Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Passports, please...

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 03 Sep 2001

Juri asked:

"If Chandler, like other writers, is a sum of his experience, then how can he be unmistakably him/herself?"

How can he not? No two people have exactly the same experience. Add up those different experiences and you must come up with a different whole.

You brought up cultural studies, well, encoding/decoding is part of that. Simply put, encoding is what the author tries to put into a work, decoding is what the reader takes from it. This may or may not be the same thing. Also, different readers take different things from a work, to the extent that two different people may seem to be talking about two very different books. We've seen that happen in discussions here, where two people have to agree to disagree, not just about the quality of a book, but even about what actually happened in it. So why wouldn't the writer be thought of as just as unique an individual as each reader?

Or put it in terms of chaos theory -- sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Each person starts at a distinct point, then has various circumstances impact upon them. No two people run into exactly the same conditions. Plus all of the previous conditions have an impact on how each new condition impacts.

In other words, no two people are shaped by exactly the same experiences, so "Chandler, [who] like other writers, is a sum of his experience," must be a distinct individual who is "unmistakably him/herself."

Guess I'm feeling philosophical on this Labor Day holiday.


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