Writing

The Relation between Reader/Viewer and Writer/Artist

From the very beginning of his intellectual life, Barthes actively propagated the view that criticism should be treated as equally as a creative process on par with fiction and poetry. Traditional criticism as procedurally linear and goal oriented was left without vigor. Barthes was not attracted to conventional criticism because it just interprets. It considers the author as the subject of the text and the reader as a passive receiver who has no role in the writing of the text. Besides, traditional criticism looks upon the text as if it is a ‘closure’ (Barthes, 1974, p.21). In turn, he introduced a criticism that is multiple, scattered and subversive. For him, criticism does not stand in a closed or finished system. Conversely, it is a liberating act of the production of meanings, independent of the will of the author. Ideology has to be detected at the very moment of its production as a way to resist the invasion of the author. Otherwise, criticism will cease to be criticism. Barthes conceived the ideal type of criticism as something always in the making. The spirit of literary criticism needs not to seek the revelation of any hidden structure from the text. Obviously, it has to identify the patterns of the ‘structuration’ of the text.
For Barthes, the prevalent author-reader relationship is the reproduction of capitalist relations of production that permeate every sphere of human production. Therefore, as a reproduction of the bourgeois relations, ‘readerly texts’ presuppose and depend upon the presumption of innocence’ and the ‘unquestioned relationship between signifier and signified that those presumptions reinforce’ (Hawkes, 2003, p.93). No human being is innocent because everyone modifies and reconstructs what is given in the world. The experience of the so-called ‘real’ is neither pure nor objective. In reality, ‘structure derives from an interplay of codes(Hawkes, 2003, p.91).

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