October 18, 2012

Forever Adapting Our Roles

One connection I found myself excited to make this week was between Longinus’ On The Sublime and Ong’s The Writer’s Audience Is Always A Fiction. The connection I found between the two was significant because throughout Longinus’ text, he seems to be instructing his pupil to be both a writer and a critic. Thus, to be a successful writer and focus on the sublime, you must think like a critic. He states in his work “We can apply this to ourselves. When we are working on something which needs loftiness of expression and greatness of thought, it it good to image how Homer would have said the same thing, or How Plato…it makes a great occasion if you image such a jury or audience for your own speech, and pretend that you are answering for what you write before judges and witness of such heroic stature…”(12) This was significant to be because it seems like both authors want to make sure writers imagine their audience and think as not just a writer, but as a reader and critic. To further back this, Ong states “ A reader has to play the role in which the author has cast him in. Which seldom coincides with his role in the rest of his life.” (12) I found this quote to match up perfectly with the other reader because we must always be casting ourselves in more than one role to get the most out of rhetorical theory and any form of writing. We must be willing to stretch ourselves past the roles we think we belong in, in order to make the most sense of the world around us.

1 comment:

John Smith said...

I think you're correct in your assumption about the aim of Longinus' text to whoever it really was. Success, while popular, is sufficiently tied to the multiple roles of the reader, writer, and critic, and the necessary vacillation between the three in order to promulgate a product that is both sublime in composition and reception. The problem in my reading of the two, is that they are simply called something different. It is easy to say that the roles of each are separated by the relationship of performance to a given text (who did what with the ink and the paper and what not), yet actions aside, how are these terms really different? Pre-reading these argument from both authors, did you consciously sit down and say, "ok, now I'm the writer." And when you were done, did you divorce yourself and say aloud (or mentally) "As a critic, there are many flaws in my writing." Your answer might be yes, which is good, but upon further inspection, did you really separate your actions, or your were erasing and editing during the composition? In another words, these roles aren't entirely separate by action, but maybe place and time. Perhaps there should be a word for that person who is all three, because frankly, in the heat of action and thought, we do not consciously compartmentalize like critics do, we simply rely on higher cognitive function to guide us (by training and experience) to what then is LATER classified as a process.

Perhaps the reader, writer, and critic are just differential points of a smaller triangle, which constitute a literary being that we as "it" (the thing for which we have no name) cannot assign a moniker.

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