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des
Posted on Tuesday, August 02, 2005 - 05:03 am:   

My view is as follows:

(1) Fiction/Poem = Original Text placed in the audience arena. Nothing can change that. It is everlasting and immutable. (If it is changed, ie revised or translated, this becomes a new work, a new immutable entity).

(2) What can be taken from or given to the Text = reader's 'opinion' or 'reaction' or 'knowledge' -- countless opinions and reactions and degrees of knowledge: all different and mostly unknowable but all added to the aura of the work whether they are physically annotated on the printed page in pencil or kept inside the head.

(3) Creator (or First Mover) of Text = Just another reader with fallible rights to describe/interpret/evaluate the text, i.e. after it has been placed in the audience arena as a discrete 'sculpture' or entity of creativity.


Or do you believe the author is arbiter of the work for ever more and can decide whether a certain reader has misread it etc.?

Tied up with this: I believe fiction and non-fiction are just parts of the same spectrum, both extrapolating from some core description of reality (after all, dreams are reality or at least part of reality-as-perceived), like variations on a theme in music.
But, inevitably, even one person's reality can seem to be another person's fantasy, and enjoyed as such.

There are several other ramifications (some I see, some I don't see) so I'd be grateful for some input --- as it is tied up with a preoccupation of mine (one that originally gave birth to nemonymity in 2001 on the now legendary Storyville discussion forum.)

des
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AT
Posted on Tuesday, August 02, 2005 - 08:57 pm:   

Des, any work worth the death of trees and the time-theft from readers will be interpreted and reacted to in a myriad of ways, including love and hate. And authors should not only be delighted by that, but should, I believe, butt out completely and leave readers (which includes reviewers) to it.

The only times I feel ropable are:
1) when an indecent amount of the plot is revealed (as a reader I hate this so much that I don't read the back covers of books) and
2)when those revelations are wrong. As wrong as "And then Little Red Riding Hood clicked her ruby slippers..."
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des
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 07:24 am:   

Hi, Anna.
Yes, I see what you're saying (that authors should let others' reading processes alone) - but are you also saying (as I do) that *if* an author did express a descriptive or interpretative view, then that view is of no more value than any other view?
des
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des
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 08:48 am:   

I should add that, in several places, I have commented on my own book 'Weirdmonger' as if I'm an ordinary reader of it (which I am)! Sometimes derogatively!
des
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ABV
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 10:24 am:   

As I've said before, the reader will always bring his/own interpretation to any piece of art (written, visual, audible or otherwise) and that opinion is valid for that reader. I will, however, agree wholeheartedly with Anna about when the reviewers give too much away (which is why I tend to not read a review of books or movies until after I've seen/read them) or get something factually wrong. I also prefer not to have someone else's opinion in my head before I embark on the literary journey of reading a much-anticipated book.

I find it perfectly acceptable to point out to a reviewer when the facts are wrong. After all, a reviewer is a journalist, right? And he/she should be held accountable for reporting things accurately, even if it is an opinion piece.

Ann V.
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des
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 10:37 am:   

I find it perfectly acceptable to point out to a reviewer when the facts are wrong.

I accept all of your post, Ann, except above. Is the work's author the jurisdictor for saying what is wrong or not to a reviewer? My contention, with my formulae above, is not necessarily so.

Wrong and right 'facts' are critical and subjective matters about the work. (Other than hard facts of publication date etc.)
Imho. des
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ABV
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 01:33 pm:   

I am speaking of getting facts wrong, such as stating in a review that the author was living in Timbuktu at the time he wrote the novel and hence.... blah, blah, blah, when in fact the author was living in Hogtown, USA. That's just a quick example of some reviewers getting facts wrong. Or if they state that a particular book is a first novel, and it isn't. Etc.



I am not speaking of opinions. Reviewers, and readers, for that matter, can have any opinion and state it as they see fit. But when they begin to state something as a fact, it had better really be a fact.

Ann V.
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des
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 01:48 pm:   

Well, as long as the writer knew he was living in Hogtown or Timbuktu! ;-)

But, yes, I agree, Ann.
des
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T Andrews
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 03:28 pm:   

Des, an editor has asked me to make some revisions to a story of mine. If she likes the revisions, she'll buy it.
It may be my first sale, which would be nice, of course. I agreed to making the suggested changes because I thought it would be a good learning experience.
Now that I'm actually faced with doing it, though, surprisingly, it feels a little odd.

Like creating a clone. Almost identical to the original but lacking something. Or maybe it is more than the original, since two minds will have helped create it.

At any rate, I will have two stories, not one. The firstborn may stay in a drawer all its life while the second story gets all the attention.

?
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AT
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 04:14 pm:   

Thanks for the advice, Ann.
And Des, you asked: "but are you also saying (as I do) that *if* an author did express a descriptive or interpretative view, then that view is of no more value than any other view?"

No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that I don't think authors *should* express a descriptive or interpretative view, AT ALL. Furthermore, I really hate the pressure on authors to do this. It takes away from what the book is about, as creators going on about their work always does, in my opinion, steal from the treasure of the discovery and enjoyment of, in the case of written works, the reader. But that goes for all creative works. As for interpretation, I don't know the value in that, no matter who's doing it. It's often no more than a parlour game, which also detracts from the work itself, I believe. A woman might be described as a beauty, but then no one wants to know the mathematical reasons why we think so.

I once stood in a gallery, quietly contemplating a famous painting that just happened to be giving me a moment of absolute joy, when some woman with too much education and a dried pea of a soul sidled up to me and said, "Do you know what it signifies?"

"Yes," I said, and ruined her day. Or maybe not. She probably waited for another victim.

Each of us interprets differently. Wonderful! Pinning down how it should be is catechism. As to what is *good* ... Wild horses massaging my skull still couldn't make my brain pulp say Ulysses is more than a pretentious wank, but that doesn't mean that others who find nirvana there, are wrong.

But then, I find absolutely no value in much of what studying literature and the arts is about. Trends in interpretation have been nothing short of laughable. *Exposure*, however, is what I value - knowing that something exists to read (and this Nightshade board is really excellent in that. I love reading recommendations here, often of stuff I never heard of before). Knowing the context of the society in which the work was created is also of great value, I think, but then again, Gullivers Travels is as relevant now as it was when it was written (though annotations add greatly to historical understanding, and the meaning of jokes), which is what makes it a classic.
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des
Posted on Thursday, August 04, 2005 - 01:30 am:   

Hi, Tanya, to my mind, if you amend something to fit another's view of the work, it does indeed become a new work and perhaps a collaboration... with renewed subjection to my three formulae above, triggering a completely new entity of creativity. Only one entity, however, in your example, will be entering the audience arena.

Anna, I agree with what you say. But I don't think that an author should always hold back from stating a view: I've negatively criticised 'Weirdmonger' (for which I was First Mover) from the standpoint of one reader (ie me). But an author should restrain himself from giving a view, if possible. What I'm saying is that, if an author does make a view, it is on the par with anyone else's. And this fits with my views on the Intentional Fallacy and Affective Fallacy (concepts first promoted in the Fifties by WK Wimsatt). However, I may be deluded. I'm under no illusion about the fallibility of my own intentions, here, even when read from a few seconds after the act of 'intending'.
des

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