I’m going to try and keep it short an sweet today, since I’m mostly capitalizing on a good phase in my writing and want to get this out before I submerge into non-productivity again. I still haven’t finished my lit. review, though I did some hesitant writing for my introduction. Maybe I need to change my goal to producing writing for the intro every day, rather than finish the books that seem to be very slow to get through. I need to assume I’ll get things read as I continue writing.
In my colloquium, a fellow student picked out Paul de Man’s Allegories of Reading and we focused on de Man’s examination of Jean-Jacque Rousseua’s Confessions. Even if it was interesting to see how de Man broke down writing a confession as a speech-act and I learned more about what Schlegel meant by irony (“the parabasis of allegory (or figure)” (“Excuses (Confessions)” 301), I was hugely frustrated by his style and I didn’t really find it useful. However, at the same time I opened a window on my I-pad safari on de Man’s “Semiology and Rhetoric” that I started reading, never got back to in more than a month, and it’s about time I moved on.
Rereading this article, his use of reference popped out to me.
We may no longer be hearing too much about relevance, but we keep hearing a great deal about reference, about the non-verbal ‘outside’ to which language refers, by which it is conditioned and upon which it acts. (27)
According to the google dictionary, relevance is the quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate. Reference is the the action of mentioning or alluding to something. Both have to do with a connection, but relevance assumes this connection is close whereas reference means we make this connection and ask the reader to evaluate its closeness. It is what enables the writer to prompt a reader to explore the possible connections between literature, self, man, and society that the reader may otherwise not have noticed.
This idea of reference is not new. Considering the most basic conceptions of literature as metaphor for life and all it does (or does not (?)) encompass, I do not need to explain how reference works in text. However, given that my thesis relies on an assumption that we don’t spend enough time thinking about intermedial references, it helps to look at de Man’s text from this perspective.
What does one gain from it? Still figuring it out. Stay tuned (hopefully).
Source cited: Man, Paul de. “Semiology and Rhetoric.” Diacritics 3.3 (1973): 27–33. Web.
Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense.
Copyright 2017 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality.