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February 1996, Week 4


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Jerry Johnson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 22 Feb 1996 16:09:19 -0600
text/plain (38 lines)
A comment by Mike Frank:
>to me, the only immediately available way of resolving this problem is to
>assume that meaning is ENTIRELY contextual, and a function of the viewer's
>[or reader's] preconceptions . . . but that gets us in to lots of trouble and
>makes it impossible to disagree with, object to, or reject the claims of a text
> . . . for in saying that meaning is entirely contextual we paint ourselves
>into a corner where we have to posit that texts really don't SAY anything at
>all . . . and how can you disagree with silence?
To say that meaning is entirely contextual does not preclude the existence
of the text's voice.  To the contrary, it means the text has a multitiude
of voices- a different one for each reader.  That text is screaming it's
head off.  This the farthest thing in the world from silence- it's a
cacophony.  The assertion that this makes it impossible for readers to
disagree mystifies me.  This is what makes disagreement possible.
>to return briefly to one example--the HIGH NOON example cited in the orginal
>exchange:  we may want to say that the depiction of grace kelly as a
>redeeming figure is objectionable (in positing that that's the only role
>available to women) or noble (in showing a more humane way of living) . . .
>but both of those responses--which are clearly audience responses--depend on
>first agreeing that the text itself DOES in fact depict kelly as redeemer . .
>. what makes the olsen-pizzato exchange so intersting to me is the way it
>points out the need to base a response on some textual constaints while at
>the same time not allowing room for theorizing those constraints . . .
Obviously Olsen and Pizzato DID agree on certain textual restraints, and
thus, had no reason to theorize on them.  That was not what their
discussion was about.  Why does Frank find this so interesting?  Is it
because he doesn't believe in relative readings?
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