Sunday, April 03, 2005

the author is frozen

I have just met my twin brother, who due to publisher deadlines, stopped growing in May 2003. That was the month my book went to the publisher/editor. While my ideas became frozen in print, I kept growing. Tweaking, changing, adapting.

Now I get emails from people, with questions and comments about my book. Which is like way cool, but that was May 2003 and have you heard about “postcard 10” (my book has 9 “postcards” on contemporary mission)?

I had a constant debate over 3 years at seminary with my Old Testament Lecturer. Deeply infested by contemporary reader response theory, he used to maintain “the author is dead.” It was a slogan designed to rial my desire for some level of authorial intent, as one strategy for allowing coherence between original text and context.

Is an author dead? Or is an author frozen, a virtual twin, a camera snapshot of a brain stranded in time?

Posted by steve at 10:56 PM


  1. I vote for the latter …

    Comment by bethkeck — April 6, 2005 @ 5:52 am

  2. It’s a really interesting question! In a sense I’m inclined to go with a frozen author. But the problem with that is that *whenever* we are inscribed in permanent media (photos/writings/emails…) a new self is created. So there are currently many thousands of Steves and Kits out there, which is a bit disconcerting. !

    You could push the argument really far, and say that with the existence of even a human memory for someone, there is yet another self in existence. After all, these memories are of who we are in the past, which is different to who we are now. This all adds to my ‘postmodern multiphrenia’, and greatly to my confusion!

    I’ve been toying with the idea of a ‘centred self’ over the past week. This view of the self is that there really isn’t a stable, discrete self that is locked away. You could call this a mind, soul, spirit, or even locate it as the body. This is the view of mainstream psychology (and probably modernism in general), and is very individualistic. I prefer an attempt to situate us within a social/cultural context, which not only influences us but constitutes us. The way my social group acts in part determines how I act, for example, and how I talk, which are of course important parts of my ‘self’.

    Even physically speaking, what is my self? The self is fluid and dynamic. When I eat, at what point does the food become me? When do the hairs cut off by the barber stop being me? There are no clear boundaries. Our very personalities are also fragmented and open to change.

    Where is the self in this mess?

    My current thoughts are that the self is in all of these things. In the quarks and in the talk, in the psyche and society.

    So in terms of whether there are multiple authors created with every historical record of them, every snapshot, I also tend towards saying no! They fuse to form part of the centred self. We are our history as we are our present.

    PS: Sorry for offering such a psychological view which probably doesn’t address what you were actually asking, but psychology is what I do and you got me thinking!

    Comment by Kit — April 17, 2005 @ 9:55 pm

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