Friday, January 20, 2006

I had the great opportunity to see the critic John Carey speak at the city club of Cleveland today. He's a really approachable academic. He's brilliant, but he doesn't flaunt his knowledge in an elite way. It was an excellent lecture on the topic (he addresses in his new book) of What is art. He said some interesting things about literature and why, to him, it is the ultimate artform. He claimed that in the act of reading the reader essentially becomes an author in the way he or she participates with his or her imagination while interpreting the words. It's an interesting comment. (One that Wolfgang Iser and Martha Woodmansee no doubt have also spoken about in their writing about reader response theory and authorship respectively). But it is something that as a writer, you think about. You aren't always driving the car. You put the words on the page but you can't guess at the way they will be perceived. It's the reason why reading your work aloud to an audience is so important in the writing process because you just can't predict how your words will be responded to. You can't anticipate the authorship of the reader.

1 comment:

lucette said...

I like that car metaphor. You're driving the car but your reader is trying to grab the steering wheel. Or the reader is driving and you have the map--but they won't listen to you. Or you're trying to drive from the back seat. Etc., etc., etc.