Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 5

Sec. 1 1) In your own words, what is the ethical principle of contemporary criture?

The ethical principle of contemporary criture is the principle of indifference to the source of an expression.

2) What are the two major themes (the second of which has 4 subsections) of the ethical principle of contemporary criture, Foucault discusses?
The first theme discussed by Foucault is the traditional model of criture. It assumes an interiority/exteriority, author/text, subject/object. This model, which has been very dominant as a literary model, is strictly metaphysical and operates within a framework of Cartesian dualism. In this theme, the text is regarded as an exteriority of a writers interiority. The arbitrary link between the author and the text is valorized in a romantic sense. Nevertheless, there is nothing intrinsic to the sign, and signifier is pure exteriority, without any interiority at all. The second theme concerns the relationship between criture and death. In the Greek understanding, writing is seen as a guarantee for the immortality of the hero. In Arabic understanding, it is seen as an effort to ward off death. The third understanding regards writing as sacrifice, which is a romantic understanding. In that, the author is killed by the work. The fourth understanding is closer to our contemporary culture. In that, the authors individuality is effaced. Nevertheless, like Nietzsches notion of the death of God, the author still continues to operate within the system as an organizing principle.

3) What are the two notions that clandestinely preserve the privileged position of the author, and how, according to Foucault, do they do that?
First is the notion of work. This notion suggests that the text should be analyzed according to its internal architecture, structure, and internal relationships without emphasizing the relationship between the author and the text. Nevertheless, absence of a theory of work creates problems with regard to what a work is. This absence blurs the image of the work and cannot overcome the unity designated by the notion of work. Since it simply rejects the author without problematizing the space that author vacates, authors privileged position remains preserved. Second is the notion of criture. In current understanding, which gives writing a principal role, and which is stuck within contextuality, references to the author are not circumvented but only migrated to a transcendent anonymity. This is due to the affirmation of the sacred and creative characteristics of criture. The sacred character implies a hidden meaning that requires interpretation whereas the critical character implies obscure significations and contents which give rise to commentary.

Sec. 2 1) How, according to Foucault, does the name of the author function and how does it differ from the name of an empirical person?
The name of the author is a proper name, like the name of an empirical person, and is a signifier. The name of the author functions as an organizer for the organization of certain texts under a name. The name of the author and of the empirical person do not function in the same way. This is because the authors name is not a simple element in a discourse; rather it performs a classificatory function. It allows definition, differentiation, and contrast among certain texts. The authors name also assigns a discourse a special status. Uttering the authors name for a text means that this is not an ordinary speech and must be received in a certain mode and must receive a certain status. Authors name also indicates the status of a certain discourse within a society and culture, characterizing its mode of existence, circulation, and functioning.

Sec.3 1) In your own words, what are the four different characteristics of the author function, and how are they related? 2) How does Foucault, for each of the four different characteristics of the author function, justify, argue for, explain, support with evidence or demonstrate the legitimacy of this category? 3) Try to find an example for at least one of the four different characteristics of the author function, and be prepared to explain it in detail.
1) The author function is generated by the legal and political discursive system which is outside of it. The discursive system defines the status of the text according to its own requirements. In this manner, certain texts are regarded transgressive and others are valorized without questioning. The ownership to the texts was also made possible by these extra-literary discursive systems. Foucault gives the example of penal appropriation which enabled texts to have authors to the extent of their transgressivity against the dominant discursive system. 2) The author function is historically changeable and does not affect all discourses in the same manner. As an indication of its historical changeability, we can think of texts that required a reference to the author throughout the history. The author function can attach itself to different types of discourses, there is nothing intrinsic in the relation between the author function and discourses signified by it. Foucault gives the example of the case before and after the 18th century. Before the 18th century, the scientific texts were accepted true only when attached 2

to the author. The author was a guarantee of the truth within the text. After the 18th century, scientific discourses began to be perceived as anonymous and redemonstrable truths; and the author function began to be attached to literary texts. Today, literary anonymity is intolerable. 3) Third characteristic of the author function is that the attribution of a discourse to an individual does not happen by itself. It is a construction of the operations we carry out over the text such as the connections we find, the continuities we detect, or differences we posit. The author is created and constructed within the structure, and the construction of an author is carried out in the same manner in different types of discourses such as philosophical, scientific and literary. Nietzsches emergence as a philosopher could be an example here. Before discovered by Heidegger, Nietzsche was not considered as a philosopher in the strictest sense. However, with the operations carried out by Heidegger in Nietzsches works, the connections he found, attributions he made, a philosophical reading of Nietzsche was enabled. That is, Nietzsches discourse has been endowed with the author function under the category of philosophy. Later approaches to Nietzsche continued to reconstruct this character attributed to him. Foucault thinks that we still can find something constant in this process of author construction. He argues that the rediscovery of an author in a work still depends on the same principles used by the Christian tradition in which the value of the text was being proved according to the saintliness of the author. 4) Grammatical elements such as pronouns, adverbs of time and place and verb conjugations do not stand the same in discourses with author function with regard to the other discourses. According to Foucault, all discourses under this category possess a plurality of self. The I presenting a conclusion is different than the I acknowledging the contributors in the foreword. First I refers to everyone that undertakes the duty of carrying out the same procedures or operations to reach the same conclusion, that is, redemonstrability; whereas second I simply refers to an individual who expresses his/her gratitude.

Sec. 4 1) What do you understand by founders of discursivity?

As Foucault says founders of discursivity are not only the authors of their own texts. They are also the producers of the possibilities and the rules for the formation of other texts (p. 114). We interpret this as follows: between their discourse and the discourse that follow those there is still a binding relation but this is not a linear relation. What they make possible is not only similar discourses but also different discourses (not only analogies but also differences, p. 114). However, these different discourses still belong to what they have founded. In this sense, it can be said that founders of discursivity introduce a way of thinking or a method. They make possible a rhizomatic thought instead of a linear thought.

2) How are these founders of discursivity related to the author function?

The author function of them exceeds their work. That is, the author function as a unifying concept goes beyond what they have actually produced. Their author function can be considered to encompass the future works as well and therefore extending towards the future.

3) What, according to Foucault, is the difference between founding a discursivity and founding a science or a literary genre?

Founding a literary genre makes possible the production of works that imitate the founding one. In this sense, they are just resemblances and analogies. The founding work functions as a model to the subsequent ones. The characteristic elements of the model are reused by the followers. In the particular case of the 19th century Gothic novel, this reuse operates on the level of content and does not extend to the level of a method or way of thinking. In the case of founding a science, the model (the founding act) is on an equal footing with its future transformations (p. 115; equal footing refers to the specific field of a science). This means that the founding act of a science is still included within the boundaries of that science. And referring back to (re-examining) this founding model does not make possible the transformation of that field of science. On the contrary, it just enables that one gets a better understanding of the characteristics of that field. On the other hand, re-examination of a discursivity enables the emergence of divergent tendencies and in that sense the discursivity itself is subject to transformation. Re-examination: return to the origin (p. 116) used in a positive sense. This origin is not to be regarded as an unchanging origin. It is rather an origin which is pregnant to future transformations and which is not immune to being transformed.

Sec. 5 1) What are the theoretical reasons for Foucaults theses?

He outlines 3 theoretical reasons: a. Foucaults analyses might provide an approach to a typology of discourse. b. They might make possible a historical analysis of discourse, enabling to study discourses according to their modes of existence. Here one observes the idea of genealogy. c. They might lead to a re-examination of the privileges given to the subject by the modern thought, by regarding the subject not as an originator but as a complex function of discourse.

2) What are the political reasons for Foucaults theses?

Foucault thinks that the current notion of the author operates as an ideological tool. Author in current usage is a more than a unifying concept and acts as an instrument by which the proliferation of meaning is prevented. However, we tend to regard the author as the source of proliferation which precedes the work. And this shows us that the historical function of the author is quite contrary to how we regard it. This is the reason why Foucault thinks that it is an ideological figure. Since there prevails an ideology behind the current notion of the author and this is the ideology of inhibiting multiplicity, according to Foucaults perspective it needs to be reversed.

3) Can you think of other, perhaps more purely philosophical, reasons why he puts forward these theses?
I think Foucaults theses are related to the Western metaphysical thought. The privileges of the subject reflect an underlying metaphysical thinking that is based on oppositional thinking and that denies proliferation and multiplicity. His theses are important in the sense that they point out a way out of the metaphysical way of thinking.

4) In your view, what is the most important message or lesson of What Is an Author?
I think one of the important messages of the text is about the status of the author and what it reveals through the notion of the author function. By showing that the author function does not have anything absolute inherent in its nature, Foucault opens up a way through which fiction can be freed from the constrained interpretations. However, he does not think that this liberation would be absolute. Instead, the space left over by the author function should be filled by a different manner of thought, by a different structure. This new way of thought is concerned with the relation of the author and the system that surrounds the author rather than with the author as an independent entity. I think the most important message of this text lies in its argument against the positing of a metaphysical entity called author which is valorized and seen as the source, an interiority through which radiates the text as its exteriority. This is important because it demonstrates that the valorized author is nothing but a function operating within various discursive systems and constructed by external operations. With such a problematization of the author, a possibility towards a more liberating understanding of the work or the text is enabled.