bakhtin begins a sentence
    about, as he puts it,
  267. literary "parody"
    understood in the narrow sense.
  268. Now what he's implying here is
    that the theory of parody
  269. belongs primarily to Russian
    formalist literary
  270. historiography.
  271. In other words,
    the relationship between a new
  272. text and an old text is one of,
    broadly conceived within this
  273. discourse, parody.
  274. Bakhtin picks up the word
  275. in order to say also on page
    592, the left-hand column about
  276. halfway down:
    … [A]
  277. mere concern for language is
    [and it's an odd thing to say,
  278. "a mere concern for
  279. >
  280. ]
    but the abstract side of the
  281. concrete and active [i.e.,
    dialogically engaged]
  282. understanding of the living
    heteroglossia that has been
  283. introduced into the novel and
    artistically organized within
  284. it.
  285. To pause over this,
  286. if we linger merely on the
    literariness of parody,
  287. we simply don't have any grasp
    of the complexity of the ways in
  288. which the dialogic or the
    heteroglossal modulates,
  289. ripples, and makes complicated
    the surface of literary
  290. discourse.
  291. Parody once again leaves us
    with a sense of the binary:
  292. the previous text was this,
    the secondary text or the next
  293. text riffs off that previous
    text in a way that we can call
  294. parodic--
    but that's binary.
  295. It's one text against another
    and leaves out the whole
  296. question of that flood or
    multiplicity of voices which
  297. pervades the text.
  298. Okay.
  299. So then Jauss has an
    interesting moment again,
  300. in the fourth passage on your
  301. in which he is obviously
    directly responding to that
  302. passage at the end of Tynjanov's
    essay on literary evolution
  303. which we've had on the board and
    which we've discussed before.
  304. You remember Tynjanov makes the
    distinction between evolution--
  305. the way in which a sequence of
    texts mutates,
  306. as one might say,
    and the way in which,
  307. in other words,
    successive texts (again) parody
  308. or alter what was in the
    previous text--
  309. and modification,
    which is the influence on texts
  310. from the outside by other sorts
    of historical factors which may
  311. lead to textual change.
  312. Tynjanov says that it's
  313. actually for both studies--for
    the study of history and also
  314. for the study of literary
  315. that the two be always kept
    clearly distinct in the mind of
  316. the person looking at them.
  317. Well, Jauss's response to that
    is perhaps chiefly rhetorical,
  318. but it nevertheless once again
    does mark this shift in the
  319. direction of the understanding
    of language as social that I've
  320. been wanting to begin by
  321. Jauss says:
    The connection between literary
  322. evolution and social change
    [that is to say,
  323. those features in society that
    would and do modify texts]
  324. does not vanish from the face
    of the earth through its mere
  325. negation.
  326. What is he saying?
  327. He's saying "does not
    vanish from the face of the
  328. earth" because Tynjanov
    said it did.
  329. >
  330. There is no doubt that that's
    the passage Jauss is talking
  331. about.]
    The new literary work [he goes
  332. on]
    is received and judged against
  333. the background of the everyday
    experience of life.
  334. In other words,
    the work exists in a life
  335. world.
  336. There is no easy or even
    possible way of distinguishing
  337. between its formal innovations
    and those sorts of innovations
  338. which are produced by continuous
    and ongoing factors of social
  339. change.
  340. They interact.
  341. They seep into one another in
    exactly the same way that all
  342. the registers and sedimentations
    of human voices interact and
  343. seep into one another in
    Bakhtin's heteroglossia.
  344. All right.
  345. So these then are the emphases
    of both of these writers with
  346. respect to formalist ideas which
    have played a prominent part in
  347. most,
    if not all, of the literary
  348. theory that we have studied up
    until now.
  349. I'd like to linger a little
    while with Bakhtin before
  350. turning back to Jauss.
  351. Now heteroglossia or diversity
    of speech,
  352. as he calls it sometimes--he
    says at one point again on page
  353. 592 toward the top of the
    left-hand column--
  354. heteroglossia is what he calls
    "the ground of style."
  355. I want to pause to ask a little
    bit what he might mean by this
  356. expression, "the ground of
    style," the italicized
  357. passage.
  358. It is precisely the diversity
    of speech and not the unity of a
  359. normative shared language that
    is the ground of style.
  360. In other words,
    I've already said,
  361. of course, when I speak I'm not
    speaking to you in an official
  362. voice.
  363. I am not speaking the King's
  364. In fact, on this view there's
    really no such thing as the
  365. King's English.
  366. Nobody speaks the King's
    English because there is no such
  367. isolated distilled entity that
    one can point to.
  368. Language, at least the language
    of most of us--
  369. that is to say,
    of everyone except people in
  370. hermetically sealed environments
  371. for example,
    a peculiarly privileged,
  372. inward-looking aristocracy--the
    language of virtually all of us
  373. is the language of the people,
    the language of others.
  374. It is that which we have to
    continue to think about as we
  375. consider how a style is
  376. We speak of a style as though
    it were purely a question of an
  377. authorial signature.
  378. Sometimes we think of style and
    signature as synonymous.
  379. "Oh, I would recognize
    that style anywhere."
  380. Coleridge said of a few lines
    of Wordsworth,
  381. "If I had come across
    these lines in the desert,
  382. I'd have said
  383. Well,
    obviously there is a certain
  384. sense in which we do recognize a
    style: for example,
  385. the style of Jane Austen.
  386. [Points to quotation on board.]
    I suppose arguably you could
  387. think that this is the style of
  388. Johnson,
    but most people would recognize
  389. it as the style of Jane Austen;
    and yet at the same time,
  390. as we'll see in a minute,
    it is a style made up,
  391. in ways that are very difficult
    finally to factor out and
  392. analyze,
    of many voices.
  393. Okay.
  394. So this would suggest,
    I think--this idea of a style
  395. as a composite of speech
  396. this idea would suggest that
    possibly there isn't a voice,
  397. that to speak of an authorial
    voice would be a very difficult
  398. matter and might lead us to ask,
    "Does this move the idea
  399. that the sociolect speaks
    through the idiolect,
  400. the idea that the language of
    everyone is,
  401. in fact, the language that
    speaks my speech,
  402. my peculiar individual
    speech--does this once again
  403. bring us face to face with that
    dreary topic,
  404. the death of the author?"
  405. I don't think so,
    not quite, and certainly not in
  406. Bakhtin,
    who gives us a rather bracing
  407. sense of the importance of the
    author in a passage on page 593,
  408. the right-hand column.
  409. He says:
    It is as if the author [this
  410. is, of course,
    sort of coming face-to-face
  411. with the problem of whether
    there still is an author]
  412. has no language of his own,
    but does possess his own style,
  413. his own organic and unitary law
    governing the way he plays with
  414. languages [so style is perhaps
    one's particular way of
  415. mediating and allocating the
    diversity of voice that impinges
  416. on what one's saying]
    and the way his own real
  417. semantic and expressive
    intentions are refracted within
  418. them.
  419. [And here Bakhtin saves or
    preserves the author by invoking
  420. the principle of unifying
    intention and the way in which
  421. we can recognize it in the
    discourse of any given novel.]
  422. Of course this play with
    languages (and frequently the
  423. complete absence of a direct
    discourse of his own) in no
  424. sense degrades the general,
    deep-seated intentionality,
  425. the overarching ideological
    conceptualization of the work as
  426. a whole.
  427. So this is not,
    though it may seem to be in
  428. certain respects,
    a question of the death of the
  429. author as provoked by,
    let's say, Foucault or Roland
  430. Barthes at the beginning of the
  431. It's not that exactly.
  432. Everything that we've been
    saying so far can be seen to
  433. work in a variety of novels.
  434. The novel is the privileged
    genre for Bakhtin.
  435. He, I think perhaps somewhat
    oversimplifying in this,
  436. reads the novel,
    the emergence of the novel,
  437. and the flowering and richness
    of the novel against the
  438. backdrop of genres he considers
    to be monoglossal:
  439. the epic,
    which simply speaks the unitary
  440. voice of an aristocratic
  441. the lyric, which simply speaks
    the unitary voice of the
  442. isolated romantic solipsist.
  443. Over against that,
    you get the polyglossal,
  444. the rich multiplicity of voice
    in the novel.
  445. As I say, I think that the
    generic contrast is somewhat
  446. oversimplified because nothing
    is easier and more profitable
  447. than to read both epic and lyric
    as manifestations of
  448. heteroglossia.
  449. Just think of The Iliad.
  450. What are you going to do,
    if you really believe that it's
  451. monoglossal, with the speeches
    of Thersites?
  452. Okay.
  453. In any case,
    the basic idea,
  454. however,
    is I think extraordinarily rich
  455. and important,
    and I thought we could try it
  456. out by taking a look for a
    moment at the first sentence of
  457. Pride and Prejudice,
    which I'm sure most of you
  458. know [gestures to board,
  459. It is plainly an example of the
    relationship between what
  460. Bakhtin calls "common
  461. "It is a truth universally
  462. or in other
  463. words, it's in everybody's
    mouth--and something like
  464. authorial reflection,
    or what he elsewhere calls
  465. "internally persuasive
  466. Now in traditional parlance,
    this would be a speech which
  467. manifests irony,
    the rhetoric of irony against
  468. which Bakhtin sets himself in
    the first passage on your sheet.
  469. "How ridiculous!"
  470. we say.
  471. Jane Austen doesn't believe
  472. This is drawing-room wisdom,
    and everything in her sentence
  473. points to the ways in which it's
    obviously wrong,
  474. even while it's being called a
    truth: "universally"
  475. meaning the thousand people or
    so who matter;
  476. in other words,
  477. there are a great many people
    who neither acknowledge nor care
  478. about any such thing.
  479. Then, of course,
    the idea that "a single
  480. man in possession of a good
  481. or indeed otherwise,
    has nothing to do but be
  482. "in want of a wife."
  483. Obviously, this is what is
    being said not by the man in the
  484. street but by drawing-room
  485. Now even before we turn to the
    complication of the ways in
  486. which the sentence is being
  487. bear in mind that the plot of
    the novel confirms the
  488. "truth."
  489. In other words,
    Darcy and Bingley,
  490. both of them "in
    possession of a good
  491. fortune,"
    do turn out very plainly to
  492. have been in want of a wife and,
    in fact, procure one by the end
  493. of the novel.
  494. That is precisely what the plot
    is about,
  495. so that the conventions
    governing the plot of Pride
  496. and Prejudice altogether
    confirm the truth that is
  497. announced in this sentence,
    even though it is a
  498. truth that is plainly to be
    viewed ironically.
  499. That in itself is quite
    extraordinary and,
  500. I think, reinforces our sense
    that this is one of the great
  501. first sentences in the history
    of fiction.
  502. Let's turn now to the way in
    which we can think of it as
  503. something other than a simple
  504. Of course, there is this word
  505. We've been thinking a lot about
    want lately because we have just
  506. gone through our psychoanalytic
  507. What exactly does this
  508. single man really want?
  509. In a way, the subtle pun in the
    word "want,"
  510. which means both "to
    desire" and "to
  511. lack"--
    well, if I lack something,
  512. I don't necessarily desire it.
  513. I just don't happen to have it,
  514. On the other hand,
    if I want something,
  515. I can also be said to desire
  516. Well, which is it?
  517. Is it a kind of lack that
    social pressure of some sort is
  518. calculated to fill,
    or is it desire?
  519. If it's desire,
    what on earth does it have to
  520. do with a good fortune?
  521. There are elements of the
    romance plot which raise
  522. precisely that question.
  523. Desire has nothing to do with
  524. Convenience,
    social acceptability,
  525. comfort: all of those things
    have to do with fortune,
  526. but desire, we suppose--having
    passed through our
  527. psychoanalytic phase--
    to be of a somewhat different
  528. nature.
  529. The complication of the
    sentence has to do actually with
  530. the question of the way in which
    the meanings of these words can
  531. be thought to be circulating and
    to create ripples of irony of
  532. their own far more complicated
    than "Oh,
  533. the author's much smarter than
  534. she doesn't mean that,"
    which is already a complication
  535. introduced by the fact that her
    plot bears it out.
  536. How can her plot bear it out if
    she's being so ironic?
  537. Of course, there is obviously a
    good deal more to say.
  538. A single man in possession of a
    good fortune obviously may not
  539. at all want a wife,
    for a variety of reasons that
  540. one could mention,
    and that can't be possibly
  541. completely absent from Jane
    Austen's mind.
  542. So that has to be taken into
    account in itself and certainly
  543. does [lights go off in lecture
  544. I think you see it's the sort
    of sentence that bears
  545. reflection beyond a kind of
    simple binary of the sentence as
  546. spoken by the man in the drawing
  547. or the woman in the drawing
  548. "It's idiotic,
    it's obviously wrong--
  549. we simply can't say that":
    the style of the author is a
  550. style that is sedimented by and
    through complexities of
  551. circulated meaning that really
    can't be limited by any sense of
  552. one-to-one relation of that
  553. >
  554. All right.
  555. What else about Bakhtin?
  556. One more thing:
    His idea of common language.
  557. This is not a concept that is
    supposed to have any one
  558. particular value attached to it.
  559. It's a little bit like the
  560. It could be good;
    it could be bad.
  561. Common language could be a kind
    of Rabelaisan,
  562. carnivalesque,
    subversive, energetic body of
  563. voices from below overturning
    the apple carts of authority and
  564. the fixed ways of a moribund
    social order.
  565. It could be that,
    but at the same time it could
  566. itself be the authoritative,
    the reactionary,
  567. the mindless.
  568. Common language could be that
    universality of acknowledgement
  569. which seems to go along with
  570. knee-jerk responses to what one
    observes and thinks about.
  571. Common language has that whole
  572. The important thing about it is
    that it's out there and that it
  573. circulates and it exists in
    relationship with what Bakhtin
  574. calls "internally
    persuasive discourse"--
  575. in other words,
    the way in which the filtering
  576. together of these various sorts
    of language result in something
  577. like what we feel to be
  578. a power of reflection,
    a posing of relations among the
  579. various strata of language,
    such that they can speak
  580. authentically,
    not necessarily in a way that
  581. we agree with but in a way that
    we recognize to constitute that
  582. distilled consciousness that we
    still do call "the
  583. author,"
    and to which we ascribe,
  584. in some sense, authority.
  585. Precisely in the peculiar
    self-mocking relationship
  586. between this sentence of
    Pride and Prejudice and
  587. the plot of Pride and
    Prejudice as a whole,
  588. we feel something like the
    internal persuasiveness,
  589. the coherence of the discourse.
  590. I think, maybe just to sum up
  591. I want to quote you from the
    other long excerpt that you have
  592. in your anthology,
    which I would encourage you to
  593. read.
  594. Sometimes I have asked people
    to read it but I decided to drop
  595. it this year--but it's still a
    very strong and interesting
  596. argument.
  597. It's called "Discourse in
    the Novel,"
  598. and I just want to read in the
    left-hand column,
  599. near the bottom of the column:
    "The ideological becoming
  600. of a human being in this view is
    the process of selectively
  601. assimilating the words of
  602. In other words,
    the coherence of my mind,
  603. of what I say insofar as
    coherence exists,
  604. is the result of selecting out,
    of selecting among,
  605. in my assimilation of the words
    of others,
  606. such that there is a pattern
    of, again, coherence.
  607. All right.
  608. So finally, the novel is the
    social text par
  609. excellence for Bakhtin for
    these reasons,
  610. and it confirms again what we
    have been saying about a new way
  611. of thinking of language.
  612. Language, as that which speaks
    through us, is not just
  613. language;
    it's other people's language,
  614. and we need to understand the
    experience of the process of
  615. reading and of texts as they
    exist and the nature of
  616. authorial composition as an
  617. selective way of putting
    together other people's
  618. language.
  619. All right.
  620. Now quickly Jauss.
  621. He takes us back,
    obviously by way of Iser--
  622. I think you can see that
    Jauss's talk about horizons of
  623. expectation and the disruption
    of expectation has a great deal
  624. to do with Iser's understanding
    of the role of the reader in
  625. filling imaginative gaps that
    are left in the text,
  626. which are based on a complex
    relationship with a set of
  627. conventional expectations--
    by way of Iser to Gadamer;
  628. because after all,
    what Jauss has to say is a way
  629. of talking about Gadamer's
    "merger of horizons."
  630. But for Jauss it's not just my
    horizon and the horizon of the
  631. text.
  632. It's not just those two
    horizons that need to meet
  633. halfway on common ground as
    mutually illuminative.
  634. It is, in fact,
    a succession of horizons
  635. changing as modes of aesthetic
    and interpretive response to
  636. texts are mediated
  637. as I say--in a sequence.
  638. It's not just that the text was
    once a certain thing and now we
  639. feel it to be somehow different,
    hence in order to understand it
  640. we need to meet it halfway.
  641. It's rather a matter of
    self-consciously studying what
  642. has happened in between that
    other time and this,
  643. here and now.
  644. The text has had a life.
  645. It has passed through life
  646. and these life changes have to
    be understood at each successive
  647. stage in terms of the three
    moments of hermeneutic grasp,
  648. as described by Gadamer in the
    historical section of Truth
  649. and Method.
  650. The distinction between
  651. explicare,
    and applicare--
  652. understanding,
  653. and application--
    that Jauss talks about at the
  654. beginning of his essay actually
    goes back to the eighteenth
  655. century.
  656. What Jauss has to say about it
  657. yes: these three moments of
    hermeneutic understanding exist
  658. for any reader or reading public
    at any moment in the history of
  659. the reception of a text.
  660. He makes a considerable to-do
    about distinguishing between the
  661. aesthetic response to the text
    and a subsequent or leisured,
  662. reflectively interpretive
    response to the text.
  663. This may seem a little
    confusing because he admits with
  664. Heidegger and others,
    as we've indicated ourselves in
  665. the past,
    that you can't just have a
  666. spontaneous response to anything
    without reflection.
  667. There's always a sense in which
    you already know what it is,
  668. which is to say a sense in
    which you've already interpreted
  669. it;
    but at the same time,
  670. Jauss makes a considerable
    point of distinguishing between
  671. these two moments--
    the aesthetic,
  672. which he associates with
  673. and the interpretive,
    which he associates with what
  674. is in the hermeneutic tradition
    called interpretation.
  675. Now why does he do this?
  676. It's a question of what he
    means by "the
  677. aesthetic."
  678. A text enters historical
    circulation and remains before
  679. the gaze of successive audiences
    in history because it has been
  680. received aesthetically.
  681. Aesthetics is the glue that
    keeps the text alive through
  682. history.
  683. In other words,
    people continue to say,
  684. to one degree or another,
    "I like it."
  685. If they don't say,
    "I like it,"
  686. there will never be a question
    of interpreting it
  687. >
  688. or transmitting it
  689. because it's going to
  690. As Dr.
  691. Johnson said,
    "That book is good in vain
  692. which the reader throws
  693. In other words,
    from the standpoint of
  694. interpretation or from the
    standpoint of philosophical
  695. reflection or whatever you might
    wish to call it,
  696. a book may be good,
    just incontestably good--
  697. but if it didn't please,
    if it didn't give pleasure,
  698. if it didn't attach itself to a
    reading public aesthetically by
  699. means of pleasing,
    none of what would follow in
  700. the hermeneutic process could
    ever take place.
  701. So that's why Jauss makes such
    a point of distinguishing
  702. between the aesthetic and the
  703. Then of course the historical
    study of reception is what shows
  704. us the degree to which any set
    of moments of aesthetic and
  705. interpretive reception is
    mediated by what has gone before
  706. it.
  707. In other words,
    a text gradually changes as a
  708. result of its reception,
    and if we don't study
  709. reception, we are left naively
    supposing that time has passed
  710. and that the past has become
    sort of remote from us so we
  711. have certain problems
  712. but these problems as far as we
    know haven't arisen from
  713. anything that could properly be
    called change.
  714. There has been an unfolding
    process of successive
  715. interpretations whereby a text
    has gone through sea changes:
  716. it's become less popular,
    more popular,
  717. more richly interpreted and
    less richly interpreted,
  718. but tends to keep eddying out
    from what it was sensed to be
  719. originally,
    to the point where all sorts of
  720. accretive implications and
    sources of pleasure may arrive
  721. as we understand it.
  722. In a certain sense,
    once again it's like
  723. "Pierre Menard,
    Author of the
  724. Quixote,"
    but now it's not just Pierre
  725. Menard and Miguel de Cervantes.
  726. It's as though a succession of
  727. perhaps whose native language
    was not French necessarily but
  728. who knows--
    German, Russian,
  729. whatever--continued to write in
    Spanish a text which turns out
  730. to be word-for-word Don
    Quixote as the centuries
  731. pass,
    each one acquiring a whole new
  732. world of associations and
    implications and giving pleasure
  733. in successively new ways.
  734. When we finally get to the
    point in the late nineteenth
  735. century,
    when we encounter this
  736. Frenchman, Pierre Menard,
    writing Don Quixote,
  737. the important thing would be
    to understand that lots of
  738. people have done it between him
    and Cervantes.
  739. This is a kind of skeletal
    model of how a reception history
  740. according to Jauss might work.
  741. Now the history of reception
    studies two things.
  742. It studies changing horizons of
  743. and that's something you're
    familiar with from Iser--
  744. that is to say,
    the way in which a reader has
  745. to come to terms with
    conventions surrounding
  746. expectation in any given text,
    in order to be able to
  747. negotiate what's new and what's
    nearly merely culinary in the
  748. text--
    it involves changing horizons
  749. of expectations which don't just
    change once in the here and now,
  750. but have changed successively
    through time.
  751. It also involves changing
    semantic possibilities or,
  752. if you will,
    changing possibilities for and
  753. of significance--
    what does the text mean for me
  754. now?--
    but understood again not just
  755. as something that matters for
  756. but has successively mattered
    for successive generations of
  757. readers in between.
  758. Just to take examples of how
    this might work in the here and
  759. now,
    there is just now on Broadway a
  760. revival of Damn Yankees,
    which is about a baseball
  761. player who sells his soul in
    order to beat the Yankees.
  762. One can't help but think that
    the revival of interest in
  763. Damn Yankees has
    something to do with the steroid
  764. scandals and the way in which so
    many baseball players do sell
  765. their souls in order to win and
    in order to have good careers.
  766. It occurs to one that it is in
    this sort of atmosphere of
  767. social and cultural censure that
    we're suddenly interested in
  768. Damn Yankees again.
  769. Perhaps there will be a revival
    of Tony the Tow Truck
  770. because in the economic
  771. obviously to be rich or to be
    glamorous like Neato or to be
  772. busy like Speedy--
    all of this becomes obsolete,
  773. more or less irrelevant and
    beside the point,
  774. and what really matters is
    little guys helping each other.
  775. So Tony the Tow Truck
    could be revived today as a
  776. parable of the good life in the
  777. and so it will probably be read
    by everyone,
  778. it will give pleasure,
    it will therefore be
  779. interpreted,
    and it will survive to live
  780. another day historically,
    fulfilling the three moments of
  781. the study of the history of
    reception required by Jauss.
  782. All right.
  783. So with that said,
    it's been a very interesting
  784. fifty minutes I think.
  785. >
  786. With that said,
    I hope you all have a good
  787. break and we'll see you when you
    get back.