Literature, Ideology, and the Imaginary.Translated from the Slovene by Nusa Rozman
In attempting to determine the elusive relation between literature and its social position, it is impossible to ignore the work of Louis Althusser Louis Pierre Althusser (Pronunciation: altuˡseʁ) (October 16, 1918 – October 22, 1990) was a Marxist philosopher. He was born in Algeria and studied at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure in Paris, where he eventually became Professor of Philosophy. and his followers followers
see dairy herd. in the early 1970s. However, their work is debatable in several aspects and it seems that literature has to be considered in a broader framework of the imaginary, as it was described, for example, by Cornelius Castoriadis Cornelius Castoriadis (Greek: Κορνήλιος Καστοριάδης) (March 11 1922-December 26 1997) was a Greek-French philosopher, economist and psychoanalyst. or Wolfgang Iser Wolfgang Iser (July 22, 1926–January 24, 2007) was a German literary scholar. He was born in Marienberg, Germany. His parents were Paul and Else (Steinbach) Iser. He studied literature in the universities of Leipzig and Tübingen before receiving his PhD in English at . Their concept of the imaginary brings to view that an ideological interpretation is usually only realized in a literary work's relation with the reader or social interpretative in·ter·pre·ta·tive
Variant of interpretive.
in·terpre·ta norms, in both of which it manifests itself as an intervention of power. Although Althusserians do not deny the literary work any autonomy whatsoever, they believe that art entails primarily ideological interpellation In`ter`pel`la´tion
1. The act of interpelling or interrupting; interruption.
2. The act of interposing or interceding; intercession.
Accepted by his interpellation and intercession. , artistic autonomy having already been fixed by a model determined by the social practices (Althusser 96; Macherey 17-19, 39-60; Macherey and Balibar 83-87). The main problem with such definitions is that they leave little space for an autonomous response of the interpellated subject. This is so because they conceive of Verb 1. conceive of - form a mental image of something that is not present or that is not the case; "Can you conceive of him as the president?"
envisage, ideate, imagine ideology as general ideology, a kind of pan-ideology that supposedly permeates both the entire social system and each of the subject's identifications (Althusser 115-20; Therborn 2, 15). Nevertheless, it is clear that a subject's autonomous response needs also be envisaged in his or her interaction with (ideological) discourse, and that ideology can only work within the temporary suture suture /su·ture/ (soo´cher)
2. a stitch or series of stitches made to secure apposition of the edges of a surgical or traumatic wound.
3. to apply such stitches.
4. between a subject and the subject position produced for him (see, e.g., Hall, "The Work" 55-56, "Who Needs" 5-6, 10-14).
Althusserian thought grounds its view of ideological interpellation in the Lacanian concept of identification. Hence, the individual in the ideological relation supposedly splits into the Self and the Other, the Other being the signifier sig·ni·fi·er
1. One that signifies.
2. Linguistics A linguistic unit or pattern, such as a succession of speech sounds, written symbols, or gestures, that conveys meaning; a linguistic sign. through which the ideological address works (Pecheux 141-42, 147-49). But again, as in Lacanian dialectics, the Other can only be an (unreal) image, and this imaginary quality conceals the subject's identity lack, as well as social relations that produce subject positions. I agree with Cornelius Castoriadis's critique that the Lacanian idea of the imaginary relies too heavily on the concept of an unreal double (3). Clearly, Castoriadis does not deny that the imaginary can only express itself through a symbolic component. In his view, however, the imaginary is not something determined of imaginary nature (i.e., the Lacanian "image of something"), but rather something that only realizes itself through the logic of the determinable Liable to come to an end upon the happening of a certain contingency. Susceptible of being determined, found out, definitely decided upon, or settled.
determinable adj. , i.e. the symbolic. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Castoriadis, the imaginary is a magma of significations: an undifferentiated undifferentiated /un·dif·fer·en·ti·at·ed/ (un-dif?er-en´she-at-ed) anaplastic.
Having no special structure or function; primitive; embryonic. mass of images that differs from chaos precisely in that it comes to being only through the meaning as the representational rep·re·sen·ta·tion·al
Of or relating to representation, especially to realistic graphic representation.
rep link between the signified and the signifier (127). However, this also implies the existence of social imaginary: of "positing, in and through institution, of forms and significations that the psyche as such is ... incapable of bringing into existence" (308-12). The social imaginary is a factor of uniformization, since all significations in a society may only be read and arise through a central set of representations, the so-called "central imaginary significations" (such as God, family, the state, nation), which seam together a society. Only through these sets members of a community are able to understand themselves (359-64).
A weakness of thus conceived social homogenization homogenization (həmŏj'ənəzā`shən), process in which a mixture is made uniform throughout. Generally this procedure involves reducing the size of the particles of one component of the mixture and dispersing them evenly is at least that the problem of ideology is not stressed. This is the case especially because the process of homogenization is seen as both, instituting and instituted (Castoriadis 108). The magma of significations is capable of pulling the symbolic organization of a society into being re-shaped, as the imaginary is never finally delimited de·lim·it also de·lim·i·tate
tr.v. de·lim·it·ed also de·lim·i·tat·ed, de·lim·it·ing also de·lim·i·tat·ing, de·lim·its also de·lim·i·tates
To establish the limits or boundaries of; demarcate. by a code. Nevertheless, when stressing the symbolic-significative organization of societies rather then material conditions, Castoriadis leaves space for an analysis of ideology unconstrained by the traditional assumption of a totalizing "pan-ideology." Ideology can be seen as one possible variant of the social imaginary. Claude Lefort Claude Lefort (born 1924) is a French philosopher and activist.
He was politically active by 1942 under the influence of his tutor, the phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty (whose posthumous publications Lefort later edited). sees it as such, i.e., as a specific order of the imaginary which, unlike in the traditional societies, does not build its legitimacy upon reference to a transcendent realm but proceeds from the social itself, which it tries to transhistoricize (295). Lefort restricts ideology to capitalist societies, but he reduces the entire social imaginary to an ideological process so that he still does not escape the notion of a totalizing pan-ideology. He is, however, right in assuming that ideology, as a possible form of the social imaginary, can be determined by taking into consideration a distinction between traditional and modern societies. In this aspect, the work of Zygmunt Bauman Zygmunt Bauman (born 19 November 1925 in Poznań) is a Polish sociologist who, since 1971, has resided in England after being driven there by an anti-Semitic purge organized by the Communist Party of Poland. and Charles Taylor
Charles Taylor may refer to: Political figures
tr.v. in·di·vid·u·al·ized, in·di·vid·u·al·iz·ing, in·di·vid·u·al·iz·es
1. To give individuality to.
2. To consider or treat individually; particularize.
3. identification, which inevitably leads to a tendency to dominate the surrounding world, the reason being that individualized meaning-making is related with the establishment of the Cartesian subject-object duality Duality (physics)
The state of having two natures, which is often applied in physics. The classic example is wave-particle duality. The elementary constituents of nature—electrons, quarks, photons, gravitons, and so on—behave in some respects (Debeljak 74), and especially with the predominance, since the Age of Enlightenment The Enlightenment (French: Siècle des Lumières; German: Aufklärung; Italian: Illuminismo; Portuguese: , of reason and reflection as grounds of an individual's actions as well as of discursive authority (see Bauman, Modernity; Giddens). The discourse of modernity is thus grounded in an individual's capacity for teleological tel·e·ol·o·gy
n. pl. tel·e·ol·o·gies
1. The study of design or purpose in natural phenomena.
2. The use of ultimate purpose or design as a means of explaining phenomena.
3. acting and rational control over his body and nature, the surroundings; and rational-individualistic acting therefore reflects the social imaginary of modernity (Wagner 44-45). In Bauman's opinion, the rational-individualistic discourse of modernity is, on the other hand, determined by the nature of language, which classifies: i.e., it differentiates things in order to reconnect them, using patterns of identity and diversity (Modernity 1). According to Castoriadis, the imaginary in general is of such nature: it needs the logic of language as a code that manifests itself in the dimensions of differentiating by way of selecting (legein), and making order by way of combining and acting (teukhein): "It is only at very advanced stages in lucid rational thinking that these three elements (the signifier, the signified and their sui generis [Latin, Of its own kind or class.] That which is the only one of its kind.
sui generis (sooh-ee jen-ur-iss) n. Latin for one of a kind, unique. tie) are maintained as united and distinct ... at once" (127). In every socio-historical manifestation, this "ensemblistic-identitarian" logic is thus a mechanism of uniformizing significations (Castoriadis 340-44, 359); nevertheless, we cannot speak of ideology in it as long as the social imaginary remains freely open for irruptions of the magma of significations.
Regarding the discourses of modernity, Bauman and Anthony Giddens Anthony Giddens, Baron Giddens (born January 18, 1938) is a British sociologist who is renowned for his theory of structuration and his holistic view of modern societies. He is considered to be one of the most prominent modern contributors in the field of sociology, the author of point to a suppression of differences and ambivalences (openness). Given that even Castoriadis traces the limiting of ambivalences back to Plato and Aristotle, the "Enlightenment project" (and through it ideology) can be seen as a progressive stage of rational thinking: as a radicalisation, which, following Bauman, brings a growing predominance of forced uniformization, elimination of differences, and fixation of meaning. Ideologies turn out to be an extreme form of the attempt to uniformize a society's significations: an attempt which in modernity indeed does not occupy the entire society but it does occupy the majority of social reality (Erjavec 43). Stuart Hall Stuart Hall may refer to: People
tr.v. le·git·i·mized, le·git·i·miz·ing, le·git·i·miz·es
le·git it, or reify reify - To regard (something abstract) as a material thing. it. And the rational "ensemblistic-identitarian" logic--with its symbolism that relates the rational and the imaginary and thus grounds itself in what it defines as external verifiability--is the main means used by subjects in measuring out their power. Ideological mechanisms can thus be seen as a radicalization The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter.
Please help [ improve the introduction] to meet Wikipedia's layout standards. You can discuss the issue on the talk page. of the uniformizing rational-argumentative logic.
Although in modern society, a work of art can be a statement used in ideological struggles, it is not always an ideological statement. This is evident if we consider the imaginary in its broader relation to a socio-historical community, and bear in mind that the workings of ideology are merely a radicalized part of the social imaginary of modernity. Given the variety of paradigms of the imaginary, Wolfgang Iser draws the conclusion that they do not only result from different views of it but rather from a fundamental indeterminateness of the imaginary, which can only express itself through external activators: through a variety of factors that bring it into being by endowing the imaginary with shape. The imaginary is thus only present as manifestation, being mobilized from without (Iser 181-85, 222-24), while external activators of the imaginary include both the "Castoriadian" social imaginary and the fictive fic·tive
1. Of, relating to, or able to engage in imaginative invention.
2. Of, relating to, or being fiction; fictional.
3. Not genuine; sham. , expressed in works of art.
Compared with Althusserian thought, according to which the base of social relations necessarily conditions a work of art (Althusser 124-26; Balibar and Macherey 82-84), Iser's concept of the imaginary posits the relation between society and art on a different level. It follows from his analyses that there is no such determination, as the imaginary, being indeterminate That which is uncertain or not particularly designated.
INDETERMINATE. That which is uncertain or not particularly designated; as, if I sell you one hundred bushels of wheat, without stating what wheat. 1 Bouv. Inst. n. 950. in its primary mode, manifests itself through each of its activators in the way inherent to it. It is clear that in a literary work, for example, different manifestation modes--i.e., the social imaginary in addition to the fictive--may in fact coexist. Excessively differentiating among activators of the imaginary would thus be equally unjustified as exclusively conditioning art with social relations, since it would be somewhat simplistic sim·plism
The tendency to oversimplify an issue or a problem by ignoring complexities or complications.
[French simplisme, from simple, simple, from Old French; see simple to claim that in a work of art, the imaginary can only manifest itself through the activator of the fictive. Even more, aesthetic effect of a work of art is inevitably related with cognitive or experiential identification (Althusser 152), as it is always somehow related to the external world. It is probably over-emancipation of elements related with identifications of a certain socio-historical community what pulls a work of art out of the domain of the fictive into that of the social imaginary, especially into the workings of ideology. Ideological effect, then, is not to be perceived as an independent manifestation but, at most, as a potential for ideology present in a work of art, producing an effect in reality (Erjavec 50); more precisely, as a possibility that power might intervene to fix the openness of meaning.
This view can only be endorsed if we adopt the belief that such potential is actually a function co-shaping a concrete manifestation of the imaginary or an individual's attitude to the world. It was already Jan Mukarovsky who defined function as an active relation between an object and an objective, but also as the achieving of an appropriate attitude toward the world in a subject (Cestami 17; Studie 64, 177). Hence, if we take that various activators of the imaginary can manifest themselves in a work of art so that functions co-form an individual's attitude to the world, we may recognize in a work of art elements of non-aesthetic nature, such as those supporting the ideological function, or even detect their predominance (Studie 88). However, the concept of function has its drawbacks. Hans Robert Jausz points out that Mukarovsky tries to objectivize an individual's experience to which a certain function relates, while according to Jausz, experiential worlds of individuals, including that of aesthetic experience, are only valid--if indeed they are--intersubjectively, being determined by the same attitude of individuals toward the same reality (116-17). A more vital problem with functions in relation to an individual's experiences of reality, however, is their (in)dependence. Jausz is correct in pointing out that Mukarovsky presupposes a too large number of functions, translating virtually all human activities into functions without verifying that they are indeed independent, given the relatively scarce "orders of reality," i.e., experiental domains within which an individual experiences reality. Following Alfred Schutz, Jausz defines these orders of reality as "closed, internally layered provinces of meaning," where experience of identical reality within the different orders manifests a unique, characteristic mode of experience and cognition (120). This, however, does not mean that the notion of function has no use. The orders of reality, including the aesthetic one, are complementary with it, since a function can only be realized within a certain experience. It does mean, though, that the ideological function cannot a priori a priori
In epistemology, knowledge that is independent of all particular experiences, as opposed to a posteriori (or empirical) knowledge, which derives from experience. be considered an independent function entirely occupying any experience or underlying any work of literature or art.
Although a systematic analysis of those closed provinces of meaning is impossible at this point, a convenient starting point Noun 1. starting point - earliest limiting point
terminus a quo
commencement, get-go, offset, outset, showtime, starting time, beginning, start, kickoff, first - the time at which something is supposed to begin; "they got an early start"; "she knew from the in exploring (in)dependence of the ideological function can be found back in Plato. Based on Plato's analogy of the divided line, four modes of human access to reality can be identified and assumed as the basic kinds of the attitude to the world: these are conjecture / imagination, i.e. accepting likenesses (reflections, representations); confidence (in things that produce reflections), which is actually the practical experiencing of things; followed by thought (reason: an access to eidos Noun 1. eidos - (anthropology) the distinctive expression of the cognitive or intellectual character of a culture or a social group
attribute - an abstraction belonging to or characteristic of an entity ); and knowledge (philosophical insight) (Republic 509d-11e). In his analogy of the carpenter, the level of reflections and representations includes artistic mimesis mimesis /mi·me·sis/ (mi-me´sis) the simulation of one disease by another.mimet´ic
1. The appearance of symptoms of a disease not actually present, often caused by hysteria. , as it only produces imitations of practical experiential entities (595a-98c). This, together with the presumption that a factor common to thought and knowledge is cognition, makes it easier to see why contemporary theory mainly recognizes three possible types of the attitude to the world: i.e., the aesthetic, the experiential, and the cognitive.
Iser, for example, who sees the aesthetic as performative per·for·ma·tive
Relating to or being an utterance that peforms an act or creates a state of affairs by the fact of its being uttered under appropriate or conventional circumstances, as a justice of the peace uttering representation, differentiates this attitude from the other two (Iser 298-99; Iser and Jin 84). However, he is not alone in doing so. Janko Kos, for instance, speaks of the aesthetic, cognitive, and ethico-moral functions of a literary work (Literatura 77-78, 80), but in addition, he identifies in its structure a more appropriate triad--partly reflecting Mukarovsky's definition of functions--,based on which we may isolate the aesthetic, the "practical," and the rational or "theoretical" attitude (Morfologija 21, 66). At least those three attitudes can probably be seen as constituting independent experiences of reality, especially considering that it is them that Mukarovsky, too, most frequently identifies in relation with functions (Studie 64-66). Along these lines, the function of ideology is neither something a priori underlying the structure of a literary work nor a function entirely occupying, or referring to, a "closed order of reality," but is a dependent function, so that a potential for ideology and the aesthetic can co-exist in a work of art (Erjavec 43-44). This is affirmed by two authors: firstly, by Jausz, when he concedes that when an object is enjoyed without distance, the aesthetic experience can yield to the danger of an ideological occupation (102); and, secondly, by Goran Therborn when he asserts that the aesthetic, philosophical, scientific, and other practices can produce ideological effects, although they also implicate im·pli·cate
tr.v. im·pli·cat·ed, im·pli·cat·ing, im·pli·cates
1. To involve or connect intimately or incriminatingly: evidence that implicates others in the plot.
2. a break with the surrounding ideologies (2-3). In any case, it is only by differentiating an ideological function that we can point to rather definite ideological influences in some literary works without thereby presupposing a destruction of the aesthetic experience. For, if functions exist in relation to a particular subject or experience of reality, then they cannot only depend on structural elements Structural elements are used in structural analysis to simplify the structure which is to be analysed.
Structural elements can be linear, surfaces or volumes.
Nikita Nankov takes up Umberto Eco's suggestion that in literature, too, the process of identification depends on the imposed meaning or the mode of reading, determined by either a single authority or a single interpretative code. According to Nankov, when the formation and imposition of a code of textual production and interpretation are related with establishing a shared social identity, the basis is given for a simplified, ideologically uniformizing identification of meanings, events, and their relations in reading (94-96). But although the (non-)realization of the ideological function depends on whether the receiver's norm stresses the ideological elements or ignores them in favor of the aesthetic experience, such stress is thus only possible if the function has an actual basis in a specific production code of the text. Hence, structure is tightly related with interpretative mode, since an ideological effect can only arise if the reader can identify himself/herself with fiction-mediated "real" statements that he/she knows from the experiential world (Balibar and Macherey 91-93).
At first view, "real" statements are a combination of the practical-experiential and conceptual-cognitive attitudes, therefore there ought to exist in a text elements suiting those two experiences. On the level of textual structure, however, a more vital relation is that between "real" and "fictional" elements as, according to Pierre Macherey Pierre Macherey (b. 1938) is a French Marxist literary critic. A former student of Louis Althusser and collaborator on the influential volume Reading "Capital", Macherey is a central figure in the development of French post-structuralism and Marxism. and Etienne Balibar, a work of art produces an ideological effect when it provides an "imaginary resolution" of ideological controversies. It would be more precise to say that the ideological potential is stronger when the relationship between the "real" and "fictional" elements does not violate or reinterpret re·in·ter·pret
tr.v. re·in·ter·pret·ed, re·in·ter·pret·ing, re·in·ter·prets
To interpret again or anew.
re the reader's reception norms, thus destroying his identification with the external address. A convenient starting point in determining textual relations is the analysis proposed by Northrop Frye. According to him, it is characteristic of literature that its "trueness" lies in structure rather than in any external experiential truth (The Great 46, 61-62; Anatomy 73-75). This idea is grounded in the assumption that all verbal structures have both a centrifugal centrifugal /cen·trif·u·gal/ (sen-trif´ah-gal) efferent (1).
1. Moving or directed away from a center or axis.
2. aspect, tending toward external reality, and a centripetal centripetal /cen·trip·e·tal/ (sen-trip´e-t'l)
1. afferent (1).
1. Moving or directed toward a center or axis. aspect, which directs the recipient's attention toward the very form of the text, and focuses him or her onto the relations among textual elements. According to Frye, in a text both tendencies exist in a specific balance, so, obviously, the possibility of an ideological effect emerges at the point when, in reading, this balance is predominated over by centrifugality, which mostly orients the reader toward identifying with the external world. On the level of metaphor, one of the most characteristic such examples pointed to by Frye is the so-called "naive allegory," i.e. simple, unproblematic, and non-conflictual translation of ideas into images, which makes up the fundament fun·da·ment
1. a base or foundation, as the breech or rump.
2. the anus and parts adjacent to it. of ideologically disguised writings typical of the contemporary school system, audio-visual media etc. (Anatomy 90-91). Frye thus affirms at least two hypotheses: that excessive harmony of elements may be ideological and that a literary work's structure cannot be a priori ideological. Rather, its ideological potential is articulated in ideological apparatuses, in a particular way of reading or a specific meaning-making mode typical of a particular socio-historical manifestation. Within the fictive, however, literature becomes the locus where the work is assuming its own inherent form.
The connecting link
A Connecting Link is the name given to a municipal or county road in the Canadian Province of Ontario that has been downloaded to the county or city. that enables ideology to work in a text seems to be the concept of narrative identity, which essentially draws on Frye's distinction between "mythos my·thos
n. pl. my·thoi
3. The pattern of basic values and attitudes of a people, characteristically transmitted through myths and the arts. " as structure and "myth" as plot, i.e. as a set of events (Ricoeur, Time 1 32-35). According to Paul Ricoeur Paul Ricœur (February 27, 1913 Valence France – May 20, 2005 Chatenay Malabry France) was a French philosopher best known for combining phenomenological description with hermeneutic interpretation. , experience of identity is temporal, articulated as a narrative event, the event being determined by its relation to the effect produced by the total narrative form (Oneself 141-42). The actor of identification and agent of action in a narrative structure is either an individual or a group, e.g., a nation. And, if I assume, along with Ricoeur, that the fundamental forms of narrative structure are fiction and history--history being conceived of as every manifestation of the social imaginary--what they share is clearly a potential for identification, although the latter type of structure is more typical for the construction of group identities. It is thus evident that fiction and history also are the two modes in which ideology can work, bearing in mind, however, that fiction always vacillates between ideological ("school-proper") reading, ideological potential present in its structure, and predominance of the fictive.
If at this point the literary converges with the historical, there is another point of its convergence. It is both by Ricoeur and Frye that myth, too, is seen as a narrative structure, which means that it is structured as a verbal sequence of events while, on the other hand, no clear-cut distinction can be drawn between myth as a sequence of events and its verbal realization as a structure. It is a nearly equal duality on the level of representation that constitutively con·sti·tu·tive
1. Making a thing what it is; essential.
2. Having power to institute, establish, or enact.
3. marks the two-pole structure of the literary narrative as a self-revealing narrative. According to Ricoeur, one of the fundamental characteristics of literary narrative is the duality between the narrator NARRATOR. A pleader who draws narrs serviens narrator, a sergeant at law. Fleta, 1. 2, c. 37. Obsolete. and the world being uttered by him; for, "as the author of some discourse, the narrator ... determines a present--the present of narration," while "characters unfold their own time in the fiction;" hence, the "split between utterance and statement is extended to the split between the discourse of the speaker and the discourse of the characters" (Time 2 98-99). The temporal duality thus arising in the literary work is, in essence, extra-temporal but transitory TRANSITORY. That which lasts but a short time, as transitory facts that which may be laid in different places, as a transitory action. ; its power is "to transform into continuous duration the discontinuous discontinuous /dis·con·tin·u·ous/ (dis?kon-tin´u-us)
1. interrupted; intermittent; marked by breaks.
2. discrete; separate.
3. lacking logical order or coherence. periods" (Time 2 151), meaning that temporal segments are only possible out of the timeless whole, and vice versa VICE VERSA. On the contrary; on opposite sides. .
The similarity between such temporal structure and the design of premodern pre·mod·ern
Existing or coming before a modern period or time: the feudal system of premodern Japan. ritual and myth is particularly evident in the work by Mircea Eliade
Mircea Eliade (March 13 O.S. February 28] 1907 – April 22, 1986) was a Romanian historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, and professor , who interprets the mythological myth·o·log·i·cal also myth·o·log·ic
1. Of, relating to, or recorded in myths or mythology.
2. Fabulous; imaginary.
myth structure as circular "eternal" return. This is a structure in which the mythical "illo tempore" and space are present as the simultaneous (timeless) present time and present space (Myth 4-6, 17-21, 34-36, 76-77, 85-86). Aristotle's opposition to Plato's idea of artistic imitation as ordinary duplication of eidos or objects, and his own contrary idea of re-creating in the sense of completing the potentiality of what exists, need to be read in this perspective (Iser 281-87). Plato's reaction reflects a change in the epistemological e·pis·te·mol·o·gy
The branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity.
[Greek epist structure of the classical world, where instead of mythical totality, logos began to acquire intellectual, rational dimensions. Hence, I read Aristotle's and subsequent definitions of artistic mimesis as attempts--contrary to Plato--to find in its specific structure a substitute for the past mythic totality and its primeval pri·me·val
Belonging to the first or earliest age or ages; original or ancient: a primeval forest.
[From Latin pr creative capacity (Pavlovic 179-84). Structurally, both a similarity and dissimilarity between the mythical and "poetical po·et·i·cal
2. Fancifully depicted or embellished; idealized.
po·eti·cal·ly adv. " narratives can thus be detected in the double temporality tem·po·ral·i·ty
n. pl. tem·po·ral·i·ties
1. The condition of being temporal or bounded in time.
2. temporalities Temporal possessions, especially of the Church or clergy.
Noun 1. , but also in the mode of representation or, more precisely, relation to reference. What distinguishes the mythical narrative from the artistic one is at least its special relation, or identity, between what is present and what is not. Mythic symbolism, unlike poetic symbolism, creates identity between the object and the image, which is believing--committing, insofar in·so·far
To such an extent.
Adv. 1. insofar - to the degree or extent that; "insofar as it can be ascertained, the horse lung is comparable to that of man"; "so far as it is reasonably practical he should practice as it does not comprise any internal tension between the possible and the true (Paternu 27). Unlike this, the supposed aim of imitation in literature is to symbolize the absent and unattainable. Frye suggests something similar; it is the fundamental, "independent" plot structure or focus upon it what positively distinguishes literature from other verbal realizations of "mythos," and literary language, unlike mythical language, always has both a centrifugal and a centripetal aspect, while the relation of centripetality to actual events is, according to him, imaginative.
In spite of this, it is not the imaginative that distinguishes fundamentally artistic narrative from mythical narrative. Quite the opposite: Ricoeur attributes to imagination "the faculty of moving easily from one experience to another," and thus of transforming diversity into identity (Oneself 127). If the imaginary can get realized in different forms, myth is certainly one of those possibilities, although it is--being grounded in an a priori otherworldly hierarchy--probably impossible today (see Castoriadis Chapter 1). Mythological representation involves a transcendentally given reference ("the signified," to put it conditionally), and creates a committing, complete identity with this reference, due to which the word, the signifier, is always fixed, being an image and form of an extra-human world (Cazeneuve 223-25). Neither historical narrative nor fiction involve such transcendence. As concerns their receptiveness to ideology--which emerges within the historical domain of power as the uniformizing essence of the imaginary--there are, however, differences between them determined by their mode of representation. According to Iser, history always involves a pragmatic, external reference of the actual world or a construction of a world which, comprising established criteria of truth, at least seems to be externally verifiable. Fictional narrative, on the other hand, as a manifestation of the fictive, creates a new referential dimension, which is not descriptive anymore, but precedes conceptions of truth. It no longer refers to anything pre-given, but creates its own--circular, as it were--referentiality, which emerges in the relation between the two mutually exclusive Adj. 1. mutually exclusive - unable to be both true at the same time
incompatible - not compatible; "incompatible personalities"; "incompatible colors" worlds, i.e. the artificial (textual) world and the real (extra-textual) world (Iser 224-27). Iser defines this relation, similarly as Ricoeur, but not only in terms of temporality, as a doubling structure (223-46, 281-303).
In a fictional narrative, therefore, the world of fiction and the real world provide each other's horizon (Jausz 125). Coexistence of the given, empirical world and the internal, textual one, however, not only links the present to the non-present, but primarily "makes each of them into a signifier that cannot be fulfilled through what it signifies" (Iser 225) and such doubling structure activates the fictive into a game where neither of the two worlds is significant in itself but "rather, each signifier is at best the signified of the other signifier" (Iser 225-26). Since both worlds can only be read one through the other, such fictional juxtaposing implies a cancellation of any pre-established correlations between the signs: especially when selecting and extracting details of the external world and arbitrarily recombining them, so that the textual world, in particular, must be placed under the sign of "as if" (als ob); it must be read as though it were a world. It is in these two points that according to Iser, too, fiction differs from historical and mythological narratives, as such simultaneous reading focuses attention on the signs as signs. Although Iser and Jausz both believe that fiction communicates something about reality, this suggests that it disables ideological reading based on the assumption of a pre-determined relation between the signified and the signifier, and a pre-determined, simplified reading of significations. Rather, fiction, as a manifestation, stresses its fictive (artificial) character by its very form and relation to the reader.
The relation of fiction to the reader is thus obviously rooted in the metaphorical relation between two objects which, according to Ricoeur, "becomes the matrix for all the relations in which two distinct objects are, despite their differences ... liberated from the contingences of time" (Time 2 148). By identifying a narrative voice in fiction that points to itself as the narrator and its time as distinct from the time of the narrative, Ricoeur actually characterizes the structure of fiction as dialogical di·a·log·ic also di·a·log·i·cal
Of, relating to, or written in dialogue.
dia·log , mainly at the level of the dialogical interaction between the narrator and the characters of narration. However, dialogical nature as interaction does not only exist in narration but also in lyrical poetry, whose doubling structure, both at the formal and semantic levels, pulls the signifiers out of the extra-textual domain to eradicate them within the textual domain, isolate them, invert in·vert
1. To turn inside out or upside down.
2. To reverse the position, order, or condition of.
3. To subject to inversion.
Something inverted. them, and recombine re·com·bine
To undergo or cause genetic recombination; form new combinations. them in its own way, so that old meanings gain new significances and continually enter into dialoguing, relativizing other meanings that they may have eradicated previously: in short, they never close up the circle of possible combinations of significations and of possible readings, and precisely due to this fact they do not (or do so less frequently) fall back on the possibility of a uniform, ideological reading. Hence, the internal "dialogical nature" and the external fictive juxtaposing of intra-textual and extra-textual worlds seem to be interdependent.
In this aspect, dialogical nature is marked by the structural principle defined by Mukarovsky as harmony and contradiction among the elements, and by Floyd Merrel as "movement." When Mukarovsky describes the various functions in a work of art, he suggests that such work must--in addition to comprising as many and diverse traces of extra-literary values as possible--dynamize these elements into a structure where the harmonies among them will be equally strong as the contradictions, without therewith there·with
1. With that, this, or it.
2. In addition to that.
3. Archaic Immediately thereafter.
Adv. 1. ruining the balance of the whole. Works of art comprising sharp inner contrasts do not result in a uniformity of meanings and therefore afford a less suitable basis for a mechanical, uncritical and non-conflictual use of the system of practically valid values in a receiver's environment (Mukarovsky, Studie 146). Merrel also specifically points out in his semiotic semiotic /se·mi·ot·ic/ (se?me-ot´ik)
1. pertaining to signs or symptoms.
2. pathognomonic. analyses that the aesthetic value arises from "tension," which results from an imbalance between the two poles of a system (be it on the level of metaphor, metaphor-metonymy or the whole artistic composition), and is the source of every movement or change (Pararealities 60; A Semiotic Theory of Texts 176-99).
An equally important, although less complex insight can be found in Lev Vygotsky Lev Semenovich Vygotsky (Russian: Лев Семёнович Выготский) (November 17 (November 5 Old Style), 1896 – June 11, 1934) was a Soviet developmental , for whom the "poetic method" as what produces the primary effect of art means juxtaposing the (two) worlds involved: not only in terms of logic, but predominantly as affective, i.e. emotional, contradiction; the reader's experience is an experience of contrasting feelings (68-69, 177). Vygotsky also shows that emotion within the aesthetic attitude originates in the same psychical energies as the real feeling, only that it tends to involve intense opposing affects, sublimating them or releasing them by way of a catharsis catharsis
Purging or purification of emotions through art. The term is derived from the Greek katharsis (“purgation,” “cleansing”), a medical term used by Aristotle as a metaphor to describe the effects of dramatic tragedy on the spectator: by (264-71). In any case, contradiction invoked at the stylistic level is the basis for the reader's aesthetic response, eliciting in him two sharply conflicting feelings, which it only partly unites. The fictive in the microstructure mi·cro·struc·ture
The structure of an organism or object as revealed through microscopic examination.
a structure on a microscopic scale, such as that of a metal or a cell of a text therefore does not primarily depend on the latter's logical and conceptual elements but rather on those that Vygotsky calls affective. If even in lyrical poetry a narrative voice (the lyrical subject) can be identified, this is only possible provided that it is defined as the agent of an emotional subjectivity emphasizing the poem as a fictional text; it is both the activator and mediator of the fictional, the aesthetic, of the text, because it does not root itself in a presentation of the experiential extra-textual world, but rather in its own emotional affectivity, to which extra-textuality mainly serves for the purposes of juxtaposition.
The structure of literary works is perceived similarly by Kos. The three types of textual elements that he identifies partly reflect Mukarovsky 's identification of functions (Kos, Morfologija 21, 66), as they in practice imply a functionality constituting part of the aesthetic experience: a functionality without which no (potential for) ideology could be determined. Namely, what he terms affective-emotional elements seems to be mainly important for the aesthetic response, while his subject-material elements bring a practical-experiential response, and the conceptual-rational elements an ethical, conceptual and rational-theoretical attitude of the reader in his or her reception. As it is the relation between the textual and extra-textual domains that is of key importance for manifestations of ideology, it is vital to determine how this relation is influenced by combinations of particular textual elements and whether in spite of affective elements, the extra-textual domain predominates in those combinations, enabling an ideological address. Affective elements primarily contribute to a text's formal expression, stimulating a reader's affective response to the text as text (while emotions displayed in a plot by a character, for example, belong to the subject-material components, for they refer to the extra-textual reality). However, precisely because affective elements are a formation of Ricoeurian narrative voice and, with their charge, fix the attention on the act of reception, we may suggest that an emphasis on the affective layer, i.e. on the text as text, limits the possibility of perceiving the text ideologically. With their focus on the act of reception, they destruct de·struct
The intentional, usually remote-controlled destruction of a space vehicle, rocket, or missile after launching, as for defective performance or reasons of safety.
v. the needed identification with the extra-textual domain--which ultimately is only possible if the signifier merely signifies the presented material, i.e. an extra-textual reality, or if this reality is presented descriptively. And this can only be the case where a text mainly relies on experiential or material components as opposed to affective, or conceptual, contradictions.
It is true, of course, that an address to the reader's affects can support ideological interpellation, but only as long as it is appropriately recognizable, i.e., embedded in the experiential relation to the world--into which every conceptual aspect of a literary text, too, subsequently comes to be incorporated if it is to address the reader. Therefore, the ideological potential of conceptual, rational or theoretical aspects of a literary work will also only be realized if harmonized har·mo·nize
v. har·mo·nized, har·mo·niz·ing, har·mo·niz·es
1. To bring or come into agreement or harmony. See Synonyms at agree.
2. Music To provide harmony for (a melody). with those that trigger the experiential attitude to the world. Conceptual elements will guide interpellation but if a literary structure emphasizes diverse, contradictory or equally strong conceptual elements, none will be able to function as the potential for a coherent interpellation; equally, ideological function will be disturbed if there is excessive discrepancy in the work's structure among the conceptual and subject-material elements and the latter are not strong enough to allow a full ideological identification with a generally uniform meaning. It even seems that in some instances, as in reflective lyrical poetry, for example, it is conceptual elements that construct the text's doubling structure, triggering a reflexive (theory) reflexive - A relation R is reflexive if, for all x, x R x.
Equivalence relations, pre-orders, partial orders and total orders are all reflexive. response instead of an affective one. Naturally, it is here, too, that it is difficult to clearly define when particular conceptual-rational elements--within the hero's musings, for instance--belong to the extra-textual, i.e., subject-material, domain, and not to the conceptual-rational domain. Hence, it can be remarked in passing that among the genres, poetry is the least susceptible to ideology, as it is precisely subject-material elements that are most weakened in it. Although it is, of course, hard to speak of a narrative voice in poetry, it is precisely here that--because of the affective-emotional emphasis on the lyrical subject and his or her stylistic devices--voice is most thoroughly established as a textual domain that destructs the unproblematic nature of identifying with extra-textual worlds. Naturally, this is not the case with all poetry; lyrical poetry that comes close to epic narration has already moved toward another textual model, where such identification is non-problematical.
It is probably all this that Mukarovsky meant in asserting that the aesthetic function releases the objective, material, practical, conceptual, ethical and other elements from direct contact with a corresponding life-value and kneads them into a new dynamic whole of the work of art. The ideological thus seems to be the opposite of the aesthetic precisely in that it tends to suppress the dynamics of aesthetic values involving in its movement the harmonies and contradictions of internal elements. Further, it becomes clear that ideological potential, depending on a generally non-problematical identification with the external world, is necessarily linked with subject-material textual layers as a basis of every description and probably also of what Frye terms descriptive language, associated by him with what could roughly be equated with the age of modernity (The Great 3-17). Subject-material elements, as the fundamental connective connective - An operator used in logic to combine two logical formulas. See first order logic. tissue of a potentially ideological text and that which stimulates the receiver's identification with the extra-textual world, may either conceal, support or emphasize conceptual elements--depending on the nature of the connections, the ideological is perceived as concealment, legitimation or reification--,while affective elements always only participate as support. In this way, the relation between the textual and extra-textual domains is maximally concealed and non-stressed, the reader's attention not being directed toward the text's formal aspects but toward identifying with simplified significations of the extra-textual reality whose signifier or "descriptor (1) A word or phrase that identifies a document in an indexed information retrieval system.
(2) A category name used to identify data.
(operating system) descriptor " the text is. The extra-textual world is, of course, the world that interpellation both originates in and refers to at the moment when the reader shifts his attitude from being caught in the game of the fictive to the social-imaginary meaning-making of the world. This feedback loop does not in itself mean certainty of ideological workings. Even if a structure that predominately relies on extra-textual reality evades workings of the fictive as performative representation and passes particularly into the domain of the experiential and partly of the cognitive, it does not, in itself, induce the ideological function.
A structure of this type merely transfers the text (back) in the work scope of the social imaginary, which especially means that both kinds of the imaginary, the social imaginary and the fictive, can coexist in a text, even so that they do not destruct the totality of aesthetic experience. At this point, I am actually returning to structure and reception: such a structure will only be perceived ideologically when power intervenes in its workings, trying to finally close the openness of meaning, which originally also characterizes the social imaginary; and the possible attempt at closing up significations always depends on a particular society, i.e., a particular socio-historical manifestation. It may only come to be realized by the production and reception codes of literary texts in a socio-historical manifestation, and cannot exclusively be written in a structure. Thus, the ideological function always exists as a possibility that will only potentially be realized by the code of reading or interpretation, and, of course, we have to bear in mind that such address is something that comes especially from the outside, and only works under the influence of external hierarchical relations. Hence, it turns out once again that the ideological function in a text is not independent, but rather depends on a reader's real experience and knowledge, being only established as such by an intervention of power.
Note: The above article is a revised and translated version of Marcello Potocco, "Literatura, ideoloskost in imaginarno." Primerjalna knjizevnost 29.1 (2006): 65-82.
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Author's profile: Marcello Potocco <http://www2.arnes.si/~mpotoc29/english.html> teaches literary theory, world literature, and contemporary Slovene literature in the Department of Slovene Studies at the University of Primorska University of Primorska (Slovenian Univerza na Primorskem, Italian Università del Litorale) is the third university in Slovenia. It is located in Koper, Izola and Portorož and is named for the Slovenian Littoral region (Slovenian Primorska . His interests in research include the problem of ideology and cultural identity in relation with literature, Canadian cultural identification, Canadian poetry Canadian poetry is poetry written in Canada, by Canadians. There are three distinct branches of Canadian poetry: French-Canadian poetry (mostly written by Québécois authors), First Nations poetry and English-Canadian poetry. , contemporary Slovene poetry, and the theory of metaphor. His recent publications include articles and essays such as "The Imaginary and Slovene Cultural Identification," Filoloski studii (2007), "Literary Studies and National Ideologies Trends: A Canadian Example," Primerjalna knjizvnost (2007), and "Re-reading Northrop Frye, Images of Culture and the Canadian Context," Acta Neophilologica (2006). He also writes poetry. E-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Translator's profile: Nusa Rozman graduated in 1999 from the University of Ljubljana The University of Ljubljana (in Slovenian, Univerza v Ljubljani; in Latin, Universitas Labacensis) is the first and the largest university in Slovenia; with 56,000 enrolled students, it ranks among the biggest universities in the world. with a degree in English and comparative literature. In 1995-96 she completed courses in the humanities and social sciences at Roosevelt University Roosevelt University is a four-year, private institute of higher education with full service campuses in Chicago's Loop and northwest suburban Schaumburg. It also offers classes in communities, schools, and corporations, and has the mission of being a metropolitan university and . Rozman translates books and articles from English to Slovene and vice versa. E-mail: <email@example.com>