Monday, September 12, 2011

Power to the Readers

Barthes, to me, is a complete 180 from what we read from Aristotle. Aristotle spent a lot of time talking about the "art" or rhetoric and of the responsibilities of writers and orators. I don't think Barthes would even say that authors are artists at all. He rejects the idea of finding the parts of authors lives in their work, and he says that nothing being written is original, rather just a collection of experiences and ideas obtained from other people (who, of course, got the idea from someone else, and someone else before that etc.)

To a certain extent, I agree with Barthes. I think some of the best ideas that I've ever had came from people that I know and respect. What's important, in my opinion, is what one does with these great ideas he obtains. To me, those ideas can become our own when we think about them through our own experiences because that is one of the few things we have that is unique to each individual. Since our experiences vary, our perceptions and perspectives are all slightly different making each individual voice valuable.

While I do like Barthes giving power to the reader to interpret writing, I don't at all like how much credit he takes away from the author. What fascinates me about written language is how much of a win/win situation it can be. For the author, the act of writing is a way of dealing with thoughts, emotions, and experiences that would otherwise be bottled up, it can be therapeutic in that way. For the reader, it is also highly therapeutic because inspires the reader to think of experiences and situations from a new perspective which can be quite hopeful. I think the authors goal should be to move the reader in some way. I like that Barthes leaves interpretation to the reader. I just think he sells writers a bit short.

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