Cristina Farronato. Eco's Chaosmos: From the Middle Ages to Postmodernity.Cristina Farronato. Eco's Chaosmos: From the Middle Ages to Postmodernity. Toronto: University of Toronto Research at the University of Toronto has been responsible for the world's first electronic heart pacemaker, artificial larynx, single-lung transplant, nerve transplant, artificial pancreas, chemical laser, G-suit, the first practical electron microscope, the first cloning of T-cells, Press, 2003.
The aim of Cristina Farronato's study is to map the blending of medieval and postmodern philosophy that informs Umberto Eco's theoretical and fictional work as well as to discuss the tension between order and disorder Order and Disorder
See also classification.
things to be done or a list of those things, as a list of the matters to be discussed at a meeting.
extreme disorder. See also government. , chaos and cosmos, closure and openness that shapes it. Such tension, which Farronato, following Eco's work on Joyce (i.e., The Aesthetics of Chaosmos: The Middle Ages of James Joyce) calls "chaosmos," also provides a title for her own volume.
The first introductory chapter outlines the peculiarity of Eco's formation as a medieval scholar steeped in a cultural context progressively traversed by structuralism, deconstruction, postmodernism, and cultural studies. In the second chapter, "From Cosmos to Chaosmos: Eco and Joyce," Farronato argues for the presence of medieval scholastic and early modero philosophical paradigms in Eco's approach to Joyce. Farronato contends that in The Aesthetics of Chaosmos: The Middle Ages of James Joyce (1982), Eco remains indebted to his earlier work on Aquinas, The Aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas (1956: 1988), and therefore comes to locate in Joyce several elements of medieval culture, including an interest in Catholicism, a tendency towards abstraction, a search for a closed order, an aesthetics founded upon several of Aquinas' categories, and a taste for quotation. However, in addition to medieval scholasticisra, Eco's work on Joyce is also shaped by the more modern philosophical paradigms represented by the coincidentia oppositorum of Nicholas of Cusa Nicholas of Cusa (Nicolaus Cusanus), 1401?–1464, German humanist, scientist, statesman, and philosopher, from 1448 cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. The son of a fisherman, Nicholas was educated at Deventer, Heidelberg, Padua, Rome, and Cologne. and the identity of contraries of Giordano Bruno.
The third chapter, "Semiotics semiotics or semiology, discipline deriving from the American logician C. S. Peirce and the French linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. It has come to mean generally the study of any cultural product (e.g., a text) as a formal system of signs. as a Solution: From a Theory of Aesthetics to the Study of Culture," focuses on Eco's theory of the sign and incorporates discussions of La struttura assente (1968), Il segno se·gno
n. pl. se·gnos Music
A notational sign, especially the sign marking the beginning or the end of a repeat.
[Italian, from Latin signum, sign; see sek (1973), and A Theory of Semiotics (1976). Farronato acknowledges the influence of Luigi Pareyson's theory of "formativity" in Eco's aesthetics and theory of interpretation as well as of the work of the American semiotician se·mi·ot·ics also se·mei·ot·ics
n. (used with a sing. verb)
The theory and study of signs and symbols, especially as elements of language or other systems of communication, and comprising semantics, syntactics, and pragmatics. C.S. Pierce, the German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, and the semiologists active during the 1960s and 1970s, namely Barthes, Benveniste, Greimas, Levy-Strauss, Kristeva, and Chomsky. Besides these modern influences, Farronato also contends that the classical philosophical meditation on signs of Aquinas and Ockam was very influential in Eco's formulation of the concepts of unlimited semiosis Semiosis is any form of activity, conduct, or process that involves signs, including the production of meaning. The term was introduced by Charles Sanders Peirce to describe a process that interprets signs as referring to their objects, as described in his theory and encyclopedia. Throughout this section of her third chapter, Farronato continues to emphasize the tension between openness and closure, or the "chaosmos" that informs Eco's theory of the sign, that generates a chiasmatic chi·as·ma also chi·asm
n. pl. chi·as·ma·ta or chi·as·mas also chi·asms
1. Anatomy A crossing or intersection of two tracts, as of nerves or ligaments.
2. conceptualization con·cep·tu·al·ize
v. con·cep·tu·al·ized, con·cep·tu·al·iz·ing, con·cep·tu·al·iz·es
To form a concept or concepts of, and especially to interpret in a conceptual way: of semiotics as both communication and signification SIGNIFICATION, French law. The notice given of a decree, sentence or other judicial act. . Later in the chapter, she applies this interpretative grid to other works by Eco: Opera aperta (1962), Apocalittici e integrati (1964), Il superuomo di massa Massa, in the Bible
Massa (măs`ə), in the Bible, seventh son of Ishmael.
Massa, city, Italy
Massa (mäs`ä), city (1991 pop. 66,737), capital of Massa-Carrara prov. (1976), and a host of more occasional writings collected in the three Diari minimi Minimi can refer to:
In the fourth chapter, "The Aesthetics of Reception and the Reflection on the Reader: From the Labyrinth to the Southern Seas," Farronato focuses on the issue of reception and interpretation by examining Eco's theoretical work on the topic in Opera aperta (1962), Lector in Fabula (1979), and the more recent The Limits of Interpremtion (1990). Farronato notes that while the reader is allowed to make conjectures and inferences, s/he remains essentially controlled. Such control is clearly stated in The Limits of Interpretation where Eco appeals to the notion of intentio operis to contain semiotic semiotic /se·mi·ot·ic/ (se?me-ot´ik)
1. pertaining to signs or symptoms.
2. pathognomonic. drift. The paradoxical condition that is hereby engendered is consistent, according to Farronato, with Eco's notion of the text as both open and codifiable at once and therefore reflects the theme of "chaosmos" as the closed order of a medieval episteme that keeps in check the postmodern tendency to drift, or in her words "decelerates his fugues See
Borges, Jorge Borges . Here Farronato devotes several pages to comparing Eco with Borges and Calvino while disregarding the very important philosophical and cultural issues that inform postmodern practices of intertextual in·ter·tex·tu·al
Relating to or deriving meaning from the interdependent ways in which texts stand in relation to each other.
in revisiting and quotation. Hence, what the reader is left with is a superficial version of postmodernity best revealed in the following statement: "This is the main project of postmodern literature: if it cannot say much that is new, it can at least make readers smarter by introducing them to irony, or parody ... and by raising their aesthetic enjoyment to the level of criticism" (121).
The sixth chapter, "A Theory of Medieval Laughter: The Comic, Humor, and Wit," examines Eco's conceptualization of laughter according to the categories of wit, comic, irony, and humor. Once again, the discussion of the philosophical background that informs Eco's vision is cast aside since Farronato only provides a brief mention of Eco's debt to Aquinas' and Agrippa's reflection on the topic before devoting the remainder of her chapter to examine Eco's occasional writings for the "Bustine di Minerva" as practical examples of his views on laughter.
Chapters seven, eight, and nine, are focussed on Eco's fictions. In chapter seven, "The Whodunit and Eco's Postmodern Fiction," Farronato addresses the subversion of the codes of the traditional detective novel in The Name of the Rose (1983), Foucault Pendulum (1990), and The Island of the Day Before (1995) but also argues that Eco seeks a balance between order and chaos, excessive closure and hermetic hermetic /her·met·ic/ (her-met´ik) impervious to air.
her·met·ic or her·met·i·cal
Completely sealed, especially against the escape or entry of air. drift. Surprisingly, a great deal of attention is given to a topic that is only marginally relevant to her discussion, namely Jean Jacques Annaud's cinematic adaptation of The Name of the Rose that, so Farronato argues, contains the failure of the process of detection in a closed narrative structure. Since it is Farronato's position that Baudolino (2000) is nota no·ta
Plural of notum. novel of detection but, rather, a narrative of a fantastic voyage and a rewriting of history, she dedicates a full chapter to it, notably "Baudolino and the Language of Monsters." Here Farronato suggests that the monsters that populate the novel are figures that subvert all rigid distinctions and therefore solidify the tension between chaos and order of Eco's "chaosmos."
The concluding chapter summarizes some of the main themes while briefly describing the content of Eco's more recent works, Kant and the Platypus platypus (plăt`əpəs), semiaquatic egg-laying mammal, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, of Tasmania and E Australia. Also called duckbill, or duckbilled platypus, it belongs to the order Monotremata (see monotreme), the most primitive group (2000), Experiences in Translation (2001), and Sulla Letteratura (2001). This section also provides more accolades on Eco as "a child gifted in everything" and "a great 'international 'exploit'" (192). Two appendices are also added, namely "Appendix A," containing Alphonse Allais' Un drame bien parisien (1890) and "Appendix B," Les Templiers (1887). Since these appendices are neither incorporated in a discussion nor commented upon in a manner that is organic to the volume, they leave the reader wondering as to the purpose for their inclusion.
While Farronato's Eco's Chaosmos: From the Middle Ages to Postmodernity contains some interesting examinations of Eco's endeavor, such as the analysis of the fictional as opposed to the theoretical reader, or the reading of the hybrid figure of the monster in Baudolino, her approach to Eco does not represent a significant contribution to the existing scholarship. The tension that shapes all of Eco's work has been duly commented on by critics and theorists, including Jonathan Culler, Linda Hutcheon, John Deely, Richard Rorty, to name but a few, and therefore is of limited usefulness. More promising is Farronato's focus on Eco's philosophical background that, even though it is cast aside by the middle of the book and falls short of examining with clarity and depth Eco's receptivity to postmodern thought, it does include some interesting remarks on his life-long debt to medieval philosophy.
priestess betrays her vows and sacrifices herself in atonement. [Ital. Opera: Bellini Norma in Benét, 720]
See : Sacrifice BOUCHARD
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