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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Death of the Author 2

I am not sure whether I would come to the same conclusion when writing my thesis if I had not used some theories I chose: Goldmann’s Genetic Structuralism, Feminist Literary Theory (referring to Susan Schibanoff’s READING AS A WOMAN), and psychoanalytical criticism proposed by Sigmund Freud. I used THE YELLOW WALLPAPER, a short story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, as the mental evidence to do my research. I needed to know Gilman’s background—her familial as well as her intellectual ‘journey’; the social values adhered by the majority of Americans when the short story was written. This was the reason why Goldmann’s Genetic Structuralism was chosen. Schibanoff’s idea—reading as a woman—was picked up to emphasize that when reading THE YELLOW WALLPAPER using men’s point of view, although someone has used Genetic Structuralism, he/she could still come up with patriarchal result. For example, instead of blaming the husband for leading the unnamed narrator to the edge of insanity, he/she could share the same opinion with the husband that the narrator really needed to be “saved” from the nervous breakdown by staying away from writing. Freud’s psychoanalytical criticism was necessary to use to see the work as the manifestation of Gilman’s suppressed wish—to openly criticize Dr. S. Weir Mitchell for his wrong treatment toward nervous breakdown patients.

I don’t belong to the brilliant type of student so that maybe I wouldn’t be able to come to such a conclusion if I “killed” Gilman, let’s say by adopting Barthes’ theory “The Death of the Author”; moreover with the very strong religious indoctrination I got in my younger years believing in men’s superiority on women.


There was somewhat relief feeling in me when finding out that Ayu Utami did not really agree with Barthes’ theory “The Death of the Author”. Her main reason was she was often invited abroad to “explain” what she wanted to convey in her novel SAMAN, especially after it was translated to one foreign language. Besides she was considered ALIVE, so that it was important to listen to her explanation what her book was all about, Ayu also admitted that she did partly to promote her book, either to help the publishing company or for her own profit. 

Since I do not support Barthes’ theory, I myself also do expect that the readers of my writings (both in my blogs and in many personal emails I have sent to my loved ones or friends, as well as many comments I have written in some mailing lists I join) do not “kill” me; I hope that they read my writings exactly like what I want to convey.

However, I must realize that in fact this expectation of mine is sometimes somewhat “high” to reach by some people. I found out some people misread my writings and asked me something that made me dumbfounded, “How could they come to this conclusion?” I asked myself, feeling (a bit) unhappy.

I have been trying to find out why this happened. I asked myself some questions:

  1. Have I written it thoroughly so that people will easily understand it?
  2. Or on the way around, have I written it so little, expecting people can “guess” by themselves what is in fact I am talking about, without giving complete data? It sometimes happens, especially when I take for granted that the topic is widely known.
  3. Or have I written it so “loudly” that people are just enchanted by the choice of words and the flow of my ideas but they do not really catch what I convey?
  4. Do the readers read my writings thoroughly to understand them?
  5. The last, and the most annoying question (YOU CAN JUST IGNORE IT! LOL.) is whether the readers have enough intellect to understand my writings. This probably happens as the result of the four questions above (I don’t write it thoroughly, I don’t give enough data, I write by giving too much redundancy or complicated choice of words and the sentence flow, plus the readers don’t have enough time to read my writings comprehensively).

Above all, I must GIVE IN that Barthes’ theory does exist so that the readers of my writings can “kill” me. Nevertheless, I assume if the two-way communication happens between the readers and me, this violent “killing” would not happen to me. 

PT56 22.11 231207

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