October 26, 2012

Heteroglossia in the Genre

The majority of the critique's message seems to deal with the power of the prison/judicial system as power of language itself. Terms and significations are self defeating, and often the simple prescription of "acts of brutality," do in fact brutalize the actor. Why? Because it's socially agreed upon as acceptable by standard of law by the public; as Miller would say it, its a recurrent situation, identifiable by the definition of meaning we associate it with.

This aside, and since it is a "critique," we inevitably have to deal with the question of voice.

Who is talking? It could be argued that it is mainly the in-mates, and short agreements/notes/explanations from Daniel that help clarify direction, or relate her binary themes to her main point. At this point, there is a problem. While a critique's traditional characteristics lend itself to monologue, or, one person recounting the events from the standpoint of "other," this project literally transposes words and thoughts from the source of discussion. This, academically is rationally flawed, for immersion is usually synonymous with, "an inability to view things from a distance" (perhaps more appropriate here in context of prison). As reader, we expect a "critique" to be given to us, fully evaluated, reached, complex, and nuanced in its conclusion, yet what Daniel has done, has instead left us with an unfinished product; not by lack of work, but by nature of its construction.

Through use of binaries, (inside-outside,human life-bare life) inclusion and clear separation of her thoughts and those of her interviewees, and the format itself, Daniel in effect produces a meta-critique; one that rests with the audience for final editing. In a way, we are voyeurs in a situation different from all involved participants, and despite its "illusory walk-through design," we get to shape and curve the light against the lens, and even where the lens may point. We can choose whatever aspect (and how much of it) of the heteroglot we want. To this, this example of heteroglossia in a genre, might be unique to the realm of critique. We recognize the oppositions, the differands, the multiple and simultaneous stratification of voice by presence, but unlike the use of heteroglossia in the novel, critique bears very little duality in its message.

By this, I mean there are no sentences that appropriate the functional use of a occupational language, in order to poke fun, or make known the author's viewpoint on such matters. No, instead here, the heteroglot is still used, but its compartmentalization is drawn with thicker lines. Recorded conversation have little or no simultaneous interpretation by Daniel, and when she does share thoughts, they are often brief, not recorded, and in the form of written paragraphs, which can be hard to locate amongst the sheer amount of other material. Where the novel seeks to promote awareness of multiple "languages" through the acting multiplicity of one sentence, the critique deigns to do the same, but through clear division and discrimination against each simultaneous "language" at work.

These social cues of critique (binaries, evaluation, reference) and this particular use of the heteroglot to give this particular medium its identity, is to assign "critique," as genre, its exigency; which ironically is not to receive an unbiased version of a topic, but to receive meaning, and to use this meaning (as Form, Miller) as a new unit of "substance" (Miller) to which we may construct a "higher" more complicated entity.

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