September 16, 2012

Ecoporn, and text as a subjugation of the natural

In Ecoporn, Welling writes about the manipulation of nature in order to create ecoporn. It seems to me that this concept can be applied to all texts. In class last week we talked about how the transcripts of Sojourner Truth’s speech were not true representations of the actual speech, but they were accepted anyways and their differences added meaning to the speech. For me, Welling’s essay brings up the idea that to create a text at all means to take the subject away from its natural form.

Welling writes on page 57 that ecopornography is created out of “highly idealized, anthromorphized views,” and that the images found in ecopornography are often “composed or manipulated to stress their subjects’ innate similarities to the human body and to human social and power structures.” When we looked at the transcriptions of Truth’s speech, we saw that each author had changed the text to emphasize what they had felt was most important. For Gage, we felt he had a desire to maintain the cadence of the speaker’s voice and the history that carried through in her accent. For Campbell, it was more important that the transcript be easy to read and more politically correct.

In presenting a subject to an audience an author has to make a choice about how it should be done, and according to Welling that would mean to present the subject in a way that is acceptable considering social constraints. The true nature of the subject is therefore changed so that it can be acceptable to the audience. To create a text means to manipulate the subject. The author understands the subject in their own way, and when they share it the audience adds their bias to the text as well.

I understand that Welling is more upset about long-term environmental damage to nature in the creation of ecopornography, but I thought it was interesting to think about his essay in relationship to other groups that we think of as being suppressed in literature. It reinforces the ideas that we covered last week about how difficult it is for groups that are forbidden a voice to muck through literary traditions and present themselves in whole.

1 comment:

Catalina said...

I like how you took Welling's concept and applied it to analyzing other texts -- I focused only on his concept being applicable to the creation of texts. Such as, when you are in charge of creating a text to represent the environment, how do you deal with the dilemma of ethical representation or the easy representation.

I think it makes a lot of sense that you have to manipulate a subject in order to create a text. I think if we mix this with Ong's concept of Author-Audience fictionalization, we can understand that the author's bias is one of the aspects he endows upon his text at creation and which the readers must deal with when they interact with the text. When the author is attempting to create a rhetorically effective text, he must take into account his bias when fictionalizing his audience. If he doesn't fictionalize his audience close enough to his actual readers it is not an effective text.

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