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20c Cultural Perspectives CCR 747: S 13Friday, February 15, 13
Molly Nesbit “What Was an Author?”Friday, February 15, 13
In the law, the term author did not and does not carry with it a mark of supreme distinction, nor did it designate a particular profession, like poet. It was only meant to distinguish a particular kind of labor from another, the cultural from the industrial. This is the gist, the germ, the deep essential crudeness (234).Friday, February 15, 13
According to the law the privileged, cultural form of labor exhibited certain qualities. First, it took shape only in the certiﬁed media. Second, its privilege was justiﬁed by the presence of a human intelligence, imagination, and labor that were legible in the work, meaning that such work was seen, a little more crudely, to contain the reﬂection of the author’s personality. The cultural forms of labor could, conversely, be identiﬁed from the material used and by the imprint of the author’s personality which would follow from working in this material. These two qualities of material and reﬂected personality were linked; they became inseparable. (234)Friday, February 15, 13
To give these producers the status of authors involved granting the new technologies (the technologies we have come to associate with mass culture) the status of the materials of aristocratic culture (the culture we have come to call high). The law, for all its apparent elasticity, could not handle such a request overnight. Curiously, the problem lay not with the lower order of culture, but with the nature of the labor involved, a labor integrally connected to machines. (236)Friday, February 15, 13
what counts as creative work? (238)Friday, February 15, 13
market economy Tamara: She writes, “Modern culture existed as an economic distinction, in effect a protected market that functioned within the regular economy. Authored work was always understood to be circulating in the market, generally in printed form” (235). I’m not sure what this means.Friday, February 15, 13
In part this stems from the fact that the series of agreements between culture and industry has seemed to prohibit any real analysis by legitimate culture of its relations to the industrial complex: culture is to leave industry alone. Culture is to be theorized in the abstract, detached from the working deﬁnition that the law provides. This is one of the keys to its ideality. When the ideal could no longer be maintained, the discourse on the author, forever, repressed, turned morbid. (244)Friday, February 15, 13
By dissecting the authorial parts of a work, it is possible to cut into the illusion of seamlessness, so powerful in the rhetoric around the new technologies and to propose roles for the individual subject. It is possible to plot a politics of cultural labor and possible to imagine a collective of authors, individuals who do not lose themselves when working with others. All of which assumes the existence of authors who have left their mirrors for more responsible positions. (257)Friday, February 15, 13
Jess:Indeed, when I ﬁrst thought about “authorship,” I did not think of a rhetor. I wasnot thinking of a rhetorical situation. Instead, I was thinking about a solitary person,at a desk, or even walking through a garden, imagining and thinking about life in thecapacity of perhaps Samuel Taylor Coleridge or Virginia Woolf. They are authors tome because they seem bigger than the writing—more poetic, more imaginative. Inthis deﬁnition, I made my idea of an author very different from the “rhetor” work Iactually do, and I’m curious why I shy away from “genius” and “inspiration” and“natural” when thinking about rhetorical work. It seems I’ve hierarchized author tohave a higher connotation than rhetor, and I’m wondering if anyone else hasseparated these terms. Is an author a naturally a rhetor? If not, where do you seethese separations?Friday, February 15, 13