Friday, October 24, 2008

Death of a Blogger

Barthes presents some challenging ideas in "Death of an Author", some of which I still don't fully understand. But perhaps his most interesting suggestion is that writing is "the destruction of every voice". Such an assertion is easy to balk at, especially given the general consensus that writing is an instrument though which we create and amplify our unique voices. Am I somehow shattering my own voice by recording it?
What I take Barthes to mean is that the essence of writing is illusive--i.e. there is NO singular meaning or interpretation to a text. He agrees with many theorists when he claims that language is ambiguous and works to decenter our reality. In this way, we are not able to designate an origin of meaning within any work of literature simply because language is arbitrary. Words cannot successfully capture reality in any meaningful way, so how can literature--hundreds and hundreds of pages filled with these subjective words--have a concrete message? He takes this post-structuralist line of thought even further, claiming that this lack of center destroys all voices. The "voice" is shattered because such a concept implies unification and intent. In Barthes world, the "author" does not have a will or wisdom to imbue upon a text, let alone a distinctive voice.

I find Professor Zero's ideas about blogging identity and personal identity interesting and pertinent to Barthes' suggestions about voice and authorship. El Professor speaks about having separate voices that contrast between his personal/professional writing and his blog persona. He claims that he has made this anonymous blog "to escape my other writing voices and develop a new one". This idea of separate voices (let alone unified voice) is directly antithetical to Barthes. He would argue that neither of these voices are an authentic or valid idea, due to the fact that these perspectives have no intrinsic uniqueness or value due to the nature of writing.

I guess we're not all unique snowflakes, but that's something we can live with, right?

1 comment:

Serious Theorist said...

I guess Professor Zero is going to get a few more hits from both of us posting a link to his/her blog from our blogs. I liked your post, though I do wonder if there is still any room for individuality in writing, even if there is this death of an author. Surely Barthes and Foucault would recognize that whilst both of their writings would be 'authorless' under their idea, they are still distinct and separate texts. Perhaps this separate textual analysis can give one back the uniqueness that seems to be taken away by the death of the author.