Re: Authors

Colin wrote:

> If there is no author what lies behind claims such
> as, 'Foucault says'. Why quote Foucault, rather than any old Tom, Dick or
> Harry, if we begin from a point that presents Foucault, as such, as a
> chimera?

Well, this is a question which has been around for very long time.
For example, people do say things like "Shakespeare said" and
"Homer said" and they do not, before they do so, go to check whether
by the current state of Shakespeare, or Homer, scholarship it is believed
that there were such historical personages and that they actually wrote
the works. When we say "Shakespeare said this or that" we usually mean:
a text to which we have agreed to attach the label "Shakespeare" says this
or that. This attachment of label has far-reaching implications: it means
that we give a special favor to comparisons with other texts to which we have
attached the same label -- if we want to interpret a text labeled by us
"Dostyevsky" we may help ourselves by using in this process other texts
labeled "Dostoyevsky", and we use them differently than we use texts labeled
"Dumas". We also associate with the name "Dostoyevsky" some other material
-- such as historic material about a period, about a specific private life
-- and we permit it to enter into the process of interpreting Dostoyevsky
in a different way than does, say, historic material about the times of Plato.

What would the interpretive process be like if all texts came to us
anonymously? It would be very different, that's for sure. The very notion
of "text" would be very different. What kind of perceptual shift occurs
between dealing with an anonymous text and dealing with an "authored" text?
What are the social/cultural genealogies of this perceptual shift?

I don't think Foucault was particularly bold or original in writing something
that problematizes the notion of "author". You, Colin, keep saying that
Foucault says "there is no author". Could you point me to the the place
where he says that? My impression is that, instead, he asks, and tries to
elaborate upon, a question; and he even lays it all out in the title.


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