“What is an Author?”

When we were talking about Foucault and his essay “What is an Author”, JP asked us what we thought about reading something, but not knowing the author.
Reading a book or a piece without knowing the author’s name, would make me read a book with more emphasis, and it would make me want to get to know who this author is – by finding out myself.

I would do the same if I would listen to music, without knowing the singer and/or the songwriter. Really paying attention to those lyrics. What are they singing about? What point are they trying to make? Can I get a sense of what kind of singer this is?

If anyone would not know Quentin Tarantino (to get back to my previous post on movies and movie theaters), everyone who sees one of his movies must think he’s a maniac. But, when you actually get to know how he writes his scripts and comes up with his story lines, it’s absolutely brilliant.

Foucault explains in his essay how an author is not simply an ‘element’ in a ‘discourse’. No, in fact, the author performs a certain role. In Quentin Tarantino’s case, it’s literally a role as he also shows up acting in his own movies.

Moroever, Foucault says sometimes there’s an attack on the author, and the text becoming the author’s murderer. Sometimes, let’s say Tarantino is my author again, I believe this is true. His movies and writing are cruel, sarcastic and harsh. Or simply: not made for everyone. The great thing about Tarantino is that he doesn’t care. He has his fans, and he has his haters – just like almost everyone has in the film industry.

For Tarantino, I’m afraid he will not be seen as an ideological figure (as an author) as Foucault and Barthes write about.

It was interesting to read Michel Foucault’s essay, even though Foucault’s drastic/serious language was sometimes a little hard to read through!

  • Bregje Smits
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