Textual Autonomy Read Radically

Brian Stock, "Language and Cultural History" in New Literary History v. 18 (Spring 1987), 657-70.

However in a written as opposed to a spoken text, the author is no longer physically present, and the audience, being abstract, is potentially universal.

Note the collapse of the author function into that of enonciator or scriptor. Something happens to the notion of audience and its link to presence in oral culture...

Is there not an implicit contract: "I tell you this in the hopes you will tell others"; "I give this to you to read. Share it." The injunction of the passing on, conserving of the message.

The contract is extra-textual but not extra-discursive. The author can be at some remove from the enonciator or the scriptor — regardless if we are in an oral or a written culture.

Stock has been providing the readers with a summary of Paul Ricoeur's position as set forth in Interpretation Theory and it is telling that just before the passage quoted above Stock observes that "Intentionality is never completely erased, nor is the text ever completely autonomous." Stock leaves an opening to think through the dislocations (and conjunctions) between author and performer. In essence, the spoken text as equally as the written text implies a theatre. [And theatre implies contracts as well as contact.]

And so for day 584