Sunday, December 06, 2009

Fabric Samples

Over forty years ago, Barthes anticipates the course of/on remixology:
We know now that a text consists not of a line of words, releasing a single 'theological' meaning (the 'message' of the Author-God), but of a multidimensional space in which are married and contested several writings, none of which is original: the text is a fabric of quotations, resulting from a thousand sources of culture.
But try telling that to the liberal humanist cacademics for whom, according to Planned Obsolescence:
We have long acknowledged the death of the author, in theory, at least – but have been loath to think about what such a proclamation might mean for our own status as authors, and have certainly been unwilling to part with the lines on the CV that are the result of the publishing.
If it is language that speaks and not the author, then letting the language speak itself requires what of the artist-medium? How does an artist-medium prepare for their next (postproduction) set, their next (writing) scene, their next choragraphy?

Ray Federman, in Before Postmodernism and After, taps the surfictional muse and writes:
But one could ask, to continue in the questioning mode: Why did Postmodernism allow itself to be swallowed and digested by the culture, or to be stifled by academic theorizing? And the answer would be: Because Postmodernism, and more specifically Postmodern fiction, moved from continuity, from fluidity, coherence, linearity (in history as well as in literature) to discontinuity, fragmentation, indeterminacy, plurality, metafictionality, intertextuality, decentering, dislocation, ludism, to become series of disconnected states, combinations of impulses, incoherent lists and verbal doodles, it eventually destroyed itself.

But, one could also ask, isn’t literature language? And isn’t language always stable? Yes, of course, literature is made of language, but language limited by the permutations of a restricted number of elements and functions. However, what made Postmodern fiction interesting and important, and vulnerable too, is that it tried to escape these restrictions, it tried to say what is beyond language, that is why Postmodern fiction was doomed from the beginning. Even though the unspeakable can never be spoken, Postmodernism attempted to speak the impossibility of speaking the unspeakable.
How then does the artist-medium facilitate the discovery of writerly performance beyond language, especially if the role of the artist-medium is to become a remixologist who lets the language speak itself? Can language speak beyond itself?

Federman again:
But isn’t literature an invention, and as such can it not invent its own language? [My imaginary questioner is very stubborn]. No, literature is always a re-invention, it never creates anything new, it simply re-invents the nothing new, in other words — just as the sun every day, having no alternative, rises on the nothing new. Postmodern fiction only re-invented what had been banished, hidden, or expelled from individual or collective memory, this is why it was accused of being plagiaristic, and of working Against Itself.
This is the plight of the remixologist as they per force launch themselves into the renewable tradition.

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