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Thread: "Free Play of Language/Meaning" or "No Closure"

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    "Free Play of Language/Meaning" or "No Closure"

    Hello, I am a student of literature, I have een struggling with postmodernist writing techniques since I had very shallow courses of literature during my undergraduate ears. Now I keep trying to imagine how the free play of meaning/Language and especially the no closure would appear in a text. I know these are Derrida's terms, I know what he means by the no closure and no final truth, but theoretically only. I am unable to show this in a text. Now I am writing my dissertation about a Postmodernist novel, and I must include a section about the free play of meaning and escaping closure, but I just don't know how. Although postmodernist writers escape closure and authorial control, I just can't imagine how that happens in a text someone wrote willingly. If he wrote it it means he controls it, how is it possible that he has no control over his characters? And How is it possible that he escapes closure and final truth while when we arrive at the end of the novel we come up with a moral which is his main theme? Please help me, I'm lost. I can't ask my teachers these questions they will think I'm stupid and I don't deserve being a Master's student. Now at least I can ask the question anonymously.

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    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    That's not a stupid question at all; it sounds like one you've thought about a great deal. You may get an answer here ('fraid I can't help with that one), but I'd encourage you never to think you shouldn't go to a teacher with an honest question. And I certainly don't think you'll be booted out of your Masters classes for asking. :-)
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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    Tu le connais, lecteur... Kafka's Crow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tellem Chaho View Post
    Hello, I am a student of literature, I have een struggling with postmodernist writing techniques since I had very shallow courses of literature during my undergraduate ears. Now I keep trying to imagine how the free play of meaning/Language and especially the no closure would appear in a text. I know these are Derrida's terms, I know what he means by the no closure and no final truth, but theoretically only. I am unable to show this in a text. Now I am writing my dissertation about a Postmodernist novel, and I must include a section about the free play of meaning and escaping closure, but I just don't know how. Although postmodernist writers escape closure and authorial control, I just can't imagine how that happens in a text someone wrote willingly. If he wrote it it means he controls it, how is it possible that he has no control over his characters? And How is it possible that he escapes closure and final truth while when we arrive at the end of the novel we come up with a moral which is his main theme? Please help me, I'm lost. I can't ask my teachers these questions they will think I'm stupid and I don't deserve being a Master's student. Now at least I can ask the question anonymously.
    A teacher of mine used to quote a Chinese proverb 'one who asks a question, looks foolish for some moments, one who doesn't stays foolish forever'.

    Now to your question. I think that all great literature aspires towards openness of meaning multiplicity of interpretations. Each work of literature goes through a lot of revision, polishing and editing before reaching us. There is no such thing as complete works of automatic writing although each work contains some or even a lot of it, the wonder of knowing what you never knew that you knew to paraphrase Robert Frost.

    As far as 'open' works of literature are concerned, Joyce's narrative was controlled by the stream of consciousness and Proust's by vagaries of memories and the effect of time and perspective on these memories. Still both were very meticulous artists who polished and revised each and every word until 'Stephen Hero' became 'The Portrait' and Proust's work became endless like the memories that it depicted. Beckett talked of the unity of form and content in Joyce's writing. Same is true of Beckett's own writing where all effort is focused on emptying words and the narrative of its meaning. Still Beckett's writing is not just jumbled up nonsense. Even such difficult works as the short piece 'Ping' (Google it up) depict a lot of hard work in emptying them out of meaning. As far as the open play of language is concerned, Beckett shows that it is a double-edged blade. It creates as well as destroys meaning. All language IS in a state of play at all times slipping under the pressure of context, convention and creativity. It is not easy to stop words from making meaning and forming narrative and this effect needs as much of hard work as making of narratives as Beckett's writing shows us.
    Last edited by Kafka's Crow; 04-23-2012 at 11:46 AM.
    "The farther he goes the more good it does me. I donít want philosophies, tracts, dogmas, creeds, ways out, truths, answers, nothing from the bargain basement. He is the most courageous, remorseless writer going and the more he grinds my nose in the sh1t the more I am grateful to him..."
    -- Harold Pinter on Samuel Beckett

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    Voice of Chaos & Anarchy
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    You might want to read some of Umberto Eco's writings on literature. He is an excellent writer, and he was the one who first introduced some of the concepts. You ill get a lot more from a fre hours reading than from some forum posts.

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    Tu le connais, lecteur... Kafka's Crow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeterL View Post
    You might want to read some of Umberto Eco's writings on literature. He is an excellent writer, and he was the one who first introduced some of the concepts. You ill get a lot more from a fre hours reading than from some forum posts.
    Good thing you mentioned Eco. He differentiates between 'writerly' and 'readerly' texts, first written for the writer's artistic satisfaction, the second aiming at readers understanding. Is this what you mean by postmodern open texts, the writerly texts?
    "The farther he goes the more good it does me. I donít want philosophies, tracts, dogmas, creeds, ways out, truths, answers, nothing from the bargain basement. He is the most courageous, remorseless writer going and the more he grinds my nose in the sh1t the more I am grateful to him..."
    -- Harold Pinter on Samuel Beckett

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