"What matter who's speaking?" -- Samuel Beckett, Texts For Nothing








Murder!: Foucault states that modern texts are essentially composed of an interplay of signs, "regulated less by the content it signifies than by the very nature of the signifier". The text is stand-alone, authorial intention is mooted in favour of a textual self-sufficiency. The author is effectively "murdered" by the text, the "victim of his own writing", helpless and unneccesary. For where else does the spirit of an author reside but in his meaning? Take that power away, confer it upon the text itself: fulfill The Death Of The Author.


Author Function: Foucault suggests that author function has a major social role which goes beyond simple brand-name classification (association of a particular style with an author). All texts can exist independent of the author in most cases; a text that comes under scrutiny and criticism, however, requires an authorial identity attached to it, if only for the express purpose of "punishment" (124), a term more reasonably taken to mean "acceptance of responsibility". In a way, Foucault was more interested in texts' social role than Barthes.


Sound Bites?: Author function comes into play in 2 ways in The Spider's Lullaby. A reader with first-hand experience of King Diamond's writing and music will come to expect a Gothic tragedy of sorts. The hypertextualization of this work however, works against the conventional authorial brand-name factor: at certain points in the web, the reader is given a possibility of changing the story into a tale of madness as opposed to a typical King Diamond narrative of good vs. evil.

On a more serious note, the appropriation of the text in this way questions traditional concepts of "punishment". Modern writing draws increasingly on the "cut-and-paste" styles of cutting-edge technology; appropriation of material in the name of art or scholarship has seldom been as blatant and pronounced. In effect, writers are concentrating more on the interpretation than on the invention.

In what I like to term the "sound bite phenomenon", authors are frequently quoted out of context without opportunity for explanation or rebuttal. Nietzchean writing is often abused by hyper-atheists, modern Satanists and even anti-Semitics. Thus, if authors and their work are so transitory, subject to manipulation and free interpretation, is the issue of author function and responsibility valid any more?


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All uncredited quotes taken from Michel Foucault, What Is An Author.

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