70 people submerged in blissful ignorance, oblivious. Defined by the burdens of expectation sweeping through our generation, we are absorbed into the comforts of familiar house parties and vodka-fuelled escapades. It leaves me overwhelmed by the realisation that everything is relative, and these terrible mistakes will become favourite anecdotes, the foundations of our future. And contrastingly, with the world in throes of fear, we 70 teenagers converge with hopes and dreams in the relative troubles of hedonistic pursuit amongst family photos and fruit bowls, a floor sticky with cider and littered with abandoned bottle lids. For in this quiet pocket of heady oblivion, the news channel obscured by shouts and crackling iPods, we exist, a black hole within another. Our troubles are purely relative, and those bigger are the same. We co-exist with evil and good in this world of self-doubt and ambition, a false dichotomy of ideals. We label our words and ideals meaningful, caught up in the tides of time and dictation. But we exist as questions, a manifestation of ambiguity. For what else are we, other than a recreation of ideas? Individuals a façade; a collective of disillusions in the name of humanity, pushing on through into what, perhaps, is the greatest of questions, but for millions of years we have survived, and we shall continue to do so.
- Journal extract, 13/11/15
In November I attended an English Literature course, and one idea discussed was Roland Barthes' essay, Death of The Author. The essay argues that writing and its creator are two separate entities – essentially limiting factors to one another. Barthes argues that, ‘to give an author to a text is to impose upon that text a stop clause’, thus promoting the rejection of an ‘Author-God’. Most notably however, is Barthes' consequent conception that ‘the text is a tissue of citations’, suggesting that all text is derivative, a manipulation of pre-existent culture and meaning.
The same 26 letters of the alphabet form my creations here, a further 'tissue of citations', another combination of letters. As Barthes would argue, my meaning behind these words is of what you interpret, not that which I intend.
Therefore, in extending the notion of post-structuralism, we ourselves can be seen as products of interaction- an amalgamation of a chain of events tied by the commonality that we call humanity. Our physical qualities are inherited, we are nurtured by the world around us, and our minds are dependent on our existence in the outside.
We are counterparts of the collective.
Can responsibility ever be truly denoted in these illusions of innovation? Who has the authority, or the right to claim ownership in a world of recreation? Are my ideas remodelled outputs of all other ideas, a collective interpretation of these 26 letters?
It appears to me that creation is a façade gleaned from others' masterpieces of recreation. It appears a vicious circle of imitation, questioning the possibility of us ever having an inherently unique existence as manifestations of such controlled expression.
Such as it is in Euthyphro's dilemma, do we determine reality, or does reality determine us? If reality determines us, the supposed authors of our own lives - with the text therefore determining us, do we simply become another reader, with the text - reality - taking on autonomy?
And therefore, must we suppress ourselves in the interest of living, or are we already intrinsically suppressed to the society of humanity that we find ourselves in? Do we put ourselves into our creations or do our creations put themselves into us?
This shared language that no one can take accountability for, only manipulate, is what we are founded on. But this is not solely the language of letters, but language as synonymous with shared existence, a code of humanity.
It is this language that allows us to acknowledge our common ties. To understand language would be to understand life, a feat that no one has yet accomplished. We are unsure of this language that ties us, that allows us to build up these illusions.
Language knows only a subject, but this subject can be misinterpreted. Language is not an absolute. Their/there. Allowed/aloud. Side/sighed. Road/rode/rowed. Your/you're/yore. Only a few homonyms that exemplify this case. I suppose that all we can ever hope to be are good interpretations of this shared humanity.
But I think there is a certain element of irony here, in analysing Barthes' own ideas, attributing this idea of the 'Death of the Author' to him, himself. And certainly a sense of irony on his own behalf, choosing to publish his works under his own name.
Whilst we are facilitators of humanity, we choose the elements to interpret, and those to disregard. As in the proliferation of text, we are text ourselves, a million things.
As my philosophy teacher proposed, "does the lack of confines in post-modernity in literature mean that new combinations of words can convey previous combinations of thoughts that previously would have been have considered meaningless due to lack of adherence to agreed conventions?"
We might be recreations, but we are differing combinations derived from this imitation.
Barthes’ essay culminates into the argument that the reader holds more responsibility to the text than to the author. It is from this point that we must move forward, and dictate our lives of our own accord.
We can only hope to imitate humanity in the best way that we can. Reckless adolescent abandon and consequent terrible anecdotes shape our existence, and perhaps it is in such a state of “heady oblivion" that life is most meaningful, without the restrictions of language, but only thought and disillusion to revel in. We are illusions of humanity.
Perhaps through these explorations however- through these differing combinations- though relative, the meanings of humanity will change itself, until humanity has "died the death of a thousand qualifications", and takes on a new meaning...
....only to repeat the cycle of the first, an imitation itself.