(un)common ground

a commonplace book

Author: Regulator of the Fictive

[S]ince the eighteenth century, the author has played the role of the regulator of the fictive; a role quite characteristic of our era of industrial and bourgeois society, of individualism and private property, still, given the historical modifications that are taking place, it does not seem necessary that the author function remain constant in form, complexity, and even in existence.

Michel Foucault, “What Is an Author?” (1969)

Foucault here describes a relation of power and privilege incumbent upon the “author” in society. One of the clearest forms of the exercise of this power would be the institution and prosecution of copyright law and intellectual property.

But what about the Internet? Isn’t meme culture, social media, collaborative and creative commons movements inching the “regulation of the fictive” closer to this speculative state, when the author function destabilizes, losing its constancy of form, complexity and in some cases, existence?

Example, taken from https://lareviewofbooks.org/review/texts-for-nothing

While many of Jarosinski’s individual aphorisms are triumphs of stand-alone wit, they are also intricately interrelated in ways that few internet humorists can match. This is an oeuvre of considerable internal complexity, an expansive network of self-references and self-critiques. One distinctive feature of Jarosinski’s work is the wealth of memes he devises. These are structures or templates that can be reused to produce numerous tweets, the repetition itself gradually becoming part of the comic effect. The catchiest phrase of a 2013 Eminem/Rihanna collaboration — “I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed” — was the impetus for dozens of wry formulations: “God. The monster above our beds.” “Many of you have inquired. And I thank you. The monster under my bed is on vacation. Under yours.” In another case, he took a famous line from Wordsworth as the premise for a host of ruminations about wandering, loneliness, and clouds: “Wandering lonely as a word cloud. Made of ones. And zeros.” “I wandered lonely as a clear blue sky. Not a cloud in sight.” These memes are regularly appropriated by Jarosinski’s many imitators, some of whom seem to have no idea that their quips about Magritte’s pipe, the Untergang of the workweek, or “the first rule of ____ Club” belong to a genre that he pioneered.



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This entry was posted on January 8, 2016 by and tagged , , , .
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