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Re:RE: RE: [John_Lit] Gerald Prince: The "Narratee" and John

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  • gds@dor.kaiser.org
    Jeffrey and others: Yes, Eco s term isn t about narrative temporality , I think, principally, because that isn t his interest narratologically. He s more
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 28, 2001
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      Jeffrey and others:

      Yes, Eco's term isn't about 'narrative temporality', I think, principally,
      because that isn't his 'interest' narratologically. He's more about how a text
      functions to 'make the reader', to form and shape the reader. In terms of
      speech-act theory, his theory is about illocutionary force so to speak, whereas
      Booth and Chatman are strictly concerned with locutionary issues, if I can
      stretch Speech-Act theory in a metaphorical manner to speak of their
      differences. As such, the different terms are entirely called for due to the
      fact that they don't cover the same narratological ground. Related to that is
      the fact that Iser uses the term 'implied reader', and as everybody knows, it
      means a lot more than Booth and Chatman mean by the same term. I can still hear
      Seymour Chatman in my narratology classes saying "we need precise terms', and
      so, his next book was titled "Coming to Terms". The fact of the matter is, that
      the whole issue of the 'implied reader' is loaded with narratological debates on
      what happens while we read. To a degree, it has become something of a catch-all
      for a variety of processes that happen while we read. Sadly, all of these are
      sometimes described under this one rubric, "implied reader'. In that manner,
      the term is 'slippery', and I think, stands in need of similar but different
      terminology to accent when some other aspect of the reading process is being
      discussed. Eco does that by changing his terms because, he's not talking about
      the same aspect of the reading process that Booth and Chatman are. So, it seems
      legitimate in that sense, at least, to me. I am reminded of a moment of honesty
      by Stanley Fish in his book, Is There a Text in this Class?, when he asks; Who
      is the implied reader? And he answers, "Why, it is me!" Perhaps, he should
      have named it, "Is There A Fish in this Text"! Booth's implied reader is
      rhetorical concerns dressed up in narratological garb. Iser's implied reader is
      phenomenological concerns dressed up in narratological garb. Chatman's implied
      reader is Booth's, Genettes' and Prince's concerns dressed up in narratological
      garb. I think, the term is slippery because so many concerns are dressed up in
      that one garb. So, I don't object to Eco's Model Reader, but there is an
      'amazing labrynth' of terminologies out there, as one summary article put it
      back in the 1980s.

      I like your term, 'superflous reader' - very funny. Yes, all we do bring
      different stuff to the table - something a scholar like Marianne Meye Thompson
      can even 'brag' about in one of her articles or books. Perhaps, we can nuance
      the term using Paul Ricoeur, and call it the 'effective historical
      consciousness' reader? This is something I thought about while I was doing my
      analysis of Qoheleth's implied reader, and which will haunt me for the rest of
      my academic days regardless of which biblical author I am looking at. When one
      analyzes 'the' reading process, inevitably, one is analyzing 'their own' reading
      process, or as John Barton put it, 'watching your own eyes reading'. The
      element of subjectivity is a part of the phenomenological nature of reading, and
      we just can't get around it. That's why I like the method - it makes us honest
      with ourselves, and reminds us all just how slippery and ephemeral any
      'objective' method really is. When I do sociological analysis, or historical
      analysis, I am now so well trained to watch my eyes reading there too, that I
      have discovered, I cannot divorce myself from even the more 'objective'
      processes like sociological and historical analyses. What reader response
      taught me is that we all inevitably 'bootleg' subjectivity into the reading
      process, even when we are doing 'objective' criticism like the so-called
      'social-scientific' method.

      As a result, when analyzing what competency is demanded by the text, theory and
      presupposition will inevitably lay their claim to the 'high ground' of what is
      objectively contained in the text, when in fact, 'competency required by the
      text' always remains within the theoretical 'lowground' of the academic
      battleground. There is always the curse of using the term or concept, 'implied
      reader', as a way of making our pet theories unassailable by making them a part
      of the text so to speak, when they really are a part of the reading process,
      which is always indebted to a variety of 'grids/methods' that influence each of
      us differently. Competency is always, therefore, a hard thing to define and
      must remain open. It requires humility and honesty by the interpreter. Room
      must be left for a variety of perspectives and therefore, implied readers of the
      text. Every reader, or perhaps, method, will delineate the set of competencies
      demanded by a text, i.e., the model reader, in a different fashion. So, for
      Malina, there is needed the competency of the Mediterranean mind (or dare we
      call it the Mediterranean Reader?) And yet, a strictly literary scholar would
      not delineate such as a competency. Amazing how method, text and implied reader
      coalesce in this manner, huh?

      - Gary


      ____________________Reply Separator____________________
      Subject: RE: RE: [John_Lit] Gerald Prince: The "Narratee" and John's
      Author: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com >
      Date: 11/28/01 2:44 PM

      Gary Salyer writes:

      another good way of looking at the ideal,implied, vs. read reader debate is
      to look at the implied or ideal reader the way Umberto Eco does, that is, as
      a 'set of competencies and values' which the text requires in order to be
      responsibly read. He prefers to call such a reader the Model Reader.

      Staley writes:
      Yes, I think this gets at some of the issue, though I would still prefer
      keeping Booth's term "implied reader" simply because Booth coined the term
      which seems to have sparked the conversation. Why multiply terms? Eco's
      "model reader" also doesn't deal with the phenomenon that I think is crucial
      to "implied reader" concept: that of narrative temporality.

      Every text is designed to produce the sort of values it needs in order to be
      read, and as well, requires certain competencies. For instance,in John, it
      demands some sort of understanding of the Middle Platonic concept of
      the Logos

      Staley writes: Isn't this fun? Many would say that FG demands no such
      competency. How can we verify such competencies? What is gained thereby?
      The implied (model) reader is apparently "competent" in Greek (since the
      text was written in Greek) and "competent" in ancient Jewish sacred writings
      (the text quotes these), but at what point do we simply acknowledge that WE
      bring stuff to the text as well--some of it quite extraneous and
      superfluous--but still interesting. So here is a new reader for us to
      theorise? The Johannine Superfluous Reader. (Book by me forthcoming).

      Salyer writes:
      as well as various other cultural, literary, and grammatical as well as
      historical competencies.

      Staley writes: Yes, easily said, but hard to dilineate with much
      specificity.

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    • Staley, Jeffrey
      Gary writes: Booth and Chatman are strictly concerned with locutionary issues, if I can stretch Speech-Act theory in a metaphorical manner to speak of their
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 29, 2001
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        Gary writes:

        Booth and Chatman are strictly concerned with locutionary issues, if I
        can stretch Speech-Act theory in a metaphorical manner to speak of their
        differences.

        Jeff Staley writes: Yes, I think you are on the right track here--though I
        think Booth's implied reader reaches over into illocutionary issues more so
        than Chatman's.

        The fact of the matter
        is, that
        the whole issue of the 'implied reader' is loaded with narratological
        debates on
        what happens while we read.

        Yeah, in my "Reading with a PAssion" I discard the term for "encoded
        reader," then discard that term for a critical autobiographical reader
        (myself).

        I am reminded of a moment of honesty by Stanley Fish in his book, Is There a
        Text in this Class?, when he asks; Who is the implied reader? And he
        answers, "Why, it is me!" Perhaps, he
        should have named it, "Is There A Fish in this Text"! Booth's implied
        reader is rhetorical concerns dressed up in narratological garb. Iser's
        implied reader is phenomenological concerns dressed up in narratological
        garb. Chatman's implied reader is Booth's, Genettes' and Prince's concerns
        dressed up in narratological garb.

        Nicely put, Gary.

        Competency is always, therefore, a hard thing to define
        and must remain open. It requires humility and honesty by the interpreter.

        Good point.

        So, how do these issues relate back to the Johannine reader's? How
        fictional or autobiographical do they end up to be?

        Jeff Staley
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