November 3, 2012

A Wrench in the Roles

I always find myself coming back to Ong’s The Writer’s Audience Is Always A Fiction. The piece describes how an author can never know their audience completely because a work is available to read by anyone. Ong states, “the indefinite article tacitly acknowledges the existence or possibility of a number of individuals beyond the immediate range of reference and indicates that from among them one is selected.” (13) This related to my misunderstanding because it seems to Ong that in order for rhetoric to be effective, one role must be chosen out of numerous and then given to the reader. In turn, the author must imagine an audience and then cast the reader into the role that they have perceived. On the other hand, a reader must choose to accept the role that is given to them.

I found this to be like Mitchell’s argument about “what is meta?” because It seemed to me that Mitchell believed that in order for a piece of work or picture to be meta, we’re never completely aware of who is the target audience. He states  “That is why the use of metapictures as instruments in the understanding of pictures seems inevitably to call into question the self-understanding of the observer” (51) This was interesting to me because it seems that the very form of meta would throw off all roles we think we need to be cast into. These two works fascinated me because they seemed to throw each other into chaos. If an artist must always think of their audience and whom they want to cater to, is anything ever truly Meta? Since Meta arises from the audience never knowing where they stand or if they’re the target audience, how would they ever understand the role that the author has cast them into? It called into question for me the very idea of Meta and if it can ever be truly genuine. 


tyreekminor said...

"Self-understanding" is a great term to reference here. I believe that is the most vital to not only understanding "meta" and MItchell's notions, but also Ong's audience. To me, the text does have an intended audience, a point of reference if you will, to help guide its direction, even though an author may have their own intentions with the work. But without an 'aim', and I use that term loosely, in which to target for the work, there will not be much order, or a 'frame' if you will. This goes back to the concept that there is a circle of power shared by the text, its creator, and the audience responding to it. The text caters to the creator, in that it must contain the message the creator is looking to portray, as well as it caters to the audience that perceives it. The creator must cater to his or her text, to adapt to the capabilities of the medium chosen, and must adapt to the audience's response, and, in addition, must not lose his or her own message in this process. The audience must accept all that an author has put into a work, while either choosing to accept the role the creator or author has pushed forward for the audience to consider, and must interpret the text according to their own situation, their own person.

John Smith said...

The problem you have brought up with meta is well placed. In relation to Ong, it seems problematic that the very idea of meta-awareness would indeed shrug off the "role" that we are "designed" to play as reader. Yet, maybe that is the agency of meta. Not to produce a specific role, but to make the reader aware of options, possibilities, and then make them available, or in a more desirable sense, avoidable. One of Meta's main appeals is that of irony, which can distance the reader from his former role, and put them somewhere else; perhaps closer to the critic? Perhaps closer to the author?

Huong Le said...

I tend to refer back to Ong quite often as well. I think because so much of what we cover is usually a matter of perspective, his essay is useful in helping us realize that we have certain expectations as an audience and we act in certain ways because of our expectations.

I don't think it is always necessary for an author to have a specific audience in mind, and even if they do the audience they write for isn't necessarily the audience that will be reading their text. I think for a metapicture, it seems almost as if the artist is drawing for himself? Well I mean how can it seem otherwise, to the reader? The artist has some inside joke hidden in the picture. Some members of the audience see it, but they're not sure whether the artist put it there for them or for himself. They're not sure who the audience is actually supposed to be.

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