Using theories of intertextuality, explore how these may alter the relationship between authorial intention and readers interpretation as meaning or significance in Lloyd Newson DV8s Strange Fish.
Intetextuallity was a term coined by Julia Kristeva in 1966, and Roland Barthes made further speculations on intertextuallity in 1968 with his writings on the "Death of the Author". Other theorists I will be looking at are.....?
Firstly I will look at the beginning of intertextuality, and the relationship these theories give between authorial intention and readers interpretation as meaning or significance.
In the 60's non traditional French humanists looked for scientific foundations for their discipline and Kristevas claims were spurred by the politics found in linguistics. Traditional French humanists prized clarity in writing but Kristeva resented this, believing that communication, aided by clarity in writing was a tool of the power elite for a purpose of building consensus, it was misrepresentative of complex ideas and by using words such as truth, equality and justice was used to pull the wool over the eyes of the people. Intertextuality aimed to provide a method of reading that was meant as a model for social and political change.
To create intertextuality Kristeva took the humanist structuralist linguistinc principles of Saussure and Bakhtin. From Saussure Kristeva took the theory of the sign as two components, a signifier and a signified. Kristeva has a post-structuralist belief that there is no transcendental signified. This means that there is no universal signified, just a signifier, and that signifiers can only point to other signifiers within the text. The parole (spoken or written word) can only point to another parole within the langue (language) it cannot point to something outside of the parole.
In the case of Lloyd Newsons "Strange Fish" the I will refer to the parole as any element of the piece and I will be referring to the langue as the many languages of dance and dance film.
I take this from Kristevas view that a text is not just literature, society and history are not outside textuality and are not just used in interpretation, if a text is just something that can be interpreted then every cultural formation counts as a text within general semiotics of culture. Therefore society, culture and history are themselves texts, and can be interpreted as such, and are already and unavoidably inside the textual system. Because there is no separation the social world and the social text provides more fabric that is unavoidably woven into the tapestry.
I take the parole as anything within the piece as, if following kristevas theory, everything is a text, therefore everything can be read like the written word, and anything that combines to create a text is the langue of that field.
Allen backs up Kristevas theory and also states that we must give up the notion that texts present a unified meaning, because texts have no unified meaning or on their own. Texts are, however, thoroughly connected to on-going cultural and social processes so we should begin to view them as the combination and compilation of sections of the social text.
If using kristeva politically charged theory of intertextuality as a ???? this makes all of Lloyd Newsons signifiers and indications insignificant, as the parole made from the langue of dance film, the parole within strange fish can point to nothing outside of strange fish. The signifiers cannot lead to a universal signified.
Kristeva believes that signifiers are free and have no constant grounded meaning, their meaning can only be found temporarily in the reader as they are allowed to be relationally combined in infinite ways. This is the Ontology of Intertextuality.
All of the signifiers within strange fish have no transcendental signified, the reader can find a relation to an infinite number of other texts to draw upon their own, ever changing signified.
In writing strange fish, How has Newson read his dancers bodies and used them to like a pen, using them to create a parole and introducing his meaning into the film.
From Bakhtin Kristeva takes the idea of heteroglossia, that language expresses a plurality of voices (meanings) behind each word, regardless of intention. This plurality is made up from dialogical language variations such as jargons, generic language, dialogues of different generations, dialogues from different groups or social circles, authoritative dialogues, and dialogues of passing fashions. All the parole and we come into contact with has been influenced by all the parole that they have come into contact with, and all these influence our own parole.
Intertextuality as a mode of interpretation is a liberating empowering tool for social change, but after looking at these beliefs from Saussure and Bakhtin, it is hard to determine whether intertextuality is an ontological description or a mode of interpretation. Kristeva believes it is both a universal ontological account that all texts can only relate to other text, and also a mode of interpretation, the fact that texts derive their meaning only through their relations by readers between and among texts.
intertextuality as a descriptive ontological account is different, rather than as a mode of interpretation it is a theory of textual composition, that texts are constructed as mosaic of quotations, and any text is the absorption and transformation of another. The author cannot create a text ex nihilo (out of nothing) but must draw on the langue to offer a parole that is already implicitly there. Kristeva takes this even further suggesting that when creating a text there is more than the langue, other things come into play when weaving the text.
This view of intertextuality means that regardless of newsons intentions with "strange fish" these are not infact his own, unique and new ideas. All of the signifiers that newson uses are a combination of a multitude of social and cultural texts that have influenced newson.
But is newson aware of this? He has stated that he uses other texts as an influence, but does this remove him as the author, does this make him just an organiser of other texts. If this is the case than can he have authorial intention, can he claim this when the ideas are not ex nihilo or ??? it is just a rippled effect of an infinite number of intertexts transferred and altered into more infinite numbers of intertexts eventually forming "strange fish"
In writing strange fish, with the body being a text itself, can he possibly fully dictate what that body writes, does each body, like newson himself, have a self made from an infinite past of intertexts.
What meaning has newson derived from cultural and social texts? Has he been true to authorial intention or has he indulged in "plasir du texte" when using them to create "strange fish" what references and relationships did he find to inform him? What about his use of literary texts, has he been true to authorial intention of the bible, or has he as a reader imposed his own idiosyncratic meaning onto it, and transferred it to strange fish. Do we see the authors intention of the bible in strange fish or an view influenced by newsons cultural and social texts. Then how do the bodies of the dancers and the costume designers and the musicians reform this view before we are presented with the final piece. What we see of the bible is not a second hand view we can then interpret but a view with an infinite amount of hands to shape it, which is then, as we read, re-shaped again by the multiple molding hands of our intertextual selves.
Roland Barthes also makes some important speculations for intertextuality as a mode of interpretation and in 1968 Barthes claimed the "Death Of The Author". Roland Barthes "Death of the Author" was justified by Marxist principles. It was a belief that the author was a product of capitalism, a figure that controls meaning just as capitalists control the means of production. Intertextuality defies the capitalist view on authorship by presenting the text not as a product ready for consumption but as a growing, evolving, never-ending process.
"Death of the Author" was based on his belief that authors did not create work de novo (from the beginning/anew) or ex nihilo (out of nothing). The meanings of texts were also not de novo or ex nihilo but were, like the texts, derived from other texts, similar to kristevas intertextuality as an ontological account. This intertextuality severs a text from its author, is motivated by reader liberation and backed by ontology and states texts in no way belong to their authors.
"Death Of The Author" results in liberation of the reader, equality between reader and writer. Following this claim, Barthes replaces the title author with scriptor, someone who takes dictation of the langue, but does not authorise with meaning, and once it is scribed it becomes the plaything of readers.
Barthes view gives the reader plasir du texte. They can draw their own idiosyncratic views on strange fish with no obligation to Lloyd newson. All the work newson does creating a parole from the langue, trying to tell the reader something is a waste of time. Newson is a scriptor, all the production and performance company are just pens (pens with their own cultural and social texts which alter newsons scripting, but pens non the less)
So what have people drawn from "strange fish"? if "death of the author" is correct then surely they will not find the signified newson was giving a sign to, but if they do see what newson intended does this mean "death of the author" has failed in this case, or does it simply mean that those who have written about "strange fish" have taken his intentions into consideration.
If Barthes and Kristeva are correct and there are no authorial intentions to defer to, since the will of the author is no capable of fixing meaning, this power shift gives the reader the self-gratifying sanction to be free and unencumbered in tracing their own relations - "plasir du text" - and is unlimited, not even by laws of logic. The texts relations are subject to no law but the infinitude of its reprises as a text can come into contact with any other system of text. Reading of any text is an infinite process that constantly alters our reading of every other text.
If none of Lloyd Newsons intentions matter but what matters is the meaning I as a reader derive from relating it to other texts. But do I really feel like I can give a piece of work, to which I have had absolutely no input, real meaning? Although it is an intriguing thought to be able to enjoy "plasir du texte" I feel, as I explain through Hirsch's views later on, unethical. Just because I say ???? means ??? from my first reading of strange fish, I do not feel comfortable with this assumption, my current literate and cultural knowledge does not feel enough to justify my assumptions and put them into words. Had I not been an academic studying for purpose of analysing, maybe the "plasir" would have come more easily, or been more enjoyable, but the knowing of educational requirements....????
After reading related literature and cultural texts to better inform myself, some of my original views stayed the same, others have completely changed. I see how this reflects the idea that meanings are as infitate as the texts they relate to. This is my experience of "plasir du texte" as an academic, exciting and interesting to discover new ideas that my previous knowledge couldn't open up for me, but new intertextual references and relationships have.
However, according to William Irwin, this transfer of power is logically inconsistent. Irwin believes that agency in meaning is not eliminated but is preserved and displaced, Intertextuality looks for the system/matrix of language to speak through the text, but the reader can't create meaning any more than the author can, the reader is just an empty vessel through which language speaks, the reader cant create meanings, only find relations - although intertextuality claims that these found relations are the texts meanings. This makes sense as how can a reader "find" something that the author hasn't put there, they may find it in a different way to the authors intention but it has still come from the author. Even if the author hasn't included it intensionally, it is just an accidental allusion, it is still there by the will of the author, even if the author is unaware.
E. D. Hirsch Jr. believes there is a difference between meaning and significance. Hirsch claims that what an author intends is the texts meaning, and what the intended meaning relates to in readers interests is the texts significance
Whereas Kristeva and Barthes claim authors may or may not impose rules on how their texts are to be read, Hirsch's belieg follows the lines that the author does supply meaning, but this does not restrict the reader, they can find what ever significances they wish to within the text as long as they do not represent their idiosyncratic interpretation as the authors intention or intended meaning. The author does not dictate how it is to be read but only dictates what meaning may be attributed to them.
This is the view that to misrepresent an authors intended meaning is unethical, but Kristeva and Barthes would argue that justice dictates the meaning belongs to no-one, believing that authors who claim meaning as theirs are capitalists supplying their meaning to readers.
This difference Hirsch highlights between meaning and significance shows that textual meaning does not violate the law of non-contradiction. The text cannot have two completely opposite meanings, but its intended meaning can be completely opposite to its significance to a reader
Arthur Danto calls kristevas approach to signifiers and signified the "referential fallacy". He believes that successful communication is possible both in ordinary discourse and in literature- Pen request analogy- and that the referent of any given signifier can be fixed through ordinary/conventional use or the utterers intention. The non-existence of a transcendental signified does not logically imply that signifiers can relate only to other signifiers.
If following the intertextual theory by ???? this gives Lloyd newson all the authorial intention he wishes to have. So if this is the case, what were his intentions, and do they change the meaning or significance of strange fish
During this essay I will look at what motivated intertextuality, which theories it was derived from, and intertextuality in the world today. I will be looking at intertextuality of the body, and the body as a text, intertextuallity of the dancing body, and the dancing body as a text, intertextuallity of dance film and dance film as a text. In each instance I will be relating the ideas and principles to the work "Strange Fish" by Lloyd Newson. When I refer to an "author" or a "reader" or a "text" I am indicating authors and readers and texts of every nature, from literature to dance film.
But what does intertextual reading and interpreting amount to? The Central element of intertextual interpretation is for the reader to make connections between and among other literary and social texts, but If every text is potentially the intertext of every other text this makes reading and infinite process.
When analysing the intertextuality of STRANGE FISH, I began to read, this reading lead to further reading, and this reading led to even further reading, but at some point I had to stop. Although each reading gave me more and different information and relations than I already had, I began to think what of what I was reading was really necessary? Some literature radically altered my reading of STRANGE FISH, but some was completely irrelevant to my task at hand. If this is the case with all reading, as I am certain it is, there is only so many texts that are relevant to alter the significances gained from one text.