Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The academic fashion for undigested figurative language may have a source in Barthes, whose "Death of the Author" is a melodramatic, excessive metaphor for "the irrelevance of authorial intent to the interpretive prerogative of the reader." I agree that the reader's experience is independent of the author's intent. Coincidentally, I emailed something similar to someone the other day. "Once my music is out there, I'm just another listener." But I'm not dead [as of this writing], and as a listener to my own music, I still have my rights. Those rights don't trump anybody else's rights, but their rights don't trump mine either. It boggles me that people take Barthes' slick, elegant formulation as anything close to literally. What also interests me here is that the triumph of figurative language in literary theory coincided with a down-pricing of figurative language in poetry. "Metaphor and simile are old-fashioned and sentimental." Unless you're a theorist, then it's cool, except readers confer an even greater power to you and pretend you're not writing figuratively!

Nice figure of speech, though. Catchy! (And nothing against Barthes. He steals shamelessly from Wilde and Nietzche, but I dig his style and learn from him.)

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While hearing Carly Simon's terrific "You Belong to Me" on the radio yesterday, it occurred to me that the reason there hasn't been a comprehensive history of post-Elvis popular music is that it's too sprawling and messy, too multi-faceted, too rich, too reflective of too much wealth in too many sub-markets.
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