Posted by Sasha.Makarewicz

I’m always forced to talk about Barthes and I never really have a proper or concise handle on the actual theory. I just deleted 300 words that don’t really go anywhere or talk about this theory in relation to digital publishing. The theory is really flimsy because the author is both dead and not dead at the same time. We still have to consider some authorial intent while we also have to accept that art is reacting to certain cultural conditions. Barthes is mainly challenging the act of assumption in relation to criticism and how assuming the author intends something is a pitfall and not actual evidence. He is also an author and devising a theory and argument he wants the reader to engage with. At least this is my reading.

Authorship is both dead and alive on the internet almost at the same time. There are these cultural artifacts that just seem to pop up on our various feeds and their authorship doesn’t really matter but there is also this narcissistic fuel burning at the core of the internet that builds a sense of identity or has a million reflections watching a million faces. The internet is a massive subjective social sphere that relies mainly on these sensations of narcissism. We are all authors reacting to certain limiting platforms and working with these limiting conditions to produce or authorize content and to fill the internet with this content. Everyone is a critic reacting to culture and we all have our little holes in the internet to give our takes to ourselves and others and our status updates and twitter profiles meet the approval of peer reviews from friends and perfect strangers with favs and like buttons. Charlie Brooker talks about this in various platforms and he’s not wrong. While the internet can just be this tool or this object in culture it is also a place to authenticate authorship and the existence of the author. It is collecting monologues under various interfaces. It allows the platform to produce paragraphs and paragraphs on topics such as Barthes and how and why you understand his theories but in reality don’t understand his theories but yet have the clueless and senseless initiative to go on and on about it like you know what you’re talking about.

But Barthes and his theories also relies on the idea of destabilizing intent for the sake of multiple readings. This idea that we don’t necessarily control the cultural objects we create consciously or we lose authorship when we create it. Our opinions at certain points don’t necessarily belong to us anymore but to the wider sphere. What we put online can be a representation of ourselves to certain degrees but we no longer control or take ownership to those ideas even if we post them under our usernames that may or my not be our real names. They now belong to this interface.

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One Response to Posted by Sasha.Makarewicz

  1. cleda.choi says:

    Sasha makes a great point about the tension between narcissism and loss of authorship in the digital era. It is ironic that the digital has both birthed the democratization of authorship and also, as Sasha suggests, spelled out its demise. I wonder what Barthes would have made of all of our social media accounts in light of his suppositions that intent and context are no longer relevant to a text. It seems to me that the social media text is all about context and intent: we craft texts in order to create what is, essentially, an authorial persona. So, while I do agree that our texts are owned by interfaces, I wonder if, perhaps, the digital has actually re-legitimized the role and intent of the author.

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