Re: RARA-AVIS: Archer/Ross Macdonald

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 22 Aug 2007

Mario wrote:

Yes. I've bored people here with such analyses before... My point, to put it bluntly, is that having an orgasm and writing a treatise that analyzes the orgasm are entirely separate things. And we don't really know how reader and author get tangled during a reading.

**************** If you've bored anybody here, I'm not among them. I've always enjoyed your posts, Mario.

I am not entirely satisfied with your orgasm analogy for the reader experience. I understand the context you are using it in, but I can't help but think that it is reductive to the point of being misleading. Although there is undoubtably some unalterable primal response to a text, there is also a cultivated view which evolves with thought and discussion and exposure to the moral and aesthetic elements in literature. As a quick aside I would note that I am not saying that reading or studying literature necessarily makes one a better person. The devil, hell's minions, and assorted Democrats can quote their purpose from far more texts than the Bible.

What I am saying is that beyond just a sensual kneejerk reflex, reader response is a dynamic process that can and often is open to influence by critical discourse. So rather than being a secondary also-ran in the reading process, analysis is a major player in the shaping of a cultivated reader exerperience. In a sense, the treatise begets the orgasm.

Even allowing the orgasm analogy, I am uncomfortable with the statement that it and the treatise are entirely separate things. Note that I don't say that I don't believe it. I do. But so also is father separate from son, author separate from his work. The danger is in sacrificing the truth for the facts.



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