Date: Tue, 26 Jul 1994 22:18:40 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Russell <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> From: George Aichele <email@example.com>
> Ambiguity has been of great interest to literary theorists for
> some time now -- phenomenologists (eg, Ingarden), narratologists
> (eg, Genette), and (post)structuralists (eg, Barthes) among
> others. However, they are all much more interested in exploring
> how textual ambiguity works than in "solving" or eliminating it.
> It may be trite but I think it's true: once a text is
> disambiguated, it's no longer interesting.
> This supposes that a text can be disambiguated. Many interesting
> literary texts cultivate ambiguity and cannot be disambiguated---the
> ambiguity is integral to the meaning of the text.
> By the way I know lots of texts that are still interesting without
> being ambiguous; ambiguity isn't the only way to generate interest
> after all...
> Bob Ingria
Even Bob Ingria's response presupposes that a text, any text, can be
disambiguated, or that texts exist without ambiguity, claims about which
some of us "post"-critics have serious doubts.
(1) Do not mistake ambiguity for vagueness.
(2) Do not mistake doubts induced by uncritical acceptance of
currently fashionable pseudo-theories for ``serious'' (sic) doubts.
(3) Do not confuse the non-deterministic nature of the process of
linguistic interpretation with the purportedly totally non-constrained
nature of linguistic intepretation (e.g. the ``free-play of the
signifier'' usw.) bandied about by the uncritical acceptors of (2).
(4) How to change a ``post''-whatever ``critic'' (sic) into a ``naive realist'':
construct an interpretation that demonstrates that his/her contract
actually entails half the salary and twice the number of courses
he/she originally thought it did. (I have had truly marvelous results
with this technique but the margins here are too narrow for me to
detail them.) You may even get them to agree that some documents are
unambiguous---or ought to be, goddammit!
(5) That click you heard was me slipping the safety on my Browning
when I heard the phrase `` `post'-critics''.
(6) Meditate on this at second level.
(7) There is no point 7.