Reading an Intertext

Can we do intertextual reading? Intertextual reading can generate new meaning and offer profound insights. In an intertextual approach where the reader finds himself or herself is of vital importance. It is a point where the writer disappears and the reader finds himself or herself. It is a point where the text begins to direct the reader. Reading ,therefore, is producing a text inside a text. Reading is intertextual. It is producing a text over a text. This means we have the challenge to see the text as a site of deep dialogue. It also means the authors do not create their texts from their original mind but rather construct them from pre-existing discourses.

What can be said and written is also institutionally sanctioned by systems that make our culture and rules of grammar. There is a social grammar that structure what is thought, spoken and written. This means there is not just what remains unthought and unsaid but there is unthinkable, unsayable and blasphemous. In this sense, a text is part of a cultural textuality. The structuration of words and utterances depend on cultural textuality. It defines what is sayable as well as what is unsayable or tabooed. Texts, therefore, are poly-voiced. Texts carry their society. This is why Julia Kristeva views the text as an ideologeme. Ideologeme indicates that texts carry the conflicts, tensions and even what is being idealized, valued and naturalized by our societies. Thus, all texts are complexly interrelated. This is why may be Jacques Derrida is right when he said that there is nothing outside the text. Texts carry what we think as outside within them.

Intertextuality of the text reduces the role of the author to a function. Rolland Barthes argued in his famous essay, ‘the death of the author’ (1968) that the figure of the author is a modern one. He teaches that author is an invention of the capitalists which served to commodify texts by attaching them to a name. Pre-capitalist era did not give that much importance to the author. There are demonstrable changes over period of time how the role of the author is changing over time. The market system allows the name of the author become a legitimating glue to the work and converts it into an item of exchange value. This promotes reading as an act of consumption and reader then becomes a consumer. Thus, the text is undermined. The author or the name of the author is more important than the text and the reader is also secondary. The mind of the author or the author meaning becomes then very central to the act of reading.

Intertextuality teaches that the author does not inscribe a singular theological meaning, the message of Author- God but rather arranges the already written, spoken and read texts into a multi-dimensional space in which variety of writings, none of them original blend and clash. We do not really have a text. What we, therefore, have is an intertext. Therefore, the text has no closure but always stays open to the reader to explore different and other shades of meanings. There is, therefore, no stable singular meaning staying imprisoned in a text. The reader, hence, has a disruptive power which can dismantle any stable hegemony of meaning. The text being an intertext lays vital responsibility on the reader to decode its meaning which is always ever delayed and different. The meaning lays in a free play. This play is a play of difference as taught to us by Jacques Derrida. Hence, the act of reading an intertext is an act of deconstruction.

The author enters his own death when he begins writing (Barthes). His/ her writings is a destruction of his/her voice. This means writings are orphaned by an absent author. After the accomplishment of writing, the author die. Then ,the text become alive and acquire a social and political life of its own. Text being an intertext houses multiple voices and discourses. Text, therefore, is a tissue of signifiers. It is for the reader to read and disrupt the play of signs only for a short time. This is so because the text lends itself for other alternate meanings to be derived from it. The reader, therefore, is not a mere consumer of meaning but is an active producer of the same. The act of reading is reader’s response to the text. The reader has to act on the text to produce its meaning. The text has the power to control the way it is read. The readers are definitely brought under the sway of this power. The power of the text flows primarily from the indeterminacy in the text. Reading resists this indeterminacy and attempts the digest the text into its meaning. But the reader cannot fully assimilate the text in a single sip. He/she can read the same text sip by sip.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao