September 4, 2012

The Death of the Speaker

            We discussed the idea of the death of the author in class on Friday. The concept presented by Barthes in his essay The Death of the Author was interpreted by many people in the class differently. The idea of the death of the author that Barthes seemed to be trying to get across to his reader is the idea that the writing itself is best complimented when the author tries their best to disengage themselves from their writing. Unbiased writing is neigh impossible and while Barthes admits that it isn’t something that should be attained, it should be strived for,
 “To write is, through a perquisite impersonality (not at all to be confused with the castrating objectivity of the realist novelist), to reach that point where only language acts, ‘performs,’ and not ‘me.’” (Barthes, 875)

It seems to me in this quote that Barthes is trying to get the reader to understand that before one begins to write they should already have a perquisite of impersonality, in that they should already have taken themselves as an idea out of the picture prior to writing. Then when they begin to write the only thing coming out of them is the idea in which they are writing, it is not the idea being interpreted through the author, but more to present the idea itself in a more pristine nature. Barthes is taking the idea of the author as a muddled idea of truth, in that the author’s views and experiences makes them jaded by default and only by removing themselves can they remove the jaded perspectives that make them a biased writer. He even goes a step further than that by stating that “to write is…,” asserting that anything else is not even to be considered writing.
Barthes feels very strongly that the author is more of a symbol of the author’s life and views than something that is useful in writing. He equates the actual author to being nothing more than the instance of saying “I” as opposed to the actual “I” as an entity. This shows just how little he feels about the author. An interesting note at this juncture would be to state his use of ‘author’ and ‘Author.’ Throughout his essay he jumps back and forth using the capitalized and therefore making it a proper name, and lower-cased making it improper. His use of these slight changes helps the reader understand how he feels about the author. “Linguistically, the author is never more than the instance of writing, just as I is nothing other than the instance saying I.” (Barthes, 876) This specific sentence is showing the meaninglessness of the author and therefore has been left lower-cased. “The removal of the Author …, is not merely an historical fact or an act of writing; it utterly transforms the modern text.” (Barthes, 876) In this instance he capitalized Author because he is referencing the Author as a symbol. This divergence of capitalization is indicative of his ideas of the death of the Author.

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