September 8, 2012

I'm not dead! You're just not real!

Well now...I thought I had the whole relationship of an author and the audience under a somewhat decent understanding. However, once I began reading Ong, I found my perspective spun around yet again and my head pretty much fell off my shoulders. The part that gave me this side-effect was on page 13 in the right hand column where he mentions Hemingway's style of writing. Hemingway had a style of writing that was very 'you and me' according to Ong, which, as I understood it to be, meant that he would make the reader rely heavily on his descriptions and voice. He would be vague while at the same time being deliberate and detailed. Ex) "That mountain you see ten miles away is indicated there on the map on the wall." By doing this, we as the audience are relying heavily on his point of view and his existence-which brings me to a warped conclusion. This relationship he created is a very "you and me"-you the audience, me the writer. This relationship goes against what Aristotle and several others theorists say when they refer to the author as being 'dead' or invisible.

On the other hand, I can still definitely see instances where both parties can be dead or invisible to one another. When an author is writing, there is no audience in the room with them, but when they write, they pretend in the back of their mind that there will be people in the near or distant future to read their work, and thus come into existence as their audience.

My point in all this is, who is right and who is wrong? Who is real and who is fake (or dead)?  Is there such thing as being right or wrong in this situation?

Another thought I had while reading this and comparing it to audience of different genres was: what about actors when they are filming a new movie? Their audience isn't the set or crew, but it is the camera. That single lens captures them and transmits their performance to thousands of people. So would the audience for a movie be more like that of an audience who reads a book, or for an orator's?

Kari K


Shawn Binder said...

I agree with you in the idea that it is confusing as to know who is right and who is wrong. Personally, I felt that the "you and me" style of writing is one which requires coconstruction heavily. Not all descriptions will be perfectly laid out. I don't believe that there is a right or wrong in this situation- I think that overall, all the theorists are attempting to make the broad point that the author's relationship and the reader's relationship to the words on the printed page are a very very personal one. It cannot be classified or completely understood because there is no way to understand the wide range of personal experiences that people bring into reading. I loved at the end of this post how you related this to movies. I definitely would agree that filming a movie is much like a coconstruction of an idea. Also, I agree with the idea that the vision that everyone on the movie set thought they were creating may be very different than what an audience sees. This was a really fascinating comparison!

Catalina said...

I think it did take a little bit to make the two concepts mesh together, but if you think of Burke's "death of the author" as more of a passing of the traditional roles of the author, then it is easier to merge that with Ong's views that in order to communicate, both the writer and the reader must fictionalize in order to fill the roles assigned to them by the conventions of the text. So, to put the two together, the "author" as the high, all-mighty creator has gone out of fashion and has been replaced with Ong's writer who must put on a mask to write a text which, in turn, forces the reader to put on a mask so they can play the role of the audience which the author imagined.

I think it is interesting that you set up the actors as the writers and the camera as the audience. What about the director? I think he is the writer, as he is composing the text. The camera is a tool through which they create the movie -- like a pen or computer when composing a written text. The actors are constructions stemming from the script. Well, at least the characters are. I'm not sure the actors have an equivalent in the world of written communication. The audience is the viewers. But I love this example, because it is definitely applicable to Ong's views! The viewers are all individuals, as opposed to a collectivity, which means it is impossible for the director to accurately visualize them. Because of this, the viewers must fictionalize themselves when seeing the movie -- they must take on the role which the director gave them.

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